Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Apologies for the old posts showing up in the blog RSS feed

For those of you who are subscribed to the RSS feed of this blog, you may be confused by the random, out-of-date posts that have been recently showing up in your reader or email inbox. You are not alone. For the two months, I have had nothing but troubles with the Blogger software used to power this blog.

98 times out of a 100 when I try to publish a post nothing happens. This is actually the first post I've even attempted to publish in a month. When Blogger will decide to actually post it to the web is anyone's guest. Why 3 random old posts have appeared in the external feed during this last month is simply beyond me.

My plan is to eventually migrate this blog over to WordPress. I'm not technically minded, so a friend is helping with that. Apparently, there have been some glitches with this as well. Ugh.

All of which is to say, thank you for your patience. Hopefully this situation will be rectified shortly, and you will soon be able to return to you normally scheduled programming.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Be all you can be

Here are a few more job openings, in San Francisco and beyond, recently sent to me. If you know any other development related positions open, locally or elsewhere, please do let me know. Together we can help spread the word.

Senior Communications Director
Breast Cancer Action

Director of Development
Catholic Charities East Bay

Development Director
Family Equality Council

Executive Director

Director of Development
Global Footprint Network

Grant Writer
JCC-East Bay

Manager of Donor Relations
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Project Coordinator
Mission Minded

Director of Development
San Francisco Friends School

Director of Development
Summer Search


Friday, April 18, 2008

Sir Bob Geldof: Sexiest man in philanthropy

With Bono, Brad Pitt and even Sir Richard Branson in the running, competition for the "sexiest man in philanthropy" is heating up. However, after my week at the annual conference of the International Association of Fundraising Professionals in San Diego, I’m placing my money on Sir Bob Geldof.

What you say, “An aging rock star whose last hit was over 25 years ago? Are you serious?” Yes, I am. As most of you know, as producer of the 1985 global Live Aid music concert brought international attention and over $200 million in direct relief to those facing poverty and starvation in Africa. That enough should get him inducted into the Philanthropy Hall of fame.

However, if you are like me, you probably didn't know that his entire life has been consumed by advocacy and philanthropic work. For example in 1965, at age thirteen, he formed the first anti-apartheid organization in his Irish community. In 2005, at age fifty-three, he produced the international Live 8 concerts, which resulted in multi-government pledges of $50 billion in annual debt relief and investment in Africa!

Rough shaven, greasy hair and wearing a rumpled suit, Geldof paced the San Diego Convention Center stage looking as if he had been up all night playing music. During his talk, he never strayed far from his humble Irish roots of growing up poor under the influence of the Catholic Church and British colonial rule. He shared plainly and directly his lessons learned to the 2,000 lucky fundraisers present.

According to Geldof, the practice of philanthropy is ubiquitous worldwide, but its purpose and practice varies. In the U.S., philanthropy is often sought to provide support for social change, while elsewhere its primary role is to provide for social stability. In the U.S., individuals are the largest source of giving, while elsewhere the government is the biggest giver. In the U.S., faith-based agencies receive the most donations; however, that is not the case elsewhere. In the U.K. for example, international relief agencies play a more dominant role. Finally, in the U.S., the ultimate target of philanthropy is usually individuals, which is not the case outside our borders. In China, the key role of charity is to strengthen the family. In Africa, its purpose is to strengthen the community.

Alexis de Tocqueville got it right over 150 years ago, says Geldof, when he recognized the unique use of American philanthropy to create social groups or “associations.” Geldof also challenged us to recognize that greed, guilt, vanity, pity and even cynicism, are also present under philanthropy’s thin veneer. Today, those with the least means give the highest percentage of their wealth. Yet, as income rises, individuals give less and less a percentage, until many simply reach a point where they say, “They don’t have enough to give anymore.”

Geldof reminded us that the western view of the individual as sovereign and universal comes from patriarchal Judeo-Christian teachings. He argued that much of the rest of the world simply doesn’t operate this way. In African, because of the traditional nomadic lifestyle, their society is founded on the principle of mobility. One could not survive alone as an individual; what they had, they shared. Today this collective ethos is still at the heart of African society. Western ideas of individual aid, development and philanthropy, simply do not work. One must go with the grain of the local culture in order to succeed.

North of the Straits of Gibraltar, food is subsidized in order to destroy it, while eight miles to the south millions starve. A European cow receives a $2.50 a day to be kept off the market, while in Africa the average person receives $0.50 a year to maintain subsistence living. What we call globalization, others call dying. Why are the most resource rich countries today populated with the world’s poorest people? We live in an asymmetrical world that is only becoming more so. Today one man with a bomb can stop the world.

Some progress is being made. The U.S. has actually quadrupled aid to Africa. Unfortunately, according to Geldof Bush cannot promote this success at home because it would result in lost votes and a political backlash. While Chinese, Indians and other are immigrating and making vast business investments in Africa, in the U.S. we have not seen this movement. Today Africa is the leading source of the world’s natural resources, China is the world’s major producer, and America is the number one consumer. Who do you think holds the real power in this equation?

Geldof stressed the most important lesson he has learned is that while direct charity is important, it can only do so much. One must also engage at the policy level in order to effect lasting change. While the Live Aid concerts reached out to individual donors, the primary goal of the Live 8 concerts was to create multi-governmental policy change. Where the first concerts raised $200 million in direct aid, the later as mentioned above, secured pledges of $50 billion in annual debt relief and investment in Africa.

Let’s take a minute to put these efforts into perspective. A movement started a little over two decades ago by one man has resulted in a continent of 350 million people being freed from debt slavery. No longer were they being asked to pay back money that had been lent before they were born to dictators who were no longer alive. Today over 29 million African children are going to school because of Sir Bob Geldof’s efforts.

If that isn’t sexy, I don’t know what is.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Looking for a few good women and men to serve their country

While the U.S. may be in a recession, that doesn't mean nonprofits have stopped hiring. In the last two weeks alone, I've received announcements in my inbox for the following Bay Area job openings. If you know of somebody who might be interested in any of these positions, perhaps you could let them know about them? If you know of other openings, don't hesitate to send me an email and I'll do the same.

Executive Director
Asian Community Health Services

Director of Communications
California Institute of Integral Studies

Development Specialist

Development Manager
Director of Online Programs
Craigslist Foundation

Development Director
Crisis Support Services of Alameda

Grants Manager

Program Associate
Grants Manager

Executive Director
The Janet Pomeroy Center

Associate Director of Development
Mother Jones

Associate Director
National Radio Project: Making Contact


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My spring break in San Diego with 4,500 fundraisers and 35,000 sailors

Big love all of you who joined me for lunch this past Monday in San Diego during the 45th annual international Association of Fundraising Professionals conference. Really appreciated Nicci, Jack, Mike, Jay, Robert, Susan, Cheryl, Tod, Sue, Jim, Jay, Sean, Richard, George, Kari, Eleanor, Joy, Colleen and the rest the gang for taking a little break to enjoy a alfresco dinning experience together.

Was particularly flattered to have the lovely Kristel Komakhuk (above left) and her sister make a point of joining us all the way from Anchorage, Alaska! Apparently, she's not the only member of the staff at the First Alaskans Institute who regularly reads this blog. I'm sure they can all agree, that if the Kristel is any indication of the next generation of nonprofit leaders, we can stop worrying about the much predicted "leadership gap" right now.

I'm still decompressing after my five day stay stint inside the San Diego Convention Center (though an afternoon trip to the day spa at the Del Coronado after the last session sure helped). Like all big conferences, this one was full of low and high points. The later included several provocative workshops, making connections with many individuals and affinity groups, and moving plenary speeches by Jane Goodall and Sir Bob Geldof (who I must say ranks among the "most sexy men in philanthropy.") I took plenty of notes, so more details on this and other thoughts in the weeks to come. Do stay tuned.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fundraising from the inside out

On this blog, I've briefly mentioned the Abundance League before. Last month, I had the pleasure of talking with them in person about the power of fundraising. was kind enough to write down a few summary notes. They included:

  • Fundraising is a great opportunity for transformation for both the fundraiser and those who want to realize their dreams by supporting a good cause.
  • When you connect to a donor through their passions and help make their dreams come true, there's no need to be shy about asking for money or other help.
  • Giving is good for your health. You enlarge your soul and better connect to others by increasing your generosity.
  • Giving and getting are connected. Make room for receiving when you give.
  • Learning how to give and receive are equally important to creating a culture of generosity. Reward those that give by accepting their gifts fully.
  • To be an effective fundraiser, all the rules that apply to building personal relationships apply to donor relations.
If you'd like to learn more about the Abundance League or get involved, please visit their blog today.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

So the Pope emailed me asking for help raising money

Last month I received a very flattering email from a Vatican fundraiser inviting me out to lunch. Said he was being relocated from Rome to San Francisco. Wondered if I could provide him “fundraising advice for seeking major gift donors and capacity building for several agencies in the Bay Area and West Coast,” as well as “explore mutual areas of opportunity.”

Wow, talk about the power of online branding. First, I received a call from a Noble Prize nominee and now the Pope! Who could be next? Bono?

To say I was surprised is a huge understatement! Most groups I work with have budgets of a few million dollars, not the billions under the purview of his Italian employers.

I consider myself a spiritual person, and am grateful to have worked with groups of different faiths in the past, and hope to do so again in the future. However, as someone who identifies as queer and a feminist, I make a distinction between working with organizations that are supportive or neutral on issues of LGBT equality and women’s rights, and those that oppose them. Therefore, I thought there might be others who might be a better match with his needs and values. So rather than meet with him in person, I provided him referrals to several other skilled Bay Area professionals.

In retrospect, I wish I had responded differently. For it was not like he was asking to “get married,” it was only a request for a “first date.” Rather than immediately declining his invitation, I wish I had simply disclosed my identity and beliefs, and let him decide if he would still like to share a meal. Because while I might not ultimately be the best person to provide him advice, I would like to hope that we could still be colleagues. More importantly, I missed the opportunity to learn more about him and the Catholic Church -- and myself as well.

When practiced mindfully, fundraising can teach us to move through the world with more grace. Points of resistance can often be our greatest teacher. For example, exploring why volunteer solicitors often do not follow through on their commitments can begin to help release them from their own internal fears of money, power and privilege.

In this case, after some reflection I realized two important points. One, I still have some lingering fears about being judged by others. I’m not Catholic, but there was something about a prospective meeting with the Pope’s proxy that I found intimidating. Simply stating this without judgment is the first step toward removing this barrier.

Secondly, my values are important guideposts. However, they become roadblocks when they become inflexible and absolute. If the role of a development professional is to cultivate relationships between individuals and institutions based on shared values, than we must be the first to seek common ground with others.

I have no illusions that if I had acted differently my efforts would have changed the Church’s positions on important issues that I value. However, is not breaking bread together the first step toward creating peaceful change in the world? If we are to ask others to change on our behalf, must we also be willing to do so ourselves?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'd like to make a donation of $100 to the nonprofit of your choice

In my work as a nonprofit fundraising consultant, I’ve found my most rewarding clients always come through referrals. Currently, I have some opening for new clients, so I am writing to ask for your help in connecting me with good causes in need of support. As my way of saying thanks, if you are able to refer me to a new client who signs a contract before the end of April, I pledge to donate $100 to the nonprofit of your choice!

I see my job as providing nonprofit leaders the practical fundraising tools and solutions that they need to make their jobs easier and to succeed in this ever-changing world. Licensed by the state of California, I draw on over twenty-years of nonprofit management, for-profit business ownership and professional fundraising experience. My areas of expertise include:

  • Annual Fund Support
  • Board Development
  • Corporate Solicitations
  • Event Management
  • Executive Coaching
  • Grant Writing Assistance
  • Major Donor Initiatives
As the President of DER, a trade association for San Francisco Bay Area fundraisers, I have an extensive network. Please let your connections know I’m always open to providing free referrals or answering simple questions. For more long-term professional assistance, I am also available on an hourly or project contract basis. (Btw, because of a family connection, I now have access to complementary airfare, so am also available to help good causes outside the Bay Area region!)

Please feel free to download and forward to your colleagues my 1-page introduction or full biography, resume or testimonials sheets. If you have any questions, referrals or suggestions, feel free to contact me anytime at gayle[at]

Thanks so much in advance for all your help and support!


Please join me for lunch this Monday, March 31, at the AFP convention

Would you perhaps be attending next week's Association of Fundraising Professional annual convention in San Diego? If so, I'd love to connect up with you for lunch this Monday, March 31.

According to Yelp San Diego, the best fish tacos in town are only a few blocks away at the Tin Fish Gaslamp cafe, which has a full lunch menu and offers plenty of outdoor seating as well. If that sounds tasty to you, let's plan to meet-up at the Convention Center's main entrance at 11:20 am. Please drop me an email at gayle[at] to confirm, and include your cell phone number, so I can give you a call on Sunday to coordinate the exact meet-up location.

Hope to see you soon!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to produce your next fundraising event and remain smiling

Hey kids, the Giving Carnival has rolled into town again. Let's all go! Hosted by Roger Carr of the Everyday Giving Blog, this month's collection of participants offer valuable of tips on how to produce successful fundraising events.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Creating and sustaining a fund development culture in your organization

How do you promote and sustain a fundraising culture inside your organization, while coping with external pressures, program needs, budget limitations and an overworked staff? Are you a development professional or an Executive Director who has to manage and allocate resources to different areas of your nonprofit? If you so, and you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please join me Tuesday, March 25th from 3 - 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Foundation Center for an important FAB workshop titled, "Creating and Sustaining a Fund Development Culture in Your Organization."

DER's Fundraisers Anxiety Busters (FAB) workshops are quarterly, peer support workshops 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. This month's guest experts will be Lucy Barnett, the Director of Development for Sutter VNA Hospice in Santa Rosa, and Regina Neu, a Fundraising Counsel and University Professor, who has spent over 25 years working in the nonprofit sector.

I’ll be co-facilitating this event with fellow DER board member Michael Magnaye, Development Director at the SW Community Health Center, who will be taking over future FAB facilitation duties in 2008.

Seating is limited, so for more information or to register, please visit the DER website today.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to give thanks

Given that my posting schedule this new year has been somewhat remiss, I was quite surprised to learn that this blog was recently highlighted on three of the most influential fundraising blogs: Donor Power Blog, Don't Tell the Donor, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy's Give and Take. So pardon me while I send out a big virtual hug of thanks to bloggers Jeff Brooks, A Fundraiser and Ian Wilhelm!

The first two commentators both found value in my post Everything you know about fundraising is wrong. Jeff wrote that, "If you don't see fundraising that way, you're missing something that will increase your joy in your job -- and your effectiveness." While A.F. wrote, "Gayle Roberts proves (once again) that she is one of the most inspirational fundraisers in the business today." All I can say is, "Wow."

Over on Give and Take, Ian linked back to my most recent post, noting that a "good metaphor can be crucial to garnering supporters."

One the most important jobs we have as fundraisers is to help people to believe in themselves. We do this by simply reminding them that, "Yes, you can." To have three of my peers say that to me inspires me to return to a more regular blog posting schedule. In fact, I'm already drafting my next missive tentatively called, "So the Pope emailed me asking for help raising money." True story. Stay tune for details.