Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Walk a mile in her shoes

Yesterday was the 6th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Men's March in Sherman Oaks, California. According to LAist, "from Sepulveda to Vesper and back (one mile total), men marched Ventura Blvd. chanting 'stop rape now' and getting onlookers caught in the traffic to honk their horns."

The event raised money for the Valley Trauma Center, a program of the College of Education at California State University. The center's mission is the elimination of sexual and interpersonal violence through healing, empowerment and increased public awareness of prevention strategies.

What used to be a single event back in 2007 has now spread into 35 marches total around the country this year. "Violence against women does not just affect women," March Founder Frank Baird said. "Men are hurt and angered when women they care about are raped."

Men coming together to marching against rape. Yes Virginia, the world is changing, and I like it.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Side benefits of being a fundraiser

One of the side benefits of being a fundraiser is the opportunity to attend many gala events. Never one to turn down free food and drinks (even if these days I stick to veggies and sparkling water), in the past few weeks I've attended the Goldman Awards, New Leaf Services for our Community Annual Gala and Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation Cabaret with the cast of the Jersey Boys. Coming soon, me and 2,500 of my closest friends will be dancing the night away at National Center for Lesbian Rights 30th anniversary celebration.

Now, I don't usually like photos of myself, but this one that my friend Maya snapped at the recent San Francisco LGBT Community Center 5th birthday party is actually quite nice. That's me with my good friend Chris, the founder and former CEO of Network for Good and Netaid.

One question though, what is he doing with his hand?

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Getting from no to yes: Top 10 flaws that doom your grant request to the reject pile

Last Friday I went to the Commonwealth Club to listen to my friends Cheryl Clarke and Susan Fox give an AFP-GGC luncheon presentation based on their new Jossey-Bass published book Grant Proposal Makeover. If you're like me, you've been to enough presentations before to know the difference between when the guest experts talk at you versus talk with you. Cheryl and Susan know how to do it right.

During the course of an hour they shared with us antidotes and tips they gleaned from surveying over 70 foundation executives, including the following list of 10 most common grant proposal flaws:
  1. Does not address funder's priorities.
  2. Does not follow logical order.
  3. Does not show the need.
  4. Overwhelms with too many statistics.
  5. Relies too much on client stories or testimonials instead of just giving the facts.
  6. Uses poor objectives and/or evaluation.
  7. Includes a bad budget.
  8. Is written "by committee."
  9. Uses overblown, florid language.
  10. Uses vague, abstract language.
For those of you who have experience writing grants, this list may seem rather obvious. But as they talked about each of these points in more detail, I had to admit to myself that I've been guilty of most of these errors at one time or another. It reminded me, that like a professional musician who practices her scales every morning, how important it is for us fundraisers to regularly review the basics, however much experience we may have.

Now if you'd like to start by reviewing the above points in more detail, Cheryl and Susan have graciously offered to shared with you their presentation handout.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mastering Major Gifts: Putting Donors First

As a successful nonprofit fundraiser, you know that major gifts are the result of successful partnerships within your organization and within the community. Nonprofits with successful major donor efforts have developed a truly donor-centric culture. Organizational leadership plays a key role in establishing and maintaining these partnerships and culture.

But getting to this point is easier said than done. So if you are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'd like to invite you to join me for a free Development Executives Roundtable Fundraisers Anxiety Buster (FAB!) workshop entitled Mastering Major Gifts: Putting Donors First, which I'll be facilitating at the San Francisco Foundation Center on May 16, 3:00 p.m. - 5: 00 p.m.

As a group, we'll discuss issues such as how to build a unified major donor campaign team, craft appropriate policies and develop a donor portfolio. Together we'll review successful strategies for leveraging existing major donors and additional natural partners. Get the help you need in identifying the critical elements to develop, sustain and grow your base of contributed support. Strengthen your own network with others doing similar work.

FAB! is a peer support forum for intermediate and seasoned fundraisers, and nonprofit staff and volunteers with development responsibilities (3 or more years experience requested), to share fundraising strategies and tactics, meet challenges, and solve problems. Light refreshments will be served. Guests with expertise in each session's topic will help address issues identified by the group. Our guest experts will be:

Mark Lachman, Senior Major Gifts Officer, California Pacific Medical Center Foundation
Mark is Senior Major Gifts Officer at California Pacific Medical Center Foundation and has over 15 years Development experience in both small organizations with few systems to support fundraising as well as in larger institutions. Mark is responsible for three different funding priorities at CPMC with a total philanthropic need of $6 million. He carries a personal portfolio of 150 donors and coordinates the Board of Trustee’s year-long solicitation process. In 2005 Mark implemented a portfolio system for the CPMC Foundation Trustees after piloting this process in a subcommittee. Last year the 44 Trustees approached 675 prospects and raised over $4 million.

Melanie Hamburger, Associate Director of Philanthropy, The Nature Conservancy
Melanie brings over 15 years experience in major gifts, special events and volunteer management for nonprofits, and a prior career in corporate finance and marketing. Her major gift experience covers a broad range: at The Nature Conservancy, she cultivates and solicits 50 donors for gifts of $100,000 over 3-years and is personally responsible for raising nearly $2M this year; as development director of the California Historical Society, she started a new program for $1,000+ major donors, increasing the number of donors at that level by 77% and resulting revenue by over 400% in six months. Using the Moves Management approach to major gifts, Melanie works with senior managers and business leaders to tap "natural partners" in major donor access and cultivation. Currently, Melanie sits on the Board of the Development Executive Roundtable.

To Register
Please email fab[at]dersf[dot]org. Attendance is limited to 25 participants, so please register soon!

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Philanthropy: Taking care of yourself and your community

San Francisco's Horizons Foundation has announced a series of free workshops around the Bay Area to help philanthropically minded individuals, couples, and families give to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community more effectively and strategically. These sessions are promoted as "donor networking opportunities in a solicitation-free space," though there really can be no doubt they are part of the foundation's larger endowment building cultivation strategy.

That said, I think they've come up with an interesting set of presentations. Have already sent in my reservation for the May 15 workshop entitled,
Caring for Community and Self: Giving as Spiritual Practice. According to the program description, "Generosity is seen by many world religions as how we nurture our community and ourselves. Those who give and those who receive are both transformed, whether the gift involves food, service or money. This panel discussion will explore spiritual insights on giving and transformation from leaders of various faiths."

Other workshops include:
  • Leave Your Story in Trust: Writing an Ethical Will - April 30
  • Socially Responsive Investing for the LGBT Community - June 13
  • Life Income and Testamentary Giving with Charitable Trusts - September 9
  • How to Evaluate Nonprofit Organizations - October 25
  • 2007 Legislative, Electoral, and Judicial Update - November 9
No one is going to check to see if you are a card-carrying pink triangle member at the door, so would encourage anyone who lives in the area and is interested in attending to do so. If you sign-up, drop me an email and we can go together.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Do something outrageous every day

I have to admit to a bias that rock 'n roll is best delivered by testosterone-fueled, under-aged young boys. Spectacles like this just prove my point. Yet this rebellious cover by the Zimmers of the Who's classic "My Generation" brings home the message as good as the best of them. Their lead singer is 90-years-old and he's not the oldest -- there are even 99 and 100-year-olds in the band! Must be watched all the way through to truly appreciate.

  • In 2000, there were 600 million people aged 60 and over; there will be 1.2 billion by 2025 and 2 billion by 2050.
  • Today, about two thirds of all older people are living in the developing world; by 2025, it will be 75%.
  • In the developed world, the very old (age 80+) is the fastest growing population group.
  • Women outlive men in virtually all societies; consequently in very old age, the ratio of women/men is 2:1.

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Ciao bellissima!

Un benvenuto grande a tutti i miei nuovi lettori Italiani! Le mie scuse se il mio Italiano è poco un di massima, ma essere un anglofono monolingue, ho usato un servizio di traduzione per scrivere queste parole.

Giusto ha desiderato lasciarli tutti sapere eccitato sono che quelli che noi di chi si commettono ad aumentare la raccolta di fondi stiamo cominciando insieme alla rete, non appena all'interno dei nostri diversi paesi, ma anche intorno al globo. Per soltanto vicino il funzionamento insieme possiamo cominciamo a rispondere ai bisogni aumentanti che stanno interessandoli come cittadini globali. Non importa se la sfida è guerra, riscaldamento globale, povertà o il traffico umano; Credo che siamo tutta la parte della soluzione.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No more country life for me

Just a quick update to my recent post on the Casa Roberts street repairs. The good news is the sewer lines have all been finally replaced, and the boys in orange are now starting to work on the sidewalks -- next week I'm even getting a new driveway! Soon they'll have the stairs to the park at the top of the hill finished. Can't wait till they turn on the new retro streetlamps.

Not as noisy this week, but I gotta tell you, this all is wrecking havoc on my billable hours. Ugh.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

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

The net has been a buzz with violin virtuoso Joshua Bell's Washington Post staged busking performance in a Washington D.C. metro station. Joshua played 6 songs on his $3.5 million violin handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari. After 43 minutes and 1,097 walk-bys, he received 27 donations totaling $32.17 (plus one $20 bill from the only person who recognized him.) For all you direct mail junkies and social entrepreneur types, that would be a 2.5% response rate at a cost of $125,000 per donation with an ROI of 0.00015%.

So is doubtful Joshua's performance is going to have much effect on future of professional fundraising (though it should remind you how poor events are as effective strategies to raise money). But just watch this video, is this the future of professional journalism? I'm afraid so.


The science and art of fundraising

I’d like to direct you to a juicy post on Dollar Philanthropy by guest blogger Michele Martin writing on scarcity versus abundance, and why this distinction is important to those of you who raise money for nonprofits. Her post reminds me that one of the reasons I love fundraising is because it utilizes both my left- and right-brain, the linear and creative parts of my psyche.

As you probably known, your left-brain is home to your linear and mathematical side. Here lives the part of you that enjoys systematic planning and outcome measurements. Many commonplace fundraising tools such as gift charts, research databases and long check-off lists, rely on the strengths of your left-brain.

But the successful fundraiser knows these tools alone aren't enough. In fact, your goal should be to learn and forget them. Not forget as in deny or ignore, but forget as in letting them becoming second nature. It’s the Taoist approach, for the successful fundraiser knows that her job is both a science and an art.

So while the science of fundraising is very left-brained, the art of fundraising is primarily right-brained. The later is home to your holistic and abstract side. Here lives the part of you that enjoys cultivating relationships and inspiring others. Perhaps your most important right-brain fundraising tool is your ability to listen to and tell stories.

Why is this distinction important? Because by understanding both the science and art of fundraising, you can help somebody reframe their life, moving from scarcity to abundance. A gift truly given -- whether $10 or $100,000 -- has the potential to transform not only the recipient, but the donor as well. For in this act of generosity she may recognize -- perhaps for the first time in her life -- that she simply has "enough." Enough that she can even share with others, others whom she may begin to see aren't all that different from herself. This is how we begin to heal the world.

Globe-trekking fundraiser and author Lynne Twist has written a lot about this. "In a world where huge proportions of financial resources are moving toward consumption, destruction, depletion and violence, (our mission as fundraisers) should be to to inspire, educate and empower people to realign the acquisition and allocation of their financial resources with their most deeply held values -- to move from an economy based on fear, consumption and scarcity, to an economy of love, sustainability and generosity."

All this takes is a little planning, a good ear and a powerful story. Are you ready to give it a try?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Every day is a good day

In case you every wondered what a group of fundraisers looks like after a morning of meditation in the Redwood Forests of Northern California, here's a photo.

That's me, third from the right.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Imagine the headlines of the future

Via the onPhilanthropy Buzz, this just in from the Skoll Forum. Proves once again that a picture is worth a thousand words (and then some).

POP QUIZ: Ten points to whoever can first spot the embedded sponsorship.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Partnering and the joy of giving

Want to give a shout out to Katrya for highlighting a recent dialogue I had on her blog with Holden of Give Well. Glad I could help move along the conversation in some small way.

Now it's your turn to chime in with comments.


Your potential. Our passion. Their money.

Remember Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is serving six years in prison on a criminal case where he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion? Apparently Microsoft was one of the biggest employers of Team Abramoff, who were successful in increasing the number of H-1B visas in 1996, 1998 and 2000. With Jack now locked up, Guffett Jr. has taken to hoofing Capital Hill himself urging high tech worker immigration reform, though no word yet if he supports open borders for the rest of us.

“Can Guffett Sr. buy his way into Heaven with his charitable donation?" asks Mike Bower, Pastor of Adult Ministries, Woodland Park Baptist Church. "I come from a biblical world view. I can give you several scriptures where the word of God says that’s not the case. Mathew Six, one through four, says beware practicing your righteousness before men. Giving is not something we flaunt or publicize."

Though Guffett Sr. has agreed conditions in Sudan are deplorable, he believes divesting related holding would not help. "So it's hard to see how Buffett is a social investor," writes to Liz Umlas, Sr. Research Analyst at KLD, an independent investment research firm. "It seems that what he thinks is 'right' is maximizing returns regardless of the social consequences, whether that means investing in tobacco, or in companies that do business with the government of Sudan."

"Like a very wealthy but self-indulgent family, we peeled off a bit of what we owned in order to consume more than we produced," writes Guffett Sr. in his recent letter to shareholders. "The U.S. can do a lot of this because we are an extraordinarily rich country that has behaved responsibly in the past .... at some point in the future (there) will be a severe political backlash."

DEAL OR NO DEAL: Is it just me who takes perverse enjoyment in the philanthropy paparazzi effect? Since these Guffett posts get so few comments, I fear so. So unless there are any requests to continue, I think this shall be the last we hear of Melinda, Bill and Warren's most excellent adventures on this humble blog for the time being.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Green Acres, we are there!

If behind every great man is a great woman, apparently behind Guffett Sr. is another man. If "Charlie Munger hadn’t been around, Buffett arguably would not have gained an appreciation of buying great businesses rather than cigar butts."

Speaking of great women, I learned today that Ms. Guffett is from Dallas. She and her husband recently visited Vietnam on a two-fer, promoting better children's health and the Windows operating system. No word on if they are also selling Microsoft's new Swiss army knife.

Educational advocate and Harvard drop out Guffett Jr. will finally be presented his diploma from his Alma Mata on June 7. None too soon, as he is scheduled to give this year's University commencement speech. Looking for the perfect graduation gift? Consider picking out something in the catalog of billionaires.

Guffett the Elder has been seen recently hanging around the basketball court with NBA star LeBron James, who wants to be the first sports star billionaire. Says Guffett Sr., "He tells me what socks to buy and I tell him what stocks to pick." Elsewhere it is reported Vanity Fair Guest Editor and U2 Frontman Bono has taken a fancy to the younger Guffett.

Am so sorry to report, the Guffett Jr. for President bandwagon has called it quits. Doubt anybody is going to nominate Carlos Slim, the third richest man in the world. Last month he scoffed at Guffett for playing Santa Claus to cure poverty's ills. According to Slim, "wealth must be seen a responsibility, not as a privilege. The responsibility is to create more wealth."

Speaking of Slim, he and Guffett now control more money than the poorest 48 nations combined. According to Peter Schwartz, Chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, in a free, capitalist system, this income inequality represents something very good. What do you think?

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