Rethinking how we think about fundraising?

by Jini Stolk

I’m not sure if I agree with this piece by Charlie Hulme, nor am I sure I agreed with Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk The way we think about charity is dead wrong, but I do know they raise important points worthy of thought and discussion. They both argue against the “myth” that small is good and what a charity spends is more important than what it achieves – and for excellence, professionalism, scale, competitive salaries, adequate marketing, risk taking and risk capital for charities.

I can’t help thinking of my very favorite, achingly funny Onion story, Nonprofit Fights Poverty with Poverty.

We’ve all been there, and we’ve all heard the frustrating and misplaced question ‘How much of my donation goes to the program/cause versus overhead?’. It does seem counter-productive, whether it comes from private sector donors or, more subtly, from our dedicated arts funding agencies.

I’m not sure what such a rethink would mean for arts organizations, but I expect it would include understanding trends and patterns in charitable donations (see Charitable giving by Canadians, by Martin Turcotte, Statistics Canada, Canadian Social Trends, April 16, 2012); focusing on high-value donors to allow growth; boldly asking for what we need; and working (collectively as a community?) on building fundraising savvy boards.

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