Vetting Giving Opportunities Like Investments

Looking to make their giving more effective, more donors are asking charities to produce a “return on investment”.   In other words, donors are beginning to take their giving as seriously as their investments, expecting to see results from the dollars given.  This might mean giving gifts that reproduce themselves by helping jump start a new revenue stream for a ministry–such as a job training project with a storefront application.  Or it could be a gift to an outreach ministry that trains and equips local leaders to reach, train, and equip new leaders.

Charities are noticing this shift in giving priorities.  A Reuters article published last month notes, “‘What we see as a trend is more engaged philanthropists that are setting the bar higher and higher for themselves and the organizations they support,’ [a ministry leader] told Reuters. “Such donor interest pushes groups to operate more effectively, expand their impact and come up with ways of measuring their success.”  (Read the full article here.)

If you’re a ministry, what are doing to measure and communicate your ROI ?  If you’re a giver, how would your giving patterns change if you viewed your donations as creating a partnership with the organizations to whom you give?

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One Response to “Vetting Giving Opportunities Like Investments”

  1. Eric Foley Says:

    Hi Aimee—great thoughts on this key topic. It’s interesting how much has been written lately on donors NOT doing research before they give. I summarized that research here, if you’re interested: http://ericfoley.com/2010/08/02/why-dont-donors-do-more-research-before-they-give-because-giving-is-more-about-affiliation-than-investment/ . I suspect the question really comes down to WHAT donors are researching. In addition to effectiveness and efficiency, we often overlook donors’ research and thinking on questions of what we might call “affiliation”—that is, making decisions to give based on WHY an organization approaches an issue in the way it does. I think this is an under-considered motivation for donor alignment. Perhaps this is a form of vetting a giving opportunity like a personal statement of meaning.


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