In previous posts I have talked about looking at your charitable giving from the perspective of a portfolio. A diversified a number of organizations within a “narrow giving theme” (i.e. access to water) allows you to see the impact of your donations through quantitative and qualitative analysis, with limited or no cross-pollination of information between the agencies. It also allows you to compare your funding results with other funders for donation performance (similar to how one would compare mutual funds).
Today is #GivingTuesday and charities are out in full-force, cap-in-hand. Place2Give has been a part of GivingTuesday for the past number of years. In fact, one year we lead a Calgary-based initiative along with 10 other organizations including AFP Calgary. I quickly became challenged with this model of fundraising, not because I don’t believe that charities should fundraise, but because this time of year people, while they are thinking of giving, are really focused on buying.
This week are celebrating National Philanthropy Week across North America. It is a time to reflect and celebrate those who have positively impacted our communities and is the lead-up to #GivingTuesday events around the world.
There were some common thoughts shared across the panel and a few other observations that came from the discussion following the panelists’ remarks. Please note, I have paraphrased the questions and answers.
Guest Blogger – Josh Swallow: Josh is a summer intern and attends Texas A&M University where he is studying Business Management with a Certificate in Not-for-Profit Business. “I have always wanted to help people but never knew exactly where that would take me in life. When I started to learn more about the multitude of nonprofits around the world and how much good they were doing I knew that was the industry that I wanted to end up in!”
Nonprofit organizations in the U.S. are in a very interesting position when it comes to taxation. If the qualifications are met, an organization can gain tax-exempt status which allows said organization to be exempt from paying some federal income taxes. While this is a fantastic concept that is absolutely helpful to the nonprofits that it applies to, I can’t help but feel that the qualifications for gaining this status may be too lenient. Thus, in this post I am going to talk about some of the baffling organizations who have gained and reatined this status and why I find this is troubling.
In July 2008 I wrote a piece for the Calgary Herald on charities and overhead. Then in June 2013 as a result of the Alberta Flood this issue came up again in response to the Canadian Red Cross and the lack of transparency. Fast forward a few more years and once again a natural disaster, this time the Fort McMurray Fire has brought this issue to the forefront of donors’ minds. So I thought I should break down the cost of doing “The Business of Philanthropy.”
Every time you make a donation to a charity there is a cost. Who pays this cost depends on how the transaction is made, what organization it is going to, how that agency is structured and what the internal capacity of the organization is to handle the transaction.
Based on some of the conversations I have been having at TheCardThat.Gives booth at Sunridge Mall and via the various social media and blog posts, there is a general consensus that the average donor doesn’t know, or understand the costs of doing the business of philanthropy.
What does it cost to end poverty in a specific city? How much should we be investing in early childhood literacy? Do we know the economic impact that domestic violence is having in a specific locale and are we spending the right amount with the right charities to address this issue?
When we talk about charity effectiveness and impact we need to look at things in the context of the problem that the charity is mandated to address. The Financial Post just released their 2015 list of effective charities - of the 86,000+ organizations they identified 25 large, national organizations that meet their grades.
For the past week the Place2Give team have been at booths around Calgary selling TheCardThat.Gives. Over the course of these weeks we’ve had interesting conversations with people about their charitable giving and what the holidays mean to them. In one such conversation, a customer shared what her family does for the eight nights of Hanukkah.