Another day, another piece of mail asking for a contribution. How do you choose? How do you know that your money will be used well? How can you ensure your mail will not automatically multiply once you've made a donation? A Donor's Bill of Rights can help you determine what is reasonable to expect of an organization to which you are considering making a donation.
Developed by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), A Donor's Bill of Rights identifies ways in which a donor's interests can be promoted and protected.
This document has also been endorsed by Independent Sector, the National Catholic Development Conference, the National Committee on Planned Giving, the National Council for Resource Development, and the United Way of America.
A Donor's Bill of Rights proclaims:
Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights.
A donor has the right to:
- Be informed of the organization's mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
- Be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization's governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
- Have access to the organization's most recent financial statements.
- Be assured that their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
- Receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.
- Be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the fullest extent provided by the law.
- Expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
- Be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization, or hired solicitors.
- Have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization intends to share.
- Feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful, and forthright answers.
At GuideStar we encourage you to know your rights as a donor and to seek out all the information you can on an individual nonprofit. You may wish to begin your search for information on a nonprofit organization with the GuideStar database of more than 1.5 million 501(c) organizations. Let GuideStar be the gateway to your search, but don't let your questions stop here.