Monday, April 28, 2008

New column every Monday--"The Fundraising Guru," April 28, 2008

“How to raise money in bad times”—for FREE!

When the economy in general is in a funk, nonprofits tend to sing the “woe-is-me” chorus, along with everyone else. But never try to raise money in “bad” times by telling potential donors that’s the reason you’re asking for support. The reason should be obvious: Everyone’s saying it.

Fortunes are made in “bad” times and lost in “good" times. The “times” don’t make your success: You do. So, use the “bad” times to prove to donors and potential donors that you have been and continue to be worthy of their support—a wise investment.

Here are 5 Formulas to make your fundraising successful in “bad” times—for FREE, without your having to spend an extra penny:

1. B x 10 = FT (Energize your board)
--Too many nonprofits have dead wood boards of directors. Use “bad” times to energize your board. Get rid of people who are holding you back. Add dynamos. In the formula B x 10 = FT, B stands for board and FT is your fundraising threshold. Get each of your board members to commit to raising 10 times the amount they personally contribute to your nonprofit. Get their commitments in writing.

2. 1 x 10 = 110 (Create your “circle of 10”)
--The key to successful fundraising is getting doors to key people opened for you. Create a “Circle of 10,” an informal group of advisors who are willing to help you increase your fundraising success—especially by getting you to at least 10 others like themselves: for example, a lawyer specializing in wills and estates, a financial planner, an accountant.

3. 1 x 5 = 6 (Create a tsunami)
--Create a positive tsunami—a marketable idea so compelling donors can’t resist making a contribution.
--The 5 elements of a tsunami/marketing idea are: it is gut-wrenching, turns a negative trend positive, seems doable, makes financial sense, and is measurable.

4. 1 + 1 = 3 (Create desire)
--People always have money for what they want to have money for. But you have to give them “their” reason. That may mean different things for different people. So, be prepared to “read” prospective donors and to vary your approaches.

5. 1 x 365 = $365,000 (Set word-of-mouth in motion)
-- Fundraising is selling—and selling is a numbers game: The more people you reach, the greater your sales. Make sure that people know what they’re “selling.”
--Get people to commit to doing the outrageous—telling at least one other person something positive about your nonprofit every day, 365 days a year.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New column every Monday: April 21, 2008

Donors beware!

South Florida
Charity sues hospital over free bed ... donated 96 years ago

Associated Press

12:24 PM EDT, April 20, 2008


When Louisa Lippitt died in 1912, the wealthy widow left $4,000 to Rhode Island Hospital on the condition the money be used to provide a permanent ``free bed'' for needy patients, to be selected by a favored charity.

A successor to the charity she selected rediscovered her bequest when it dusted off its archives, but the free bed is long gone. Now, Children's Friend and Service is suing to get the health care back.

The hospital says it already provides millions of dollars in free care, but the charity said it needs to do more to fulfill the pledge it made to Lippitt 96 years ago.

``It just seems illogical to me that a quote-unquote 'permanent free bed,' which by its very name suggests that it is to last forever, can somehow not last forever,'' said Mark Swirbalus, a lawyer for the organization.

If it had been modestly invested, Swirbalus said, Lippitt's donation could be worth about $1.5 million today.

On Tuesday, a judge will hear arguments on the hospital's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Rhode Island Hospital was among many facilities, especially in the Northeast, that had ``free-bed funds'' through which donors could set aside a hospital bed for the poor.

In Rhode Island Hospital's case and others, officials say interest from those funds continues to help cover health care costs for people who can't afford them, though not through a specific hospital bed.

Hospital spokeswoman Gail Carvelli said the money donated for free beds was put into a restricted account that pays for charity care, but she could not say how much was in that account or how much of its funds are spent annually.

Swirbalus said Children's Friend does not expect the hospital to set aside a bed that would be available only to the charity's clients. Rather, the charity wants to ensure its clients receive free care in whatever bed they're treated.

Carvelli says Rhode Island Hospital honored its commitment until the charity Lippitt chose stopped nominating patients, though she was not clear when that occurred.

The 719-bed hospital also argues that Children's Friend and Service does not have standing to sue because it did not even exist when Lippitt died and is separate from the charity she named in her will, Children's Friend Society of Providence. Children's Friend and Service says it's a successor of that group _ technically called Providence Children's Friend Society _ and inherited its right to nominate patients when it formed in 1949.

The lawsuit says Children's Friend and Service was established in 1834, though under a different name, and is one of the state's oldest existing charitable organizations. It says it helps about 16,000 people a year, providing services including family counseling, crisis intervention and therapy for toddlers with developmental disabilities.

David Caprio, executive director of Children's Friend, said the group discovered paperwork on Lippitt's free bed while combing through its archives several years ago in preparation for its 175th anniversary.

``It was definitely curiosity. It quickly turned to excitement,'' Caprio said.

The charity sued in November after negotiations stalled over whether the charity had the right to nominate patients to Lippitt's free bed.

Little is known about Lippitt. Court papers say the hospital was raising money at the time by offering permanent free medical beds in exchange for donations of $4,000, and that by 1923 there were 212 such beds.

Other lawsuits have been filed over how hospitals have spent their free bed funds, one of them by the state of Connecticut. That 2003 lawsuit, still pending, alleges that Yale-New Haven Hospital hoarded about $37 million in such funds.

Swirbalus said the charity's case is about access to health care, not money.

Caprio said his group's clients are in especially great need because Rhode Island's budget deficit _ estimated at about $550 million _ has spurred proposals to reduce the state's subsidized insurance program for the poor.

``It's access to health care for some of the neediest and most vulnerable citizens of Rhode Island,'' he said. ``They're our clients.''

Copyright © 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

New column every Monday: Pure philanthropy, April 14, 2008

From The Miami Herald
Posted on Wed, Apr. 09, 2008
Metrozoo's secret angel now in heaven

The slight, elderly man with a shock of white hair first approached Ron Magill a decade ago, quietly pulled him aside and told him he loved Metrozoo. Then he handed Magill a check.
When Magill opened it, he saw that it was for $90,000.

''I thought it would bounce from here to Los Angeles,'' Magill said.
It didn't. A year later the gentlemen handed over another check, for $100,000. There were two conditions: that he remain anonymous, and that Magill, the zoo's communications director, decide how it would be spent.

The man had run a tool company in New York before moving it to Miami and had made out in the stock market with Con Edison and Exxon. His generosity continued, reaching $900,000.

The donor's wife asked that The Miami Herald not use her husband's name, honoring his wish.

When he died in December, at age 95, he had one final gift: a check for $2,307,684.36 that Magill showed off to Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday.

The money will help upgrade the zoo's aging amphitheater.
The check was signed: ``Anonymous Donor.''

Monday, April 07, 2008

New column every Monday: Fundraising on eBay, April 7, 2008

Fundraising on eBay

Listen to Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein talk with Jill Finlayson, co-author of Fundraising on eBay, about success stories of nonprofits that have! It's on WXEL/NPR member station. Click on this link and fast forward to segment 6, unless you want to hear other segments:

Host Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein talks with: 1. Karen Lustgarten—on PR strategy: nonprofits’ sine qua non, most powerful tool, and most neglected resource. 2. Gary Grobman, co-author, Fundraising Online: Using the Internet to Raise Serious Money for Your Nonprofit Organization”—on the plusses and pitfalls of using ASPs (application services providers). 3. Richard Marker, New York University’s Heyman Center for Fundraising and Philanthropy: Fundraising success from the giver’s perspective—on NYU’s unique grantmaking program and Marker’s unique approach to grantmaking. 4. William Halal, futurist,, on how and why nonprofits have to capitalize on the future in the present. 5. Weekly segment from The Chronicle of Philanthropy ( Peter Panepento’s “Blog Beat”—spotlighting his latest must-read online fundraising find. 6. Jill Finlayson, co-author, Fundraising on eBay: Success stories—part one of a three part series on how nonprofits can’t afford not to “do business” the eBay way.