Thursday, March 23, 2006

Just Say No To The Gift Horse

Today’s Houston Chronicle 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.


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