Fundraising and campaigning (part 3)

In a previous post, I asked, “how are [nonprofit] fundraising and [political] campaigning related?”

What would it be like if there were campaign finance reform for nonprofits? Nonprofits often choose to publicize their donors, and savvy ones understand these as recognition opportunities and use them to leverage more donations. For political campaigns, their donors are both a source of secrecy and of pride. Stories about the prowess of the Bush and Obama campaigns in mobilizing tremendous constituencies of grasstops fundraisers (how else to describe cadres of semi-rich folk shaking down their friends?) are legion, but institutional donors are often hidden, either at the donor’s request or the recipient’s.

What if nonprofits were required to disclose where their funding came from, down to the $200 level or below? Would it incentivize them to think about ways to recognize their donors more, and about how their donors align or not with their mission?

Related question: what if foundations were required to disclose the companies in their investment portfolios – not the specific positions per se, but just the companies in which they’re invested, as a check on what kind of mission alignment there would be. Is that the campaign finance reform the nonprofit/philanthropic sector needs? Or would it be followed by another Citizens United? What if foundations wanted to advertise where they invested, they way many want to advertise their grantees? Are potential branding benefits another, maybe less explored side of mission-related investing?


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