Sunday, November 25, 2007

New column every Monday: "The Fundraising Guru"--November 26, 2007

Power-Words Prompt Prosperous Philanthropy
by Stephen L. Goldstein

Every fundraiser knows the shibboleth “People give to people.” But you can’t successfully reach them with any old “words, words, words,” in Hamlet’s lingo. Use powerful bons mots to propel people’s giving and to thank them with panache. Here’s a selection of particularly potent, pre-packaged phrases for solicitation letters and thank-you notes that you can massage to your advantage in your own text.
Sharon K. Yntema: “You are rich enough to give small amounts of money to worthy causes when you can buy all the groceries you need.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”
Sanskrit proverb: “He who allows his day to pass by without practicing generosity and enjoying life’s pleasures is like a blacksmith’s bellows—he breathes but does not live.”
Friedrich Nietzsche: “Nothing ever succeeds which exuberant spirits have not helped to produce.”
Ancient proverb: “One hand cannot applaud alone.”
Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Simone de Beauvoir: “That’s what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”
Marya Mannes: “Generosity with strings is not generosity; it is a deal.”
Confucius: “To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.”
Sir Francis Bacon: “In charity there is no excess.”
Scottish proverb: “Charity begins at home, but shouldn’t end there.”
Thomas H. Huxley: “I have no faith, very little hope, and as much charity as I can afford.”
Jewish proverb: “If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.”
Stephen L. Goldstein: “Angels rush in where fools fear to tread.”
W.J. Slim: “When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take, choose the bolder.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “The lamentable difficulty I have always experienced [is] in saying ‘no.’”
Herman Melville: “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and along those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Albert Pine: “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Sydney Smith: To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in, and scramble through as well as we can.”
Phoebe Low: “Someone said of nations—but it might well have been said of individuals, too—that they require ‘something sufficiently akin to be understood, something sufficiently different to provoke attention, and something sufficiently great to command admiration.’”
Kevin Kelly: “The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.”
W.M. Paxton: “Ideas go booming through the world louder than cannon. Thoughts are mightier than armies. Principles have achieved more victories than horsemen or chariots.”

Send your questions and comments to Stephen L. Goldstein at He is the author of the nationwide bestseller, 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and He also hosts “Fundraising Success” on 90.7FM, WXEL/National Public Radio throughout South Florida, Sundays 7 to 8 p.m., and available from anywhere in the world by anyone with Internet access or its equivalent 24/7 at

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New column every Monday: "The Fundraising Guru"--Nov. 18, 2007

Keep everyone on your ‘donor recognition ladder’
by Stephen L. Goldstein, consultant and author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising

Successful fundraisers know that they are not just in the business of finding generous donors, but of genuinely thanking them. You can judge a nonprofit by the way it shows how much it appreciates every gift, large or small—from cash to gifts-in-kind and volunteers’ time.

Every nonprofit needs a well-runged recognition ladder so potential donors know up front how they will be honored: their name on a wall, in a publication, or on the front of a building; VIP treatment at special functions; nothing but a mention in your annual report.

Turn your donor ladder into a marketing tool that helps you raise more money. After you close the books on your fiscal year, list every donation you’ve received in one impactful, not overly expensive, publication. Include pictures of donors and their testimonials about how good they feel supporting your organization. Show compelling photos with captions telling how well donations are being used. Under each giving category and before contributors’ names, mention the good things donations make possible.

Include a gifts-in-kind category. A donation of a computer or piano saves your having to spend money and is as worthy of recognition as cash. Create a category to credit volunteers’ contributed time. People who answer your phones and donate their services save you money. Put an hourly dollar value on volunteer time and recognize people accordingly.Most contributors are pleased to be honored. But, afraid of being inundated with solicitations, some don’t want any recognition. Give them the option of being anonymous.

No good deed goes unpunished. As hard as you may try to make your donor list accurate, inevitably, names will be omitted, garbled, and miscategorized. One fundraiser told me that she always intentionally had her name botched in her “Donor Honor Roll.” That way, when contributors complained of errors, she could apologize and (she thought) lessen their ire by showing that it even happened to her. It’s far better to be compulsive, contrite, and prepared to publish corrections.

Create a meaningful recognition ladder. The more generously you say “Thank You” to everyone, the higher they’ll be inspired to climb it.

E-mail your comments and questions to Stephen Goldstein at

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New column every Monday--"The Fundraising Guru": Nov. 11, 2007

Follow Up, Keep Track, and Always Look Back
by Stephen L. Goldstein, consultant and author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising

The best fundraisers relish the past and think long-term. They know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, persistence pays off--and that they can’t get ahead unless they know where they’ve been. Mega-fundraisers chant the mantra “Follow up, keep track, and always look back.”

Follow up: Don’t send potential funders your proposal, thinking you can just sit back and wait for them to respond. Submitting it is only a step in a multi-phase process of communication and cultivation that is likely to last far longer than you might expect--or want. Judicious follow-up is crucial, no matter how solid and worthy you think your project may be. Always follow a polite strategy. Keep in touch with potential funding sources without being over-anxious or obnoxious.

Follow up: Don’t think of rejection as a door’s closing forever on your possibilities for funding. Look upon a “no” as a temporary setback, at worst a detour. There are any number of reasons why you may have been turned down, none of which may have to do with the worthiness of your proposal. For example, major funding sources have timetables, according to which they make grants. Until you get into the cycle of their giving program, even your deserving project won’t be successful. When you hear, “Sorry, but you’re too late for this year,” think, “that makes me way ahead of the game for next year.”

Keep track: It takes years to build a meaningful relationship between an organization and its contributors. Don’t ruin it by neglecting the simple things--like maintaining accurate addresses and knowing who died. Show that you remain interested in people, even after they’ve given you a donation--and not just to solicit them for more money.

Keep track: Maintain an up-to-the-minute, impeccable record of how you have spent every penny of donated money. If you are ever successfully challenged on how you used contributions, you’ll never raise another dime. Keep your promises to donors. Trust once broken can seldom be reestablished.

Look back: Keeping accurate records is not an end in itself, but allows you to analyze your data for meaningful patterns in giving to your organization--percentages of larger versus small gifts and other trends that will enable you to learn from one fundraising cycle to another.

Look back: Ask most people how much they want to raise for a given project, and their first answer is likely to be “as much as possible.” In other words, they have no realistic expectations and are setting themselves and others up for frustration. No matter how much money is raised, it will never seem to be enough. Even if your organization is small, write a formal, narrative analysis of who gave, how much they gave, how they wanted their contribution used, and in what form they made their donation. Use your report to establish benchmarks and goals to increase your future success.

The most effective fundraisers are different from today’s here-today-gone-tomorrow, throw-away world. They follow up, because they care about what they have done. They keep track, because they want to learn from what they are doing. They always look back, because they understand that the only way to go as far forward as they possibly can is to see where they--and others--have been. Happy chanting!
E-mail your comments and questions to Stephen Goldstein at

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New column every Monday: "The Fundraising Guru"--Nov. 5, 2007

Mirror, mirror, on the wall . . .
by Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein

. . . who’s “the greatest” fundraiser of them all? You, of course — potentially.
No matter how major or minor your relationship to a nonprofit may be--board member, volunteer, donor, or staff member--you “make it happen.” Successful fundraising relies upon the power of one person and another person and another person to energize others to support a compelling idea. There are no bit players.

So, here’s a self-test to help you find out what your mirror tells you about yourself as a fundraiser.

On a separate sheet of paper, list what you think are your five greatest strengths as a fundraiser. (Don’t be modest. There will be plenty of time for that later.)

Now, list what you think are your five greatest weaknesses as a fundraiser. (Don’t go easy on yourself.)

Now, rate yourself on the following “benchmark” fundraiser-qualities from 1 (not good) to 10 (I could write my own book on fundraising):

1. I am willing to change and be flexible:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

2. I know how to create an idea that makes people want to donate:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

3. I know how to develop materials that “sell” a fundraising idea:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

4. I can inspire others:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

5. I am able to establish a network of supporters:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

6. I am systematic:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

7. I am persistent:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

8. I listen and observe, know how to size things up:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

9. I assume responsibility for everything I do:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10. I am eager to ask for donations:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Total your score: _____

Are you pleased with your reflection in the mirror? If not, write how you think you could enhance it in each category.

Need help? Call Stephen Goldstein at (954) 772-4455 or e-mail him at