Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

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.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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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Friday, October 26, 2007

Donor communications and stewardship strategies workshop

Your year-end fundraising campaigns is working and the checks are beginning to coming in. Now what do you do? How do you find the time to effectively engage your donors to strengthen their relationship with your nonprofit? What communications strategies will increase their interest in your agency? What are effective stewardship activities that encourage gift renewal and increased support?

If you live in the Bay Area you can get answers to these and other questions Wednesday, November 14th from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Development Executive Roundtable FAB workshop I'll be facilitating at the San Francisco Foundation Center.

FAB ("Fundraisers Anxiety Busters") is a free, peer support network for intermediate and seasoned fundraisers, and nonprofit staff and volunteers with development responsibilities, to share fundraising strategies and tactics, meet challenges, and solve problems. I'm happy to announce our two November guest experts will be Dean Zaldue-Hilkene, Manager of Annual Giving at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Barbara Hirst, most recently the Associate Director of Development Major Gifts at California State University East Bay.

These events always fill up. So for more information or to register, please visit the DER website today.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Francisco Bay Area corporate philanthropy trends roundtable

Looking for an opportunity to meet some of San Francisco's leading corporate grantmakers? Then join me for lunch, Friday, November 9th, noon - 2:00 p.m., as DER, The Foundation Center and San Francisco Business Times co-host our annual Meet the Corporate Grantmakers roundtable. Last year's gathering inspired one of my favorite blog posts; I'm sure this one won't disappoint either.

In 2006, the San Francisco Business Times reports that the greater San Francisco Bay Area’s top corporate philanthropists increased their Bay Area giving to about $140 million. The panel plans to address current trends in how Bay Area corporations are selecting the organizations they support, showcase local corporations who were recently recognized at the San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Summit in July, and shine the spotlight on a new corporate donor in the region. Panelist include:

  • Randy Chun, Regional Vice President, Wells Fargo
  • Larry Goldzband, Manager, Charitable Contributions, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Rey Ocañas, SVP, Community Relations Executive, Wachovia Bank
  • Sylvia Samano, Vice President, External Affairs-Bay Area, AT&T California
Please visit the DER website for more information and to register online.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Making your case in controversial situations

How should you respond to hostile or "challenging" questions when you’re representing your organization? How can you improve your “quotability” with the press? What’s the best way to take a stand when opinions differ?

For answers and other questions, please join me next Friday, October 12, noon - 1:30 p.m., for the Development Executive Roundtable (DER) monthly luncheon presentation. Our guest presenter, Melinda Henning, will offer two templates for organizing your thoughts as well as her best tips for managing stress in controversial settings. Note, this month we'll be meeting at Oakland's Preservation Park. Please visit the DER website for more information and to register online.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

How to ask for a gift: Successful face-to-face solicitation workshop

Let's face it, many fundraisers, board members and volunteers love to do everything in fundraising except ask for money. Usually it is because they have simply never learned how to actually make an ask. The fear of asking for a gift from a complete stranger--or worse from a close friend--is legitimate. After all, if not handled properly it can put those involved in an uncomfortable position.

If you've ever had fears asking for money--and I know I have--please join me next Friday for what maybe the most important training you'll attend all year. How to Ask for a Gift: Successful Face-to-Face Solicitation is co-sponsored by the Development Executive Roundtable (DER) and will feature national Fundraising Consultant Philip Byrdsong. This luncheon event will be held August 10, noon - 1:30 pm at the San Francisco Foundation Center.

Learn how to prepare for the donor visit, anticipate and meet donor objections. Overcome your own fears, and learn how to ask a potential donor for money. Build your confidence by learning techniques that work. This is one session you'll want to invite your board chair, campaign chair and volunteers to attend with you.

Philip is probably the most value-based Fund Development Consultant I know. With over a decade of experience in the field, he is an active member of the Association for Fundraising Professionals, Northern California Planned Giving Council, National Center for Black Philanthropy and DER, as well as Disabled American Veterans. He has raised funds for United Way, California Peace Action, Central American Resource Center, A Better Chance, NAACP, East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Committee, International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers, and others.

If you've been a good boy or girl this year, don't wait for X-mas to be rewarded. Learn how to ask for gifts all year around. For more information and to register, simply visit the DER website.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Partnering with board members in the end of year push

Successful fundraising requires engaged leadership at both the staff and board level. Are you looking for strategies to create a more effective partnership between these two groups at your nonprofit? If so, join me for a free Development Executives Roundtable Fundraisers Anxiety Buster (FAB!) workshop entitled Partering with Board Members in the End of the Year Push, which I'll be facilitating at the San Francisco Foundation Center on Aug 8, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Together we’ll clarify expectations, address obstacles, identify resources and discuss effective strategies that you can use in creating successful partnerships between staff and boards. Learn what you need to have in place to inspire your these two critical groups, and insure a successful end of the year fundraising campaign. Strengthen your own network with others doing similar work.

FAB is a free, peer support network 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. Peer leaders with expertise in each session's topic will help address issues identified by the group. Light refreshments will be served.

Peer Leaders
Julie M. Ver Steeg, CFRE is Associate Managing Director of Brakeley Briscoe, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s leading specialists in fundraising consulting and nonprofit management. She has over 25 years experience in nonprofit fundraising and management, including significant experience in capital campaigns, development assessment studies, major gift strategies, annual fund development, membership programs and volunteer and staff training.

George Clark is the Chief Development Officer of the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which promotes the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or visually impaired. George is also the current President of the Development Executives Roundtable. Like Julie, he has several decades of experience in the field.

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

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Getting the greatest possible impact from your annual report

An important fundraising tool is the annual report. Does your organization produce one? If so, has it been effective effective in leveraging larger gifts? If you'd like to work with your organization to produce its first annual report, or improve on last year's efforts, please join me this Friday, July 13, noon -1:30 pm, for DER's monthly San Francisco luncheon.

Mission Minded founding partners Jennie Winton and Zach Hochstadt will lead a discussion about creating annual reports that get results. Learn more about how to select and work with consultants, important design basics and critical questions to ask before you begin. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring professional designers and writers, Jennie and Zach will help you determine what’s important in creating an annual report that builds your reputation, drives donations and reports on what’s most important inside your organization.

For more information and to register, simply visit the DER website.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Urban gorilla army lets loose on San Francisco

I thought getting men to march against rape in high heels was quite a sight. But that was nothing compared to today's spectacle of four-hundred people who, dressed as gorillas, ran in the first-annual San Francisco Great Gorilla Run to raise funds for mountain and low land gorillas threatened in the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Give that man a big banana!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fundraising in the 21st Century: Bananas, popsicles and cookies, oh my!

Permission marketing guru Seth Godin is fond of saying that when it comes to succeeding at marketing, we must all learn to "flip the funnel." Traditional advertisers, according to Godin, spend all their efforts creating a big funnel to draw in people, which results in a constant need to spend more money to attract more people. But what if we gave our fans the power to speak up on our behalf? What if we gave our donors the tools needed to solicit new donors? In his recent ebook of the same name Godin reduces it to this simple equation:

  • Turn strangers into friends;
  • Turn friends into donors;
  • And then ... do the most important job:
  • Turn your donors into fundraisers.
Internet evangelists will tell you that this is the revolutionary idea behind Philanthropy 2.0. But don't believe it for a second. There is nothing revolutionary about this. Any experienced fundraiser knows that volunteers have always been, and always will be, the key to any successful fundraising effort. While new technologies may allow us to scale in ways not imaginable in the past, the fundamentals haven't changed.

But if you haven't started leveraging the new technologies available, now maybe the time to consider it, for the earlier adopters have already established successful beachheads. Take for an example my friend Anna's AIDS/LifeCycle 6 web page. She's currently half way through a 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, raising money on behalf of those infected and affected with HIV/AIDS.

On her customized web page you will find her own personal story, along with photos, about why she supports this nonprofit and why you should too. There are multiple links to where you can learn more about this cause, or with a click of a button, make a secure donation online. Her page displays a running total of the amount she has raised so far. You can also leave Anna a public message, or listen to a podcasts she has recorded from the road. (Be sure to listen to episode #1 to understand the title of this post).

AIDS/LifeCycle provided Anna the tools to construct this page, and she did the rest. So far she has raised over $5,800 on her own. Anna, like the record 2,300 volunteers from 10 countries and 43 states who are currently riding down the coast of California, is not a professional fundraiser. But collectively they have raised a record $11 million this year -- surpassing last year's total by nearly $3 million.

For their part, AIDS/LifeCycle simply contracted with one of the many web-based fundraising application service providers, and let their riders do the rest. The May/June issue of Advancing Philanthropy special section on Fundraising Technology listed nearly 100 from which to choose.

So has your nonprofit taken this step yet? Perhaps you are waiting for your group to grow to a certain size or develop a signature event? But while you're waiting, life, and your donors, will pass you by. Think of it like dating. If you pause first to loose that 25 pounds, you'll find yourself languishing a long time for Mr. or Ms. Right. You need to just jump in and start dating. Next year, the two of you can join AIDS/LifeCycle 7 and work off those pounds together.

Similarly, by giving your donors the tools they need today to advocate on your behalf, you'll find your nonprofit becoming healthier and stronger in the years to come.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

The manifesto of abundance

Hung out last night with my friend Maritza and her friends from the Abundance League. Special guests included two gentleman from Oaxaca Mexico, who shared with us how their families have come together to recover the traditional craft of tapestry making using local plant materials and sustainable practices. The resulting rugs and other items are worthy of hanging in museums.

So who is the Abundance League you may ask? Thank you for asking.
"We believe that abundance flows from helping each other. That mutual cooperation, collaboration, and interdependence lead to health, happiness, beauty, freedom, love, peace and truth.

That scarcity is created by anything that keeps us from helping each other. That anything blocking increasing levels of cooperation, collaboration, and interdependence cheats humanity of its full potential. That emotions, beliefs, behaviors, and social divisions that keep us from helping each other lead to poverty.

That the purpose of our lives is to be of service to each other. That it is our responsibility as individuals to understand our unique abilities and passions, design a life of service that uses these to the best advantage of others, and find like-minded collaborators to advance our service projects. That it is not only our responsibility, but a powerful source of purpose, meaning, and joy to do the work we were meant to do.

That it is our responsibility to improve the quality of our lives and others. That we should not expect someone else to do this for us. A better world is our responsibility and counts on our every action. That creating a better world is actually easy, counts on many little actions in our daily lives, and is something we can do now starting with those in our local community.

That we have everything we need to create a better life and better world within and around us. That if we act on our most deeply held dreams for humanity with humility, inclusiveness, determination, faith, generosity, honesty, and good intention, the universe will aid you in your quest. That simple actions added up will not only result in a better life for ourselves, but a positive shift in world affairs. That this is not only our responsibility, but a powerful source of pleasure, satisfaction, and belonging."
What to get on the Peace Train with me?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Avoiding the flaws that doom your grant proposals to the reject pile

Bay Area readers who missed Susan Fox and Cheryl Clark's excellent presentation this past April on the top 10 flaws that doom your grant request to the reject pile now have another chance hear them live. Please join them Friday June 8, noon - 1:30 p.m., at Oakland's Preservation Park for the Development Executives Roundtable monthly luncheon. Learn proven techniques for transforming ugly duckling proposals into beautiful swans.

This event is co-sponsored with the CBO Center. For more information and to register, simply visit the DER website.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Remembering the past, recovering the future, and living for today

"What does giving mean? Who is the giver and who is the receiver? How can giving become a spiritual practices? How do we take care of all beings?" These are the questions that opened up Tuesday's excellent panel presentation Caring for Community And Self: Giving as Spiritual Practice, sponsored by San Francisco's Horizons Foundation.

Inside Wells Fargo's Penthouse suite, far above the San Francisco skyline, those in attendance were treated not only to lunch, but words and wisdom from Zen Buddhist Priest H. Ryumon Gutierrez Bladoquin, Episcopal Minister David Norgard, Jewish Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, and Muslim Community Leader Urusa Fahim. I was happy to learn the workshop was organized by my friend Rajat Dutta, and moderated by my mentor Lisa Hoffman.

The common theme throughout the day's discussion is the fact generosity is seen by many spiritual traditions as how we nurture our community and ourselves. Acts of giving create compassion, connection, and have the power to change people, relationships and cultures. Those who give and those who receive are transformed, whether the gift involves food, service or money. Hearts open and lives expand when the welfare of others is valued. Key teachings include:

  • Buddhism
    Generosity is the heart of the Buddha's teachings. It is more than a kind gesture: it is an embodiment of wisdom. It liberates the mind and heart. Dana is a Pali word meaning "generosity" or "the act of giving." Dana is the first of the ten paramitas, or qualities of character to be cultivated in our lifetime (or lifetimes). The Buddha emphasized dana because it is a gateway to compassion and wisdom.

  • Christianity
    The earliest disciples of Jesus recall him saying that "Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving" and this insight has resonated with his followers ever since then. Believing that all that we have is a gift from God, Christians understand that their own spiritual growth is partly a function of their stewardship of what they have been given -- responding with gratitude and generosity being the ideal.

  • Islam
    Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and is compulsory for every Muslim. It is necessary to give Zakat in order to fulfill the basic obligations of being a Muslim. Zakat is a tax of 2.5% paid on the savings and capital for the year.

  • Judaism
    For many, tzedakah is considered the highest moral obligation of the Jewish people. Tzedakah sets a "just base" for giving since you're given the opportunity to help provide for the poor. Tzedakah can also be understood as a more broad "philanthropic" mission -- to make the world a better place/repair the world/help people in need.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Can you imagine contemporary philanthropy practices based on the above principles? What would it look like? As social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and fundraisers alike call for the "end of charity," urging market-based solutions and measurable outcomes in return for their financial investments, is there any hope that the principles of generosity and compassion that have been at the core of giving for many millennia have any chance of surviving?

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Creating dialogue fearlessly: Media relations overview

Tickets are still available for next Friday's DER luncheon, featuring nonprofit public relations expert David Perry. I'll be at the front door assisting with registration. Would be great to see you there.

David is one of the first people whom I met when I moved to San Francisco nearly 10 years ago, and I'm grateful to call him a friend. He's is a firm believer in the philosophy that there are only two forces in the world -- fear and open communication. He mirrors this concept by fostering dialogue between his clients, the media and the community at large. For his efforts, his firm was named the Exceptional For-Profit Arts Related Business by the Business Arts Council in 2006 for its stellar work with nonprofit arts clients including the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, Asian American Theater Company and others.

David's presentation will provide you a guide to basic public relations, including examples and instruction in the use of standard tools (news release and pitch writing, database management, media relationship building) and how to set up a basic campaign for your organization that will get the attention you need.

Friday, May 11, 2007
12:00-1:30 p.m.
Location: Lighthouse for the Blind
214 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
Cost/Registration: DER members = $12, non-members = $20
Reserving your space by Wednesday at the DER website.
Lunch is included in your fee.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Walk a mile in her shoes

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Side benefits of being a fundraiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mastering Major Gifts: Putting Donors First

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Philanthropy: Taking care of yourself and your community

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

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

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

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

More on the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving

In addition to facilitating the Development Executive Roundtable's quarterly FAB workshops, I'm also the Board Secretary, Governance/Recruitment Chair and Event Registration Coordinator for DER. I'll be wearing the later hat this Friday, February 9th, sitting behind the welcome desk for our monthly luncheon presentation. Would love to see you there! This month's topic is "Planned Giving on 5%-25% of Your Time" with guest expert Greg Lassonde, CFRE.

Please note, this month's event is at a new location for us, the East Bay Community Foundation's James Irvine Foundation Conference Center in Oakland, and is co-sponsored by our new partners the Center for the Community Benefit Organizations. Tickets are only $12/members or $20/non-members. Lunch is included in your fee. For more program information, location directions or advance registration, please visit the DER website today.

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When is the right time to move up, move out or move on?

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please join me this Wednesday, February 7th, from 3 pm - 5 pm at the San Francisco Foundation Center for Fundraisers Anxiety Busters (FAB), a free forum for intermediate and seasoned fundraisers, nonprofit staff and community volunteers with development responsibilities (3 or more years experience), to share fundraising strategies and tactics, meet challenges and solve problems.

Co-sponsored by the Development Executives Roundtable (DER), this month’s discussion topic is "Career Planning and Professional Development." I'll be facilitating this workshop, and am very excited to share with you that our two guest experts are Pamela A. Cook, ACFRE, Development and Search Consultant and winner of the 2003 Hank Rosso Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award; along with Dee Dee Mendoza, Associate Director of Development at University of California Berkeley College of Engineering and Young Nonprofit Professional Network Advisory Board Co-Chair.

There are only a few seats left available, so to reserve your place today please send an email to fab[at]dersf[dot]org. For more information, visit the DER website.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Walkers put heart into fundraising

My Mom's the best! Here's how she spent her last weekend. She's the one who taught me the value of community service, and I am forever grateful for that.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Transform your grant request from no to yes

I'm very grateful to call two of the San Francisco Bay Area's top fund raising professionals, Cheryl Clarke and Susan Fox, my friends. Today I'm happy to tell you their new book, Grant Proposal Makeover, has just been published by Jossey-Bass.

As you may already know, nine out of ten grant proposals are rejected. Grant Proposal Makeover shows how to transform lackluster proposals into excellent ones, ones that have the potential to be funded. This book stands out from other traditional grant writing publication, because it illustrates common flaws and problems in proposals and shows exactly how to fix them.

It also includes helpful tips and quotes from foundation program officers and funding community insiders taken from an international survey of foundation professionals. Stephanie Roth, Editor of Grassroots Fundraising Journal, calls it "one of the best tools for grantseekers I’ve seen in a long time."

Copies of the book are now available at all major online vendors, or if you are located in the Bay Area, come meet the Cheryl and Susan at one of the following book signings:

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Please join me for DER's annual holiday party

If you're located in the San Francisco Bay Area, please join me for the Development Executives Roundtable (DER) annual Holiday Party, Tuesday, December 12th, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Foundation Center. Advance tickets are only $15 and are available online. Tickets sold out last year, so be sure to reserve your space today.

Founded in the 1960's by Henry "Hank" Rosso, DER is dedicated to growing and enhancing the community of development professionals by providing low cost, accessible learning and networking opportunities directed towards fundraisers at every stage of their careers. I'm very grateful to be DER's current Board Secretary.

We're of course located in Northern California, so there'll be good food and wine in abundance, plus the return of the world-famous "Show Me the Money Players." I'll be performing again with those renowned thespians, the "Development Ducks." Not to be missed.

This event is cosponsored by the Foundation Center in cooperation with the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Golden Gate Chapter. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Multicultural Alliance, an AFP-GGC program that works towards diversity in the fundraising profession.

A big thanks to all our many generous sponsors who make this party possible, including presenting sponsor VanLobenSels/RembeRock Foundation.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Help the Foundation Center celebrate its 50th birthday

Wow, 50 years of service to the community, that's quite an accomplishment! In celebration the San Francisco branch of the Foundation Center is offering a series of educational programs on how philanthropy and fundraising have evolved and what changes are happening in the field today. This month's Development Executives Roundtable (DER) noon luncheon on November 10th, will be co-hosted by the Foundation Center and the San Francisco Business Times, as part of this series. The discussion topic will be "Trends in Bay Area Bank Philanthropy." Here's a little language from the PR blurb.
"In 2005, the San Francisco Business Times reported that the greater San Francisco Bay Area's top corporate philanthropists increased their giving to about $107 million in cash contributions. In its annual ranking of the Top Corporate Philanthropists in the Greater Bay Area, four of the top ten corporate philanthropists are banks. This panel, made up of local banks who were recognized at the San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Summit in July, includes three from the Business Times top ten list as well as the bank that placed 11th. Representatives from Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Union Bank of California will address current trends in how Bay Area financial service firms are selecting the organizations they support."
As always, I'll be at the door handling registration, so I hope to see you there. Please note that this is a special FREE event and is bound to sell out. So to reserve your space, please visit the Foundation Center website today.

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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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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Starting a planned giving program: You don't have to be a tax genius

Planned giving is fundraising. This fundamental truth has at times gotten lost when planned giving is seen primarily as an exercise in presenting the irresistible tax and income benefits of gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts to your donors. A tax-centered approach, besides being inapplicable to most of your planned giving prospects, can make successful fundraising professionals feel intimidated and inadequate when asked to start a planned giving program.

That's a shame, because though technical knowledge is important, the skills you already have as a fundraiser rather than technical expertise are key to planned giving success. Please join me October 13 for San Francisco's Development Executive Roundtable (DER) monthly luncheon to put the fundraising back in planned giving, to demystify its technical dimensions, and to help you approach the task with confidence and success.

Friday, October 13, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Lighthouse for the Blind
214 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
Presented by Planned Giving Coach Philip J. Murphy
Cost for Luncheon: DER members= $12, non-members = $20
(A calendar year membership is $40)

To RSVP please email "derrsvp AT" by Wednesday, October 11th. Lunch is included in your fee. Programs often sell-out, so it's "first come, first served!" Your reservation holds your spot. Please be prepared to pay at the door. Checks or cash only. No credit cards.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Project Inform's Evening of Hope

Please join Honorary Chair Dame Elizabeth Taylor in supporting Project Inform's Evening of Hope fundraising gala. Project Inform has been at the frontlines in the fight against HIV/AIDS since 1985--when reliable information about the disease and its treatment was nearly impossible to obtain. Today, it is one of the leading national, nonprofit, community-based organization working to end the AIDS epidemic.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Fort Mason Officers Club, Bldg 1, Upper Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA

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Friday, September 08, 2006

National AIDS Memorial Grove’s 15th anniversary Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

One thing I love about San Francisco is that you don't have to wait for Halloween to walk around the streets in a costume. Easter? Grab your bunny suit and head the Sister's of Perpetual Indulgence annual soiree in Dolores Park. Christmas? Make sure you don't miss the Bad Santa Pub Crawl in the finance district. Now, there's yet another reason to pull out your finest frock: the National AIDS Memorial Grove's 15th anniversary Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

It's a tribute to all who have helped create and maintain the National AIDS Memorial Grove. Taking place on Saturday, September 9 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. in the Golden Gate Park Grove, it will honor the volunteers who have given their time and money to support the Grove, while raising funds for the Grove's operations and endowment.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Measuring success: How to utilize evaluation information for fundraising purposes

Most folks I know don't really enjoy conducting evaluations. It's like reconciling your personal checkbook: good to do, but often ignored on a regular basis until it is too late to make much of a difference.

Program evaluations are of course required by many funders. But truth be told, we should all be conducting regular assessments and reviews of all our programs and activities, whether required by a funder or not. It really is the only way to make sure that our efforts are on track, reaching and surpassing our goals. (You do have written goals, right?)

To learn how to make your evaluations more useful and enjoyable, please join me Friday, September 8th for the San Francisco Bay Area's Development Executive Roundtable (DER) luncheon from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m., at the Lighthouse for the Blind, 214 Van Ness Avenue.

Our guest speaker is Steven LaFrance, founder of LaFrance Associates, one of the Bay Area's leading evaluation, research and technical assistance consulting firms.

Reserve your seat by emailing derrsvp at by September 6.

Cost for all DER luncheons is DER members $12, and for non-members $20. (Calendar year memberships are only $40.) Lunch is included in your fee. You can pay at the door, checks or cash only please.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

End of year fundraising strategies that work

Guess what? I'm guest host for next month's San Francisco FAB gathering!

FAB -- for those of you not in the know -- stands for "Fundraisers Anxiety Busters." It's a free, quarterly forum for intermediate and seasoned fundraisers, and nonprofit staff and volunteers with development responsibilities, to share fundraising strategies and tactics, meet challenges and solve problems. Guests with expertise in each session's topic help address issues identified by the group. We're sponsored by the Bay Area's Development Executive Roundtable and hosted by local branch of the Foundation Center.

September theme is "End of the Year Fundraising Strategies that Work."

So with the end of the calendar year is right around the corner, and do you know where all your donors are? Do you dread the stress of yet another fall giving season? Is the Board expecting you to pull another rabbit out of the hat? Join us for to share with each other stress-reducing and effective end-of-the-year fundraising strategies that you can implement at your nonprofit before the IRS declares the year over one more time.

Guest experts will include Dr. Anthony T. Adessa ("Tony"). Tony has 30 years nonprofit experience, with a composite background in higher education, health, arts, social services, and youth. Presently the Director of Corporate and Foundation Giving at Alliant International University, he has also been a Development Director, Events Manager, and Department Chair. His areas of expertise include major gifts, grant writing, planned giving, annual fund, events, and endowment planning/design.

Also joining us will be Leslie Ewing, who brings 20 years of successful event planning and execution, grant writing, major donor solicitation/retention, and nonprofit and corporate collaboration experience. Currently, she is the Associate Executive Director of Marketing and Development at the Lyon-Martin Women's Health Services. Her fundraising background includes work with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, The 1993 March on Washington for LGBT Rights, The AIDS Emergency Fund of San Francisco, The James Hormel Center of the San Francisco Public Library, The Women's Cancer Resource Center and Under One Roof. She is also a founder of the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund.

Event Details:
Wednesday, September 20, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Foundation Center, 312 Sutter St., 6th floor, San Francisco
To register e-mail your RSVP to
Seating limited to 25, so register soon.
Email is for registration only. For information, please call 415-759-0476.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Transgender Law Center presents "A Movement in Motion", 9/5, 6:30 - 8:00 pm

I'm a bit of a cheerleader for this agency. A former client and long-time donor, they're also one of my current clients. Hosted by Crash Nightclub -- San Francisco's newest hipster ultralounge located at 34 Mason at Market -- "A Movement in Motion" is TLC's annual fundraising gala.

Would love if you could join us to celebrate our past accomplishments and get energize for the work yet to be done. All genders welcome, and that means you!

For more information and to purchase tickets.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Forget the Tour de France: It's the Tour de Castro Tricycle Race

Sometimes I find living in San Francisco very challenging, then along comes one of those "toto moments," when I'm so glad I live here. This certainly is one.

Planned for Saturday, October 21, the Tour de Castro is a race, bar crawl, costume extravaganza, raffle and fundraiser benefiting AIDS Lifecycle bike riders in need of donations to reach the minimum on registration day.

Teams of 2-5 tricycle riders will race to several Castro neighborhood bar "pit stops", earning a minimum of $5 from each of their sponsors for each pit stop.

The Grand Prize will be awarded to the team raising the most money; prizes will also be awarded for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place finishers. Other prize categories include Best Gluts, Best Wig, Best Costume, Most Outrageous and Best Decorated "Trike".

Your entrance fee includes one tricycle and drink tickets for each pit stop. What more could you want, really?

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Telling the world who you are, the importance of marketing and media

Marketing is simply communicating effectively with folks who can help your organization accomplish its goals. Media can be a powerful way to reach these people. How can nonprofits develop their brand? How can they use the media to advance their mission and let the world know who they are? What does an effective communication strategy look like?

Join Zach Hochstadt, founding partner of Mission Minded, and Rosi Reyes, project media trainer and strategist at SPIN Project, as they talk about the connections between marketing, media and fundraising. This workshop is part of the Development Executive's Roundtable (DER) monthly luncheon presentation, held this month on August 11, 12:00 p.m. -1:30 p.m. at San Francisco's Foundation Center, 312 Sutter Street.

Reserve your seat today simply email by August 9th.

Cost for all DER luncheons is DER members $12, and for non-members $20. (Calendar year memberships are only $40.) Lunch is included in your fee. Please pay at the door, checks or cash only.

Note: The Foundation Center is committed to providing development education opportunities free of charge, and DER honors this commitment in our partnership with the Center by offering programs at this site free of charge, if you bring your own lunch. So please indicate if you will bring your lunch when you RSVP for this program.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Fundraising Journal’s 25th Anniversary Party, August 4

Tickets for the much anticipated Raising Change: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference in Berkeley next month have been long sold out, but you can still get into evening gala honoring Kim Klein and the 25th anniversary of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal on Friday, August 4th at 6:00pm. Just $50 for nonconference attendees. Hope to see you there!

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Visual Aid's Bastille Day Fundraiser

More Info

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bar-B-Que By the Babes: Fundraiser for Lyon-Martin's Women's Health Center

Hey gang, get your tickets now for a special event benefiting the fabulous women of Lyon-Martin Women's Health Services, cause everyone knows that as well as providing the most caring health clinic, that they throw the best parties too!

On Monday, August 14, 7-10 pm, "Brothers for Sisters" presents a sumptuous evening at MECCA SF benefiting Lyon-Martin, with veteran restaurateur Steven Weber and his new 3-star chef, Executive Chef Randy Lewis. MECCA SF is located at 2029 Market Street, San Francisco.

Of course, there'll be a bounty of grilled delights, wine selections, an open bar and fabulous entertainment. Guests of honor include Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and many others who help build our community together.

Tickets are $150 per person. Please call Teri McGinnis at (415) 901-7106 or email her at to RSVP today.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

What's new with direct response fundraising?

Friday, July 14th at noon, I’ll be moderating San Francisco’s monthly Development Executive Roundtable (DER) luncheon presentation. This month we’ll be discussing direct response fundraising with Judy Frankel, Director of Direct Marketing at Project Open Hand, and Nicci Noble, Internet Development Director at the Salvation Army Golden State Division.

Properly executed, direct response fundraising can provide your nonprofit with loyal supporters, rapid growth, cost-efficient means of communicating your organization’s programs, and a consistent source of revenue. Equally important, your program can systematically identify major gift and bequest prospects.

Tickets are $12/members or $20/non-members, and includes lunch. We’ll be meeting at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 214 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. To RSVP, please send an email to

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