There is a great article in today’s Toronto Star by Carol Goar: http://bit.ly/13Ep14A
Three donors have banded their funds together and supported a room on the new George Brown campus on the waterfront. The twist is they are naming the room in honour of a migrant care giver, and keeping their names anonymous! What an honour to the care giver, a great incentive for students in the care giving program and a very generous gesture on behalf of the donors- true philanthropy- pass it on!
Last week I read that Peter Braid, MP, Kitchener-Waterloo has introduced a private members bill to move the Canadian tax deadline for charitable giving from December 31 to the end of February. I think this is a grand idea.
This would match the tax deadline for RRSPS and move the deadline for charitable giving from a time when many Canadians may be cash strapped over the holidays. While private members bills rarely become law, a spokesperson for Jim Flaherty has indicated that the government is reviewing the idea. Might be worth sending your MP an email if you are in favour.
This issue came up yesterday at Prime Quadrant’s conference on “Today’s Opportunities Across The Asset Classes”. A donor approached me and said she did not think it right that she and her husband were being asked to raise funds for a building that carried the name of the original donor who is since deceased. The cultural building is in need of an upgrade and she felt the original donor should not be reaping the rewards from current donors who were raising far more funds than the original gift. She makes a good point.
While philanthropists have been giving to charitable causes for hundreds of years in Canada, it is only in recent years that formal donor agreements have really come into the mainstream. In the old days a donor was approached for support, perhaps there may have been a “gentleman’s agreement” on the gift amount and possibly on the type of recognition and that was that. There may not have been anything signed aside from the cheque and it was just expected the building would hold the original donor’s name in perpetuity. Read more
I was reading an article today from the Chronicle of Philanthropy on who is the best person in an organization to ask a potential donor for support. The response from Kent Dove, a former development officer at Indiana University included a reference to the “six rights” when asking for funding. He says “Aim for the right person to ask the right donor for the right amount in the right form at the right time and for the right purpose.”
He is so right! In working with many donors, I often see situations where a donor has been approached either by the wrong person, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason or in the wrong format. This can be very frustrating for the donor as well as the charity.
Looking at this from the donor’s perspective, what can you do to minimize unwanted, unsolicited proposals that may not even fit with your philanthropic goals?
Here are “Six Rights for Donors” in order to focus philanthropic requests for your support.
It is Right to:
• Be very clear on your philanthropic giving. If you focus on one or two areas, it is easier to identify which projects best suit your interests while reducing unsolicited requests.
• Communicate your areas of interest. If you let people know your philanthropic interests it will be easier for charities to understand if their projects are in line with your goals. It can be as simple as a one line statement such as “The Smith Foundation focuses on support to at risk youth and homeless mothers”.
• Know something about the charities that have asked to meet with you. At the very least, make sure they are a qualified donee with the Canada Revenue Agency and that you have some idea of their mandate and activities.
• Ask for a written proposal before you agree to meet. Ask the charity to define in writing what it is they are proposing to do and why they need your support. This will help you determine if indeed you wish to meet with the organization.
• Make a few calls to other potential funders. See if others you know have been approached and what they know of the project or the organization if unknown to you.
• Say no to a meeting request. Do not be bullied into meeting with a group because your old friend suggested they call you. If it fits with what you wish to do philanthropically, then go right ahead, but if it is just another request for support that is far from your own interests you have a right to just say “no”.
Follow these simple steps and you will reduce the number of unwanted meetings and unsolicited requests for your support.
Need help dealing with difficult charities? We can help: email@example.com
As I was glued to my television set watching the latest Olympic coverage, it occurred to me that giving at its highest level could be compared to striving for an Olympic medal.
As athletes prepare and train for the performance of a lifetime, so too donors should prepare themselves for their philanthropic giving. Here are a few tips to help you soar to new philanthropic heights:
Plan your Giving Identify your interests and passions for your philanthropy. It is always better to support initiatives that you have a connection with whether it is helping cure cancer, feed hungry children or support a theatre company.
Research Your Charities: Make sure you know the organizations you are investing in- because that is what this is- an investment of your own money to help an organization achieve its charitable mission. You want to make sure the charities you support match your own philanthropic goals and that they are well run and produce results.
Be Clear with Your Gift Intent: If you wish to support a particular program or initiative of the charity, be sure to let them know that is what your gift is for. It is always best to put your intention in writing, even if it is a simple letter than accompanies your cheque. That way, all parties will be clear of your intentions.
Know the Impact: Did your gift make a difference? How do you know? Call or visit the organization or if the level of support warrants, ask them for a brief summary report on what difference your gift has made. You have a right to know how your funds were spent and what impact they have made.
Like a fine tuned athlete, philanthropic giving takes lots of practice. Keep working on these steps to ensure your philanthropic giving reaches Olympic proportions.
Need help with any of the above? Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My friend Mo Lidsky of Prime Quadrant sent me the attached link from The Financial Times about philanthropic advisors for donors: http://on.ft.com/IRbGv4.
It is true, more wealthy donors are seeking advice and assistance with their philanthropic giving and some are wisely checking out philanthropic advisors before engaging their services.
A philanthropic advisor is one who provides support and services to donors with their philanthropic giving. Such advisors provide a donor with the confidence that they are supporting the right charities and that their support is making the right impact. While some of us have been in business for quite some time, the concept of a philanthropic advisor is just beginning to gain ground in Canadian donor circles. (They are well known in Great Britain and the USA). Such advisors are not regulated nor is there a basic standard they must adhere to so it is very important for you to be diligent in checking out any potential philanthropic advisors.
What should you look for in a good philanthropic advisor? Read more
Imagine Canada has just launched its new Standards Program. This is a voluntary accreditation program for charities & nonprofits that demonstrate excellence in: board governance, financial accountability & transparency, ethical fund raising, staff management and volunteer involvement. Applications are assessed by a peer review panel. Organizations that receive accreditation will sign a licence of agreement that allows them to use the official trademark for 5 years.
This is great news. While it is just getting underway, it will give donors and the public confidence in charities they wish to support.
For more info, go to Imagine Canada, Standards Program: http://www.imaginecanada.ca/standards
The recent posting of confidential information on donors from McGill’s Development and Alumni Department is very unfortunate. http://bit.ly/yI8QtZ
Ardent supporters of McGill will know the University would never willingly release such information so it should not affect their future gifts to the University but it does cause one to think about the privacy of such information.
As a donor, how can you ensure your information is being managed in the most confidential manner?
Most large charitable institutions will use sophisticated database systems to manage their charitable gifts and donor information that are usually well protected. Smaller charities however, may not have such controls and may simply keep their donors’ information on a spread sheet or in a simple database. With the advent of Wiki Leaks, obviously even the most secure systems can be hacked into.
.If you are concerned about privacy of your information, you may wish to ask the charity you are donating to explain their process of managing your private information-what information do they keep about you on their system, is it protected and who has access? You should be comfortable that the charity is taking measures to keep your information confidential.
You can give anonymously, which will protect you on public listings of donors but ultimately your name and information will occur somewhere in the charity’s systems for record keeping and tax receipting purposes so even anonymous giving does not totally guarantee your privacy.
You can give via a donor advised fund or through your local community foundation. This way, the recipient charity never even receives your information. However, be aware that donor advised funds and community foundations will keep your information so it is just as important to know how they will handle your private information as they will be just as vulnerable as McGill depending on the security of their systems.
You can be very selective in the personal information you provide to charities. You may have a business address/phone/email you can use instead of your own personal information. You may be able to use a staff contact instead of your own family name or you may have a foundation associated with your giving and that could be used as the principal contact information.
If none of the above work for you, you might ask the charity to keep your information separate from their computerized lists with secure controls and with very limited access. What an old fashioned idea! While this may be more work for the charity, if they are keen to accept your donation, they may well accommodate your privacy needs in such a manner.
Giving seems to be getting more complicated than ever but it is very important to protect your privacy and make sure those receiving your gifts follow suit.
Need some help with your philanthropic giving? Contact us at: email@example.com
It is that time to start collecting all those pieces of paper you need to properly file your income tax. Remember to collect all your charitable receipts to ensure you get the most tax benefit from your charitable giving. These days you will often receive your charitable receipts via email so make sure you have saved those emails or printed off the receipts, in addition to those you may have received via traditional mail. Every year I create an envelope for my tax receipts. When I receive a charitable receipt, via email or Canada Post, I put a copy in the envelope so when it comes to preparing my income tax, I have all my charitable receipts in one place. Can’t find a receipt? Sometimes in our hurry to clean out our emails, you may have erased a receipt or two from the charities you support- not to worry, you can ask the charity to send you a copy so don’t hesitate to contact them- every donation counts!
You will see in today’s Globe and Mail http://bit.ly/t9S9UB; the CRA has fined the Reimer Express Foundation this enormous penalty for payments made to non-qualified individuals and charities.
Reimer Express Foundation has supported Christian charities to the tune of $2M annually. The problem is in 2003-2004, the Foundation provided $250,000 of improper donations to individuals and organizations outside Canada that are not approved by the CRA. The CRA audited the Reimer Express Foundation in that year and the Foundation signed a “compliance agreement” saying it would abide by CRA rules and guidelines. This is all well and good, but as revealed in a subsequent audit in 2009, Reimer Express Foundation continued supporting some of the non-qualified charities and continued to provide support to individuals- both which do not comply with CRA regulations, thus they have been fined.
While these gifts may have been made with the utmost of good intentions, Canadian donors and foundations need to adhere to the CRA’s guidelines in providing donations to charities.
As a donor, before you write the cheque, you need to make sure the organization you are about to support is indeed a legitimate CRA registered charity or qualified donee. It is simple to find out this information. Go online to the CRA’s Charity Directorate: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/menu and click on the Charities Listing link to look up the name of the charity you are about to support. If it is a charity or university outside Canada, give the Charities Directorate a call and they will be able to advise you if the organization is a qualified donee. The Charities Directorate toll free number is: 1-800-267-2384; they are open 8:00am-8:00pm. You have no excuse to say you did not know! Still need help? Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org