Jay Love, on 9/27/13 5:52 AM
Chuck McLean, on 9/25/13 6:44 AM
Generally, the IRS limits lobbying by a public charity to what is called an “insubstantial” amount of its overall activity. Because the meaning of that word is obviously open to interpretation (and disagreement), over the past 40 years, Congress has attempted to clarify what is or is not considered excessive lobbying.
Lindsay Nichols, on 9/23/13 7:05 AM
On September 10th, we held the webinar “Finding Funding with Foundation Center" with George Ford and Leeanne G-Bowley of the Foundation Center — in which we discussed best practices in diversifying an organization’s funding mix through foundation grants and an introduction to Foundation Directory Online Professional, the comprehensive database of U.S. grantmakers and their grants. (GuideStar Exchange participants receive a 10% discount on Foundation Directory Online Professional). We also discussed grantseeker training with the Foundation Center and walked through the options available. (GuideStar Exchange participants receive 20% off these courses — excluding Grantseeker Training Institute).
While we answered many of your questions during the live event, we wanted to provide more insight from George and Leeanne for the questions we did not have a chance to answer.
Q: I am new to the Foundation Database. Where is the first place to start my research for funding?
Leeanne G-Bowley (LGB): I would suggest starting with the Search Grantmakers database and begin your search using the Fields of Interest and Geographic Area fields relevant to your organization and programs. You’ll then be able to refine your results from there. The Help section offers tips and tutorials for getting started.
Q: Where can I get information on boot camps and classes?
LGB: Visit www.foundationcenter.org/training for up to date information about our training classes — this includes the Boot Camp and other courses.
As a reminder, GuideStar Exchange participants receive 20% off training courses (excluding Grantseeker Training Institute).
Q: I’m a total newbie — 3 weeks on the job. I have been asked to seek funding for my organization. Where is the best place to start?
LGB: If you are a newbie, you should definitely check out Grantspace.org and view all of our free and fee based courses. If you are near one of our offices or a Funding Information Partner (www.foundationcenter.org/locations), you should stop by and speak to a reference librarian or network supervisor. In terms of our full day courses, it is a good idea to start out with our Foundation Funding Essentials course.
Q: If I subscribe to one of the categories beyond the basic version, how long does that subscription last and how can it be canceled if I find it doesn’t meet my needs?
George Ford (GF): Foundation Directory Online is offered at monthly, annual, and two-year subscription plans. You can cancel at any time by sending an email to our Customer Service department. Once you cancel, you will be able to access FDO until the end of your subscription period.
Q: Given a limited budget, if you had to sell the cost of your programs to your CEO how would you do it? What would you say?
LGB & GF: In terms of the courses—we keep the registration fees for our classes low because we know organizations do not have very large professional development budgets. Along with expert information you will receive during the training, you will receive a hands-on experience. Our classes are geared toward professionals who need skills and knowledge they can utilize right away. We offer practical activities and group work that really gives participants an understanding of best practices and concepts before they leave the training room. Also, many of our classes come with very comprehensive materials and some even come with a trial of the Foundation Directory Online Professional. As for the Foundation Directory Online Professional—it is a very comprehensive and easy-to-use database. The monthly billing option is great for smaller organizations that may just need access to the database a few times a year. Larger institutions with a dedicated fundraising team will benefit greatly from an annual subscription—as they will use it on a regular basis. Again, the cost is very low considering the power and usability of the database.
Q: Can you go over the costs again?
GF: Subscription rates for all the plan levels are available at http://foundationcenter.org/fdo.
Q: Is there a sliding scale of pricing depending on the size org you are? Meaning, we have a smaller and cannot afford this, but we need the granular data provided at that Pro level.
LGB: There is not a sliding scale, but there are over 470 Funding Information Network partners located around the United States and there are sites in 10 other countries. These Network Partners offer the Foundation Directory Online Professional for free within their location. You can find these Funding Information Network partners at http://grantspace.org/Find-Us
Please understand – I am not an advocate of knee-jerk action-for-the-sake-of-action. Good cultivation and stewardship require deliberation and creativity. But there is a vast chasm between fruitful contemplation and procrastinating. Do you get stuck reaching for the phone when you are about to call a donor to set up an appointment or ask for a gift? If so, read on.
David Lansdowne, on 9/19/13 8:00 AM
David Lansdowne, the author of two books on fundraising, recently spoke with his publisher about raising major gifts. GuideStar has published excerpts from Mr. Lansdowne's books (see the links below), and we're pleased to be able to share his additional thoughts with you.
Let's start with a few misunderstandings boards may have about fundraising. First: Publicity raises money. True or false?
I think it was an Irish poet who said, "All publicity is good, except an obituary notice." So, certainly, publicity can be helpful sometimes. Just don't expect all your well-placed stories to raise money unless yours is an extreme case like the Boston Marathon bombing. To raise significant sums, you have to visit your prospects in person—sit right across from them and ask. Hear your heart thump. Those who think publicity raises money tend to be novices or mildly committed volunteers. They hope the media will do the heavy lifting. When it doesn't, they blame the failure not on themselves but on the lack of exposure.
Next: Special events as fundraising vehicles—are you pro or con?
That's too general a question. But let me answer it this way. It's easy for board members to get excited about a dinner dance or gala. It seems like fun, especially if you ignore all the attendant costs—banquet hall, catering, printing, flowers, decorations, music. But those who've done special events know how those costs rise quicker than champagne bubbles. A gala to benefit the local museum might raise $10,000 and consume literally 300 volunteer hours. Often you could devote a fraction of that time to identifying, cultivating, and soliciting a handful of high-potential donors and raise the same amount, if not more. Sure, there are valid reasons for holding an event, calling attention to your cause, for example. But as a method for raising money, special events—in general—aren't terribly efficient.
Any other fundraising misperception come to mind with respect to boards?
I'd say the "one size fits all" strategy. A board member will say, "We need to raise $100,000. Let's just find a hundred people who'll give $1,000 each." Easy, right? But anyone in fundraising knows that doesn't work. To begin with, not all of those 100 people will give. You often need to ask three of four people to secure one gift. And of those who do give, not everyone's going to contribute $1,000. And, finally, asking for $1,000 limits those who could or would give $5,000 or even more. That's why we seek gifts proportionate to the donor's means.
We all know that asking a prospect for a specific amount is important. But some board members still balk at that—they'd rather ask for "whatever you can give." Any help you can offer?
Say someone walks into this office and asks you to pitch in for a colleague's wedding gift. If you're like me, the first question you ask is "How much do you have in mind?" or "What's everybody giving?" I'm looking for a frame of reference. Should I give $5 or $50? It's the same with donors. They want to know, are you talking $500, $5,000, or $50,000? Or take another example. When you bring your car in for service, the mechanic diagnoses the problem and gives you a quote. What if instead he said nothing? You wouldn't know whether you could afford the repair or even if your car is worth fixing. It would make you uncomfortable. You'd also question the mechanic's ability. Don't treat your prospect like that. Suggest the amount you have in mind, a "quote" if you will. He or she won't slam the hood on your fingers.
In a way, this ties into the previous question. Too many of us seem to be apologetic when asking—as if we're asking the donor as a personal favor to us rather than seeking help for a good cause. Any advice on how we can stop this?
Kay Grace calls it the "tin can" approach, and, yes, it still dogs us. In Fundraising Realities I tell the story of Wes Autry. Here's a construction worker, standing with his two young daughters at a New York subway stop. A college student in front of him suddenly goes into convulsions and falls from the platform. He lands right on the tracks. AND there's a train barreling in! What does Autry do? He jumps down—doesn't hesitate for a second—and throws himself on the student. They're both nestled between the rails now. Soon the 100-ton train thunders over them. I'm not saying every solicitor is as selfless as Autry, but asking on behalf of a good cause—whether it's a hospital or a college or a Y—is a selfless act, too. If more people understood it that way, they wouldn't feel the need to apologize. By the way, Autry and the student walked away from the incident, saved by a clearance of two inches.
You mention hospitals and colleges—they're a bit easier to raise money for. But what about, well, let's call them ancillary causes?
Of course you're right. Cancer touches so many of us, with such devastation, that it's easier to identify with than, say, restoring a local historical house. But even with that narrow cause you can make a case. For example, the historical house will be important to surrounding shop owners—they'll benefit from the increased traffic. Nearby homeowners will have a stake because their property values will rise. Even Jane Doe, who lives on the other side of town, will benefit. Now the town will have a great place for weddings or gatherings or concerts. It's not as easy, but 9 times out of 10 you can make a valid case for almost any serious organization.
You alluded earlier to the solicitor's thumping heart when asking for a gift. Is the only answer Xanax?
Hmm, maybe worth a try. But seriously, donors give for a variety of reasons. The Colorado Nonprofit Association did a study a few years back and found the top three reasons are: donors believe the organization is trustworthy, that's it's well-managed, and the cause is something they support. But even so, what sparks a gift in the first place is the fact that there you are, in the flesh, asking for it. The problem is that many of us will do anything and everything but ask. Maybe we don't fully believe in the cause. Or we're afraid we'll be turned down. Or we question how persuasive we are. Or we need to reset the shower tiles that night. There will always be a knot in your stomach. At least for 99 percent of us. The best antidote is pretty simple: be prepared, be enthusiastic about your cause, communicate the urgency of the need, and make your own gift first. It's wonderfully effective when you can say to your prospect: "John, I've contributed $5,000 to this project myself. I believe it's that important. I'm asking you to join me."
© 2013, Emerson & Church, Publishers
David Lansdowne is the author of Fundraising Realities Every Board Member Must Face: A 1-Hour Crash Course on Raising Major Gifts for Nonprofit Organizations (now in its second edition) and The Relentlessly Practical Guide to Raising Serious Money. He has spent his professional life in the nonprofit sector, serving in a wide variety of development and administrative positions for educational, cultural, and health organizations throughout the United States.
Gail Perry, on 9/19/13 8:00 AM
Do you have big dreams for your organization but find yourself limited to taking tiny steps forward? Wouldn't you love to move forward boldly and make an even bigger—maybe even a huge—difference in the world? Are you ready to be inspired and excited by big thoughts and plans?
Yes? Wonderful! It's time for you to plan a capital campaign.
Your organization's potential is greater than you think it is, and a capital campaign can help springboard you to the next level.
Here are the 10 things that will happen once you commit to a capital campaign:
There you are—10 great reasons to do a capital campaign, and we haven't even mentioned the fact that you'll raise more money and be able to make a much bigger difference in the world!
Given all of the great reasons to do a capital campaign, why don't you plant the seed for a capital campaign this fall?
Encourage your board to think about what your organization could do if you raised 10 times your annual fund over the next three years. That kind of thinking will inspire them, inspire you, and make your organization stronger, more vibrant, and more effective. Everyone wins!
Andrea Kihlstedt and Gail Perry, Capital Campaign Magic
© 2013, Capital Campaign Magic
Fundraising consultants Gail Perry and Andrea Kihlstedt are the founders of Capital Campaign Magic, which applies their combined 60 years' experience to the task of helping organizations prepare for successful capital campaigns.
Lindsay Nichols, on 9/18/13 3:42 AM
Social media and nonprofit crowdfunding (or online fundraising) go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or Bonnie and Clyde. Or Bert and Ernie...
Chuck McLean, on 9/16/13 5:01 AM
The 13th edition of the GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report is now available. The report uses Form 990 compensation data for more than 94,000 organizations to report statistics on executive compensation by gender, organization type, and geography.
Here are a few highlights from the report:
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 increased the penalties for excessive benefit transactions, including overpayment of nonprofit executives. Accurate, complete, and authoritative information on the nonprofit sector is more important than ever, and the GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Reportis a comprehensive resource to help you ensure compliance with IRS regulations on executive compensation.
Information about purchasing the report can be found here: http://www.guidestar.org/compensation.
Is your Bay Area nonprofit looking to raise funds online, use social media to drive advocacy, and turn your followers into fundraisers? Learn how at Social Media for Nonprofits and Nonprofit Boot Camp in San Francisco on October 10 & 11. The program will be the biggest nonprofit gathering of the year in the Bay Area and features an all-star lineup sharing practical tips and tools for online fundraising, marketing, and advocacy, as well as all aspects of nonprofit management.
Transparency – it’s one quality that donors, funders and other stakeholders are looking for in a nonprofit and it’s something that nonprofits are striving to achieve. Making information accessible and easy to share isn’t always a simple task, however. With this in mind, we recently overhauled our GuideStar Exchange program to better align with the information our research indicates donors and funders are looking for, and to make it easier for nonprofits to showcase their commitment to transparency. This overhaul included a new tiered program structure, new benefits for participation, a new, easier platform to update information, and many other features.
Karen Perry-Weinstat, on 9/10/13 10:01 AM
For years, the segment of donors contributing most generously to successful fundraising events have been the moneyed generation, now known as the “matures.” This group ranges in age from the late 60s to the late 80s, with the average being in the early 80s.
Nothing raises interest in a good cause like telling a good story. And nothing tells a good story like the real-life people behind the real-life cause.
Amy Eisenstein, on 9/5/13 8:00 AM
If you truly want to raise major gifts next year, the time to start is now!
Erinn Andrews, on 9/5/13 8:00 AM
Reprinted from the GuideStar Blog
Jerold Panas, on 9/5/13 8:00 AM
Excerpted from Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift, rev. ed.
You'll find that one of the most difficult steps in getting a gift is actually not the face-to-face presentation. And it's not that special moment when you actually ask for the gift.
What's most difficult is getting the visit.
I've been raising funds for a long time, and I agonize more about making the phone call for the visit than I do the actual presentation to the prospect.
But here's the good news. When you get the visit, you're 85 percent on your way to getting the gift. All of our studies indicate this.
Note I don't call this an appointment. That may seem like a small matter, but as we know in this business of asking, success is in the details. An appointment has a negative connotation. If you need to have a root canal, you call your dentist for an appointment. Or maybe a proctologist you call for an appointment, if that's your particular need!
But a visit, that's quite different, quite pleasant. And this call for a visit should be the first step in a joyful journey. You're giving your prospect an opportunity to invest in saving lives, in changing lives. What could be more ennobling, more rewarding than that?
As you pick up the phone, don't be concerned if you feel pangs of anxiety. I've found that without challenge, there's no achievement. To ease those palpitations and help ensure that you get to see the person, follow these 11 suggestions:
Great! You've got the date. You're well on your way to getting the gift. Follow this immediately with a letter of confirmation and appreciation. Make it brief.
I never call to confirm a date before the visit. In fact, I try to make myself virtually unreachable! I don't want to make it convenient or easy for a person to cancel at the last minute. I let my letter put all the arrangements in place.
One last tip. Call your best prospects first, those you feel are the easiest to talk with. After a few calls, you'll have the model down pat.
© 2013, Jerold Panas. Excerpted from the newly revised edition of Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift. Excerpted with permission of Emerson and Church, Publishers.
Jerold Panas is the executive director of one of the premier firms in America and co-founder of the Institute for Charitable Giving. His popular books include Asking (newly revised), The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards, and Mega Gifts.
Digital Partner, on 9/4/13 10:00 AM
If you aren’t using the Web to raise funds for your nonprofit or campaign, you’re missing out. According to a report by Chronicle, online gifting yielded $2.1-billion in 2012, up 14 percent since 2011. With the help of new sites and technology designed to streamline campaigns, online fundraising is easier, and more lucrative, than ever. For instance, one Minnesota radio station raised $128.8 million in online donations just by offering an online auto-renewal for monthly donations, notes Philanthropy.com. If you want in but aren’t sure where to begin, read on to discover the many resources designed to help you succeed: