What Price Fundraising Fame?

Earlier this week, Tom Watson wrote about how big nonprofits are cumulatively spending billions of dollars to create "brand recognition" and secure dominant positions in an increasingly intense fundraising environment. According to Tom, "...data suggests that among the large 'household names' in the nonprofit sector there is room for new entrants, big new brands willing to pay the price to create recognition."

Tom's right, massive opportunities have opened up because a number of charity's most trusted brands have tarnished their cherished reputations almost beyond recognition. According to the Washington Post: "High-profile scandals at United Way and the Nature Conservancy, along with criticism of the Red Cross's response to Hurricane Katrina, have fed a growing unease about big-name nonprofit organizations. Today, 71 percent of the public thinks charities waste too much money, a recent New York University survey found, up from 60 percent three years ago."

Rather supporting the idea that donors are looking for replacement brands, however, the article continues: "Feeling singed by the recent troubles at charities, many people are thinking twice about where their money goes and aiming more of their dollars at grass-roots groups close to home."

I don't know if data supports the suggestion that donors are responding to the scandals of national nonprofit organizations by turning to the mom and pop shops in their neighborhoods. I do know that accountability is no longer a "nice to have" for anyone asking to donors to support their efforts.

Susan Herr

Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 21, 2006 in Accountability | Permalink | Comment