Opinion: in nonprofits, nothing substitutes for donors

Posted on: September 25, 2013

“I’m worried by what I see as an excessive focus on generating revenue by nonprofits,” writes Simone Joyaux in the Nonprofit Quarterly on Thursday (9/19). “It seems like people are promoting revenue as ‘better than charitable contributions.’… Since time began, many nonprofits have generated both revenue and charitable gifts.… Theatres and symphonies produce revenue by selling tickets and refreshments. Museums generate revenue with admissions and gift shop sales. Colleges and universities charge tuition. Hospitals charge fees paid by insurance companies and government contracts.… Revenue is great … but nothing substitutes for donors and their charitable gifts.… And not because of the money. Donors are different than customers…. Nothing can substitute for voluntary action for the common good, not even buying things…. There’s a parallel in fundraising itself: Nothing substitutes for charitable gifts, not even ticket purchases for fundraising events.… The reality is, buying a ticket to an event is usually about attending the event.…  A donation—with no goods or services exchanged—is about the cause. So beware of too much focus on fundraising events. Spend more time on charitable gifts and donors. Beware of too much time focused on revenue generation—or overreliance on revenue, which is subject to the whim of customers.”

Posted September 25, 2013