DMANF Unveils Fundraising Principles

The Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation (DMANF) has released its first set of fundraising principles. The principles are effective immediately and cover general principles, use of funds and costs of fundraising, as well as contracts with commercial partners. “The principles really pull together standards and best practices around several areas,” said Xenia “Senny” Boone, DMANF’s general counsel.

General principles include having a mission statement, accurate messaging and compliance with state and federal regulations. On the expenses side, the principles cover use of unrestricted funds, spending a majority of revenue on programs and compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) including Statement of Position 98-2, which covers joint cost allocations. When entering into contracts with third parties, some principles include always being in control of the program, message delivery, collection of funds and donor information, as well as avoiding conflicts of interest and determining reasonable payment schedules with contractors.

The full list can be viewed at http://bit.ly/177aPm0

Boone said DMANF had been bandying about ideas for a set of principles early in 2012, but really started “to put pen to paper” in December. An ethics committee drafted the principles, which then went through the 24-member advisory council and out to DMANF’s 400-plus members. “This was really quite a good process; there were no massive wrestling matches,” she said. “Everyone was highly supportive.”

The guidelines do not supersede DMANF’s ethics guidelines but rather supplement them. Fundraising occupies just two paragraphs of the 49-page document, and the DMANF felt more robust fundraising principles were necessary. The ethics guidelines cover such topics as offer terms, marketing to children, sweepstakes and collection of data, among others.

The DMANF strives to work with members who are not in compliance and get them up to speed, said Boone. “The DMA self-regulates quite a bit. Most organizations want to be compliant and follow the rules,” she said. “But there are of course a handful, though quite rare, that don’t respond, and that’s when we’ll take it up for casework.” For unresponsive organizations and fundraisers, the DMA could refer the offending organization to the proper authorities  such as state attorneys general or postal inspectors, and could suspend or terminate their DMA membership.

These principles are effective immediately. Boone said DMANF plans at least three informational webinars to further explain the principles some time within the next six months, though no dates have been set.