Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The best fundraising is selling, pure and simple

“The Fundraising Guru”
Fundraising only gels if you sell well
By Stephen L. Goldstein

I know that people who work on behalf of nonprofits like to think of themselves as doing something for the common good. I know that because, whenever I hold workshops, the first question I ask participants is, “What is a nonprofit?” And invariably, their answers accentuate an altruistic angle. “It’s an organization that serves society,” they say, or one “that helps the needy,” or it’s “a group of individuals who hold events to raise money for worthy purposes.”

The last thing in the world that supporters of nonprofits like to think they are is salespeople; they consider themselves a cut above schnooks selling shoes or used cars. I know that because when I ask my second question—“What is fundraising?”—no one ever answers “sales.” Instead predictably, the answers have a mushy quality equal to the definition of a nonprofit. Fundraising is the “ability to raise capital for an entity,” “stewardship, relationship-building in order to raise funds for an agency,” “an effort to generate funds for a good cause.”

So, it’s time for a major reality check for everyone who works on behalf of nonprofits. From doctors and plumbers to entrepreneurs and artists, successful people know how to sell--well. Fundraising is “nonprofit sales,” pure and simple. If you don’t know how to sell, you’ll never be an effective fundraiser. And if your first reaction to the idea of “nonprofit fundraising as selling” is to hold your nose, you’re probably holding back whatever cause(s) you support. So, here are some basic tips to help you increase your effectiveness in fundraising sales:

1. Selling is the quintessential skill. It’s not about getting others to do something they don’t want to or to buy something they don’t need. At its best, selling is the highest form of communication: It’s about making the perfect match between what you have to offer and what someone else wants. It’s an art.

2. Rejection isn’t rejection. So what if someone says no to you. It’s not the end of your life nor should you punish them on your voodoo doll. Think of how many times you may have said no to someone without meaning any ill towards them—and move on to someone else.

3. Fundraising is not about “the ask,” but about “the listen.” Remember the lyric, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Consider your customers before you chew their ears off about your cause. Too many do-gooder fundraisers have a “prima facie, ipso facto attitude.” They think that all they have to do is blurt out the basics of their case and their prey will open their wallet. Ain’t so! Do your homework: Find out about people you approach. Take an interest in them. You’ll be amazed at how interested they’ll become in you.

4. Commit to selling 24/7. The best/most successful fundraisers even dream about raising money. Fundraising is a frame of mind, an all-consuming passion, not a 9-to-5 job. From a check-out line in Publix to a tuxedo-filled ballroom, fundraiser-salespeople know that there are six degrees of separation—or less--between them and the next contribution they receive.

5. Multiply your donors’ gifts. Donors who are treated well beget other donors. The most successful fundraiser-salespeople know that fundraising only gels if you sell well.
Dr. Stephen Goldstein if the author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and He is the host of the broadcast radio program, “The Forum for Nonprofits” (, which is also available 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Nonprofit Boards Fail "The Fundraising Test"

“The Fundraising Guru”
Nonprofit Board x 10 = “Your Fundraising Threshold”
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 Threshold” (FT) 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 FT establishes the parameters of its ongoing activities, putting it on a reliable, solid footing.

The FT 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 FT, motivate your board to give more—then score a perfect 10!
E-mail your questions and comments to Stephen Goldstein at He’s the author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and the blog You can listen to the radio program he hosts, “The Forum for Nonprofits” 24/7 at

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

For Nonprofits: Fundraising with social media

For immediate release

For Nonprofits Only!
2010 Florida Fundraising Conference:
How to raise more money with Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube & other social media

Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein
Educational Marketing Services
1448 NE 55th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
954-772-7868 Email:

(Fort Lauderdale, FL)—The 2010 Florida Fundraising Conference: “How to raise more money with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & other social media” will be held February 19, 2010 at the Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek, 555 N.W. 62nd Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. Program details, including nationally recognized presenters and registration information, are available at the conference website,

“The full day program is designed to take all the mystery out of using social media for fundraising success,” says Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein, one of the event organizers. “So many people in nonprofits hear all the buzz about using social media, and they genuinely want to get on board. But they don’t know where to start. And while they’re waiting on the sidelines and missing opportunities, others are actually raising money. We’ve designed the conference to give every participant a solid grounding—from the basics to more sophisticated uses of social media.”

Katya Andresen of Network for Good (Washington, D.C.) lays the groundwork for the program. She opens the conference presenting “What to do before you even think of tweeting: The 11 steps to success with social networking and the six most miserable mistakes of social marketing.” Skip Kimpel, author of the forthcoming Social Networking for Nonprofits: Making it work and making it matter, will take participants through a “social networking boot camp”—giving the nuts and bolts of venues from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to others. After that, he’ll reveal his formulas for creating a social networking fundraising strategy. Peter Panepento of The Chronicle of Philanthropy will discuss a number of case studies, proving that nonprofits are using social media for fundraising—with success. Social media consultant Brian Ross Lee will reveal ways to take the guesswork out of using social media by showing how to monitor nonprofits’ success with social media through Google analytics and other programs. And finally, Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein, consultant and author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and, will present “Social media and high tech fail without high touch: How to turn the 7 expectations of social media users into dollars!”

For further information, visit or call 954-772-7868.#

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Peter Panepento The Chronicle of Philanthropy, to speak at Feb. 19 conference on using social media for nonprofit fundraising Feb. 19, Ft. Lauderdale

Peter Panepento presents case studies of successful social media fundraising Feb. 19 in Fort Lauderdale

Feb. 19 Fundraising with Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)

Attention NONPROFITS: At the Feb. 19 day-long conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL on how to fundraise using social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), Peter Panepento of The Chronicle of Philanthropy (Washington, D.C.) will present one part of the program--giving case studies of nonprofits' successful use of social... media for fundraising. He's one of five experts on the program who'll be covering ALL aspects of fundraising with social media. Visit for details--and to register online or by mail.

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