Archive for October, 2011

October 28, 2011

5 Things Never to Do in Your Phone Fundraising Calls

With this blog post, I’m launching a new, regular feature at Michael Rosen Says. Periodically, I’ll invite an outstanding, published book author to write a guest post. If you’re an author who would like to be considered, please contact me directly.

For the first author-guest-post, I invited Stephen F. Schatz, CFRE, author of Effective Telephone Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide to Raising More Money, the definitive book about how to make a successful appeal using the phone. Steve and I worked together as telephone fundraising pioneers. In his book, for which I wrote the Foreword, he reveals most of our proven techniques. Step-by-step, his book shows the right way, the most effective way to do telephone fundraising. As the back-cover says, “Despite the advent of sophisticated fundraising methods via the Internet, social media, and other online platforms, the bottom-line truth is: good old-fashioned telephone fundraising still works, bringing in over one billion dollars annually from generous Americans. It’s a wellspring of untapped funds your nonprofit could be reaping. Savvy, straightforward, and humorous, Effective Telephone Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide to Raising More Money shows you how to secure more donors, raise more money, and build donor loyalty.”

For this post, Steve looks at things from a different perspective and shares what he believes are the things fundraisers should never do in their phone fundraising programs:


When my wife heard that I was writing an article about the DON’Ts of telephone fundraising for Michael’s blog, Michael Rosen Says, her helpful suggestion for #1 was “Don’t pick up the phone — it might be a telemarketer!”

I had to explain the slant was to help telephone fundraisers, not to hurt them. In my recent book, Effective Telephone Fundraising, I suggest plenty of “DOs” — things you can do to make effective telephone fundraising calls. But here for your reading pleasure are some of the DON’Ts!


In the cyber fundraising world, they call this “Opt In” or “Opt Out.” In telephone fundraising, it’s simply asking the prospect to speak with you. A range of nuance is available to the fundraiser from the interrogative “Is now a good time?” to the declarative “I’d like to speak with you a few moments about XYZ Charity, if that’s okay…” giving the prospect the opportunity to opt out. It’s simple courtesy.

The telephone is an interruptive medium. Your call is either coming into the prospect’s home, office, even the automobile. You are interrupting their time, mind and focus. Barging through by telephone is like a door–to-door brush salesman ringing your bell, and the moment you open the door, sticking his foot in the crack and proceeding to make a pitch — perhaps even waving his latest dandy toilet brush in your face — saying, “It’ll make your bowl the tidiest and cleanest in town!” Rude!

What if the prospect chooses “opt out”? You can try to arrange a more convenient time he or she will “opt in.” If you can’t? Chances are you wouldn’t receive a gift anyway, even by sticking your foot in the door!


This is one of the most difficult things for new fundraisers to overcome — a fear to steel one’s self to make a proposal with a dollar tag attached. The maxim “ask and you shall receive” is indeed apt.

How successful would a grants writer be in writing a proposal to a foundation that ended, “Well, anything your foundation can spare this year, we’ll appreciate!” Or, thinking in another, completely different vein, a young man asking a girl out for a date, shyly looking down as he shuffles his feet, “Uh, Shirley, maybe you’d like to go out with me sometime?” — as opposed to the more direct, “Shirley, there’s a great new pizza shop on Market Street with the best pizza in town. How would you like to come with me next Tuesday?”

Allow the prospect to focus on a number, a specific dollar proposal. If the prospect rejects that, it opens the door to a counterproposal, a lower amount. G = f(A) is an indelible formula for telephone fundraising, and for philanthropy in general: the number of gifts you receive is a direct function of the number of asks you make.

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October 21, 2011

How to Snatch Success from the Jaws of Failure

I’m no stranger to disappointment, either in my personal or professional life. Most recently, the much anticipated baseball postseason ended prematurely for my Philadelphia Phillies. I was saddened. Judging from the faces of the players, the postseason elimination was even more painful for them.

Phillies Win 2008 World Series Trophy

The Phillies failure to go to the World Series got me thinking of my own failures and the challenges we all face in the development profession or even serving as a volunteer for a nonprofit organization. Two of the greatest challenges that we all face are dealing effectively with failure and rejection.

Interestingly, these are the same challenges faced by sales professionals. So, what can a salesman teach a fundraiser about failure and rejection? If that salesman is the legendary Tom Hopkins, the answer is plenty.

Hopkins made his first million dollars in sales by the age of 27. He accomplished this by making the subject of selling his hobby and by studying every aspect of the sale in incredible detail. Today, he is known internationally as a master sales trainer and the author of several bestselling books on the art of sales. You can learn more about him by visiting his website:

Hopkins teaches five important axioms for dealing with failure:

1) “I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience.”

You can look upon failure or rejection and simply choose to wallow in your defeat by feeling sorry for yourself. Or, you can learn from the experience. While you will never be a winner every time, you can improve your performance by learning from your experience and understanding what works and what does not.

Regarding his struggle to invent a long-lasting light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He eventually invented the light bulb that changed the world.

2) “I never see failure as failure, but only as the feedback I need to change course in my direction.”

Failure or rejection can only slow us down if we allow them to. Instead, if we view failure or rejection as feedback, we can pivot off of it to our next action step which just might lead to a positive response from that prospect or another.

For example, I once observed a fundraiser ask a prospect for a significant donation. The prospect lived in one of the wealthiest communities in America. The prospect responded, “I’m sorry. I can’t help you out right now. Cash is tight. You see, my wife is having the gardener completely re-landscape the backyard.” The fundraiser’s heart could have sunk. He could have ended the conversation cordially and moved on. Instead, the fundraiser considered what the prospect said as useful information rather than as a rejection. Specifically, the fundraiser heard “I can’t help you right now” and that the family has a gardener. So, the fundraiser asked, “If things are tight right now, would you be able to make a gift of that size next month?” The donor cheerfully replied, “If you can wait until next month, that would be great. We’ll be done with the landscaping by then so I’ll have the cash. Are you sure that’s not a problem for you?” The fundraiser closed the gift.

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October 19, 2011

Special Report: U.S. Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Charitable Giving Tax Deduction

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the charitable giving deduction and the various proposals to alter the deduction. You can find testimony from the hearing here:

Of greatest interest was the Congressional Budget Office’s testimony that indicated the potential harmful effects of proposals that would change the deduction (please see the table on page 2):

The Committee discussed various proposals such as implementing the Obama Administration’s proposed 28 percent cap on itemized deductions, replacing the deduction with a tax credit and imposing a floor that would only allow a tax break for charitable contributions that exceed two percent of adjusted gross income.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals has concerns about the proposals because all of them, as discussed, would have a negative impact on giving. A recent study reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy suggests that the imposition of the 28 percent cap would reduce charitable giving by $2.9 billion to $5.6 billion. A study also indicated that a 12 percent tax credit could decrease donations by $9.7 billion to $24.6 billion. In its testimony during yesterday’s hearing, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that a deduction floor of two percent of adjusted gross income would result in the loss of $3 billion in charitable contributions.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, echoed AFP’s concerns during the hearing when he stated that “from my perspective the tax reform options being discussed today are options that target charitable giving concocted by those who, hungry for more taxpayer dollars to finance reckless government spending, are now casting their sights on the already depleted resources of charities and churches.”

It is worth noting that a floor for deductions (either two percent of adjusted gross income or $500 for individuals and $1000 for families) was discussed many times. So, we likely will be confronting both the cap and a floor from here on out.

To give voice to the nonprofit sector during this debate, AFP has launched the Engaging Networks platform that will allow folks to contact their Members of Congress online. Whether or not you are an AFP member, you can send your own letter using the platform here:

I want to thank Jason Lee, AFP’s General Counsel, for granting his permission for me to share the above information, for his tireless work on this issue, and for launching the Engaging Networks platform.

That’s what Michael Rosen Says… What do you say?

October 14, 2011

Fundraiser Becomes Charity Recipient and Gains Renewed Perspective

These are tough economic times. Everyone knows this. Many who work in the nonprofit sector have seen the demand for services increase greatly during these challenging times. But, we have experienced events as nonprofit managers, development professionals, volunteer leaders, professional advisors, or consultants. Recently, I heard from one of my readers who has a different perspective. S/he is a development professional who lost her/his job and is now a recipient of charity services. It’s a bit like the Hollywood cliché of a doctor who is suddenly struck by an illness and learns what it’s really like to be a patient.

On this blog site, I’ve written from the perspective of the development professional. I’ve even written from the perspective of the donor. However, until now, I’ve never posted anything from the perspective of the recipient of a nonprofit organization’s services. So, I invited my reader to share her/his thoughts from her/his special perspective. For reasons that will become obvious, I am protecting the writer’s identity, even going to the point of confusing the pronouns. I hope you appreciate the insight:


The truth is I’m just another statistic.

I am an experienced fundraiser who has worked for a few organizations over the last decade. I have had major successes and yes, like everyone else, some failures. I enjoyed my work — knowing that the funds I raised were going to help people who were poorer than I, less educated than I and, in general, did not have the opportunities I did.

And then I lost my job. Yup, a gut puncher if ever there was one.

But rather than dwell on the negative, I saw it as an opportunity. You never know what lies over the horizon.

My biggest problem was how to support my family. Nonprofit salaries are not, shall we say, going to get me on Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous (remember that show?). We had no savings and pressure was on to find a job quickly.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, things got very tight in a hurry. The little unemployment compensation I could collect did not pay the bills. I can’t go to friends since they’re maxed out and have their own issues. Family? Forget it. So now, we scramble to find who to turn to.

In our community, there is a Free Loan Society. This society helps families who are having financial troubles and need a little “breathing room” for a few months. The amount isn’t that much, a max of $500 per month. But, if it helps with food shopping…

We had a very tough decision to make. I have always worked in nonprofits and money has always been an issue, but we never took charity. And yet, now we were faced with unpaid bills, mortgage payments and everything that millions of jobless people face daily.

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October 7, 2011

There’s No Such Thing as Corporate Philanthropy!

Corporate Philanthropy does not, or at least should not exist.

While corporations may give to charitable causes, it is not or should not be out of an altruistic sense of corporate social responsibility. Instead, done properly, corporate giving is simply a marketing or research-and-development investment. Let me explain.

Several years ago, I moderated a panel of corporate giving officers for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Philadelphia Chapter. One of the panelists was from a bank, at the time one of the nation’s largest credit card issuers. She told the group that there is no such thing as corporate philanthropy. I saw the mouths of about 100 people drop open. They were either surprised by this news or were shocked that a corporate giving officer would actually admit this. The giving officer from the bank went on to explain that corporations exist for only one reason: to enhance shareholder value. The bank contributed money only where a positive return on investment could somehow be expected.

Many people expect for-profit businesses to act with “Corporate Social Responsibility.” CSR is a term that came into use in the late 1960s. While there are many definitions for CSR, Wikipedia defines it as “a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms.” Today, many nonprofit professionals seem to think that one component of CSR should be corporate philanthropy; they think that corporations should “give back.” News media have even recently done reports on the role of corporate philanthropy.

However, that’s not why corporations exist. Again, they exist to make money for their shareholders, not to perform selfless acts of charity. As for “giving back,” corporations do this every time they pay taxes, provide jobs, pay employees well enough so they can also pay taxes and donate money. As for corporate giving, it needs to accomplish something not just for the charity, but also the corporation.

Marc Gunther, a senior writer for Fortune Magazine, wrote in 2008, “I’m not a big fan of corporate philanthropy. Too often, it’s a feel-good exercise, generating little value for a company’s shareholders. At its worst, it allows CEOs to use other people’s money to glorify themselves.”

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October 4, 2011

Special Report: CEO of CFRE International Resigns

[Publisher’s Note: “Special Reports” are posted from time-to-time as a benefit for subscribers and frequent visitors to this blog. “Special Reports” are not widely promoted. To be notified of all new posts, including “Special Reports,” please take a moment to subscribe in the right-hand column.]

CFRE International has announced that CEO Denny Smith, PhD has resigned effective immediately. Smith served for two years. CFRE International issued an official press release which can be downloaded by clicking here.

You can read my August 26, 2011 post “Does CFRE Have a Future?” by clicking here.

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