Thursday, March 1

Kerry confronts 'swift boat' donor

On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings to consider Sam Fox as Bush's nominee to be the new U.S. Ambassador to Belgium.

Senator John Kerry is on the Committee and during the hearings he questioned Fox about his $50,000 donation to the partisan group behind the "swift boat" smear ads in the 2004 election.

The GOP mega donor squirmed and gave this as part of his defense:

I heard someone mention here that we gave to 250 charities. I also went back and had my staff count in '05 and '06, we've made more than 1,000 contributions. More than 100 of those were political, 900 and some odd were charitable and to institutions of learning and so forth. A great deal of those had to do with basic human needs. I think it was Senator Danforth who mentioned every time he got a letter that had Harbour Group on it, he shuddered because it was going to cost him money. Marilyn and I both raise a lot of money from a lot of people.

The point I'm making is this: We ask a lot of people for money and people ask us for money. And very fortunately, we've been blessed with being successful financially and when we're asked, we generally give -- particularly if we know who gave it.
I'm not posting this because I think the appointment of a big donor to an ambassador is gross. And I'm not writing because I like seeing someone confront a political funder who fueled the politics of personal destruction... I am writing about this because I think it's important for fundraisers to see inside this donor's mind.

I honestly don't think that Fox is lying by saying he doesn't remember. Even though your donors might not be as rich as Fox and give 1,000 different contributions every two years... they may share a similar thought process. Perhaps the lesson is that donors know the general direction they want their money to go, but they don't keep specific tabs on when they give or even to who.

I was once working for a nonprofit that gathered a group of current monthly donors for a focus group without telling them what they all had in common. When the participants were given a list of charities and asked which ones they have supported in the last two years... sometimes only 6 in 10 actually remembered they had been giving to the nonprofit.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I guess it's worth remembering that the next time our fundraising staff argues about how long we need to wait between fundraising solicitation letters.

Anonymous said...

ambassador to belgium?? i wonder how much you need to donate in order to get a sweet country?