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How To Attract Donors

We all know that donors are increasingly besieged by requests for gifts in these difficult economic times. How do donors decide to whom to give? How can nonprofits show that they are worthy of receiving precious philanthropic dollars? How can those who guide donors help them with their decisions? I recently read about a new McKinsey report on this topic entitled The Nonprofit Marketplace: Bridging the Information Gap in Philanthropy (executive summary), produced with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Philanthropy Program. One of the main points of the report is that current assessments of worthiness, which rely heavily on financial measures (fund-raising ratios, numbers of people served), do not provide adequate information about which nonprofits are effective and which are not. Some of the burden for communication falls on nonprofits themselves, who often don’t assess the intrinsic impacts or social benefits of their programs or communicate these outcomes to their donors, beyond anecdotes. The responsibility for communication of relevant information is shared with intermediaries (like Guidestar) who provide information to potential donors, and of course with the donors themselves, who need to learn how to ask appropriate questions. Anticipating some controversy, Hewlett Foundation has set up a web site devoted to this topic. Take a peek and see if you have anything to contribute to the discussion!

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