Many organizations avoid designated appeals because they fear over-funding projects or prefer general, undesignated funds and the flexibility of use that accompanies them. The results of this campaign indicate that highly project-specific appeals can be used effectively, but that donors also may effectively “undesignate” their gift when given that option.
Giving donors choice and control is an example of donor-focused fundraising. It gives donors power. The moral: Trust your donors and they will trust you.
Who really gives?
In the closing weeks of 2006, a new and provocative book was published. It’s created a stir because it is not politically correct. “Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide,” by Arthur C. Brooks, argues that regular church attendees (most of them religious conservatives) are the country’s best givers and volunteers to all shapes and forms of nonprofits, including non-religious ones. (In the spirit of full disclosure, Arthur C. Brooks, professor of public administration at Syracuse University, is the brother of my work colleague, Jeff Brooks.)
The book is a fascinating read packed full of well-written illustrations and statistics, but if you focus only on Brooks’ political and social characterizations, you’ll miss what I believe is the book’s greatest value: It’s a wake-up call aimed squarely at political liberals to stop avoiding faith issues.
Brooks also argues that America’s charity sector will decline unless religious and secular, conservative and liberal folks come together in a common cause to advance the good deeds of all nonprofit organizations by changing the charity culture so more people are motivated to become givers. His prescription starts with reformed government policies toward charitable giving, including allowing all taxpayers — not just those who itemize — to deduct charitable gifts.
How well do you know your donors? You might pick up a copy of Brooks’ book and see if his conclusions match yours.