Monthly Archives: July 2013

Don’t Miss: A Snapshot of U.S. Philanthropy

Would you like to read a dozen reports on fundraising trends? Of course not. Instead, you can download an advance copy of CCS Fundraising’s “Snapshot of Today’s Philanthropic Landscape,” which summaries the latest data from a bunch of sources in a clear, easy-to-read format — with lots of charts and graphics.

Giving in America in 2012 reached $316.23 billion — a 3.5 percent increase from 2011. The CCS report, scheduled to be released later this month, provides an comprehensive overview of philanthropic trends in America, with details about the largest donors, corporate and foundation giving, bequests, online and social media giving, millennial donors, and an analysis of the top 400 charities. It’s not just a collection of data — CCS does a great job identifying trends and analyzing their significance for nonprofits.

In addition to its own research, based on interviews with more than 6,200 major donors and nonprofit leaders, CCS highlights the latest findings from sources like the Giving USA Foundation, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, the Foundation Center, the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, and more. Download the advance copy.

Tips to Stay Private with Facebook’s Graph Search


While Facebook’s new graph search — which was rolled out to all users this week — offers users an easy way to find information, it also involves some changes to privacy settings that you should be aware of. In announcing the new tool a few months ago, Mark Zuckerberg emphasized that users are still in control of their privacy settings. What he didn’t say is that it’s getting more and more complicated to know what you’re sharing with whom, especially when settings are changed so often.

When I checked my own settings, the first thing I noticed was that the default setting for “share future posts” was for “public.” To make it easier for you to take control of your content, take a look at Business Insider’s simple step-by-step guide to protect your Facebook page from unwanted searches.

Noting that some have called Facebook Graph Search a “privacy nightmare,” Slate offers this warning: “If You’ve Ever Posted Anything Embarrassing on Facebook, Now is the Time to Hide It.”

What do you think? Do you like the new search tool? Are you concerned about how it affects your privacy, or is that just part of being a Facebooker?


Are You Too Old to Innovate?

photo by CutandChicVintage

With the Rolling Stones celebrating their 50th anniversary, I was surprised to hear recently that the average age of the band (69) is older than the average age of the Supreme Court Justices (67). More specifically, the Stones are one year and 10 months older than the Supreme Court.

I was less surprised to read last week that the average age of employees at technology companies is significantly lower than the overall median age of U.S. workers, which is 42. See “Technology Workers are Young (Really Young)” from the New York Times blog Bits. Among the companies with the youngest employees are Facebook (28), Google (29), and AOL (30). PayScale, a company based in Seattle, looked at age, gender, and turnover at 32 of the most successful technology companies. Some of the companies with older workers are Cisco Systems (35), Samsung (34), and Microsoft (34). Turnover in the industry is also very high. At and Facebook, the average stay is just 12 to 13 months.

Katie Bardaro, the lead economist at PayScale, explained there are a number of factors in the youth of these workforces. One is skills: “Baby Boomers and Gen Xers tend to know C# and SQL. Gen Y knows Python, social media, and Hadoop.” Another is the current focus of these companies: “The firms that are growing or innovating around new areas tend to have younger workers. Older companies that aren’t changing with the times get older workers.”

What do you think? Does innovation have an expiration date?

Are You Orbiting the Giant Hairball?

I recently interviewed someone for an interactive job, and he told me his ideal job would be 80 percent strategy and 20 percent tactical. I chuckled and asked how he’d feel if those numbers were reversed. The truth is, whatever field you’re in, there’s a good chance that you spend most of your time reacting to the latest crises and requests rather than sitting back and shaping strategies. But I’m a big believer in finding purpose and enjoyment in your work, and for me that includes being as creative as possible.

To re-charge my creative batteries this summer, I’m going to re-read a book I read several years called Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace,” by Gordon MacKenzie. This is not just a book for people in the corporate world — it could just as easily be titled “how to be creative in any environment.” MacKenzie writes about his 30 years working for Hallmark Cards, where he learned that even innovative organizations can become giant “hairballs” — with a big mess of rules, traditions, and systems that stifle creativity. MacKenzie found ways to cope, and inspired many of his colleagues to orbit around the hairball instead of getting sucked in. First published in 1998, the book is fun, irreverent, and funny, with lots of illustrations and anecdotes.

We can all benefit from more creativity in the workplace. Read this book, and you’ll find ways to improve your attitude, satisfaction, and performance. What books have inspired you in this way?

How Social Media is Changing Nonprofit Culture and Practice

ImageMost nonprofits, large and small, are using social media in some basic ways — such as maintaining a Facebook page, maybe a Twitter account, and linking to content on their site. Many others are incorporating social media into their online fundraising strategies (commonly annual giving and events).

But those examples are just scratching the surface of the true potential of social media to improve ALL types of fundraising, including major giving, planned giving, and corporate partnerships. If you’re looking for ideas to take the next step for your organization, or if you’re trying to make the case for social media to your bosses and colleagues, I highly recommend this white paper from Wealth Engine, “Fundraising’s Social Revolution: How Social Media is Changing Nonprofit Culture and Practice.”

Based on a survey of 1,300 prospect development and fundraising professionals, the paper will give you strategies to implement social networking throughout your organization, from marketing to prospect research to front-line fundraising. It covers how to create a social media culture, implement new social technologies, apply best practices and tips, and follow ethical guidelines. I was pleased to be interviewed for the paper, along with leaders like Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit and Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, and Dan Michel of Feeding America. So you’ll get some examples for how we’re using social media to build and strengthen relationships with donors at Children’s National Medical Center. You can download the white paper from Wealth Engine.

How is your organization using social media to support fundraising? I’m especially interested in proven ideas to support major giving.


How Can You Make a Difference Like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Ben Franklin?

If you want to hear great speeches, I recommend two sources — TED talks and commencement addresses. Walter Isaacson, who wrote Steve Jobs’ biography, recently gave the graduates of Pomona College some great advice: “You are officially credentialed as smart. That’s the good news. The bad news, as you’ll learn, is that smart people are a dime a dozen, and they usually don’t amount to much.”
In telling three stories — about Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Ben Franklin — Isaacson pulled no punches in telling the graduates that the real measure of their professional lives will not be how much money they make, or what titles they achieve, but by what they create to improve people’s lives. He advised the graduates: “At the end of your days when you look back…it’s not just about saying how successful you were, how many toys or trinkets or how much power you accumulated. It’s about what you created, about what you did to make the world a slightly better place because you were here.”
Read highlights of Isaacson’s address, “Three Stories About Steve Jobs, Einstein, And Ben Franklin Prove That Creative Beats Smart.” Or watch it below.

One-Third of Americans Own iPads or Other Tablets

More than a third of American adults own a tablet, and in households with an income of at least $75,000, it’s 56 percent, according to a recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Imagephoto by Veronica Belmont
Just a year ago, only 18 percent of Americans age 18 or older owned a tablet computer like an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, or Kindle Fire. The recent study, released in June, shows that number at 34 percent. Marketers must be interested to see that the figure is about 50 percent or higher among wealthier households, people age 35 to 44, and college graduates. Read the full report.

Don’t Forget Guidestar

I recently needed some information about my own organization from Guidestar, and was surprised to see how outdated our information was. Of course, we had all the required 990 forms and data, but our description, mission, accomplishments, and other areas had not been updated in several years. The person listed as our contact is no longer with the organization.

In many large organizations, it may not be clear who’s responsible for providing this information — but if you work at a nonprofit, you should make sure your marketing/fundraising/communications people take a look at how you’re presenting your organization to the public. No offense to the finance folks, but if the information is only coming from them with no other input, it may not be ready for public viewing. Even if the information is accurate, it’s unlikely to be inspiring to someone who may be considering making a donation.

Do this:
1. Search for your organization in Guidestar. Take a look at other organizations that have similar names — because potential donors will see them too.
2. Review your information, and not just for accuracy. Does your description present your organization as efficient, committed, and successful?
3. Ask yourself if an average person could understand the role of philanthropy in your organization. How are donations used, and why are they needed? What impact have past donations made, and what will additional funding help you accomplish?
4. Take a look at other organizations in your area (hunger, the environment, etc.) and see how you compare in Guidestar. Also take a look at nonprofits in your regional area. If a donor were shopping around for the most effective and worthy nonprofit, how would you stack up?
5. After you improve your profile, consider linking to Guidestar from your website. You can also make it easy by offering your 990 forms right on your website, but by referring donors to your page on the site, you’re adding another level of transparency and openness.

Also take a look at these tips from Guidestar:


Is Social Media Transforming Philanthropy?

Prospect research may be the key to leveraging social media to support not just online donations, but also major giving, according to the results of a recent study by Wealth Engine. Sally Boucher of Wealth Engine reported on the findings from 1,300 fundraisers and prospect researchers about how their nonprofits are using social media to profile, prospect, and engage with donors. Key takeaways:

1. Charitable organizations are using social media in creative and innovative ways.

2. Details from social media sites help flesh out prospect profiles and alert analysts to events that may warrant additional research.

3. Tapping into social networks helps nonprofits build prospect lists.

4. Social media provides organizations with new ways to engage followers and cultivate relationships.

Download the PDF from Advancing Philanthropy, the magazine of the Association of Fundraising Professionals here — “Is Social Media Transforming Philanthropy?”

Getting Your Donors to Say “I Do”


A few years ago, I presented at the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s international conference on the similarities between dating and online fundraising. The title of the talk was “Getting Your Donors to Say ‘I Do’: Using Online Tools to Build Lasting Relationships.” I think the metaphor holds up, especially because of the time and effort involved in cultivating relationships with donors and supporters. Here are the highlights of my presentation — and I’ve included the links below.

Playing the Field

• Cast a wide net – you never know where your donor/partner may be.
• Use all of your networks and connections – spread the word that you’re “available.”
• Go where your prospects are, and that may not be where you think.

• Make a good first impression.
• Remember it’s not all about you.
• Listen.
• Engage with them in new and different ways.
• Meet them in their own space – make it easy and convenient.

Taking the Plunge
• Getting engaged or married is just the beginning!
• Don’t take them for granted.
• Relationships evolve.  Adapt accordingly.

Read the full post on Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog or view the presentation on slideshare.