Friday, June 8, 2012

How To Calm An Angry Donor

Billy Joel once sang that "You're only human/You're allowed to make your share of mistakes." In the nonprofit sector, those mistakes can be costly, especially when you are dealing with donors.

An angry donor is a nonprofit's worst nightmare. Even organizations with the best of intentions can make a mistake that will lead to a long, and often loud, phone call. The phrase "the customer is always right" applies in these situations, even if you think the individual is the one in the wrong. The fact of the matter is this person invested money into your organization, and it's in your best interest to him/her happy.

So how do you calm down a donor who is losing it? In their book "Being Buddha at Work," Franz Metcalf and B.J. Gallagher outlined 10 steps to take to both calm the individual down and to solve the problem. The steps are:

  • First, be compassionate. The donor is frustrated, angry, disappointed, and upset. Do not meet anger with anger. Meet anger with compassion.
  • Thank the donor for bringing the problem to you. Your mission is service and you cannot be of service if there are no problems to fix.
  • Listen carefully to what the donor is telling you. As you listen, sift through the words and sort out facts from feelings.
  • Take notes, if it is appropriate, explaining that you want to make sure you have the information correct.
  • Emphasize what you can do, not what you cannot do.
  • Get help from others if you need it.
  • Explain and educate the donor as you continue to interact with the person.
  • Commit to what you can do. Be clear about what the individual can expect and when.
  • Thank the donor again for the opportunity to help turn around a negative situation.
  • Follow up. Keep your commitments, and keep the donor informed if anything changes.
Want to learn more about donors? Check out our articles on this subject on our website.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hundreds Of NYC Nonprofits Lose Tax Exemptions

New York City is pulling the property tax exemptions of 925 nonprofits after they couldn't prove they deserved them in a city survey, according to a new report in The New York Post.

The Finance Department said that its actions will begin on July 1. The survey it conducted was designed to determine which nonprofits were gaming the system and which actually deserved the waivers. The outreach came in the form of warning letters to organizations that were in danger of losing tax exemption and in-person visits by assessors.

American Youth Hostel (AYH) is one of the 925 organizations that will be seeing increases in their taxes. A city official told The Post that the organization was not carrying out its mission. AYH plans to appeal the ruling, arguing that it has been registered as a nonprofit since 1934.

The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) will be seeing its exemption reduced from 100 percent to nine percent, as it rents out a large portion of its midtown offices for commercial purposes. UJA does not plan to argue the ruling.

These organizations will not be the only ones having bigger bills from the government. A recent report by The NonProfit Times found that 63 percent tax exempt institutions end up paying some form of fees in the form of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs). These are usually applied to larger nonprofits.

You can read the full story in The New York Post.

Things Not "A-OK" For Pakistani Sesame Street

Amid allegations of fraud and abuse, the United States has cut funding to the Pakistani version of the popular children's show, "Sesame Street."

"Sim Sim Hamara" had previously been awarded around $20 million in funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to a report in The International News. The agency eventually received credible tips that the organization chosen to manage the show, Rafi Peer Theater Workshop, had used the funds in a fraudulent manner. A State Department spokesman declined to go into the specific allegations.

Faizaan Peerzada, the head of Rafi Peer, told The International News that he had been told that the program would be ending because funds had ended. It wasn't until he read the reports in the media that he learned of the fraud allegations, which he fully denies. He claimed the organization's first audit report had been approved and that the second was due in July.

In a statement posted on their blog, Sesame Workshop wrote that it was "surprised and dismayed" to learn about the allegations against Rafi Peer. The statement went on to say that Sesame Workshop is awaiting the results of the ongoing investigation, and that they hope that "the achievements of 'Sim Sim Hamara', and the gains we have made in the lives of children in Pakistan, will carry on."

You can read the full story in The International News.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Building A Social Media Audience

Most every nonprofit out there wants to expand its presence to social media in some form. Whether it's Facebook or Twitter, organizations want their message to be adapted to this medium. Yet no matter how good your content is, a social media strategy will not work without an active audience.

The key to building up an audience for your social platform is to have relevant content. If you write about things on your blog that people want to read, chances are you will attract followers. If you haven't already, start reading about search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of strategically inserting "keywords" into your blog posts so that major search engines, such as Google, will pick up your posts. Here are some hints on how to best use keywords:

  • Insert the keyword that your post is about (i.e., fundraising) into the title of your post.
  • Use that same keyword somewhere in the first paragraph.
  • Link the keywords you use to the web page where you want to drive traffic (it helps if the URL of that page has the keyword in it).
So that's how you can build an audience for you blogs, but how about your other social media sites? If you are using Twitter, research all the popular "hashtags." Hashtags are one-word phrases that start with the "#" symbol. They typically are at the end of a tweet and are used so that Twitter users who search for that hashtag will easily find your post. For example, The NonProfit Times ends most of its tweets by using #nonprofit. It's useful to use more than one hashtag so you can capture multiple audiences.

The great thing about social media sites is what we like to call the "network effect." You can invite a few of your friends to your brand new Facebook page and quickly grow a bigger audience when they share your posts with their friends. Another thing to keep in mind is that social media is meant to be social. Try to start honest dialogue with your supporters as much as you can -- this is more likely to bring new individuals to your pages, as people like to be involved in a community.

Chase To Award $7.5 Million In Grants

Chase Community Giving, the philanthropic giving program of JPMorgan Chase banks, has opened nominations for its Fall 2012 program, with $7.5 million in grants to be awarded to organizations across the country.

Customers at Chase banks can begin nominating their favorite charities beginning June 12 through July 19. This can be done at local Chase branches or online. The organizations that are eligible to be nominated are listed on Chase Community Giving’s website. In contrast to previous years, charities that accept their nominations by August 30 will automatically receive an equal share in $2.5 million. This is known as the Early Acceptance Period.

Charities that do not accept nominations in the Early Acceptance Period will move on to the General Charity Acceptance Period, which runs from August 31 through September 19. If an Eligible Nominated Charity does not accept the nomination in either the Early Charity Acceptance Period or the General Charity Acceptance Period by that deadline, it will not be eligible for the National Program.

It is expected that thousands of charities will be nominated for the Chase Community Giving grants. The 196 that receive the most votes will receive a share of $5 million in Chase grants. The winning recipients will be announced September 20. Here is how the money breaks down:

  • $250,000 (1) 
  • $100,000 (10) 
  • $50,000 (35) 
  • $20,000 (50) 
  • $10,000 (100) 

Chase Community Giving has awarded more than $20 million in grants to 500 charities since its inception in 2009. In addition, nearly 3.5 million people have “liked” its Facebook page. The bank’s foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, has donated close to $1 billion since its creation in 2007. After the nominating period is over, the charities will be voted on by the public and Chase employees. The voting period for nominated organizations is from September 6 through September 19. Members of the community can have their voices heard by logging on to Chase’s Facebook page at Customers and Chase employees can vote at

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

6 Ways To Win At Communications

They say a picture is worth a thousand words; but what do those words actually say? In the world of communications, the answer to this question is crucial to the success of a campaign.

The words you choose in your marketing campaigns can be the difference between success and failure.In his book "The Power of Communication," Helio Fred Garcia, president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group, wrote about a way to improve your chances of choosing the right words: Strategic thinking.

What is strategic thinking? Garcia wrote that it's all about "ordered thinking." For example, a communicator should never start with the question “What do we want to say?” because it skips the essential questions that establish goals, identify audiences and attitudes, and lay out a course of action to influence those attitudes.

In order to get on the path towards strategic thinking, Garcia recommended asking the following questions:

  • What do we have? What is the challenge or opportunity we are hoping to address?
  • What do we want? What’s our goal? Communication is merely the continuation of business by other means. We shouldn’t communicate unless we know what we’re trying to accomplish.
  • What stakeholders matter to us? What do we know about them?
  • What do we need them to think, feel, know, or do in order to accomplish our goal?
  • What do they need to see us do, hear us say, or hear others say about us to think, feel, know, and do what we want them to accomplish?
  • How do we make that happen?
Once you answer these questions, you should be well on your way towards becoming a more effective communicator when it comes to your nonprofit's marketing activities.

Seattle Komen Affiliate Misses Fundraising Goal

The Seattle-based affiliate for Susan G. Komen for the Cure fell $700,000 short of its fundraising goal during Sunday's Race for the Cure, according to a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

The disappointing results likely stem from Komen's attempt to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood in February, an action that sparked national outcry. The organization was forced to reverse its decision after the public backlash.

Officials at Komen Puget Sound told Business Journal that they anticipated a shortfall after the controversy. The affiliate actually strongly opposed the actions of Komen on the national level, and worked hard to differentiate themselves from the main organization. All of those efforts appear to have been in vain, as the annual Race for the Cure raised just $1.1 million, 39 percent less than they had hoped to make.

Leaders at Komen Puget Sound are still optimistic about their fundraising despite the disappointing result from the race. The organization has until July 12 to continue raising money for the race, which generally accounts for a third of the breast cancer nonprofit's annual funds.

You can read the full story in Puget Sound Business Journal.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Prospect Research For Capital Campaigns

Major gifts are the lifeblood of any capital campaign. Without these donations, the campaign is unlikely to achieve the greatest success possible.

Fundraisers everywhere know that they have to work extremely hard to identify, cultivate, and solicit major donors. One of the most effective tools they have at their disposal for capital campaigns is prospect research. This is the process in which the fundraising staff evaluates the organization's contacts to identify individuals, foundations, and corporations who are most capable of giving a major gift.

Kent E. Dove, author of "Conducting a Successful Capital Campaign," offered the four main objectives fundraisers should keep in mind when doing this research:

  • To identify people and their relationship with other people;
  • To determine people’s interest in, associations with, and gifts to the institution;
  • To discover facts about the ownership, control, influence, and wealth of people, corporations, and foundations; and,
  • To reduce great quantities of information to readable, understandable, and concise reports pertinent to the current campaign.