Falsehoods: Check the Sources!
There is a lot of talk these days about fake news. Fake news is intentional misinformation. Falsehoods.
I recall getting an email from a friend during the 2008 presidential election. The information presented was shocking, but appeared to be from a “reliable” news source. I spent 15 minutes on Google and found that the information was completely false.
There is also unintentional spreading of false information. Information gets passed down and around, and it may slightly change in various iterations. This can happen in worthy nonprofits where success rates or other statistics change and even seem to become fact, when in reality they are not.
There is a communications exercise where one person is told some information—perhaps a story—and then it is passed quietly from person to person in a group. Then the group is told the original story and compares it to the last “version.” This can be very revealing and shocking.
As nonprofit leaders, especially fundraising professionals, our job is to always have the highest level of integrity and to be a watch dog for donors. This means guarding facts and figures.
We recently worked with a client who considered a needs assessment, a survey taken by a handful of employers. It was not scientific nor valid. We protested.
Years ago, I worked with a major youth service organization and as we discussed outcomes, it became apparent that their statistics were not accurate and there was very little tracking or measurement.
So as a leader, don’t be afraid to ask questions, dig deeper and challenge. You need to safeguard the integrity of your organization and honor your donors.
This also includes safeguarding the culture and integrity of the foundation. When you bring on new employees, did deeper, ask questions and always, always check references.
Reputable news organizations have teams of fact-checkers to safeguard the information that they disseminate. Don’t be afraid to be the fact-checker for your nonprofit!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.