Situation: How much should givers burden ministries with report requests?
Recently, two different givers posed almost the same question to joygiving.org:
- What reports do you receive from ministries? How do you verify them?
- What kinds of reports should we expect from ministries we support?
We posed this question to our friends at Excellence in Giving. Laura Blackburn, a Client Advisor, offered these thoughts:
These questions exemplify a larger cultural shift toward transparency, set by an increasingly engaged public. The internet and social media have saturated our lives with information; so how do we access the right information in a timely way, critical for philanthropic decisions and more intelligent giving?
Scripture: Obtain wisdom.
Proverbs 3:4 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
We believe wisdom from God is available to those who seek it, and we seek to obtain wisdom and apply it in our business and philanthropic life. What wise questions would you ask before making your next financial investment? These are the same standards Excellence in Giving holds when reviewing a nonprofit for philanthropic investment.
So how do we access the right information in a timely way, critical for philanthropic decisions and more intelligent giving?
Steps: Four things to focus on in reviewing ministry reports.
We expect to see information to help us evaluate the nonprofit’s finances, leadership, strategy and impact.
- Finances. We look for transparent financials including fundraising data, growth trends, government funding percentages, cash reserves, percentage of overhead, and budget variance analysis.
- Leadership. We expect to see that leadership is working within the guidelines set by the board.
- Strategy. We expect the mission statement to be clear with a specific three-‐year plan in place.
- Impact. We also like to see a clearly articulated impact statement and an understanding by leadership of the nonprofit’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Evaluate the nonprofit’s finances, leadership, strategy and impact.
We follow up on this information with alacrity, making site visits, asking the hard questions and digging into the numbers and details. Excellence in Giving tries to play the role of “the friendly skeptic”. A wise saying is: “Trust but verify”.
God’s call to excellence does not stop at the door of philanthropy.
Laura Blackburn serves at Excellence in Giving, helping high capacity donors experience more joy in their giving through a personalized process of discovery, evaluation, participation, and celebration.
To bring more joy to your giving, each post at joygiving.org takes a giver’s question (Situation), offers biblical guidance (Scripture), and, based on our thousands of interactions with Christian givers around the world, offers action items (Steps).