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Silent Auction Planning

January 23rd, 2010 | 4 Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Careful Planning Ensures Silent Auction Success
By Valarie Minetos

A silent auction’s success hinges on organized, thoughtful planning balanced with an organization’s available resources. In organizing a silent auction, it is critical to assess and determine specific goals from top to bottom.

Have a road map
If you previously held a silent auction, review your results to identify the areas you would like to improve. It this is your first silent auction, be realistic in setting your goals. Once financial goals are defined, consider the ‘soft’ goals. How can your organization’s prestige and profile be enhanced? Are you using staff and volunteers appropriately? How will you recognize donors? Human resource allocation, data, project and time management are all key elements in making your event a success.

Managing volunteers
The chairperson’s role should be that of a manager, focusing on the overall process and delegating resposibilities. Individual strengths and talents should be assessed to recruit the right volunteer for each job. Computer skills, creativity and project management experience are a few of the talents you might look for in your staff and volunteer pool. Ideally, your key volunteers will groom an eventual replacement, so that each person taking an important job will already be familiar with it and with your organization.

Technology tip
A variety of great auction software is now available that can help organize and centralize many tasks and even reduce the number of volunteers needed. Some software packages will enable you to create event materials such as item display signs, live auction bid paddles, an auction catalo, and certificates. Other capabilities might include table assignments, management of ticket sales, reports for event statistics and automated printing of mailing lists, mailing labels and nametags. Do your homework to find out which auction software is best for you and your organization.

Avoiding common pitfalls
Typically, there are two points during a silent auction that will make or break its success. Both points involve information management and processing.

Registration- Effective communication is the key to a smooth registration process. Guests should be told ahead of time about the check-in procedure: Is it by the guest’s last name? By host’s name? Bye the name of their company? You’ll need to establish your policy on ticket purchases at the door and communicate it to potential attendees in your pre-event materials. You should clearly communicate when the auction closes and how the closing will be announced. Be sure to gather credit cared and contact information during registration, otherwise it may be impossible to track down winning bidders who leave the event without checking out.

Checkout- Too often, a chaotic checkout process can spoil what had been an otherwise flawless event. Be sure to schedule plenty of time between the close of the auction and the checkout so you can identify high bidders and prepare invoices for pick-up. Use plenty of volunteers to process guests efficiently and match them with their items. Remember, the checkout is the last impression that guests will have of your silent auction and of your organization!

Valarie Minetos manages sales and marketing for AuctionStar® software package.  For information, visit website www.BarcodedAuctions.com , or call (713) 665-1231.

Running Your Annual Fund with Less Resources ($150)

January 19th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Webinars and other Training

Learn from one of the best in the business as he teaches you how to get the most from your investment in annual giving.  Do more with less where it is possible.  When you must cut, be sure to do it where it will least impact your results.

Brian Kish serves as the assistant vice president for advancement at Salve Regina University, where he oversees all advancement operations including development, advancement services, and alumni/parent relations.  He is also a part-time consultant for Campbell & Company based in Chicago, IL serving both national and international clients in elevating their development, and more specifically annual giving, operations.  Finally, Brian acts as the senior advisor to Integrity Communications in Cleveland, OH as they launch a new telemarketing service dedicated to non-profit organizations.

As a frequent speaker, he has served as chair or faculty on 25 national development conferences and made over 82 professional presentations.  He has been awarded the CASE Crystal Apple for teaching excellence; the youngest person to ever receive this honor.  Additionally, Brian hosts collaborative benchmarking meetings for Target Analytics.

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/763776683

February Webinars

January 19th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Annual Giving, Fundraising

Feb. 2    Running Your Annual Fund with Less Resources

Brian Kish, Asst. VP for Advancement at Salve Regina University

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/763776683

 

Feb. 10   Direct Mail – Get what you ask for!

Scott VanDeusen, Exec. Director of Advancement Programs at St. John’s University

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/944683523

 

Feb. 11    Twitter Your Way to Contributiions

Don Philabaum, President at Internet Strategies Group

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/828464634

 

Feb. 16    Understanding Annual Giving’s Role as a Funnel for Major Gifts

Brian Kish, Asst. VP for Advancement at Salve Regina University

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/112520459

 

Feb. 17   Maximizing the Impact of Your Phonathon

Brian Kish, Asst. VP for Advancement at Salve Regina University

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/352016499

 

Feb. 23   International Prospect Identification and Research

Debbie Miller, Consultant and Presenter at Debbie Miller and Associates

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/915037291

 

Feb. 24    Integrating Alumni and Annual Giving Messaging

Scott VanDeusen, Exec. Director of Advancement Programs at St. John’s University

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/738749642

 

Feb. 25    Increase in Registrations in Your Online Community

Don Philabaum, President at Internet Strategies Group

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/850157034

Facebook Fuelling Divorce, Research Claims

January 14th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted in Offbeat News

Facebook is being cited in almost one in five of online divorce petitions, lawyers have claimed.

Facebook is being cited in almost one in five of online divorce petitions, lawyers have claimed.

Facebook is being cited in almost one in five of online divorce petitions, lawyers have claimed.

The social networking site, which connects old friends and allows users to make new ones online, is being blamed for an increasing number of marital breakdowns.

Divorce lawyers claim the explosion in the popularity of websites such as Facebook and Bebo is tempting to people to cheat on their partners.

Suspicious spouses have also used the websites to find evidence of flirting and even affairs which have led to divorce.

One law firm, which specialises in divorce, claimed almost one in five petitions they processed cited Facebook.

Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online said: “I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was I was really surprised to see 20 per cent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook.

“The most common reason seemed to be people having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to.”

Flirty emails and messages found on Facebook pages are increasingly being cited as evidence of unreasonable behaviour.

Computer firms have even cashed in by developing software allowing suspicious spouses to electronically spy on someone’s online activities.

One 35-year-old woman even discovered her husband was divorcing her via Facebook.

Conference organiser Emma Brady was distraught to read that her marriage was over when he updated his status on the site to read: “Neil Brady has ended his marriage to Emma Brady.”

Last year a 28-year-old woman ended her marriage after discovering her husband had been having a virtual affair with someone in cyberspace he had never met.

Amy Taylor 28, split from David Pollard after discovering he was sleeping with an escort in the game Second Life, a virtual world where people reinvent themselves.

Around 14 million Britons are believed to regularly use social networking sites to communicate with old friends or make new ones.

The popularity of the Friends Reunited website several years ago was also blamed for a surge in divorces as bored husbands and wives used it to contact old flames and first loves.

The UK’s divorce rate has fallen in recent years, but two in five marriages are still failing according the latest statistics.

Mr Keenan believes that the general divorce rate will rocket in 2010 with the recession taking the blame.

By: Telegraph Media Group
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A Sign From Above

January 14th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Cartoons

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Eight Lessons for Working with Female Prospects and Donors

January 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Eight lessons for working with female prospects, donors

A growing body of research suggests that women give in different ways and for different reasons than men. “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” holds true in philanthropy as well as many other areas, according to the latest issue of Perspectives on Canadian Philanthropy from The Offord Group. U.S. partner Martha Keates sums up the differences in these eight lessons for fundraising practitioners:

  1. Women’s leadership in philanthropy is well-established. Many of the female philanthropists a century ago behave just like female philanthropists now.
  2. Women have to be entrepreneurial to get around systemic barriers in their professions and their philanthropy. Keates says that as a result, women find entrepreneurial problem-solving approaches very appealing. Look for ways in which giving to your organization can address their entrepreneurial interests and passions.
  3. Women often work collaboratively and seek the opinions of others. Be sure to include and respect the opinions of those in your donor’s close network.
  4. Women consider volunteering an equal means of giving, so don’t differentiate between giving time and skills and giving money. Getting women involved in your organization is a significant step towards cultivating a major gift.
  5. Women’s volunteering will lead to giving when women see, feel, experience and imagine the change their involvement can make.
  6. Women often control the purchasing power in a household. Whenever possible, include the spouse of a male donor or prospect when you’re cultivating and negotiating gifts. Include the spouses in feasibility study interviews too.
  7. Women value education and are over-represented in the higher categories of giving to top colleges. They will respond strongly to opportunities to support education for women and girls.
  8. A major gift is not just a transaction for women. It is an experience that requires time for reflection.

Six Tips for Collecting and Writing Better Testimonials

January 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Nonprofit communications consultant Merritt Engel says there’s nothing better than a personal, heartfelt story to put a face on a charitable cause. The best stories are testimonials told from the viewpoint and in the words of someone whose life your organization has changed.

It’s not easy to get an effective story, and it must be handled with great respect for the client’s dignity and privacy. But when it works, it’s more compelling than almost anything the organization can say on its own behalf. Here are some of Engel’s techniques for making the most of your chances for great testimonials.

Start with the end in mind

Talk to the program manager first and make sure you understand the context. What is the point, the goal of the story you want to write? Think of the final narrative and then work backwards to the questions.

Don’t call it an interview

You’ll make people nervous. Instead, Engel advises, ask the client if you can chat for a few minutes about the assistance he/she received.

Let the client talk

Begin by thanking the interviewee and putting him/her at ease. After that, says Engel, zip your lips. Keep your questions open-ended; for example, what did the help mean to you? Give people all the time they need to think about the question and respond to it, and don’t be afraid of silence.

Set the script aside

That list of questions mentioned in the first tip is a starting point, not a binding requirement. As you listen to the interview, be ready to change direction, probe and explore.

Get approvals

Give the interviewee a chance to review your draft for accuracy. In Engel’s experience, most make no changes. If there are any problems, you’ll have a chance to work them out before publishing the story. Keeping a paper trail will show that you’ve sought approval and discussed concerns.

Be prepared for anything

Engel cautions that you may encounter hostility, tears and other emotions if you’re interviewing someone who’s recently gone through a crisis. Stay calm, listen and be empathetic, she advises, but never say, I know what you’re going through.

Watching Over the Family Fortune

January 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Offbeat News

FAMILY HOUR MAY NEVER BE THE SAME for thousands of wealthy clans. In the wake of last year’s financial crisis, more and more are signing up as customers of “multifamily offices” — exclusive outfits that promise unbiased advice on investments and legacy planning.

The nation’s 140 multifamily offices, which each serve anywhere from a handful to several hundred families, have been picking up clients from banks, brokerage houses and investment units originally set up for single families. By one count, the average multifamily office increased its client roster by 9% last year.

“It’s a concept that people are starting to understand, and there’s going to be even more awareness and demand,” says Maria Elena Lagomasino, CEO of GenSpring Family Offices, which caters to some 725 tribes.

Multifamily offices aim to be your family’s top-level financial guide, overseeing investments both with them and elsewhere, tending to taxes, paying bills and making sure junior understands his duties as a trustee.

In effect, the firms are replicating the services of traditional single-family offices for a broader audience. While it can take a net worth of $1 billion to justify the costs of a single-family office, multifamily offices typically target folks with $30 million and up.

Some of the firms even offer the perks of a traditional family office. At GenSpring, clients are invited to meet at an elegant, 19th-century townhouse just off New York’s Fifth Avenue. As you and your kin gather around a conference table, you can almost forget that scores of other families are getting the same red-carpet treatment.

TO SIZE UP THE FIELD, Barron’s asked the Family Wealth Alliance, an industry research and consulting firm, to rank the top players. New York’s Bessemer Trust leads the pack in assets under advisement, with $52 billion, while the little-known Geller Family Office Services serves the biggest ac- counts — $278 million on average. The listings appear below and Bessemer is profiled on here.

In general, multifamily offices fared well during the turmoil of the past year. Assets under advisement fell by just 9.2% in 2008 at a sampling of multifamily offices, according to a survey by the Family Wealth Alliance. By contrast, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 34%.

Another telling number: Client attrition was less than 3%. If only the giant banks and brokerages could say the same.

Home office

Maria Elena Lagomasino of GenSpring, at its New York offices. Photo by Matthew Furan

“The multifamily-office model is growing, and attracting wealthy families,” says Austin Shapard, president of Rockefeller & Co. That firm, once the domain of John D. Rockefeller, is now the No. 3 multifamily office in assets under advisement.

The industry does have its skeptics. They argue that multifamily offices aren’t much different from hundreds of other wealth-management concerns that also serve families — from independent money managers to financial conglomerates.

Leaders of multifamily offices insist otherwise. They say their industry is focused more tightly than other providers on the complex, multigenerational needs of moneyed clans. In addition, they claim to be free of the pressures to “sell” any particular financial products, often a complaint about brokerages and banks.

“Families are looking for a firm that has an alignment of interests with them, that they can trust,” says Jamie McLaughlin, chief executive of New York-based Geller Family Office Services.

The industry’s other big selling point is the cost advantage over offices set up for single families. Hammered by market losses last year, many of those concerns have been forced to open their doors to other families, or to close the office entirely and use the services of a multifamily office. (See Penta, Sept. 28, 2009.)

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The situation is akin to what happened to single-family offices in 1974, when the Phipps family, which owns Bessemer Trust, opened its doors to other families in order to help control costs. Rockefeller & Co. did the same thing a few years later, and in 1989, Hap Perry founded Asset Management Advisors, which later became GenSpring. It is now owned by Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks.

When it comes to picking the right family office, wealthy families have a variety of business models to choose from.

The majority of multifamily offices charge according to assets under advisement, according to the Family Wealth Alliance. Fees are often around 1% of assets annually, and decline based on the volume of assets. That would cover investing and certain other services.

Some, like Rockefeller & Co., allow some pricing flexibility, cutting fees for families that want only specific services, such as investment advice.

Others follow a completely different pricing model. Vogel Consulting, for example, a smaller regional concern in Wisconsin, charges by the hour, like law firms. The typical client might pay $180 an hour.

“Our objective is to be absolutely as independent as we can be,” says Rhona Vogel, founder of the firm. “You don’t have to have a long-term agreement, and people can pick and choose the services they need.”

AT HARRIS MYCFO in Chicago, you pay an annual retainer of $200,000 on average for a basket of noninvestment services; a fee based on assets covers investing. “Though we would like to sell you the whole chocolate bar,” says Joe Calabrese, president, “we’ll sell you the wrapper, too, if that’s all you want.”

In other words, picking the right multifamily office depends on the needs and priorities of the family, whether that’s trusteeship, investment planning, educating the next generation, cash management or tax planning.

Perhaps the most important thing is to make sure that the firm you select is truly unbiased. It should be compensated only by client fees, and its employees shouldn’t be rewarded for sales volume. Beyond that, any number of multifamily offices might fit the bill.

“It’s like deciding between a black Bentley and a red Ferrari,” says Tom Livergood, CEO of the Family Wealth Alliance. “They’re both great cars, but it’s a matter of taste.”

Families, start your engines.

Leaders: Give Thanks for Your People

January 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Marketing, Offbeat News

Mike Prokopeak

Between the travel tie-ups and the rush to begin the holiday shopping season, it’s easy to forget the Thanksgiving holiday is intended as a time to give thanks. That message is important for leaders to remember at all times, but especially now when many in the workforce continue to reel from the aftereffects of the Great Recession.

“It is more important now,” said management consultant Ken Blanchard, author of business best-sellers such as The One Minute Manager and the recently revised and updated Leading at a Higher Level. “We’ve lost the trust of our public; we’ve lost the trust of our people.”

Blanchard, who holds the position of chief spiritual officer for The Ken Blanchard Companies, a provider of workplace learning, employee productivity and leadership training, said restoring trust within the workforce begins with developing a leadership point of view.

“What are their beliefs about leading and motivating people, where did they come from, what can people expect of them and what do they expect of people?” Blanchard said. “It’s such a powerful thing, especially when they start to share it with their people.”

This personal leadership mission statement defines a leader’s values and, when used properly, guides his or her future behavior. “Based on that, what are your beliefs about motivating and leading people, then what are you going to do on a daily basis to recalibrate that you’re going to be that kind of leader?” Blanchard said.

But perhaps the most significant part of developing a leadership point of view is the personal and organizational change it can create.

“Leadership is a transformational journey starting with yourself,” Blanchard said. “A lot of times there will be a problem with an organization, and you’ve got a leader who has really never had a chance to look at themselves. Their ego drives their behavior. They think life is all about them.”

Pushing those kinds of leaders to probe and develop a point of view makes them realize the importance of the people around them.

“In quiet moments of reflection, they get that they are here to serve rather than be served,” Blanchard said. “But if they’ve never sat and thought about it, then they get caught up by lousy role models and the pressures of Wall Street and they start to think that leadership is all about them and their concerns.”

Blanchard pointed to fast food company Chick-fil-A as an organization that understands the importance of leadership point of view. The Atlanta-based company even developed a leadership model, SERVE, that is taught to managers of the company’s 1,400 restaurants. SERVE stands for:

  • See and shape the future.
  • Engage and develop people.
  • Reinvent continually, personally and structurally.
  • Value both people and results.
  • Embody the values.

That focus on a leadership point of view and the resulting servant model of leadership is good for Chick-fil-A’s business, Blanchard said. He reports that the company has less than 2 percent turnover, significantly less than similar businesses with a large hourly workforce.

“They’re not even open on Sunday and they kill everybody in the fast food industry in six days,” he said.

Blanchard said Chick-fil-A’s servant leadership model delivers business results and human satisfaction because it brings together the strategic vision — where the company is headed — and its operations — making sure the organization works for its people.

“Having a clear leadership point of view and sharing it with your people shows them that you respect them, you want to be clear with them,” Blanchard said. “They can hold you accountable for that. If you face them and respect them and share with them, then you’re going to have a chance to rebuild trust.”

CLOs can help leaders develop a leadership point of view and implement the models and behaviors that go along with it. The biggest problem, Blanchard said, is that learning leaders too often look for the next great idea.

“We’ve spent too much time looking for the next new management concept, and we don’t follow up [on] what we just taught our people,” he said. “How many diets does it take to lose weight? Only one you stick to. They need to find something that really makes sense, that is consistent with the leadership point of view of their top managers, and drive that through the organization.”

Despite the challenges, now is the time to work on implementing a leadership model and training people to carry it out.

“This is a time not to turn your back on training, but to prepare the people who are still going to be with you in the future to be the best that they can and to have the skills that they need,” Blanchard said.

That result would indeed be something to give thanks for.

Fundraiser’s Atwitter Over New Cash Stream

January 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Social Media

The money to be raised through social networking has some nonprofits seeing green. 

 By Clare Trapasso

When Paige Fogarty signed up to run last month’s New York City Marathon, she did it with the intention of raising money for the American Cancer Society. But instead of just asking friends and family for donations, the 30-year-old lawyer from Astoria downloaded a new fundraising application onto her Facebook page.That Boundless Fundraising application displayed a thermometer showing the amount she needed to meet her goal and made it easy to donate online. More than 80 of Fogarty’s Facebook friends, including some from elementary school, gave to her campaign. She raised almost $4,500.

“At least three-quarters of what people donated to my fundraising fund came from Facebook, easily,” said Fogarty, whose 57-year-old father is battling colon cancer. “The Facebook application made it a lot easier to get the word out, because people could see it centrally located on my Facebook [page.]”

In this rough economy, every dollar counts. Nonprofits of all sizes are learning that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are inexpensive ways to tap into new audiences – and new revenue streams. And although efforts to raise money through these types of sites are still in the early stages, some in the nonprofit world believe that social networks will eventually become key sources of charitable donations.

“It’s a growing trend, but it’s still in its infancy,” said Craig Weinrich, outreach coordinator for the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, about the social media fundraising phenomenon. “This is very similar to when the Internet first came on and e-mail really boomed.”

The majority of the almost 1,800 nonprofit organizations that the committee represents in New York City, Long Island and Westchester are beginning to use sites like Facebook and Twitter, Weinrich said. He believes they are good ways for organizations to reach new people and develop relationships with them. This can eventually lead to donations in the future.

“It will not replace fundraising letters and person-to-person solicitations,” Weinrich said of raising money through social media. But “in the next couple years, nonprofits will figure out ways to make social media a viable fundraising tool for their organizations.”

The American Cancer Society has already begun to explore this idea. It began using the Boundless Fundraising application that Fogarty had put on her Facebook page about a year ago, said Melissa Lee, the society’s Eastern Division Director of eRevenue. The application was successful, because it capitalized on people’s existing social networks, she said. This exposed her group to new audiences.

Most of the donations the society received through Facebook were from first-time givers, Lee said. But the average gift was less than $5.

“It can’t make up the difference in the dollar gap [due to the economy],” Lee said. “But what it can do is help us stay in people’s minds. … The more people who see us, the more impact we’re going to have, and that will eventually translate into dollars down the line.”

That’s what Daniel Buckley, the online communications manager at the Food Bank for New York City, has come to believe.

His organization set up a Causes page on Facebook where people can make charitable donations to his group online. Overall, Causes has raised about $18 million since it was launched in May 2007, Causes’ director of nonprofit relations Matthew Mahan wrote in an e-mail. About 65,000 nonprofits currently use it to fundraise, Mahan said.

In the two years the Food Bank has used it, the group has raised almost $2,600 through the application – without having to do a thing, Buckley said. But that’s not very much cash. “I absolutely believe social networks will become a significant source of charitable donations over time, but they’re not there yet,” he said. “In fact, they’re not even close.”

He’s more excited about how sites like Twitter, and YouTube videos, have increased traffic to the Food Bank’s website. “We almost exclusively use social media as an awareness-building tool and a community-building tool,” Buckley said. “It’s a great place to develop relationships with individuals that hopefully will translate into donor or volunteer relationships down the line.”

Deanna Lee, vice president for communications and marketing at the New York Public Library, would agree that social media is a good way to get people involved in an organization.

Last summer, the library launched an online advertising campaign to combat a looming $28 million city budget cut. The library put a giant red pop-up box on its web page asking people to take action by contacting their local officials and donating to the library, Lee said. At the same time, the nonprofit started a YouTube campaign featuring celebrities speaking about what libraries meant to them.

Almost 10,000 e-mails were sent to city officials during the campaign and about $23 million of city funding was restored. The library also received more than $50,000 in gifts from more than 1,100 donors. About 80 percent of those donors were first-time library donors, Lee said.

“The whole point in using different social media platforms is to tie them together to push them back to the point of action,” Lee said. “Young people don’t want you to just throw information at them. … They want a call to action.”

But not every organization is looking at social media as a way to raise money. A group called Takes All Types is trying to help organizations and institutions like the Coney Island Hospital collect blood donations.

The Brooklyn-based nonprofit builds technology that organizations can use to recruit new blood donors in an area. When that region runs low on a certain blood type, prospective donors receive messages on where to donate on whichever technology they signed up for, said organization executive director Ben Bergman. That technology can include Facebook and MySpace applications or even Twitter and text messages.

“This is the most important new medium on the Internet for nonprofits,” said Sree Sreenivasan, the dean of student affairs at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, who speaks to nonprofits several times a month about how to utilize social media. “I can guarantee you it’s going to continue to grow as an important way in which nonprofits connect with the world around them.”

But he cautioned groups against only using social media to fundraise. “It’s not a broadcast channel, it’s an engagement channel,” Sreenivasan said. “It’s for connecting with your audience, seeing what they’re interested in and answering when they ask a question.”

- Clare Trapasso