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There are lots of different philosophies about fundraising. One of the most common centers on transparency. In recent years, many donors have become more savvy about asking where their money goes. With the rise of tools like Charity Navigator, they’re ever more able to see where donations to an organization go. Of course, there’s nothing quite like a personal touch. It’s a good idea for charities to be ready to explain the breakdown of program expenses and how they compare to the charitable work that’s getting done.

For some organizations, it makes sense to put some money into advertising. This is particularly true for small organizations that are trying to raise awareness. A great example of this can be seen in Matthew 25’s charitable 5k. The organization has accepted that this event is unlikely to raise large amounts of money. The expenses associated with the 5k include security, which is pricey. Where the organization benefits from this event is in relationships. When someone registers for the 5k, it may be the first time they’ve come into contact with the charity. Matthew 25 is confident that it can convert those relationships into lasting ones. Whether participants are potential volunteers or possible big donors, Matthew 25 is happy to meet them with this event.

Other organizations are more no-nonsense. They take pride in keeping advertising and promotional expenses low. They run a lean operation and use as much of their donations as possible for their work. This is very admirable, but can present its own challenges. Sometimes, people working for lean nonprofits are frustrated by the need to pitch in with administrative tasks rather than focusing on their organization’s specialized mission statement and their specific role within it. 

When people are interested in donation to an organization, it can be helpful to show them what an administrative expense actually means. Introduce them to the people who answer the phones and check the mail. Understanding can go a lot way longer than simple numbers when it comes to forming relationships. The key when it comes to dealing with donors is to communicate effectively with them. It’s important to build a bond of trust with people and assure them that their money is being spent responsibly.