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Posted on May 1, 2013

For Whom Are You Raising Money?

For Whom Are You Raising Money?

by Gerry Ebbers, SCSBC Consultant for Stewardship and Development  ◊

Board members of charities are considered to be “fiduciaries” – that is, they are acting on behalf of others to whom they have specific duties of care, including the financial care of the organization. As well, board members are expected to act fully for their organization to the exclusion of others.

In practical terms, I wonder how that should affect the amount of fundraising that your school does for other organizations. From the point of view of good stewardship, I do believe that a school should partner with and support another organization with much fewer resources than we have in our typical Christian school communities. I also believe there is merit in teaching stewardship to our students by having them give from their own means to others in need.

However, it is also important to understand that boards need to review all of the fundraising that their school does for other organizations and ask whether or not this other fundraising compromises their fiduciary responsibility.

For example:

  • How many other organizations is your school raising money for this year? In addition to the one charitable cause you have chosen to support, do you also have a number of other fundraising activities where funds are directed to other charities?
  • When you do raise funds for another charity, are you issuing the charitable receipt for the gifts you’ve collected, or are you allowing the other charity to do so, thereby giving that organization your donor list? (If so, is that charity willing to give you its donor list?)
  • Do you use your staff time to raise funds for another charity? If so, are you deducting those costs from the money you turn over to the charity?
  • Do you raise money to offer scholarships for your graduating Grade 12 students who are going to universities and colleges? Are these institutions not able to raise scholarship funds themselves?

And a final, more significant question would be: how much do you raise for others compared to how much you raise for your school? Have you actually calculated the ratio? If you are better at raising funds for others, you probably have not communicated a compelling mission and your own needs to your community, nor encouraged them to partner with you to fulfill that mission.

In which case, you have some important work to do.

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