Thursday, January 31

Make-A-Wish Foundation Bankrupted by Greedy Kid

The folks at The Onion produced this excellent satirical video claiming that a 8-year-old Boston boy who "took advantage of some bureaucratic loophole" in the charter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation by asking the organization to provide him with unlimited wishes.

Apparently, Chad's "non-stop" wish fulfillment" has grown to include "nine trips to Walt Disney World for himself and his family of five," "a real live F-14 Tomcat (which had to be decommissioned from Afghanistann)," and "daily hot dog lunches with Yankee slugger Johnny Damon," with the result that Chad alone has cost Make-A-Wish Foundation five times its annual budget.

Child Bankrupts Make-A-Wish Foundation With Wish For Unlimited Wishes

The spoof has been so popular, it even got an official response on Snopes..

If you want to give a gift to Make-A-Wish Foundation, you can go here.

Thanks to a loyal reader of Don't Tell the Donor who lives in Israel for sending me an email about this story... and congrats to Jeff Brooks for beating me to this post :)

Why is Barnard's endowment so tiny?

According to the Columbia Spectator:

Barnard’s endowment of around $200 million is markedly smaller than those of similar institutions. In comparison, Wellesley College’s endowment, the largest of any women’s college, was $1.6 billion in 2007.

Martha Dean, Director of Development at Bryn Mawr College, speculates that women’s colleges have faced unique fundraising challenges because “women, at least historically, have approached philanthropy more tentatively than men.” According to Dean, women tend to leave money to their colleges as part of their estates, while men donate more throughout their lives.
Even with recent shifts in fundraising at women’s colleges, Barnard’s endowment is still much smaller than Smith’s $1.3 billion or Bryn Mawr’s $678 million.

Maybe more donors need to be told that Barnard and Columbia have separate endowments and, moreover, “the Barnard endowment does not receive money from Columbia’s fundraising efforts.”

Facebook causes contest drawing to a close

Stephanie Strom proves once again she really does have her finger on the pulse of the fundraising world by putting out a story in the New York Times on America’s Giving Challenge and the contest being run on Facebook's Causes application.

Strom points out that smaller charities are kicking larger charities butts.

Love Without Boundaries, which raised just $1.2 million in 2006, has attracted the most donors in 10 different 24-hour periods, winning $1,000 each time.
Compare that to Amnesty International:
Amnesty established a presence on Facebook in May and has raised about $15,000 from 200,000 Facebook members. They were the first people Amnesty contacted when it decided to participate in America’s Giving Challenge, and they were asked to work to get five friends to donate at least $10. If they succeeded, they would get a copy of the CD “Instant Karma.” But no one has claimed the prize yet, and Amnesty had garnered just $540 by Wednesday afternoon.
It's an interesting article... but maybe an even more interesting question - are smaller organizations really better positioned to raise money in these forums or are the larger organizations simply making rational decisions to focus their efforts on bigger revenue goals than a $50,000 popularity contest?

Tuesday, January 29

Barefoot coach gets huge donation

A college basketball coach named Ron Hunter in Indianapolis wanted to raise 40,000 pairs of shoes for Samaritan's Feet - a charity based in Charlotte, N.C. that helps children in the U.S. and around the world.

To draw attention to this feat - he decided to go barefoot while coaching a game for his team at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Soo... it was a little unorthodox, it might have violated some health codes, and it most certainly stunk... but it worked.

The coach appeared on several ESPN shows on Thursday, and secured donations of thousands of shoes from Converse, Wal-Mart, Nine West and the Department of Homeland Security.The mission of the nonprofit, Christian-based Samaritan charity is to send 10 million shoes in 10 years to children living in poverty.
By the time the results, nearly $20,000 and 110,000 pairs of shoes were donated.
Hunter, 43, who almost never sits when coaching games, didn't have his feet stepped on, but they were still sore.

"My feet hurt so bad," he said after the game. "But imagine a child or a human going their whole lives without shoes."
As a small footnote to the story (get it?), IUPUI beat Oakland 82-69.

I think she's talking about me...

It turns out that asking a consultant to go to a conference and report back on their findings is a shitty way to collect content for a blog... and alas, it looks like I was called out on it.

"I don’t have a blog — yet — but if I did, I sure as hell would be blogging about the DMA Nonprofit Federation’s annual conference that took place in D.C. last week. I mean, come on, these conferences are chock-full of useful information — not to mention juicy gossip and ‘celeb’-fundraiser sightings. But here it is, four days after the close of the conference, and the only thing I see on the blogs is one blogger’s promise to post guest blogs from someone in attendance … but no follow-up. Weird."­
— (Not really) posted Jan. 29 by FundRaising Success Editor-in-Chief Margaret Battistelli on her imaginary "I Don’t Have A Blog Yet" blog.

Monday, January 28

Donation thief sentenced to one night of homelessness

Last Thursday, a 28 year old man named Nathen Smith walked into Judge Michael Cicconetti's courtroom in Painesville, Ohio expecting to be sentenced for stealing a donation kettle from the Salvation Army last Christmas.

However, the sentence seemed to shock everyone.

"Now when you're taking money directly from the homeless", said Cicconetti, "then I want you to feel like that individual, like the homeless person and experience that. So you can do 90 days in jail or spend one night on the street followed by 3 days in jail."

The judge told Smith to empty his pockets and carry only his identification. A global positioning tracking device was clamped on Smith's leg so that he could be located at all times as he wandered the streets of Painesville.
Smith seemed resigned to his punishment despite the harsh cold temperature outside.

One of Nathen's options for the night is under the Main Street bridge where the homeless in Painesville can often be found sleeping. There are blankets and sleeping bags piled up in the snow near the base of the bridge.

Judge Cicconetti told Smith, "I am not going to give you any clues where you're going to find food. I'm not going to give you any clues where you are going to spend the night. That's up to you."
Hardly a slap on the wrist, huh? Go here to watch a video from a local Ohio television news program.

Sunday, January 27

A big blog called "a small change"

Congratulations to Jason Dick for cultivating an excellent conversation about how small nonprofits can successful implement online fundraising programs. Check out A Small Change for a multi-part interview with folks from: PaySimple, Firstgiving, DonorPerfect Fundraising Software, GiveStream, Click and Pledge, and EchoDonations.

Obama's win drives fundraising spike

Matthew Mosk and Jose Antonio Vargas at the Washington Post had an interesting article last night on the unbelievable fundraising spike that followed Obama's win in South Carolina.

A source inside the Obama campaign says the candidate's web site has seen one of its best hours tonight, raising $525,000 in one hour. A senior aide inside the Obama campaign said the candidate's site saw its "highest peak" tonight in both online donations and traffic, "bigger than after Iowa, bigger than after New Hampshire."
By my math, that comes out to $8,750 a minute.

Thursday, January 24

2008 Annual Washington Nonprofit Conference

There is a big nonprofit fundraising conference going on in Washington, DC this week which is run by the Direct Marketing Association's Nonprofit Federation.

I've been told they have about 800 people there this year... and while I'd love to be there blogging about the education conferences and gossip from the various networking events, it's not going to happen.

So, in my place I asked a dear friend, who I will call "a consultant" to send me emails from the inner working's of the festivities in Washington. Here is what my source sent me:

Hi Fundraiser, Greetings from the conference! The escalators don't work at the hotel, so getting between floors is a pain-in-the-butt, but not as much of a pain as schmoozing with clients, former co-workers, and vendors. There is an interesting panel being held this morning moderated by Senny Boone, Esq., Vice President, Special Counsel & Executive Director, DMA Nonprofit Federation. She is going to have some impressive panelists, including:

Carolyn A. Emigh, Principal, Nonprofit Service Group
Charles Nave, Esq., President, Charles H. Nave, P.C.
Geoffrey W. Peters, President, CDR Fundraising Group
Robert S. Tigner, Regulatory Counsel, DMA Nonprofit Federation

I'll keep you posted on what I see, hear, and learn from the events.
As a note to the rest of my readers, if you have tips, stories, and reactions to the conference in DC or to any conferences you've been to recently, please send them along.

Tuesday, January 22

I guess DM News finally got my memo

Exactly one month ago today, I warned readers of this blog that I wasn't here to waste their time. I believe my exact words were:

Most people don't know this, but I have a magic crystal ball in my desk drawer. It has special powers that allow me to predict the future. Not only that, but I read a shit load of news stories everyday about fundraising in order to hopefully share some observations of what trends will influence our industry.I'm not trying to scare you. I only want to warn you - so pay attention.
For Pete's sake, I'm been running around with my hair on fire trying to tell fundraisers that they need to be very worried about a pending financial disaster in the global economy. Are you listening yet?

It appears Chantal Todé got my memo. An article written by Todé appeared on the DM News website yesterday with quotes from Greg Fox, SVP and chief strategy officer at database market­ing agency Merkle.

According to Merkle's data, giving is already down in some areas of the Midwest and the South, and Fox says, “there may be a correlation between [the reduced giving and] the heightened foreclo­sure rates in those markets."

Unfortunately, I think we've moved past just describing this as a "foreclosure crisis" and what we now need to deal with is a global economy that needs to unwind massive amounts of leveraged trades tied to a spreading credit crisis.
...but what do I know, I'm just "a fundraiser" with a blog.

Navy Times weighs in on investigation of veteran charities

The Navy Times is a very powerful newspaper. Some people have pointed to an editorial in the esteemed military paper titled "Time for Rumsfeld to Go," on November 6, 2006 as being the straw the broke the camel's back... less than 48 hours after that column ran, the former Secretary of Defense was pushed out of his job.

So, it was a very big deal yesterday when the Navy Times joined other media outlets in raising ethical concerns over Tommy Franks acceptance of $100,000 to appear in a fundraising letter for a veterans charity that is alleged to have spent only 25% of donations on program expenses.

Unfortunately, the Navy Times failed to mention the name of Richard A. Viguerie - and therefore, may be overlooking the most interesting aspect of this scandal.

The Congressional investigation into the "veterans charities" in question revealed that Viguerie was paid millions of dollars in fundraising-consulting contracts and even received a $1 million loan for a start-up initiative from the charity.

Richard Viguerie has been dubbed the "funding father" of modern conservative strategy, having pioneered important tactics in computerized direct mail strategy in the 1970s and 1980s. He is considered the direct mail titan of the right.

I found this 1982 article titled "Direct Mail: The Underground" which describes Viguerie like this:

Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail impresario of the New Right, is credited with first using letters as a medium rather than merely as a fund-raising trigger. For eighteen years, Viguerie has used the mail as an explicit alternative to what he sees as a liberal monopoly in the media mainstream . "It's not that the media presents [sic] the news in a partisan way, it's that they present the positive side of liberal causes, liberal issues, liberal personalities and, for the most part, ignore conservative causes, conservative issues, and conservative personalities, or present them in an unfavorable manner," Viguerie wrote in 1980 in The New Right: We're Ready to Lead. "However, there is one method of mass commercial communication that the liberals do not control - direct mail . . . . You can think of direct mail as our TV, radio, daily newspaper and weekly news magazine."

During the last few years Viguerie has earned a pretty penny as a fundraising consultant for right wing causes... which makes it all the more interesting that he is caught up in this most recent controversy of fundraising costs at a charity that is supposed to help injured Vets.

Monday, January 21

Tommy Franks critcized for $100,000 fundraising payment

'Face The Nation' host Bob Schieffer questioned the integrity of General Tommy Franks on Sunday for accepting $100,000 to use his name in a direct mail appeal to raise money for wounded soldiers.

This blog reported yesterday that Congressional investigators continue to dig into allegations of excessive fundraising costs incurred by two veterans charities - Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation.

Schieffer's stinging critique entitled, "The Follies Of Fundraising," asks the question:

What kind of PERSON would insist, or even ALLOW himself, to be paid to raise money for those who were wounded while serving under him?
Franks says he severed his connection to the fundraiser when he realized most of the money he helped raise went to the fundraiser, not the troops.

Sunday, January 20

House Committtee investigates two Veterans charities over excessive fundraising charges

The President and Founder of the nonprofit group "Help Hospitalized Veterans" was forced to testify before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform late last week.

The focus of Thursday's session was Roger Chapin, president of Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) of Winchester, Calif., and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation in Ossining, N.Y. Chapin had declined an invitation to appear voluntarily at a December hearing, forcing the committee to subpoena him.
Philip Rucker covered the story on Friday and shared enough details to guarantee the scandalous story would receive front page treatment in Friday's Washington Post.
At a raucous, three-hour hearing [Thursday], House members questioned California entrepreneur Roger Chapin about his management of two charities. One charity, Help Hospitalized Veterans, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that were to help wounded soldiers on personal expenses for Chapin, executive director Mike Lynch and [conservative activist] Richard A. Viguerie, to whom the charity has awarded millions of dollars in fundraising-consulting contracts, the hearing found.

The expenses included at least $340,000 in meals, hotels and entertainment; a $135,000 loan to Lynch for a divorce settlement with his former wife; a $17,000 country club membership; three airplane tickets to Hawaii; and a $1 million loan to Viguerie for a start-up initiative at his firm, several members of the committee said.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the committee, said Help Hospitalized Veterans raised more than $168 million from 2004 to 2006. The charity spent a quarter of those donations on the veterans, with the rest going to direct-mail fundraising, salaries and other expenses, Waxman said.
At one point during the hearing:
(Photo Credit: Sarah L. Voisin, The Washington Post)

Friday, January 18

This is my 500th blog post!

Today is a big day for "a fundraiser."

Today is the 553rd day since I started this blog and this marks the 500th blog I've written for Don't Tell The Donor.

Technorati continues to reward the growing traffic numbers... this site has had over 55,000 visitors come to the website, while another 450+ readers subscribe to the feedburner email delivery.

Today this site is ranked as the 108,652 most popular blog on the Internet... and with your help, I have no doubt Don't Tell The Donor will crack the top 100,000 blogs now.

Feel free to leave a comment on this post with ideas about which blog post was your favorite!

Why not celebrate this anniversary day by reaching out to a couple good fundraisers you know and trust... and invite them to join the conversation we've got going here?

Thursday, January 17

Loser on 'Survivor' is a winner in fundraising

Sonja Christopher was one of the first cast-aways on season one of the CBS hit show "Survivor" back in 2000.

Prior to the show she was asked what she would do with the $1 million if she won and she told friends that she would donate the money to her church in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek to help them build a fellowship hall.

Unfortunately, she was the first contestant voted off the island after stumbling during a race.

Yet in an ironic twist of fate, Christopher donated her $2,500 consolation prize and that generous gift spurred more than $1 million in donations. This month, the 70-year-old Christopher helped break ground on that hall.

Richard Hatch, the winner of that first season is now serving time in a federal prison for tax evasion. That irony prompted Michelle Locke, an Associated Press Writer to observe:

Kind of adds a whole new layer to that "last shall be first, and the first last" thing.

Wednesday, January 16

Red Cross rocked by staff cuts

The New York Times reported today that the American Red Cross is facing a $200 million operating deficit as a result of short fundraising and is preparing to cut as much as one-third of its headquarters staff.

Up to 1,000 employees are said to be on the chopping block - including about 60 members of the organization’s national fund-raising staff who have been told they should start looking for new jobs. My sources tell me that department heads have already begun talking to staff, although I haven't heard gossip yet about severance packages.

Suzy C. DeFrancis, the Red Cross’s chief public affairs officer, declined to discuss fund-raising problems specifically with Times reporter Stephanie Strom, other than to say that the organization had not raised enough to cover costs. “There are probably a lot of explanations for this deficit,” she said.

Take your pick. Is this the result of the leadership scandal caused by Mark Everson's departure, the lack of any significant natural diasters in 2007, or the first wave of RIFs that "a fundraiser" has been warning against for the past two weeks.

No matter which cause you want to blame... I'm willing to bet that this is not the first shoe to drop at the Red Cross or at other nonprofits facing similar pressure.

NP Times names World's Best Fundraisers

Six years ago a friend gave me a t-shirt that says "#1 Fundraiser in the World."

I wear it to work sometimes underneath my clothes. I've found that, not only does it give me secret powers, it has also been a self-enforcing prophecy. I've had some of my greatness fundraising successes while wearing that t-shirt... after all, that don't give out shirts like that to just anyone.

So, you can imagine my shock when the NonProfit Times released their list of the World's Best Fundraisers today. They didn't mention the fact that I was already awarded this title (by way of my t-shirt) over six years ago.

Despite this oversight, I think the list (and the rational) is very solid:

Younger Than 40 - Sarah Tanner
Younger Than 40 - Brian Cowart
Online - Greenpeace International
Living Legend - Larry Jones
Cause Marketing - Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Direct Mail - Susan Loth
International - FINCA
Trendsetter - Jewish National Fund

Now that I know this t-shirt isn't an exclusive award... I might as well start selling "World's #1 Fundraiser" t-shirts and mugs in the Don't Tell the Donor online store.

Tuesday, January 15

Important findings from the COPPS study on SYBUNT trends

If you are a fundraiser that uses DonorPerfect or Raiser's Edge as your fundraising software database, you know the power of the SYBUNT report which can help target donors who give "Some Years But Unfortunately Not This" (year).

Most successful fundraisers know that inconsistent donors have a significantly lower lifetime value than donors who give annually. As a result, it is important to segment Annual Fund mailings to ensure too many resources aren't spent on these "occasional donors" at the expense of not soliciting committed donors enough.

It's just as important to understand the broader trends of individual donor giving and the body of research available to help fundraisers understand the big picture.

The NonProfit Times published an excellent review last week of an ongoing study conducted by the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS) at Indiana University.

The COPPS survey talks to 8,000 families about their nonprofit giving. According to this report, "while the total percentage of households that gave was similar in all three years (67 to 69 percent), it was not always the same households - in fact, it appears that a third of U.S. households appear to shift between donating and not donating.

COPPS researchers found that 56 percent of households gave donations in each of the three years. Another three in 10 households (29 percent) contributed to charity in some but not all years studied. Just under 15 percent did not contribute at all in any of the years studied.
COPPS is conducted every two years (beginning in 2001) in conjunction with the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a landmark recurring survey by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research initiated in 1968.

It's a shame the survey results aren't made public in a more timely manner, but if you would like to read a recent report from January 2008 on the key findings from the survey conducted in 2005 (which covers giving in 2004) you can go here.

A special thanks to the NonProfit Times for publishing this critical link (which all fundraisers should bookmark) to the Center on Philanthropy for quick reference to a dozen major donor research studies.

Saturday, January 12

Would you work for free?

A lot of professional nonprofit fundraisers I know are aware of the fact their skills could earn them significantly higher paychecks if they were to leave the nonprofit world.

Many stay because they feel passionately about the mission and want to work for a higher purpose than the corporate rat race offers. They work just as long and just as hard. However, as a result of the lower pay, fundraisers (and their families) make financials sacrifices to support the cause they believe in.

But would you work for free?

I'm not talking about the rich Board members who volunteer their time to the local hospital. I'm asking if your Executive Director came to you and asked if you would forego a paycheck for a month to avoid the organization cutting critical services... what would you say?

Apparently Rudy Guiliani's campaign manager Mike DuHaime and between 15 and 20 other senior staffers will not collect a paycheck this month in order to help their boss concentrate financial resources in Florida.

Spokespeople insist this is a voluntary act and does not reflect a sinking campaign that is living hand to mouth... and if the former New York City mayor can pull out a primary victory in Florida their is a chance that the gamble could work out as donors reward the Guiliani campaign.

I'm not sure how often that would work outside of the political world...

Thursday, January 10

tick tick tick...

I think Jeff Brooks may have been talking about me when he mentioned not wanting to be "an alarmist" in his post today.

...but Holly Hall at the Chronicle sniffed out the real story in Target Analysis Group's most recent National Index report.

Even though Target's press release painted a rosy picture saying that there was "Modest Revenue Growth During First Three Quarters of 2007" the picture is actually a little different when you figure in inflation as Holly Hall notes:

In first three quarters of last year, donations made in response to direct-marketing appeals failed to keep pace with inflation, growing by a median of 1.4 percent, meaning that half the groups achieved greater increases and half fared worse. The number of people who made gifts declined by a median 1.4 percent since 2006. Meanwhile, the organizations recruited a median 6.2 percent fewer new donors, on top of a 10-percent decline in new donors for the first three quarters of 2006.
Oh yeah... and did I mention that Goldman Sachs finally jumped on the bandwagon predicting a recession?

Tuesday, January 8

Is your job at risk in 2008?

I've already told readers that I think a recession is coming in 2008... if it's not already here. I see scary signs that our economy is in serious trouble... and as the economy slows, fundraising will be affected.

But what about fundraising jobs? Is your job as a nonprofit fundraiser, consultant, or vendor serving the nonprofit sector in jeopa

Peter Panepento at the Chronicle of Philanthropy moderated an online discussion today with Alan J. Abramson is director of the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program at the Aspen Institute and Patrick Rooney is director of research at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy, where he manages the research and writing for Giving USA.

One participant asked what changes in the economy will mean for fundraising sector jobs in 2008 and Rooney had some dire predictions:

...charities face a tough situation in times of fiscal distress: one the one hand they need to reduce costs and for most charities, compensation is 3/4 or more of their costs, so RIF are seen as a necessary solution sometimes.
For those of you that don't know, RIF stands for "reduction in force" and refers to different kinds of layoffs.

Rooney then went on to say:
...we know from our prior research that recessions have a deletarious impact on giving for all subsectors (except religion, which grows throughout all stages of the business cycle--although more slowly than most subsectors in good time and in bad). Human service org's are especially hard hit as they experience an increase in demand for their services at the same time they typically see a decline in their charitable gift receipts.
I'm afraid we are already there.

High school 50/50 raffle faces scrutiny

The Lafayette School Corporation has suspended its 50/50 fundraising raffles after a parent of a Jefferson High School basketball player reported the raffles to the Lafayette (Ind.) Police Department.

The school district since has ceased all raffles at athletic events until a permit is given from the Indiana Gaming Commission. Other area schools The Star Press that they face similar pressure.

"I stay as far away from that Gaming Commission as I can because they're not real flexible people," [New Castle Chrysler High School Principal Bruce] Gaylor said. "Most of the people that win the 50/50 go ahead and give it back to the school as a donation. For crying out loud, schools are just hustling to find dollars now, and they keep trying to take 'em away from us. Every time we find a way to make a buck, they try to take 'em away from us, it seems like."
For crying out loud indeed. While it may be hard to believe that a parent actually ratted them out to the police... the truth of the matter is, many donors are outraged when they hear that a nonprofit's fundraising program keeps only 50 cents of every dollar raised... why should a raffle be judged any differently?

In fact, a friend of mine in California emailed me to say the California Penal Code (Section 320.5), bans such raffles "because less than 90% of the overall earnings are offered to the high school or charitable cause."

Monday, January 7

James Brown's children fight late singer's charitable trusts

According to an Associated Press story on

Five of James Brown's children say their late father's will should be invalidated because his former advisers used undue influence to get him to create charitable trusts that the advisers would profit from, according to court documents filed this week.
The New York Times adds this:
Five Brown children are challenging the will in Aiken County Probate Court. They claim Brown's longtime advisers Buddy Dallas, Alford Bradley and David Cannon convinced the soul singer to create the trusts so the advisers would profit from managing the two charities after Brown died.
Just how much money is involved in Brown's estate is unclear. In October, Forbes reported Brown made an estimated $5 million in 2005 alone. But attorneys have said Brown's accounts do not have the money they expected.

Wednesday, January 2

Did Paris Hilton get screwed or was it a play to avoid taxes?

When Paris Hilton's billionaire grandfather announced on Christmas day that he plans to give away 97% of his fortune, the news coverage was almost giddy. Was the controversial heiress going to become a pauper?The Guardian Unlimited reported that the 80 year old Barron Hilton is worth over $2.3 billion thanks to the recent sale of the Hilton Hotels Corporation and from the coming sale of Harrah’s Entertainment.

Jerry Oppenheimer, author of House of Hilton, said that Barron Hilton "was, and is, extremely embarrassed by how the Hilton name has been sullied by Paris. He now doesn't want to leave unearned wealth to his family."

Call me cynical, but it seems like the media is ignoring the fact that the mega-rich often use charitable donations to manipulate tax laws. So, let's take a closer look:

First, since most of this wealth was generated in 2007 as the result of two huge sales of almost a billion dollars in assets, you can be sure that Barron was facing some serious taxes. By placing $1.2 billion in a charitable trust this year, he gets immediate tax relief. Convenient, right?

Now, I guess the foundation does do some good work. But don't forget, it also paid Steven Hilton more than a quarter million dollars in 2006. The most recent IRS Form 990s for th Conrad Hilton Foundation show three other Hiltons on the payroll, in addition to a group of investment managers who received over $2,300,000 in 2006.

It sure makes those claims that Barron wrestled millions intended for the poor from his dead father's estate look more interesting.

The big business of college football

Yesterday, I found myself watching some boring college football Bowl games... so I tried to pass the time by arguing with friends about the largess of NCAA coaches. If you want to impress your friends with some facts and figures, here is some quick research I pulled together from other sources.

The USA Today reported last month that "the number of million-dollar coaches has soared from five in 1999 to 50 today."

The truth is that the games on New Years Day are only part of college football's larger $400 million bowl industry. Fox Business reports that each of the BCS bowl games pays out $17 million to the conferences represented. The conferences, based on their own rules, divide the payout among all of the teams in the conference. If an additional team from a conference is lucky enough to make a BCS bowl, the conference receives an extra $4.5 million.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a great article last week outlining the huge bonuses given to coaches for winning their bowl game. The biggest bonus seems to await Les Miles if LSU can win next week's National Championship game. Others earn the right to renegotiate contracts if their team hits overall goals.

Alumni boosters at Hawaii ran a campaign to raise $114,000 for the team’s head coach, June S. Jones III when they grew worried he might leave the university when his contract expires in six months.

According to Forbes magazine, Ohio State has the biggest athletic department budget in the U.S. at a whopping $104.7 million for the year ending June 30, 2006. Texas was second at $97.8 million.

Then again, we are living in the age where 31 universities are seeking to raise at least a billion dollars.

In December, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee tapped Peter Weiler to head up all of OSU’s fund-raising efforts, including a possible $2.5 billion capital campaign. Weiler will begin his new job in early 2008 as senior vice president for university development and president of the Ohio State University Foundation.

Just hours after OSU's announcement, the University of Georgia named longtime administrator Tom Landrum the permanent senior vice president for external affairs, the administrator in charge of fundraising, public affairs and alumni relations.

With Landrum in the vice president's office this year, fundraisers shot past their five-year fundraising goal to collect $500 million for the Archways to Excellence campaign. The campaign is set to conclude June 30, but already has collected $580 million, according to Landrum.
As vice president, Landrum will make $252,000 a year, the 13th highest salary among UGA administrators and faculty, according to university spokesman Tom Jackson.

Tuesday, January 1

Did public radio put pledge drive before breaking news?

On December 27th, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated as she left a rally for the Pakistan Peoples Party. The Opposition leader's death is a major news story since many observers predict it could spell uncertainty for Pakistan's future.

While almost all news outlets gave the story breaking news coverage, the public radio station WNYC in New York decided to to go ahead with a one-day fundraiser that day.

FishbowlNY, the media news and gossip blog, clipped a couple angry listener comments from WNYC's message board and ran a story with the title, "WNYC Listeners Fume Over Fundraising That Interrupts Bhutto Coverage."

One comment from a listener named Evan Robinson puts it this way:

I too am shocked and dismayed at WNYC's continuing the pledge drive during this tragic and important event. The WNYC I used to know was the one that suspended a pledge drive when Leonard Bernstein passed away. The management at that time recognized the importance of the event to the culture, the city and the world, and saw fit to honor an important figure rather than beg for money. Laura Walker owes all of WNYC's listeners an apology for such a crass demonstration.
Even if Evan's comments are a bit over the top, the reaction does highlight the difficult decision all fundraisers face when major news events or natural disasters interrupt our campaign plans.