Sunday, July 29, 2007

"The Fundraising Guru"

Nonprofits can do their best marketing—for free
By Stephen L. Goldstein--consultant, author, and host of "Fundraising Success," a weekly radio program, streamed on the Internet and podcast from WXEL/National Public Radio

I want to spread the word about a book about spreading the word. It busts nonprofits’ “we can’t afford to do the marketing/PR/publicity that we need to do” mantra—the self-defeating, poverty-perpetuating, too-often-believed rhetoric that keeps them stuck in a rut of their own making. In 184 jam-packed pages, it proves that using your smarts always trumps spending your bucks. It’s sine qua non reading for nonprofits that really want to succeed.
Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz is literally God’s gift to nonprofits. It even shows you how to create “a practical word of mouth marketing plan.” Subtitled “How Smart Companies Get People Talking,” its wisdom is directly applicable to the plight of every “community focused” organization. In Sernovitz’s words: “Word of mouth marketing works for . . . causes, ideas, charities, and organizations—anything that you want people to talk about.” Blissfully, it’s the non-money way to raise money.
Sernovitz defines word of mouth marketing as “everything you can do to get people talking”—with a marketing objective. In other words, it’s not just talk; it’s as “actionable, trackable, and plannable as any other form of marketing, just no-cost or low-cost.”
Obviously enhanced by morphs of the Internet—blogs, web sites, streaming audio and video—word of mouth marketing is predicated upon a concept as old as the proverbial hills: stellar customer service and products that make people want to tell everyone they know about you. As Sernovitz puts it, “Nothing beats coming up with a product so interesting that people just can’t help talking about it.”
Besides its cost-effectiveness, Sernovitz also points out that word of mouth marketing is “made for” nonprofits because they rely so heavily upon groups of supporters committed to their missions.
There are four rules of word of mouth marketing and three reasons people talk about you. For example, Reason #2 about why people talk is especially fascinating. It turns out that people really want to talk—to look smart, to help others, to feel important, to express themselves. In other words, all nonprofits have a built-in salesforce, if they are committed to giving it a reason to be energized and “sell.”
You’ll get the inside dope on the Five Ts of word of mouth marketing--the keys to getting it going, keeping it running, and assessing it. The #1 T is Talkers. You need to find people who will talk about you. Sernovitz tells you how to identify the seven most common types and how to put them to work for you. (They may not be who you think they are. For example, in his afterword to the book, Guy Kawasaki points out that your most powerful word of mouth advocates may be new to your organization. They may be the most excited about it, as opposed to those who know and are used to you!)
Number 2 is Topics. You have to know the art of giving people a reason to talk. Number 5, Tracking, shows you how to measure and understand what people are really saying about you.
Sernovitz invites you to check out the website that goes with the book: It’s full of ideas, examples, and resources to help you master word of mouth. The site and the book are must-reads. Take my word for it.

E-mail your questions and comments to Stephen Goldstein at He’s the author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and hosts “Fundraising Success,” a weekly, one-hour broadcast and Internet radio/podcast from WXEL/National Public Radio, hearable at any time from anywhere in the world at

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fundraising Success: July 22, 2007

"Fundraising Success" is a production of WXEL/National Public Radio member station
Host Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein talks with:
1. David Lees, nonprofit fundraising consultant: How to write a case statement, Part 2—“Applying the ‘so what?’ test to your success.”
2. Larry Butler, Maguire Associates (Concord, MA), Part 2—Noble Calling/Telemarketing Series, “Surefire insiders’ tips on ‘making the successful opening’ and ‘overcoming objections’ when fundraising on the phone.”
3. Holly Hall, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, A report on the Giving USA Report—“How much are Americans donating? Are they more generous or less? What do the trends mean for you and your fundraising success?”
4. Fundraising News & Views from important sources: Dr. Stephen Goldstein.
5. Phil Smith, major contributor to microcredit efforts and co-author with Eric Thurman, of A Billion Bootstraps: Microcredit, Barefoot Banking and the Business Solution for Ending Poverty—Part 2 on how he “uses his money wisely” to break the cycle of poverty by making contributions to nonprofits that provide loans of tiny amounts of money.
6. Bruce Trachtenberg, Executive Director, The Communications Network, “Foundations are your friends”—How to make and keep them
WXEL 90.7FM is licensed to the West Palm Beach market. Log on to for a live webstream of radio programming including NPR programming and for more information.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Fundraising Success" Internet Radio/Podcast: WXEL/NPR member station

“The Fundraising Guru”
Giving Circles: Grassroots Revolution in Philanthropy
by Stephen L. Goldstein

Recently, I spoke with a number of people around the country about “the giving circles explosion—the nationwide trend revolutionizing grassroots philanthropy. “Circles” are groups of small donors who pool their contributions and then collectively decide how to donate them. Men and women who never realized how they could multiply the effect of their donations have been transformed through their involvement in giving circles. (All of those interviews are available at, the worldwide platform of my radio show on WXEL National Public Radio, to which you can listen at any time.)

I was especially thrilled to talk with people who are members of giving circles, because they are remarkable and unassuming--at the same time. A lot of people talk about what’s American. I would propose that giving circles are quintessentially us: average, socially conscious, generous people—who don’t have to be billionaires--come together to give their money to make life better for everyone. In community after community, they are shaping their circles to reflect themselves.

Facts and figures about the success of giving circles speak for themselves. There are thousands of them in 44 states and Washington, D.C. A third of the groups have been formed in the past two years. Beth Schwinn’s article on them in The Chronicle of Philanthropy ( reports that circles gave away an estimated $13 million in grants in 2006 and a total of about a phenomenal $88 million since 2000.

Schwinn’s piece is based upon the report, “More Giving Together: The Growth and Impact of Giving Circles and Shared Giving” from the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Collaborator on the report, Daria Teutonico, happily told me that “giving circles are here to stay.” (I would suggest that their success is at least partially because of their flexibility. The beauty is that there is no rigid formula for them: some have just a handful of members, others have hundreds. In some cases, circles have agreed upon giving a set amount of money, but others don’t. The full report is available free at

I was inspired, talking with Rebecca Powers of Impact Austin (, a giving circle of 416 women that just donated $416,000 to four local nonprofits. Natasha Gore, of The Fondue Fund ( in North Carolina, has just 15 members. It is committed to “double-empowerment”: It first empowers the young women in the circle by multiplying the effect of their donations, then empowers other women by making its grants to organizations that serve them. It has raised $14,000 in a year-and-a-half.

Christine Jordan, of the Zawadi giving circle (, and her 13 African-American colleagues in New Orleans have raised $24,000 in less than two years to create long-term improvement in the quality of life for the African-American community. Ana Gloria Rivas-Vásquez of Smart Women with Spare Change (, a giving circle of Latina moms on Key Biscayne, Florida teaches women about making money--and, at the same time, giving it away to nonprofits. Darrell Lester, founding partner of Hindsight Consulting, has helped start nine giving circles. He is quick to point out that they are “not for women only.” (Nationwide about 47 percent include men.)

The final word on giving circles is how powerful it is for people to come together for a greater purpose. What goes around a giving circle, comes around to the benefit of everyone.

Stephen L. Goldstein is the author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and the host of “Fundraising Success,” available at any time on the worldwide platform of WXEL National Public Radio. Email him at

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