Harsh words to hear but totally justified! Nonprofits are very eager, to say the least, to find an easy way to make money. Many times volunteer board member are too busy with their own jobs and family, so it seems very appealing when a “new money making idea” is thrown out which requires little time or effort on their part.
In the United States, it seems there are thousands and thousands of companies that make a living going from town to town and city to city offering this brand of fundraising to the local nonprofits. One touted “new idea” might be to bring in a circus or some other form of entertainment and selling tickets while also providing a few to “needy children” in town. All of this sounds on the surface to be really warm and fuzzy only to find out the people who are calling all your local businesses are walking away with 75% or more of the money that is raised.
These boiler room operations many times act as if they are local people themselves and tout that the money they raise goes to a long list of worthy organizations. Other ideas include selling ads in booklets, calendars or selling coupon booklets giving discounts to people who shop at various stores and the list goes on and on.
All states have solicitation divisions that are supposed to regulate nonprofit fundraising activity. However many small nonprofits are not even aware that these regulations exist and as long as they continue to agree with the companies that are offering their brand of fundraising the cycle continues.
With the internet heating up there are a lot more new opportunities that seem to be popping up daily. Nonprofit mailboxes will soon be full, if they are not already overflowing, with offers to set up your own online store! Make lots of money! It’s free! Also many nonprofits are taking donations online which means setting up merchant accounts to take credit cards or taking checks online all with the hopes of getting more money faster and more often all with a fee involved! The keyword on all these new and fast ideas is CAUTION!
The proven long-term fundraising solutions still require hard work. It takes a strong board of directors, volunteers and committed staff. Raising money takes time and energy. Allowing your name to be devalued and used by everyone makes your chances of ever really becoming well respected in the communities you serve tough at best. There are no quick fixes or easy answers in raising money. It starts with friend raising and building a name awareness and gradually moves to asking individuals for money not just your local businesses.
The watchword to remember is to take heed and Be Cautious!
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.