Saturday, September 29

Shakira gives $45 million to charity

Shakira announced an enormous $45 million charity donation yesterday in New York.

The Colombian superstar revealed that the charity she co-founded, Latin America for Solidarity Foundation, will donate $40 million to help earthquake stricken Peru and damage caused by a hurricane in Nicaragua.

She gave the news at a summit on global climate change yesterday, organised by Bill Clinton, says Reuters.

The singer also revealed a $5 million effort to help children in area who live in poverty.

Thursday, September 27

Kids fundraising at liquor store?

I saw this letter to the editor in the Nashua Telegraph:

Am I the only person in New Hampshire who sees something terribly wrong with allowing our children to solicit funds outside the state-run liquor store?

On two different Saturdays in the month of September, I saw teenage cheerleaders standing outside the door of the liquor store on Coliseum Avenue. They were doing cheers to attract attention.I have to seriously question the logic behind having our children raising funds at the local liquor store.

What is the manager of the store thinking? How about the coach/director of these impressionable children?Most importantly, however, is what are these parents thinking?

Linette Lukawitz
Good call Linette. Your powers of observation would make you a great guest blogger at Don't Tell the Donor.

Hockey team waxes their hair for fundraiser

Douglas Reid coaches the Central Cobra-Mavericks hockey team in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, it costs $18,000 each year for the team to compete in the New Zealand Hockey League and Reid doesn't like to charge his players more than $500 each.

When the coach started looking for a fundraising idea instead of the usual "sausage sizzle" the team usually throws he thought of a very painful idea. The players would eventually raise $5,000 by having their body hair waxed in the shape of sponsors.

Seventeen year old Nick Wilson had his legs waxed. Charles Jenkins got a strawberry flavour chest and armpit wax. Coach Reid had the letters "UR" waxed into his chest for IT company Unlimited Realities, who sponsored him $500 for the sacrifice.

Jody O'Callaghan at the Manawatu Standard reports that Reid then had a chest and back wax, which his wife in Scotland knew nothing about, for a further $1,000 worth of sponsorship.

I'm not sure if it's financial despair or male bravado, but either way I would hope stories like this make your fundraising responsibilities a little easier today.

Wednesday, September 26

Who are you calling small?

Anyone who has ever acted in a school play has heard the saying, "There are no small parts, only small actors." Milan Kundera is credited with the wise advice.

Well... someone should tell the Politico that the term "small donors" is offensive and insulting... I think the politically correct term is "low dollar donors."

Tuesday, September 25

Giuliani Party Seeks $9.11 Per Person

Rudy Giuliani's campaign is asking backers to participate in a national house party night on Wednesday.

A State Department adviser under President Reagan named Abraham Sofaer is having a fundraiser at his Palo Alto, California - but unfortunately for Guiliani the donor caused a controversy today when the Associated Press reported that the party aims to raise $9.11 per person.

Sofaer told the AP he had nothing to do with the "$9.11 for Rudy" theme and instead he blamed it on the kids by saying, "there are some young people who came up with it."

The International Association of Fire Fighters accused Republican Rudy Giuliani of exploiting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and called the fundraiser an abuse of the image and symbols of the 2001 attacks. Others called the event "shameless."

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine... as they say

Newt Gingrich made news on Sunday by telling Fox News host Chris Wallace that he is planning to let potential donors decide whether he should run for President. He said he would run for President only if he could raise $30 million in pledges.

The former politician turned talking head announced that his longtime adviser Randy Evans would "spend the next three weeks checking with people around the country. If he reports back that, in fact, we think the resources are there for a real race.... then close to that we'll face a very big decision in late October."

Jonathan Stein at MoJo Blog was giddy at the possibility that one of Mother Jones Magazine's biggest targets will enter the presidential race. Stein seems almost itching for a fight against the polarizing conservative figure:

People say Hillary would fare poorly in a general election because she would energize Republicans. Newt Gingrich would do the same to Democrats, except times a thousand. So everyone get out your checkbooks and start mailing money to this Randy Evans fellow.
So, who is this Randy Evans fellow and why is the Presidential hopeful placing all his eggs in Evan's basket?

Evans works at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP where he has served as as outside counsel to both Newt Gingrich and J. Dennis Hastert, Speakers of the United States House of Representatives, as well as to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and former Representative from Oklahoma and House GOP Chairman J.C. Watts.

In 1996, when Gringrich was facing ethics complaints made with the Committee on Standards in the United States House of Representatives he tapped Evans to represent him. Evans eventually negotiated an agreement that permitted Mr. Gingrich to remain as Speaker.

So I guess you could say Gringrich owes this fundraiser his job.

Sunday, September 23

House Subcommittee schedules hearing on nonprofits

The House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing to review whether tax-exempt charitable organizations are serving the needs of diverse communities.

Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) announced last week that the hearing will take place on Tuesday, September 25, 2007, in the main Committee hearing room, 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 2:00 p.m.

This hearing will focus on whether charitable organizations are serving diverse populations and communities. The hearing will discuss: the extent to which philanthropic dollars are being directed toward diverse communities; the actions tax-exempt organizations are taking to deal with issues and challenges that have arisen in identifying the needs of diverse communities; and the partnerships between governments and charitable organizations that are needed to reach and serve diverse populations. The Subcommittee will hear testimony on why developing a plan to serve diverse communities is important and beneficial.
If you would like to submit a comment, go here.

Link between donation, bill denied

The Los Angeles Times has a story about some political donations that sound shady:

One of the last things lawmakers did before they adjourned at 3:26 a.m. on Sept. 12 was to pass a measure that would make Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of Staples Center, eligible for millions of dollars in state funds to improve the downtown area around its arena.

Hours later that same day, a $10,000 check from the Anschutz company arrived at the fundraising office of a political committee run by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), who helped shepherd the legislation.

Company officials said they had committed to the donation in June and the check coincidentally arrived the same day the Legislature passed a bill the company had sought.
You see, back in November voters agreed to borrow $2.8 billion when they passed housing bond Proposition 1C. The legislation Anschutz sought would allow it, in partnership with Los Angeles, to apply for some of that big pie.

...but there is no reason to think the donation was linked to any quid pro quo, right?

Thursday, September 20

Rap video makes college telemarketing cool

The rumors of telemarketing's death have been greatly exaggerated.

It can be a very effective integrated marketing technique and even though Trent Stamp hates it, telemarketing can also be an efficient and engaging way to keep in touch with your donors.

If your program is slumping maybe all you need is a cool rap video to train your callers. The telemarketers at the University of Toronto put this video together.

Hats off to Dori Sonntag for the posting of this video and other great college telemarketing training tips at her blog, Inspired Annual Giving.

Path of Professionalism in Fundraising

I wanted to take a moment today to recommend a great essay by Lilya Wagner over at onPhilanthrophy. Wagner is vice president for philanthropy at Counterpart International and has taught fundraising at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Her essay is entitled, "A Crossroads on the Path of Professionalism in Fundraising." It is extremely well researched and provides a list of over 50 articles and studies on the topic of fundraising as a career. She asks a lot of great questions.

Are we still the technicians, by choice or circumstances, who try to achieve pre determined goals set without our involvement, have no voice, practice a fill in the blanks type of fundraising in which we count the visits and follow those “ten easy steps,” follow and don't lead, and obey the rules without thinking about them? Or are we professionals who can command respect?

Are we proud of the research now available and being conducted in our field and does that information shape our practice? Do we adhere to the body of knowledge and fundamentals that dictate best practices? We have many publications, associations with clout, oversight organizations or “watchdogs,” and philanthropy and fundraising are the subject of books by ex-presidents and mainstream media publications. Do these influence us and our practice, or do we shrug off such indicators of professionalism as too academic and esoteric, choosing to focus on the technicalities of our jobs?
Take a moment and give it a read today... and we'll be back to scandals and gossip tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18

Fundraisers crash online community launch

The past couple weeks I've been receiving emails from the Third Sector Daily - a group that describes themselves as the UK’s leading publication for everyone who needs to know what’s going on in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector. They usually have good stories about fundraising gossip, news, and tips. I recommend adding them to your RSS feed.

Well, a couple days ago I learned from Third Sector about a new fundraising research website called fResource which was slated to launch yesterday - and with a description like this, how could I not be excited:

fResource is the world's first online fundraising community where fundraisers and researchers from around the world can come together to share knowledge and experience of fundraising research, products and resources. We exist to promote fundraising research as a discipline in its own right within the fundraising sector, but we also want to show fundraisers how to utilise research skills and knowledge to help find new sources of funding. Our fResource database, for example, has the most comprehensive listings and reviews of products and resources on the internet bar none.
Well, unfortunately it seems like they underestimated the amount of traffic they would get on their launch day. After sending out an announcement email yesterday, Matthew Ide, the director, sent out this embarrassing email note:
Believe it or not the website seems to have crashed due to the sheer weight of traffic but we are working very hard to rectify the problem, so if you’ll please bear with us. We didn’t think everyone would hit it at once, which I guess is a mistake on my part, especially as I know how thirsty for knowledge you all are!
I haven't had a lot of time to play around on the database or community forum yet, but I would love readers to post their feedback or reactions in the comments below.

Smithsonian exceeds fundraising goal by more than 20 percent

The Smithsonian Institution surprised some skeptics on Monday by announcing they received about $140 million in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 - up from $132 million last year and about $25 million over its goal of $115 million.

Acting Secretary Cristian Samper said it was welcome news after a year when the Smithsonian saw lots of embarrassing coverage over the resignation of former Secretary Lawrence Small over questionable spending and excessive compensation.

I wish more nonprofits held public board meetings. Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said the board expects to start holding at least one open meeting each year to hear from the public.

...but were the fundraisers surprised? Not really.

No matter how serious the problems were at the Smithsonian, I think most direct mail consultants would tell you that the press from a story like this has a negligible impact on low dollar donors. Workplace giving and special events probably went on as planned.

Scandals are not likely to impact the death rate of your donors - so planned giving was probably safe. In fact, I think any major donor fundraiser worth his/her salt should be able to use the scandal to their advantage.

I guess institutional giving from foundations and corporates could be vulnerable fundraising programs for other groups that experience such turmoil, but with the caliber of exhibitions at the Smithsonian they probably did fine as well.

Let's see if we can encourage someone from the Development staff at the Smithsonian to weigh in on our comment section below on why they were so damn successful. Maybe their goal was too low...?

Monday, September 17

Jordan's Queen Rania helps UNICEF fundraising

This past Thursday marked the start of Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month of the Muslim calendar. During this month long observance Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk and to give generously to the needy.

UNICEF marked the first day by introducing a televised fundraising campaign featuring Jordan's Queen Rania. The UN children's agency plan to air on pan-Arab television stations through the entire month of Ramadan.

This is not the Queen's first work with UNICEF. Her campaign in May of this year had a popular viral appeal and focused on the same issue of "the women and children who bear the greatest burden of the turbulence and violence that comes with conflict."

Friday, September 14

Mr. Rogers was one helluva fundraiser

Before leaving office, President Lyndon Johnson proposed a $20 million grant for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. President Nixon wanted that amount cut in half and the Senate held hearings in an attempt to reduce the funding.

On May 1, 1969, Mr. Fred Rogers testified before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications and in less than 7 minutes turned the tide and saved the entire $20 million for PBS.

The blogger that tipped me off to the video believes Mr. Rogers should be considered the best fundraiser ever.

Radar tricks screening process for presidential donations

Presidential campaigns always bring out the best worst in "gotcha journalism," but in this cycle folks seem a lot more willing to use donations in order to set up the story.

After Hillary Clinton's campaign announced they would refund money tied to donors linked to Norman Hsu, they also said they would run background checks on donors. Radar magazine tried to test this background check:

But maybe they should be running them on small donors as well: Last month, Radar made $5 donations to the Clinton, Giuliani, Obama, and Romney campaigns in the names of JonBenét Ramsey obsessive John Mark Karr; Joe Power, outspoken president of the North American Man/Boy Love Association's California chapter; and Sam G. Dickson, race-baiting lawyer for the Council of Conservative Citizens, an infamous white separatist group.

Contributions were made through the candidates' respective websites using customized gift cards. In each case, we supplied each donor's real name, address, employer, and position. The conclusion: All four candidates accepted our dirty money without a second thought.
There have already been a lot of critics to this story - including some who point out that the author probably broke federal election laws by stealing idenities in order to give to campaigns.

Thursday, September 13

Michigan F.O.P. makes a terrible call

Grand Rapids police officer Bob Kozminski was killed in the line of duty on Sunday, July 8, 2007.

The Michigan Fraternal Order of Police is stirring up controversy by using the officer's death as part of a cold calling fundraising campaign. Callers apparently ask potential donors if they are aware that a Michigan police officer from Grand Rapids had been killed and was 29 years old and left behind a 3 year old daughter.

WZZM 13 News in Michigan talked to the Kozminski family and learned that even the officer's sister and mother both received the fundraising calls!

The family said they wished they would have been asked about using Bob's death to raise money. They would not have given permission because they say they don't have the time to research every fundraising firm.

The chapter's President, Sgt. John Kirkpatrick, says they have a fundraising firm that makes "cold" calls and they use a script to solicit donations. He says, "It makes reference to officers killed in the line of duty. Most recently we started using the script that makes reference to the Grand Rapids officer that was killed in the line of duty...although we do not use his name."
In their defense, the Michigan F.O.P says they donated about $2,000 to the Kozminski fund shortly after Bob's death in July - and they will suspend the calling... but how could they be so stupid to not even use a suppression on the family before calling.

Wednesday, September 12

Sheeraz Haji announces he is stepping down as President at Convio

In a move that shouldn't surprise many people, Sheeraz Haji, President of Convio, will announce today that he is stepping away from his day-to-day operations of the company.

In an email to clients, CEO Gene Austin will announce:

In the first quarter of 2008, Sheeraz will step aside as President and focus on his role as an active member of the Board of Directors for Convio. In this role he remains committed to the success of our organization and will stay visible as an advocate for helping nonprofits use the Internet to take relationships to new levels.
Perhaps it was fitting the 34 year old Haji broke the news by email, "After more than seven years of building GetActive and Convio, I'm ready to take some time off and eventually pursue a new venture."

Convio announced two weeks ago they were pursuing an initial public offering of the company and in the filings it was stated that Haji had at least 385,826 shares of Series S common stock.

Tuesday, September 11

Clever fundraising campaign title

I noticed today that a local United Way chapter in the town of Mexico, Missouri launched a fundraising campaign today with the title, 'Give Until It Helps.’

If fundraising campaigns were decided based solely on how clever the marketing tagline was, this group should have no trouble reaching their $134,000 goal... unfortunately, cute slogans only get you started.

Monday, September 10

Clinton announces $850,000 refund to donors

An estimated 260 donors will receive refunds totaling approximately $850,000 from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign.

Monday night Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said in a statement, "In light of recent events and allegations that Mr. Norman Hsu engaged in an illegal investment scheme, we have decided out of an abundance of caution to return the money he raised for our campaign."

Since 2004, Hsu has donated $260,000 to Democratic Party groups and federal candidates, and raised hundreds of thousands of additional dollars. He was regarded as a top party fundraiser until recent reports surfaced that he was wanted on a warrant in California in connection with a 1991 grand theft charge.
Republicans who have been tarnished by recent political scandals have jumped on this story and it's ongoing drama ever since the Wall Street Journal first broke the story. But this appears to be bigger than any one party.

What strikes me about this twist in the story is that normally politicians who have accepted donations from people they later wish not to be connected make a show of donating the money to charity. It happened to many people tied to Jack Abramoff.

In this case, the money Clinton is refunding was not donated by Hsu himself, it was linked to his bundling efforts - a process of collecting checks from others. It is suspected of being fruit from the poisonous tree.

I guess the public accepts the practice of bundling as a response to campaign finance laws, either because we think we are powerless to stop it or because we imagine the process is similiar to selling your nephew's candybars at the office - only on a larger scale.

But as we begin to peel back the layers of the Norman Hsu story we are beginning to hear ugly details of paper companies making wire transfers to a secretive network of eventual political donors it reveals a dark shady fundraising practice that's about to get a lot more attention.

Doonesbury does Second Life philanthropy

Lucy Bernholz at Philanthrophy 2173 reminds us that once something goes mainstream, it's time to find the next big thing.

Sunday, September 9 the strip ran a bit on philanthropy and fundraising in Second Life. (if the strip doesn't come up on this link, scroll to 9/9/07)

Thanks for the link Lucy.

Friday, September 7

Some Friday fun - with celebrities!

We all love celebrity gossip... don't even pretend you don't. If you are reading this blog, there is a pretty good chance you also read Perez Hilton, TMZ, or some other celebrity blog.

Today, I stumbled on to Celebs Done Good. They use a cool mix of celebrity gossip, funny pictures, and current events about philanthropy of good deeds. The blog is produced by the cool folks over at

Look at this cool description on the group's website:

We believe young people have the power to make a difference. It is our aim to inspire, support and celebrate a generation of do-ers: people who see the need to do something, believe in their ability to get it done, and then take action.

Our website is a community where young people learn, listen, speak, vote, volunteer, ask, and take action to make the world a better place. Currently, only 23% of this generation actively volunteers. Our hope is to create a do something generation: a world where more than 51% of young people are involved with community action.
Now that's a freakin' mission statement.

Thursday, September 6

Is NOZA about to launch a free foundation grant research database today?

Don't Tell the Donor received a tip that NOZA, Inc. is set to launch a free private beta of a new foundation grant research database at the CARA Conference in Orange County, CA later today.

If true, the announcement is sure to send shockwaves through the multi-million dollar industry that currently charges nonprofits to research potential foundations who may (or may not) be interested in reviewing grant applications. Why, you ask?

Several weeks ago Waddy Thompson had an article in the Nonprofit Times profiling the differences between five different products:

* The Foundation Center's Foundation Directory Online
* FoundationSearch
* GuideStar's Grant Explorer
* GrantStation
* Prospect Research Online (aka PRO Platinum)
Toward the end of the article he offers this as part of his conclusion, "With fees ranging from $19.95 for one month to nearly $2,500 for a year (with no monthly option), price definitely becomes an issue." In addition to the financial costs, I know many fundraisers who spend lots of time traveling in order to research foundations.

In fact, one industry insider told me that nonprofits collective probably spend well over $20 million a year for foundation research. How will the Foundation Center and other nonprofits react when this revenue stream is threatened? What will this mean for the for-profit businesses of Metasoft and the Chronicle of Philanthropy's grant lookup product?

If fundraisers could find close to one million grant records when the free foundation database launches at - that certainly will be a game changer.

Wednesday, September 5

Ongoing fundraising saga for Flight 93 Memorial

This blog has given the fundraising folks at the Flight 93 National Memorial a hard time over the past year because they have raised less than half of the $30 million they need.

In January, we wrote about how they were blaming their consultants at Ketchum and fired them. In April, we profiled how the group had shifted to a direct mail approach. In August, we pointed out that there was more blame to go around.

Now today, I was stunned to hear this twist:

Apparently back in December of 2001, state Sen. Jane Orie had an idea to raise $10,000 by selling a thousand wristbands for $10 each. Within the first year the Hearts of Steel campaign had sold 100,000 wristbands and had raised $1,000,000!

In fact, federal rules forced the Hearts of Steel fund to close in 2003 and be placed in trust when it grew to $1 million.

Officials plan to announce Thursday that money from the campaign will be transferred to The Pittsburgh Foundation, a move that will free the fund from those regulations and allow money-raising to begin again for the construction of a Flight 93 memorial in Somerset County.
Holy cow. So, let me get this right... while the official group's fundraising has stalled as the fundraisers tried to figure out whether to take a major donor, corporate, or low dollar approach... the one idea that seems to have worked really well was stopped because of some technicalities almost 4 years ago - and is ONLY NOW being re-started??!?!

But why use The Pittsburgh Foundation? Why not transfer the bracelet money directly to the federal memorial account?

Tuesday, September 4

The best part of Bill Clinton's appearance on Oprah

You may have heard that Bill Clinton officially kicked off his publicity tour for his new book: Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.

A big part of the PR tour was taping an appearance on Oprah. Several news outlets have been reporting the story from the angle that Oprah and Clinton are both big donors... but for me, the show was stolen by Matt and Jessica Flannery, co-founders of Kiva, who were sitting in the front row.

You can read Matt's intense description of the event on his Kiva Chronicles blog:

I couldn't pay perfect attention. About 45 minutes into the show, the Kiva segment began. A tape rolled highlighting Anne Brown, an artisan in Seattle who lent money to a seamstress in Ecuador. I didn't watch too closely because I didn't want to be too emotional as the biggest interview in my life would begin.

Then she called on us. Our most likely scenario was that Oprah would focus on Jessica, given that is a women-centric show. We were wrong -- she focused on me. How much has Kiva loaned so far? How does it make you feel? How long does it take for an entrepreneur to get funded? I could answer these questions in my sleep. However, they came out in slow motion. I didn't make any big mistakes. I was serviceable, not incredible. Since that time, I've replayed the answers in my head, second guessing every word. I'll probably never get the chance to address that many people again in my life. Thinking about it too much can drive you crazy.

She turned to Jess and asked about her inspiration. Jess got emotional. It was an emotional moment. She delivered a heart felt account of how we began Kiva. It was one of the more moving parts of the show.

The President and Ms. Winfrey spent the next few minutes talking about the power of the Internet and "the Kiva model." Watching this was truly surreal. If you had told me a year ago that I would watch these two people discussing Kiva in front of millions on TV, I would have laughed. I cannot tell you how ridiculous it would have seemed. It still seems imaginary.

My hat goes off to the Flannery's amazing work these past 10 months.

Jerry Lewis raises over $63 million; drops F-bomb on live television

When you are on television for a 21 and a half hour live telethon, a national television audience can forgive you if you get tired... but will they forgive Jerry Lewis for calling someone (or something) an "illiterate faggot" during the 18th hour of his broadcast?

Some gossip blogs have raised the question whether Lewis actually said, "fatty" instead. Either way, it's a major on air faux pas. You can watch the video for yourself here.

Lewis reps did not have a comment for TMZ about the slip, but according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Jerry Lewis 42nd Labor Day Telethon set a record of $63,759,478 in contributions and pledges.

The telethon does not use a lot of "A-list" celebrities (this year included: Ed McMahon, Jann Carl,Tom Bergeron, and Alison Sweeney), but it did rely on MDA's largest national sponsor, the International Association of Fire Fighters, to present checks representing the agency's year-round fund-raising efforts in the record amount of $25 million.

You gotta hand it to Jerry... even though there are critics of some of the marketing tactics, that's a lot of money to raise. Let's see when/how he issues an apology for using what I consider hate speech.

UPDATE: At 8:20pm, we saw that Jerry Lewis issued this apology:

"I made a joking comment to a member of my production team," he said in a statement issued to CNN. "I apologize to anyone who was offended. I, obviously, made a bad choice of words. Everyone who knows me, understands that I hold no prejudices in this regard. In the family atmosphere of the telethon, I forget that not everyone knows me that well; that something like this would distract from the true purpose of the telethon pains me deeply."