Beauty of an Unrestricted Gift

Giving trends today show that most donors give to support non-profit programs.  Donors like to know exactly how their donations are being used.  After all, it is their right to choose how to spend it.

So, whatever happened to the unrestricted gift? These types of gifts are critical because they help support the backbone of any organization. Moreover, it provides flexibility to help cover unanticipated costs or the ability to pursue opportunities that may arise during any year.

Organizations need to continue approaching and educating donors about the critical role of an unrestricted gift. Causes come and go; therefore, charitable organizations need to be responsive to meet the ever changing needs of a community. For example, who would have ever thought we would have experienced a pandemic like COVID-19?  This caused a massive shift in priorities for all non-profits, causing significant challenges in carrying out missions.

Many donors worry that if they give a gift with “no strings attached,” it will be wasted or used inefficiently.  The solution is pretty simple.  Organizations need to be transparent on how the money is being used. The organization’s Board of Trustees needs to oversee that the funding is being used wisely—merely putting trust back into the equation.

As a donor, I often tell organizations to use the funds where it is needed most.  Simply because I have no idea what the organization’s needs are.  I focus more on the overall impact of the work the non-profit is doing.  In the business world, you invest in a company based on the premise that there will be a financial return and that is it. You do not tell them how you want your money invested.  So, why do we do it so differently in the social sector?

I am not saying do away with the restricted gift, it is kind of like anything in life – balance.  When you start tipping the scales in one direction it just limits the full potential of an organization.   In the medical world, we called this homeostasis, which is the state of equilibrium to maintain an excellent physiological status.  So, the next time you give a gift, consider an unrestricted gift because of its impactful return.