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, July 23, 2007

Why do you give? A few answers... has an "answers" section, where users can ask questions (usually related to their business or networking issues) and other LinkedIn members can post answers. Of course, I always monitor (and occasionally answer) the questions in the Nonprofit category.

One recent question was What motivates you to give to charities? Of the five answers posted so far, a couple are from nonprofit experts, but almost more instructive are the answers from people outside the sector, including those who have become disillusioned with charities and no longer give.

Sheilah used to give, particularly to health-related causes, but is upset that "we are no closer to a cure." Her friend is undergoing cancer therapy, has lost her job (and therefor her health insurance) because of her illness, and is unable to find any organizations willing or able to assist her. Sheilah now feels her charity dollars will be better spent giving money directly to people in need and not going through intermediary organizations.

Patrick gives to nonprofit causes that have effected the lives of himself and his family. He and his wife have had to cut down the number charities they support to only two. Their frustration with the rest? "Once you give those same charities sometimes harass you to the point of hanging up, or tossing the junk mail into recycle."

Terri has "cut way back on donations to major charities and switched to smaller groups where I can actually see how my donation is helping." Marisa likewise is looking for "transparency" where she can see the direct result of her giving, "not just pay into some anonymous account and other people's admin overheads."

Is your nonprofit making any of the mistakes that has turned these donors off? Are you harassing Patrick? Are you communicating your progress and results to Sheilah? Do Terri and Marisa know how you're using their dollars and that each one does make a difference?

What are you doing to retain these donors and keep them connected to your work?

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