We recently conducted a radio fundraiser for a children's charity that raised over $57,000.  Thanks to everyone who gave.  We sure appreciate you.

As a Thank You to the staff for the efforts in the fundraiser, this charity bought lunch.  We ordered online and arranged delivery with a service.  Each meal was between 12 and 19 dollars when adding delivery.  Total cost: over $100.

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I thought nothing of it at the time, but the next morning I thought "Wait a minute, if I donated $50 to this fundraiser, my donation went to lunches??  WTF!"  If you gave, or are a donor to various charities, I can't really blame you for thinking that.

Earlier, I attended an annual dinner for another non-profit, in an elegant dining room at a Billings golf course.  Fancy dinner, thank you gifts to VIPs and volunteers, even a drawing for door prizes.  Now that I think about it, did the golf course donate the room and the meals?  Or did the charity pay a high price for a party?

At a non-profit where I worked, long-term volunteers were treated to a nice lunch each year in a local restaurant.  When the check came, a company card appeared.

All these non-profit charities have "Administrative Costs," expenses in the operation of the charity.  It is different from the materials and personnel providing direct service to those in need.  Please understand that for every dollar given, a few cents go to administrative costs.

Additionally, fundraisers are not free.  Expenses are incurred to put on an event, such as for meals, mailings, entertainment and such.  The non-profit organization looks at Return on Investment, or ROI.  Did the group make considerably more in contributions than they spent on the fundraiser?  Yes, they do look at this.

charles taylor, TSM Media Center

It's a Matter of Perspective

So for this last fundraiser, let's do the math on these lunches: $110 (about) divided by $57,000 equals $.0019298246.  So if a donor gave $50, $.096, nine and a half cents, paid for lunch for the radio staff.

Cool with that?

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