Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How can the guard change if you won't open the gate?

A post on Netsquared about the intergenerational transfer of leadership reminded me of the following story:

My last staff fundraising job was at LYRIC, a community center serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth ages 14-23. When I started, I had just turned 40 and was the oldest person on staff by nearly a decade.

One of LYRIC's services was a job training program, which included paid internships for young people. Before placed on site or with a partnering organization, interns received 50 hours of training, including interview skills, financial management, and how to handle workplace discrimination and safety issues.

The first intern I was assigned was just 14 years old. I told the Program Coordinator, "don't you think I could get somebody who is at least 18? I need to have them be able to operate a computer and work independently." His response was to give her a try, and if it didn't work out, to let him know and somebody else could be assigned to me.

The day came for my new intern to start. Barely pubescent, she couldn't have weighed over 90 pounds and looked younger than her 14 years. We sat down and my first question was, "so tell me about yourself."

She looked at me, paused, and said, "I'm a long-time activist and I'm going to end homophobia."

My life changed that day.

She became one of my greatest teacher. For not only was she a long-time activist, having been raised by a straight mother in an progressive household, but she was going to end homophobia, because she held no shame in who she was, and would happily and calmly dialogue with anyone around the issues.

I had her meet with the Mayor.

She called all city's Board of Supervisors.

We talked about her 100-plus Barbie doll collection.

She changed my life, and in doing so, changed my world.

As adults, so many of us spend all our life trying to change the world around us, but if we only opened our hearts to the youth amongst us, we might find a much easier path to peace and liberation.

P.S. That's me on the left.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

We do more things before 8:00 a.m. than most people do all day

Really, I love my job, I do. But sometimes working out of my home has its disadvantages. Like today. Third time in three years the roads are being torn up. Been like this for nearly a month. New sewers this time. Took this blurry photo on my camera phone just minutes ago at 8:00 a.m. from my office window.

Look at the shadow, the sun is barely up! Do you think I'm going to get a lot done today?


Thursday, March 29, 2007

She's wearing tight white shorts. How about yours?

At 76, Guffett Sr. has announced he is looking for someone to take over his job. Maybe he'll ask George Foreman, as he does keep a photo of him on his desk. But apparently he is no rush to retire, as the elder Guffett is in excellent shape from his diet of Cherry Coke and hamburgers. I guess don't live to geek; geek to live isn't one of the enlightened sayings you'll find in the Tao of Guffett.

Guffett Sr. may have filed his first income tax at age 13, declaring his bicycle as a business expense, but he still doesn't carry a cell phone or use a computer at his desk. Perhaps he can't afford them on his $100,000 a year salary? Maybe Guffett Jr., who recently sold 20 million shares of Microsoft stock, raising about $580,000,000, could front him a loan? Or perhaps he'll take up the Learning Annex's offer of $2,000,000 to teach for 30 minutes? Though of course, Donald Trump will then want a raise, up from the $1,500,000 per hour he gets.

Just because you're a Guffett child does not mean you get to play on your computer all day long. Mr. and Mrs. Guffett Jr. have decided to set for their daughter a of total screen time limit 45 minutes a day for games, and up to 1 hour a day on weekends. I wonder if she has met her new uncle yet, the Jewish Guffett?

So how do you know you're working at the world's largest foundation? When in one week your boss breaks earth on a new 1,000-car parking garage and his newest business partner is the Canadian Prime Minister. And speaking of parking garages, according to GM officials, if they made cars like Guffett Jr. makes computers, "You'd have to press the start button to turn the engine off."

Steve Jobs continues to get all the breaks, as people consider Guffett Jr. uncool and boring. Maybe we need to call in the brand experts? Or maybe not? Boring or not, Guffett Jr.'s fortune still rose $6 billion to $56 billion last year, while Guffett Sr. garnered in an additional $10 billion to boost his net worth to $52 billion. The lack of hurricanes has been credited with helping propel the elder's record profits, a fact I'm sure the folks at Common Ground were happy to hear.

Finally, every year Guffett Sr. writes a much anticipated annual letter to shareholders, full of words of wisdom, including this short story I'd like to share with you:
"An older man who crashed his grocery cart into that of a much younger fellow while both were shopping. The elderly man explained apologetically that he had lost track of his wife and was preoccupied searching for her. His new acquaintance said that by coincidence his wife had also wandered off and suggested that it might be more efficient if they jointly looked for the two women. Agreeing, the older man asked his new companion what his wife looked like. 'She’s a gorgeous blonde,' the fellow answered, 'with a body that would cause a bishop to go through a stained glass window, and she’s wearing tight white shorts. How about yours?" The senior citizen wasted no words: 'Forget her, we’ll look for yours.'"

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The changing face of philanthropy: Engaging communities of color in asking and giving

I hope you can join me for the Development Executive Roundtable's April 13 luncheon, from noon - 1:30 pm, at San Francisco's Foundation Center. Though I admit, perhaps we could have come up with a better title than the above header, which in my mind implies communities of color aren't currently engaged in philanthropy -- a myth I've already dispelled -- but apparently this is going to be just one of the important topics addressed.

For according to the publicity blurb, there will be a "lively discussion with grantmakers and development professionals about changing the preconceived notions about who is engaged in the work of philanthropy, strategies for recruiting and retaining staff that are representatives of diverse constituencies, traditions of giving in ethnic communities, and strategies grantmakers are using to diversify the nonprofit and foundation fields."

Panelists announced so far include Evette Brandon, Youth UpRising’s Development Director, who has worked with a number of community-based organizations with an explicit commitment to eliminating the negative effects of economic injustice, health disparities, sexism and racism on communities of color. She has worked with the Community Health Academy, The Center for Third World Organizing, The Applied Research Center, Girls After School Academy, and the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT). She has also served as a Board member with GIFT, The Todos Institute, Conciliation Forms of Oakland, and the Alumnae Association of Mills College. Ms. Brandon received her Master in Public Health from San Jose State University.

Also presenting will be Priscilla Hung, Co-Director of Grassroots Fundraising, whose programs include GIFT- Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, publishing the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, and hosting Raising Change, A Social Justice Fundraising Conference. Priscilla learned how to fundraise by completing a GIFT internship. She is Co-Editor of Reversing the Flow: A Practical Guide to Greater San Francisco Bay Area Corporate Giving Programs, 2001-02 Edition.

Additional speakers to be announced include guests from The California Endowment and The San Francisco Foundation.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What do Development Directors Want?

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals 1 in 2 of you won't last in your current job for even 24 months. If you weren't already concerned about the future of the fundraising profession, perhaps you are now?

So what's an Executive Director to do? Are you having difficulty searching for a new Development Director? Not finding the candidates you hoped for? Are you fortunate enough to have hired a great candidate and want to make sure he or she stays? Concerned that you might have a Development Director who is thinking of leaving?

If so, you’re not alone. Fundraising stars Ruth Herring and Barbara Pierce recently hosted a workshop at CompassPoint addressing this exact topic.

Here's a sampling of what local Development Directors said they needed to be successful in the job. Sound familiar?
  1. Realistic, achievable goals.
  2. Support for Development Director by Executive Director.
  3. A leadership role in the “big picture” planning for agency as member of management team.
  4. Priorities: Opposite of “everything is equally important” approach.
  5. A strong, working Board and direct access to Board members.
  6. Respect for fundraising and donors.
  7. Opportunities for learning, access to experts.
  8. Good employment benefits (retirement, flexibility, etc.).
  9. Opportunity to see the results of their work.
  10. Inspiration by and trust in the Executive Director.
My question is, what do Executive Directors want? It so easy to point our fingers at the Executive Director or at the Board when things get challenging. Yet weren't we hired to manage exactly these types of difficult situations? Would love to hear your thoughts below.

Alternatively, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please join me Wednesday, May 16, 3pm - 5pm at the Foundation Center as I facilitate a free FAB workshop on, "Creating the Dream Team: Best Practices for Executive Director and Development Working Relationships."

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's there are few

Perhaps I should take a break from blogging more often?

Last week I was offline preoccupied with completing four grant requests, including two government funding proposals. (Nothing like working through a 250-plus page RFP while trying to coordinate the needs of 5 nonprofits submitting 2 collective funding requests.) While I was away from this humble blog, its subscription stats nearly doubled!

Seems my recent post on the end of fundraising got picked up by several high profile sites, including Give and Take, Philanthropy 2173, Giving Matters and Selfish Giving. I even got a call from a reporter at the local San Francisco Business Times, because of all this attention.

So a big shout out to all of you who linked in, and for those of you who have recently subscribed, a big welcome to you! Thank you so much for your vote of support.

Like many others, I started this blog under the mistaken impression that it would be a good way for me to share what I knew, providing a marketing vehicle for my work as consultant. Soon I learned that in order to write a blog, one must read blogs. Today my feedreader contains subscriptions to nearly 100 other blogs, plus a couple of dozen podcasts and vlogs.

Soon I realized that knew nothing.

To be honest, I pretty much already knew that, for when I was thirteen I knew everything there was to know in the world. Every year since that I've taken a step closer to ignorance. I figure if I'm lucky, I'll reach a blissful state of peace with the world by the time I'm ready to die. But for now the best I can do know is to recognize life is all one big mystery.

So while other bloggers may promise you answers, I think what I can merely offer you are questions. Questions like, "how can we cultivate greater generosity and compassion in the world for ourselves and others?" Your comments and responses are always welcome.

Becoming a blogger is one of the best things that I've done for myself this past year. It feeds my curiosity about the world, and has connected me to a small, but growing world of thought leaders shaping the future of philanthropy. Like fundraising, it is also a practice that is hopefully teaching me to walk through the world greater grace and humility.

So thank you so much for your readership and support. Perhaps together we can create a world of new possibilities?


Thursday, March 08, 2007

One for the road, two for the show, three to get ready, and four we fall down

Just learned via Boing Boing about this new Red Cross San Francisco Bay Area earthquake preparedness campaign. For more amazing photos (CC) like this, check out Jason DeFillippo's Flickr Stream.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Don't eat lunch at your desk

In addition to predicting our future, last month's superstar fundraising panel shared a few tips on how we might all survive long enough to see that future come true. Most suggestions were variations on the theme of rest, recreation and renewal. I couldn't agree more.

But my favorite tip was "don't eat lunch at your desk." Okay, let's see a show of hands out there, where did you eat lunch today? Hmm, I thought so. Am I going to have to call your mother?

Me, I had lunch today at a quaint little Thai restaurant with Sean from Tactical Philanthropy. He and his Ensemble Capital buddy Eric treated me to eggrolls and curry. Yummy.

Who knew the faces behind blogs could be both smart and cute?


Monday, March 05, 2007

The end of fundraising (as you know it) and the future of philanthropy

Attended an excellent panel presentation at the San Francisco Foundation Center recently featuring fundraising superstars Cheryl Clarke, Susan Fox, Kay Sprinkel Grace, Bob Zimmerman and Lisa Hoffman. Between the five of them, I suspect they have over 80 years of experience in this field. So I asked them to pull out their crystal balls and predict the future of fundraising and philanthropy. Here's what they said.
  1. Fundraising will leverage technology in ways we can't even imagine today.
  2. Donor-driven calls for increased efficiency will reduce the number of nonprofits.
  3. Greater public awareness of the sector will result in increased government oversight.
  4. The leadership deficit crisis will continue to grow.
  5. The need for ongoing training will increase significantly as the field continues to professionalize.
  6. Social entrepreneurs will become the drivers of new philanthropy.
  7. Corporate giving will disappear, to be replaced by various forms of cause marketing.
  8. The number of operating foundations rise.
  9. Planned giving will increase in strategic importance.
  10. The tin cup style of fundraising will be dead.


Friday, March 02, 2007


Spent last weekend at Spirit Rock, meditating on appreciation and gratitude. While wandering amongst the Redwoods during a break, I came across a small temple marked with the word Katannuta. Inside, away from the winter wind and cold rain was a small sanctuary filled with photos, poetry and other remembrances left in gratitude to those who have gone before us. Amongst the treasures was the following.
"Generosity brings happiness at every stage of it’s expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous. We experience joy in the actual act of giving something. And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given."
-The Buddha