Monday, July 24

If all donors were this smart...

...they probably wouldn't need to pay fundraisers like me. But, rather than get defensive about Marshall Loeb's brilliantly articulate guidelines and ignore' incredible column... I am going to recommend it on my front page. If this blog had been born soon enough to cover the article when it was published on July 14th, we would have featured it then. The only article I think should be promoted any more would be Loeb's follow article "How to Develop a strategy for giving." In his article today, Loeb says the following:

You probably would do better to seize the initiative, and search for one or more charities that aim to cover your specific interests, that reflect your personal values and priorities. Then check out the charity on the Net, where there are plenty of free philanthropy advisory services. Look for Form 990, which each charity has to submit to the federal government each year, disclosing more than you would like to know.

By keying into, for example, you can find out such basic information as how much a charity pays its staff and officers, how much it spends for other
administration, and how much it devotes to the basic cause -- actual charity.
What's brilliant about Loeb's article is what it doesn't do. Sure the percentage of money spent on overhead can seem like a waste to the outside observer. But rather than put together a overly simplistic hachet job like this filth in the Free New Mexican, which attempts to create a controversy for the United Way of Santa Fe by screaming about high overhead costs. While the article does quote a very smart man:
Larry Carmony, a partner with Neff & Ricci, the Albuquerque accounting firm that prepares financial reports for United Way of Santa Fe County, said he gets nervous when he sees a nonprofit organization with a low number for fundraising expenses. Nonprofits need to spend a healthy amount of money on fundraising to keep themselves financially healthy, he said.

Damn straight Larry. As a fundraiser, I admit there are mistakes we make that we try not to tell the donor. But I must also admit that under the category of "Don't Tell the Donor" - my contempt for people who use percentage of money spent on overhead as a reflection of whether a nonprofit is a good place to donate is short-sighted and ignorant.

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