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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The GoalBusters Elves Sing - GoalBusters "Elves Ourselves" 2009

I can't believe I stayed up this late breathing life into the "GoalBusters Elves" again. Yet, it's true. Here they are (by popular request and "executive order.") Three new elves are introduced... Jeanie, Indigo and Squib. Harry and Stokey have recurring roles. And... this year we sing! (Extended "Director's Cut" coming to YouTube soon)

Another GoalBusters Consulting, LLC Video Production.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

GoalBusters "Elves Ourselves" for Christmas 2008

GoalBusters wishes to share all the joy and happiness of the holiday season with you. Considering that is impossible due to these times of economic hardship, we're sending you dancing elves instead. We hope you enjoy our Holiday greeting!

Meet the new GoalBusters interns... Giggles, Scout, Sparkles, Harry and Stokey! Merry Christmas!

Another GoalBusters Consulting, LLC Video Production.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Light Parade - Flagstaff, AZ - December 2009

Merry Christmas from GoalBusters! If you missed Flagstaff's holiday light parade, here's a quick glimpse at most of the 65 entries in under 5 minutes.

Dharmesh Vora, President of Vora Financial Group graciously sponsored the City of Flagstaff's Holiday light parade for the second year in a row. Thanks Dharmesh for giving such a wonderful gift to our community.

(Jim Anderson Photography/Editing, GoalBusters Consulting, LLC Video Production)


Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Dollars in a Desert - Tools for Successful Fundraising in Tough Economic Times

In a challenging economy, people make tough decisions about where they spend their dollars. How do economic realities and personal perceptions affect the nonprofit sector? Some decide to give less to each organization they support. Others may choose to stop giving to certain organizations. How do they make these decisions? What efforts can you take to minimize the impact on your organization?

In this interactive session, GoalBusters Consulting's Alice Ferris and Jim Anderson discuss:
-Economic realities for charities nationwide and locally
-"The Perfect Storm"
-Strategies to minimize or avoid these economic pressures
-What to do (and please DON'T do) when a donor says, "I can't contribute now"
-Six things you can do now to stabilize your organization and empower your team
-How to find the "oasis in the
desert." Ten practical strategies for successful fundraising regardless of economic conditions.

(Recently hosted by the Yuma Area Nonprofit Institute (YANPI) and Arizona Western College, at the AWC College Community Center
(3C) in the Schoening Conference Center, Yuma, Arizona.)

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Monday, November 23, 2009

LinkedIn - Why it Matters and Tips for Success


LinkedIn is a crucial resource in the branding of your online identity. It is the one online tool that business professionals, community leaders and decision makers use even if they are avoiding other "Social Media."

Who is using LinkedIn? They are mature, well educated, and high income earners.

LinkedIn Statistics from (11/22/2009)

Visitation/Usage -

Rank: 45th most visited website in the U.S.
Unique Monthly Visitors: 15.2 Million US, 30.2 Million Global visitors
2% of visitors are "Addicts" making up 40% of all visits.
39% of visitors are "Regulars" making up 45% of all visits.
59% of visitors are "Passers-by" making up 15% of all visits.

Demographics -

Age: 79% Are 35 or older
Education: 80% Are college educated. They are twice as likely to have Graduate Degrees than other internet users.
Income: 69% Make $60,000+ / 38% Make $100,000+

Creating a Profile
When creating or updating a LinkedIn profile remember that in many ways it is similar to an online resume. Much like a resume, your goals vary dependent upon your current employment status. Are you looking for a job? Interested in changing jobs? Or simply maintaining your personal "brand integrity."

Here are some tips that may help.

Photo: Select a professional "head shot." This is not the place to show how cute your kids or kittens are. Choose a sharply focused, closely cropped head shot. Crop well below your chin and leave a small space above your head. Fill the frame, don't crowd it. Be sure you're dressed professionally, looking directly into the camera and smiling. This is essentially Part 1 of your "virtual handshake." It's your eye contact.

Updates: These updates serve as a pulse of what you "do." Like Twitter they are short updates on status and activity. Unlike Twitter avoid posting random stream of consciousness. Remember 59% of LinkedIn users are "Passers-by" and likely only get their "Network Updates" once a week.
  1. Relevance - Seek opportunities to provide relevant information about your professional career and experience. Include information about events, trainings, workshops, volunteer work, non profit support, etc.
  2. Content - Provide links to relevant websites, photos, videos, etc. This gives viewers of your profile a way to actually interact with you even if you aren't aware of it.
  3. Tone - The updates should lean towards professional decorum but shouldn't be sterile. Occasional humor is encouraged.
  4. Filter - These updates should offer insight to your personality but recognize there is a line you shouldn't cross. Provide information you would share with coworkers, not what you share with close friends.
  5. Value - Avoid posting mundane drivel. There is no quicker way to turn off a prospective employer or business associate than to make it clear your posts aren't worth reading.
Summary: - This section will look different dependent upon your current employment situation, goals and personality. For the most part remember you're not really telling a story, you're presenting a product... "you." It's good to talk about experience, core strengths, values, aspirations and goals. Avoid redundancy of directly repeating information presented elsewhere in your profile unless it is a core message point. Keep in mind, this is your elevator speech, be brief. "Jimism #372 - Your elevator speech shouldn't take more than 3 floors."

Specialties: These can be simple skills bullet points or very short descriptive sentences. It's important that you are fully representing your skills, but avoid overkill. Choose the most important things to share in this section. It is called "Specialties" not "Everything."

Experience: When listing work experience don't simply provide a list of tasks you completed. Think in terms of why the completing the tasks was important. What was the end result? It's about spinning tasks to describe impact and importance. If you answered phones, did you "coordinate and facilitate customer service and satisfaction?" Don't "go nuts" you want to be descriptive but direct. You don't want to make every sentence appear to be "long winded" and self-aggrandizing.

Education: Pretty straightforward. Where did you go? When was that? (you might opt to skip years if you fear you'll be discriminated against based on age. Is it possible you'll be viewed as too old or too young?) What did you study? What activities and organizations did you participate in.

Additional Information: This is a valuable section in sharing information about organizations or causes that are important to you. It also allows you to share important accomplishments. Think of this as the part of the interview when you are asked, "So, tell me a little about yourself." What should you share? Rule of thumb, Keep it relevant and interesting. Quirky is okay here. It demonstrates your personality.

Social Media Cross Promotion: Should you link your personal sites to your professional LinkedIn Profile? I would say yes, but only if you are willing to invite "acquaintences" to your other social media worlds. Remember, when it comes to Social Media not everyone is really a "friend" in the classic sense of the word. How open are your networks? Do you ever post anything you wouldn't want a supervisor to see? If you want to maintain some privacy, you may want to skip linking your personal and professional profiles.

I hope these tips help. I encourage feedback and/or questions.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

For more Social Media tips, see Social Media FAQs Part 1 which discussed the mechanics and logic of initial Social Media profile set up.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When Developing Your Year Long Fund Raising Plan, Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Excepted from the GoalBusters' Webinar: "Developing a Year Long Fundraising Plan"
Reprinted in The Major Gifts Report, November 2009

In the process of developing a year-long fundraising plan, it’s important to analyze any previously developed fund raising plans, say James Anderson, a partner at Goal Busters Consulting, LLC (Flagstaff, AZ).

One way to do that is to conduct a “SWOT” analysis, he says, in which you look at your organization’s strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats.

Anderson outlines what to look for when analyzing each of these areas:

Strengths (internal)
What do you do well or exceptionally? What unique value do you offer? Often this will be your primary strength. What are the things you want to keep doing that you do better than other organizations?

Opportunities (external)
What could you be doing or doing more of? Where are the areas you could extend your offerings, your services, your programs? Where could you potentially tap into donors and donor bases that you may be currently overlooking or not fully capitalizing on?

Weaknesses (internal)
What are the things you know you are not doing well? Are there things you need to change because it feels as though you just keep pounding your head against the wall? or are they things you simply don't do well either because you don't know or don’t have the resources to do properly?

Threats (external)
What things will potentially negatively impact your plan and your organization? When you identify a threat, one way to assess it is to ask yourself what the worst-case scenario is. Some examples of external threats: 1) You are heavily grant-funded and funds are going to dry up and you know that; 2) You are heavily funded by a foundation and investments aren’t returning as strong as they used to and you know that will negatively impact gifts to your organization. “When assessing threats, you'll be facing either ‘conditions’ or ‘problems,’” he say. “Conditions are things you may have to address or handle but you have no real control over. You have to Manage, Accept or Adapt to conditions. However problems are something which you can Solve, Resolve or Fix."

When looking at your SWOT findings, you want to look for intersections, says Anderson:

· Where strengths and opportunities intersect, invest. You want to invest more of your resources, time, and capital on these opportunities.

· Where weaknesses and threats intersect, You may want to consider divesting yourself of that project or program, unless it is something you truly must maintain.

· Where strengths and threats intersect, defend. “If you have an external threat to one of your strengths, don’t let that negatively impact something that you do well, “ he says. “Instead, analyze what that situation is and determine how you can best continue to capitalize on that strength.”

· Where weaknesses and opportunities intersect, you should identify what you can improve on. “It may be a situation in which you can bolster the area of weakness or capitalize on what the opportunity is with the investment of additional resources, but that is a decision where you will have to look at whether your internal resources will allow it, and whether the return on investment (ROI) is worth the commitment of the additional resources,” he says.

Sources: James Anderson, Partner, GoalBusters Consulting, LLC, Flagstaff, AZ. Phone (928) 890-8239. E-mail:

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Friday, October 9, 2009

AFP Kaleidoscope Thought Leader Column: Fundraising through a Different Lens

The following column was featured in the November 2009 issue of the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Kaleidoscope newsletter. To see the newsletter on their website, visit AFP Kaleidoscope (Online) and to become a member, visit Join AFP!

People often ask me, “Where are you from?” I know what they are trying to ask, but most of the time I answer, “I’m from Wisconsin.” I was the first Chinese baby born at Beaver Dam Lutheran Hospital. At the time, our family was the only Asian family in Dodge County, Wis. As a child, like many minorities in small communities, I wanted nothing but to fit in. That experience made me adaptable, so I generally can find ways to connect with whatever culture I am in—except, ironically, the Chinese community. My family and I were so focused on fitting in that I received minimal exposure to Chinese traditions and norms.

When we interact with others one-to-one, it is usually easy to find things you have in common. Because of this natural inclination, we have focused on finding similarities among diverse communities as well: Where do we have common ground? How are we alike? While we need to build bridges and find those connections among communities, sometimes it feels as though we ignore the richness our differences offer.

For example, I have had the privilege of working with the Hopi Education Endowment Fund in Kykotsmovi, Ariz. (, for several years. When we first started working together, we attempted to take western best practices in philanthropy and apply them to its situation. Some practices did translate well, such as most special-event strategies and direct mail. However, as we dove deeper into more complex strategies, highlighting cultural differences became the key.

When we attempted to start our planned-giving program, we initially looked at naming the program after a prominent Hopi leader who had just passed away. Culturally, planning for death is taboo among the Hopi. From what I had learned over the past few years, when you pass from this earth, those who survive are not to spend too much time mourning you, for that could block your passage into the next world. Naming a planned-giving club after this leader was not appropriate, and also raised concerns about the overall appropriateness of planned giving on Hopi in general. At one point, someone observed, “Planned giving won’t work on Hopi.”

Undeterred, we deconstructed the program: What were we trying to accomplish at the core of this? First, we wanted to provide a long-term source of funding for the organization. In addition, we wanted to offer people the option of transferring assets at a later date-and potentially give the organization a larger gift than they could afford from current cash. Those were the fundamentals, which apply to almost any planned giving program.

With those basics in mind, we requested the assistance of a Hopi language expert and started brainstorming about cultural aspects that might support our activities. After many months of discussion and reflection, a member of our committee brought forth the concept of “no’a.”

No’a has changed the way that I speak of planned giving, even when off reservation. No’a is how one generation passes valuable assets—knowledge, wealth or possessions—to the next. The elder carefully considers those around him or her and then selects a caretaker who will use the asset responsibly and share it with the community. By emphasizing this cultural norm, the fund has created “No’ayatiwqam: Those Who Have Given,” its planned-giving club that focuses on how the donor can select a responsible caretaker, such as the Hopi Education Endowment Fund, to continue to share assets with Hopi students for generations to come.

In a well-intentioned effort to break down barriers among diverse communities, we sometimes miss the color and depth that our differences can bring. As I have worked with other diverse communities, I have come to value my own cultural aspects more, and am starting to take steps toward bringing my family’s Chinese traditions into my philanthropy. By carefully analyzing philanthropic norms, finding the universal core concepts, and adding cultural strengths to these best practices, our profession will be able to make an even greater difference in the many unique communities that we serve.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Answers to Fundraising's Persistent Questions

We recently conducted a webinar on How to Create a Yearlong Fundraising Plan, hosted by Stevenson, Inc. We got some good questions during the session, so we thought we'd share two of them, and our answers.


Q: Do you have any strategies for donor acquisition during these tougher times?

Focus on donor participation, and not necessarily on size of gift. Right now we have a lot of people who are scaling back on their contributions, but are no less committed to the causes they believe in. Economic conditions may have led them to reduce their overall charitable giving budget, so if they could give $100 to a single charity last year, they may only be able to give $50 this year. They already feel sad about that—you don’t need to rub it in! Help them feel like whatever amount they can give is important.

If you have suggested dollar amounts on your solicitations, you may want to add a lower end suggested amount and drop one of your higher end levelsa

I would not, however, add premiums at this time, and if you are using premiums (tote bags, decals, etc.) I would scale back. Donors want to know that you are using their money for the cause, not for premiums. Anything that seems like waste will be a turnoff for potential donors.

Q: You have 10 minutes to introduce your organization to a business. How do you do that and once you do that, when do you make the ask? Do you leave and make a second visit or do you make the ask right there after the presentation?

First of all, if you said you were coming to provide them with information, you should not ask unless they tell you to. No one likes being ambushed. If you said you were coming to ask for their support, then yes, you can ask for their support after the presentation.

Before your presentation, you should already know basic information about the business—who is their target market, what other causes do they support, what kinds of connections do they have to your organization? Don’t use your valuable presentation time asking basic questions or giving them information they already know.

If you have ten minutes, focus on people and results. If possible, find a way to get them to ask questions. Adults are generally more engaged if they are an active part of the learning process and if they are provided with practical solutions to problems.

Pick a story: you could talk about a student who benefited from a scholarship, or a person who received lifesaving care, or an artist that provided an inspiring performance…whatever the human face is for your organization, talk about it. Your potential donors generally don’t need to know process, details on history—you just need to make them feel good about the organization.

Find a way to draw them into the story—questions like “what would you do if you were in such and such situation?” Of course, make sure that your organization solves that problem!

Ask for feedback to make sure you’re not talking at them. If they seem disengaged, ask what kinds of information they would like to have. Be ready to end the meeting early if necessary—they will appreciate you not wasting their time.

If they seem really excited about the program, go ahead and ask them if this is the kind of project they would like to support. Again, if you said this was just going to be informational, do NOT whip out a prepared proposal. But be ready to follow up with a proposal immediately after the meeting if they want one.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to Write a Press Release

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

A press release, also known as a news release, is simply a written statement distributed to the media. They can announce a range of news items: scheduled events, personnel promotions, awards, news products and services, sales accomplishments, etc. They can also be used in generating a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a release. It is a fundamental tool of PR work, one that anyone who's willing to use the proper format can use.


  1. Write the headline. It should be brief, clear and to the point: an ultra-compact version of the press release’s key point.
    • News release headlines should have a "grabber" to attract readers, i.e., journalists, just as a newspaper headline is meant to grab readers. It may describe the latest achievement of an organization, a recent newsworthy event, a new product or service. For example, "XYZ Co. enters strategic partnership with ABC Co. in India & United States."
    • Headlines are written in bold and are typically larger than the press release text. Conventional press release headlines are present-tense and exclude "a" and "the" as well as forms of the verb "to be" in certain contexts.
    • The first word in the press release headline should be capitalized, as should all proper nouns. Most headline words appear in lower-case letters, although adding a stylized "small caps" style can create a more graphically news-attractive look and feel. Do not capitalize every word.
    • The simplest method to arrive at the press release headline is to extract the most important keywords from your press release. Now from these keywords, try to frame a logical and attention-getting statement. Using keywords will give you better visibility in search engines, and it will be simpler for journalists and readers to get the idea of the press release content.

  2. Write the press release body copy. The press release should be written as you want it to appear in a news story.
    • Start with the date and city in which the press release is originated. The city may be omitted if it will be confusing, for example if the release is written in New York about events in the company's Chicago division.
    • The lead, or first sentence, should grab the reader and say concisely what is happening. The next 1-2 sentences then expand upon the lead.
    • The press release body copy should be compact. Avoid using very long sentences and paragraphs. Avoid repetition and over use of fancy language and jargon.
    • A first paragraph (two to three sentences) must actually sum up the press release and the further content must elaborate it. In a fast-paced world, neither journalists nor other readers would read the entire press release if the start of the article didn't generate interest.
    • Deal with actual facts - events, products, services, people, targets, goals, plans, projects. Try to provide maximum use of concrete facts. A simple method for writing an effective press release is to make a list of following things:

  3. Communicate the 5 Ws and the H. Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Then consider the points below if pertinent.
      • What is the actual news?
      • Why this is news?
      • The people, products, items, dates and other things related with the news.
      • The purpose behind the news.
      • Your company - the source of this news.

    • Now from the points gathered, try to construct paragraphs and assemble them sequentially: The headline > the summary or introduction of the news > event or achievements > product > people > again the concluding summary > the company.
    • The length of a press release should be no more than three pages. If you are sending a hard copy, text should be double-spaced.
    • The more newsworthy you make the press release copy, the better the chances of it being selected by a journalist or reporting. Find out what "newsworthy" means to a given market and use it to hook the editor or reporter.

  4. Include information about the company. When a journalist picks up your press release for a story, he/she would logically have to mention the company in the news article. Journalists can then get the company information from this section.
    • The title for this section should be - About XYZ_COMPANY
    • After the title, use a paragraph or two to describe your company with 5/6 lines each. The text must describe your company, its core business and the business policy. Many businesses already have a professionally written brochures, presentations, business plans, etc. - that introductory text can be put here.
    • At the end of this section, point to your website. The link should be the exact and complete URL without any embedding so that, even if this page is printed, the link will be printed as it is. For example: Companies which maintain a separate media page on their websites must point to that URL here. A media page typically has contact information and press kits.

  5. Tie it together. Provide some extra information links that support your press release.
  6. Add contact information. If your press release is really newsworthy, journalists would surely like more information or would like to interview key people associated with it.
    • If you are comfortable with the idea of letting your key people being directly contacted by media, you can provide their contact details on the press release page itself. For example, in case of some innovation, you can provide the contact information of your engineering or research team for the media.
    • Otherwise, you must provide the details of your media/PR department in the "Contact" section. If you do not have dedicated team for this function, you must appoint somebody who will act as a link between the media and your people.
    • The contact details must be limited and specific only to the current press release. The contact details must include:
      • The Company's Official Name
      • Media Department's official Name and Contact Person
      • Office Address
      • Telephone and fax Numbers with proper country/city codes and extension numbers
      • Mobile Phone Number (optional)
      • Timings of availability
      • E-mail Addresses
      • Web site Address

  7. Signal the end of the press release with three # symbols, centered directly underneath the last line of the release. This is a journalistic standard.


  • Include the company name in the headline, any subhead, and in the body of the first paragraph for better visibility via search engines and for news professionals and other readers. If you're mailing a hard copy, you may put it on company letterhead.
  • If the press release is for immediate release, you may write "IMMEDIATE RELEASE" in all caps on the left margin, directly above the headline. If the release is embargoed, put "EMABARGOED UNTIL..." with the date you want the story released. A release with no release date is presumed to be for immediate release.
  • Research actual press releases on the web to get the feel of the tone, the language, the structure and the format of a press release.
  • The timing of the press release is very important. It must be relevant and recent news, not too old and not too distant.
  • A follow-up call can help develop a press release into a full story.
  • Include a "call to action" in your release. This is information on what you want the public to do with the information that you are releasing. For example, do you want them to buy a product? If so, include information on where the product is available. Do you want them to visit your Web site to enter a contest or learn more about your organization? If so, include the Web address or a phone number.
  • Do not waste time writing the headline until the release is done. Copy editors write the real headlines in newspapers and magazines, but it is good to come up with a catchy title or "headline" for the release. This headline may be your only chance. Keep it concise and factual. But if you try to write it before you write the release, you waste time. You don't know yet exactly what you - or those you interview, will say. When you have finished a draft of the release, you may decide to revise your lead -- or not. Then and only then think about the headline.
  • Send your release by e-mail, and use formatting sparingly. Giant type and multiple colors don't enhance your news, they distract from it. Put the release in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment. If you must use an attachment, make it a plain text or Rich Text Format file. Word documents are acceptable at most outlets, but if you are using the newest version (.docx), save down a version (.doc). Newspapers, especially, are on tight budgets now, and many have not upgraded. Use PDF files only if you are sending a full media kit with lots of graphics. Please don't type a release on letterhead, scan it, and e-mail a jpeg of the scan. That's a waste of your time and the editor's. Just type the release into the e-mail message.
  • Use your headline as the subject line of the e-mail. If you've written a good "grabber" headline, this will help your message stand out in the editor's e-mail inbox.
  • Craft each release to target a specific media outlet and send it to the specific reporter who covers that beat. This information can usually be found on the outlet's Web site. Blasting the identical press release to multiple outlets and multiple reporters at the same outlet is a sign that you are taking shortcuts rather than targeting a specific market.
  • Avoid jargon or specialized technical terms. If accuracy requires the use of an industry-specific term, define it.


  • Always remember that editors are overworked and understaffed. If you can make life easier for them, you're more likely to get coverage. If you write a press release that's close to the way the editor will actually publish it, it may see publication with minimal editing. But if you fill it with fluffy advertising copy, don't use proper AP style, etc., the editor must severely edit your piece to use it. That means he or she is more likely to just move on to the next press release--and there are plenty of them.
  • Avoid the temptation to clutter your lead with a glowing generalization about your company ("XYZ Corp, a global leader in the manufacture of high-end widgets for the royalty of Europe, today announced...") Many releases are written this way, despite the fact that editors delete this kind of fluff. Everybody says they're the leader. Don't waste the editor's time. The place to put a description is in the company information section of the release. But keep it accurate and factual.
  • When e-mailing a press release, do not make the subject line of your e-mail "press release." You will only blend into the crowd. Get the editor's attention by making the subject line your "grabber" headline, e.g. "Brand Co. wins $30 billion government contract."

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Write a Press Release. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Creating Effective, Meaningful Brochures

When preparing your next brochure, focus on first impressions. You'll have mere seconds to get someone's attention.

What will they think in a "Blink?"

Here are some questions to consider, prepared by GoalBusters' Jim Anderson. Getting the answers right for your organization insures that your print materials reflect your values and your value.

Who's the Audience?
Who will you be giving this to? What action do you want to motivate them to? How can the brochure attract their attention enough so they want to know more?

What's the "hook?"
The front panel is your "storefront/display window." It should be visually interesting, vibrant and intriguing.

What's your story?
Someone needs to care about what you do before they care about how you do it. Story should be the ultimate goal. A few long content sections are fine, but more people will read it if you break up the content with design. If you have procedures or processes that you want to include, that can be available on a separate "fact sheet."

Why should we care?
Identify who you're helping. Identify the challenges they face. Identify why they need you. Identify how you help. Share the difference you make. Share how the reader can make a difference by supporting you. This sounds like a lot for a brochure, but you can achieve it by having your "non-verbal" communication (images, graphics, design) compliment your verbal communication (text). A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

Where are the people? Italic
Story is driven by "who" you help. Faces and eyes make connections. More personal imagery will make a stronger connection.

What's your identity?
You should be able to communicate your organizational identity with design and graphics. One way to test this is to ignore text. If someone who did not speak English picked up the brochure, would they understand the nature of your organization based on the design, graphics and photos?

What does someone think in their first "Blink?"
Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink" explores how we tend to make snap decisions. When someone gives the brochure a five second scan, how do we want them to feel? Do they feel anything? If not, we're wasting paper.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Really Bad Idea

A well intentioned board member once suggested to jump start the major gifts program by getting a list of the wealthiest people in the community. With the list, someone (meaning staff) would be instructed to cold call the wealthy people, set up a meeting under the guise of "informing" them about the organization, and then spring a proposal on them at the end for a large gift.

If you have any fundraising experience, you'll recognize that this is an incredibly bad idea on many levels.

First, fundraising is not "cold calling." They call it "development" for a reason--it's about creating relationships for long term, sustainable support. You will immediately alienate your prospective supporters with your lack of knowledge about their interests.

Second, philanthropic relationships are based on mutual trust. The donor has to trust that your organization will respect their interests and properly steward their gift, and the organization has to trust that the donor supports the organization's mission. That cannot be developed in one meeting.

Third, doing what was proposed is akin to asking someone out for lunch for a first date, and proposing over dessert. Developing major gifts is not a one-night stand. While you might be able to get one gift this way, it's "go away money." You will have a tough time getting a second gift.

Identifying wealthy people is not bad, but you need to find a connection to those people. Why would they take your call? Who's the person who can make that connection?

If all this sounds a little too "touchy feely," here's how we explained it:

If you were asked to invest $5K, $10K or $15K in a company you had never heard of, would you? Sounds almost like a "get rich quick" scheme.

If someone came into your home under the guise of not asking you for anything, and then did, would you make a decision on the spot?

If you were being approached to invest in a company, would you want to know something about the company you are investing in? What would you want to know? How much time would you want to review that information?

Philanthropy is NOT about "hitting people up for money." It is about a voluntary exchange of value, and about donors investing in a company they value. Luckily, the board member took this to heart.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Monday, April 20, 2009

Farewell to "Flagstaff's Good Samaritan"

On Saturday, April 18, Dr. John H. Caskey III, a mentor and inspiration, passed away at his home in Flagstaff, Arizona.
He was 80.

The obituary published in the Arizona Daily Sun talks about many of the wonderful ways that he contributed to the well being of people in Flagstaff. They mention his role in founding the emergency physicians practice, his leadership of the High Country Hounds, and his creation of the Flagstaff Free Clinic, which is now North Country Healthcare.

But as is the case with all obituaries, there are a lot of stories that go along with those facts. When Dr. Caskey was recognized as the AFP Northern Arizona Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year in 2007, his nominator, Rick Swanson, North Country's Development Director, spoke about Dr. Caskey being the heart of the campaign. That was definitely the case.

John Caskey was one of our "rock star" volunteers on our North Country capital campaign. There were many things that John did that both affirmed fundraising best practice and demonstrated how practices can be modified to fit a rural community. Here are some things, among many, that we learned from Dr. Caskey:

Volunteers with strong networks are critical.
Everyone knew John, or knew someone who knew him. In many cases, Dr. Caskey would be calling on a prospective donor that he delivered as a baby! One of the issues at the beginning of the campaign was that North Country did not have an established fundraising program, so we didn't have a donor base to draw from for the initial asks. John took care of that.

Don't beat around the bush. Once John told me why he believed physicians weren't more charitable. After delivering his theory, he ended with a pause and added, "Well, I think that's a load of bull." Dr. Caskey would tell it like it was, not pausing to be politically correct. It demonstrated powerful belief and commitment to the cause.

Remember it's not about you: it's about making the community a better place. As we were in the final stages of the campaign, Dr. Caskey suffered a stroke. We were immediately concerned about being able to recognize his vision and efforts before he passed away. We approached Dr. Caskey and his family about naming the Learning Center in his honor. He wasn't interested. His main objection? "Seems like you could sell that naming right and get more money for the clinic." As a result, we established the John H. Caskey Endowment instead, to fund uncovered medical expenses for uninsured and underinsured patients. With John's support and his contacts, the endowment campaign has raised over $100,000 to date.

Passion for the cause combined with confidence makes you hard to resist. Rick would often joke that Dr. Caskey was a "chick magnet." We found him to be a "donor magnet," too! He exuded a level of command that made you want to listen to his stories and consequently, do the right thing for the health of the community. He talked about his inspiration for the Free Clinic--a young mother who's child didn't have a pediatrician. He spoke about asking doctors to donate their time to provide clinic hours once a week. He talked about the inadequacies of the current facilities to continue to serve those who needed care. And then he said he needed you. How could you say no to that?

We were very privileged to get to know Dr. Caskey over the last few years, and were honored to put together video and audio clips for the tribute dinner to launch the campaign in April 2008. He is someone we aspire to be like, and we will continue to think on a daily basis, "What would Dr. Caskey do in this situation?"

John Caskey was a great leader and friend. He made healthcare in Northern Arizona better for all of us. John, we'll miss you.

Caskey Tribute Dinner Video
John H. Caskey III obituary
North Country John H. Caskey III Endowment

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Supplemental Materials Available for "The Velvet Rope: Creating a VIP Experience"

Hello, and thanks again to those of you who attended AFP's International conference in New Orleans last week. We appreciate you choosing our workshop, "The Velvet Rope: Creating a VIP Experience" as one of your educational opportunities.

The webpage with supplemental information is now available by clicking here: "Velvet Rope" If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me (Alice Ferris) or Jim Anderson.

We always like to present at meetings and conferences too, so if your organization or AFP chapter is interested in a program, let us know. In addition to "The Velvet Rope," other workshop topics are available on our website at "Workshops & Presentations"

We invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn: Alice Ferris and Jim Anderson

If you're Tweeting, you can follow GoalBusters on Twitter at @GoalBusters
You can follow the AFP Northern Arizona Chapter Tweets at @AFPNAZ

We also hope you'll subscribe her to the GoalBusters Blog.

Thanks again for your investment in your personal professional development at AFP 46th International Conferernce in New Orleans and for helping advance philanthropy with your membership in our association!

Best wishes for a productive 2009.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reflections on Food: San Antonio

I was reminded today by a conversation with my friend and colleague, Robbe Healey of Farr Healey Consulting that I haven't posted my review of our AFP Executive Committee meeting in San Antonio. So here are a few thoughts on, yes, more food.

Boudros on the Riverwalk was my destination two times, first for one of our AFP dinners and the second time for a very late lunch after I went to the Mariachi Mass at the Mission San Jose and before my flight back to Arizona. On the first night, we were in their private dining room. For my lunch, I sat alongside the Riverwalk, and watched the Mud King and Queen parade as I enjoyed the sunshine. Since I was a little more food focused for the lunch visit, I'll write about that.

To start, I enjoyed a beautiful prickly pear margarita. I don't normally like drinks like this--I'm usually either a bourbon drinker (Woodford Reserve--all Tim Burcham's fault) or pinot noir. But when in San Antonio... This drink was not too sweet and visually lovely.

After this, I went with the tableside prepared fresh guacamole. This is one of the things that Boudros is known for--in fact, one of Jim's food memories from his past travels was guacamole at Boudros. I texted him a photo, then ate the whole thing. I really should not have eaten THAT much guacamole, but this is excellent stuff--made with fresh avocado, roasted peppers, jalapeno, garlic, and fresh orange juice.

Up next, the sampler platter. In spite of the fact that I had just consumed WAY too much guacamole, I ate almost all of this too. Good thing this was lunch and dinner for me! The platter included half a lobster tail, coconut shrimp, a taco, grilled fish fillet, mini tostada, a southwestern egg roll and corn pudding. Sometimes sampler platters can end up being one really good thing and a bunch of mediocre ones. Not this time--my favorite was the lobster, but that's because my first food memory ever was eating lobster in Rockport, Massachusetts with my parents when I was two years old. But after the lobster, the taco was crunchy, not greasy, with lots of interesting flavors, and the fish was moist and well seasoned. I'm picky about egg rolls, so I didn't really care for that one, but otherwise, this was an exceptional plate.

I think I timed lunch well, since there was a convention moving in as we were ending our meetings, and lots of new conventioneers approaching Boudros for reservations. As I was leaving, the whole place was swamped with new guests because they had heard that Boudros was a "don't miss" restaurant. I think I'd have to agree.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Shameless Plug for

We at GoalBusters have been teased quite a bit for our obsessive use of So when our friend, Chris Adams of Partners in Recognition asked us about what benefits we saw from this online service, we thought we'd put together our thoughts here.

There are several things we like about TripIt:

1. We can forward confirmations for hotel, air, car, restaurants, etc. from most travel websites and it creates a master itinerary for us. Since we don't have a travel agent, it is our "virtual agent" organizing all the details into one place.

2. When we travel, we can access the TripIt site from our BlackBerries and get all our travel information on one schedule. It also calculates directions, so we know where we're going.

3. On the phone, it live updates flight status through, so we know in advance about delays or gate changes. We've even figured out where the best food is in the airport before.

4. More than one person can collaborate on the same itinerary. So if one of us schedules something, we can add it to the schedule, and we'll both see it the next time we log in, or get emailed that something was scheduled. We can also provide access to others who aren't on the trip, like our assistant, so she could schedule meetings as well.

5. In addition, it speaks to, which is where we've gotten most of our ribbing. Through the TripIt feed, connections can see when we're traveling near them. We've had some connections proactively contact us to schedule meetings when they know we're traveling.

So that's why we like

Reflections on Food: Yuma, Arizona Trip Report

Cross posted from Chowhound, my favorite foodie site.

Just finished up another week long trip in Yuma and thought I'd post my dining thoughts. I'm totally bummed that apparently I crossed paths with Chowhound Yuman Ed Dibble and didn't get to meet him! Ed, next time!

Day 1: Nature's Express, Healthier Fast Food. This totally plant-based menu is deceptively good, and Dr. Carl Myers, the owner and an oncologist, has said in the past, "If I can make this work in Yuma, I can be successful anywhere!" I love the sauteed greens, which are very simple, stir fried (usually) kale with tons of garlic. I also am fond of their wraps, especially the thai peanut. They also make a darn good reuben that beats many meat-filled reubens! Real rye bread with caraway seeds and a thick layer of something that resembles meat. Not sure what it is, but it's tasty.

Dinner at Mi Rancho. I've now given this place two tries and I think it's just okay. I tried the al carbon and the birria (stewed goat). The al carbon was better than the birria, which was very fatty and more bone than meat. The broth was good though. On the positive side, the al carbon was very flavorful, and I really like the salsa. I think I just need to go to Tacos Mi Rancho instead, because the service was erratic here.

Day 2: Ah-So Sushi and Steak. Had to attend the Village Jazz Series for work, so we thought we'd go hang outside at Ah-So and have some creative sushi. We had a great experience last February and thought we could recreate it. Well, we had to be extremely persistent to get a good experience this time. In general, I've heard from several people that the service here is sub par. I would have to agree, unless you can speak to the manager, Joe Corona. Our initial server was totally flummoxed with the request to "let the sushi chef do what he wants." While Jim was going back and forth between the concert and our table, the server came back twice trying to convince me to order the regular menu. Just when I was about to close out the tab and go someplace else, Joe returned from a break and spoke with me about ideas. Thank goodness! We ended up with very fresh shrimp (amaebi) with the heads battered and flash fried--crispy and delicious; mixed tempura with the usual dipping sauce spiked with chile sauce; monkfish pate, super white tuna, and togorashi crusted seared albacore. So we ended up with a great meal, but it sure was hard to get from point A to point B...

Day 3: Bad meal day.
Lunch at The Crossing with a donor. Chicken salad was incredibly icky. Swimming in mayonnaise and lots of non-chicken filler like eggs, celery and more mayo. Ugh. Our server was incredibly nice though.

Dinner--leftovers heated in the microwave in my room. Like I said, bad meal day.

Day 4: Taco trucks! YAY! Went back to Juanita's for the campechana cocktel. This is SOOO good. Delicate tomato broth with tons of fresh seafood. After that, over to Mariscos Nayarita for shrimp empanadas. Thanks Ed.

Also stopped at Raspados Piguino for dessert, since I wanted something frosty. I had never had raspados, so the kind person behind the counter gave us a quick lesson in what our choices were for this Mexican snow cone. Between Jim's functional Spanish and the counter guy's halting English, I ended up with a tamarind version with vanilla ice cream, which was mildly sweet and very refreshing. Jim had the pineapple version with vanilla ice cream--the pineapple flavor was incredibly concentrated and a great counterpoint to the ice cream. Yummy.

Day 5: Back to Nature's Express for dinner. Felt incredibly virtuous.

Day 6: Lunch at Ciao Bella. I inhaled my pesto capellini with lots of veggies. I also had the red pepper bisque, which is really rich in roasted pepper flavor. Dr. Myers would be so proud of my plant-based diet.

Happy hour at the hotel and wings at The Crossing. Even though I hate their chicken salad, I do like their spicy sweet wings. So much for the plant based diet.

Day 7: Lunch at Burgers and Beer with a client. I like their asparagus fries, but I really wish they would be more careful about trimming the woody ends. It's really inelegant to be picking stringy asparagus out of your teeth in front of a client. I also had the guacamole burger, which is a total mess, so I didn't do so well on etiquette points.

Day 8: Lunch at Mimi's Cafe with a client. I like their blue cheese and walnut salad, but everything else was just adequate.

Dinner at River City Grill. Excellent, well prepared cocktails and I really liked the red snapper dish, which had nicely spicy black beans, basmati rice, and a tasty, fresh salsa on top. Jim had the mustard crusted halibut, which was also light and tasty.

Oh, one more thing from this day--donuts from the Campus Community Center on the Arizona Western College campus. It's pledge drive. No protein in sight, but lots of coffee and sugar.

Day 9: Lunch at Highway 95 Cafe. They always seem so happy to see me there--wow, a real Chinese person. In Yuma! I stuck with the super combo bowl this time, but added some sauteed bean sprouts on top and lots of chile sauce. It's very quick and affordable.

I missed Los Manjares de Pepe, the Pupuseria, and Carla Renee this time, but they are on the list for next time. Also on the list for next time is Mustards, which had gotten good reviews from friends and Tacos Mi Rancho. Any suggestions for my next trip in May are welcomed and appreciated!

If you really want to know what we're eating on a regular basis, and other (work stuff) we're doing, follow us on Twitter or check out our Twitpics.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Social Media FAQs Part 1 - Profile Setup

I've received many questions from Twitter followers of GoalBusters and AFPNAZ regarding Social Media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. and thought I'd send out a reply to some "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQs). I'll focus this post on tips for setting up "Profiles."

Q1. Do I want to set up separate profiles. One for business and one for personal?
Yes, I recommend setting up separate personal and business profiles. Remember you are frequently "your brand" ask yourself... Is your brand different professionally and personally? Typically, we get to be much more casual/goofy with our friends and family. You have to decide how much distinction you make between your "Front Stage" and "Back Stage" presence. Should your boss and clients really have complete access your "unfiltered" side?

Q2. Should I use separate email addresses, or come up with a new email address that kind of covers all?
Usually you have to have a separate email address to set up the accounts. It's an effort to stall spammers. I try to use consistent if not the same email for the same personal or professional "identity." For example, my Twitter / YouTube / LinkedIn / Myspace / Facebook might all share contact info for same professional or personal "identity." I keep a spreadsheet to keep track of them all.

Q3. Are these profiles for individuals? Or should I make one for work?
I highly recommend you set up Facebook/Twitter/YouTube etc. profiles for work. Where else can you market you organization and promote your events and issues for free to people who self-identify that they are interested in you and what you do? Email blast, sure...but they are "push marketing." Social Media is interactive "pull marketing."

Q4. What name should I use when making a profile?
Pick names that are memorable and unique to your organization. You might also want to "protect your brand" by grabbing a few different "similar" names even if you only actively use one of them. You can block other people from diluting your brand either inadvertently or intentionally by grabbing the "real estate" around your brand. Secure names that someone might search for when thinking of your organization. Provide brief information in those "dummy" profiles which direct people to your website or other preferred profile address.

Q5. Is that necessary? Why should I bother?
Wouldn't you put an ad in the Yellow Pages if it was free? Consider Myspace. GoalBusters has a Myspace page, but we only use it as a "billboard/Yellow Pages ad." We provide redirection info to the sites we regularly update. You don't have to regularly manage sites like this, but it is important to have a presence in forums that enjoy millions of active users. Today's world is all about choice. Let people choose how to interact with you and they will. We've linked our Myspace page to Twitter and update from TweetDeck with a simple click when it seems appropriate. I rarely actually log on to Myspace, yet I update it regularly from TweetDeck. It's like simulcasting. Same message, same effort, no additional time invested, multiple sites updated.

We hope to see you in our network soon!

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

To improve your LinkedIn understanding and effectiveness, see LinkedIn - Why it Matters and Tips for Success This blog details who is using LinkedIn, why you should care and how to create the most effective profile.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Remembrance for A Dedicated Volunteer

Amy set down her phone and raised her hand.

“May I have a moment? Teri’s gone.”

What followed was a deafening silence that probably didn’t last long, but felt like an eternity.

Jim was standing in front of the room, facilitating a portion of an all day board retreat for Flagstaff Community Partnership, a group of parents who provide peer to peer support for families with special needs children. He looked to me, and we both grasped for what to say to our grieving participants.

Teresa “Teri” Sanders was a strong advocate for the rights of special needs children. The board members described a passionate woman who was a force to be reckoned with. One person said, “You did not want to see her stand up in a meeting. One time she stood up and pointed her finger at someone, and I thought, ‘Good thing she’s on my side!’” Another board member elaborated, “Teri knew the law inside and out. She always knew what to say or do. What will we do without her?”

The people in the room continued their remembrances. Soon, it started to feel familiar. In my mind, I was transported back to the Quaker memorial service we attended for long-time Flagstaff philanthropist, Frances McAllister. I shared with our group what someone had shared then:

“If you continue to tell someone’s stories, they’re never truly gone.”

Interestingly, we had just worked on an exercise that the group had a difficult time completing. The group was trying to figure out the key stories for Flagstaff Community Partnership—what is your elevator speech? Whose stories do you tell to the outside world? What makes Flagstaff Community Partnership unique?

After hearing about Teri, we had our answer. As a parent of two special needs children, Teri had taken it upon herself to smooth the path for families, educating herself about resources, regulations and assistive services so that she could share the best of the best with others. She understood the difficulties parents of children with special needs were going through. She did all this as a volunteer, with no vested interest other than to make sure families didn’t have to unnecessarily struggle and had information that she didn’t have before. She embodied what Flagstaff Community Partnership is all about.

I like to think that Flagstaff Community Partnership will be telling Teri’s stories for many years to come. Jamie, the board president, said, “Teri’s definitely watching over us now.”

Although we never met Teri, we thank her for her dedication and service, and for being an inspiration for special needs advocates in Flagstaff for years to come.

Flagstaff Community Partnership:

Teri Sanders’ obituary:

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Staying True to Your Guiding Principles

Jimism #171 - "There is a difference between serving your community and protecting your commodity."

Most nonprofits are truly committed to serving their communities. They understand that the reason they exist is because there are real people with legitimate needs for their services and outreach. These organizations fully invest their funds and resources to meet those needs. When faced with difficult times, these philanthropies dig deep and make sacrifices all the while striving to maintain the quality services and the quantity of those served.

Sadly however, some nonprofit organizations forget their mission. They forget that they exist to serve. But let’s face it, organizations don’t make decisions, people do. And it can be devastating when a decision maker or influential board member begins to hamper an organization’s effectiveness in pursuit of their own agenda.

What might cause someone to pursue paths that seem contrary to their philanthropy’s mission?

Are they merely frightened? Do they begin to “hunker down” and impose a scarcity mentality that can be debilitating to their team, their volunteers and their constituents? If so, is their fear based on what’s good for the organization or on self-preservation?

Is this a pattern of behavior? Are their actions temporary due to conditions or do they seem motivated by a pursuit of personal power or empire building? Is there a preoccupation with protecting individual legacy?

Identity Crisis
When these motivators are in action, decision makers begin to function more and more like a “profit before principles” business manager. They lose organizational vision. They become margin driven.

Reality can be less important than the perception that is created by the right chart or graph. They’ll cut expenses to create an illusion of growth. They’ll restrict spending and diminish services strangling the organization and squashing the motivation of their team and volunteers.

If you’re a “business,” there’s nothing wrong with making a profit. But if profit is not your mission, if hefty balance statements are not a part of your vision, why should they guide your decisions?

Getting it Right
I started out by talking about what effective philanthropic organizations do right. They stay true to their mission of service. They remain guided by their organizational vision. They are dedicated to service before self. They are fortunate to have leaders that refuse to be only managers.

When times are tough, these individuals and organizations will be at their best.

---You can ride this wave too.

Embrace change as a tangible resource that can redefine how you get your work done. Boycott the phrase… “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Nurture partnerships that can create greater efficiencies than either partner can deliver alone. Tear down the fences. It is a pointless park that no one gets to play in.

Discover new value patterns. What can you do differently? What can you “refine” and do better? What should be repeated and what should be rejected?

We’re all facing difficult times.

So when you have to make a tough decision in your next meeting, pose this question…

“Are we serving our community or merely trying to protect our commodity?” Jimism #171

View more Jimisms at the GoalBusters Website.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Reflections on food: 2008 Review (LONG POST)

(More GoalBusters Restaurant Reviews at "Alice's Restaurants")

It has been said that an army travels on its stomach. We agree. So here's the Food in Review for our "army"--our favorite restaurants from our 2008 travels.

Castroville CA: any restaurant that has a sign outside promoting fried artichokes
These little nuggets are shockingly good. Most any restaurant or roadside stand in the Castroville area knows how to make these is the artichoke capital of the world! We got one tray of 'chokes and inhaled them, wishing there was another tray! Lightly battered, crisp, not greasy, tender on the inside--road food at its finest!

Gila Bend AZ: Outer Limits Cafe at the Space Age Lodge
Eat in a space ship! But go after the lunch rush--they seem to spend a little more time preparing the food after about 2 pm. When they take their time, the broaster fried chicken and the chicken fried steak are...out of this world.

Kykotsmovi AZ: The Hungry Bear
When they have the Hopi Hot Beef on special, get it--it's fry bread with roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes and a green chile on top. Yes, you can get this anytime at the Hopi Cultural Center, but it's a little different at the Hungry Bear. You can also make your own in Window Rock, as long as you don't tell them it's the "Hopi" hot beef.

Las Vegas NV: Bouchon at the Venetian
Yes, it's Thomas Keller, so how can it be bad? We go for the terrine de foie gras, an intensely buttery, rich jar of foie gras. That's all we need. Well, and a cocktail to go with it.

Las Vegas NV: David Burke at the Venetian
Discovered David Burke when Bouchon was closed. The server was Jay, a mohawk-wearing, well-dressed dude who made the evening by being highly professional without being pretentious. The Angry Lobster, half a lobster poached in chili oil and somehow crisped but still tender, was the highlight, along with the finale bowl of pink cotton candy!

Las Vegas NV: Alize at the Top of the Palms
Incredible view of the strip from the Top of the Palms. The food is pretty darn tasty as well.

Las Vegas NV: Rosemary's
A stellar off-the-strip restaurant, they almost always have a coupon online for a three course, prix fixe lunch for $23 or $25. Andrew is our other favorite server in Las Vegas, and the service here is, much like David Burke, professional and unpretentious. The barbecued shrimp with gorgonzola cole slaw is a delicious study in flavor balance.

Las Vegas NV: Lotus of Siam
A totally unassuming Thai restaurant in an off-strip strip mall, this is the best Thai we've had in the US. We always order too much, though, and usually right before we hit the road back to Flagstaff. So the leftovers torture us with their intoxicating spices until we decide to just open up the boxes and eat the leftovers cold. Our favorite appetizer is the Nam Kao Tod, a combination of crispy rice and sour sausage that tastes way better than it sounds. The roasted duck curry is also exceptional.

Nashville TN: Loveless Cafe
About 30 minutes from downtown Nashville, this place is where everyone still calls you "hon" and they serve down home, stick to the ribs, comfort food. The biscuits with sausage gravy are like a sausage cloud, and will now be the gold standard by which every other biscuit with gravy will be judged. The fried chicken and barbecued meats are pretty dang tasty as well.

Oklahoma City OK: Cocktails on the Skyline
A summer oasis on the roof of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, they have live jazz performances and access to a full (cash) bar included in admission to the museum after 5 pm. Got to walk through the Chihuly glass exhibit and then get a glass of something.

Peoria AZ: Hope Kee Hong Kong Style Restaurant at Lee Lee Supermarket
We never would have thought there would be a good, sit down restaurant inside a grocery store. But Hope Kee is definitely unusual, serving a broad selection of Chinese barbecued meats, very fresh (out of the case next door!) seafood, and seasonal specials like sauteed snow pea leaves, which Alice hadn't seen since Taiwan. The servers also like to tease people who spend too much time on their cell phones at meals.

Phoenix AZ: The Fry Bread House
When you need a plate size piece of fried dough with spicy red or green chile stew, this is the place to be. Located near downtown Phoenix, you get a very hearty meal and get to experience a Southwestern specialty.

Phoenix AZ: Durant's
This is old school, baby. With dark paneled rooms, large booths, and appetizer selections like sauteed chicken livers, you come here for steak or fish and a martini. We saw Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio here, dressed in a elegant suit and surrounded by other tough looking guys in suits. Their motto says it all: "Good friends, great steaks and the best booze are the necessities of life."

Prescott AZ: SweetTart
You get a sugar rush just walking in here. Remodeled and expanded in 2008, Alain turned his little rustic cafe into a totally hip, modern bistro. The pastries sit like jewels in a lighted case in the front of the restaurant, beckoning you to save room for dessert. Crystal is one of our favorite servers in Prescott.

Prescott AZ: American Jazz Grill 129 1/2
Maurice is our other favorite server in Prescott. Tall, imposing, and with a European accent of unconfirmed origin, Maurice takes good care of you, timing your courses and making good recommendations. After the chef took escargot off the menu, we lobbied Maurice to bring it back. We always get the escargot now.

Prescott AZ: Peacock Room at the Hassayampa Inn
Two words: Monte Cristo. This is our favorite, served with a jalapeno jelly. Awesome. Alice also adores the coffee, which is made from a special concentrate that makes the coffee incredibly smooth and never bitter.

San Diego CA: Peohe's on Coronado Island
Lovely view of the San Diego bay and the Lobster Bisque is delicious.

San Francisco CA: Sam's Grill at Belden Place
A San Francisco institution, their waiters still wear starched white shirts and black bow ties. The wait staff and kitchen team have worked together so long, they are like a family! The power brokers of the Financial District lunch here, so if you go a little after the typical lunch time, you have a better shot at a table. They make the best Manhattan in San Francisco! We had halibut cheeks for the first time here, which were tender and flavorful, and sand dabs, reminding Alice of the movie, Spirit of St. Louis.

San Francisco CA: Asia de Cuba at the Clift Hotel
Hip, stylish restaurant tucked into the Clift Hotel near Union Square. Beautiful looking bar and lounge, and the centerpiece of the dining room is a cross-shaped, etched glass, mirrored table that reflects patterns throughout the room! Creative spins on Asian fusion cuisine.

San Francisco CA: Grand Cafe Brasserie and Bar at the Hotel Monaco
Got an incredible deal on a half bottle of 1994 Bordeaux here. The cassoulet was very rich and hearty--probably could have served three! Alice's Dad was perplexed by the Soupe à L'Oignon Gratinée, which Alice had to explain was French Onion Soup. Dad asked, "Well, why didn't they just write that in English then?"

San Francisco CA: Yank Sing
King of all dim sum (or deem sum, as they spell it) in the western United States. The Shanghai dumpling, their signature soup dumpling, is worth the trip in itself, but then there's the Peking duck, the lettuce wraps with pine nuts, the ha gow, the sui mai.... The special Yank Sing XO sauce is also a great spicy condiment for just about anything. We prefer the Rincon Center location, which expands into the building atrium on the weekends. Be prepared to wait for a table, or better yet, make a reservation!

Tempe AZ: Rula Bula
The one place on Mill Avenue that you can guarantee will be open late and serving food. Irish pub fare absorbs the copious amounts of Irish beer and whiskey being consumed by the local college students. The bartender will even set drinks on fire if you ask.

Tucson AZ: J-Bar
GoalBusters friend Chef Janos Wilder gets to show off his "cantina" side at J-Bar, the less formal sister establishment to Janos at the Westin La Paloma. There are many creative dishes here, but a favorite is the Dark Chocolate Jalapeno Ice Cream Sundae!

Winslow AZ: The Turquoise Room at La Posada
The bartender is clever and the signature soup is wonderful. The soup has a corn chowder and a black bean soup poured into a yin-yang pattern with a red chile "T-R" squiggled in the center. The bartender knows how to make Jim's signature cocktail, which is another post entirely.

Winslow AZ: E & O Kitchen at the airport
Oscar, the "O" in E & O, is the host and server pretty much every day, and once gave us a detailed treatise on the proper way to make chile rellenos. He's absolutely right, because the E & O rellenos are our favorites--smoky, with a meaty texture and just the right amount of cheese. The gorditas are also a favorite, with a crispy corn exterior and meat filling of your choice. There are five or six different meats at E & O, all of which are good, but we enjoy the ground beef and the stewed pork.

Washington DC: Burma Restaurant
We had never tried Burmese food until this restaurant and were pleasantly surprised to discover that the foods didn't remind us of anything in other cuisines! The sour mustard plant and the green tea leaf salad were the highlights.

Washington DC: Cafe Atlantico, Oyamel, Jaleo and Zaytinya
Chef Jose Andres and his ThinkFoodGroup restaurants provided an unforgettable "progressive dinner" at four different concept restaurants.

At Cafe Atlantico, we enjoyed tableside prepared guacamole, and two very creative cocktails: the Magic Mojito, featuring cotton candy in a martini glass, which dissolved "magically" into the drink when the rest of the liquid was poured on top with a flourish; and the Faux Syrah Syrah, which took the flavor elements of syrah--blackberry, black pepper, and lavender to name a few--broke them down into their parts and recombined them into a cocktail.

At Oyamel, Jose's Mexican cantina, Dave Andersen, the manager, treated us like VIP's and brought out Jose's favorite margarita, topped with "salt-lime air," a delicate looking but surprisingly sturdy seafoam that added a hint of salt and lime to every sip. In addition, we savored red snapper ceviche, pozole, and three kinds of tacos--carnitas, lengua and grasshopper! Funny enough, the grasshoppers, about an inch long, kept "jumping" out of the taco. They were deliciously spicy and crunchy.

After that, off to Jaleo, Jose's tapas bar. There we enjoyed a buttery Iberico jamon with a dry sherry.

Finally, we braved the cold to walk to Zaytinya, where we were greeting by Andy, our server, with the question, "How hungry are you at this point?" When we replied, "a light appetite," Andy responded with, "Okay, then the chef will provide three courses...." At one point there were 20 small dishes on the table! Exceptional dips--hummus, baba ghanoush, tzatziki among the six, with a companion of a light pink bubbly. Grilled octopus--tender, lightly charred and mildly sweet. A pinot noir-esque red wine from Lebanon. Braised short ribs, a stewed lamb and chicken kabobs with an airy garlic aioli. Finally, we were presented with a glass of dessert wine and two desserts--a yogurt, brandied cherry and cherry sorbet parfait, which was light and refreshing, and a deconstructed chocolate covered cherry--crushed chocolate cookies, brandied cherries, caramel sauce, chocolate mousse-like pyramid and cherry sorbet. Taste a little bit of everything at once and it does indeed taste like a chocolate covered cherry!

Yuma AZ: Los Manjares de Pepe
In a little house on 8th Street in Yuma, this is our go-to Mexican place. Favorites are the chile relleno and the Pepe's Special, a slow braised pork in a green chile sauce.

Yuma AZ: Pupuseria y Taqueria Cabanas
Another little hole-in-the-wall restaurant recommended originally by our Chowhound guru, "Ed Dibble" aka Ed in Yuma. A little Spanish is helpful here, since this is a family run place. The pupusa is a cornmeal hand pie with various fillings depending on the day. We've had them with pork, chicken, beans, and cheese, and all were delicious. We also had the arroz con pollo, and the chicken was fall off the bone tender. The tamales here are ethereal--incredibly fluffy and a perfect balance of filling and dough. This place is also one of the best values--we fed three of us on about $20.

Yuma AZ: Mariscos Nayarita
Another Ed recommendation. This is a "permanent" taco truck on 8th Street. Their shrimp empanadas are crisp, not at all greasy and filled with just the right amount of chopped shrimp. When you bite into them, they let out this hot puff that we initially thought was grease, but it was trapped hot air. Great with a touch of hot sauce.


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