Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What kind of donor am I?

Something to consider when giving to a nonprofit: what is most critical? Over the course of my years in nonprofit management, many people have asked what charities I support. That’s not really the point – the goal is to find a nonprofit that YOU can get excited about.
So, imagine this:
You are standing by a river, when you start to notice a bunch of kids drifting down the river... they just keep coming! What do you do?
A) Throw lifelines out to them, hop in a boat and try to get them onto shore.
B) Jump in and teach them how to swim.
C) Run upstream to find where they are coming from.
Three different, valid options. Where you gravitate says a lot about where you should give. If A, you probably want to support organizations whose mission is to “rescue”, ie, help people in immediate need or distress. These would be shelters, soup kitchens, animal rescue groups, or disaster relief organizations. If B, you like to see people become self-sufficient. You might want to consider job training programs, transitional housing, or life-skills nonprofits. And if C, you are into correcting the source of the problem—educational charities, medical research centers, or advocacy groups that try to affect policy changes.
We need all three strategies, so there are no right answers. It’s just a matter of where your passion lies, and what you think is most critical and effective.

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