Tag Archives: Association of Fundraising Professionals

Better Than Endowments

[Note: This essay is based upon my presentation of the same title at the International Conference of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, delivered March 21 in Boston.]

Charitable organizations are always grateful to have endowments. But having an endowment is different from creating an endowment. Given the needs facing nonprofits today, should creating new endowments be a priority? I would argue that in many cases donors and nonprofits should create something that is far more beneficial than endowments – what I call Aspirational Impact Funds. Continue reading

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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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