Thursday, January 31, 2013

Everyone at local charity hates cheery, positive Mike

Everyone hates Mike for being so Positive

The workers at the Metro’s largest charity all say that they hate Mike – their loveable, warm and friendly co-worker who always has a smile on his face and something nice to say.

The Metro Foundation is a $50 million, 75-person organization that was founded nearly a century ago. It helps raise money for key community services ranging from homelessness to literacy. Despite its many accomplishments and successes, most of the Foundation’s staff only want to bitch and complain about Mike, who is a fundraiser who works in the charity’s gift planning department.

“We’re justifiably proud of our record. Our last campaign was an amazing success,” said Foundation CEO Spooley Snidely. “Now, if we could only get Mike to stop being so God-damned cheery all the time. It’s driving me wild.”

Co-workers say Mike is annoyingly positive and good-natured. He is always smiling, telling jokes and even singing Broadway show tunes during his lunch hours in the staff lunch room. He’s been known to ask other people about their families, bring in home-made chicken soup for colleagues with colds and to offer to go out for Starbucks coffee and “bring people back whatever they want.”

“Mike is scary,” says co-worker Alicia Janet. “Like, he only knows how to be happy all the time…ALL the time. It’s annoying. It’s unnatural. He must be a homicidal maniac or something. It just can’t be real.”

“Once I had a cough, and he went out at lunch and got me a hot cup of my favourite tea, some cough drops and a muffler,” said receptionist Tracey Stacey. “It was so weird. Like what was he doing? What did he want? He’s not my mother!”

“Last week, we lost the big $1 million solicitation to Sid and Shirley Moneybags because they didn’t like our pushy CEO’s approach,” said Foundation fundraising manager Dibble Brewer. “We all sat around cursing and swearing and gnashing our teeth, and then Mike starts saying this crap about how we’ll do better next time and that we should all feel real good about the effort we made. I nearly killed him. That kind of positive stuff was totally inappropriate.”

Snidely says Mike has been a constant negative influence on his co-workers. When she brought down the fifth organizational change this year Mike was one of the first to express acceptance.

“I knew this was going to go down in flames when the first person to say anything about the change was Mike. He said he was really excited to be making these changes and looked forward to working with everyone to implement it,” recalled Snidely. “No one else said anything. Not a word. I could tell they all hated it. Mike ruined everything. His attitude is just completely negative.”

And last year, when Snidely, gave a him a poor performance review because he hadn’t raised his quota, Mike thanked her and promised to re-double his efforts.

“He told everyone about it. He said he was sorry he let the team down and that he was optimistic that he would do better. He made sound like a horrible witch for what I said in the performance review. That was inexcusable,” said Snidely.

While staff say they hate Mike donors love him. He’s won the donor choice award for fundraiser of the year for five years running. Many donors call just to talk to Mike, send him flowers or even invite him out to lunch.

“They like him. They really like him. As a person,” said Brewer. “That’s kind of creepy, really.”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Most fundraisers say they are Gandalf, most donors say fundraisers are goblins: new study

This is who we think we are

A new survey shows differing interpretations of how the fundraising sector views itself in comparison to English author J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The study, published in the journal Fundraising & Coffee Management, found that while fundraisers tend to think of themselves as more positive characters like Gandalf, most donors actually equate fundraisers with the books evil characters such as goblins.

Conducted by a science team from the Center for Mindless Fundraising Research at the University Southern West Virginia, the  study asked 2,000 fundraisers and 2,000 donors questions about which characters they identified with themselves and with others. Scientists say the results were surprising.

This is who donors think we are

“Most fundraisers said they were Gandalf – they associated themselves with that character’s wisdom, courage and magical powers. However, most donors associated fundraisers with all those icky things from the book – goblins, orcs, and even Gollum. They couldn’t be more different,” said Dr. Dibble Brewer, lead researcher on the project.

Nearly half of the fundraisers polled said they were Gandalf. The rest said they were elves, hobbits or one of less smelly dwarves. Different roles had different answers. Major gift officers tended to think of themselves as the grey wizard almost exclusively with a small minority associating themselves with the mysterious Necromancer who is seen to be the evil lord Sauron. Annual gift officers almost exclusively associated themselves with Bilbo Baggins, the small, courageous Hobbit who saves Thorin's Company and restores the Dwarf Kingdom after the Battle of the Five Armies at the climax of the book. Prospect research officers tended to think of themselves as J. R. R. Tolkien, the writer and creator of the book and the Lord of the Rings series that followed it. Even though Tolkien wasn’t a choice, most researchers simply scribbled his name in the margins of the survey and returned it with a few suggestions for improved wording on some questions.

Donors, on the other hand, associated fundraisers with the goblins, trolls and orcs in the book. Forty percent said fundraisers were goblins, the ugly, slimy and filthy fanged humanoids who are the books evil characters. Twenty percent said they were more the like the trolls, the dumb, huge evil creatures who try to eat Bilbo and Thorin’s Company. A minority said fundraisers were
Smaug, the great dragon who made the Lonely Mountain his lair, or Gollum, the degenerate hobbit whose name was originally Sméagol and who had a flare for gifts-in-kind.

Brewer says things were much more unclear when researchers asked what fundraisers thought about donors. While fundraisers had clear, positive ideas of the characters they were, they picked mostly vague secondary characters for donors. Nearly 68 percent of fundraisers answered “One of the 12 nameless dwarves in Thorin’s Company”.

In contrast, donors had a much clearer vision of themselves. The vast majority of donors associated themselves with the elf Elrond, master of Rivendell. Other choices were Gandalf. Several said they were “Peter Jackson”, the direct of The Hobbit movie series and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

“The use of The Hobbit has helped us better identify some of the more powerful qualities that each group has,” explained Brewer. “Fundraisers think of themselves as magical creatures for good and donors think of them as a mindless, stinky, relentless horde or evil-doers bent on destroying Middle Earth.  Fascinating!”

Brewer says future research will use characters from various Batman movies to explore roles in planned giving.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Violence leads many charities to call for automatic Espresso Maker ban

Charity leaders from across the nation are calling for a reinstatement of the Federal ban on automatic espresso makers. Caffeine-related violence over Tassimos, Keurigs, Cuisinarts and Oster coffee-making machines has left more than 100 wounded at charities from coast-to-coast.

“This is the worst coffee violence we’ve seen since the Mr. Coffee riots in the late 1970s. There’s too many of these machines on the streets. And some of them are getting into the wrong hands,” said Neville Snidely, CEO of the League of Big Honking Charities, which is calling on the Obama Administration to take action.

In the latest violent incident last week 14 people were injured at hospital foundation in Boston when an annual gifts worker walked into a staff eating area with a fully-loaded, automatic Keurig espresso machine. The worker made more than 147 cups of rich, full-bodied coffee before running out of coffee discs and being tackled by co-workers. Foundation staff took days to recover from the caffeine overdose.

A killer?
Another violent incident was prevented in Baltimore when a deranged fundraising manager for a small university mistakenly unplugged his Tassimo after secretly setting it up in the mailroom. Police say the machine could have jolted the entire 30-person staff with high-octane vanilla-based espresso drinks and setback the university’s capital campaign by months.

The League says it supports the US Constitution which expressly gives Americans the right to drink massive amounts of coffee, but it says automatic espresso makers are not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they spoke of a “wide-awake militia”.

Changes in espresso machines are partly to blame. Ten years ago, the only espresso came from an Italian machine that weighed 300 pounds and came with Italian-language operating instructions. It could create one or two lattes every five minutes. Today’s smaller, sleeker machines can spit out espresso drinks two times every 30 seconds.

“We can’t have this kind of violence in our charities and nonprofits,” said Snidely. “These are military-grade machines that were designed for only one thing – to deliver massive amounts of  caffeine as efficiently as possible. They’re not for hunting and only if you’re planning a huge party with some really big donors do you need them for home security. We should ban them.”

Critics say incidents of violence involving automatic espresso machines are significantly higher in the US where rules about coffee-makers are lax than in Europe where such machines are highly regulated or in Japan where they come with a robot who tells you not to drink so much coffee. Charity espresso violence in the US last year was ten times the rate as in Canada, although Canada has in fact ten times less the population but ten times more polar bears.

The espresso lobby is fighting calls for more regulation with its own for safety. The largest, the National Espresso Association, has come up with a plan to put a handsome, shiny and easy-to-operate automated espresso machine in every charity office in the nation.

“The only way to stop bad coffee is with good coffee,” said Wayne Lappyhair, Vice-President of the pro-espresso maker organization that has more than 2 million members. “Espresso machines don’t make charity workers crazy on caffeine, people do.”

Politicians are vowing action, even though the NEA is one of the most powerful lobbyist groups on Capitol Hill. Several attempts last year to bring in bills to control the machines when pro-NEA senators adjourned the House for a “coffee break”.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lance Armstrong case shows doping among super-fundraisers is widespread

How many mega-fundraisers doped while asking for millions for charity?

Experts say that Lance Armstrong’s admission to Oprah that he was doping is just the tip of the iceberg. They say the TV admission by Armstrong will likely force a number of other high-profile fundraisers  to follow suit and admit to doping while raising money for charity.

“The case of Lance Armstrong clearly shows the intense competition out there if you want to create your own high-profile foundation and raise  millions for charity,” said Dr. Milton Snidely, professor of fundraising science at the University of Northern South Dakota. “The only way someone can win the Tour de France or become a mega-fundraiser is to take steroids or some other banned substance.”

In the interview, Armstrong admitted to taking a variety of drugs during his cycling career and then lying about it repeatedly for years. When asked why he took the banned substances, Armstrong said he was just trying to “even out the playing field.” He said he would not have been able to achieve the success he did without doping.

Fundraising experts like Snidely say that while there have been incredible advances in fundraising the success of people like Armstrong is just not physically possible. His recent study on the subject for the World Anti-doping Fundraising Authority (WAFA) was published in the journal Fundraising Management and Golfing last year.

“There’s just no way a regular human being can raise that amount of money again and again. We’ve proven that in the lab. The most one normal human can raise is somewhere around $250,000 a year, and that’s with a lot of begging. Anything above that cannot be done without taking a performance enhancing substance such as the blood-booster EPO or having blood transfusions or having some kind or personality disorder,” said Snidely.

“The idea that you can survive cancer, then win the Tour de France, sell millions of bracelets and create a mega-foundation is a myth.”

Despite the conclusions of Snidely’s study, the number of US fundraisers making millions for charity has skyrocketed in the last few years. While the number of investigations by WAFA has correspondingly increased, the number of convictions has not. WAFA spokesperson Dibble Brewer says it’s obvious that an underground market in illegal fundraising performance enhancements has flourished.

Last year’s arrest in Germany of controversial Italian fundraising doctor Luigi Ricearoni yielded authorities a brief glimpse of that dark world. Ricearoni’s database showed that he was supplying more than 100 senior hospital and university super-fundraisers with a cocktail of steroids, testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone and even espresso in order for them to make their mega-quota of donations.

“There’s no question that this Lance Armstrong business is just the tip of the iceberg for the vast fundraising doping black market. There’s more where he came from,” Brewer said. “WAFA will be devoting more energy to weeding those people out and stopping them from raising inhuman amounts of money. That’s just cheating.”

In a related story, the day after the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah several high-profile mega-fundraisers across the world handed in their resignations. In one case, a woman who heads up a hospital foundation admitted to her employers she used to be a man. She reportedly said she used so many doses of female hormones to raise continually more and more money for the charity that she eventually changed genders. No one at the foundation seemed to notice, although several commented about her changing hair styles.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Class action lawsuit sues 40,000 charities for not “making a difference”

Charities may need to start adding disclaimers

A New York man is launching a nationwide class-action lawsuit against more than 40,000 charities for not living up to their promise to “make a difference” through donations.

George Snidely, 71, is a noted philanthropist who has given more than $6 million in donations to national and local universities, hospitals, cancer charities, social service non-profits and animal welfare organizations. In a news conference in New York City yesterday, Snidely said his philanthropy hasn’t made any difference whatsoever.

“I’ve been told over and over again by these charities that making a donation will make a difference on things like poverty, illness, lack of education and cruelty against animals,” he said. “But guess what? It hasn’t! There’s still poverty, illness and illiteracy, and last week someone ran over my cat. My money didn’t make any difference!”

Snidely says the 40,000 charities promised donors that their gifts would make a difference on a host of issues. But a review of most of the charity’s annual reports found that the issues they raised money for didn’t improve. Only one US charity, the Society to Prevent Horses From Driving Cars, a small Vermont non-profit, actually solved or made a major impact with fundraised dollars last year.

“I asked all 40,000 charities last month in a letter to stop saying that donors ‘make a difference.’ I got three written replies, 20,000 direct mail letters and calls from 10,000 major gifts officers or senior volunteers asking me for donation,” said Snidely. “My office and home phones were tied up, my voicemail exploded and my mail box fell off the side of my house and had to be replaced. That’s when I started the lawsuit.”

If successful, the lawsuit would ask US charities to give back all of the monies they have raised since they started using the “making a difference” language. For some, it could mean going back decades to give refunds.

Charity leaders say they are not worried about the lawsuit, predicting it will never get to court.

“Every day, we make a difference in our communities. We help people get jobs, keep them safe, help them get well, educate them and comfort them when they have their cat run over,” said Dibble Brewer, a spokesperson for the League of Big Honking Charities. “We get thousands of people every day telling us that they feel great donating to our charities because they made a difference, and that makes a difference to us. Mr. Snidely obviously doesn’t know the difference about how we make the difference that we do. We really, truly do make a difference.”

However, some charities say they will change their practices because of the lawsuit. Several have started including disclaimers in their written marketing materials and brand names. Legal experts say that charities will need to tighten up how they market themselves.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

US, Canadian and Australian readers pick funniest fundraising story of 2012 in NP Humour’s annual LOL Awards.

The votes are in for the funniest fundraising humor story of 2012. The second annual NP Humour LOL Awards has announced the top comedy story and comedy animation of the year. NP Humour is the world’s only comedy website devoted to non-profits, fundraising and charity comedy.

The top comedy story went to “Gang violence escalates between Major Gifts and Annual Giving for control of the donation trade” with more than 40 percent of the votes cast. The runner-up was “Organizational Chart changed for the 27th time this year”. In animation, “Communications Director answers ‘social media’ to every question” beat out “Charity thinks cloud computing actually in a cloud” by just two votes.

Overall, more than 500 people from the US, Canada and Australia voted in the NP Humour LOL Awards.

“Something about our picture of gang violence between major giving and annual giving seemed to touch a nerve with fundraisers this year. It’s funny, but it’s also true,” said NP Humour Editor John C. Suart. “Our goal is to try and get the fundraising community to laugh and I think we’ve succeeded beyond all measure with the LOL Awards this year.”

Officially launched in Fall of 2011, NP Humour has grown from just one email subscriber to more than 500 from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. More than 100,000 people have visited the site in the last year.

Last year’s LOL Award went to “God turned down on grant application to create humankind.”


Best Comedy Story:

First Prize

Gang violence escalates between Major Gifts and Annual Giving for control of the donation trade

Second Prize

Organizational Chart changed for the 27th time this year 

Best Comedy Animation: 

First Prize

Communications Director answers "social media" to every question 

Second Prize

Charity thinks cloud computing actually in a cloud

The winner of this year’s NP LOL Award contest is Kristin H. of Olive Grove Consulting in Belmont, California. She wins a “Chocolate makes Philanthropy work” mug from the NP Humour Store.

All the information about the awards program, voting and more are available online at NP Humour –

For more information, contact NP Humour:
Phone: 866-668-2220