Fundraising Ethics for Philanthropists

Originally published on

Giving back to the community isn’t always as cut and dry in practice as it seems in theory. Even charitable organizations with the most well-placed intentions can quickly lose the public trust if poor oversight and organizational infrastructure lead to an inefficient donation pipeline, and a loss in the confidence of the public and your investors can quickly torpedo the opportunity to do good. But there are some steps you can take to safeguard the intent of your philanthropic efforts.

Coming From a Place of Trust

Fundraisers serve as the lifeblood of most philanthropic organizations. They primarily serve as your sales team, fostering trust in the community and pitching your objectives to potential investors and donors. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you rely on fundraisers you can trust. It’s necessary to make sure that your training process is tight and precise, communicating clearly to everyone in your organization what your objectives are, setting clear guidelines, and ensuring that every action they take complies with the law.

Nurturing Your Donors

It’s important to remember that while you may be creating the infrastructure for your charitable group and determining how your funds are allocated, you can’t do any good without the assistance of your donors. You want to ensure that your staff act grateful for any donation received regardless of its size and respectful of any restrictions placed on gifts. Similarly, you want to make sure that the policies you have in place for your donations and allocations are transparent. The clearer you are about where donations are going and the more readily available that information is, the less you’ll have to worry about potential donors being hesitant about contributing to your organization.

Putting Ethics Front and Center

It can be hard for one hand to know what the other is doing, and that becomes even more magnified the more extensive your organization grows. Without a code of ethics in place, your fundraisers might not know how to address potential ethical dilemmas in the field. But codifying the rules provide them with hard criteria they can use regardless of the situations that arise. The Code of Ethical Standards from the Association of Fundraising Professionals is a great place to start, but you may have to make adjustments suited to the particulars of your charitable group.


Top Real Estate 2019 Trends

Like any industry, real estate is evolving with the help of technology. When shopping for or selling a home, people use social media and visit online real estate websites to establish the area they want to live in as well as their price range. Once done, consumers will then look for a real estate agent. That said, here are the top real estate trends for 2019.

  1. Virtual reality. Many real estate companies are using virtual reality to provide potential clients a 360° view of the property. It will also give floor plans, so people can see if their furniture will fit in a space as well as for placement. This will help buyers visualize living in the home.
  2. Using social media. As mentioned above, people will use social media to locate a home to buy (or sell). They will connect with friends and family for help on their home search, including mortgage and real estate agent recommendations.
  3. Low inventory of homes. There will be a low inventory of affordable homes, except for luxury properties. There will be less than 7% inventory growth this year per This means that there will more competition based on market price. And home prices are going up, which will price-out many buyers.
  4. Increase in home renovations. Since mortgage interest rates have gone up last year (and will continue to rise), many homeowners decided to renovate instead of sell. According to Nerdwallet, from 2015 to 2017, homeowners spent $449.5 billion on home improvement projects. This trend is expected to continue in 2019.
  5. Millennials buyers. Millennials will be a driving force in home buying in 2019. This is happening at the same time baby boomers are selling to downsize. Millennials will account for 45% of the mortgages in the coming year.
  6. E-Commerce warehouses. Now that e-commerce is here to stay, there is a strong need to house all of the goods waiting to be purchased and shipped. This means more warehouses to be built as well as more office space for online retailers (e.g. Amazon).
  7. Omnichannel marketing. There will more brick-and-mortar stores due in part to online retailers realizing they can increase their market share by selling electronically and physically (e.g buy online and pick up in store). Thus, there will be an increase in retail space with the building of shopping centers and market places (a mix of stores and apartment buildings).
  8. Homes in varying shapes. Since there has been a downturn in new construction and many buyers cannot afford a single-family home, homes are now available in various shapes and sizes. For example, modular homes, twins and townhomes are affordable solutions for first-time buyers.

Originally published on on January 24, 2019.


To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.

~ Aristotle

When you have the ability to become a philanthropist, it is a big honor and an even bigger responsibility. You want to help everyone, but you also do not want to be taken advantage of. There are many questions that come to mind when donating, including:

  • How much to give?
  • When to give?
  • Which cause are you passionate about?
  • What is the process of donating?
  • Should I give to a charity or foundation?
  • Should I create a charity or foundation?

To become an astute philanthropist, it is necessary to do your research, not only on the non-profits you are interested in, but also on philanthropy itself. Below are some references that are worthy of reading.

  1. The Almanac of American Philanthropy by Karl Zinsmeister. This is the resource for donating in the U.S. Zinsmeister breaks down the stats of donating and who has done the most in philanthropy. This encompassing book provides notable donations, profiles of philanthropists, ideas on charitable assistance and much more.  
  2. Forces for Good by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McCleod Grant. If you have ever wondered the impact a non-profit had on society, this is the book for you. It’s perfect for those interested in philanthropy and/or social change, from donors to non-profit managers.
  3. The Gospel of Wealth by Andrew Carnegie. The Carnegie name is synonymous with philanthropy. Andrew Carnegie was the biggest philanthropist of his era. He gave away almost 90% of his fortune to charities and foundations. The book is based on article Carnegie penned, in which he called on the rich to use their wealth for the good of society.
  4. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow. Like Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was another great philanthropist of his time. This book is a biography, which details the beginning and extent of Rockefeller’s philanthropy.
  5. Protecting Donor Intent: How to Define and Safeguard your Philanthropic Principles by Jeffery Cain. This how-to book examines the practice of donating, from donor intent to and defining your mission to choosing a board and creating safeguards.

With the large number of newly minted millionaires over the past twenty years, a new class of philanthropists has emerged (e.g. The Giving Pledge). The resources above provide invaluable guidance on making giving decisions as well as ensuring donated assets are properly distributed and secured for future generations.

Originally published at on January 24, 2019.

The Future of Digital Fundraising

As strange as it may seem, raising money online is still in its infancy. The legal ramifications of crowdfunding have just recently been faced squarely by regulators and governments and the next steps in both capital formation and non-profit and charitable giving are right around the corner. With the steady stream of news articles about online funding scams, it’s no surprise that people are still so hesitant to use this medium. From stories of funerals and hospital bills to tales of woe, there’s currently no regulation in place to protect prospective donors. The companies with the biggest stakes in the fundraising future are obviously the social media platforms, which are in a headlong race to deploy front-ends for all manner of crowdfunding features.

The success of non-profit organizations is entirely dependent on budgeting and efficiency. For donors, patrons, and the companies they support, things have to become more practical. Since non-profits and technology go together so well, there are some new concepts you should consider looking into if you plan to raise money in the near future.

Equity Sharing

Commercial companies are bound to discover that equity will be the killer feature in any crowdfunding project going forward. Capital markets discovered the wealth-building power of equity sharing decades ago, and while governments can’t and won’t allow future online capital markets to become a free-for-all, the tools now exist to not only realize the dream of buying a share of your dream project but also to automate and regulate such projects. This is not only for the benefit of shareholders but also for the overall growth of electronic commerce.

Digital Currencies

Non-profits and charity fundraising efforts are very likely to become early adopters of digital currencies for a number of reasons. One of the primary motivators will be the robust and unalterable record-keeping of the blockchain, which will lead to a more exact record-keeping of tax deductions, as well as disclosures on people’s charitable giving. A cottage industry is likely to spring up around this feature of the blockchain, alongside several companies that will work with non-profits to invest or spend the digital coins they have collected.

Virtual Assistants

Advertising, marketing and customer service are among the numerous obligations that smaller non-profit players would love to either outsource or automate. With the emphasis on chatbots and virtualized customer care platforms now underway in technology circles, online services will soon combine with listening applications like Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana to produce a “reassurance engine” that will not only prevent ejections by nervous contributors but turn them into repeat and upsold contributors instead.


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