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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful for the Kindness of Strangers (and Friends): The Joys of Travel

With all the talk of full body scans and "friendly" pat downs, it makes you wonder why anyone would bother with travel at all! For GoalBusters, the last few months have been filled with many trips and through it all, we've met many people that make it worth the hassle.

Why travel is cool:
The Last Butter Tart
(before 5 of us ate it)
1. People generally want to share the best of their community. In Mexico City, my hosts were insistent that I tour the Anthropology Museum during my less than 72 hour trip for a presentation. They were so insistent that they arranged for a driver to whisk me from the conference to the museum, wait for me at the museum, and bring me back to the conference in time for one of the closing sessions. That driver also took me to a bank to get pesos (at my request) and took me to a street stall for lunch (and he even bought).

In Toronto, my friends Mark and Joseph Climie-Elliott invited people to join them for the Taste of the Danforth. A small group of us got to experience this lively Greek street festival and five of us shared a single butter tart, the last one remaining of several hundred that were made by the bakery we visited. It was a really good, really teeny piece of pastry which is now a link amongst Mark, Andrew Watt and I at Association of Fundraising Professionals meetings!

Carlos Madrid-Varela and Alice in Mexico City
2. People are pretty understanding if it looks like you're trying. I speak almost no Spanish. I can say por favor, gracias, si, no, a few numbers, and a smattering of other words related to food. Yet in spite of my less than preschool grasp of the language, every person I interacted with wanted to help me. Maybe they felt sorry for me, but I was put at ease almost immediately by everyone with a smile and "Don't worry, I speak a little English," or hand signals to try to communicate. In general, if you ask questions with genuine interest, you can usually get some good travel tips and maybe a clue to a hidden gem.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jim Anderson Named AFP Northern Arizona Fundraising Professional of the Year

Jim Anderson of GoalBusters Consulting, LLC will be honored as the Fundraising Professional of the Year during the 2010 National Philanthropy Day®, hosted by The Association of Fundraising Professional Northern Arizona Chapter (AFPNAZ) Thursday, November 18 in Sedona, Ariz.

James Anderson
AFP Northern Arizona
2010 Fundraising Professional
of the Year
Anderson was nominated by Vernon Kahe, Alice Ferris, and Sararesa Begay-Hopkins for his contributions to the philanthropic community since 2005.

Anderson’s work with the Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) and KGHR Navajo Public Radio, among many others, gave him experience and motivation to be a philanthropist, while his personality and creativity gave him the characteristics it takes to be a one-of-a-kind leader.

“Often, one is surprised to see this uptight-looking guy in a suit and tie break out in a TV theme song, or even better, 'I’m a little teapot' or running around a crowded room sprinkling water, acting like rain,” said Kahe, resource development manager for the HEEF. “Although easygoing, Jim gets his point across, while the suit and tie lend credibility.”

Will work for frybread.
Ferris, Anderson’s business partner at GoalBusters Consulting, LLC since 2006, has a vast appreciation for Anderson’s personal commitment to philanthropy. During the Schultz Flood, he dropped everything he was doing to help an affected family shovel mud for fours days, and was rewarded for his hard work with frybread.

“I know Jim wants people to believe that he’s a tough salesman, but he has the heart of a philanthropist,” Ferris said. “I believe that this combination makes him an excellent fundraiser and worthy of this year’s award.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

Key Takeaways from the Fundamentals of Fundraising

We recently presented two modules of the AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising in Tuba City, Arizona, on the Hopi Reservation (and across the street from the Navajo Reservation.) The discussion and questions from our participants made us think about what key points really need to be communicated to people new to fundraising. Here are our thoughts:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Special Event Makeover: The Velvet Rope: Creating a VIP Experience

At the GoalBusters "Special Event Makeover" workshop, we discussed how to make your special event "special." Here is a repost of a blog from 2008 with highlights from "The Velvet Rope."
Is your special event truly “special?” Are your VIP’s truly “very important?”

Maybe you’ve been to an event where you thought, “This is truly spectacular!” But you’ve also probably been to an event where you thought, “I will never come to this thing again!”

What made the good event so good and the bad event so bad? It was connected to your personal experience. Did you feel special or did you feel like just another cog in the machine?

To make a lasting connection to an event participant, you need to create an unforgettable experience that they believe delivered more value than they paid for.

When designing your event’s experience, think about these points:
  • Exclusivity. It’s not “VIP” if everyone can have it. And this does not just apply to high end concerts or galas. Even at picnics or family gatherings, it can be as simple as providing a t-shirt that’s only available at your event. Exclusive is about providing access that other people don’t have.
  • Participant focused. Depending on your event, you’ll have different personality types of participants. If your participant wants recognition, then make sure you have some way to publicly appreciate them. If they would rather learn more about the organization, make sure there’s plenty of information available.
  • Shared history. Your VIP’s develop a connection to each other and to your organization when you give them stories in common. Provide unique opportunities for the VIP’s to interact.
You can design the highest value experience for your donor without necessarily spending a lot of money. Logo cups, a separate buffet or food and beverage services, toys, and other gifts are easy and usually inexpensive to provide.

Whatever you do for your participants, always think creatively and think from the perspective of your donor. Your next event will be spectacular!

For more on this topic, contact GoalBusters about “The Velvet Rope.”#####

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Starting a Simple, No Hassle Planned Giving Program

For most nonprofits, planned giving programs are something that you know you should do, but in the middle of making sure that mailing campaign gets to the post office, trying to get the newsletter done, picking out the menu for your next special event, and just the general day to day responsibilities, planned giving goes by the wayside. The excuses? "It's too complicated." "That's for later when we have an established program." "We're too small for that."

In reality, planned giving programs can be easy, if you start with the basics. First, to every piece of communication that leaves your office, add a simple footer that reads:

For information about including (YOUR IMPORTANT CAUSE) in your will or trust, please contact us at (DEVELOPMENT PERSON'S PHONE NUMBER) or email (YOUR EMAIL).

This means on the bottom of fax cover sheets, on letterhead, in your email signature, on your website, on your Facebook page, etc. You may not get any direct responses right away, but this raises awareness that you are an organization that will accept a gift like this!

Then, if someone actually contacts you and wants information, you can send them the following sample bequest language. (Please modify this depending on the laws of your state.)

Sample Bequest Language

Supporting [ORGANIZATION] through your will or trust

One of the many ways that you can support [ORGANIZATION]’s mission to [INSERT MISSION HERE] is to make a legacy gift through your will or trust.

A will or trust is an important legal document, so please contact an attorney or financial advisor for assistance. To assist you with this important decision, here is some suggested bequest wording.

Bequest with a Specific Dollar Amount

I give, devise and bequeath to [ORGANIZATION], [STATE] non-profit 501(c)(3)corporation, tax identification number [EIN], the sum of $__________ [for restriction, if applicable].

Bequest with a Percentage Amount

I give, devise and bequeath to [ORGANIZATION], [STATE] non-profit 501(c)(3)corporation, tax identification number [EIN], _____ percent of my residual estate [for restriction, if applicable].

Bequest of a Residue of an Estate

I give, devise and bequeath to [ORGANIZATION], [STATE] non-profit 501(c)(3)corporation, tax identification number [EIN], all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, including real and personal property, [for restriction, if applicable].

For questions or additional information, please contact:


That's pretty much it for most nonprofit planned giving programs, and you'd be surprised what can happen! Other simple options are to encourage your donor to name your charity as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy or retirement fund.

Of course, if someone wants to make a more complicated gift, such as a charitable remainder trust, life trust or other deferred giving vehicle, find a local resource to help you! Check with your local Partnership for Planned Giving (PPP) Council or a community foundation to see if they have a planned giving advisor who will assist your nonprofit with more elaborate gifts.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Storytelling: Communicating Your Mission with Infectious Passion

On July 13th 2010, GoalBusters presented the webinar "Storytelling: Communicating Your Mission with Infectious Passion" for the Charity Channel's Charity University. Here are some of highlights and resource materials we discussed during the session.

Storytelling is a part of our cultural heritage and vital in any organization to transfer the passion
you have for your cause to the public, donors, volunteers, board me
mbers and staff.

Stories are important to us because:
  • They communicate history
  • They establish identity
  • They share culture
  • They aid memory

Universal themes will help you engage the listener so they keep listening.

Organizational Stories and Themes: Examples

Mob at the Gates

Benevolent Community

Rot at the Top

Triumphant Individual

Examples for a Nonprofit School

Government funding being cut for education

New legislation requires more time for testing and less time for other classes

Students’ families and friends get together to refurbish the auditorium for performances

Owner of property next door to school building large factory and trying to force school to move

Principal of school was once a student there and has come home to provide education for his hometown

How will you represent your organization? Most organizations have stories in each category. Which are the most compelling for your organization?

Classic Story Structure: “Introduce your hero, get him up a tree, throw rocks at him, throw more rocks at him and then get him out of the tree.” - Robert McKee, Screenwriting Guru

It's easier to convince a prospective donor to contribute if he or she can empathize with a character and be engaged by the story.

What do you need to transform your data to a story?
  • Introduce Protagonist - Who are we following? It can be an individual or your organization.
  • Inciting Incident - Importance of antagonism or the emotional dynamics. This is the "Problem Statement.
  • Obstacles / Barriers - Why is it hard to fix the problem?
  • Resolution / Success - Put the donor in the story
Another way to express the story is...
  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why it matters
  • How someone can help

Telling the Story:

  • Determine your audience - Focus on who you can actually persuade to act
  • Give your characters voice - Client quotes, Real people where possible
  • Select communication vehicle -In person? Print? Radio? TV? Video?
  • Pick presentation style - How formal do you need to be? Where will you be telling your story?
  • Target desired response - What do you want them to do? Fall asleep? (bedtime story) Get angry? Volunteer? Change their mind? Give you money?
  • Think about the epilogue and the sequel - What comes next? What will you talk about when you next meet?

Watch the videos of the nonprofit organizations whose stories were shared today.

The Hopi Education Endowment Fund's connection of History, Identity, Memory and Culture.

The "Classic Story Structure" in the campaign to build the Sanders Clinic; Sanders, Arizona.

Meet John H. Caskey, III the protagonist of the North Country HealthCare story.


Additional Storytelling tips and resources

Storytelling as Best Practice - Ten Tips for Storytellers by Terrence E. McNally

1. Stories are about people. (And people have names – even if you have to make them up.) Instinctively, your audience will want to know whom they will be following on this particular journey, and they also will want a mental picture of that person, so it helps to provide at least a few physical details.

2. One or more of the people in your story has to want something: to do something, to change something, to get something. A story doesn’t really get started until the audience knows what the goal is and has a reason to care whether or not it is attained.

3. Stories need to be fixed in time and space. Audiences don’t need every detail, but they want to know: was this last week or 10 years ago? Are we on a street corner in Boston, a Wal-Mart in Iowa, or somewhere else?

4. While people in a story pursue a goal, they tend to talk. Direct quotes let the audience hear your characters’ unique voices, bring the audience into action (which is precisely where you want them), and lend urgency to storytelling.

5. Audiences bore easily. Your story has to make them wonder, “What happens next?” or “How is this going to turn out?” As people in your story pursue their goal, they have to run into obstacles, surprises, or something that makes the audience sit up and take notice.

6. Stories speak the audience’s language. They are colorful (thanks to telling details), concise, and clearly understandable.

7. Stories stir up emotions. Human beings (which should comprise the majority of your audience) will not think about things they do not care about. So you have to make them care before you can get them to think about your issue. That’s the test your story has to meet.

8. Stories don’t tell: they show. Intellectually, your audience will understand a sentence such as, “She felt hostility from the family.” But when you write, “The family wouldn’t look her in the eye,” your audience will see the moment and feel the family’s anger.

9. Stories have clear meaning. When the curtain comes down, your audiences should know why exactly they took this journey with you.

10. Stories are containers of truth. At their essence, the best stories are about how we should treat ourselves, how we should treat other people, or how we should treat the world around us.


Resources for Further Learning

Storytelling as Best Practice By Andy Goodman, available at

Free Range Thinking A free monthly newsletter by Andy Goodman, available at

The Triumph of Narrative by Robert Fulford “Story telling is an attempt to deal with and at least partly contain the terrifyingly haphazard quality of life.”

The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge “I realize that…many otherwise competent managers in leadership positions were not leaders of the same ilk precisely because they saw no larger story.”

The Story Factor by Annette Simmons “In a complex environment, people listen to whomever makes the most sense – whomever tells the best story. Facts don’t have the power to change someone’s story. Your goal is to introduce a new story that will let your facts in.”

Storytelling in Organizations by Yiannis Gabriel “In [a business] environment, amidst the noisy din of facts, numbers, and images, the delicate, time-consuming discourse of storytelling is easily ignored or silenced. Few organizations are spontaneous storytelling cultures.”

Storytelling for Grantseekers: The Guide to Creative Nonprofit Fundraising by Cheryl A Clarke

All Marketers are Liars: The power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World by Seth Godin

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screen writing by Robert McKee

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting; a step-by-step guide from concept to finished script by Syd Field.


Additional training and presentation information about Storytelling and other topics is available at or by emailing

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fundraising Through a Different Lens: Thoughts to Guide Philanthropy in Diverse Communities

Many well intentioned fundraisers have made a cultural misstep: you schedule a major event on a religious holiday, pick a menu that features food that is culturally taboo, or you make an assumption about someone's beliefs only to find out the hard way that you are very, very wrong. So how can you navigate cultural traditions, norms and unwritten rules when you are not a member of a certain group, yet you need to work with the group for fundraising?

1. Think about things you have in common with individuals within the community.
When we meet someone new, if you're good at getting to know people, you immediately start to try to find things that you have in common. But isn't it interesting, that when you consider groups of people, suddenly it becomes easier to find things you don't share? Instead of thinking about a particular culture as a group: Native American, African American, Chinese American, Jewish, Muslim, or others, begin with a single individual. Try to find common values and interests with that one person. Not only will this help with building respect for a potential donor's values, but also works to develop relationships that are critical to the fundraising process.

2. Find a "coach," advisor or trusted ally to help you within the community.
There are many factors that contribute to the definition of a culture, including but not limited to religious beliefs, traditions, geographic location, economic class, language, food, and much more. It can be very difficult to understand the layers of culture if you are an "outsider"--a transplant or an occasional visitor. Your advisor should be someone that you have gotten to know well enough that you can ask them the "stupid questions" without completely offending them. They should also be someone who believes in and trusts you enough to steer you away from the pitfalls and potholes! One of our trusted advisors is always good to point out without judgement when we've made a mistake. They also explain where we went awry. We value these learning opportunities and generally don't make the same mistake twice!

3. Take time to understand the "philanthropic currency" of the community.
While fundraisers are typically dealing with cash or cash based assets, we need to be aware that many diverse communities do not have a history of cash based philanthropy. In each group's culture of philanthropy, there may be traditions of helping extended family by providing a place to stay, or bringing food to a person who is sick, or coming with your horse to help with farming. In general, there is some tradition of helping others in every culture we have encountered, but in most, it is very direct and hands on. This is not to say that cash contributions don't happen in diverse communities--in fact, "minority" groups will become a majority proportion of philanthropic givers in the future as the makeup of our population changes. What you need to do, with the help of your advisor or coach, is understand what the culture's philanthropic currency is traditionally, and how you can translate those concepts to cash giving.

For example, in early Chinese American philanthropy, support was provided through "name houses," where any new immigrant with a particular family name could get help with housing, employment, communication, and more. So I could have gone to the Lin house to get help if I were just landing in the United States. Benefactors to these name houses were generally immigrants who had already established themselves. Points that you might glean from this tradition are that honoring the family name and making sure that the next generation is better off than the last are highly valued by this group.

4. Challenge your assumptions not only about other cultures but about yourself.
What misconceptions might other cultures have about you? Being aware of what assumptions others might be bringing to the conversation will also help with your relationship development. In my past, I've had people assume that I know how to speak Chinese, can beat up someone with karate, will generally be quiet and demure, will giggle with my hand over my mouth, and that I was not born in the United States--all of which are incorrect. (I've also had people assume that I was a good student, that I'm good at math, and that I can whip up a mean Chinese dinner, but those are true.) For Jim, working with Native American communities, others bring many assumptions about what the "pahana" (white man) will do. Assessing what misconceptions you may have to disprove will also help you navigate the culture.

5. Take time to build trust.
As much as I would like to say that there is a magic formula, there isn't. This won't happen overnight. Like other sustainable philanthropic endeavors, this will be an investment in a relationship that will evolve into support for your cause. It's not about changing what you wear, or translating your materials into another language--it's about understanding what a community values, finding advocates for your cause within the community, and building connections based on honesty and mutual respect.

Other resources about diversity in fundraising
This blog is an extension of my original essay written for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Kaleidoscope e-newsletter. Read the essay here.

Jay Frost writes a great blog, Frost on Fundraising. Here's his article on The Business Case for Diversity.

This blog was based on a session presented to the Association of Fundraising Professionals Southern Arizona Chapter in June 2010. One exercise was "Circles of my Multi-Cultural Self," which is available at Critical Multicultural Pavilion.

If you are interested in having this session presented to your nonprofit organization or association, please contact us at or use the Contact Us link.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Board Training Essentials: Resource Materials

On June 2, 2010, GoalBusters presented a webinar on Board Training Essentials for Stevenson Inc. Here are some of the resource materials we discussed during the session.

In addition to basic business policies, like human resources and financial operations, here are organizational policies related to nonprofit operations that you should have:

  • Gift Acceptance
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Investment
  • Donor Confidentiality
  • Naming/Recognition
Templates for each of these are available by emailing

Links to additional information:
And here's the PowerPoint:

Board Training Essentials
Thanks for participating!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Alice Ferris On The Air with Eight, Arizona PBS Pledge Drive

Alice Ferris regularly supports Public Television and Public Radio station pledge drives with her volunteer and compensated appearances. Here are some Social Media posts and threads with links from her on air work for KAET, Eight Arizona PBS June 6th. You can support Arizona Public Television now by calling 888-443-2929 or 480-965-8800. Let 'em know Alice encouraged you to call.


GoalBusters Consulting, LLC's founding partner Alice Ferris is on the air statewide in Arizona right now! She'll end up on the air for KAET Arizona's PBS station for more than 5 hours live tonight and even more in encore performances. She started this evening at 4pm with "Great Scenic Railway Journeys." Right now she's on "Canadian Tenors" and later tonight she'll be helping with the Elaine Paige program.

Eight specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture — utilizing the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives. View Post

John W. Dawe John W. Dawe I'm mad crazy about Elaine Page!

Alice Ferris Alice Ferris Fab John! :-D


Alice Ferris just finished hosting her first pledge drive shift of the night. She's on the air statewide for Eight, Arizona PBS right now, wrapped up "Great Scenic Railway Journeys" next up "CanadianTenors" and later tonight she hosts the "Elaine Paige" program.

Mary W. Black Mary W. Black Just saw you on Channel 8! Love those Railway Journeys! Great Job Alice!

Winona Reid Winona Reid She's doing a great job! I just turned to channel 8 since the CELTICS WON!! She's a celebrity now! :-)

Jim Anderson Jim Anderson Winona, Alice has been doing public Television pledge drives since she was 15. She's been on camera since her early 20s, First for Wisconsin Public Television. She's been volunteering for KAET, AZ PBS and KUAT Tucson PBS for 14 years. (Wow!) She does 4-5 television pledge drives a year, or about 15-20 hours of HD TV airtime (multiply that 2-3x for state-wide public radio). Frequently, she's approached by people asking if she the "Public Television" lady? She also has 4 different "virtual" (pre-recorded) pledge drive programs airing throughout the country. At any given moment, she's on the air in apx 100 major cities nationwide.

Alice Ferris Alice Ferris Thanks Mary! It was a long shift, but a good time! - Hey Winona, yes, all of what Jim said is true...although I'm now either the "Lawrence Welk lady," the "Cooks lady," or now "the Train (as in railroad) girl." Not a bad gig.


Alice Ferris
Alice Ferris Hosting pledge on @arizonapbs today, 4pm to when they kick me out of the studio-Great Scenic Railway Journeys, Canadian Tenors, Elaine Paige

Paul E Doherty Paul E Doherty
Thank you for your PBS leadership -- have a great time today!

Via TripIt

Support KAET, Eight Arizona PBS by calling 888-443-2929 or 480-965-8800. Or visiting them online at Support Arizona PBS.

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

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jim Speaks Out Against Arizona Anti-Immigration Law SB 1070

I have never attended a City Council Meeting, let alone spoke at one. But I was deeply affected by the pain I believe the new Arizona immigration law will cause.

First, I attended a rally in front of City Hall. Yes, I was the only "white guy" in tie. Next, I decided to go into the City Council Meeting and listen to some of the speakers. I didn't decide to speak until after I heard many other concerned citizens expressing their positions. I tear up now thinking about how so many people are potentially affected directly by this law.

Here are my comments. I am proud to have included references to both Stephen Hawking and Donald Sutherland in my comments. I've indicated in the video where editing took place. The entire evening ran nearly 4 hours. In the end, the Flagstaff City Council listened to our citizens and refused to enforce Arizona's law. They unanimously voted to file an injunction refusing to enforce this bill.

If you'd like to see more of the citizen comments you can watch the entire evening at


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

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rural Fundraising and Respect of Place

We've been working with a long time friend and colleague on a project to build a new clinic in Sanders, Arizona, a remote community near the eastern border of Arizona. If you're driving at speeds like most trucks on the Interstate, you won't even notice Sanders, but there is a growing community of Navajo and others in this rural place.

As we've spent more time in Sanders and in the Navajo Nation, we've been reflecting on how to communicate the stories and needs of this unique place. While there are volumes of stories to tell, it boils down to this:

1. Cover basic needs first. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs has been around for a while because it makes sense. In a rural community, very often people are trying to meet basic needs, like food, shelter and clothing. It becomes totally irrelevant to the community if you're trying to pursue lofty ideals if you don't have the fundamentals covered.

2. It takes time to build trust and respect. Rural communities can be a bit of a paradox, in that they are very hospitable, yet it can take a long time for you to be considered a trusted part of the community. They will show you around, but not let you in until they think you're serious about sticking around. When we were conducting our initial interviews of the board and other community members, they were polite. Now, after several visits, they're starting to reveal the real stories.

3. Best practice doesn't always apply. The challenge with "best practice" is that it has very often been vetted by organizations in metropolitan areas. True best practices, in many respects, are the simplest strategies that will work regardless of community size. Just because a strategy worked in a similar size organization doesn't mean it will work in a rural area.

4. Take time to learn how you "fit in." This doesn't mean abandoning your personality, changing your style, or trying to be someone you're not. This means observing community interactions first hand and finding the good in what you see before you immediately suggest change. Think about it--how would you like it if a complete stranger walked up to you on the street and told you everything that they thought was wrong with you?

5. You learn the most over food. This one can be true about a lot of communities, not just rural ones, but is accentuated in small towns. Most of the time, there's one, maybe two places where people hang out. For Sanders, people go to the Apple Dumplin in Chambers, about 5 miles away on the frontage road. In St. Michaels, everyone congregates at the Denny's (which is probably the best run Denny's we've ever experienced)! We've learned much more about a community by eating its food, talking to restaurant staff, and watching the locals than by formal meetings in offices.

With all these points in mind, we look forward to more opportunities to get to know these communities and hopefully bring new resources to improve their way of life. And we hope we'll best communicate not only the people's needs, but their sense of pride and respect for the place they call home.

This entry is a preview of a book in process co-authored by Alice Ferris, MBA, CFRE, ACFRE and James Anderson. Originally posted January 2009.

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

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fundraising Tips: A Snapshot of Rural Donors - Press - AFP

From the Association of Fundraising Professionals

(April 6, 2010) Although people from rural communities are less likely to donate to charity, those that do give donate a higher percentage of their income than urban donors, according to a recent study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

The research, funded by a grant from AFP, found that all else held constant, rural respondents were almost 5.2 percentage points less likely to be a charitable donor, and donated less, on average, than urban donors, after controlling for human and social capital variables, such as education level, income level, health status, religious affiliation, family composition, and others.

Rural respondents were significantly less likely to be donors to secular charities, and gave less on average to secular causes overall.

However, rural donors donated a statistically significantly higher percentage of their income to charity than did urban donors. Also, rural donors are more likely to donate to religious causes than secular causes. Frequent religious attendance is associated with a higher probability of giving for rural residents, as is itemization of deductions on income tax returns.

Researchers found that rural donors give $122 less, on average, after controls. However, for both urban and rural residents, the amount contributed is closely related to some of the same factors that are associated with the probability of giving: being a college graduate, being married, frequency of religious attendance, level of wealth, level of income and itemizing charitable deductions.

Note: The researchers defined "rural" as those living in small towns with a population of less than 20,000. In this study, approximately 18 percent to 21 percent of respondents lived in rural areas.

College Educated Give More
The researchers offered several suggestions for fundraising in rural areas. Because college education is a factor associated with giving, engage college educated people in your work, researchers recommend. Rural residents who have gone to college give more than those who had not had that opportunity, even after taking income differences into account. Especially for secular causes, it is important to cultivate the interest of people with a college education, and people likely to be itemizing deductions (people who have recently purchased a home, for example).

Segment potential donors by income in order to structure appeal amounts matched to different areas. Values expressed most frequently by rural donors include:
  • Those with more should help those with less (equity of responsibility);
  • Giving is a form of reciprocity for benefits received;
  • Giving is a way to express religious beliefs; and
  • Nonprofit organizations are perceived to be more effective in delivering services than government agencies.
Even with attention to fundraising in rural areas, the total amount of charitable giving from rural areas will naturally be smaller than the total gifts from urban areas, because fewer people live in rural areas.

Urban Communities
Urban residents donate almost 85.4 percent of total charitable giving, according to the study. Average and median giving amounts, whether for overall giving, religious or secular causes, from urban donors were always higher than the averages from rural donors.

Suggestions for fundraising in urban communities based on the findings of this study include:
  • Ask couples to give to charity, not simply the men in the household. Men report lower giving and lower probability of giving to secular causes, compared with women. Married people report giving more than unmarried people of either gender.
  • Segment on income but expect lower rates of return in lower income areas. Structure appeal amounts matched to different income levels. Income is associated with the probability of giving (higher income means higher probability of making a charitable gift) and with higher gift amounts.
  • Structure requests to highlight connections to the prospective donor's friends and family, in addition to the appealing to broader concerns for equity and reciprocity. Urban donors were more likely than rural donors to say they gave to support the efforts of their friends and family.
To visit the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University's website, go to


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