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Nonprofits will gladly accept a donation of any size but when it comes down to it receiving a gift from higher-priced donors are much more helpful in the fundraising enterprise.

The most sought after gifts come from what are called Society Donors. These individuals tend to make the biggest donations and, as such, are the biggest catch for any fundraiser. During the 2013 Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits, George Durney and Page Bullington of Marquette University discussed the best ways to secure a gift from a Society Donor. The process should involve a careful, dedicated program of cultivation.

Based on surveys taken at 12 institutions of higher learning over a 20-year period, Durney and Bullington offered the following reminders when going after Society Donors:

  • Have patience. On average, it took 13.2 years for a donor to make their first $1,000 gift.
  • Keep donors engaged and giving. Those who gave $1,000 in fiscal year 2009 gave in about 73 percent of the years they were on file.
  • Have a cultivation plan. Some 57 percent of donors made a first gift of less than $100.
  • Establish donor potential. The higher the first gift, the quicker they became a higher-level donor/

San Diego State University (SDSU) just had the most successful fundraising campaign in the school’s 116-year history.

The institution announced Thursday that its annual Campaign for SDSU bought in more than $91 million during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which ended June 30. Overall, the campaign has reached $413.8 million of its $500 million goal.

“We are grateful to our generous alumni and community supporters whose gifts continue to fuel our development as a leading public research university,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “This record breaking year is a critical milestone in the development of our culture of philanthropy.”

During 2012-2013, SDSU raised nearly $58 million for student scholarships, endowed professorships, and program support. These gifts will enhance the broad institutional goals set forth in “Building on Excellence,” SDSU’s new strategic plan, which builds upon SDSU’s areas of strength and pride: student success, research and creative endeavors and community and communication.

Some of the more notable gifts from this year’s campaign include:

  • A gift of $3 million from Charles and Chinyeh Hostler to support international programs in the College of Arts and Letters;
  • A gift of $1.5 million from the Campanile Foundation board member Terry Atkinson to establish an endowment that will strengthen SDSU’s ambitious research agenda by supporting faculty research; and,
  • A $1.5 million endowment from the late Professor Emeritus Donald G Wilson for the College of Engineering.
The Campaign for SDSU, the first campus-wide fundraising event in the school’s history, was launched in 2007 as a way to provide new opportunities for students. To date, The Campaign has received more than 43,000 gifts from alumni, friends, faculty, staff, parents and community partners, including 78 gifts of $1 million or more.

You can find more information about the campaign at http://campaign.sdsu.edu/campaign/ 

Plans for a $28-million Jewish community center have been halted after fundraising for the project ran dry. Only six more weeks of construction were required.

According to a report in The Times of Trenton, plans for the community center, which was being built by the Jewish Community Campus (JCC) Council of Princeton Mercer Bucks, are likely finished as the organization has been unable to secure more funds.

“We’ve been trying to get this back on track,” Howard Cohen, president of the JCC, said in an interview with The Times. “So far, we haven’t succeeded, which means short of a miracle or something else, we can’t continue.”

Planning for the new community center began in 2006 after the old JCC, which is now the Ewing Senior and Community Center, was sold. The Council secured approval from the borough of West Windsor to build the 77,000-square-foot community center in 2007, the construction of which was made possible by using the money from the sale of the old JCC and by borrowing $11 million.

Since the Jewish community in West Windsor had been talking about a new community center for many years, Cohen told The Times he expected that donors would line up to contribute. The donations were not as plentiful as anticipated, however, and construction halted in mid-October when the JCC could no longer pay the construction bills.

According to the New Jersey Jewish News, the JCC is not only short on its construction funds, it also lacks the money to pay back the $11-million loan it received at the beginning of the project. Approximately $6 million of that loan is due in December.

While the Council is attempting to restart the project, Cohen said that he is not optimistic. “At this point, I’m not sure what kind of help there really is,” he said. “The odds are not in our favor.” He also noted that the property could soon go into foreclosure.

You can read the full story in The Times of Trenton.

Monthly giving programs are on fundraisers’ radars these days as some nonprofits have found it to be a great source of revenue and engagement. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to switch to it when your nonprofit is already practicing annual giving.

During Fundraising Day in New York 2013, sponsored by the New York City
chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Valerie
Arganbright of Appleby Arganbright and Jason Lott of Human Rights
Campaign, discussed the challenges organizations can face when switching from annual to monthly giving. They warned that adopting a new fundraising method means learning a new way of doing business, which means you should learn the following rules:
  • Asking, who is the business owner for the monthly giving?
  • Deciding how and when revenue will be recognized.
  • A decision about monthly giving as the number one ask and one-time giving as the only other option.
  • Consistent branding.
Arganbright and Lott also said that nonprofits should make the following considerations when evaluating the pros and cons of a monthly giving campaign:
  • Monthly activation rates, particularly by channel;
  • Decline and attrition rates;
  • Average gift of new monthly donors by channel; and,
  • Actual performance against budget.

What’s the best way to ensure a successful fundraising campaign? Some would argue that donor research should be on the top of that list, and they would have a point. More information about donors means your fundraisers will have a better idea about how to approach them.

While large nonprofits usually have full-time researcher on-staff, it can be a little bit harder for smaller organizations to find room in their budget for donor research. That’s why Ann Rosenfield, executive director of The WoodGreen Foundation, offered some tips to help these organizations reap the benefits of this research without breaking the bank. 
She wrote the following checklist in the Winter 2013 edition of Advancing Philanthropy:
  • Hire a researcher, even if just for a while: This will enable managers
    to focus on the technical aspects of fundraising while research crunches
    the numbers.
  • Pay for a research database service: This allows for quick look-ups of
    prospective donors recommended by the board, events, and potential board
  • Remember that information on foundations is free: This information is easily accessible online on such sites as Foundation Center.
  • If possible, use data analytics: This allows the organization to see how
    analytics work and keep track of these findings on a spreadsheet.
  • Identify new prospects: Having a researcher means being able to seek out new prospective clients who will give.
  • Don’t forget that the organization’s small size is actually a strength:
    The small size of is an asset in that it allows research to be done on a
    more personal level.

A fund created to raise money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings has already received nearly $7 million in donations from corporate partners and individual donors.

One Fund Boston was launched on Tuesday by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to give philanthropists and other individuals a way to support the more than 180 individuals who were injured during the attacks on Monday. The $7 million raised so far includes a $1 million commitment from John Hancock Financial Services, which was one of the lead sponsors of the marathon.

Taking aside the donations from businesses and corporations, One Fund Boston has received $500,000 from 8,500 individual donors.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support by the business community and individuals who are united in their desire to help,” Patrick said. “At moments like this, we are one state, one city, and one people.”

Mayor Menino said via a statement that he received calls from businesses and individuals who wanted to pledge money “within the hour” that the fund was established.

“We are one Boston. We are one community. As always, we will come together to help those most in need. And in the end, we will all be better for it,” Mayor Menino said.

One Fund Boston will be headed by attorney Ken Feinberg, who was appointed in 2001 by the Attorney General of the United States to head the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. In 2010, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to administer the fund for those affected by the BP oil spill, and he also helped administer donations for the victims of the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and at Virginia Tech.

“I am honored to serve at the request of both Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino,” Feinberg said in a press release. “I will do my best to justify their confidence in me as we move forward to design and administer an effective program following the terrible tragedy in Boston.”

Feinberg, who is himself a native of Boston, will head the fun entirely pro bono.

The Fund is currently in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. A statement on the organization’s website said that if the IRS makes the determination that it is worthy of being tax-exempt, that decision will be made retroactive to the date of the Fund’s formation.

Nonprofits in Idaho are being invited to participate in a one-day online giving day campaign next month. The event hopes to bring new donors and increased outreach to local organizations.

Idaho Gives Day, created by the Idaho Nonprofit Center, is set to begin on May 2. Much like the online giving days in other states, this campaign will let individuals search for nonprofits in their area to which they wish to contribute. According to a report in The Twin Falls Times-News, there will be additional incentives for organizations that choose to participate, including tracking of the number of donors and how much money each nonprofit receives.

In addition, the Idaho Nonprofit Center will randomly draw a donor’s name throughout the day and give $1,000 to a charity of their choosing. The five nonprofits at the end of the day that have the largest number of donors will also receive a grant from the Center.

Those individuals who wish to participate in Idaho Gives Day should visit the event’s website on May 2. You can read the full story in The Twin Falls Times-News.

Yesterday was a special day for a number of reasons. First, it’s going to be a long time before we see a date, day, and year (12/12/12) like that again. More importantly, it was the date of the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Our editor-in-chief, Paul Clolery, was in attendance for the six-hour long show, and has a summary of the night’s events on our website. The concert featured legendary performers including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Rolling Stones, and Sir Paul McCartney, in addition to contemporary artists like Kanye West, Chris Martin of Coldplay, and Alicia Keys, who closed out the night with a rendition of her hit song “Empire State of Mind” alongside McCartney.

Yet the big story of the night was money raised for Hurricane Sandy Relieft. Donations went to organizations serving victims of the storm through the Robin Hood Relief Fund. Before an act even took the stage, the concert raised $37 million. A final donation tally was not available as of this writing.

Individuals who called in through the night to make a contribution had the chance to speak to a host of celebrities who were working the call center. These included big names such as Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Buscemi, Naomi Campbell, Tony Danza, and James Gandolfini.

One of the highlights of the night came when McCartney, one of the last two surviving Beatles along with Ringo Starr, helped front a reunion of the ’90s grunge band Nirvana. The band was headed by the late Kurt Cobain, and McCartney filled his role by performing a new song written by the surviving members of Nirvana called “Cut Me Some Slack.”

The 12-12-12 Concert was broadcast to a worldwide audience of nearly two billion people through television feeds, radio, and online streaming sites. The show was reminiscent of the first benefit show for charity, the Concert for Bangladesh, also held in Madison Square Garden, in 1971. That show was organized in part by legendary Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who passed away this week at the age of 92.

You can read the full overview of the concert on the NPT website.

With rare exceptions, major gift campaigns can’t be completed in a single year and, in fact, they can sometimes take as long as a decade. That’s why it is important to create a schedule of goals when planning your campaign.

Whatever kind of schedule you create should include a series of target dates in which you are going to reach certain benchmarks. Russel V. Kohr wrote in the “Handbook of Institutional Advancement” that the first year of your campaign is perhaps the most important; it is during this time period when your efforts can really take off or sink.

Kohr wrote that organizations should aim for the following 13 goals during the first year of their major gift campaigns:

  • Complete the first draft of the long-range plan;
  • Share plan with trustees and selected potential benefactors;
  • Revise plan as necessary;
  • Trustees approve plan and campaign goal;
  • Development office prepares statement of gift opportunities;
  • Development office drafts case statement that is then shared with key
    people in the organization, trustees, and selected friends;
  • Survey various constituencies intensively;
  • Research prospective donors of major gifts;
  • Begin solicitation of major gift, corporate, and foundation prospects;
  • Increase annual giving solicitation;
  • A group — such as the president, chairman of the board of trustees, and
    the chairman of the trustee committee on development — enlists a
    national campaign chairman and members of the major gifts committees;
  • Role of the president and other administrative officials in the campaign is determined; and,
  • Begin solicitation of trustees.

Holiday season in the United States brings a lot of familiar sights, though none may be as iconic as the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. Volunteers from the charity stand outside shops ringing bells and soliciting donations. This practice is the same all across the country except in a town in Wisconsin, where an unexpected volunteer is leading the way: A miniature horse.

Named Tinker, the horse and other more traditional volunteers set up shop in West Bend, Wisc., according to an article in The Associated Press. He uses his mouth to hold and ring the standard red bell and holds a sign that says “Thank You Merry Christmas.” He can also bow, give kisses and, most importantly of all to the Salvation Army, he raises 10 times the amount of money than a normal bell ringer.

Salvation Army commander Major Roger Ross told The Post that Tinker, who is 13-years old, has been known to bring in around $2,500 in a day, while a human ringer typically raises $250 in the same time period.

Carol Takacs, one of Tinker’s owners, bought the horse 12 years ago with her husband while looking at a property. She fell in love with the mini horse and asked the owner that he be a part of the deal. She got the idea to use Tinker as a bell ringer after seeing one of the Salvation Army volunteers a few years ago, and she thought the horse could help make the standard Red Kettle campaign more interesting.

Before a typical appearance, Takacs spends a half-hour vacuuming Tinker’s mane and fur and puts glitter on his hooves, a bell on his tail, and a Santa hat on his head. A pin with the horse’s likeness is also given to donors who contribute at least $5.

You can read the full story in The Associated Press.