Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category.

What’s Your Status? Chaos or Control?

Data! Too often the sadly neglected child in our fundraising space

Some examples…The University I graduated from does not have me in their database!!!

Someone I know well gave $10,000 to one of the largest health charities in her province. After a perfunctory letter of thanks, in the ten years since, she has never heard from them again.

How can this happen and what can we do about it?

Sharron Batsch has written a book on the subject, From Chaos to Control that you should read AND I am hosting her in an online session this week,

Thursday March 20 at 10am Pacific Time

Click here to Register  

It is all really very simple and if we took the necessary steps to control our data, we would be happier in our work day. We would raise more money and the world would be a better place.

Jim Hilborn agrees that this is too important to miss and is offering attendees a special offer on the book. Sign up for the session and get a 20% discount on the book.

Click here for details.

Let’s do it!

What’s the Evidence? Environmental Charities & Advocacy

In early 2012, we heard a lot of rumblings about political or advocacy by charities from certain commentators and even our own federal government. The CRA was given additional funds to monitor and audit improper activity by charities. There was a definite chill in the air and the whiff of something perhaps not quite proper, especially to those less familiar with the organizations in question.

We have some research presented here that puts much of this speculation in perspective. What are your thoughts? Click here to see the presentation, Environmental Charities and Advocacy Research Presentation by Sarah May.



Indigenous Philanthropy


Indigenous Philanthropy may be the next big wave.

See resources Suggest your own.

How old are your donors?

This week I was privileged to speak with at least one out of every 10 attendees at the AFP Congress at our booth for I also sat in on Judith Nichol’s  session on Diversifying Your Donor Base.

Some interesting insights from both included the following:

  • Most of our donors are aged 50 and higher.
  • Gen Xers were the first generation to put animal charities first.
  • Alumni from 1990 and later are not giving to their alma maters.
  • Millennials are the first generation to be comfortable asking their peers to donate.
Who would like to attend a workshop/webinar on generational diversity in giving?

Why do we do so many special events?

Everyone loves a party! I have been convinced that this is at least some of the reason why charities seem to organize so many fetes, galas, dinners, shows, golf games etc. etc.

If they are so much fun, why do we complain about them so much?

In years of listening to what was bugging development staff, the complaint of having to organize too many events was surely at or near the top of the list.

Perhaps it is because those that propose them are not the same folk who must do the work.

However, if we were convinced that they made good fundraising sense, I really think that there would be less frustration.

I have been volunteering recently for a small largely volunteer run organization that is churning out event after event with sadly small profits. They do not know what else to do.

That is why I invited Linda Lysakowski to present the 12 Step Cure for Event Addiction. There has to be a better way!

Linda has been advising and working with organizations for many years and she has just about seen it all.

We have a new date for this webinar which is November 14, 2013 at 10 am Pacific Time.

You can register at Register Now.

Let’s make our events work for us as the community building, lead generation and great marketing buzz that they are.

I hope to see many of you online on November 14!

#LGBTFunding @inclusivegiving The new found strength in funding for gay causes

A posting from landed in my inbox today and showed a tremendous increase in funding to gay (LGBT) causes with support from the Foundation Center’s data.

FoundationSearch too shows a dramatic increase with projected gains over the next three years.

The analysis here is very strong.

Momentum, Resistance, Impact

Smart Strategies including efforts to organize where support is lowest which in the US is the South and Midwest.


New Funding Partners including racial equity funders

The projected result = Change including a powerful intersectional movement for social change

How many non LGBT fund seekers have such a strong analysis of what it will take and what can be gained?

Moral = Think big and dare!







Why Open Your Door? Diversity in Fund Development

Our diversity theme continues on May 23 with emphasis in ‘Opening your Door to Diversity’ on under-represented groups of long standing in our community. (The case of recent immigrant communities was addressed in our May 2 webinar on ‘Reaching Diverse Communities’ – if you missed it there is a recording available)

Does your organization represent your community?

How can you tell if you are not sufficiently representative?

A simple calculation is to look at the percentage of a given cultural, racial, or religious group in your area and the numbers from that community being served. Are those numbers a close match with those on your board or volunteering? Is the percentage of your donors consistent with  all of the above?

If the answer is no, then there may be work to be done.

I asked a senior administrator of a southern state college about the percentage of African Americans living in the area and if that number was also reflected in the student body of his college. He reported about the same percentage of African Americans living in the catchment area also attended the college. However, their donor pool reflected at best 1/10th of that number. He was unaware that African Americans give a higher proportion of their income to charity than any other ethnic group, AND they are keenly interested in supporting education.

See African American Giving for a full recorded presentation on this topic.

I personally like and use the following definition of diversity/inclusion:

‘The practice of diversity allows us as professionals to reach out beyond our comfort zone and engage those in our communities we may not be reaching due to cultural differences, language barriers etc.The charities we work for benefit hugely from a stronger base of support and the opportunity to realize their mission beyond our first level of connections.’

The reality is that it is always easier to stay with the familiar and avoid risk.

There are consequences for our reticence, however. As fundraisers, we tend to look at the bottom line as our area of responsibility.

When we systematically, if unintentionally,  exclude peoples in our community, we lose them as workers, donors and advocates to our cause. We are the poorer for this.

Join us May 23rd for Opening Your Door – Inspiring Support from Diverse Communities for our panel of experts on African American, Hispanic and Indigenous Philanthropy.

Diversity to Inclusion: Two ways to open your doors and reach new communities

When Columbus ‘discovered’ America, he added hugely to Europe’s understand of the scope and size of the world and the variety of people in it. He did not invent America but he did uncover it for his time and his people.

As fund development professionals, we may well occupy a world we know and are comfortable in and hear tell of other ‘worlds’ without being sure what lies there and if we should go.

We often say in North America that we are all immigrants. Indigenous Peoples may disagree, however.

We do know that our cities and towns are constantly renewing with new immigrant groups that change the mix of our communities by race, religion and culture.

I think most of know that we should widen our tent and include new populations. We ask what is involved. Will I fail? And, of course, is it worth the risk?

Lots, yes and yes!

We also know if we stop and think about it that not all or our neighbours are equally involved as volunteers, advocates and donors and that those not in the room are not always new immigrants. They may well be from populations that have been here all along. First Nations are an obvious example.

Historic populations, be they the old Hispanic settlements in New Mexico, French Canadians, African Americans and others that may have settles many years ago yet remain distinct may not be fairly represented in our donor lists taking into account their numbers.

This is the answer to why we offer not one but two sessions on diversity this month. Reaching Diverse Communities offers case studies and successes reaching new populations such as Muslim Canadians, Sikh and Tamil. None of the above has been truly brought in to our traditions of philanthropy. What is their tradition of giving? Tune in May 2 to learn with Sharon Lee CFRE and Parag Tandon.

On May 23, Opening Your Door to Diversity includes three presenters who can enlighten us on African American Giving, Indigenous Culture of Philanthropy and involving Hispanic populations in our causes. In this instance, the focus is on education. That are many transferable lessons here whether you work with their communities or not.

This month is diversity month at I hope to see you online for both of these sessions.


“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” – Aristotle

Since most of you are focused on the success of your charity, non profit or other enterprise, I am inviting you to consider this classic suggestion for today from an organizational point of view rather than just you the individual.

An organization, like an individual needs self knowledge in order to make good decisions, and this can be especially important when selecting supporting tools for your work where different tools can be better suited to different types of organization.

Our upcoming webinar on, Five Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases looks at this as a key factor in making good decisions for your organization. Rob Weiner and Jeff Gignac will take you through the purchasing process with particular emphasis on some of the most common pitfalls (which often involve not matching the product chosen to the specific needs of the purchasing organization), and I will be doing something similar later this year with a different kind of product which is the Foundation/Corporate/Government directory.


Why does #SocialEnterprise in Rwanda matter to us?

Yesterday was Social Enterprise day in BC and I attended with many others the day of learning offered by Enterprising Non Profits and the celebration and awards offered to Social Enterprise heros, Ktunaxa Kinbasket,Tradeworks & Edible Garden. It was an inspiring and edifying night.

I confirmed once again for myself that the attention we pay at to social enterprise as a component of revenue generation for non profits and charities is warranted.

However, why Rwanda? Why should we care about the activities of charities so far away? Don’t we have enough to do right here?

I won’t lecture you, dear reader on global responsibility and how small a planet we have after all. I know you have heard it all before and that likely you are doing your best to be a good citizen of the world.

However, I will address the issue of why it matters for our practice. This was one of the key takeaways for me when I first heard Umeeda Switlo present her case study in Toronto last November.

If the projects she put in place could work in a challenged setting like Rwanda which endures entrenched poverty as well as the terrible legacy of the 1994 genocidal massacre, what could we accomplish here in North America?

I first read about the genocide in Rwanda in the book, ‘We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda’ by Philip Gourevitch. Later I read ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’ by Romeo Dallaire. Both are searing, hard to read but in their way a neccesary part of our education on what can happen and how it happens. I also know that physically, Rwanda is very beautiful and the protected area for Rwandan gorillas is in my bucket list.

With all that in mind, hearing what can be done to repurpose funding efforts of disability charites in that context is compelling. There is much to be learned here.

Tune in April 4 for ‘Social Enterprise in Rwanda: Crating Sustaninabilty’