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Better Ways To Give It Away: Philanthropy 2.0
Source: Fast Company  ·  February 21, 2012  ·  Excerpt

Our distrust is very expensive. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

As the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation recently discovered, mixing mission and politics can cost an organization both credibility and dollars. Susan G. Komen, dedicated to the least controversial cause imaginable, eradicating breast cancer, lost the support of many core donors over its (since reversed) decision to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood, a national organization that provides women's health care, family planning, and, incidentally, abortion services.

Ironically, given the scope of Komen's mission and the size of the foundation, the Planned Parenthood grants somehow became the tail that wagged the dog. Last year, for example, Komen gave Planned Parenthood $700,000 to finance 19 separate breast-related programs. That donation, while generous, represented a tiny portion of its $93 million in grants. Yet these grants, however small, however mission-appropriate, were nonetheless sufficient to plunge the entire organization into crisis.

Komen's decision was widely interpreted to be politically motivated, and this perception is at the crux of the organization's debacle. Komen's existing supporters expected the organization to be politically neutral. Public charitable organizations are supposed to be broadly embraced, broadly understood, broadly valued, and broadly and publicly supported. Many of Komen's core donors therefore felt betrayed by what they perceived as a breach of trust, a misappropriation of charitable funds to accomplish a political agenda seemingly unrelated to the organization's stated public mission: eradicating breast cancer.

The Komen crisis begs the questions that all of us struggle with when we give to a nonprofit organization: How do I make certain that my philanthropic dollars align with my own philanthropic goals and my core beliefs? How do I prevent my donations from being diverted to spending and programs that don't accomplish the intended purpose of my gift? Can I trust a public nonprofit to act transparently and consistently in support of its stated mission?

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Our take
This example illustrates several challenges for the modern, transparent nonprofit organization, but perhaps none so clearly as the importance of knowing the hearts and minds of your donors or constituents. Increasingly, people are aligning their charitable giving with core values and beliefs - and expecting long-term adherence to those beliefs.

At Compass Pointe, we pride ourselves on getting to know who your donors are, as well as what passions and values drive their giving. Contact us now for assistance in addressing these and other issues:

  • What current research is available on charitable giving in my industry or area, and how might my organization capitalize on it?
  • How can I conduct primary research on my constituents and store the information so it can be acted upon in a timely fashion?

 

 
 
       
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