Tuesday, November 14

Giving will only encourage them

This past Saturday the Washington Post ran a story by Linda Stern telling her readers "it's time to update the way you give to charity." Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, her story reads more like an advertisement for charitable gift funds. At the end of the piece there was one tip for donors that really made me mad:

Give fewer, more generous gifts. You might have a number of favorite charities, but try to limit that. Figure out which causes mean the most to you before you decide whom to fund, and then focus on those causes. Giving small amounts to many charities mutes the impact of your gift and encourages myriad charities to spend more and more money trying to get more out of you.
Come on Linda... you make us sound like pigeons.

I feel like Trent Stamp at Charity Navigator has also urged donors to concentrate their giving. That may be true if your main definition of "impact" is donor recognition. But if your definition of "impact" means financial efficiency or effectiveness at achieving the organizational mission then I would argue giving 10 gifts of $10 could have the same impact of one gift of $100.

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