Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

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.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

And the young shall inherit the earth, thankfully


In 1992, at the age of 12, Severn Cullis-Suzuki raised money with members of the Environmental Childrens Organization (a group she founded) to travel from Vancouver to speak at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro. Watch this 7-minute video and know there are leaders among us who can be the change. They are our children.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Peace, one day at a time



Please join with me, and millions of others around the world today, in dedicating this 1 day out of 365 to peace. Sound a little overwhelming? Perhaps you can find inspiration in these commitments your neighbors have made?

  • Bryony, 13, United Kingdom. I will say sorry to everyone I have ever hurt.
  • Allyssia Atkinson, 23, Canada. I will forgive myself for everything.
  • Roberto, 20, Brazil. I will not let fear beat love.
  • Kelly, 18, United States. I will write a letter to an old friend to show I love them.
  • David Deslauriers 30, Canada. I will surprise my wife for being great.
  • Omar Hisham Taha, 13, Egypt. I will help a lot of poor people.
  • Thomas Lewis, 23, Canada. I will show younger children right from wrong.
  • Brittney Gibbons, 21. United States. I will smile at everyone all day.
  • Micah Sewell, 23. United States. I will plant a tree for the world to make a fresh start.
  • Rupert Sutton, 60, Greece. I will paint a picture today that symbolizes peace.
  • John, 17, United States. I will not make fun of somebody because of the way they are.
  • Ed, 17, United States. I will say "I love you" to my father because I should.
  • Amin, 41, Iran. I will not invade any country for peace.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Five-year-old fundraising superstar

My five-year-old niece Rylee lives in Marin Country, the home of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Last year, she decided on her own to become a donor to this good cause. Looking under sofa cushions and saving up change given to her Mom, she made her first donation to a nonprofit at the ripe old age of four. Last weekend she took it a step further by becoming a Guide Dogs fundraiser by setting up her own lemonade stand. She raised over a $100 in one afternooon. Words can't express how proud I am of her!

If you would like to offer a few words of encouragement to a budding young fundraiser, please add it to the comments below and I'll make sure she gets a copy. It would mean a lot to both her and me. Thanks.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Shift happens: Have you joined the conversation?

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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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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, February 23, 2007

Reuniting America: What unites us as Americans?

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Friday, February 16, 2007

The power of many small red envelopes

Wanted to share with you an email I received from my dear and beautiful friend Cecilia in response to my recent post on race and fundraising. I think she's on to something here.
"Interesting article. I am curious if you are including churches. I also suspect that the concept of giving varies from culture to culture. While some philanthropists engage in a fundraising plan that is fairly intentional, some cultures contribute equally as reflected in the building of new churches and temples around the world.

Take the Chinese culture for example, the Chinese New Year is a perfect example of 'planned giving,' it maybe in small amounts of 5 and 10 dollars within red envelopes, but lots of people benefit. Wealth- sharing is probably more common in communities of color than most people think.

A better question to ask is how to challenge people to give outside their own communities. If each Chinese family begin setting aside one red envelope for charity every year, I wonder how much money could we raise on Chinese New Year alone?"
Cecilia also included a link to a Black Enterprise special report on America's Leading Black Philanthropists, which includes the following important fact.
"Truth be told, African Americans give more than any other group, donating 25% more of their discretionary income to charities than Whites, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. On average, Black households give $1,614 to their favorite causes. In addition, many Black families embrace the practice of tithing--contributing 10% of their incomes to the church."
All of which points to the important fact: Much of professional fundraising today does not included within its scope vast amounts of traditional and existing giving. Valuable gifts of time, talent and treasure by millions of Americans go unreported because professional philanthropy is increasingly defining itself in the language of measurable outcomes, strategic giving, social entrepreneurism and return on investments. Qualities which are inherently biased to support the dominate culture's preferences.

So when the Center of Philanthropy reports such low figures for fundraisers of color, it is important to note that this is "among fundraisers who join professional organizations." Volunteers have been, and will continue to be, the heart of fundraising within most organizations and communities.

So while the racial disparity among the professional ranks should be a concern for us all, the continued generosity of all people, including People of Color, should be something for which we are very grateful.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Have you driven a blog recently?

Like most bloggers, I'm always interested to see how this blog's subscriptions stats respond to a particular juicy post. It's beeen less than five hours since this morning's post, but they're already down 20%. I expect them to drop farther as the day proceeds.

What does that say about me? What does that say about those who left? What does it say about you who have decided to stay?

If you have any comments, I'd love to hear from you, for dialogue of course is the illusive goal here. Feel free to respond directly to the contents of my earlier post, or answer the following question. "What are the prospects for philanthropy's future to create truly positive social change in the world, when mildly challenging comments are championed as revolutionary, while truly challenging topics like race are systematically ignored?"

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White supremacy, fundraising and you

I was saying good-bye to one of our guests at last Friday's DER luncheon in Oakland when another man came up to him and gave him his card. "I come to a lot of these gatherings, but you're the first Black man I've ever seen at one of these things, and I just wanted to introduce myself."

And he's so right. Oh, I could name a few other Black men I occasionally see at fundraising trainings throughout the Bay Area, put on by DER and other organizations, but the point is the fundraising profession --both here and across the country -- is overwhelmingly dominated by White-identified European-Americans, like me.

According to my Center of Philanthropy Certification in Fund Raising Management 2004 training materials, in past years "there has been no significant change in the ethic backgrounds of fundraisers, at least among fundraisers who join professional organizations." In 1982 and 1990 CASE surveys, People of Color represented 4.5% and 5.6% of their membership respectively. In a more recent survey [1999?] sent to a random 2,501 members of AHP, CASE and NSFRE/AFP, all but 4.1% of the respondents were White.

Now one could quibble and say there are so few Black men in our field is because it is dominated by women. That's true, to a point, as that same survey of 2,501 documented the number of women in our field has surpassed the number of men. (Though not in the higher-level and higher-paying jobs. Naturally.)

Yet there simply is no denying the fact that whatever the gender, there is a huge gap between the actual number of fundraisers of color versus the communities we represent and serve. According to the 2000 Census 68.7% of the folks living in Oakland are People of Color. The gap between this number, and the actual percentage of fundraisers of color, can only be described as a statistical measurement of racism.

How such a gap cannot leave anyone feeling angry and frustrated is beyond me. If one were to argue there were say, even 2 or 3 times as many fundraisers of color in the Bay Area or nationally than identified in recent surveys, we would still have a long way to go toward creating equality within our profession.

So while I know that talking authentically about race can be challenging for many, I want to point you to a handy resource you might find helpful in engaging your own community. It's Damali Ayo's free guidebook I Can Fix It! Here's the Cliff Notes:
White People
Do you want to change racism in the world? Guess what? You have to start with yourself! Cause you know what? If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem! Here are five easy things you can do starting right now (and continue for the rest of your life)!
  1. Admit it. You have a race.
  2. Listen up. Honoring People of Color and believing their experience is eye-opening.
  3. Educate yourself. Read a book or get on the Internet.
  4. Broaden your experience. But not until you've successfully completed steps 1-3.
  5. Make a plan. Take action. Become visible.
People of Color
Are you sick of racism? Of course you are! But you want to do something to help move things forward without going crazy from frustration. Here are five easy things you can do starting right now (and continue for the rest of your life)!
  1. Get real. It's not that easy being "green."
  2. Speak out. "You didn't really just say that, did you?"
  3. Educate yourself. You don't have to teach White people, but you do have to educate yourself and other People of Color.
  4. Build ties with others. There is power in numbers
  5. Take care of yourself. Racism and combating it take their toll.
Here in the Bay Area, I've found the anti-racist training I've done with Untraining to be very liberating. Other area resources including SOUL, Catalyst Project, Center for Third World Organizing, Data Center, HiFy, CoAction, Project Change, CWC, and Applied Research.

When it comes specifically to fundraising, locally there's CompassPoint's Fundraising Academy for People of Color, as well as AFP-Golden Gate Chapter's Multi-Cultural Alliance, which will soon be rolled out nationally by AFP. But the best organizations I know working today to change the face of philanthropy are GIFT and Grassroots Fundraising, which are in the process of merging. If you are concerned about the future of this field, please give them a look and consider offering them your support.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

With six you can rent a whole house, eat pie for dinner with no seconds, and hold a fundraising party

You've probably noticed there's a growing alternative media movement a foot in the United States. Shaped in response to the growth of the Internet and other distribution technologies, the continuing consolidation of media companies, and the unprecedented deregulation of the industry, a small group of hearty souls is working hard to insure your future will be shaped by a democratic media landscape. But you may not known that a key facilitator behind this dialogue is one of my clients, Rockwood Leadership Program.

Rockwood, with support from a generous 3-year Ford Foundation grant, last year launched an ambitious fellowship initiative to provide ongoing leadership training and collaboration support to over 60 key media reform advocacy, distribution and production groups. Many of these organizations came together in Memphis this past week on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday for the the third annual National Conference on Media Reform.

They were treated to an inspirational keynote address by journalist and public commentator Bill Moyers, who among other things announced his return to reporting. If media democracy is a subject that matters to you -- and as a blog reader I suspect it does -- I highly urge you to take a few minutes and listen to Moyers' address or visit the NCMR website for more information.

But in writing today, I particularly wanted to share with you Moyer's closing words, a reading of Marge Piercy's poem "The Low Road" from her collection The Moon is Always Female, published by Alfred A. Knopf, copyright 1980.

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t blame them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fundraising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

More than just a dream



Dr Martin Luther King Jr. speaking out against the Vietnam War at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, April 30, 1967. Words that ring as true today, if not more, than they did 40 years ago.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Will the master's tools ever dismantle the master's house?

Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer and Freemason, known for his barbed and clever wit, was one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London. His life took a tragic turn, when at the height of his fame, he was accused and imprisoned for homosexual "gross indecency.” Upon release he lived penniless under an assumed name, exiled from society, dying not too long after from syphilitic meningitis. Today his legacy lives on as the gayest of all blades. Yet I never knew that he was a socialist, who had strong opinions about private charity.
"The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism -- are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this… Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease…

The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realized by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life -- educated men who live in the East End -- coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins.

There is also this to be said. It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. It is both immoral and unfair."
What do you think? Can even the most well-intentioned amongst us challenge the institutions that made them strong? Would perhaps reframing the debate have a more long lasting impact on alleviating suffering and oppression?

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Reach out and touch someone

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

New way forward

Last week when accepting the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Dr. Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh's Grameen Bank declared that, "Peace is inextricably linked to poverty. Poverty is a threat to peace."

According to recent Justice Department figures with over 7 million people imprisoned, on probation or on parole, the U.S. has the world's highest incarceration rates (1 in 32 adults). The 2005 U.S. Census reported that 37 million people in this country live in poverty.

Also last week, Wall Street giant Goldman Saches announced $16.5 billion in year-end employee bonuses, including several individual bonuses of $100 million each. Unfortunately, voting for the Naughty or Nice Awards is closed.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

U.S. Dept of the Treasury anti-terrorist financing guidelines: Voluntary best practices for U.S.-based charities

Seems the "War on Dissent" is expanding every day.
"Upon issuance of Executive Order 13224, President George W. Bush directed the U.S. Department of the Treasury to work with other elements of the federal government and the international community to develop a comprehensive and sustained campaign against the sources and conduits of terrorist financing. Investigations have revealed terrorist abuse of charitable organizations, both in the United States and worldwide, to raise and move funds, provide logistical support, encourage terrorist recruitment or otherwise cultivate support for terrorist organizations and operations. This abuse threatens to undermine donor confidence and jeopardizes the integrity of the charitable sector, whose services are indispensable to both national and world communities."
On Charity Governance
"The voluntary best practices look like much of the Bush Administration’s overall approach to the criminal aspects of the War on Terror. The rules are intentionally vague, providing the Administration with maximum flexibility to engage in prosecution while not providing those subject to the rules clear safe harbors to guide their conduct."

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Queer youth work too graphic for Macy's show

Article in the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter highlights the challenges faced when nonprofits and funders might not share the same values and mission.
"Content developed by queer youth from San Francisco's Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC) raised red flags for organizers of the annual 'Teen Night' at Macy's Passport show, an HIV prevention education event and fashion show held this week at Fort Mason Center. Now, LYRIC is claiming that LGBTQQ youth have been excluded from the event and its HIV prevention messages ...

Macy's spokeswoman Betsy Nelson told the Bay Area Reporter that ... 'We asked them to exclude [content materials] that were very graphic in nature ... This audience is a very diverse audience in terms of race, gender preference, everything ... It's free and we send busses all over to pick up thousands of kids from all over ... There is content about HIV and how you get HIV. Macy's specifically doesn't talk on the topic; we use other groups to do that...'

[LYRIC Executive Director] Schwartz said she has a hard time with the Macy's event billing itself as HIV 'education' without it also including frank discussions of many different kinds of sex, regardless of audience background or how many of the youth identify. Assumptions that heterosexual youth or teens from certain backgrounds don't engage in certain sexual practices, she said, are dangerous assumptions to make in the world of HIV prevention."

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Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11: Press for Truth

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Remembering the truth, not the dramatization.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Blowback: What happens when the left treats workers like they are on the right

Quick follow-up to my recent post directing you to Greg Bloom's In These Times expose on the outsourcing of grassroots progressive fundraising and how it is negatively impacting a whole generation of potential professional fundraisers who are leaving the field. Greg's been been continuing to cover this issue online in a series of follow-up posts.

Last week, many of these same canvassers started protesting outside of the Democratic Congressional Central Committee (DCCC), because they weren't getting paid minimum wage. Then it the hit the blogosphere. First, right wing blogs picked it up, followed by a 2004 veteran canvasser who commented:
"It was only a matter of time before the right-wing blogs caught wind of of Grassroots Campaigns Incorporated's workplace improprieties, its labor abuses in the name of the Democratic Party, and used them as ammo against the Left."
Yesterday the DCCC cancelled its contract with the canvasser's employers, Grassroots Campaigns Incorporated (GCI), the for-profit arm of the national nonprofit, Public Interest Research Group.

Unfortunately, the fact that the DCCC quickly tried to wipe itself clean of its arrangment with GCI, rather than advocating its contractors get paid a living wage, speaks loudly about the current moral state of our Donkey friends.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism


This incredible 30-minute speech of Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson's taking President Bush to task has little to do with fundraising, but everything to do with activism. If you care about the future of the United States, please watch this and share it with your friends.
"We will continue to resist the lies, the deception, the outrages of the Bush administration and this complacent, complicit, go-along Congress. We will insist that peace be pursued, and that, as a nation, we help those in need. We must break the cycle of hatred, of intolerance, of exploitation. We must pursue peace as vigorously as the Bush administration has pursued war. It's up to every single one of us to do our part."
Read more on The Nation. Here's the complete text from his speech.

Might just make me move to Salt Lake City.

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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.

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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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