Restricted Vs. Unrestricted

Donor Acquisition, Donor Attrition / Why Donors Stop Giving, Donor-Centered Fundraising, Restricted versus Unrestricted Giving • Views: 15147

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The story takes place at a Seniors Center complex.  Bob is the Executive Director of the complex, Janet is its Development Manager, and Arthur Brown is an elderly donor.
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Janet

(on the phone with the Center’s receptionist)
Yes, I’ll be right out to get Mr. Brown.  He called to say he might be dropping by.  (pause) No, he’s not a member of the Center; I’ve actually never met him before.  (Janet exits, returning with Arthur, who is walking slowly with a cane.) My office is just a little further down the hall, Mr. Brown.  (a little apologetic) Given that I get more visitors than anyone else on staff, you’d think they’d give me an office a little closer to the entrance.

Arthur

Not to worry, Janet; I’m just a little stiff today.  (humorously) I think I overdid it a bit yesterday what with two hours on the treadmill. I’m training for the Chicago Marathon, you know.

Janet

(playing along)
Really?  Wow.  Is this your first marathon, Mr. Brown, or…

Arthur

(smiles) Gotcha!

Janet

(smiles back)
Here we are, Mr. Brown.  Now, since you’re a runner, you probably won’t mind sitting in this extremely uncomfortable wooden chair.

Arthur

(he sits; looks around)
This is a very impressive Seniors Center, Janet.  Is it new?

Janet

Well, yes and no.  The Lakefield Seniors Complex goes back, in some form, to the 1950’s.  But this beautiful building is the product of a complete refurbishment done eight years ago.  About twenty percent of our members spend most of their daytime hours here.  We have quite a variety of programs and activities, and of course, the board and all our working committees are made up entirely of our members.

Arthur

It’s a much more vibrant center than the one near my home – in Weston. I don’t use that one too often, but if I lived near here, I think I might become one of your 20%.

Janet

Weston?  You’ve come a long way then, today.  How was the drive?

Arthur

Oh, I took the bus.

Janet

(surprised)
Two buses, at least, I’d think.

Arthur

Yes — lots of time for reflection.

Janet

Oh, the chair…I’m sorry.  If I’d known you’d traveled so far to get here…

Arthur

No, no, I’m fine, Janet.  (pause)

Janet

Well, if you’ve taken two buses to get here, and interrupted your training schedule, you probably have a good reason for wanting to see me.

Arthur

Yes, I do.  Do you know Lydia Beaton?

Janet

Is she a member here?

Arthur

(realizing that Janet does not know Lydia or that she has died)
Yes, she was a very close friend going back more than fifty years.  Actually her late husband and I grew up together.  Frank and Lydia and my late wife, Rose, were as close as best friends can be, I guess.  We vacationed together, watched each other’s children grow up – you know, the kind of unique connection that only lifelong friends enjoy.

Janet

You said, “was”.  Has Lydia died?

Arthur

Yes, I thought you might have heard. She was such an ardent supporter of this complex.  She mentioned it all the time. (pause) That’s why I’m here today.  I was hoping that I could make a gift in Lydia’s honor.

Janet

Well, of course.  We’d be so appreciative.

Arthur

(While he speaks, Arthur pulls out a blank, personal check, unfolding it slowly, and takes his pen from his shirt pocket)
I know I could have just mailed this in, but I wanted to see this place for myself and meet some of the people behind it.  This is a very impressive facility, as you pointed out, but with or without this building, the real quality of the Center is defined by the people who work here, don’t you think?  That’s, I’m sure, what made it special for Lydia.  I was hoping you, or someone here, could tell me about what program was particularly meaningful for her – something Lydia really got a special kick out of, you know.  I thought that if she were listening in on our conversation right now, it would be a program or activity that would make her smile and say, “Yes, that was really special.”  I’d like to direct my gift to that…in Lydia’s name.

Janet

(a pause, too long to be reflective)
Mr. Brown, I’m so sorry.  We’re only allowed to accept unrestricted gifts.

(Arthur looks somewhat irritated, which Janet misinterprets as misunderstanding)

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12 Responses to Restricted Vs. Unrestricted

  1. Ken Ristine says:

    It appears that the board of this organization has given the CFO control of the organization. You can’t blame the CFO for wanting to keep his/her job as simple as possible, which is exactly what this policy does.

    Restricted gifts are just the first donated dollars in towards those program expenses that you have to meet. If the CFO put in a little work it would be easy to track and account for those dollars, thus lessening some of the need for unrestricted money.

  2. Betsy says:

    I really like the idea of the percentage for basic support. Donors can understand that without a solid foundation the programs may not have the roots they need to grow in a healthy way. What I’m finding is that large donors like to support the new project, the new building, the new event…and in these times we need general support just to carry on and keep our fees affordable.

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