Right From the Headlines: Your Fundraising To-Do List
I know this can be delicate; no one wants to feel that his or her competence is being questioned. So when you meet with the appropriate person, explain that you need to be able to assure your donors that your organization is at the highest level in terms of securing data; you need to understand the procedures in place so you can explain them in terms a donor understands. Show a genuine interest, and approach this with a desire to learn, not a desire to accuse someone else of not doing his or her job. Your IT team should be among your best friends in the organization; a partnership built on mutual respect can help you solve your biggest fundraising challenges.
Secondly, fundraisers need to know how your organization handles accusations and wrongdoings. This doesn't mean you need to know about every disgruntled former employee or every complaint from a vendor. But you need to know about lawsuits (at least in general terms; the specifics may be confidential) and anything else that could be a headline one day.
On a slow news day, that frivolous lawsuit against your organization may become fodder for the front page. A disgruntled person may complain to someone who tells someone else — who just happens to be a major donor. An unsubstantiated rumor may circulate online and suddenly take on the appearance of fact.
These can be delicate issues, and some have to be completely confidential. But make sure you are looped in to gossip, rumors and reality so you don't hear the bad news first from a donor to whom you have just made a large ask. Oftentimes, you are the only representative of the organization that a donor trusts or even knows; that "deer in the headlights" look seldom helps build a donor's confidence.