For decades, our sector has had this refrain: “Donors and funders deserve transparency. They have a right to know how nonprofits spend their donations and the outcomes they achieved.” Many of us agree with this, including me. Yes, nonprofits should be transparent. They need to report their revenues, expenses, program activities, and the results of their work. And most nonprofits do, as required by law. In the US nonprofits are legally required to file 990 tax forms each year. Most orgs release annual reports. Throughout the year they also let people know what they’ve been up to, using newsletters and other forms of communication.
The challenge is that for some reason the above level of transparency is not enough, and we’ve all convinced ourselves that not only do donors and funders deserve to know specifically how the dollars they contributed were spent and what outcomes could be personally attributed to them, but also that this somehow makes sense.
Hi everyone. Quick reminder: On August 30th at 11am Pacific Time, there is a FREE webinar on legislative reforms on Donor-Advised Funds. Get more details and register here. There will be live captioning.
Also, this week I’ll be speaking virtually at the Nonprofit Marketing Summit, which is free for everyone. My lecture, called “Burn It All Down: Achieving Radical Impact in Nonprofit and Philanthropy” will be on Thursday August 24 at 11am Pacific Time. Get details and register here. There will be auto-captions. And I might have a sexy, smokey voice from weeks of chronic coughing.
After doing this work a while, I realize there are a few words and phrases in our sector that absolute raise my hackles and cause me to go immediately into fight or fight mode (yes, I said “fight” twice). These words and phrases include “overhead,” “logic model,” “sustainability,” “donor love,” “strategic philanthropy,” “nonprofits should act more like for-profits,” and “can I give you some friendly feedback about your personal appearance on that virtual keynote?”