Good money, bad money? Beyond gift acceptance policies

Is there such a thing as “good money” or “bad money?” And for a nonprofit, what does this really mean?

Good money, bad money? Beyond gift acceptance policiesIn general terms “good money” is defined as gifts from individuals, families, corporations, foundations, or government programs that are congruent with the organization’s values. “Bad money” generally refers to money from sources that are not congruent. These are typically documented in an organization’s gift acceptance policy. The focus is often on gifts a nonprofit will not accept. In the past that could mean not accepting funds from alcohol or tobacco companies; today the focus includes companies who operate for-profit prisons and opioid manufacturers and distributers. The gift acceptance policy is one way a nonprofit lives into its values.

If you don’t have such a policy, we recommend taking the time to create one. If you have such a policy, consider extending the policy – and conversation – to deal with the many issues that organizations and communities are dealing with today.

Good money, bad money? Beyond gift acceptance policiesActivists, religious leaders, and community organizers are raising important questions about social justice, equity, and our shared values. They are forcing a reckoning on race and a conversation about the source of wealth and power. They – and many more – are asking us to look at those aspects of wealth building that are the result of policies and practices that sanctioned slavery, land theft, imprisonment, red-lining, discriminatory lending, and exclusion from decision making.

The story of how America was built is changing, and the “my family worked hard and pulled themselves up by the bootstraps” framework is being challenged by the historical and current day realities of people of color and our communities.

A new model – Community-Centric Fundraising– is emerging within nonprofits and philanthropy. The model grows out of conversations amongst fundraisers of color, and it reflects their current thinking. It is an evolving model with the goal of generating conversation and encouraging the hard work of transforming “fundraising and philanthropy, so that they are co-grounded in racial and economic justice.” This is very different from a model of nonprofits and philanthropy that is rooted in charity. And it challenges many of the processes – conscious and unconscious – that are in play today.

Good money, bad money? Beyond gift acceptance policiesCommunity-centric fundraising places the community – and not an individual nonprofit – at the heart of fundraising and philanthropy. Nonprofits are being asked to think about the other organizations in their community; to consider the needs of others and the extent to which they may be receiving funding when others are not, and what is best for the community. That is a ground-breaking approach to “gift acceptance.”

People are digging deep, asking about the source of a gift.  It may come from a family foundation, but where did the family get their money from? It may be a corporate gift, but what are the corporation’s priorities and are they aligned with your nonprofit? Conversations about “good money” and “bad money” are expanding.  Do not shy away from this – be a part of the conversation and determine what is right for your nonprofit and those you serve.

Don’t forget:

Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you find your way through this unknown time. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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