Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Monday, July 31, 2006

Telling the world who you are, the importance of marketing and media

Marketing is simply communicating effectively with folks who can help your organization accomplish its goals. Media can be a powerful way to reach these people. How can nonprofits develop their brand? How can they use the media to advance their mission and let the world know who they are? What does an effective communication strategy look like?

Join Zach Hochstadt, founding partner of Mission Minded, and Rosi Reyes, project media trainer and strategist at SPIN Project, as they talk about the connections between marketing, media and fundraising. This workshop is part of the Development Executive's Roundtable (DER) monthly luncheon presentation, held this month on August 11, 12:00 p.m. -1:30 p.m. at San Francisco's Foundation Center, 312 Sutter Street.

Reserve your seat today simply email by August 9th.

Cost for all DER luncheons is DER members $12, and for non-members $20. (Calendar year memberships are only $40.) Lunch is included in your fee. Please pay at the door, checks or cash only.

Note: The Foundation Center is committed to providing development education opportunities free of charge, and DER honors this commitment in our partnership with the Center by offering programs at this site free of charge, if you bring your own lunch. So please indicate if you will bring your lunch when you RSVP for this program.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Maintaining an ethical philosophy of fundraising

Fundraising is not rocket science, but there are some core basics that everyone should follow, the most important of which is to maintain an ethical stance in all our activities.

As Hank Rosso, the grandfather of contemporary fundraising, wrote many years ago in Achieving Excellence in Fundraising:
"Fundraising is values-based; values must guide the process. Fundraising should never be undertaken simply to raise funds; it must serve the larger cause ... The call for accountability, the need to inspire trust, the leadership of volunteers, the involvement of donors in their philanthropy, and new approaches to philanthropy [are a] call for fundraisers to be reflective practioners who can center themselves with a philosophy of fundraising."
A good place to start aligning your activities with this "philosophy of fundraising" is to incorporate the Donor Bill of Rights in all your efforts. Approved by the Board, implemented by staff and volunteers, and posted on your website, these simple 10 points should become more than just words on paper. In return, donors and prospective donors will develop the needed confidence to make long-term investments in your good agency and good cause.


Friday, July 28, 2006

5 things to know about direct response fundraising

That's me in the middle at this month's DER luncheon, flanked by Judy Frankel of Project Open Hand and Nicci Noble of the Salvation Army, two amazingly talented development professionals. I came away with too many notes to reprint here, but here are just a few of Judy's top tips.
  1. Not all causes translate equally into direct response appeals, which can be extremely expensive. If your mission can’t easily be translated into a powerful human story or if your target donor is not reachable via lists, you might find other ways to build your annual fund. A well-structured Board networking effort or strategically run house party campaign may have greater payoff with less effort.
  2. The beauty of a postal appeal is that the mail package is a trusted and respectful first contact; it provides enough “real estate” to tell your story in a very personal way; and it continues to be the most cost-effective way to generate new donors, according to nationwide studies.
  3. If you do determine you’re a strong candidate for direct response appeals, plan on making a long-term investment. Understand that you’re not just raising money for annual operations: you are also building a donor database, which should be viewed as a big relationship-building machine, and will eventually be one of your organization’s most valuable assets. This may be a 3-5 year investment before real returns are realized.
  4. In acquisition appeals, getting the list right has the most impact on the mailing’s success or failure, so list testing is a very high priority. A distant second after list is package in its collective components.
  5. Direct response fundraising is an excellent way to move people up the giving pyramid. Contact your donors frequently year-round -- unless they request fewer communications -- to thank them for their support, ask them for money, and keep them familiarized with your work, especially with the people that you serve. This prompts people to increase their giving levels, because you are building relationships for the long-term through respectful and continuous communication. In time you will have a long and detailed giving history, making prospecting for major donors fairly straightforward.

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Fundraising Journal’s 25th Anniversary Party, August 4

Tickets for the much anticipated Raising Change: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference in Berkeley next month have been long sold out, but you can still get into evening gala honoring Kim Klein and the 25th anniversary of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal on Friday, August 4th at 6:00pm. Just $50 for nonconference attendees. Hope to see you there!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Call for nominations: National Philanthropy Day awards

National Philanthropy Day, the one day fundraisers gather to trumpet the accomplishments of our organizations, our volunteers and our community, is fast approaching. On November 14th we'll be celeberating the 20th anniversary of NPD in the Bay Area at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square.

For more information or to make a nomination, please visit the Association of Fundraising Professionals Golden Gate Chapter website. Note, all award nominations are due by August 7.


Friday, July 14, 2006

What's driving social entrepreneurship? reports ...
… Timothy Zak, President of the Pittsburgh Social Enterprise Accelerator and a panelist at the [NYU'’s Stern School of Business'’ Social Entrepreneur] conference, was among those who believe that in order for an organization with a social mission to be successful, 501(C)(3) status must be viewed as merely a tax code reference. “The difference between non-profits and for-profits is a legal distinction, and should not reflect a way to operate,” he reasoned.
This is simply wrong.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing agreement among good intentioned people who wish to "fix" nonprofits. The simple fact is 501(C)(3) status is granted by states Attorney General to corporations -- yes, every registered nonprofit is by law incorporated, hence a corporation -- that operates to the benefit of the public.

The distinction between for-profits and nonprofits is therefore one of ownership. Individual investors -- often as few as one person -- own for-profits. Ownership of nonprofits, on the other hand, rests with its constituency, ultimately the people of the state who have granted it a license to operate. Instead of shareholders, nonprofits have stakeholders. The duty of nonprofit Boards is to insure the maximum return on investment to these stakeholders, i.e. the public. As such, the nonprofit sector is the "hidden socialist sector" of America. This understanding should drive every business decision a nonprofit makes.

Social Entrepreneurs talk a lot about the dual bottom line, i.e. the need for nonprofit leadership to understand that they have both a fiduciary as well as public duty to fulfill. That's all well and good, but I've never met an Executive Director who didn't understand that innately. Of course, the sector can always use more training and capacity in order insure mission success, but what businesses couldn't? Yet too few for-profit CEOs seem to understand that, just like nonprofit corporations, they too have a dual bottom line to return value to the community's in which they are licensed to operate.

If the growing alliance between academia and for-profit America really wants to make an impact on our country's quality of life, they should look at themselves first. If so, perhaps than our world wouldn't be in such a global crisis.

What do you think?


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Visual Aid's Bastille Day Fundraiser

More Info

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bar-B-Que By the Babes: Fundraiser for Lyon-Martin's Women's Health Center

Hey gang, get your tickets now for a special event benefiting the fabulous women of Lyon-Martin Women's Health Services, cause everyone knows that as well as providing the most caring health clinic, that they throw the best parties too!

On Monday, August 14, 7-10 pm, "Brothers for Sisters" presents a sumptuous evening at MECCA SF benefiting Lyon-Martin, with veteran restaurateur Steven Weber and his new 3-star chef, Executive Chef Randy Lewis. MECCA SF is located at 2029 Market Street, San Francisco.

Of course, there'll be a bounty of grilled delights, wine selections, an open bar and fabulous entertainment. Guests of honor include Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and many others who help build our community together.

Tickets are $150 per person. Please call Teri McGinnis at (415) 901-7106 or email her at to RSVP today.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Are progressive nonprofits too dependent on foundations?

According to Giving USA last year Americans gave $260.28 billion, a rise of 6.1%, which approaches the inflation-adjusted high of $260.53 billion that was reached in 2000. 2005 giving was estimated to be 2.1% of GDP.

To those of you who are professional fundraisers, this is old news, as is the fact that individuals continue to play the most significant role in philanthropy. Last year, excluding bequests, they gave 76.5% of all gifts.

But a very interesting article recently published by In These Times will put these figures on end for many of you.
When you ask Daniel Faber [who teaches sociology at Boston’s Northeastern University and edited Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements] who funds the left, he bluntly says that the dirty little secret is that most of the money comes from large foundations. Faber estimates that “foundation dollars provide 70 to 90 percent of funding support for most social movements.”

... “The Heritage Foundation has 275,000 individual donors,” says Kim Klein. “The Right-To-Life organizations have thousands of small donors. The grassroots of the right wing is actually funded by the grassroots and the grassroots of the left wing is funded by foundations, and I think it’s an enormous problem."
Though Kim stands firmly on the left, on this point, she is absolutely right.


Innovative nonprofit start-up funding

In the 90's there was Classmates and SixDegrees, but it wasn’t until the 2003 launch of Friendster that online social network websites really exploded into public consciousness. Today there are over 200 such services, with the popular MySpace getting more daily page views than Google!

Last month, a new nonprofit joined this competitive fray. YouthNoise, a spin-off from Save the Children, is the first nonprofit, youth-based social network dedicated to social change. Headquartered in San Francisco, the organization is bringing together young people ages 16-22 from around the world to form a global network for sharing and converting their ideas into action. Featuring 100% youth-generated content, it already has registered more than 113,000 youth from more than 170 countries.

Yet what I found interesting was its funding model, according to PNNOnline:
… YouthNoise recently received an innovative first round of $1.5m in financing to support the launch of This first round of funding was led by Omidyar Network and a consortium of the Surdna Foundation, the Rappaport Family Foundation and Virgin Mobile USA, among others. This investment in YouthNoise represents a blueprint for capitalizing high-performance nonprofits in a way similar to funding for-profits.

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8 things to know about women donors

  1. Women donors give twice as many gifts as men, but at smaller levels. In total, they give a higher percentage of their income.
  2. Language used in reaching women donors is import. Women prefer not to refer to themselves as “philanthropists,” but rather people who are “making a difference” or “giving something back.”
  3. Because of their longer life expectancy, women donors are expected to soon control 70% of all planned giving assets. Planned giving products should reflect women’s need for stable, long-term income.
  4. Their giving decisions are based less on status and recognition then male counterparts. They do not want to be seen as giving more than their peers.
  5. Younger women are often motivated to give by their peers through giving circles and other structured activities. They are also more open to giving online.
  6. They’re not as concerned about the status of the host committee members as male donors.
  7. Women value a personal connection with their solicitor and their commitment to the cause. It is less important of what their solicitor status is than for male donors.
  8. When talking to women donors paint a picture of the agency’s long-term vision through stories. Plus, they appreciate hearing a solicitor's own personal giving story.
These tips come from independent Fundraising Counselor Mary Alex Needham and a survey she conducted for the Women’s Funding Network. She'd be the first to point out that these are just general trends among the surveyed group women who had made their own fortune. But I think it is very informative nonetheless, don't you?


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Oh, it's because I'm from Minnesota!

MarketWatch reports:
Of all the Americans who donate their labor to a charitable cause, a disproportionate number live in the Midwest -- and in Utah, according to a new report. A whopping 48% of Utah residents volunteer, followed by Nebraska at 42.8%, [and] Minnesota at 40.7% ... Overall, 28.8% of Americans volunteered last year. West Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, New York and Nevada had the lowest rates, with Nevada at 18.8%.
Who knew?


14 free (or almost free) major donor research tools

  1. ZoomInfo
    Bios, articles and personal connections.
  2. ZabaSearch
    Homes, addresses and sometimes phone numbers.
  3. AlumniFinder
    Fee service has extensive address information.
  4. Tax Assessor
    List of links to all states and many counties.
  5. Yahoo! Real Estate
    Up to date information on comparable home prices.
  6. Hoover’s
    Business reports and profiles.
  7. Business Journals
    Search all business journals nationwide.
  8. Insiders
    Check for insider holdings at public companies.
  9. GuideStar
    Determine if they have a personal or family foundation.
  10. Political Giving
    See their own gifts, as well as see who are their neighbors.
  11. Donor Series
    Often incomplete, but still useful list of gifts.
  12. American Lawyer 100
    Lists salaries at top law firms.
  13. Martindale
    Locate lawyers nationwide.
  14. Google
    Visit here last and limit your searching.
These tips came from a recent San Francisco Development Executive Roundtable (DER) presentation given by Major Gifts Consultant Barbara E. Pierce. She recommends strictly limiting yourself to an initial 20 minutes of research per prospect, to ensure that you don’t get swept away down the preverbal Google “rabbit hole.” If your nonprofit needs a top quality Major Gifts Consultant, consider contacting Barbara. You won't be disappointed.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

What's new with direct response fundraising?

Friday, July 14th at noon, I’ll be moderating San Francisco’s monthly Development Executive Roundtable (DER) luncheon presentation. This month we’ll be discussing direct response fundraising with Judy Frankel, Director of Direct Marketing at Project Open Hand, and Nicci Noble, Internet Development Director at the Salvation Army Golden State Division.

Properly executed, direct response fundraising can provide your nonprofit with loyal supporters, rapid growth, cost-efficient means of communicating your organization’s programs, and a consistent source of revenue. Equally important, your program can systematically identify major gift and bequest prospects.

Tickets are $12/members or $20/non-members, and includes lunch. We’ll be meeting at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 214 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. To RSVP, please send an email to

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10 common mistakes in selecting donor databases

1. Letting techies make the decision.
2. Wishful budgeting.
3. Prioritizing price above everything else.
4. Randomly looking at demos.
5. Falling in love with cool features.
6. Falling in love with the salesperson.
7. Buying more than you need.
8. Confusing highly functional software with highly trained staff.
9. Hoping that the database will install itself.
10. Leaving the database to fend for itself.

These tips come from Strategic Technology Consultant Robert Weiner's workshop at last week’s Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professional Fundraising Morning Conference. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Robert before and he’s one of the most thoughtful, organized and experienced consultants in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you need help selecting your next database, check out his website for a wealth of materials or simply give him a call to discuss your needs.


Welcome to my home on the web

Hi, my name is Gayle. What’s yours?

At the age of six, I had my first my first taste of fundraising -- hosting a Muscular Dystrophy Association Carnival, complete with pin the tail on the donkey and water balloon toss.

Now, years later, I continue to help agencies and their good causes by inspiring the joy of giving as a professional Fundraising Counselor.

This blog is my forum -- and hopefully your forum too -- to discuss fundraising tips, trends and topics. The vibe will certainly develop and mature we progress, but why don’t you get things started out by giving me an idea of what you’d like to see by adding a comment below?

In the meantime, if you'd like to learn about me or my services, simply visit my website for more information. Thanks!