Do Donors Have Rights?


The image at right is the Donor Bill of Rights. Have you seen it? It was developed and endorsed by several organizations that have a vested interest in making sure that nonprofit groups are doing all they can to create and run ethical, donor-centered fundraising campaigns.

It’s a great tool for any nonprofit to use as a measuring stick and start conversations with board members about ethical fundraising. It’s also a great tool for savvy donors to use with the nonprofits they support.

Do the organizations you support follow these guidelines? Are they open to adopting the Bill of Rights? Ask them. If they aren’t interested, that will tell you something important about their operation.

Here is the text of the Bill of Rights (or you can see the online version here):

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 nonprofit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

I. 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.

II. To 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.

III. To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.

IV. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.

V. To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.

VI. To be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.

VII. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.

VIII. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.

IX. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.

X. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.

What do you think? How might you use this document?