Transparency can be Key to Raising Money in a Pandemic

By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Every day I look forward to reading eJewishPhilanthropy. I always get new ideas or insights. As a relatively small philanthropist, but one who cares deeply about maximizing impact, it helps to find what is working and/or needs to be addressed.

Like many people, I’m concerned about the success of nonprofits that we’ve supported over decades. These are great groups who are making the world a better place. Some have already laid off staff, others will do so soon. Many executives have also trimmed their pay to help keep other staff and services in place.

Early on during the pandemic we stepped up and put significant resources into foodbanks, PPE and other crisis supports. I’m spending a lot of time working with elected officials and candidates around smart solutions that can help us through this crisis. Still, I’m not sure what we’ll be able to donate at the end of this year given that our fund is down and we gave a lot back in March. I assume many other donors are in a similar place.

At the disability nonprofit where I work, RespectAbility, we are concerned about fundraising as many donors are in challenging financial and/or health circumstances. We cut expenses and count every penny. I know that the nonprofits we support are also keeping an eye on how they can maximize impact and efficiency at this time.

One way that terrific nonprofits can stand out is to take the time to do the thinking and paperwork involved in getting high levels on GuideStar. We took the time to do this at RespectAbility. Today we have the highest rating of Platinum on GuideStar. The work paid off in new donors who found us via online searches. You see, all the folks who have donor advised funds (like how we donate via Vanguard and others due via Fidelity or others) have free advanced search functions on GuideStar. We use it to look up nonprofits. It’s an important measure of transparency and ethics.

A new report came out that I just saw that doing this process with GuideStar DOES lead to more donations.

I hope the nonprofits you care about are doing alright and can continue to do good things in the world. This is a time when many of groups need to expand services due to the demands of this pandemic. Thus, if the nonprofits you support have not already done what is needed to get a seal from Guidestar, you should invite them to take a look at what is involved and do it. Here is their website for GuideStar: www.Guidestar.org. They ask a lot of questions about how the nonprofits measure success as well as other good topics to think about regularly.

Another place to also get a rating is CharityNavigator. However, your nonprofit must have been in business for a certain period of time and have 990’s that show your budget is consistently over $1 million. But if that is the case, the nonprofits should do that one too.

Our group also is a proud member of BoardSource, where we get a wonderful tool for board self-assessments and other resources. As we look to cut expenses we cannot afford to cut good strategic thinking, strong logic models and metrics and excellent management. Those are the keys to sustaining nonprofits and good work in this challenging time.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund