Tuesday, March 3

A fundraiser awakes from hibernation

The weirdest thing happened to me this morning... I woke up and got out of bed and my back felt kinda stiff... like I'd slept on my shoulder funny or something... and then I noticed that my breath smelled like my teeth hadn't been brushed in five months...

I checked my cell phone only to see 128 voicemails and over 2,700 emails. Weird, I didn't remember being that popular when I fell asleep...

Is it possible I've been sleeping for 5 months? I tried to figure out why my stupid alarm clock hadn't awoken me from my slumber, I noticed that I must have set it on "hibernation" mode before I fell asleep.

Can somebody fill me in if I missed anything in the world during the last 5 months that I was sleeping?

Tuesday, September 30

The Great Gorilla Run

We ask our donors to do (and put up with) a lot... but have you ever asked them to dress up as a gorilla and run 4.3 miles?

According to The Sunday Telegraph, this past Saturday's sixth annual 7K Great Gorilla Run in London featured 750 runners raising money for the Gorilla Organization. Some say the race had over 1,000.

Participants in London had to pay 75 pounds and promise to raise another 400 pounds in sponsorships.

Race spokeswoman Jillian Miller, estimated the race would raise nearly $400,000 in London... but the event has quickly spread to a worldwide phenomenon. In San Francisco last year, the event drew an equally crazy crowd.

Here is a cute video from the San Francisco event in 2006.

Tuesday, September 23

Not your father's economic crisis

Even grizzled fundraising veterans who have been through many recessions in the past are beginning to realize this is not your father's economic crisis... someonew who has been doing this job for three decades sent me this quote from the DMA Digest:


The turmoil on Wall Street could further curb a giving environment that was already slowing down. The failure of Lehman Brothers and pain at other big firms threaten to cut into the corporate and individual donations that more than a million nonprofit organizations rely on for basic operations and charitable programs. Worse for charities, the height of the financial crisis is hitting just before the end of the year, when nonprofits typically bring in the largest amount of revenue as Americans open their wallets around the holidays. Officials at charities are trying to devise creative ways to stand out. They are making urgent appeals through direct-mail and email campaigns and taking to the airwaves. Charities also are gearing up to tap their wealthy board members and other well-off supporters for extra cash. If they fail, charities may have to cut staff or seek loans. The collapse of corporate balance sheets, along with strained household budgets, could start cutting into the more-than-$300 billion national charitable-giving pie. US charitable donations only grew by 1% adjusted for inflation in 2007, according to the Giving USA Foundation. That was before the worst of the housing correction and the current Wall Street crisis. In a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of 77 businesses, 50 said they expected giving to remain flat in 2008. US companies donated an average of 0.8% of their pretax profits in 2007, down from 1.4% in 2004, according to Mark Shamley, president of the Association of Corporate Contribution Professionals. "Companies are looking to cut expenditures across" the board "and corporate giving is going to be part of that," he said.

I still think the biggest threat is that more banks are going to fail and I think too many nonprofits don't understand how FDIC rules apply to charities.

Thursday, September 18

Told you so?

I'm too busy this week to remind readers that I told you so... instead, I'll simply point out a link to an oldie, but goodie from early July of 2008. Enjoy.

And in case you aren't panicked enough... here is a link to an article about what happens to charities when the bank they use goes bust. Don't think this isn't happening already.

If you haven't reviewed FDIC rules on your nonprofit's (and affiliate's) bank account you are gmabling with your donor's money. Next week might be too late.

This is a good Q&A from a treasurer for a local Habitat for Humanity group on FDIC rules regarding their affiliate accounts.

Monday, September 15

Sprinkle my ashes or else Planned Parenthood gets $50k

It's been six weeks since Bruce E. Ivins, the alledged anthrax suspect, killed himself. However, his cremated remains are still stored at a funeral home in Maryland awaiting bizarre probate proceedings.

According to The New York Times:

In a will he wrote last year, a few months before the Federal Bureau of Investigation focused the anthrax letters investigation on him, Dr. Ivins wrote of his wish to be cremated and have his ashes scattered. But fearing that his wife, Diane, and their two children might not honor the request, he came up with a novel way to enforce his demand: threatening to make a bequest to an organization he knew his wife opposed, Planned Parenthood.

“If my remains are not cremated and my ashes are not scattered or spread on the ground, I give to Planned Parenthood of Maryland” $50,000, Dr. Ivins wrote in the will. Court records value the estate at $143,000.

Ms. Ivins is a former president of Frederick County Right to Life, according to F.B.I. records. Bruce Ivins played keyboards at a Catholic church in Frederick and described himself in e-mail messages as “pro-life,” but he was not an anti-abortion activist, said his lawyer, Paul F. Kemp. Ms. Ivins declined to comment, Mr. Kemp said.
I'm not sure if I've ever heard of a donor who uses his/her will to encourage action by threatening to make a donation to a group that the surviving heirs hated.

I think I'm going to add an addendum to my Last Will and Testament today that my heirs need to continue this blog once I die or else...

Friday, September 12

Story of Cindy McCain's disgraced charity gains attention

I'm not so arrogant to think that my story from last week finally prompted the mainstream media to pay attention to a huge story they have been ignoring... but I am just righteous enough to remind politicians that if they are going to brag about their philanthropic efforts starting a charity... they should be compelled to tell the rest of the story if it involves you getting your drugs from a charity that you put at risk:

A doctor with McCain's medical charity who supplied her with prescriptions for the drugs lost his license and never practiced again. The charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team, eventually had to be closed in the wake of the controversy. Her husband was forced to admit publicly that he was absent much of the time she was having problems and was not aware of them.

"So many lives were damaged by this," said Jeanette Johnson, whose husband, John Max Johnson, surrendered his medical license. "A lot of good people. Doctors who volunteered their time. My husband. I cannot begin to tell you how painful it was. We moved far away to start over."

McCain's addiction also embroiled her with one of her charity's former employees, Tom Gosinski, who reported her drug use to the DEA and provided prosecutors with a contemporaneous journal that detailed the effects of her drug problems.
But if you still think my outrage is over the line.. please... keep emailing me.

Thursday, September 11

Podcast on new IRS Form 990s

If you don't know how the new Schedule G from the newly revised IRS Form 990 will effect your organization's fundraising reporting, you can now listen to a podcast with Geoffrey Peters, president of Creative Direct Response, who recently provided very useful information on how to get your organization ready to fill out the schedule.

Geoffrey Peters, a fundraiser and lawyer, is a noted legal expert on the regulation of nonprofits and their fundraisers. Download his complete bio.

Go to the Foundation Center to listen to the podcast.

Tuesday, September 9

Why the collapse of Freddie and Fannie scares fundraisers

A lot of people are being hurt by the collapse of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. As a fundraiser, I can't help but focus on the philanthropic implications. During a press conference describing the takeover, the government said it "will review the charitable activities."

That doesn't sound like good news...

Cuts in giving to the groups Freddie and Fannie supported will have major ripple effects. Let's consider this description from the Washington Post:

By its account, Freddie Mac, along with its foundation, has invested more than $348 million in the community to date. Last year its annual Hoops for the Homeless campaign, a celebrity-studded basketball tournament to fight family homelessness, raised $900,000 for six local nonprofits that included Hannah House and So Others Might Eat.

Last year Fannie Mae dissolved its foundation -- an organization that has put more than $1 billion into education, affordable housing, education and economic development programs since 1979. The company said its philanthropic activities would be handled in-house, and it continued to give to local organization and initiatives. Among its 2007 programs, the company pledged $10 million to improve infrastructure in D.C. schools and $1 million in grants to help revitalize D.C. neighborhoods. Its annual Help the Homeless walkathon raised more than $7 million last year to support 175 local homeless service providers, such as Reston Interfaith, last year."

Some of you may remember that the embattled mortgage giants came under fire this past summer for making sizeable contributions to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund Annual Conference.

According to the conference program, obtained by an NLPC staff member who attended the event, Freddie Mac, as a “Platinum Sponsor,” paid $150,000. Fannie Mae paid $100,000 to be listed as a “Diamond Sponsor.”
Combined these guys also gave almost $2 million in contributions to politicians during the 2006 election cycle.

I mean... Freddie Mac was recognized by the Washington Business Journal and Greater D.C. Cares as the top corporate philanthropist in the Washington region.

Do you understand how big this is?

A fellow fundraiser once told me that the only news worse than hearing that a major donor has been indicted is that a major donor has declared bankruptcy. Trust me. I have experience with this one... it's not always easy making a bankrupt corporate donor make good on a charitable pledge.

Friday, September 5

30 fundraisers in 60 days

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will appear at around 30 fund-raising events in the next two months leading up to Election Day – about one every two days on average, officials with Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign said today.
Yet, no announcements on whether or not she ever plans to answers questions during a press conference.