Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Charity seeks grants to fund more grant-writing



Metro’s largest charity has come with a new, ground-breaking grant proposal for some of the largest giving foundations in the US. The Metro Hospital Foundation is asking for a grant to fund  more grant-writing.

“We used to write grants for new pieces of equipment, expansion of the cancer center or new parking spaces for doctors, but we were never that successful,” said Foundation CEO Denzel Snidely. “Plus, it was expensive and time-consuming. Grant writing was a real pain in the neck.”

Snidely says they got the idea for the proposal to get more funding for proposals after wondering how much they were spending on grant writing. It turns out that almost 80 per cent of the grants they were writing proposals for never went anywhere. Snidely said they were seriously thinking about getting rid of grant-writing all together when it hit them that there might be a source of funds to keep the function.

“We thought that if all these foundations make us do so much hard work about writing grant proposals that maybe they should help pay for it,” recalls Snidely. “We wrote a new proposal for $5,000 so we could have the resources to write more proposals. It was brilliant.”

Initially, the ten giving foundations they sent the proposal to were confused. The Sid and Ethel Moneybags Fund called a month later to say that the Foundation had not used the proper form when writing the proposal and to ask if they had made a mistake in asking for grant to write more grants.

“They couldn’t seem to get it. Writing their proposals is like trying to juggle while having pins shoved into your eyes. We’re not going to do their dirty work for them for free. They will have to pay for it,” said Snidely.

So far, there have been no other responses, but Snidely is optimistic.

“You know, this is the face of grant writing today. We need a grant to write more of these proposals. It’s just the way of the world,” he said. “These big giving foundations need to know that if they don’t support us, pretty soon no one is going to be writing them proposals. And then where will they be. They won’t be able to spend their money.”

A spokesperson for the League of Big American Giving Foundations would not comment on the story, but denied that writing grant proposals was onerous and unnecessarily complicated.

“I’m sure these charities can just write one of these things in an afternoon,” said League spokesperson Dibble Brewer. “You know, they’re ridiculously easy. We even get children writing them. And though we don’t read half of the proposals we receive, we really don’t think we’re asking too much when we ask for it to be double-spaced in a 10-point font in a PDF that is under 250K and that has the same ten categories to cover and all the detail, references and prices in just 2,000 words.”


“Do that in my sleep, I could.”

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Charity puts all donations “on sale”


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Metro’s largest charity has announced a 48-hour sale on all annual gifts. The Metro Cancer Center Trust says it’s cutting prices on all donations for two days only during its special “Don’t pay a cent” Sales Event at the Cancer Center.

“If you’re looking for philanthropy, you’ve found the right place. We have the best quality philanthropy on sale right now at not 15 percent, not 25 percent, yes, at 50 percent. But it’s only for 48 hours this weekend at the Cancer Center,” said Trust Executive Director Sam Snidely, who recently took over the failing charity after a career in used car sales. “You’ve got to be there.”

Last year, the Trust didn’t make its capital campaign goal. That led to a major shakeup at the charity, with the exit of several long-term fundraising leaders. Snidely was hired shortly afterwards.

“It was pretty clear what this organization needed – more sales, sales and sales. They were asking people for money just like a girl guide would asking for cookies on your doorstep. Pitiful. You need to get people’s attention with a big sale. So, we’re cutting our prices – big cuts, too,” said Snidely.

The half-price sale is backed by a whole new advertising campaign that features the word “Sale” more than 42 times as well as scantily-women in bathing suits. The TV spots feature Snidely wearing a cowboy hat in the parking lot of the Cancer Center with his “sales girls”.

Snidely says the Trust has also repackaged pledges into “Don’t pay a cent” events that give donors 12 to 15 months to pay off their outstanding balances. At the same time, the Trust has abandoned its major gifts and gift planning programs in favour of hiring more sales people and opening sales offices at local malls.

“These fundraisers don’t understand people. If you want to make money, you don’t go begging people to put you in their will. No, you just blow them away with sales promotions and keep after them night and day until end up in a hospital like this one,” said Snidely.

“Maybe these fundraisers care. Maybe they are nice to their kids. I don’t care. There’s just two types of people in this business, sales people and losers,” he said, sounding a lot like the Alec Baldwin character in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross”.

“That’s why I’m wearing a diamond ring the size of a baseball and those guys are unemployed.”

Next month the Trust will be offering “Cash back” on donations of more than $250 or more.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Charity finance directors agree to reduce paperwork for funding innovation from 1 year to 11 months, three weeks


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US charity finance leaders have announced a major breakthrough on innovation.

Meeting at their annual conference in Las Vegas, the League of American Finance Directors announced that it would be dramatically reducing the paperwork required to fund new, exciting innovative projects at the nation’s charities. Under the new initiative, doing the paperwork on new ideas will now be 11 months, three weeks instead of 1 year.

“We’re often accused of being the party-poopers on new ideas at US charities, and that’s really not true,” said League CEO Parnell Snidely. “This new breakthrough in innovation paperwork will transform the US charity sector. It’s a revolution.”

Until now, the League’s members have saddled all new ideas, good and bad, with the same obligatory crushing weight of paperwork, including budgetary requests, insurance forms, risk management reviews and requests for additional paperclips. Under the new agreement, finance directors will now remove all the paperwork requiring background checks on the pets of the staff involved with a new idea. The move will shave off a significant portion of the 1 year wait time.

“As finance directors, we’re always looking at ways to improve how our charities work. Here’s another example of how we have introduced dramatic change that will liberate a whole new generation of bright ideas at US charities,” said Snidely. “Instead of a year to get a new idea off the ground, it’ll now take 11 months and three weeks.”

The League says the public has nothing to fear from the accelerated process – finance directors will still exercise their due diligence to ensure all new ideas meet the minimum standards of safety, budgetary responsibility and neatly filed forms.

Snidely also warned operations managers and especially marketers at US charities to not misinterpret the agreement as an open season on new things. Just because a new idea is possible doesn’t mean it should be implemented with a thorough, bone-crushing amount of good old fashioned American charity bureaucracy.

“These charity marketers are just like children. They do the first silly thing that enters their head. It’s up to us, the responsible finance directors, to set things straight. The public has nothing to fear,” said Snidely.
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

New quality control committee can’t find quality control plan


All that could be found - an old agenda
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The first meeting of the Metro Hospital Foundation’s new quality project committee came to a screeching halt yesterday when they couldn’t find the charity’s quality plan.

The plan was created six months ago and involved a four-week process involving staff and members of the Board of Directors and led by an outside consultant. Foundation Executive Director Phyllis Snidely says when the seven people tasked with taking the next big step into the new world of quality control got together they couldn’t find the 100-page plan.

“We spent weeks on it. I remember writing lots of stuff down and talking to that big consultant we hired. And reading things about quality processes. But then it all goes blank. I can’t even remember where we put it,” said Snidely, who has been leading the Foundation for more than a decade.

A look in the filing cabinets found the “Quality Project” folder filled with the files from the staff coffee fund project instead. Further searches could not find any trace of it in the filing cabinets. A search of the Foundation’s computer network found the “Quality” folder was also empty, except for one old agenda and Snidely’s grocery list from a month ago. Staff said they didn’t keep a copy of the report on their computers because they thought Snidely, the project leader, was doing that. Snidely’s has been through two executive assistants since the plan was created, making the situation worse.

“We were only able to find a beaten up copy of the first page of the plan under a coffee pot in the lunchroom,” said Snidely.

The Foundation asked their outside consultant for a copy of the report, but he has since retired to become a painter in the Azores. His firm says they don’t have a copy of plan.

“Our last hope was to ask the two members of the Board who helped us write the plan. One of them has since resigned and we can’t find his phone number. The other said they she really wasn’t paying attention and just came for the free coffee and muffins.”

Snidely says they may have to just start the whole process over again from scratch. They have already started work on a new RFP for another quality consultant, but it could be months before someone is in place.

“We had the RFP ready to go, but someone forgot to order letterhead and we couldn't find our logo image files. We’ll get them, though. Right after I remember where my pen is.”




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NPHumour Survey - Fundraising just barely fun


Fundraising just barely fun

New NPHumour survey finds that only 52% say it is fun

A new survey by the world’s only comedy website devoted to non-profits has concluded that fundraising is only barely fun.

The real, serious online survey done through the NPHumour website found that only 52 percent of respondents said that it was fun. Of those, 46 percent said that it was mostly fun and 26% said it was sometimes fun.

“Let’s face it. A thing that is only barely fun isn’t much fun,” said NPHumour Editor-in-Chief John Suart. Just over 40 percent said it wasn’t fun at all.”

A further 12 per cent said they didn’t know whether fundraising was fun or where web-bots trolling the Internet and had no opinion. The survey was conducted over three months and is considered as inaccurate and likely unreplicable 19 times out of 20.

“The survey confirms what we know here at NPHumour – fundraisers take themselves too seriously and don’t know how to laugh at themselves or our work,” said Suart.

“It also shows that our services at NPHumour are desperately needed.”

NPHumour celebrated its 2nd anniversary in October. More than 172,000 people have visited the website since it was created. Modelled after The Onion, the site publishes non-profit and charity satire every week for free. The site is based in Canada, but has subscribers in the US, the UK, Australia and Europe.






Sunday, November 10, 2013

Survey says most nonprofit managers haven’t read the management books on their shelf



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A new survey of US non-profit managers has discovered that most of them haven’t read the management books on their office shelf.

The survey of 2,000 nonprofit managers by a team of researchers from the University of Southwestern North Dakota found that 70 percent couldn’t recall one conclusion or recommendation from the management books currently on their shelf. Half said they actually hadn’t read them, but were going to. A third said they just bought or borrowed the books and had no intention of reading them.

“People have always thought that this generation of non-profit managers was one of the best-educated. Charities have poured millions of dollars and hours of time into training them. But now we learn that most of them haven’t even read the management books on their shelf,”
said lead research Dr. Dibble Brewer.

Researchers say that follow-up interviews and focus groups found that managers fell into three groups. The first group was well-intentioned and had every intention of reading the books like  Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins. However, none of them had any time.

“I got that Good to Goat book or whatever that the CEO is raving about at every one of our meetings and I was going to read it. But then, I got bogged down in the new coffee fund policy and stuff and I forgot it. It’s been sitting on my shelf for about a year,” said one respondent.

The second group identified by researchers were less well-intentioned.

“I got The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and put it on the corner of my desk,” said one focus group member. “Immediately, finance started taking my ideas seriously. My staff started listening more in meetings. I’m getting more management books.”

The third group was hard to quantify. Dr. Brewer said at least ten percent of the respondents and focus group members denied that they read the books and then denied even buying them in the first place, and, in some cases, denied they could even read.

“In one case, we had a manager in the focus group who had The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker on her shelf. She said he hadn’t read it. Then she said he was Peter F. Drucker. And to top it off she produced a hand-puppet who said she was too busy to talk to us any further,” said Dr. Brewer.

“And that person was the head of a major hospital foundation.”

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

FBI says most university alumni associations are a front for fundraising scams

Stopping Alumni fundraising fraud
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The US Justice Department has issued a public warning about most university alumni associations. Officials says alumni associations are a front for fundraising scams that prey on university graduates.

“Alumni associations say they are all about friendship, pride and being a part of the university community, but a 10-month investigation has found that these are false. Most are just simply fundraising money machines bent on squeezing every last cent out of hapless graduates for a gym or something,” said US Attorney Derek Snidely in a press conference in New York.

In a national sweep, FBI and local law enforcement officials arrested more than 200 university alumni association leaders in New York, Massachusetts and California. Most were arraigned on charges of racketeering.

“In the indictment we have handed down this morning we are charging these university officials with
Cash seized by the FBI
deliberately and consistently subverting the friend-raising aspects of their alumni association and instead turning into their own private piggybank,” said Snidely. “They targeted graduates with promises of fellowship, wine-tasting chapter meetings and discounts on home insurance but all the while they were just identifying them for fundraising opportunities.”

The government alleges that some universities purposely hire fundraisers to lead alumni associations and have seized documents that show universities assign fundraising targets to alumni organizations.

The FBI says they have evidence that many universities have targeted unemployed or underemployed students who recently graduated with a large student loan debt.

“Here we have big universities using their alumni associations targeting the most helpless, vulnerable and best educated people in our society,” said Snidely.

“When you get an email about a Nigerian who wants help smuggling cash out of the country, you don’t believe them. You know it’s a scam. Same thing when you get an email from an alumni association talking about being part of their community. What they really want is your money.”

University leaders across the country have reacted angrily at the police raids, calling them “blown out of all proportion.”

“I know for a fact that when universities contact you about being in their alumni association that your donation is the farthest thing from your mind,” said US League of Alumni Associations CFO Cliff Moneybags. “But that being said, we do have a campaign on and I’m sure any right-thinking graduate of this university will want to help us build another gym.”






Sunday, November 3, 2013

Charity’s Facebook Likes skyrocket after switching to pictures of cute puppies, cats that do tricks



The Metro Community Trust Foundation’s new social media strategy has seen its Facebook likes increase an astronomical 2,000 times in just the last week. Metro’s largest charity says it from 187 Likes to more 374,000 after introducing the strategy, which replaced pictures of Foundation activities and real people it helps with pictures of cute puppies and cats that do amazing tricks.

“We’ve seen an amazing increase in our Likes at our Facebook page. It’s unbelievable,” said Foundation CEO Dibble Brewer. “Before we started this new strategy, we had only mediocre results with social media. But this new way of reaching donors by featuring a constant supply of puppies and cats that do tricks is really hitting the mark.”

The new strategy was developed by famed social media agency Big Invoice, which determined that Facebook posts about what the social service activities the Foundation actually does were acting as a “social negative”. They recommended that the Foundation adopt a “token message” designed to reach more donors and not be “so fucking boring.”

“I could only understand every third word in the brief 20 minute phone conversation we had with their team in New York,” admits Brewer. “When they said we should flood Facebook with puppies and talented cats that could do tricks I was kind of skeptical. But they were absolutely right, and the proof is in the 300,000 extra Likes we’ve received. Definitely worth the $50,000 we paid.”

Two days after accumulating a hundred pictures and videos of cute puppies and cats that do tricks, they started the strategy. Results started pouring in within a few hours. Likes kept climbing and didn’t stop. The response was so strong that even the videos about how the Foundation helps the poor and homeless in Metro got a few clicks.

Most of the traffic came from out of state Facebook users and a substantial number from overseas. Brewer says Big Invoice told them that the extra traffic was a great victory.

“They told us having the fact that 98 percent of our Likes were from outside Metro showed that our message was having a global impact. They told us to just watch and wait for the global wave of support to reach Metro,” said Brewer.

So far, the avalanche of Likes has only led to a modest increase online donations.

“We’re very pleased so far that online donations have increased threefold from $100 a month to $300 a month. That’s quite an accomplishment I’m told,” he said. “And soon, all those clicks will lead to a lot more donations. That’s what Big Invoice told us.”

The next part of the strategy is to switch to stories about cute babies wearing funny hats. Brewer says he hopes this will turn the Foundation into one the largest charities in the US.