The Accidental Fundraiser

26: Women and fundraising with Margaret May Damen

Did you know that women make the vast majority of philanthropic decisions, close to 84%?This week Carol and David talk to Margaret May Damen, the president of The Institute for Women and Wealth.

Margaret talks about ways that professional fundraisers can specifically target women in their activities. And if you look at the word heirs and take off the “he” what you are left with is the IRS! She also shows us how to “speak female” and further engage both men and women in the fundraising decision.

Listen and download the podcast now (13:50).


April 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

25: From survivor to champion

Carol and David this week talk to Carrie Wells about her recent selection as a Yoplait Breast Cancer Champion, and some of the work she has done to create the site to help other cancer survivors find and attend weekend retreats to help with their healing. Carrie, who is David’s sister, was inspired by going to a retreat and now is this powerhouse cancer fundraiser. She talks about how she has found her passion and energized her family and friends.

Listen to the podcast here.

Here is a link to her work from her cancer doctor.


April 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A New Take on an Old Technique

One of the great things about my work is learning from my clients. I was in Helena, Arkansas last week working for Main Street Arkansas and hear a unique take on an old technique. One of the women on the board used to live in an area that was known for its panhandlers. People were pretty sick on them. The board member and her friends got dressed up and make signs that said, “We aren’t vets, we aren’t homeless and we aren’t hungry. We just want your money to stop domestic violence.” Their local shelter benefited big time.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP enjoying being home for two days.

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Special Events-Under Promise and Over Deliver

The opening of the new gambling casino in St. Louis last week crapped out. My husband and I weren’t invited, but many of my friends who are married to big shots were. My husband would rather be invited to an autopsy than the opening of a gambling casino. (Being a physician, this is also more likely). Anyway, the invitation promised big things. The uber expensive invite indicated that there would be visible grandeur and perhaps fireworks.
Just getting to the black tie event was a problem. No one thought to have spent time or money on signage. Once you arrived, getting a drink was damned near impossible. And food? Well, one of my friends found the sushi table and planted herself there. Another friend said that she couldn’t even see the food. Guests were given coupons to shop at the stores, but they weren’t open.
But the real talk of the town is that with all the hype, they dragged the grumpy, hungry and still sober guest outside in the cold to witness the magnificent lighting of of the building named Luminarire and it didn’t work. A few bulbs flickered, but then nothing.
The valet parking took one of my friends an hour. Another friend’s husband stayed to gamble. She took the car and left. He won $27. When he asked the valet to get him a cab, no one knew how to do it. He finally got one using his cell phone. The cab was only $25. At least he was working in the black! The next day, he realized he had forgotten his driver’s license which he had left as collateral for chips or some such thing. The phone number for the casino was unlisted. The mailbox the the PR firm was filled. The meeting planner is no doubt in rehab.
One of my clients is having the mayors from a number of municipalities in for a meeting in two weeks. The trick to events is to under-promise and over deliver. I’ve suggested to indicate that there will be sandwiches, then have goody bags. Their mission is healthy living. Fill reusable bags donated from a local grocery store with a pedometer, snacks etc. If you tell them, as Luminarie did, to expect the event of the century, and then fail, you will wind up in the blog of someone who didn’t even get an invite!
Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, glad to be on the B list

December 22, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amuse Em Use Em or Lose Em, The Board and Fundraising

I recently did a board retreat with a dynamic foundation board. The development director was tearing her hair out trying to get trustees to show up. The folks who did show were amazing. They were CEO’s, dedicated community volunteers, people of wealth and affluence and influence. I was wowed. The “A Team was in the building. The problem: They were being asked to work on a golf tournament. Period. Not only that, if you deducted staff time, they were making  about $11.00. It was a classic example of a race horse being asked to pull a beer truck. The power balance to the mission was off kilter.

What would get the whole team together? A massive goal that matched the talent pool. One of the members had just funded a building for a hospital that will bear his and his wife’s names. He alone could have written the check for the golf tournament gross amount and everyone else could have gone to jazzersize or watch reruns of the West Wing.

If they don’t get these folks excited, use their talents they will for sure lose these dynamos. The questions: Does your fundraising goal match your board? Too staggeringly high and they will feel overwhelmed. Too low and they will disengage.
You can bring this up with the board as a whole, or ask them individually. The questions are:
1. Is our fundraising goal going to meet our organization’s needs to drive our mission?
2l Do we have the right people in the room to achieve this?
3. Are we using you, our board member, effectively?

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, wanting to spread all this talent

December 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

14: How to throw a great party

David talks to Carol about his sister’s “Think Pink” party to benefit breast cancer research. The party involves her daughter’s friends and is designed to attract lots of kids and still raise plenty of money. Listen to the podcast now (2:30). 

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

13: How to do end of the year appeals

Carol talks to David about how to customize your end-of-year fundraising appeals, and how to make them more productive.Listen to the podcast now (4:20)

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

12: How to give the best tours of your facility

In this week, Carol talks to David about how one of her clients was able to customize her tour script and do a better job soliciting donations.Listen to the podcast now (4:35)

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

11: How to dine for dollars

This episode Carol and David talk about one way to solicit funds by taking your friends out to lunch and introducing them to the right people. Listen to the podcast now (4:10) 

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Does Your Nonprofit Board Think $4 Million is a Lot of Money?

Is $4 Million dollars a lot of money for your board? Well, it certainly is a lot of money to pay for a dress, a pair of earrings, a pair of golf clubs. Is it a lot to pay for a condo? A 12 family apartment building? A payroll for 80 employees?

I asked this question during a retreat, “What would it take to deal with this problem for the entire city.” Someone came up with the figure $4 million.” To most of the people in the room, it could have been $4 billion. Only one person said, “Is that all?”

Every board needs someone who is used to dealing with big numbers and has a comfort level with them. The member doesn’t have to have the money, but a familiarity and comfort with thinking big and expanding the horizons of the group. (Although if someone would be able to write the $4 million check, it would have been interesting to see what the reaction would have been!)

I did a retreat for a group where more than 51% of the group were on disability. The CEO’s salary was so low, it wasn’t even on the chart on the Association of Fundraising Professionals Salary index. No one in the room, including the CEO, had a clue. If something happened to her, she could not be replaced for anywhere near this salary. No one was financially literate about salaries. Good, caring people. But NO ONE knew how underpaid the CEO was.

If you can’t talk about the big numbers, you can’t ask for them. Every nonprofit does not have to be large, but if there are people you want to serve and aren’t, get someone in the room who doesn’t think $4 Million is big bucks!

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, Asking big, but shopping the sale rack

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment