Posts tagged ‘University of Pennsylvania’

November 26, 2020

Why am I Especially Thankful This Year?

This year has been, um, challenging for all of us. I know there’s a good chance that you have a more colorful word to describe 2020. So, given how tough the year has been, why am I especially thankful this year?

Quite simply, I’m grateful to still be alive. I’m not just talking about avoiding COVID-19. You see, it’s almost seven years since I was diagnosed with an exceedingly rare, deadly form of cancer, Appendiceal Carcinoma with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP). If it wasn’t for brilliant medical intervention, my last Thanksgiving would have been in 2014.

Because a number of people have been asking me how my health is, and because some people with PMP are seeking insights on the Internet, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide an update. In addition, I want to share some news that has implications for your fundraising efforts.

Since 2014, I’ve had two massive, 14-hour surgeries with each followed a short time later by an additional two-hour surgery. I’ve also undergone extensive chemotherapy treatments to slow the progression of the cancer. Furthermore, I’ve been receiving mistletoe extract injections to mitigate chemo side effects and, perhaps, enhance the effectiveness of the chemo. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PMP. The best I can hope for is to slow the disease and delay the need for the next huge surgery. Not only will that enhance my quality of life, it will extend my life because there is a limit to the surgical option.

Last week, I received my latest CT Scan result. That report, along with my recent blood test results, reveals that my cancer is stable! That means I’m able to take a break from chemo for two to three months, beginning just in time for Thanksgiving.

Thanks to an army of doctors and nurses, especially those at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania – Penn Medicine, I’m still here. I also need to mention that Lisa, my wife, is a critical part of my care team. I couldn’t have made this journey over the past seven years without her. Every time I look at her, I’m reminded that, despite everything I’ve been through, I’m still the luckiest guy on Earth.

My adventure hasn’t been easy. At times, it’s been absolutely brutal. On a daily basis, it’s a struggle. But, with a great medical team and the support of family, friends, colleagues, and clients, I continue to move forward. There’s too much to do for me to start wallowing now.

Recently, I received some additional good news. UPMC is expecting to receive approval soon for a clinical trial of a minimally invasive treatment that would further delay the need for another big surgery. I’m a candidate for this. The treatment has already shown promise in Australia-based testing. If all goes according to plan, the treatment will enhance the quality of my life while extending it.

This brings me to your fundraising program.

May 6, 2020

What is the Secret Sauce of Fundraising Success?

Once upon a time, there was a fundraising professional who found the recipe for the secret sauce of fundraising success. Through decades of dedicated work and careful research, she honed her skills. Now, she shares the secret with you in a book recently ranked by the BookAuthority as one of the “100 Best Fundraising Books of All Time.”

I’m talking about Lynn Malzone Ierardi, JD, Director of Gift Planning at The University of Pennsylvania. She offers her insights and wisdom in the 112-page book, Storytelling: The Secret Sauce of Fundraising Success. Don’t let the short length fool you. This is a volume stuffed full of valuable goodies.

As the official book description says:

Nonprofit organizations have amazing stories to share — stories of perseverance, fortitude, and generosity.

Stories give nonprofits a way to stand out in a world that gets noisier every day, where people are looking for ways to find meaning and connection.

Great stories engage donors and raise more money. Scientific evidence confirms good storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to engage stakeholders and influence behavior. Stories raise awareness, change behavior, and trigger generosity. Facts and logic are not nearly as persuasive as a good story. Stories penetrate our natural defense systems and become more compelling and memorable. As a result, great stories can be very powerful.

Like a good meal, storytelling can be delicious if it is executed with a bit of strategy. It requires planning the meal, choosing and collecting the right ingredients, and then sharing the meal with the right people, in the right setting, and at the right time.”

Throughout her book, Lynn uses a creative cookbook metaphor. This fun approach to a serious subject keeps the material from being dull and makes the tips easier to remember. Lynn does more than tell us why stories are important. She shows us what information is valuable (ingredients), how to gather the necessary information (shopping), how to effectively share stories (serving the entrée), how to craft the right story for the right situation (adding spices), how stories can be presented in different ways (side dishes), how to use stories to navigate change (the kitchen mishap), and the magic of success stories (a good dessert).

For years, we’ve heard that good storytelling is an important part of good fundraising. In Lynn’s practical book, you’ll find numerous, easy to follow tips for putting that notion into practice. Furthermore, you’ll learn how you can use storytelling to put board members and volunteers at ease when seeking to engage them in the fundraising process. I thank Lynn for her willingness to share some bonus thoughts with us along that line:

 

Snakes. Heights. Public speaking. Asking for money. Even worse: asking friends for money.

These things can make people really uncomfortable. In fact, for some people the mere suggestion of these things increases their heart rate or makes their palms begin to sweat. “Don’t even ask me to do that!”

So, it comes as no surprise that nonprofit CEOs, board members and volunteers (and even the unseasoned fundraiser) can sometimes be reluctant to ask for money.

It’s one thing to get people to roll up their sleeves to help, or to get those same people to donate to a cause they believe in. It’s another thing to find board members and volunteers who are willing and able to be effective fundraisers for your organization.

Too often, very well-intentioned board members and volunteers will say “I’m happy to give you my time and my money – but please don’t expect me to ask for money. I can’t approach my friends for money – and I certainly won’t ask them for an estate gift!”

In most cases, board members have no formal training as fundraisers. They may have the business and interpersonal skills necessary to ask for a significant gift – but have no practical experience in that realm.

Fundraising staff can struggle with making an ask, too – particularly for a planned gift. A new planned giving fundraiser visited with me over coffee earlier this year. She described meeting with the same donors and prospects several times, getting to know them and discovering their interests and passions, thanking them for their past support – but struggling to make the pivot in the conversation to ask for a planned gift. She asked me “How do you ask someone to consider their own demise – and ask whether they’ve included our organization in their estate plans?” It can be uncomfortable when you look at it that way.

But there are other ways to approach the conversation. Storytelling provides a different perspective. People are more attentive, more responsive, and more generous when they are engaged in a good story. In the noisy world in which we live – with constant news, updates, mail, video, social media, and more – the most effective way to communicate and influence is with stories.

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September 27, 2013

Do You Want a 43% Pay Raise?

How would you like your employer to increase your compensation package by 43 percent? 

If you would, just follow these two steps:

1. Become the President of the University of Pennsylvania.

2. Negotiate the deal with the Board of Trustees

That’s exactly what Amy Gutmann did.

The University of Pennsylvania increased Gutmann’s compensation package from $1,462,742 in 2010 to $2,091,764 in 2011, according to a recent report in The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Penn President Amy Gutmann by University of Pennsylvania

Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania

The report is based on the University’s most recent tax filing. Gutmann’s 2011 compensation package marks more than a 170 percent increase since 2005, the year Gutmann became President.

Let’s put Gutmann’s compensation into perspective.

The New York Times reported in 2011 that, “in the decade from 1999-2000 to 2009-10, the average presidential pay at the 50 wealthiest universities increased by 75 percent.”

Among Ivy League university Presidents, Gutmann has consistently ranked third in recent years, behind Columbia University and Yale University. However, in 2010, Gutmann was the 12th-highest-paid private university president in the nation, according to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education. That was not good enough according to David Cohen, Penn’s Board Chair and Chair of the Compensation Committee. Here’s what The Daily Pennsylvanian reported:

After seeing that report, Cohen said, the compensation committee was struck that Gutmann had not placed in the top 10. Given the scale and complexity of Penn, as well as Gutmann’s performance, he said, the compensation committee believed it needed to adjust Gutmann’s compensation to bring it more in line with her peers.”

For whatever reasons the Penn Board did not believe that being ranked 12th in presidential compensation was good enough. Penn needed to be ranked among the top 10.

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