Not Raking it in Like The ACLU? Here’s Why.

If the organization you work for isn’t named “The ACLU,” then you may be dreading your upcoming board meeting. Because you know the question is coming: “Why aren’t we raising that kind of money?” Or worse: “Why is our fundraising down when all those other organizations are raking it in?”

Take a deep breath. We found an article that offers a solid response to those maddening questions.

Vox author, Marc Gunther, uses the article to explain why a couple of rich and famous charities are getting richer and more famous since Trump was elected.

As a fundraiser, you probably guessed his main point. Donors give while their emotions are high – not after they’ve completed thoughtful research on which organization is most likely to achieve their impact.

For the moment, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NPR, and a few others have a golden light shining on them – not that they don’t deserve it! But in the shadow of these guys are a lot of other organizations that are having to work harder than ever to raise money.

Look for these 4 salient points in the article:

  • Fundraising in the U.S. is persistently a zero sum game.

  • Charity watchdog groups are pretty good at identifying bad actors in the nonprofit world – not so good at shining a light on the most effective organizations.

  • Donors prefer U.S.-focused nonprofits and often fail to realize their donations might have a bigger impact if given to internationally-focused nonprofits.

  • Unlike the private sector, new and innovative nonprofits have much harder time competing for dollars than more established organizations.

That upcoming board meeting may be hard for a lot of reasons, but at least now you have a coherent explanation for why revenue is down – even though you’re doing everything right.

Claire Thomas


Claire Thomas

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