Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New charity created to prevent sky from falling

A group of Metro animals has gathered together to start their own charity to prevent the sky from falling.

The charity, called the Sky Fall Trust, was the idea of Chicken Little, a small chick from Metro. Little, a Red Shaver breed egg-laying chicken, had a piece of the sky fall on her head a month ago. Since then, she has been spreading the word around farms and forests in Metro that the sky may soon tumble down upon all our heads.

“I talked to Henny Penny and Ducky Lucky about this. And then I ran over to tell Turkey Lurkey and Goosey Loosey. They all agreed that the sky was very important and that we needed to do something to stop it from falling down,” said the chick, who’s brain is the size of a strawberry.

Little tried unsuccessfully to bring the issue to the attention of government officials and the media. It just fell through the cracks. After discussing the problem over with fundraising consultant Foxy Loxy, Little decided that they should start a charity aimed at raising money to address the issue and educate the public about sky elasticity.

“Foxy told me that the only way people would pay attention to the sky falling down would be if they were educated about it. Then he said he’d be happy to help us create a charity to raise money to do just that. I was so relieved,” said the trusting and na├»ve Little.

Little was named Executive Director of the Sky Fall Trust, who’s brand is “The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling”. Loxy created an aggressive plan of “friend-raising” for Little who started working night and day talking to other animals and encouraging them to join the Trust.

Initially, Little says, recruiting new volunteers for the Trust was hard. But thanks for slick social media campaign and Internet search ads created by Loxy, attention to the issue of sky fall soon grew. Last week, the Trust had recruited their 100th volunteer.

“Foxy was so pleased. I had surpassed all the targets for the plan. He’s so funny. He calls our new recruits was ‘meat-filled volunteers’. I guess that’s carnivore humor. But he always adds that when it comes to sky fall we’re all in the same pot together,” said Little.

The Trust is planning its first major fundraising event next week – a fundraising dinner for the volunteers at Loxy’s fox lair.

“We’re all getting together to discuss this issue over dinner. We’ll be having a silent auction and entertainment will be provided by some of Foxy’s cousins who have their own band, the Meat Eaters. It should be wonderful,” said Little.

Future fundraising plans include a recipe cookbook.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

IT guy calls social media “magic” to explain it to dumb charity colleagues

Dumbs down social media

Wes Snidely, the IT coordinator at the Metro Community Foundation, says he is meeting with great success calling social media “Magic” instead of a group of web-based and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals.

Snidely, 22, is the only IT person at the Foundation, which raises money to help a wide variety of community initiatives. He provides computer and database services and looks after the Foundation’s out-of-date website. Since he was hired last year all his colleagues have been asking him about is social media.

“They all want to know about it – the CEO, the fundraising manager and even the communications manager. They’re like all in the 50s and don’t know jack about it,” Snidely said. “They think I do because like I’m way younger than they are.”

But Snidely says he was unsuccessful trying to educate his colleagues about the 300-odd social media platforms and how to use them.

“Like, I told them that social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking,” recalls Snidely. “Then I told them that there are six different types of social media, including collaborative projects, blogs and microblogs like Twitter, content communities like YouTube, social networking sites such as Facebook,  virtual game worlds like the way cool  World of Warcraft, and virtual social worlds like that funky Second Life stuff. Man that is hot! Always makes my netbook crash, though.”

However, his explanation, which included a really cool multimedia presentation that he worked on for four days straight, was completely lost on his audience.

“They asked me to repeat what I said again, but slower. Then the communications manager thanked me for explaining it to them, pulled out a mickey of whiskey and started drinking right then and there. They just didn’t get it. Man, it was bad. Way bad.”

That’s when Snidely got the idea to dumb down the whole thing into language that even the CEO could understand.

“These guys were like so dumb they reminded me of characters I saw in Disney movies when I was a kid. And that’s when it hit me, man. That’s how I could explain it!”

Snidely called the same group of colleagues back together and told them that everything he had told them before was a lie, and that all social media was in fact “magic”. That was much more successful.

“I said to them, dudes, I shouldn’t be telling you Muggles this but all social media runs on magic. You know, the Harry Potter kind,” Snidely said. “They broke into smiles, started listening and in an hour they understood everything I had been telling them. It was amazing.”

Snidely said Facebook was run by good elves from the Kingdom of Light who wanted to communicate with people in order to save them from bad guys who had like a really wicked cool bad guy name that couldn’t be spoken, but sounded like “Zuckerberg”. He told them Twitter was in fact a digital spell and potion log and that YouTube was somewhat like the Magic Mirror in Snow White.  

“I basically told them that I was a wizard and that everything I do was magic,” he said. “That really worked. Not only could they actually understand what I was proposing but also Janet the finance director started treating me nicer and stuff because she thought I might turn her into a frog or something.”

Snidely was able to get the Foundation to invest in a new way cool website and a full suite of social media “magic”. He also got a no-questions-asked expense account to invest in further “magical potions and spells”.

“Dumbing it down for these  guys was the best thing ever. I have a nice new office. Some new computer gear. People leave me alone. I even think some of the girls who work in events are beginning to like me. Like, this has become a dream job.”

Snidely says he plans next to explain planned giving as “evil magic” and launch a career in fundraising.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Movie: Fundraising Disaster

Matt H. Wade



Monday, June 18, 2012

Grant writer just makes up famous quotes in proposals

When did Winston Churchill say that he thought planned giving was more important than defeating Hitler? And did Einstein really say that the his fifth law of relativity was that the world would end if the Snidely Hospital Foundation didn’t make its $70 million capital campaign goal? They did if you read the grant proposals that Sue Templeton wrote.

Templeton, 37, has been writing grant proposals for the Foundation for more than six years. Last year, after noticing that no one ever actually read her proposals, she decided to start using  phony famous quotes.

“I was getting frustrated because I knew that most of what I did all day was a waste,” she recalled. “The Foundation CEO and all the major gift officers would just skim through the proposals that I would take days to write. And the donors would usually read the first page where all the buttering was and the last page where the ask was. I was doing all this hard work and no one cared.”

The first phony quote was in fact a mistake. After working for four days on a massive grant proposal for the Moneybags Family Foundation she needed a quote to set the tone for the introduction. She selected “Almost everything that is great has been done by youth” by 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

“I was tired and frustrated and I made a mistake. Instead of ‘youth’, I put ‘young donors’,” she said. “I only noticed it when the CEO came back from their meeting with the Moneybags family telling me that the we got the grant because of what I had said about young donors. It turned out that the younger members of the family were really moved by my mangled Disraeli quote.”

Templeton told no one of the error. The next week when she was writing an equally long and complicated proposal for noted philanthropists Sid & Shelly Zorkbladder she had an idea. She took the famous quote by Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “You will never do anything in this world without courage” and added “and donating”. The new quote was then put on the inside cover of the 90 page proposal. Templeton was amazed that the Zorkblabbers not only said “yes” to the proposal but also had the quote page framed and put on the wall in their living room.

The next week, Templeton began to start inserting extra lines into famous quotes from Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Einstein and Mother Teresa. When these were successful, she began to make up entirely new quotes from scratch and attributed them to great thinkers. Soon, she was making the phony quotes more and more elaborate.

“Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher and author of The Art of War. He was perfect because people had heard of him and his book, but had never read it,” said Templeton.

The quote “He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious” was transformed into “He who is prudent and gives to the Snidely Hospital Foundation will be victorious.”

Next, Templeton then made up a quote from The Book of Five Rings, a text on kenjutsu and the martial arts , written by legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi in 1645. She created “The sword of true enlightenment comes when the blade of giving cuts through the needs of the Snidely Hospital Foundation’s capital campaign.”

This was followed by phony quotes in which Mahatma Gandhi called on annual donors to give more frequently, Mark Twain asked local businesses to run staff giving campaigns, C. S. Lewis warned lapsed donors not to forget their pledge renewal and Steve Jobs advocated for people to visit the new Snidely Hospital Foundation’s new online giving pages.

So far, the phony quotes have been very successful. Templeton’s boss, Spooley Hairdoo, says she’s very impressed with Templeton’s work.

“I don’t know what Sue is doing, but it’s getting us more money than ever. People are amazed by these hard-to-find quotes she uses. And the funny thing is, they all mention our hospital foundation,” said Hairdoo. “To think that Buddha, Confucius, Socrates and  Marilyn Monroe all said something nice about us long before we even existed is very special.”

Hairdoo said she rescinded plans to downsize Templeton and replace her with a grant writing service from India and instead gave her a new office and salary increase after seeing a quote from William Shakespeare asking her to do so.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

First contact with life from another planet is a fundraising appeal letter

We are not alone. Especially when it comes to funding capital projects.

NASA today revealed that it had received an alien communication directed at Earth from the Alpha Centauri star system some 4.24 light years away.

The communication, in what looks like a Number 10 envelope, was detected by the Hubble Space Telescope a month ago. NASA officials were able to reposition other satellites to observe the communication more closely. Last week, a robot spaceship from the International Space Station recovered the item, which was then sent in a remotely-controlled capsule to Earth.
NASA scientists have been studying the communication ever since.

During a press conference at Houston Space Centre this morning NASA officials said they believe the communication is a message from beings of another world.

“It’s in a language that we can’t fully understand yet, but clearly this is a direct mail letter asking the people of Earth to give generously to help a hospital capital campaign on the second planet of the Alpha Centauri star system. The return envelope was a dead giveaway,” said NASA lead scientist Gerry Snidely.

“From what we’ve been able to translate, the alien beings on this planet need to raise a great deal of revenue to build the new wing of the hospital in the capital city. They need what they call 70 million ‘Snarfblats” – whatever that is – to make the campaign a success.”

The letter asked the people of Earth to either make a donation and send it in a spaceship back to Alpha Centauri before the campaign ends ten years from now or to make a pledge and allow their alien fleet of flying saucers to come to Earth to collect the donation. Either way, the aliens said that a gift of “any amount” would be welcome. They also praised the people of Earth for being known throughout the Cosmos as “generous and tastey.”

NASA said they will consult with the United Nations General Assembly about the request for donations as soon as they’ve been able to translate the entire letter.

“There’s still several parts of the letter we don’t understand, like the testimonial from some being who looks like a patient of the hospital and a message from the chair of the alien hospital warning that they may have to destroy Earth if the campaign isn’t a success,” said Snidely.

Xeno-Fundraising experts on Earth say a direct mail letter from another world was to be expected, especially with the way the universe’s economy has been going.

“Donations are down everywhere, even in Alpha Centauri,” said Dr. Dibble Brewer, professor of Alien Philanthropy at the University of Northern South Dakota. “To make ends meet charities around the universe have been trying to expand their direct mail programs to reach larger, newer audiences of potential donors – it was just a matter of time before we got a letter from an alien asking for a donation.”

Brewer said that several universities and hospitals in North America are already working on their own space program which will send unmanned fundraising rockets to other solar systems.

“In fact, it’s been fundraising dollars that have been funding NASA to map the planets in our own solar system. They were hoping to find a pool of untapped aliens on Mars or Neptune that hadn’t heard about planned giving yet, but those planets turned up empty.”

NASA officials say they are worried that the alien fundraising letter may be the start of a campaign of direct mail aimed at Earth.

“We don’t know anything about these aliens and what their values are – they may just sell their donor list to any Tom, Dick or Harry to make a quick buck. And then, who knows?”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Consultant secretly hopes charity’s problems continue so he can pay for new car

Fundraising consultant Hugh Smiley is hoping that Metro’s largest charity continues to be plagued by bad management decisions so he can pay for a new car.

Smiley was brought in as an outside governance consultant to review  the operation of the Big Honking Cancer Foundation. Smiley’s New York City firm was hired after the Foundation’s board called for greater cost-effectiveness and more management accountability in the wake of a downturn in fundraising revenues. Smiley was chosen primarily because of his perfect hair and smile and ability to say just the right things to the right people.

“When I came here, everything was in disarray. The CEO wasn’t talking to the board chair and the managers weren’t sharing with the staff. They needed my help to become more efficient and have stronger lines of communication,” recalled Smiley.

“I actually figured out what was wrong 15 minutes after talking to their CEO. And it took me just an afternoon of interviews to decide what they should do. But I didn’t tell them right away,” said Smiley. “The lease on my Lexus is up and I wanted some cash flow to buy an upgraded model. So I kept things going a bit.”

Smiley told the Foundation that their problem was more serious than he first thought and launched a new series of interviews with board members, donors and rank-and-file staff members. The process added two weeks of time to the project.

“You wouldn’t believe how boring those interviews were. I tried taking notes, but I soon realized that everyone was saying the same thing. So, I just did sketches of my new Lexus instead. I think I want a silver one.”

After a month on the job, Smiley handed down his report and presented it to the CEO and board. He says writing the report was very challenging.

“The first draft was only two pages. That’s all they really needed. But I couldn’t just give them two pages, so I had to add about 30 pages of BS,” he recalled. “Then I thought, you know, I shouldn’t actually tell them about some of the things I found. I mean, if they just fixed those, they would never call me again. If I left a few lit fuses burning then I might actually wind up getting a convertible.”

The report had exactly the right impact. The charity moved quickly to fix a number of policy and management issues, but left a few key challenges unaddressed.

“I had a moment there when the CEO asked me during my presentation about the two or three things I had left dangling. I thought, geez, there goes my convertible.” he said. “But I just flashed my smile and told her I had every confidence that they’d be able to handle those issues themselves. They actually believed me, too.”

Smiley predicts the charity will suffer a major breakdown in a few weeks, forcing them to recall him for more consultation.

“That’s just perfect timing for the Lexus. And if I play my cards right I may also get enough to take a cruise trip as well. Man, life is sweet.”


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Charity finds elevator pitch doesn’t work in elevators

Metro’s largest charity says its new elevator pitch doesn’t seem to work.

The Metro Community Special Trust Foundation created their new elevator pitch last month. Written by the director of communications, the pitch attempted to try to encapsulate the brand, mission and vision of the charity all in one imaginary conversation. The results were promising at first.

“Initially, we were thrilled. Our director of communications had read this new blog about another blog about some marketing guru’s new book that said we needed an elevator pitch. We had two elevators in our building, so it seemed like a pretty good idea,” said Spooley Snidely, CEO of the Foundation.

In a process that took two months the communications team made up of three frustrated journalists took every strategic document the charity had and condensed it into a short three-page document that staff, volunteers and board members could use in an elevator conversation. It was then tested on people who were exactly like them, and in some cases were in fact them.

The elevator pitch was then released at a board meeting. Copies were made and distributed. Snidely said they had high hopes for the pitch considering it was the only proactive marketing initiative the charity has tried this year. But it soon became apparent the plan was doomed to failure.

“We found out that most elevator trips are a lot shorter than we thought. We had aimed for an elevator pitch that was just 45 seconds long, but after the six review committees were through with it had ballooned to 15 minutes. They wanted the pitch to include parts of our strategic plan, use inclusive language and stuff. In hindsight, it was too long,” said Snidely.

Board members found that most elevator trips they took lasted under a minute, which meant that they hadn’t even reached the “good parts” when people got off. The Foundation struck a new committee to look into the problem. It recommended two new strategies – moving the Foundation to offices on a higher floor and using some kind of verbal “hash tag” to get people to click and find out more. Both were tried, but failed to solve the problem.

Another problem arose when the Foundation couldn’t find enough elevators in Metro to use.

“We used our building’s two elevators to start, but we realized that we needed to reach more people. So, we sent our board members to all the nearby office buildings to ride their elevators up and down for six hours at a time,” said Snidely.

“Many of the building managers asked us to leave. And one manager had our board member arrested on suspicion of being a stalker. Soon, we couldn’t use any elevator in town.”

Snidely says that the response to the new elevator program was very negative, but they could never find out why. Attempts to have staff do a short survey on people in the elevators rarely worked. Many elevator passengers were non-responsive. Some seemed to get off the elevator early, and many said they had to “take the stairs”.

“We had to face up to it, the elevator pitch didn’t work,” said Snidely. “We use advanced management techniques that constantly review everything we do to get the most value from our work. While the numbers in our balanced scorecard for this project were very good, it just didn’t catch on.”

Snidely says they concluded the program was just too innovative and advanced for Metro.

“If this were New York City, I’m sure it would have been a great success. Metro just isn’t ready for this kind of thing yet. But it showed that our charity is very forward-thinking. I know one day it will work and we will be there to tell everyone that we pioneered the whole thing!”

Snidely says their next big innovation will be open a Twitter account. The director of communication’s son’s geek pal says it is all the rage.

“We’re actively looking for twits right now to make it work,” said Snidely. “Know any?”

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Terrorist Trees threaten charity's direct mail program

Metro’s trees have threatened to stop their essential oxygen production unless the Snidely Health Trust stops their “genocidal” direct mail program.

The Tree Liberation Army, a radical tree-based terrorist group, gave the warning in a letter written on recycled paper to local media outlets earlier this morning. The letter gave the Trust 24 hours to stop their next direct mail campaign or all of Metro would face suffocation.

“Too many of our brothers and sisters have died at the hands of the inane, wasteful and, ultimately, genocidal direct mail campaign at the Snidely Health Trust. We have tried to use peaceful means to stop them, but they would not listen. The only way is to withdraw our absorption of carbon dioxide and make them choke…” the letter said.

Police say they believe the threat is real and have brought in reinforcements from the FBI, state police and other forces in the tri-state area to help. City officials are preparing local hospitals for massive casualties and are seizing local O2 supplies.

“We are doing everything we can to track down these terrorists. We ask everyone in Metro to remain common and avoid trying to repeatedly hold their breath. We will stop this menace,” said Metro Police Chief Stanley Nightstick.

Meantime, Mayor Dibble Brewer is urging the Trust to halt their next massive direct mail campaign until the terrorists are caught.

“Metro only has one million residents. There’s no need for the Trust to send out three million direct mail pieces every week. And they don’t need to send out ten pieces in each mailing. I mean, how many times do they have to ask someone for money? I call on the Trust’s leaders to do what’s best and halt their mailings,” she said.

But Trust officials say they won’t be dictated to by terrorists. Trust CEO Spooley Smiley told reporters that the mailings will continue until their campaign goal is met or they run out of paper, whichever comes first.

“Our direct mail campaign uses recognized standards to determine how many mailings to send. Just because every person, dog and cat in Metro has received a direct mail appeal from us at least five times this year doesn’t mean that we’ve made our objective. We have a quota to meet,” she said.

Smiley scoffed at reports that trees across Metro would soon stop making oxygen and kill everyone in the city.

“A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings,” she said. “Even if all the trees in Metro stopped absorption it would only kill maybe a quarter of the population, tops. We’d still have plenty of donors left to send direct mail appeals to.”

The Trust has offered to negotiate with local trees. It plans to print a special 48-page supplement in all three local newspapers explaining its position on its stewardship of the forest policies.