Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

Dear Nonprofiteer, When is a Board member not a Board member?

February 28, 2013

Dear Nonprofiteer:

I came across your website as I was searching for information on Board members’ volunteering in programs. I’m wondering if you might have some advice on a situation I’m trying to handle.

I work in a service agency, which relies heavily on volunteers. Recently, one of our volunteers became a Board member. She has continued volunteering in the program and a couple of issues have come up that the program director would normally address quickly and easily with a volunteer. However, because this volunteer is now also a Board member, there is a hesitation because she is somewhat of a boss.

The issue has been brought to the attention of the Board president.  He and the program director have different ideas on how to handle the situation.  The president wants to handle the situation one on one because he doesn’t want to discourage other members from volunteering more.  The program director wants a limit on how much time a Board member can spend volunteering in a program.

I’m the Executive Director and can see both sides.  I’d like for the president to deal with it one on one, but to then adopt a policy/guidelines for Board members as volunteers to avoid conflicts of interest.  I can see where this particular person likes to make decisions and that easily oversteps the program director’s role.

I’ve been searching on line for a policy around this, but have found nothing.I would greatly appreciate any insight or resources that you might have to help with such an issue.


Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

Dear Clowns:

This is only a problem because of what seems to be a fundamental misconception about the role of Board members, as opposed to the Board as a whole.  No individual Board member is “somewhat of a boss;” in fact, from the standpoint of the program director, the only boss she has is you, the Executive Director.  You, on the other hand, answer to the Board as a whole, and the Board as a whole has the right to hire, evaluate, discipline and if necessary fire you if it’s not satisfied with the job you’re doing.

But there’s a reason the Nonprofiteer keeps repeating “as a whole . . . as a whole.”  Individual Board members have no supervisory responsibility for personnel, even when they’re members of the Personnel Committee.  Personnel decisions belong to the Executive Director, except for decisions about the Executive Director’s tenure which belong to the Board—all together now—as a whole.

So the Nonprofiteer doesn’t see any reason why there should be a policy prohibiting Board members from volunteering in the program, or limiting the amount of time they can spend doing so.  What there should be is

  • a statement by the Board president to the volunteer in question that there seems to have been some confusion, what with her going from volunteer to Board and back again, and that it needs to be clear that when she’s a volunteer she’s not a Board member.  He doesn’t need to go into the subtleties of her general lack of power as an individual Board member.  He just needs to tell her that in the land of program, the program director is king, and thus that she should expect the program director to treat her exactly as she was treated before she joined the Board—that is, to supervise her.
  • another statement by the Board president to the program director reiterating what he said to the volunteer and reassuring  her that she’s not dealing with “somewhat of a boss” and should therefore not hesitate to resolve the problem with this volunteer as with any other.  And
  • a third statement by the Board president to the entire Board at the next Board meeting, leaning again on the “confusion” meme: “We’ve had some questions about the circumstances under which Board members are welcome as program volunteers.  So I thought I’d make clear that each of us is welcome under all circumstances—but when we’re program volunteers, we shed our Board identities like fur in the summertime.  None of us is enforcing policy, or overseeing staff, or evaluating operations—we’re just volunteering.  Which ought to be a great relief for each of us!”  Thus he’ll encourage Board members to volunteer without having them confuse their collective governance role with their individual participation role.

The reason you can’t find any relevant policies is that this isn’t an occasion for policies—it’s an occasion for common sense applied to clearly-understood roles.  Or, in other words, there’s no need for a conflict-of-interest policy because individual Board members have no recognizable interests; their task is to participate in group decision-making about what’s good for the agency.

If you also have a Board Personnel Committee that tries meddling with individual personnel decisions (as opposed, say, to writing policies and procedures applicable to all personnel), then you have a bigger version of the same problem and need to have a bigger discussion about the difference between the Board—what?—as a whole and individual Board members.

But there’s no reason either the problem or the discussion should lead you to limit Board members’ participation as program volunteers.   As a Board member told the Nonprofiteer just last night, the main satisfaction Board members get from their often thankless jobs is contact with the people you serve.  Unless your goal is to produce unhappy Board members and a short-handed program director, you don’t want to restrict or prohibit that contact.

Or, more pithily: damn the Board member!  Full speed ahead!


Giving Tuesday: A Holiday Tradition Worth Creating

November 27, 2012

This is glorious: someone figuring out how to divert some of that pointless holiday shopping into social good.  Go bust some charity’s door today!

More on the Buffett challenge

February 3, 2012

When Warren Buffett challenged Mitch McConnell to help him pay down the deficit, McConnell paid him no never-mind—but a teenage girl in Northbrook, IL heard and responded, sending $300 to the Feds and asking Buffett to do the same.  This is an adorable story, and the video makes it more adorable still.

But let’s not let this young woman’s sense of civic duty and remarkable act of civic participation distract from the real point of the Buffett challenge, which is that without increased taxation of the wealthy, jerks like Mitch McConnell will free-ride on public-spirited souls like Katie Murphy.

Tom Sawyer was wrong

June 2, 2011

This branch of Habitat for Humanity has chosen to charge volunteers for the privilege of helping out.

When the Nonprofiteer pointed out that volunteers give more readily to the agencies they serve than non-volunteers, she wasn’t advocating admission fees.   Volunteers may have paid to paint Tom Sawyer’s fence, but Twain’s point was that they were stupid.  Your volunteers aren’t.

Even if mandatory “contributions” (oxymoron watch!) weren’t offensive in suggesting that volunteers’ time has less than no value, they’re practically the definition of penny-wise and pound-foolish: people will pay what you require (or not) and then regard their giving to the agency as being done for the year.

Or forever.  Please stop this idea before it kills again.

Dear Nonprofiteer, Victory on points?

April 22, 2011

Dear Nonprofiteer,

I recently saw an offer to serve on a non-profit board where there was a monetary donation requirement each year, but the amount could be substituted by service or other activities through the scale pasted below. Here’s the way they phrased it:

To ensure active participation, members earn points for financial contributions and volunteer service. We ask that a contribution of $250 be made in order to remain as an Associate Board member. You can, however, combine a cash donation of $100 with your fundraising and volunteer efforts by earning these points:

Sample Opportunities to Earn Points
Opportunity Points
Additional cash contribution of $50 50
Plan a Board Social or Fundraising Event 50
Serve in a leadership role 50
Secure $100 event sponsorship 15*
Represent [agency] at a public fair or presentation 15*
Sell a ticket to a fundraiser 10*

I was wondering, is this a common practice? I’m actually thinking about recommending it for another board where I’ve been asked to donate money.

Signed, Victor on Points or Technical Knock-Out?

Dear Knock-Out:

The Nonprofiteer knows that some larger organizations use this point system, but for smaller organizations she thinks the record-keeping and arguments about “what counts” are more trouble than they’re worth.  Obviously it depends on the size of the required contribution, but in general everyone on a Board should be expected to give AND participate, and in roughly equal measure.

This is expressed in a number of different formulations: Board members offer the three Ws (Work, Wealth and Wisdom) or are expected to provide the three Gs (Give, Get and Govern). Whichever initials you use, the point is the same: Board membership is not an either-or proposition but a yes-and one. The best way to assure fulfillment of these expectations is to adopt a clear statement of them for Board members, and go over that statement with every Board recruit. “Every Board member is expected to make a $500 contribution, and buy a ticket to the annual gala, and attend monthly Board meetings, and serve on a committee . . .”. That way, no one agrees to join the Board who isn’t prepared to do all those things.

People are fond of making exceptions to this in two cases: for Board members perceived to be significantly poorer than the rest of the group, and for those perceived to be significantly wealthier or better-connected than the rest.

In the first case, the Nonprofiteer’s advice is: don’t count the money in other people’s pockets. Poor people are more generous than rich people generally, and thus are often less upset by minimum Board gifts than their wealthier counterparts. If a rich Board member can just write a $500 check while a poorer one has to ask 10 friends for $50, well, that’s just another example of ways in which poor people have to work harder than rich people. And, as $500 per year is less than $10 per week, most working people—regardless of their assets—can afford it.

In the second case: if someone tells you s/he’s too busy to actually do anything but s/he’ll be glad to be on your Board, remember this motto: if they can’t do the time, they can’t do the crime. Someone willing only to lend his/her name and write a check should be placed on an Advisory Board (create one if you have to, or dub the person a “Special Advisor” and put him/her on the stationery), not on the Board of Directors. If you do put such a person on the Board proper, s/he will have all the legal responsibilities of Board members without being there to discharge them—a recipe for disaster and hard feelings, should the agency be socked with a bill for unpaid withholding taxes or a lawsuit from an injured client.

In short: the Board is a governance institution, and governance includes assuring that the agency has the resources it needs to fulfill its mission You shouldn’t have to negotiate with your governors about their tasks, which is what a point system suggests. Rather, they should be the ones setting their own goals and meeting them, and attracting others who will do the same.

And that’s the final reason not to use this point system: no one wants to serve on a Board of lazy people. Your group is more attractive to prospects if everyone’s revved up and ready to go on every possible front. You can find such people, provided you don’t declare defeat and stop looking.

Ownership and its Discontents

February 16, 2011

Many years ago the Nonprofiteer lived briefly in a cooperative apartment building, which looks like a condominium building but differs from it in a fundamental way. In a cooperative, owners don’t own their units: they just have long-term leases. What they own instead is stock in the landlord—a corporation whose sole asset is the building.

Being landlords, coop boards act like landlords: they determine who may move into the building, and what sort of alterations may be made to the units, and even how much heat any individual owner receives. As a result, coop owners are deeply involved, monitoring Board actions closely because those actions may intrude significantly on their lives. At the same time, they’re favorably disposed to any regulation promising to maintain or enhance the value of their units. They’re prepared to accept considerable restrictions on their own freedom of action for the privilege of restraining others’ freedom of action. The entire system is like living in the United Nations—for better and worse.

This came to the Nonprofiteer’s mind because in the past week she’s facilitated two Board meetings at which people have threatened to quit. (Perhaps this suggests she should alter her style of facilitation, but she prefers to think that she’s just making people face the hard questions.) At the first meeting, a Board member confronted for the first time with a clear statement that he was expected to make a personal financial contribution announced, “If I don’t get credit for using my corporate connections, I quit!” At the second, the Executive Director responded to a consensus that individual counseling was outside the agency’s mission by saying, “If you’re telling me I can’t listen to people’s problems and try to solve them, I quit!”

If people threaten to quit while talking about difficult issues like money and mission, what does that mean? It’s obviously necessary to press on the most sensitive spot, the issue that needs to be resolved before anything else can be accomplished; but is “I quit!” (whether acted upon or not) the only possible response?

People who serve on nonprofit Boards do so out of passion for the agency’s cause, and what they get in return for their commitment of time and energy and money and belief is a sense that they own the agency. When an “owner’s” understanding of the agency is challenged or contradicted, naturally it feels as if his/her property is being stolen. “I quit!” means “I’ll throw this in the trash before I let you take it from me.”

It’s good that Board members consider themselves owners of the agency, but bad that so many of them misunderstand the nature of that ownership. They don’t own their own little condominium understanding of the agency’s mission or its means of achieving it. Rather, they co-own the agency with the rest of the Board, and it’s the whole Board that owns the understanding of mission and means.

This often makes Board membership difficult for people who are natural leaders. They’re accustomed to acting without consultation, or with the kind of consultation that acknowledges their superior knowledge and/or power. But on a nonprofit Board, those who act without consultation risk either distorting the mission to match their private vision or provoking the adoption of significant restrictions on everyone’s freedom of action to prevent that distortion from taking place. Neither is a good outcome.

The ideal circumstance is for all the owners to realize that they’re members of a cooperative group whose sole asset is the institution, and that securing that asset’s well-being is the task they all face together. When that’s clear, disputes about what the institution is or does or deserves from its Board members can be negotiated among all the owners, and no one says “I quit!”

Now, how to get there?

A delicate balance

January 27, 2011

If fundraising is concentric circles, as consultants often say (you ask your friends and then their friends and then their friends’ friends), then it seems to make the most sense to start asking right in the bosom of the family: from your staff and volunteers.  Indeed, this is what most nonprofit executives think of when they hear the phrase “Charity begins at home”!

But staff and volunteers are in quite different positions with respect to your organization, and so they can’t be treated alike in terms of asking for money.

Often agencies are afraid to ask their volunteers for money on the grounds that they’re already getting the volunteers’ time, and it would be greedy to ask for more.  But in fact no one is in a better position to appreciate the value of the work you do, or the scarcity of resources under which you labor, than a volunteer.  Further, though not all volunteers are privileged, they are at least people who have leisure time to donate, which suggests they’re not grindingly poor.  If your volunteers show up at the office with a cup of Starbuck’s in hand, consider what that represents: 1 Venti/day@$2.50 x 5 days/week x 52 weeks/year = $650.  So they’re probably spending more on coffee than you’d think of mentioning in an initial ask.

Will any volunteers take umbrage at being asked to give money as well as time?  Sure; a certain percentage of the population finds discussion of money distasteful and crude, and such people may well be represented in your volunteer corps.  But you’re not any poorer for asking them, and there’s very little reason to think they’d stop volunteering at an activity they enjoy because you asked them a question to which the answer was “no.”

Don’t extend this blithe attitude, though, to asking your volunteers to ask for money.  Direct-service volunteers are apt to be offended if they’re asked to do other kinds of volunteer work, such as fundraising, because the request suggests that they’re not already working hard enough.  You understand the difference between time and money, and your need for both; your volunteers are equally sophisticated.  So ask them for money, not for more time.

Staff members are a different issue.  People who work in nonprofit agencies are already donating enormous sums to the agency, in the form of foregone income–-the money they could be making working in the for-profit sector.  In this sense they are almost certainly the top donors to the agencies at which they work.

The Nonprofiteer took a nonprofit executive job for half the salary she had been earning as a practicing lawyer—a not inconsiderable sacrifice, though one she was glad to make.  But when members of the Board suggested that she also write a check to the agency, her attitude was, “The very second the Board gives $25,000 a year to the agency–-collectively, let alone individually!—it will have the right to come back and ask for something more than the $25,000 worth of lost wages I’m already giving.”

To be fair, hers is a minority view.  Many agencies regard staff donations as some sort of measure of staff commitment to the agency.   But staff members indicate commitment every day through the work they do, the salaries they accept, the health insurance they lack.  At some agencies they even demonstrate their commitment by working overtime for which they don’t get paid—and by not ratting out their employers to the U.S. Department of Labor or the state agency charged with regulating wages, hours and working conditions.  The fact that our agencies do socially valuable work doesn’t entitle us to exploit our laborers, though of course for many years nonprofits have survived their lack of financial capital by consuming human capital instead.

So don’t ask your staff for money, and do ask your volunteers.  Maybe they’ll donate enough to make it possible for you to offer the staff health insurance, or paid sick leave, or even a raise.

Well, one can dream, anyway.

Fired up to volunteer

December 13, 2010

The Nonprofiteer first learned of the work of several months ago through our mutual colleagues at Mission Research.  She’s been getting around to writing about Catchafire’s work placing high-skill volunteers at New York nonprofits.  Now that founder Rachael Chong has been interviewed on NPR’s Marketplace, the Nonprofiteer realizes that time waits for no blogger.

Rachael describes her organization as “ for volunteers and nonprofits.”  A nonprofit pays a low fee to have Catchafire figure out its needs (“scope its projects,” in site jargon) and find a volunteer with the right skills to accomplish the task.  (At the moment the group operates only in New York, which mysteriously has one of the lowest volunteering rates in the country, but it hopes to expand to other communities in fairly short order.)  Volunteer in, do project, volunteer out, bada-bing, bada-boom—the whole thing happens in a New York  minute.

The Nonprofiteer applauds Catchafire’s mission and part of its approach–the part about helping nonprofits figure out what they can actually do with high-skill volunteers other than asking them to stuff envelopes.  But for every volunteer who wants to root, shoot and leave she knows two who are looking for a long-term volunteer home, and though obviously a Catchafire volunteer isn’t precluded from becoming a permanent volunteer, s/he comes in branded as a person who will, and therefore probably only can, do one thing.

The Nonprofiteer is also concerned about sending a single volunteer to do a project, even if it seems apparent that a single pair of hands is all that’s required.  Many people volunteer to alleviate their loneliness (or, more positively, to connect with others) and a single-person project—even in the midst of an agency with lots of people—is likely to be isolated, and isolating.

The Taproot Foundation, which likewise uses a project-based model of providing assistance to nonprofits, addresses the isolation concern by assembling a team to complete each project.  The good news is, each volunteer gets to know and work with other high-skill volunteers.  The bad news is, teams of volunteers are to nonprofits as hairballs are to cats: tolerable on a temporary basis but unlikely to be integrated permanently into the system.  High-skill volunteers searching for a cause about which to stay passionate and a home in which to express that passion instead find the opportunity to be coughed up.

The Nonprofiteer’s theory is that both groups are treating the symptom [failure to use high-skill volunteers] rather than the cause [staff hostility to the use of volunteers].  It may be that only the symptom can be treated; but in her own practice, the Nonprofiteer works to help organizations identify and overcome the sources of staff resistance, so they can make use of high-skill volunteers on an extensive and long-term basis rather than a restricted and short-term one.  We all know that staff turnover is expensive because every new person has to be trained; the same must be true of volunteer turnover, and therefore solutions requiring constant orientation of new people create problems of their own.

But may the best model win!  And if nonprofits use some high-skill volunteers better as a result of any of these approaches, we’ll all win.

Dear Nonprofiteer, Who quit and made me president?

November 4, 2010

Dear Nonprofiteer:

Recently I started serving on a board of a small social service organization.  In the last six months our board president has slowly retreated from his leadership duties due to a variety of personal issues that he’s facing and I find that I’m essentially left driving the bus.  What resources are there that you would recommend for those seemingly newly anointed to oversee a nonprofit?

Signed,Nickeynewguy and Lost

Dear Nickey,

Of course the best resource is the Nonprofiteer it/herself–the site has no search function, I’m sorry to say, but if you just keep trolling backwards you’ll find numerous bits of advice for Board presidents.  But here’s the central thing to remember: even if you’re suddenly the Board PRESIDENT, you’re not suddenly the whole Board.

So the first thing to do is call a meeting of the Board (with the Executive Director in the room—s/he will be your most valuable partner) and say, “Well, I appear to have become president by default.  This wasn’t your choice and it certainly wasn’t mine; so let’s figure out what has to be done and divide up the tasks.”  In other words, make it clear from the word Go that you’re not going to be in this alone.

Second, if you’re the sort of person who ends up leading by default, that means you’re a natural leader in one way or another.  I’m going to proceed on the assumption that your leadership flows from quiet competence rather than noisy charisma (otherwise you’d have been Board president to begin with).  So use that quiet competence to help the Executive Director and your fellow Board members think through:

  • What do we have to do that’s urgent?
  • What do we have to do that’s important?
  • Are we letting the urgent get in the way of the important?
  • If so, is the urgent really so urgent?
  • If so, do we need more people to address things, urgent and important alike?
  • If so, who will lead a brainstorming session to identify and recruit prospective new Board members?

Note that I’m not suggesting you do the recruiting, though you may be the most motivated to do so, having suddenly awakened to a whole set of unasked-for responsibilities. Nor should the Executive Director do it—s/he’s got plenty to do already.   But the only way you can do your job is to make sure other Board members do theirs, and the best way to get them activated is to give them the fun job, namely, thinking about who else would just love the work you’re doing if only they knew about it, and then talking to those people with great enthusiasm about what you do.

Any Board member who can’t run, or at least participate whole-heartedly in, a recruitment campaign should be given some essential but boring task like reviewing budget vs. actual expenses or assuring compliance with the Federal and state filing requirements.  That person should have to report at the next Board meeting, as will the recruiters.  As soon as you’re having Board meetings where Board members talk to each other (instead of sulking, or reporting to the Executive Director or to you as though you were the only responsible parties in the room), you’ve got this presidency stuff down pat.

For more detailed guidance, the Nonprofiteer strongly suggests checking out any of the sites on the blogroll (in the right margin), as well as going to, which as its name suggests specializes in making Board service as straightforward and resource-rich as possible.  The Boardsource “Knowledge Center” is chock-a-block with guidelines, forms and checklists to help you make sure the essential bases are being covered—even in the center fielder’s absence.

And as further questions arise, please feel free to write again!

The 5 Ws of Individual-Gifts Fundraising

November 1, 2010

As all budding journalists know, every story can be told through judicious use of the 5 Ws: Who? What? When? Where? Why?  Here the Nonprofiteer employs this efficient system to tell the story of how reluctant volunteers can become enthusiastic and successful individual-gifts fundraisers.

For most small- and medium-sized organizations, everything about this story is a blank.  So here’s a primer on how to fill in that blank.

WHO to ask?: Only two types of people should be asked individually for gifts: people who’ve given to your group before, and friends of your Board members.  With anyone else, it’s sheer impertinence: “Hi, nice to meet you, open your wallet.”  Ask friends (of the agency and the Board), and ye shall receive.

What to do when your Board members say, “I don’t want to ask my friends for money”?  Reply: “You don’t have to ask your friends.  Just ask each other’s friends!”  So Angela asks John’s friend, and John asks Angela’s.  All they ask of their own friends is to come to a meeting, and all they have to do at that meeting is wax enthusiastic about the group and listen while the other one solicits the gift.

WHAT to ask for?: If they’ve given to the agency before, you’re asking for more.  You have to make the leap of imagination (from $250 last year to $1000 this year) before the prospective donor can think about making it.

Don’t worry about being too ambitious in your monetary goal.  Very few prospective donors are offended by being mistaken for rich people.  (Women, though, are more likely to be taken aback than men, so ask for slightly less from women.  They’re more likely to say ‘yes,’ so it all evens out.)

If you’re asking a Board member’s friend, ask for slightly less than the Board member gives him/herself, because the first thing the prospect will do is turn to his Board friend and say, “What do you give?”  If the Board member doesn’t think the agency’s worth $500, the friend is unlikely to think it’s worth anything.

What if your Board member’s friend is a gazillionaire?  (We should all have this problem.)  Then prime the Board member to say, “I give $200, because that’s what I can afford.  We’re hoping you’ll likewise consider a gift based on your capacity.”  Again, few people mind being suspected of success, so if your Board member is prepared to say, “Listen, I know you made a killing last year when you sold your Google stock . . .”  his friend is unlikely to want to correct him!

WHEN to ask: The Nonprofiteer is a prompt—some might say premature—fundraiser.  As a cautionary tale, she offers the story of how her alma mater took her out for coffee repeatedly to soften her up for an ask, despite her saying, “Guys, I’m a fundraiser.  I know what we’re doing here.  Just ask me for the money!”  By the time they were ready to ask her, she’d been reminded that the school’s investment philosophy would have permitted owning shares in slave-ships, and did permit investing in companies propping up genocidal regimes; and therefore she declined to give, though she wouldn’t have reneged on a preexisting pledge.  So don’t delay; get the yes!

“What about cultivation?” you ask.  The Nonprofiteer believes that lots of what passes for “cultivation” in individual-gifts fundraising is nothing more than stalling.  Don’t hold “cultivation” events and plan to ask for money later; if you hold an event, either get contributions through the ticket price or ask forcefully that night.

All you need to do to “cultivate”  people is to demonstrate that you’re thinking about them on a regular basis, and you can do that by forwarding something you think they’d like to read.  Better yet, send them invitations to your activities, whether performances or client graduations or river cleanups.  People give where they feel they belong, so be on the lookout for “belonging” opportunities.  For this purpose, the less special the event, the better.    If you do something special for a donor, make it an ask.

One word of caution about WHEN: don’t ask too soon after the last gift.  May and June may be two separate fiscal years to you, but your donors probably think (and give) on a calendar-year basis.  So they’ll think you bizarre and ungrateful if you respond to their May gift with a June ask.

WHERE?: Over breakfast, lunch or dinner (or possibly bedtime snack).  The Nonprofiteer is a firm believer in the power of food to facilitate fundraising.  In any case, the advantage of a meal is that it requires the prospective donor to sit still for about an hour, during which time you can a) learn about her; b) educate her; and c) ask her.

WHY?: Why bother with individual gifts?  Why not just write some more grants?  (asks your Board.)  Three reasons:

  • Because grants come and go.  Institutional funders have the attention span of fruit-flies: this year they’re interested in AIDS but next year it will be architecture.  If you’re not the fad, you’re out of luck.
  • Because even if they continue to embrace your work, very few foundations or corporate giving offices will give money to support your operations.  They want to support programs, the newer the better, often leading agencies to elaborate their programming beyond what their infrastructure can sustain.  If you need to pay your light bill—or your employees—you need individual gifts.
  • And finally, even if they love you to pieces, most institutional funders want to sustain you while you find broader support.  They’re not interested in being your permanent sugar daddy.

By contrast, most individuals give because they’re asked, and what they’re asked for is support for a cause or an agency (not a single program), and once they’ve agreed they keep giving out of habit.  So you have to actively offend them before they stop.

So that’s the story of successful individual giving.  And if who-what-when-where-why merely piques your interest, you can learn how right here.