Thursday, June 28

Is Romney facing a drop-off?

You know it must be the end of a fundraising quarter for presidential candidates when a group like the DNC takes the effort to issue a press release pointing out that a specific candidate is struggling to raise money for the Republican nomination:

One day after the New York Times reported that smooth talking Mitt Romney is facing "a fund-raising drop- off for this quarter," Romney brings his struggling campaign fundraising team back to New York City today. The situation has gotten so bad for Romney that he was forced to admit during his campaign's latest splashy national call day event -- an event that raised $5 million less than a similar event in the first quarter -- that he will once again dip into his personal fortune to fund his campaign. In January, Romney said taking such a step "would be akin to a nightmare," a statement he made AFTER loaning himself $2.35 million in what he called "seed money." [AP,4/3/07] Asked why he decided to re-live that particular nightmare, Romney said: "Because I have to, all right?" [New York Times, 6/27/07] Reports indicate Romney is on pace to raise just two-thirds of his first quarter fundraising total. [New York Times, 6/27/07]

Romney's fundraising troubles come as he continues to lag far behind the Republican front runners. Despite the fact that Romney has spent more than $4 million in television ads, the latest Rasmussen poll of Republican primary voters shows that just 12 percent support Romney -- 15 points behind Fred Thompson, who isn't even in the race yet. [Rasmussen Report,6/26/07]

"Mitt Romney is having a tough time on the campaign trail and in the fundraising race because the more the voters see him, the more they see through his smooth talk and flip-flops," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera.
"Romney still hasn't figured out that the American people want strong and decisive leaders who respect the voters enough to defend their real record, not try to smooth talk their way out of it."

Yes folks, sometimes it's all about the expectations game... but other times - it's just about kicking a guy while he's down. Don't worry too much, Mitt has good friends to turn to.

Wednesday, June 27

Will Edwards miss Q2 fundraising goal?

Randy Lilleston hints that Edwards is about to report a miss over at the USA Today's On Politics blog:

There's some back-of-the-hand math being performed in the media and blogosphere over an e-mail recently sent out by Joe Trippi, a senior adviser on John Edwards' campaign, in which he tells supporters the campaign is two-thirds of the way to its $9 million goal for the quarter. The problem: The quarter's almost over.

The Hill notes today that: 1) This gives Edwards only nine days to raise $3 million and 2) even the $9 million number would be $5 million less than Edwards raised in the first quarter.

Edwards' campaign, in return, tells The Hill their fundraising is going according to plan.

Rumors have been circulating all week. made similar calculations yesterday, while earlier this week reported Edwards is refocusing on New Hampshire and is on track to raise considerably less this quarter than last.

Saturday, June 23

MacArthur Foundation enters Second Life

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has given the Center on Public Diplomacy of the University of Southern California $550,000 to stage events in Second Life, including discussions of how foundations can address issues like migration and education.

Our second favorite New York Times reporter, Stephanie Strom, had an article yesterday which describes how Jonathan Fanton, MacArthur's president, has an avatar known as Jonathan MacFound. He recently discussed the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds with Philip Rosedale, the founder and chief executive of Linden Labs, the company that produces Second Life.

In an interview, Mr. Fanton said MacArthur planned to eventually open an office in a virtual world and make grants through it that will become actual grants in the real world. “We’re still figuring out how to do that,” he said. “All of this is a learning experience.”

Mr. Rosedale said making grants in the virtual world offered a way for foundations to explore concepts and develop programs before rolling them out. “You can start things very cheaply in Second Life, play with them and let them germinate, and then put more behind them if and when they take off,” he said.

Charities and other nonprofit groups are also beginning to migrate into the so-called metaverse, seeking ways of attracting new donors and hoping to educate a broader audience about the issues they address.

The article also reports that over 30 nonprofits have opened offices in a virtual business incubator in Second Life called the Nonprofit Commons that is operated by TechSoup, a group that helps other nonprofits with technology.

Wednesday, June 20

Six die at charity drag race

Six people, ages 15 to 22, died, and at least 23 others were injured when a drag racing car crashed during the “Cars for Kids” annual fundraiser in Selmer, Tennessee.

Four high-powered dragsters, including one driven by pro drag racer Troy Critchley, were scheduled for the show's popular "burnout exhibition" in which drivers spin their tires to make them heat up and smoke. Hundreds of spectators, unprotected by guard rails, lined both sides of a three-lane highway to watch the show.

Critchley was first off the line, but he lost control and crashed into spectators standing several rows deep in front of a fast-food restaurant.

Amateur video of the crash, broadcast on WMC-TV in Memphis, showed the car's engine revving loudly before the vehicle sped down the highway. After a few hundred feet, the smoking car skidded off the road and into the crowd.
Organizers say the event has been held in Selmer for 18 years. Cars for Kids holds several events throughout the nation and raises close to $200,000 per year for charities that help children in need, according to the charity's Web site.

Saturday, June 16

Donation box removed from Flight 93 crash site

A controversial donation box is being removed from the Flight 93 crash site. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell announced on Tuesday a $120,000 grant to pay for security at the site for two years.

Although the box says “Flight 93 National Memorial,” money donated actually goes to the land owner, who said he needs to pay for his security costs of $10,000 per month, for which both the government and Families for Flight 93 refuse to reimburse him.

Mike Svonavec said he erected the box to cover security costs at the site near Shanksville, which includes a temporary memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the box angered victims' families, and the National Park Service covered it with a black plastic bag.
WTAE - channel 4 in Pittsburgh reports these important facts of the story:
The Park Service has a contract with Svonavec to use the land for the memorial, which was established by an act of Congress in 2002. But the act stipulates that land for the permanent memorial must be acquired from willing sellers.

Svonavec, who owns the actual crash site, has refused to negotiate with the families, saying he will only deal with the Park Service. He owns the second-largest parcel of land after PBS Coals Inc., which owns 864 acres. Memorial planners have purchased only 60 acres so far.

A temporary memorial has been erected. Construction of a $58 million permanent memorial and national park is scheduled to begin by 2009, but fundraising has fallen well short of organizers' goals.

Kirk Swauger at The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa reports that three months ago, the county stopped using deputy sheriffs to patrol the memorial after federal funding for security expired.

Friday, June 8

Red Sox whiners for charity

Yankee fans have accused the Red Sox players and fans of being whiners for a long time.

Players Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield proved it recently by teaming up with a pair of Massachusetts wine importers to produce three Red Sox-themed wines, which are being sold throughout New England with the profits going to charity.

ABC News reports:

Alex Graff and John Corcoran began Charity Wines in collaboration with the baseball fundraising group Charity Hop and Major League Baseball to create Longball Vineyards, a venture combining their passions for wine, baseball and philanthropy.

"We had done a lot of charity wine tastings but [were] looking to do something a bit bigger," Graff told ABC News Now.

Each player picked a different charity, Wakefield's "CaberKnuckle" is supporting the New England charity Pitching In for Kids; Ramirez's "Manny Being Merlot" and will benefit Charlee Homes for Children, and Schilling Schardonnay will support Curt's Pitch for ALS.

Thursday, June 7

NAACP cuts 40% of staff - blames fundraising

The Associated Press is reporting that the NAACP will cut its staff from 119 to 70 and close, at least temporarily, its seven regional offices to cover three years of budget shortfalls. The article quotes interim president and chief executive officer Dennis Hayes.

"We had the unexpected departure of our CEO at a time when we were already without a chief development officer. So, understandably, we have to regenerate our revenue machine, our fundraising machine, to get us to where we should have been," Hayes said.
Hayes went on to say the organization has used about $10 million in reserve funds to cover shortfalls over the past three years.

"Gas is more expensive, the cost of living is higher, people are not giving as much as they used to," he said. "And membership, we always need more members. Our impression is we can improve and enhance the way we do things."
Ugh. Something makes me think increases in "gas" prices weren't nearly as important as not having a chief development officer.

Wednesday, June 6

Kidney Donation Denied For Cult Member

A 22 year-old Australian man was denied his request to donate a kidney while in Canada last weekend after concerns were raised that the donation may be a rite of passage to gain membership into a religious cult.

Danielle Godard at AHN News Writer in Toronto wrote this:

Reports claim Falkingham's parents pleaded with the hospital to send their son away, claiming he had been brainwashed by a religious group called Jesus Christians, and the hospital agreed to postpone the operation.

Jesus Christians claim donating a kidney to a stranger is the very ultimate test of a person's faith in God.

The intended recipient, Canadian Sandi Sabloff, said on the ABC program that she found Falkingham through a website called Living Donors Online, where they exchanged correspondence for several months before meeting in Toronto.

Yep... if you are going to tell your donors that you think they are in a cult... by rule I think you need to refuse the donation.

Isn't the kidney of a cult member just as good as the kidney from you or me?

Saturday, June 2

Romney Pledges Salary to Charity if Elected President

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is citing the Associated Press by reporting:

Mr. Romney said he would likely accept the presidential salary of $400,000 annually but would donate the money to charity. While serving as governor of Massachusetts, he declined his $135,000 annual salary.

I guess that's pretty easy when you have assets estimated at $190-million to $250-million.

Friday, June 1

GOP fires telemarketers

According to The Washington Times, the Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors.

Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times.
While there is no doubt the immigration debate is tearing the GOP apart, I honestly believe the real reason the RNC decided to terminate its in-house operation because its cheaper to outsource than to upgrade technology.
Fired employees acknowledged that the committee's phone equipment was outdated, but said a sharp drop-off in donations "probably" hastened the end of the RNC's in-house phone-bank operation.

"Last year, my solicitations totaled $164,000, and this year the way they were running for the first four months, they would total $100,000 by the end of 2007," said one fired phone bank solicitor who asked not to be identified.

Either way, it's more bad press for the RNC.

Hedge funds propel two charity galas

The Economist became the latest publication to write about the large amounts of money being donated by hedge fund managers through special event fundraisers.

In Europe the best-known hedge-fund charity is ARK (Absolute Return for Kids). Established in 2002, it provides AIDS treatment in Africa, helps children escape from abusive orphanages in eastern Europe and finances education in Britain. ARK raised a remarkable $53m at this year's gala dinner, which included a speech by Bill Clinton, a fundraising appeal by Madonna and music by Prince.
This comes weeks after Paul Tudor Jones, founder of Robin Hood and head of the Tudor Group, led a crowd of 4,000 attendees in raising $72 million.