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Confessions of a Fundraiser

May 2nd, 2007 at 08:52 am

This is my real profession. I am actually in the research end of fundraising, and I work ‎for a very large institution that is just completing a $1.5 million campaign.‎

I think I have some special insight into how to make your charity dollars do what you ‎want them to do.‎

Give only if you want to

Thatís right, a fundraiser is telling you to give only if you want to. NEVER allow ‎yourself to be pressured or guilted into giving. Thatís not what true charity is about. If ‎you give just because you are being polite, you will feel crummy about it. If you give ‎because it is heartfelt, you will feel like royalty, no matter what size the gift.‎

Give only if you have the means

Youíve heard about the 80/20 rule? Welcome to the 90/10 rule. 90% of our donations ‎came from 10% of our donor base. The truth is that most charities are overwhelmingly ‎funded by people with significant wealth. They are people who have accumulated so ‎much money, they truly donít get a kick out of buying anything any more. What they ‎DO get a kick out of is giving it away to a cause they believe in. ‎

The rest of us -- the everyday, but generous people -- are only contributing about 10% to ‎the bucket -- all together!‎

Iím not saying this to imply that small gifts are not appreciated, or that small donors are ‎not generous. Believe me, I know, small donors are actually the MOST generous when ‎you consider the percentage of their wealth they are donating. Many million-dollar ‎donors are not particulary generous because they have $40 million more untouched in ‎their stock holdings. I think I could spare a million if I had 40 million more to live on!‎

My point is, if you are really financially stretched, for heavenís sake, donít feel that you ‎are obligated to donate. You will do more for the common good by taking care of your ‎own needs and those of your family.‎

Make your gift count

If you have decided you truly want to donate, then be sure your gift is going to count. ‎Check out charitywatch.org to see what organizations get high grades for administrative ‎efficiency. You donít want to give to an organization that uses half of your money to pay ‎its officers. Also, if you are giving to a large organization, remember that you can ‎designate your gift to a certain area. If you are giving to a university, for example, you ‎can donate to the school you graduated from, or to a program that is near and dear to your ‎heart.‎

Donít worry too much about mailing costs

On the other hand, donít get too upset if you get multiple mailings, or if you think the ‎brochure is too nice, or if you get a freebie you donít want. Many administrative costs ‎are actually donated and are not taking away from your gift. Donít try to contact the ‎organization to cut down your mailing soliciations or to set restrictions. The time it takes ‎to for staff to set up and maintain special mailing instructions is more expensive than the ‎paper and postage. If you donít want it, throw it away!‎

Send in your matching gift form

If you work for a corporation that matches your gift, be sure you send in the form. Itís ‎not necessarily done automatically. Some companies actually double or even triple your ‎gift. This is a great way to multiply the power of your gift with no added expense to you!‎

Donít forget to claim your deduction

Your generosity will pay you back when you file your taxes. Be sure to keep your ‎receipts and remember to claim special credits. For instance, in the state of Indiana, up to ‎half of a donation to an in-state educational institution can be claimed as a credit on the ‎state tax form. Also, remember that you can claim up to $200 in charitable giving on ‎your federal form without receipts. I always claim the $200 because I donate gifts-in-‎kind regularly to Goodwill and other similar agencies, but I donít bother with the receipts ‎unless I am giving something large and valuable (which hasnít happened yet!)‎

4 Responses to “Confessions of a Fundraiser”

  1. JanH Says:

    Wow, I learned a lot! Thanks for a great post!

  2. scfr Says:

    Great post - Thanks!

  3. jodi Says:

    Really nice post - thanks for sharing.

  4. pelf Says:

    I am directly involved in a local fundraiser to raise funds for the turtle projects in my university, and I can't agree more with what you've mentioned Smile

    But please allow me to add a point: Write eligibly. Some people have horrible handwriting that it's impossible for us to decipher, and we couldn't even send them their gift or certificate of adoption, and we couldn't email them for clarifications!

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