Monday, April 30

International Katrina aid goes unclaimed

The Washington Post ran a troubling story Sunday about the extent of aid from international allies that went unused, spoiled, or uncollected after the hurricanes that hit the gulf in 2005.

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

In addition, valuable supplies and services -- such as cellphone systems, medicine and cruise ships -- were delayed or declined because the government could not handle them. In some cases, supplies were wasted.
And if that doesn't seem shameful on its surface - the article also shares internal communications between government workers who struggled to explain why things failed.
In one exchange, State Department officials anguished over whether to tell Italy that its shipments of medicine, gauze and other medical supplies spoiled in the elements for weeks after Katrina's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, and were destroyed. "Tell them we blew it," one disgusted official wrote. But she hedged: "The flip side is just to dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded."

In another instance, the Department of Homeland Security accepted an offer from Greece on Sept. 3, 2005, to dispatch two cruise ships that could be used free as hotels or hospitals for displaced residents. The deal was rescinded Sept. 15 after it became clear a ship would not arrive before Oct. 10. The U.S. eventually paid $249 million to use Carnival Cruise Lines vessels.
I fear that the future responsibilities of managing these offers of in-kind contributions after the next major national incident have still not been adequately incorporated into disaster response plans.

Sunday, April 29

Flight 93 Memorial shifts fundraising strategy (again)

Back in January, we wrote about the fundraising challenges being faced by the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission. Newsday finally ran a story on Friday reporting on the fact that the group has only raised $11 million toward its $30 million goal.

Organizers now say they are shifting their strategy to close the gap and will instead focus on a direct mail program instead of relying on a larger individual donor program.

The group mailed over 1.9 million letters signed by former Gov. Tom Ridge, the honorary co-chairman of the memorial.

John Reynolds, chairman of the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission told Daniel Lovering at The Associated Press Writer the mailing has yielded tens of thousands of responses.

"We've been getting a series of $250 donations," he said. "That's been a bit of a surprise to us."
While others in the industry said they agreed this may be a good strategic shift, there still seems to be blame to pass around for lackluster fundraising to date.
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy in Chicago, said the Flight 93 memorial project was "certainly operating reasonably," but may face difficulties as enthusiasm wanes for such memorials.

"The question is, why weren't they more aggressive closer to 9/11?" he said. "It would have been easier had they tried to do it earlier."

Officials involved with the project say it took longer than expected because it was akin to starting a new nonprofit organization, and that it takes time to build momentum.

Seems like a smart strategic shift to me.

Friday, April 27

Nonprofit fundraising blog from Italy

I wish I could read Italian and figure out what this website was talking about... it looks like a good one:

Raccogliamo in questo sito tutti i blog di organizzazioni nonprofit o a supporto della mission di organizzazioni nonprofit ed anche blog che parlano di nonprofit, fund raising, responsabilità sociale.
Thanks to Babel Fish I was able to translate the description of the blog as this:
We collect in these situated all the blog of organizations nonprofit or to support of the mission of organizations nonprofit and also blog that they speak about nonprofit, fund raising, social responsibility.
Welcome to the international blogosphere.

Thursday, April 26

What did American Idol really give back?

Admit it. There were a lot of skeptics who didn't believe American Idol's two day charity fundraiser was anything more than a well oiled publicity campaign.

I just read a Reuters story written by Jill Serjeant and it sounds like there might be an interesting story developing. Serjeant writes that some viewers expressed concern about silence from corporate sponsors since making earlier pledges that they would match each vote cast by viewers with donations.

A record 70 million votes were cast by text or telephone.

Fox said the event had already raised $60 million in corporate and viewer donations, and more money was coming in. An updated total will be announced when "American Idol" returns to its regular format next week.
When asked for comment:
Sponsors Coca-Cola and Ford declined on Thursday to say how much they had donated, citing business confidentiality. Ford said its contribution was tied to Internet downloads of its "Idol" music videos. AT&T could not be reached for comment.
Even if the corporate sponsors bail from their original pledges, the success of the medium cannot be underestimated.

The ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History, a coalition of dozens of nonprofits like Oxfam and Save the Children, said more than 70,000 Americans joined the campaign after the show, which included an appeal by Irish rock star and spokesman Bono.
I was kind of hoping that Where Most Needed would have already dug into the 990s of the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (CPEF).

CPEF was set up to administer the funds disbursement to the following eight charities; Boys & Girls Club of America; Children's Health Fund; Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Malaria No More; Nothing But Nets; Save the Children; and U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Wednesday, April 25

McCain replaces top fundraiser

Still reeling from his first quarter fundraising miss, McCain's campaign has replaced Carla Eudy, a long-time adviser, with Mary Kate Johnson, a former Bush fundraiser according to Katharine Q. Seelye at the New York Times.

The campaign’s change in finance directors reflects an imperative to signal a new aggressiveness in the fund-raising department — even though Ms. Eudy, who raised eye-popping amounts for former Senator Philip W. Gramm of Texas when he ran for president in 1996, has been called one of the best in the business.

Her removal from the top fundraising spot also marks the further influence over the McCain campaign by veterans of President Bush’s team, who banished Mr. McCain in the primaries in 2000. Ms. Johnson was deputy finance director for Mr. Bush in 2000 and led his fund-raising for the 2001 inauguration.

I hate to say "I told you so," but we saw this one coming 18 days ago.

Monday, April 23

Muslim leaders ridicule Sheik's donation audit

Last summer, Muslims in Sydney, Australia donated more than $70,000 to a group called the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) in order to help the victims of last year's Israel-Hezbollah war.

However, LMA President Tom Zreika told The Australian newspaper last month that one of the fundraisers had been delaying accounting to the LMA for approximately $38,000 (USD).

The Australian Federal Police are investigating the fundraising as a possible breach of Australia's new anti-terrorism laws. Taj al-Din al-Hilali (the fundraiser in question) announced this weekend he was launching his own inquiry into how the donations were distributed throughout war-torn Lebanon.

The Egyptian-born mufti said on the weekend through his spokesman Keysar Trad that the inquiry would determine the money trail. But documents uncovered by The Australian this month reveal Sheik Hilali's handwritten notes on whom he gave some of the money to, including a $US10,000 ($11,900) payment to Lebanese political leader Sheik Bilal Shaaban, who has alleged links to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.
The Muslim community was not impressed.

Even if he didn't give it to Hezbollah, how could he not know where the money went?
In the latest development in the controversy, the mufti denies he was responsible for the cash.

“The Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) in Lakemba, upon my suggestion, sent the money to Lebanon to (LMA agent) Sheik Yahya Safi,” the mufti told SBS Radio before boarding his flight from Cairo.

“I wish he would open his mouth and confirm this because he is a witness.
It's bad enough some Muslim donors have to be scared that their charitable giving will make them the target of police prosecution, I doubt they need the extra worry of fundraisers with poor record keeping like Sheik Hilali making things worse.

Sunday, April 22

E-bay demands ticket resellers donate 20% of sale price to charity event

There are several remarkable events are going on today to celebrate Earth Day. But the issue of global warming is going to get even more attention in the next several months leading up to Live Earth concerts on July 7th.

Live Earth will bring together more than 150 of the world's top musicians for 24-hours of music from 7 concerts across all 7 continents. Live Earth will bring together an audience of more than 2 billion at the concerts and through television, radio, film, and the Internet. That audience, and the proceeds from the event, will create the foundation for a new, multi-year global effort to combat the climate crisis led by Vice President Al Gore. Kevin Wall, Worldwide Executive Producer of Live 8, is producing Live Earth.
Tickets went on sale this past Monday and the demand was huge. The Wembley Live Earth concert had some 203,000 fans registered for the 60,000-odd tickets.

It did not take long for tickets to go up on eBay for 5 or 6 times the face price. On Thursday, eBay confirmed it will carry tickets for the UK and US Live Earth concerts, however they will impose a mandatory requirement that 20% of the price be donated to charity.

An eBay spokesman told the BBC:
"Although the charity will have benefited from the original sale of the ticket, we think it makes sense to use our charity fundraising programme to ensure that good causes benefit from the resale of any spare tickets on the site.

As a result, users who decide to resell their tickets will be required to donate at least 20% of the final sale price to good causes through our charity fundraising platform."
In 2005 eBay banned Live 8 tickets, after organizer Bob Geldof called the attempted sale of the free tickets "sick profiteering".

Saturday, April 21

Donors respond to VA Tech shooting

The Washington Post ran another story today on the response of donors from around world who turned to fundraising in response to the tragedy.

People want to do something. For most, that means giving money.

"It really has been amazing, the number of people who have been calling from all over the world asking how they can make a donation," said Chuck Lionberger, a volunteer at the emergency phone center set up by Virginia Tech's university relations office. "Many that I have personally spoken to have been in tears. There's been such an outpouring of emotion and effort on behalf of the university."

The article cites Jane Stringer, the director of gift accounting for the school, as saying the priority is providing help to the victims and their families. The article also says the school hasn't decided whether that will mean financial support or medical or funeral assistance.

Thursday, April 19

Stamp's charity criminal of the week

Trent Stamp has started what I hope will be a regular feature on his blog called, the "Charity Criminal of the Week."

This week's charity criminal is Selvyn A. McMillan of Columbia, Missouri. Mr. McMillan was arrested last week for breaking into the local Big Brothers Big Sisters. As Stamp points out, there are too many stories about people stealing from charities... but what makes this story so crazy is that fact that McMillan is believed to have broken in on 3 times within a four consecutive night period.

City asks police to fold their charity poker tournaments

Last summer the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police charitable foundation began sponsoring Texas Hold ' em poker tournaments. In less than a year, organizers say they've raised about $88,000 for Portsmouth Catholic Elementary School and the state FOP's charitable foundation.

Apparently, the FOP didn't think they were doing anything wrong. But, under Virginia law illegal gambling is defined as:

"the making of any bet... of money or other thing of value made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake or thing of value... the outcome of which is uncertain, or a matter of chance."
Officials in Portsmouth and in the state legislature can't agree whether poker tournaments are a game of skill or chance. After months of emails, organizers have said that when their lease with the Boulevard Bingo hall expires on June 10th, they will fold their game.

(Thanks to Reed over at the AFP news blog for the tip.)

Wednesday, April 18

VA Tech establishes Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund

While much of the country was stunned by the tragedy at Virginia Tech on Monday, the development office moved quickly to provide an opportunity for grieving donors.

The university created the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which will raise money to aid with grief counseling, memorial costs, and communication expenses for the families of the victims.

Any memorial gifts, payable to the “Virginia Tech Foundation,” designated specifically for the “Virginia Tech Family Fund,” should be mailed to University Development, 902 Prices Fork Road (0336), Blacksburg, VA 24061.

Monday, April 16

Agassi busts Graf's lip with racket during fundraising event

Steffi Graf required three stitches Sunday after husband Andre Agassi inadvertently hit her in the face with his racket during a fundraiser that followed the final of the U.S. Clay Court Championships according to Associated Press reports.

Agassi and Graf were in Houston because Agassi is part of a reality show called 'The Big Give,' an upcoming Oprah Winfrey production.

Here's the part of the story that caught my eye:

At least the incident gave one fan a thrill. Stefan Krenzer had just donated $70,000 to the fundraising effort on behalf of a rundown school in the Texan town of La Marque, in return for a tennis lesson from Agassi and Graf.

In the end, his credentials as a doctor found him giving Graf three stitches to the lip, giving him rather closer exposure to the star couple than he had bid for or intended.

How funny is that a doctor was the one who won the auction to play with the superstar couple? I guess it would have been funnier if the auction winner was a personal injury attorney. (Thanks to loyal reader JBJ for pointing us toward this story.)

Sunday, April 15

Smithsonian: Reeves wheelchair not enough

The New York Post reported last week that Deborah Morosini, the sister of Reeve's late wife, Dana, had offered the beloved actor's chair to the Smithsonian so his gallant struggle to survive against the odds will be remembered for generations.

But the deal fell through when the organization said thanks, but no thanks.

Katherine Ott, a curator at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., which is run by the Smithsonian, confirmed to The Post's Marianne Garvey that officials wanted much more than the wheelchair. She said the museum wants an entire collection of Reeve's possessions - but once the family learned of the demand, they cut off the contract.

"We want more than the wheelchair," Ott said. "We need the whole history of his experience, not just one piece. We want the fuller story, not just the chair. What if people look at only the chair 50 years from now? It won't tell the whole story."

Among other items requested were Reeve's medications, his exercise equipment, a special bike he used, a tiltboard, literature he collected and letters he wrote about his condition. "We made a list and we never heard back," Ott said.

Despite the fact that the Smithsonian looks like the bad guy for rejecting Superman's wheelchair... I actually respect nonprofit staff that place restrictions on what they will accept instead of being forced to take every in-kind 'donation' someone wants to give.

Future of Imus Ranch in question?

Be sure to check out two new pieces on the future of the Imus Ranch: the first one over at Where Most Needed questions the amount of oversight provided by the Board and the second at ABC News interviews Trent Stamp on the potential impact on fundraising.

The annual two-day fundraising radiothon, benefiting the ranch and two charities that refer children to it, had raised more than $2.3 million as of Friday, according to Deirdre Imus, who hosted Friday's show... you have to think that some of the donors who gave this year did it mainly because they thought Imus was getting a raw deal.

Friday, April 13

Fake donor gets 42 months in prison

Do you remember Hakan Yalincak? Yalincak was a senior history major at New York University when he was indicted on numerous fraud counts in 2005.

This blog wrote about him back in December because in a related part of the story, he fooled NYU into thinking he would donate $21 million to build a lecture hall and create a scholarship fund and an Ottoman Studies professorship.

With that history in mind, U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton Wednesday sentenced Yalincak, now 23, to 3½ years in federal prison, in part to find and develop the moral compass she said "is either not present or not functioning.

Tuesday, April 10

Will 'scandals' hurt universities' fundraising?

This June, University of Illinois President Joseph White will start an ambitious campaign to raise $2 billion.

In interviews with The Associated Press this week, White and James Gobberdiel of the University of Illinois Foundation (the university's fundraising arm) discussed whether they thought the school's recent decision to scrap its controversial American Indian mascot and the arrests of several athletes would impact fundraising.

One would-be donor, upset about the loss of the mascot, backed out of a donation that would have topped $100,000, Gobberdiel said. But few other benefactors have spoken up, he said.

Similarly, White said troubles in the athletic department on the Champaign-Urbana campus shouldn't affect his ability to raise money. They are a bigger problem for the students involved than for the university.

Yeah, I guess he's right. A good fundraiser should be able to get you around these kinds of troubles... unless of course you find yourself like Toledo University and you're mired in an alleged point shaving betting scandal... now I'd imagine that can't make fundraising easy.

Monday, April 9

Imus suspension delayed for charity fundraiser

Last Wednesday Don Imus made his repugnant and racist comments about the young women who play for the Rutgers basketball team. Many are calling for him to be fired.

Earlier today MSNBC announced that they would suspend Imus for two weeks as punishment for his remarks, but not until next Monday, April 16th. Minutes ago, CBS Radio issued an identical punishment.

Why are they waiting until next Monday? Perhaps this is the answer:
Both MSNBC and CBS Radio said they would go ahead and air the previously scheduled Imus radiothon in support of the Tomorrow's Children's Fund, the CJ Foundation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome research and the Imus Ranch planned for Thursday and Friday.
Yes, that's right, everyone loves the Imus Ranch, right? We are led to believe doing it immediately wouldn't be fair for the poor sick kids.

I mean... it's not as if his charity hasn't been the subject of criticism in the past. This review on the Charity Governance Blog from two years ago gives us a good place to start.

Thursday, April 5

A closer look at McCain's fundraising miss

Many people were surprised by Sen. McCain's low first quarter fundraising numbers. But as Jill Lawrence at the USA Today reports: they didn't do enough asking.

The numbers bear that out. McCain had 31 fundraising events in the first quarter and raised $12.5 million. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani had 57 fundraisers, 36 of them in March, and raised $15 million.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney - the Republicans' first-place finisher in the first quarter with $23 million - spent 33 days in February and March raising money. Some days his schedule had several events. Romney raised more than $6.5 million on Jan. 9, when he assembled 400 well-connected supporters to make calls from the Boston convention center.

The McCain campaign "saw this coming" and restructured, chief strategist John Weaver says. He says the pace set in March - 27 events - will continue, and a new finance chief, Texan and former Bush fundraiser Tom Loeffler, will oversee expanded fundraising with better tracking of progress.Weaver said McCain's total of 60,000 donors is evidence that "there was no political problem. It was a structural problem."

It seems a little too early to be restructuring your fundraising chief out of his job. In fact, the last time I heard a candidate complain about low fundraising because they started too late... and then shook up the fundraising staff... well... it was Bob Graham and he dropped out of the Presidential Primary race shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, April 3

Donors raise money while wearing kilts

The Rock Trust works to provide opportunities for young vulnerable homeless and socially excluded people in Edinburgh and other areas of Scotland.

To raise funds for the important work, they help organize The Rock Trust Kilt Walk where every entrant is asked to raise a minimum sponsorship target of just £50 and where a kilt. The money raised goes directly to The Rock Trust.

Its a new sponsored walk with a difference for all the family where you can proudly wear your kilt, along with hundreds of other kilted walkers, on a 5km route around some of Scotland's most famous sights.
The event this year was on Sunday. Organizers claimed before the walk they would have more than 250 walkers. Not only will walkers receive a commemorative kiltpin, everybody who completes the route can enjoy a post-walk concert at the Ross Theatre, featuring Scottish band Scocha.

The organizer Gerard McCauley even told one reporter he received a phone call from a group of vacation planners in Brazil who were really keen to be involved.

Is the kilt walk the offline equivalent of an online community space bringing together diversity people from all over the world to take part in a charity fundraising event?

Sunday, April 1

''We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?
—Is he in hell?
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.''

For those of you who have read The Scarlet Pimpernel, you know the best part doesn't happen until Sir Percy leaves for France and Marguerite realizes that he is the Pimpernel. He had created the persona of a witless fop in order to deceive the world as to his true activities.

Happy April Fools Day folks.

Sorry for getting your hopes up. Maybe "a fundraiser" will reveal his/her identity next year.