Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Monday, May 01, 2006

Donations, But Not Trust

An new poll from Harris Interactive shows that while 92% of household have donated to charity in the last year, nearly a third (32%) feel that the sector has "pretty seriously gotten off in the wrong direction" (Full story with survey results). The most painful statistic is that only one in ten respondents strongly agree that "charitable organizations are honest and ethical in their use of donated funds."

This poor image is a problem for all of us. We cannot be complacent and just accept dollars given to us without trust. We must re-build that trust for our organizations, and for the sector as a whole, for the good of our own fundraising efforts, yes, but mostly for the good of the clients that we serve.

You can start with complete transparency. Make your organization's IRS form 990 available on your web site (or provide the link to Guidestar where donors can research other groups too). Put your administrative costs percentage in your fundraising letters. Let donors know exactly what their donations will be used for.

And if your figures are such that you think I'm crazy to suggest these things, get your budget and fiscal house in order. If your group is not deserving of the public's trust, perhaps it shouldn't be a 501(c)(3). Harsh? Maybe. But we've got some serious PR work ahead of us.

Tags: , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment