WINSPIRE NEWS

Your destination for insight into the world of event fundraising, charity auctions and no-risk travel packages.

Letter to the Donors of America

Posted by Winspire
The Overhead Myth: Donors of America Letter

The following letter to the donors of America was penned by the leaders of the country’s three leading sources of information on nonprofits – GuideStarCharity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving AllianceThe letter is made available the the public under the Attribution-NoDerivs Creative Commons license, which allows for it to be shared and distributed for any purpose so long as it remains unchanged. You may download a PDF of the letter here - re-posted from overheadmyth.com


To the Donors of America:

We write to correct a misconception about what matters when deciding which charity to support.

The percent of charity expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs—commonly referred to as “overhead”—is a poor measure of a charity’s performance.

We ask you to pay attention to other factors of nonprofit performance:  transparency, governance, leadership, and results.  For years, each of our organizations has been working to increase the depth and breadth of the information we provide to donors in these areas so as to provide a much fuller picture of a charity’s performance.

That is not to say that overhead has no role in ensuring charity accountability. At the extremes the overhead ratio can offer insight: it can be a valid data point for rooting out fraud and poor financial management.  In most cases, however, focusing on overhead without considering other critical dimensions of a charity’s financial and organizational performance can do more damage than good.

In fact, many charities should spend more on overhead.  Overhead costs include important investments charities make to improve their work: investments in training, planning, evaluation, and internal systems—as well as their efforts to raise money so they can operate their programs.  These expenses allow a charity to sustain itself (the way a family has to pay the electric bill) or to improve itself (the way a family might invest in college tuition).

When we focus solely or predominantly on overhead, we can create what the Stanford Social Innovation Review has called “The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.”  We starve charities of the freedom they need to best serve the people and communities they are trying to serve.

If you don’t believe us—America’s three leading sources of information about charities, each used by millions of donors every year—see the back of this letter for research from other experts including Indiana University, the Urban Institute, and others that proves the point.

So when you are making your charitable giving decisions, please consider the whole picture.  The people and communities served by charities don’t need low overhead, they need high performance.

Thank you,

Art Taylor
President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance
Jacob Harold
President & CEO
GuideStar

 

 

Ken Berger
President & CEO
Charity Navigator

 

 

Industry News, Donor Relations

Related Posts

Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors After an Event

Once your fundraiser is over, it can be tempting to bask in the excitement and, frankly, relief that your major event went well. However, even if you met your donations goals for the event, the time right after the event is critical. This time is a chance for you and your staff to reach out to donors and make it clear just how much you appreciate them. 🙌

10 Ideas for Fresh Summer Fundraisers

Running a summer fundraising event presents unique challenges. You can expect that a number of your donors will be vacationing out of town, and attendance at any summer season event is certain to be competing with a busy calendar of weddings, graduations and family get-togethers. Yet the "downtime" of the summer season also has its upside for event planners. 🌞 The leisurely pace of May to September provides the perfect opportunity to engage with donors and to organize some exciting outdoor events.

How Different Generations Are Supporting Charity in 2019: Infographic

Every generation has its own style and preferences, be it music trends, fashion, career goals and political values. The same extends to their unique giving preferences. With ever broadening audiences, many nonprofits are finding success employing multi-channel campaigns: campaigns that utilize traditional mail, social media, email and more.

  • 4 min read
  • Apr 24, 2019 12:07:18 PM