Monday, July 30

WETA's new fundraising ace

The Washington Times ran a story in its business section today on Mary Kay Phelps - the new "fundraising ace" at WETA, the D.C. public broadcasting network.

Miss Phelps most recently worked as senior vice president of Development Resources Inc. in Rossyln, where she worked with local, national and international nonprofits. She worked for three years with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Phoenix as vice president of communications, marketing and development. From 1996 to 2001, she worked for the American Red Cross in various fundraising positions, including senior director of direct-response fundraising and planned giving at its national headquarters in the District.
Phelps predecessor, Sue Richmond, spent more than 30 years with WETA working in fundraising and membership.

To be honest, I've been curious how WETA fundraising has been affected since a controversial format shift this past January. Anyone care to shed some light?

Sunday, July 29

Cleavage comments lead to fundraising email

Hillary Clinton 's campaign has developed a reputation that it will respond strongly to any perceived attacks. It happened again this week when the Washington Post's fashion writer Robin Givhan, took note of the Clinton's cleavage showing from a low neckline during a speech on the Senate floor:

It was startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative -- aesthetically speaking -- environment of Congress. After all, it wasn't until the early '90s that women were even allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor. It was even more surprising to note that it was coming from Clinton, someone who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both.
The focus on Clinton's bosom rather than her national security policy drew an explosion of "thousands of angry letters and calls" from readers, mostly women, the newspaper's ombudsman later wrote.

Senior Clinton adviser Ann Lewis seized on the story to send out this fundraising email which starts:
Can you believe that The Washington Post wrote a 746-word article on Hillary's cleavage? ..... I've seen some off-topic press coverage--but talking about body parts? That is grossly inappropriate.

Frankly, focusing on women's bodies instead of their ideas is insulting. It's insulting to every women who has ever tried to be taken seriously in a business meeting. It's insulting to our daughters--and our sons--who are constantly pressured by the media to grow up too fast.
Howard Kurtz with Anne E. Kornblut's column in the Washington Post blog The Trail offers a defense which quotes Givhan as saying, "It was about a style of dress. People have gone down the road of saying, 'I can't believe you're writing about her breasts.' I wasn't writing about her breasts. I was writing about her neckline."

Friday, July 27

I’m no stranger to trying to raise money under tough circumstances

Back in 2001, Benedict College, the historically black institution in Columbia, South Carolina raised $5.2 million in private gifts. Since then... their fundraising has been in a bit of a funk.

In the past two years, Benedict has averaged about $2.5 million a year in private gifts while similiar school like Claflin University in Orangeburg, raised $6.8 million in private gifts in the year that ended June 30, 2006.

To revive the anemic private donations, the college hired Love Collins III, a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army officer. In his previous job Collins was a vice president for advancement at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati where he raised more than $11.1 million.

In an interview with James T. Hammond at The State, Collins said:

“I’m no stranger to trying to raise money under tough circumstances,” said Collins, Benedict’s new executive vice president for institutional advancement. “But I’m a firm believer that if you tell people what your plan is, they will help you.”
...and it appears things are already going well.

Collins said he has just closed out Benedict’s Alumni Annual Giving Campaign, raising $787,859 in gifts and pledges for the academic year that just ended. That total compares with $696,520 a year earlier; $654,520 in 2005; and $655,771 in 2004.

I love the fact that one man can really turn a fundraising program around.

Thursday, July 26

Beef, breast cancer and fundraising

Ray Kellosalmi (a physician in British Columbia) is asking some tough questions about the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) partnership with rodeos. The campaign is called Tough Enough to Wear Pink and raises money through the sale of pink Wrangler shirts and other pink-themed merchandise. In an article in today's Globe and Mail, he writes:

Everyone seems to benefit. Wrangler's brand is promoted and the CBCF gets money for cancer research. And the rodeo can associate itself with a worthy cause — quite handy to blunt criticism over its controversial treatment of animals (although one anti-rodeo activist recently told a Calgary newspaper that it was like putting pink icing on a cow pat).

But, while the CBCF joins the cowboys, cattle producers and meat companies at rodeo barbecues across the country, shouldn't it consider the health implications of the product it is indirectly helping to promote? In 2007 alone, several pieces of research have made connections between meat consumption and breast cancer.
He concludes by saying "perhaps it's time the CBCF looks beyond lucrative fundraising schemes and seeks partners more in line with its purpose."

I'm not sure I know the answer to this question. When a corporation is only using philanthropy to try and greenwash its image and prevent future bad press, fundraisers must ask these tough questions... especially if accepting the money might potentially stop the charity from speaking its mind on important issues.

But I'm not sure that is what is happening here. It's a slippery slope indeed, but I love to hear others thoughts on whether this is a conflict of interests.

Secretive $5 million gift comes with strings

Remember last year when we posted a story about a donor who reportedly withdrew his $20 million pledge, resigned from the university board, and has asked that the name of the school be changed - all because he had his feelings hurt by the university president?

Well now Erin Strout at The Chronicle of Higher Education's Face Value blog points out an incredible turn in Florida International University’s fundraising saga.

The newspaper reported today that the public university’s foundation board approved a deal with an anonymous donor without seeing a contract and assumed lifetime liability on two insurance claims as a “special condition” to receive the $5-million cash gift.
The Miami Herald says, "There was no paperwork explaining the deal, just an oral summary from FIU President Modesto ''Mitch'' Maidique." The paper also says that FIU has declined to release any paperwork to the public.


Not only does it seem the board failed to fully examine the liability the claims might bring, it also sounds like convenient timing:

Maidique told board members that he reviewed the potential risk with attorneys, but did not provide them a copy of analysis. When FIU gets the cash, the school will also qualify for a $5 million matching gift from the state.
Face Value asks readers what risks institutions assume by entering such deals. I'll take it on step further... does anyone else following this story think this Mitch guy is a shady fundraiser or is he just having a shitty (and well publicized) couple of months?

(This image shows FIU President Modesto A. Maidique (left) and FIU Board of Trustees Chairman Adolfo Henriques (right) with a ceremonial $10 million check signifying Herbert Wertheim’s support of the proposed FIU medical school - dated July 2004.)

Tuesday, July 24

Donors reluctant to buy missile silo

For seven years the Historical Society of North Dakota has fought to preserve that state's last Minuteman missile launch complex, hoping to open it as a Cold War tourist attraction.

The Air Force owns the property, and they've said they will demolish the silo and control building by the end of the year unless the State Historical Society takes possession of the property.

The Historical Society lost a vote for funding from the North Dakota House of Representatives in February 2007. Then, Merl Paaverud, director of the State Historical Society said, "something happened."

That something was a provision, inserted into the funding bill, that specified that if the missile complex were saved, it would be grandly renamed the “Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Missile Silo Historic Site.” The House of Representatives -- which is almost two-thirds Republican -- reconsidered the bill in late April, and approved it.
Unfortunately, there haven't been a lot of individual donors to step forward.

The society has a half-million dollars of federal and state grants in hand. But the society needs to raise a million dollars for the project, and private money has been slow coming in. Paaverud told the Associated Press that fundraising is still 450-thousand-dollars short.

GOP fundraiser to feature machine gun shoot

Republicans in New Hampshire think they've found a fun new fundraising idea. Scott Brooks at the Union Leader writes about the new plan to raise money.

Tired of the usual chicken dinners, the Manchester Republican Committee is planning to arm supporters next month with Uzis, M-16 rifles and other automatic weapons for a day of target practice at a Pelham firing range.

"The thought just struck me one day: a machine gun shoot. What the heck?" said Jerry Thibodeau, the committee chairman.
The cost to participants is $25, plus fees for ammunition and parking. According to the article, proceeds will be split among the party, the club and the gun supplier.

Thursday, July 19

Lady Bird Johnson's $300,000 donation

Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson passed away July 11th at the age of 94.

Three weeks before her death, the former first lady made a $300,000 donation to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, Texas. Reverend Richard Elwood told a reporter from News 8 Austin the large donation would help pay off debt and "opens up all sorts of possibilities we can move in all sorts of directions and expand our ministries."

The letter, signed by Johnson, reads: "I feel the time has come for me to repay a part of the debt for the irreplaceable gifts of comfort, strength and abiding faith I have received."

For the last 18 months, Elwood would bring Communion to Johnson almost every Sunday, and even though a stroke had taken her ability to speak, she would participate in the service.
No doubt the relationship between the Elwood and Johnson made the donation possible. But the larger point for me is that too many donors wait to leave large legacy donations in their will. It must have been extremely fulfilling for the former first lady to give the gift while she was still alive.

Wednesday, July 18

Our fundraising plan fell through the floor

This blog has been writing about McCain's fundraising problems for some time. But an article ran in today's San Antonio Express News that caught our attention.

"Our major donor fundraising and fundraising events went according to plan, the stuff Tom works on," said Charlie Black, a senior adviser to the McCain campaign.

"But the small donor fundraising, the direct mail response, the Internet response fell through the floor," Black said.

The immigration reform bill and McCain's support of earned legalization measures made headlines in May and June. McCain was derided by the conservative right as "Juan McCain" for his support of the bill.

"McCain's position is unpopular with conservative financial small donors," Black said. "The several-million-dollar fall-off was really from the small donors."
Fell through the floor indeed.

Tuesday, July 17

CNN publishes list of celebrity donor to presidential campaigns

Many people have been digging through Q2 reports all week to uncover the hidden stories of presidential politics. CNN thought it would be interesting to find the celebrity donors.

...finding them in those Federal Election Commission reports buried among tens of thousands of celebrity-impaired Americans can be a royal pain in the Oscar. But we at the CNN Political Ticker have painstakingly reviewed the latest batch of presidential fundraising disclosures and have compiled that information in convenient list form, complete with bullet points.
Go here for the complete list. You'll find Paul Newman on more than two lists... but who would have thought Pauly Shore was into politics?

Monday, July 16

Canadian charities respond to Star article

Sick Kids Foundation has published this response:

The article stated that SickKids Foundation was involved in commission-based fundraising. As a registered adherent to the Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code of Imagine Canada, SickKids Foundation is staunchly opposed to commission-based fundraising. That’s why we were disappointed to learn that one of our suppliers had breached the terms of our written agreement when a third party paid a commission to a small group of their employees. As soon as we became aware of the facts, we suspended all activity and are currently undertaking a full review.
World Vision Canada was out with a similar apology:
As mentioned in the article, a portion of the door-to-door fundraising done on World Vision's behalf was paid on a commission basis, despite our contracts with fundraising companies that prohibited this. We have made sure this practice has stopped because it is not consistent with our commitment to ethical fundraising.
I'm disappointed both groups issued such weak responses without using this as an educational moment to discuss the need for cost effective member acquisition programs... however, they are both probably embarrassed, scared, and looking to put this behind them as fast as possible.

Canadian newspaper targets charities for alleged "commission" based fundraising

Almost seven months after The Toronto Star took credit for shutting down MADD Canada's fundraising program, the "investigative" newspaper is claiming responsibility for the fact that Sick Kids Foundation and World Vision Canada "have admitted to using a discredited fundraising technique and are moving swiftly to clean up their act."

Both charities have long told the public and the federal regulator that only flat fees were paid to fundraisers who knocked on doors. The Star investigated and found commissions or "success payments" have been paid for years.

Sick Kids and World Vision now say they were duped by a fundraising company that promised it would never pay commissions.
The reporter uses the term "commission" as a rhetorical device to outrage donors. The truth is - there is a difference between a flat fee and a percentage commission. In this case, we're talking about $180 per new monthly donor.

Both charities were using a large, British-based international company called Fundraising Initiatives Inc., which has a client list (past and present) of about 50 Canadian charities. It's not known how many are also paying commissions.

Top executives at Sick Kids and World Vision are blaming FII, saying the contract signed with the fundraiser states that doorknockers are only to be paid either a flat fee for each "presentation" at a home (in Sick Kids' case), or either hourly wages or per presentation (World Vision).

The Star found out that after FII signs its contract with a charity, it then hires subcontractors to knock on doors and pays them only for a successful donor sign-up. A source with intimate knowledge of the FII-subcontractor set-up confirmed this.

If either charity is breaking even on its fundraising costs within 12 months - they are doing better than most. Show me a direct marketing donor acquisition program that is breaking even in less than 12 months (let alone sooner) and I'll show you a fundraiser that deserves a raise.

In fact, I believe the fundraisers at both Sick Kids Foundation and World Vision Canada would be extremely smart to negotiate a contract that fixes a set acquisition cost. Many fundraisers struggle with unpredictable direct mail, special events, or corporate partnership deals. A set commission per donor is a hedge against the risk

Now, I understand that both of these charities say that they agree with Imagine Canada's ethical fundraising code and that AFP also has a similar ban.

Sick Kids has signed Imagine Canada's ethical fundraising code, which bans commission fundraising. World Vision agrees with Imagine Canada's anti-commission fundraising stand but has not yet signed the code. The Association of Fundraising Professionals also has a code against commission fundraising. Sick Kids and World Vision agree with this code, and FII is a member of the fundraising association.
However, I don't think it's splitting hairs to say that if the intent is to protect donors, then I would rather support a group that has managed to contain its fundraising acquisition risk, rather than give to a group that may avoid "commissions," but pays twice as much to acquire a new donor. What do you think?

Sunday, July 15

Huge donation to hire fundraising staff

Ohio Wesleyan University alumni Gordon V. Smith and Helen Crider Smith are making a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contribution to the university to support its planned giving initiative. The five-year investment will support hiring staff members and helping to expand and enhance the ability of Ohio Wesleyan to reach out to potential donors.

Saturday, July 14

Some presidential fundraising round-ups

Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are out with their second quarter fundraising numbers. The New York Times calls Romney's numbers "fancy."

Joe Biden is apologizing to donors for dropping the ball on his fundraising. Biden conceded he’s neglected fundraising because of discomfort with the role that money plays in presidential politics.

Meanwhile, McCain's "straight talk express" bus was parked for lack of funds and he was quoted as saying, "I'm not a very good fundraiser. I'll admit it. But I can out-campaign any of these guys.''

Friday, July 13

TV Christians hold on to disabled man’s donation

An evangelical Christian TV network in South Africa has been accused by the family of a mentally ill person of refusing to repay his pension money he donated to the station, according to an article in The Daily Dispatch Online.

The family of Manjo Maphuma, a former Gauteng policeman who now lives in Mdantsane and has been diagnosed with a mental illness, said Bhisho-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) has rejected their calls for the money to be repaid.

Maphuma’s wife, Nomathemba Zita, said despite numerous attempts by her to convince the the Christian TV and radio station to return the payments, which her husband has been making to TBN over seven years – including a R90000 cheque – TBN’s former station manager and director Bernard Roebert has refused to do so.

Zita said her husband, who signed a debit order with TBN, had donated almost R200000 to the church. The Daily Dispatch has seen a number of the receipts from TBN.
Attorneys acting for Roebert vehemently denied the allegations.

Thursday, July 12

Target publishes Q1 numbers

The folks up in Boston have published some findings for the first quarter of 2007 for nonprofit clients and there seem to be two points of focus. First:

Q1 2007 was the first quarter in almost two years in which year-over-year growth in the Target Analysis Group Quarterly Index of National Fundraising Performance was essentially unaffected by major disaster giving. All indications are that index revenue has now stabilized at typical pre-disaster levels of growth.
And second:

A longer-term trend that continues to cause concern, however, is a general decline in donor populations over the past five years. Donors declined a median 0.9% from Q1 2006 to Q1 2007.

The declines in donor numbers are mainly due to steep declines in new donor acquisitions. While index donors overall declined 0.9% from Q1 2006 YTD to Q1 2007 YTD, new donors were down 4.1% over that same period. Only 43% of the 70 organizations participating in the index this quarter had increases in new donor acquisition in Q1.

Organizations have generally been able to compensate for these donor declines so far with increases in revenue per donor so that revenue growth has been able to keep up with inflation. In previous quarters we have cautioned that if these trends continue, at some point giving amount increases alone may not sustain overall net revenue growth. With rising inflation a concern for the year ahead, it will be important to watch donor growth rates as more declines could jeopardize real revenue over the long term.
We're not sure we agree with the second point. From our experience, to say that organizations are "compensating" for lower donor numbers by increasing revenue per donor is confusing the cause and affect.

This trend could very well be an intentional move by nonprofits to focus their efforts on only acquiring and retaining more committed donors. All of the smart nonprofits seem to be using less junky premiums just to churn through members and are instead looking for higher value donors (or monthly donors) who contribute a better lifetime value.

Power and control

Lucy Bernholz at PHILANTHROPY 2173 linked us to some great video of a recent town hall-style conversation in the studios of KCTS-TV which explores the various relationships between foundations and nonprofit organizations. The Council on Foundations hosted and recorded two conversations at the Seattle Public Television Station back in March.

The first panel was titled, "What’s Faith Got To Do With It? A Conversation about Faith, Philanthropy, and the Challenges of Our Time" and the second panel was on "The Philanthropic Fault Line: Exploring the Sometimes Shaky Ground between Foundations and Nonprofits." The second panel was much more interesting to me and featured a powerhouse line-up:

Diana Aviv, Independent Sector

Edward Skloot – the Surdna Foundation
Carole Thompson Cole – Venture Philanthropy Partners
Clara Miller – Nonprofit Finance Fund
Putnam Barber – The Executive Alliance &
Pramila JayapalHate Free Zone

You can read more here or just watch the video.

Wednesday, July 11

More blog coverage of Bridge Conference

Rosetta Thurman runs an awesome fundraising blog called Perspectives From the Pipeline. Be sure to check out her insights from sessions she attended. She offers great reactions (both positive and negative).

Karen Taggart from Care2 also blogged from the conference about old and new friends.

Banning the "bucket brigade"

Last week we wrote about how officials near Baltimore wanted to ban local firefighters "Fill the Boot" fundraising campaign. Now we are hearing from the Buffalo News that the village of Lewiston is discussing banning "Bucket Brigade" fundraising.

The technique involves standing in the middle of a local street and asking passing motorists for donations. Trustee William Geiben said he didn't like bucket brigades and was opposed to them because they inhibit the traffic flow. Mayor Richard F. Soluri said the village would need to “study each request.”

The trustees approved two requests from the Kiwanis and another request for the Christopher J. D’Angelis Memorial Scholarship. However, they denied a request from the Lewiston Lancers travel baseball team to collect on Center Street for a team trip.

Tuesday, July 10

Beth's presentation

If you weren't able to sit it in person, here is a copy of Beth Kanter's presentation from the 2007 Bridge Conference on her website.

One of these days, we might even be able to even replace the physical conferences put on by DMA or AFP and learn from each other in a totally virtual world. Think of it... we could do the entire thing in Second Life and save our donors the cost of travel back and forth.

Updates from 2007 Bridge Conference

I don't purport to be a journalist. I will leave the real reporting on fundraising to people like Abny Santicola, Stephanie Strom, Paul Clolery, Peter Panepento, and Ian Wilheim.

In fact, I wouldn't even say I qualify as a pundit either since I post under the anonymous online persona of "a fundraiser." The closest description that fits is that of a cultural observer for the nonprofit fundraising community. Who am I kidding? I'm a blogger.

With two days down at the 2007 Bridge Conference, I'm amazed (as always) by the number of quality cases studies shared by a variety of nonprofit groups. Rarely do the presentations offer concrete tactical suggestions, but almost all provide at least one fresh idea to approach the threats, opportunities, and challenges facing the industry today.

More than once today I heard a speaker mention his or her delight that so many colleagues are willing to share the details of both their successes AND failures. Several popular sessions today were packed wall-to-wall. Mal Warwick's "Copy Clinic" session was insane - with over a dozen people turned away after standing room filled up. The Resource Alliance put on some "world class" sessions.

While there is a repetitive nature to so many PowerPoint presentations, my real complaint of the day had to be the evaluation forms. Attendees are asked to answer questions with a 1 to 5 rating without any idea of which is considered the top grade. The form also asks open ended questions like "How much do you anticipate that this session will help you achieve your goals in your work?" and then offers limiting choices such as: "agree" or "disagree." I can't help but think the evaluations will provide little or no value.

Day Three offers many interesting sessions including: Holly Hall from NTEN, Harvey McKinnon on monthly giving, Nick Allen, Beth Kanter from Beth's Blog, and Laura Quinn from Catalist.

Monday, July 9

The exhibition hall

There are 107 companies in the exhibition hall. From the gossip I hear, many vendors felt that last year the Bridge Conference did a poor job of encouraging attendees to stop by and talk to vendors.

I can understand the point. The companies pay a decent amount of money to set-up a display for the two day conference. To leave without a decent list of leads would be a huge waste of time & money.

However, I'm afraid they may have over compensated this year. First of all, there is more than an hour and a half between each of the three breakout sessions. Granted, the breaks are billed as lunch and dessert breaks - but they are served (where else) in the exhibit hall - and are 90 minutes each!

As if there isn't enough time already devoted to networking and hospitality. My suggestion would be to have four sessions each day - that way there wouldn't be so many different tracks going on at the same time.

Opening Plenary Session

I guess opening plenary sessions at fundraising conferences are usually more about setting a mood than providing detailed practical information. Today's speaker, Anthony Tony Elischer, did both. It's a shame that only a fraction of the 1300 registrants for the conference attended.

Tony shared trends, observations, and predictions while also challenging fundraisers to take bold risks. He also shared this video (below) by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University.

I've never seen or heard a better description of why Web 2.0 matters.

Email us with your conference feedback

Are you at the Bridge conference? Email us with your reaction or feedback. Did you attend the "red carpet" opening reception last night? Did you see a really good (or bad) session? Send us your stories:

Please let us know in the email if you'd like your comments to be anonymous.

Sunday, July 8

Bridge conference opens in Washington

The 2007 Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising conference starts today in Washington, DC and runs through Tuesday.

Presented by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington and the Washington DC Metro Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals this is only the second year for this conference. This year’s Bridge Conference features separate tracks organized by NTEN and The Resource Alliance.

Don't Tell the Donor has reporters in DC and will be blogging from the conference.

Charitable golf tournaments benefit golfers more than charity

The PGA is proud to talk about the $105 million it's tours have raised for charitable golf outings. However, the amount received by the local charity can be small compared to the prize pools for the golfers.

Last Thursday, Joe Stephens at the Washington Post pointed out that the average tournament provides golfers with a purse of $5.7 million and, after paying costs associated with the event, generates $1.75 million for charity.

A spokesman for the Charlotte event said it generates about $1.5 million for charity and paid golfers $6.3 million this year. A Barclays spokesman said that tournament generates $1 million for charity and this year has a $7 million purse. In addition to the purses, tournaments spend millions more on everything from leasing buses to buying gift bags for players.
It's a great article that digs into the finances behind Tiger Woods three separate charitable foundations and exposes the lesser known structure of PGA charity events.

The easiest money I've ever raised

The America Online political news blog The Stump linked yesterday to an AP story on Fred Thompson's fundraising. As long as he delays declaring his candidacy, he can keep his fundraising secret - for now.

A long time friend named Thomas Bell held a fundraiser for Thompson on Friday. The Atlanta developer was expecting to raise $400,000 at the event.

"This has been the most unbelievable fundraising effort," Bell said in an interview. "It's the easiest money I've ever raised."
I guess it's got to be easier than raising $5 million for a convicted felon's ongoing legal appeals.

Saturday, July 7

City Council tries to "boot" firefighters fundraising

The County Council near Baltimore approved a regulation that stiffens penalties against those who solicit donations along roads without a permit.

The bill's sponsor, Councilman Vincent Gardina, may have intended to cut down on the number of homeless people who beg for money along streets in the county, but it is also going to affect volunteer firefighters who run a "Fill the Boot" campaign.

According to an article by Laura Greenback in the Times-Herald, the fire department collects up to $40,000 each year from drivers who stuff bills into their retired boots during the campaigns. Fill the Boot days usually occur on high-traffic days like Labor Day, Black Friday, Memorial Day, Easter, and sometimes Independence Day.

The permitting process is simply extra work for volunteer firemen who are already very busy saving lives and property, said Jim Doran, a volunteer at the Lutherville Volunteer fire company, and the county’s department administrator for the volunteer fire company system.

“We never know who is going to be available at any one time, so we end up having to submit the names of every member of the company. That can be a lot of names,” Doran said. “It’s more paperwork. It’s a nuisance. We might grumble a little bit, but we understand that it’s what we have to do.”
I don't know this Vincent Gardina guy, but I wonder if he has any track record of providing increased funding to the fire department.

Thursday, July 5

College misses challenge grant deadline

Don't Tell the Donor received an email tip last week from someone at Virginia Intermont College giving us the tip that the school was going to miss a challenge grant deadline of June 30th. The Associated Press ran a story on it yesterday:

Auto dealer Bill Gatton initially gave Virginia Intermont College $250,000 and offered $750,000 more if $5 million could be raised by the end of June. Intermont President Michael Puglisi would not say how much money has been raised, but in May said about half of the $5 million was in hand.

"We're still working on it, and Mr. Gatton is still very supportive," Puglisi said. "We have been on the road and locally soliciting donations, but we still have work to do. (Gatton) has been willing to work with us."

The school announced in April that they would need about $4 million to remain open next year.
The financial crisis is the culmination of years of unfunded scholarship assistance for students, poor financial management practices, programs that did not generate significant revenue and consistently narrow operating margins, school officials said.
It was only two weeks ago that VI extended contracts with faculty. One wonders if the school knew at that time they were going to miss the deadline.

Sources seem to think Gatton will give them more time.

Tuesday, July 3

Fed up with "donors" leaving trash

Marsha Wiseman of Muskogee, Oklahoma is less than charmed with some of her disgusting neighbors. In an editorial to the Muskogee Phoenix, she writes about the lack of respect by some of her fellow residents:

Just past the beautiful part of the walking path, the pond is littered with trash. All across the city, people park cars in their yards. I shouldn’t be surprised they don’t respect city property. Apparently, they don’t respect their own.

Worst, and saddest, are the disgusting “donations” people dump at a charity donation box on York Street. The large, red bin with doors asks for used clothing and shoes, but repeatedly people donate what appears to be their trash instead — not inside the bin, but outside it, so the whole community can experience their thoughtlessness.

I’ve seen used Christmas trees, tires, filthy and damaged furniture, piles of stuff left in the rain for stray dogs to pilfer through. This donation bin is provided for a non-profit agency. How could anyone think the agency has the means to haul off junk? I’m convinced people who so carelessly dump their stuff in this manner do so as a convenience to themselves, not as a true act of charity.
Go here to read the rest of the letter.

I wonder if Marsha is affiliated in any way with the people who run the donation box. If not, I'm even more impressed with her letter to the editor. You tell 'em Marsha!

How Fred Thompson pushed Bush to commute Libby's prison sentence

Late Monday, Ted Wells, the attorney for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, issued this statement:

“Mr. Libby and his family wish to express their gratitude for the President’s decision today. We continue to believe in Mr. Libby’s innocence. Scooter and his family appreciate the many Americans who have supported them over the last two years.”
Many pundits may spend the 4th of July holiday debating Bush's constitutional right to commute the sentence of a convicted felon. However, I think the real story is in the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust, the group that has been "shaking down Republican donors" to help secure his release.

Former Senator Fred Thompson played a major role... even hosting two fundraising events. The Nation had this to say:

According to Thompson, in a speech delivered May 12 to the Council for National Policy, "I didn't know Scooter Libby, but I did know something about this intersection of law, politics, special counsels and intelligence. And it was obvious to me that what was happening was not right. So I called him to see what I could do to help, and along the way we became friends. You know the rest of the story: a D.C. jury convicted him."

Whatever the facts of their relationship, however, there is no debating Thompson's loyalty to Libby. He is the leading proponent of a presidential pardon for the convicted felon. And he regularly uses his prominence as a TV lawyer to accuse the man who brought Libby to justice, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, of "perverting the rule of law."

In the faux-conservative circles that define the modern Republican Party, Thompson is more closely associated with the defense of the disgraced White House aide than with any particular stand on the issues facing the nation. That's one of the reasons why so many of the true believers in the Bush presidency are so very enthusiastic about Thompson's now likely candidacy to replace Bush.

Time to celebrate Sen. Thompson... your wish may have come true, but it may cost you your campaign at the same time.

Monday, July 2

This Buffet lunch is no bargain

Even before Warren Buffet gave his groundbreaking donation last summer, he had been raising impressive sums of money by offering himself up for a power-lunch through an annual auction.

It started in 2000 through a live auction and became an annual ritual. The winner, along with as many as seven other people, will get to share lunch and a private conversation with Buffett at the upscale steakhouse chain Smith & Wollensky in New York City. The proceeds go to the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit organization which has an annual budget of $12 million.

In 2005 the lunch went for $351,100. Last year, a businessman from China paid more than $600,000 to dine with the Oracle of Omaha.

This year, two investors put in the winning bid of $650,100. Mohnish Pabrai, who manages about $600 million for Pabrai Investment Funds in Irvine, Calif., teamed up with a friend to bid $30,000 more than the top bid from last year's auction. The 43-year-old investor said he bid unsuccessfully in the previous four auctions.

Pabrai (pictured above) first bid $201,000 in 2003. Since then, he’s bid $202,000, $300,000 and $502,000. I guess if at first you don't succeed...