Tag Archives: philanthropy

Reasons why philanthropy begins with you

Giving from the heart“What size shoes do you wear?” That was what we heard. We saw a well dressed woman casually take off her sneakers and give them to a woman who appeared to be homeless. Both were getting cream and sugar for their coffees at Starbucks. One walked out with designer sneakers on her feet while the other got into her car wearing socks.

We looked at each other. It happened in less than five minutes. A casual conversation between strangers that ended with an act of charity and kindness that made an immediate material difference in one woman’s life. If we hadn’t been sitting right next to where the conversation took place we would never have known it happened.

Something inspired the more affluent woman to take action immediately. She saw a need and she filled it. She didn’t wait for someone else to take action. She didn’t refer the other woman to a nonprofit, church, or government agency. She took the shoes off her feet and gave them to her.

It was a touchstone event for us. It reminded us that at the heart of nonprofits is passion, concern for others, a desire to make a difference. This beautiful, personal act of kindness reminded us of the goodness that surrounds us. We saw it as a reflection of the spirit, compassion, and love that is a driving force for so many nonprofits.

In this column we typically share information and suggestions related to the art and science of fundraising. Yet at its heart fundraising – or philanthropy as it is referred to in some circles – is about a love for humanity. It is that love which we need to keep front and center when we get tired, angry, disappointed, or frustrated. That is what draws so many of us to the nonprofit sector in the first place.

That love should be the cornerstone of building strong and vibrant organizations that address the immediate concerns of people in need. That love should be what sustains us in long-term policy and advocacy work that addresses the underlying causes of poverty, inequality, and injustice. Love and compassion can temper our tongues when we want to lash out at others, or when we wish people would “just give” so we can get on with the important work of our organizations.

Love in action binds us together in a united vision. Love in action keeps us at the table as board members when we disagree on a specific matter. And love in action sustains us when the road seems long and our vision appears clouded.

Our suggestion: let’s try infusing love more fully into our consciousness and our actions, including fundraising. Let us lift up those who give and invest. And let us give with an open heart.

Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.


How to write targeted proposals

Last week’s column focused on six basic things you should know before writing a proposal. With this column, we address three more nuanced things to consider.

Writing Targeted ProposalsSome nonprofits create a “boilerplate” proposal and send it out to as many foundations and corporations as possible, hoping to “get a hit.” That is one strategy, and sometimes it is appropriate. Making small modifications to a standard proposal is efficient, particularly when seeking to secure sponsorships and smaller grants. In general, we suggest a more targeted approach.

Here are three things to consider:

  1. What percentage of your revenue do you project will come from foundations or corporations? We recommend building diverse revenue streams. This is important for long term reasons such as having other revenue streams should foundation/corporation giving contract. A shorter term reason to diversify your revenue is that it signals financial health to foundations who are reviewing your proposal.
  2. What percentage of your operating or program budget are you requesting from a specific foundation? Looking to one funder for the majority of your funding sends a red flag to many funders. They have responsibilities they have to consider: one of those is what will happen to your organization or program if they need to reduce or eliminate their support. Does your proposal include a discussion of who you will be approaching for additional funds? Are these realistic potential funders, or foundations you would like to approach but don’t yet know if they will consider your request? This information helps a program officer evaluate your proposal and your ability to deliver on some or all of the deliverables. When developing your project or organizational budget be prepared to answer the question “what if you don’t secure all the funds that you need?”
  3. Is your nonprofit a strong match with the priorities of the foundation you are writing to? For example, if a foundation seeks to reduce poverty in a specific area, it looks to fund nonprofits with a track record of work in that area, that have accountable and effective leadership, and strong community relationships. This is in addition to effective programming and a proposed evaluation method.

These are the business decisions that should be made in advance of submitting a funding request and communicated through your proposal. This is the work of the board and executive leadership, and not the work of fundraising staff and volunteers. It is work that supports fundraising success and that takes time.

Looking for foundation support – “we’ll get a grant” – as a cure all for revenue shortfalls is not a fundraising strategy.

Fundraising is competitive, and as a nonprofit leader it is your responsibility to understand the funding landscape and to proactively address the serious questions that funders will ask.

Related Posts:

  1. The role of the business plan: An interview with Jan Young http://saadandshaw.com/strategic-plan-business-plan/
  2. Business planning for nonprofits: Learn the basics http://saadandshaw.com/business-plan-basics-for-nonprofit/
  3. Benefits of using a business plan: http://saadandshaw.com/the-role-of-the-business-plan-benefits-of-using-a-business-plan/
  4. Ten things you need to know about proposal writing http://saadandshaw.com/grant-writing/
  5. Cultivating foundations http://saadandshaw.com/bringing-home-the-money/
  6. Six things you should know before writing a proposal – http://saadandshaw.com/six-things-you-should-know-before-writing-a-proposal/

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

The Effect of a Butterfly Gift

Butterfly Effect, Saad and Shaw, Paying It Forward, Random Acts of KindnessThis is what we’ve heard – when a butterfly flaps its wings it can start a hurricane on the other side of the world. The idea being that a tiny movement can initiate unanticipated activities. We hope you will join us in a burgeoning butterfly movement of unintended positive consequences.

Here’s the back story. We were watching the show CBS Sunday Morning when we saw a segment of Chris Rosati of Durham North Carolina. He is living with ALS and chose – on a whim – to give two girls at a restaurant $50 each. He asked them to each do something kind for someone else. It was a no-strings gift to girls he might not ever see again. The girls gave the money to a village in Sierra Leone where they knew villagers were fighting ebola. And, they shared their experience with Rosati, who had never thought he would hear from them. He was so delighted he has announced plans to give out butterfly grants – $50 each – to kids who want to change the world.

Needless to say we were moved. We have vowed to be butterfly agents! That means giving people we know and love a gift that is equal to or greater than the amount we would have spent on a gift, and asking them to do something good for someone else. It will cut down on the challenges of trying to find the perfect gift. More seriously we want to be part of this new “butterfly movement.”

And, we want you to consider being a butterfly! You may never know what you set in motion, but we feel it will be something good. Here’s our plan: first birthday on our calendar is our nine year old niece. We will give her the gift money, ask her to do something nice for someone else, and ask her to let us know what she did. She may tell us, she may not.

Our goal is for her to contemplate “who can I help?” We look forward to learning her. Our hope is that the adults we touch with this type of gift – and the ones you touch – will also have a child-like moment of stopping and pondering, “what can I do for someone else?”

It’s an intriguing proposition. The money is suddenly in your hands. You don’t have to decide how much to give, just who to give to. It’s different from being asked to make a gift to a nonprofit – though that’s a good choice. And of course there’s the chance that once receiving such a gift you – or your friends – will choose to give others such a butterfly gift.

View the Chris Rosati video online at ButterFly Gift.

Image courtesy of akeeris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday,  fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, #GivingTuesday, year-end giving, philanthropyThanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. What’s next? Giving Tuesday. That’s right. This December 2nd, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a new global holiday and it’s all about philanthropy. Established in 2012, by New York City’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, and a team of influencers and founding partners, Giving Tuesday now engages over 10,000 organizations worldwide.

As we wrote in our last column, “It’s always good to give.” Now you can give in concert with your family, co-workers, friends, and most importantly people around the world. There is no end to the diversity of causes that seek your time, money, influence and resources. You can “Like” a Facebook page, forward a tweet, or sign an online petition. You can engage your friends using social media, the phone, or a short meeting after church, synagogue, or prayers at your mosque. You can give money or time or both. Either way when you engage others you multiply and amplify your giving. If you are an employer you can match your employee’s giving. If you run a consumer business you can pledge of portion of Giving Tuesday’s proceeds. You make the choice.

If you are involved with a nonprofit you are – most likely – finalizing your Giving Tuesday plans. The University of Michigan is launching Giving BlueDay on December 2nd, seeking to raise $1 million from alumni and friends that day. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship encourages people to share their story of surviving cancer and give $10 to $20. Your local United Way welcomes your support. The Africa America Institute is raising funds on Giving Tuesday to train nurses at Tubman University’s Nursing Program in Liberia. Google an organization close to your heart and find a way to give.

This is also an important time to introduce or reinforce the value of giving to the next generation. Talk with your children at home. Integrate philanthropy into your classroom or afterschool program using Dr. Heidi Kasevich’s curriculum guide for grades K-12. There’s also the gratitude blog through which you, your family and friends can record your gratitude. Both of these resources are available at GivingTuesday.org where you can also find tools, tips and technology to help you give and receive.

At the end of the day Giving Tuesday is about philanthropy – a time for each of us to reflect on our abundance and share our resources with others. We can give on this one day, or we can take time to build giving into our everyday lives. We can reflect on how giving changes our relationship to ourselves and the world. We can diminish feelings of alienation and restore our feelings of connection. Giving has deep spiritual, emotional, social and religious impacts. We are changed as we give. Often for the better.

Photo credit: Giving Tuesday

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Make Every Tuesday Giving Tuesday

http://community.givingtuesday.org/NewsGiving Tuesday is here! There is still time left in the day to give to the nonprofits you believe in. Friday was Black Friday for shopping at the mall and big boxes, Saturday was Small Business Saturday to promote shopping at locally owned small businesses, and Monday was Cyber Monday for internet shopping. Today it is Giving Tuesday and we – collectively – can get our give on! You can give by cell phone or through the ever accessible “donate now” button. You can give the “old fashioned” way by writing a check. Most importantly it’s time to give AND you can make very Tuesday a giving Tuesday. Here are three tips!

  1. Set up your checking account to automatically transfer funds to your favorite charity every Tuesday. Or every first Tuesday of the month. You pick! Giving small amounts frequently – and AUTOMATICALLY – makes it easier to give. You make the decision once and technology keeps you committed.
  2. Write a check to one of your favorite nonprofits when you write your monthly bills. You can pick the same one each month, or pick a different one each month.
  3. Join or create a giving circle – you and your friends can get together once a month, pool your money and choose where to give it. You can be as simple or as complex as you want to be. You can get ideas by visiting www.givingcircles.org.

Enjoy giving. Enjoy fundraising. Keep the FUN in FUNdraising.

Mel and Pearl Shaw www.saadandshaw.com

Image courtesy of http://community.givingtuesday.org/News


Encouraged and optimistic: African American philanthropy and museums

Part one of a three part series

Grace Stanislaus

Photo credit: Rodger Allen

“Self-empowerment is one among many strategies people of African descent have employed to ensure our survival in the New World. This includes the creation of museums and cultural centers that document, recognize and celebrate the art, culture, history and contributions of African Americans. These institutions, many of which were established as a result of public/private partnerships, bear testimony to the hard battles fought to bring dreams to fruition.”

Arts professional and nonprofit CEO Grace C. Stanislaus is encouraged by the very existence of museums and cultural centers such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the California African American Museum, the DuSable Museum of Art, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland, and the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). With 20+ years experience directing and building arts institutions Stanislaus shares her perspective on African American arts and culture institutions and philanthropy.

“I consider the existence of these institutions remarkable especially in light of the history of enslavement, oppression, discrimination and economic, social, cultural and political disenfranchisement,” Stanislaus commented. “But not so remarkable in the context of a parallel history, dating back to the 18th century, of civic and charitable giving that supported and in turn generated support from mutual aid societies, the Black Church, and fraternities and sororities.”

She reminds us of the important role historically black colleges and universities have played. “HBCUs such as Clark Atlanta, Hampton, Howard, Fisk, North Carolina Central and Tuskegee, played significant roles in establishing galleries and museums to house, preserve, interpret, display, and celebrate African American art, artists, and cultural achievements.

When asked about the future of these arts institutions Stanislaus recommend an internal examination and a close look at external funding realities.

“We need dynamic visions and robust programs that engage diverse constituencies. Staff and board leaders need to ask questions that can reveal best practices. These include: Are our organizations and programs relevant and of interest to our local communities? Do we advocate effectively within our communities for the value that we add? Are we building loyalty? Are our program offerings broad in ways that engages diverse, cross cultural audiences? Are we allocating sufficient resources to market and promote and to raise funds for our museums and programs? Are we investing in the professional development of our staff? Have we found the right balance between our scholarly mission and our commercial interests? Do we have a strategic plan, program plan and business plan that guide our decisions and the allocation of our resources? Are our mission, values and vision clear and being effectively communicated to our community/stakeholders? Do we have a succession plan for the executive and the board leadership? This particular item has derailed the progress forward of many of our cultural organizations.”

Part Two: Encouraged and optimistic: Pressing Questions, Limited resources and support of the arts

Part Three: Encouraged and optimistic: If you build it they will come…good business model?

Photo credit: Rodger Allen

Contact Grace C. Stanislaus at gcsart@aol.com

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Corporate Partnerships: What Does Your Nonprofit Bring to the Table?

Does your nonprofit’s special event help sponsors and underwriters meet their business objectives? Do the benefits you offer align with the business needs of your sponsors/ underwriters? Here are some things to consider as you build your corporate partnership program.

SubaruCauseMarketingPhilanthropic support can be directed by an executive within the business, through the community relations department, or its foundation. Marketing dollars are typically secured from the marketing department. Distinctions between the two types of giving include the expected “return on investment.” Sponsorships from the marketing side of a business need to advance the business’ objectives. Pursuing such a relationship will require you learn these objectives; know your demographics; and are prepared to apply creativity in creating sponsorship benefits that have meaning to your partners.

Businesses know who they want to communicate and interact with. They know which communication methods work best with specific target markets, and they have prioritized their markets. They will want to know the demographics associated with your event, program, or nonprofit as a whole, so be prepared. What do you know about the people you serve; those attending your events; people you reach by email, social media and print communications? Can you provide traditionally requested information such as gender, race, age, zipcode, income, education, and children in the household, for your different constituencies and/or audiences?

Some businesses may value the opportunity to sponsor intimate events that provide an opportunity to participate in meaningful conversations with individuals who represent their target market. Others know their ideal consumer communicates via social media. Still others want a very specific demographic such as highly African American educated females with incomes over $60,000 who are homeowners. Some businesses will want to build and strengthen brand loyalty. Others may be searching for a new market. You won’t know until you do some research and talk with those responsible for creating or influencing partnerships.

Here’s the bottom line: Growing a corporate partnership program requires data management systems that provide accurate demographics, as well as staff – or qualified volunteers – who can manage the program and meet sponsor/underwriter expectations. Focus on your sponsors’ needs and how your nonprofit will advance their brand. Be prepared to answer specific questions such as: How will results be measured? What will the metrics be? For events, what happens before, after and during the event? Are there multiple “touch points” through which sponsors can engage with your audience? Will you provide sponsors/underwriters with the names of people attending the events they support? Are you offering industry exclusivity? For example, will you engage five banks as sponsors, or one bank, one realtor, one national retailer….?

Most businesses know who they want to communicate with.  They also know their demographic and geographic markets. The question is, are you a match?

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Capacity Building Grants

Community Foundation of Greater MemphisIt’s time for the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis’ Nonprofit Capacity Building program. Information sessions are next month. The Community Foundation will have pre-application information sessions in February for its Nonprofit Capacity Building grants program. Organizations interested in applying for a grant are required to attend one of the sessions. The attendance requirement is waived for organizations that sent a representative to a session in 2011 or 2012. Letters of intent will be due in April. For criteria and the schedule of information sessions, visit http://bit.ly/UCXqet

Thank You

Thank You (Photo credit: mandiberg)

As the year comes to a close we want you to know how much we appreciate you, our readers. We appreciate your work to make this world a better place. Your efforts in neighborhoods, universities, hospitals, schools, and in communities across the world are making a difference.

We appreciate the way you see an unmet met need and seek to fill it. We appreciate your innovation and creativity. We also appreciate the way you sustain organizations and institutions such as historically black colleges and universities, local hospitals, youth mentoring programs, food banks and museums. When you advocate for early childhood education, access to healthcare, and assistance for veterans you are helping to improve life for so many people. Your contributions and assistance when natural disasters strike help families who are suddenly traumatized and in need of medical care and basic living supplies.

Research that seeks cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS and sickle cell anemia is part of “playing it forward” – the way we give to future generations that which we wish we could experience today. The same is true of investments in education, housing, and human services that stabilize families. We understand that not all adults may be able to experience the life they dreamed of, but a stable home with adequate resources, supports and access to education can help the next generation – our children and grandchildren – live more prosperous lives.

The loving care you give to people who are disabled, seniors and the elderly is cherished by those you serve and their family members. Your work in nonprofit nursing homes, adult day health care facilities, and day programs for disabled youth and adults is life changing.

Your work to feed the hungry, train and educate the unemployed, and support the arts transforms individual lives and communities.

We think of you when we write this column. We consider the challenges you are facing and the opportunities that may present themselves. Our goal is provide guidance and stimulate conversation. We know you are focused on delivering a service, advocating or educating. We also know you need to raise money for your work. Please let us know what is on your mind in the area of fundraising. Tell us what you want us to write about in 2013.

Right now we’re preparing columns on prerequisites for fundraising success to help kick off the new year. We also plan on sharing success stories, guidance in how to process “gifts in kind,” tips for using social media, and ideas for increasing revenue from special events. For those who serve on boards we will include suggestions for how to increase your impact as a board member.

As the 2012 comes to a close, please know that we – and so many others – appreciate you and depend on you. Thanks for making 2012 a great year for all of us.

Value of Diversity – Part Two

Taking a risk and funding smaller, grass roots organizations may feel challenging when there are larger, more established organizations providing similar services. Yet even when providing award winning services, not all organizations or institutions can serve everyone within a service area.

Consider this: perhaps there are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people who don’t feel comfortable using certain health facilities because they have experienced insensitive treatment. They put off routine health care. Would a smaller LGBT-friendly clinic help serve this population?

What about refugee families from around the world? Could the best provider of health, education, youth or senior services be the organizations that helped these families resettle? Some donors and funders might consider this “mission creep” – a phrase used to describe programs that “creep” beyond an organization’s funding mission. But if the volunteers and staff have gained the families’ trust, then perhaps they are the ideal provider.

What about the arts? How many arts organizations is enough? When recommending consolidation or choosing not to fund an organization it is always important to look at the arts community as a whole. How will changes in funding affect the diversity of art forms, expressions and audiences? Is it enough to have one strong, well-funded black visual arts organization; one strong Hispanic performing arts theatre? Should there be multiple smaller organizations serving these populations as well?

What we know is this – diversity and innovation are vital to a healthy vibrant non-profit sector. Grass-roots and emerging organizations can challenge more established organizations to adopt new programs, change their culture, or increase their advocacy. They may not be as well funded, so their data collection may not be as robust as it could be. They may have high turnover due to low salaries, long hours or lack of health benefits. They may not always say the right thing. Their boards may not include fundraising power-houses or political influencers. But, they typically have a lot of passion. Some have deep community connections and relationships that help them discern community needs before they are visible to others. These organizations can be risk takers, innovators and important catalysts that keep the sector healthy and help ward off complacency.

We strongly believe in giving and investing in well established organizations. They are often the cornerstones of our community. And we believe the “up-and-comers” need attention from donors and funders as well. The values of the nonprofit sector expand beyond efficiency. Innovation, new leadership, new models of service delivery, and different advocacy strategies are good for all of us. As in the private sector they help breed innovation, they challenge the status quo, and in many cases they deliver where others simply cannot.

© Copyright Saad & Shaw.  Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions with fundraising strategy. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727