Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Motivates Donors? New Report Dispels Some Myths and Provides Detailed Data

There is a thorough new report from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University entitled “Understanding Donors Motivations.” The sample size in this study was 10000 donors and the data was analyzed by various factors including region of the country, age, marital status, income and education level.

The two hypothesis tested in the study were:

•Motivations for giving to charity vary by region
•Motivations for giving to charity vary by income

The results provide insight and dispel some myths about motivations for giving. The only factors that statistically indicated different motivations were income and education level. Any perceived regional differences were eliminated when adjusted for education and income levels. Underneath these macro findings is a lot of detail that may be helpful to you in shaping your message.
Download the full Understanding Donors Motivations Report

The findings include that on an overall basis the top motivations for giving are:
•Provide for basic needs
•Help Poor help themselves
•Make community better
•Make world better

When you look at motivation by income level there are some subtle but important differences:
•Higher income donors (income greater than $100,000) were significantly more likely to select “making community better” as an important motivation for giving compared to lower income donors (income less than $50,000).
•Lower income donors were significantly more likely than higher or middle-income donors to report “basic needs” and “poor help themselves” as a motivation for giving.

Of course the devil is in the details and this report has a lot of useful information including regional analysis. If you are right now trying to craft just the right words in your year end appeal and are segmenting your list to tweak the message for different constituencies this report is a must read.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hiring a Foundation CEO - Fascinating Findings but Most Important Variable Is Missing

Last week the Chronicle of Philanthropy had a brief article about hiring practices and foundations that caught my eye. It whet my appetite and I read the two full reports that Ian Wilhelm, author, referenced in the article.

In the last few years there have been major reports about the impact of retiring baby boomers and the need for a huge number of new leaders in the nonprofit sector. I have written a few blog posts on this subject and I also help nonprofits who are hiring for an executive position. However, this is the first spate of reports that I have seen dealing directly with Foundation Hiring and Leadership. For many people who work for nonprofits, foundations seem like “the other side” with upscale offices, genteel hours and where the money is doled out rather than begged for. Many nonprofit leaders view working for a foundation as something they’d like to do someday.

These two studies provide hard data and facts that should be of interest to you if you are one of those people. And it really should be of interest for the rest of us -there are fascinating findings and both studies will provide an important baseline to assess the changing landscape in foundation leadership.

The first report commissioned by Philanthropy New York, “Benchmarking Diversity: A First Look at New York City Foundations and Nonprofits” provides excellent benchmarking data for philanthropy leadership in a major urban city. The study surveyed 95 foundations and 540 nonprofits but this article will address foundation staffing only.
Download the full Philanthropy New York Report

The survey found that 43% of all staff at foundations are people of color, but 84% of foundation CEOs and 83% of board members are white. Women fair much better at 63% of CEOs and 45% of board members.

Does having a diversity policy make a difference? Apparently so. Foundations with a diversity policy tended to be more diverse. The proportion of people of color on the boards of surveyed foundations appears to be a strong indicator of a foundation’s overall focus on racial and ethnic diversity. Surveyed foundations with at least 25% people of color on their boards are more likely to have diverse staffs, to have both staff and grantmaking diversity policies, to target populations of color through their grantmaking, and to collect demographic data from grantseekers.

The Council on Foundations just released its Career Pathways to Philanthropic Leadership 2009 Baseline Report, which describes how foundations choose their leaders and what those leaders say about the process. Based on the appointments of 440 CEOs from 2004 to 2008, this study provides insight into hiring practices, and professional backgrounds of foundation executives. Key highlights from this report are:
-80% of the 440 foundations appointing CEOs filled them from candidates outside the foundations.
-39% of the successful candidates held CEO positions in their immediate prior position.
-Nearly 20 percent were from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds and 48% were women. (Consistent with Philanthropy NY report findings)

Having previous executive management experience seems to be the most desired characteristic that Foundations look for in their search for a leader. The most valued skills are financial management, leadership of organizations, and the management of change. To me it appears that the process and criteria are very traditional but it remains to be seen if the results produce traditional results.

Part of the purpose of the study was to determine what foundations should be doing about leadership development within their organizations. They also interviewed “field advisers” – Board members and Foundation executives, etc. – for recommendations. Unfortunately, this section of the report is pretty skimpy. But it does suggest that mentoring and leadership development programs for internal candidates are steps that foundation should consider.
Download the full Council on Foundations Report

As I said in the beginning – fascinating! It will be interesting to see the reports in 5 – 10 years. I personally think the Foundation landscape is going to change dramatically just like everything else in the world is changing. The types of people who are chosen to be CEOs will drive that change. Neither of these reports went beyond basic data to provide any real insight into that change.

Both reports provided extensive racial and gender based data. But neither one addressed age diversity. Personally, I think that will be the real key to change in Foundation Leadership. Is it getting younger? Neither of these reports addressed that. I would love to know. What are these new leaders bringing to the table based on their personal experience. It is far different than inside employees are bringing. What is it? How will that change the landscape?

Any thoughts please share them in the comments.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How Is the iParticipate - Volunteerism Feature Going?

I've been disappointed that my favorite shows early in the week were not participating in the Volunteerism "iParticipate" project to feature volunteerism. (See my last post.) Last night I was at the 15th anniversary event for the New Jersey Community Development Corporation and didn't get to see any TV - except the Yankees lose in the 9th inning with bases loaded and full count on the batter.

Did you see any of these shows? They all were supposed to feature volunteerism. What did you think? Let us know.

-Parks and Recreation (KaBoom building a playground?)
-Grey’s Anatomy (Blood Drive? - Not too imaginative for a hospital)
-The Office
-CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
-30 Rock (This had to be funny - What was it?)
-Private Practice

Can't wait to see your comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Best Nonprofit Taglines - Getting Attention Reveals Winners

Nancy Schwartz is a nonprofit marketing consultant who writes the popular blog (Getting Attention). Last year Nancy's survey found that 70% of nonprofits didn't use a tagline or rated theirs as poor. Nancy recently sponsored a contest to select the best nonprofit taglines. There were 1702 taglines submitted and 13 winners were selected each representing a different category. I am not a marketing expert but I was really struck by the winning taglines. I think Nancy accomplished what she set out to do with this contest. She inspired nonprofits to think about their branding and show how powerful a tagline can be. Even a small nonprofit can do this without any budget.

The winners come from large and small nonprofits and I am truly impressed with how mch punch and focus can be delivered in a few words. My favorites from smaller nonprofits include:

Montana Historical Society
Big Sky. Big Land. Big History.

Texas Nonprofits
Building community deep in the hearts of Texans

Because the earth needs a good lawyer

Houston Food Bank
Filling pantries. Filling lives.

Homeboy Industries
Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job

Each of these taglines captures the mission of their organization with laser like focus and also touches the emotional draw of the mission. That's why they work so well. The contest is over but if your organization doesn't have a tagline - or it has one that just doesn't cut it, I suggest you sign up for Nancy's full report coming out in November with over 2500 tagline examples.

If you are gearing up for the holiday annual fundraising season, now is a good time to consider a tagline which communicates your brand and adds some jazz to your marketing. Today shorter communications are more effective and a tagline can really help get your message across quickly.

Thanks Nancy for making us think about this simple idea.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Volunteerism Week on TV

This week over 60 shows on Network and Cable TV will incorporate story lines about volunteers into their scripts, highlight real-life volunteers, air public service announcements, or ask cast members to create a "tag" at the end of their show encouraging people to volunteer. The idea originated with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, (EIF) a charity made up of representatives from all facets of show business, at their annual retreat. Hmmm...what ideas are you coming up with at your annual retreat?

Some examples of story lines:
On Parks and Recreation Amy Poehler's character has wanted to convert an abandoned construction pit into a park. This week, her dream is fulfilled with an assist from a real-life organization called KaBOOM!, which provides volunteers to build the park and a playground.

On The Biggest Loser, contestants will volunteer at a Los Angeles food bank.

On Brothers, the guys volunteer as coaches.

On CSI: NY, Hill Harper's Dr. Sheldon Hawkes volunteers at a hospital.

Later this year, the campaign expands with trailers in movie theaters, efforts in music and more.

Sherry Lansing, EIF Chair, put the value of the media being donated to the cause as "priceless."

I can't wait to see if my favorite shows are participating. I'll be watching The Big Bang Theory tonight and I hope they participate - I can picture Sheldon at a homeless shelter. It's an easy assignment for Top Chef but I'll have to wait until Wednesday to see if they participate.

Stay tuned this week and maybe there’s a story you can connect with and use to recognize or encourage volunteerism in your own organization. Post your comments here with feedback on any of the shows you saw this week featuring volunteerism.
It'll be a lot of fun to share our favorites.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Great Opportunity from The Chronicle of Philanthropy for Encouraging Volunteerism and Philanthropy

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is running a great contest. It is simple and fun to enter - Go on over as soon as you finish reading this article and enter. There is a $5000 donation to your favorite charity first prize and two $2500 donation prizes. That’s a lot of motivation to enter. The Chronicle has partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to have viewers create their own ideas of how volunteerism can be incorporated into their favorite TV shows. The ideas will be used for “iParticipate” week of volunteer focused television programs.

There are simple rules. Think of ways your favorite TV show could develop plots or themes that feature volunteers for your favorite charity, and send in your story pitches — either in writing or on video. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $5,000 donation in their name to their charity. Two Silver Prize winners will each receive a $2,500 donation in their name to their charity. Your pitch can be a video no more than 3 minutes long or a 250 word written proposal.

My husband and I have already entered and are rooting for our favorite charities. I submitted a script idea for The Big Bang Theory and my husband submitted one for Top Chef. Our charities are Community Agencies Corporation of NJ and Saint Vincent's Academy - both in Newark, NJ.

The contest deadline is Monday, October 26, 2009 so don’t delay. Here is the link for more information:
Chronicle of Philanthropy TV Script Contest