Archive for December, 2013

December 27, 2013

Top Ten Posts of 2013, and Other Reflections

As 2013 draws to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look back briefly before we march into the New Year.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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

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

2. 6 Ways to Raise More Money without New Donors!

3. 5 Words or Phrases that Can Cause Donors to Cringe

4. 5 Things Never to Do in Your Phone Fundraising Calls

5. 5 Tips for Giving Donors What They Really Want

6. How NOT to Run a Capital Campaign

7. Prospect Research v. Invasion of Privacy

8. 7 Magical Words to Earn Respect, Trust, and Appreciation

9. Do You Make Any of These Mistakes When Speaking with Donors?

10. Do Not Let This Happen to Your Organization

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:

1. Canada

2. United Kingdom

3. Australia

4. India

5. Netherlands

6. Philippines

7. France

8. Germany

9. New Zealand

10. Italy

Overall, Michael Rosen Says…, has seen a 20 percent increase in readership in 2013 compared with 2012. I thank everyone who made that possible by dropping by to read my posts. I especially want to thank those who have subscribed.

When you subscribe for free in the column at the right, you’ll receive email notices of new posts, including “Special Reports” which are not otherwise widely publicized. Beginning in 2014, subscribers will also receive exclusive bonus content and a limited number of subscriber-only special offers directly from me. So, if you’re not already a subscriber, sign-up now.

Just as I value all of my readers, I also greatly appreciate those who take the time to “Like” my posts, share my posts, Tweet my posts, re-blog my posts, and comment on my posts. In particular, I want to recognize the following people who have commented most often in 2013:

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December 20, 2013

Have You Read Any Good Books Lately?

Wise fundraising professionals, nonprofit managers, consultants, and volunteers, often seek out the latest, greatest ideas, and have an interest in stories that can inspire.

If you are like many in the nonprofit world, you read books to discover the ways to generate improved results or to find inspiration.

Bookworm by PMillera4 via FlickrNow, I invite you to share the favorite book(s) you’ve read in the past year. Please use the “Leave a Reply” section below to provide the title and author of any fundraising, nonprofit management, or philanthropy book that you found particularly worthwhile to read. The book you recommend can be either a classic or a new title.

The objective here is to build a list of worthwhile books we should all consider adding to our 2014 reading lists.

By recommending a book here, you’ll get three benefits:

1. You’ll have the pleasure of helping your nonprofit brothers and sisters find worthwhile material that can help them and their organizations.

2. You’ll be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of my bestselling book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. I’m honored to have won the AFP/Skystone Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy for this book. In addition, I’m pleased that my book has been placed on the CFRE International Resource Reading List because my goal was to get this valuable, practical information to as many people as possible. If you already have a copy (Thank you!), I’ll donate the winning copy to your favorite charity. One winner will be randomly selected on January 10, 2014.

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December 13, 2013

No Evidence of #GivingTuesday Success

I admit it. The news headlines about the second annual #GivingTuesday have been exuberant:

“Giving Tuesday Shows Robust Results”The Chronicle of Philanthropy 

“Growth in Online Giving Tuesday Numbers ‘Inspiring’”USA Today 

“Giving Tuesday Smashes Records, Spurs 90% Donation Spike”The Huffington Post 

#GivingTuesday 2013 Infographic by #GivingTuesdayThe good folks at #GivingTuesday even put together an infographic illustrating the day’s success. I’m sharing it in this post. 

There’s only one problem with all of the enthusiasm: There is not a single shred of hard evidence that #GivingTuesday is good for the entire nonprofit sector.

Fortunately, Forbes contributor Tom Watson is one member of the media not afraid to ask the big question: “Inside The #GivingTuesday Numbers: Will American Philanthropy Grow?” 

I share Watson’s healthy skepticism. Like him, I am not yet convinced that #GivingTuesday is a positive force for philanthropy although I certainly hope it is. While #GivingTuesday might have been effective for some individual charities, I wonder if it has been good for the entire nonprofit sector.

The fact that many more charities got involved with #GivingTuesday, compared with last year, does not necessarily mean anything. The fact that millions of people used social media to talk about #GivingTuesday does not necessarily mean anything. The fact that millions of dollars were raised on #GivingTuesday is equally meaningless, by itself.

Here are some questions about #GivingTuesday that the nonprofit sector should answer before rushing to congratulate itself:

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December 6, 2013

Impressive Statistics v. One Good Story

As Christmas draws near, imagine what the holiday season would be like if it were reduced to a set of statistics:

One 5’10”, 300-pound man will fly around the Earth between December 24 and 25. He will visit approximately 91.8 million households, about 822.6 per second. To accomplish this, the jolly man will have to travel at 650 miles per second, which is 3,000 times the speed of sound.

Fortunately, Santa Claus has some fast flying reindeer; this is important since the average reindeer has a top speed of only 15 miles per hour, way too slow to get the job done. Santa’s reindeer are not just speedy; they are also mighty which is essential since the sleigh they will pull will be initially weighed down with approximately 353,000 tons of presents.

When Christmas and Santa Claus are reduced to a bunch of statistics (courtesy of Linda Harden’s article Is There a Santa Claus?), the result might be momentarily interesting, but hardly memorable or inspiring.

Part of what makes Christmas special are the stories. There is the story of the birth of Jesus. There are the movies such as The Miracle on 34th Street. There are the holiday songs that tell a Grinch and Max by Chuck Jones via Photobucketstory including The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolf-the-Red-Nosed Reindeer. There are television shows including A Charlie Brown Christmas, Yes, Virginia, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

A good story draws us in. It stimulates our intellect and our emotions. A good story, well told, teaches and inspires. We remember great stories.

By now, I suspect you’ve already forgotten how many miles per second Santa must travel to deliver his presents. However, I bet you remember the plot to Rudolph or the Grinch. I bet you remember the nativity story.

My point is that, while statistics can be interesting and even compelling at times, people are more likely to be moved by stories. When we do fundraising, whether via direct mail or face-to-face, we should use fewer statistics and tell more stories.

Consider the following true story:

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December 5, 2013

Special Report: No Tax Reform Bill in 2013

[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.]

 

A tax reform bill will not be introduced in the US Congress before the close of 2013, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) indicated to The Hill.

US Capitol by Kevin Burkett via FlickrGiven that this is the first week of December and that House Republicans plan to leave Washington at the end of next week for the holiday break, the news is not surprising, even while important.

As soon as one month from now, the House could resume wrangling over a possible tax reform bill, according to Jason Lee, General Counsel for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. However, while the issue will be on the table in 2014, it will be a major challenge for Congress to move something as significant as a tax reform bill with the mid-term elections looming in November.

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December 1, 2013

Two Surprising Philanthropists Inspire

In the USA, we recently celebrated the national holiday of Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the occasion, I want to express my gratitude to some of those who inspire me.

To begin, I thank you for visiting my blog site and reading my posts. If not for you, and thousands just like you around the world, I would be just a crazy guy talking to himself. Thank you for inspiring me to write, and for honoring me by reading my articles. If you’ve ever commented on a post, I also thank you for that; if you haven’t, I encourage you to feel free to do so in the future.

I also want to thank you for everything you do to help make the world a better place. Working in, with or for the nonprofit sector is noble work. You should take pride in that.

I also want to share my appreciation for the diverse philanthropic community around the globe that supplies the passion, ideas, volunteer resources, and funding that make the work of the nonprofit sector possible. Philanthropists come in all shapes and sizes. Their interests and abilities vary. The one thing they mostly have in common is heart.

Consider these two very different examples of recent philanthropy:

Shoichi Kondoh presents donation for Typhoon Yolanda relief at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.

Shoichi Kondoh presents donation for Typhoon Yolanda relief at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.

Typhoon Yolanda recently struck Asia. The storm ravaged the Philippines first and hardest. The death toll is still unclear, and hundreds of thousands have been made homeless. In Japan, six-year-old Shoichi Kondoh saw the news coverage of Typhoon Yolanda on television. The images moved him. So, this little philanthropist emptied his piggybank of his childhood savings, and asked his mother to take him to the Embassy of the Philippines. In an Embassy conference room, with his proud mother by his side, Kondoh formally handed Consul Bryan Dexter Lao an envelope containing JPY 5,000 (approximately $50 USD).

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, people who knew Jack MacDonald knew him as a frugal man. He had holes in his clothes, took buses instead of taxis, and lived modestly.

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