Dec 28, 2007

Responsible Fundraising New Year's Resolutions

Now seems like a good time of year for all of us to read the recently issued Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice: A Guide for Charities and Foundations, by the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector. It contains not only general principles, but several under the heading "Responsible Fundraising." And while the organizations who should really be reading these principles probably won't -- say, the few who think it's okay to ignore the laws and spend donors' funds for personal benefit -- every organization could probably improve its practices in some way.

Even if your main job is fundraising, I'd advise reading all the principles, to see what realizations they inspire. For example, the principles say, "A charitable organization should establish and implement policies and procedures to protect and preserve the organization's important documents and business records."

To me, that's a reminder that organizations collect a lot of personal information on people who send in donations, often including names, addresses, telephone numbers, and credit card numbers. Does your office have systems in place to safely dispose of this information once you're done with it -- and are all staff and volunteers who help with processing donations trained to follow your office policies? Your New Year's resolution may be as simple as buying and using a shredder.