Archive for October, 2009

Face Time Counts!

Posted on October 28, 2009. Filed under: Combined Federal Campaign - CFC, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

If you have ever had any sales or leadership training, you probably have heard the phrase “Face Time Counts.” You may have heard it so many times that you think it’s a cliché or at least a hackneyed phrase. It may be both, but it’s also true.

I was at a workplace giving charity fair today, this one happened to be at the main campus of George Mason University, which is now the largest university in Virginia. It was part of their faculty-staff enrichment day, and there were 54 booths of different vendors, including non-profits in the state workplace giving campaign, other vendors such as health and nutrition concerns, financial institutions, etc.

Given all the hype about electronic media, what struck me was that of the 54 booths, only 3 booths had videos playing on laptops, and this is what’s interesting — NO ONE was watching the videos! Look you need to have all the audio and video content you can, in order to augment information about your non-profit, and I’m a big advocate of multiple channels of information. But, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water by going all electronic. People like talking to people, and if you have the opportunity to engage in face to face conversation about how your non-profit is making the world a better place, do it, it will make a better impression than just print or just electronic media.

Workplace giving charity fairs are just one of the ways your non-profit can have face to face conversations with members of your community.

Face Time Counts!


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Bullfeathers! Donors are Donors!

Posted on October 26, 2009. Filed under: Customer Service, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

Bullfeathers – Donors are Donors

Fundraising for non-profits is hard enough, without non-profit professionals trying to make it harder. “Bullfeathers” to quote Teddy Roosevelt is my reaction to the post about givers not having “earned the right” to be called “donors” in the Donor Power Blog.

The blog that used to written by Jeff Brooks, DonorPowerBlog, is now written by Greg Fox who managed to insult millions of Americans in new position as the Donor Power blogger with his self proclaimed mission to use the term “donors” only for people who give ten percent or more of their family income to non-profits. This post is actually one of the more insulting blog posts I have ever read, and given that I read a fair number of blog posts, this was not an easy accomplishment.

What an asinine (or in plain English, utterly foolish) idea. It’s tough enough to find and keep donors; Mr. Fox now wants you to insult them as part of the process of them giving your organization their money, instead of thanking them for being a donor. Unless you have given more than 10% of your income to a charity (or maybe just a few), or have contributed money for more than 3 years, (2 years, 11 months apparently doesn’t count), you’re not a “donor” – yet. To Mr. King, the term donor is a reserved term, only for the truly honorable. I guess maybe “schmuck” is what he wants you to call until you reach “donor” status by his criteria. He never says what the term is for someone who gives money to your non-profit, but not at a sufficient level to be called a “donor.”

To me this is the antithesis of what community building and fundraising is all about. Regardless of the amount, you thank the donor for their contribution to your non-profit, and you do things to help them want to continue an association with your non-profit for multiple years. Insulting them as the first communication doesn’t strike me as the smartest tactic. “Thanks for sending us your money, if you send more, maybe we will be able to call you a donor, and by the way is this 10% of your income or not?

I understand and get the principle of the fundraising pyramid, but the point is that all givers are donors, and it’s fine to have leadership levels, which certainly many non-profits use to bring more attention to higher value donors, but what a waste of brain power and energy to try and convince the non-profit world not to call donors, donors.

Bill Huddleston


Thanks to Franklin for the heads-up.

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How Many Volunteers Can Dance on the Point of a Needle?

Posted on October 21, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

The discussion about “What is a volunteer” resurfaces every few months in the non-profit sector. Here’s my take on it:

What is a volunteer? Kernerman English Learner’s Dictionary offers the best on-line definition according to the Friends of the Reston (VA) Library Association:

Volunteer – to offer oneself for a particular task, of one’s own free will

Notice that it doesn’t indicate whether or not there is any compensation involved. The example of “How many angels can dance of the point of a needle?” which may be an interesting math problem, is usually used as an indication of good brain power being used in not the most productive ways. (I plead guilty to participating as well).

There are multiple definitions of the word volunteer, sometimes meaning absolutely no compensation, and sometimes meaning taking on an additional project or assignment, while continuing to be paid at the same base salary.

Why does this matter? It doesn’t! Other words have multiple definitions, is the non-profit community so set upon lexicographical purity that it can’t stand a word and world with multiple definitions? That doesn’t sound like the non-profit world I’m familiar with.

Depending upon the business model of a non-profit, they may be able to use unpaid volunteers or paid volunteers, licensed professionals, or some combination of all:

* The prototypical example of someone serving meals at a soup kitchen.

* For youth sports organizations, many of them waive the registration fee for the child participant if the parent volunteers to be the coach. Is the coach being “compensated” or “volunteering?” BTW, I’ve never seen a non-parent coach in this type or organization, so the $100 bucks waived as the fee is certainly not viewed as “market-rate” compensation by others.

* Professional Medical volunteers – the free clinic may have men and women who volunteer to serve their populations, but they still need to be licensed doctors and nurses in order to actually deliver the services.

* Workplace giving volunteers – The employees who plan, organize, and solicit their colleagues are paid there usual salary, but they have volunteered to take on this additional assignment. BTW, if your non-profit has a small shop development office, there is no greater leverage available than workplace giving as a means of increasing your development staff.

* Corporate volunteers in schools – The Fairfax, Virginia school system has a number of partnerships with companies and other organizations that send volunteers to a particular school once a week, or bi-weekly. One example is that the Capital One headquarters is a few miles away from a Title I school and their volunteers come for an hour a week, so the employees are away from their desk for about 2 hours. According to the purists on this discussion, they would not be considered volunteers because they’re being paid. If you ask the students or the school principal, you’ll get a different answer.


Bill Huddleston
CFC = Combined Federal Campaign
Workplace giving is subsidized, high Leverage, low Risk non-profit fundraising.


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Words Matter – Nonprofit Fundraising and the Washington Redskins

Posted on October 19, 2009. Filed under: Customer Service, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

Words matter.

The order of the words (and sentences) matter.

I went to the Redskins football game yesterday (Sunday, October 18, 2009) because I had an opportunity to buy three face value tickets, and my sons (age 9 and 10) had never been to an NFL game before.

For the uninitiated the Washington Redskins have a proud football tradition, and during the glory days at RFK Stadium I was able to go to about one game per season and loved it. Several decades and several owners later, Dan Snyder is now the owner of the Redskins and while a very successful businessman, the new FedEx stadium is known for outrageous fees for almost everything.

Getting back to my point about the order of words, this is what the coolers that the vendors carry have written on them:

BEER $8:00 Welcome to FedEx Field

Which seems to speak volumes about the “gouge them” attitude of the owner. Just think, even the simple step of putting the welcome first, would change the tone at least a little bit:

Welcome to FedEx Field
Beer $8.00

I think organizations often forget that people are people first, they’re not cash machines for either non-profit fundraising or for sports owners to get even wealthier, and the organizations that forgot that, are doomed to failure. It may not happen right away, but over time the trust that has been established between the organization and the donor or the fan erodes, and it takes a long long time to restore it.


Bill Huddleston

P.S. This is the game where the Redskins lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 14 to 6, and after the game Coach Zorn had his play calling duties taken away from him.

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The Seven Keys to CFC Success

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: Combined Federal Campaign - CFC, Customer Service, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

The Seven Keys to Success for a CFC Nonprofit are:

1) Work from your strengths.

2) Learn the CFC game – what the rules are, and how to play.

3) Use all 12 months of the year.

4) Understand why the CFC is the most donor friendly means of contributing in the world, and how to use that fact to help your nonprofit to both “grow givers” and “grow the pie.”

5) Learn how to get maximum benefit from the “Resource Pyramid Tetrahedron™ – (3 sided pyramid).
Use the CFC to generate other resources in addition to money: volunteers, information, market research, etc. Use your nonprofit’s CFC program as part of your nonprofit’s leadership development program.

6) Use the Tools of 21st Century.

7) Say Thank You Early and Often.

All these points are important, but number 7 is probably the most important. In workplace giving there are multiple people to thank, not just the donors. Thank the volunteers who plan, manage and conduct the campaigns, as well as the head of the sponsoring organizations.

Thank yous are appropriate at any time, and in multiple venues including newsletters, annual reports, in person at special events, etc.
When you thank your direct volunteers during National Volunteer week, also thank your workplace giving volunteers. Even though you will never know their names you can still tell them “Thank You!”

Bill Huddleston

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Workplace Giving Works Because Colleagues Ask Colleagues

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Combined Federal Campaign - CFC, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

Much of the non-profit world has forgotten about the many benefits of workplace giving. It is still the only means of non-profit fundraising that is subsidized, high leverage and low risk. One way that it is subsidized is the fact that the people performing the actual solicitations are the colleagues of those being asked, and there is nothing more effective than peer to peer fundraising. People asking people, or rather colleagues asking colleagues is one of the secrets in workplace giving, including the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Campaigns that have tried a website only approach have had mixed success, and campaigns that include a face to face component, almost always do better.

Todd Cohen, editor of Philanthropy Journal has a post on his blog about the reluctance of non-profit professionals to ask directly for funds, and on the effectiveness of face to face asking. Here’s the link:

What’s different about workplace giving is that the solicitors are not asking their colleagues to support the solicitors’ favorite cause; rather they are asking the colleague to use workplace giving to support the colleague’s favorite cause(s).

My particular expertise is the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), and through the CFC Federal public servants have donated more than $1 billion of unrestricted funds to thousands of local, national and international non-profits over the past five years. More than 95% of the fIf someone can name another type of non-profit fundraising that is subsidized, low risk and high leverage, I’d be glad to learn about it.

Bill Huddleston

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Workplace Giving is NOT synonymous with United Way

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Combined Federal Campaign - CFC, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

There are really at least three different issues going on in the threads of the discussion about United Ways on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website, and I do think that it’s worthwhile to separate and identify them, because they are separate and distinct.

The three issues are:
1. Workplace giving as a viable means of non-profit fundraising.
2. The strategic change in direction undertaken by United Way six years ago.
3. How United Ways are perceived by others in the non-profit community.

Viability of Workplace Giving

Some of the discussion threads insinuate that workplace giving is a dinosaur and has no business in the current mix of non-profit fundraising vehicles. I vehemently disagree with that statement, because workplace giving when done well, such as with the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) has continued to grow, and is and remains, the most donor friendly way for givers to contribute to charities they care about. Most non-profits profess being donor-centric, but what they really are: is non-profit (their own) centric. If you think about it, most of us who give, care about more than one issue, and using the CFC as the model:

CFC – The Most Donor Friendly Means of Donating to your Non-profit
If you stop and truly consider the charitable giving process from the donor’s perspective, not just the non-profit’s perspective, the CFC is the most donor friendly means of donating to any non-profit. The Federal public servant donor, with one pledge card and one transaction:
● Can donate to multiple charities with just one pledge.
● Gives money to the non-profit before it ever hits their checkbook.
● Accrues no interest charges from credit card donations.
● Makes a secure donation —their personal information is never on the Web, and government payroll systems are secure.
● Donors may remain anonymous if they wish — CFC anonymous donors are some of a nonprofits best supporters, and a majority of the CFC donors choose this option.

One of the unique features of workplace giving is the fact that it occurs in the workplace. This sounds rather obvious but what much of the non-profit sector has forgotten, (or never learned) is that this means that workplace giving is the only type of non-profit fundraising that is subsidized, high leverage, low risk fundraising. As an added bonus, the monies generated are unrestricted, reliable and predictable.

Given the intense interest in the non-profit sector about leadership development, there are other hidden benefits to workplace giving, namely that it provides the perfect training ground for actually developing leadership skills.

I will address the other two issues in subsequent posts.

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United Way Controversy on Chronicle of Philanthropy

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Combined Federal Campaign - CFC, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

United Workers for the Untied Way (not United – Un Tied)

There is a heated discussion taking place on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s website under the article “Majority of Local United Ways Report Declines in Donations.”

The gist of many of the comments are opinions expressed that the United Ways have been detrimental to many smaller non-profits by declining to fund agencies that have previously received funds.

The purpose of this post is to point out one non-profit that does make the argument that United Way does discourage freedom of choice in giving is the United Workers for the Untied Way, and their website is at

From their home page, their “About Us” statement is:

We are a group of volunteers working nationwide to protect your right to give at work to the charities of your own choice and not those dictated to you by United Way. We are organized as an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to which tax-deductible contributions may be made. We have no paid staff. Our office space and administration is provided pro bono. Contributions go 100 percent to our programs.

Take a look at their website and see what you think. I have no connection to this website, but thought that in the interest of this discussion, people should know about it.


Bill Huddleston

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    Fundraising and Leadership Development through workplace giving, CFC = Combined Federal Campaign


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