Dignity vs. Humanity
February 1, 2008

Robina died two weeks after I met her. She lived in Uganda, on an island in Lake Victoria that at the time was near ground zero of the AIDS epidemic. She was one of the last living people between the ages of 17 and 60. If I showed you a photo, you’d see a hollow-eyed, emaciated woman with a sad face and ragged clothes, sitting on a mat in a hut with a dirt floor and holes in the walls. Her husband had died a few weeks earlier. At that time, in that place, AIDS was an automatic and swift death sentence.

Oddly Precise Nonprofit Predictions for 2008
January 1, 2008

Our researchers here at the Easier Said Than Done Pavilion and Golf Course have turned their considerable skills to predicting your future. To discover what’s ahead for your nonprofit organization in 2008, simply match the year of your founding with its Chinese zodiac symbol. (See the paper place mats at your local Chinese restaurant if you don’t know which years go with which creatures.) Year of the RAT Your organization will become infested with vice presidents. Most of them will be harmless, genial types who make excellent lunch companions. One of them, however, will have an addiction to massive, organization-wide initiatives that are meant

More Tips for Good Client/Vendor Relationships
December 4, 2007

For this week’s Advisor, FS asked a number of agencies and other companies that serve the nonprofit fundraising sector for tips on making the most of the client/vendor relationship. Here are some more of their thoughts. From Jon Van Wyk, director of research and strategic planning, Merkle ( * Great work happens from great relationships. Take time to have fun with your fundraising partner. Go on an outing, go bowling, play pool. Don’t feel guilty. * Mind the big picture. Constantly harping on the minutia hinders the development of great relationships. From Michael Mathias, senior vice president and group leader, Merkle ( *

The Better Newsletter
December 1, 2007

Ask donors what they want from nonprofits, and they’ll seldom say, “Appeal letters.” Even more rarely do they say they want e-mails. And do they ever ask for telemarketing calls? But many donors do want newsletters. A newsletter can improve donor retention and upgrade rates.

The Enlightened Path for Fundraisers
November 1, 2007

Donors are changing. They’re asking for more involvement with the charities they support. They need to know and feel their giving makes a difference. They want more information and more connection. The tried-and-true ways we’ve used to interact with donors must change if we want to meet and serve the new donors.

Help Stamp Out Junk Mail
September 1, 2007

Happy Junk Mail Awareness Week! It’s still on the horizon — Oct. 1 to 7 — but it’s never too early to start planning your festivities! Unfortunately, Junk Mail Awareness Week isn’t intended as a celebration of the ways direct mail creates jobs, fuels economic growth and funds good deeds.

The Donor/Charity Contract
August 1, 2007

There’s a contract between nonprofits and their donors. And frankly, it’s not all that attractive to donors. If donors knew what they were signing up for, how many of them would still give?

You Can’t Fake Greatness
July 1, 2007

Sisyphus was a very clever fundraiser. He was so good, he could transform a spreadsheet into a tear-jerker of a story. He could extract a stirring call to action from the most bureaucratic mission statement. If an organization’s work was indistinguishable from several others’, Sisyphus still could make it seem unique and compelling.

Easier Said Than Done: Death by Committee
June 1, 2007

Whoever said a camel is a horse designed by a committee gave committees too much credit. If a committee tried to design a horse, it wouldn’t end up with a strong, useful, if inelegant, animal. It would produce a mound of tin cans and fish skeletons.

Get Real
May 15, 2007

“Many nonprofits have a carefully worded positioning, and -- by golly -- they’re going to hammer home those exact words at every possible opportunity. Even if they make little sense to donors. Even if it’s something no mentally healthy person would ever say out loud. “It seems with many organizations, the harder they work to articulate their position, the more awkward and un-human it sounds. But the harder (and/or more expensive) it was to do it, the more committed they are to it -- meaning they repeat a robotic phrase over and over as if to emphasize their status as a non-human organization.”