It's That Time of Year Again
From The ODA Blog
It’s that time of the year again for nonprofits in America.
In the retail sector they call it “Black Friday,” that make-or-break day that can determine whether or not your enterprise goes forward into the next year. For nonprofits like Open Door America, the month of December marks the last 31 days on the calendar that someone can make a tax-deductible donation in the current tax year. Often, dollars not corralled in December do not appear again on the giving horizon for another 12 months. It’s tough work for nonprofits to make their best case, but it’s also a lot of pressure on the donor class as they sort through the million or so options they have to do “community good” before Uncle Sam comes calling in April.
For nonprofits, December is social entrepreneurship, capitalism and Darwinism all rolled into one. It’s “survival of the fittest” in the odd spectator sport of “do-gooders vs. do-gooders.” It’s the way America has chosen to underwrite its charitable initiatives, and for the record, we mostly like it. We think we’ve got a good story to tell and we see this annual end-of-the-year competition as healthy for everyone. It definitely keeps you on your toes.
At Open Door America, we have always taken pride in our philosophical bent toward fundraising. For 10 years, we’ve tried to follow three guiding principles in how we view the support we receive:
1. We don’t allow ourselves to develop a “sense of entitlement” about someone else’s money. Over time, even the best donors can fall in love with someone else -- some other cause – and before you know it their dollars can disappear. It’s just the way it works. Fundraising professionals call it “normal 20% attrition.” From our perspective, the most important thing about not feeling entitled is it helps you maintain proper balance in the natural tension between your mission goals and your resourcing needs. When you clearly understand that good people have lots of good places to spend their charitable dollars, you learn to respect the process and wisely choose mission discipline over playing to the crowd.
2. We have always been “decidedly grateful” for the support we receive. Altogether, since we began fundraising in earnest 6.5 years ago, we’ve been blessed to receive nearly $2 million in donor support, none of it from the government and much of it coming from so-called “small donors” who understand that making a snowman requires hundreds of handfuls of snow. When you have the right attitude about fundraising – and we do – you come to understand there are no small donors, only small spirits of gratitude. We have a very large spirit of gratitude that is infused throughout our organization from top to bottom. When you give to Open Door America, you can be assured that your dollars are treated as blessings to be honored and put to good use.
3. Finally, we have always been frugal and responsible with the funds we receive from our donors. Since 2008, at our board’s strong insistence, we have undergone an annual audit-review performed by the public accounting firm of Peters, Woodring & Quast (pwqcpa.com) of Owings Mills, Maryland. We have done this to maintain the highest level of financial integrity in everything we do. If you check around, you will find that many much-larger nonprofits do not do this. We think it’s important to undergo this process for very obvious reasons. By the way, our last audit-review shows that over 70% of the dollars we received in 2013 were spent on direct client programming! We anticipate that 2014 will look even better!
If you read this blog throughout the year (and we certainly hope you do), you can attest to the fact that we seldom speak about our fundraising needs. Our belief is if you learn enough about our work in the inner city you will naturally be inclined to support our anti-poverty mission in some way or another. In other words, we need your financial support but we prefer you make that decision based on inspiration, not aggravation. That said, it is December and we know many of our readers are looking around for ways to make a difference before the end of the year. We’d like to help you with that decision -- if you are inclined to give, or if you know of others who might be, we’ve made it as easy as pushing the DONATE BUTTON on our HOME PAGE. You can give monthly or you can make a 1-time donation in whatever amount you choose. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible and you will receive a “tax letter” from us within 15 days of receiving your donation. We thank you in advance for helping us move forward into 2015.
Thank you for finding our website and for reading this end-of-year article. Please check out our Facebook page and beginning the week of December 22, 2014, our serial presentation of 3-minute videos on YouTube about our amazing clients and their exciting, life-changing progress!
Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year to One and All!
Open Door America Board of Directors, Staff and Volunteer Mentors
Open Door Baltimore, a nonprofit that fights poverty by working with businesses to provide living-wage jobs, is expanding beyond the beltway. To better reflect the organization’s larger mission, the board of directors recently approved a new identity and logo.Read More