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  • Writer's pictureThe MSG Team


What do you think? Does your nonprofit need a new boat? The quick answer some people may say is NO WAY. However one could also argue that it depends on the nonprofit though, right? What about a water ski team? What about a youth program that teaches kids to fish and camp? Maybe what matters is the type of boat that is purchased as certainly a kayak might be viewed differently compared to a yacht, right? This is a subject we have talked about before but it does not hurt to send a little reminder at times. At MSG we believe there are 2 types of purchases any organization can make:

- Black and White . . . these are the purchases that you are well aware of being right or wrong to take part in. Buying candy for your youth programs halloween party? Great. Buying a car that you never use for work purposes? Not so much.

- Gray area purchases . . . are ones that are caught in the middle. They are not bad purchases but are they good? Usually things in this area are items that are kept at home, used for personal and business use, or items that are used for social purposes during off hours . . . like let's say a boat.

Our job is not to tell YOUR organization what a black, white, or gray purchase is. However what we do want to tell you is that your community cares, and looks CAN play a role in what the public thinks about you. So we would suggest a three step process for you, to help keep transparency alive and well:

1) Make sure you have financial policies in place. What can you buy? Who needs to approve and sign checks? What amounts are you allowed to spend with or without approval?

2) Put a finance committee in place. If you THINK something might be in that gray area, have them look at the proposal.

3) If the finance committee approves the idea, then have the board of directors take a look as well.

Taking the time to get MORE opinions might feel tedious and time consuming. It might even bug the heck out of you that your request was denied. However doing things this way will help your organization remain positive in the public eye.


Need help figuring out how to connect with new potential donors? Would your team feel more comfortable working with qualified leads for donations, planned giving, or a capital campaign? Let Midwest Studies Group help. Visit us at to learn more.

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