June 2009 Archives

June 30, 2009

Who's a "Major Donor" in a Down Economy?

If your nonprofit is like most, you've defined your "major donors" based on a certain average dollar amount that they give annually and keep in touch with them accordingly. But when was the last time you examined that cutoff line?

As Richard Male points out in a recent article made available by the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, entitled "How to Prepare Your Nonprofit for an Economic Recession," now's a good time to lower the dollar threshold and widen your pool of major donors. That gives you more people to whom you reach out, make personal connections with, and ultimately come to rely on to keep your nonprofit viable.

No matter what the economy, his suggestion also carries important implications about not getting into a fundraising rut. Looking at whether your relationships with donors (both major and minor ones) reflect current economic realities and allow you to maximize the degree to which they feel connected to your organization is always a good thing.
June 23, 2009

Uh Oh, Cancel That Charity Golf Tournament

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Turns out corporate CEOs -- who are usually among the reliable attendees of charity golf tournaments -- don't want to be seen playing golf these days. Something about how it's not good for their image at the same time they're laying people off.

For the full story, see this June 23, 2009 USA TODAY article.
June 13, 2009

Are Charities Ignoring the Health of Runners at Marathon Fundraisers?

That's the suggestion made by coaches interviewed in this article by Julie Deardoff of the Chicago Tribune. Problems include runners who push themselves harder than they should, feeling they owe it to the charity, and others who decide they're going to make it to the finish line even if they have to stay until well after dark, when the help stations and others have packed up and gone.

Deardoff's article also notes a number of the wonderful things about athletic events built around fundraising, including the extra charge participants get by working together with others toward a cause.

But there's a warning flag in this article for any charity that puts on marathons or similar events -- you don't want to be the one that's a little lax on safety standards, leading to a major injury or safety problem that makes the contributors to this article look prophetic.
June 10, 2009

Women Drive Charitable Giving: Is Anyone Surprised?

A study by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund found that, among American women, almost half make the decisions on which charities their household will support and how much to give them. Although that's not a majority, it starts getting more significant when you see that the vast majority of men (92%) say their wives are their primary source of influence in making charitable-gift decisions.

And who's influencing these influential wives? Their friends, family, and coworkers.

So now you know which networks to tap into -- and who to ask for when you call a donor's home.
June 3, 2009

Oh, It's a Fundraiser! (Why Didn't They Say So?)

I'm just back from a vacation on the East Coast, which included some long, lovely drives through the small towns of upstate New York. The weather was balmy, the people were friendly. Nevertheless, I believe I alienated an entire small-town fire department -- and all due to their assumption that I knew about their fundraising cause.

There we were, my husband driving his father's car (with New York plates, so that no one knew we were hapless tourists), watching Memorial Day flags flutter from porches and barbecue smoke rise from backyards, when we saw a sign saying "Boot Drive Ahead." I asked my husband, "What's a Boot Drive?" He grew up in Buffalo, so he had more chance of knowing than I. Neither of us had a clue -- it sounded like some traffic penalty, like when they put a big metal thingy around your tire for not knowing that Oakland street-sweepers don't observe a certain federal holiday.

Rows of people lined the town's main street, including some firefighters in uniform, whose backs happened to be turned to us as we made our way along. Then a policeman very sternly motioned for us to stop. We did, but didn't roll down our windows. He gave us a dirty look and let us zoom off (somewhat eagerly, confused by the whole experience).

Only then did the other shoe (or boot) drop. In the rearview mirror, I saw a fireman holding a boot out toward a car. He was collecting money, presumably to support the local fire department. Oops. We did offer some green to the next town's boot-wielding fireman. But c'mon folks, a little more signage would have helped. There's nothing tacky about saying something like, "Support Your Local Fire Department!" Moral of the story: Vagueness in fundraising leads to lost chances to interact with potential donors.