Principles for Philanthropy

People give for a reason even if it’s hard to quantify at times. Getting to the bottom of those reasons is the best way to sustaining success in fundraising.

In his book “Risk Only Money,” Jack DeBoer, founder of successful hotel brands such as Residence Inn, describes the reasons he and his wife Marilyn felt compelled to participate in philanthropy. Those reasons are laid out in 15 principles. Below are six that will help you better understand why donors give:

  • Giving is personal. Giving should be guided by a plan that reflects the values that guide your life.
  • Philanthropy is a free market. In the free market as we know it, the entrepreneur makes a living by finding a need and filling it. In the philanthropy free market, each of us finds a need that lines up with our passions and fills it, not for our own profit, but for the good of people who are in need.
  • Put dollars where dollars are scarce. Money will have the most effect in places where poverty is rampant. The DeBoers gave a lot of their money to organizations that help struggling areas such as Burma.
  • Ego-holics and anonymity. While some donors will give money with the hope of getting recognized, most donors prefer anonymity.
  • Donors aren’t ATMs. DeBoer wrote that some charities began to view their foundation as a money machine. Donors want the proper respect when they are asked for money.
  • Visit and listen. There is no substitute for visiting charities in the field. This will give you a better idea if it’s an organization worth your time and money.

About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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