Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Measuring success: How to utilize evaluation information for fundraising purposes

Most folks I know don't really enjoy conducting evaluations. It's like reconciling your personal checkbook: good to do, but often ignored on a regular basis until it is too late to make much of a difference.

Program evaluations are of course required by many funders. But truth be told, we should all be conducting regular assessments and reviews of all our programs and activities, whether required by a funder or not. It really is the only way to make sure that our efforts are on track, reaching and surpassing our goals. (You do have written goals, right?)

To learn how to make your evaluations more useful and enjoyable, please join me Friday, September 8th for the San Francisco Bay Area's Development Executive Roundtable (DER) luncheon from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m., at the Lighthouse for the Blind, 214 Van Ness Avenue.

Our guest speaker is Steven LaFrance, founder of LaFrance Associates, one of the Bay Area's leading evaluation, research and technical assistance consulting firms.

Reserve your seat by emailing derrsvp at by September 6.

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. You can pay at the door, checks or cash only please.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Link-up of fundraising tips, trends and topics

Make the most from online fundraising
"New email 'change of address' services such as Fresh Address NCOA for Email help nonprofits keep lists updated."

Want to know your values? Follow the money.
"Looking at your spending can be a great way to reflect on what you really want. After looking at where your money goes, do you think it reflects your real values?"

Preparing nonprofit directors for the coming changes in governance
"Some of the proposed changes flow from the implications of Sarbanes-Oxley and published criticism of the sector, and some are 'best practices' designed to strengthen an organization."

To them who have much, more shall be given
"If you have $100,000 to spare, you can avoid all taxes by giving to charity, whereas if you don't make enough money to itemize, your gifts will come from taxable income."

Minutemen leader defers to caging house
"The current President of the Minutemen, Chris Simcox, continues to blame criticism on 'a small handful of disgruntled people who have been terminated.' However, it seems like Alan Keyes may be the one with questions to answer."

Top nonprofit homophobe
"Nonprofit Times includes Roy Williams, head of the Boy Scouts of America, on its list of the top 50 nonprofit leaders in the country ... Hate-monger James Dobson of Focus on the Family is also on the list."


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

End of year fundraising strategies that work

Guess what? I'm guest host for next month's San Francisco FAB gathering!

FAB -- for those of you not in the know -- stands for "Fundraisers Anxiety Busters." It's a free, quarterly forum for intermediate and seasoned fundraisers, and nonprofit staff and volunteers with development responsibilities, to share fundraising strategies and tactics, meet challenges and solve problems. Guests with expertise in each session's topic help address issues identified by the group. We're sponsored by the Bay Area's Development Executive Roundtable and hosted by local branch of the Foundation Center.

September theme is "End of the Year Fundraising Strategies that Work."

So with the end of the calendar year is right around the corner, and do you know where all your donors are? Do you dread the stress of yet another fall giving season? Is the Board expecting you to pull another rabbit out of the hat? Join us for to share with each other stress-reducing and effective end-of-the-year fundraising strategies that you can implement at your nonprofit before the IRS declares the year over one more time.

Guest experts will include Dr. Anthony T. Adessa ("Tony"). Tony has 30 years nonprofit experience, with a composite background in higher education, health, arts, social services, and youth. Presently the Director of Corporate and Foundation Giving at Alliant International University, he has also been a Development Director, Events Manager, and Department Chair. His areas of expertise include major gifts, grant writing, planned giving, annual fund, events, and endowment planning/design.

Also joining us will be Leslie Ewing, who brings 20 years of successful event planning and execution, grant writing, major donor solicitation/retention, and nonprofit and corporate collaboration experience. Currently, she is the Associate Executive Director of Marketing and Development at the Lyon-Martin Women's Health Services. Her fundraising background includes work with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, The 1993 March on Washington for LGBT Rights, The AIDS Emergency Fund of San Francisco, The James Hormel Center of the San Francisco Public Library, The Women's Cancer Resource Center and Under One Roof. She is also a founder of the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund.

Event Details:
Wednesday, September 20, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Foundation Center, 312 Sutter St., 6th floor, San Francisco
To register e-mail your RSVP to
Seating limited to 25, so register soon.
Email is for registration only. For information, please call 415-759-0476.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Transgender Law Center presents "A Movement in Motion", 9/5, 6:30 - 8:00 pm

I'm a bit of a cheerleader for this agency. A former client and long-time donor, they're also one of my current clients. Hosted by Crash Nightclub -- San Francisco's newest hipster ultralounge located at 34 Mason at Market -- "A Movement in Motion" is TLC's annual fundraising gala.

Would love if you could join us to celebrate our past accomplishments and get energize for the work yet to be done. All genders welcome, and that means you!

For more information and to purchase tickets.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Final word on Warren Buffett's transfer to the Gates Foundation

This just in via the White Courtesy Telephone: The The Onion, America's finest news source, reports that the Bush administration has unveiled a $64 billion spending package for a joint CIA-Pentagon program whose aim is to "neutraliz[e] the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's global humanitarian network."
"Once you educate a population--teach them to read, do math, give them access to the Internet--they can use those skills for the rest of their lives," the CIA's [Africa specialist Alberto] O'Hara said. "We don't know what these people would be capable of if left to their own devices. And quite frankly, we don't want to know," O'Hara added.
Thank goodness for The Onion, Jon Stewart and Judge Anna Diggs Taylor.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why is so hard to reach a nonprofit development department office on the phone?

Jeff Brooks is so right. At Donor Power Blog he laments about how most nonprofit websites, rather than facilitating donations, are actually hindering them.

And it not just websites. Just Friday I attempted without success to reach Development Directors at two major San Francisco Bay Area community health centers. Neither agency website contained a staff directory or information on how to contact the development department directly, either via phone or email. Both main phone lines were answered by automated voice mail systems that offered no transfer options. Instead, by default I was dropped into a general voicemail box, where a recorded voice told me that my call would returned within 24 hours. Frankly, today that is too late.

They won't be getting my donation. What about your's?


Friday, August 18, 2006

How the outsourcing of grassroots campaigns is strangling progressive politics in America

You've seen 'em on every street corner, working in pairs, smiling with clipboards in hand, wearing oversize, colorful t-shirts for the Sierra Club, Human Rights Committee and other good causes. (You'd like to support them, "but just don't have the time" on your way to get a latte.) They're the unsung heart of grassroots fundraising, the youthful and idealistic street canvasser. But did you know most don't actually work for the nonprofits for which they are soliciting? They are often outsourced labor, making less than minimum wage with no job security.

It is truly a thankless work, right up there with phone solicitation (my first job in the field, ugh). So what do you think happens when these workers start to ask for the same kind of rights for which that they are advocating? That's right, employees are let go and offices are shut down. In These Times published today a great expose that I'd like all of you to read on labor organizing and union busting tactics within left-of-center grassroots fundraising.

The article references Dana Fisher, a sociology professor at Columbia University and her new book Activism, Inc.:
"The canvassing experience severely limits the entry points for young people looking for a career in social justice. According to Fisher, the canvass industry yields a remarkably 'small percentage [of canvassers who find] other work in politics after canvassing.' Far more often these young people go to the private sector .... Activism, Inc. suggests that rather than a breeding ground for new generations of grassroots activism, the industry is eating the left's young."
So the next time a team of cheerful of canvassers attempts to tag-team you outside of your neighborhood grocery store, what will be your response? A little solidarity can go along way.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gifts flow slowly to Muslim groups: One Bay Area response

In the Middle East, Philanthropy Today is reporting that cash donations are flowing slowly to Muslim groups working in Lebanon because many people are afraid their donations could put them on government terrorism watch lists.

Here in the U.S., recent census data has revealed that the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities are among the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, California, and the San Francisco Bay Area. These communities have been facing, and continue to face, significant challenges following September 11, 2001. They have been targets of hate crimes, media stereotyping, and laws that focus primarily on Muslim communities.

In response, The San Francisco Foundation, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), and The California Endowment have responded by conducted a Bay Area community scan to educate the larger philanthropic community about the critical issues facing these communities.

One of the first actions to emerge as a result of this scan is the Post 9/11 Civic Engagement Fund, which is designed as a vehicle to support nonprofit organizations from the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities. This Fund will be administered by AAPIP in partnership with the Social Justice Program and FAITHS Initiative at The San Francisco Foundation. The June 1, 2006 application deadline has passed, but I'm sure they would gladly accept your donations.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Nicest legs in philanthropy winners announced!

I don't really know what to say, other than the White Courtesy Telephone is ringing for you.

You better pick up, 'cause besides the cute legs -- which sometimes I think is what drives the Internet -- there is a depth of great fundraising commentary to found on this blog.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Forget the Tour de France: It's the Tour de Castro Tricycle Race

Sometimes I find living in San Francisco very challenging, then along comes one of those "toto moments," when I'm so glad I live here. This certainly is one.

Planned for Saturday, October 21, the Tour de Castro is a race, bar crawl, costume extravaganza, raffle and fundraiser benefiting AIDS Lifecycle bike riders in need of donations to reach the minimum on registration day.

Teams of 2-5 tricycle riders will race to several Castro neighborhood bar "pit stops", earning a minimum of $5 from each of their sponsors for each pit stop.

The Grand Prize will be awarded to the team raising the most money; prizes will also be awarded for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place finishers. Other prize categories include Best Gluts, Best Wig, Best Costume, Most Outrageous and Best Decorated "Trike".

Your entrance fee includes one tricycle and drink tickets for each pit stop. What more could you want, really?

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Become a professional fundraiser and color your hair green

I always tell young people that if you can learn to successfully raise money, you will always work. Doesn't matter who you are or what color your hair is, you'll have your pick of jobs. Here's just three openings that have been emailed to me in the last 24 hours.
I'm serious about this. The week after I got my first full-time fundraising position, I went out and died my hair three different colors. Of course, I was younger then, but not that much younger.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kim Klein's 6 steps for a revolution in nonprofit fundraising

  1. The inability to talk openly about money is the major roadblock holding back progressive nonprofits. This is a learned cultural taboo, and it can be unlearned. Those who control wealth have made a commitment to understanding money. We must too. Not taking the time to learn about money is antithetical to the goals of the social justice movement.
  2. Income diversity is critical to institutional sustainability and growth. Fundraising and programs need to be integrated, mission driven activities. The ownership of fundraising must rest within the entire organization.
  3. We need to set bigger goals and have larger visions. Too often we are limited by our own fears. Start with what you want, not with what money is available. The money exists.
  4. Let us all work to deconstruct the charity model. Charity is patronizing. When a person contributes to their own health and well being, they become engaged. Charity givers need to acknowledge their own need for healing as well. Opening ourselves up to receiving is the first step.
  5. Cutbacks in the government sector cannot be made up for by the private sector. Promoting a worldwide dialogue about tax policy is an essential part of today's fundraising challenge. Billionaires are the fastest growing class in the world: the richest 793 people now have more money than the poorest 3 billion people combined. Homeless shelters are now full of people who are working full-time, but cannot afford rent. We need tax policies in place to create more equitable distribution of wealth.
  6. Time is not money. Time is our most precious resource. Compassion, kindness and happiness are all measures of social justice. We must learn to love those who are difficult to love, including ourselves. Too many of us work too much and forget to enjoy life. Let us collaborate more broadly and limit excessive working hours.
These tips came from Kim Klein's plenary speech at this past weekend's groundbreaking Raising Change: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference hosted by the Grassroots Fundraising Journal. Attended by activists from around the United States, Latin America, Canada and the Pacific Rim, this event was like no other fundraising training I've ever attended -- and that's a very positive thing.

Too much to report out in one post. Stay tune for more soon.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Virtual fundraising, the next frontier?

So your good cause's website has been up and running for years. You're now finally getting around to building your email list and accepting online donations -- perhaps even setting-up a blog -- but have you launched your online avatar yet? The American Cancer Society has. Micropersuasion reports they recently auctioned off a virtual car raising $2,000 and have hosted their second virtual relay race on Second Life.

Just imagine if the Salvation Army took its army of little red buckets online this Christmas season ....