Friday, August 31

What will Blackbaud buy next?

The Nonprofit Times was quick to follow-up the Convio IPO news by reviewing some of the online chatter about what Blackbaud plans to do next.

When a company spends $90 million in two years, it tends to get tongues wagging. And there has been no shortage of opinions in the nonprofit technology community regarding the impact of the $24.8 million acquisition of online donor management and advocacy tool eTapestry by software giant Blackbaud.
Blackbaud might not be finished. In public announcements and filings, the firm disclosed it had established a credit line of $75 million. The acquisition of eTapestry leaves another $50 million.
I've made it clear, if they are interested in buying this website, they wouldn't need to spend all that cash. If you were running the ship at Blackbaud, what/who would you buy next? Do they make a purchase based on what they feel would make their company stronger? Do they make a defensive play based on what Convio is doing? Will they buy DonorPerfect?

I posted a couple weeks ago that there were rumors Oracle could be considering an acquisition of Blackbaud. I've been told that isn't going to happen, but who knows?

What about Kintera? Given the fact that the stock has fallen more than 80% from its high, it seems like a bargain now... or are others just waiting for Kintera to go bankrupt?

Alumni from elite schools give donations to needier schools

Zachary Seward at the Wall Street Journal had a great article yesterday on what he sees as a growing trend by alumni of elite universities donating to needier colleges instead of their alma maters.

Turned off by massive endowments at the nation's top schools, they seek to make a greater impact at less-wealthy institutions. They are probably also aware of a fringe benefit: getting your name on a building is a cheaper proposition at schools not accustomed to seven-figure donations.
Those ivy league kids sure know how to bargain shop.
Contributions to higher education by nonalumni rose 14% last year, to $5.7 billion, according to the Council for Aid to Education in New York. In comparison, alumni gave $8.4 billion to their own schools, the council says. A review of the council's data indicates that less-prosperous schools are more likely to rely on gifts from outside their alumni base than their own graduates.
Not only is Havard aware of the trend, materials distributed to fund-raising volunteers include a response to the questions about whether the school needs more money given that it already has a large endowment.

Thursday, August 30

Convio registers for IPO

The Associated Press is reporting that Convio Inc., which provides fundraising and advocacy software and services for nonprofit organizations, plans an initial public offering, according to a regulatory filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the six months ended June 30, Convio's losses widened to $7.5 million from $6.2 million in the prior-year period. During the same period, Convio's revenue increased to $20.8 million from $15.5 million.

Convio plans to use the net proceeds from the offering for working capital and other general corporate purposes. The company said it may also use some of the net proceeds to repay debt or make acquisitions.
Convio indicated the offering price could total up to $86.3 million and they also indicated that some stockholders will sell shares in the offering.
* UPDATE: The Non-Profit Tech Blog has the "juicy" details about how many shares individuals own, detailed revenue and expenses, what they perceive as risks to their business, and more details from the SEC filing.
* UPDATE #2: The Austin Business Journal reported tonight that Convio was founded in 1999 and has 181 employees in Austin, and about 300 companywide

Former Senate aide arrested after crashing presidential fundraiser

Did you hear the story about the wild weekend in Martha's Vineyard for former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland’s top aide? Jim Galloway at the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a pretty full description, but he quotes from the Vineyard Gazette:

Police say 31-year-old Michael Duga used a credential identifying himself as the chief of staff to former Sen. Maxwell Cleland of Georgia to gain access to the event.

Once inside, he purported to be a top official for the Edwards campaign to some while representing himself as a paying guests to others. According to Mr. MacDonald, the host of the event, Mr. Duga was neither.
Then there was this:
Mr. Duga’s appearance at the fundraiser was only part of his bizarre behavior over the weekend. Although police are not sure when Mr. Duga arrived on the Island, they believe he rented a room in a bed and breakfast in Aquinnah where he asked another guest if he could borrow their vehicle to find better cell phone service.

Mr. Duga then reportedly drove the vehicle, a Chevy Suburban, to the Edwards fundraiser where he worked most of the night at the front table where people purchased tickets. Toward the end of the fundraiser, Mr. Duga reportedly tried to stop a photographer from taking pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Edwards.

According to the police report, Mr. Duga got a ride to the airport with the Edwards party after the event, although he missed the flight to the next campaign stop.

Instead, Mr. Duga spent the night on the Island, and was next spotted Saturday around 8 a.m. when the Menemsha Coast Guard Station called Chilmark police to report a suspicious person on their property. Coast Guard officials later told police Mr. Duga was looking through paperwork and made some telephone calls from the Coast Guard boat house without permission.
I mean, maybe the stolen documents and breaking into a Coast Guard boat house was a bit much... but who hasn't tried to crash a fundraiser before?

Wednesday, August 29

Does fundraising dip when nonprofits merge?

According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, there are 1,297 United Way organizations. In the past three years, 81 of the agencies have merged "in search of the efficiencies found when private companies streamline."

Nationally, other nonprofit organizations also are consolidating. Girl Scouts USA is hoping to shrink from 312 councils to 109. Red Cross chapters are also merging across the country in attempts to reduce costs by cutting overhead.

Ironically, while costs may be reduced - there appears to be anecdotal evidence that fundraising is also reduced following a merger.

The United Way of Northwest Arkansas formed July 1, combining the 14 employees from the United Way of Washington County and United Way of Benton County.

The group’s $ 4. 5 million fundraising goal, announced earlier this month, is $ 100, 000 less than the separate bodies collected last year.

“There is uncertainty at first, but after two or three years, it goes back up,” Darling said. “I’m hopeful that we won’t see that dip, but we aren’t going to raise a lot more money just because we’ve merged together, either.”
The United Way of America has never researched the short term impact of mergers on contributions, but the national organization says it is interested in looking into it.

Tuesday, August 28

A little inspired fundraising humor

Dori Sonntag is the Director of Annual Giving at Gonzaga University. She publishes her own fundraising blog called Inspired Annual Giving.

It's a great new site and it makes me jealous that she uses her real name and identity when posting... but she also made me laugh with this video today.

Monday, August 27

New Hampshire charities gamble and lose

The Nashau Telegraph is reporting that authorities in New Hampshire suspect a fundraising company stole up to $90,000 that was supposed to go to area non-profits.

WMUR reported that thirteen nonprofits did not receive any fundraising money after hiring New England Fundraising to host gambling nights for charity. Owner, Joseph Ross of Nashua, said the company has gone out of business, leaving several area non-profit groups short on expected revenue from fundraisers.

The groups didn’t lose money, but didn’t receive the money they expected from Ross’s fundraisers because he wasn’t able to keep the venture going, he said. Ross estimated that his company owes less than $60,000, but there’s no money to cover it, he said Friday.
One example is the Nashua Soccer Club - it was supposed to get $5,000 for a gambling night back in January. The other charities that have subsequently complained to state authorities that they received no money are:
Cinderella Project
Derry Friendship Center
Holderness After School Care and Enrichment Program
Nashua Center for the Multiply Handicapped
Nashua Fireman's Association
Nashua Flute Choir
NH Philharmonic Orchestra
NH Pro Drivers Association
Phillipine American Group Assisting Social Aid
Southern NH HIV/AIDS
The state has suspended the license of the New England Fund Raising Co. for the remainder of 2007.

Sunday, August 26

Donor withdraws $3 million gift after regent calls him "bully and tyrant"

The Winston-Salem Journal has a great story about a sensitive donor who didn't take kindly to a negative job review:

The chancellor of Nevada’s higher-education system says that he and his family will no longer consider donating $3 million to one of its schools after a regent’s negative comments in his job evaluation.

In his written evaluation June 22, regent Ron Knecht wrote that John Rogers “is known primarily as a self-absorbed, self-indulgent bully and tyrant, given to rashly going off at little or no provocation.”
The donor said he didn't feel like giving money after receiving the "flogging."

Thursday, August 23

Turf battle erupts in Vermont over autism fundraising walk

Last year, Autism Speaks organized its first fundraising walk in Burlington, Vermont. The walk attracted more than 400 participants and raised nearly $35,000. By many accounts the event was a success, however some parents began to question why they were raising money for national research when local families in Vermont needed immediate assistance.

As a result, one of last year's community sponsors - a group called Autism Support Daily - decided to organize their own walk and call it the Second Annual Vermont Walk on Saturday, September 29th. Rather than give up the event they helped organize - Autism Speaks is fighting back by organizing their own walk on Sunday, September 30th at the same park!

As a result of this dispute, it's likely both groups will only raise a fraction of what was raised last year. While both groups have maintained an amicable relationship in public - some of the messages in private message boards have expressed frustration and confusion.

In response to an email from this blog, Lynn George, the President of Autism Support Daily had this to say:

We appreciate that Autism Speaks raises money for much needed research, however, the families in our area are struggling and need as much support as we can provide for their children now.

While the total amount of money at stake in this "turf battle" is not major - it remains to be seen whether pressure from local groups will potentially erode the fundraising base for large national groups like Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob Wright, Vice Chairman of General Electric, and his wife Suzanne, to improve public awareness about autism and to promote autism research. In 2006 the organization merged with National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and with Cure Autism Now, a 10-year-old organization based in Los Angeles that is primarily involved fund-raising for a variety of autism research.

Monday, August 20

A "wiser strategy" would be to apologize

Tom Belford at The Agitator took Jennifer Donahue from NARAL to task because of this quote written about Jennifer in Fundraising Success Magazine:

She advised organizations follow their data and what it tells them about donors and to use that data to shepherd both donors and activists through the proper channels of giving “because you know them better than they know themselves.”
Tom was outraged. However, to be honest, after reading the entire article I am confused by what he is talking about. There is no proof that Jennifer has ever done any of the things tom thinks are bad. (who said mail 'em till they drop??)

To the best of my knowledge, I've never met Jennifer. I have no personal reason for me to defend her or even to get involved... but there actually is proof within the article that Jennifer has already done the exact suggestions Tom is making.

Tom suggests a "wiser strategy" which includes: acquiring the highest possible value donors by asking for higher denominations in appeals with revelant messages and then working your butt off to convert those donors into monthly donors and/or ask them to donate online.

This is great and it makes perfect sense... but, isn't that exactly what NARAL has already been doing successfully for several years now? Duh.

At worst, it was a mistake for Jennifer to be quoted as saying "have no mercy," but I think Tom should apologize for insinuating that NARAL needs a "wiser strategy" for fundraising.

Saturday, August 18

Oprah's rules for Obama's donors

It's no secret that Oprah loves Barrack Obama's campaign for president. Early next month, Oprah is hosting a garden party fundraiser for Obama.

The LA Times reported Saturday on the instructions being sent to donors by Julianna Smoot, Obama's national finance director.

Among the rules told to donors: no gifts for either Obama or Oprah will be accepted on site, security procedures to prevent ticket re-sales, and even dress code expectations.

First, you need to wear "Garden Attire." And that don't mean clothes to go garden in, folks. It means summery, sheer, lots of linen, maybe some floppy hats, blazers, contrasting slacks and open collars for the guys (because you know Barack likes open collars).
Finally, the event at Oprah's house in Montecito is not being called "a fundraiser" -its being called "a celebration."

Thursday, August 16

Blackbaud blogs reveal news.... and gossip

If you use Raiser's Edge or any Blackbaud product in your fundraising program - you might be familiar with - a nonprofit blog written by Blackbaud employees.

You may also be familiar that others besides this site - like the Nonprofit Tech Blog - are covering Blackbaud's acquisition of eTapestry.

Less well known - yet very interesting is a group called the Blackbaud User Society (BlackBUS). Their blog and discussion board is a non-vendor suite of forums created and maintained by volunteers in order to share experiences, ideas and other relevant information as users of products from Blackbaud. They claim that of the 15,000 clients, they just registered the 1000th member of the BlackBUS community... that's 7% of all clients.

Finally. Even if you knew about those two pieces, you most likely haven't heard that Oracle could be considering an acquisition of Blackbaud. Barron's Online quoted Cowen's Peter Goldmacher as saying BLKB is on his list of Oracle's potential targets.

Hmmmm..... maybe Oracle is interested in buying this blog.

Wednesday, August 15

Vote in our new poll

I added a cool new feature to the Don't Tell the Donor blog. The poll question in the top right corner could provide some fun feedback... but we need your help. When you see a new poll on this site, in the next couple weeks, please take a second to answer.

Our site meter tells me this site is generating between 2,000 and 3,000 unique readers each month - and we're growing. Our feedburner just spiked above 300 for the first time since we launched this site.

Why not forward this blog to a couple fundraising friends today and ask them to sign up for our email feed? Help grow the community.

For regular readers that don't know - this blogspot page recently acuqired a new URL:

Both sites continue to point the same place, but please bookmark using the new .org URL above.

Monday, August 13

Flight 93 Memorial fundraising still slow

Kecia Bal at The Tribune-Democrat published an excellent article today on the fundraising challenges facing the Flight 93 National Memorial.

One might expect that, after five years of fundraising, more than $12 million would have been raised nationally.

Particularly since Shanksville became an American icon: The first symbolic counterstrike against the terrorists; the riveting cell phone calls from plane to home and vice versa; heroics that prevented a crash at the Capitol.
Some people have blamed the slow fundraising on the fact that Shanksville is in the middle of nowhere:

One challenge is that corporate donations are more likely to go to the memorials in the metropolitan areas, said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a Chicago-based charity watchdog group.

“It’s not as attractive from a marketing standpoint,” he said. “It’s not all about altruism. It’s about courting favor with the public and gaining publicity.”
But this blog previously reported in April of this year that fundraising trouble was brewing.
Officials involved in the memorial began in April a transition to let go of Ketchum Inc., a Pittsburgh agency retained two years ago to generate the $30 million.

The National Park Foundation, which is chartered by Congress to serve in a philanthropic role, is to take on new aspects of fundraising.
I recommend the entire article for more of a detailed analysis.

Thursday, August 9

Blackbaud buys eTapestry

Paul Clolery at The Nonprofit Times reported earlier this week on yet another consolidation in the online fundraising arena:

Nonprofit software provider Blackbaud has made its second major acquisition this year, buying online donor management and advocacy tool eTapestry. During the past two years Blackbaud has spent more than $90 million on acquisitions in the nonprofit software and advocacy marketplace.

The eTapestry deal further consolidates the online advocacy message delivery and fundraising market. Convio in Austin, Texas acquired GetActive Software of Berkeley, Calif., earlier this year.

Blackbaud will pay $24.8 million for eTapestry and up to another $1.5 million under a two-year, stock-based performance incentive arrangement. eTapestry had unaudited revenue of approximately $7 million for 2006, according to a Blackbaud spokesperson. The company did not make any of their executives immediately available for interview but did provide statements.

Blackbaud's stock price surged 10% following Monday's news.

Maybe Blackbaud would be interested in buying this blog? I'd be a lot cheaper than $25 million. If you want to read more about the acquisition, go here.

Tuesday, August 7

Did Fox News host Gibson's show slander John Edwards?

Media Matters posted a rather disturbing story last night:

On the August 3[rd] edition of Fox News host John Gibson's nationally syndicated radio program, the show's executive producer, who goes by the name "Angry Rich" on the program, claimed Democratic presidential candidate former Sen. John Edwards (NC) "whored his wife's cancer as a fundraising gimmick." He also went on to call him "a fraud" and "a pansy."
What's really interesting is that Media Matters and John Gibson have already engaged in a sparring match earlier this summer over fundraising. The website ran this clip on July 6th.
Gibson claimed that Media Matters has been "taking money from the Tides Foundation, which is a George Soros-funded operation. Over a short period of years, got $3.5 million, and they spend all their time now attacking anybody who breathes a word about not liking Hillary." As previously indicated, Soros has never given money to Media Matters, either directly or through another organization. As Media Matters documented when Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely suggested that Soros funded Media Matters through the Tides Foundation, Soros' Open Society Institute's donations to Tides were all designated for specific programs, and Media Matters was not included on this list.
If you'd liked to contact this "Angry Rich" guy, I guess you can use this website.

Newsom fundraising down 40 percent

Joe Lynne at Fog City Journal has detailed some reasons why San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's fundraising numbers could be off 40 percent from the 2003 election cycle.

The truth is... there are several reasons, not the least of which is that Newsom admitted having an affair with the wife of Alex Tourke - his campaign manager, chief of staff, and close friend.

What's even more impressive is that the author predicted fundraising trouble way back in February.

Sunday, August 5

Strange bedfellows accuse Humane Society of "fudging it" in fundraising appeal

I don't like the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). For me, the group has never been able to elevate above its reputation that it was anymore more than a conservative front group with questionable funding sources.

The group was created in 1995 as the Guest Choice Network by Richard Berman, executive director of the public affairs firm Berman and Company, with $600,000 from the Philip Morris tobacco company. It didn't take long for CCF to get donations from the same companies Richard Berman represented through trades association.

The supporters list as of December 1996 included Alliance Gaming (slot machines), Anheuser-Busch (beer), Bruss Company (steaks and chops), Cargill Processed Meat Products, Davidoff (cigars), Harrah's (casinos), Overhill Farms (frozen foods), Philip Morris, and Standard Meat Company (steaks). The group's Advisory Panel comprised representatives from most of these companies, plus further representatives from the restaurant industry, Senator George McGovern, and Carl Vogt of law firm Fulbright and Jaworski.
Make no mistake. The CCF has a scary agenda. It has been set up to expose embarrassing missteps of grassroots local groups that challenge the industries represented by Richard Berman.

So, I knew I was going to have a problem when a longtime reader sent me an email asking me simply to consider a link to a webpage set up by CCF that accuses The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) of intentional deception during its recent fundraising campaign on the Michael Vick dogfighting case.

Let’s recap: Vick was indicted on July 17. The next day, HSUS was raising money on the promise that it would be used to “care for” Vick’s dogs.

The Humane Society must have realized they shouldn't be raising "restricted gifts" if the group wasn't going to be closely involved with the case. So they changed their website to a more generic dogfighting message. It's interesting that the "Vick campaign" fundraising page doesn't mention Vick's name at all.

The expose at CCF points to recent article in the New York Times that not only wasn’t HSUS “caring for” them, but its president had no idea who is, or where. And -- oh, yes -- he’d very much like them dead.

Wow. That's a pretty fierce critique of HSUS's aggressive fundraising. No fundraiser wants to get caught raising money for something it might not even be doing. But would it change your mind about giving a potential donation - just because they sent a fundraising email saying they were going to care for the dogs seized and then weren't involved in that process?

And does it change your mind that this information is coming from the Center for Consumer Freedom - a group I describe as a front group for conservative business interests?

Strange bedfellows indeed... and that's without even talking about the identity of the person who send us the email tip ...or even the writer on this blog.

UPDATE: Wayne Pacelle, thePresident and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, posted this response to the CCF on his blog.

Saturday, August 4

Take the DTTD poll

We've added a poll to the upper right section of the blog asking readers what they would like to see more of on this site. Feel free to choose more than one option. The poll will be open for one week.

You can also leaves your comments to this post. Thanks for the feedback.

Also, please note that you can now visit directly to access this blog.

Thursday, August 2

Fundraising consultant leaves Thompson campaign after lackluster month

Presidential campaigns always seem to offer the best gossip.

Only days after Fred Thompson reported lackluster fundraising numbers, the Associated Press is reporting that a top fundraising consultant is leaving the campaign.

Kim Kaegi, whose company was paid $35,000 in June, said Wednesday that her work was only meant to include the startup phase of the actor-politician's "testing the waters" fundraising effort.
It was less than a month ago that the Washington Post ran a story on the powerful players on the Thompson team:
But Thompson has Jim Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Travel Center and a Bush Ranger, as well as Michael Lebovitz, also a Bush Ranger, in his camp. Dorinda Moss, a native of Tennessee, is Thompson's national finance director.

Less well known but no less important is Kim Kaegi, a Tennessee fundraiser extraordinaire who has collected cash for nearly every serious GOP candidate in the state over the last several cycles. Kaegi was the driving force behind Sen. Bob Corker's (R-Tenn) 2006 campaign in which he raised more than $13 million.
While Kaegi called it a "stretch" to speculate that her departure was related to lower-than-expected totals.

Ok Kim. Just keep telling yourself that.

Wednesday, August 1

Kerry sends fundraising email for The Jimmy Fund

I have friends who are democrats and leading up to the 2004 presidential election they got more email from John Kerry than they did from their own families. While the subjects were always a different "hot" issue - the campaign always asked for money.

Today, my friend said he got yet another email from John Kerry. The e-mailed request bears the heading "Because I was lucky," but the real surprise was the subject of the note.

The former presidential candidate said, "help John Kerry support the Jimmy Fund." He writes that he'll be among the 200 or so riders who are cancer survivors. "At the fund-raising training sessions for the event, they tell you to e-mail your friends for their help. But I don't suppose they realized I had 3 million friends in my e-mail address book."

He told Bella English at the Boston Globe:

"It's a good feeling," said Kerry, 63, who spoke on his way to Belmont Wheelworks, the bike store he frequents. He needed a new wheel for his custom-built Serotta and had to get his bicycle cleats fixed before this weekend's Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. He'll join 4,300 other cyclists to benefit cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Kerry, an avid cyclist, has participated in the fund-raiser three times before, raising $12,475. He's also biked for cancer research in Iowa with Lance Armstrong, a two-time survivor, and wears on his left wrist the yellow rubber "Livestrong" bracelet worn by millions of Armstrong fans.
This year, for the first time, he sent a charitable pledge plea to his database of 3 million supporters. You can see the email here.

Or you can sponsor John Kerry at this website.

Organ donors fear doctors want them dead

You've heard the jokes before. Potential organ donors worry that doctors won't try as hard to save their lives once they find out the potential donors have agreed to give up their organs.

Since there are some 97,000 people currently awaiting a transplant nationally - any dip in the donation rate would have grave consequences. However, a criminal case in California could lead to exactly the kind of bad press the organ transplant community fears.

On Monday, prosecutors in California's San Luis Obispo County charged 33-year-old Hootan Roozrokh, a rising transplant surgeon, with prescribing massive amounts of drugs in an attempt to hasten the death of 25-year-old Ruben Navarro, who was physically and mentally disabled.

Kevin Chaffin, an attorney for Navarro's mother, Rosa, told Alicia Chang at the Associated Press the case chalked up to “predatory harvesting practices.”

Attempts to recover the organs were abandoned because Navarro did not die within the 30 minutes after being taken off life support when his organs would be suitable for transplantation. He was returned to the intensive care unit where he died the next day.

Roozrokh was charged with three felony counts and faces up to eight years in state prison if convicted. Roozrokh planned to surrender this week and post $10,000 bail.
You can read the rest of the story here.