Are "Where Most Needed" Gifts Second Class Gifts or Among the Most Noble of All Gifts?

Do you think it’s the Donors who have a problem giving to their favorite charities and letting them use their gifts where most needed? Or as a Fundraiser, is it really your problem because you think major undesignated gifts are the enemy to solid Donor development?

The elephant in the room question is more pointed. Can you think of a single charity that you support where you would consider giving a where most needed gift? If your answer is yes, you’re blessed.

Why? Your hands off gift indicates powerfully your approving trust in the vision and ideas of that charity’s senior management and governing board. You also intuitively reveal your sensitive recognition of how core operating support brings with it the rare chance for your charity to assess and address its internal needs in a self-directed manner.

Let’s think like a Donor—which you probably are too. You partner with charities because you love what they do. You want to put your charitable dollars to good use and solve problems rather than create them with your giving. Meaningful accountability is never easy, but it is the path taken so that the relationship between your charitable partners and your personal passion and mission will succeed together.

That said, let yourself experience a full-faceted balance between giving “where most needed” and “designated giving.” It’s tough at times to orchestrate the perfect harmony of giving strategies to make the greatest impact. Though this may sound off key, don’t overlook the colossal force an unconditional gift can cause. Unrestricted gifts are highly cherished because they furnish “core operating support.”

Undeniably, a mind-boggling assortment of worldwide needs has made core operating support especially critical in recent years. Charities are facing dramatic challenges, requiring formidable organizational strength and flexibility. Lopsided designated giving can take an unintended toll, and thoughtful Donors and Fundraisers are capable and willing to take this to heart.

You can confidently increase your commitment to core operating support with the belief that it can be equally as strategic as your directed giving. Savvy Donors understand that just as designated gifts target specific issues, their core operating support is an important vehicle for strengthening the organization as a whole and influences long-range goals.

Sadly, few avenues are open to worthy charities to secure core operating support. Many traditional sources of unrestricted funds, such as corporate-giving programs, now embrace a more competitive, program-oriented approach. Also, many foundations have historically concentrated on project funding rather than general support.

For these reasons, consider this gentle invitation to dance gracefully between open-ended giving and giving for an express purpose. In so doing, you will give your charity the rare opportunity to assess and address internal needs, with the flexibility to meet them in a self-directed manner.

With the aid of your extravagant, unrestricted gifts, the worthy charity is able to strengthen its infrastructure, reevaluate its mission, and set itself on a strategic course for long-term success. Unconditional loving support from wise Donors serves as a catalyst, opening the door to discussions of “big picture” topics and courageously investing in the vision and ideas of the charity’s senior management and governing board.

Also, as Fundraisers we must remember that for any gift, where reporting back to the Donor is implied, we should always be ready to track the undesignated gift and share how it was used and how it mattered most.

Hopefully, from time to time, you will find yourself asking for undesignated gifts—enormous ones too. 

By:  Dan Rice

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