Monday, September 30, 2013

A world-wide search for answers to the ageless question – is FUNdraising any FUN?


Editor’s Note
To mark our 2nd Anniversary we have decided to take on one of the most serious questions that has bedevilled our sector for more than 100 years – is FUNdraising any fun? It might appear to be a simple question. Simple, yes, but until now impossible to answer with any great authority. Many pundits, philosophers and scholars throughout history have grappled with this question but failed. Now, it’s your turn. Let the world know where you stand by voting in our online poll.

Go online now to this LINK and vote on whether FUNdraising is FUN or NOT-SO-FUN.

  • GO TO: 

We’ll release the answer in November. Feel free to email us your pictures and videos and we’ll include them in our video announcing the answer -

Go online to your social media and start spreading the word to every charity person you know.

  • Use this Hashtag: #FUNorNOTdraising

Guest Editorials
Before you vote, listen to these arguments for and against. 

FUNdraising is FUN
By Jessica Snidely, Director of Development at the University Hospital Foundation of Northern Southern Iowa

I want to thank the editors of NPHumour for asking me, one of the world’s greatest fundraisers, a leader of many a successful mega-capital campaign, a skilled communicator and mother of two over-achieving daughters, for this opportunity to advocate for the “FUN” in FUNdraising.

You know, my time here at the Foundation is coming to an end, and I’m looking for other opportunities where my very talented and many skills can be used to forge a real bond between community and charity. I specialize in creating a connection in which philanthropists in the community can successfully impart their knowledge and wisdom to a charity like a hospital or university in the forms of large wads of cash. And I mean lots.

The money we have raised to date has been a team effort, but in fact all of it is my doing. I’m really a fundraising leader with an incredible vision and drive that could easily lead any development team anywhere. I’m that good. Really. Just call me. Go on, just call. Don’t be shy.

Now, what was I supposed to be writing about again? Oh, yes. FUNdraising is fun. It’s in the name. Right at the start. Can’t miss it, really.

Grumpy Cat
Call me. Get me out of here.

FUNdraising is Not-So-Fun
By Grumpy Fundraising Cat

If it was fun, would we have to put up with people like Jessica? Enough said. Got to go to the litterbox.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

First online dating site for fundraisers bringing lonely major gifts, annual giving, gift processing people together

Online dating has come to the fundraising sector. A new site, Donation-of-Love, has been launched to bring romance and marriage to fundraisers across the US.

Launched in New York City yesterday, the new service, which calls itself DOL for short, promises to bring happiness and companionship to the otherwise lonely and meaningless lives of fundraisers. Founder, Sandra Snidely, says DOL’s services are badly needed.

“Our research found that fundraisers are mostly loners, who can’t hold a relationship or start a new one. There’s something about being a fundraiser that just makes them homely,” she said.

The new service will allow fundraisers from across the country to reach out to each other for friendship and love. The site features an extensive matching system that rates users on ten scales of compatibility.

“Fundraisers are unique, so we built them a unique online dating service that really defines who they are as a person and who they want as a mate. Other online dating sites have their compatibility scales, but ours is the only one customized to fundraisers,” said Snidely.

The site allows users to pick potential mates from a number of categories, such as major gifts, annual giving, gift processing and gift planning. Snidely says many fundraisers want to date people who are in the same trade, but others want some variety.

Dibble Brewer, a major gifts managers from Denver, has been a member of the site for three months. She says she liked the category feature.

“I’m looking for a fit, athletic man who likes to take long walks and discuss gift planning pyramids. That’s why I selected only other major gifts dates. I don’t want any of those annual giving types – they just stay indoors and lick envelopes all day long. Yech,” said Brewer.

“I’ve dated a number of major gifts women,” explained Seattle annual giving manager Chad Dimple. “They were so good at their job I didn’t know if they really liked me for myself or just wanted to know some of my donor contacts, know what I mean? With DOL, I can find people just like me.”

The site also asks users a whole series of questions on everything about which fundraising databases they use to how much money they have raised. Gift planning officer Werner Turner, from Texas, says he really liked the ability the site gives him to understand where potential dates land on gifts of stock and cash equivalents.

“I really like things like gifts of life insurance policies, but I know that’s a turn-off for many women. Through DOL, I’ve been able to find a number of narrow-minded fundraisers who are just like me,” he said.

Susie Moneybags, a gift processor in Baton Rouge, says she wants a girlfriend who appreciates the fundraising database she uses.

“How could I ever go out with someone who doesn’t understand our query system or can’t knowledgably talk about coding errors? That’s not who I want in a mate,” she said.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Most charity’s SEO efforts ineffective because of spelling mistakes, typos: Study 

A new study says that most charities efforts at Search Engine Optimization have been crippled by spelling mistakes and typos.

SEO is the process of “tagging” online content to make it easier for search engines to find. A good SEO system can put a charity at the top of a search engine listings. But a new study of more than 5,000 US charities has found that many charities spell the tags incorrectly or just make obvious typos when entering them.

“When we looked at hospital charities for example we found that the top SEO term that most of them entered was ‘Hopital’. A significant portion also had the tag ‘Helath’. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they misspelled ‘hospital’ and ‘health’,” said Dr. John Snidely, head of the study at the Center for Meaningless Research at the University Eastern South Dakota.

Snidely’s research team found that charities regularly misspelled key tag words, including “chariti”, “Funfraising”, “Bonation” and “Gift Plaming”. In some cases, almost all of the SEO tags on one web page were wrong.

“It’s hard to say why this is happening, but we think it mostly has to do with who controls the SEO at charity websites,” said Dr. Snidely.

In the study, most charities reported that they left SEO planning and maintenance to their IT department or web design agency. Snidely says research shows that most web designers have trouble spelling and often can’t type. Worse, studies have shown that most web designers rarely review their work.

“It appears that these geeks write in the SEO tags without really looking. And despite these being full of errors, they just post them and move on to the next job or play some online first-person shooter,” he said.

The study also found instances of strange and possibly malicious SEO posting at a few charities. In a handful cases, researchers found shopping lists, Christmas wish lists or reminders about upcoming girlfriend birthdays stuck in the middle of the SEO tags. Several charity SEO tags actually contained negative statements about the CEO or the head of IT. And one had “I will kill you” written again and again on every page.

“The bottom line is that most charities aren’t going to show up on a search page because their SEO is so bad. Whether someone is just lazy, can’t type or wants to kill everyone, charity SEO tags just aren’t working,” concluded Dr. Snidely.

Charity leaders say they will follow up on the report with dispatch.

“We plan to make the study public. I’ve just handed it over to our teenage IT guy to put up at our website and make sure it comes up in a Google search,” said Dibble Brewer, CEO of the League of Big Honking

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gen Y pledges to support charities after Boomers pass as long as it somehow involves helping a cool band make their first album

Leaders of Generation Y have pledged to help US charities once the Boomers pass. On the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, the Gen Y’s signed a pledge committing themselves to philanthropically supporting charities when the Boomers and Xers pass them the torch in the next few years.

“Our generation pledges to take up the reins of philanthropy when our time comes and keep the US charity sector going,” said Gen Y leader Rumor Snidely, 28, who works part-time at a Starbucks in Seattle. “We just assume that when that happens it will involve supporting something not too lame.”

“We’ll certainly do our part, but, like, it had better be cool. Like that band I gave to last week who needed start-up cash to make their first CD. But don’t worry, our Gen won’t drop the ball or nothing,” he said.

Following months of negotiations with the US government and leaders from the Boomers and Xers, the Gen Y leaders signed the pledge on behalf of the millions of American youth, most of whom are underemployed and carrying massive student debt.

Charities hailed the agreement as a major breakthrough that will secure the long-term future of US charities.

“The demographic challenge that most US charities will face when the Boomers pass and the Xers try and fail to carry the load will be met by these philanthropic Gen Ys. Our worst fears about a gap in our long-term donation revenues have been eased,” said Dibble Brewer, CEO of the League of Big Honking Charities, which represents the 10,00 largest charities in the country.

“I don’t quite know why the Gen Ys keep asking us about whether they get a copy of the book or the movie we’re making and such,” he added. “It shows that they are keen to take up the cause for philanthropy, I think.”

Snidely pointed to national polls show that clearly show that Gen Y is committed to supporting US charities. A recent US Tomorrow national survey found that 78% of Gen Ys planned to make a donation this year, mostly to crowdsourcing projects that involving celebrities and people who wear sunglasses.

“Some people think our generation are a bunch of lazy good for nothings who will let US charities wither on the vine for lack of donations,” said Snidely. “That just isn’t so. Gen Ys love charities that involve grunge bands, new video games and comic books. As long as charities or someone makes those, we’ll support them.”

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Charity money woes so bad finance manager bursts into flames

The finance manager for Metro’s largest charity burst into flames last night when explaining the latest financial figures to the Board of Directors.

Wendy Turnip, 59, had just started to explain why the Metro Community Trust had one of the highest expense ratios of any charity of its kind in the US when smoke began to appear from her ears.

“She was going over the numbers and I smelled something,” said Board Chair Dibble Brewer. “That’s when I saw the smoke. First it was gray, then it turned black.”

Witnesses say that when Turnip began to compare the Foundation to other foundations in the tri-state area part of her sleeve burst into flame. Turnip carried on oblivious, until one of the board members used a nearby fire extinguisher to douse her.

The presentation set off the fire alarms in the building. Firefighters arrived a few minutes later and took a hose to Turnip, who was still trying to finish her presentation.

“When we got there we saw this smoking, burning accountant trying to explain why advertising expenses were so high. We had to hose her down,” said Fire Captain Wes Snidely. “This happens all the time at local charities. We were called to a foundation just last week as a precaution when their accountant made their year-end report.”

Turnip was unharmed, but her clothing was ruined and her hair was slightly singed. Foundation officials say she will likely recover but only after months of therapy.

Experts say charity finance leaders burst into flames all the time. It is likely the cause of poor financial standards and lack of oversight.

“Most US charities have accountants who don’t actually speak English. Most financial committees of charity boards of directors haven’t got a clue what these people say, but they just agree with them,” said Dr. Bob Peacock, a scientist at the University of Northern South Dakota who has studied charity accounting.

“The angst that charity financial management creates is a slow fuse that burns and burns, and in some cases finally erupts into flames. There’s nothing that can be done except wrap them in fire retardant materials and have a bucket of water standing by.”

Brewer says Board members have been reluctant to ask for more information on the Foundation’s finances lest Turnip catches on fire again.

“She’s the only one who understand our finances. But I’m not about to turn her into a human torch just too find out if we’re actually paying the bills. That would be cruel.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

All thumbs charity CEO accidently fires staff in texting mishap

The CEO of Metro’s largest charity accidently fired all her senior managers yesterday because of a texting mishap on her smart phone.

Senior managers at the Metro Community Foundation received a text from long-time CEO and technophobe Ima Shore last Wednesday telling them “You’re fired”. In fact, Shore, who can barely operate her new smart phone, was actually texting “You are hired” to the winning candidate for the recent job competition for her new Executive Assistant. Her smart phone’s auto-correct texting feature changed the message, but she failed to notice before she sent it.

“I thought I was sending a welcome message to my new admin assistant, but I somehow wound up firing all five of my senior managers,” recalled Shore, who often makes mistakes with technology. “That wasn’t what I meant to do. Something must be wrong with my phone.”

The managers tried to text and even call Shore on her smart phone to clarify the message, but she had mistakenly turned the phone’s ringer to silent and remaining oblivious to the situation until she arrived the next day and found all the managers had left.

“I called them on the phone from my office and asked them where they were. Then they told me. Like, why do they make phones that have auto-correct features on it?”

In fact, this is not the first time Shore has had trouble with typing. Two months ago she sent an email to the board about upcoming public meetings. Because of her dreadful typing “public” became “pubic”. The headline for her series of emails was “New Insert for the Pubic”. Despite several emails from Board members trying to correct the problem, it took two weeks for Shore to notice it.

“The email was fine when I typed it. I don’t understand how this could happen,” she later said. “Something must be wrong with my email.”

Last year, Shore made a similar mistake when setting up her first Facebook and Twitter accounts. She absentmindedly typed her name wrong as “Ima Hore” and didn’t notice it for several months.

“I kept getting all these rude Facebook messages from people thinking that I was some kind of hooker or something. I couldn’t figure out why. Now that I had my assistant correct the spelling of my name they have stopped,” said Shore. “Something must be wrong with Facebook.”

The managers are now back at work, although many of them complained loudly to fellow staff members and friends about how they were treated. Shore says she says its business as usual at the Foundation.

“I just sent a message to all of our donors explaining the mishap and telling them it will ever happen again,” she said, not realizing her latest typo.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Charity offers cash to get people to donate

The only true way to engage donors


Metro’s largest charity is giving people cash to make a donation.

The Community Foundation of Metro says the move comes after trying in vain to seek donors with a variety of offers and promotions. CEO Dennis Snidely says offering cold hard cash has already doubled their donations.

“We tried everything – pledge matching, free teddy bears, a giving club where donors could get a special luncheon with the chair of the board, parties with an open bar. It got us nowhere. Then it just hit us. Why don’t we just give them cash?”

The charity started the program quite by accident when a donor event turned ugly. A frustrated fundraiser couldn’t get key donors to make extra pledges.

“Sara just lost it at our wine and cheese party a month ago, and asked out loud what it would take to get our donors to give. She pulled out a $10.00 bill and waved it around just to make a point and sure enough all of our donors started signing pledge forms,” said Snidely. “That’s when we realized that all the stuff we were doing was all wrong.”

The Foundation started giving small bills away at events, and when that worked they begun to offer $20.00 to people who made an annual gift of $100.00 or more. The result was a significant rise in donations. They also cancelled their donor recognition program and shut down half of their events, including their money-losing gala fundraiser dinner.

“The cost of all the engagement stuff we do equals about what we give to people in cash. And free money is more effective,” said Snidely.

Donor reaction has been very positive. A recent survey found that most major donors prefer cold, hard cash instead of the newsletters and events they must endure.

“I really hated the emails I received from the Foundation. And their Facebook page really sucked. I much prefer the 10 bucks they gave me,” said annual donor Dibble Brewer.

“Most the events I went to were such a chore. Honestly, I don’t think I could have taken another one,” said major donor Clarisa Turner. “The $20.00 they gave me was so much easier to deal with. I went shopping and got a treat.”

Snidely says the Foundation learned that the only real engagement that counts is cash.

“I’d wanted to think that we can reach our donors with our message, and believe me, we tried. But we found that the only thing that really resonated with our donors was cash,” he said. “We’re making more money and we’re spending less on donor engagement that most other charities struggle with.”




Thursday, September 5, 2013

Transplant charity’s gala silent auction to feature kidney, liver, cruise

The Metro Foundation for Transplant Awareness has released details about its annual massive silent auction and gala fundraising dinner next month. The auction, famous for its amazing prizes, will feature cash prizes, a cruise, two sports cars, a liver and a kidney.

“This year we’ve really outdone ourselves. The prizes we’ve come up with for the silent auction are about ten times better than last year – the cruise, the cars, the kidney. It’ll just blow your mind,” said Foundation CEO Dennis Snidely.

The annual gala dinner raises tens of thousands of dollars for the Foundation’s transplant awareness programs. This is the tenth year for the gala, which has featured one of the largest silent auctions in the tri-state area. Snidely says the prizes alone are worth the $150.00 per person cost of the dinner.

“We’re going to have great food and great entertainment, but the highlight of the event has always been our auction. The chance to win a trip around the world on a luxury cruise or to drive away with a new Italian sports car or to have your very own human liver on ice in case you ever need it. That’s what makes this event so special,” he said.

A committee of a dozen local luminaries has been working on the gala event and silent auction for more than six months. Most of the prizes, including the human spleen and the free maid service for life, were donated by local supporters.

Snidely says the success of the auction is really a testimony to the hard work of the sponsors.

“We couldn’t create this kind of silent auction without the people who gave us the prizes,” he said. “Joe Fontana from Big Willy’s Hardware has been giving us cruise ship prizes for the past eight years. The guys at Metro Sports Cars have been donating cars since we started. And Mrs. Williams’s family just gave us her kidney last week to help others. That’s real commitment. Our supporters are really heroes.”

Excitement about the silent auction is already building. Ticket sales have been steadily increasing in the run-up to the event.

“Every year, we buy a ticket to the gala. It’s such great fun,” said noted philanthropist Sidney Moneybags. “And I’ve been having renal problems. Taking home a fresh human kidney would give me great peace of mind.”

Last year’s grand prize winner, Dibble Brewer, says she is telling all her friends to buy tickets. “Winning last year and getting that human heart was such a thrill. I still have it on my mantle in dry ice. There’s only one place where you can get something like that and that’s at the Foundation for Transplant Awareness gala dinner and silent auction.”


Monday, September 2, 2013

“Pretend” Summer service now over, charities now have to do real work until December

For most US charities Labour Day has a special meaning. That’s when the “pretend” service they provided during the summer finally has to end and they have to do real work until at least the end of November.

“Labour Day is always a time of transition for most US charities. It’s when they have to actually start working again,” says Dibble Brewer, CEO of the League of Big Honking Charities, which represents the 5,000 largest charitable organizations in the country. “That’s why Labour Day is such a bummer for charity people.”

Nearly all US charities go into summer mode at the end of the school year. Unaware to donors and the public, almost all real functioning stops. Staff take long vacations, take sunny afternoons off or go for long lunches at outdoor cafes. Hardly any work gets done. Charities put on a skeleton staff to keep their organizations going and give the appearance that they are still there.

The pretend summer service has really taken off in the last decade with the rise of new technology that helps charities operate when they’re actually not there. Brewer says a number of charities use automated systems during the summer to help provide pretend service.

“Most of our charities have an elaborate system of automation that kicks into gear in June. Telephones, emails, websites and social media are all set to automatically respond in a clever way that makes it seem like the charity is still on the job and still cares,” says Brewer.

One major US charity sets all of its emails to vacation responses. Each one refers donors to re-send their email to another person in the organization who is also on vacation. That person then refers the donor to another staff member on vacation and so on. The donors usually give up after being referred three or four times.

Many charities have all of their phones switched to voicemail. Brewer says research by the League showed that most calls during the regular year wind up going to voicemail anyways. Making all phone calls go to voicemail automatically and take a long summer vacation would likely not arouse suspicion.

Social media, email newsletters and web changes are usually written in advance and posted automatically during summer months. But for one US charity, that nearly backfired.

“One communication staffer at this one health charity got his social media posts mixed up. Their Twitter feed was talking about their summer health tips one minute and was talking about how to avoid frostbite the other,” says Brewer. “Luckily, no one takes charity Twitter posts seriously anyways. It wasn’t noticed.”

Most US charities will not have to work until the beginning of the Christmas season in December.

“I hear a lot of griping from my colleagues about having to go back to work in September,” says Brewer. “But I remind them that’s just three months until Christmas and then another two month holiday.”

“That makes them feel a lot better.”