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Philanthropy Startups: Pitfalls and Progress

Newly minted millionaires and billionaires looking to start foundations need to be aware of the many challenges that they will face when setting up a non-profit organization or foundation. According to Giving USA, philanthropic giving from foundations increased by 6% in 2017, and corporate giving by 8%. New foundations often headed and founded by startup founders and entrepreneurs need to make sure that they don’t become mired in the process of setting up a foundation and focus instead on making sure that funds reach the organizations where they can do the most good.

Keeping It Simple – The Process of Philanthropy

Far too often, new foundations make things more complex than they should be. Complicated systems do little to ensure adequate stewardship and instead become increasingly chaotic and marred by the process instead of looking for ways to decrease the path to effective donations. Instead, newly founded organizations need to look for systems and processes that benefit the organization instead of doing things the way they have always been done. The role of a foundation board is to lead, not to manage the process. With a clear vision and succinct goals, a foundation’s board should be able to drive the vision of the foundation forward and not get stuck in managing the functions of the foundation.

Lean Operations: Use Your Resources

There is much criticism levelled at charitable organizations that utilize a large portion of donations towards the running of the non-profit. This, of course, is unacceptable, but so too is the idea that foundations can run with no investment in employees, training, technology and development. Trying to do good with no support to be able to expand and actually ‘do good’ is one of the reasons that new foundations flounder.

Keep Learning – Keep Growing

One of the biggest mistakes made by foundations, especially boards of directors, is the inability or capacity to continue learning about the areas in which they operate. Often, once the foundation vision is set, the board does little to enhance their knowledge within key areas. Continual learning is key to growing robust and effective non-profit organizations. The board of a foundation often wields a great amount of power over communities that it serves. This can make for a strained power dynamic at times. Foundation leaders need to ‘keep it real’, examine their own decisions and ensure that they are doing work that serves a greater good.

Learn from the Community

Along with institutional learning, a new foundation must take counsel from the communities and areas in which they work. This is especially important when dealing with at-risk communities and working in regions of the world that are not immediately culturally like one’s own. Something as simple as ongoing feedback from both the ‘boots on the ground’ employees and the end-recipient of a foundation’s donation.

Every new foundation or non-profit will go through a learning curve before they become successful and more importantly, relevant. With forethought and humility as well as a constant reminder of why foundations are crucial in the world these problems can be resolved.

The Giving Season is Getting Started – A Guide for Non-Profits

The last quarter of the year is known as the ‘Giving Season’ by nonprofit organizations. There are a number of national holidays in the last few months of the year and this may make people feel inclined to give more generously than other months in the year.

A study undertaken by The Center on Philosophy in 2012, surveyed donors in the higher income brackets and their trends and habits surrounding when they donate the most. The study found that 42% of respondents gave significantly more during the holiday season. In similar studies, this time of nonprofit organizations, it was found that more than half of all charitable and nonprofit groups received over 50% of their total annual donations between the months of October and December.

Attracting Donors – Helping a Non-Profit Stand Out From The Crowdcharity on the rise

Heading into October – the race is on to attract donors, to deliver a message that will touch the hearts and minds of individuals to encourage them to donate to charity. The Chronicle of Philanthropy noted that donations to charitable organizations rose by 4% in 2015 and that the trend looks set to continue. In the same article it was noted that it was individuals that make up over 70% of all donations each year.

Shout It Out – Billboards? Radio? Television?

Cultivating support for your cause doesn’t mean that you have to try to attract the
wealthiest of donors or spend the largest amount of money on advertising to get donations. It’s more important to start raising awareness by reaching out within communities as opposed to tailoring your donation ‘pitch’ to a wealthy stranger. With the news that over 70% of all annual donations coming from individuals and not necessarily high-net worth donors, there is a lot to be Billboard - Charity tipssaid for making sure that your message is personal, evocative and reaches people on a community level.
Educate potential donors – Get people to get involved, visit your programs, experience the work that you do.
Face Time Your Donors – Go ahead and ask for donations. Set meetings and ask for appointments and be completely upfront about why you’re there. The biggest donors and donations come from face-to-face interaction.

A Thank You Goes a Long Way

Thank donors for their help, and leave the door open for future donations and ways to get involved in your work.
Asking for money is hard work, it’s thankless and tiring, often filled with daily disappointment. Start by getting people interested and involved on a community level and see how much easier it is to ask for donations during The Giving Season.

Thank you for the donation

Politics vs. Non-Profits – Does An Election Year Dampen the Spirit of Giving?

Election year! With an ever-increasing media frenzy surrounding the US presidential campaigns in 2016, more airtime, column inches and internet pixels being given over to reporting on the election and the candidates – will non-profit organizations be left to fend for themselves?

Do Political Donations Take Away from Charitable Donations?

Thankfully, that’s not the case. There have been a number of studies in recent months to track the value of political donations, which are increasing every day, and it looks like the value of charitable donations is on the up as well. With the presidential election set to cost a whopping $5 billion, many charities and non-profits were asking whether or not there was cause for alarm and whether there would be a significant drop in donations in 2016.

A survey conducted by Dunham and Company shows that many people will still continue to donate to charity in 2016. In fact 79% of donors said they would continue to support charitable causes and organizations this year.

Does Politics Help or Hinder Charity?

If a politician throws their weight behind a charitable cause, does it help by driving more people to donate to the charity, or could it possibly have the opposite effect, by in some way tainting the organization with perceived political maneuvering? It’s an interesting question, and one that comes up time and again when foundations, trusts and non-profit organizations are planning their campaigns and their fundraising efforts. While having a celebrity, or powerful person can have an extremely positive effect on increasing donations and awareness of a specific campaign, it can also have negative consequences if the celebrity or political endorsement falls afoul of an increasingly fickle media and public.

Choose Alliances with Care

Alliances and partnerships have to be chosen with care. Leaning one way or the other, politically at least, may have disastrous consequences for a charity. It is far better to keep campaigning based on the importance of the charity, rather than the importance of the ‘face’ of the charity.

It’s interesting to note that the same aforementioned survey by Dunham and Company shows that the biggest factor in whether donors will repeat and even increase their donations to a charity is how they are treated after they make the donation. Despite media hype and sensationalization on the internet, something as simple as a telephone call to thank your important donors can make all the difference in terms of whether they will donate again next year.

Feed the World, Feed Your Mind – FreeRice

Based at the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) headquarters in in Rome, Italy, the FreeRice non-profit website uses the concept of gamification to help end world hunger by literally delivering free rice to needy areas around the world. Not only does the organization seek to play their part in ending world hunger, but also to provide a means of free education for all.

The Concept of FreeRice

The concept is startlingly simple and yet an innovative way to encourage people to donate to a worthy cause without having to actually donate cash. The website has an easy to use interface: all you have to do is answer questions correctly, and for each correct answer, you’ll donate 10 grains of rice to the FreeRice program. If you get a question incorrect, you’ll be given the correct answer, and multiple opportunities to answer the question in following rounds.

There are dozens of subjects available to test your knowledge, learn something new, and make a donation that is meaningful and much needed. English, Maths, Humanities, Languages, Geography, Sciences, and even SAT test preparation are just some of the subjects that you can choose from on the website. You can change subjects at any time, and can choose your level of difficulty.

 

freerice

 

FreeRice: Who Pays for the Rice

It’s important, when choosing a charity to support that you do an extensive check into the bona fides of the organization, mainly to ascertain that your donation is actually getting into the hands of those who need it most. It’s also an important point that many foundations would do well to heed: transparency, in an increasingly cynical world, can make a big difference to your bottom line and help you do more good in the world.

The free rice that you earn and donate by answering questions is paid for by the advertisers on the website. The ads are not intrusive, and do not interfere with the overall experience of the website. The more people play the game and use the website, the more opportunity there is for advertising revenue which is used to fund the free rice program.

Started in 2007, the initiative only donated 830 grains of rice on its first day. In less than two years, FreeRice had increased that to 65 billion grains of rice distributed to people around the globe. Founder of FreeRice, John Breen, donated the FreeRice website to the UN World Food Programme in 2009.

How to Choose a Charity? Tips for Individuals

How do donors ‘choose’ a charity? How much research do donors and sponsors do when trying to find a foundation or not-for-profit to bestow their gifts on? With a dazzling array of causes, many backed by celebrities, it can be a tough choice, especially if you want to ensure that your donation reaches those who really need it.

donating for different causesGiving USA released a report in early 2015, which totalled the value of charitable donations in the US at $358.38 billion in 2014; the largest amount of money in 60 years. The report confirmed that many people don’t spend a lot of time researching charities, foundations and not-for-profit organisations. It was considered that only around 35% of donors would spend any significant amount of time researching a foundation or organisation before donating.

How Much Bang for Your Charitable Buck?

A number of organisations have recently come under the spotlight, amid allegations of financial mismanagement and funds not reaching the people or causes that require them most urgently. Donors are also looking closer to home, within their own countries and communities as a way of ensuring that every donation is really going to a worthy recepient.

Charity Navigator, an organisation that previously listed and ranked foundations and charities based upon their financial accountability and transparency, is now rating and ranking those bodies based on their actual results. This may be a nebulous yardstick, considering some of the work involved, but performance measurement is becoming more and more important in a world with ever-increasing demands competing for donors’ attention.

Ultimately, it should be considered that, although it is reported that wealthy donors tend to give to alumni foundations, hospitals and museums — the bulk of the number over overall donations made to charitable organisations, en masse, come from lower profile individuals, and every one of their dollar should be used as wisely as possible.