Sunday, July 28, 2013

New fundraising research finds all previous fundraising research was wrong

Researchers at work

A new study of fundraising trends in the US has found almost all of the previous studies on fundraising trends in the US were wrong.

The research study by the Centre for New Fundraising Research at the University of Eastern North Carolina researched more than ten years of previous fundraising research, including more than 7,000 articles, white papers, conferences, webinars and books. It found nearly every one was completely wrong.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong. Just absolutely, positively and totally wrong. We’re talking big honking wrong here,” said lead research Dr. Dibble Brewer. “Everything you ever read about fundraising in the last ten years was completely wrong. Just throw it out and start over.”

Researchers compared recommendations, insights and conclusions of all previous fundraising research with real world fundraising standards by using focus groups. In the research, groups of real fundraisers were given the compiled wisdom of the research database on a variety of topics, including capital campaign, strategy, marketing, social media, web design, gift planning and more. Researchers say they were surprised at how quick focus group members were to label the information as wrong.

“It took about ten minutes into our focus group on annual giving for people to start questioning the sanity of the people who wrote the material we had compiled from books we had purchased from Amazon and the AHP. The gift planning group started to get angry with us when we showed them the works from our database – many of them left the group early and never came back,” said Brewer.

More than 60 per cent labeled the information as “wrong”. A third said it was “completely wrong”. Just over ten percent said it was “insanely wrong” and two percent labeled it as “criminally wrong”.

There was a different reaction when the other focus groups were given exactly the same information in their original form.

“We gave them the books and articles that our information came from and the focus group just ate it up.”

 The second group characterized exactly the same material as “effective”, “helpful” and “inspiring”.

Brewer says the study shows that practically anything can be labelled “fundraising research” and sold to the public.

“I could take the ingredients of the back of a can of soup, label it as ‘major gifts research’ and make a fortune selling it to  fundraisers across the country,” he said.

Take our jokes home with you

Thursday, July 25, 2013

INSTANT REPLAY - God turned down on grant application to create humankind

It's summer and we're taking some time off. Here's the most popular blog we ever wrote one more time.


God, the devine being who created planet Earth, has been turned down on an application for seed money to start a new "humankind" project by the Snidely Family Foundation. This is the second time the Foundation has turned down the project, which it calls "premature".

"The application failed to meet our basic requirements," wrote Foundation CEO Maurice Snidely in his form rejection letter. "The applicant failed to relate how the project in question will be able to meet one of the Foundation's three giving priorities -- healthy children, a sustainable environment and creating the perfect no-calorie donut. Thus, it was rejected."

The Foundation said God's plan to create humans and populate the Earth with them would never work. It noted that giving the unproven new creatures dominion over the existing life forms and nature would eventually lead to problems. "These humans don't have the experience to manage others or even themselves," the letter stated. "Giving them primacy over fish, land animals and birds would be throwing good money after bad."

The Humankind plan has been stalled since God created Earth and the rest of the universe. The first application that He made to the Snidely Foundation on the Sunday following the creation of Earth was rejected because it was past the application deadline and didn't use the proper form.

In its rejection letter, the Foundation also noted recent failures had made it wary of investing funds in projects that involved whole species of new animal creatures. "A recent anaylsis of our funding of the Dinosaur Project found that most of the outcomes were not met and in fact the animals in question largely became extinct," it noted.

"We get thousands of applications every year and we can't fund them all. Only the best projects can move forward. Yours was not one of them, but there's always next year. Good luck with future endevours," the letter concluded.

For his part, the Almighty said he was disappointed with the outcome. Next time, he plans to add some way cool graphics to his proposal, even though Rule 26B of the Snidely Foundation Application Manual specifically forbids images of any kind.

Monday, July 22, 2013

INSTANT REPLAY - Charity thinks cloud computing actually in a cloud

We're on holiday. Here's a few gems from a while back.

From NP Humour Animation

Thursday, July 18, 2013

INSTANT REPLAY - Young major gifts officer confident she can get donation from family of man-eating trolls

Hey there. It's summer and we're taking some time off. In the meantime, here's a few gems from previous years. Enjoy.

The Manglers

Dibble Brewer, a new major gifts officer with the Snidely Hospital Foundation, says she’s confident she will be able to secure a large donation from Sid and Shelly Mangler, a family of man-eating trolls who have devoured several of her predecessors.

Brewer, 27, was hired by the Foundation a month ago. Brewer has impressed everyone with her drive, ambition and confidence. She quickly moved up to the top level of donations for the Foundation’s capital campaign.

“I know what I want,” said Brewer. “I want to be the best fundraiser in this Foundation. I’m a great people person. I know how to charm people. I can network like no one else. That’s why I’d be perfect for this ask to the Manglers.”

The Manglers run a very successful toll bridge company in Metro. They collect thousands of dollars in tolls every day from people who want to save 20 minutes on the commute from East Metro to Downtown. The tolls, which range from a dollar to ten dollars depending on which troll is on duty, are voluntary. However, those who refuse to pay are often eaten by the Manglers, who like to display the heads of previous meals on pikes near their toll booth.

The Foundation identified the Manglers as potential signature donors several years ago when the campaign was in its quiet phase. Several attempts to engage them in hospital functions failed. Calls and invitations went unanswered.

“It took me just a few seconds to understand that our approach to the Manglers was all wrong,” said Brewer. “These are community leaders and here we were sending them direct mail letters and calling them to make a $100 donation. No wonder they didn’t give anything. That was insulting.”

The Foundation sent two previous major gift officers to call on the Manglers. One never came back. The other did, but in pieces. Brewer says she wasn’t surprised.

“I looked at the research we used to make the first two asks. Pitiful. A kindergarten class could have done a better job figuring out what these trolls were interested in. All this research shows is that they are man-eating trolls. One look at the human skulls they use as jewelry and anyone could have figured that out,” she said.

Brewer did her own research, concentrating on Shelly Mangler. She learned that when not working at the toll bridge, Shelly often spends her time cooking in her dark, forbidding castle home in East Metro. When Brewer discovered that the hospital was about to open a “Kids kitchen” as part of its pediatric wing, she had her ask. The project involves letting sick kids cook their own meals in a supervised kitchen. 

“I found the perfect hook to get the Manglers – cooking. So, I called her and asked her to be a part of the Kids Kitchen advisory board. She said she’d love to help cook kids. That was easy. Now, I’ve been invited over to lunch today to speak to her and Sid Mangler about recipes. That’s when I’m going to make the ask.”

Despite advice from her more seasoned colleagues that she should begin the relationship with the Manglers with a modest ask, Brewer says she’s going to hit them with request for $100,000 – double what her target was.

“I know people and I know fundraising. My colleagues are losers. They keep on saying these Manglers will eat you and use your skull as a coffee mug. Wimps. It’s no wonder that the campaign has been faltering. There’s money on the table here. I can smell it. I’m going over there. I’m going to ask for twice what the target is. And I’m going to get it,” said Brewer confidently.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

INSTANT REPLAY - Six month, $35,000 social media make-over doubles non-profits Facebook friends to 5

We're still taking some time off. Here's a gem from a few years ago. Enjoy. 

Social media is changing everything. It effects how we live, how we relate to others and how we work. Now, it is changing how we support charity. That’s what Metro’s largest environmental charity found out with a new, innovative social media strategy that has doubled its Facebook friends to 5.

Friends of Metro’s Greenlands, a charity that invests in local environmental projects, says its new “Social & Media”(S&M) strategy has made it one the non-profit world’s leading social media leaders. The S&M strategy, created by local social media design house Snidely Media Stewpot, has been more successful than the charity’s leaders ever thought it could be.

“We’ve been absolutely floored by the power and impact of our new social media make-over,” said Terrence Kneebone, CEO of Friends of Metro’s Greenlands. “We were expecting a modest increase of maybe 1 new friend on Facebook. But instead, we got double that. It was amazing!”

The six month, $35,000 make-over included a new Facebook interface, a Twitter account, a Linkedin page and a host of other social media thingies that Kneebone says he couldn’t actually understand.

“The folks at Snidely Media Stewpot should take all of the credit, here. When they came to me promising to transform our charity through social media I didn’t know what they were talking about,” recalls Kneebone. “In fact, I banned all social media from our charity’s computers a long time ago as a waste of my employee’s time, so the idea that it could actually help us was an eye-opener.”

“We told them that social media was about creating rich relationships that would drive their marketing and sales through value-add connection circles,” said Snidely Media Stewpot CEO Igor Snidely. “They didn’t understand that. So, then we told them that we could cut their communications budget in half, lay-off their communication staffers and just let an intern or the CEO’s son do the free social media stuff and they understood the power of social media.”

The results speak for themselves. Last month, Friends of Metro’s Greenlands had one Facebook page and two friends, plus one friend who was in fact the head of communications. Today, their Facebook page has 5 friends, including the now ex-communications manager who was laid off last week.

“Social media can have amazing impact on non-profits. Studies show that it can sometimes add significant numbers of people to their communications channels. But to double the number to 5 is unprecedented. This is truly a North American first!” said Snidely.

Other results have also been positive. The charity’s Twitter account has grown from 10 followers to 15. Most of them are from organizations from third world countries who want to sell male enhancement products. At Linkedin, searches for the charity have been raised from 2 last month to 3 this month.

“Social media is definitely the way to go for non-profit organizations who want to be leaders in today’s online world,” concluded Snidely. “I only hope that others out there can duplicate our success.”

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Last charity full-time job in the US filled

Last full-time job

Fern Snidely, 27, from Plano, Texas, has become the last person to be hired for a full-time, permanent job at a US charity.

Snidely, a gift processing clerk, was hired by the Metro Community Trust last week. Experts say the historic event signifies the end of a two hundred year period of permanent employment for US charities. From now on, every charity job in the country will be flimsy, short-term and fraught with hazards. Charity leaders are hailing the change as a great victory.

“This was a great day for US charities,” said Dibble Brewer, CEO of the League of Big Honking Charities, which represents the thousand largest charities in the US. “Now, we won’t have to pay the extra costs for pension, health benefits and taxes. We’ll save a bundle.”

“Employees will love it, too, because they won’t have to worry about all the hassles of having a permanent source of income and having an employer who supposedly cares about their long-term future,” he said.

Snidely said she was thrilled to be the harbinger of change in the charitable sector.

“I’m like the only person my age who has a full-time job,” she said. “I can now move out of my parent’s basement and maybe invest in a car, marry and raise a family. Those things must all be bad because US charities don’t want us to have them anymore. I must be really unlucky to have a full-time job.”

To mark the occasion, more than a hundred large US charities announced that they would only be offering month-to-month contracts for all employees, except senior executives. Others have laid off all remaining full-time employees and offered them short-term contracts that were subject to re-evaluation due to a budget review.

US charities say the move to an unstable, short-term workforce will lead to huge productivity gains as well as cost savings.

“We found that having people on short-term contracts that keep coming up for renewal is a great way to get employee’s to focus their attention,” said Brewer. “They’ll work harder because they’re always be looking over their shoulder.”

Brewer says the next big leap in charity employment will be to reduce salaries and benefits to near zero.

“We’re working on that right now. I’ve seen the projections. We should have that rolling out in no time. When we’re done. Our employees will be paying us.”

Monday, July 8, 2013

Secret files shows Soviet Fundraising technology nearly led to war during Cuban Missile Crisis

Newly declassified CIA documents show the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly ended in war between the US and the Soviet Union over fundraising technology.

In October 1962, US reconnaissance planes discovered a build-up of offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba. This led to a blockade of Cuba. The crisis ended a month later when US President John F. Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles in southern Italy and in Turkey and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles from Cuba.

The new files show that the US also found evidence of Soviet offensive fundraising technology, which would
Wanted fundraising out of Cuba
have been powerful enough to raise money anywhere across the Southern United States, Central America and most of South America. In secret backroom negotiations, the Kennedy Administration demanded that the Soviets withdraw the strategic fundraising forces in Cuba, including the more than 1,000 Soviet fundraising specialists stationed there.

“The Soviet Strategic Forces have set-up in Cuba a series of fundraising installations for the purpose of bombarding the Americas with powerful donation weapons,” one CIA file concluded.

The pictures showed the Soviets creating annual giving offices and the training major gift officers. It also chronicled the installation of a massive network of fundraising database computers at key points across the island.

While they agreed to remove the nuclear missiles, the Soviets said they would not stop building fundraising capacity in Cuba, noting similar US moves in West Germany. Fundraising historian Wendy Snidely says the issue very nearly led to war.

“Kennedy wouldn’t budge on swapping West German fundraising databases and major gift installations for those in Cuba. And Khrushchev was under enormous pressure from within the Kremlin to keep the fundraising machine in Cuba going, even if it met war,” said Snidely.

Wanted t-shirts of Che
The situation was resolved when Kennedy proposed that both sides keep their fundraising technology in place but limit their scope. The US and its allies agreed to only solicit major gifts on their side of the Iron Curtain and the Soviets agreed only to sell t-shirts of slain Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. The agreement was kept secret until the CIA opened its files last year.

“It shows that fundraising is a powerful tool for either good or evil. In the right hands, it can help charities make a better world. But in the wrong hands, it could end humankind,” said


Monday, July 1, 2013

Christopher Columbus turned down for grant to find western sea route to Asia

Columbus didn't use the proper grant request form

Ferdinand II, King of Aragon, has turned down Italian would-be explorer Christopher Columbus for a grant of 50,000 maravedis to find a sea route to Asia.

In his rejection letter, the King – ruler of Aragon, Sicily, Naples, Majorca, Valencia, Sardinia, Navarre, Barcelona and Castile – said Columbus’ idea of sailing three stout ships to the west was impractical.

“Signore Columbus, your project, while daring and noble, is unrealistic. As we all know, the world is flat. By sailing west you will likely fall off the edge of the world,” said the King in the letter.

Columbus presented his project plans to Queen Isabella, wife of the King, in May of 1486, who in turn,
Ferdinand says the world is flat
referred it to a committee. The committee reported that Columbus had grossly underestimated the distance to Asia and would be likely swallowed by the mythical sea creatures who lived at the edge of the world. They also noted that the kings of Portugal and England had also evaluated the proposal and passed on it.

The King wrote that the grant request was partly rejected because it did not match existing fundraising priorities. These changed a few months ago when Bartolomeu Dias returned to Portugal with news of his successful rounding of the southern tip of Africa (near the Cape of Good Hope). Future grants will concentrate on eastern sea routes to Asia, the letter said.

Columbus, the letter noted, also missed the deadline to apply to the King’s court for a grant. As well, it made several grammatical mistakes, such as leaving out the fact that Ferdinand was the Count and not the Duke of Barcelona. Columbus also did not use the proper grant request form, as required by the King.

“The chance for you to discover a new world are exceedingly slim and you and most of your crew would likely die of scurvy which as we know is caused by bad vapors and angry spirits,” the letter said.

The King left the door open for Columbus to apply again next year after he conquered Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula.

Reaching out to Isabella on Facebook
The rejection could not come at a worse time for Columbus, who has only been partially successful at crowd-sourcing his sea voyage in Italy. At his crowd-sourcing page and on Facebook, Columbus urged his followers to dig a little deeper to help finance the great voyage.

“Great riches lie before us. This is just but a small set-back in our voyage of discovery,” he wrote. “And if anyone is a friend of Queen Isabella on Facebook, send her a message telling her to connect with me.”