"The last quarter of the year is extremely important for charities. Our studies show that the typical charity receives from one-third to one-half, or more, of their total annual contributions during this time," said Paulette V. Maheara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). "At the same time, people are especially mindful of their money in this tough economy, and donors need to feel confident about the charities they support."
Maehara suggested the following tips and guidelines for donors when considering making a contribution:
-- Take your time in making giving decisions and resist high-pressure
appeals. The faster the sales pitch, the more you should just say no.
-- Don't be fooled by charities with worthy-sounding names, or names
that might sound similar to other organizations. Some questionable
charities create names that are intended to sound like other well-known
charities and mislead potential donors.
-- Know the charity you are considering supporting. Ask the charity to send
you a brochure or other published information. If the response is slow,
reluctant or not forthcoming at all, consider a different charity.
-- Before making a gift, offer to volunteer your time to learn more about
the organization and how it is run. If the response is less than
enthusiastic, or you don't like what you find, consider looking
elsewhere to donate your time and money.
-- If you're contacted by a telemarketer, ask if he or she is working
for a percentage of the funds raised, is paid a set salary or fee or is
a volunteer. If the telemarketer is taking a percentage of funds raised,
hang up the phone. Percentage-based compensation is considered
"There are more than one million charities across North America addressing almost every conceivable issue," says Maehara. "If donors have concerns about a charity, there are countless others that they can choose from and learn about, and I encourage them to do so."
Maehara also pointed to documents such as The Donor Bill of Rights, which explicitly lists the ten expectations that donors should have of charities when they make a contribution. AFP's Code of Ethical Principles and Standards also highlights appropriate ethical conduct for fundraisers. By reviewing these documents at http://www.afpnet.org/ethics, donors will be more confident in their giving.
Copies of AFP's Code of Ethics and The Donor Bill of Rights are available upon request.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents over 30,000 members in 200 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy and ethical fundraising through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. For more information, visit http://www.afpnet.org.