This week Albertans learned that a rehab centre for women that had been in the planning stages for a number of years with over $2Million of capital invested would not open. Unfortunately, this is not an unusual, we just have to look back to his past fall when Contemporary Calgary also opted to walk away from a capital project after they too had started down a significant path of fundraising and promise making.

Text of the 10 rules of the donor bill of rightsSo what is a donor to do? How do charities secure their capital projects? What commitments are required to be honoured and which ones are deemed part of a risk investment? The Association of Fundraising Professionals have a Donor Bill of Rights that provide a framework for you to operate under as a donor, but this document only goes so far as to let you know that you can and should ask questions and that a charity has an obligation to answer those questions.

When it comes to capital campaigns or any large-scale donation we recommend taking the same approach you would to any high-risk investment or capital projects. Evaluate the leadership of the organization and the project manager, understand the timeline of deliverables, ensure the organization has a plan for cost overruns, be clear on the expectations of other funders and what the fine print of those contributions are.

Working with donors we have designed a process to help individuals and families assess the risks associated with their donations and foster deeper connections with charities so that when things go sideways, the relationship isn’t jeopardized.