The Mikuska Group  

Don’t let the tail wag the dog: Why policies are critical in fundraising programs

Imagine you are the director of development at a small non-profit organization. An enthusiastic member of your board of directors says he will talk to his friend who is a business owner and would be willing to sponsor a fundraising event you are holding soon. You say, “Great! Go ahead!” because you are always looking for sponsors. You discover after giving the go-ahead to the board member that there are serious issues regarding his friend’s business that could have an impact on the reputation of your organization. But – you have no policies in place to deny the sponsorship. Plus you risk alienating your board member who used his contacts to raise funds.

Too many organizations pay too little attention to developing and maintaining sound fundraising and gift acceptance policies. Board members and staff who are unaware of their importance often encounter dilemmas that could easily be easily addressed through such policies. The situation above is one that could have been avoided with a fundraising policy that included prospect clearance and by a gift acceptance policy that states that an organization will not accept gifts from individuals or organizations that, in the opinion of the board of directors, will compromise the non-profit’s mission.

Good policies and procedures make for good decision-making. The director of development will feel confident about a board member approaching people for gifts in the knowledge that the appropriate steps have been taken to ensure the right person is asking the right prospect for the right gift at the right time. The board member will feel confident in the knowledge he has the right information and permission to make the ask.

Have you reviewed your policies lately?

Julie Mikuska.



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