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Oct 7, 2010

More Than a Party: An Excerpt from More Than Just Money

I write about several challenges in philanthropy in More Than Just Money: Practical and Provocative Steps to Nonprofit Success. One of the challenges that nonprofits face is appropriately planning a gala and learning that it is more than just a party. Below is an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 6 in my newest book:

“Before you plan your next gala, I have a suggestion: Ask your major donors what they most want from you. Don’t be surprised if their answer is: ‘What’s most important to us is not your party but your effort to keep us well-informed of what you are doing and how you are doing financially.’ In a certain sense, a major donor or grantor is in a position very similar to a board member of a nonprofit. They both have committed to the mission, one by joining the board and the other by providing a significant gift. They both believe there is an effective plan to link money to the nonprofit’s mission, the board by approving the budget and the donor by writing the check. They both need to know the plan is being executed well, the board by regular meetings and reports and the donor by …. And there may lie a problem: After making the gift, donors may not hear back until they get an invitation to the next fundraiser. Donors need regular, understandable information to carry out their job to know their generosity is effective and getting a reasonable bang for the buck.

Major donors need financial information that is clearly presented in the context of your community’s needs, your mission to fulfill those needs, your goals and priorities in directing the use of funds, and your assessment and measurement of your achievements. Simply mailing them a newsletter, an annual financial report or a Form 990 federal tax return doesn’t meet this need. The nonprofit board should already receive information that objectively (and persuasively, of course) lets the board know the organization’s needs, condition and performance. You should share that information with donors.”

*Copyright © 2010 by Allen J. Proctor

To read further about keeping your donors informed and determining if a gala is the best option for your nonprofit, purchase your copy of More Than Just Money.