Friday, August 24, 2012

Morris Brown College To Face Foreclosure

Morris Brown College, one of the nation's oldest black colleges, has an uncertain future ahead as it faces foreclosure next month.

The Atlanta college has long struggled to remain open as it dealt with financial difficulties over the last decade. But now, according to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the school is in trouble. Once boasting more than 3,000 students, enrollment is down to just 50. In the face of growing debt and shrinking support, it will go under foreclosure next month after investors called $13 million worth of bonds tied to the college.

An auction of all of Morris Brown's assets is scheduled for Sept. 4.

The bonds in question were issued by the Fulton County Development Authority in 1996. Atlanta was riding high times during this period, as cash from the Summer Olympics loomed. As security for the bonds, Morris Brown pledged pieces of its property, including the administration building. That is one of the key assets that will be up for auction on Sept. 4.

Hoping to stave off foreclosure, Preston W. Williams, chairman of the board of trustees of Morris Brown, is calling for a "National Day of Prayer" on Saturday and is calling for everyone associated with the school to donate money. The school is currently in the process of reorganizing and restructuring as well as trying to get accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

The low point of Morris Brown's troubles came in 2006. After losing its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2003, and financial support from various other organizations, former school President Dolores Cross pleaded guilty to embezzling federal funds by applying for money on behalf of students without their consent. She was ordered to pay $13,942 to the government and was sentenced to five years of probation.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last July that Morris Brown owed more than $30 million to several creditors. The school also owed $9.9 million to the U.S. Department of Education, though it had raised $500,000 in attempt to settle that debt.

You can read the full story in AJC.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Boston Marathon Races Money To Nonprofits

Financial services group John Hancock raised a record $6.8 million for nonprofits through its Boston Marathon program. The funds represented a 29 percent increase from the totals from the 2011 results.

As part of John Hancock’s sponsorship of the race, nonprofits are guaranteed entry numbers that enable funds to be raised for that organization. More than 1,000 runners helped raise money and awareness for 122 organizations in this year’s Marathon, which occurred on April 16. Approximately 114 of the racers were employees from John Hancock and its parent company, Manulife Financial. They raised $200,000 towards the following organizations: the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, the Center for Teen Empowerment, Ron Burton Training Village and Habitat for Humanity Canada.

"Our employees are a source of pride each year as they dedicate their running to benefit our community partners," said James R. Boyle, President of John Hancock, said in a statement. "We are especially proud our Boston Marathon principal sponsorship made it possible for so many individuals to raise money and awareness to support great causes throughout greater Boston."

Other organizations that benefited from the 2012 Boston Marathon were Mass General Hospital for Children, Boston Children's Hospital, Tufts University, Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, the Hoyt Foundation, Horizons for Homeless Children, and Perkins School for the Blind.

"Each year countless individuals in Boston and beyond are touched in many ways, large and small, by John Hancock's Boston Marathon Non-Profit program,” said Peter L. Slavin, MD, President, Massachusetts General Hospital, in a release. "At Mass General, this important funding has supported programs that enhance the quality of care for our youngest cancer patients and fuel innovative research focused on finding better cancer treatments and cures. We are grateful for John Hancock's generosity and the hope it offers to the children and families we serve."

This was the 15th year Mass General has partnered with John Hancock. The organization has raised $765,000 through the 2012 marathon to date, and $8 million since the year of their first involvement in the program.

In addition to money raised for participating organizations, John Hancock led an effort among its business partners to raise almost $150,000 for the Myra H. Kraft Giving Back Scholarship Fund at the Boys & Girls Club of Boston. The fund was established in 2003 to honor the 40th wedding anniversary of Robert Kraft, who is owner of the New England Patriots, and Myra, who passed away in July of last year.

The Boston Marathon has for years bought economic prosperity to the city. In 2012, the race bought an estimated $137.5 million in spending impact to the Greater Boston region, according to statistics from the Greater Boston Convention & Visitor Bureau.

Nonprofit Board Fundraising Tips

Nonprofit boards have the capability to be a powerful tool for fundraising. There's only one problem: It's not exactly easy getting members on board for it.

Board members already have a lot on their plate, so it can be a challenge to get them to raise money for the organization. At the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 49th International Conference on Fundraising, fundraising consultant Julia Ingraham Walker gave 10 steps for making the board an effective partner on the fundraising team. They are:

  • Build board buy-in for taking a leadership role in fundraising. Educate board members about long-term needs and goals.
  • Provide training in fundraising for all board members. Plan a retreat or bring in a consultant.
  • Recruit new board members strategically. Look for fundraising experience or the capacity to give more.
  • Educate board members about fundraising needs and goals. Involve board members in strategic planning.
  • Set the pace with board giving. Start by setting a 100 percent participation goal.
  • Define roles for board and staff.
  • Build board partnerships in the annual fund. Participate actively in annual fund solicitation.
  • Build board partnerships in major gifts. Help identify and cultivate major gift prospects.
  • Build board leadership in the campaign. Take part in the planning phase.
  • Raise sights with the board. Begin with gifts from board members themselves, use challenges and matches effectively and talk about and plan for larger gifts.

ALSAC Executive David McKee Laid To Rest After Death In Car Crash

David McKee, senior vice president and chief operating officer at American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), the exclusive fundraising organization of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was laid to rest yesterday following his death in a car crash. He was 66.

The accident occurred when a 16-year old girl collided with his car at around 2:30 p.m. Both drivers were able to get out of their vehicles and talk to each other but, as his condition began to deteriorate, McKee was transported to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. He died at 7:35 p.m.

“David McKee was so much more than one of the world’s great philanthropic leaders,” said ALSAC CEO Rick Shadyac in a statement. “He was a dear friend and mentor to me and many others who worked with him during his 35-year career at ALSAC. He also was a passionate advocate for the patients of St. Jude and for children everywhere who have benefitted from our work. We have lost one of the icons of our organization, and his family is in our hearts and prayers.”

McKee first joined ALSAC in 1977, serving as interim chief executive officer before moving on to his position as senior vice president and chief operating officer. He was responsible for a number of fundraising programs and initiatives, including the St. Jude Country Cares radio program. During his tenure, he increased earnings from $11.9 million in his first year to $691.9 million in fiscal year 2010. ALSAC is currently the second largest health care charity in the country.

McKee is survived by his wife, Portia; three kids, David, April, and Amanda; and three grandchildren, Charlie, Emily, and Caroline. A funeral was held yesterday, and the McKee family requests that any memorials be sent to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Individuals can also make an online donation to the David McKee Fund at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ex-Nonprofit Executive Charged With Medicaid Fraud

The former executive of a Topeka, Kan.-based nonprofit was charged today with attempting to steal more than $2 million in Medicaid funds, according to a report on

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom made the announcement today, charging Jason Sellers with one count of wire fraud in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Topeka.

"Health care fraud drives up the cost for all patients and consumers," Grissom said. "In partnership with the state, my office is working to protect and strengthen the entire health care system."

It is alleged that while Sellers was chief financial officer of Kansas Health Solutions (KHS), he diverted medicaid funds to a sham company he created called Advanced Business Consulting (ABC). He is then said to have billed KHS for information technology services ABC performed, as well as for other personal items such as sports equipment for a local team with which he was associated from 2007-2011. In addition, Sellers allegedly used some of the stolen money to build and refurbish a $375,000 home in Lyndon, Kan.

If convicted, Sellers faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. You can read the full story on

Prospect Information Collection Rules

It goes without saying that a major part of prospect research is information collection. Being in charge of the private information of prospects is a big responsibility, so it's important that fundraisers maintain high integrity when handling this information.

At a recent AFP International Conference on Fundraising, Chair Robbe Healey of Simpson Senior Services and Bill Bartolini of George Washington University discussed issues of ethics and honesty in assembling and keeping donor information. In particular, they discussed fundamental principles adapted from the Association of Professional Research for Advancement (APRA) and its statement of ethics.

These standards pertain to information collection in the following ways:

  • All information will be collected in a legal manner;
  • A good faith effort will be made to collect and store information that is verifiable;
  • We will be honest in identifying our jobs, our employers and ourselves;
  • We will collect only information of value in the development process;
  • We will respect the wishes of the person being researched;
  • Whenever possible, we will use second party sources (such as online databases) for public documents such as SEC forms, property and stock holdings and court documents; and,
  • Based on personal research, it is known that certain public documents are sensitive to some constituents and the use of them for fundraising purposes may strain relationships between the individual and the organization.
Any breach of trust that occurs between the nonprofit and the prospect will not only destroy the relationship with that individual, but also has the potential to damage beyond repair the organization's reputation overall. This is why it's imperative that nonprofit managers make sure their fundraisers take these rules to heart.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Seattle Nonprofit Undergoes Audit

SouthEast Effective Development (SEED) in Seattle is undergoing a review of its programs and goals as well as an outside audit, reviews that could determine the organization's direction in the future.

In addition to these developments, SEED's executive director -- Earl Richardson -- is on indefinite leave and its finance director was recently dismissed, according to a report in The Puget Sound Business Journal. Richardson, who has lead the nonprofit since 1995, has said his leave is due to medical issues and he is not sure when he will return.

The audit of SEED was requested by interim executive Mark Flynn, a retired U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) executive. He said the audit's purpose is to make sure the organization is current on all of its accounts. The housing nonprofit recently had a three-month stretch when it stopped making payments on a $925,000 loan connected with a retail space.

SEED was founded in 1975 and was a major player in Seattle's effort to bring economic and community development to the city's ethnically and economically diverse areas. The organization was responsible for the revitalization of the Columbia City retail district in the 1980s and 90s. A 2010 IRS filing showed that SEED managed more than 700 housing units "through ownership, sponsorships, and contractual assistance."

Virginia Kenyon, SEED's board president, said the organization is considering returning to economic development, which it abandoned after the private United Way funding that sustained those efforts dried up in the 1990s and 2000s. Changes could potentially include the dismissal of Richardson as executive director, as Kenyon noted that positions serves at the discretion of the board.

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

Monday, August 20, 2012

14 Tips For A Successful Major Gift Solicitation

There's a lot to consider when soliciting prospects for major gifts. You can't simply walk up to a donor and ask for one and expect a positive result.

In his "Major Gifts Solicitation Guide," Alexander Macnab, president of Chicago-based Alexander Macnab & Co., offers 14 tips to help fundraisers become more successful in their attempts to obtain major gifts for their organization:

  • Solicitors must make their own gift or pledge first.
  • Solicitors must know the story and the needs of the organization and of the campaign.
  • Solicitors must know as much as possible about their prospects.
  • Solicitation assignments must be made selectively, on a peer basis or with "name and/or title impact" in mind.
  • Solicitation of Development Committee, Board of Directors, and all leadership gift prospects must take place in the context of a personal visit.
  • Have a dollar figure in mind when conducting a solicitation.
  • Solicitors should be able to relate the interests of prospects to particular gift opportunities to establish the campaign initiatives.
  • When calling with more than one person, solicitors should decide who will say what to whom and in what order.
  • Solicitors should sell the objectives of the project, not the tax advantages.
  • Solicitors should allow the prospect to answer questions, voice doubts, and respond to the proposal. Listen and respond to the individual's point of view. Talk 20 percent of the time and listen 80 percent.
  • Never argue. Criticisms and objections are possible signs of interest.
  • Solicitors should stress their own commitment, financial and in terms of use, as a sign of possibility for further donor involvement.
  • Follow up -- a "thank you" note, an answer to a question, confirmation of the next meeting date, or whatever is appropriate -- should be conducted immediately following a call.
  • Solicitors should debrief the development office as soon as possible following the call.
If you keep all of these points in mind when conducting a major gift solicitation, you should find the process a lot less stressful.