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Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Signed Gift Agreements Are Not Just For Hospitals And Universities. Every Organization Needs Them.

May 19th, 2014 by Karen Climer

Every so often, we hear about a college or university having to return a donation because of a naming opportunity.  You know, when Clive Nitwit wants the science building named the Nitwit Science Center.  (OK, that one I made up.)  Or when the University of Missouri-Columbia can’t get anyone to accept the Kenneth L. Lay Chair of International Economics.  (That one I didn’t make up.)

I imagine most fundraisers from smaller nonprofits read these articles and think, “Thank goodness we don’t have those issues.”  They put off creating a gift acceptance policy because they are a small nonprofit and never have those types of problems.  If you publish donor names at all, you could have those problems.

Last week, the Orlando Sentinel and several Florida newspapers reported on a garden in South Florida that memorializes the victims of crime.  A plaque in the garden recognizes the memorial’s lead donor and South Florida’s most notorious criminal, Scott Rothstein.  Many are advocating to have his name removed from the plaque.

Printed in the Orlando Sentinel on May 17, 2014.  Also in the Sun-Sentinel.

Printed in the Orlando Sentinel on May 17, 2014. Also in the Sun-Sentinel.

Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, the now-defunct law firm that served as headquarters for the $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, donated the money just a few months before the crimes were discovered.

Yes, your organization needs to use signed gift agreements.  Yes, your organization needs a gift acceptance policy.  Yes, you need a clause in your gift agreements that allow you to distance yourself from the donor when it is affects your organization’s reputation.

Leave a comment and share how you think this organization should handle Rothstein’s name on the plaque.

Posted in Capital Campaign, Recognition

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