Archive for April, 2012

April 27, 2012

SOFII is My Choice!

As my regular readers know, I seldom do what I’m about to do. Actually, I don’t know that I’ve ever done what I’m about to do.

I’m devoting this blog post to promoting someone else’s website, particularly the section on planned giving.

The web page at issue was posted by SOFII, the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration. SOFII was founded by fundraising legend Ken Burnett “to be the most comprehensive, best organised, and most inspiring collection of fundraising related content from around the world.”

Photo from Greenpeace Sweeden Legacy Commercial.

The particular SOFII page I want you to check-out is: “Last Chance to Change the World — Legacies (Bequests) Showcase.” On this page, you’ll find no fewer than 28 links to superb planned giving marketing materials from around the world. For example, you’ll discover Greenpeace Sweeden’s clever legacy commercials, University of Oxford’s legacy brochure with individualized insert, AARP’s planned giving newsletter and booklet, and many other fine samples.

I thank the staff at SOFII and the organizations that provided the materials for enabling this valuable resource. Many blog sites and websites share useful insights, helpful tips, and provocative opinions. SOFII also does those things. But, as you’ll see when you visit the SOFII Legacy page, it lets you see the actual materials that our fellow fundraisers are using. And, you know how beneficial that can be.

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April 20, 2012

10 Essential Tips to Protect Children from Real Monsters

There are many ugly problems in the world. For many of those troubles, we’re powerless to do much, if anything, to change the situation. Sadly, monsters are very real. 

I want to bring a heinous problem to your attention. But, fear not. I will also show you some very simple things that you can actually do about it. Oh, and it won’t cost you a cent.

Child sexual abuse is a nightmare affecting one in four girls and one in six boys in the United States, though it is a worldwide problem. It is a problem that knows no geographic, ethnic, racial, religious, or economic boundaries.

Fortunately, you can actually save a child, perhaps your own, from ever having to experience this terrible crime. Here’s what you can do:

First, read “The 10 Tips for Protecting the Children You Love from Sexual Abuse.”

Second, make this my most read blog post ever by sharing the URL with friends, family members, and colleagues. Post the URL on Facebook, Tweet it, email it, post it on your blog. The more people that read “The 10 Tips,” the more children that you and I will be able to spare.

Two simple things is all I ask of you: 1) continue reading, and 2) spread the word.

The following was written by the terrific staff at the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, an organization on whose board I serve. The article first appeared in Parents Express Magazine (June 2009). With permission, I’m reprinting it here:


As parents, we’d like to think that there are no dangers facing children in our society today. But as staff members of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, we can’t ignore the fact that a staggering proportion of American children are affected by sexual abuse. Research from the Centers for Disease Control shows that by their eighteenth birthdays, one in four girls and one in six boys will have been sexually abused. Furthermore, children who have been sexually abused often suffer long-term consequences, including increased risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, behavioral problems, prostitution, depression, and physical health issues. The phenomenon is quietly enormous, and although it may be difficult to safeguard children everywhere, it is important to know that parents do have power to protect their children.

In celebration of Child Abuse Awareness Month in April, here are some suggested ways to decrease the risk of sexual abuse occurring to your loved ones:

1. Make your home a “No Secrets Zone”

Kids are naturally intrigued by secrets and oftentimes parents inadvertently ask them to keep secrets for seemingly harmless reasons. As one Forensic Interviewer explains, “When I allow my niece to eat a huge candy bar right before dinner, I am always tempted to tell her to make it ‘our’ secret.” The problem with this—aside from massive sugar shock and possible wrath from her sister-in-law—is that secrets are also the fuel that keeps sexual abuse going. Perpetrators use secrets to keep kids silent and to continue the abuse. Make sure that your child knows that secrets are never okay and that no one should ask them to keep a secret. It can be difficult to explain, but teach your child the difference between a secret and a surprise. Secrets are something you are never supposed to tell and can make you feel bad; surprises, like birthday gifts, are good and can be revealed at a certain time.

2. Respect your child’s personal boundaries

When you arrive at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a holiday and they run to give your children kisses, inevitably, kids at a certain age will protest. Their “yucks!” are then followed by our insistent prompts to “Go ahead and give Grandpa a kiss.” You might be trying to avoid hurt feelings and to teach respect, but children must be able to show love and affection in ways that feel comfortable to them. Do not force kids to give hugs or kisses if they don’t want to. When you force unwanted physical contact, you send kids the message that adults do not have to respect their physical boundaries and you leave them vulnerable to abusive situations. Listen when a child says “no.” There are other ways to show affection and respect—a high five, a handshake, anything—that your child may find more appealing. 

3. Teach kids the proper names for body parts

When you’re in the middle of the supermarket and your daughter starts screaming, “Mommy, my vagina hurts,” it might seem like a good idea to come up with a cute and discrete code word for that body part. The list of creative nicknames we’ve heard over the years goes on and on: “peach,” “pocketbook,” “princess,” etc. Yes, these names might spare you from public embarrassment, but what if your child is being sexually abused and tells her teacher that her uncle touched her “cookie”? It suddenly becomes very hard for that teacher to discern just how serious the problem is. By teaching children the correct names for their body parts—especially their genitalia—you enable them to communicate more effectively with others about their bodies and any contact that they do not like. We know it can feel uncomfortable to constantly use the words penis and vagina, but it would feel infinitely worse to know that your child was trying to speak out to stop abuse and no one understood her. 

4. Monitor “one-on-one” situations

One-on-one situations with an adult leave kids at risk for abuse. For working parents reliant on childcare or parents that are desperate for a revitalizing date night, this can be especially tricky to negotiate. It’s not realistic to say that your children should never be alone with a babysitter or another adult, but when they are, whenever possible, make sure that they can be readily observed by others. Keep blinds open in the house, doors to rooms open, and try to check in at irregular intervals to give potential perpetrators the message that you and others are watching.

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April 17, 2012

Special Report: Free e-Book Samples from AFP and John Wiley & Sons!

Recently, my friend Ligia Pena, CFRE ‏(@lpdiversa) informed me that publisher John Wiley & Sons is providing FREE samples from six e-books in the AFP Fund Development Series. You can download an entire chapter from each of the following titles by going to the Wiley site:

Fundraising and the Next Generation by Emily Davis

A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members by Julia Walker 

An Executive’s Guide to Fundraising Operations by Christopher Cannon 

Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding by Jocelyne Daw and Carol Cone  

The Nonprofit Development Companion by Brydon DeWitt 

Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing by Michael J. Rosen, CFRE 

So, download and enjoy your free book samples today. When you’re ready to purchase a print or electronic version of the books mentioned, simply click on the title above to be taken to The Nonprofit Bookstore (powered by Amazon), purchase through the Wiley site, or go to your favorite bookseller.

For some terrific tips from the 2012 AFP International Conference, be sure to read my post: “Special Report: Helpful Tips from the AFP Conference.”

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


[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.]

April 13, 2012

Use the Right Tool for the Job

If my father were still alive, he would have celebrated his 89th birthday this week. Though he passed 15 years ago, I still miss him. And, I still remember the many lessons he taught me.

My dad was good with his hands. He had a well-equipped workshop where he built all sorts of things. One of the many lessons he shared with me is:

Always use the right tool for the job.”

In other words, if you need to pound a nail into a board, don’t use the handle of a screw-driver; use a hammer.

You get the idea.

It’s a simple concept. It’s really just common sense. Sadly, however, I speak with many nonprofit professionals who haven’t embraced this concept.

For example, I recently spoke with the head of a nonprofit organization who had received a rather large donation for a special project. To implement the project, the organization was required to raise additional support. Unfortunately, the organization was unable to raise the needed funds and, therefore, it could not move forward with the project. The organization faced the prospect of having to return the gift to the donor.

When I discussed the options with the head of the organization, he told me that the group’s lawyer had provided advice. From what was shared with me, it was pretty clear that the attorney was not a nonprofit law specialist. I could see that his initial advice suffered from his lack of expertise. While the lawyer may be a perfectly fine corporate or real estate attorney, he did not have the experience to deal with the complex issues at hand, both legal and ethical.

I’ve seen this time after time. Nonprofit managers assume that any lawyer can competently answer any legal question. But, if you had a sore throat, you would not go to a cardiologist. Instead, you’d go to your family doctor or an ear, nose, and throat specialist. So, why wouldn’t you go to the appropriate legal specialist to answer your questions?

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April 6, 2012

Stewardship: More than a Thank-You

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” — Henri Frederic Amiel, 19th century philosopher and poet

“Those of us who make planned gifts do not expect, nor do we want, lavish thank-you presents or excessive recognition. However, we do want to know that the organizations we support appreciate our philanthropy and will use our gift in the way we intend.” — H. Gerry Lenfest, 21st century philanthropist and Giving Pledge member


Stewardship is undeniably an essential part of any development effort, whether for annual fund, capital, or planned giving support.

Much of what is required for good, solid stewardship is simple common sense. Unfortunately, it’s far too often not common practice. That’s why mega-donor H. Gerry Lenfest reminded nonprofit professionals of the importance of stewardship when he wrote the Foreword for my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. 

Good stewardship means sending out an appropriate thank-you letter immediately after receiving a gift. But, as Henri Frederic Amiel pointed out, gratitude is about much more than simply sending a thank-you letter. Organizations need to demonstrate that they truly appreciate the support of donors.

As Lenfest suggests, stewardship need not involve a huge expense and lots of trinkets. Let’s face it, planned giving donors, for example, don’t exactly want a t-shirt that says, “I’m dying to give!” Instead, stewardship should involve a show of appreciation and an explanation of how gifts have been or will be used.

Janet L. Hedrick, author of Effective Donor Relations, asserts that donors should be thanked seven times for each gift. This does not mean one has to send seven thank-you letters. One should be much more creative than that. However, it does mean that one should look for multiple ways to express appreciation once a donor makes a gift. For example, here is a list of seven ways an organization can show its appreciation:

  1. The donor gets a written thank-you letter from the development professional within two business days of a gift or gift commitment being received.
  2. The organization’s CEO or Board Chair sends a thank-you letter.
  3. A board member calls the donor within a week of receipt of the gift to express appreciation.
  4. The organization thanks donors by name, unless the gift was anonymous, in its newsletter.
  5. The organization thanks donors by name, unless the gift was anonymous, in its annual report.
  6. The donor gets thanked with an invitation to a donor recognition event.
  7. The donor gets thanked at other types of events throughout the year.

Legendary fundraiser James M. Greenfield, author of several books including Fund Raising: Evaluating and Managing the Fund Development Process, reveals the benefits associated with a luncheon event to recognize planned gift donors:

Hosting an annual luncheon for planned gift contributors has multiple benefits for each participant. First, they are reengaged after the gift has been made. Second, they can share this special time with one or two family members and/or their financial advisor who they are encouraged to bring as their guests. Third, they can enhance their legacy by serving as a testimonial for gift planning by sharing their story, which can also be used for a newsletter, magazine, or annual report. Fourth, led by a volunteer member of the planned gifts committee, the luncheon program should feature the CEO and professional staff members’ reports on current activities and future plans.”

As Greenfield suggests, thanking donors has many benefits. And, when the show of appreciation includes information about how gifts have been or will be used, donors will appreciate the effort and powerful things will happen as a result. 

For example, I once implemented a phone fundraising campaign for a hospital. For our control group, we simply explained the purpose of the current campaign and asked for support. For the test group, we told prospects how annual fund support was used in the previous year. Then, we told them the purpose of the current campaign and asked for their support. The test group, generated 68 percent more support than the control group!

In the context of planned giving, Lenfest, from the donor’s perspective, puts it this way:

Do not make the mistake of forgetting about us once you receive our gift commitment. We may truly appreciate how efficiently and effectively you handle contributed funds so much that we entrust you with another planned gift. We are also in a position to influence others to do the same, so bringing together current and prospective planned gift donors for an informational event may have a very good outcome. Publishing stories — with or without the use of the donor’s name — can show prospects the many backgrounds of planned gift donors. Even a reluctant philanthropist may be urged to serve as an example for others to follow.”

When it comes to stewardship, remember these three simple things:

  1. Thank donors promptly and warmly.
  2. Give donors information about how gifts are or will be used.
  3. Honor the intentions of donors. Use a donor’s gift how you told the donor it would be used. Recognize the donor in the way you agreed to.

If you do these three things, you’re organization will distinguish itself from many other nonprofits and will be better able to maintain and increase the support of its existing donors while attracting new support as well.

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

April 3, 2012

Special Report: Seeking Helpful Tips from the AFP Conference; Chance to Win a Book

I’ve never missed attending the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference since I first attended way back when, in the long, long ago. It’s always been a great chance to see old friends, make new ones, and learn something. Unfortunately, this year, due to my wife’s health condition, I did not go to Vancouver for the Conference. For whatever reason, I know many other development pros who were also unable to attend.

So, I’m calling on folks who were able to go to the Conference to share some of what they’ve learned. If you attended the Conference, please share with us below an interesting factoid you learned or the favorite how-to you picked up. It doesn’t have to be a long description. Any pithy, useful piece of information or advice would be appreciated. Feel free to enter as often as you’d like.

When you share a precious nugget, you’ll automatically be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, for which I won the 2011 AFP-Skystone Partners Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy. If you already have a copy of my book and you win, I’ll be happy to donate the book in your honor to your favorite charity.

If you’re interested in purchasing a recording of one or more of the Conference sessions, ordering information will be posted at the AFP website. 

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


[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.]

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