Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Fund Management and Reporting

When it comes to managing donor gifts, fundraising professionals in nonprofit organizations have to walk a fine line. On the one hand, professional fundraisers are not the accountants or financial managers of their organizations. On the other hand, they have a fiduciary responsibility under the AFP Code of Ethics to ensure to the best of their ability that donations are recorded and reported accurately and used according to the donors’ wishes—even if the donor is no longer around. 

It’s a little like when you were young and your mother told you not to let your little brother run into the street.

The following sources can help fundraisers get the information they need to monitor and evaluate financial management practices in their organizations.

Principles of Nonprofit Investment Management
This PDF document identifies and defines seven key issues involved in nonprofit investment management: objectives, payout policy, asset allocation, manager selection, risk management, cost, and responsibilities.

Nonprofit Asset Management: Effective Investment Strategies and Oversight
This book is a guide for effective investment management and oversight of endowments, foundations and other nonprofit investors. Although not aimed primarily for fundraising professionals, it provides valuable information to help fundraisers evaluate and oversee their organization's management of donor funds. It covers topics such as a simple framework for the oversight of assets, setting investment objectives, investment policy, asset allocation strategies, investment manager selection, alternative asset classes, and how to establish an effective oversight system to ensure the program stays on track.

All About Financial Management in Nonprofits
This "free library" provides links to a multitude of information sources on topics such as basics and getting started; planning and cash management; financial statements, analysis, and reporting; and special topics such as cutting costs and lease versus buy.

Financial Management Tools and Resources
The Council of Nonprofits website provides links to information sources on financial management, unrelated business income taxation, nonprofits and the new OMB uniform guidance, own your own costs, (mis)understanding overhead, and other related topics.

Reporting Net Assets In Correct Columns
Financial statements of nonprofits display net assets (equity) in three classes: unrestricted, temporarily restricted and permanently restricted. This article clears up some of the confusing classification issues and reporting pitfalls that persist.

The 2015-2016 Nonprofit Accounting Insights & Analysis Survey 
This survey by Nonprofit PRO magazine reports information central to nonprofit accounting management, including the amount of time spent inside and outside an organization’s financial system pulling and manipulating data, and specific software features used to manage nonprofits.

Outcomes Reporting
This survey found reporting on outcomes is made difficult for most nonprofits.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Membership Programs

Types of Membership Programs

Giving Societies and Donor Clubs

A two-part article from The Fundraising Authority on setting up and using giving societies and donor clubs:

Part 1. Using Giving Societies and Donor Clubs Effectively

Part 2. How to Set Up Successful Giving Societies and Donor Clubs

Three Alumni Membership Models

Pros and cons of three membership models used in alumni associations.

Survey: Lifetime Memberships in Education Associations

Results from a 2011 survey conducted for the Reggio Alliance.
Research report dated October 10, 2011) (Download)

Examples of Successful Membership Programs

The Detroit Regional Chamber's tiered membership structure

Enticing members with loyalty programs and perks: an article from the Wild Apricot blog 

Starting a Membership Program

How to start an association: an ASAE white paper

How to start a partner membership program with the National Park Service

Starting a membership program: a Boardhost answer

How to Set Up a Recurring or Lifetime Membership Program on Blackbaud

Member Management

Non-Profit Help: making unhappy members lifetime members in 3 easy steps

Tax-Related Considerations

An AFP FAQ: Deductibility of Membership Dues

IRS Publication 526 (2011), Charitable Contributions

A Fundraising 123 Article: Are Membership Dues Deductible?

Naming Policies and Opportunities

Why Having a Good Naming Policy is Important

The following article explains the value of establishing a naming policy and the requirements and elements of a good naming policy:

Examples of difficulties that can arise if you don't have a clear policy on naming:

Canada has legal requirements for naming nonprofits and societies. This article gives a summary.

Sample Naming Policies

A Generic Sample from the AFP Hot Topic on Naming:

Oregon State University's Naming Policy:

Baldwin Public Library's Naming Policy:

Sample Naming Agreements

A generic naming agreement in letter form:

The University of Vermont's sample naming agreement:

Columbia University's Standardized Gift Agreement Materials:

San Diego State University's Gift Agreement Templates:

The University of Tennessee Foundation's Gift Agreement Requirements and Templates: 

Crafting Policy on Naming Opportunities

Some considerations in establishing a policy on naming opportunities:

Ten suggested rules for naming policies and reasons for considering them:

A sample policy on gift naming opportunities and levels:

A discussion on the need to provide flexibility in gift policy for today’s reality and as that reality changes over time:

An example of long-term and short-term naming policies for a school district:

Naming Opportunities in Zoos and Gardens

Naming opportunities in public gardens: Results of a 2013 survey of smaller donor naming practices.

Naming opportunities at the Phoenix Zoo:

Donation opportunities at the Henry Vilas Zoo

Dedication opportunities at the Lincoln Park Zoo

The Adopt-a-Bench Program of New York City's Central Park Conservancy

Our related Hot Topic

Donor Relations/Stewardship

Relationships are critical in fundraising.  The focus of philanthropy must be relationship-building that is customized to the needs and desires of the donor. Individuals have different motivations for and patterns of giving. The more an organization knows about potential donors' motives and how they like to give, the better positioned it is to make effective solicitations.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Bitcoin and Other Virtual Currency

As described in Wikipedia, bitcoin is a software-based online payment system introduced as open-source software in 2009. Payments work peer-to-peer without a central repository, government backing, or a single administrator, which has led the US Treasury to call bitcoin a decentralized virtual currency. Although its status as a currency is disputed, media reports often refer to bitcoin as a "cryptocurrency" or "digital currency."

Merchants have an incentive to accept the digital currency because fees are lower than the 2–3% typically imposed by credit card processors. However bitcoins can be subject to wide price swings, can be stolen, and lack consumer protections.

Along with the growing popularity of Bitcoin,  the number of charitable organizations that accept virtual currencies has been growing. At the same time, so has government scrutiny, creating uncertainty about the continuing value of Bitcoin, Ripple, Litecoin,  and other, smaller currencies.  In March, the Internal  Revenue Service issued its long awaited opinion on the taxation of virtual currencies, ruling they should be treated as property, not currency.  That creates administrative and paperwork problems for those using Bitcoin, but also allows donors to obtain generous charitable income tax deductions for donating Bitcoin that is worth more than they paid for it, just as they do for giving appreciated stock to charity.

Some Links on Virtual Currency

How to Donate Bitcoin to Charity and Get a Big Tax Deduction

Bitcoin: How the Charity RNLI is Using the Virtual Currency

Fidelity Charitable Now Accepts Bitcoins
Fidelity Charitable, the second-largest nonprofit fund-raiser in the country, is allowing its donors to contribute bitcoins to their giving accounts.

How Bitcoin is Used in Combatting Ebola

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Succession Planning

A variety of links on aspects of Succession Planning

Succession Planning for Nonprofits of All Sizes
Exodus of executive directors expected

Executive Transition in the San Diego Nonprofit Sector

Executive Transition Monographs

Nonprofit Leadership Sea Change Requires New Skills

Corporate Social Responsiblity

From Industry Canada
CSR via the Blogs
A variety of articles via our Recent News Blog.

A variety of articles via our International News Blog

Other web material we’ve seen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crowd Funding


  • What is Crowd Funding?
  • General Sources
  • Vendors and Platforms
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Best Practices
  • News Links

What is Crowd Funding?

As discussed in Wikipedia (TM), crowd funding refers to the collection of funds through small contributions from many parties in order to finance a particular project or venture, usually on Internet platforms. According to various sources, the term has been used since 2006.

General Sources

For a brief overview of this rapidly changing field plus a list of useful resources and a selection of crowd funding websites, see the following article from Advancing Philanthropy. (Requires login as an AFP member to access.)

How Crowdfunding Helps Engage Donors You Wouldn't Attract in Other Ways


For a short introduction to crowdfunding and steps to get you started, see:
Also see:
CrowdFundamentals: 11 Steps to Fundraising Success

For a detailed discussion of ethical and legal issues in crowdfunding for nonprofits, see the following article. (Requires a subscription to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.)  For a detailed discussion of current vendors and fee structures, see the entire 9/25/14issue.
Caution! The Downsides of Crowdfunding'Caution-The-Downsides-of/148885?cid=megamenu

What Is and Is Not Crowd Funding

Do Crowdfunders Have to Register to Solicit?’t-crowdfunders-have-to-register-to-solicit.php

Crowdfunding Controversies and How They Impact Nonprofits and Charities

Vendors and Platforms

The Internet contains hundreds of  crowdfunding vendors and platforms, and the numbers continue to grow. Here are links that mention some of them.

7 Top Crowdfunding Sites for Nonprofits and Higher-Ed Institutions

How to Pick the Best Crowdfunding Platform

Which Crowdfunding Platform Is Best for Your Nonprofit?
A Free Crowdfunding Platform for Nonprofits

Ethical Considerations

Some crowdfunding services charge fees based on a percentage of funds raised. A discussion of when such fees are permissible under the AFP Code of Ethics will be presented in a forthcoming post.

Crowd Funding Best Practices

How Nonprofits Can Leverage Crowdfunding: Best Practices and Data -


News Links

The AFP Recent News Blog contains a variety of additional articles about Crowd Funding:

The AFP Technology Blog also contains some articles about Crowd Funding. (Some overlap occurs.)