Week four, two remaining, and the world seems to be coming back into balance. In this past week, our students have reached out to several more organizations, several have already visited them, and there is excitement in the air about the good work that they are doing. While several of them are sold and ready to send checks, they’ll now be visiting a second and third organization to have a comparison. There are a lot of great groups (several that could use some help in training the people that answer the phone), countless great causes, so this part should create a good opportunity for some critical thinking on which to select.
Our class session dealt with the difference between Qualitative and Quantitative analysis. While most of the students weren’t familiar with these two words, they were quick to break them down into words they did know – quality & quantity in order to muster meaning. They were right on. We focused on the qualitative assessment that they’ll be doing while volunteering and visiting these organizations. They were provided with the “23-Questions that should be Asked of an Organization before Donating.” (Send me an email if you’re interested in receiving the list.)
Next week, we tackle quantitative analysis. Most of this involves understanding how to take information from the IRS Form 990, a public document for non-profit organizations. We’ll be obtaining data and looking at specific ratios that are important to an organization’s long term stability. Program Expense Ratios, Cost to Raise $1, Revenue and Debt Ratios, Short Term Sustainability, and several more. This might get a little complicated, but I think even partial retention for these students will pay off. My guess is there are very few folks anywhere at any level that perform this level of analysis before giving. Who knows, maybe one of these students will get hired for this work by a large foundation. Or maybe I will! ha ha!
The great piece of feedback this week from students was that “it’s really hard to give away money!” How about that! A great realization. Anyone can write a check or throw cash at someone in need. There is no shortage of need. If I wrote checks to every person at the stoplight with a cardboard sign, would I be helping? Maybe. Or maybe not. Why not be intentional about it? Let’s find organizations that with proper support that will make positive, lasting impact, and build from what we’ve done. And here is the difference between charity and philanthropy!
Like the story of Oseola McCarty, I think that if one of these organizations recognizes what these students are doing and captures their story, what they’re going through and learning, they may have a wonderful opportunity to cultivate additional donors.
Thems my thoughts, penny for yours!