Sunday 19 February 2012

Fundraising 101 - part 1 - make every penny count

Now, before I start I have got to confess that I have no idea of the background to why people append the figure '101' to a subject line - but it is clearly a popular passtime.  The main aim of calling something 101 seems to be to create the impression that the writer is about to list the finest selection of fascinating fundamentals regarding a particular plan, course of action, random assemblage of pseudo-factoids, crummy one-liners or almost-interesting statements about their subject of choice.  I'm pretty sure that with only the briefest of idle googling sessions I could probably conclusively prove beyond reasonable doubt (or reasonable boredom threshold) that there is no one in the world who can really list 101 interesting things about *anything* that they claim to have knowledge of on a website without inducing a coma in the readership.  But hell, pitching a 101 is clearly popular - and if there is one thing it's important to play for in the fundraising game it is popularity.

I'm not saying 101 sites are all rubbish, by the way.  Far from it.  It's just the ones that I managed to tolerate reading in researching this Blog never actually listed a hundred and one ideas - not even on how to survive a zombie apocalypse.

So, without further rambling, I think I should start to describe ways in which anyone - yes anyone - even you - can raise money for a worthy cause, without having to rob a bank or sell your major internal organs on the interweb.

Rule 1 - make every penny count

Would you like the government to spend your tax money on nuclear bombs, or on the charity of your choice.

Think about it.

Think a bit more.

Yes, I know that there was that place you went on holiday that year that would probably benefit from a bit of fission-based rennovation - but really, bombs or charity. . . ?

Right, assuming that you've gone for the charity option (yes, I too had to think about this a bit, but whilst bombs are lovely it's hell trying to get the shoes to match, isn't it?) then make sure every penny that you collect  from others, or donate directly, is a tax efficient penny.  Many countries run schemes that endeavour to support charitable giving, and they all in essence direct your government to spend your tax dollar, pound or euro on what *you* want them to spend on, rather than what they fancy spending it on (mostly banks these days, rather than bombs, but there you go).

Some examples follow:

The United Kingdom - Gift Aid

Gift Aid is a scheme supported by the British Government - HM Revenue & Customs to be precise - which is intended to encourage people to donate to charity.  You can read the ins and outs of it here, but all you really need to know is that if you are a UK income tax payer, you can tell the charity to whom you are making a donation that you are Gift Aiding the donation.  They will do the rest - and in effect they will get an extra 25% from the government on every donation made.  So, for those donors pledged to contributing £2,500 to the Drala Jong appeal - you need only contribute £2,000 and the government will cover the rest.  If you are a higher rate tax payer, things get even better, with the difference between the 20% and 40%/50% tax rates being tax deductible. (so I'm told - I'll worry about that the day I become one).  Sang-ngak-chö-dzong is the registered charity of the Aro gTér Tradition in the UK, and accepts donations online.

In Britain the Gift Aid scheme extends to include donations of objects which are then sold on at the donor's request.  That is to say - if you donate your Renoir collection to the charity for sale for their benefit, the proceeds of the sale (up to the limit allowed by the law) would be elligable for Gift Aid.

The USA - Tax Deductable Giving to a 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Organisation

The US tax laws also enable tax efficient giving, with the IRS giving advice on what you need to be aware of in making donations in this manner.  Aro Gar Inc. is the charity of the Aro gTér Tradition in the USA, and is a 501(c)(3) organisation, which accepts donations online.  Unlike in Britain, donations are simply tax exempt - with the tax benefit returning entirely to the donor rather than to the charity directly - but nonetheless they have the same basic effect - making your money go further.

No matter where you are located, if you are in any doubt at all, contact your local charity for advice on how to register your donations (and any you collect from other people) and they'll give you the low down (possibly even using 101 pieces of advice on how to do it successfully).

Next up - fundraising 101 will touch on Little and Often (rather than Infrequently)