When it comes to developing relationships with donors, especially those who give on a large scale, few things are as motivational as knowing exactly where and how their donations are being used by the recipient.
A recent Forbes article about two wealthy donors' quest to obtain information from organizations they wanted to support reminds us that the same principle applies to financial transparency, too:
Elie Hassenfeld... [and] fellow Ivy League grad Holden Karnofsky were frustrated by the paucity of data on charitable effectiveness in the public domain. So they started cold calling charities from the trading floor, asking questions that charities are not used to answering.
Their questions made the charities uncomfortable: What kind of data do you have to show evidence of your effectiveness and impact? How do you measure cost effectiveness? Can you demonstrate the need and capacity to justify more funding from a donor? How transparent are you in sharing this kind of data publicly?
Most charities don’t report such information, because most donors never ask. “Unfortunately, 65% of individual philanthropists give based purely on emotion, without any research behind their gifts,” said Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, wife of Marc Andreessen, in an interview published last month in The Wall Street Journal.
The trend toward demanding not just slick marketing materials and sunny annual reports but genuine evidence of effectiveness is powerful and growing, as demonstrated in this massively popular TED Talk -- with nearly 2.5 million views in its first 6 months -- from fundraiser and AIDS Ride founder Dan Pallota:
With this in mind, take a look at your animal organization's website. Have you published complete statistics about your shelter's intake, and what happens to the animals in your care?
Have you published complete financial information accounting for all the revenue your organization receives, and what you do with those funds?
If not, don't complain you're not getting enough support from philanthropists or community members. Instead, get out the spreadsheets, and let the sunshine in.
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