On Philanthropy: Year-End Giving: Going Beyond the Fund-amentals

image of a compass and fine pen resting on an accounting ledgerContributed by AFP SEWI
Milwaukee Business Journal
October 20, 2017 issue

In a rapidly changing world, nonprofits must seize opportunities.  Grab your chance to be a venture capitalist…!

In your household budget, you set aside funds for the essentials:  mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc.  But quality of life doesn’t end with the basics – it depends on flexible funds that allow you to meet unexpected opportunities, make ends meet, and try new things.

For Milwaukee-area nonprofits, such “quality of life” resources are provided by year-end fundraising appeals.  Before and after Giving Tuesday (November 28), those requests will arrive in your mailbox with increasing regularity.  Here’s why to stop and consider each one.

Many organizations get income from operations – tickets, tuition, medical insurance payments, government contracts.  These pay salaries and keep lights on.  But as with your household budget, nonprofits need more than the basics.  Philanthropy provides the resources that allow organizations to go farther…seize opportunities…bridge gaps…innovate boldly.

The true power of year-end giving is not in the specific projects it supports, but in how it transforms an organization’s “mission confidence.”  When an organization can count on an annual infusion of flexible funds, it becomes an organization that can say “yes” – yes to embracing a faculty member’s new idea, to mounting a daring new play, to opening that community center, to renovating the church vestry.  In short, organizations that receive year-end support can be open to change, confident in their ability to adapt.

In a fast-changing world, you and I count on our nonprofit organizations to be ever more enterprising in building our communities.  They can respond nimbly – but only if we venture capitalists provide the resources.

AFP’s monthly On Philanthropy column is contributed monthly by Doug Diefenbach for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. Please contribute ideas for future articles here.