Archive for December, 2012

December 28, 2012

Top Ten Posts of 2012, and Other Reflections

We’ve survived another “Doomsday”! Now, as 2012 draws to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look back briefly before we march into the new year.


Champagne Toast by viking_79 via Flickr

Happy New Year!


For starters, let’s look at which of my posts have been the most read in the past year:

1. Survey Sounds Alarm Bell for Nonprofit Sector

2. Can a Nonprofit Return a Donor’s Gift?

3. 10 Essential Tips to Protect Children from Real Monsters

4. Garth Brooks Sues Hospital for Return of $500,000 Gift

5. 8 Valuable Insights from a Major Donor

6. Overcoming the 9 Fundraising NOs (Bernard Ross)

7. Breaking News: Brain Scan Study Gives Fresh Insight into Charitable Giving Behavior

8. What NOT to Do in Your Email or Direct Mail Appeals

9. 20 Factoids about Planned Giving. Some May Surprise You.

10. Two Major Factors that Demotivate Donors

I invite you to read any posts you might have missed by clicking on the title above. If you’ve read them all, thank you for being a committed reader.

I’m honored to know that I have readers from around the world. (I love the Internet!) While I appreciate all of my readers, I thought it would be interesting to look, beyond the United States, to see my top ten countries for readership:

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December 24, 2012

Special Message for the Holiday Season

This holiday season, 46 percent of survey respondents say that they find the holiday season joyous while 42 percent find it stressful, and 12 percent just are not sure how they feel. The survey was conducted by Rasmussen.

My wish for you and yours is that your holiday and the coming year are filled with more joy and less stress.

To help relieve some of the stress you might be feeling and to give you hope for 2013, I want to share two items with you:

First, The Spectator has published a report exploring “Why 2012 was the Best Year Ever.” The article asserts that in 2012 there has been less hunger, less disease and more prosperity than at any other time in history. We’re all accustomed to the doom-and-gloom reports from the media. This article represents a refreshing departure from that negativity.

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December 21, 2012

What Do Obama, a Rapper & a Hospital Have in Common?

US President Barack Obama, South Korean rapper Psy, and Washington, DC-based Children’s National Medical Center have all found themselves involved in the same controversy this month. While much media attention has been focused on the situation, little attention has been directed at Children’s National.

So, let’s look more closely.

South Korean rapper Psy.

South Korean rapper Psy.

On December 9, 2012, the TNT television network taped Christmas in Washington for broadcast on December 21. This is the 31st year for the program. The event, held at the National Building Museum, was hosted by Conan O’Brien and featured an array of stars including Psy.

The South Korean rapper is known for his mega-hit “Gangnam Style,” which, in just four months, broke the record for most watched YouTube video in history. Traditionally, sitting US Presidents attend the event. This year, as in the past, First Lady Michelle Obama selected Children’s National as the beneficiary of the event, and the organization’s website has leveraged this with requests for donations.

So, what could go wrong?

Well, shortly before the event, a tape surfaced of Psy performing a rap number in 2004. The lyrics are not for the faint-hearted:

Kill those f**king Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives

Kill those f**king Yankees who ordered them to torture

Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers

Kill them all slowly and painfully”

Some in the media questioned whether it would be appropriate for the nation’s Commander-in-Chief to attend the performance of someone holding such anti-US-military and anti-American views. The White House responded by pointing out that it had nothing to do with the planning of the event or the booking of the acts. Obama and his family planned on attending despite the controversy.

Then, days before the event, Psy issued a public apology (click here for the full text):

While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.”

Sometimes, publicity can be good even when the news is bad. So, I was curious if the publicity had a negative impact on event-related donations to Children’s National, a positive impact, or no impact at all. I contacted Children’s National.

After initially agreeing to answer my questions about Christmas in Washington, the organization abruptly declined to respond stating:

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December 18, 2012

Special Report: How Will the Fiscal Cliff Affect Nonprofits?

kernow-warning-danger-7558099-l-225x300In recent weeks, there has been an increase in the amount of media coverage of the “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations in Washington, DC. I’ve even written a number of posts on the issue including: “Obama Plan Could Cost Nonprofit Sector $5.6 Billion a Year.”

Now, the blog site Nonprofit Community, hosted by publishers John Wiley & Sons and Jossey-Bass, has asked the question:

How Will the Fiscal Cliff Affect Nonprofits?

I, along with nine other Wiley and Jossey-Bass authors from different perspectives, respond. We offer insights and great advice for every nonprofit organization. By visiting Nonprofit Community, you’ll have a chance to hear from:

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December 17, 2012

Special Report: Mega-Giving Falls Sharply in UK

In the United Kingdom, the value of charitable donations worth £1 million, or more, fell by 7.7 percent to the lowest level in five years, according to the annual Coutts Million Pound Donor Report, published by the Centre for the Study of Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent.

Gifts of £1 million, or more, totaled £1.2 billion for 2010/11, down from £1.3 billion in 2009/10.

Fortunately, the news is not all bad:

In 2010/11, the number of individual donations of £1 million, or more, totaled 232, the largest number since the report’s first study in 2008. 

In addition, the number of donors who gave £1 million, or more, totaled 130 (including individuals, charitable trusts, foundations and corporations). This is a huge increase over 2009/10 when the number was just 73.

The report contains a number of other interesting insights including:

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December 14, 2012

#GivingTuesday: Hype or Hope?

A headline at Bloomberg excitedly gushed, “Why GivingTuesday is the Social Innovation Idea of the Year. 

We’ve had Black Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. We’ve had Cyber Monday on the Monday immediately following Thanksgiving. Now, on the heels of those two days dedicated to consumerism, we have Giving Tuesday, as a way to promote philanthropy on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

It’s certainly a seemingly good idea. But, is the Bloomberg headline true? Does #GivingTuesday offer the nonprofit sector great hope, or is it just well-intentioned hype?

#GivingTuesday is an initiative created by New York’s 92nd Street Y which has served as the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday. Early on, the United Nations Foundation joined as a partner, bringing its strategic and communications expertise to the project. Eventually, over 2,000 additional partners were attracted. The initiative’s official mission statement is:

#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.”

But, so what? While it’s nice that #GivingTuesday “celebrates and encourages charitable activities,” what has the first #GivingTuesday really accomplished?

On the #GivingTuesday website, Rob Reich, Co-Director of the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University is quoted as saying:

#GivingTuesday has a simple aim: to establish a national day of giving during the holiday season of gratitude and generosity of spirit that will inspire Americans young and old, online and offline, red and blue, urban and rural. I joined #GivingTuesday because the aim is simple and the mission undeniably good: to increase charitable giving by all Americans.”

While time will tell if #GivingTuesday helps “increase charitable giving by all Americans,” I contacted The Associate: Jewish Community Federation of Greater Baltimore to gain some insight regarding the impact of #GivingTuesday.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Associated was #GivingTuesday’s “most successful charity,” having raised over $1 million.

MoneyLeslie Pomerantz, Senior Vice President of Development at The Associated, told me she learned about #GivingTuesday and was immediately intrigued. The Associated, at the height of its campaign season, was looking for ways to excite donors, and was looking for fresh reasons to involve people. #GivingTuesday presented a great marketing opportunity for The Associated to remind its community of its philanthropic values.

Through email and advertisements, The Associated promoted #GivingTuesday. In addition, it scheduled a massive phonathon for November 27. The effort attracted over 100 volunteers and engaged 30 staff members. While not as large as its autumn Super-Sunday phonathon that involves hundreds of volunteers, the #GivingTuesday outreach contacted previous donors who had yet to renew their support. The effort also reached out to some non-donors who had some type of connection to the organization.

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December 10, 2012

Special Report: PANO Webinar, “Planned Giving Primer”

On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, I will be co-presenting the webinar “Planned Giving Primer” from 1:30 – 3:00 PM (EST – 05:00 GMT). The program is hosted by the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations and the Nonprofit Issues newsletter.

To participate in the live program, click here to register. To purchase a recording of the program at the PANO Online Store, click here. 

Don Kramer, an attorney with Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads and publisher of Nonprofit Issues, and I will review the major planned giving instruments and discuss which ones make the most sense to emphasize in starting a planned giving program. We will also discuss the advantages of integrating planned giving into an existing development program, targeting the best prospects, getting buy-in from the board, and techniques for generating gifts.

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December 7, 2012

Overcome Challenges thru Collaboration

The Luna Theater Company hosted an open house for the kick-off of its special fundraising campaign. What made this event unusual was the fact that Luna does not have a “house” to open. Since its first season in 2002, Luna has performed on a number of stages in Philadelphia.

Pew at Church of the CrucifixionNot having a home of its own, Luna hosted its open house at the Church of the Crucifixion. Confused? Let me explain.

The collaboration between the theater company and the church is an excellent example of how nonprofit organizations, even those with seemingly very different missions, can come together to help each other meet their unique challenges.

Crucifixion is an historic church. It is the sixth oldest African-American Episcopal Church in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois, the historian, civil rights activist, and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was a member of the parish as was famed opera singer Marian Anderson. Unfortunately, with age comes a need for renovation and maintenance.

In the Crucifixion parish house, there is a large auditorium. It’s a bland, empty room with an ugly drop ceiling. While the parish priest would like to renovate the room to its historic beauty by revealing the high, vaulted ceiling that exists above, pressing maintenance needs and limited funds make this project an unfortunately low priority.

Luna Theater (Twitter: @LunaTheaterCo)Luna is a young, vibrant theater company producing intimate, intelligent, and intense work that delves into the human psyche with an emphasis on the tragic-comic. Luna wants a permanent 99-seat home. This will give Luna more flexibility for its various programs and productions. It will help it build its own identity with its audiences. And, it will help control its costs. But, building a theater is a massive, cost-prohibitive undertaking for a small theater company.

That’s where Partners for Sacred Places came in. Partners is a national nonprofit organization working with religious congregations to ensure that their older sacred places remain a rich and vital part of the social fabric of a community. Partners helped facilitate the collaboration between Luna and Crucifixion.

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December 4, 2012

Special Report: It’s Time to Contact Congress!

On December 5, 2012, approximately 270 nonprofit professionals will descend on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress to advocate against proposals to limit or eliminate the charitable giving tax deduction. You can read about this effort in my blog post: “Obama Plan Could Cost Nonprofit Sector $5.6 Billion a Year.

US Capitol by Glyn Lowe Photoworks via FlickrWhile the advocacy effort on Capitol Hill is important, the nonprofit sector cannot limit its advocacy efforts to this one event. As Congress confronts the “fiscal cliff,” Democrats and Republicans continue to strongly consider the implementation of a cap on itemized deductions, including the deduction for charitable giving, as a way to avert the crisis.

So, in conjunction with the advocacy event, the Association of Fundraising Professionals has activated the Engaging Networks platform that allows you to send an electronic letter (e-letter) to your House Member and two Senators with the mere touch of a few buttons. Whether or not you are an AFP member, you can send a letter by clicking here.

The link will take you to a page with the letter form. Once there, you’ll be able to begin the short process of entering the required information, adding your own personalized message, and editing the complete message before authorizing it to be sent.

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