How to Talk to Your Donors About Overhead and Administrative Costs

Donors are always carping on the whole issue of “overhead.” They act like it is a terrible thing that their funds would go into the black hole of “administration.”

BUT we need to take the bull by the horns and take charge of this discussion. Texas Longhorn

We have to educate our donors on the importance of investing – not only in direct program work on the ground – but also in the infrastructure of our organizations.

You have to explain to donors that infrastructure funding is really important too – it keeps the lights on, pays for staff and computer systems – so that the good work on the ground can happen.

I think when you explain this to donors, they do get it quickly, and then they are likely to be ok with the administrative costs. If you don’t explain it, and pitch it to them just right, then you just might get in trouble with your donors.

I’d like to see a pitch for “infrastructure” right along with the pitch for “direct program funding.” We should never apologize for our overhead costs. Instead let’s re-define the words “overhead costs” into “investing in infrastructure.”
This is a proactive and proud term we can all stand by!