Tag Archives: philanthropy

THE ROLE OF THE BUSINESS PLAN: Benefits of Using a Business Plan

Part three of three

Dr. Jan Young

Dr. Jan Young

In our last two posts, we’ve shared with you the wisdom of Dr. Jan Young, executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, about the development of business plans for non-profits. Here, we asked her to provide examples of how a business plan can impact an organization’s success.

Jan told us the story of an organization that “was limited in spite of successful outcomes serving individuals with significant needs in a challenging environment. Although they have a charismatic leader, diligent board and a clear focus on their mission, it was difficult to inspire donors to make the substantial investments necessary for growth.”

Seed MoneySo, the group decided to create a business plan. “After completing their plan and being able to explain their various programs and services with greater clarity, they were able to get some seed funds for an ambitious effort to expand their services,” she said. “After demonstrating their ability to implement the initial phases of their business plan, they have successfully attracted other funders and have been able to leverage investments made in their collaborative partnerships.”

Jan also shared how the absence of a business plan contributed to the demise of another organization, which had “lost sight of its mission, started chasing money even when grant conditions conflicted and created costs beyond what the grants and fundraising would cover. Funds were inappropriately allocated, they lost credibility with funders, deceived board members, and they no longer exist,” she said.

“Although there were obviously things other than the absence of a business plan that led to this outcome, a review of the plan with the budget may have alerted board members earlier about the obvious discrepancies between what they were being told and what was actually happening at the organization,” she said.

Jan, who received a doctorate of nursing science from the University of Tennessee, has enjoyed a distinguished career in education, health care, the military and philanthropy, and she offers a unique perspective on some of the challenges facing non-profits. “One of the nuns I worked with in the past used to say, ‘No margin, no mission,’” she said.

In other words, “Passion and sheer force of will is rarely sustainable over time. Finite resources are a reality. Sometimes we must make tough choices about a priority. If something has value only to one person or a small group but is not perceived to have equivalent value by others or even the people being served, that becomes a situation of service to self rather than service to others,” she said.

Jan recommends several resources, including the Alliance for NonProfit Excellence, the National Council of Nonprofits,  the Free Management Library, and BridgeSpan.

To learn more about the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, visit www.assisifoundation.org.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. 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.


Part two of three

Dr. Jan Young

Dr. Jan Young

Previously, Dr. Jan Young explained how creating a business plan can help non-profit organizations assess their capacity, strategy and potential funding sources. Here she discusses the basics of creating a plan.

In her role as executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Jan oversees philanthropic activities, management, community relations, and strategic direction, and has reviewed countless grant applications. She revealed that one component of a successful application is a budget that matches with an organization’s objectives and capacity. A well-developed business plan can help organizations achieve such cohesion.

According to Jan, a business plan should be the work of an organization’s executive team and board. It should include input from internal stakeholders across the organization. The plan may cover any period of time the organization chooses, but “it should be reviewed on an ongoing basis and revised as necessary. Most cover three to five years. The plan should be a dynamic tool that informs and guides their work and progress,” she said.

We know that the process of creating a business plan can feel overwhelming in light of all the responsibilities an organization faces each day. The amount of time it takes for a non-profit to create a plan depends on how long it takes to complete an assessment of the organization’s ability to deliver services and raise funds, its current and future role in the community, and its overall goals.

“The number of pages depends on the scope and complexity of the organization’s mission,” said Jan. “Keep it simple. One size does not fit all. There are actually one-page templates that some have found helpful, and a book written on one-page business plans for non-profits. The length is less important than the quality. And the quality is sometimes less important than the conscious, deliberate use of the plan.”

We also wanted to learn Jan’s thoughts on the role of the board when it comes to implementation. For example, does the board take on a different role when an organization is working from a business plan?

“The board is accountable for governance, counsel, and has a key fundraising role. When operating from a business plan (properly written), they can more easily help the executive director and staff revise strategies and make the decisions necessary to assure the mission can be supported,” said Jan. “Sometimes the discussions can become more objective in nature. While passion for the work is important, emotional support alone cannot sustain the organization’s staff to effectively accomplish the mission.”

Next, Dr. Jan Young discusses the benefits of using a business plan.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. 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.

THE ROLE OF THE BUSINESS PLAN: An Interview with Dr. Jan Young

Part one of three

Dr. Jan Young

One of the prerequisites for fundraising success is a fund development or fundraising plan that is tied to an organization’s strategic plan. While strategic planning has a long history within the non-profit sector, some organizations are now choosing to work from a business plan. Wanting to learn more, we reached out to Dr. Jan Young, executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, a health care legacy foundation that has awarded more than $150 million in grants.

A strong advocate of working from a business plan, Jan believes that “strategy without resources is a wish.” When reviewing grant applications, she has found many budgets incongruent with the goals, objectives or capacity of the organizations. “In basic terms, the math doesn’t work,” she said.

Working from a business plan can help an organization focus its resources, build toward sustainability and support successful fundraising. A business plan requires an organization to engage in the important task of assessing its capacity to deliver services (and raise funds!), as well as assessing the environment in which it works and the extent to which the services (or advocacy) it offers are needed.

But, we tend to hear more about strategic planning in the non-profit sector, and business planning for the private sector. Asked about the difference between the two, Jan explained, “Here’s what we typically see: Strategic plans have a greater focus on direction and tactics, and business plans have a greater focus on specific necessary resources, primarily sources and uses of funds, and sustainability.”

Over the years we have noticed that many strategic plans do not take into consideration where the money for the work will come from. Often we are brought in to help secure funds for priorities that have not been vetted by the appropriate individuals, foundations or granting agencies.

Jan recommended a correctly done assessment as one way to evaluate potential funding. Ask questions such as: What is the need? Who else is providing the same or similar services? What are the opportunities and challenges? To whom does it matter? (What is your value proposition?) If the non-profit ceased to exist tomorrow, would anyone notice?

Jan also suggested taking the time to address basic organizational questions. “In the simplest terms: Can the organization clearly state what it wants to do?” she asked. “What strategies does it wish to implement to achieve what it wants to do? Does it have the resources and assets such as people, time, facilities or equipment, partnerships and funding to implement the strategies? Can the organization define how it will know if it is making progress toward its goals? What will success look like?”

Next, Dr. Jan Young discusses how to create a business plan.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. 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.

Let’s Have Faith

Faith-based organizations across the country are making a difference in communities large and small. One such congregation is St. Andrew African Methodist Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Led by husband and wife team Rev. Kenneth Robinson, M.D. and Rev. Marilyn Robinson the church is committed to ministering to Memphis – Spirit, Soul and Body. Together the Reverends Robinson and the St. Andrew AME church have grown their ministries into what is known as The Enterprise. They believe churches have unique attributes that can drive positive social transformation — and they have set out to demonstrate that.

The Enterprise includes the church’s ministries, and The Works, an independent Community Development Corporation (CDC) associated with the church. The Enterprise is comprised of:

  1. The St. Andrew AME congregation founded in 1866
  2. The church’s many social ministries and Community Life Center
  3. An independent, but church-affiliated Community Development Corporation (CDC) called The WORKS
  4. The Ernestine Rivers Child Care Center
  5. The Circles of Success Learning Academy (COSLA) – a nationally recognized charter school
  6. The South Memphis Renaissance Collaborative – a community collaborative dedicated to long-term redevelopment.

These programs are examples of how the St. Andrew AME church and The Enterprise bring their overlapping and inter-connected missions to life. Take a look:

The mission of the church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional and environmental needs of all people. The congregation embraces holistic approaches to health and well-being, spiritual enrichment, personal empowerment and community service, using the theme “Ministering to Memphis – Spirit, Soul and Body.”

The mission of The Enterprise is to serve as the vehicle for St. Andrew AME Church to accomplish its mission of works in the world through a continuum of programs, services and affiliated organizations, as well as through focused collaborations and broad partnerships.

The work of The Enterprise is guided by the need for innovative new approaches to foster social transformation and the unique attributes churches bring to drive such innovations.

The Reverends Robinson, St. Andrew AME congregation, and The Enterprise believe that the church can be a powerful catalyst, driver and fiscal agent for community transformation both in their South Memphis neighborhood and throughout the city of Memphis. They believe the model they are building can be replicated by other churches in Memphis and across the country. They believe – and are demonstrating – that a church (or other faith community) can uniquely resource social transformation. The human, spiritual, and financial resources that a church brings to the process of social transformation are unique.

At St. Andrew church tithes and gifts from church members have provided The Enterprise with funds for “seed funding” for new projects; “bridge funding” for projects that are growing and have not yet secured funds from other sources; and “gap funding” that helps programs weather the ups and downs that are part of non-profit finances. This is a unique form of funding that is not available to non-church-related organizations.

As a powerful collaboration The Enterprise provides a diverse array of needed services to church members and the larger Memphis community.

Below are the eight principles that guide the work of The Enterprise. The first two relate to social transformation. The remaining six principles focus on the unique attributes a church brings to drive such transformation.

The need for innovative new approaches to foster social transformation…

1.    Individuals and families need proactive, easy access to an integrated set of resources that meet the full range of their needs and development potential.

2.    The full range of resources and services must be imbedded within local neighborhoods for comprehensive community transformation that rebuilds physical infrastructure, helps change defeating attitudes and beliefs, and connects people to education, cultural and employment opportunities in the region.

…and the unique attributes churches bring to drive such innovations.

3.    A church of any size and any stage of development can leverage its members’ time, talent and treasure to serve as catalysts for community transformation.

4.    A church can be an appropriate organizational structure for bringing public and private funding and forging collaborative partnerships for non-religious social programs and community transformation.

5.    Community transformation and social ministry are essential to a living faith experience, and create a mutually-beneficial relationship between the faith congregation and the larger community.

6.    Faith-based values can permeate, enhance, and lend credibility to secular endeavors and programs.

7.    All social issues and aspects of human life can be addressed with the non-judgmental and unconditional “language of Christ.”

8.    All resources, programs and services put forth in the name of the Church must demonstrate the highest quality standards, and communicate a high level of worth/value.

Giving of time, talent and treasure by church members provides The Enterprise with seed money and gap funding as well as:

  1. $90,000 a year for the Community Life Center’s outreach programs.
  2. Thousands of hours of service provided by church members each year.
  3. Lower-than-market rent for the charter school. The school has a 25-year lease with the church that yields an annual savings of $50,000 over market-based rent.
  4. $30,000 a year to subsidize operating costs of the Ernestine Rivers Child Care Center.

Tithes and gifts from church members have allowed The Enterprise to grow its programming and services so that it now stewards nearly $5 million annually from diverse funding sources – church giving, earned income (tuition, fees) private grants, donations, and public funding.

The Reverends Robinson, the St. Andrew AME Congregation, associated independent organizations, community stakeholders, government and private funders are all working together to demonstrate and document that churches have unique attributes that can drive social transformation.

To learn more about churches and their role in social transformation contact Rev. Kenneth Robinson by email at RevKSRMD [at] gmail [dot] com or by phone at (901) 948-3441.

This article is based on conversations with Rev. Kenneth Robinson, M.D., and the St. Andrew Enterprise Business Plan: 2009 prepared by Consilience Group, LLC www.consiliencegroup.com.

Would You Give Away 50 Percent?

Bill Gates & Warren Buffett

By now you may have heard about The Giving Pledge. It is a movement started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage other billionaires to pledge to give away at least 50% of their wealth. They want to encourage the richest people in the world to commit to charitable giving either while they are living or upon their passing. And they want each person or family who takes the pledge to make their pledge public and ask their peers to do the same. The goal: increased funding for philanthropy across the globe.

People taking the pledge are not asked to give to any specific charity or cause – they are simply asked to give. It is not a legally binding pledge but rather a morally binding one.

The idea grew out of a series of dinners hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet over the course of a year. Many of their peers have already made very substantial gifts and pledges. Now they are asked to publicly affiliate with others who are doing the same. The idea is for billionaires to inspire conversations with their peers about their giving, their intentions, and what they are learning through the process.

The impact will be felt for generations to come. When the Giving Pledge was announced earlier this month there were 40 billionaires who had signed on. These include 14 from California, 12 from New York, two from Texas and Georgia, one from Missouri and Michigan. Here are what a few have to say.

Michele Chan: Our passion, our mission is to transform health and health care, in America and beyond.

Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor: “We want to leave our kids a different kind of inheritance…we pledge the bulk of our assets to philanthropic activities carried out over the course of our lifetimes.”

Jim and Virginia Stowers: “More than 99% of our wealth will go to philanthropy during our lifetime or at death. We have already started our giving.”

Finally, here is what Vicki and Roger Sant have to say. “Our support of various not for profit organizations has given us enormous satisfaction particularly where we have been personally involved with the boards or committees of those institutions.”

We call special attention to their quote because it highlights the value people receive when they give their time and money. If you work or volunteer with an organization or institution do not be embarrassed to ask others to join you in giving their time, money and resources. Giving is an important part of life whether or not you are a billionaire. Think about this: you can make your own giving pledge. It doesn’t have to be 50% of anything. What it should be is a moral commitment you make to yourself. Do it. And ask others to join you. Together we are creating the world we want to live in.

To learn more about the Giving Pledge visit www.givingpledge.org.

Fundraising for Haiti – what you need to know

Clinton and Bush Raising Funds for Haiti

Disasters are a time when we come together to support each other as human beings. Plain and simple. It’s not about politics. It’s not about religion. It’s about people. Saving lives. Food. Medical care. Clean water. A place to sleep. Everyone is getting involved. President Obama has allocated $100 million via  USAID. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are busy fundraising. And so are many others.

Disasters are also a time when Americans give generously as a country and as individuals, families, and local communities. We give and we fundraise. We also need to be paying attention to how we give, who we give to, and how we fundraise.

Here are some links you can check out for more information.

Advice on Giving to Haiti Support – guidance from the Better Business Bureau regarding how to make your gift to support Haiti.

Good Intentions Are Not Enough – learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Diaster Giving

Text and Give – how to give via text messaging. Includes a list of 21 different organizations you can give to via a text message. $16 million have been given via text messages as we write this blog!

Giving to the Red Cross – links for how to direct your giving

Updates on Giving to Haiti – stay up-to-date with information about giving and fundraising for Haiti. Information provided by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

That’s it for now. And as always, remember to have a FUNdraising Good Time! You can make a difference.

Individual Donor Research – San Francisco Workshop

DERMajor Gifts on Limited Time: Using Research to Prioritize Prospects
Presented by Barbara Pierce
Friday, August 14, 2009, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Development Executives Roundtable (DER)
Location: The Foundation Center, 312 Sutter Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco
Co-sponsored by The Foundation Center

With so many responsibilities, how do you decide how to use your time most wisely? In this workshop, you’ll learn valuable tools to use in making time-efficient decisions about which prospects to focus on for the best results. We’ll discuss what prospect research can (and cannot) answer for you, where to start your search, tips on best research sites, an introduction to electronic wealth screening and finally, how to utilize the information you do find to cultivate and solicit potential donors.

About Barbara:
Since she was handed a list of 1,500 prospects at her first development job, Barbara has been an avid student of how to quickly identify the best prospects through research. Based in San Francisco, she is a development consultant with 15 years of experience in working with major gift prospects on gifts ranging from $10,000 to $1 million plus. She has worked with organizations including: California League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood, Mills College, REDF (formerly The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund) and the George Lucas Educational Foundation. She can be reached at pierceconsulting2002@yahoo.com

Cost for Luncheon: DER members = $12, non-members = $20. Lunch is included in your fee. Because of DER’s special relationship with the Foundation Center, participants who wish to bring their own lunch can attend the meeting for no cost, but you still MUST register at the DER website. Please reserve by Wednesday, August 12 at www.dersf.org. Programs often sell out so don’t delay!

Are you a 50% Giver?

Hsieh Family Chooses to Give

Hsieh Family Chooses to Give


“My wife and I decided to give away all our income above the U.S. median household income.” – Tom Hsieh

Do you know anyone who gives away 50% of their income? Believe it or not, people do. And they feel good. Read Tom Hsieh’s story.

Anne and Christopher Ellinger know 125 people who give away at least half of their income. They created Bolder Giving in Extraordinary Times to encourage bold giving.

“We live in a time of historic crisis and opportunity, when contributions of time and money could make a crucial difference.Yet most of us – even if well-off – give at a fraction of our capacity. Bolder Giving’s mission is to inspire us to give at our full potential by providing remarkable role models and practical support.”

Bolder Giving’s 50% Leagaue is one way they encourage more of us to give more.  You could be a millionaire and participate, or you have a much smaller income. The only requirement is that you have donated 50% or more of your income or business profits for at least three years, or 50% or more of net worth at some point in their lifetime, to causes that reflect your deepest values. (FYI, average U.S. giving is under 3% of income.)

“There’s nothing to counteract a feeling of scarcity like generosity.” – Anne Ellinger, founder Bolder Giving in Extraordinary Times

Read People who give half their money away in the SF Chronicle that inspired this blog

Passion, Creativity and Fundraising

Passionate Philanthropist

Vernon Foster: Passionate Philanthropist

When you work with a non-profit organization that is in line with your personal mission and values then everything is possible. Your creativity is sparked and you look to engage people with your non-profit and how you can advance its work.

Vernon Foster is an example of an individual who has combined his life passion with his philanthropy. A businessman who benefited from all that his father shared with him, Vernon has set out to offer to other young men what his father offered to him. After his father passed Vernon created the Charles P. Foster Foundation (CPFF) in his honor. The mission of the foundation is to assist African American youth, their parents and family members in leading meaningful, positive, successful lives and becoming productive citizens of society.  Vernon has worked to bring that mission to life by partnering with other people and organizations with a similar vision. He participates in collaboratives, has sought out national funding, and has begun piloting a model of what he would like to create – with others – to benefit young black men in the Bay Area.

For example, in 2001, Vernon donated 51 percent of the revenue from his company to CPFF for the purpose of providing jobs for graduates of the foundation’s Family Restoration Program and to help make the foundation financially self sufficient.

His most recent project is the publication of My Father Said: A Collection of Life Lessons. This book is another way that Vernon carries on his father’s legacy. It is designed for readers of all ages. Through the book Vernon brings to life his father’s message with stories from his childhood with his dad, photos and interviews with those who knew his dad. Throughout the book you will find life lessons from Charles Patrick Foster such as:

  • “Just because you go down the wrong road in life does not mean you can’t turn around.”
  • “If you speak the words, mean them, if not keep your mouth shut.
  • “Boy, here (in America) there is a recipe for everything to be successful. Your problem is you don’t want to follow the recipe.”

Vernon is offering his book as a gift to everyone who makes a gift the CPFF. You give to help advance the mission of the foundation, and the foundation gives you a gift to give to young people in your life. Visit the website at www.cpffoundation.org – give, get and give.

Ed McMahon and black history

Ed McMahon - co-host of the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars

Ed McMahon - co-host of the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars

This week America mourns the passing of Ed McMahon an entertainment giant, household name, and trusted American icon. He is remembered by the general public for his 30 years as Johnny Carson’s side-kick on The Tonight Show, his 12 years as the host of Star Search and his 16 years co-hosting TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes with Dick Clark.

He earned a place in American cultural history. And he earned a place in African American history.

As the creator and producer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Lou Rawls Parade of Stars telethon I want to salute Ed McMahon for his work as the show’s co-host for over 17 years.

From the very beginning Ed lent his name, his prestige and his connections to the telethon. His role as co-host helped UNCF raise over $500 million and helped send thousands of young African Americans to college.

McMahon shared his celebrity, his reputation and his integrity with the telethon. His involvement helped to bring well established non-black entertainers onto the show giving it a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” His continuous role as co-host helped to extend the college fund into white homes who otherwise might have dismissed the telethon – and its important work of raising scholarship funds – as a “black thing.” Ed brought a diverse audience to the telethon. He gave the show credibility. He helped make the education of young black students an issue for all Americans to embrace.

When we wanted to engage a non-black entertainer Ed would make it happen. He would come into a room where we were meeting, pull out his little black book and personally call the entertainers we wanted on the show. He would ask and they would say yes.

You can’t buy what Ed McMahon gave. He was flexible and patient. He never asked for special treatment. He didn’t have an ego problem. He was a consummate professional. You could put a new script before him and he would read his lines as if he had been practicing for weeks.

He was so well liked by all. Of all the hundreds of stars who appeared on the show he was the easiest person to work with. He would spend enormous hours rehearsing. He never complained about all retakes and retaping. His famous line was “Point me where to go and I’ll do it.”

Ed McMahon is part of African American history!