Posts tagged ‘Free Library of Philadelphia’

March 6, 2020

How will Coronavirus Affect Your Fundraising Efforts?

Coronavirus is spreading with profound implications for the nonprofit sector. As I write this post, there have been 98,088 global documented cases of COVID-19 resulting in 3,356 deaths.

This is my third post about coronavirus. Previously, I looked at how you can keep yourself and your colleagues healthy, and I have written about what the Association of Fundraising Professionals is doing to ensure a safe, successful International Conference later this month.

Now, I want to look at some of the ways the advance of COVID-19 might affect your fundraising efforts. Most of the points were shared with me by Ken Wyman, a Canadian-based consultant and Professor Emeritus from the Fundraising Management graduate program at Humber College. I thank Ken for generously sharing his insights.

While there is no reason for you to panic, you and your nonprofit organization should prepare for what is happening and what could happen. To help you with your planning, here is a list of just 17 ways your fundraising efforts could be affected:

1. Special events may need to be canceled. Already, the American Physical Society canceled its annual conference; the Global Health Conference has been canceled; the American Bar Association canceled its National Institute on White Collar Crime; Chicago State University has canceled some basketball games; and other nonprofit and for-profit events have been canceled. You might need to cancel certain events out of real health concerns or because attendance would be low because of fear.

2. Staff and volunteers may need to work from home, and/or take sick days. Sick people should stay out of the office rather than come in and risk infecting colleagues. Not only will this protect people from coronavirus, but it will also protect them from many other illnesses as well. To allow for this, your organization might need to revise its policies and procedures.

3. Donors may value your health-related projects more. If your nonprofit is a healthcare organization or a charity that offers health-related programs, you may find greater donor interest in your services. Be sure to let people know how your organization is responding to the current health situation.

4. Corporate donations may go down as profits and stock markets decline. The US stock market has seen several days of sharp decline and extreme volatility. Leading economists anticipate a global reduction in Gross Domestic Product because of COVID-19. A decline in corporate profits will likely result in a decrease in corporate giving. When appealing to corporations, be sure to demonstrate how giving to your organization will deliver value to the corporation.

5. Don’t lick envelopes for thank-you cards. Eww! The same goes for any correspondence you mail. Instead, for high-volume mailings, automate the process; for low-volume mailings, use a damp sponge or paper towel to moisten envelopes. The bonus is that you won’t risk getting a paper cut on your tongue.

6. This is a good time to remind donors about gifts in their Wills. A gift in a Will is a great way for someone to support their favorite charities when they might not be able or willing to do so with a current cash gift.

7. Isolated lonely donors may welcome phone calls. As people start spending more time at home rather than risking a trip out in public, some will begin to feel isolated. These supporters will appreciate a phone call from you even more than ever. Call donors to thank them, update them about a program, survey them, etc.

8. Virtual board meetings are less infectious and better for the environment. Instead of gathering your board members around a conference table, you can host a virtual board meeting. You have a number of technology options to accomplish this ranging from a simple conference call to a video meeting. The bonus is that using technology will reduce greenhouse gases as board members will not have to drive or fly to the meeting.

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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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