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Passionately serving nonprofits since 2001

Our Blog

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:47

Welcome to our blog, where we expound, pontificate, and generally hold forth on topics that interest us.  We hope you find these topics, and our take on them, useful.

Three Sides to Every Argument

Tuesday, 27 August 2013 17:36

The Tampa Bay Times recently ran a story highlighting the 50 worst charities in America.  These organizations pay large salaries to their executives, huge amounts to professional fundraisers, and an incredibly small percentage of their revenue (if any) to actual programs, goods or services.

In the article, the Tampa Bay Times refers to a percentage of 35% as the maximum cost of fundraising as a percentage of income.  Most of the charities listed on the Top 50 Worst have much higher fundraising costs.

The summer is drawing to an end, and the time is right to begin to planning your holiday appeal.  Why so early?  There is lots to do to make this year your best yet!  Here is a short checklist to get you started:

  • Make a plan.  If you are like most nonprofits, your appeal is critical to your success.  Don't leave it to chance, or to a last-minute rush.  Put together a list of tasks and a timeline, and stick to it as best as possible.
  • Did you host an event this year?  If so, get all of the attendees into your prospect list.  If you have an event coming up, make sure to collect as many email and mailing addresses as possible.  A raffle can be a good way to solicit this information from attendees who did not purchase their own tickets.

Donor Trends Looking Up

Friday, 02 March 2012 16:01

A comprehensive new study published in theChronicle of Philanthropyof over 17,500 donors across the country showed both positive news and interesting trends for nonprofit fundraising in 2011. The survey, which included donors from a wide range of charitable groups, showed that only 7% of donors plan to decrease giving this year compared to 17%. On top of that, 25% of donors surveyed said that they plan to increase giving in 2011. Good news for nonprofits this year! This survey also offered up some interesting new trends that are emerging this year.

Meaningful Budget Work by the Board

Friday, 02 March 2012 16:30

Overseeing the financial resources of a nonprofit is one of the most critical functions of a board.  Unfortunately, we see too many boards that don't have a clear understanding of either the income streams or the expenses of an organization. This both limits the board's ability to assess and plan for the future, and creates situations where they are making decisions without understanding the full impact those decisions have on the budget, such as adding a new program or staff member.

Below is an excellent article from Blue Avocado on the budgeting approval process.

For many nonprofits, the annual "approval of the budget" is the cornerstone of board financial oversight. However, this annual approval is frequently an empty ritual: one where board members peruse a budget that they are unsure is realistic or appropriate to the planned activities.

Read more on Blue Avocado...

Clear Writing - It's the Law

Thursday, 01 March 2012 21:23

Have you heard? There is a bill in Congress that would make it mandatory that "Government documents issued to the public must be written clearly..." (H.R. 946: Plain Language Act of 2009).  There is also a Senate bill -- S. 574: Plain Writing Act of 2009.  While these bills would only apply to government documents, if these bills pass one day we all might all be expected to use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling.

A new trend in corporate giving makes it easier for millions of people across the nation to decide where corporate dollars should go through online contests. These social giving contests are seemingly a great opportunity for nonprofits to gain exposure fast and earn money for their organizations.

Large corporations like JPMorgan Chase, Kohl’s and Pepsi encourage the public to vote online for their favorite charity. In turn, the corporation gives away hundreds of thousands of dollars to the winning organization.

Excel - Why it isn't a Donor Database

Saturday, 11 February 2012 17:48

Excel is a great program. It is perfect for crunching numbers, tracking budgets, and herding gobs of numbers into organized columns and rows in order to easily make sense of them. Unfortunately, too many organizations use Excel to track their most valuable asset – their donors. Here are a few reasons why a donor database is the investment you should make to protect and grow your assets.