Friday, September 29

Lieberman's Republican donors

The Journal Inquirer reported on Sept. 21st that embattled Senator Joe Lieberman attended a fundraiser in Florida recently organized by a former finance chairman of the RNCC. The reception was held at Melvin Sembler's St. Petersburg offices - where guests were asked to contribute a minimum of $1,000 to the three-term incumbent's battle against Greenwich Democrat Ned Lamont.

About 100 people attended the event, according to Reuters news service, which reported that it was closed to reporters. Sembler headed the RNC's finance committee from 1994 to 2000. President Bush named him as ambassador to Italy in 2001, a post he held until last year.Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, had named Sembler as ambassador to Australia.

Sembler is chairman of the board of the Sembler Co., a developer of shopping centers in Florida and nearby states. He serves on the boards of directors of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and the Republican Jewish Coalition and is chairman of the Libby Legal Defense Trust.

I wonder if Mike Bloomberg can help Lieberman raise more than $100,000?

Tuesday, September 26

When donors attack

Sometimes donors start to feel like the organization they support strays from its mission - so they stop donating and find another organization to give their money/time to. It's a very free market idea... survival of the fittest, right. I mean, there are more than 1.3 million nonprofits afterall.

Yet, sometimes... the brand is so strong and the organization's history is so connected to the psyche, donors feel the need to stage a mutiny and fight for the very identity of the nonprofit in question. Rather than forming a splinter group, dissents attempt a coup, even if it means going public in their battle.

This appears to be the case at the ACLU. Roger Craver at The Agitator blog draws our attention to a story in the New York Times about a protest group calling for ouster of ACLU leadership. The fundraiser in me immediately asks how this will affect crucial year end giving. But there is something to be said about the power of the brand that this group feels compelled to fight rather than take their dollars and go elsewhere.

Playboy crashes the party

Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire is demanding a 25% cut of money raised for sick kids from a "bunny theme" charity ball in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

Craig Douglas, who organized the 500 person event, originally agreed to remove bunny ears and tails from waitresses' costumes and made other changes so that the Saturday-night ball could go ahead after being contacted from lawyers acting for Playboy Enterprises. But after the event, they got another letter.

"We got a letter from them saying they wanted us to pay them 25 per cent of the money raised back to Playboy Enterprises, including the charity money," Douglas was quoted as saying. "But we refused to do that, so they sent us a lawsuit."

Sunday, September 24

Fulfill your pledge... or else

Ian Wilhelm at the Chronicle of Philanthropy provided an update on the fact that the "Clinton Gathering" has now raised more than $7 billion in pledges to fix global warming. But, to me, more impressive than the dollar figure, was this interest nugget at the end of the article:

Mr. Clinton's event sets itself apart from other business and civil-society conferences in that participants must make a charitable promise - and fulfill it - or they will not be invited back. According to Jay Carson, Mr. Clinton's spokesman, "less than 20" of 2005's Clinton Global Initiative participants were removed from the guest list.

The William J. Clinton Foundation, which runs the conference, tracks the commitments and promises to hold people accountable.

Despite this, Mr. Carson, declined to name the banned parties. "We didn't say we would either, A, chase them down to their houses or B, beat the commitments out of them or that we would embarrass them with the international press corps," said Mr. Carson.
Who wants to help compare guest lists and figure out who made this list on deadbeats not invited back because of unfulfilled pledges? It reminds me of The Simpsons episode where Homer makes a pledge to PBS and then fails to pay. If your nonprofit is only getting a 75-80% fulfilment rate on your telemarketing campaigns... this is awesome.

UPDATE: In an interview Friday night, President Clinton was asked about recent gifts by Gates, Buffet, and Branson in order to get his thoughts on this age of philanthropy. His answer:
"I think that for one thing really rich people have always given money away. They’ve endowed libraries and things like that. The unique thing about this age is first of all you have a lot of people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who are interested in issues around the world that grow out of the nature of the 21st century and its inequalities — the income inequalities, the education inequalities, the health care inequalities. You get a guy like Gates who built Microsoft and he actually believes that he can help overcome all of the health disparities in the world. That’s the first thing. Second thing…there are a lot of people with average incomes who are joining me because of the Internet. Take the tsuami for example we had 1.3 billion dollars given….by households. The third things you have all these NGO that you can partner with along with the government. So all these things together mean that people with real money in ways that help people that before would have been only the object of government grants and loans."
To see the video, go here:

Thursday, September 21

International ePhilanthropy Awards

Today the winners of the 2006 International ePhilanthropy Awards were announced in New York City. The 36 finalists were narrowed down for four categories, plus an overall "Global People's Choice Award" where 2,000 votes were cast over a 10 day period.

And the winners are:
* Best Community Building, Volunterism, or Activism Campaign -
* Best Integrated Online and Offline ePhilanthropy Campaign - Greenpeace International
* Best Special Events Registration and/or Membership Campaign - Kids Help Phone
* Best Online Donations and/or Fundraising Campaign - Network for Good
* Global People's Choice Award - African Well Fund

In addition to a beautiful glass sculpture, winners also received $500 to donated to the charity of their choice. Personally, I was disappointed to hear that another finalist, American Cancer Society did not win in the Best Community Building category for their work with virtual world fundraising... but congratulations to all the winners.

Bradgelina Start Charitable Group

According to People's website:

"Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have created a new charitable foundation to aid humanitarian causes across the globe, a spokesman for the couple tells PEOPLE. The newly formed Jolie/Pitt Foundation is giving away $ 2 million – $1 to the Global Action for Children and $1 million to Doctors Without Borders, to help families affected by HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty."
Once again... I don't care if it's a PR stunt disguised as a philanthrophic gift. In the end, if great groups get decent sized gifts... who cares if two over-exposed celebrities get a little more exposure.

Monday, September 18

Teenage fundraiser dies

On Saturday morning, a 15 year old freshman named Rachel Giblin, was participating in a charity bike ride in South Carolina to raise money for MS research. Shortly after 11am the tandem bike she was riding with her brother was hit by a truck. The Charlotte Observer reports that her father Tom was riding in front of the rest of the family. When he turned around, he saw his wife, son and daughter laying in the road, bleeding. Rachel died of her injuries.

Rachel's passion was animals, and she wanted to be a veterinarian. She volunteered at a local veterinary clinic, and helped Friends of Feral Felines trap and neuter feral cats.Then there was the time Giblin came home to find 11-year-old Rachel, who had always wanted a horse, doing a series of calculations on a sheet of paper.

"She said, `Dad, I've figured it out. I can afford a horse if I baby-sit six nights a week.' "She eventually got her horse, her dad said. But first she had to help him build a barn and clear a horse pasture on their 10-acre property.
There are times when a donor should be strategic and demand to know how their donation is spent. However, there are other times when we make donations because it's the only thing we can do. Where it's okay for pure emotion to drive our desire as donor to support a cause that is important to someone else. I cannot image the pain of the Giblin family at a time like this... our hearts go out to them.

The Giblin family has requested donations be made to the Morrison Family YMCA, 9405 Bryant Farms Road, Charlotte, NC 28277.

Sunday, September 17

Confidence in charities rebounds

The eagle-eyes at The Agitator beat us to this study from Paul Light at NYU's Wagner School. A phone survey of 1,000 adults in July found a bounce from lows immediately after September 11, 2001 - however doubt remains over how organizations spend money.

"In short, even as overall confidence in charitable organizations increased, the underlying structure of public skepticism toward charities either remained unchanged or worsened, even among Americans with a great deal or fair amount of confidence. Asked which problem facing charitable organizations is bigger—the wrong priorities or spending money wisely—only 17 percent of Americans answered that charitable organizations have the wrong priorities, while 73 percent said charities have the right priorities, but do not spend money wisely."
Personally, I would be more interested in seeing the results broken out between donors and non-donors... or maybe even a subsection of Red Cross donors. I'll see if we can email the folks over at Wagner to get more information.

Saturday, September 16

658,172 pounds of M&M's

The Savy Giver blog posted yesterday on the new pink flavor as part of a fundraising partnership between M&M's and The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Now through the end of October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, M&M'S Brand will donate 35 cents on 14-ounce packages and 50 cents 21.3 ounce packages to Komen with a minimum donation of $250,000.
The direct marketer inside me couldn't resist calculating the rate M&M's is paying as 2.374 cents for every ounce of M&Ms. So don't tell the donor, but that means we will have to eat 10,530,749 ounces or (as the title of this post suggests) 658,172 pounds of candy to fulfill this corporate goal.

Thursday, September 14

What Seth Godin did to me

There I was blogging away on August 30th when I decided to send an email to marketing guru Seth Godin to let him know how much I enjoyed his latest post and that I would be linking to his site on my blog. With a couple hours, I received an email from Seth back saying, "I blogged you right back. Nice site." I was stunned to have even received a response, yet alone a small entry on his site linking to my site. Within minutes the traffic started... and then it exploded.
For the first 29 days of August I had less than 500 visitors total. Within 48 hours of Seth's post, Don't Tell the Donor had almost 3,000 visitors. Several days later, Raw Story linked to my story on the Humane Society merger and the site received another "pop" of over 600 visitors in 24 hours. While both spikes have now subsided, it is an honor to have built a consistent daily readership of 50-70 visitors.

The experience has been an interest one and taught me a lot about how viral marketing principles apply in the blogosphere. It has given me encouragment to continue this experiment in blogging on the stories behind the stories with fundraising news. My desire to keep publishing relevant news through humorous delivery is strong and I hope to continue building a loyal readership.

Thank you to Seth Godin for plugging the site and thanks to the editors at Raw Story for including one of our headlines in their news list... and thanks to all of you with daily feeds or RSS links to the site. I appreciate all the emails of encouragement. I look forward to incorporating your suggestions in the future.

Tuesday, September 12

This donor is going to jail

In 2004, the Bush/Cheney campaign had 327 donors called 'Pioneers' who pledged to raise at least $100,000 in bundled contributions. Tom Noe, a 51 year old coin dealer from Toledo, was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for his role in funneling money to his friends who later contributed it back to the president's campaign in order to help Noe meet his Pioneer pledge.

Noe told the judge he arranged the scheme because "in 2003 I was pressured by Bush-Cheney officials to become a Pioneer." However, federal prosecutors say Noe wanted perks such as invitations to the White House and the president's ranch in Texas, and he wanted to impress various state officials.

I know how he must have felt. In 9th grade, I was in the marching band and we needed to sell $500 in citrus fruit in order to go to Disney World. I was $75 dollars short in sales and begged my friends to buy my last 6 boxes of grapefruit. You might consider that "cutting corners," but what I did wasn't against the law.

The new form of movie promotions

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has a new movie (Gridiron Gang) coming out... and surprise, surprise! He recently announced a $2 million gift to his alma mater, Miami University. Seems to me this is a bargain considering all the publicity he's received so far. Maybe the other Hollywood studios should consider making celebrity philanthropy a regular promotional expense.

Monday, September 11

Jumping for donations

Jay Stokes wanted two things for his 50th birthday - to jump out of an airplane more than 600 times in 24 hours and to raise $60,000 for the Special Olympics. He achieved the first goal by setting a new world record with 640 successful jumps, but we need to wait a month to see if he hit his fundraising goal. Make your pledge here.

The Indianapolis Star reports several amazing parts to Jay's story. He needed to complete a jump every 2 minutes and 24 seconds. He might have ripped the quadriceps in his left leg during the 200th jump. He had a team of 100 volunteers packing his 23 chutes. And best of all, on jump #599, he missed the landing area and ended up a pitch dark farm field... he walked to a nearby highway, hitched a ride from a motorist, and made it back to airport for the last 41 jumps. Go to Jay's blog to see pictures of all 641 jumps.

There may be more efficient ways to raise more money, but we don't want to tell the donor that because there are rarely fundraising events that create this much excitement.

Sunday, September 10

Ashton Kutcher - the fundraiser

He has a new movie (The Guardian) coming out later this month described as an "action-adventure about the heroism and sacrifice of Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers."

Charity Blog Network reports that Kutcher will donate $1 for each of the first 50,000 Myspace users to become his friend on the Ashton Kutcher page launched Thursday to Habitat For Humanity® International, an organization that continues to be instrumental in Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.

So far, he has less than 9,000 friends, but we'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: On Friday, September 15th at 6:30pm, Ashton had 37,165 friends. By Sunday, the 17th he had over 53,000 friends.

Friday, September 8

Share your secret

I've always been a big fan of the PostSecret Project and recently I've enjoyed some of the blog “On the D.L.,” that posts gossip items about the private lives of Major League Baseball players.

However, it was the New York Times article today on national marketing campaigns based on secrets that made me start thinking about a contest for Don't Tell the Donor readers. According to Stuart Elliott's article:

Secrets are at the center of a growing number of national advertising campaigns. In some instances, consumers are being invited to reveal personal secrets and disclose them publicly. In other cases, the marketers spill the beans, sharing with consumers what they describe as corporate secrets.
So, if you are a fundraiser, marketer, or nonprofit employee - tell us your secret. Email us at donttellthedonor (at) gmail (dot) com - we guarantee your anonymity. Go ahead, get it off your chest...

Thursday, September 7

Network for Good report creates buzz

I finally had a chance to read Network for Good's latest report on diaster giving after hearing the growing buzz for the past couple days.

Some of my favorite fundraising blogs rcently wrote about the report. The Editors at The Agitators had clear insight on their summary and the Nonprofit and Foundation Advocacy Blog cites the good folks at Philanthropy Journal for this quote:

"In response to the humanitarian crises of 2004 and 2005, online givers were fast and generous, a new report says. Network for Good, a nonprofit that processes online contributions to about 23,000 different charities, issued a report based on transactions it handled in response to the Asian tsunami in 2004 and last year's Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan."
Beth's blog had keen insight on the link between the type of online donors and disasters. Rcent media like the aricle written by Allan Turner at the Houston Chronicle seem to get the growing potential of online fundraising... but for me, one of the most interesting facts of the report was:

Finding #2: Disaster giving online follows a “fast but fleeting” pattern. The “impulse effect” spikes and drops within a short, 2- to 6-day timeframe.
You gotta be in it to win it... and in order to be in it... you need to prepare in advance.

Wednesday, September 6

Is your fundraiser smiling?

A recent study reported that fundraisers are more optimism about the current economic environment (than they have been in the past) and they are more optimistic on their ability to surpass future financial predictions.

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University publishes a Philanthropic Giving Index (PGI) which is similar to a Consumer Confidence Index for charitable giving. It includes three indexes, on a scale from 0 to 100, based on a semiannual national survey of fundraisers.

The Present Situation Index gauges the current giving environment. The Expectations Index assesses the climate for the next six months, and the overall PGI is an average of the current and future indexes. While some of you were off tanning, you might have missed the report's publication on August 15th. The overall PGI report is online. Here are the highlights:

* This summer, the overall PGI was 88.9, increasing from 86.3 in December 2005 and up from 85.2 in Summer 2005.

* One-third (33 percent) of those surveyed reported success with Internet solicitations for donations, more than at any time in the history of the PGI.

* Only 28.6 percent said last fall’s relief giving came at the expense of giving to their own organization, while 53.8 percent said it did not.

* Respondents to the survey noted that higher gas and energy prices, the continued war in Iraq, and falling housing prices in parts of the U.S. contribute to donor uncertainty with the economy, but most felt that the economy will positively impact fundraising in the next six months.

The figure below shows a comparison the optimism fundraisers predicted in December 2005, compared to how they feel now. Only three categories of fundraising did not have the same optimism today as it did six months prior. Email, telephone, and planned giving all had modest declines. While direct mail, internet, foundation grants, corporate gifts, major gifts, and special events campaigns had higher average success scores than predicted.

Tuesday, September 5

Humane Society Merger

Without much fanfare, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced over the Labor Day Weekend that it was "merging" with the Doris Day Animal Protection League.

The official press release highlights how presidents Doris Day and Wayne Pacelle plan to combine their resources for a common mission:

Day and Pacelle met recently at Day’s home in Carmel, Calif., and discussed plans for the possible combination of operations. “Our visions are in lock step now,” Pacelle said. “We both want to strengthen the capacity of the humane movement, and we recognize that we can achieve that by combining our operations, in order to eliminate duplicative programs and to create a more powerful force for animal protection.”
For the past three years, Doris Day Animal Protection League had consistent annual expenses between $2.7 and $2.9 million. After static revenues in 2003 and 2004, Doris Day's most recent 2005 IRS Form 990 shows almost $3.5 million in annual revenue.

The HSUS has doubled its annual budget from $42 million in 1996 to $103 million in 2006. Its staff has grown 60% since 2000. The combination follows the group's merger with the Fund for Animals in 2005 and the group’s recent hiring of former United Animal Nations president Jennifer Fearing and Compassion Over Killing leaders Miyun Park and Paul Shapiro.

So, what are the implications of this merger to the fundraising world? Fundraisers have already debated mergers in the list rental business, however the fall-out of combining two national fundraising programs is not clear. Could this be the future of nonprofit consolidation that the Foundation Center's Philanthropy News Digest predicted would happen?

Doris Day had a mailing list on the market of 84,000 names - surely that will be taken off the market. As the fundraising programs are combined, there will be one less national mailer in mailboxes. One possible advantage as HSUS acquires more 501(c)4 legislative lobbying groups is their ability to send mail to political activist donors. Are they making a move at PETA's donors? Is HSUS going to continue acquiring smaller organizations, and if so, what will be the impact on donors to the animal welfare movement?

Monday, September 4

Is the new YouTube of nonprofits?

Over on, I was reading that YouTube finished July with 30.5 million unique visitors, up from 19.6 million in June. By comparison, Nielsen/NetRatings says MySpace clocked in at 18.1 million uniques, an increase from 11.1 million in June.

Personally, I've been surprised more nonprofits haven't yet posted their Direct Response Television (DRTV) "infomercials" into this online media. Two months ago Save the Children posted one of their 60-second spots on YouTube - however the website reports only 44 viewers so far.

Ken Goldstein at the Nonprofit Consultant Blog posted yesterday on the potential of to become a specialized home for nonprofit online videos. The idea of posting to YouTube seems like a no-brainer. With that big of a crowd already buzzing around - you can't resist throwing your spot out there. However, I remain to be sold on whether a new site dedicated to nonprofit content can drive enough traffic.

I may be proven wrong... Philip Cubeta points out on his blog GiftHub, is looking to hire an "evangelist" as their Director of Business Development.

UPDATE: Beth's Blog has an excellent article on this and other "vlogs".

Technorati Profile

Friday, September 1

Did the Mayor steal cash from the donation jar?

Leroy Stambaugh, the Mayor of Amboy, Illinois was arrested Thursday for stealing cash donations from an historic train depot.

State's attorney Paul Whitecombe says Stambaugh is accused of stealing donations from a jar at the Amboy Depot Museum earlier this month. Volunteers at the museum alerted authorities to the theft, which totaled less than $300.

UPDATE: On September 20th the former Mayor issued a full statement. He apologized by saying, "I took money from the donation box at the Depot Museum which was a petty amount of money, less than $100, but involved a huge amount of dishonesty on my part." He then went on to blame a gambling addiction he developed while operating bus tours to nearby casinos.

Competitive Generosity Conference

Slate Magazine claims that its annual list of the Top 60 Philanthropists began ten years ago after Ted Turner complained about the lack of a Forbes-100 style list for top donors. "The Slate 60 attempts to fuse two essential but conflicting aspects of the American character: generosity and competitiveness."

People who have appeared on the Slate 60 list include Turner, Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Dell, Pierre Omidyar, David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, Steve Case and many others.

Two weeks ago, Gift Hub blog reported that all living people named on the Slate 60 lists in the last 10 years; family members of people who were listed and are not alive, and luminaries and experts in the world of philanthropy will all be invited to the Conference on Innovative Philanthropy. The conference will take place at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., on November 12 and 13, 2006.