Be Kind to Your Donors

Recently, a small foundation wanted to know what happened to the donation they made to a nonprofit’s special project. The foundation had contributed a substantial amount of money and had not heard from the nonprofit.

The foundation had also wanted a small plaque posted at the project site stating they donated. The nonprofit agreed and accepted the money.

I directed the foundation to those making the decisions. In the end, the nonprofit did not explain the progress of the project, but stated that the foundation’s name would be listed on a plaque along with many other donors near to the project site.

This is where nonprofits fail. First, they do not provide updates to people who have donated substantial amounts of money and have asked for updates.

A simple way for a nonprofit to keep donors updated is recording everything in a spreadsheet. All the details should be listed including a date six months after the nonprofit received the money. This is when a letter should be sent explaining the nonprofit’s progress and successes.

Whether a foundation requested an update or not, always provide one at least six months later.

Second, once a nonprofit agrees with a foundation’s requirements and accepts the money, the nonprofit should treat this as a contract. Any changes need to be negotiated with the foundation.

I have found that many nonprofits do not realize they are bound by a foundation’s or donor’s requirements or restrictions. To change anything requires the nonprofit to negotiate with the foundation or donor. If the change is reasonable, I think most foundations and donors will understand.

The theme of the blog post is be kind to your donors. The foundation who made the substantial donation has vowed never to contribute again.

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