July 27, 2008

Charities Will Soon Face Global Competition for Donors, Fund Raiser Predicts

An online world full of donors who are not concerned with geographic boundaries could mean American charities will soon be competing with a world of nonprofit organizations for donations, an international fund-raising expert told an audience of fund raisers and marketers at a conference in Washington last week.

Globalization is forcing nonprofit groups to adapt to a world with more choices than ever before, a greater focus on the individual, and fewer boundaries, says Jon Duschinsky, founder of Bethechange Consulting, a Paris company.

For example, he says, American donors interested in medical research can increasingly find information on the most promising trials and studies in the world, rather than limiting their money to American researchers and organizations.

Mr. Duschinsky pointed to GuideStar an online database of American nonprofit groups that helps donors find charities to support. He pointed out GuidesStar now also has a site in Britain, and is starting GuideStar Europe, which will cover Germany, Hungary, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Mr. Duschinsky predicts that within five years, and probably sooner, those sites will allow donors to make global, not just domestic, choices about which charities to support.

“International giving could blow the socks off of the charity world, and blow a lot of organizations out of the water,” he says.

He recognized that tax issues do have to be considered for international giving, but noted that many studies have shown that tax breaks are not the biggest motivator for donors.

Mr. Duschinsky made his comments at a conference in Washington sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington and the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Washington chapter.