Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Brink of Change

It is difficult to spend much timing musing over the year 2008. At this time of year many of us look back on the year that has passed and try to make sense of it. Our mistakes, hopefully, will teach us what not to do or guide us toward trying things that worked for others. We reminisce over the fun and exciting events of the year with plans and goals freshly laid for the coming year. The last quarter of 2008 was fraught with daily upheaval and financial losses that caused many people to despair. I needn’t list everything that went wrong (it is a long, long list). I have had enough doom and gloom and 2008 can be summed up as a financial mess. So let’s step back to look only at those things that stand out as hopeful against this grim backdrop.

Most prominent was the election of a new President and the excitement, swelling around the globe, of his upcoming inauguration on January 20th. Obama has wasted no time organizing his transition and making appointments to his cabinet. All of Obama’s picks appear to have substantial experience and come from diverse backgrounds, they are:

  • Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state - Clinton seems to be uniquely qualified to be secretary of state bringing her years as a senator and first lady in her husband's administration as important experience.
  • Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury – has been the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2003
  • Larry Summers as Director of the National Economic council – served as The World Bank’s chief economist and treasury secretary under Bill Clinton.
  • David Axelrod as Chief Advisor – served as Obama’s chief strategist during his campaign.
  • Eric Holder as Attorney General – served as Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general and as Obama’s legal advisor during his campaign
  • Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader – served in the house from Las Vegas and then moved to the senate in 1987.
  • Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services – was a congressman from South Dakota and minority leader in the senate until he lost his seat in 2004.
  • Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce – has served as governor of New Mexico and as energy secretary.
  • Robert Gibbs as Press Secretary – lead Obama’s communications team during his campaign.
  • Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board – served as chairman of the Federal Reserve under Jimmy Carter.
  • Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense – is currently serving as secretary of defense under George Bush.
  • Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff – is an Illinois congressman and was an aide to Bill Clinton.
  • James L Jones as National Security Advisor – was a four-star general who served in the Marine Corps for four decades.
  • Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House and is the congresswoman from San Francisco.
  • Henry Waxman as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – is a representative in the house for Los Angeles and chairman of the committee on oversight of government reform.
  • Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security – served as Arizona’s attorney general and became governor of that state in 2002.
  • Susan Rice as US Ambassador to the United Nations – was a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate in philosophy, and held several positions during the Clinton administration including assistant secretary of state under Madeline Albright.
  • Arne Dunkan as Secretary of Education – is the head of education in Chicago, the third largest education system in the US.
  • Steve Chu as Head of the US Energy Department – is the Nobel-prize winning physicist from the University of California Berkeley.

Generally, Americans are looking forward to the change in government with anticipation. The nonprofit sector has suffered recent setbacks along with the rest of America but a reason for optimism shines as a beacon of hope for all of us. What do you think of Obama’s picks? How do you think these choices will affect your nonprofit?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Plenty of Money

When I was a student in primary school, I performed in a production of a play entitled “Plenty of Money”. It was a madcap musical production where a crazy old lady prints her own money to be able to give it to charities. As I listened to what Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke has planned to get our economy going again; I was reminded of that crazy musical. We will just print more money!

In the old days, the gold standard, monetary system backed our paper notes with gold and those paper notes were freely convertible into fixed quantities of gold. That was a solid, rule-based system that protected citizens from hyperinflation and other abuses of monetary policy. In 1971, however, the representative gold system collapsed and nations of the world switched to the fiat money system in which paper notes are backed only by use of lawful force and debt payments are collected through taxes.

The Wall Street Journal reported the excitement that everyone but me was feeling about Bernanke’s announcement that the Fed’s would print more money. They said:

“Wall Street that day did handsprings. Even government securities prices raced higher, as if, somehow, Treasury bonds were not denominated in the currency with which the Fed had announced its intention to paper the face of the earth. Economic commentators praised the central bank's determination to fight deflation -- that is, to reinstate inflation. All hands, including President-elect Obama, seemed to agree that wholesale money-printing was the answer to the nation's prayers.”

I read that the root cause of hyperinflation is an unchecked increase in the money supply. So, the question is what is to protect us today from hyperinflation? Should we just print more money in order to keep our country’s businesses, including charitable organizations afloat?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Madoff Made Off with Billions

First there was Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the bad mortgage lending. There was the loss of Lehman Brothers and who could forget the AIG Credit Default Swaps that left taxpayers holding the bag. Then the top three Detroit auto makers announced they were pushed close to insolvency. Citigroup announced the layoffs of 75,000 jobs in order to stay afloat. Now, the news of Bernard Madoff’s investing scam leaves you dumbstruck and makes you wonder how so many people could be taken in.

According to Time Magazine, “Many of Madoff's victims never had an account with his firm. Instead, Madoff got much of the money he allegedly stole through so-called feeder funds. These hedge funds were set up by outside investment advisory firms, which marketed the funds to high net-worth individuals and pension funds based on Madoff's supposed long-term track record of positive returns. Other investors lost money through so-called hedge funds of funds, which invested with Madoff as well as other asset management firms.”

Where was the Securities and Exchange Commission? Apparently this scam had been going on for years. A federal judge signed an order on December 15th stating that investors who may have been duped by this scam need the protection of the Securities Investor Protection Act.

Among those hard-hit were Jewish Philanthropists and at least two foundations have been forced to close because they had invested their funds with Madoff. According to JTA, The Global News Service of The Jewish People, The Robert I. Lappin Foundation in Salem, Mass., will shut down after losing $8 million -- all of its money. The Chais Family Foundation also announced its closing on Dec. 14.

Another organization that suffered tremendous losses is JEHT (Justice, Equality, Human Dignity and Tolerance) Foundation that announced they will close at the end of January 2009. The JEHT foundation supports reform of the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Where did all of this money go and shouldn’t the Securities and Exchange Commission be culpable for allowing Madoff to operate? Give us your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Human Rights Day - If not now, WHEN?

Today, December 10th, is the 60th annual celebration, across the globe, of Human Rights Day. This commemoration honors the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. It was the first global effort to proclaim the rights of all human beings. There are 30 articles in the document proclaiming such rights as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights. Other more fundamental rights include the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education.

The Grameen Foundation is an organization that provides small loans, savings, and other financial services to poor people to help them launch businesses. According to Sarah Campbell of the Grameen Foundation:

  • One billion people live on less than $1 a day
  • One-in-five people live without adequate water or food
  • 26,000 children die each day from preventable causes

Though the U.N. outlined human rights adequately in 1948, our inability to provide even the basics a half a century later is painfully obvious.

“Today, poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world. Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is. By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime....Poverty eradication is an achievable goal.”
—UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, 10 December 2006

At this time of year we need to turn our sights outward, to the world, and rather than focus our attention on our diminished 401 (K)s, resolve to help promote the rights of everyone. Why not begin TODAY? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Go Techno or Bust

After his successful presidential bid, Barack Obama still has $30 million left over. During his presidential campaign, Obama raised an unprecedented $745 million, $104 million of which came in the last five weeks immediately before and after Election Day.

Obama’s outspoken desire to change the way politicians raise money through special interest groups - opting instead to raise money on his own and not participate in the public funding system - fueled his record-breaking fundraising. Close to half of the funds raised were by private donations. What was the key to his success? The internet and Obama’s use of technology stand out as the single key factor in his successful fundraising.

Among the technical tools used were the following:

  • Individual Fundraising - An easy web experience employing the tactic of keeping the donor on the fundraising web site throughout the entire contribution process, from initiation through authorization.
  • Online Advocacy - These tools put users in a position to get information in the hands of policy makers. The idea is that when constituents participate - i.e. write their legislators reach out to news editors and opinion leaders, sign petitions - you get results.
  • Outbound Email - There are many rules governing spam and there is software that can handle outbound email more effectively. With the proper emailing tools, you can stay in touch, raise money, and mobilize action - whether you have a thousand constituents or ten million.
  • Social Networking - The power of social networking is extraordinary. These tools give your constituents a voice and ideas can be freely exchanged.
  • Content Management - The ability to locate, reuse, repurpose and capture content is supremely important to a successful online experience. The tools are ever more sophisticated, but are also becoming essential.

It is clear that a new day has dawned with regard to fundraising. Fundraisers will not be able to compete for those important donor dollars without a technology plan for the future. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Food Bank Levels are Down as Demand Goes Up.

As layoffs continue to rise and the economy continues to decline America’s food banks are sagging under the increased load according to The Wall Street Journal. According to The New York Times, critical shortages have forced some Food Banks to ration supplies, distribute staples usually reserved for disaster relief, and in some instances close.

Why are we unable to keep up with demand when we most need to? In part, the problem is due to successful farmers. There is less stored in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bonus Commodity Program that buys surplus crops in America. When the farmers have no surpluses, it translates to a shrinking program.

The fourth quarter oil and gas prices also contributed to the shortfalls by increasing the price of food as the high distribution costs are passed along through the system.

There is a farm bill currently in the Senate that would raise emergency aid of $250 million a year to Food Banks. Of all of the hands that are outstretched to receive economic aid from the government, this hand would deliver relief directly into the mouths of the people. Rather than allow American Food Banks to close, the Senate needs to move quickly to ensure that our relief programs are still in place when our people really need them, like right now! Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oily Practices Might Be Responsible for Economic Slide

According to MSNBC, “Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported income … that shattered its own record for the biggest profit from operations by a U.S. corporation, earning $14.83 billion in the third quarter.” Though prices have fallen since the announcement from Exxon on October 30th, the question is: How did the extreme inflation of oil prices get so out of hand? What role did that insane inflation play in the deflation of the world economy?

When you consider the delivery of food by the world’s food banks to those in need, most delivery methods involve petroleum fuel. The higher the fuel prices go, the less money there is to feed the same number of people.

American dependency on oil has reached a critical crossroad. Prices at the pump are falling because the demand has gone down as a result of fewer people having jobs. However, if the economy begins to improve, there will be an increased demand for oil and the world’s oil companies will take advantage once again. It is time to break the cycle of dependency that keeps us addicted to our gasoline fix. Another good reason for demanding alternative fuels is that fossil fuels are known to increase greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, further contributing to global warming. Michael Seibert, a biologist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., envisions pond scum as a possible source for bio-fuel. Whatever the new source of fuel finally is, now is the time to put our energies and research into renewable energy sources before we are held hostage at the pumps again. What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yes We Can.

Election 2008 was a truly historic event with the victory of America’s first African/American President. Excitement filled the air and tens of thousands of Obama supporters gathered in Grant Park, in Chicago to hear his victory speech. The message was one of hope. Though there is much to do to get America back on track, we can pull together and through our hard work, look forward to a brighter future.

President-elect Barack Obama began his speech:

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer…

…It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.”

The speech went on to tell the story of Ann Nixon Cooper an African/American woman of 106 years, who was born just a generation past the time of slavery. He told of the many times she was told “you can’t” in her lifetime. Conversely, the words “yes we can,” was the fitting climax to this hard fought victory that will hopefully put an end to racism in this country. These words of optimism brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd.

Though there is much to do to repair our financial and political systems, there is great hope in the words of our new President Barack Obama. It is this spirit of optimism that propels nonprofit organizations to forge ahead in the momentous task of raising funds for so many noble causes.
The question remains, will those who make large donations hold back on their donations because of the battered economy? According to the latest study An Analysis of Million Dollar Gifts January 2000 – September 2007 from “The Center on Philanthropy” at Indiana University, “Self-made wealth holders make the most gifts. Just over forty percent of the donors making gifts of $1 million or more are ‘self-made’ millionaires. This includes entrepreneurs, investors, and real estate developers. ‘Self-made’ wealthy donors gave several times more, on average, than donors with paychecks or donors with inherited wealth.”Of course, 47% of those who voted in this election, voted for the Republican candidate, John McCaine. Will President-elect Obama be able to unite both his supporters and those who voted against him? On Tuesday, many believed the words of Barack Obama, that he could. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Making the call – Obama or McCain

As a result of the economic conditions, many nonprofits are facing unprecedented economic conditions that will affect philanthropy. In the next few days, we will each have to make our own call on who best represents our goals. When Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama debated on the campus of the University of Mississippi, they were asked by moderator Jim Lehrer of the NewsHour on PBS about what fiscal priorities they would “adjust” as a result of the current economic bailout:

LEHRER: …what are you going to have to give up, in terms of the priorities that you would bring as president of the United States, as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?

OBAMA: Well, there are a range of things that are probably going to have to be delayed. We don't yet know what our tax revenues are going to be. The economy is slowing down, so it's hard to anticipate right now what the budget is going to look like next year.

But there's no doubt that we're not going to be able to do everything that I think needs to be done. There are some things that I think have to be done.

We have to have energy independence, so I've put forward a plan to make sure that, in 10 years' time, we have freed ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil by increasing production at home, but most importantly by starting to invest in alternative energy, solar, wind, biodiesel, making sure that we're developing the fuel-efficient cars of the future right here in the United States, in Ohio and Michigan, instead of Japan and South Korea.

We have to fix our health care system, which is putting an enormous burden on families. Just -- a report just came out that the average deductible went up 30 percent on American families.
They are getting crushed, and many of them are going bankrupt as a consequence of health care. I'm meeting folks all over the country. We have to do that now, because it will actually make our businesses and our families better off.

The third thing we have to do is we've got to make sure that we're competing in education. We've got to invest in science and technology. China had a space launch and a space walk. We've got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science.

And one of the things I think we have to do is make sure that college is affordable for every young person in America.

And I also think that we're going to have to rebuild our infrastructure, which is falling behind, our roads, our bridges, but also broadband lines that reach into rural communities.
Also, making sure that we have a new electricity grid to get the alternative energy to population centers that are using them.

So there are some -- some things that we've got to do structurally to make sure that we can compete in this global economy. We can't shortchange those things. We've got to eliminate programs that don't work, and we've got to make sure that the programs that we do have are more efficient and cost less.

LEHRER: Are you -- what priorities would you adjust, as president, Senator McCain, because of the -- because of the financial bailout cost?

MCCAIN: Look, we, no matter what, we've got to cut spending. We have -- as I said, we've let government get completely out of control.

Senator Obama has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate. It's hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.

The point -- the point is -- the point is, we need to examine every agency of government.

First of all, by the way, I'd eliminate ethanol subsidies. I oppose ethanol subsidies.

I think that we have to return -- particularly in defense spending, which is the largest part of our appropriations -- we have to do away with cost-plus contracts. We now have defense systems that the costs are completely out of control.

We tried to build a little ship called the Littoral Combat Ship that was supposed to cost $140 million, ended up costing $400 million, and we still haven't done it.

So we need to have fixed-cost contracts. We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control.

I know how to do that.

Click here to see the complete transcript.

In a nutshell:
Obama would continue to place early-childhood education, science education, affordable college tuition, energy independence, fixing the health-care system, and rebuilding the country's infrastructure as his priorities.

McCain’s priorities would be an elimination of ethanol subsidies, cut costs in defense by eliminating cost-plus contracts and freeze spending on everything but veteran’s affairs, and Social Security.

Who best represents your nonprofit priorities?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who will be our next President?

The economy was on everyone’s minds last week as the final Presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama got underway. McCain launched his attack concentrating on Obama’s $60 billion proposal to improve the economic problems in the U.S, suggesting that this plan would mean tax increases for many Americans. Both candidates spoke directly to “Joe the Plumber” who had confronted Obama Monday at a rally in Ohio regarding his tax policies. Joe Wurzelbacher, the plumber, suggested that Obama’s plan would increase his taxes. According to Obama, his plan would increase taxes on wealthy American’s making over $250.00, so “Joe the Plumber” must expect to do pretty well if he thinks he will be impacted. McCain asked Obama why he would want to increase anybodies taxes right now. “We both want to cut taxes,” Obama said. “The difference is who we want to cut taxes for.”

Obama fought back using his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden’s comment that McCain’s campaign advertising had been 100% negative according to a study by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project that examined TV ad spending by the two candidates from September 28 to October 4.

According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group,"An analysis of campaign commercials aired over the last seven days shows Obama outspent McCain nationwide by more than 2-1: $21.5 million vs. $9.2 million. But just under half of the money Obama is spending is going toward negative spots, meaning the Illinois senator is roughly keeping pace with his GOP rival when it comes to negative commercials, in terms of cash spent," the story said.

Was there a clear winner in that debate? Which plan will offer the best hope for a bright future in the nonprofit sector? Let us know what you think.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Has the Money from Wall Street Dried up?

With the severe complexion of the financial industries’ bankruptcies, cutbacks, bailouts, and takeovers sweeping through financial markets, donations from highly paid financial professionals are expected to slump. Wall Street professionals have been a part of the richest 1% of the U.S. population. Some 51 percent of individual giving comes from the 10% of households in the highest income groups and slightly less coming from the 90% with income less than $100,000, according to Giving USA. “While higher-income families are major donors to many important institutions, ordinary-income donors are vital, too, for the health of the nonprofit sector in this country,” according to Del Martin, chair of Giving USA Foundation.

It is natural that as the economy slumps people will have less money to give to charity, however, “the trend of total giving of about 2% of income has remained about the same for the past 50 years”, according to Elizabeth Boris, director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

The effect of the financial crisis on giving is expected to be significant. Will it really? What will nonprofits do to make up for the shortfall? Perhaps the American middle-class will step in to shoulder the burden of bank bailouts and maintain the healthy philanthropic giving that has been our nature for so long. Though trickle-down hasn’t exactly worked, the question is, has it left charities out to dry?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

6 steps to getting selected for federal grants

Federal regulations can be Byzantine, but the White House, through its office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, offered a guide called “Developing a Quality Grant Proposal” that offers guidance about selection criteria for a federal grant.

The criteria listed include:
  • Need for the project. Explain how community need ties into the grant program’s purpose. Use recent statistics, compare target areas to region and nation, demonstrate through facts and avoid jargon and rhetoric.
  • Project design. It should meet the stated need, reflect the life of the project, demonstrate a well thought-out plan, detail recruitment of target population, build community partnerships and develop a contingency plan.
  • Project services. These should incorporate proven methods, tailor services to benefit the community, vary methods of meeting the need, emphasize individual services and cite examples of activities.
  • Personnel. Provide detailed job descriptions of both paid staff and volunteers, highlight their qualifications, demonstrate their ability to relate to target populations, address professional development and align salaries with time and effort.
  • Project evaluation. Measure goals and objectives to see if they are ambitious and attainable, what indicators will demonstrate progress and if they are achieved through services. Review project performance monthly or quarterly to see if it meets the needs in the proposal and if it can be used to replicate success. Include staff and participant input.

Budget. It should be for the life of the grant, address matching requirements, seek other support and focus on sustainability.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Power donor relationship building

The difference between Tiger Woods and the next guy is easily in the fundamentals -- the grip, the stance, the swing. More precisely, it's in how each one executes those fundamentals. The difference between a good fundraiser and a great one? It's in the fundamentals as well.

Through his book, Let's Have Lunch Together, the workshops hosted by his namesake consulting firm, and through his speeches, Marshall Howard teaches the importance of building strong relationships. "You must figure out how to climb up the relationship ladder, develop donor relationships, rather than try to figure out schemes to separate them from their money," said Howard, who spoke at the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2006 Conference on Philanthropy.

Howard offered the four fundamentals of "power" relationship building:

1. Reach out. To create high emotional-impact time with prospective donors, consider how you communicate with them. "I don't email. Emails create the lowest impact of anything - one notch below letters." Having figured out through relationship building what his clients enjoy, Howard, for example, takes one client shopping, and another wine-tasting - high emotional-impact time.

2. Be more curious. "Why in the world do you keep your curiosity under wraps?" asked Howard. He then cited the "law of reciprocity," which, when loosely defined, suggests that when you share, there's an urgent need to share back. "Share, and ask questions. They will share back -- they can't help themselves."

3. Put the "person" first. Get to know the prospective donor as a person first, prospective donor (or board member, volunteer, etc.) second. Collectively create mosaics about the prospective donor -- and do it as a team, both organizationally and through high emotional-impact time with the prospect.

4. Uncover values, goals and interests, mutual and individual. The ability to connect is controlled by emotions, feelings and beliefs, said Howard. Every human being seeks to connect, and the stronger that connection, the more emotional energy that exists. The law of emotional reciprocity, loosely defined, suggests that when one gives, there's a need and a desire by the recipient to give back. "People decide emotionally; they justify logically. That said, why when we go see a donor do we plow them with facts?," asked Howard, who said that 88 percent of decisions are based on gut feeling, not fact.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Can you answer when a donor asks: “Why Me?”

Anyone affiliated with a nonprofit knows that any attempt at fundraising can be met with a barrage of questions.

In fact, in his book The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks, Harvey McKinnon has encapsulated that barrage into 11 points. Being able to answer them can be crucial at fundraising time.The first question McKinnon poses – or has donors posing – is “Why Me?”, and it reflects the tendency of all human beings to think selfishly at some point or other.

He points out that by asking this question the prospect is trying to situate himself in the world, or at least in the world of the organization asking him for money. It includes such concerns as: Do you really know me?; Do you care about me?; and, Am I important to you for reasons other than money?

McKinnon suggests that there are many answers but that the following are especially pertinent and helpful with respect to the Why Me? question:
  • Because with your past gifts you have shown that you care;
  • Because you have met so-and-so (a person the cause/organization has helped) and your gift can help others like her;
  • Because you are respected and your support will inspire others; and,
  • Because you know how big the need is, and your gift will help to provide solutions.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Donors... Romancing the ask

The importance of making the ask cannot be overemphasized, but “making” the ask might not be the best operative term.

At the recent Fund Raising Day in New York, sponsored by the New York chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Tom Gaffney, of Tom Gaffny Consulting suggested the concept of “romancing” the ask, a way to turn a simple request into a compelling story.

“People don’t give because you have needs – the give because you meet needs,” Gaffny said.

He added that any fundraiser must demonstrate that the organization doing the asking is clearly meeting certain needs. That kind of demonstrable accomplishment, letting a prospect know that a donation actually brings about a desired end, is the kind of approach that will encourage donors to give.

To do that, the organization must achieve the following: Be specific about what is at stake, tie in a specific dollar amount to an important action the organization will undertake and show the reader exactly how that amount will help someone, and then tell them again.

To achieve those objectives, Gaffny offered five ways to romance the ask:

  • Use odd gift amounts, such as $67, $14, etc.;
  • Focus on one amount;
  • Attach recognition to an amount;
  • Give the donor a “deal;”
  • The ultimate weapon – an irresistible offer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Disaster planning for your technology

Taming the technology beast can be a daunting prospect for many nonprofits, particularly when it comes to emergency preparedness. Taming that beast involves a detailed assessment of your organization’s current processes and systems.

Dennis Bagley, manager, and Michael Harnish CPA, Associate, technology, consulting and solutions at Plante & Moran provided an assessment questionnaire during the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Not-For-Profit Financial Executive Forum. Scoring is on a basis of 0 to 5 with no being 0 and 1, sort of and 5 for yes.

1. Within the past 12 months, has your organization made a detailed assessment of all its computer applications and identified which ones are of top priority in supporting routine business operations?
2. Based on the results of study and analysis, do you know the estimated dollar losses your organization would suffer if it had a computer or network outage for a week, two weeks, a month?
3. Do you think the quality and completeness of your organization’s documentation and operating instructions for information systems would enable otherwise qualified strangers to understand and operate your systems without undue delay, research and guesswork?
4. Does your organization back up computer tapes (or diskettes) off-premises, so that at least minor recovery operations might be performed?
5. When was the last time you inventoried your organization’s computer backups to ensure that all needed files are being kept? (Be sure to consider your newer applications and changes to older ones)
6. Within the past 18 months, have you formally surveyed or interviewed key representatives from departments that use and rely on your computers or network to obtain their views on what kind of manual or semi-automated processing could be accomplished if all services were suddenly cut off for periods ranging up to one month?
7. Does your organization have an up-to-date, detailed, written set of procedures on what to do in an emergency and on exactly how recovery operations would go forward if your computer facilities were destroyed or made inaccessible?
8. Has your organization performed tests under simulated disaster conditions in order to help verify that its computer processing can be accomplished at an alternate computer site under whatever provisions your organization has for backup and recovery operations?

A score of 40 indicates a good state of emergency preparedness; 30-39 shows a need for additional attention in some areas. Consider strengthening your disaster recovery plan in areas of relative weakness; 20-29 indicates you are unprepared for potential difficulties that could have been foreseen and avoided. Address the indicated weaknesses in your recovery plan; 10-19 shows very spotty attention to a number of key areas. Significant difficulties and delays in data recovery can be expected. Prompt corrective action is advised; 1-9 shows little attention has been given to a disaster recovery plan. A system disaster is sure to be very costly. A task force should be chartered immediately to address the development of a plan;
0 – Indicates the need for divine intervention to preclude major dollar losses and delays should you experience a disaster

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What’s Eating The List Industry? - Don't Tell the Donor

Read this month's Don't Tell the Donor article. The anonymous blogger's newest article tackles the list industry and more.

While reports of direct mail’s death may have been greatly exaggerated, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the traditional mailing list management and brokerage industry. There is a growing understanding that a series of events over the past year have wounded the list community and left it ill-prepared for the coming challenges ahead.

Before I go any further, it should be noted that I have long been an advocate of nonprofit fundraisers ability to use mass mailing to prospect for new members. Not only is it protected by the Constitution, it can also be a cost effective way to raise money and build donor files.

I believe strongly in the ability of organizations to use the unique power of mail to educate and motivate potential new donors. If you believe (like I do) that the revenue from direct mail is responsible for building many of our country’s most important nonprofit organizations – then the mailing list industry deserves a large amount of the credit for developing this successful fundraising channel.

But times have changed. Just as my Don’t Tell the Donor blog attempts to focus debate on controversial issues in the fundraising world, I wanted to use this space this month to talk about the uncertain future of the traditional list industry.

Click here to read complete article...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Family inns combat homelessness

There is no shortage of ideas about how to end the never-ending cycle of poverty, crime, homelessness and despair that entraps far too many Americans.

If anything, those who have studied the problem agree that they can’t all agree, although many have come to accept the fact that there is no single answer for a huge and complex problem.

Among the many solutions that have been offered, Ralph daCosta Nunez has promoted the concept of the American Family Inn as a way of addressing the problem of homelessness in this country.

In his book The New Poverty, Nunez explains family inns as residential education-based facilities, which he says have helped break the cycle of homelessness as well as the cycle of dependency.

Among the main features of family inns:
  • Education. Education programs are designed to meet the individual education needs of each parent. There is a focus on basic education in the context of family issues to improve literacy rates.
  • Family preservation. Programs ensuring family unity and protecting children are emphasized. Domestic violence, child abuse and neglect are met head-on.
  • Job readiness and training. Job readiness, job training and job placement are paramount for preparing families for the challenges and responsibilities of independence and full-time work.
  • Permanent housing. The independent skills of budgeting, health, nutrition and parenting are taught.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Train and gain for ending poverty

In an effort to help individuals deal with problems caused by poverty, a large number of education and job-training programs have been instituted and tried for many years.

Results have been far from universally successful, but there have been some good results.In his book The New Poverty, Ralph daCosta Nunez offers details on the Train and Gain (TAG) program, which integrates a variety of services of broad-based support in order to achieve success.

According to Nunez, Train and Gain consists of the following components:

  • Pre-employment workshops. Participants attend a weeklong pre-employment workshop before beginning job training.
  • Education and GED preparation. Participants without a high school diploma enroll in an on-site alternative high school to prepare for the GED exam. Those with a diploma take part in basic education and family literacy programs.
  • Mentoring and skill-building internships. Participants choose to receive employment training in a variety of career fields.
  • Supportive workshops: practical living/useful skills. Workshops help participants learn about the issues involved in living independently.
  • Employment and basic-skill building. Participants attend weekly workshops providing support and guidance on issues related to finding and working at a job.
  • Job search and placement. Job placement caseworkers assist participants in securing permanent employment.
  • Postplacement services. Caseworkers assist with issues such as childcare, transportation or health that could threaten new-found employment.

Fundraising ... Getting that first $100,000

It all started somewhere. No matter how big the organization, it probably started with those first stumbling steps.

At a recent conference on fundraising sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Aina Gutierrez of Interfaith Worker Justice, Joan Flanagan, a fundraiser for the Center for New Community, Rabbi Laurie Coskey, executive director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice (ICWJ) of San Diego County, Bet Lawrence, ICWJ program coordinator and organizer, offered suggestions on how an organization can make its first $100,000.

Although they cautioned against a one-size-fits-all approach, they did emphasize certain guidelines:

  • Fundraising provides an opportunity for inside evaluation and an idea of what the community regards as value.
  • Fundraising is a way to build solidarity, raise money and connect to values.
  • Fundraising can be done by people of any age.
  • Fundraising from people is asking for money and is not a quick fix, but it is dependable and renewable, is internally controlled and provides multiple sources.
  • 76 percent of fundraised money in 2006 came from individuals, according to Giving USA.
  • Big money comes from individuals who are asked.
  • Independence comes from a diverse set of dependable revenue streams.
  • The job of the fundraiser is to make the obvious explicit. You get what you ask for.
  • Getting money from individuals? Begin with the board, then membership dues, annual donations, major gifts and special events.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Keeping The Faith - Eleanor Clift Latest NPT Column

Along with the Iraq War and his efforts to democratize the Middle East, President Bush will be remembered for bringing a more open embrace of religion into his administration. He campaigned on a promise to forge a partnership between government and religious organizations that deliver social services, and in his first week as president, created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

If the Founding Fathers were around, the president might have to explain why this overt introduction of religion didn’t overstep the line they drew between church and state. In any event, the faith-based initiative that is Bush’s signature project has withstood legal challenges and is now well established in the government with offices in a dozen departments and agencies, including Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services.

It is perhaps Bush’s proudest domestic achievement, and one that he would like to see extended regardless of who follows him as president. Bob Tuttle, a professor of law at George Washington University, says, “It’s safe to say none of the candidates would be devoted to it as a personal issue the way Bush has, but it’s hard to see the political advantage in abolishing the faith-based initiative. I’m not sure they’d want to take that on.”

Click Here To Read Complete Article...

Is Your Staff Running To Their Next Gig? Latest Article from Don't Tell the Donor

Recruiting, training, and retaining top notch fundraising staff is perhaps the single biggest challenge facing nonprofits today.

You can’t control postal rate increases or the impact of bad economic times on your donor’s ability to give. As a fundraiser, you might even be hopeless to control the quality of programming content or the effectiveness of your organization at serving its mission.

The good news is that you probably have more control over staffing challenges than most other variables and there are some incredible new resources available to nonprofit leaders to help recruit, train, and retain. The bad news is that far too few people seem to be using the available resources.

Most successful leaders know that the hiring process is critically important for preventing “bad apples” from even getting hired in the first place. Unfortunately, you can be the most selective interviewer on the planet, but if you don’t have quality prospective employees to choose from you aren’t going to build a quality team.

Click Here To Read Complete Article...

Friday, May 30, 2008

General Ramblings - Heck Of A Job - White House continues to be clueless regarding New Orleans

The density of some federal officials can truly be stunning. The White House Office of Faith-Based And Community Initiatives decided it would be a good idea to hold a conference in New Orleans to discuss disaster preparedness.

According to the White House, the conference was “designed to highlight and strengthen the role of faith-based and community organizations in disaster relief and preparedness with a special focus on the Gulf Coast region. The White House Conference on Disaster Relief and Preparedness will discuss ways President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative vision is engaged across the Gulf Coast region and will offer tools and training for social service organizations as they work to rebuild and sustain their communities.”

They can’t be serious. Not only is the idea of this conference in New Orleans an insult to the people who survived Hurricane Katrina, it insults all of the sector leadership who continue to put the city back together without the help of the White House.

This concept can only be considered a “Brown-ie” moment, as in when President George Bush turned to Michael D. Brown, his head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and exclaimed, “You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Brownie.” That was the guy who had to be told folks were stranded at the convention center for days without food and water. He resigned about two weeks after the storm swept across the city on Aug. 29, 2005 and the 17th Street Canal levee was breeched allowing the city to become part of Lake Pontchartrain.

The Louisiana Association of Nonprofits, the nation’s major charities such as The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross, and communications groups such as TechNOLA Project, have struggled to get the city’s lights back on. They have pulled together and coordinated activity that should be responsibilities of government.

It’s true that it was a free-for-all when the storm hit. It can be argued that the only good response would have been to get people out of there. No matter the gravity of a situation, there are some people who will not leave their homes. What exacerbated the tragedy was that there wasn’t a plan for those people and to evacuate quickly the people who wanted to leave.
And, of course, the people of New Orleans still blame the federal government for ignoring decades of warnings that the levees were crumbling and endangering the city.
The federal government can’t ignore one of its major economic centers. But a “Do what I say, not what I do” attitude is incredibly arrogant.

This column generally starts or ends with an amusing quote that ties things together via irony. The suggestion of this conference is ironic enough. NPT

To Read More Articles like this one, subscribe to NPTimes here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Communications ... 7 messaging roadblock questions

Taking an honest, searching look at your organization's message is a necessary task. One result of examining the message could very well be a decision to modify the message to develop it the best way possible, or simply to leave it as it is and put a renewed emphasis on conveying the message.

Although this process might seem straightforward, Rebecca K. Leet, a strategic consultant to nonprofit organizations, cautions that there could be roadblocks to success in terms of developing a strategic message.

Those roadblocks can be overcome if an organization is willing to answer the following questions:

  • Will we involve an interdisciplinary team in the message-development process?
  • Will the team include top leadership of our organization or programs?
  • Will we use the strategic message that is developed for a sustained period of time?
  • Will we be disciplined about how we use the message, for example, refraining from changing it because of boredom?
  • Will we commit to stating an organizational expectation that everyone in the organization, including board members and volunteers, will learn to use the strategic message?
  • Will we refrain from telling our audiences what they should want or do?
  • Will we practice linking what we want them to do with something they desire?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Web tools that can make your life easier

Although getting the maximum use out of online tools can be complicated at first, even daunting to smaller organizations, there are avenues that can be helpful.

Rick Christ, managing partner of NPAdvisors.com in Warrenton, Va., an online marketing consulting firm, suggests several resources that can be helpful to any nonprofit. They are:

  • MySpace.com. If you're looking for free Web page hosting, with blog tools, room for photos, email and newsletter service, get one that comes with about 100 million other users who are online 24 hours a day.
  • Paypal. It is free to set up. It costs about as much per transaction as most donation processing services (and less than many), ant it is a tool of choice for 67 million people whose sole purpose in having it is to transfer money online.
  • Text messaging. When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) failed to provide street lamps and the forms necessary to run search operations in post-hurricane New Orleans, relief workers used text messaging to stay in touch with each other and constituents were able to ask questions and provide updates.
  • IM (instant messaging). It is another free way to be "open" for business.
  • ThePetitionSite. Com. This is a site for online advocacy, a place to post a petition and drive advocacy.
  • Yahoo! Groups. This provides file sharing, group email, calendars and other features.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Developing effective newsletters

Although a survey conducted during the 1990s indicated that donors prefer receiving newsletters from the organizations to which they contribute, a subsequent study shows that donors may not be reading the newsletters they profess to crave.

Speaking at a recent national fundraising conference, consultant Tom Ahern offered a few pointers about effective newsletters, including ways to get donors to read and then, as a result, donate.

Ahern offered four ways by which an organization can attract readers through its newsletter. They are:

  • Speak in emotional terms. Gifts are written by the heart. The head is just there to second the nomination.
  • Write in benefits. What’s in it for me? If you speak to people about the benefits and with donors that means about how they are saving the world or could save the world they will respond.
  • Sound conversational, not institutional. Newsletters are very akin to direct mail. They are correspondence between you and your donors, so they should be conversational in tone, if possible.
  • Speak to the four different aspects of donor personality: amiables respond to intimacy and heavy use of the word “you.” Anecdotes are important to them, as are photographs of people whose eyes can be seen.

Expressives want to know about the new, exciting things the organization is doing. Analyticals are skeptical and need reassurance. Give them facts. Bottom-lines want you to tell what your organization does and how they can help. FAQs are good.

7 tips for generating news coverage

Nonprofit organizations have learned that they can help with their mission if they maintain a high profile – which of course means a good image – in the public mind.

This high profile can be maintained via the media, and Sandra L. Beckwith writes in her book Publicity for Nonprofits that organizations can find creative ways to get their names in the news. Beckwith offers suggestions for creating news.

  • Write and distribute a tip sheet. This is a form of news release that offers tips or advice in a bulleted or numbered format. This allows an organization to share specialized knowledge about a topic.
  • Comment on national headline news. Media outlets are looking for a local angle on a national story in their area. This requires an ability to act quickly.
  • Tap into TV story lines. For example, the NBC television show ER reported that two-thirds of the show’s viewers watch for health information. Knowing this, many local affiliates schedule health news updates for the newscast following the show.
  • Do a survey. Newsworthy survey results are sure-fire publicity starters. The survey topic should relate to the organization’s mission.
  • Create a list. Lists are popular with the media. David Letterman’s “Top Ten List” is reprinted in newspapers.
  • Take advantage of newsworthy seasons and holidays. Each predictable seasonal story brings publicity opportunities.
  • Host a contest or competition. Publicity opportunities exist for announcing the competition, conducting the competition and announcing the winners.

Monday, May 19, 2008

5 things NOT to do on an interview

Even the most prepared job candidate inadvertently might say the wrong thing during a job interview. But the risk is even greater for for-profit executives interested in transitioning to the nonprofit sector because there are distinct differences in the language used in the two sectors.

The April issue of “Leadership Matters,” published by Bridgestar, a nonprofit initiative of the Bridgespan Group dedicated to attracting, connecting, and supporting executive leaders for the sector, addresses this topic. The featured article, “Lost in Translation: Common Language Pitfalls for Bridgers” is based on discussions with 11 senior executives at nonprofit organizations, some of whom themselves were bridgers executives who move from for-profit to nonprofit.

The senior nonprofit executives shared the following insights:

  • Avoid referring to the organization as “the company” or similar words such as “corporation.”
  • Don’t use business jargon, such as “ROI” (return on investment), “EBITDA” (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization), “CAGR” (compounded annual growth rate), or “net profits.” Instead of “income statement” or “profit and loss statement,” say “statement of activities.”
  • Be familiar with nonprofit buzzwords, including, “outputs,” “outcomes,” “major donors,” and “development.”
  • Don’t assume that those in the nonprofit sector don’t know business terms. That can be just as bad (and totally condescending) as using jargon blindly without stopping to see if it’s registering with anyone.
  • Research the organization’s website and print materials to see what words they use. Some words that started out in the business world have been embraced by the nonprofit sector.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Management... Ethical misconduct is getting worse

While nonprofits, for the most part, still have an ethical edge on jobs in business and government, the social sector isn’t too far ahead.
The Ethics Resource Center published its findings in the National Nonprofit Ethics Survey to give an inside look at the sector’s code of ethics. But, the view isn’t pretty.
The Ethics Resource Center interviewed 3,452 employees spanning the three sectors, with 558 respondents from nonprofits, and polled them on issues such as misconduct, ethics and violations in the workplace.

Nonprofit employees reported observing the highest levels of misconduct since the survey started in 2000 with 55 percent of employees saying they witnessed a form of misconduct in the past year. That level is on par with business (56 percent) and government (57 percent).

Financial misconduct was also reported among nonprofits and eight percent admitted that they saw financial fraud – compared to the 5 percent of employees in the business sector.

Misconduct included putting own interests ahead of the organization (21 percent), abusive behavior (19 percent) and misreporting working hours (19 percent).

Approximately 38 percent of employees who observed misconduct chose not to report to management, with top reasons including doubts that anything would change and fear of retaliation. Employees were least likely to report environmental violations, the misuse of confidential information and Internet abuses.

Strong management made a difference – but in a negative way. Nonprofit employees felt that top management set the ethical tone more than their business and government counterparts.

And those organizations with a board of directors are 18 percent less likely to think that the organization has strong leadership compared to organizations that have an executive director or president at the top. Employees that had a board of directors generally had less trust in the management and their accountability.

The survey showed that an ethics risk was greatly reduced when organization leaders established an organization-wide ethics and compliance program. The Ethics Resource Center recommended that organizations assess themselves and cultivate a working environment that will address misconduct.

Tailoring the online experience for everyone

Everyone is unique. At the recent Conference for Nonprofits sponsored by Blackbaud Inc., Christy Lowell, school solutions interest specialist at Blackbaud, illustrated how there can be a wide divergence of interest even among a group that would appear to have much in common.

Further, she demonstrated how a Web site can cater to each unique constituent. Using the example of a college, Lowell showed that:

  • Prospects/applicants (potential students) want:An eye-catching home page that will make them read further about the school; to see potential friends and activities; to read "day in the life' stories and blogs.
  • Applicant parents want:Virtual tours of the school; easy navigation to find information; one-stop shopping.
  • You want parents to see:An easy search for information; eventual application to the school; slick marketing; reduction in paperwork, new dollars coming in.
  • Current students want:A one-stop shop for information and an ability to crate their own community.
  • You want students to:Find information easily and quickly; view grades and assignments; use the school email system; come back to the site long after graduation.
  • Faculty want:Teacher pages; seamless sign-on to grade books; directories.
  • You want faculty to:Use the self-service tools to reduce administrative work; send emails to students; update teacher pages.
  • Alumni want:Reconnection; a sense of pride; a job board.
  • You want alumni to see:Information and images that make them want to re-engage with the school.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Breaking News: Layoffs At Kintera, Earnings Call Set For Today

One month after Kintera received notice about potential de-listing from NASDAQ, widespread layoffs have begun at the San Diego-based software provider to nonprofits. The cuts are ahead of the firm’s quarterly earnings call slated for this afternoon.

Company insiders said more than 40 people were cut starting Tuesday, although Kintera officials declined to comment in advance of today’s 4:45 p.m. Eastern conference call to discuss first quarter financial results. The department losing the most people was finance, followed by marketing and product development, according to insiders.

Roth Capital, one of the few analysts still tracking Kintera, downgraded the stock from “buy” to “hold” on Monday, 15 months after making it a “buy.” Kintera, which trades on the symbol KNTA, ended 2007 with almost $16 million in losses, down from $33 million in 2006 and almost $42 million in 2005. For the first quarter of 2007, losses were $8.2 million.

An insider told The NonProfit Times the earnings report “is not expected to be good” but that the layoffs were more “matching expenses to resources.” Another insider was less optimistic, saying, “This doesn’t surprise you, does it? You had to see this coming.” Neither source would disclose the number of people losing their jobs.

Read complete article here...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Online...They've Got Mail: 10 marketing strategies

The current economic situation nationwide, combined with higher costs and tighter regulations relating to postal fundraising, will make online marketing even more important in upcoming years.

Vinay Bhagat, chief strategy officer for online fundraising firm Convio, maintains that nonprofits will need to invest in effective online marketing programs. He offers 10 best practices for getting started online:

  • Ensure your Web site makes the right first impression. Prospective donors are very likely to visit your site before making a gift in any channel.
  • Collect email addresses of current donors. Communicating online with donors enhances their value. Few organizations have emails for more than 30 percent of their active donors.
  • Optimize your Web site to convert visitors to email subscribers. Target a 3 percent conversion rate of unique visitors to new subscribers.
  • Make every communication count. Write emails with a constituent-centric point of view, and steer clear or sending non-compelling material.
  • Inspire. Provide value and be transparent to your donors about how funds are spent.
  • Ask for money, regularly. Include a soft ask in every communication.
  • Use multiple emails in a series to lift appeal response rates. Suppress those who respond to earlier appeals in the series.
  • Make fundraising appeals tangible and compelling. People are presented with lots of appeals and offers.
  • Empower volunteers. Raise money through online peer-to-peer fundraising software tools.
  • Encourage monthly giving. The lifetime value of monthly donors is much higher than single-gift donors.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Introducing NPT Desktop Delivery Service - A New Way To Receive The Latest Nonprofit News

The NonProfit Times is excited to announce a new way to receive breaking nonprofit news, fundraising tips, job postings, information on upcoming events and more, without opening your email! Introducing NPT Desktop Delivery, a communication service which sends subscribers daily nonprofit updates directly to their desktops.

How Does It Work?

  • Download NPT Desktop Channel, a free tool powered by THINK360
  • Choose what time of the day you would like to receive your message. Don’t have time to read it? Click it, it goes away and you can bring it back up later by clicking on the NPT Desktop Channel icon that will be placed on your desktop. You’ll get just one message per day.
  • Sign up today, get your first update tomorrow!

Click here to download NPT Desktop Channel NOW! The software is quick and simple to install.Top Reasons To Use NPT Desktop Delivery:· NPT updates delivered straight to your desktop· You control when messages are delivered· No more blocked emails, so you won’t miss important nonprofit news!· Completely hacker-proof Powered by: THINK360

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Benchmarking With A Warped Stick - Latest Column from Don't Tell the Donor

A lot of nonprofit fundraisers seem to love benchmarking studies.

I really can’t blame them. Fundraisers are always judged by their numbers, after all. If we are going to be compared what we raised during the same period in previous years it only makes sense to understand the context of giving to other similar organizations.

Anytime your fundraising program experiences large increases or decreases, it’s helpful to understand if the change is being driven by broader external factors or by specific issues to your audience and mission. Benchmarking studies can help identify trends in key indicators and give fundraisers the context we need in order to understand our own performance better and plan for the future.

Unfortunately, not all benchmarking studies are created equal. Some studies are nothing more than lazy half-assed analysis from vendors hawking thinly veiled sales pitches. Other well-meaning benchmarks often use questionable methodology. A flawed approach can produce misleading conclusions.

It’s therefore critical for fundraisers to share their feedback and reactions to what the benchmark studies are showing. This article compares the methodology of three of the most cited (and debated) benchmarking studies making their way around the blogosphere today. Perhaps the most well known fundraising benchmark study is the annual report on philanthropy published by the Giving USA Foundation as a public service initiative of the Trust for Philanthropy of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel (AAFRC). These are the people who received a lot of media attention by estimating that Americans donated nearly $300 billion to charity during 2006.

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Dirt Cookies Instead of Air Sandwiches

They're not supposed to taste good. After all, they're called dirt cookies. Bright Hope International, based outside Chicago in Hoffman Estates, Ill., is selling "dirt cookies" as a symbol of poverty around the world. The nonprofit offers a package of six cookies for a donation -- of any size -- but stresses that $50 can provide a Haitian family of six with food for a month and the ability to plant their own garden.

"Eat dirt so they don't have to," the Web site proclaims.

Food shortages and escalating prices have made the poor on Haiti so desperate they eat the dirt cookies, made of clay, to alleviate hunger pains. Bright Hope's dirt cookies are 100 percent edible but they're not sold for the taste as much as for raising money and spreading awareness. With ingredients like shortening, salt, coffee, buckwheat flour, teff (an Ethiopian grain), cocoa powder, corn starch and terramin clay, the cookies won't tempt your palate, but they will give you a good idea of what poor people in places like Haiti have resorted to eating.

- Mark Hrywna

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Free Corporate Donation Search Portal

The NonProfit Times announced the launch of a free online portal that gives free access to corporate donation data for fundraising research to nonprofit grant writers and others researchers. The portal’s address is http://www.nptgrantsearch.com.

The portal is powered by Internet search company NOZA, Inc., provider of the world’s largest database of charitable gifts. The research portal was launched with more than 4,300 searchable records of corporate donations valued at $1 million or more to U.S. charities.

The only free service of its kind, users can search, view and save information about the corporate donor, recipient organization, size of gift, and year of donation. Nonprofits can research current donors and create customized prospect lists to assist in solicitation planning.

Access is available immediately at http://www.nptgrantsearch.com or from NPT’s home page, http://www.nptgrantsearch.com.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Eleanor Clift Starts NPT Column - Estate Tax will survive the November election

Political pundit Eleanor Clift starts a Web-only column for The NonProfit Times, which will appear monthly through the November presidential election. A Newsweek columnist, book author and television commentator on The McLaughlin Group and numerous other programs, she'll talk to Washington, D.C., insiders to let nonprofit managers know what to expect on important issues.

Here is a sample from her first column:
Not Dead Yet - Estate Tax will survive the November election

By Eleanor Clift
The estate tax was a hot political issue when Republican pollster Frank Luntz renamed it “the death tax,” persuading millions of Americans without enough assets to be affected that Uncle Sam would fleece them at the grave, denying heirs what was rightfully theirs. Calling for an end to the estate tax became a rallying cry for Republicans throughout the nineties, but politicians don’t talk about it anymore, and there’s a reason for that.

Whoever wins the White House in November, John McCain or one of his Democratic rivals, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, the estate tax will still be with us. Planned giving officers at nonprofit organizations should rest easy. There is no way a Democratic Congress will allow the estate tax to expire, and Democrats will have the numbers in both the House and the Senate to work their will regardless of which party captures the White House.

In the House, a high number of Republican retirements, 29 at last count, make it a certainty that Democrats will increase their margin, a proposition that seemed shaky until recently. The Democrats took control in November ’06 in part because they won marginal districts that could revert back to the GOP. That looks unlikely in the wake of the Democrats picking up the seat held for two decades by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a sign that there is trouble ahead for the Republicans...

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Don't Tell the Donor - An Honest Critique Of The Fundraising Conference Circuit

I will never forget the first fundraising conference I ever attended. It was energizing to be surrounded by hundreds of passionate fundraisers from a wide range of nonprofit groups who were eager to share their successes and failures. The experience convinced me that this was a profession where I could spend my career learning and growing while helping a great cause.

Unfortunately, some of my recent conference experiences have been underwhelming. In fact, after one particularly boring conference, a colleague told me that the old adage must be true, “those that can – do; those that can’t – attend conferences.”

The truth is that I'm not one of those people who tries to argue that we as fundraisers are too busy raising money for the urgent and critical work of our respective organizations to take two or three days out of the office and spend valuable resources to attend a conference.

I remain optimistic that a vibrant conference circuit is the best avenue to provide continuing education to fundraisers. Our fast-paced industry benefits from bringing creative and innovative thinkers together to learn new tactics and meet new leaders.

The legal and medical professions believe so strongly in continuing education that they mandate a certain number of CLE or CME credits to maintain their licenses. It’s easy to understand why. We live in a rapidly changing world and it is a liability to employ staff whose knowledge or expertise stagnates....

Read Complete Article Here...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don't Tell The Donor

The anonymous blogger "a fundraiser," blew like the wind through the NTEN conference in New Orleans last week. Here's a report.

"More than 1,000 of the cool cats in the country are descending on New Orleans for the 2008 Nonprofit Techology Conference hosted by NTEN over the next couple days.

David Pogue, the personal technology columnist for the New York Times will be speaking at the plenary session at 8:30am... although given some of the festivities on Wednesday night, I doubt that all of the attendees are going to drag their butts to that event on time.

Beth Kanter was one of a couple dozen honored colleagues to be recognized by NTEN at the member's luncheon. Her award was "Most likely to have an account on every social networking site."

Nancy Schwartz has already posted to her Getting Attention blog that she is thrilled with the focus on how attendees can make connections with other nonprofit fundraisers and marketers.

They even have an official widget to track updates from the conference and they have a cool syndication feature for blogs that post to their own sites with the tag 08NTC."

For more, go to donttellthedonor.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NTEN And NPT Survey Shows Tech Budgets Average $40,658

Staffing the information technology (IT) function is frequently a challenge for nonprofit organizations. Financial resources are typically limited and hiring managers often feel overwhelmed and under-educated when it comes to IT. Determining where IT should fit into the organization, how many IT staff people are needed and what those people should be spending their time doing can be difficult decisions.

To shed some light on these questions NTEN and The NonProfit Times teamed up and created the Nonprofit IT Staffing Survey. We began this effort with the 2006 survey– the first of its kind. We repeated the survey in 2007, and plan to continue doing so annually, so that we can provide a long term view of nonprofit IT staffing.

This report, the second on the findings, covers IT salaries, budgets and evaluation in the nonprofit sector. The first report, published in January of 2008, covered the nature of IT staffs and departments at nonprofit organizations.

Visit Here to Download Complete Article...

E-Newsletters: Making Your Code Uniform (Relatively)

To make your organization’s simple HTML e-newsletter appear (relatively) alike across platforms, one tip from the experts: code like it’s 1999. This means:
  • Decide which email clients are a priority. One expert prioritizes Outlook, Thunderbird, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, and recommends against prioritizing Lotus unless your organization uses it (“It’s a pain in the neck to standardize.”). Set up email accounts with each of the email clients to test your email.
  • Also for seamlessness, use tables for layout, not cascading style sheets, or CSS. Many email clients don’t understand CSS.
  • Again, don’t depend on CSS. Use inline styles. This means going back to the old-school style of formatting: putting tags for color, font, decoration, margins, etc., directly on links, paragraphs and images. (Example: a style="text-decoration:none; color:#00ff00; font:Arial".) According to one expert, you can put styles into the header, but make sure to define them in the body of the email as well.
  • Don’t use Javascript, Flash, video or anything a 1999 Web browser couldn’t handle.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Management ... Clouding the decision-making process

As nonprofit managers have learned, an organization does not operate simply in a world of organization and constituent. Current events can play a huge role in the operation of any nonprofit, from the smallest to the largest.

Writing in the book Wise Decision-Making in Uncertain Times, published by the Foundation Center, Dennis R. Young cites the work of Lester Salamon and others to show that there are several forces that have affected nonprofits recently and will do so in the future. They include:

  • Government funding. Government funding of social services has increased since the Reagan cutbacks, but the composition of that funding has changed and continues to be uncertain. Medicaid, for example, plays a greater role in supporting social services
  • Developments in philanthropy. Trends indicate that charitable giving is becoming a less significant proportion of nonprofit income over time, but such revenue promises to remain a critical component of nonprofit support.
  • Demography. The American population is becoming increasingly diverse and multiracial. More than 40 percent of young persons are now "minorities," and by mid-century are expected to become a majority.
  • Technology. Modern and rapidly improving communications, information and other technologies continue to transform the economy as a whole. The implications for nonprofits are enormous and are not predictable.
  • September 11. Most short-term effects of this day have been dissipated or accommodated over time, but an analysis of long-term effects heightened awareness of the need for nonprofits to embed themselves in supportive networks.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Branding... Your image can take a hit from myths

By now, the term "branding" is ingrained into the consciousness of everyone in the nonprofit/philanthropic sector. Despite this widespread awareness, there is a lack of understanding about just what a brand is and what it does.

At a recent national conference on nonprofit marketing, Larry Checco, of Checco Communications in Washington, D.C., discussed the most common myths about branding and offered the straight story on where those myths go wrong. The myths are, as he sees them:

  • Myth: Marketing and branding are one and the same. Fact: marketing and advertising sell products and services. A brand is a reflection of everything associated with the organization, including but not limited to the quality of the organization's work, as well as its reputation, staff, leadership, culture, core values, programs, services and products. A good brand is nothing less than an organization's DNA.
  • Myth: Once you have an attractive logo and catchy tagline, you have your brand. Fact: Your logo and tagline are the banners for the brand. Your brand drills much deeper into your organization's core values.
  • Myth: Branding is the responsibility of your communications/marketing staff. Fact: Branding is the responsibility of everyone in the organization, from board members to support staff. If it helps, consider the person who answers your phones as your Director of First Impressions.
  • Myth: We don't have a budget for branding our organization. Fact: If you effectively leverage your current resources, you might not need much of a budget to better brand your organization.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New NonProfit Times Editorial - Don’t Tell The Donor and many more!

NPTimes has a new editorial section! Visit us every two weeks to check out our latest web-only content including articles from Don't Tell The Donor and many others. Click Here to go to NPT's Web Exclusives. Below is a taste of the latest article from Don't Tell The Donor featured on our site.

*Editor’s Note: Don’t Tell The Donor is one of the hottest blogs in the sector. It’s written anonymously because the author is well known in the sector and he/she/its bosses wouldn’t be pleased. Be assured, The NonProfit Times knows the author’s identity, at least enough to write the check. You’re going to have to trust us.

When I was growing up, my mom used to say to me:

“Little fundraiser. I told you to clean your room. Go in there and do it right now or else, I will take this garbage bag and go clean it myself – and you won’t like what I’m going to throw away!”

It was the scariest threat my mom ever made. Yet, I never found out if she was bluffing or not because nothing motivated me more than the fear of my mom rampaging through my room throwing my beloved toys in the trash.

I’ve been thinking of this personal experience during the past few years as I’ve listened to Congress’s threats that if the nonprofit sector failed to regulate itself then government will stage its own intervention. We all know there are some bad apples within the nonprofit sector. But, there should be a way for the industry to clean its own room first before a bunch of bureaucrats get involved.

In October of 2004, at the urging of Congress, the Independent Sector conveyed the “Panel on the Nonprofit Sector” in an attempt to build consensus around a list of principles that could serve as a guide for self-regulation. The idea was that if nonprofits could find a clean our own house of misbehavior, we could avoid the intrusion of scary government intervention.

Read Complete Article Here...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nonprofit IT Staffing

Staffing information technology positions at nonprofits is not easy and it can be very expensive. The NonProfit Times and NTEN, the nonprofit technology network, teamed up to find out the state of the nonprofit IT sector from more than 1,000 organizations. Small organizations continue to struggle. The average tenure of an IT profession is slightly more than four years. Read the report at: http://www.nptimes.com/webex.html#nten

Friday, February 29, 2008

*&%$#@* Your Email Got Trashed

With a little imagination and a bit of a potty mouth, it shouldn't be too hard to think of what the "Seven Dirty Words" might be in George Carlin's infamous 197s stand-up comedy routine.

SubscriberMail offers up a different set of words, not ones that the Federal Communications Commission might have an issue with, but rather those that email junk filters might flag and not deliver to inboxes. The Lisle, Ill.-based email marketing services and technology company issued a white paper, titled "The Seven Dirty Words you can't say in subject lines; plus 100 others."

Among the words that make the black list were pretty obvious ones that you likely have seen in your own junk folder:

  • Eliminate dept
  • Free, or FREE, or maybe Free access, free gift, free info and free instant
  • Any words having to do with sex, pornography, cures or medication; and more specifically, Cialis (though nonprofits probably don't have to worry about putting that last one in an email subject line)

Other words might not be as obvious, or they might be more frequently used by nonprofits:

  • Undisclosed recipient
  • Text that has gaps, or numerical digits at the end
  • Multi level marketing

For a complete list of the dirty words to avoid in subject lines, visit: http://www.subscribermail.com/white_papers/seven_dirty_words/
-Mark Hrywna

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Web tools that can make your life easier

Although getting the maximum use out of online tools can be complicated at first, even daunting to smaller organizations, there are avenues that can be helpful.

Rick Christ, managing partner of NPAdvisors.com in Warrenton, Va., an online marketing consulting firm, suggests several resources that can be helpful to any nonprofit. They are:
  • MySpace.com. If you're looking for free Web page hosting, with blog tools, room for photos, email and newsletter service, get one that comes with about 100 million other users who are online 24 hours a day.
  • Paypal. It is free to set up. It costs about as much per transaction as most donation processing services (and less than many), ant it is a tool of choice for 67 million people whose sole purpose in having it is to transfer money online.
  • Text messaging. When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) failed to provide street lamps and the forms necessary to run search operations in post-hurricane New Orleans, relief workers used text messaging to stay in touch with each other and constituents were able to ask questions and provide updates.
  • IM (instant messaging). It is another free way to be "open" for business.
    ThePetitionSite. Com. This is a site for online advocacy, a place to post a petition and drive advocacy.
  • Yahoo! Groups. This provides file sharing, group email, calendars and other features.

Online...Who's bidding at your auctions?

Who takes part in online auctions? According to a bidder study by Cambridge, Mass.-based cMarket 2006, the following can be said about the people competing for items at online auctons:
  • 71 percent of online auction bidders are female.
  • 92 percent go to the Internet once a day or more.
  • They spend 49 minutes each time they log on.
  • 79 percent typically access the Internet from home for personal use.
  • They visit online auctions about four or five times a year.
  • They spend an average of 17 minutes each time they visit an online auction.
    51 percent prefer to support their favorite nonprofit/charitable cause through online auctions.
  • The top reasons for participating in online charitable auctions include lending support, purchasing products and services, and ease of use.
  • 95 percent agree somewhat or completely with the statement: Online charitable auctions provide a unique way to purchase items of interest while giving to a worthy cause.
  • Two-thirds indicate, "charity for which the auction is being given is a cause I believe in" as the most important reason they participate in the first place.
  • The three categories bid on most recently by those who visited an auction are travel (16 percent), food/dining (12 percent) and home items (9 percent).
  • Of the 34 percent who would be interested in a "pay over time" option, virtually all would be at least somewhat likely to use it.
  • 50 percent would be willing to bid at least 20 percent more on an item if a pay over time option existed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Finance... Mission-related investing

Some foundations are exploring the concept of mission-related investing, sometimes known as socially responsible investing.The Minnesota Council on Foundations, through its Partnership on Corporate Responsibility, suggests that mission-related investing could include:

  • Portfolio screening: A foundation could screen portfolios to include best-in-class corporations or to avoid corporations with poor records on social issues, environmental issues or other issues of interest to the foundation.
  • Proxy voting: Shareholder activity could include voting proxies on a company’s proxy statement or developing a set of proxy voting guidelines covering issues of concern to the foundation. These activities night also include engaging corporations in dialogues on issues of concern as well as filing and co-filing shareholder resolutions.
  • Early investment: Mission-related venture capital uses the foundation’s assets for early-stage investment in companies that are seeking solutions to the problems that the foundation is seeking to solve through its grantmaking.
  • Community investing: Community investing assists underserved communities in meeting their development needs. The Council acknowledges that there is disagreement in the foundation field about the use of mission-related investing. Some argue that the board’s primary fiduciary responsibility is to ensure the maximum return on investment assets. Others believe there is a responsibility to consider whether investment decisions will further charitable purposes, or at least not run counter to them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Management... Being entrepreneurial and nonprofit at the same time

Many nonprofit organizations have benefited from adopting an entrepreneurial approach to their mission. Such an approach can utilize new ideas as a way of bringing in fresh air and increasing funding.

In a selection titled "Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Institutions: The Many Roads to Rome" that appears in Wise Decision-Making in Uncertain Times, published by the Foundation Center, Reynold Levy of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City writes that there are certain criteria that must be in place for a nonprofit to develop and sustain an entrepreneurial character.

  • Any institution that aspires to be entrepreneurial must maintain a financially sound base of operations. This means balanced or surplus budgets and diversification of revenue sources.
  • The nonprofit must be driven by its mission and focused on its accomplishments. A well-articulated and understood mission helps to define programmatic choice and guide the allocation of scarce resources.
  • There must be a certain brand of leadership. The top of the organization must exhibit an upbeat, can-do attitude. Leaders must see opportunities, not problems. They demonstrate a sense of humor, a sense of perspective and a resilience that enables them to face setbacks without seeming defeated.
  • The organization must be externally focused. It must be shaped to better serve customers or suppliers or partners. Doing so means that executives within institutions begin to see themselves as others see them.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

10 mistakes to avoid with email newsletters

Newsletters have become the primary tool for nonprofits to keep donors informed about how their contributions are being spent and why the checks should keep coming.

In MarketingSherpa's report on Top 10 Email Newsletter Mistakes, publisher Anne Holland makes the case that newsletters must remain kept fresh to be effective. "Your official newsletter has to be taken up, shaken upside down, tested, and then revamped every year or so," she wrote.

She also advises being careful. "I believe newsletter revamps are a lot like (Web) site revamps, where enormous changes ... can be dangerous," she wrote, especially in the short term. To minimize the disruptions, she ticks off several common mistakes to avoid, including:

  • Don't assume you have permission to put someone on the mailing list.
  • Don't write a "one size fits all" newsletter; readers may delete it quickly. Canvas readers to learn their interests, then tailor a newsletter accordingly.
  • Don't send a plain acknowledgement email for a subscription. Dress it up in the text or with graphics or both.
  • Don't set a publishing schedule arbitrarily. Research when readers will most likely read it.
  • Don't write an institutional newsletter. Personalize it where possible without getting too cute.
  • Don't make it one way. Include ways for readers to reply.
  • Don't write too long. Include graphics or links to audio and video.
  • Don't assume your email will get through filters.
  • Don't use a typeface too small to read.
  • Don't rely solely on email. Paper, for example, still has a place.

Gates Foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer Stepping Down

Patty Stonesifer, Chief Executive Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today announced that she will be transitioning from her role as CEO by January 1, 2009. Stonesifer has led the work of the foundation since its inception in 1997.

“When Bill and I set out to help ensure libraries in the U.S. offer free access to computers and the Internet, we turned to our friend Patty, whose management ability and effective leadership made her perfect for the job,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "More than a decade later, as we reflect on the progress and depend on the foundation team she built to continue and expand this work, we know enlisting Patty was one of the best decisions we have ever made.”

During the past 11 years, Patty Stonesifer has built a strong, stable organization committed to reducing inequity in the world. The work of the foundation and its partners to date has led to millions of lives saved globally through immunizations and other health advances and more young people graduating high school ready for success in places like New York City.

“Patty would be outstanding in any job but her talents have been particularly well suited to foundation management,” said Warren Buffett, foundation trustee. “Both head and heart go into decisions made in this activity – and Patty has an abundance of both.”

Under Stonesifer’s leadership, the foundation is organized into three program groups, each led by a president: Global Health, Global Development, and the U.S. Programs, and to date, has committed to more than $16 billion in grants aimed to ensure all people have a chance to live productive lives. The Seattle-based foundation has a $38.7 billion endowment and more than 500 employees. Stonesifer’s tenure has been marked by growth and a steadfast commitment to learning, improving, and delivering results...

Read Complete Article Here...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

That's Hot! Foundation Getting Most of Paris' Inheritance

Paris Hilton might someday actually have to get a job. Well, probably not.

The woman who made being famous for being famous a fulltime occupation likely won't be seeing as many zeros in her inheritance. Her grandfather, Barron Hilton, plans to donate 97 percent of his net worth ($2.3 billion) to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Paris, 26, will have to make due with her share of the remaining 3 percent, a paltry $69 million, to split amoung Hilton's eight children and numerous grandchildren.

The 80-year-old Barron Hilton, chairman of the foundation, plans to donate $1.2 billion of the proceeds from the $900-million sale of Hilton Hotels Corporation and $300 million in stock of Harrah's Entertainment into a charitable remainder unitrust. It would be one of the largest charitable contributions made in 2007 and boost the foundation's totaly value to $4.5 billion.

The foundation expects to increase staff from 19 to 100 once the bequest goes into effect, according to Fortune magazine, so who knows, Paris might yet get a job.

- Mark Hrywna

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

NPT's New Editorial Section - with new posts from Don't Tell the Donor and More!

Starting February 1, NPTimes.com will have its own web exclusive editorial, articles not found anywhere else. Updated every two weeks, you can find more information in the print edition of The NonProfit Times, which contains a new NPT Online Table of Contents.

Be sure to view this week’s hot stories, including one from Don’t Tell the Donor, the hottest blogger in the nonprofit industry. Click here to view now.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Branding ... Reshaping a recognizable name without changing it

When drawing up a new logo and graphics package, leaders at the United Negro College Fund had to wrestle with a touchy subject: its name.

Although mainstream in 1944, when the Fairfax, Va.-organization was founded, the term "negro" had gone out of favor by the 1970s, said President & CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. In approaching what he termed the "sensitive issue" of the name, he said, "We didn't want to lose our heritage, but we didn't want it to be a barrier to attracting the attention and engagement of a new generation."

The solution, unveiled on Jan. 17, was to place just the acronym next to a restyled torch and above the signature tagline, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Going forward, the organization will use UNCF as a first reference in all its public materials. However, added Lomax, "We are, as far as I know, always going to be the United Negro College Fund" when it comes to the legal name.

The new logo caps a four-year organizational review that began when surveys identified an age problem: the World War II and baby boomer generations understood the UNCF's mission, but the iPod generation was hazier about it. "That was somewhat troubling," Lomax said.
That led to a revamping of the communications strategy two years ago, including freshening up the "Evening with the Stars" annual fundraiser. Last year, the UNCF turned to graphics, recasting the previously black-and-white torch in light blue, yellow and burnt orange, as well as changing the typeface.

The fund not only underwrites scholarships -- amounting to about $80 million for 8,000 students -- but also sends money to 39 historically black colleges and universities and runs education advocacy arms.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Database... Protecting your data and managing risk

Got data backup?

Several high-profile stories have hit the news media in the past few months about losses of data, sometimes because of the inadvertent theft of equipment holding sensitive information.

In addition to those well-publicized cases, there are other facts: a hard drive crashes every 15 seconds; 2,000 laptops are lost or stolen daily; one in five computers suffers a fatal hard-drive crash during its lifetime. This would be bad enough, but 40 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses don't back up their data at all.

Experts in the field of data protection and security recommend the following:

  • Risk management is number one. No matter how much insurance you have, you will never totally cover your loss. Educate employees about phishing and have a reasonable backup plan.
  • Evaluate your current backup plan. Consider the newer backup technologies such as virtualization, which allows you to run multiple servers on one computer, for example.
  • Develop and implement a system. Don't just leave it; designate somebody with the absolute responsibility of implementing the risk-management system.
  • Anticipate your likely loss. Recognize that trouble can come from different places. Also, realize that security breaches can occur no matter the level of your firewalls.
  • Have the appropriate insurance that deals with what's likely to happen. Also consider your cyber exposure as a separate and unique exposure.
  • Try to get your host to indemnify you. It doesn't hurt to ask your software provider if it will provide coverage.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

8 Steps to raising money on eBay

Use of the eBay online selling system, which is very popular with individuals, is proving to be a real help for nonprofit organizations. Utilizing a name and vehicle with a huge recognition factor can be a great help in fundraising.

In their book Fundraising on eBay, Greg Holden and Jill Finlayson offer suggestions on what must be done up-front by organizations that might have experience with online dealing but are new to eBay.

Their suggestions:

  • Register with eBay and MissionFish. This includes both setting up accounts and setting selling preferences, as well as signing up for PayPal or other online payment solutions.
  • Obtain inventory/donations. This involves both soliciting and collecting donations from individuals and companies.
  • Create event branding. This can be as simple as naming your event and creating your personal page on eBay or as advanced as having graphic artists and web designers create a logo and selling templates.
  • Photograph items. Most items sold on eBay will need at least one photograph.
  • List items for sale. It means filling out the Sell Your Item form for one or two items are possibly using software to expedite the listing process.
  • Market auctions. Publicize the event and be willing to leverage online marketing opportunities.
  • Manage auctions. If your descriptions are complete and clear, there will be less need to answer questions, but you must answer emailed questions.
  • Complete sales. Collecting the money is not enough. Pack and ship items.