Golden Rule Consulting LLC
The Golden Rule

Thursday Thoughts

A Rare Opportunity

The Kiwanis Club of Akron is one of the founders of the Akron Roundtable, whose mission is best summarized by the phrase "Bringing the World to Akron." As the current president of the Kiwanis Club, it is my privilege to sit on the Roundtable Board. The Wednesday, June 3 Roundtable Xtra is a perfect example of mission in action as Akron welcomes Michael Morrell, the Former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA. Seldom do we have the chance to gain insight into what our government is doing to protect its citizens and the challenges that involves. Morrell’s recently published book, The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism--From al Qa'ida to ISIS, will no doubt form the basis of his topic – “Today’s National Security Threats.” Opportunities like this do not come along very often, so register today by following the link below.


The Importance of Integrity

Yet another report has surfaced which paints all nonprofits with the same brush. Four cancer “charities” which have raised over $187 million in the name of helping cancer patients and their families have been charge by the federal government and all 50 states with defrauding donors. The Federal Trade Commission suit alleges that the charities claimed to be providing assistance to cancer patients, but the donations were in reality benefiting only "the perpetrators, their families and friends, and fundraisers." Annual reports, websites such as Guidestar and transparency in a nonprofit’s financial statements – along with honest, dedicated staff and Board members – guard against your nonprofit being accused of maleficence. Guard your reputation and continually assure donors in any way you can that their investment in your work is doing what is intended.


Better Fundraising Results in 2014

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) recently issued an encouraging report that showed nearly 2/3 of the nonprofits surveyed showed an increase in their fundraising income in 2014. Clearly, increased charitable giving follows a strengthening economy, which is good news for fundraisers. So despite what some of the doom and gloom politicians say, the signs for continued growth are positive. Social Media fundraising demonstrated the largest gains. Major gifts, foundation grants, board giving, corporate grants and gifts, and direct response/mail also saw increases. Gifts declined at the greatest percentage of organizations were telephone, congregational gifts, and federated campaigns. The full report can be viewed by following the link below.


New Nonprofit Accounting Rules Proposed

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has proposed changes to the accounting model that has been in use for the last 20 years. It could significantly affect how nonprofits conduct business. FASB’s proposes improvements to current net asset classification requirements and information presented in financial statements and notes to financial statements about a not-for-profit organization’s liquidity, financial performance, and cash flows. Please refer to the following link to learn more. There are several other links within the article to obtain additional details about the recommendations. Treasurers and accounting offices of all nonprofit organizations should be made aware of these proposals.


Possibility Thinking

Perhaps Norman Vincent Peale is the one who started it. Robert Schuller certainly continued it. All things are possible with the right attitude and, in many ways, that can determine the outcome. And even if the outcome is not exactly what one hoped for or planned, you have more fun getting there. Particularly in raising money to support a worthy cause, one’s perspective on life and of others comes through. It can be a true joy to ask people to give their time, treasure and talent to help others. You have the privilege of seeing people at their best. And it starts with your attitude – and with the right attitude, anything is possible. Read some Peale or Schuller. You’ll see what I mean.


Test thought

this is a test


Test thought

We're two months into the 'next-generation' of gaming consoles, and who knows what stars will rise out of this batch of gaming. Throughout the next few years we'll no doubt see new franchises and ols favorites. Some will succeed, some will flop, some will be overlooked, and some will come out of nowhere to become classics. This list celebrates the unsung and sleeper classics of this past generation. These next ten entries contain games that hit players out of nowhere to become hits and games that were criminally overlooked. While not every game could be a Gears of War or a Halo, not every game has to be a Superman 64 either. 1. Madworld (Wii) I'm still wondering how the people who made Okami went from something as beautiful as that to something as gruesome as this. Madworld's Smash-TV style pacing, Sin-City style look, and batshit insane visuals made this a much needed M-Rated title on Nintendo's system. Unfortunately, much-needed didn't necessarily translate into good sales. 2. Blastworks: Build, Play, Destroy (Wii) If the Wii had been a bit more online-friendly, Blastworks could have easily been Nintendo's answer to Little Big Planet. The content creation tools gave players the ability to reshape the game into the classic side-scrolling shooter of their dreams, there was a healthy amount of on-disc content (including unlockable games), and the Katamari-Damacy meets R-type gameplay wasn't bad either. Blastworks was one of the many games that helped address the criticism of the Wii not having enough games for 'core gamers'. Sadly though, it ended up being one of the wii's most over-looked titles as well. 3. Demons Souls (Playstation 3) Since the demise of Working Designs during the prior console generation, Atlus stepped up as the provider of obscure Japanese titles (mostly RPGS) that would otherwise never see the light of day over here, such


Test thought

We're two months into the 'next-generation' of gaming consoles, and who knows what stars will rise out of this batch of gaming. Throughout the next few years we'll no doubt see new franchises and ols favorites. Some will succeed, some will flop, some will be overlooked, and some will come out of nowhere to become classics. This list celebrates the unsung and sleeper classics of this past generation. These next ten entries contain games that hit players out of nowhere to become hits and games that were criminally overlooked. While not every game could be a Gears of War or a Halo, not every game has to be a Superman 64 either. 1. Madworld (Wii) I'm still wondering how the people who made Okami went from something as beautiful as that to something as gruesome as this. Madworld's Smash-TV style pacing, Sin-City style look, and batshit insane visuals made this a much needed M-Rated title on Nintendo's system. Unfortunately, much-needed didn't necessarily translate into good sales. 2. Blastworks: Build, Play, Destroy (Wii) If the Wii had been a bit more online-friendly, Blastworks could have easily been Nintendo's answer to Little Big Planet. The content creation tools gave players the ability to reshape the game into the classic side-scrolling shooter of their dreams, there was a healthy amount of on-disc content (including unlockable games), and the Katamari-Damacy meets R-type gameplay wasn't bad either. Blastworks was one of the many games that helped address the criticism of the Wii not having enough games for 'core gamers'. Sadly though, it ended up being one of the wii's most over-looked titles as well. 3. Demons Souls (Playstation 3) Since the demise of Working Designs during the prior console generation, Atlus stepped up as the provider of obscure Japanese titles (mostly RPGS) that would otherwise never see the light of day over here, such


Test thought

We're two months into the 'next-generation' of gaming consoles, and who knows what stars will rise out of this batch of gaming. Throughout the next few years we'll no doubt see new franchises and ols favorites. Some will succeed, some will flop, some will be overlooked, and some will come out of nowhere to become classics. This list celebrates the unsung and sleeper classics of this past generation. These next ten entries contain games that hit players out of nowhere to become hits and games that were criminally overlooked. While not every game could be a Gears of War or a Halo, not every game has to be a Superman 64 either. 1. Madworld (Wii) I'm still wondering how the people who made Okami went from something as beautiful as that to something as gruesome as this. Madworld's Smash-TV style pacing, Sin-City style look, and batshit insane visuals made this a much needed M-Rated title on Nintendo's system. Unfortunately, much-needed didn't necessarily translate into good sales. 2. Blastworks: Build, Play, Destroy (Wii) If the Wii had been a bit more online-friendly, Blastworks could have easily been Nintendo's answer to Little Big Planet. The content creation tools gave players the ability to reshape the game into the classic side-scrolling shooter of their dreams, there was a healthy amount of on-disc content (including unlockable games), and the Katamari-Damacy meets R-type gameplay wasn't bad either. Blastworks was one of the many games that helped address the criticism of the Wii not having enough games for 'core gamers'. Sadly though, it ended up being one of the wii's most over-looked titles as well. 3. Demons Souls (Playstation 3) Since the demise of Working Designs during the prior console generation, Atlus stepped up as the provider of obscure Japanese titles (mostly RPGS) that would otherwise never see the light of day over here, such


Fundraising Key: Listening & Respect

StoryCorps ( is a nonprofit that “provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” Its stories are featured every Friday on NPR’s Morning Edition. The organization recently launched a mobile app which can assist a nonprofit to support their missions by “record(ing) a meaningful interview with another human being, which then will be archived for history.” It’s all about listening and respecting your donors – or anyone else in your life who has a story to tell. And we all do. It’s not about manipulation. It’s free and easy to download. I found the app fascinating.


Kiwanis Foundation Accepting Grant Applications

The Kiwanis Club of Akron Foundation is accepting applications for grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 from local not-for-profit organizations. The nonprofit’s primary focus must be in Summit County and it must have been in existence for a minimum of two years. Consideration will be given to all proposals meeting the required criteria. However, the Foundation has strong interest in providing support to preschool, school-age and youth projects. Deadline for grant applications is Friday, May 1. Forms can be downloaded from the Kiwanis Club of Akron website at by accessing the Foundation drop down. Applications should be sent to: Kiwanis Foundation, c/o Olivia Wakeling, Stewarts Caring Place, 2955 W. Market, Suite R, Akron, OH 44333. Additional questions should be directed to Olivia Wakeling, Foundation president, by calling 330-836-1772 or by email at


2014 – Fundraising Good News

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative recently published its report on 2014 fundraising results and it indicates that the recovery from the Great Recession continues. 63% of respondents reported increased fundraising income – continuing an upward trend every year since 2010; 73% met their fundraising goal; social media fundraising increased; and major gifts, foundation grants, board giving, corporate grants and gifts, and direct response/mail all showed significant increased results. Check out the report by following the link below. Contact Golden Rule for more information or if your organization didn’t see an increase last year – we may be able to help


Good Major Gift Reminders

One of the best books that I have ever read on the subject was written by Jerold Panas – the book is simply called Asking. It’s short – so you can read it in less than an hour. Or it could take you two days as you reflect on the points Panas makes. The link below provides an excellent summary of the high points. I highly recommend you pick up a copy. And if you’ve read it before, this provides a god refresher.


Good Major Gift Reminders

One of the best books that I have ever read on the subject was written by Jerold Panas – the book is simply called Asking. It’s short – so you can read it in less than an hour. Or it could take you two days as you reflect on the points Panas makes. The link below provides an excellent summary of the high points. I highly recommend you pick up a copy. And if you’ve read it before, this provides a god refresher.


Stories Stir Sentiments

People most often invest in a worthy cause when they experience an emotional response. Stories stir emotions and move people to action. If you haven’t read the article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy for which I have provided the link, it’s well worth your time. Like the stories you need to tell, it’s short but impactful.


The Early Bird Gets the …

… Discount. AFP NEO Career Success Institute. Great speakers. Great topics. Great networking. Great location. And the best training you will find for the money. Check it out – it’ll be worth your time!


How does your nonprofit Board rate?

Computer problems interfered with sending last week’s Thursday Thought. I apologize. This may therefore be a bit dated, but I found the article on Akron Area Nonprofit Boards & Diversity and the entire Akron Beacon Journal series on the Millennials and community leadership fascinating. If you did not read it, you would be wise to reconsider. Follow the link below and save it for future reference.


Study Finds “Empathy Gap”

A Stanford University study found what can best be described as an "empathy gap" between men and women when it comes to charitable giving. What’s that mean to fundraisers? One would be best advised to approach men and women in very different ways to obtain the best results, particularly when it comes to helping the needy. Women tend to be more empathetic and compassionate. "Men are more motivated by messages that say poverty affects them and the people in their lives," says Robb Willer, a Stanford sociology professor and co-author of the study. The bottom line, once again, is to know your audience and tailor your message.


2014 Giving Increased, Study Finds

In another indication that the economy continues its recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-2009, total giving to the nonprofit sector increased significantly – 9.4% – in 2014 according to a study by the Atlas of Giving. Fueling the rise was an improving employment picture, a rising stock market, low inflation and increased consumer confidence. While individuals account for 74% of contributions, foundations and corporations particularly benefit from the stock market rise and strong earnings. Follow the link below for the full report. And if you want to learn how your nonprofit can take advantage of the growth trend, contact Golden Rule and we can talk.


AFP Code of Ethical Principles

The Association of Fundraising Professionals has updated the Code of Ethical Principles, making it cleaner and more readable. It behooves all fundraisers and nonprofit organizations to be familiar with the Code – it protects both and insures that the sector’s high integrity is above reproach. And most importantly, it provides reassurance to the donor that their investment is doing the good that they intend.


What Donors Care About

Pay attention. I read the following report and was once again surprised by the results – donors appear to care more about HOW a nonprofit spends its money than on the RESULTS it produces. So I have included two articles related to the study itself. One is from BBB Wise Giving Alliance which conducted the study and the second from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Also included is a second article from a 2013 Chronicle article which attempts to debunk the donors’ focus on ONLY looking at the finances/overhead costs of the nonprofit to determine where they direct their financial resources. This is important information because it affects how the representatives of the nonprofit organization communicate their story to the prospective donors. Pay attention and listen to what the donor is communicating during your visit. And be prepared to address THEIR concerns.


Know Your Donors: Foundations

Out of $316.2 BILLION of private giving in the Unites States in 2012, 16% came from foundations, so says a report from the Foundation Center. But while foundation giving continues to increase, the level remains pretty much the same if measured in 2003 dollars. It’s important information and foundation giving represents a significant source of income for many organizations. So continue your research – find foundations where THEIR purpose and giving history align with your nonprofit’s mission. For me, however, the real story in this report remains the fact that approximately 80% of philanthropic support still come from individuals (this includes bequests.) Foundations can make significant leadership gifts, but one’s bread and butter still remains building and nurturing relationships with individual donors.


Making your Case with Stories

Stories stir emotions. And the willingness to give is first and foremost the result of an emotional reaction. While there have been studies to learn why people give, the following link concretely illustrates how a Case for Support might be framed to elicit the strongest emotional response and thus the greatest outpouring of financial support. The moral of the story: people want to help people … but they need to believe that they make a difference.


Last Chance

Funders, benefactors, volunteers, philanthropists. They will all be present at the AFP North Central Ohio Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day The deadline is TODAY. The date is Friday, November 14. It is a great day to celebrate commitment and the many gifts that professionals, benefactors and volunteers bring to our community. Be there. Be a part.


November Elections & IRA Charitable Rollover

At least one expert in the field is optimistic that Congress will resurrect the IRA Charitable Rollover Act, make it retroactive for 2014 and pass it following the November elections. If it is indeed made retroactive that means that donors age 70 ½ and above would have until April 15, 2015 to make a gift up to $100,000 and use it as a tax deduction for 2014. So don’t give up hope. Dust off those gift forms and stay tuned. Good things may be on the horizon!


How Millennials Are Reshaping Charity and Online Giving

Millennials are now the largest demographic group in the county, surpassing the Baby Boom Generation. And, as a group, they operate differently from their parents. Their values are different as are their priorities. So nonprofit organizations need to adjust their tactics now or suffer the consequences in the future. Not all information on giving needs to come from fundraising sources. The NPR link below presents a slightly different, and valuable, perspective on how millennials are instituting change – and in many ways for the better.


Important Special Events Study

Special events are important to many nonprofit organizations because they help raise awareness of a cause and help cultivate relationships with donors and potential donors. However, events tend to be more costly than other fundraising strategies in terms of return on investment. The literature on special events is largely focused on anecdotal descriptions of how-to’s for producing events. What is missing from the literature is benchmarking research that would help a nonprofit determine whether an event is appropriate considering its circumstances, how its event results compare with those of other like organizations, and effective ways to follow up with constituents, media and potential donors after the event. In this study, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy collected information on event planning and management to enable nonprofit managers to compare their events with those of other organizations. The study results provide a tool to help nonprofits make informed decisions about whether to invest in an event, how to plan a successful event(s), steps to maximize return on investment, and follow-up activities to help turn event attendees into donors. If you do events (and who doesn’t?), you owe it to yourself and your organization to read this report.


No Substitute for Integrity

Among the first things that the founders of NSFRE (the National Society of Fundraising Executives, now the Association of Fundraising Professionals) did when the organization was founded in 1960 was to begin drafting the Code of Ethical Principles. Integrity is the most important quality that a fundraiser possesses. If that trust is ever compromised, it is almost impossible to regain it. That’s why the Code is so important. It provides the guidelines for how we conduct ourselves as we represent not only our organization, but our profession. It provides consistency for all of us. This year AFP is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Code of Ethical Principles. It provides us with an opportunity to review it and reflect on the wisdom of the founders who established it.


New Positions

On October 2 I will be sworn in as the President of the Kiwanis Club of Akron. Because Kiwanis is one of the founders of the Akron Roundtable, in my role as president, I will also be honored to become a member of the Roundtable Board of Trustees. Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. Starting in January, 2015, Kiwanis celebrates its 100th Anniversary. In 2016, the Kiwanis Club of Akron celebrates its 100th Anniversary. It promises to be an exciting two years. If you love children, want to make a difference and expand your associations, I invite you to join me as my guest at a Kiwanis meeting which take place (normally) on the first Thursday of the month. The Akron Roundtable is a great place to network, hear great speakers and learn about our community. Upcoming programs (usually on the third Thursday of the month) include: Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director, Active Minds, Inc. Dr. Beverly Warren, President, Kent State University Jimmy Haslam, Owner, Cleveland Browns If you would like to learn more about Kiwanis and/or the Akron Roundtable, send Larry Becker an email or give me a call.


“Fundraising” Opportunities for the Board (Con’t)

Last week I attempted to provide some Painless Board Fundraising Activities so that everyone on the Board can participate in the process, even if they do not feel comfortable asking for money. Unfortunately, I messed up the link. Rats. My fault. Second times the charm, though. The link below provides some creative thoughts about how everyone on the Board can help. If you’d like to discuss other ideas, contact Golden Rule and we can visit to refine YOUR Board’s list of opportunities to help!


“Fundraising” Opportunities for the Board

Some Board members can raise money. Some are not comfortable asking for money, but they all bring their special gifts to your party. And everyone can help. It is important that everyone on the Board understands that their key responsibility is to insure the continuation of the organization – and in many cases that means generating income. But that doesn’t mean that they always need to ask. The link below provides some creative thoughts about how everyone on the Board can help. If you’d like to discuss other ideas, contact Golden Rule and we can visit to refine YOUR Board’s list of opportunities to help!


Lapsed Donors: A Key to Growth?

Since the Great Recession began, anecdotal comments in the fundraising literature seem to point to many donors giving nearly the same amount to nonprofits, but giving to fewer organizations. There is no question that retaining one’s current donors through good stewardship practices is the #1 priority. And it’s common knowledge that attracting new donors is costly and time and labor intensive. So what’s left? Perhaps reaching out to your recent lapsed donors is the next best option. The software company, Blackbaud, offers some thoughts in one of their free White Papers. You do not need to be a customer to take advantage of these thought provoking articles. The last quarter of the year is an important time for every nonprofit to state its case. Contact Golden Rule if you would care to bat around some ideas.


Recognition: AFP NPD

Saying THANK YOU is among the most important things that a nonprofit organization can do to engender your donors’ and volunteers’ loyalty. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) offers a unique opportunity to recognize your nonprofit’s supporters at its National Philanthropy Day (NPD). Attended by a sellout crowd of over 400 nonprofit and philanthropic advocates, this event celebrates the best of our community – people who make a difference by contributing their time, talent and treasure. And it is not just the people who are on the podium. You have a unique chance to invite your most important donors and volunteers to attend and be inspired and acknowledged for all that they have done to enhance your nonprofit’s fortunes. There are many levels of opportunity available. Just follow the link below to learn more about the benefits.


Opportunity Knocks

Are you ready to answer? It’s common knowledge that charitable contributions spike in the last quarter of the year. Are you ready? What’s your plan? If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to plan your end of the year fundraising activities. Who will you ask? For what purpose? Do you need help? When will you ask? What additional resources will you need? How much will you ask for? If someone usually gives at the end of the year you need to meet with them before they make their gift. So having a plan of action is critical so you don’t confuse being busy with being productive. The attached template may provide you with a way to organize your time. And if you need assistance, call Golden Rule. We’ll be happy to help.


How do YOU Measure Corporate Generosity?

I read a couple of recent articles on corporate giving which I wanted to share. Generosity has been variously defined as “a willingness to give”. So how do you measure willingness? While a publically held company is responsible to its shareholders, it is commonly held that being perceived as a “good corporate citizen” is a constructive business decision. So the links in this Thursday Thought present two perspectives on what “generosity” is – one is a dollar amount and the other is a percentage of corporate profits. The good news is that there are several in both categories that have a significant presence in NE Ohio. Good hunting.



I’ve been intrigued by the growing number of Crowdfunding success stories. The AFP link below is one of the best sources for different articles that I have seen in one place – how to do it, the risks involved, success stories and some things to consider in deciding if Crowdfunding is something your nonprofit should try. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Check it out.


Recertified CFRE –Woo Hoo!

It is with great joy that I announce that I have been officially recertified as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). There are only 5,300 CFRE’s worldwide. CFRE indicates that the fundraiser has acquired the skills in securing gifts, knowledge of the various gifting vehicles, volunteer management, stewardship & management and has been involved in both professional and volunteer activities. If I may be of service to you or a nonprofit with which you are engaged, please contact me at either 330-696-6709 or Onward and upward!


Recertified CFRE –Woo Hoo!

It is with great joy that I announce that I have been officially recertified as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). There are only 5,300 CFRE’s worldwide. CFRE indicates that the fundraiser has acquired the skills in securing gifts, knowledge of the various gifting vehicles, volunteer management, stewardship & management and has been involved in both professional and volunteer activities. If I may be of service to you or a nonprofit with which you are engaged, please contact me at either 330-696-6709 or Onward and upward!


Foundation Research – Who to ask & what for

Want another research option? Try this. The Foundation Center has a wealth of information and just looking around can provide you with a great many resources and a lot of fun and. The link below can be manipulated in a number of ways to provide you with information on the largest Ohio foundations. Check it out. Research can be FUN!


The Right Foot

It’s common knowledge that the most successful, dynamic nonprofit organizations have a successful, dynamic board. So how does your nonprofit build that kind of a board? How do you start out on the right foot? It actually begins BEFORE a member joins the board. It is critical that the person under consideration cares about the cause and what is EXPECTED of them as a board member. The link below provides a basic list of expectations in the various areas of board responsibility. It’s a good start to constructing a set of specific expectations for your board members. If they understand and agree, you are well on the way to building a successful board.


Happy 238th Birthday, America!

So what did happen on July 4, 1776? The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. They'd been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes. Note that the signers of the Declaration of Independence agreed. Wish that our government leaders could do some of that today!


Charitable IRA Rollover – On the Road Again

The long and winding road to reinstate the Charitable IRA Rollover continues. But there are signs of hope and concern – hope in the House, concern in the Senate. If this important charitable option is to be reinstated permanently it is imperative that our representatives on the House and our Senators hear from the nonprofit sector. That’s us. The article to which I provide the link below provides the details on how you can help. There are links to easily find and contact your representative (by simply entering your zip code) and our two Ohio Senators. The article even provides talking points. It’s important. Don’t delay – do it today.


Giving rebounding faster than earlier estimated

The Giving USA 2014 Report has been released and it's good news for nonprofits and fundraisers. Among the different nonprofit sectors only giving to religion (-1.6%) and international affairs (-8.0) declined when compared to 2012 - education, public & society benefit, arts& culture, animals & the environment, health and human services all showed increases. Individual giving (including bequests) continues to be the backbone of charitable giving (79.9%) followed by foundations (14.6%) and corporations (5.3%). Individual and foundation giving rose in 2013. In a most encouraging sign, the trend toward increased giving appears to be speeding up in 2014. As always, the best counsel is to ASK. Because if you don't someone else will.


Foundation Assets Up Significantly in 2013

Assets at small to midsize foundations grew by 14 percent in 2013 and gave out more than 7 percent of their assets, according to a report released on May 21. The study was conducted by Foundation Source, a firm that provides advice and administrative support to grant makers. Among the findings: • More than one third of the foundations distributed 10 percent or more of their assets to nonprofits, double the 5 percent required by law. • Of all grants these foundations gave last year, 29 percent ($42.8-million) went to support education, 17 percent ($25.7-million) went to human services, and 12 percent to arts, culture and the humanities. As I've said in this column before - I've tried asking and I've tried not asking. Asking works better. Now is a good time to ask. You can download the report by clicking on the link below.


Nonprofits are businesses, too

A nonprofit leader at a Board meeting once emphatically said, "We are not a business!" He couldn't have been more wrong. One of the members resigned as a result. If the business side of the nonprofit is not healthy, the mission is put at risk. So it might behoove your nonprofit to take some cues from the for-profit world and shine a more business-like light on your organization. That's part of the reason the Board exists. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.


Foundation Research Bonus

Money's tight -- but you need to identify the foundations which are the best prospects to fund your mission or project? The Foundation Center Directory Online is available for free at most public libraries. But if you can't get to the library, a new option has been recently released by the Foundation Library - a limited but still very useful FREE service available online which will allow you to research a funder's profile including: • Address and contact information • Fields of interest • Program areas • Fiscal information Knowing who to ask, what to ask for and when to ask are the prerequisites for of success.


IRA Rollover soon to be reinstated?

-- The IRA Charitable Rollover provision, which allows donors age 70½ and older to exclude from their taxable income any IRA funds up to $100,000 that have been withdrawn and transferred to a charity when filing a tax return, is one step closer to being reinstated back into law, reports the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). The rollover provision expired on Dec. 31, 2013. How You Can Help … reach out to your House representatives and Senators and urge them to 1) support the reinstatement of the IRA Rollover provision in the EXPIRE Act and 2) support the creation of a permanent IRA Rollover provision. The link below provides additional information on the important and attractive option for donors and nonprofits. There are also links in the article which will provide contact information to reach your representatives and Senators. Don't delay - do it today!


Success Story: American Society of Andrology

The American Society of Andrology (ASA) is a unique international partnership of scientists and clinicians which exists to promote scientific interchange and knowledge of the male reproductive system. In short, the ASA brings research advances to the physician so that they can help people. The Society needed to increase its endowment and contacted Golden Rule Consulting. Working closely with the Society's Endowment and Development Committee and its chair, Dr. Susan Rothmann, a report was developed which summarized the current endowment holdings, recommended several committee motions for adoption by the Society's leadership board and presented a plan of action for increasing the number of annual donations and thus the amount. Heretofore, the Society's annual fundraising campaign to its membership was limited to a single box to check on the membership renewal form. The new plan involved a determined effort at the annual conference -- Say YES to ASA! -- which involved personal requests of the Society's leadership and a booth which promoted the opportunity for members to make a contribution to support the ASA mission. Plan you work and work your plan. The results are very encouraging. Compared to all of its last fiscal year, the Society has already experienced a 68% surge in the amount raised; the number of gifts is 60% greater; and the average gift has increased by 88% -- and there are still three months remaining in its fiscal year! The moral of the story: “I’ve tried asking and I’ve tried not asking. Asking works better.” If you need help asking, contact Golden Rule.


Fundraising can be fun!

Here’s a brief, thought-provoking and, in my experience, absolutely true op-ed link from the New York Times. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. -- Winston Churchill The article won’t take you long to read. It’s Spring, it’s Passover and it’s Easter. What better time to reflect on our perspective on life – and the philanthropic process? People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. -- John C. Maxwell Anyone who gives time or money to help others is a philanthropist. They are among the happiest people I know. So when you either give or get, concentrate on having a positive attitude. It’s more fun and yields better results all the way around. Attitudes are more important than facts. -- George MacDonald


Nonprofits competing with the government?

The report that you can access through the link below surprised me when I heard it on Marketplace from American Public Media. Did you know that there is a federal task force to encourage agencies to partner with private donors? For me it simply adds fuel to making sure that your nonprofit?s Case for Support is the best it can be. Taking your Case to your most loyal donors and testing it with them, asking why they give, why your mission is important to them and asking for their suggestions for improvement not only strengthens your Case but it will also strengthen your relationship with your benefactors.


Technology tools to increase efficiency

Did you see this article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy? Six mobile apps for the fundraiser to help save time and stay organized. And best of all, they are free! There?s nothing to lose by checking them out. Time is a resource you can never get more of ? you can only use it better. P.S. Spring arrives today (at least on the calendar!) After this winter, it cannot come soon enough!


Know your donors: The Millennials

Pew Research recently published a very interesting study of the opinions and trends among people born between 1981 and 1996. If you are a member of this generation, how do these results reflect your views? If you are not, the results may surprise you. One way or the other, it pays to know your donors and to devise strategies to communicate effectively and to help them meet their philanthropic needs. From the study: ?The Millennial generation is forging a distinctive path into adulthood. Now ranging in age from 18 to 33, they are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry? and optimistic about the future.?


Concerning Transparency

The United States Bill of Rights was originally proposed to guarantee personal freedoms and to assuage fears of the government growing too powerful. Similarly, the Donor Bill of Rights is a document which, when applied in a nonprofit, can be used to state its values ? both internally and externally. It can augment the confidence of your benefactors. And in a time when organizational integrity is called into question all too often ? does Enron or Worldcom ring a bell? ? publically committing your organization to uphold these ten statements can be very powerful. Consider having your governing board formally adopt the Donor Bill of Rights and send it along with the acknowledgement of your donor?s first gift of the year.


Online Fundraising: How do you stack up?

A very fine article was recently published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy which provides valuable tools for evaluating your online fundraising. As we are all aware, online activity ? whether it is for a nonprofit organization or a for-profit company ? has grown exponentially over the few years. If you?re not there, you are missing out and the trend is certainly for more online action as time goes on. If you follow the link below and find that your organization is lacking and that you do not have the technical expertise in-house, consider an INVESTMENT in a capable outside consultant who can help you re-define your online presence. Don?t be penny wise and pound foolish. It is indeed an investment and it will pay dividends.


When Opportunity Knocks, Listen

The Association of Fundraising Professionals North Central Ohio Chapter once again offers what is arguably the best resource development deal in the area on Friday March 21 ? the Career Success Institute. Where else can you get a choice to personally attend two educational programs PLUS get the notes from four others PLUS a opportunity to network with over 100 nonprofit leaders PLUS hear a fascinating keynote address PLUS lunch with colleagues? And it all happens close by at a very affordable price. Check out the linik below for more information.


Charitable Giving Rose 4.9 Percent in 2013

Charitable giving rose 4.9 percent in 2013, the largest year-over-year increase in overall giving since the onset of the Great Recession, while online giving rose 13.5 percent, a report from Blackbaud finds. I found the 2013 Overall Giving Distribution by Month by Sector and the 2013 Online Giving Distribution by Month by Sector among the most interesting sections, but the entire report is worth a look. It confirms what most nonprofit executives already know ? most giving takes place at the end of the year and that technology is changing the face of fundraising. In order to be prepared for tomorrow you need to be aware of the trends today ? and develop your strategies based on those trends. Golden Rule can help. ?If you always do what you?ve always done, you?ll always get what you?ve always got.?


Donor Advised Funds ? Again!

In early January we discussed the topic of donor advised funds and the fact that a great deal of money was flowing into them. To refresh your memory you can visit Thursday Thoughts on our website. The Fidelity report you can access via the link below provides additional validation that donors may have greater capacity than you realize. So pay attention to the checks that come into your office. If they indicate that your benefactor has a donor advised fund, and they believe in your mission, perhaps they are in a position to be of greater help.



So how?d things go in 2013? Do your donors know? Research has shown that letting your donors know that their gifts have gone where they directed them and that they have helped the organization accomplish its mission is important to retaining their loyalty. Many nonprofits? fiscal year is the calendar year. For others, December 31 is half way through. While annual reports can sometimes take a while to produce, what?s the downside of mailing (or emailing) a quick summary of 2013 accomplishments? A few pennies? People are starting to think of their taxes and the end of the calendar year is a psychological break for everyone ? regardless of your fiscal year. Give your donors more information. They will like hearing that they have made a difference. And you don?t want every communication they receive to be a request for money ?


Start and Stop?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published a couple of articles that I thought deserved a special mention. You know the definition of insanity, I am sure. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Now is a good time to reflect on what you are ? and are not ? doing in our fundraising programs. No one?s goals are getting smaller. It?s important to examine what works and might be improved. And what?s not and should be dropped. The links below stimulated my thinking ? and I hope stimulate yours.


An Encouraging Trend

In an early analysis of 2013 giving the Atlas of Giving estimates that charitable contributions rose nearly 13% over 2012. This continues a trend of increased philanthropy every year since 2009. The leading sectors remained the same?religion, education, human needs/disaster services and health care ? while human needs/disaster services grew fastest. Is your nonprofit following the trend? The first step is to develop and update your strategies. Plan your work and work your plan. If you don?t, you may be planning to fail. Contact Golden Rule if you?d like more information on planning to succeed.


Pay Attention

How does your nonprofit handle contributions? Do you see the actual check? Are the checks scanned or are copies made? The link to the article below provides insight into what many donors who have capacity are beginning to do in greater numbers and in larger amounts ? creating or adding to a donor advised fund. Like a gift directly to your nonprofit, the donor receives an immediate tax benefit when they place money in a donor advised fund. If your donor has a fund, your conversations may need to include WHY they give in addition to HOW they give. Unlike private foundations, a donor advised fund is not required to distribute money to charity. So the assets can theoretically remain in the fund for months or even years. If you pay attention to the information on a check when it arrives, you may have the opportunity to have a more meaningful conversation with your donor ? which will hopefully strengthen the relationship between the donor and your nonprofit.


In Memoriam: James P. Banks, CFRE

Jim Banks was the driving force and the first Board President of the North Central Ohio Chapter of the National Society of Fundraising Executives (NSFRE) in 1989, which today is the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He passed away on December 2, 2013 at the age of 92. Jim was a soft-spoken man of integrity, a superb organizer and a dedicated family man. He raised millions of dollars for the University of Akron (see E.J. Thomas Hall), Ohio University, Case Western Reserve University, Rotary, First Congregational Church of Akron and, as an independent consultant, for countless other organizations which called upon his exceptional talent. He was a mentor to many. In fact, Jim received the "Outstanding Professional Fund Raiser" award from NSFRE in 1987. Fundraisers are an interesting group. Often they are in the background making things happen. Most people never know that in many ways it was the fundraiser who made the helping hand, the building or the performance possible. And perhaps that is Jim?s greatest legacy and the greatest lesson, particularly at this time of year. His good works have benefitted many, but they were done in secret. And he has now gone on to his reward. The world is a better place because Jim Banks lived.


Crowdfunding: A tactic on the rise

The rapidly increasing use of mobile technology is transforming fundraising. Among the clearest examples is the growing use of crowdfunding designed to attract large numbers of small contributions. But when many do a little a lot gets done. But it?s not just nonprofits that are using this new tactic. It has demonstrated success in politics and now reaches out on behalf of private individuals experiencing a crisis. A successful fundraising plan must appeal to different constituencies. The basic fundraising principle remains the same: very specific targeting of donors capable of significant investment in the cause but also increasing the numbers of people who support the cause. It?s the tactics that continue to evolve. Are you evolving, too?


Success Story: Persistence Pays

?Energy and persistence conquer all things.? Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) In 2011 Golden Rule Consulting was contracted to work with the Louise Sumner Board, a wonderful group of women dedicated to serving the older adults at Sumner on Ridgewood, a continuing care facility. They hoped to raise the funds to build an outdoor pavilion particularly for the elders living in the nursing units at Sumner. They were building on the Board?s 100 years of service to Sumner residents. ?The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.? Anonymous The Louise Sumner Board had never been a fundraising organization ? for them it was all about service. But there was no shaded outdoor building on campus where people could enjoy the outdoors. The ladies were dedicated to adding to the residents? quality of life. So they began raising money and things were proceeding pretty well. It was hard work. But there were issues beyond their control ... ?Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.? John R. Wooden (1910-2010) Sumner had some financial problems. And soon it was in negotiation to be sold. Donors and prospective donors were concerned. Who were the eventual owners? Would they support the project? But the ladies continued on. ?We have to get this done,? they said. ?It?s too important to stop.? ?Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.? Malcolm S. Forbes (1919-1990) Golden Rule?s original contract period had long concluded. But there was NO WAY Golden Rule was going to abandon these dedicated volunteers. The sale was concluded. The new owners, Concordia at Sumner, supported the project. Fundraising continued ? and ? lo and behold ? through persistence and belief, the pavilion was constructed! Glorious! Celebrate! So what?s the lesson? For me, it?s realizing WHY you are doing the job. It?s beyond ME. It?s to make a difference in someone else?s life. How noble. It?s what makes life worth living.


Out of the Mouths of Babes

Last week the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), North Central Ohio Chapter celebrated National Philanthropy Day. It was inspiring to be in a room with 400 people who care about their community ? and more importantly, the quality of life for those who live in our area. Be they volunteers, donors or the professional fundraisers who provide the opportunities for people to do good all put words into action. They demonstrate their values by giving of their time, their talent and their treasure But the most thought provoking comment came from the Children in Philanthropy Award Winner Anthony Solari who noted ?Some people are so poor all they have is money.? As we prepare to enter the Holiday Season, that is perhaps a mantra upon which we should all reflect.


A Mind is like a Parachute ?

? it works best when open. Part of the purpose of Thursday Thoughts is to cause the readers to think. Here?s another source for ideas. If you haven?t checked it out previously, The Chronicle of Philanthropy offers a Thursday series of Live Discussions on a wide variety of topics. Today?s topic is How to Lift Year-End Appeals; last week?s was Clever Ways to Thank Donors. And there are dozens more. These discussions are brief (less than one hour) and often provide me with a thought provoking break during the day. If I am not available, I can follow the link in to the discussion later (see below). If I don?t find the topic of interest, I leave. There?s no cost. The point is that they challenge me to think about what I am doing and ways that I might do things better. Are you up to the challenge?


Adapting your Case for Support

Although a nonprofit?s Case for Support will always have elements that remain inviolate, that doesn?t mean that it cannot adapt to changing conditions. Did you see the Washington Post article? The government shutdown affected services to the most needy of our citizens but private donors have stepped up to help. As you will see, at least one nonprofit adjusted their Case in order to acquire the resources to continue its services. It is encouraging, instructive and concerning. Encouraging because people care; instructive because motivated, individual donors can write a check NOW (as opposed to most foundations); and concerning because how many times can you go back to the same well? The importance of having a broad base of support cannot be over emphasized. Happily, on Wednesday a Senate compromise ended the shutdown and the country will not default in its debts (in violation of the 14th Amendment, by the way.) But, once again, they kicked the can down the road and we will apparently go through this again all too soon.


Are you ready for the new face of philanthropy?

I recently read a thought provoking article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. A change of historic dimensions is on the horizon ? and nonprofits which want to succeed need to begin planning for it now. Women, today?s youth and people of color will push the future philanthropic envelope. Nonprofits will need to be more creative in how they frame their case for support and who presents that case. Follow the link below to gain insight into the future ? and begin the conversation within your nonprofit about how you will adapt to a new reality.


Good News from Foundations

Two recent studies provide grantseekers with reason to be optimistic about foundation giving. The Foundation Center?s Key Facts on U.S. Foundations study notes that the outlook for 2013 is for continued modest growth overall. U.S. foundations continue to provide a stable source of support for new ideas and ongoing programs that improve lives around the world. Additionally, a 2012 Council on Foundations-Commonfund study finds private foundations rebuilding assets after the recession declines and that spending for mission has increased. Their gains averaged 12.0% following -0.7% return in FY2011. Nonprofit organizations need to continue to refine their Case for Support and ask, ask, ask.


New from GRC ? Mentoring

Golden Rule Consulting introduces a Resource Development Mentoring program to assist small nonprofits. In spite of a recovering economy, budgets remain tight. Nonprofit Boards and executives keenly recognize the need to generate philanthropic dollars. But because money is tight they are often unable to hire (or retain) the development officer with the right experience and/or skill set to do the job that needs to be done. Enter Golden Rule. With 30+ years of fundraising experience in planning, grantwriting, major/deferred gifts and capital campaigns Golden Rule is well positioned to provide expert guidance. Fees are designed on a sliding scale based on the size of the nonprofit, the tasks that need to be accomplished and the needs of the mentee. For more information, contact Larry Becker, CFRE at or 330.696.6709.


Begin with the Board

The most effective nonprofit Boards are made up of people who care deeply about the cause they serve. But while they share this trait in common, each member brings different things to the organization. Everyone possesses a unique perspective. They may bring a different set of skills and they may represent a different constituency served by the organization. It is this diversity that brings strength to the Board and the organization. Follow the links below and survey your Board and staff to discern the special skills and demographics needed to enlist the right leadership for your organization. Skill Chart.pdf


Generational Giving Preferences Revealed

A study recently conducted by Edge Research, Sea Change Strategies, and Target Analytics, a division of Blackbaud, further illuminates the giving preferences and differences among the generations. It also peeks into the future as the results seem to indicate that the younger donors are, the less likely they are to agree that cash gifts are the best way to support charities. They believe that volunteering their time is the best way to make a difference. And the younger they are the more they want to see results. The moral of this story: nonprofits better know who they are talking to in order to craft the most convincing case for support. The summary of the report can be viewed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy by following the link below. The entire report can be downloaded through Blackbaud, but you will need to sign up to get it.


Time and Talent = Treasure?

It has long been known in development circles that helping people meet THEIR personal and philanthropic needs is the most productive long term strategy to build a successful program. Making sure that volunteers gain personal benefit from their service is particularly important to keep them coming back. Furthermore, if properly motivated, volunteers can become among the nonprofit?s most loyal donors. The care and proper feeding of volunteers can move the Mission forward in many different ways. How is your organization investing in making sure that you help the volunteers meet their needs?


Funders Do Research, Too

Nonprofit organizations generally do some research before making an approach to a prospective donor. It?s important to realize that many funders ? individuals, foundations and corporations ? do the same before they make a gift. Probably the most commonly utilized site is Guidestar. Obtaining an account is free and allows the user to examine the last three years of IRS 990 tax returns and potentially learn a great deal more about the nonprofit?s good works ? but only if the nonprofit ?claims? the nonprofit report. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for the nonprofit to put its best foot forward is to obtain a Guidestar Exchange logo and promote it in as many ways as possible. There are three levels ? Gold, Silver and Bronze ? which provide increasing levels of transparency. And transparency speaks volumes to the donor. Check out the information that your favorite nonprofits display by following the link below, make sure that the information is complete and up to date ? and like any Olympic athlete ? Go for the Gold! P.S. Other sites that funders also examine are Charity Navigator and the Foundation Center.


Corporate Philanthropy ? Time & Talent

Since the economic recession began, it?s been widely reported in fundraising literature that corporate giving has declined. A new study seems to indicate that it may not so much have declined, but CHANGED. The report, 2013 Employment Benefits ? an annual survey of employment benefits conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management ? found that 20 percent of survey respondents offered a volunteer benefit to their employees, a number that has been increasing since 2007. The report suggests that the practice is driven by a perception among employers that their millennial-generation employees ? those born after 1980 ? value volunteering for their favorite causes over cash donations to nonprofits, as well as by a sluggish economy that has taken a bite out of corporate philanthropy budgets. So perhaps your nonprofit should consider asking for the time and talent corporations can offer to raise more money ? rather than only asking for cash contributions. How creative can you be?


National Philanthropy Day

The AFP North Central Ohio Chapter has announced the 2013 awardees and set November 8 at the Fairlawn Hilton for the celebration. NPD is a tremendous affair that brings together the area?s philanthropic family ? donors, volunteers and staff ? and all segments of our community ? education, health care, religion, social services, businesses ? to honor and celebrate what philanthropy has accomplished in improving the quality of life in our region.. Make your reservation soon ? the event is sure to sell out.!


Inexpensive Appreciation

?Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.? Lucius Tullius Cicero (106 ? 43 B.C.) The value of saying Thank You has been recognized for thousands of years. It never goes out of style and is more important today in our fast paced society than ever before. To make it authentic and personal without going overboard is the challenge. But the rewards, for both those giving and receiving, make it all worthwhile. How do you say thank you? Perhaps the link below will provide some new ideas to augment what you are already doing.


Finding the Balance

Last week?s topic of conversation was ?The Overhead Myth?, which suggested that just focusing on a nonprofit?s administrative costs may be a poor indicator of its effectiveness. The other side of that coin is that some organizations DO spend excessive amounts on administration/fundraising and too little on providing service. When that happens, all nonprofits suffer because the public?s trust is eroded. Integrity is the nonprofit sector?s most important commodity. People do not have to make contributions. They do not have to volunteer. They choose to do so because they believe in the mission. They trust us. If the nonprofit that you support has challenges/problems, work to overcome them. Do not ignore them or intentionally cover them up. Honesty IS the best policy. ?In the end you should always do the right thing even if it's hard.? ― Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song


The Future for Fundraising

This is a fascinating report about how the fundraising landscape is changing.. Millennials ? young men and women born between 1979 and 1994 ? passionately support causes rather than the institutions working to address them; are highly selective about which organizations to follow on social media; and value the intrinsic benefits of volunteering such as networking and gaining professional expertise, a new report from Achieve and the Case Foundation finds. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that 84 percent of millennials prefer to give online and are most likely to donate when they feel inspired by the organization (69 percent) or when the organization provides specific examples of the impact the donation will have on its work (49 percent). It?s pretty clear what this says about the importance of an online presence and the importance of building relationships with one?s donors. To read the entire report, follow the link below:


Corporate Giving Resource

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published a very helpful resource identifying how much America?s largest corporations give and what their giving priorities are. Understanding what their interests are is particularly important now since corporate cash giving has been flat for the last three years. Do your research, know your donors and help them meet THEIR needs. That?s the secret to long term success ? whether your donor is a corporation, foundation, organization or an individual.


Volunteering Can Increase Odds of Landing a Job

Philanthropy is all about donating time, talent and/or treasure. But it doesn?t have to be an entirely altruistic endeavor. People who volunteer are significantly more likely to be hired. Enlightened self-interest can be served by serving. The volunteer can be increasing their skills, broadening their network of contacts/relationships and making a positive difference in the community. And once the volunteer lands the perfect job, they have more ability to give treasure while continuing to give time and talent for the benefit of others. Sounds like a win-win to me.


The Overhead Myth

The leaders of the country?s three leading sources of information on nonprofits ? GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance ? penned an open letter to the donors of America denouncing the ?overhead ratio? as a valid indicator of nonprofit performance. Anyone who has been involved in any level of nonprofit activity recognizes the need to keep the lights on, pay the staff a living wage, invest in technology, provide training opportunities, etc. Using ?overhead? as the ONLY measure of a nonprofit?s effectiveness is shortsighted and does not tell the whole story. Please take a few minutes to review the letter (the second tab on the website link below) and explore the other research, articles and resources cited. Then decide if you want to sign the pledge.


Another Source of Unrestricted Dollars ? Donor Advised Funds

Fidelity Charitable has published its first report showing the giving patterns of donors who have created a Fidelity Charitable donor advised fund. Fidelity Charitable has $9.9-billion in assets and 57,000 funds. The average donor opens a fund at age 54 and makes almost seven grants a year, worth an average of $3,773 apiece. And the study found that many donors make gifts without strings. In 2012, 42 percent of grants from the funds were unrestricted, up from 37 percent in 2008. Charities prize unrestricted gifts because they use them for operations rather than specific projects. Do any of your benefactors have a donor advised fund? The best way to find out? Ask.


Trends in Giving

For 57 years Giving USA has published its Annual Report on Philanthropy. The attached link to the 2011 statistical analysis provides insight into both trends in the amounts and sources of philanthropic contributions as well as where the dollars go by recipient organization. Overall individual and foundation giving is up, corporate and religious giving are down and the number of nonprofits dropped by almost 16% -- probably as a result of not filing the required tax returns. As your organization goes about developing its fundraising plan of action, it is important to understand what is going on in a macro sense to be able to ascertain how your current plan compares with the trends ? are you ahead of the game, running side-by-side or falling behind. In any case, it provides data to help you analyze your efforts and the slower summer season allows you to adjust your plan before the fall fundraising season heats up. You do have a plan, don?t you?


Another Perspective on Giving

There?s lots of conversation about how nonprofits approach donors. Here?s a thought provoking talk about how philanthropists might approach nonprofits. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED Talks are short (they average only 17 minutes) and the presenters cover a wide, wide range of topics. They always stimulate thought.


The Purpose of These Emails

Dr. Lloyd C. Douglas, best selling author of The Robe and Magnificent Obsession (among many others), once said ?My job [as a minister] is not to tell you what to believe, but rather to cause you to think.? That pretty well summarizes my purpose in sending these weekly emails (except when I have computer problems!) The nonprofit sector brings incredible value to our society and the world. Through Golden Rule Consulting I want to contribute whatever I can to helping YOU do more and do it better. I chose the name of the company purposely. So if these emails and the links they provide cause you to think, to evaluate what you are doing and how you are doing it, they have accomplished their purpose. And if I can help you more directly, please contact me. I am, after all, GOLDEN RULE Consulting. Onward and upward!


The Value of Time

Philanthropy is about more than money. It?s time, talent and treasure used to benefit others. We know the value of treasure, but what about time? All nonprofit organizations utilize volunteers to varying degrees. It is Board members, committee volunteers and people donating their time (and talent) to provide service. Those volunteer hours can be used to strengthen the nonprofit?s Case for Support when applying for grants, in your annual report, volunteer recognition events and demonstrating community support.. Independent Sector has provided a chart and links to other useful information to help a nonprofit estimate the impact that volunteer service provides toward accomplishing its Mission. If you aren?t tracking your volunteers? hours, this may provide some motivation.


R U Getting UR Share?

Online fundraising results continue to grow in both number and value, according to statistics collected by The Chronicle on Philanthropy. The link below provides some very useful analysis. Is your organization prepared to receive online contributions ? with a button to make it easy to give, a system to process the gifts and integrate with your software? How do you drive people to your website so that they have the opportunity to give? Establishing a broad base should be a key element of any fundraising plan. It?s intentional. Many donors ? large and small ? giving in different ways ? face-to-face, written proposals and online ? to the specific programs they support. OPTIONS spells Success.


You?ve got to be kidding!

The ABC Organization down the street has just announced that they have received a $1,000,000 charitable gift. So a call comes in to the XYZ Organization?s development office ? from the Board Chair and the CEO. The gist of the conversation: Where?s ours? What have YOU been doing? Beneath the fluff of the press release lie some unreported facts. Their chief development officer has 25 years of experience and has been with ABC for the past 15. XYZ?s has been in the position for 2 years and in the field for four. The million dollar donor has been a consistent ABC contributor for the last 18 years and, at the urging of the development office, the ABC CEO has established a trusting, personal and professional relationship. The donor?s gifts have increased in frequency and amount over the last five years as a result. XYZ?s CEO prefers to study the financials in the office and the Board Chair simply runs the monthly meetings. Neither even knows the names of the top ten XYZ contributors. The moral of the story? In order for an organization to receive a major gift, figure 12 to 18 month of the ORGANIZATION nurturing the relationship and building up the donor?s confidence in the nonprofit, its mission & vision and its leadership. It?s a team effort. The development office doesn?t have to do it all ? they just need to have the right people in the right place and develop a plan to get it all done. Golden Rule can help put a plan in place.


Be Prepared

Everyone needs to report something. It?s the cost of living in our free society. For individuals and for profit businesses, it?s IRS Form 1040. For nonprofits it is Form 990. Our friends in Congress and the Internal Revenue Service provide great benefit to the nonprofit sector by allowing 501(c)(3) organization to receive tax deductible gifts and to not pay taxes on that income. But some nonprofit income is handled differently ? unrelated business income and a quid pro quo ? from the Latin ?something for something? ? being the two most obvious. How the nonprofit handles these requires both knowledge and ethics. The IRS helps by publishing information on both. The link below, made available by AFP and the IRS, provides a concise description of the nonprofit reporting and disclosure requirements. Know the rules. Be prepared to report. And as Stephen Covey said in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, ?Begin with the end in mind.?


Making the Case

Creating a compelling and urgent Case for Support is one of the keys to fundraising success. It answers the question: Why should I give? Sometimes a Case can be strengthened by thinking and going ?outside the box.? To simply rely on the organization?s internal sources may end up focusing on the trees rather than the whole forest. That?s another good reason why an organization should have a diverse Board, Development Committee and/or retain an outside consultant. They bring another perspective. The link below is part one of a three part NPR series which provides an example for arts and educational organizations of going to some ?non-traditional? sources for information. If going ?outside the box? causes one to think differently and creatively, that?s a very good thing.


Procrastinators Unite!

?Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?? Well, you can?t anymore and still attend the AFP Career Success Institute (CSI). Today is the deadline. It?s going to be a fabulous conference. Why attend? The Foundation Center link below will direct you to an article which documents that roughly 60% of nonprofits saw increases in their contributions in 2012. And 70% expect to see increases again in 2013. Is your nonprofit among that number? CSI can help you one way or the other. It will provide new ideas and perspectives, add to your resources and give you an opportunity to share thoughts with colleagues. You will not get this kind of an opportunity at this price again in 2013. Don?t procrastinate or hesitate ? review the sessions and register right now using the link below!


There?s still time

As a former Chapter president, I know that the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) North Central Ohio Chapter is committed to providing the highest quality training opportunities at an affordable price. The April 19 Career Success Institute is a prime example. CSI keynote speaker and workshop leader Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE (Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive) is an internationally recognized fundraiser. And there?s something for everyone ? sessions on grantwriting, capital campaigns, building critical relationships, fundraising basics, career advancement, crisis management and a chance to ?Meet the Funders?. Attending the AFP International Conference ? an admittedly superior learning opportunity ? would cost approximately $2,000 (conference registration, airfare, room and meals). At CSI you have a chance to personally attend three (3) sessions (and get the handouts from all the others!), network with colleagues and investigate all sorts of fundraising aids at the vendor tables. All this and more for only $120 ($75 if you are an AFP member)! And you get lunch, too! Check it out through the link below. It?s an opportunity not to be missed!


The Future of the Charitable Deduction?

While the tax deduction is not the primary reason that most people financially support the causes they believe in, it is certainly a consideration. Potential changes to incentives for charitable giving in the tax code have been an ongoing part of deficit reduction and tax reform discussions in our nation?s capital. Let your voice be heard. Communicate with Senators Brown and Portman and your representatives in the House. Here are links to two perspectives on the debate so that your opinion is an informed one.


Keeping your Donors

It is easier and more cost effective to keep your donors than to get new ones. But like anything, it takes time, effort and creativity. After all, they know about you and your cause. They will give more generously and more often. To whet your appetite for the April 19, half day AFP North Central Ohio's Career Success Institute (CSI) and its keynote speaker, Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, below is a link to help you focus your efforts to get the best return on the investment of your time and energy.


What's the Value of a Good Idea?

- I've heard many seasoned fundraisers say that they ALWAYS pick up at least one new idea from every professional development meeting they attend. What's the value of that one good idea? On Friday, April 19 the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) North Central Ohio Chapter hosts its Career Success Institute presented by Huntington Bank's Seeds for Growth at Kent State University Stark Campus. The program features Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, an internationally recognized speaker and fundraiser. And there's more ? much more. I guarantee that you'll pick up more than one idea to stimulate your creative juices. And if you register by March 19 you receive a discounted registration price. You'll never get a better value for your investment. Check it out by clicking the link below.


Time and Money

Time - It's finite. We simply can't get any more of it. And budgets are tight. Perhaps your most important fundraising questions are these: ? What's your return on your investment of time? ? What's your return on your investment of money? A recent article provides a step-by-step system for measuring your ROI. Always remember: The people most likely to give to your nonprofit are the people who have already given. And it's more efficient to keep a donor than to acquire new ones.


Give, Get or ?

Fundraising for a nonprofit organization needs to be a team effort. The days of ?You?re the fundraiser ? go raise money? are long gone. If that?s the way things are in the organization you serve ? as a staff member, a trustee or a volunteer ? you are looking to survive rather than thrive. The Board can and should be one of the most important arrows in the nonprofit?s fundraising quiver. They should be passionate advocates, door openers and have the ability to generate needed support for the cause. But what happens if they are not? If they don?t care enough about the mission to support it, why should anyone else? An individual Board member has three viable options. And they need to choose among them. You have probably heard this before ? Give, Get or Get Off. Changing organizational culture doesn?t happen overnight. But it may be necessary. Fundraising isn?t getting easier. It is everyone?s job. P.S. Computer problems caused us to miss last week?s Thursday Thought. Sorry about that. Computers ? a blessing and a curse!


A Disturbing Report

I recently read a report about the state of the nonprofit sector that I frankly found very disturbing. CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund released a study UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising which reveals that many nonprofits are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed. Here are the summarized findings: ? REVOLVING DOOR - Organizations are struggling with high turnover and long vacancies in the development director position. ? HELP WANTED - Organizations aren?t finding enough qualified candidates for development director jobs. Executives also report performance problems and a lack of basic fundraising skills among key development staff. ? IT?S ABOUT MORE THAN ONE PERSON - Beyond creating a development director position and hiring someone who is qualified for the job, organizations and their leaders need to build the capacity, the systems, and the culture to support fundraising success. The findings indicate that many nonprofits aren?t doing this. ? BREAKING THE CYCLE - UnderDeveloped offers urgent calls to action for the nonprofit sector, citing key steps that nonprofit executives, funders, and sector leaders should consider as they set out to address the challenges detailed in the report. I urge all nonprofit Board members, CEO/Executive Directors, volunteers and development officers to read this report and make an honest assessment of your organizational culture when it comes to fundraising. The full report can be accessed through the link below.


Young Donors: What they want

Maximizing the gift has always been a function of meeting the philanthropic needs of the donor. As the Baby Boomers age there has been an increasing emphasis on younger philanthropists (Philanthropy simply means ?love of humankind?). A couple of new reports shine a bright light on these younger people: personal values, measurable impact, and hands-on engagement. They want to develop close, hands-on relationships with the organizations or causes they support. Among the purposes of Thursday Thoughts is to both inform and challenge readers. How will your non-profit engage young people and keep them involved? It won?t happen by chance ? it will be result of intentional action. You need a plan of action. A summary of the study findings can be found at GrantCraft (see the link below.) The full report can also be found by following the second link.


Outcome Based Evaluation

Charity Navigator, the country's largest charity-ratings organization, will soon begin monitoring how nonprofits report the outcomes of their work, with the eventual goal of making such reporting the cornerstone of its ratings system. For more on CN 3.0 it would be best to read the President?s Reports on Charity Navigator?s website (link below).


Fiscal Cliff Deal Expected to Increase Charitable Giving

Last week we learned that the IRA Rollover charitable giving option has been reintroduced. This week The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center published an article describing the potential increase in 2013 charitable giving because of Washington?s recent fiscal cliff deal. In an old Star Trek episode the Starship Enterprise is racing at warp 10 but is going in a circle. When the intrepid Captain Kirk asks Lt. Commander Scott, ?What?s the situation? Scotty replies, ?We?re not going anywhere but we?re getting? there mighty fast!? So what?s your plan to take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself in 2013? Don?t confuse being busy with being productive. Without a PLAN you could be spinning your wheels and not making the kind of progress you want. Contact Golden Rule Consulting if you?d like to discuss putting a plan in place. We can help.


Good news! IRA Rollover is Back!

According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal the IRA Rollover has been reintroduced retroactive to 2012 as a part of the recent fiscal cliff deal. This offers donors yet another (and potentially significant) option for making contributions up to $100,000 per year. It is important to understand, however, that the gift MUST be transferred from the donor?s IRA directly to the nonprofit (without landing in any of the donor?s accounts (bank or brokerage accounts for example) in order for the transfer to avoid tax implications for the benefactor.


Time to Evaluate

2013 has arrived! Some organizations have concluded their fiscal year, others are halfway through and everyone has hopefully had positive and productive year end solicitation efforts. Now is a good time to evaluate ? not only the results of your year end appeals but also your programs. Philanthropic dollars are limited and donors want to make sure that their contributions have the desired impact. Donors want to know that the programs they are funding work. It?s important to not only appeal to the heart when asking for a charitable gift but also to make sure that your cause delivers the service in an efficient and effective manner.



Take some time for yourself over the Holidays to renew and refresh. The link below to a short article reminds us that moderate stress results in better performance and provides some thoughts on achieving maximum output. So manage your stress. The work will wait and you?ll do better at it!


Fiscal Cliff is a Non-Profit Threat

Contact your representatives to urge compromise on the so-called Fiscal Cliff. One possible outcome of going over the cliff is the elimination or the reduction of the tax deduction for charitable giving. While that is not considered the #1 reason why people give, it is important. Both Republican and Democratic servants of the people need to hear from the non-profit sector that going over the cliff will cause tremendous pain to all their constituents. Contact your representatives today!


Giving (or Saying) Thanks

? It?s the time of year when we are reminded to count our blessings, both personally and for any non-profit organization where we identify with the Mission. We are indeed fortunate to be in a country with a marvelous philanthropic heritage. So how and when do you say thanks ? to your donor, spouse or friend? By letter or email? A phone call? Spending time over a meal or coffee with that certain someone? Having your Development Committee call and say ?THANK YOU!? (without asking for more money?!?!) Saying thank you quickly and personally is the right and proper way to do things. But being creative and surprising can charge YOU up and cause your donors to feel even more special


Success Story: Concordia at Sumner

As most people involved in capital campaigns realize obtaining the last dollars are the toughest. The donors who really care have made their commitments. Time is running out. Imagine adding this dynamic: as the end of the campaign approaches, your non-profit is being sold. Potential donors are concerned ? will the new owners support the project? I am reluctant to give until I know. So it was for the Louise Sumner Board in raising the final dollars to build their pavilion, the first outdoor, shaded structure at the retirement community. So a proposal was prepared for the new owners with an eye to help them meet their needs: ? create immediate good will on campus, ? provide a safe, shaded area for residents to enjoy activities and family visits., ? strengthen the LSB?s and Sumner?s ability to seek additional philanthropic support, ? reassure our donors and ? name the Concordia at Sumner Fireplace inside the Pavilion The sale is now complete. Concordia Lutheran Ministries named the fireplace and the campaign has been brought to a successful conclusion because meeting the donor?s philanthropic needs was the highest priority.


If you always do what you?ve always done

You?ll always get what you?ve always got. As the end of the year draws closer, you are in competition ? with for-profit companies urging people to buy their wiz-bang products and, as much as we don?t like to admit it, with other non-profit organizations which also have important missions. New ideas and new methodology can often generate new results. And if you are not trying out at least one new way of doing things at the end of the year you may be losing ground. And ideas which you may never have used ? and your donors have never experienced ? are out there. One source is Network for Good, which specializes in on-line fundraising. They recently published an interesting ?Year End Fundraising Essentials? eBook which may cause you to think about new ways to do your end of the year fundraising.


Don?t forget to VOTE!

"In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate?look to his character as a man of known principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office.? ? John Jay (1745-1829), Founding Father, Patriot, Statesman and First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court


Do Something

I usually write about the technical/professional aspects of resource development. But charitable giving is ultimately a personal decision. I hope that the link I share today will challenge you to think. How do you give? To whom do you give? Why do you give? And most importantly, do you give? ?Giving to others is the primary path to a life of significance.? ? Jann Abrams


Where the Candidates Stand

If you care about issues affecting non-profits ? be it taxes and charitable-giving incentives, arts and culture, poverty or their own personal nonprofit activities ? the Chronicle of Philanthropy?s article comparing the positions of each presidential candidate is a must read.


Year End Planning: What Donors Want

While many non-profit organizations are planning to request financial support as the calendar year draws to a close, it behooves them to also make sure that they plan what to do AFTER they receive the gift. Donors want information and what the non-profit gets in return is the donors? loyalty. Follow the link below and get a free copy of some ideas that will help you!


Right Process, Right Board

A key ingredient to increasing a nonprofit organization?s impact in the community it serves is having the right people on the team. Critical to this team are an organization?s board members. How an organization goes about attracting the right people is key. Belief and dedication to the Mission is the one characteristic that all Board members must share. But after that, each member should be selected based on the different roles that the Board needs to fill and how the candidates? skill sets match up with those different roles. The Board?s Nominating Committee (do you have one?) should know why you are asking someone to join the Board and know who those candidates are. The right process will lead to the right people joining the Board. And the right Board can help lead to fundraising success.


Year End Appeal Timing

Plan you work and work your plan. Finding the right Date for year-end and Holiday appeals may result in a difference of thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Experienced resource development officers share their thoughts on choosing the right date and explore different methods to obtain maximum results.


So you want to help

The best thing that you can do to help yourself, the cause you represent and your donor is to ASK people to help. Ask people to give their time, talent or treasure and research indicates that you help THEM. A study by Cornell University has found that volunteering increases a person?s energy, sense of mastery over life, and self-esteem. Michigan researchers conducted a study that found that men who partake in volunteer work have death rates two and one half times lower than those who did not volunteer. The book ?The Healing Power of Doing Good? by Allan Luks and Peggy Payne provides statistics to show that giving creates a more optimistic outlook, decreases insomnia, and provides better weight control. ?Give to Live? by Dr. Douglas M. Lawson presents a convincing link between spirituality and philanthropy. The moral of the story: Ask. You will actually be helping your donor.


Success Story ? Louise Sumner Board?s Centennial Pavilion

For over 100 years, the women of the Louise Sumner Board have dedicated their service efforts to improving the quality of life of older adults. To celebrate their centennial the organization made a dramatic break from their past by voting to both fund and build an outdoor pavilion to provide for the additional comfort and safety of the residents living at Sumner on Ridgewood ? particularly those in the health care centers. There was only one small problem ? the Board had no history of raising philanthropic dollars and thus did not possess the expertise to raise the needed $150,000 to build and landscape the pavilion. Golden Rule Consulting was retained to provide guidance. Working closely with the volunteer committee and Sumner administration, a Case for Support was written, heretofore non-existent prospect lists assembled and prioritized, personal visits to request support for this important project scheduled and completed ? And this past Sunday, September 9, 2012, ground was broken for the first ever capital improvement led and funded by the Louise Sumner Board! ?Larry?s told us time and time again ? I?ve tried asking and I?ve tried not asking. Asking works better,? noted campaign chair Ilona Stroup. ?And it?s true! While we are still seeking funds to provide additional amenities, when the cause is just, people will step forward. ?


Gain Another Perspective

Special event fundraisers can raise significant amounts of money and bring needed attention to your cause. But they can also be time and labor intensive. It?s imperative, therefore, that one be well organized, efficient and thus effective so that you achieve the largest return on your investment. The AFP North Central Ohio Chapter offers a special September 20 program on special events ? Making the Most Out of Event-Based Fundraising. Sign up today and be ready to have your creative juices stimulated!


FREE Access to Information

The Foundation Center is a wonderful resource. You can go to most public libraries and access the Foundation Directory Online to seek out funders in your geographic area and/or those who might support your particular mission at no cost. You can go to the Foundation Center website and register to receive all sorts of information via email ? again for free ? from RFP?s (Request for Proposal) in your sector of the nonprofit world (education, healthcare, etc.) to alerts on grants that have been awarded to informative newsletters. You can even do modest searches for funders. Foundations exist to give away money. Knowing where to go to ask for some of it is half the battle. Register today!


How America Gives

The Chronicle of Philanthropy can be an excellent resource to stay current with fundraising trends. The current issue reports research about how regional differences, political affiliation, religion and where people live (such as in economically diverse communities) affects their charitable giving. Knowing the trends can help a good fundraiser better plan and prioritize their efforts. Fascinating, thought provoking reading.


Fundraising or Development?

Gently put, government funding is not as secure as it once was. ?If you always do what you?ve always done, you?ll (not) always get what you?ve always got.? For many organizations it is a time of great upheaval. I was with such an organization recently. Their budget is several hundred thousand dollars a year. Their idea of development was running a golf outing that netted $2,000. I call that fundraising and it hardly seems worth the time unless ? I think that development is fundraising today with an eye to tomorrow. If you are nurturing important relationships during the golf outing, intentionally having meaningful conversations which later lead to substantive action which generate results, that?s development. Development is all about relationships built on trust. That takes time. It takes respect. It takes the ability to listen. And the end result ? mutual benefit.


Solutions to a confidence slowdown

Several recent surveys have revealed that donor confidence in the economy and their ability to make gifts is at a similar level to what it was in 2008. Remember 2008? Not good news. So what?s the solution? Control what you can control ? maintain donor confidence in you and your organization. ?We have to be in touch with our donors more than ever and making a point to get to know them,? notes AFP Chair Andrea McManus, CFRE. ?Donors are unsure about the economy, the future, their giving decisions, so help them to at least be confident about one thing: your organization, its impact and their involvement.? This counsel echoes findings of Penelope Burk at Cygnus Applied Research. Donors want information to insure that their investment in your organization is generating results. Communication is a key. Get out of the office. Invest staff and Board members? time in communicating personally with your donors.



Interested in getting the greatest impact from your online communications with the least amount of time and effort? Jacquie Skrzypiec will present "Faster, Smarter Online Communications: How to use the Right Tool to Send the Right Message to the Right People" at the Foundation Center on August 9th from 11:30 am - 1:00 pm. Fresh from AFP?s TechKnow conference, Jacquie will share what she learned from the industry?s top experts:  Incorporating social media into your current online communications plan  Preparing your website, GuideStar profile, and email broadcasts for social media implementation  Selecting which media to use for which purposes  Setting realistic goals and measuring those results  FREE tools to manage your online presence August 9 ~ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm The Foundation Center, 1422 Euclid Ave. Suite 1600, Cleveland FREE The workshop is part of the Foundation Center's FREE brown bag luncheon series. Space is limited. Register online, in person, or by calling 216-861-1933. Please arrive on time or your seat may be given away to others who are waiting to attend. If you need further information, please call (216) 861-1933. And don't forget to bring your lunch!


Servant Leadership

?A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. ? Lao Tzu (circa 550 BCE) Clearly Servant Leadership is a concept that has been around for a long time, but the phrase describing a leadership style is relatively recent. What kind of leader are you? Here are some characteristics of a servant leader distilled by Larry C. Spears, who has served as President and CEO of the Robert K Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership: ? Listening ? Empathy ? Healing ? Awareness ? Persuasion ? Conceptualization ? Foresight ? Stewardship ? Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader is someone who is servant first, who has responsibility to be in the world, and so contributes to the well-being of people and community. A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and asks, ?How can I help them to solve problems and promote personal development?? The main focus is on people, because only content and motivated people are able to reach their targets and to fulfill the set expectations. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) In most nonprofit organizations, the level of success is often determined by volunteer performance. And volunteer performance is many times determined by volunteer management. Whether you are an ED, staff member or volunteer in a leadership role, HOW WELL the job gets done is directly related to HOW you motivate people and keep them involved and excited about the mission.


Avoid Problems and Maintain Mission Focus

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) North Central Ohio Chapter will host a unique program on legal issue all organizations need to be aware of on Thursday, August 16 ? Bullet-Proof Your Nonprofit by Day Ketterer, Ltd. Topics include Employment Issues, Conflicts of Interest, Issues facing Directors and Maintaining Your Tax-Exempt Status. The program is FREE for AFP members and only $22 for non-members. Whether you are a Board member, volunteer or staff this is a program which will help avoid problems and thus keep the organizational focus on serving people.


BEST PRACTICES ? Don?t confuse being busy with being productive

Two resources available on line to everyone interested in philanthropy, either in giving or receiving, are the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. For instance, this month AFP?s Advancing Philanthropy magazine has a must read article on balancing fundraising mechanics with relationship building. This week?s Chronicle of Philanthropy has a thought provoking piece entitled Court?s Health-Care Ruling Offers Little-Noticed Threat to Nonprofits. Do you invest time to read? Stay excited about raising money ? you can best serve others by taking time for yourself.


CFRE: Evidence of Excellence

CFRE International (which stands for Certified Fundraising Executive) supports and encourages fundraising professionals to aspire to the highest standards of professional competence and ethical practice in serving the philanthropic sector. In order to qualify to take the exam, one must be in the profession for at least five (5) years and demonstrate a level of achievement in four primary areas: Education, Continuing Education, Professional Practice, Professional Performance and Service to the Community (volunteerism). The CFRE exam assesses mastery of the six core knowledge areas: Current and Prospective Donor Research, Securing the Gift, Relationship Building, Volunteer Involvement, Volunteer Involvement and Ethics and Accountability. Click on the link below to find out how a CFRE can serve you and your organization.


Best Practice - KNOW THE TRENDS

Charitable giving rose in 2011 compared to 2010 Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University finds. But, mirroring the economy in general, it is recovering at the slowest pace in four decades. The good news is that people are giving. One needs to be aware of both internal (Strengths and Weaknesses) and external (Opportunities and Threats), your SWOT analysis, as your organization develops its fundraising plan. This report is an excellent source of information to discover the external trends affecting your organization.


Training Day

No, not the movie! Working smarter is one of the keys to successful fundraising. The Association of Fundraising Professionals North Central Ohio Chapter offers Securing Major Gifts, Including Capital and Endowment Gifts on Thursday, June 28 at Mercy Hospital in Canton. The four person panel will provide a unique opportunity to hear different and similar perspectives. Visit the AFP link below to learn more.


Just Ask!

I post different quotes on the home page of the Golden Rule website. As I entered them for June I found two, placed in tandem, particularly thought provoking. Wayne Gretzky said, ?You miss 100% of the shots you don?t take.? And the second came from Russell Mawby: ?In the final analysis only people are important, only people make things happen.? Whether you need time, talent or treasure to move the Mission of your organization forward, ASK! You can make things happen. The people you get involved as a volunteer or as a donor can make things happen. And most of the time people want to help. The reason most often cited why people give (time or money)? They?ve been asked. Give them a chance. Who have you asked to get involved TODAY?


2012-05-31 - A Great Resource

TechSoup is a nonprofit with a clear focus: providing other nonprofits and libraries with technology that empowers them to fulfill their missions and serve their communities. And not just software but also hardware training opportunities and VERY helpful hints. Whether you are a staff member or a volunteer, it's well worth your time to check it out.


Planning the Ask

Planning the Ask means the right person asks the right donor in the right way for the right amount at the right time for the right reason. A successful Ask doesn?t just happen. Do your homework and know your donor.


Major Gifts ... building the relationship (Second time's the charm!)

Last week's link to Part 2 of the Major Gift series didn't work. Sorry about that! Second time's the charm!


Major Gifts ... building the relationship

Even thinking about the ?ask? for a major gift makes many of us break out in a cold sweat ? and we haven?t even decided who to ask, for what purpose, how much to ask for and when. While raising money is not easy these days, people are still giving.


Major Gifts ... a low cost way to identify probable donors

Have you heard this one? "We're doing more with less"? many organizations have either reduced development staff or asked more of the people in the office. Getting the best return on your investment of time is a key element of success. The best way to do that is to ask for MAJOR GIFTS ... but you need to ask the right people. Follow the link below, take five minutes and discover a low cost way to identify your best prospects.


2012 State of the Sector Survey

A sobering survey has been published by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Its conclusion - rising service demand is overwhelming a sector still coping with a brittle economy and a barrage of funding cuts. The survey tells a story of a sector still stretched thin, with organizations feeling distant from their funders and boards, and staff facing more work with less money and fewer benefits to take home. This report is a wake up call and should be shared with every nonprofit board. Of course, it is of no concern to any nonprofit which has enough money to accomplish its mission. Are you one of those? How Golden Rule can help ? sometimes getting a perspective from outside of the organization can help clarify opportunities and challenges. Call or email us if you would like to talk.


More Ministry Success Story ? Faith United Methodist Church, North Canton, OH

Ten years ago Faith United Methodist Church significantly expanded the church building and thus its ministry. While the congregation conducted a successful capital fundraising effort at the time, the church was still left with a sizable debt. So for the last decade the church?s budget has included debt service. With the arrival of a dynamic new pastoral team and with inspired lay leadership the church chose to explore a capital fundraising effort to eliminate the debt and increase the Trustees? Contingency Fund. Golden Rule Consulting was retained to conduct a feasibility study which concluded that a $500,000 campaign goal was both realistic and achievable. Golden Rule worked closely with the congregational leadership to understand and respect the spiritual and philanthropic culture of the church. Campaign leadership was established, a timetable drafted, the Case for Support constructed (which emphasized that gifts to the campaign were in addition to the members? annual pledge) and an advance leadership phase undertaken. The campaign culminated the week before Thanksgiving, Dedication Sunday, with an inspirational Procession of the Generations as members pledged their support ? and the campaign exceeded goal, raising $635,000. Debt eliminated, the Contingency Fund increased, the annual campaign succeeded and, most importantly, more of the church?s operational budget can now be directed toward additional ministry doing God?s work. Congratulations, Faith UMC!



Stephen Covey summarized it best ? ?Seek first to understand and then to be understood.? The ability to be an active listener is perhaps the most important attribute a successful fundraiser possesses - whether one is a volunteer or a staff member. It takes a conscious effort, focus on the other person and recognizing that communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Asking open ended questions which allow the donor to share their perspective is a key. What are the donor?s interests? What do they want to accomplish? And how can your organization help them? Plan your visit ahead of time so that you know what you want to accomplish. And record what you have learned when the visit is done. You?ll be better prepared for the next visit.



Stephen Covey summarized it best ? ?Seek first to understand and then to be understood.? The ability to be an active listener is perhaps the most important attribute a successful fundraiser possesses - whether one is a volunteer or a staff member. It takes a conscious effort, focus on the other person and recognizing that communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Asking open ended questions which allow the donor to share their perspective is a key. What are the donor?s interests? What do they want to accomplish? And how can your organization help them? Plan your visit ahead of time so that you know what you want to accomplish. And record what you have learned when the visit is done. You?ll be better prepared for the next visit.


Giving to Churches Recovers, Study Finds

The economy continues to improve. The unemployment numbers are coming down. And by almost all accounts charitable giving is on the rise once again, but not quite back to what it was before the Great Recession. However, we all know there are still unmet needs among many in our society. Is your church or non-profit on the road to recovery? Do you have an annual stewardship or fundraising plan? It is the first step to a successful effort. Remember, ?Failure to plan is planning to fail.?


Be Donor Centered

Helping people meet their individual, personal philanthropic needs is the right thing to do ? for the donor and the organization. This was born out during a recent presentation by researcher Penelope Burk at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Career Success Institute. People want to feel good (big surprise there!) and they do when they help others. But the organization receiving the contribution needs to communicate their gratitude quickly and sincerely. And then reinforce their appreciation by telling the donor that the gift was used as they directed and how it benefitted others before they ask for another gift. When the organization does that, donor loyalty increases dramatically. So treat your donors the way you want to be treated. Say thank you, mean it and then tell them again how important their gift is. The donor will feel good and so will you when the next ? usually larger ? gift comes rolling in.


Money is only a tool

Annual church Stewardship Campaigns should energize and motivate a congregation to greater service and involvement. The mission lies in ministry ? that?s why people become members ? and money is the tool to make it happen. Thus it was for First Congregational Church of Akron this year. A year ago, at the end of January, 2011, the church had generated $256,000 in pledges. In this year?s campaign, at the end of January, 2012, the total had jumped to $282,000, an increase of 10.1%. How?d that happen? Full disclosure: Golden Rule principal, Larry Becker, CFRE, is a member and chair of the campaign. Success began with a plan of action. Intentional communications in the church newsletter, announcements in both the contemporary and traditional services and two special letters stressed how members? contributions would enhance the church?s ministry. Emphasis was placed on service not only to the internal church family, but more importantly, also to the community beyond the church walls.Integral to the plan ? prayer. A special prayer, a call to action, was written by the campaign team, which included both lay and pastoral leadership. It was on a business card sized, laminated stock and mailed to the entire congregation. It was shared from the pulpit. Have you noticed that money hasn?t been mentioned? Dr. Jay Marshall Groat, First Congregational?s Senior Pastor summed it up: "It's about ministry. This was the theme of our very successful Loyalty Campaign this year. Everything we do in the church is ministry and our money exists to bring the Light of Christ into the world. Our congregation has a long healthy history of giving to ministry - not just giving money for the sake of giving money. Jesus pointed to a Roman coin and challenged people to decide what in life belongs to God. Larry did a great job in creating a process where we could communicate these basic principles to our congregation. And, not surprisingly, the congregation responded with compassion and generosity. It's about ministry."


What donors want from fundraisers - staff or volunteer

The secret to effective fundraising is really no secret ? help the donor meet their personal philanthropic goals and needs. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. That means listening. I believe that people are basically good. They want (and need) to help others. A skilled fundraiser helps the donor as well as the charity. Stephen R. Covey?s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People says it succinctly ? ?Seek first to understand, then to be understood.? Get to know your donors. Ask open ended questions. Practice active listening. Share your passion for your mission. Build and nurture RELATIONSHIP. There is an excellent Live Discussion on the subject which took place this past Tuesday courtesy of the Chronicle of Philanthropy and a transcript is available online for your perusal. It reinforces that truly effective fundraising rises out of relationships and the best way to develop relationship is to listen and learn about people?s stories.


Still Time to Register for CSI

The AFP North Central Ohio Chapter will host its Career Success Institute (CSI) on March 23 at the Kent State ? Stark campus beginning at 8:30 AM. The keynote speaker is the nationally renowned Penelope Burk of Cygnus Applied Research who will discuss her groundbreaking research, Donor-Centered Fundraising. Whether you are a professional fundraiser or a volunteer board member, this is a unique opportunity to learn how to easily improve donor retention and increase giving. And there are six other breakout sessions to choose among. For more information and to register just click on the link below.


Who will you ASK today?

The Giving USA Foundation (2011) Executive Report* details that charitable giving either increased or remained the same across all sectors in 2010. We know that the economy improved in 2011, albeit slowly. Today ? it?s an election year, the stock market reached 13,000 this week, foundation assets are recovering and reports indicate that unemployment continues to decline. Be bold, have no fear, your cause is just and deserves support. There?s no better time to offer people the opportunity to expand your Mission. Who will you ASK today? * Giving USA Giving USA Foundation 2011: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2010, retrieved from


Time is Money

You can never get more time. The challenge lies in using your most limiting resource ? time ?as effectively as you can. Having a plan of action and setting priorities are the best ways to meet the challenge. Golden Rule can help.


New Ideas

What's the value of a new idea? What's the cost of not having one? The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) North Central Ohio Chapter hosts the Career Success Institute (CSI) on Friday, March 23. The keynote speaker is the dynamic Penelope Burk who will discuss DONOR CENTERED FUNDRAISING. Among other workshop sessions are grantwriting, branding your non-profit, Meet the Millenials and Moves Management. Visit the AFP NCOH website for more information.


So what exactly is a Thursday Thought?

Does it mean I only think on Thursdays? Not necessarily. I do a lot of thinking, and I often have the nasty habit of sharing what I think. On the other hand, I respect YOUR time and so I will limit my sharing to Thursdays. That doesn't mean you need to restrict YOUR sharing to one day a week. I want to hear from you ? what you need, what your plans are, what you THINK. So call, email, or send me an actual letter ? This is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Peace.


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