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For those of you who are subscribed to the RSS feed of this blog, you may be confused by the random, out-of-date posts that have been recently showing up in your reader or email inbox.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.


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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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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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.


Monday, November 05, 2007

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours

I’ve been tagged. Britt Bravo, of the most excellent Have Fun, Do Good blog, has invited me to participate in a book meme. So without further ado:

Total Books I Own
275. Thought it would be less, as I enjoy giving away books after reading them. Guess I still have challenges with "letting go."

Last Book I Bought
The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert.
If you’ve loved her recent run-away best seller Eat Pray Love like both Britt and me, then you'll also enjoy her previous National Book Award finalist looking at life on the other side of the gender line. I'm nearly finished reading this one, and makes me wonder how much her own personal journey of self-discovery in Eat Pray Love was inspired by Eustace Conway, the real-life protagonist of The Last American Man? Also makes me wonder how some people are able to experience life with insight? If I could only live my life with half, no a quarter, no a tenth of the passion Elizabeth or Eustace experience, I'd die happy. But then again, the message of both these artist adventurers is we can. We only need to choose.

Last Book I Read
Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life by Whitworth, Kimsey-House and Sandahl.
There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting down over a cup of coffee with someone and having a good conversation. So it is no surprise that I am attracted to coaching, which according to this book is the "art of the powerful conversation." What I enjoy about fundraising is its ability to transform lives; coaching has that potential too. I've been seriously considering getting my coaching certificate, because I believe fundraising and coaching together can be very powerful tools for both individual, institutional and social change.

5 Meaningful Books
The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Zander and Zander.
What if we gave each person in our lives an "A plus" grade? What we gave ourselves an "A plus" too? Brimming with optimism, this title written by a husband and wife team argues that life is all invented, so why not invent the life we want to truly live? Filled with engaging antidotes and exercises, it made a believer out of me. Perhaps it will for you too?

How Then, Shall We Live?: Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives by Wayne Muller.
I’ve already written before about this book, given to me as a gift, so no need to write a lot more. Other than to say, isn't there something special about receiving a book as a gift, rather than buying it yourself? Even better when it is unexpected, don't you think? So why wait until the holiday season to bring joy into somebody's life? Do it today!

Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore.
Maybe I don’t have to fix everything? In fact, what if within suffering is the source of healing? This is the message of Moore's extraordinary book, which takes a homeopathic approach to what ills our contemporary spirits. Drawing on over 2,500 years of western cultural and spiritual traditions, this Jungian therapist and former Catholic monk, is a literate man of grace and compassion. Reminded me again how important it is to simply treat ourselves, and others, a little more gently.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg.
I used to live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where among other things I was active in the local literary scene: publishing a community arts newspaper, hosting literary festivals and promoting spoken word artists. One day an editor friend visited my house. He seemed a bit disoriented at first. Then after a long pause he told he had been to this house many times before. This was where Natalie lived a decade before when she wrote her now classic text. Told me how he would come over to her house for a book group; sitting on milk crates they would discuss their dreams of becoming successful writers. See what happens when start sharing your dreams?

What Matters: Young Writers and Artists Speak Out edited by Jancie Mirikitami.
Another surprise pick. This poetry collection was written by the children of Glide Memorial Church, located in San Francisco’s tough Tenderloin Neighborhood. However, I still remember one Sunday listening to the young authors read their work. Afterwards I walked up with tears in my eyes to buy not one, but five copies, so that I would have enough to give away to friends and family members. Rooted in the ethos of the 1960's civil rights movement, Glide is world renowned for its gospel choir and extensive social service programs, including serving up 1.5 million free meals a year out of its basement kitchen. These young authors have lived more by the age of ten than most adults I know.

5 People to Tag
So whose book collections would I like to learn more about? Well, here's a short list people I know who occasionally read this blog and have blogs of their own. Perhaps they would like to share what is on their bookshelves with their readers as well?

Phil Cubeta
Susan Herr
A Fundraiser
Sean Stannard-Stockton
Francesco, Ioana and Daniele

TAG, YOU'RE IT: Don't have a blog? Feel free to add book titles which are meaningful to you to the comments below.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

What has 1 question and 13 answers? The November Giving Carnival!

Hey gang, the Giving Carnival is back in town. Let's go!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Humble lessons from an early morning blogger

When I started this blog, a little over a year ago, I thought of it originally as a marketing device. However, over time I have come to think of it more as a personal development tool. Writing forces me to think more clearly about my work and what I believe, while learning from other bloggers in order to stay relevant.

Today’s Thought Leaders are bloggers. Most of my fundraising peers, because of the daily demands of jobs and lives, are unaware of the fundamental changes happening in our industry. Without more intentional engagement and professional training, I fear in ten years the world will have passed many of us by. Posting on this blog, and more importantly, reading other blogs and commenting on them, is one way I keep current.

One side effect of viewing blogging as a personal development tool is that over time it has actually become an effective marketing device. Last week I used the Online Identity Calculator to see how I ranked. It gave me a 10 out of a 10 for effectiveness!

A Google search on my name brings up nearly 5,000 hits. Amazingly, the first 3 are actually about me, with 2 links to my website and 1 to my LinkedIn profile. Fifteen of the top thirty are also about me, and each listings is about my professional career as a fundraiser. Nearly all are blog posts, either one’s I wrote or one’s other bloggers wrote about me. This makes sense. Blogs are regularly updated and contain a lot of in- and out-links, so Google loves them. Clearly, writing a blog is one of the best things you can do to manage your online identity.

Not everyone needs a blog, just as not everyone needs a website. However, if you’re going to build a website, today there is no reason it shouldn’t include a blog, or better yet, be primarily a blog. There are many online services -- such as Blogger, WordPress or Weebly -- that are free and easy to use. If you haven’t started a blog, but are tempted, my best advice would be to first become a reader of other blogs. Google Reader is a good tool to use.

Having said that, I will humbly offer two caveats. First, blogging can become a black hole on your time. Set definite time limits and structure it into your activities like any other regular weekly task.

Second, this is still a secondary marketing strategy. Like advertising or public relations, it is hard to focus. Traditional off-line networking activities -- such as keeping in touch with past clients, cultivating relationships with other consultants and joining local associations -- is still the best marketing strategy for an independent consultant like myself.

Today my blog subscriber and readership base is still relatively small. Currently I have 141 subscribers, and daily visitors are measured in the dozens. However, I feel so lucky that each one of you has taken the time away from your busy schedule to read my words. Some of you are even from the other side of the world! For example, Francesco, Ioana and Daniele are three Italian fundraisers doing great work. Our recent connection may never result in a gig, but my life is much richer for it.

In fact, the presence of each of you reading this post today is a gift. Thank you so much for all you bring into the world.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Radio, podcasting and fundraising, they go good together

A belated shout out of thanks to Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein and Sean Stannard-Stockton. I was interviewed on Stephen’s radio show and podcast, Fundraising Success, earlier this month. Sean asked me to pinch-hit for him when other duties called him a way at the last minute. Really enjoyed my chat with Stephen on the joy of fundraising and other topics. If you want to take a listen, my 10-minutes of fame starts at a little before 29 minutes into the cast. (Note to self, when you're excited and nervous, remember to breath.)

For those of you who have not yet discovered this podcast, I would encourage you to subscribe. This weekly, 1-hour show is professionally produced out of the studios of WXEL, south Florida’s public radio station. Stephen has smartly put together pool of regular experts and special guests, many of whom are among today’s leading bloggers. In addition to Sean from Tactical Philanthropy, other regulars include Beth Kanter of Beth’s Blog and Peter Panepento of Give and Take. The show I was on also featured Michael Weinholtz and Jennifer Mayhew of CompHealth, Stephen Rockwell of Management Consulting Services and show regular Jesse Carter from ProfitQuests.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

10 reasons fundraising ain't all that bad

Jeff Brooks at Donor Power Blog this week hosts the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants. He conducted a "highly scientific" poll on the question Is fundraising good or bad? As Jeff reports, the results were "shocking and amazing."

  • 60% said bad.
  • 20% said good.
  • 20% said other.
If I read the poll results correctly, that 20% good figure was almost represented entirely by yours truly with my submission to this new Carnival.

Like Jeff, I to came a similar conclusion after hosting the recent Giving Carnival here on this blog. While many people took the challenge seriously, I was frankly unprepared for the amount of pessimistic, cynical, and well, darn-right snarky responses – this from people working in our field.

Clearly, our profession has not only a public image problem, but a large self-esteem challenge. Whether this is based in practice or perception, I'm not about to argue now. But if people think of a fundraiser akin to the stereotype of a used car salesperson, than we have much work to do.

Done well, effective fundraising can help gift recipients break free of the cycle of poverty, violence and oppression they might face in life. For this reason alone, our profession is an honorable one worthy of high praise. Yet I would argue that there are many other benefits, particularly for donors, that are too often not appreciated. Fundraising can help individuals:
  1. Express personal values and feel less powerless in the face of all the world’s needs.
  2. Eliminate isolation by connecting with a community of people who share similar values.
  3. Reduce the perceived differences between those with means and those with needs, helping people moving from fear toward love of others.
  4. Generate a sense of personal abundance and generosity, through understanding one has enough time, talent and treasure to share.
  5. Leave a legacy for their children and the world.
  6. Connect with the cycle of giving and receiving at the core of most spiritual traditions.
  7. Build support for projects that have strong community need, but little or no market value.
  8. Organize communities to effectively advocate for changes in public policy.
  9. Develop a sustainable gift economy as a viable alternative to capital markets.
  10. Provide opportunities for volunteers to become more engaged with causes and communities that they care about.
Perhaps I am naive to think that effective fundraising can help move us as a society from “fear to love.” Yet in today’s world, why would I want to believe anything else?

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Friday, September 07, 2007

September Giving Carnival: Your roadmap to the future of fundraising

If predicting the future were only as simple as drawing a line across a map, being prepared for the next 10 years would be easy. But as the 22 generous contributors to this month's Giving Carnival demonstrate, we each see the world in our own way. From pessimistic to hopeful, the guides below offer you many possible paths to follow. Know that which you choose will impact the rest of your individual life, but also remember, all paths lead to our same shared future.

Tom of The $5 Philanthropist laments that The Year 2017 is a Letdown
Online fundraising risks becoming a victim of it's own success...

Paul of Cause Related Marketing shares several Fearless Predictions on the Future of Cause-Related Marketing
Cause-related marketing will continue to grow in North America, if modestly, while rapidly growing in places like India...

Here on Fundraising for Nonprofits I humbly offer you 8 Predictions on the Future of Fundraising
The changes in regulation, donors, markets, leadership, technology, fundraisers and even volunteers will result in a greater demand for ongoing training for both donors and fundraisers...

An anonymous reader of this blog also contributed a comment.
Fundraisers will deploy scanning devices that identify the best ways to appeal to the donor’s big ego and small primate brain...

Nancy of Getting Attention looks out 10 Years Down the Line
Issue-oriented giving, with donors having the option to specify organizational recipients by percentage of the total gift...

Phil of Gift Hub writes on Philanthropic Advisors to a Field of Interest
The leading solicitors of major gifts and planned gifts will bill themselves as Philanthropic Advisors...

Elie of Give Well offers a roadmap with Two Futures
Fundraising today is all about the pitch; 10 years from now, I hope it will be about the product...

Britt of Have Fun – Do Good brings her passion to Mobilizing Donors and Activists in an Overwhelmed World
Keeping campaigns simple, social, personal, creative and tangible might transform feeling overwhelmed into empowerment...

Dori of Inspired Annual Giving ask us all Where Will You Be?
We'll be using technology beyond our wildest dreams to reach our audience...

Trista of New Voices of Philanthropy keeps it real with You Think Fundraising is Hard Now?
The only role of an executive director will be to raise the money needed to keep the doors of their respective nonprofit open...

Ken of The Nonprofit Consultant Blog reports back from Stardate: September 2017
President Clinton declares foundations could do more for the public good by keeping their endowments "working for America" by staying invested in the stock market, lowering yearly payout to 1-1/2% of their endowment...

Kelly of The Nonprofiteer joins in with And They Call Her a Carnival Clown
Fundraisers and agencies soliciting donations will rethink the current stance holding unethical the practice of having fundraisers compensated by a percentage of the what they raise...

Susan of Philanthromedia builds on years of experience to predict The Future of Fundraising
Money to social impact will continue to grow but name brands will become less important than value and vision...

Mark of Open Hands offers several predictions for The Future of Fundraising
Witness a growing trend of charities who see the value and synergy in fundraising together...

Maya of The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy shares her thoughts Predicting the Future of Nonprofit Fundraising
Lowered barriers to technological access, especially in computer hardware and web media, will attract more smaller foundations to the field...

Christopher of Non-profit Leadership, Innovation and Change has three insights into Fundraising in 2017
As the younger generation gets older the internet is going to play a very important role in fundraising...

Laura of PhilanthroFlash sees in her crystal ball 3 Futures of Fundraising
The tooth fairy will leave "$5 was given to your favorite charity" cards beneath children’s pillows...

Arlene of Seeking Grant Money Today asks We're On Our Way, But Who's At the Helm?
Grant donors bolster government giving by uniquely supporting seed money, pilot programs, and most importantly, the nonprofit sector's strength...

Phil of Strategic Governance, Philanthropy and Planning looks back to look forward for The Next 10 Years-Some Promethean Predictions
Increasingly distrust the organizations which manage philanthropy and deliver social services...

Sean of Tactical Philanthropy explores Fundraising in the Philanthropic Capital Markets
A future where fundraisers are less focused on direct to donor appeals and more focused on what Lucy Bernholz calls the Philanthropic Capital Markets...

Rachel of Vampituity goes farther into the future than all others with Where Fundraising Will Be in 2020
Philanthropy will be much more integrated into life and less on the fringe...

Albert of White Courtesy Telephone muses on Online Giving in 2017
Ten years from now, sensors surgically implanted in your brain by the Department of Homeland Security will automatically register your intention to give and send radio signals to your government-monitored bank account...

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Help wanted: Good pay and benefits

Welcome to the land of fundraising, we need you! Look around. It’s a complex world where people feel isolated, powerless and fearful. From threats of global terrorism to global warming, today’s challenges seem overwhelming. Like you, my heart breaks when I see someone forced to live on the streets or go without health care. There must be a better way, but what is it?

What if we lived in a world were we cared for our neighbors? What if instead of being fearful of differences we embraced them? What if instead of feeling helpless, we lived a life of abundance? That is the gift you give to others when you become a fundraiser. By connecting donors with the gentle joy of giving, you help them discover what it means to be human. In joining with others and giving to those in need, donors recognize they already have everything they need.

You are the Johnny Appleseed of generosity. Years from now you will look back and see all the young children you helped graduate from college, the local park that was once an toxic landfill, and the community center built in the middle of former gang turf and know your life was one well lived.

Here’s my recommended steps for entering the field.
  1. VOLUNTEER: What good cause do you care about? Development offices are always looking for volunteers to stuff envelopes and help out at events. My first fundraising gig was volunteering to write grants for a small arts group. Join a nonprofit board. Even without experience, if you are willing to support fundraising efforts, you’ll be snapped up.

  2. LEARN: Take classes, read books and subscribe to blogs. Research your city to find free or low cost training. The Foundation Center offers free classes in five major U.S. cities. In the San Francisco Bay Area CompassPoint, The CBO Center and USF are great resources. I’m a huge fan of the writing of Kim Klein, Hank Rosso and Kay Sprinkel Grace. Today’s thought leaders are bloggers. If you have time to read only one, make it the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Give and Take, which summarizes all the rest. Start developing your expertise now.

  3. NETWORK: Find the nonprofit trade associations in your town. If you're a regular reader of this blog you know I’m a big fan of Development Executives Roundtable, in fact I'm on the board. Five years ago when I decided to change my career I walked into my first DER meeting, stood up and announced I wanted to become a fundraiser. At that meeting I met people who would become my professional colleagues, career mentors and good friends. Other resource include local branches of the Association of Fundraising Professionals or the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

  4. START: We all must begin at the beginning. My first paid job was part-time telefunding. A horrible job really, but learning how to ask for money 30 times a day is a good skill to develop if you wish to build a career in fundraising. Now I’m a successful freelance Fundraising Counsel. Last week I turned down an interview to lead up a $45,000,000 capital campaign. I can tell you most certainly that there are always more development jobs available, and the pay scale is higher, than found in other nonprofit departments. If you can learn to raise money, you will never be without work.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Giving Man

Not going to make it to Burning Man this year? Don't worry, you can still make it to the Giving Carnival. This month's theme is "Predicting the Future of Fundraising." Everyone, bloggers and readers a like, is encouraged to participate. But there's only 6 days left until the September 4th deadline, so don't wait too long to submit your contribution.

For more information on how to participate, or to leave a comment, please see my previous post.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Announcing the September Giving Carnival: Predicting the Future of Fundraising

Hey kids, I’m happy to announce the Giving Carnival is coming to this little blog in September! In addition to the usual line-up of rusty midway rides, fresh-scrubbed 4H kids and queer circus freaks, I’ll be featuring a collection of links to all submitted blog posts and comments on the topic of “Predicting the Future of Fundraising.”

Building off one of this blog’s most popular past articles, I invite you to take a trip with me 10 years into the future. How will the fundraising profession look like a decade from now? How have some of today’s biggest trends such as Internet technology, social entrepreneurialism and globalization changed our jobs? From the tax code to global warming, how has the environment in which we operate changed? Has the much predicted pending leadership crisis occurred, and if so, what has been the impact?

I’ll make sure the popcorn is fresh, but if you can forward this announcement to your friends or post an announcement on your blog, I’d be very grateful. When it comes to the Carnival, the more the merrier. This is a great way for us to build a little community between all the various fundraising and giving blogs and individuals online.

To participate, simply post your predictions to your blog and send me link at gayle[at]gayleroberts[dot]com. If you don’t have a blog, please add your forecast to the comment field below. All submissions will be featured in the September Giving Carnival round-up.

Deadline for submission is Tuesday, September 4th.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Try a spin on the giving carnvial

I get nauseated just thinking about riding a roller coaster, but I enjoyed my ride this week on the Giving Carnival.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Oh my gosh, I forgot my birthday!

So it was just one year ago this past July that I started this humble little blog. Big hugs and kisses you who stop by to occasionally read, subscribe or post a comment to these pages! I found this cake just for you, cause your love makes the world go around.

Thought you might be curious to find out which posts have received the most attention over the past year. Here's a top 10 list:
  1. Shift happens: Have you joined the conversation?
  2. The power of many small red envelopes.
  3. A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.
  4. The end of journalism (as you know it).
  5. The gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.
  6. Fundraising for Nonprofit's festive and fiery fourth of July fireworks (and a poem).
  7. Stanford University announces record setting capital campaign.
  8. 5 things to know about direct response response fundraising.
  9. Help the Foundation Center celebrate its 50th birthday.
  10. LonelyGirl15 almost gets it right for poverty campaign.
See a common theme among these posts? No, me neither. But if you'd like to comment on what you like about this blog, and what can be done better, I'd love to hear from you as we move into year two together.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ever wanted to tell a foundation what you really think?

As many of you are aware, there’s been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere lately around the issue of “foundation transparency.” Today the NY Times joins the conversation with an article, Foundations are Facing Up to Failures, which leads with the Carnegie Foundation’s mea culpa on its own failures in Zimbabwe.

The Times article references a podcast my friend Sean over at The Tactical Philanthropy did recently with Jim Canales, CEO of the Irvine Foundation. In the follow-up comments, Jim asks for additional feedback from the field about how they can improve foundation transparency. So if you’ve ever wanted to tell a foundation what to do -- particularly one of the large “gorillas in the room” -- here’s a great opportunity to voice your opinion.

Since starting his blog less than a year ago, Tactical Philanthropy has fast become one of the most important places online fostering dialogue around emerging trends in philanthropy. In my opinion, Sean's one of the few bloggers who's making a concerted effort to bring all voices to the table, not just his own. You can support him in this good cause by joining in the conversation today.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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.


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.


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?


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?


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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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I got the music in me

I'll let you in on a little secret. I've always wanted to dance in Carnival, but I suspect this is as close as I'll ever get.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why blog alone when you can blog together?

Hey kids, the carnival is in town! Let's go!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Welcome Singapore, Dhahran and Sweetham

If you are a returning visitor, you'll notice I spent Thanksgiving weekend updating the look and feel of this blog. For I only became aware recently that over half the known universe -- anyone running Internet Explorer -- could not read the old layout properly. Ugh.

Apparently, the problem stems from the fact that Explorer isn't a "standards-compliant browser," which means it sometimes has difficulty reading Blogger CSS pages. A random search through other Blogger sites reveals that is a very common problem.

Though in a past life I used to be a desktop publisher -- was even a newspaper publisher for a few years -- I never really learned web design, so much of this is simply foreign to me. But after many attempted work arounds, it seemed like the best option was to simply redesign this blog from scratch.

In the process I added a few widgets, including a simple link for bookmarking posts to and an email subscription option. Also, finally got around to upgraded my tracking service to Google Analytics, which my left-brain is really going to enjoy. Seems that the first visitor it tracked was from Singapore, followed shortly after by users from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and Sweetenham, England. Welcome one and all!

So if you are a visitor from somewhere between San Francisco and Singapore, who cannot still view this humble little blog correctly, could you please let me know? Many thanks!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

On Phil Cubeta and the moral education of fundraisers

Fundraisers are among the most generous, compassionate and giving individuals I know. We are also, by and large, a bunch of sycophants. There's nothing quite like a room with a couple funders surrounded a large pack of hungry Development Directors -- talk about a lesson in moral education.

That's why fundraising blog maven Philip Cubeta's writing is such a constant breath of fresh air. He understands his place in Wealth Bondage, and unlike so many is not afraid to speak. A self-proclaimed Morals Tutor to America's wealthiest families, I wonder if the true target of his efforts is not us, dear readers?

The biggest news in philanthropy this past week has been the Slate 60 Conference and Philanthropy Series, a gathering of the world's 150 wealthiest donors hosted by Slate Magazine and the William J. Clinton Foundation. While the trend maybe to fawn over the ongoing leveraged buyout of the social sector, Phil questions here, here, here and here whether the emperor is wearing any clothes at all.

Though my recent entry into the blogosphere has not been without anxiety and angst, I take great comfort in knowing that through wit and wisdom, satire and praise, Phil's multiple outlets, including Gift Hub and The World We Want, have become among the most heavily visited fundraising blogs. There is hope for us still.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

We interupt this message to give thanks

Just wanted to take a break from the random fundraising posts to give thanks to all of you who read, comment, subscribe or have linked in to this little blog. Here's a big hug of thanks!

Particularly want to give a shout out to the good folks at Charity 2.0 Blog Network, who highlighted this site last week:
"And, when it comes to the topic of philanthropy, the Internet just runs rife with any view, topic or stance. One of our favourites at CBN, is the Fundraising for Nonprofits by Gayle Roberts. Working as a professional Fundraising counselor in California, she helps people 'connect their values to the causes that matter to them…' As you can imagine, she knows what she’s talking about, and she doesn’t mince words. Her approach is direct and in a world that seems to be getting more convoluted by the minute, that’s pretty refreshing."
As someone who is still very new to the blogosphere, I have so much more to learn about this new venue, but it feels very good to have my initial efforts recognized. If anybody else has comments about what they like, or what could be done better here, I would love to hear from you too!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Creating a life worth living

What would your life be like if you aligned your values with your work, consumption, investments and philanthropy? What if love and abundance was your primary inspiration, rather than fear and scarcity? What if you joined your efforts with others in your community?

Helping donors and organizations answer these three essential questions is at the core of every professional fundraisers' job.

San Francisco Bay Area social web maven Britt Bravo is someone whom I suspected asked herself these questions many years ago. Today, through personal coaching, community activism and business consulting she helps individuals and organizations create positive change in the world around us.

While finding time to keep up with one blog is difficult enough for most of us, Britt writes for four: her personal blog, Have Fun • Do Good; the NetSquared blog, where she is the Community Builder; BlogHer, where she is a BlogHer Nonprofit and NGO Contributing Editor; and her newest endeavor, Basic Blogging for Women.

If that weren’t enough, she also produces audio podcasts for NetSquared and her own Big Vision website!

I particularly want to point you toward this later link, which features a series of interviews with some of today's most inspiring, young progressive thinkers including Jessica Jackley Flannery of Kiva, Steve Williams of POWER, and Brahm Ahmadi of People’s Grocery.

Fundraising isn't really the focus of these podcasts, but I spent the last few days listening to Britt’s audio archives and am beginning to believe that I too can begin to help heal the world. Maybe you’d like to join me?


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Why do people look like their dogs and why should you care?

A few weeks back Tom Belford at The Agitator riffing on Seth Godin, riffing on why people look like their dogs wrote:

"When you buy a Powerbook, a Harley, a Field & Stream, a RED teeshirt from the Gap, a MINI, organic produce, a Doberman, Bob Dylan's latest album, Jimmy Choo shoes, a Starbucks Iced Caffe Mocha you are saying something to yourself and about yourself, consciously or unconsciously. 'This [brand] is me. It affirms who I am. I connect with it intellectually and emotionally. We belong together.'

What does this mean in terms of marketing nonprofit organizations and their causes? Your marketing should aim to evoke this same reaction from a prospect: 'I belong here, supporting this organization, this cause.' And then, even more importantly, your subsequent marketing needs to evoke reaffirmation -- validation -- of that initial impression: 'Yes, I made the right decision, I do belong here.'"

So why do people look like their dogs? Because it validates them. So why do people give to nonprofits? Because it validates them.

Probably the best fundraising blogger writing on this connection between donors and why the give is Jeff Brooks at Donor Power Blog, who nearly single-handedly is trying to inspire nonprofits to respect their donors, which for some agencies, is going to be a very large cultural change indeed.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Recommended Blog: Where Most Needed

When this blog passes through adolescence, one site it would like to grow up to be more like is Where Most Needed. Filling out the back-story behind today’s philanthropy headlines, every post this last month has been worth bookmarking.

As a budding governance wonk, I've appreciated underalms' recent insights on the changes going on at the Red Cross highlighted here and here. He's also has posted on the gossip-rag worthy meltdown at the Getty Museum, so you don't have to.

As the "War on Dissent" moves further into the nonprofit sector, the chill on Muslim charities is up and UNICEF pulls itself out of the trick or treat business.

A close friend of mine is a Major Gifts Officer at the ACLU and she, along with Ira Glasser, I'm sure are breathily waiting for results from the site's ACLU dueling website survey.

As a result of the New Yorker magazine's recent feature on the Microfinance and the article review on Where Most is Needed, I took Omidyar Network off one of my client's prospects lists, as it had become clear they are just not a good fit.

Do I need to say more? I think not.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"LonelyGirl15" almost gets it right for poverty campaign

But Jeff Brooks at Donor Power Blog gets it right again:
"Give them credit for trying. The United Nations has enlisted Web phenom [sic] 'LonelyGirl15' to promote the anti-poverty Millennium Campaign. Or rather, their ad agency, Y&R enlisted her … But they don't quite pull it off … The main reason: LonelyGirl15 doesn't sound like her usually loopy, amusing self in this video. In fact, she sounds just like she's reading a script that's been kicked around by a committee of people with competing agendas and wooden ears."


Monday, October 09, 2006

Wealth Bondage is dead. Long live Wealth Bondage.

Quote of the week:
"Giving, from the gifted, which is art from the artist and philanthropy from the wealthy, and activism from the disenfranchised, and spirituality from those who are capable of it, such gifts channel grace, the living spirit of which we are the dim carriers. "


Monday, August 14, 2006

Nicest legs in philanthropy winners announced!

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

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


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Welcome to my home on the web

Hi, my name is Gayle. What’s yours?

At the age of six, I had my first my first taste of fundraising -- hosting a Muscular Dystrophy Association Carnival, complete with pin the tail on the donkey and water balloon toss.

Now, years later, I continue to help agencies and their good causes by inspiring the joy of giving as a professional Fundraising Counselor.

This blog is my forum -- and hopefully your forum too -- to discuss fundraising tips, trends and topics. The vibe will certainly develop and mature we progress, but why don’t you get things started out by giving me an idea of what you’d like to see by adding a comment below?

In the meantime, if you'd like to learn about me or my services, simply visit my website for more information. Thanks!