Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Social Media and Nonprofit Fundraising

Many nonprofits take it as given that reaching out to donors and other constituents through multiple channels will automatically improve fundraising, donor retention, and the like.  The result is that many focus on reaching as many people as possible, especially through social media channels, without an intentional strategy as to how these new channels can be used efficiently to engage donors.  In this post, I want to take the time to examine some data on this viewpoint to shed light on its shortcomings.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Are Popular Charities More Efficient?

At this point, it seems widely accepted that the most well-loved charities charities are also often the best at accomplishing their mission.  Whether it is that effectiveness makes them popular or that popularity makes it much easier to focus resources on a mission is hard to say.  However, what few seem to admit is that the relationship between popularity and efficiency may actually be more complicated.  After all, popular charities perhaps may face less scrutiny since people find it hard to question these highly-regarded organizations.  Or, it could also be that attaining popularity requires an organization to take its focus off the mission, instead focusing on visibility.  If true, these considerations suggest that the connection between popularity and a strong focus on mission may be tenuous.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Charity Telemarketing Update

Following up on recent posts (here and here) about the use of third-party fundraisers by charities, the State of Michigan's Attorney General recently released a report on the use of outside fundraisers by charities in its state (which also includes national campaigns conducted, in part, in the state).  The state's report concluded that on average charities only received 35% of the funds raised on their behalf, a stunning figure.   The full report is available here, and is a fascinating read.  Among the most notable entries are:

  • Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association got 26.4% of the $3.7 million raised.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Foundation got 8.9% of the $3.0 million raised.
  • Breast Cancer Charities of America got 15.0% of the $5.0 million raised.
  • Breast Cancer Society got 14.8% of the $10.6 million raised.
  • Children's Cancer Fund of America got 18.6% of the $2.2 million raised.
  • Disabled Veterans Services got 17.5% of the $2.4 million raised.
  • Foundation for American Veterans got 15.0% of the $5.5 million raised.
  • National Vietnam Veterans Foundation got 11.0% of the $3.4 million raised.
  • Others First, Inc. got 18.0% of the $6.4 million raised.
  • Veterans Support Foundation got 15.0% of the $3.7 million raised.
  • Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation got 10.8% of the $4.0 million raised.

For those that think these figures are unacceptable, I encourage you to consider the possible remedies and, importantly, add your own suggestions.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Effectiveness of Cancer Research Spending

"Where Do the Millions of Cancer Research Dollars Go Every Year?" is a recent article by David Chan, MD, in Slate.  In it, Dr. Chan argues that despite the many dollars funneled in to cancer research by the government and nonprofits, the efforts have been ineffective.  The article is an interesting and provocative read.  To me, two things stood out: (1) the current emphasis on cure rather than prevention; and (2) the current emphasis on certain forms of cancer at the expense of others.