The sixth tenet of the Donor’s Bill of Rights says donors have the right “…to be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.” A failure to treat donors with respect and safeguard their information can be disastrous to the relationship. All philanthropy is based on trust, and once the trust is gone there is nothing left. Safeguarding donor information is not just the law, it is vital to the success of the organization.
It ought to go without saying. When someone offers you something, and you accept it, you say, “thank you.” It’s just common sense, and yet it never ceases to amaze how uncommon common sense has become. Sadly, many nonprofits act like pigs at the proverbial trough, greedily snorting up all the resources donors put in front of them without ever acknowledging the generosity of their gifts.
Donors cannot make informed decisions about how and where to give their money if they cannot get a sense of the financial health of an organization. Nonprofits that are on the up and up should have no trouble disclosing basic financial information.
Donors can only evaluate an organization’s ability to operate ethically if they have reasonable access to information about who the leaders are, and their operational track record. For this reason, the Donor’s Bill of Rights calls for organizations to be open about the identities of their board members.
Alumni/Development work is always and everywhere about relationships. Relationships take time to build and are based on trust. Building trust by honoring donor intent might seem like good old-fashioned common sense. The problem is, common sense isn’t so common anymore.
Any philanthropy professional worth his or her salt is, or should be, on intimate terms with the Donor Bill of Rights. It outlines the backbone of trust, which lies at the heart of all philanthropy, and organizations who ignore these tenets do so at their peril.