Fund Times

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Philanthropy’s 800-Pound Gorilla June 18, 2013

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Awkward moments define my life. Oftentimes, I cringe at the thought of being put on the spot or having my dirty laundry aired out for all to see. As protective of a tactic as this navel-gazing may be, avoiding the obvious is not the best way to deal with prevailing issues. Philanthropy is no different.

Join me this Friday, June 21st at 12 p.m. EST/11 a.m. CST on Bare Benevolence for an in-depth conversation of how the elite shape philanthropy and its response to social problems. “See” you then!

**In the bathroom when last week’s episode aired? Ugh, talk about awkward. Oh well, click here to find out how stereotyping ruins donor appeals.



People Fund People June 13, 2013

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Join me for this week’s episode of Bare Benevolence where I explore the complexities of appealing to diverse donors. “See” you Friday, June 14th at 12 p.m. EST/11 a.m CST on The Make It Great Network!

**Missed last week’s episode? Click here for “What’s Bloomberg Got to Do With It?”




Announcing My New Podcast! June 3, 2013

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Good afternoon,

I am thrilled to announce the airing of my new weekly podcast, Bare Benevolence on blogtalkradio this Friday, June 7th at 12:00 p.m. EST! In collaboration with the Make It Great Show, I am normalizing the practice of looking a “gift horse in the mouth” and invite you to consider all of the ways that philanthropy is directly impacting the very work that you do in the nonprofit sector. This show will air each and every Friday for 30 minutes right at lunchtime. Consider this your philanthropic “food for thought” 🙂

Thanks in advance for listening, tell your friends and I look forward to “seeing you” on the show!






Do It Afraid March 19, 2013

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This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fenesha Hubbard of The Make It Great Show on BlogTalkRadio.  For those of you who tuned in, thanks for listening. For those that missed it, you can check it out here.


As I shared my personal journey towards the birth of Fund Times, I was reminded of the courage it takes for many of you to fundraise for your cause. Not only do you have to be persuasive, but you have to stare down your own feelings of uncertainty in raising those much needed dollars.  I hope that the information I share in this blog serves to further your efforts towards long-term sustainability.


To those of you who work tirelessly each and every day to cultivate support for your communities, I salute you.  Keep fighting the good fight of “love for all humanity” that ultimately defines what philanthropy is all about.



#hashtag giving December 11, 2012

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Well folks, it’s that time of the year again. For-profit companies are focused on ending the calendar year with a surplus of greenbacks (aka cheddar, cream, dollar dollar bills y’all).  Hence, corporate marketing strategies like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.   This year, a group of nonprofits also decided to jump on the bandwagon by infusing their own money-making trend called #Giving Tuesday.


While I’m all for year-end appeals, I must admit that #Giving Tuesday was like my last massage; it simply rubbed me the wrong way.  As I read the online topics trending around fundraising, I thought to myself, “Self, why on earth would a nonprofit want to ride the coattails of the biggest commercial shopping season of the year?  Did they think that the frenzy around buying the Wii U would somehow translate into equally fuzzy feelings of giving to the less fortunate?”. Turns out, that’s exactly what folks were thinking. 

According to their website, #GivingTuesday’s mission is to “…create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season.”  Created and endorsed by a group of nonprofits and corporations alike, #GivingTuesday is poised to change the thinking of Americans from a mindset of “getting” to “giving” during the holiday season.  Sounds easy enough, right? Not really. I’m inclined to disagree for a variety of reasons:

  • Oversimplifies Fundraising. Truth be told, fundraising is not easy.  While I like to simplify the fundraising process through this blog, it is still hard work.  Not only does raising money for a nonprofit require a solid strategy, but this strategy must happen all year round.  Relegating fundraising to one day is just irresponsible (no matter the intent) and only helps to misrepresent the hard work that is needed to raise money so that a nonprofit is sustainable for years to come.


  • Commercialism Rules. While I would love to see a world were altruism existed wholesale in the minds of mankind, that is just simply not the case.  I mean, have you seen the frenzy that occurs the night before Black Friday? Each year, there are several news reports of people camping out in the parking lot of their local Best Buy for a chance to grab limited supplies of the “next best thing”.  Let’s face it, shoppers love the holiday season just as much as corporations so creating a campaign that promotes giving at the tail end of the shopping season is unrealistic.


  • “If You Build It, He Will Come.” The underlying assumption of #GivingTuesday is if you promote this day, then folks will automatically latch on and significantly change a nonprofit’s bottom line at the end of the year.  Again, this just isn’t the case.  While many nonprofits indeed conduct a year-end appeal, it is often the conclusion of a hard-fought fundraising strategy that began at the beginning of their fiscal year.  This means that new donors are likely not included in a year-end push.  Point blank, #GivingTuesday will not magically result in a crop of new donors.  And if it does, they likely won’t become long-term donors unless you have a strategy to tap them again in the coming year.

What are your thoughts on #GivingTuesday?  Do you know of nonprofits who have benefitted from this trend?


Eating for a Cause October 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — fundtimes @ 8:25 pm

Okay. I usually don’t veer off schedule in my monthly posts.  But, as anal as I might be, I often break the rules in instances that are just too good to keep to myself.  Hence, this post.

So, I get an email from the Washington Post today with a list of upcoming activities in the DMV. I usually skim through them looking for great ideas (read: discount shopping), but today was different. Lo and behold, there was an article about a new cafe opening up in D.C. called, Cause.  This cafe caught my attention not because I love to eat.  Instead, I fell in love with the fact that they donate all of their profits (aside from basic operating expenses) to grassroots organizations.

Where’s the LOVE button?

Anyway, check out their website when you get a chance.  They are making their grand debut tonight, October 24th at 8 p.m.  If you’re in the area, consider foregoing your homecooked evening meal and checking them out instead.  It’s good to know that you can finally fill your belly and give back all at the same time. 🙂


Move the Crowd December 6, 2011

Hip-hop legend, Rakim once rapped that to him, “MC means move the crowd.”  Now before you get the urge to clap to this, you may be wondering what these lyrics have to do with fundraising?  Well, plenty.

Last year, I wrote several blog posts highlighting tips on how to effectively engage individual donors and ask for their support.  When cultivating donors, most fundraisers will tell you that real success occurs when they move a prospective donor from cheerleader to long-term donor.  But, how do you do that without having to purchase an additional (and sometimes expensive) constituent relationship management system (e.g., Raiser’s Edge, DonorPerfect)?

Here are three strategies on moving various stakeholders from fans to funders:

  • Volunteers.  Let’s face it: volunteers are an invaluable asset to any nonprofit.  Not only do they selflessly give of their time and talent to advance a charitable goal, but they are natural “foot soldiers” capable of spreading an organization’s good works.  So, what’s to stop you from asking them for financial support?  Absolutely nothing.  When soliciting a donation from this group, consider segmenting your requests based on their natural interests.  For example, if your nonprofit offers a tutoring program to public school students, you should ask tutors to contribute to your campaign to raise money for school supplies.
  • E-Newsletter Sign-Ups.  Your organization has a monthly e-newsletter.  You’re excited about how large your email list has grown. Yet, it’s not always clear how these folks heard about your nonprofit or why they even care about your mission.  So, how do you work to translate their interest into financial gifts?  For current sign-ups, consider highlighting a specific issue in your upcoming e-newsletter and following up with a direct solicitation explaining how a financial gift could help address the issue.  For new sign-ups, consider making an ask when someone first signs up.  I recently signed up to the email list of the NAACP and the follow up email not only thanked me for signing up, but it directed me to get involved in my local community and become a paying member.
  • Facebook/Twitter.  Someone likes you. Another starts to follow you.  Before you begin sleeping with a knife under your pillow, contemplate how your nonprofit can turn these social media fans into bonafide donors.  There’s no better way to engage these subsets than through an in-person event (aka, tweetups or meetups).  After all, who doesn’t like to mix and mingle over drinks and little crostinis? While it is certainly up to your organization to decide if you want to do a special event for  Facebook and Twitter followers only, my advice would be to simply share a note on both sites inviting these folks to your annual fundraising event.  Whichever method you choose, make sure you pay attention to the names on each list and don’t invite someone twice to the same event ;).

What other strategies would you recommend on moving fans to donors?