The Philantrepreneur Journal - Page 7

TPF JOURNAL • Read it’s 990 forms • Ask if the charity follows the Donor Bill of Rights and if it has a Code of Ethics • Make sure the charity is registered in your state if required to do so • Ask if it has a strategic plan • Check to see who else is on the board. I still argue that all of these things are important, but, when it comes right down to it, you also need to choose with your heart. Some of us naturally have a heart for certain organizations because we have a personal connection with either the organization or the cause. Sometimes it is easy to identify with a disease-related organization if that disease claimed the life of a loved one. Or serving on the board of your alma mater or local hospital because of the feeling of gratitude. But how do you find out if you have the passion for an organization that you might not have a close personal relationship with already—the kind of passion that might motivate you to serve on the board, to ask others to get involved, to give an annual gifts, and eventually make this your charity of choice for the ultimate gift? Test the charity. Test yourself. If you’ve received a fundraising appeal letter from this organization did it “grab you by the throat” and more importantly, by the heartstrings? A letter 7 is often the first contact you will have with the charity. But it will take more than words on a piece of paper to make you feel that passion. Attend some events this charity runs. Do they tell a story at the event, or do they just invite you to play golf, buy a silent auction gift, and attend an open house? If the charity is smart they will tell a powerful emotional story. Talk to staff, to volunteers, to clients, to board members. What drives them to work with this organization? Do friends or colleagues serve on the board, if so, ask them why? Visit the organization and see if the staff looks happy. Do they seem to have passion for their job? Interact with clients whenever possible. They will tell the “rest of the story.” So, think with both your mind and your heart about the charity on whose board you’ve been asked to serve. What is your passion? What brings tears to your eyes? What makes you laugh with joy? What makes you feel inspired? What makes you angry enough to fight an injustice? As Azeem said to Robin Hood in the movie, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: “Is she worth dying for?” This is passion! Is this charity worth dying for? Although no charity will likely ever ask you, as a board member, to die for it; is it a charity that you would remember in your own will? Do you feel that much passion for it? If not, maybe you need to keep looking! Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE is one of slightly more than 100 people to hold the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive designating. She has more than thirty years’ experience in fundraising and has written more than a dozen books on the topic, including her upcoming book, The New Donor, co-authored with Margaret Guellich, CFRE and soon to be published by CharityChannel Press. THE PHILANTREPRENEUR JOURNAL | J U LY 2 0 1 6