Ethical Donations

Are there sources that your organization won’t accept funding from – no matter what?

Sometimes you just have to say “no” to funding. Yes, saying no is odd especially when organizations struggle to gain funding, but not all funding is good funding.  Organizations have to have morals, they have to have ethics as to where they’ll accept funding from.

If you do have an ‘ethical donation policy’ – good, but do review it from time to time. If you don’t have an ethical donation policy, it could be something you will want to look at.

Organizations should think about reasons why they won’t take money from certain sources, make sure the reasons are linked closely to the work and values of your organization and not for some personal reason.

As an example there will be people who can’t, or won’t accept things like:


Unhealthy Food Products

Gambling Proceeds

The reasons could be varied, but children’s organizations maybe loathe to accept alcohol as contributions; organizations in the health area may not want to accept donations of unhealthy foods as it could be seen that they’re forgetting their core message – healthy lifestyle.

The reasons an organization won’t accept certain donations or support from various sources could be many, but what’s important is that organizations put in the time and effort to think about their funding sources and if disclosing sources of funding could have a negative impact. Any negative impact could jeopardize funding from other sources and perception in the wider community.

Have you thought about an ethical donations policy for your organization, is it something you would put in place? If you have an ethical donations policy, how did you come to the course you’ve taken?

Have you lost funding due to mis-perception of your funding source?

Fundraising – Planning is Needed

Being able to deliver what you’re established to do can’t be done without funding; and any fundraising you plan to do can be a challenge at the best of times; but when times are tough, when people don’t have the resources to give as they ordinarily would, it can be a lot tougher.

When planning your fundraising campaign you need to know who gives and whysurvey results from research conducted in early 2012 gives some insight into who gives, where they are and other important demographics, do you know who gives to your organization and why, and do you know what makes people want to give? If not it could be good for you to look for some research that applies to your organization.


To maximize what you might be able to achieve you should prioritize your efforts:

What avenues are you likely to have the most success with?
If you’re not already, you should stream or categorize your current supporter and prospect lists. Categories such as, Hot or Taps, Warms and Colds are ideal to use:

These are those who give on or you know will give for a specific purpose. They are often the ones who you can gain support from for the least effort.
Often this group responds well from having regular contact from the same person, this group is ideal to be ‘account managed’.

This group haven’t likely given for the last or possibly a couple of appeals, but are open to being approached. With the right approach this group will give, it’s all a matter of your approach and reinforcing that their support is needed and that they are important to the organization.

As the ‘title’ suggests, they’ve not supported before – perhaps they’ve never been approached before. This group will take more work, but shouldn’t be forgotten altogether as you will gain new support from this group. 

Perhaps having a separate team contacting each group will reap the greatest rewards, different skills sets can be needed, some people have transferable skills – do what’s right for your organization and, team. 

Don’t just look at the immediate period, are there fundraising opportunities that could generate income in future periods?
Be open with those you are contacting, not everyone will be able to give right now, leave the door open for support in the future. 

You will find others will want to offer support over a period of time, and others may also wish to work with you for raising support in the future. Whichever, all support should be nurtured. 

Collaboration with future supporters to build on future fundraising is important, using the networks you will come across through your fundraising efforts will help build future campaigns. It is likely you will be able to network with a number of people (and businesses) who you will be able to unite to create a campaign and income in the future.

Bequests is something else that shouldn’t be negated, does your organization currently have a bequest programme? If not, now could be the time to investigate and plan a bequest programme. Check what other organization are doing and research what will be the best way forward for this for your organization.

What can you do to raise significant sums?
It’s true getting large sums makes it easier to reach the total fundrasing goal, but it’s not that simple. A well thought out plan is a must, no organization can go looking for significant sums without first thinking through all the processes, and thinking what information potential ‘

Questions such as where support goes will mean you have to be open, and questions about authenticity are to be expected, you need to be prepared for them, and be able to answer them before they are asked. 

Teaming up with others can also benefit in gaining significant support, the support may not come from one source – it could be as a result of collaborating with a number of parties. Be open to exploring collaborative projects.

Don’t forget to engage with current supporters to learn what it is you do that makes them continue to support, perhaps bring together a focus group to help build your campaign. 

What’s your organizations biggest challenge

There’s always challenges faced by nonprofits, money is normally the most common thing we hear about, comments like –  “we need money now to save …..” “we need your support to help …. ” are common.

Other areas that your non-profit may be facing challenges may include:

Staff retention
Supporter retention
Getting your message out
Use of new tools and technology (e.g. social media)
If there’s a challenge your nonprofit is facing, leave a comment below and we’ll see what we can offer to help.


Collaborate and thrive

All too often we hear about orgnisations struggling to tap into information they need, they know it’s out there – but they don’t know how to soyurce it. 

If you’re an organisation needing help, support, knowlegde – and want to know more about collaboration – you really should check out Collaboration: The New Black

We’ve formed an alliance with Curative and AUT Business School under the banner of Comm-Unity to answer some of the challenges that community, not for profit and NGO services face, through a series of events that aim to help build capacity by sharing learnings and breaking down silos.

The first event in the Comm-Unity series is aptly titled: Collaboration – The New Black, and will be held at the AUT Business school on Saturday 08 September.

In response to the common struggle to operate on limited budgets, with increased demands; Collaboration, The New Black – seeks to show that collaboration is more than just a trend, but a necessity.


Agnes Ngaera of AUT Business School says, “We hear all too often how organisations struggle to source information, gain participation and shift public perception of an issue; often expending vast sums of money, on things other organisations are also trying to do.”


“Curative, Adage Business and AUT Business School all work with organisations that are experiencing exactly this. But we’ve also been exposed to fantastic examples of successful and productive collaboration.


“So with this first event we want to share examples that show how organisations can pool resources, connect and collaborate for common good, share knowledge to help each other, and build on the services they offer.

You’ll hear some great insights from

Will Watterson – The Global Poverty Project

Gill Greer – Volunteer Service Abroad

Jacinda Ardern – Labour MP

Pru Etcheverry – Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ

Steve Caunce & Dale Bailey – Fuji Xerox & Careers NZ

Norm Hewitt & Shelley Ryan – One of the Family


Each of the speakers will share their knowledge and experience of collaboration in action, to help attendees forge more successful and productive partnerships with other organisations.

Block out some time on Saturday 8 September and come along to Collaboration – The New Black


11am – 3pm at AUT Business School, Level 7, 42 Wakefield St


Visit to book to attend or to find out more about the event and speakers.

Use Donor Stories

Telling stories about your organization, the cause you work with are great, but what about the “Donor Story”?

People want to know what you do, why you do it, but people also want to know why you get the support you get, why people have chosen to support you; what drives them to open their wallets and donate to help you with the work you’re doing.

When was the last time you asked supporters to share why they give to you – or is it something you haven’t thought about doing? If you haven’t done it yet, do it – get your donor stories out there.
It’s one thing for you to know who your donors are, but it’s another to tell others (if you can) who supports you and why.

Michael Rosen recently shared 8 Valuable Insights from a Major Donor where he talks about a major donor sharing why he and his wife support causes.  The donor (Daniel) and his wife contribute  to a variety of nonprofit organizations and serve on a number of nonprofit boards. 

Michael shares that Daniel told his class that he believes “donors see their giving as an extension of themselves.” He indicated that the more involved he is with an organization, the more personally he’s connected, the more likely he is to donate. In addition, he said that he is motivated by the notion of “giving back.” If he, or a family member, has benefited from the services of an organization in a significant way, he’s more likely to contribute.

However, for Daniel, it’s not all about involvement and reciprocity. He needs to also have confidence in an organization’s leadership before he’ll provide a significant gift. Two of the things that help build his confidence in the leadership are:

  1. the quality of the organization’s products or services,
  2. the demonstrated efficiency with which the organization provides those products or services.

If I was to look at supporting an organization I’d want to know the same things Daniel does, I’d also like to know why others are doing what they’re doing.

Read Micheal’s full article here and think about what you could be doing to share your donor stories to grow your supporter base.

And have a look at Jeff Brook’s recent post “What donors are interested in” 

You might also like to read:

Are you telling donor stories, if so please share why you’re doing it and what impact it’s had on growing supporters.

Communication – Email Management

A few times recently I’ve been pulling my hair out waiting for responses to emails, and now I’ve found out why some emails are going without acknowledgment for days – and it’s not because they’ve been caught in junk or spam folders.

It would appear that there are a number of organizations who use shared emails – info@ourorg, emails aren’t assigned to any one person – it’s email lottery, the first to see them may respond, or as would appear ignore them in the hope someone else will.

There are also organizations (nonprofit and commercial) who print out every email and hand them to the person responsible – waste of time, and money (paper and toner).

Surely there’s a way emails going through to one email address can be handled better.

Perhaps organizations who share a common email address should assign one person to check emails then allocate them to the person responsible for what they contain.

Folders could be set up for different people, with each person having to check “their” folder at least daily to ensure nothing is missed.

It’s not really rocket science to check emails and make sure someone has responded, but when one person only has full access then it can make it hard to know who has or hasn’t responded unless a scan of sent items is done. 

Do you share an email address with others, how do you manage this?


Have an engaged team in sync with the leader

Clinton Farley in his blog post – A successful business is one with an engaged team in sync with the leader… – says everything I would about teams and leadership that I would to any nonprofit.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a business, a corporation or an organization working in the community you need an engaged team. 

The compass or direction of a business is ultimately set by a leader however if placed beside a magnet can take the business in a different direction, much like a team that has become disengaged.

Read what Clinton has to say and adopt some of what he says in your organization.