The GiveWell Blog

Room for more funding and fungibility: From the horse’s mouth

We’ve previously argued that the “headline program” a charity uses to raise money may not be the one you’re effectively funding with donations – even if your donations are formally restricted to that program. (See our full series on the topic).

Now the Chronicle of Philanthropy quotes a fundraiser saying exactly the same thing, as a suggestion for charities rather than a warning for donors.

    Nonprofit organizations’ biggest concern with the approach Kiva and DonorsChoose take is that it brings in donations that must be used for a specific purpose, rather than undesignated gifts that can finance anything, including overhead expenses.
    But that’s an accounting issue, not a fund-raising issue, argues Michael Cervino, vice president of Beaconfire Consulting, in Arlington, Va.
    “If you’re already planning as an organization to spend money on A, B, and C programs at a certain level, then there is no reason not to use that program as a poster child for your fund-raising efforts,” he says. “Go ahead and raise that money. You’re going to spend it there.”