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Why the Big Secret?

I’ve never quite understood why non-profit leadership doesn’t go along with requests from potential funders for the names of top donors who support their organization. “Our policy,” they say, “Is we do not share such information.”

To me, that’s an open invitation from the potential granting agency to say, “Well, if that’s your position, we will not be sharing our money with you.”

This leads me to ask why a non-profit would have such a policy in the first place. If the answer is that it’s an attempt at guarding the privacy of the individual donor, that’s a rather poorly thought out policy. After all, what you’re actually doing is saying that potential grant makers don’t have the right to know something that’s public information anyway.

Didn’t the organization publish an Annual Report? You can find the names there or online. And even if you find the donors categorized by ranges ($10,000-$14,999), you can figure out pretty easily who the top donors are.

Let’s take this annual report scenario one step further. The only instance I can think of where a non-profit wouldn’t be able to furnish a name is if the donor has requested anonymity. Even in this rare case, the donor wants to avoid public recognition, wall plaques, and/or his name being listed in an annual report.

I know of organizations that have asked anonymous donors if they could provide their names in a grant proposal. Almost without exception, the donor has been more than willing to do so. T

hey felt that their good example could very well influence additional support.

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