Tag Archives: Schwab

Violent Opposition, For Now

[Note: This was cross-posted October 1, 2014 by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.]

Arthur Schopenhauer said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

I’m no expert on German philosophers, but Schopenhauer really nails it. Just think of the cause of marriage equality, which has followed exactly that course, passing from ridicule to violent opposition to acceptance as self-evident over the course of the last twenty years.

The effort to reform donor-advised funds (DAFs) does not have nearly the societal ramifications of the marriage equality issue. That said, donor-advised fund reform is an enormously important issue for American philanthropy, and when viewed through a Schopenhauerian lens, the effort has recently transitioned into the second phase of truth: violent opposition. 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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Big News — But Not Good News

[Note: This commentary is cross-posted in the November 15, 2012 edition of the  Chronicle of Philanthropy.]

Today it’s my duty to point out a disturbing trend for America’s charities.

Each year the Chronicle of Philanthropy compiles the Philanthropy 400, a list of the nonprofit organizations that have raised the most money in the past year. The troubling news? The number two nonprofit for 2011 was an entity called Fidelity Charitable. Continue reading

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