Right From the Headlines: Your Fundraising To-Do List
The third headline you need to be proactive about is misuse of funds. Recently, someone told me that she had come in contact with an organization that used designated funds as "kind of a slush fund." Perhaps you winced when reading that, knowing the potential something like that has to backfire and cause loss of funding. Or maybe you aren't sure why it's such a big deal.
The bottom line is if your organization isn't 100 percent committed to using designated funds as the donor requests, you need to decline the gift. Gasp! But let's face it — it only takes one unhappy donor to spread the word that your organization doesn't honor designations to scare off a lot of other potential donors.
Yes, sometimes overfunding happens. If you don't use a disclaimer when soliciting the gift, you may need to go back to the donor (in the case of a major gift) and ask if he or she agrees to you redesignating the money for another project. (Choosing one that is similar or you know will resonate with the donor can make this a much more pleasant conversation.) But in general, if you accept designated gifts, your entire organization has to be committed to honoring the designation.
Frankly, this old dog has had to backpedal a few times over the years for issues not unlike these three. It's a terrible place to be in. So be proactive; arm yourself with knowledge and you'll be ready when a donor asks a question — with an honest answer that gives the donor the same peace of mind that you experienced when you set out to understand how these issues are handled in your organization.
Any other headlines that should be wake-up calls to fundraisers? Please use the comments section below and share them. I thank you — and I know your fellow fundraisers will, too.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.