It is December and many nonprofits have launched their end-of-the-year fundraising campaigns, which means it is very likely that you've been asked more than once this holiday season to make a contribution. But, how do you sort through the appeals?
Knowing what to look for when you are solicited by a charity can help you to make informed giving decisions and allow you to feel more confident when responding to an appeal.
What to look for in print materials. To start, check for the proper disclosures. All print, email and electronic solicitations must identify the nonprofit that will receive your donation and clearly describe the purpose or programs for which your gift will be used. The Council’s Fundraising Disclosures standard also requires that the solicitation include the organization’s contact information (address and phone number) and how much of your gift is tax deductible.
What phone solicitors should disclose. Similarly, phone solicitors must also disclose the organization name, purpose of the gift, and your tax-deductibility information. Additionally, the Council’s Soliciting Practices standard requires anyone soliciting your gift, apart from the organization’s staff or volunteers, to identify him- or herself as a professional fundraiser. The professional fundraiser must provide the name and address of their employer or contracting party upon your request.
What to know about companies partnering with nonprofits. In another instance, when a nonprofit’s name is used by a for-profit company in connection with an event or the sale of a particular product or service, it should be made clear to you how much of your purchase, or how much of the total revenue will go to the nonprofit. If this information is not obvious, you should be able to request this information from the nonprofit or partnering company.
The philosophy behind these fundraising standards lies in the principal that a charity’s fundraising methods should be ethical and honest, encouraging you and other donors to give voluntarily based on your interests and knowledge of the organization. As a donor, you deserve to know who is soliciting your gift, what it will be used for, and what portion will be received by the nonprofit. By looking for this information and giving to organizations that meet these standards of transparency, you can donate confidently.
To view a complete list of The Charities Review Council’s Accountability Standards click here.