Thursday, March 23, 2006

Just Say No To The Gift Horse

Today’s Houston Chronicle http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/3742329.html reports that “Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil.”

Bush assistant, Jean Becker, said that “nationally, some other donors also specified how they wanted their donations spent. For example, one man wanted his money to go to Habitat for Humanity but via the former presidents’ fund.”

This is patently OUTRAGEOUS!

It is perfectly fine for someone to earmark funds for Habitat for Humanity. Their board of directors will determine the best use of these funds. This is very different than someone donating to a charity but requiring the nonprofit to hire a specific vendor to carry out a charitable program. Not only is this highly unethical, but it is sickening that a donor would pressure a nonprofit organization in this manner.

The article also shares another bombshell: “Two years ago, the school district raised eyebrows when it expanded the program by relying heavily on private donations. In February, 2004, the Houston school board unanimously agreed to accept $115,000 in charitable donations from businesses and individuals who insisted the money be spent on Ignite. The money covered half the bill for the software, which cost $10,000 per school.”

Completely amazing! It is clear that these donors were trying to subsidize the Neil Bush business by forcing the school district to match the gift by digging into its own coffers!

Too often, third sector organizations “chase the money”. Rather than sticking to their mission and proven program offerings, they will find donors who are willing to support some new program. Many nonprofits make the fatal mistake of chasing this money and changing their programs to fit the goals of willing funders.

Gather your courage.
Tell these funders, no thanks.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Political spouses and fundraising

Josh Marshall has uncovered yet another congressional wife who does "fundraising" for her husband, then charges a percentage fee for service.

This time it is Mrs. John Sweeney.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Do political fundraisers follow AFP guidelines?

Atrios has an interesting story posted at his blog, eschaton, www.atrios.blogspot.com. about congressional spouses who act as "fundraising consultants."

This made me wonder whether political fundraisers follow the American Fundraising Professionals ethical guidelines: http://www.afpnet.org/ethics/ gui..._code_standards

Do political fundraisers routinely charge on a percentage basis, which is against ethics guidelines? We've debated this topic for years and I've come to the conclusion that percentages are not good. Example: you are hired to put on a special event and will receive a percentage of the net income. Naturally you would be tempted to scrimp on the expense side and the event may suffer in quality. There are many other examples but it is always safer just to follow the guidelines, especially since nonprofits are under additional scrutiny.