A Heavy Responsibility
It’s quite possible that what Red Cross is calling trade secrets isn’t anything untoward at all. Maybe it just wants to keep its fundraising and stewardship strategies close to the vest. But even that looks unseemly, given that the nonprofit sector operates on the assumption that there’s enough generosity, kindness and, yes, money to go around. Every fundraiser I know is happy to share information and help his or her peers at other organizations succeed.
If you’re a nonprofit that’s on the up and up, share what you have and remember that transparency is the signature of nonprofit fundraising. If you’re not on the up and up, well, that’s a whole other story. And all I can say is stop.
Maybe it’s not fair that what large nonprofits do affects fundraising in such a big way. But when you spend decades climbing to the top of a sector that prides itself on doing good, being among the biggest players in the game brings a great deal of responsibility — especially in a space that lives and dies by accountability. You are one of the most prominent faces in a field that, by its nature, is faith-based (though not strictly in the religious sense). Donors and other supporters must have faith in this sector. If not, it dies. And then people die. And animals die. And arts die. And dreams die. And hope dies.