Help For Donors
Donating to charity has become a complicated business. While the primary motive to make a charitable gift always ought to be driven by one’s heartstrings, these days it’s hard to know which charities really deserve your support. My book Charity on Trial covers topics that are especially important today given the public’s increased scrutiny of charities, and I wrote it for you – the donor. It speaks of how some charities have gone bad and examines why, as well as what you should know before you give.
Analyzing charities is not easy. The process involves much more than looking at a few numbers on the information charities send to the IRS. While those numbers provide a decent start, the true merit of a charity can be found in its work and its people. This means getting to know far more about the charity than most people do. The wise donor doesn’t rely on any magazine’s annual list of “best charities” or any ratings or rankings agency to inform him or her on important philanthropic decisions. As a guide, providing the barest of financial information, those lists are almost meaningless.
What is meaningful then? The work the charity does. This is known only by asking several direct questions and reviewing reports and documents – often the people who receive the benefits of the charity – things that are not part of what is sent to the IRS, and so never globally are analyzed.
As with my help for charities, I bring no cookie cutter to the process. Each donor, each family, is different – with different values and different expectations from a charity. My work with donors is personal and comprehensive, and helps donors feel good about the charitable choices they make. My ongoing advisory goal with donors is to match their values and financial commitment with organizations whose causes matter to those donors and that serve society well – with both a commitment to society and a commitment to run a financially sound organization.
Help For Charities
With over 35 years of experience working with nonprofits of all kinds – and their donors – I’ve arrived at the point where I expect charities to accomplish all that they can. My ongoing advisory goal for charities is to bring together what may seem to be an unusual – and often feisty – combination of the technical, human, organizational, and ethical dimensions of philanthropy, fundraising and nonprofit leadership, including good governance and healthy organizational constructs.
I’ve learned over the years, for example, that addressing one fundraising issue often uncovers others, that to address what needs to be done requires a comprehensive approach – even within a short or discrete assignment – and a willingness to ask questions that are often initially unapparent and at times uncomfortable.
I have significant amounts of experience in organizational management, budgeting, FASB, applying investment principles to planned gifts and endowment assets (risk and asset allocation), strategic planning, marketing, gift design, program design, program analysis, soliciting gifts (with all the human elements that entails), crediting and valuation, and policies and procedures. Of course, planned giving is how my career began. In 1995 I wrote “The Art of Planned Giving,” which received high praise (continues to, actually) from readers, and top honors from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Although I don’t have any cookie cutters in my arsenal, I carry tools of far more value: experience, competence, honesty, and the individual attention that charities deserve. It is true that all charities face similar challenges, but each must face those challenges uniquely – within its own culture, history, and place in society.
My work with charities, as it is informed by a lifelong passion for charities and their missions – as well as with an eye on what donors expect from the organizations to which they devote their hard-earned money – helps the most sophisticated as well as the growing program. Whether for a quick look or a helping hand on a longer-term basis, I will bring to you a thoughtful and caring mindset.