Pictured l. to r. Cheryl Ching, The Teagle Foundation, Donna Heiland, The Teagle Foundation, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Ph.D., Princeton University and Richard Buery, President and CEO, The Children’s Aid Society
In the nonprofit world, the phrase, “we’ll do lunch” has its own meaning in the sense that “lunch” is code for “bring your checkbook.” You (the donor) and I (the nonprofit CEO) will enjoy a meal and then I’m going to pull out all the stops to prove to you why my charity deserves your organization’s financial support.
If you check your inbox or mailbox today, there’s a good chance one of them contains an appeal from a nonprofit agency.
It could be a newsletter containing information about new programs, or a request to contribute toward a donor-match program. Or it could simply be a profile of someone whose life was improved because of the financial support of people like you.
With the markets about as calm as a roller coaster, what we’re thankful for is all too often an afterthought. I don’t know anyone these days who doesn’t treat their stock portfolio as a scene from a gory horror flick: “I’m afraid to look -- but I can’t help it -- oh, I shouldn’t have looked.”
If President Obama’s Office of Social Innovation gets the $50 million he’s requested to help fund non-profit agencies, I’ve got a suggestion for how to best spend that money: Tackle the hardest problems first.
What are the hardest problems? As someone who's spent the last 40 years working with disadvantaged children, two top my list: teen pregnancy and public education.
Right now, everyone is focused on finding the cure for our current economic crisis. Bailouts, recovery plans and billion-dollar loans hopefully will get our economy back on firm footing soon. But we also need to look at the long-term, big picture of what will propel our economy into the future. And I believe that can be accomplished by reinventing the driver of our success: a world-class education.
You know how retailers are battling it out over the few dollars consumers are willing to spend? It’s no different in the nonprofit world. Merely grabbing a donor’s attention isn't enough. We have to make a solid argument for why our cause is the one worthy of your hard-to-part-with dollar.