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Friday, December 9, 2011

Commission Does Not Pay: Compensation for Development Professionals

Why is compensation always such a hot button issue in the nonprofit world? On a regular basis, I hear questions (and complaints) about the following:

  • How are we supposed to pay for a fundraiser when we need someone to raise the money to pay for the fundraiser?
  • Can't you just take a percentage of the grant amount when it comes in?
  • Shouldn't you raise the money to pay for yourself?
Dutifully, I point to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice, to which all AFP members must agree to abide. Standard number 21 states:

Members shall not accept compensation or enter into a contract that is based on a percentage of contributions; nor shall members accept finder’s fees or contingent fees.

There is a white paper on why percentage based compensation is a bad idea for nonprofits, which boils down to two things:
  • Percentage based compensation puts the fundraiser's interests ahead of the organization's, and
  • Percentage based compensation, due to the length of time it may take for a gift to come to fruition, may produce reward without merit. 

I agree with these positions and do my best to comply with the Code of Ethics. I don't fundraise on commission. I don't write grant proposals for a percentage of the grant amount.

In the past, I have accepted bonuses and have done sales work on commission. And over time, I've come up with new reasons to add to why fundraisers should not be paid on commission.

Because working on commission stinks.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quick Tips for Year End Giving

It's the most wonderful time of the year....the most productive fundraising time for almost every nonprofit organization is the last two months of the calendar year. Are you ready? Even if you haven't thought about your end of year fundraising efforts yet, you can still make it happen! Here are a few strategies to use to encourage year end gifts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rush Hour: Is Time a Fundraiser's Greatest Luxury?

You've just start a new job as a development director for a nonprofit organization. How much money can you raise by Friday?

Now you've been on the job for two months. Have you raised enough money to cover your salary?

Oh, and the board members are asking--we gave you that list of cold calls to make. Why haven't we seen a major gift yet?

In a tough economy, there is a lot of pressure to "show me the money." Yet in the traditional fundraising model, we talk about the development cycle:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Short Cuts Ruin Results

I had the honor of meeting Dan Coughlin at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Arizona Statewide Conference in 2008 in Tucson. We have been using some of Dan's concepts with nonprofit organizations, and subscribe to his newsletter to see what new gems he can share. Here's an excerpt from his latest article which we think applies to many in the nonprofit field, reprinted with permission. The full article is available at (Thanks, Dan!-Alice)

Why Shortcuts Ruin Results by Dan Coughlin

People are often categorized into groups by things like their gender, race, height, year of birth, and nationality. Then all sorts of assumptions are made about each person based on their combination of these labels.
Those labels mean nothing to me. They don’t tell me anything about the individual because the individual had no choice over any of them when he or she was born. Each person was just given those labels.

What’s vastly more interesting to me is whether the person is a short-term thinker or a long-term thinker. Each person gets to choose which of these categories he or she is going to operate within.

A short-term thinker focuses on doing whatever he or she can do to get a good short-term result. The short-term thinker idolizes shortcuts. Shortcuts are fast ways to get really good results, but that are not capable of producing good results consistently over the long term.

A long-term thinker focuses on doing things that will generate good short-term results on such a consistent basis that the long-term results are good as well. The long-term thinker realizes you can’t get poor results all of the time in the short term and expect to get good results over the long term. The long-term thinker abhors shortcuts because he or she knows they breed habits that can’t sustain success.

This is such a subtle difference between short-term and long-term thinkers that it may seem insignificant. However, the ramifications over time are undeniably dramatic in every area of life.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Using Prezi?

Prezi is a cloud-based alternative to PowerPoint and other presentation software. Of course you can download your Prezis for use without internet as well. If you want to learn how to use it, click here Learn About Prezi. There are 3 video tutorials that will teach you all you need to know. If you want to learn why to use Prezi or the pitfalls to avoid, read on...

Unless you are an advanced user of PowerPoint or other presentation software, your audience is potentially somewhere on the "Barney Arc of Hatred" when PPT pops up on the screen. They are so tired of seeing someone read their bullet points off of their blue background slides that they'll pull out their phones and pretend they're tweeting about you, when in fact they're checking Facebook or playing Angry Birds. Or worse, they're tweeting about you.

Prezi can shake these jaded audiences up by providing a flow of motion that is refreshingly unexpected. It's NOT about creating a synopsis or handout of your presentation. It's inherently about presenting key words, concepts and imagery to reinforce learning and memory of the concepts you present in person. It's not about making a text heavy presentation "prettier." Someone who tends to put all their content as text in their presentation and reads it to their audience, probably shouldn't use Prezi. (and, probably isn't serving their adult learners very well) However, for those speakers who use their presentations as a visual experience and memory aid to enhance learning for their audience while increasing the impact of live, interactive presentations, then Prezi can sing. 

 GoalBusters Prezi created for the AFP Los Angeles Regional Philanthropy Conference. 

Prezi can, by itself, without "you" deliver a meaningful learning experience. Use it like that if you want to create a stand alone presentation that does not need interpretation. However, that is NOT the most effective way for professional speakers to use Prezi. If you are delivering a live presentation or wish to provide support materials to someone who has been in one of your presentations, think of your Prezi as more of a visual or contextual outline with memory cues of the content you present. It has value for someone who has participated in your presentation, but does not replace "you" or allow someone to easily "borrow" your work and present it on their own.

GRIPES: A common complaint I hear is that "All that movin' around makes me sea-sick." I'd argue that if a viewer has that experience, then the Prezi may need editing for better flow. When setting "motion paths," be conscious of the fact that in western cultures we expect to read "top to bottom" and "left to right." Create your motion to accommodate these expectations, especially with bullet points and text blocks
to minimize potential "motion sickness."

Also, I've heard claims that Prezi retains the copyright to your content. That is not true. Prezi does not impose, nor retain copyright. Here's a link to their policy and Terms of Use

In their TOS, the pertinent sections are 4.3-4.5 and 5. You can read it all, but cutting to the chase, all of this "rights to use" language is about Prezi protecting themselves from someone trying to sue them for distributing copyrighted material because the presentations are "cloud-based."

BOO! IT'S SCARY! (or maybe you're complacent) You've heard that saying "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Yeah, that's a lie. Keep doing the same old tired stuff without innovation and "updates" and your effectiveness will decline. We all need to be shaken up a bit now and then don't we? So, what do you have to lose? Prezi is free, give it a try and see how your audience responds. Also see if it tugs you to rethink presentation of your work to better serve your learners. Change is good.

Happy Halloween!


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Schultz Fire Flood - One Year Later

GoalBusters works to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations of all sizes. None of which can succeed without volunteers. We also volunteer for numerous organizations and often "wade in" to help our neighbors. The July, 2010 Schultz Fire Flood in Flagstaff, AZ was a literal example of that commitment.

Jim volunteered for 4 days helping dig homes out of deep mud and create high sandbag barriers to protect those homes from the next inevitable downpour. Our friends called and emailed reporting that Jim appeared in numerous Phoenix television broadcasts. He is shown briefly taking a "water break" in this local story at the :50 second mark. This was 4-5 hours into the first of his 4 days slinging sandbags and shoveling mud and ash. The clip shows the devastation suffered and the teamwork of volunteers and homeowners to prevent this level of damage when the next storm strikes.

The Schultz Fire was a human caused wildfire that burned more than 15,000 acres in the Coconino Forest near Flagstaff, AZ. The resulting loss of trees and other ground cover created intense flooding from the following monsoons. Flooding continues when heavy rains are experienced more than a year later.

A neighbor had watched everyone work to exhaustion that first day and just after dusk as it began to rain again, she approached with her children to deliver a tray of fresh, hot fry bread for the volunteers. Jim washed up in a rain gutter downspout and took a bite.

A Hopi friend took this photo and commented while laughing, "Jim, he'll work for frybread."

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Buying Bird Seed: Does the Public Broadcasting Funding Model Still Work?

"Is membership philanthropy?"
This was a seemingly simple question during the Ethics session led by Walt Gillette, ACFRE from WAMU and Roberta (Robbe) Healey, ACFRE at DEI's Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in July 2011. But given that this was a room of public radio people, it strikes at one of the core principles of the public broadcasting funding model.

How the Public Broadcasting Funding Model is Built
Funding for public broadcasting has been high profile in 2011 due to renewed attempts to zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). With all the attention Federal funding of public broadcasting has received, many of the general public are less aware of the private funding pieces.

Most public broadcasting stations are funded by a combination of sources in varying proportions. These sources may include:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Convert Your Business Facebook Profile to Fan Page

If you know you're ready to make the switch, click here to convert your profile to a fan page. If you're not sure why you should bother, read on...

Point of Caution If you do not have a Personal Profile separate from your Business Profile and ALL of your Facebook interactions happen on your business profile, please read this Mashable Blog detailing the potential pitfalls of conversion. If that is the case you should create a personal profile as soon as possible for personal interaction apart from your business interactions. If you already have a separate Personal Profile the risks associated with conversion of your business profile to a business page are minimal and are detailed below.

PROFILES vs PAGES There are many businesses, organizations, bands, etc. who have set up Facebook accounts as "people" or personal profiles. Contrary to the US Supreme Court and Mitt Romney's assertations, businesses aren't people and Facebook agrees.

Click here for Facebook's explanation Why should I convert my profile to a page? clearly stating that setting a profile for anything other than a person is a violation of their policy's and could result in you losing the page. Yes, it happens and will likely be happening more frequently.

To better benefit your business and more securely protect your "friends" data, businesses should set up their Facebook pages as fan "pages" NOT as personal "profiles." If you are a business and you have "friends" on Facebook, you should convert your profile page to an actual Facebook page. Yes, I know you like your "friends" and they like you, but they can't invite your store over for dinner with the family or take your business to movies.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Fan Pages are indexed by search engines. Profiles are not. If you want your Facebook page to improve your results in Google, Bing or Yahoo searches, do NOT set your business up as a personal profile. Create a fan page so "new" people can find you.

Capacity Fan Pages can have an unlimited number of fans. Profiles are limited to only 5,000 friends. Even if you only have a few hundred fans now, why would you choose an option that limits your maximum number of fans.

Delegation Fan pages allow you to assign numerous administrators.
This is great so that one person doesn't have to do all the work maintaining the page. It's also helpful if you're not available to monitor your page due to travel or illness. When an administrator posts, they do so as the page, not themselves personally. Although, I encourage signing your post when it's obviously a personal comment or a reference to someone else on your team.

Multiple Identities
You can manage multiple fan pages from a single personal profile. This is important if you want to promote various businesses, organizations or groups. Alice Ferris and Jim Anderson both have personal pages and we share administration rights for numerous clients and professional organizations we're affiliated with. Including: GoalBusters Consulting, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), KGHR Navajo Public Radio, KAWC Colorado River Public Media, KUYI Hopi Public Radio, AFP Arizona Statewide Meetings and the Public Radio Program Directors (PRPD)

Personal vs Professional Profiles If you have a business fan page, people will still want to connect with (most of) you personally on your profile. They want to know the people behind a business.

Consider your business fan page to represent your brand and your personal profile is a "sub-brand." You may also consider setting up two personal profiles. Use one openly and professionally taking care with the nature of the content to minimize offending customers or clients. Use the second as a "private" profile with your family and true friends. This is a good way to separate that crazy uncle or the person you dated in high school from your professional acquaintances.

Advertising Opportunities Facebook can help you advertise your page, not your profile.

Ready to Convert? The Social Media Hound suggests a review of the following information before your convert your personal profile to a page.

  • All your confirmed friends will be converted to people who like your new Page.
  • Your profile pictures will be migrated to your new Page.
  • Photo albums, profile information, etc. will not be transferred. Be sure to save any important content before beginning your migration. (see step one, below)
  • Once you convert your personal profile to a business page, that profile will no longer exist.
  • You will not be able to convert your page back to a personal profile.
  • You will continue to login with the email/password that you used before you converted the page.
Convert your Facebook profile to a business page:
Step one
Backup your Facebook profile. Login to Facebook and click the down arrow next to Account in the upper right corner of your screen, then select Account Settings. Toward the bottom of that page, you’ll see Download Your Information. Click the "learn more" link to the right and follow the instructions.

Step two
Post a notice indicating you are going to convert the page and explain the page may look different as you complete the conversion and update your information. When you are ready to begin the conversion click here and read How do I convert my profile to a fan page? Follow the instructions. After conversion post another notice to your friends who now "like" your page informing them of the conversion and thanking them for "liking" your organization

Good luck with your conversion.


Contact with any questions regarding Social Media.

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