What you should know about event-based fundraisers

How To | September 17, 2012

Jeff Golby of the Charitable Impact Foundation follows up his previous post with some simple, real-world ideas on how you can become a better, more informed donor or fundraiser.

It’s the second half of ” _ a-thon” season. Movember, Run for the Cure and other campaigns are gearing up for what will likely be a successful period of raising a large amount of money.

Here’s some things to consider when entering, raising money for or giving to any event-based fundraisers. (I’m using CIBC’s Run for the Cure as an example, not because it’s particularly good or bad but because it’s coming up soon.)

Know who the money is going to
Q: Who does CIBC’s Run for the Cure support?
A, Part I: Money raised goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
A, Part II: Things get interesting when you want to know what exactly the CBCF does and how it disperses the money.

It’s actually registered with the CRA as a charitable organization, not a foundation. But CBCF seems to act like both a charitable organization (because 17% of its budget goes towards programs) and a foundation (because it gave 34% of its income away in grants).

A foundation and a charitable organization have very different mandates (the former gives money but does no programming, while the latter spends money primarily on programs). Knowing how the charity spends the money you raise or give is important information to have before you represent them in a race, don’t you think? You’d never promote a product you didn’t use, so why would you promote a charity you didn’t understand?

Know how the charity uses the money
I’m not talking about a debate around the money spent on fundraising compared to the amount earned. I’m talking about the impact the charity has with their dollars. Knowing where the money goes is one thing, knowing what they do with it is another.

For example, this is how CBCF spends their money:

  • 17% on programs
  • 36% goes fundraising
  • 12% pays for management
  • 34% is “granted out” to other non profits

Looking further into who the grant money goes, it’s given to:

  • Universities (makes sense)
  • Some YWCAs (ok I get it)
  • Some elementary schools (a little bit of a stretch)
  • Dragon boat teams (seems odd but, advertising perhaps)

Nothing is inherently wrong with this if you believe an impact is being made.

Both donors and charities have to be responsible for their money
In order for charities to be free of having to spend money on fundraising, donors need to be better givers. It begins with donors not giving just on image or sexy fundraising alone, or even to just an idea. We should be giving to the organization that is the most effective in doing what it says it does.

If that’s CBCF – awesome. If it’s not and you’re truly passionate about making a dent in a cause, then rally your friends and support charities that don’t have the money to throw a massive event.

Your money is worth way too much to be thrown at something you don’t fully support just because it’s in your face.

The information is out there (like on chimp.net), and you can determine your own standard of efficacy (i.e. how well the organization fulfills its mission). If we give to who earns it the most and give based on merit instead of the ask, we’ll start restocking the pond.

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