Sunday, October 23, 2005

As charities vie for donations, how can we help donors navigate the choices?

Last Wednesday the Chicago Tribune had a front page/back page story devoted to Breast Cancer Month. The goal of the article was to help donors choose which charity to support. It was a great article, and great exposure for Breast Cancer charities.

Among the suggestions to donors was one that said this:

Pick a goal. It might be research toward a cure, or advocacy, or patient support services. Then pick a charity that serves that goal and stick with it.

The article quoted Sandra Miniutti of Charity Navigator who said "We tell donors, if they want to change something in the world, they need to develop a relationship with the charity. Continue to support them over time, so they can keep their costs down and track whether they do what they claim to be doing."

In a blog I wrote in May, I posted an article showing how difficult it is for non profits to sustain their work because of the inconsistent flow of dollars cause by a system that does not support flexible, long-term problem solving very well.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection focuses on connecting workplace volunteers with inner city kids in long term programs that result in the kids starting jobs/careers by age 25, with the volunteers still connected and helping to set up job interviews.

If a youth joins such a program at age 10 it takes 15 years to achieve this goal. Unless donors chose charities that offer this service and stick with them for most of these 15 years, it's not likely that the program will survive long enough to still be a meeting place for a youth and adult at a time when the youth might be looking for help finding a job.

This is one of the on-going topics of the Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conferences, held in Chicago every six months. The next conference is Nov. 17 and 18 and we're looking for people to participate and share their ideas. We're also looking for people who will blog the conference, or who will help organize on-line workshops that continue the conference topic on the Internet.

If you'd like to help build a better system of supporting on-going operations of any non profit, please join us.

Dan Bassill

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