Sunday, February 24, 2008

New column every Monday: "The Fundraising Guru"--Feb. 25, 2008

Nonprofit Board x 10 = “Fundraising Quotient”
by Stephen L. Goldstein

Ask (too) many people associated with (too) many nonprofits how much money they think they can raise in a fundraising cycle and usually they’ll smile and answer, “As much as we can.” How silly!

Typically, nonprofits operate on a wing-and-a-prayer and live out of hope—that “the money will somehow come.” After all, they think, “we’re doing good so somehow good things should happen to us.” Right!

In addition, my guess is that even if they know better, most nonprofit boards resist anything to do with establishing realistic goals for fear of under-motivating paid staff. Even worse, too often, when boards put a number on how much they need or want to raise, they set an unrealistic, “stretch” goal. Then, having set pie-in-the-sky parameters for their success, they give marching orders to paid staff to meet it. And staff are afraid to challenge their board’s unrealistic expectations.

In other words, fundraising is typically based upon unrealistic assumptions and expectations. No one thinks that there may actually be a formula to apply to answer the question, “How much money can we raise?”

So here is a standard against which every nonprofit can set a realistic yearly fundraising goal. An organization’s “Fundraising Quotient” (FQ) is equal to the amount of money its board personally donates annually times 10. In other words, if the board of nonprofit X collectively contributes $100,000, it is reasonable to expect that it can raise $1 million yearly.

Of course, in some years, an organization may have a windfall—a major gift from an estate, for example. That’s always good, just not predictable. By contrast, an organization’s FQ establishes the parameters of its ongoing activities, putting it on a reliable, solid footing.

The FQ formula is based upon two important assumptions. First, the board of every nonprofit must understand that it is the key the organization’s successful fundraising. The bucks begin and end with them. As fiduciaries, board members are responsible for their nonprofit’s financial health and well-being. They are its prime fundraisers. Paid staff guide and assist them in their fundraising role; they cannot and should not replace board members as prime fundraisers.

Second, board members “worth” anything should be able to get at least 10 others to donate as much as they do. Of course, they may have to approach many more than 10 people to reach their goal, so they have to be willing to pull out the stops. They agreed to be on the board presumably because they were committed to the mission and goals of the organization. So what’s the big deal?

Before even considering making a major gift, potential donors should ask the board member asking them how much he or she gives, how much the board donates as a whole, and at what levels board members give, without naming names. The reason is simple: Why should a potential donor bankroll an organization, when the people who are supposed to be committed enough to it to be on the board don’t ante up?

So, to increase your fundraising goal, determine your current FQ, motivate your board to give more—then score a perfect 10!

Send your questions and comments to Stephen L. Goldstein at He wrote the nationwide bestseller, 30 Days to Successful Fundraising. This column is posted on his blog, Goldstein also hosts “Fundraising Success” on 90.7, WXEL/National Public Radio, Sundays 7 to 8 p.m., and available from anywhere in the world 24/7 at Plus, he hosts “The Forum for Nonprofits” on WSBR and WWNN, available 24/7 at

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New column every Monday: February 18, 2008

from The New York Times
February 16, 2008
Running From Despair
SANTA FE, N.M. — On a cold Saturday morning last month, 16-year-old Chantel Hunt ran across a highway onto a gravel road where the snow under her shoes packed into washboard ripples. She ran around a towering red rock butte, past two old mattresses dumped on the roadside, and into the shadow of a mesa she sometimes runs on top of.

Hunt, a high school junior and a resident of the Navajo Nation, was on a short training run for the national cross-country championships being held Saturday in San Diego. Her team, Wings of America, has risen to prominence with an unlikely collection of athletes. It is a group of American Indians from reservations around the country, and a Wings team has won a boys or a girls national title 20 times since first attending a championship meet in 1988.

“You say Wings of America to anyone in the running community — it’s synonymous with the best Native American runners,” said Eric Heins, the cross-country and distance coach at Northern Arizona University, a program that has benefited from having Wings runners in recent years.

American Indians have especially high rates of youth suicide, Type 2 diabetes and deaths attributed to alcoholism, and extreme poverty is pervasive on many reservations. Wings of America, a 20-year-old nonprofit organization based here, has embraced the challenge.

“The hardest part is getting people to understand, to make the case how important it is,” said Anne Wheelock Gonzales, the organization’s former executive director who now serves as a consultant. “One time someone said, ‘Well, it’s not like you’re saving lives.’ And I said: ‘Excuse me, we are saving lives. That’s exactly what this does.’ ”

Dillon Shije, another member of the Wings team who will be competing Saturday, runs 60 to 70 miles a week around Zia Pueblo, near Albuquerque. He zigzags between junipers and cactuses on trails, and he sometimes runs five miles up an arroyo.

“Those are typical running trails all over the reservations,” said Alvina Begay, 27, a former Wings runner who will compete in the United States women’s Olympic marathon trials in April.
Shije, a 16-year-old high school junior, commutes an hour each way to attend Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque. In the winter, when the light is short and his training regimen requires running before dawn and after dusk, Shije will run while his mother drives behind him on dirt roads with the headlights on.

“Sometimes I need the extra push from the car,” he said. “The honk.”

In the Navajo Nation, where Hunt lives, many of the statistics concerning health problems are even higher than for the overall numbers for American Indians. A study in the American Journal of Public Health showed that nearly 15 percent of youths in the Navajo Nation in grades 6-12 had attempted suicide. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40 percent of adults ages 45 and older had Type 2 diabetes, and that the rates were increasing among children.

“There’s this element of historical post-traumatic stress that’s occurred in Indian communities,” said Dr. Chuck North, the chief medical officer for Indian Health Services. “The history of Native Americans in the United States is one of loss: losing land, losing language, losing culture and losing family members.”

More than 180,000 people live on the Navajo Nation, which spreads over 27,000 square miles in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. Unemployment hovers at about 40 percent. More than three-quarters of the 6,184 miles of roads are not paved. Roughly half the homes lack plumbing.

Hunt lives on reservation land about 15 miles from Navajo, N.M., in a small two-bedroom house at an elevation of about 8,000 feet. Navajo has about 2,100 residents, and 64 percent of the families are below the poverty level. Her family drives into a town called Crystal each week to fill a 1,000-gallon cistern with water. They chop and haul wood in the winter to heat their home.
“We camp year-round,” said Delores Hunt, Chantel’s mother.

The Navajo culture centers on strong women. The Navajo believe that Father Sky and Mother Earth gave birth to Changing Woman, a deity who has the power to change her age with the seasons by walking to the horizon. When a Navajo girl comes of age and has her first period, the community celebrates with a rite of passage called the Kinaalda. For four days, the girl re-enacts the role of Changing Woman, waking up before dawn and running east, toward the sunrise.
The longer a girl runs, the longer she will live.

“You build up your strength by running,” said Mary Willie, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona and the coordinator of its Native American Languages and Linguistics program. “You are also reflecting back what the Navajo people value: being responsible, being able to take care of yourself and your family, hard work and perseverance.”

Wings holds a high school coaching clinic and about 30 youth summer camps each year. Hunt was a facilitator at one of the camps after eighth grade.

Hunt played traditional games with large groups of young children and talked to them about avoiding drugs and alcohol, and about eating healthy. But even with education, the ability for families to change their diets is difficult because extreme poverty and remote living conditions can make obtaining fresh food difficult.

“Sometimes we go to areas and kids have never seen a fresh avocado,” said Kelly Concho-Hayes, a consultant for Wings. “One summer ago, a kid said, ‘Tomatoes are bright red?’ ”
Many runners who go through the program end up as teachers, coaches and health professionals. This year’s girls coach, Jill Jim, attends the University of Utah, where she is working toward a master’s degree in public health and health care administration.

Hunt said she started running year-round in ninth grade, “because I decided I’d have a better chance of getting scholarships and being noticed.”

She ran old logging roads through pines, on the packed dirt trails her grandparents herded sheep over, on game trails carved by deer, and through aspens to the top of a roughly 9,000-foot peak.
She said her older brother, Arvid, pushed her. They ran on clay roads past other remote homes, saving energy for sprints.

“That dog on the side is the one we watch out for,” Arvid said as he pointed at what looked like a pit bull mix. “We save our energy so when we come through here we can do a speed workout for a half-mile.”

Hunt’s experience at the Wings camp was a boon to her high school cross-country team at Navajo Pine. As a freshman, she was the team’s top runner, and at a meeting halfway through the season she challenged her teammates to work harder.

“That transformation in the team came from the transformation in Tails,” said Tim Host, one of Navajo Pine’s coaches, referring to Hunt by her nickname.

The team did not win the state title that year, but it did the next two. Hunt led the team each time with top-five finishes.

In six years, Navajo Pine’s two coaches, Host and Gavin Sosa, have seen the cross-country team grow to about 45 from 12, with the boys winning three consecutive state titles and the girls winning two in a row.

During the state finals in the two-mile her freshman year, Hunt recalled, she fell to sixth place and became frustrated. “I just got tired, and asked myself: Why am I doing this? I don’t have to,” she said. “And I said, No, keep going, keep going.”

Hunt, wearing a blue uniform, passed one girl after another on the last lap. In the final 100 meters she had one girl to beat, Cassandra Sanchez from Acoma.

They started sprinting around the corner. “The crowd was cheering,” Hunt said. “It was a head-to-head race.”

Having watched “Chariots of Fire” multiple times, Hunt said, she knew what to do. “I was pumping my arms, and I could hear Cassandra breathing,” she said. “And right at the end I leaned.”

After throwing her weight forward without fear, she heard the race official say: “Blue’s got it. Blue’s got it.”

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Monday, February 11, 2008

New column every Monday: "The Fundraising Guru"--Feb. 11, 2008

Dr. Stephen Goldstein hosts another radio program for nonprofits!

Like all savvy over-the-air radio today, "Forum for nonprofits" is available 24/7 from anywhere in the world--because it's hearable on the Internet.

Forum for NonProfits ( is America's most dynamic new cutting-edge venue featuring today's most active charitable organizations. Our weekly 30-minute radio show and podcast highlights the events, happenings, and fundraising activities of the premiere nonprofit organizations in the country.

Join us every week as we feature guests, prominent leaders and corporate officials who will help you to get involved in helping your community and your country. Be sure the check the archive section for a list of our most recent shows. If you would like to feature your organization on the program, please


Monday, February 04, 2008

New column every Monday: "The Fundraising Guru"--Feb. 4, 2008

Fundraising Ethics 2: Can YOU answer the question, "When do YOU have the guts to blow the whistle?"
by Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein, author of the bestselling 30 Days to Successful Fundraising (available at and host and executive producer of "Fundraising Success" on WXEL/National Public Radio (available 24/7 at

Ethical is as ethical takes responsibility for preventing or cleaning up an unethical situation. But who's got the guts?

First, some observations about unethical behavior from an Associated Press article of Jan. 29, 2008 by Pete Yost. They create a backdrop to the kinds of situations in which fundraisers may find themselves--along with the kinds of questions they too often need to answer:

1. "Overall, three out of five government workers acknowledge witnessing violations of ethical standards, policy or law over the past year, according to a survey released . . . by the Ethics Resource Center. The Washington-based nonprofit research group has studied organizational ethics trends for several decades.

2. "At the local level, 63 percent of government employees observed at least one type of misconduct, ranging from abusive behavior by superiors to bribery. At the state level, the comparable figure was 57 percent; at the federal level, 52 percent.

3. "The trend lines in government point toward more misconduct in the future, not less, said Patricia Harned, the center's president.

4. "The center says 30 percent of the incidents go unreported and there are too few systems in place for combatting misconduct when it is exposed.

5. "One reason for the low reporting figure is that 17 percent of employees who did report misconduct said they experienced retaliation. One in four government workers believe that leaders tolerate retaliation.

6. "The state of ethics in the public and private sectors is comparable, in some cases worse. For example, the study said that 8 percent of those surveyed reported witnessing alteration of documents; a similar survey among private sector workers showed 5 percent of business employees had witnessed such misconduct.

7. "The center says the proven solution to the problem is what experts in the field refer to as a strong ethical culture. When employee believe that leaders can be trusted and when supervisors set a good example of ethical behavior, misconduct is reduced by 52 percent and retaliation is as much as 89 percent lower, the survey found.

8. "The problem, however, is that less than one in five government workplaces have comprehensive, well-implemented ethics and compliance programs.
The center's findings were based on polling 774 government employees, 1,929 business employees and 558 nonprofit employees.

So, the questions for this week are: "Do you have the guts to blow the whistle on unethical behavior? And if yes, when would you?" Email your comments and questions to Stephen Goldstein at