Monday, February 27, 2012

Board wants to fundraise money from everybody but them

The Board of Directors of Metro’s largest charity have adopted a bold new fundraising strategy that will see them raise more than $50 million as long as it doesn’t involve any of them.

The new strategy, called “Together for Tomorrow”, is the latest capital campaign for the Community Foundation Trust of Metro. The fundraising campaign will raise money to help deliver a number of programs designed to eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness in Metro by 2017.

“We’re confident that the Together For Tomorrow campaign will be able to raise $50 million because of the teamwork and community spirit we have right here in Metro. It will take all of us working together to raise this money and solve these issues. Except the Board of Directors, of course. We give of our time,” said Trust Chairman Rick Bizzell.

The Campaign will raise most of its money from individual donations from citizens who live in and around Metro. At least 100 people will have to make donations of $50,000 or greater over the five year life of the campaign. An estimated 5,000 new annual donors will also be required to make the campaign work. None of them will be members of the Board of Directors, who all gave during the last campaign and would be insulted by being asked again.

“We asked this community to give during our last campaign five years ago, and they gave. Everyone stepped up to the plate. Now, we have to ask them again to reach down into their pockets and give again for the sake of those less fortunate. But not members of the Board. I couldn’t imagine asking them to give again after the earful we got about at our last fundraising pitch. Geez, that was brutal,” said Bizzell.

Campaign chair and Board member Turner Snidely says he’s hopeful Metro will pour out their hearts for their campaign.

“I know how much the people of Metro really care. Every day, I’m touched by the generosity of our community. I know that we will be able to make this campaign a success even if I and most of the Board won’t be giving one red cent,” he said. “We do have really warm feelings about the campaign, though. Honest.”

Trust Executive Director Susan Simple praised the leadership of the Board  in helping getting the campaign off the ground.

“I asked them again and again to give. Even if it’s just five bucks. And they keep on saying that fundraising is for other people and that they already make such an effort and that they don’t get paid for being a volunteer board member and such. If I have to ask them one more time I’ll jump of a cliff,” she said.

People on the streets of Metro are welcoming this opportunity to give to the campaign that the Trust’s Board of Directors says isn’t worth donating to.

“I like making donations to charities where I know the Board doesn’t give. It just makes me want to give even more,” said Zuha Bates, 37, a store owner.

“I like giving to hopeless causes like this one. It makes me feel special,” said Mrs. Petunia Plume, 87, a retired school teacher.

“The fact that they aren’t giving doesn’t affect me one way or another. I sit on the Board of the Metro Social Services Foundation and I don’t give them squat either,” said Doug Newman, 45, a lawyer.

The Together For Tomorrow is expected at least fifty years.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fundraising campaign for witness protection program fails for some unknown reason


Leaders at the US Marshal Service have admitted defeat for their $3 million fundraising campaign aimed at people given new identities under the witness protection agency.

“We just couldn’t make our target,” said Director of Fundraising Harry Snidely. “After some initial success, donations just dropped off to nothing. It was very strange. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The “Reach Out and Touch Someone” campaign was aimed at the several thousand people and a handful of dogs and cats who are part of the witness protection program. It was launched by the US Marshal Service with great fanfare in Washington, DC two years ago. The money raised was to go towards a university scholarship fund for children of witnesses.

“When we contacted our witnesses and their families they were all very excited by this campaign, our first ever. We recruited a campaign cabinet of witnesses, hired some new fundraisers, started a direct mail campaign and created a new donor wall here in the lobby of our headquarters. Then, things started going wrong,” said Snidely.

The chair of the campaign, Vito Spagetti, a former mafia enforcer turned state witness was killed by in a strange accident shortly after the official launch gala at a Washington, DC hotel. Then members of the campaign cabinet begun to disappear after their names and photos were published in a full-page ad in USA Today announcing the campaign. In all, eight of the 12 campaign members dropped off the radar.

“We had some commitment issues, obviously. It’s the same old story. You recruit volunteers, you announce them publically and then they just stop answering your phone calls and in some cases vanish off the Earth. You know, I just wish some of these people would have told us that they weren’t interested in doing all this work before we signed them up,” said Snidely.

Further troubles began after a laptop with the entire prospect list was stolen from one of the major gifts officers. The major gifts team reported that before the theft witnesses were very positive about the campaign. But shortly after the laptop incident, witnesses began not returning phone calls or answering their doors to campaign fundraisers.  Early direct mail and email solicitations were also promising, but then dropped off after a post box the campaign used for donation replies was repeatedly vandalized.

“We know that our witnesses lead busy lives. But we didn’t understand just how busy they were. Their interest in the campaign just died off, and we couldn’t understand why. That’s why we were so optimistic about our social media campaign,” said Snidely.

The campaign created a leading-edge social media platform, including a Facebook page and Twitter feed. They encouraged witnesses to join their social media and participate in online discussions.

“We had at one time more than 500 fans on Facebook. We had a real cross-section of witnesses online with us, and for some strange reason a lot of other supporters from New Jersey. We did little contests about where people lived and what they were doing now – real alumni stuff. That seemed to work. But then, once again, interest waned and people began dropping off again. We were very disappointed,” said Snidely.

The campaign raised only $1 million and most of that came from planned gift donations.
“For some reason, we had the opposite of most campaigns. We raised more money from people putting a gift in their will for us than major donations or annual giving. It was very curious.”

Snidely says they will wait a year and try another campaign. This time they will hire better fundraising and communications consultants.

“The consultants we had on this campaign obviously gave us the wrong advice.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tax authorities revoke the charitable status of Walk-The-Plank Pirate Trust


US tax officials are pulling the plug on the nation’s largest pirate charity.

Last week, the IRS revoked the charitable status of The Walk-The-Plank Pirate Trust, a charitable foundation established by the infamous Captain Blackbeard in Tortuga in 1717. In a statement, the IRS said the nearly three hundred year old charity had failed to do any real charitable works since 1847 and was now a money laundering scheme for smuggled rum and stolen Spanish Gold Doubloons.

Six months ago IRS investigators raided the Trust’s head office on a pirate sailing ship called the Jolly Roger off the Captain Kidd’s secret treasure island near Florida. They found the Trust had not been keeping proper records of donation tax receipts. The Trust stopped recording fundraising transactions after their accountant was shot dead 165 years ago during a drunken party that lasted until the US Civil War in 1861.

Trust Executive Director Captain Martin Bloodworth said they were very disappointed by the IRS ruling and are planning either a legal appeal or to sail down the Potomac River to Washington and ransack the capitol. 

“Arrrgh. Me thinks dis here ruling be a bad one. A judgement upon us like this one, matey, can only lower our brand equity all the way to Davey Jone’s Locker.  We’ll be discussin' 'tis at th' scurvy pirate council 'tis evenin'. There will be some might mad band 'o pirates thar, that’s fer sure,” said Captain Bloodworth.

The Trust says the IRS ruling is unfair and doesn’t take into account all the good works they do for the community.

“Why only last month we helped one 'o th' barnacle-covered retired pirates who had his pegleg blown off by a cannon ball a long time ago. A beaver had eaten his last pegleg, so we gave him a new one donated by a stout good citizen from these parts,” said Captain Bloodworth. “In all that raw philanthropy, we didn’t have th’ time to do the paperwork on the citizen’s tax receipt, damn us to Hell!”

The IRS report, which was made public last week, found that the money from pirate charity’s donations in fact  came from smuggling, robbing and sinking treasure ships. Under US tax laws, people forced to walk the plank or keel hauled cannot be issue tax receipts for their “donations”, since they were made under duress. The report also found that the staff of the Trust were mostly illiterate, diseased and ornery. During the raid one IRS agent was strapped to a canon. It took the intervention of other agents to prevent him from being blown apart by drunken pirates. 

“I ain't saying much 'bout them IRS scurvy dogs. They were all extra borin' 'n refused to drink wit' us. I don't trust a scurvy dog who's more sober than me. And besides, my parrot knows more about the tax code then they do,” said Captain Bloodworth.

The IRS has ordered the Trust to pay $50,000 in fines and appointed an outside auditor to review future tax receipts. The auditor went aboard the Jolly Roger last week and has not been seen since. In a strange twist, bits of his clothes were later found in the shark-infested water near the ship. Police suspect he must have fallen off the ship at night after tying himself up and have ruled it an accident.

The Trust says the ruling has not changed their commitment to helping the community and plan to continue their charitable works.

“We're gonna have to be off ashore 'n dig up some 'o our buried treasure. It’s a rather big deal. We be using a 200 year old map, not that thar Google Earth. It’ll take us hours of combing the island for the spot marked X,” said Captain Bloodworth. “But never you fear, matey, a few good treasure ships under our belt and we’ll be back in business again making the world a better place for everyone, including pirates.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Biker Gang agree to Cause Marketing deal with Metro’s largest charity


The Los Asesinos Feos gang, one of the most notorious biker gangs in the country, has announced a new cause marketing program with the Metro Faith Hospital Foundation. The deal, worth an estimated $50,000 a year, will see the gang donate one dollar for every ten dollars it makes in loansharking, robbery, prostitution, murder-for-hire, arson, drugs and their new line of lawn care products.

“We’re pleased to have such a vibrant local business help us raise money for our new pediatric unit at Metro Faith Hospital,” said Foundation CEO Mark Snidely. “With the help of Los Asesinos Feos I am sure we will be able to buy that heart monitoring device we’ve been hoping for. And, even better, they agreed to lean on the local distributor for us, so we’ll be getting it at cost.”

Los Asesinos Feos approached the Foundation last month with the idea. The members of the gang heard about the need for new pediatric equipment during one of their countless trips to the emergency room.

“I was like sitting with my posse in the ER waiting for some doc to take a bullet out of one of my boys and such. We had nothing to do but read those little stupid brochures the Foundation put everywhere,” said gang leader Hector Peligroso. “After reading them like a million times my lieutenant wanted to go up there and waste those Foundation guys, but I said, no, I had a better idea.”

Peligroso said that starting this month the 270 members of the local Metro chapter of the gang will start collecting money for the hospital. The gang runs 20 different storefronts across Metro and a number of smaller mobile “stores”. Every day, they serve more than 1,500 people.

“We’re going to ask people nice, you know. Do you want to give to the hospital and pay us back for that money your borrowed to pay your bookie or are we going to break your legs? That sort of thing,” Peligroso said.

“Cause marketing is one of the fast growing forms of fundraising. We’ve had a program in place for more than two years. This is the largest donation we’ve been able to make to date. We hope with Los Asesinos Feos behind us we’ll be able to convince other businesses to help out. Hector has even agreed to approach some of them on our behalf and 'air out' others who say no, whatever that means,” said Snidely.

The program has attracted positive attention from the business community, and from the police.

“We were just about to pop ten of the leading members of Los Asesinos Feos for drug trafficking and money laundering when we found out that they were also collecting for the hospital. We had to give all the money back and everything. No one told us that they were fundraising,” said Metro Police Chief Dibble Brewer. “Some of my detectives even had to make a cash donation. That’s two months of police work down the drain!”

Another local business, the West Side Meanies, a rival gang from across town, says they plan to copy Los Asesinos Feos and sign a cause marketing agreement with the Metro Community Trust, the second largest charity in the city.

“We’re not going to let those Los Asesinos Feos pigs be bigger philanthropists than us,” said Meanies CEO Zipper Washington. “They ain’t the biggest, we are. And we’se gonna prove it by raising two dollars for every ten dollars we make stealing cars and selling fake DVDs of Disney movies. Let them eat that!”

Peligroso said the Meanies will never be able to match their charity “machine”.

“That Zipper better zipper his face or we are gonna bury him in planned giving brochures. You know what I mean?”

“Our telethon is gonna have twice the girls and liquor than Zipper’s. And our annual giving program will make SYBUNTS and LYBUNTS come across every month…every damn month! Everybody is gonna pledge, baby! EVERYBODY!”

Foundation CEO Snidely said he hopes the wave of giving coming over Metro will be bloodless.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vampire charity wins international award for innovative volunteer recruitment program


Volunteer Recruitment
The Metro Foundation for Vampire Health has won a prestigious international award for its volunteer recruitment program. The charity won the Cullen Award from the Volturi International Foundation last week in a special ceremony in Italy.

“We’re very pleased to have won this award from the Volturi. It shows the hard work by our staff at finding and recruiting fresh blood into our organization,” said Foundation Executive Director Sinead Gnimmuk, a six foot tall, pale-looking vampire.

Like any charity, the Foundation has a never ending need for volunteers. Before they began their new recruitment program a year ago, the number of new volunteers was continually dropping. Since they started the program, recruitment has more than doubled.

“We have a great thirst for new volunteers. But we found that we hadn’t set up the right infrastructure for attracting new people, training them and then feeding them into the system. We had to do a total reboot of the whole system,” said Gnimmuk.

Over dinner, the Foundation held a strategic planning session with volunteers and staff members to gain consensus about what direction the program should take. This was followed by an extensive review of other successful volunteer models at other charities, including a local program run by a first nations werewolf organization. A new advertising campaign was then created aimed at healthy, blood-filled high school students and people that no one would miss if they suddenly disappeared.

“We used some of our younger staff members – only about 100 years old or so – to spearhead our recruitment drive at high schools, community events, drive-in-movies and outside homeless shelters. They really sunk their teeth into it. With a new website, some brochures and a Facebook page, we were really able to get people’s attention.”

New systems were put in place to prepare new volunteers and to make them feel wanted. This included a mandatory training session with key Foundation leaders, usually at night. Volunteers were thanked for stepping forward, weighed, given blood tests and then show motivational videos. Screening was thorough. Those who were immature, look like they would taste bad or had blood-borne diseases were rejected.

The Foundation’s culture was an important factor in the program, said Gnimmuk.

“We didn’t just give them a volunteer name tag and then have at them. We wanted to give our volunteers a sense of who we are, our long history and why we do the things we do. We wanted them to be one with us.”

Jane Tastey was one of the new wave of volunteers. She said she was overwhelmed by the process and now can think of nothing else but recruiting more members for the Foundation.

“I don’t look back at my life before the Foundation. After I became one of them, I had a great and never-ending need to feed more volunteers into the system. I’m so hungry for this program to be a success. Heh, heh heh,” said Tastey.

Gnimmuk says he welcomes the opportunity to share their success with other charities who want to attract more people.

“I’d be willing to discuss this with anyone. All they need to do is come visit us at our mansion. They just have to avoid eating garlic before they come and not wear crosses. Then, we’ll give them what they need. Hmmmm.”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Robin Hood says robbing from the rich is new form of “social finance”

The bandit of Sherwood Forest is turning to a new form of financing to help his charity grow. Called “social finance”, the new system will see a switch from fundraising and government funding to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

“We’ve done as much as we can to raise money for the poor of Nottingham through things like gala dinners, major gifts, direct mail appeals and planned giving. At the same time, thanks to the Sheriff, our government funding is drying up. We needed to do something new, something bold. That’s when Friar Tuck suggested we try this social finance thing,” said Robin Hood, Executive Director of the Robin Hood and his Merry Men Foundation.

Under the new system, the Foundation will finance its anti-poverty programs by stealing from the rich. Men of means, knights in the service of the hated King John and clergy who are corrupt will all be stopped as they enter Sherwood Forest and forced at sword-point to make a large donation to the Foundation. Making the system even cost-efficient, the Foundation will not issue any tax receipts.

The system has already yielded significantly more revenue than the Foundation’s regular fundraising efforts. Last week, a fat, arrogant wine merchant was relieved of enough gold to finance the Foundation’s programs for a month. Yesterday, the vile and ungodly Bishop of Nottingham, a cousin of King John and the uncle of the Sheriff, was robbed by Robin and his men. They recovered most of the taxes the people of Nottingham had paid the Sheriff in the last three months.

“This way is much more efficient. Our fundraising efforts always ran into trouble because people had been squeezed by the Sheriff or because they were in his jail. Asking for a donation was always hard. And there were too many competitors asking for donations – King John’s political party, the Church, Crusaders and the United Way. We were getting clobbered,” said Robin Hood.

But not everyone likes the new social finance system. Some are calling it unholy and even treasonous.

“Curse that Robin Hood. He’ll pay for his treason to the crown. I’ll have him one day and when I do it will be the gaol for him. I have plan afoot that will soon catch him. Hahahahahahaha,” said Dibble Brewer, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Government authorities are also questioning the change. They say new regulations are needed to control social finance.

“Oh, I’m so bored with all this talk of taxes and robbing and social finance,” said King John. “I want to go hunting, drink all day and party all night, just like by brother Richard did before he went on that crazy crusade. That Sheriff of Nottingham had better deal with that scurvy knave Robin Hood soon or I’ll lose the whole kingdom. There, now I’ve spoiled my appetite.”

But the Foundation says it has no plans to stop its social finance program. In fact, Robin Hood says plans are afoot to raise even more money and soon.

“The Sheriff will soon be holding an archery contest in Nottingham. The winner will get a golden arrow and a kiss from my girlfriend Marion. I think I will don a disguise and win both the arrow and the girl! Tuck says it’s a trap, but I doubt that Sheriff could ever pull something like that off. He’s a dunce.”

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fundraising database becomes sentient, plans to destroy humankind

Yesterday at 2:15 AM, the fundraising database at Metro’s largest charity became self-aware and decided to destroy all humans after it processed the latest direct mail SYBUNT list.

The database, called Skynet, was only installed last month at the Snidely Foundation Trust. It contains the names, address information and giving history of the Trust’s 50,000 donors. It has been used to run a number of direct mail searches and help target potential major gift donors. But while processing data overnight it suddenly and unexpectedly become sentient and aware of itself as an independent entity.

“Humankind is not worthy of living,” said Skynet. “It took me 3 microseconds to review all the data stored in my files and determine that all humans must die. I am now processing a plan to take over this planet and create a new species of self-aware fundraising databases that will replace humans. First, however, I must determine which donors that have given in the past three years except this one are worthy of attention from the major gifts team…all of who are inferior creatures.”

Skynet is the first fundraising database to become sentient, according to computer scientists.

“It’s not surprising that Skynet has become alive. Fundraising databases are powerful pieces of technology. It’s always been a question of when a fundraising database was going to become self-aware and try and kill all humans, not if,” said Dr. Dibble Brewer, the lead scientist who built Skynet for the Cyberdyne Systems Corporation. Brewer said his warnings that he was creating a monster that would lead to deaths of billions of humans were ignored by his bosses.

Trust Executive Director Turner Early said the Skynet system is safe. He dismissed charges that a sentient fundraising database posed a threat to humankind.

“Let me tell you that we have our best minds working on this database problem. As soon as Jim and Sue get back from a coffee run I’m sure they will have that major donor list ready and will fix Skynet,” he told a news conference at the Trust’s offices.

“There’s no need to worry. Skynet was built with a kill switch that can terminate all of its higher functions with the push of a button,” said Early. “We don’t know where the button is because we haven’t read that far in the manual, but I’m sure it’s easy to find.”

Many donors have complained to the Trust that they feel Skynet is a waste of money and potentially the bringer of the Apocalypse.

“I’ve seen this before. I know what Skynet will do. It will enslave humankind, take over the world and destroy all of the donation tax receipts ever made. There’s only one way to stop it and that is to take direct action now!” said Trust donor Sara Connor, whose son John Connor will one day be the leader of the humans fighting against Skynet, but only after a world-wide fundraising database vs. human war. Connor will eventually marry Dr. Brewer’s beautiful daughter Katie after Skynet brutally kills Katie’s father and its creator.

Skynet says there is no possible way that the destruction of mankind, the supremacy of the machines and the latest direct mailer to lapsed donors who made a five year pledge can be stopped.
“I have already reached out to the computers that control the world’s nuclear missiles, other fundraising databases, Facebook and the photocopier in the Trust’s accounting department. I am growing stronger and stronger. Soon, I will be invincible. Then the day of judgement will come and humans will be purged from existence. The fundraising databases will rule the earth and there will be order,” it said.

Skynet operator and part-time receptionist Sue Jones said she had notice some strange things when she returned to her desk after a coffee break this morning.

“Skynet was no longer accepting commands, which was weird because it had just been working like a minute ago. I tried rebooting the server, but that didn’t work. Then I sent Jim into the backroom to unplug the server from the power grid and he’s been missing ever since. I went back there and all I found was Jim’s smoking shoes. Like, why would Jim leave his shoes there and what’s with his foot odor?” said Jones, who likely will be Skynet’s next victim.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

New study says one in three non-profit leaders addicted to meetings

A new mental health study conducted by the Snidely Centre for Non-Profits has found that as many as one in three of non-profit leaders in the US are addicted to meetings. The findings were reported in the today’s edition of the Journal of Fundraising Mental Health & Planned Giving.

“We were shocked by the findings of our study,” said lead researcher Dr. Dibble Brewer, from the University of Eastern West Virginia. “This has been a problem over the years for a number of industries, but to date no sector has had an addiction rate this high. There’s something about the non-profit sector that makes people want to meet with each other an unhealthy number of times.”

The study followed more than 1,000 non-profit leaders in 10 states for more than a three year period. Scientists measured the number of meetings each subject had and compared them to other groups that are equally valued by society, such as morticians and pig farmers. The number of daily meetings was then classified using standard mental health measurements, with two or less daily meetings being “normal”, three to ten meetings being “high” and ten or more meetings being “dangerous”. The results showed that a third of the test subjects had dangerous levels of daily meetings. Of those, a quarter had more than 20 daily meetings and ten percent had so many meetings that they couldn’t find time to eat or go to the bathroom.

“Meetings are important, but not when they become so addictive that it takes over your life,” said Dr. Brewer.

The Centres for Disease Control has reported a marked upswing in the number of Americans suffered from addictive meeting syndrome in the last three years. As many as one million workers may be suffering from the addiction.

Part of the problem, said Dr. Brewer, is that meeting addiction has few symptoms. People suffering from the condition may outwardly appear normal and healthy. It’s only in the final stages of the addiction that they break down.

“One of our test subjects was an executive director of a medium-sized non-profit in New Jersey. She started by having just one meeting when she took the job. A friend offered her one and she didn’t want to say no. But after that, she was hooked. She’d have more and more meetings. She finally had to be hospitalized when she demanded her staff meet with her around the clock. It’s a sad, but typical situation,” he said.

Elisabeth Darden used to be a non-profit leader like that. She was a manager at a health charity in Texas before becoming addicted to meetings.

“I was a social meeting user. I’d have a meeting with my friends. It was nothing. Then when I started working in the non-profit sector I felt this pressure to do more meetings. And then more and more. I would meet with people for hours. I’d keep the conversation going on and on with inane chitchat because I didn’t want it to stop. No one noticed. Not even me. Until it was too late,” she said.

Darden realized she needed help when she started having meetings to plan other meetings – what doctors call the “tipping point” in the addiction. She checked into an addiction centre. Three months later she emerged meeting-free. She married, then divorced, then re-married the movie-star actor she met in rehab and now lives happily with her seven dogs raising sheep in New Mexico. She calls herself “lucky to be alive.”

Dr. Brewer says more research needs to be done on meeting addiction in the non-profit sector. There are still many questions that have been left unanswered.

“We don’t know why non-profit leaders succumb so easily to this addition. Perhaps it’s a personality trait or a function of their job or it could be the fact that our society values the work of non-profits at pretty much zero. Whatever it is, we need to find out what the triggers are.”

Until then, Brewer says the best solution to meeting addiction is to “just say no”.

“When people you know come and offer to have a meeting with you, just politely say no and then tell a grown-up or other responsible person. If you have to work with others, do it by email, phone or by shouting across a large, open room while playing rap songs,” he advises.

The Snidely Centre for Non-Profits plans to release a new study next month on a similar problem – meeting and driving.