Great expectations: What the Donor and Nonprofit can expect

Last week I struck a chord with ‘Thank you for your trash’.  It got me thinking about all the strings that can be attached with a ‘gift’ – as I’m sure some people would interpret those organizations or people that chimed in – as ungrateful.  So what can you expect as a donor? As an organization?  Here’s what.

As an individual supporterNot what I mean

I’m a fundraising nerd and proud AFP member, so I subscribe to the Donor Bill of Rights – something created by some really smart people and endorsed by countless organizations.  It basically says that an individual supporter should be…

  • informed of the organization’s purpose
  • assured their gift will be used for such purpose
  • have access to financial statements and information about who serves on the board, and
  • be respected when it comes to their information, questions, prompt acknowledgement and communication

It’s simpler than that.  Understandably, most individual donors expect organizations to…

  • Use the donation for the organization’s stated purpose
  • Be acknowledged promptly and accurately
  • Protect their information
  • Not be pushed too far or too hard

As a nonprofit organization

There’s no ‘organizational bill of rights’ (that I’m aware of) but I think organizations should be able to expect donors to…

  • Support the organization with financial donations as they are able and willing
  • Be communicative about their intentions and motivations for giving
  • Understand and accept that all organizations have overhead
  • Be consistent in their support and communicate when/if they’re unable to give

Of course, this assumes we pretend there’s not a dramatically different power dynamic that’s been created over the years between the ‘haves & have nots’ the ‘givers and receivers’ and thus, donors and organizations. Unfortunately, those expectations may currently be too great – but I’d challenge us to move towards them.

As a supporter, or an organizational representative, what are your expectations? How do you (or do you) communicate those to your counterpart?  In the spirit of the holiday season, all I ask is that you keep in mind the implications and expectations that come along with any gifts you might be giving and those you receive.

Agree? Disagree? Something to add?

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