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Patrick Henry Hughes – Inspirational Story

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Inspirational

Priest Aims To Save Flock From Foreclosure

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Offbeat News

He prays for parishioners — and negotiates with lenders on their behalf

Rev. John Lasseigne, center, stands over members of his parish in Los Angeles on June 24. Lasseigne has been helping his parishioners fight foreclosure.

Rev. John Lasseigne, center, stands over members of his parish in Los Angeles on June 24. Lasseigne has been helping his parishioners fight foreclosure.

LOS ANGELES – A priest’s typical mission is saving souls, but the Rev. John Lasseigne has a more down-to-earth goal — saving homes.

That’s like trying to work a miracle in Lasseigne’s Roman Catholic parish of Pacoima, a blue-collar corner of the San Fernando Valley where bank sale signs sprout faster than weeds. One in nine homes is in default, making it one of the nation’s hardest hit towns in the foreclosure crisis.

“We’re talking thousands of foreclosures,” said the 44-year-old priest at Mary Immaculate Church. “I was stunned.”

Lasseigne has gone from praying for parishioners to lobbying politicians and negotiating with lenders on their behalf. His daily discourse is as likely to include talk of balloon payments and negative amortization as Hail Marys and The Lord’s Prayer. Meetings with banks rather than bishops fill his agenda.

Churches of many faiths have responded to the recession by offering credit counseling and job training alongside Sunday school and soup kitchens, and people of the cloth have a long tradition of social activism on many issues.

Graduated from law school

Still, delving into the fine print of mortgage finance may seem highly unusual for someone who will probably never have to worry about buying his own house. Lasseigne, however, is well qualified. Before entering the seminary, he graduated from law school and knew how to read contracts.

That knowledge, a passion for social justice and a priest’s role — in a parish so devout that two Masses are said daily and nine on Sunday, all but one in Spanish — have made him the foreclosure-fighting father.

“Works of justice are an integral part of the priesthood,” the lanky priest said. “We have to take stands in aiding the needy and denouncing the injustices of society. The financial entrapment that was part of this was unbelievable.”

Lasseigne arrived a year ago in Pacoima, a gritty Los Angeles community where 90 percent of the 60,000 residents are Latino. Several families squeeze into shoebox bungalows, gangs roam the streets, and roosters crow in backyards.

Lasseigne learned Spanish in San Antonio, Texas, where he joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate who work worldwide with the poor. He had debating joining the priesthood through college and law school.

He had heard only vaguely about the foreclosure crisis when a parish family asked him to pray for them because they were losing their home. Soon, the story was repeating itself: The dream of homeownership had led his flock, mostly Mexican and Central American immigrants with little money savvy and limited English skills, into murky subprime loans and overpriced real estate.

“These are hard working people from humble backgrounds. They weren’t used to dealing with officials. There was a language problem,” said Lasseigne, one of three priests at the 5,000-family church. “They had a very poor understanding of what they were getting into.”

Hundreds sign up for help

Hundreds of homeowners signed up for help after Lasseigne announced from the pulpit that he had united with nonprofit groups and three other area churches to hold financial workshops. One session packed 1,500 people into the San Fernando High School auditorium.

Lasseigne began working with some 100 families, forming a database with details of their cases, attending homeowners’ meetings and offering counsel. He listened to their dilemmas and sought to allay their fears when they thought they had lost everything.

“I never heard of a priest doing so much to help people,” said Juana Rodriguez, a single mother of four who almost lost her home. “He’s always out there in front of us, leading us. I don’t get frightened anymore.”

At the urging of a broker acquaintance, Rodriguez borrowed the downpayment and principal with adjustable interest for a $272,000 three-bedroom townhouse. Her initial excitement turned to dread when the interest shot up to 10.56 percent and the monthly payment rose from $1,300 to $1,990. Then she lost her job.

With help from the church workshops, she renegotiated her mortgage to a 30-year loan fixed at 5 percent — and landed a new job as a home health-care aide. Now she advises other homeowners.

For every rescued homeowner, however, numerous others were spiraling into distress. The pain of seeing families lose everything they had worked for spurred Lasseigne to find a solution.

Teaming up with One LA-Industrial Areas Foundation and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Lasseigne has lobbied congressmen, councilmen and corporate executives for laws, funds and loan reductions.

‘Adds moral weight to the campaign’

He makes sure he wears his clerical collar to meetings. “I don’t mean to strike divine guilt in their hearts, but it adds moral weight to the campaign,” he said. “I would like to think that they see standing behind me the thousands of homeowners at risk.”

Still, it’s an uphill battle to get banks to reduce homeowner’s loans, Lasseigne’s main goal. Under a plan developed by One LA, homeowners would receive a loan of $25,000 to $75,000 to be paid to the bank, which would reduce the loan principal in line with the home’s current worth, and slash interest to about 5 percent.

It’s designed to help people like stone worker Angel de la Torre, who owes far more on his three-bedroom house than it’s worth and is stuck paying 10 percent interest.

“If I understood, I would never have signed,” said the father of four. “My dream turned into a nightmare.”

He and One LA organizer Tom Holler were successful in lobbying City Hall to ante up $1 million in community redevelopment funds, but banks have been reluctant to reduce the principal.

Lasseigne remains faithful that banks will cede. He and Holler have also lobbied U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., for legislation outlawing predatory lending, and are starting to work in another ravaged area, South Los Angeles.

Homeowners are grateful that even if they can’t get immediate relief, someone is looking out for them.

Jose Hernandez is working with Lasseigne to get his parents out of a financial quagmire. Their purchase of a $488,000 townhouse has resulted in negative amortization — the loan balance is increasing because the monthly interest exceeds the principal payment.

Now, with the priest’s help, Hernandez is trying to get the loan modified. “He’s willing to help and a lot of people aren’t,” Hernandez said.

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YOU Control Your Deliverability — Not Your ESP

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Marketing

by George Bilbrey

From time to time we run into marketers who think that they have deliverability covered because they have signed up with an Email Service Provider (ESP). You’ve probably even seen some ESPs that are promoting their very high delivery rates. This is confusing and misleading, because the ESP fully controls only one of the five major drivers of deliverability failures.

Major consumer mailbox providers and business filtering applications look at five key data points to evaluate the trustworthiness of incoming messaging streams. They are:

1. Well-configured infrastructure: Since spammers typically send email from compromised machines on botnets, they don’t have the access to properly configure these machines. Therefore, badly configured mail servers look spammy and will cause the mail coming from that server to be blocked. ESPs completely control their infrastructure and typically do a fantastic job at keeping them in good working order. Look for your ESP to authenticate your mail with DKIM, SPF and Sender ID. They should also be able to provide you with a reverse DNS address that does not look dynamic. And, they can and should be able to throttle email sends to conform to the ISPs thresholds for how much mail they are willing to accept in a certain period of time. But the absolute most important thing your ESP can do for you is put you on a dedicated IP address. Ask for it and be willing to pay a little extra for it. You don’t want to inherit the reputation of those other mailers that are on your IP address.

2. Complaint rates: When one of our clients runs into a delivery problem, more often than not, it’s high complaint rate that causes the problem. End users at the ISPs are hitting the “this is spam” button at a higher rate on their email. This causes their mail to get rejected by the reputation systems at the various ISPs. The ESP does not control the factors that drive complaints: proper notice and choice at the point of opt-in, relevance of offer, frequency of mailing and sourcing of data are all in the marketer’s control. But your ESP can help you by making sure you are signed up for all available feedback loops and then processing those complaints as unsubscribes.

3. Unknown user rate: Spammers don’t tend to clean their lists of bad addresses. When ISPs see a server sending a high number of emails to unknown users it looks spammy. To avoid looking like a spammer, don’t have dead addresses on your list. Your ESP can help you, by implementing good bound processing that can tell reliably that a dead address is really dead and quickly removing it from your list. But you have control over keeping dead addresses from getting onto your list in the first place. Send a welcome message when someone signs up for your email. You can also implement list hygiene algorithms that prevent the addition of addresses that cannot be good (because they contain typos, or don’t conform to the ISP naming convention, for example).

4. Spam traps: Spam traps, also called honey pots, are email addresses maintained by ISPs or blacklist operators to catch spammers. These email addresses have either never signed up for anything or they are extremely old addresses that have been dormant (and returned a hard bounce) for some length of time. Most ISPs have spam trap feeds of their own or use a filtering technology powered by spam traps or both. How do spam traps get on the lists of legitimate senders? They most often come from mailing to an old list, mailing extremely infrequently (thus hitting those very old addresses) or from using bad data sources. There is nothing your ESP can do to keep spam traps off your list.

5. Content: There are many systems that filter based on content. While content is a less common reason for messages not being delivered than reputation, it is a factor. Systems like Symantec Brightmail, Cloudmark and others are widely used by ISPs to fingerprint messages and determine the reputation of those fingerprints. ESPs clearly don’t control the content of your messages.

Take charge, marketers! Deliverability is your responsibility. And the good news is that you have the skills to rise to this challenge. Good deliverability comes from good marketing. Maintain a good, clean list. If a data offer is too good to be true, beware. Send fun, valuable, relevant messages. And analyze deliverability metrics alongside response metrics so you can assess the true effectiveness of your efforts.

How Not For Profits Can Succeed Online

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits

Social Networking has become extremely popular for one primary reason…  People want to connect.  Social networking sites have given people the ability to exchange ideas and information with other like minded individuals.   They can gather in large or small groups and virtually brainstorm, network, share and gain insights.   The question becomes, how do you harness this activity to benefit your organization?

Jump in with both feet:

When you join a social network, create a profile – but don’t just stop there.  Start a group or join other existing groups.   Sites like Facebook have groups – these groups give people who have a common interest a place to enter into discussions, share links, videos and photos and even promote new ideas.  Finding a group of people who would be interested in your cause is a simple matter of searching.  Let’s say you are looking for a group of people who are interested in helping victims of domestic violence, do a search on domestic violence and check out the groups that come up.  Try these searches:  Museums, Animal Safety, Diabetes.  If a group doesn’t exist that suits your needs… start one!

Do not discount MySpace.  Check out the the MySpace Impact Awards (http://www.myspace.com/impactawards).  The Impact Rewards honor organizations who work to create a positive difference in the world.  It may not win you donation dollars, but it will go a long way to creating trust and recognition in the online community.  The only thing you are required to do is set up a MySpace page for your organization and share your message.

Interact with the people you connect with on a regular basis.  Set aside a fixed amount on time on a daily or weekly basis to log in, check out your profile and share with others.  This is about building relationships.  I doubt that you would walk up to a stranger on the street and ask for support or money.  The same holds true for your online connections.  Let people get to know you and your organization and the trust will come.

Set your organization up to receive donations:

This may seem obvious, but in fact many Not for Profits don’t do this.  Both Facebook and MySpace have charity contribution widgets.  Facebook has Causes and MySpace has teamed up with PayPal to create donation widgets (PayPal account is required).  However, I should note that statistically, the donation amount is smaller ($10 or so) but it is from more people.   This is known as the Long Tail of Fundraising.  You get your message out – it reaches more people who give less but it spreads out (like a tail) over a longer period of time.  In addition ebay has Ebay Giving Works which allows people who are already auctioning items to donate a % to your organization.  Smaller sites like  Network for Good focus on gathering people who are looking to incorporate philanthropy into their lives.

Post Your Events and Invite Connections:

Facebook and MySpace both have public calendars for you to advertise your events on.  Google has one as well.  The advantage is the calendars get indexed in the search engines – just one more way for people to find your web site.

Share… Share… Share and don’t forget your web site:

All roads lead to Rome.  In everything you do your main goal is to get people back to your web site.

Set up a blog on your web site and link it to your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Google accounts.  This allows you to work once and spread the word in multiple places.  There are automated software programs such as twitterfeed (www.twitterfeed.com)  that send your post to twitter.  You can set up your Facebook account to have the status automatically update with your Twitter account.  In addition you can use the Blog Networks or Blog RSS Feeder Applications to automatically import blog posts into your Facebook profile.  I also use Ping.fm to blast out announcements to my Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn status lines.

Let’s assume you have 100 friends on LinkedIn or Facebook.  You send your message out to those 100 people.  Those 100 people then send it to their friends, say another 1000 people.  Those are 1000 people that you would have not been able to otherwise reach.  That is what Social Networking is about.  It will take an investment of time and energy to have it pay off, but it will pay off.

Keep Your Eye on the Conversation:

With the rewards comes some risk:

Reputation Management: Once you unleash the social networking beast, it can be hard to rein in.  You have to keep on top of what is being said about your organization.  Setting up news and blog alerts in Google and Yahoo is a very smart idea  (http://www.google.com/alerts  http://alerts.yahoo.com/).  You can track what is being said on twitter through twitter monitoring tools such as twitter scoop ( http://www.twitscoop.com/)  and other software available online

Not all bad press is bad. If something is constructively critical of your organization, you have an opportunity to correct it.  You can rebut or make right the complaint without hiding it and actually win the trust of those “watching”.

Message Dilution: An organization’s message and purpose can get diluted in the Social Networking arena.  I akin this phenomenon to playing telephone – when the message passes through many mouths and ears, it can be altered.   The reality is, on the web, people are having conversations without the organization or corporation being involved.  This means that you will not always have control over what is being said – and you know what, that’s ok.  Releasing some of the control is not necessarily a bad thing.

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Do you know Bill Tedesco?

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Bill photoBill Tedesco is Founder and CEO of DonorSearch.net, a prospect research firm offering the following services: wealth screening, online research, analytics and modeling. Prior to launching DonorSearch.net two year ago, with twenty years of experience in development, Bill was CEO at WealthEngine, Vice President at Target America, and a major gift officer.



Why did you think the market needed another prospect research company?

After working at Wealth Engine for five years, I realized that although we were finding wealthy prospects for non profits, it just wasn’t enough. Clients would ask questions about the philanthropic history of a major gift prospect and how much a certain prospect had given before. It was apparent that the current prospect research companies couldn’t accommodate all of the clients’ needs and were not giving enough philanthropic history on prospects. The fundraising market was ready for an alternative that focused on philanthropy first, and so I started DonorSearch.net.

Is there anything we may not have anticipated that will be big in prospect research in the future?

Yes, exciting things. Some things to anticipate are integrating multiple internet sources simultaneously and the ability to sort and filter large databases very quickly. Be sure to look for the upcoming changes with DonorSearch.net.

You have family working with you at DonorSearch.net. What is that like?

The best part about working with family is working closely with people I can trust, which is incredibly important to our clients. It’s beneficial when you know you are working with people who share the same values and are motivated to bringing success to the company. Communication is much more fluid, and the drive to get things accomplished is never a question. Everyone is committed to the same team, and makes work a little easier. The only problem is you run out of family and eventually, you have to start looking for other qualified people.

A lot of companies had trouble over the last year with the economy, how has DonorSearch.net faired?

Actually, DonorSearch.net has done very well in the past year and we have continued to grow. We were very fortunate that we introduced a cost effective service as the market for cost effective services grew. When we introduced the philanthropic review, a new approach to prospect research, it was received quickly by many non-profits. Overall, the toughest part in the past year, as well as the sweetest part, has been our accelerated growth and the changes that occur with it. However, the support of our partners and our experienced consultants has been a great factor in our continued success.

Where can interested parties hope to meet you in the next few months?

I’ll be attending the following conferences: CARA conference in Irvine, CA on October 22-23, NAMP, the National Arts Marketing Project in Providence, RI on October 30-November 1, and the PrepAPRA conference in Elizabethtown, PA on November 5-6th. At the PrepAPRA conference, I will actually be speaking about prospect research and development. Be sure to look for DonorSearch.net at other upcoming conferences.

Thanks Bill.

Sincerely,
Brian Lacy
Editor
A Fundraiser’s Friend

Marketing Mindset When Times Are Tough

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Marketing

By Karen Scharf

When the economy gets tough, an ironic thing happens… people stop marketing their business and services. I call it ironic because now is the best time to ramp up your marketing, not cut back on it.

As an entrepreneur, I’ll bet that you, too, are tempted to scale back on your marketing activities. When you’re in unchartered waters, it’s a natural reaction to do what everyone is doing. If you’re new to business, and you see all your competitors cutting back on marketing, you automatically assume that’s the right thing to do.

And marketing when times are tough can feel just plain ol’ “icky”. You see people around you struggling, you hear about job layoffs and house foreclosures and constant doom and gloom, and it feels a little weird to ask people to do business with you.

But that’s because you’re looking at marketing wrong. Instead of a “you give me money” attitude, you need to adopt an “I give you value” attitude.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before – and you’ve probably noticed it yourself – even in these “tough times” people are still spending money. And they’re spending on more than just the essentials. In fact, a few weeks ago when I took a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo, it was absolutely jam packed. There were so many people there, we couldn’t even find a place to sit down at lunch time. We had to get to the dolphin show 30 minutes early just to make sure we could get in. And you can hardly call a trip to the zoo a necessary purchase. In fact, by the time you add up parking, entrance tickets, overpriced lunch, show tickets, souvenirs… it can almost qualify as a luxury purchase.

So why was the zoo so crowded? Well, it was early spring, the weather was starting to get nice, people were looking for an excuse to get out of the house, and the zoo had recently run an amazing advertising campaign. Every other attraction in town had cut back on advertising, so when it came time to choose an activity, the Zoo was forefront on everyone’s mind.

You see, when everyone else around you is reducing their marketing for “budgetary” reasons, increasing your marketing by a mere 10% will make you rise so far above the crowd, there will be no competition. When a prospect needs your services, you will be the only option she considers, since you will be the only option in front of her.

During tough times, you might be tempted to lower your price to make your marketing feel less invasive. But don’t do it! There are so many reasons not to lower your price, I could turn that discussion into an entire book. Rather than focusing on price, focus on value.

The majority of shoppers do not buy based on price alone. Remember, there are many more stores out there that are *not* Walmart. What your customer is really looking for is value.

I heard a great explanation of value given by Don Taylor of Minding Your Own Business. As he explains it, value is like a seesaw. Price is one side and quality and quantity are on the other. As long as you can balance the seesaw, or tip it toward the quality end, your customers will buy.

Your job as an entrepreneur is to create value. And then promote that value. And then promote that value just a little bit more, especially as your competitors are cutting back. You’ll soon rise above the crowd and your business will flourish.

Now, go find some more clients!

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Getting the Most from Matching Gifts in Your Annual Giving Program

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Annual Giving

In matching gifts programs, companies match employees’ gifts to nonprofit organizations like yours.

For example, the GE Foundation, founded the first matching gifts program in 1954 to encourage GE employees to support the needs of its employees former colleges and universities. Since then, companies and their foundations—including the GE Foundation—have broadened their guidelines to include many other types of community-serving nonprofit organizations, social services, the arts, or environmental organizations.

Historically, matching gifts from corporations represent approximately ten percent of the overall money companies donate to nonprofit organizations. With the recent economic decline many companies are closing or restricting their matching programs. Still close to five percent of Americans, and about three percent of Canadians, work for matching gift companies and can grow annual results by pursuing this low hanging fruit.

Statistics compiled by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) indicate that the average higher educational institution receives $30,000 more in matching gifts today than it did in the mid-1990s. Additionally, companies that at one time provided matching gifts solely to colleges and universities are now supporting a variety of causes. In 2003, 38 percent of the 965 companies surveyed by CASE matched gifts to “cultural organizations” as well as educational institutions. By comparison, in 1993, 23 percent of the companies in CASE’s survey matched gifts to cultural organizations.

In order to establish or improve the fundraising potential of your annual fund and broaden development efforts, you should enhance your matching gifts program by:
• Make matching gifts a priority;
• Include matching gifts as a consideration in all development areas;
• Know match eligibility before making appeals;
• Use matching gift incentives;
• Invest in your database;
• Get started now!

For more information on matching gift programming, please visit http://brianlacy.com/mg.html, email brian@brianlacy.com or call (860) 478-9291.
Sincerely,
Brian

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy and Associates
www.brianlacy.com

Email and Fundraising

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Sending email to thousands, indeed millions, of recipients has become common for for-profit business and non-profits organizations.  A few things to consider when deciding how important an email strategy is for your organization and its constituency follow:

1. How current are your records?  Do you have emails on 25% of your donors and prospects email addresses?  If so, you have a good starting point.  If you’re short on addresses in your database, you may want to consider email appending and other strategies to enhance your data.

2. How large is your audience?  Are you trying to reach a few hundred people or many thousands of prospects and past supporters?  With small counts, only email campaigns make the use of color and other exciting visuals possible. With larger audiences, the savings associated with email campaigns relative to direct mail campaigns are enormous.

3.How effective are you at reaching your base through direct mail, by phone and in person?  Should you use all mean available to cultivate and prospect and steward donors?  Because your constituents can receive email any time, and because its use is ubiquitous, effective use of email can only assist use of the more traditional methods.  Email campaigns can stand independently or lift response supporting other appeals.

4. How can direct mail, phonathons and personal visits help you enhance your efforts related to social networking?  Can all three techniques combined, do as much as either email or text messaging independently?  No, they cannot. The immediacy of data and subscription inks within email and text messages make these services stand above more traditional solicitation techniques because we can control and promote our social networks.  I will encourage text message marketing in future issues of this publication.

5. Email marketing can boost your existing efforts.  It likely deserves a higher percentage of your current resources than it receives.  Its relationship to social networking means that the longer you wait to fully engage in email marketing, the further behind you are relatively to your peers and competitors.

If you would like to talk about ideas you have regarding the use email in your work, please drop me at an email at brian@brianlacy.com or giving me a call at (860) 478-9291.  Lots of my best ideas are free for the taking.

Sincerely,

Brian

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy and Associates
www.brianlacy.com

Fundraising During the Economic Crisis Years

October 27th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Fundraising During the Economic Crisis Years

Fundraising during an economic crisis is never easy. The paradox is that the services provided by non-profits are often more needed than ever during an economic downturn. Demand rise at food banks and shelters.  College educations become critical to securing employment.  Laid off workers lose healthcare coverage increasing the number of charitable cases handled by hospitals.  This means that your budgets will be increasingly stretched at the time when your supporters are feeling less able to support you.

Don’t give up.  What you do is so important you need to find ways to be successful.

Here are some things to remember about fundraising during an economic downturn:

Step 1 – Get busy.  Times are tough and people are hurting, but a large percentage of the population still has money to give.  Brush yourself off and start finding out where these people are, both in your database and in your community.  Consider prospect research and prospecting through a co-operative.  During difficult economic times, people are more aware of the suffering and needs of others.  Benefit from this awareness.

Step 2 – Be realistic. There are times when it will be possible to set big goals.  Right now you need to look at what you need – what your organizations costs are.  What is your core mission.  Which prospects will you target and how much can they reasonably give.  Be honest about the whole process.

Step 3 – Treasure your supporters. If you have consistent donors don’t abuse them. Is it okay to approach them?  Yes.  Is it okay to ask for more than one gift a year?  Yes.  Is it okay to bombard them with appeals with acknowledging their support?  Never.  Not even in good economic times.

Step 4 – Get online. Get on Facebook.  Get on Twitter.  Get a webpage with a “donate now” button.  Start an e-mail campaign.  Start text messaging.  The online services are the least expensive ofr development tools and their utility continues to increase each month.

Step 5 – Be proud of your organization.  Be confident and positive when approach donors.  Don’t reflect the downturn in the economy with a downturn in the mood of your marketing. Donors want to support winners that convince them they are making a difference.

Step 6 – Acknowledge tough times.  Carefully managed this can be a selling point as there is broad awareness of the challenges facing the country.  Remember to tell your donors they are helping people.  Be sure you are personalizing your solicitations.

Sincerely,
Brian

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy and Associates
(860) 478-9291
www.brianlacy.com