Friday, February 29

Funny fundraising video?

Someone sent me a link today to this funny video from eTapestry which was posted on YouTube. It's titled "The Mystery of the Successful Fundraising Organization."

It's a creative advertisement. But, I'm curious if you are more or less willing to consider using a fundraising software that produces videos like this?

Paralyzed Veterans of America fights Washington Post on negative fundraising coverage

Last December, the Washington Post ran a Page 1 story the used an American Institute of Philanthropy report to criticize veterans charities for being inefficient fundraisers.

Paralyzed Veterans of America received an "F" grade and was listed in a chart, which said: "Letter grades were based largely on the charities' fundraising costs and the percentages of money raised that was spent on charitable activities."

Well... PVA fought back and Homer S. Townsend Jr., the PVA's acting executive director, complained to the newspaper by saying the Post's publication of those grades "without an explanation of how they were derived is a disservice to readers and the affected charities."

Last Sunday, the Post's ombudsman agreed with some of PVA's criticisms.

Townsend said the organization lost $500,000 from a donor who didn't like the "bad publicity." Townsend said that by running the story on Page 1, The Post "gave those ratings unquestioned legitimacy. Your readers deserve explanations of this complex subject." And complex it is. My reporting found that charity watchdogs compete with one another and don't agree on standards.
I think it's a good case study for how charities should respond whenever reporters try to write these simplistic "charity efficiency ratings" stories.

Gayle Robert's continues to impress me

Gayle Roberts proves (once again) that she is one of the most inspirational fundraisers in the business today.

The single largest barrier to raising money is your own lack of belief in yourself, donors and your good cause. The first step is healing your own negative relationship to money, power and privilege. If you are having trouble raising money from others, let me suggest you start by increasing your own donation.
Like Jeff Brooks, I suggest you go read this article right now.

Thursday, February 28

Catholics Asked to Stop Komen Donations

According to the Associated Press:

The Diocese of Little Rock is urging its members not to donate to a breast cancer foundation known for its fundraising races across the globe because the group supports Planned Parenthood.

The diocese says the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, which has invested about $1 billion in cancer outreach and research, gives money to Planned Parenthood to hold breast exams and offer education to women in its clinics.

"Donors cannot control how an organization designates its funds," a diocese statement reads. "Therefore, money donated for a specific service ... directly frees up funds to support other areas of an organization's agenda."
Hmmm... I read recently that for every new convert joining the Catholic church, there are four walking away. Even the Catholic World News service commented this week that there is a "vast exodus of Catholics leaving the faith."

No word yet on whether Komen has asked it's donors to stop supporting the Vatican out of concern we don't really know where that money is going.

Wednesday, February 27

Harvard finishes second to Stanford in fundraising - Yale drops from 3rd to 8th

From Prateek Kumar at the Harvard Crimson:

Harvard finished second to Stanford in fundraising this fiscal year, according to an annual survey published by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), raising $614 million dollars. Cardinal out-raised Crimson by over $200 million dollars.

The University of Southern California, Johns Hopkins University, and Columbia University rounded out the top five institutions. In total, American institutions of higher education received nearly $30 billion in donations, an increase of 6.3 percent over the previous year.

The 20 institutions with the highest levels of fundraising account for nearly a third of that increase, about $518 million. These schools raised over $7.5 billion, representing a quarter of total donations.
Yale saw a drop of 9.7 percent from 2006 to 2007, which resulted in a drop from third to eight.

Donor pays for NY Philharmonic's trip to North Korea

I hope you all have been following the amazing story going on in North Korea as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra made a historic two-day visit to Pyongyang.

I was surprised to hear Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, herself a classically trained pianist, offer a cool assessment recently by saying, "I don't think we should get carried away with what listening to Dvorak is going to do in North Korea."

The truth is, it is big.

Everyone knows that relations between the United States and North Korea have been "cold," but I was surprised to read Thomas Omestad observation in his article for U.S. News and World Report:

The North Koreans appeared intent on welcoming the symphony and its accompanying entourage—a group totaling nearly 300, making it the largest group of Americans to visit Pyongyang since the U.S. Army briefly occupied the city in the Korean War.
It's kind of cool to think this group of musicians, staff, benefactors, and journalists is the largest group of American to visit Pyongyang. It's even cooler that the fundraisers at the Orchestra were able to count of one cool donor to make it happen.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal profiled the Japanese-born countess, Lady Yoko Nagae Ceschina - the donor who sponsored the cost of the trip.

Mrs. Ceschina lives in a mansion on the banks of Venice's Grand Canal but she spends much of her time in concert halls in St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, London and New York. At age 75, she keeps the frenetic schedule of a musician on tour, flying around the world to hear her favorite soloists. Occasionally she surprises performers by attending a concert in Chicago one evening and New York the next.

"Music is more than a luxury for her; it's like vitamins," says Mr. Vengerov, 33, who performs with many of the world's major orchestras, playing the Stradivarius violin that Mrs. Ceschina gave him. "She always says to me after a concert, 'Maxim, I feel so much better now. I was feeling tired, and now I feel I am alive.' "

Mrs. Ceschina is petite woman with swept-back brown-and-gray hair and a round, youthful face. An accomplished harp player, she often turns up at concerts wearing a turtleneck, blazer and large, tinted glasses. She says she is funding the concert with faith that music can succeed where words and diplomacy fail. "I hope that this will lead to some good will," she says in an interview at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. "Even if I'm criticized, I believe in my position."
Go here to read more of this excellent story.

Tuesday, February 26

The best fundraisers are those who can tell a story

At the heart of it all, as fundraisers, we are all storytellers.

You can't be a successful fundraiser if you can't tell a good story. It's that simple.

Here is a great video featuring Professor Brian Sturm from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He describes storytelling as a way of organizing information, conveying emotions, and building community.

When you think of his model of storytelling as altered state of consciousness (the story trance) that includes 16 portals to altered states... it really helps understand his thesis.

The video features three stories that are told to illustrate the theoretical model: Truth and Story; What happens when you really listen; and The stone cutter. Storytelling ethics and the need for trust and truth are discussed.

I encourage you to start the video and minimize the window while you are checking emails this week and just list to what Professor Sturm has to say.

Monday, February 25

Gay man bequeaths $65 million to LGBT groups

Ric Weiland, one of Microsoft's first five employees, has left tens of millions of dollars of his estate to a fund to benefit eleven LGBT charities. The bequest includes multi-million dollar gifts to Seattle's Pride Foundation, Lambda Legal, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The website PageOneQ reports:

The bequest, the largest ever in support of the LGBT movement, will establish a fund at the Pride Foundation in the amount of $65 million. The largest will support the foundation's grantmaking programs, an amount the Seattle Times has reported as $19 million. An additional $46 million in the fund will be distributed to national LGBT charities. The Pride Foundation provides scholarships and grants to LGBT students and organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Weiland, a Seattle resident, was a former board member and volunteer at the organization.

After the Pride Foundation grant, the second largest gift in the bequest was to Lambda Legal, an organization that seeks LGBT equality through legal work and advocacy in state and federal courts. The gift to Lambda, in excess of $10 million, like the other bequests, will be distributed over the course of eight years.
PageOneQ reports that Weiland was high school friends with Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The website also says that Weiland committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshot in June of 2006 and is survived by his partner Mike Schaefer, and nieces and nephews.

Saturday, February 23

"Restitution is what we're after"

Rodney Rodis, a retired Roman Catholic priest, who plead guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in the theft of more than $600,000 in donations from St. Jude Church and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Louisa County, Virgina between 2002 and 2006 was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

According to Zinie Chen Sampson's article for the Associated Press:

Authorities said Rodis set up bank accounts and a post office box where he directed parishioners to send contributions. Rodis then transferred the money to his personal account, using it to support his family — a wife and three children, whom he concealed from parishioners. He also wired money overseas to relatives who used it to buy real estate.
Lawyers for the 51 thief argued for leniacy because of health issues. Meanwhile, the parishes feel betrayed. The man who succeeded Rodis said after the hearing he wasn't convinced of the sincerity of his predecessor's apologies.

"He did this for five years, systematically, and in a very organized way," the Rev. Michael Duffy said. "Restitution is what we're after."
A judge gave Rodis credit for time served, but ordered him to repay the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond more than $591,000 and required the Filipino native to meet with federal immigration officials for possible deportation after his prison term ends.

Friday, February 22

Part II of the donation jar "expose"

Okay. My apologies to Eric Rucker at KTVZ. Yesterday, I said that I wasn't sure if he was an idiot or just a lazy reporter after he did a cupcake piece on donation jars.

If he wants to start a debate on whether or not nonprofits are being inefficient by only asking for loose change without collecting names and addresses in order to cultivate a relationship... that's great. I'd love to see us discuss the pros/cons of cash donation jars from that perspective.

But television reporters who bang the same drum like Eric did on February 19th are no different than my local television anchor who keeps trying to convince me that their investigative reports team has uncovered some meaningless scandal.

However, after I saw Eric's "part II" of his expose on donation jars, I felt that I owed the guy an apology if I openly questioned his intelligence. Go here to view the rivoting follow-up "Donation jars help those in need."

Special report: Donation jars - charity or scam?

Eric Rucker is a reporter for KTVZ in Oregon.

After reading his "special report" on donation jars, I'm not sure if he is an idiot or just a really lazy writer. Check out for yourself how this brainiac decided to bring hard hitting journalism to the world of philanthropy:

In a day and age when a credit or debit card swipe is more popular than a dollar bill, extra change may not always weigh down your pant pockets.

But if you do pay in cash, you're bound to get some change.

You could, say, create your own change jar.

Or donate it to the charitable jar right in front of you - and many do.

"People are pretty generous here in Bend," said Bend's Galveston Avenue 7-Eleven owner, Brian Longerbeam.

But if you do add some of your money to the collection jar, are you helping a charity, or supporting a scam?

NewsChannel 21 wanted to find out.

Thursday, February 21

Thursday round-up!

Feel free to procrastinate your daily fundraising by reading any of these recent links:

Annaliese over at NTEN asks whether Facebook's contribution to fundraising will be a bust OR whether social networking sites will find a way to cultivate repeat donors. She contrasts the recent Case Foundation contest with Senator Obama's online fundraising strategy.

The Asian Pacific Post reports on a fundraising gala organized by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Foundation which raises money in Vancouver to support multi-cultural programs for new immigrants. "Since its inception, it has attracted over 120,000 people and raised more than $5,000,000 for community services in Metro Vancouver."

A thief broke into the New Gate School and stole nearly $5,000 worth of items. Although, from the sounds of this article, the 300 parents usually raise $130,000 anyway at New Gate School's largest annual fundraising event.

Sean over at Tactical Philanthropy has an opening at Ensemble Capital for a research analyst/junior portfolio manager.

But my favorite comment of the week goes to "Phil S" who responded to Holden's latest post at the GiveWell Blog by saying:

“It seems to me that the devaluing of high level decision making in favor of near-random one-time choices followed by intense specialized effort and solipsistic loyalty to the community joined through the initially random choice is one of the increasingly severe cultural problems of contemporary America.”
Damn Phil. I think that's either complete nonsense or really deep.

Wednesday, February 20

Local governments prepare to cut nonprofits from budget

The Chronicle of Philanthropy followed up on their in-depth coverage of what a recession might mean for fundraising with a live chat yesterday.

Unfortunately, Michael Seltzer and Robert Sharpe, the guests for the chat addressed the impending diaster awaiting nonprofit groups that rely on local government funding. Not only has the collapsed of the real estate bubble reduced the size of tax revenue for many jurisdictions... but in case you missed it, we are about to face a major crisis with municipal bonds.

As a result, I expect to hear more about municipalities declaring bankruptcy. When that happens, expect to see more headlines like this from El Dorado County in California:

Museum and bookmobile services might be curtailed and a surcharge added to cell phone bills as part of El Dorado County's efforts to close a projected $15.6 million budget gap in the coming fiscal year.
Don't be surprised if other cash-strapped municipalities begin to do more than close the county Historical Museum or eliminate the library's bookmobile service.

Monday, February 18

Rotary President offers fundraising advice

Wilf Wilkinson, the first Canadian president of Rotary International, will speak in Halifax on Tuesday evening.

His fundraising efforts are legendary in Rotary circles. For example, in 1986, he was treasurer of the Canada PolioPlus program, with a goal of raising $10 million across the country. He raised $12 million.
Not only has Wilkinson helped raise many millions more since that campaign; Rotary has almost eradicated polio, through its massive financial contributions.

His advice on fundraising is simple and honest:
His theory is simple. "The secret of fundraising is being convinced of the need, having the courage to ask and not being discouraged when someone says no. You’ll get a donation about every fourth person, so just keep asking. And you’ll get something eventually from the person who turned you down the last time — if you ask again next time."
The 77 year-old leader overseas an organization that has grown to 1.2 million Rotarians in 32,000 clubs in 200 countries and regions.

Quiet an impressive fundraising resume for a guy named "Wilf."

Keep up the good work.

Friday, February 15

Oprah's Big Give

I gotta admit, I really am looking forward to see what Oprah's Big Give looks like. I usually hate reality TV, but maybe this will spark a national conversation:

Oprah's Big Give will begin with the 10 contestants -- who hail from across the country and have diverse backgrounds -- as they converge on Los Angeles for their first challenge, where Winfrey will hand them sealed envelopes with only a picture and the name of a complete stranger. Then, in only five days, each contestant must "give big" to "change this person's life" by using their creativity and resources to "make a real difference."
Do you remember when she gave everyone in her audience $1,000, but asked them to go out and and pay it forward?
The "gives" get even bigger throughout Oprah's Big Give's eight-episode run, and at its conclusion, the contestant left standing will receive the title of "The Biggest Giver" and -- unbeknownst to them -- a $1 million prize.
Go here to read about the identity of the contestants.

Thursday, February 14

Happy Valentines Day Fundraisers!

I'm a big fan of The Nonprofiteer.

Today she tipped me off to a post by Robert Tolmach at WellGood LLC who writes:

Facebook members spend a reported $200k a day on virtual gifts. On Valentine’s Day, they will likely spend millions of dollars sending little pictures of teddy bears, flowers, hearts, or whatever.

Imagine the impact we could make by capturing some of those dollars for breast cancer research!

The ChangingThePresent app on facebook offers a new kind of virtual gift, which are really donations to the nonprofit you choose, and the picture your friend receives shows what you contributed toward. It’s a nice way to show you care and make a difference.What better $1 gift for Valentine’s Day than a donation
toward breast cancer research?

The Nonprofiteer goes on to add:
...that heart disease, which kills more women by a huge fraction than breast cancer, would be equally appropriate (and, while we're at it, thinks that breast cancer's high profile [you should pardon the expression] reflects society's fetishization of the breast as the be-all and end-all of womanhood rather than its concern for women's health)--but she agrees that any gift to charity is better than a virtual gift, whatever that might be.
Go to this Facebook group to participate:

Wednesday, February 13

Three political fundraising headlines

Here are three political fundraising stories I saw on Tuesday that caught my attention:

The Conservative Pulse made it sound as if Ron Paul's fundraising numbers are starting to dry up after the maverick candidate failed to make a significant showing in any primary so far.

The week of January 21st, the Paul campaign added over $2.2 million to their bank account. Last week the campaign raised $1.6 million. This week, all signs suggest that the Paul campaign will take in only about $250k in donations.
Meanwhile, it was interesting to see how far John McCain's luck has changed. Last summer when McCain was at a low point in the polls and his fundraising had bottomed out, he asked to participate in the public campaign finance system.

However, on Tuesday McCain sent letters to the Federal Election Commission and the Treasury Department notifying them of his decision to withdraw from the presidential election financing system.
Though the FEC declared him eligible to receive $5.8 million in December, the money would not have become available until next month. By accepting the money, moreover, McCain would have been required to limit his spending for the primary to about $54 million — an amount the campaign was close to reaching now.
I thought the captain of the "Straight Talk Express" was a a passionate advocate of limits on campaign finances.

Finally, CQ Politics published an article that examines the fundraising powerhouses behind 10 of the best funded incumbent House members. The article shows why it is so hard to beat an incumbent:
In fact, 65 U.S. House incumbents each reported more than $1 million in total receipts last year, including six who topped the $2 million mark, according to a CQ Politics analysis of updated campaign finance reports filed by candidates to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) at the end of January.
Politics shouldn't really count as nonprofit fundraising.

Monday, February 11

Charity scam figure set for release from federal custody

The NonProfit Times posted a detailed story today on John G. Bennett Jr.'s pending release from federal custody:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, he will be set free from a halfway house in Philadelphia on March 5. He was sent there this past Sept. 11 after serving nearly 10 years at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institute in New Jersey.
Go here to read more details about Bennett's role in what I think was one of the biggest charity scams of all-time.

My own takeaway from the Slate 60 list

The annual Slate 60 list of the largest charitable contributions of the year is out today.

Their "takeaway" from is list is that:

Two hoteliers known for providing comfort to the well-to-do are leaving a different legacy: aid to the less fortunate... The late Leona Helmsley bequeathed $4 billion to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and Barron Hilton donated $1.2 billion to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, started by his father.
Unfortunately, I have a different "takeaway." For me, it stands out that the two biggest gifts were given almost involuntarily... when one donor died and the other may have needed to find a tax shelter after making a multi-billion dollar capital gain tax this year.

Sure, both gifts are very big... and generous... and I'm sure the world will be a better place because of these donations. I'm not going to knock planned gifts of personal estates. I'm also impressed that our government continues to offer generous charity donation deductions.

However, size isn't what always touches this fundraiser. I'm more impressed with the gifts given voluntarily during one's life. Gifts that respond to an organizations specific needs without asking for anything in return. Is that too naive?

Friday, February 8

Yep, he's still in jail

Thanks to the research assistance of a quick-witted old friend, Don't Tell the Donor has learned that John G. Bennett Jr. is still in prison serving a 12 year sentence for bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, false statements, filing false tax returns, money laundering and money laundering to promote unlawful activity.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows that inmate number 50156-066 is projected to be released on March 5th, 2008. So lock up your endowments fellow fundraisers, in less than a month he's going to be released from Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey.

To read more about "the six-year long Ponzi-turned-pyramid scam defrauded roughly 150 charities out of more than $100 million," go here.

Be sure to vote in our reader poll - should Bennett have been sentenced to more than 144 months in prison?

Thursday, February 7

Is John G. Bennett Jr. still in jail?

A free "Don't Tell the Donor" prize to the first person who can email me at and prove whether or not John G. Bennett Jr. has been released from prison yet. The only source I can find says that he applied for early release in the summer of 2005.

Wednesday, February 6

The biggest charity scam of all time?

CNBC's hit show American Greed devoted its broadcast Wednesday night to the infamous story of John G. Bennett, Jr. who was able to scam roughly 150 charities out of more than $100 million prior to being caught in 1995.

The NonProfit Times described the scam as "a promise to double organizations' investments after a six-month holding period through anonymous matches. It was later discovered that the anonymous donors didn't exist. At its most basic, a Ponzi scheme pays off original investors by using the funds from new recruits. Eventually new recruits dry up and the scheme collapses."
Amazingly, Bennett was able to raise over $500 million from 1100 donors and embezzle $135 million of it - mostly from Christian religious organizations and charities in the Philadelphia - before being discovered by Albert Meyer, an accounting teacher at a college in Michigan.

After Meyer was able to get the attention of a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the foundation declared bankruptcy and many prominent nonprofits in a terrible financial situation.

According to the PA Attorney General's complaint, the victimized charities included the Boy Scouts of America, the Environmental Defense Fund, Haverford College, Harvard University, Princeton University, The Nature Conservancy, One to One Partnership Inc., Planned Parenthood, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Stanford University Medical School, the United Way and Yale Law School. Other organizations included:

Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, $2.7 million
Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield, Pa., $5.8 million
CB International, Wheaton, Ill., $4.6 million
Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Ga., $5 million
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Mi., $4 million
Houghton College, Houghton, N.Y., $4 million
John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Ark., $4 million
International Missions, Reading, Pa., $5 million
International Teams, Prospects Heights, Ill., $5 million
King College, Bristol, Tenn., $5 million
University of Pennsylvania, $2.1 million
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill., $4.6 million

The NonProfit Times also reported that "victimized charities later recovered more than 90 percent of their losses in an unprecedented bankruptcy settlement orchestrated by leaders at ECFA who formed the United Response to New Era, according to officials familiar with the settlement."
Bennett faced 82 federal counts of money laundering and wire, mail and bank fraud. He planned to claim in his defense that he had been possessed by "religious fervor", but the judge did not allow this. In the end Bennett pleaded no contest to all the charges in March of 1997. Though federal sentencing guidelines indicated a sentence of 22 to 27 years, the judge gave him 12.
What's most interesting is that Bennett was originally slated to be released next month - in March of 2008, but I've been unable to determine through research if this bastard ever got out of jail early on good behavior.

If you want to read more about this scam, I recommend this article.

Google Custom Search covering foundations

Lucy Bernholz shared this post yesterday from the NTEN listserve:

"To assist E-Democracy.Org's grant prospecting efforts I put together a little (big actually) Google Custom Search covering foundations, somegovernment funding sites, and sites with fund raising advice fornon-profits. Why not share it with the world? Try it out from:

Google Custom Search has a nifty option where you can say search all of the sites or partial sites to which a certain pages links. The main area where the search can be improved is by adding pages with links tosmaller community foundations. I've opened up the search engine to volunteer contributions."
She then goes on to make this wise observation:
I remember several years ago being asked by a 20-something nonprofit executive why anyone would need the Foundation Center. "Can't I just Google everything I need to know?" he asked. The question, and the search engine above, reveal a lot about how things have changed. There is such experienced-based assurance among Internet users that they can find what they need to know, by themselves. There is good reason to believe that many relevant funders can be found on the Web - though I don't know if anyone has counted foundation websites (which would be found by Google) and compared it to the 10,000 foundation database maintained by the Foundation Center or the larger universe of grants and funders catalogued by FoundationSearch. Savvy users of any search engine must always wonder what they are not finding, but so should users of industry sources such as the Foundation Center.
I've often said that there are some fundraisers who are cool enough to be "on the bus," and then there are others - like Lucy - who are so cool that they are literally helping to drive the bus.

Tuesday, February 5

Bush budget rewards Smithsonian but cuts PBS

I've been digging through the scary $3.1 trillion budget proposal Bush presented recently. Not surprisingly, the Republicans put a lot of domestic programs on the chopping block.

However, the Smithsonian Institution, the largest of the cultural accounts in the federal budget, received a proposed overall increase of $33.8 million in the 2009 budget request the White House.

It looked like the Smithsonian's budget would be trimmed, as politicians warned the institution that it needed to shape up. But despite the turmoil, the Smithsonian received $682.6 million for fiscal 2008, which ends in October. That was a $47 million increase from the previous year. Yesterday's proposal for fiscal 2009 is a response to pleas from Smithsonian officials that more help is needed to reduce a backlog of repairs that totals $2.5 billion. The proposal includes $128 million for facilities, up from $105.4 million in 2008. That includes continued funding for improvements at the National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoo. In another category, the budget proposal gives the Smithsonian $69.1 million for maintenance, a boost from $51.4 million in 2008.
The budget proposal wasn't too kind in its recommendation for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
In another proposal, President Bush recommended substantial cuts in the 2009 and 2010 budgets of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He proposed eliminating $200 million from the already approved $400 million for 2009 and $220 million from the $420 million passed by Congress for 2010. The CPB, which oversees and funds public radio and other public broadcasting operations, gets funding allocations several years in advance, although those can be changed. For the past eight years, Congress has overridden the president's cuts and restored full funding.
Looks like we're going to try harder for the 9th straight year to override those cuts again. Although, with all this fighting... it reminds me to ask... "What would Mr. Rogers do?"

Monday, February 4

Where do the pre-printed Patriots t-shirts go?

Immediately after the New York Giants won the Super Bowl last night, the players were given Championship t-shirts and hats.

I couldn't help think about all those people who assumed the New England Patriots were going to win and probably printed all the shirts and hats over the past couple weeks. Did you ever wonder where the unused (and incorrectly printed) t-shirts go?

Well, it turns out that a smart nonprofit already thought of an idea for that:

International Christian agency World Vision and the National Football League are continuing their long partnership to provide pre-prepared memorabilia designed to congratulate the losing team on their win to needy families around the world. This year, children in Nicaragua, Romania, and several other countries will be the recipients of the donation.
I guess that means that in developing countries around the world, a couple weeks from now there are kids walking around who are wearing what Tom Brady thought he would be wearing late last night.

Sunday, February 3

"I Didn't Get Elected To Be A Fundraiser"

Christopher Murphy is freshman Congressman representing Connecticut’s Fifth District.

Today he published a heartfelt letter in the Hartford Courant explaining his frustration that the demands of fundraising distract him from being able to help his constituents.

But let me pull back the curtain a little bit more. On top of all of the official duties of a congressman, I and my colleagues find that more and more of our time is spent on our re-elections, largely raising money. On any given day, the foot traffic to and from the national Republican and Democratic campaign offices is constant, and the conditions under which we labor are pretty depressing. At the Democratic offices, I sit in a room with cubicles, surrounded by freshmen and veteran legislators, feeling more like a telemarketer than a member of Congress. And I'm told that every year, the room gets more crowded. When I take a breath and look around, it becomes clear that this problem won't correct itself with time.
He goes on to explain that he may face a backlash for sharing this insight into the ugly world of political fundraising:

Most elected officials don't want you to know about the world of political fundraising because they fear that it paints an unflattering portrait of public life. (I'm sure there might even be a political price for me to pay for talking so bluntly about fundraising here.) But if the picture is unbecoming, the solution lies not in hiding the ugliness, but in exposing it. Why? Because it doesn't have to be this way.
The congressman goes on to advocate for public financing of congressional campaigns in order to cure this terrible reality of our democracy.

Friday, February 1

The Causes Giving Challenge is over!

From Facebook's website:

The Causes Giving Challenge (the “Challenge”) concluded at 3:00 PM EST on February 1st, 2008, and the Causes team and donation processing partners are currently reviewing and tabulating the results based on unique donors and in accordance with the Challenge Terms and Conditions. At the conclusion of this review period, the final award recipients will be posted on this page,, and we expect to announce these official results on or about February 21st, 2008.
The official top winners are: Love Without Boundaries Foundation, Tibetan Freedom Movement, and Fight Poverty with Nourish International.


My new column in The Nonprofit Times

The NonProfit Times asked me to write a column using my anonymous alias "a fundraiser" which will appear as a monthly feature on their website.

Apparently someone over there thinks I'm running, "one of the hottest blogs in the sector" and since I'm such a sucker for flattery - I told them I would be honored to share my thoughts.

So, a couple days ago I sat down and thought about a topic that worries a lot of my fundraising colleagues... and I began my first post by asking a scary question:

How would you feel if you discovered that 500 of your donors had created a group on a social networking Web site like Facebook to publicly discuss their experiences donating to your organization?

I suspect some fundraisers would panic with a sense of fear...
Continue reading the rest of this thought-provoking article titled "Our Donors Are Talking - What Are We Afraid Of?" on the NonProfit Times website.