Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

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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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

30 tips for effective nonprofit board leadership

When you are fundraiser like me, you routinely are asked to join nonprofit boards. In the last 4 weeks alone, I've been asked to join the leadership of 4 different organizations! I couldn't tell you how many times I've been asked the same question in the last 12 months, as I've lost track.

While some people have the capacity to serve on multiple boards, I simply don't. Particularly because I'm the new board president of the Development Executives Roundtable, a trade association for nearly 200 Bay Area fundraisers, representing organizations with combined budgets of approximately $1 billion. DER is an all-volunteer group, so we're a "working" board in the fullest sense of the term.

I recently posted a question on LinkedIn asking for advice as a first-term board president. Given how essential this role is to successful fundraising, I thought I'd share with you just some of the invaluable tips I received:

  • Avoid micromanagement, while making sure you understand the big picture.
  • Be passionate about your organization, making sure everyone you meet hears about your nonprofit frequently.
  • Communicate clearly and frequently to the membership and the outside world.
  • Develop a plan. If you don’t already perform strategic planning, start now. Establish a list of realistic and attainable goals, and make them happen.
  • Develop individual board member agreements that specify what each member will contribute and what they can expect in terms of support and opportunities.
  • Ensure all board members play a role in agency fundraising.
  • Find 15 minutes on the agenda of each board meeting to either reflect upon a big picture trend or to learn about an issue that affects the work of the nonprofit.
  • Find opportunities to expand the participation of regular members in big and small ways so they have a stake in the organization success.
  • Have a strong treasurer who keeps true financial oversight.
  • Hold monthly check-in calls with agency leadership to act as sounding board and provide coaching. Call all board members once per quarter and thank them for specific things they have done, checking in on their sense of engagement.
  • If you ever decide to hire paid staff, make sure to establish a true partnership with the executive director, rather than a vertical relationship, and keep expectations realistic.
  • In advance of board meetings, call key board members to check the pulse. Often important or sensitive matters will emerge in private that may not be suitable to be addressed in a larger context.
  • Insure that all members of your board share a common vision for the organization.
  • Keep organized records so when your term is done you can hand off information to your successor. Make sure that officers and committee chairs are doing the same.
  • Develop patience. Learn how to smile when you really want to cry.
  • Less is more. Doing the right 1-2 member-driven items is far more valuable than a laundry list of initiatives.
  • Make sure there is a shared understanding of the importance of board development, and what support directors need to be successful.
  • Make sure there is an engaging and challenging conversation on the agenda for every board meeting and that it is well framed.
  • Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you were elected to do and what you are bringing to the table.
  • Review the year and look at what worked and what could use improvement
  • Run effective meetings. Have an agenda, with times, and follow it.
  • Strengthen collaborations with other organizations in your sector.
  • Succession planning is critical. Have board officers and committee chairs take the lead in scouting for successors.
  • Use the board executive committee to preview of the full board meeting agenda and really road test it to work out kinks.
  • Weed out the people who have nothing better to do than to contribute through negativity or simply want something to put on their resume.
  • When chairing a meeting, find ways to draw in people who don’t always get a chance to speak or who are newer to the board.
  • When people’s terms on the board expire, find ways to hold on to them in some capacity if they contributed a lot: perhaps by forming an advisory group?
  • You need a process person and a cheerleader on the board. Decide which you are and then find a partner to play the other role for the organization.
  • Your primary market is your membership. Just as in any other business, you must assess the needs of your market.
  • Recommended books: The Best of Board Cafe, Great Boards for Small Groups, Heroic Leadership, Nonprofit Board Answer Book, Basic Principles of Policy Governance, Boards that Make a Difference, Good to Great and The Social Sector, The Source, and Leaders Who Make a Difference.
Big love to all those who contributed their words of wisdom, including: Aaron Hurst, Beth Yoke, Birgit Van Hout, Brian Weiner, Chris Sinton, Doug Barg, Gayle Uchida, Glen Peterson, Greg Lassonde, John Darrouzet, John Kenyon, Jovida Ross, Juanita Carroll Young, Kliff Kueh, Kliff Kuehl, Lela Davia, Marion Conway, Mike McClure, Morrie Warshawski, Neal Gorenflo, Peggy Hoffman, Sara Farina, Stephen Peelor, Steve Novak, Pam Cook and Sushma Raman.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Everything you know about fundraising is wrong

If you think fundraising is merely raising about money, you really are missing the point. The inspired fundraiser understands her job is to foster greater generosity and gratitude in the world. Development is simply the building of valued-based relationships between prospective donors and organizations. Fundraising is a vehicle for donors to act on these values, bringing joy to themselves and others.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Truth is there is no lack of money for good causes. According to Giving USA, last year $295 billion was given away to nonprofits in the U.S. Over 83%, or $245 billion, came from individuals. All research indicates that individual can provide nonprofits with stable and flexible sources of funding, even in times of recession. The single largest barrier to raising money is your own lack of belief in yourself, donors and your good cause. The first step is healing your own negative relationship to money, power and privilege. If you are having trouble raising money from others, let me suggest you start by increasing your own donation.

It is also a mistake to think you must know rich people to succeed as a fundraiser. You already know everyone you need to get started. The fact is that low- and middle-income folks give at a higher percentage of their incomes than those of upper incomes. Successful fundraisers welcome donors of all levels. Statistically speaking the regular, small annual fund donor is the best planned giving prospect.

Too many of us have forgotten that the ancient practice of giving and receiving of gifts has the power to transform the lives of individuals, institutions and communities, and even connect us to what is divine in the world. Fundraisers can:

  • Help those in need to break free of the cycle of poverty, violence and oppression they might face, reminding them there are those who still care.
  • Help donors express personal values, developing a sense of abundance and generosity by learning they have enough to share.
  • Reduce isolation in communities by connecting people who share common values, providing them opportunities to organize for social change.
  • Create sustainable financial support for organizations that have strong community need, yet often little or no perceived for-profit market value.
  • Through opening hearts to the cycle of giving and receiving, connect people to something larger than themselves, which is the core of every spiritual tradition.
Think about the last time you wrote a donation check or spent time volunteering at a nonprofit? How does it make you feel months or even years later to remember? Isn’t this one of the best feelings? Don’t you want everyone else to feel as you do right now? You can. All you need do is ask them for a gift.

You see, asking for help is one of the best ways you can tell someone they are important to you. If you decide to not ask, perhaps you think they are not rich enough or do not care enough about the issue. You may think you are protecting them. In fact, you’ve taken away one of their most valuable rights: their right to choose. The truth is, people only rise to the level of expectations we place them. To succeed as a fundraiser you don’t need to change donors, only your belief in them.

The inspired fundraiser provides donors an opportunity to put their values into action, to become the hero of their own life story, and to make their dreams for a better world come true.

So let me ask you. When you ask someone for a donation, whose gift is bigger: their’s or yours?

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Monday, January 21, 2008

What is the average fundraising cost per dollar raised?

In the last few days, a couple different consultant friends have both told me about clients quickly growing frustrated that their fundraising efforts are not “turning a profit” within the first few months. I blogged recently that in order to successful raising money, nonprofit leadership needs to make a long-term commitment to the process. However, the question remains, “How long must one wait?”

My friend and talented nonprofit technology consultant Robert Weiner recently turned me on to a few fundraising benchmarks. Included are statistics pulled from James Greenfield’s book, Fund-Raising: Evaluating and Managing the Fund Development Process. Greenfield states the U.S. national average cost to raise a dollar is 20 cents, which he breaks down into the following:
  1. Capital Campaign/Major Gifts: $0.05 to $0.10 per dollar raised.
  2. Corporations and Foundations (Grant Writing): $0.20 per dollar raised.
  3. Direct Mail Renewal: $0.20 per dollar raised.
  4. Planned Giving: $0.25 per dollar raised (and a lot of patience!)
  5. Benefit/Special Events: $0.50 of gross proceeds.
  6. Direct Mail Acquisition: $1.00 to $1.25 per dollar raised.
  7. National Average: $ 0.20
One of the challenges with such benchmarks are they do not take into account different nonprofit markets and missions. It is a lot easier to raise money for puppy dogs, than say for some rare and unknown disease. As a rule, social welfare nonprofits receive smaller average donations than organizations in other areas, such as education or the arts, and thus must solicit larger numbers to acquire adequate funds. Nor is it fair either to compare a small, community nonprofit with a large, established university. Most importantly, uniform benchmarks do not take into account start-up acquisition costs and the typical donor's giving life-cycle.

In the past, a general rule of thumb I have used is from the Maryland Association for Nonprofits. Their recommended Standards for Excellence are that organizations work for a 3-to-1 fundraising efficiency ratio over a five-year period. The important factor here is that fundraising efficiency is measured over a period of years, in which market factors and acquisition costs are accurately weighed against total revenues received.

However, I think perhaps Mal Warwick states it most clearly when he writes:
"The 'overall fundraising Cost to Raise a Dollar' is a myth. There is NO such standard, and anyone who tells you there is one should survey the real world of fundraising in all its diversity. One organization might be embarrassed to spend more than a dime to raise a dollar, while another might be fortunate to squeak by with 40 or 50 cents on a dollar -- and both might be ethically run, well-managed organizations."
Therefore, as with most things the answer to the question is, “it depends.” It depends on the organizational fundraising goals and what financial risk the agency leadership is willing to take to reach them. Most importantly, it depends on how effectively the organization uses monies raised to fulfill its mission. That should always be our primary benchmark.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

The 5 keys to individual fundraising success

For-profit organizations know that developing a new market requires financial risk and takes several years to return a profit. The same can be said for nonprofit individual fundraising. It takes several years of up front investment to develop a strong pool of individual donors, let alone find a return on the initial capital outlay. Success therefore requires leadership committed to a multi-year, 5-part fundraising cycle of planning, prospecting, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.

Planning
Internationally know fundraising trainer and consultant Kim Klein, once wrote, "The key to fundraising success is planning, planning, planning and then working your plan." A good fundraising plan is donor-centric. It requires a willingness on the entire agency, from top to bottom, to engage with donors in the most transparent, accountable and professional basis possible. This often requires an internal cultural shift and building the capacity of the organization.

Prospecting
"You already know everyone you need to know to raise money," is one of the truisms of fundraising. Many people think you need to know rich people to be a successful fundraiser. Of course this doesn’t hurt, however wealth is the least reliable indicator of giving. Strength of relationships and the interest in the cause are more reliable factors. Successful fundraising builds on the relationships already in place between an agency, board, staff and community to identify new prospective donors.

Cultivation
Prospective donors should be cultivated as agency "friends." If we ask ourselves how we would like to be treated by our own friends, than we have answered the question as to how to treat prospective donors. We should thank them for their interest, maintain regular communication, actively listen to them, spend time with them, be accessible, share information and ask for their advice. New friends whom we want to get to know the best, our major donor prospects, should receive even more regular and personalized interaction from agency leadership.

Solicitation
Many people fear asking others for money or help. Exploring our own personal relationship to money and recognizing that fundraising provides an opportunity for donors to act on their values can often shift this barrier. However, not everyone involved has to ask for money. Fundraising is a team sport. There are always more line roles available than those in the backfield. Yet, without a strong quarterback, there is no point in taking to the field.

Stewardship
The importance of donor stewardship cannot be over-emphasized. Gifts received by nonprofits are not given to us, but through us in service of the greater community. Donor stewardship includes gift acknowledgement, managing funds effectively, maintaining good donor communication and deepening donor relations. This is good manners as well as good business practice. All gifts should be appreciated. However, the larger the gift, the more personalized the donor attention should be. As a matter of efficiency, cultivation and stewardship activities are often combined.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

What to look for when prospecting for donors

I was recently asked by someone if, “complete strangers are more generous than close friends?" She asked because she is continually surprised by who donates and who does not.

My short and simple answer was “no.”

My longer answer was that when prospecting for potential donors one traditionally looks for three factors: linkage, interest and ability. The stronger each of these qualities, the more likely your prospect is to make a gift.

Linkage means the closeness of the relationship between you and the potential donor. It is the most critical factor in determining whether someone will be inclined to a good cause. In surveys, the number one reason people give for donating is that someone they knew asked. The fact is, people are more like to give to an individual representing a good cause, rather than a good cause all on its own.

Interest means just that, is the prospect interested in your good cause? How do they spend their time and money, what is their family history, and most importantly, what are their values? At its core, fundraising is simply offering donors an opportunity to act on their values. When you ask somebody to make a donation, you are helping him or her become the hero of their life story by making a difference in the world.

Last -- and of surprisingly least importance -- is ability or how rich someone is. The wealthy may have more money to give away, but statistical speaking lower- and middle-income people give a higher percentage of their wealth than those with higher-incomes.

One other important factor is how routinely has the prospect ever given in the past to other causes? Some people are givers; others are not. Usually this has to do with their own relationship to money, something constructed within all of us at a very early age. It is easier to secure gifts from those who learned “to whom much is given, much is expected.” On the other hand, if they learned, “money is the root of all evil” or “we need to save money for a rainy day,” my friend may have some barriers to overcome. The successful fundraiser is one who actively listens to prospective donors, and through reporting, assessing and reframing helps them build a more healthy and generous relationship to money.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Where do you find your next fundraising superstar?

These days, there are few things more difficult than hiring a new fundraiser. There simply are not enough people to fill the ever growing number of development jobs. Recruiting more individuals into this field should be of critical importance for all of us.

The first step of creating a powerful job description is not only a helpful recruitment tool, but essential long-term planning guide and evaluation benchmark. Please take a some time to reflect on your goals and expectations for this position. Are you looking for a staff person, consultant or a volunteer? Full-time, part-time or temporary? What is the life stage of your organization? What gift markets do you want to develop? What is your hiring, as well as long-term support budget?

If you are having a hard time answering these and other questions, call up a similar nonprofit and ask to conduct an information interview with the head of their development efforts. I’ve found that fundraisers are, by and large, very generous with their expertise.

Ultimately, successful fundraising is a team effort, whether you are an all volunteer group or a large institution. The traditional model is a small, well-trained professional staff supporting a large group of volunteers, with occasional outside consulting assistance. The answers you get to the above questions, as well as which team member you are recruiting, will of course shape your recruitment strategy. However, you can’t go wrong with 1) looking to promote from within, 2) leveraging your personal and institutional network, 3) accessing professional trade associations or special interest groups, and 4) paid advertising.

Perhaps you have an intern who is ready to step into an associate position, or a manager who might be ready to take on a new director role with a little bit of coaching? Other options include forwarding your job announcement to contacts in your address book or asking your Board to do the same, attending a meeting of the your local fundraising association, or even advertising. If this is a high level position, you would be well served by putting together a staff/board search committee or even hiring outside professional experts.

With so many people making mid-career moves into the field, you may want to also try reaching out to local for-profit MarComm and Publicity groups for people with similar skills. There are a growing number of MBA graduates entering the nonprofit field. More colleges and universities have nonprofit management programs that you can approach. Many cities have nonprofit management support organizations or volunteer centers that act as information hubs.

Finally, don’t forget to ask your current funders. Experienced donors often already know the best fundraisers in your community.

These days -- and into the foreseeable future -- it is a job seeker’s market when it comes to fundraising. It is not uncommon for it to take six months or longer to fill an open position. Interim staff or consultants are temporarily filling many jobs. Because of these factors, do understand the salary scale for development jobs is higher than in any other nonprofit department. In fact, some Development Directors earn more than their Executive Directors.

One last piece of advice. When looking for your new superstar don’t just sell the position, sell your mission. That’s what’s going to attract someone to your organization with passion for the work, who can successfully raise funds for your good cause.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

56 more fundraising tips just for you


Following up on Friday's post, here are a few more blasts from the past for your perusal. Hope you enjoy.
6 steps for a revolution in nonprofit fundraising

10 top flaws that doom your grant request to the reject pile

10 reflections on giving and receiving

11 essential program evaluation resources

16 easy steps to implement a planned giving program

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Friday, September 28, 2007

37 fundraising tips for the price of 1

One of my favorite philanthropy bloggers is Rosetta Thurman of Perspectives From the Pipeline. This young woman is going places! Her post today, The Friday Four, inspired me to share with you a similar blast from the past. Below are four links from this humble little blog's first month, July 2006.
5 things to know about direct response fundraising

8 things to know about women donors

10 common mistakes in selecting donor databases

14 free (or almost free) major donor research tools
P.S. Ever wondered what I looked like? No, I didn't figure you did, but one of these links contains my photo. So click away!

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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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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Then there are times when fundraise is all that bad, and then some

As I mentioned earlier this week, when "done well," fundraising has the power to inspire transformative change. But when done badly, well, things like this happen:
"Federal prosecutors in New York today unveiled criminal charges against Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu for allegedly operating a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims across the country out of more than $60 million... Hsu is accused of pressuring investors to contribute ten of thousands of dollars to various candidates in presidential and congressional races in an effort to raise his public profile and thus encourage more victims to invest in his scheme."
Though specifically a political scandal, don't think for a moment that the backlash of this, and other fundraising scandals, isn't going to impact the nonprofit sector. Increased regulation is part of our future. Have I told you that here in California I'm already legally prohibited from soliciting on behalf of my clients? I'm restricted to only training others how to make the ask themselves. This came about not because it is the right thing to do (it is), but because of unethical fundraisers, who in the past have not passed any of their collected donations along to the good cause that hired them.

Ethical fundraising must be at the core of our daily practice. Because if we don't function ethically the entire sector is in danger of collapse -- just like Hsu's ponzi scheme -- for ours is a sector built on the building blocks of trust and good will.

This is just one more reason professional training is so critical. For one of the best blog post related to this topic, please check out Lilya Wagner's article today on onPhilanthropy. Includes over 50 links to fundraising career articles and resources. What a gift, thank you Lilya!

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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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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

8 predictions on the future of fundraising


You expect when a host throws a party that she'd at least have the decency to show up. So with no further ado, here's my submission for this month's Giving Carnival on the theme of "Predicting the Future of Fundraising."
  1. Increased Regulation
    Donor demands for accountability, transparency and professionalism, will lead to greater industry self-regulation and government oversight. The tax code will be expanded to include several new types of tax benefit corporations with different levels of “public support test.” The requirements to start-up a traditional nonprofit will be increased, while some formerly for-profit businesses will be provided new, partial tax credits. The trend toward requiring fundraisers to be licensed, regulated and insured will become ubiquitous.

  2. Donor Networks
    Issue-based, collaborative donor funding networks will become the norm. Larger funders view them as a way to reduce risk and exposure, while smaller donors view them as a way to leverage funding and access to evaluation tools. Traditional community foundations will be one of the casualties as donors shift their assets. These “giving circles on steroids” will increasingly function as their own operating foundation. While empowering individual donors, these internally transparent networks will become increasingly impenetrable to outside fundraisers.

  3. Diversified Markets
    New revenue streams will be developed from non-traditional markets, including capital markets to fund mission-based investments. For-profit financial service organizations will lead this development. Many formally successful fundraisers will become personal philanthropic investment advisors. Planned giving vehicles become more commonplace for mid- and lower-level donors. While corporate foundations are a thing of the past, business marketing departments have been expanded to include “community ambassadors,” who raise cause-related donations directly for business sponsored events.

  4. New Leadership
    The much heralded leadership crisis will result in new opportunities for youth, people of color and those from outside the sector to play an increasingly important role. The strong CEO and small board will become the idealized nonprofit leaderships model. While this team will hold agencies to higher outcomes, most have no formal fundraising training and will outsource this function. In less than ten years there will be more fundraisers working as independent contractors than in permanent staff positions. Association of Fundraising Professional membership benefits will now include health care and retirement options.

  5. Changing Technology
    While social networks are attracting a lot of public attention today, the most significant strides in fundraising technology over the next decade will be made in data mining and donor tracking. Online fundraising is no longer just for acquisitions and annual fund campaigns; Major donor prospecting, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship have become the norm. A new job title, Director of IT Fund Development, is now commonplace.

  6. Celebrity Fundraisers
    Money is like water; it flows to the place of least resistance and pools with other assets. Deregulation has resulted an even greater gap between the rich and the poor, with money pooled in different parts of the globe. To move in this international world, fundraisers will increasingly have to rely on or develop their own celebrity status to gain access. Bono and Lynne Twist are just two different examples of this growing trend.

  7. Community Volunteers
    While some things change, others will not. Ten years from now a successful fundraising campaign is still built on turning strangers into friends, friends into donors, and donors into advocates. While managed by professionals, critical fundraising activities are still carried out by volunteers. The Professional fundraiser, who cultivates an active pool of volunteers, will be the one who succeeds in meeting her budget targets.

  8. Professional Training
    The ever-rapid 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. Philanthropic training programs will become commonplace within universities, colleges and K-12 schools. Entrepreneurial organizations and individuals, sensing a business opportunity, will start their own fundraising training institutions.
EXTENDED DEADLINE: Haven't yet gotten in your submission to this month's Giving Carnival? Have no fear. The deadline has been extended to midnight Thursday, pacific standard time. Get your submission in by than and I'll be sure to include it in Friday's full Carnival post.

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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 22, 2007

Getting to know LinkedIn

Turned down an interview last week to lead up a $45 million capital campaign for one of San Francisco’s leading nonprofits. The inquiry came because of my profile on LinkedIn, the Internet's leading professional business networking website. Figuring that 12 million users couldn’t be wrong, I had only created my free account on the service less than a month ago.

Though LinkedIn has a reputation for being dominated by the tech industry, I think perhaps those of us working in nonprofit fundraising can also benefit from its use. One of the core principles of successful fundraising is “you already know everybody you need to know to raise money.” Amongst my colleagues the common joke is you know your campaign is headed for trouble when your Board President suggests soliciting Bill Gates, but hasn’t yet asked any of her friends for support.

But the truth is, if you are a skilled networker, you can actually reach Bill Gates -- or anybody else you want to -- because network theory states that we are all only six degrees of separation from anyone on the planet. The trick is to start from where you are and with whom you know and, and then work you’re way out. Used wisely, LinkedIn can be a practical tool for building these connections. For example, in less than one month, I now have 202 first degree connections, over 4,000 second degree connections, and over 250,000 third degree connections on LinkedIn.

To use LinkedIn to build your own business network, here are a couple of recommended first steps:
  1. Be proactive: Sign up for a free account
    Paid accounts allow subscribers to ask for introductions and send emails to users more widely throughout the LinkedIn community. Yet with a free subscription you have access to the vast majority of the sites networking tools, and is what I recommend. You can always upgrade at a later date.

  2. Invest in learning: Take the tour
    LinkedIn has a lot of depth and features, which can be intimidating at first. Review the site FAQs. A quick Google search for LinkedIn tips can be helpful too; one of my favorites is this short video.

  3. Promote yourself: Keep an up to date profile
    I can’t stress this enough. The more detail you provide the greater number of ways you can be discovered, linked to and receive recommendations. Include not only current and past employment, but also your volunteer and education history. Be sure to include company or personal website or blog URL. Update the provided public profile URL to include your full name to increase search results. Stress your accomplishments and skills in the summary description. Expand your interest area to include searchable key words. Don’t forget to add a formal or informal group affiliations, honors and awards. Think of your LinkedIn page as your online, dynamic resume. My listing now comes up as the third result under a Google search of my name.

  4. Build your network: Invite your friends to join LinkedIn
    The site offers several easy tools for importing your current address book into their system. Basic networking theory would suggest you invite everyone you’ve ever come in contact with, but in a world of increasing email spam, a little grace goes a long way. So my advice would be to certainly extend an invitation to all current users of the system whom you know. Then segment the rest of your address book, sending invitations to join to those to whom you are close or who have demonstrated an interested in business networking. After you’ve built up your personal network and have something more to offer, then send out personalized invitations to others describing the benefits of joining the service.

  5. Spread the love: Give it all away
    Every successful networker knows that if you want to succeed in life, the best way to go about that is by helping others succeed first. Like fundraising, it should be a practice of giving without keeping score. On LinkedIn one of the easiest ways to get started is to recommend your connections. No one wants to receive insincere flattery, but being the recipient of honest, specific praise makes life worth living. For more such tips, read Tim Sanders' Love is the Killer App.

  6. Keep connected: Tell me what you think
    If you’ve been on LinkedIn for a while, I’d love to get your feedback in the comments below; and if you’re a reader of this blog, I’d love to keep connected to you. You can send me an invitation through LinkedIn at gayle[at]gayleroberts[dot]com.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fundraisers like you

I've mentioned before I'm a big Kay Sprinkel Grace fan. She's the high priestess of value-based fundraising, and we should all be her acolytes. If you don't have a dog-eared copy of Beyond Fundraising within arms reach of your desk, I just don't know how you can call yourself a fundraiser.

Now for the last few years Kay's been helping the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's revise its entire funding strategy. For as our dear federal government continues to reduce funding for open discourse, public television is increasingly turning to "viewers like you" for support. Traditional telethons soliciting millions of individuals for small donations can no longer fill this gap. So like other agencies that have traditionally relied on large membership bases -- the YMCA comes to mind -- CPB is shifting its focus to major donors and planned giving.

Fortunately for you and me, they've published all of their campaign tools on two public websites, Major Giving Now and Planned Giving Now. I doubt there are two more comprehensive, comparable resources available online. From planning, prospecting, cultivating, soliciting and stewardship, its all here with detailed case studies and worksheets for you to use, whether you are fundraising for public television, a community college or an animal shelter. If you are familiar with Kay's work, it doesn't take long to see her hand at work in all of these materials.

If you like what you find, why not consider making a donation to your local public television station today?

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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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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sharing good people and good ideas

Am happy to let you know I recently become an Affiliate Consultant with the East Bay CBO Center. The Center is dedicated to building the professional capacity of nonprofit organization's serving the counties of Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

I will continue to operate as an independent Fundraising Counsel, but this arrangement will provide my business with additional outreach and referrals. But what makes me most excited is that I now have direct access to a hand-picked network of over 30 of the San Francisco Bay Area's top nonprofit consultants.

So if you need help finding a nonprofit organizational development, human resources, evaluation or technology expert, give me a call and I can now pass you forward to a consultant with a proven track record.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

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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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The science and art of fundraising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What do Development Directors Want?

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals 1 in 2 of you won't last in your current job for even 24 months. If you weren't already concerned about the future of the fundraising profession, perhaps you are now?

So what's an Executive Director to do? Are you having difficulty searching for a new Development Director? Not finding the candidates you hoped for? Are you fortunate enough to have hired a great candidate and want to make sure he or she stays? Concerned that you might have a Development Director who is thinking of leaving?

If so, you’re not alone. Fundraising stars Ruth Herring and Barbara Pierce recently hosted a workshop at CompassPoint addressing this exact topic.

Here's a sampling of what local Development Directors said they needed to be successful in the job. Sound familiar?
  1. Realistic, achievable goals.
  2. Support for Development Director by Executive Director.
  3. A leadership role in the “big picture” planning for agency as member of management team.
  4. Priorities: Opposite of “everything is equally important” approach.
  5. A strong, working Board and direct access to Board members.
  6. Respect for fundraising and donors.
  7. Opportunities for learning, access to experts.
  8. Good employment benefits (retirement, flexibility, etc.).
  9. Opportunity to see the results of their work.
  10. Inspiration by and trust in the Executive Director.
My question is, what do Executive Directors want? It so easy to point our fingers at the Executive Director or at the Board when things get challenging. Yet weren't we hired to manage exactly these types of difficult situations? Would love to hear your thoughts below.

Alternatively, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please join me Wednesday, May 16, 3pm - 5pm at the Foundation Center as I facilitate a free FAB workshop on, "Creating the Dream Team: Best Practices for Executive Director and Development Working Relationships."

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Monday, March 05, 2007

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

Attended an excellent panel presentation at the San Francisco Foundation Center recently featuring fundraising superstars Cheryl Clarke, Susan Fox, Kay Sprinkel Grace, Bob Zimmerman and Lisa Hoffman. Between the five of them, I suspect they have over 80 years of experience in this field. So I asked them to pull out their crystal balls and predict the future of fundraising and philanthropy. Here's what they said.
  1. Fundraising will leverage technology in ways we can't even imagine today.
  2. Donor-driven calls for increased efficiency will reduce the number of nonprofits.
  3. Greater public awareness of the sector will result in increased government oversight.
  4. The leadership deficit crisis will continue to grow.
  5. The need for ongoing training will increase significantly as the field continues to professionalize.
  6. Social entrepreneurs will become the drivers of new philanthropy.
  7. Corporate giving will disappear, to be replaced by various forms of cause marketing.
  8. The number of operating foundations rise.
  9. Planned giving will increase in strategic importance.
  10. The tin cup style of fundraising will be dead.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reading is fundamental

If you're like me, trying to decide what books to read, let alone which blogs to track, can be a challenge in and of itself. There are simply too many choices. That's why I love to get recommendations from friends and other trusted sources. The upcoming Philanthropy Carnival with its focus on philanthropy books promises to be such a resource. I just realized yesterday was the deadline for submissions, so I maybe too late with this post, but these would be my suggested submissions for the list.

Hank Rosso, Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising, 2nd edition.
Nothing else really compares to this, the bible of fundraising. Hank is rightly thought of as the godfather of contemporary fundraising, and this book brings together the collected thoughts of him and his peers. Editor Eugene Tempel, executive director at the Center on Philanthropy, work on the updated 2nd edition simply builds on perfection.

Kim Klein, Fundraising for Social Change.
This is easily my most dog-eared reference guide. During my early years as a fundraiser, I devoured this publication with relish. If you are starting out new in the field, this is the one book you must get. Honorable mention also to Raise More Money, a collection of articles from the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, edited by Kim and Stephanie Roth.

Cheryl Clarke, Storytelling for Grantseekers.
When I began my career in this field I was primarily a grant writer. This was the first resource guide I found that made sense to me. Imagine my surprise when years later Cheryl ended up becoming a close friend. But even if I didn't know her, I'd recommend this book without reservations to any aspiring grant writer. Her follow-up publication, written with another friend Susan Fox, Grant Proposal Makeover, is also highly recommended.

Andringa and Engstrom, Nonprofit Board Answer Book.
This book isn't really about fundraising, but I don't know a single professional fundraiser whose biggest challenge isn't working with their Board of Directors. Here's where to go to when you need quick answers and recommended best practices to show to your Board. For example, do you want your Board to better understand their role in fundraising? If so, simply show them chapter 7.

David Allen, Getting Things Done.
Okay, this book is not about fundraising either, but if you are to manage the multiple campaigns and objectives found within any fundraising plan -- let alone find time to write that plan -- this book is for you. I'm not exaggerating when I say, more than perhaps any other publication I've read in the last decade, this one has changed my life. The book's sub-title is the "Art of Stress-Free Productivity." And you know what, David delivers on his promise. Forget the 7 habits, this is the one guide you need to help create balance in your life.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

White supremacy, fundraising and you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Raising Change Conference materials now available online

Many of the workshop materials from last summer's amazing Raising Change Conference are now available for download on the Grassroots Fundraising Journal website. Recommended texts that can stand on their own without the actual training include:
  • Robert Weiner's Selecting the Right Donor Database
    The right donor database can help you identify, cultivate, solicit, thank, and steward your donors. The wrong one can drive you insane. How do you find the right database?
  • Madeline Stanionis' Raising Money with Email
    Loaded with practical advice and real world examples. Answers and recommendations about how your organization can make the most of your e-mail program.
  • Pat Bradshaw's Future of Boards
    Even with good intentions, many boards are not living up to basic expectations of governance and support. We need better ways to work with boards to generate leadership and contributions of time, expertise, and money.
  • Russell Roybal's Diving into Development Planning
    Learn the steps to creating a successful development plan. Assess your current situation, taking stock of outside factors, examining cash flow, assigning responsibility, and more.
Highlights of Kim Klein's plenary speech are also still posted on this blog.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Implement a planned giving program at your nonprofit in 16 easy steps

  1. Develop draft of a planned giving case statement.
  2. Form a planned giving committee able to meet about four times a year, with major focus on one-to-one meetings with prospects.
  3. Ask board members to approve case statement and make their own planned gift commitments.
  4. Make a motivational presentation to Board of Directors with volunteer/planned giver as main speaker.
  5. Set up system of technical support to allow you to provide information on the tax and financial consequences of charitable trusts, life estates, bargain sales and other gift strategies of a technical nature.
  6. Hold in-person conversations, preferably with volunteers involved, with planned giving prospects, inviting them to become members of Legacy Society and describing methods of joining.
  7. Make planned giving presentation to volunteer groups.
  8. Provide Planned Giving Committee and Board with an orientation to planned giving ethics and techniques.
  9. Begin publishing planned giving information, especially donor case histories.
  10. Develop planned giving Legacy Society recognition program.
  11. Explore possibility of estate planning seminars.
  12. Develop prospect list and set up one-to-one meetings.
  13. Present Committee and Board of Directors with planned giving activities and goals for the year.
  14. Review five-year donor patterns with committee.
  15. Survey a few other comparable institutions and ask what they’ve done that has promoted planned gifts successfully.
  16. Evaluate planned giving program: (a) Was the plan for the year implemented? (b) How many new members in Legacy Society?
These tips come from Planned Giving Coach Philip Murphy, who sold out Friday's Development Executive Roundtable's luncheon workshop held in San Francisco. He emphasized that you don't have to be an expert on all the various planned giving vehicles available to start your program, for the skills you already have as a fundraiser are 90% of what you need to know to be successful. The rest you can develop or rely on outside support.

Philip began his fundraising career in 1973, and since 1979 has been focusing on planned giving. He's simply the best at what he does, so if you want to build your planned giving program into the best it can be, check out his website for more resources, plus information about his services.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Link-up of fundraising tips, trends and topics

Top 10 things fundraisers should monitor
"The more you can lift your head out of the weeds, the more successful your fundraising program -- and you -- will be."

Traps to avoid in fundraising
"Linguist and progressive thinker George Lakoff has written an interesting piece titled '12 Traps That Keep Progressives From Winning.' With just a few revisions, the piece could be titled '12 Traps That Keep Nonprofits from Effective Marketing and Fundraising.'"

Giving Circles: Past, present and future
"[A recent survey identifies] 220 giving circles in 39 US states (although the actual number of circles may be many hundreds higher) and that 77 of those reported gave a combined total of $44M since 2000."

The future of community foundations and giving
"We are about to enter a major new era in community foundations, where community foundations will have to look outward as well for opportunities for growth and partnership, and that adjusting to this new era is not going to be easy."

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

10 + 1 essential program evaluation resources

  1. American Evaluation Association
    Primary professional association for evaluators.

  2. Building Evaluation Capacity
    Evaluation overview with activity examples.

  3. Evaluation Center
    Checklists of evaluation best practices.

  4. Evaluation Toolkit
    Comprehensive site of tools published by W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

  5. Evaluator's Institute
    Short-term professional development courses.

  6. Funder's Guide to Evaluation
    Tools for foundations.

  7. Funder's Guide to Organizational Assessment Tools, Process and Their Uses in Building Capacity.
    Comprehensive overview of organizational capacity assessment.

  8. Logic Model Development Guide
    Packet of tips on creating and using logic models.

  9. Multi-Cultural Evaluation
    Series of reports on multi-cultural health evaluation.

  10. Theory of Change
    Background, technical assistance and training on theories of change.
The above ten resources came from Steven LaFrance's information packed presentation at last Friday's San Francisco Development Executive Roundtable luncheon presentation. If you are interested in improving your chances of getting funded, learning more from your programming efforts, and building the capacity of your agency, run, don't walk, to LaFrance Associates website for more information about their valuable services.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Link-up of fundraising tips, trends and topics

What wealth transfer?
“Despite all the headlines heralding the Greatest Wealth Transfer Ever, nothing of the sort has happened … what philanthropy researchers predicted may turn out to be something of a hoax.”

Do you hate your donors?
“One reason nonprofits fail at individual-gifts fundraising is their secret--or not-so-secret--hatred of rich people.”

A new school year
“There seems to be a louder chorus of voices from parents revolting against school fundraisers.”

Giving back helps advance your career
"One of the great things about giving back to your community is that it really is a win/win situation."

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Link-up of fundraising tips, trends and topics

Make the most from online fundraising
"New email 'change of address' services such as Fresh Address NCOA for Email help nonprofits keep lists updated."

Want to know your values? Follow the money.
"Looking at your spending can be a great way to reflect on what you really want. After looking at where your money goes, do you think it reflects your real values?"

Preparing nonprofit directors for the coming changes in governance
"Some of the proposed changes flow from the implications of Sarbanes-Oxley and published criticism of the sector, and some are 'best practices' designed to strengthen an organization."

To them who have much, more shall be given
"If you have $100,000 to spare, you can avoid all taxes by giving to charity, whereas if you don't make enough money to itemize, your gifts will come from taxable income."

Minutemen leader defers to caging house
"The current President of the Minutemen, Chris Simcox, continues to blame criticism on 'a small handful of disgruntled people who have been terminated.' However, it seems like Alan Keyes may be the one with questions to answer."

Top nonprofit homophobe
"Nonprofit Times includes Roy Williams, head of the Boy Scouts of America, on its list of the top 50 nonprofit leaders in the country ... Hate-monger James Dobson of Focus on the Family is also on the list."

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kim Klein's 6 steps for a revolution in nonprofit fundraising

  1. The inability to talk openly about money is the major roadblock holding back progressive nonprofits. This is a learned cultural taboo, and it can be unlearned. Those who control wealth have made a commitment to understanding money. We must too. Not taking the time to learn about money is antithetical to the goals of the social justice movement.
  2. Income diversity is critical to institutional sustainability and growth. Fundraising and programs need to be integrated, mission driven activities. The ownership of fundraising must rest within the entire organization.
  3. We need to set bigger goals and have larger visions. Too often we are limited by our own fears. Start with what you want, not with what money is available. The money exists.
  4. Let us all work to deconstruct the charity model. Charity is patronizing. When a person contributes to their own health and well being, they become engaged. Charity givers need to acknowledge their own need for healing as well. Opening ourselves up to receiving is the first step.
  5. Cutbacks in the government sector cannot be made up for by the private sector. Promoting a worldwide dialogue about tax policy is an essential part of today's fundraising challenge. Billionaires are the fastest growing class in the world: the richest 793 people now have more money than the poorest 3 billion people combined. Homeless shelters are now full of people who are working full-time, but cannot afford rent. We need tax policies in place to create more equitable distribution of wealth.
  6. Time is not money. Time is our most precious resource. Compassion, kindness and happiness are all measures of social justice. We must learn to love those who are difficult to love, including ourselves. Too many of us work too much and forget to enjoy life. Let us collaborate more broadly and limit excessive working hours.
These tips came from Kim Klein's plenary speech at this past weekend's groundbreaking Raising Change: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference hosted by the Grassroots Fundraising Journal. Attended by activists from around the United States, Latin America, Canada and the Pacific Rim, this event was like no other fundraising training I've ever attended -- and that's a very positive thing.

Too much to report out in one post. Stay tune for more soon.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Maintaining an ethical philosophy of fundraising

Fundraising is not rocket science, but there are some core basics that everyone should follow, the most important of which is to maintain an ethical stance in all our activities.

As Hank Rosso, the grandfather of contemporary fundraising, wrote many years ago in Achieving Excellence in Fundraising:
"Fundraising is values-based; values must guide the process. Fundraising should never be undertaken simply to raise funds; it must serve the larger cause ... The call for accountability, the need to inspire trust, the leadership of volunteers, the involvement of donors in their philanthropy, and new approaches to philanthropy [are a] call for fundraisers to be reflective practioners who can center themselves with a philosophy of fundraising."
A good place to start aligning your activities with this "philosophy of fundraising" is to incorporate the Donor Bill of Rights in all your efforts. Approved by the Board, implemented by staff and volunteers, and posted on your website, these simple 10 points should become more than just words on paper. In return, donors and prospective donors will develop the needed confidence to make long-term investments in your good agency and good cause.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

5 things to know about direct response fundraising


That's me in the middle at this month's DER luncheon, flanked by Judy Frankel of Project Open Hand and Nicci Noble of the Salvation Army, two amazingly talented development professionals. I came away with too many notes to reprint here, but here are just a few of Judy's top tips.
  1. Not all causes translate equally into direct response appeals, which can be extremely expensive. If your mission can’t easily be translated into a powerful human story or if your target donor is not reachable via lists, you might find other ways to build your annual fund. A well-structured Board networking effort or strategically run house party campaign may have greater payoff with less effort.
  2. The beauty of a postal appeal is that the mail package is a trusted and respectful first contact; it provides enough “real estate” to tell your story in a very personal way; and it continues to be the most cost-effective way to generate new donors, according to nationwide studies.
  3. If you do determine you’re a strong candidate for direct response appeals, plan on making a long-term investment. Understand that you’re not just raising money for annual operations: you are also building a donor database, which should be viewed as a big relationship-building machine, and will eventually be one of your organization’s most valuable assets. This may be a 3-5 year investment before real returns are realized.
  4. In acquisition appeals, getting the list right has the most impact on the mailing’s success or failure, so list testing is a very high priority. A distant second after list is package in its collective components.
  5. Direct response fundraising is an excellent way to move people up the giving pyramid. Contact your donors frequently year-round -- unless they request fewer communications -- to thank them for their support, ask them for money, and keep them familiarized with your work, especially with the people that you serve. This prompts people to increase their giving levels, because you are building relationships for the long-term through respectful and continuous communication. In time you will have a long and detailed giving history, making prospecting for major donors fairly straightforward.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

8 things to know about women donors

  1. Women donors give twice as many gifts as men, but at smaller levels. In total, they give a higher percentage of their income.
  2. Language used in reaching women donors is import. Women prefer not to refer to themselves as “philanthropists,” but rather people who are “making a difference” or “giving something back.”
  3. Because of their longer life expectancy, women donors are expected to soon control 70% of all planned giving assets. Planned giving products should reflect women’s need for stable, long-term income.
  4. Their giving decisions are based less on status and recognition then male counterparts. They do not want to be seen as giving more than their peers.
  5. Younger women are often motivated to give by their peers through giving circles and other structured activities. They are also more open to giving online.
  6. They’re not as concerned about the status of the host committee members as male donors.
  7. Women value a personal connection with their solicitor and their commitment to the cause. It is less important of what their solicitor status is than for male donors.
  8. When talking to women donors paint a picture of the agency’s long-term vision through stories. Plus, they appreciate hearing a solicitor's own personal giving story.
These tips come from independent Fundraising Counselor Mary Alex Needham and a survey she conducted for the Women’s Funding Network. She'd be the first to point out that these are just general trends among the surveyed group women who had made their own fortune. But I think it is very informative nonetheless, don't you?

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

14 free (or almost free) major donor research tools

  1. ZoomInfo
    Bios, articles and personal connections.
  2. ZabaSearch
    Homes, addresses and sometimes phone numbers.
  3. AlumniFinder
    Fee service has extensive address information.
  4. Tax Assessor
    List of links to all states and many counties.
  5. Yahoo! Real Estate
    Up to date information on comparable home prices.
  6. Hoover’s
    Business reports and profiles.
  7. Business Journals
    Search all business journals nationwide.
  8. Insiders
    Check for insider holdings at public companies.
  9. GuideStar
    Determine if they have a personal or family foundation.
  10. Political Giving
    See their own gifts, as well as see who are their neighbors.
  11. Donor Series
    Often incomplete, but still useful list of gifts.
  12. American Lawyer 100
    Lists salaries at top law firms.
  13. Martindale
    Locate lawyers nationwide.
  14. Google
    Visit here last and limit your searching.
These tips came from a recent San Francisco Development Executive Roundtable (DER) presentation given by Major Gifts Consultant Barbara E. Pierce. She recommends strictly limiting yourself to an initial 20 minutes of research per prospect, to ensure that you don’t get swept away down the preverbal Google “rabbit hole.” If your nonprofit needs a top quality Major Gifts Consultant, consider contacting Barbara. You won't be disappointed.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

10 common mistakes in selecting donor databases

1. Letting techies make the decision.
2. Wishful budgeting.
3. Prioritizing price above everything else.
4. Randomly looking at demos.
5. Falling in love with cool features.
6. Falling in love with the salesperson.
7. Buying more than you need.
8. Confusing highly functional software with highly trained staff.
9. Hoping that the database will install itself.
10. Leaving the database to fend for itself.

These tips come from Strategic Technology Consultant Robert Weiner's workshop at last week’s Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professional Fundraising Morning Conference. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Robert before and he’s one of the most thoughtful, organized and experienced consultants in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you need help selecting your next database, check out his website for a wealth of materials or simply give him a call to discuss your needs.

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