The Donor Bill of Rights was designed about 25 years ago to provide an outline of best practices for fundraising in non-profits. While the list has been criticized for being out of date today or not being comprehensive, its basic principles are worth revisiting. Incorporating lessons from the Donor Bill of Rights can help you build solid relationships with donors — and even boost fundraising. These are the 10 rights and how they might relate to your non-profit.
1. To be informed of the organization’s mission, how it intends to use donated resources and its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
How your organization utilizes its resources and distributes them should be clear to all stakeholders of your outreach including your board, staff, and anyone reading your organization’s materials.
2. To be informed of who’s serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
A non-profit’s board serves an important role of guiding the organization toward a sustainable future and ensuring ethical execution of the organization’s activities. Because of the central role of a board, it is important that all donors understand who is on the board and have confidence in the decisions they’re making.
3. To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
Transparency with non-profit’s financial statements throughout the community including constituents, potential donors, and charitable watchdog groups increases confidence in the organization.
4. To be assured gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
Donors expect that non-profit organizations maximize the funds available for programming by minimizing overhead expenses and that you’ll honor any restrictions they’ve placed on gifts.
5. To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
In addition to thanking donors for supporting the nonprofit’s mission, provide them with the substantiation required for a federal tax deduction and information about the charitable deduction rules and limits.
6. To be assured that donation information is handled with respect and confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
7. To expect that relationships between individuals representing organizations and donors will be professional.
Staff and board members should be trained in proper donor interaction — both offline and online.
8. To be informed whether fundraisers are volunteers, employees of the organization, or hired solicitors. Train your entire fundraising team both internal and external to be transparent about their relationship with the organization and the fundraising objectives.
9. To have the opportunity for donors’ names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
Donors, not your non-profit, must decide how their information is shared. Clearly communicate if any information will be shared and make it easy for donors to opt out of email and other lists.
10. To feel free to ask questions and receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers. Encourage your donor community to engage with your organization as it fosters respect and deepens relationships.
Ernst Wintter & Associates LLP specialize in California non-profit audits and tax preparation. Contact us today for help with your non-profit audit or tax prep needs.