Archive for ‘Book’

October 28, 2016

Get a Free Halloween Treat for Fundraisers

If you’re like most fundraising professionals, you’re not optimally asking donors to include your nonprofit organization in their will.

You’re probably not driving as much traffic to your planned giving webpage as you could.

You’re also probably less successful at closing Charitable Gift Annuities than you could be.

lone-ranger-and-silver-via-melocuentas-flickr

The Lone Ranger and Silver.

I know. You decided to read this post to discover how you can get a free Halloween treat. Instead, you’re probably starting to feel tricked. But, fear not! Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP, the Texas Tech University professor and philanthropy researcher, along with the good folks at MarketSmart, are riding in to save the day.

Last summer, James conducted a webinar hosted by MarketSmart. During his presentation, James unveiled his latest, powerful research findings along with research insights from others. You can learn more about the webinar and get some great tips by clicking here.

Now, for your treat, MarketSmart has distilled James’ webinar into a free, 22-page e-book that will help you raise millions of dollars more. For example, here’s just one simple, yet valuable tip:

When you want to engage people in a conversation about Charitable Gift Annuities, what is the best way to describe this giving vehicle to make folks want to learn more?

James tested five phrases. Among the 2,550 respondents, he discovered the percentage interested in learning more:

read more »

October 3, 2016

A Powerful Lesson about #Philanthropy from 2 Celebrities

When I was a young boy, I learned a valuable idiom:

You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

My parents wanted me to appreciate that before you can know or judge something, you first need to take a closer look to develop a deeper understanding.

But, is the idiom correct? For fun, I thought I’d see if it is strictly true when it comes to fundraising. Okay, I’m admittedly a nerd. However, I identified a worthwhile lesson when I explored the issue during philanthropy conversations I had recently with Carl Hiaason, the award-winning journalist and novelist, and Alton Brown, the Food Network star and cookbook author.

Michael Rosen and Carl Hiaasen at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Michael Rosen and Carl Hiaasen at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

With best-selling book titles including Strip Tease (made into movie), Hoot (also made into a film), Basket Case, Bad Monkey, Skinny Dip and, his latest, Razor Girl, it’s impossible to know what charitable causes interest Hiaason. However, when reading his novels, you’ll find more than quirky characters and over-the-top funny, satirical plots. You’ll also discover underlying messages that are pro-environment. In some of his books, protecting the environment is the plot.

I wondered if the passionate content of Hiaason’s novels could offer a clue to which charitable causes interest the author. So, I asked him. Hiaason responded:

I really don’t want to say that I endorse anybody… [However,] I’ll tell you that in the past I’ve supported, as a private citizen, the Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund [Earthjustice]. It’s phenomenal; they do great work; it’s basically a law firm that takes on big polluters in Florida and the rest of country.”

Hiaason also supports the Everglades Foundation, which raises funds for groups trying to clean up the Everglades.

After reading just a few of his books, it’s easy to see that environmental protection is important to Hiaason. So, I was not surprised to learn about his favorite charities.

Alton Brown and Michael Rosen at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Alton Brown and Michael Rosen at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

With Brown, it is even easier to guess where his philanthropic passion lies. Brown has hosted top-rated Food Network shows including Good Eats, Iron Chef America, and Cutthroat Kitchen. He’s also written eight books including his latest: Alton Brown: EveryDayCook.

While clues to Hiaason’s philanthropic interest could be found in the pages of his books, I believed Brown’s could be found right on the covers. So, I asked him what his favorite charity is. Brown told me:

I support many charities, but I particularly like Heifer International.”

Heifer International is a charity seeking to end hunger and poverty around the world. Given Brown’s passion for food, it’s not at all surprising that he would support a cause related to food and hunger.

Here are some takeaways for you:

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August 31, 2016

Do You Want Some End-of-Summer Reading?

Think before you speak. Read before you think.” ― Fran Lebowitz

Lebowitz has provided some great advice. However, with so many options, what should you read? As the official end of summer draws near, I thought I’d provide some suggestions for you. In turn, I hope you’ll share your own recommendations.

Here are some suggested quick reads…my five most read blog posts so far this year:

  1. Stop Showering All of Your Donors with Love!
  2. Stop Making Stupid Email and Direct Mail Mistakes
  3. Do You Know that “Planned Giving” is Bad for Fundraising?
  4. Avoid a Big Mistake: Stop Asking for Bequest Gifts!
  5. Donors Say: Enough about You. Let’s Talk about Me!

To discover other blog sites you might want to visit, checkout the following best-of lists that I’ve been honored to be part of:

Click for Donor-Centered Planned Gift MarketingTo help bloggers and readers more easily connect, I created the LinkedIn Discussion Group “Blog Posts for Fundraising Pros & Nonprofit Managers.”  Bloggers can promote their latest posts and readers can easily find those that interest them most and engage in thoughtful conversation, all in one place. Join the Group to get updates about information you’ll find helpful. You can find the Group by clicking here.

To help you find books that will get results and inspire, I created The Nonprofit Bookstore (powered by Amazon). At the site, you’ll get Amazon’s great prices and service. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that, at no cost to you, a portion of each purchase will be donated to charity. At The Nonprofit Bookstore, you can search for books or browse categories including “Readers Recommend.” Among the books you’ll find there is my own: Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. You can find all of the books your peers suggest by clicking here.

Now, it’s your turn.

read more »

June 14, 2016

Happy Days are Here Again … for Now

Charitable giving in the USA reached a record high for the second year in a row, according to the newly released Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, a publication of Giving USA Foundation, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

While the news is good, storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. You need to hear both the good and the troubling news. I’ve tried to distill the most relevant, overarching information for you and provide you with some tips to help you be more successful moving forward. While I would normally advise against sharing lots of statistics, I nevertheless think you’ll appreciate these numbers.

Source Pie Chart_June 13 2016Researchers estimate that giving totaled $373.25 billion in 2015.

That new peak in contributions represents a record level whether measured in current or inflation-adjusted dollars. In 2015, total giving grew 4.1 percent in current dollars (4.0 percent when adjusted for inflation) over 2014.

The revised inflation-adjusted estimate for total giving in 2014 was $359.04 billion, with current-dollar growth of 7.8 percent, and an inflation-adjusted increase of 6.1 percent.

Charitable contributions from all four sources — individuals, charitable bequests, corporations, foundations — went up in 2015, with those from individuals once again leading the way in terms of total dollar amount, at $264.58 billion. This follows the historical pattern seen over more than six decades.

Giving to eight of the nine nonprofit categories studied grew with only giving to foundations declining (down 3.8 percent in current dollars, down 4.0 percent adjusted for inflation).

Giving to the category of International Affairs — $15.75 billion — grew the most (up 17.5 percent in current dollars, up 17.4 percent adjusted for inflation).

Giving to the category Arts/Culture/Humanities — $17.07 billion — grew the second most (up 7.0 percent in current dollars, up 6.8 percent adjusted for inflation).

While the numbers are terrific, the story is really about more than that. Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis, president of the nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group, says:

If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars. But, these findings embody more than numbers — they also are a symbol of the American spirit. It’s heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they’re supporting the causes that matter to them. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

While the 2015 giving news is certainly positive, there are four points that indicate that the good news might be short lived:

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May 13, 2016

10 Reasons Your #Nonprofit Should be Using Facebook

[Publisher’s Note: From time-to-time, I invite a published book author, with valuable insights, to write a guest post. If you’d like to learn about how to be a guest blogger, click on the “Authors” tab above.]

 

Would you like to understand why your nonprofit organization should embrace Facebook? Would you like a free book that’s full of tips that will help your charity get the most from Facebook? If you would, you’ll really enjoy this post.

This week, I have invited Richard Santos, Founder of Fundlio, to share his insights. Fundlio helps nonprofit organizations collect donations online by providing a mobile-friendly, secure and free platform. Fundlio also maintains a blog where the company shares tips and how-to information on a number of topics including fundraising, thank-you letters, collecting donations online, and creating organization awareness.

Facebook for Nonprofits CoverRichard has also written the book The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing for Nonprofits: How to ATTRACT SUPPORTERS & Receive More CONTRIBUTIONS for Your NONPROFIT Through FACEBOOK. While the Kindle version of the book is available for purchase on Amazon, Richard has kindly made his e-book available to the readers of Michael Rosen Says… for FREE! To download your free e-book copy, simply click here.

Richard’s book is a quick and simple-to-follow guide aimed at helping you create and develop an effective Facebook marketing strategy that will translate into attracting donors, increasing supporter engagement, and receiving more contributions for your cause. It’s based on proven tactics and strategies that will allow you to leverage the Facebook community and accomplish your nonprofit organization’s goals.

In addition to the terrific information and helpful tips Richard provides in his book, he now offers 10 important reasons your nonprofit organization should be using Facebook:

 

There are numerous online tools available for nonprofits and charities, allowing organizations like yours to use the power of the Internet and social media to its full potential. Facebook for Nonprofits is a great way of creating more awareness about your cause and eventually raising more funds to fulfill your mission.

However, I know that a nonprofit leader’s time is limited and that it’s hard to squeeze one more extra activity into your tight schedule. Whenever someone makes a suggestion on a new marketing tactic, the first question that pops into your head is: “Why should I take the time, effort, and budget to implement this?”

Let me provide you with an answer to the question in 10 straightforward points:

1.  A large percentage of your audience is on Facebook.

Facebook has almost 1.6 billion active users all over the world, which means that many of the potential donors you are targeting are using Facebook. One more interesting statistic: 31 percent of all US senior citizens use Facebook – this shows the huge impact that Facebook has on people from multiple categories. If you want to use the one channel where most of your audience is active, Facebook is the solution.

2.  You can raise awareness.

Having a compelling nonprofit story on your website is not sufficient – many potential supporters may not reach your website and you will lose donors and volunteers. On the other hand, your nonprofit is much more visible on Facebook, either through advertising or through page suggestions. Someone who’s interested in your cause just needs to hit “Like” and from that moment on, you will appear in their newsfeed. Better visibility means more awareness for your cause – your fans will develop an interest in your organization without even noticing.

3.  You can attract new supporters.

Facebook allows you to increase your visibility, aside from just communicating to your loyal audiences. Try the following features and your fans’ friends will also have contact with your page: similar page suggestions, adding the physical address so fans can check-in, and creating Facebook events. These features allow you to become visible to people who have not liked your page yet and to encourage them to become your fans.

4.  You can build a community.

Although there are many people passionate about the same idea, they rarely have time to meet in a physical location and develop relationships. On the other hand, interacting on social media is easier and helps them save time. Audiences use Facebook groups to gather around the causes they support – here they can discuss various issues, connect to other people, and organize events.

5.  Facebook allows you to engage supporters.

The secret to a successful fundraising campaign is supporter engagement. It’s recommended to implement multiple creative ideas rather than just featuring a “Donate” button on your page and just waiting for money to pop in. Some methods you can use to attract donors on Facebook are the following: running contests, setting mini-goals, using storytelling, implementing a matching gift campaign, asking supporters to give up a pleasant activity and donate the money, or inflicting silly punishments on your nonprofit organization leaders to encourage donations.

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February 26, 2016

Can You Read Your Way to #Fundraising Success?

Unlike any other time in history, there is now a vast wealth of useful information available to fundraising professionals. Blogs, books, newspapers, and websites provide valuable insights. It’s an information tsunami every week. One could spend all day, every day, reading this material. If we did this, our knowledge would certainly grow. However, we wouldn’t raise very much money.

At some point, we have to stop reading and resume doing.

That means we have to strike a balance between learning and acting. Unfortunately, it also means we can’t read everything that is worthwhile. With our limited time, we need to focus on the best sources for powerful information. The challenge is: How do we find those great resources?

Blog by Dennis Skley via FlickrThis is where a newly released list from Joe Garecht at The Fundraising Authority can be of help. Joe has compiled a directory of “The Best Nonprofit Fundraising Blogs and Websites of 2016.” The listing contains 25 must-read blogs and websites.

I’m honored that Michael Rosen Says… has been included on Joe’s list along with so many others I’ve long respected.

I encourage you to checkout The Fundraising Authority recommendations by clicking here.

As Joe says, “Your nonprofit does great work. You need to raise money in order to do that work. You deserve the absolute best fundraising information to help you carry out your mission.” The Fundraising Authority blog and website list is a good place to start. Beyond that, you’ll also want to find the most helpful and inspirational fundraising and nonprofit management books. That’s where The Nonprofit Bookstore (powered by Amazon) can help.

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January 5, 2016

What Helpful Books Have You Read Lately?

Many of us in the nonprofit world read books to discover fresh ways to generate improved results or to find inspiration. But, with so many nonprofit management and fundraising books in the marketplace, how can you find those that will be worth your time to read?

Click for Donor-Centered Planned Gift MarketingI have a solution for you.

You can visit The Nonprofit Bookstore (powered by Amazon). I created this site to help you find books that will get results and inspire. You can search for specific titles or browse the books listed in various categories, including “Readers Recommend” and “AFP-Wiley Development Series.”

When you buy books through The Nonprofit Bookstore, you’ll get Amazon’s great pricing and, without any cost to you, a portion of your purchase will be donated to charity.

You can help make this resource more meaningful by recommending any books you’ve read recently that you have found particularly helpful. You can make your recommendations in the comment section below by providing the book title and author name for any volume you think will be of value to nonprofit managers and fundraising professionals. The book(s) 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 2016 reading lists.

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

  1. You’ll have the pleasure of helping your nonprofit brothers and sisters find worthwhile reading material that can help them and their organizations.
  2. You’ll have the satisfaction of having your selected book(s) listed in the “Readers Recommend” section at The Nonprofit Bookstore where it can help even more people.

So, what useful, informative, inspirational book(s) do you think folks should add to their 2016 reading lists?

I’ll close by offering you a free e-book from philanthropy researcher Dr. Russell James that normally retails for $9.99:

read more »

October 27, 2015

The #Fundraising Life is Tough, so Laugh More!

Are you able to laugh at yourself?

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to laugh at oneself. At times, it’s not even easy to laugh at the challenges we encounter in any given day. However, finding the humor with ourselves, and the situations we encounter, can be enormously beneficial.

Consider what actor Salma Hayek has said on the subject:

Life is tough; and if you have the ability to laugh at it, you have the ability to enjoy it.”

Author Kurt Vonnegut emphasized another benefit of laughter:

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

We can all benefit by laughing more at the daily frustrations we face while trying to do our fundraising work. That’s where Phillip E. Perdue, MBA, May I Cultivate You?CFRE, CDM can help. A longtime fundraising professional, Perdue has written the book May I Cultivate You? Perdue’s book takes a humorous, insightful look at the various aspects of fundraising.

When reading the book, I recognized any number of frustrating/humorous situations I’ve seen over my long career. If you want to have some chuckles and gain some insights about the world of fundraising, I encourage you to pick up a copy. If you want to spread the cheer, you may want to get some extra copies to share with your favorite fundraisers this coming holiday season.

May I Cultivate You? is available on Kindle and paperback. To give you a taste of the book, Perdue has allowed me to share “Chapter Twelve — Your Fundraising Software is the Worst.” Thanks, Phil! This bonus chapter is not available in the print version of the book. Let me know what you think of this chapter:

 

When you begin a new job, someone will give you a log-in for the fundraising software. Moments later, one of your new co-workers will come over and say how much they hate the fundraising software and moan about how confusing, user-hostile and archaic it is. Everyone within earshot will nod agreement.

___________________________

 Your passwords go on post-it notes next to your computer.

___________________________

The software will seem to have caused more human misery than typhoid, small pox and opera combined. Which is strange because you thought the software at your last job was the worst. And it was. And now this new system will be the worst. Wherever you are, whatever you are using, it is the pits, the bottom of the barrel.

To be fair, the modern software industry has given fundraisers remarkable tools. But as you know, this is generally an awful thing for a lot of reasons.

Imagine using a 200-lb sledgehammer to kill ants. Or having a Swiss Army knife with 7,000 attachments the size of a pickup truck. Modern development software feels like that to the Liberal Arts majors trying to jockey it. It is too unwieldy for people who use words like “unwieldy.” Mostly, we use the software as a rolodex and a gift log.

It does not help that most of the computers running the software are nearly as old as the furniture they sit on.

And it does not help that as the systems have grown exponentially more sophisticated your organization’s training budget has not increased since 1950. Chances are no one in your shop has had any professional training or knows how to take advantage of all the wonderful features buried away in FundJuggernaut ’98 or whatever you are using. If newcomers are lucky, they will be taught to log-in and look up phone numbers.

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October 22, 2015

Do You Know if Your #Fundraising is Failing?

You might think it’s a blunt, maybe even a harsh, question. It is.

Do you know if your fundraising is failing?

If your nonprofit organization is typical, I have some bad news for you. You’re fundraising effort is most likely sorely underperforming. That’s according to the newly released 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Report, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute.  Here are some of the key findings:

•  For every 100 donors gained in 2014, 103 were lost through attrition, a net loss in donors of three percent!

•  For every $100 gained in 2014, $95 was lost through gift attrition. In other words, organizations are running hard to remain essentially in place.

•  The median donor retention rate in 2014 was just 43 percent. There was no improvement over 2013’s rate despite all of the publicity and advice about the issue.

•  The median dollar retention rate increased slightly from 46 percent to 47 percent in 2014. However, the fact that the retention rate is not well above 50 percent is pathetic. Sadly, that’s been the case for nearly the past decade.

The Scream by Mark Tighe via FlickrRoger Craver, one of the Editors at The Agitator blog and author of Retention Fundraising: The New Art and Science of Keeping Your Donors for Life summed up the results perfectly with just one word: “depressing.”

Even if your charity is performing on par with the median nonprofit organization, make no mistake about it, it is failing. Unfortunately, many organizations do not even know whether or not they are performing well. They usually don’t look at or understand their numbers. Fortunately, the solution is simple. Here’s a story I told The Agitator:

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October 16, 2015

When Should You Refuse a Gift?

From opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, I learned of two stories that both raise an important question:

When should a charity refuse to accept a donation?

The first story concerns Lucy the Elephant,  an historic six-story tourist attraction in the US. Built in 1881, the wood and tin structure is in need of major repairs. The nonprofit organization that operates Lucy the Elephant is raising money for the project.

Lucy the Elephant by Doug Kerr via FlickrHearing about the repair effort, the nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered to make a significant, though not huge, donation. However, the gift would come with major strings attached.

PETA wanted to use the attraction for anti-circus messaging. “PETA wanted to decorate Lucy ‘in a way that would educate visitors about the grim lives facing elephants in circuses.’ That would have included shackling one of her feet and affixing a teardrop below one eye,” according to the Associated Press.

However, the board of trustees for Lucy the Elephant rejected the PETA offer. Richard Helfant, the CEO of Lucy’s board of trustees, said that accepting PETA’s terms would risk scaring or upsetting children who visit the site. “Lucy is a happy place,” he said. “We must always ensure that children who visit Lucy have a happy experience and leave with smiles on their faces. Anything that could sadden a child is not acceptable here at Lucy.”

In other words, the board of Lucy the Elephant found that the conditions of the PETA gift offer were not in alignment with the organization’s own mission and, therefore, it could not accept the donation.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a children’s charity in the UK was offered a gift from the Jimmy Savile Trust. Under normal circumstances, this would be considered great news. Jimmy Savile  was a huge celebrity in the UK. He worked as a DJ, radio and television personality, dance hall manager, and a major charity fundraiser. He was sort of the Dick Clark of the UK.

Unfortunately, Savile also had a very dark side. Following his death in 2011, hundreds of people came forward to accuse the media star of sexual abuse. His alleged victims were eight to 47 years old at the time of the abuse. A Scotland Yard investigation and an ITV documentary looked into the allegations and the alleged cover up of the crimes.

In 2014, UK Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt delivered a public apology in the House of Commons:

Savile was a callous, opportunistic, wicked predator who abused and raped individuals, many of them patients and young people, who expected and had a right to expect to be safe. His actions span five decades — from the 1960s to 2010. … As a nation at that time, we held Savile in our affection as a somewhat eccentric national treasure with a strong commitment to charitable causes. Today’s reports show that in reality he was a sickening and prolific sexual abuser who repeatedly exploited the trust of a nation for his own vile purposes.”

So, why would a charity, particularly a children’s charity, even consider accepting a gift from the Jimmy Savile Trust?

Raising the issue in the Institute of Fundraising Discussion Group on LinkedIn, the Fundraising Manager for the charity and participants provided some insights:

read more »

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