Sins of Commission

A central principle of nonprofit development is that individuals should not get paid on a commission basis.

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, paying nonprofit fundraisers commissions is unethical because the self-interest of the staff member can distort the solicitation process. A gift needs to be right for both the donor and the organization, and it needs to be driven by a genuine charitable impulse.

When the fundraiser’s compensation is directly related to realizing the gift, all sorts of bad things can happen. The conversation between solicitor and donor can turn coercive and misleading. Donors may be pressured to make the gift before they are ready. The solicitor may encourage gifts that are not in the best interest of the organization. Moreover, even if such a compensation scheme were ethical, it would rarely be fair, since the gift that arrives in 2014 is probably as much the result of earlier cultivation by the organization as the efforts of the current staff member who happens to make the ask or open the envelope. Continue reading

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Too Much Information

Three aspects of the digital age: It’s very easy to find information, and it’s ridiculously easy to disseminate information, but it’s no easier to assimilate information than it was a hundred years ago.

Think about it. With one push of the button, you can send a picture or article to 30 or 300 or 3,000 Facebook friends. You can do the same thing through dozens of other social media sites. I am sending a link to this blog post to a few hundred of my followers, and I am pushing it out, as well, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Of course, as I go through this exercise in digital dissemination, so do millions of other people and causes. And hundreds of these links, blasts, and tweets end up in your lap – or at least on your laptop – every day. (By comparison, when I was a young executive director nearly thirty years ago, over the course of the day I might have received a total of 15 phone calls or letters.) Continue reading

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