I was supposed to do a blog post yesterday and I missed my target.  But…I have a very good excuse.

All this week, the Bayer Center is hosting The Grantsmanship Center’s Training Program.  I am attending and it is awesome!  I am learning so much about grants and the search/proposal process.  Development is certainly an art form!

The trainer from TGC is excellent as well.  She very obviously has years of experience in development and proposal writing and shares her knowledge as well as lots of real world examples and stories.  Today we start working in groups and will produce a full-fledged proposal by 1:30 tomorrow afternoon!

If anyone wants to learn more about this workshop, here’s the link to the information for it on TGC’s website: http://www.tgci.com/gtptraining.shtml.

My grand-dog, the only Corgi named after a hiphop artist, Busta Outon!
My grand-dog, the only Corgi named after a hiphop artist, Busta Outon!

Everywhere you look, someone is offering advice about how to fundraise in tough times…stay close to your donors…ask for many small gifts…re-create a lay-away plan for contributions…don’t ask for capital…don’t ask for new…be afraid, be very afraid!  I ponder the question of effective fundraising techniques frequently myself.  The Bayer Center has always raised 50% of its operating budget and the current economic times have hit us where we live…

I love many things in life and one of them is Pembroke Welsh Corgis.  The AKC breed standard to describe a proper Corgi personality is “Bold yet kindly”…an intriguing set of characteristics for any living creature.  This  combination produces absolutely wonderful dogs – three of whom are in my immediate family.
So as I ponder how we or one of my clients should frame their case for support in these trying times, I find myself thinking about the BOLD YET KINDLY injunction…For times like these call for organizations to retain their optimism, their aspirations for a better world, their intention to change and improve people’s lives – BE BOLD, yet they also call for a measured, evidence-based, tempered approach in their fundraising techniques, strategies that are appreciative of the times – YET KINDLY or better perhaps, WISE…
Corgis have other qualities that are characteristic of good fundraisers.  They are persistent and tenacious when they believe something valuable (a peanut butter filled Kong is particularly desireable…) is in the offering.  They are charming and interested in all kinds of people, believing them to be worthy of their regard.  Their world is joy-filled and full of possibility.
I think these are qualities that draw people to organizations and motivate a spirit of generosity and connection.  So may we all be BOLD YET WISE in our on-going work of securing the necessary resources for our organizations…may we all love life like a corgi and love our people with many kisses and an unbounding enthusiasm for new adventures, believing the world is waiting for us and ready to play.
I’d love to hear where you find your inspiration and courage to keep working even when the world around you says NO…so fundraise like a Corgi and may  you each be very successful!

Hi all,

I’m writing from San Francisco, where I’m attending NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) 2009.

It’s been a busy day, as these conferences always are, and I’m looking forward to coming back and digesting all the things I’m learning here so I can share them with you!

It’s ironic, but I was looking forward to some warm sunny California weather here and it’s been in the 50s so far. My husband told me it hit the high 80s in the ‘Burgh today. Go figure, eh? Tomorrow after sessions are over, my plan is to jump on a cable car and do some sightseeing.

In particular, I want to share one of the conference highlights that marked the end of a brilliant and extremely creative fundraising campaign on NTEN’s part. Those of you who attended our own TechNow 2008 conference will remember our keynote speaker, Holly Ross, who is the executive director of NTEN.

A few months back, when NTEN wanted to raise scholarship money to help members be able to afford the conference fee, Holly posted this video call for donations:

http://www.nten.org/scholarship (P.S., I tried to embed these but WordPress won’t cooperate – sorry.)

This tactic worked and NTEN raised $10,395, just over the $10K goal. Convio matched it dollar for dollar and a bunch of people got to come to the conference who wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise.

As our “reward” and her “humiliation,” Holly chose to remake the Beyonce video “Single Ladies – Put a Ring On It,” which debuted at breakfast this morning. This is my third year at this conference and I have to say, I’ve never seen so many people show up for breakfast as happened this morning.

True to her word, Holly re-made the video with gusto:

http://www.nten.org/blog/2009/04/27/hollys-remake-beyonces-single-ladies

What an fundraising inspiration, eh? I probably would have chosen the trombone playing myself, and I give Holly kudos for not chickening out. She rocks.

So what creative way can you raise money for your organization?

See you in a few days,
Cindy


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Last week’s announcement of the Presto Fund demands one key question of regional nonprofits: Can we truly transform ourselves?

The Presto Fund, in case you’ve been lost on some desert island, is the new fund created by CMU alumnus Dominic Presto “to free nonprofits from the grinding pressure of daily fundraising and enable them to focus on innovative, system-changing service delivery models.” With initial assets of around $1 billion, and expected to grow significantly from there, the Fund is a major new philanthropic force in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania.steel

According to its website, the Presto Fund will:

“.. provide a minimum of $50 million annually in multi-year, unrestricted grants of at least $100,000 for overhead, management, administration, and research and development. The Fund will not offer program-related funding, nor will it limit the number of consecutive years of support it may grant. The Fund seeks to free its recipient agencies from the cycle of fundraising and enable them to focus on figuring out how to do what they do best even better.”

To really understand the philosophy that drives the Presto Fund, it’s important to know a little about Mr. Presto.

Dominic Presto is from a small, southwestern Pennsylvania town. His father was one of the last deep-mine coal miners in the region and was tragically killed in a mining accident when Dominic was just 8 years old. The mining company went bankrupt as a result of the accident, and what little settlement the family got was lost after the mine owners talked Dominic’s mother into investing in a new mine that turned out to be a scam.  For the rest of his childhood and most of his teen years, Dominic (an only child) and his mother lived on friends’ couches on the good days and in the street or shelters the rest of the time.

Given his success later in life, it’s not surprising that Dominic was an extremely bright child. He has often said that very early on as he bounced from shelter to shelter, he was perplexed by seeing the same faces over and over again. Why, he wondered, couldn’t these agencies change the system?

Dominic earned a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Tech) and became an engineer. He spent the next 20 years in research departments where, in his words, he was “the driving force behind more hare-brained failures than Homer Simpson!” Eventually, he came up with a concept for using rice syrup as an annealing agent in the fabrication of steel that was so far-out his usually tolerant bosses refused to let him work on it. So he left, formed his own company… and today he’s giving billions of dollars to philanthropy.

The Presto Fund appears to be a dream come true. A simple application process, openness to all types of regionally-located nonprofits, and unrestricted, multi-year funding of at least $100,000. So, the question is, are we ready for it? Are we ready to become risk-takers? Are we willing to fail? Do we have the discipline to stay rigorous when the worry over funding is removed?

Mr. Presto did not get where he did by continuing to do things the same old way. And he won’t fund us if we do.

Finally, as you consider transforming your agency through the generosity of this major new funder, keep in mind one last requirement from the Presto Fund’s website:

“The Presto Fund will not support nonprofits that are taken in by blog entries posted on April 1st.”