Sleepless in 2013?
TH: When I heard Christina talk about transparency, I wanted to stand up and applaud. You’re really right on. And I think something that goes hand in hand with transparency is donor intent. We don’t always know donor intent exactly, but we have to put ourselves in the position of a normal, intelligent donor and think, “What would they want to know? What would they want to give to?”
Let’s not put it in the fine print. Let’s just be straightforward with people. I think that despite the self-appointed, self-annointed watchdogs, and the puppies in the media that are following them, it’s up to us to educate the public better. First, it takes money to manage an organization, a complicated organization that’s tackling cancer or poverty. Otherwise, it would be easy. It takes money to raise money for it, and we need to explain that far better than we ever have. And we also need to encourage people to judge the impact of the organization. I know lots of nonprofits with low fundraising costs that aren’t doing anything, and I know other nonprofits with high fundraising costs that are making a life-changing and –saving difference in the world. It’s incumbent on us to tell the story better.
JS: Wow, passionately well put, and I couldn’t agree more.
DG: I just wanted to say that as a former development staff person at both a small organization and a large organization, I couldn’t agree more with Tom’s statement. One organization that I worked with invested heavily in acquisition over the years. They didn’t become beholden to the online watchdogs, and they made a long-term commitment to grow the organization. And today they’re a $40 million powerhouse with a building in Washington, D.C.
The other organization strictly held to online fundraising standards and because of it were never really able to grow because there was no long-term investment in fundraising and increasing the size of the organization.