Bob Singapore
Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures )
July, 2009
The Latest Departures
  • Charitable Donations Fell by Nearly 6% in 2008, the Sharpest Drop in 53 Years
  • Year-End Appeal Offers Prominent Recognition -- On A Virtual Wall
  • Colorado University Considers Text Message Appeals at Football Games
  • FundList Members Share Savvy Senior Gift Tips
  • Study Says Prospects Are More Likely To Respond To A Call From A Peer, Especially If They're At The Beginning Of The Alphabet
  • UK Launches New Mobile Phone Directory Service
  • University Receives 2,500-Truck Donation of Dirt
  • For Philanthropy Courses, Students Become The Givers
  • It's Time For More Innovations in Annual Giving
  • Don't Stop Here - Browse Five Years of Bob's Email Newsletters
  • It's July, and my daughter Madeleine is going to be one year old in 22 days. (If you haven't seen all the publicity about little Mad, you can read about her in the May/June issue of CASE Currents.)

    Mad's dad has been pretty overexposed himself lately, quoted in a Chronicle of Higher Education article about Barack Obama's campaign fundraising strategies and their usefulness in education fundraising, and quoted again in a Chronicle of Higher Education article about second gift requests being made by schools this year. Then there's this spectacular photo of Bob's audience from a CASE program at St. Aloysius College overlooking Sydney harbor in Australia. And lastly, although I look like I'm suffering from "Delhi belly," I'm pictured with CASE friends Gretchen Dobson, Joanna Motion and Ben Prasadam-Halls at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi in the July/August issue of CASE Currents. The four of us presented CASE's first-ever programs in India this past March.

    In two weeks, I'm at Cal Poly-Pomona University, continuing my 2009 schedule of one-day annual giving workshops. Come and learn some new annual giving strategies for good results in a bad economy. There are also upcoming workshops in Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul. You can review the workshop agenda and register online. In addition, I'll be appearing at the CASE Europe Annual Conference in Liverpool, England next month, and conducting a workshop for the AFP Western Massachusetts Chapter in September.

    We're proud to be working with a number of new or returning clients, including Notre Dame de Namur University, Boston University, Nanyang Technological University, Queensland University of Technology, and Northwestern College.

    Take two days to meet with us in this new fiscal year and give your program a tune-up. Our two-day campus visit includes a special examination of recession-minded issues, goals and strategies. How do you strategically trim budget and do more with less expense? How can data mining, predictive modeling, Internet social networking and other tools help to tune your annual giving program for a new economy? We'll help you consider enhancements for all corners of your program.

    Best wishes for ongoing fundraising success in the new year.


    Charitable Donations Fell by Nearly 6% in 2008, the Sharpest Drop in 53 Years

    Donations to nearly every type of charity faltered in 2008, as contributions declined by 5.7 percent last year after adjustment for inflation, according to the new edition of Giving USA which was released last month. It was the steepest decline in the history of the survey, which has been conducted since 1956.

    Americans contributed a total of $307.7-billion to charity last year, Giving USA reports - down from $314.1-billion in 2007. The only other decline nearly as large occurred in 1974, when donations dropped by 5.4 percent.

    It could take a long time until giving recovers. Researchers who compile Giving USA said that today's recession most resembles the one in 1974, and it took three years after that downturn ended for philanthropy to return to the same levels of donations as before the economy soured.

    Interviews The Chronicle conducted with more than 65 charities suggest that fund raisers are seeing no sign of a recovery yet: Forty of the institutions said giving is on the decline so far, and 21 said donations had decreased by more than 10 percent.

    Donors held back most significantly in creating or adding to their own grant-making foundations-a decision that will probably be felt in many years to come because foundations give their money away over a long period of time. Such institutions suffered a 22-percent decline, more than any other kind of organization.

    Next hardest hit were social-services groups, which raised 16 percent less last year. A poll of 228 such organizations conducted by Giving USA to accompany the survey found that 54 percent reported an increase in need for their services in 2008. But six in 10 of the groups said contributions and other revenue had dropped so sharply that they had been forced to cut expenses, including by curtailing services or laying off employees.

    Religious organizations and umbrella charity campaigns like those run by United Way organizations and Jewish federations were the only ones that saw an increase, but those gains were small-less than 2 percent.

    Giving to international-aid organizations dropped by 3.1 percent, while donations to environmental, arts, education, and health organizations all declined by 9 or 10 percent.

    You can read the full text of this Chronicle of Philanthropy article, or download the press release from the Giving USA Foundation, which annually reports on philanthropy in the U.S.

    Year-End Appeal Offers Prominent Recognition -- On A Virtual Wall

    I've long believed that a list of donors functions most importantly as a marketing tool -- not as an accounting tool. Show the people who aren't on the list just how many people are on the list.

    The Internet allows me to add two useful elements to my list-of-donors marketing tool -- I can continually add to it in real time (which helps to create a bandwagon effect among supporters), and I can add some year-end urgency to compel people to make their gift promptly. When you subtract from this the time and cost of producing a paper list, there's some real benefit there.

    The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago just sent a fiscal year-end email appeal offering immediate and prominent recognition in their online "virtual gallery" of year-end donors. The email was sent several times over the last month of the fiscal year, allowing prospects to see how the "virtual gallery" of donor names was growing day-by-day.

    View the email appeal from the Museum of Contemporary Art, or check out their online Virtual Gallery of Year-End Donors.

    Colorado University Considers Text Message Appeals at Football Games

    Fundraising of the future at the University of Colorado could include Buffs fans in the stands text-messaging mini-pledges at half-time. CU's fundraising arm is exploring technology that could allow donors to send a text message and make a small donation, of $5 or so, to the school. The gift would then be attached as a charge on the donor's cell phone bill.

    Wayne Hutchens, CEO of the CU Foundation, told regents this week to imagine the annual rival game between CU and Colorado State University. During a break in play, an announcer could tell spectators to pull out their cell phones, make a donation via text message and see which set of fans can raise more green for their respective school. The money could then go toward student scholarships, Hutchens said.

    "It's the kind of thing we are looking at," Hutchens said. "It's interesting the kinds of things that are out there that we could have fun with."

    CU fundraisers are just looking into the idea, and no deals have been made. But foundation officials listened to a presentation given by Mobile Accord, a Denver-based company that helps nonprofits, universities and political groups raise mobile donations.

    CU Regent Michael Carrigan, D-Denver, said he's impressed with the mobile-donations idea and that it could be an avenue for students to contribute. "I think it's an exciting and innovative way for students to show school spirit," he said.

    Ariel Braude, a CU sophomore who had a season pass to home Buffs football games last fall, said she'd be inclined to donate money via her cell phone. Text-message donations would be a good way to capture the student audience, she said. "I think it'd be a good way because it's something that students do all the time, anyway," Braude said.

    FundList Members Share Savvy Senior Gift Tips

    Commencement has come and gone for many institutions, so it's a bit late to help impact your senior gift program for this year, but it's a good time for some good advice for the coming year's graduating class appeal. Some FundList contributors recently shared some of their senior gift ideas and tips:

    At Gettysburg the Senior Class Gift Campaign is prominently mentioned at Commencement. The night before there is a Senior Party at which time the SCGC co-chairs stand up and say thank you to all those who donated and give them the college lapel pin with their class year on it. At Commencement, the SCGC co-chairs go to the podium and announce the dollars raised, participation, the success of the trustee challenge, and then have everyone who participated stand up. In recent years it's been just a few who are still seated and usually the attendees give a round of applause. After that, here at Gettysburg the Senior Class Gift Campaign used to raise funds for a scholarship (now it's towards our annual fund). This scholarship is given out each year to two rising seniors who displays a number of attributes, but it is at this time that those recipients are announce - one male and one female. All in all, the announcements and their speech take about 5-10 minutes after which the president congratulates the class and acknowledges the importance of giving back. -- Andrew P. Kitslaar, Gettysburg College

    We recruited a chair who has been highly involved in Student Government Association and served as a phonathon caller in the past. He then recruited a group for the committee made up of students from different student organizations and majors. He made it seem like an honor to be "selected" to serve on the committee. We actually had a few students call him to ask if they could get involved! The key for us was to find that one outstanding student that could get his/her classmates to sign on. -- Erica Sellers, Birmingham Southern College

    We are just starting to implement a student philanthropy council here at UNF. We do not have a student foundation nor an in house phone program of students to rely on as natural fits for a student philanthropy council or senior class gift committee. This fall, I am going to ask my campus colleagues to help me identify 100 students who are good students, exhibit UNF pride and leadership abilities but perhaps are not already involved in other student organizations (as I don't want all students who are already over committed). Once I receive that list, I am going to put out an invitation that will look much like a wedding invitation (no other way to describe it) saying that the President invites them to take part in a call out meeting. At this meeting (which I intend on making fun and serving food), I will explain the student philanthropy council mission and goals. The SPC will include representatives from all classes, will plan events to promote pride and class spirit, educate their peers, and ultimately solicit for a senior class gift. From this meeting I am hoping to have 5-10 students form the "charter" SPC. -- Brieanna M. Quinn, University of North Florida

    Here's a link to a senior class gift email we sent last year. -- Rebecca Lamb, CFRE, UNC Asheville

    We no longer do a Senior Class Gift. It wasn't working for us. Many times there were issues with actually purchasing a gift that made the Senior's and Physical Plant happy. Plus, we couldn't get it on campus until after the Seniors were gone. Once they left, it was hard to get them to come back to see what they had done or to even care about it. We now raise money from all students for a new student led AF scholarship that we call the "Your Name Here" Scholarship. We were able to award five small scholarships for the next academic year. -- Heather Harmon, Wilmington College

    Willamette runs a senior giving program focused on undergraduate affinities. We ask all seniors to identify and financially support the area of campus (academic department/sport/club/etc) that they feel most connected towards. For the last two years (FY 0708 and FY 0809) participation has been over 30% (with a class of about 500 students). Even though seniors are given the option to support restricted funds -- the majority of donors in the last two years have supported The Willamette Fund. -- Bob Heck, Willamette University

    Study Says Prospects Are More Likely To Respond To A Call From A Peer, Especially If They're At The Beginning Of The Alphabet

    A new study, "The ABC's of Charitable Solicitation," confirms what we've suspected all along: peer volunteers can be among the most successful solicitors, but they're often much more effective at the top of their calling list than at the bottom.

    In a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research based on an examination of all alumni donations to an anonymous university from 1983 to 2007, the researchers conclude that personal solicitations help persuade reluctant alumni to drag out the checkbook.

    Starting every July 1, the institution's development office sends out at least two mailings and several e-mails to every alumnus for the next 11 months, according to the study. Come the following June, the last month of the fund raising year, volunteers receive lists of the names of alumni who have not yet donated -- and the phone calls begin.

    Since the volunteers usually worked through the lists in alphabetical order, they were more likely to call alumni with last names near the beginning of the alphabet than those with last names toward the end. So they tended to be more enthusiastic toward, say, Mr. Adams than toward Mr. Zuckerman, whom they often ran out of time to call altogether. As a result, individuals with surnames beginning with A-F were 1.2 percent more likely to give than those with surnames beginning with S-Z, according to the report, which focused on the likelihood of donating rather than the size of the donations.

    The study also found that gender plays a role in charitable giving. Women whose last names fell between A-F were 1.5 percent more likely to donate than those at the end of the alphabet, while men with last names between A-F were only 0.9 percent more likely to donate.

    The report suggests that universities falling on hard times could harness the power of peer pressure to their advantage. "Obviously it takes more effort to make a personal phone call than it does to send out a mass mailing. But the personal phone call, or personal solicitation, has an effect after you've asked people through mail two to four times," said Jonathan Meer, a former graduate student at Stanford University who co-authored the study with Harvey S. Rosen, a professor of economics and business policy at Princeton University. You can read the rest of this Inside Higher Ed article here, or download the full text of the ABC's of Personal Soliciation abstract.

    UK Launches New Mobile Phone Directory Service

    Annual giving directors in the UK have an intriguing new tool for contacting prospects -- the first national directory assistance number for mobile phones.

    The "118 800" service (similar to 411 in the U.S.) has a couple of big catches - the caller isn't actually informed what the mobile phone number is, nor does the call get placed directly.

    Users of the service will be greeted by a 118 800 operator and asked to give the name and location of the mobile phone user they are searching for. The 118 800 operator will then search a database of millions of UK mobile phone numbers. If the search is successful the118 800 operator will call the recipient. The recipient can then choose to accept or decline the 118 800 call. In the event that the recipient doesn't answer his or her phone, the service user can choose to have 118 800 leave a voicemail or send an SMS with their contact details.

    University Receives 2,500-Truck Donation of Dirt

    Stevenson University President Kevin J. Manning has solicited and received many a gift in his years as a college administrator. But never one that could fill 2,500 dump trucks and inspire puns about both parties "hitting pay dirt" or "making the grade." No, the gift Stevenson is about to receive from T. Rowe Price - 25,000 cubic yards of dirt - is unique in Manning's experience.

    "Kind of creative in this challenging economy, huh?" Manning said. "I can't say I've heard of many universities fundraising for dirt, but it all adds up."

    Stevenson is building a $7 million gym for its Owings Mills campus, just in front of the old Baltimore Colts training facility off Owings Mills Boulevard. The university needed a heap of dirt to level ground for a parking lot and was prepared to pay about $250,000 for it. But someone at the university heard that T. Rowe Price needed to clear a large amount of dirt after adding two buildings to its own Owings Mills campus.

    In the old days of booming construction, the investment firm might have made a tidy profit on the excess soil. But the dirt market isn't what it was, and T. Rowe Price was prepared to pay big bucks to have the mound hauled to a nearby rubble fill.

    Both Stevenson and T. Rowe Price had dirt trouble until lo and behold, they found a mutual solution. Stevenson is closer to T. Rowe Price than the rubble fill, so by donating its dirt to the gym project, the investment firm will save $300,000 in transport costs. Stevenson will save almost as much in construction costs. The gift will bring Stevenson close to its goal of raising $20 million in capital donations by December. And T. Rowe Price might even be able to take a tax deduction on the whole transaction.

    "I guess you could say we both hit paydirt," said T. Rowe Price spokesman Brian Lewbart, chuckling at the punning potential around the transaction.

    Pressed for a comparison, Manning thought back to his days at Immaculata University in Philadelphia, when the school's music department received a classic flute, appraised at almost $10,000. "A musical instrument and dirt," he said. "Those are probably the two most unique gifts I've come across."

    For Philanthropy Courses, Students Become The Givers

    College students, many of whom spend the little extra cash they have on pizza and laundry, don't fit the typical profile of a wealthy benefactor. But in a growing national movement, students enrolled in newly created philanthropy courses are steering thousands of dollars to local charities.

    At Tufts University, students decided this spring to give $1,500 to expand English courses to immigrant parents in Medford. Northeastern University students donated about $2,500 to a Boston after-school program promoting cross-cultural tolerance through cooking. And students at Boston University distributed $7,500 to help local at-risk teens land jobs in the financial sector.

    At least 10 New England colleges, including Brandeis, Holy Cross, Boston College, Wheelock, and Lesley, will offer similar courses next school year, using seed money donated by corporate and family foundations. In the classes, students draw up mission statements for makeshift foundations, research nonprofits in their communities, and decide how to allocate the pot of money.

    The goal, say professors and donors, is to build upon surging interest in social responsibility among college students and make philanthropy part of the mainstream curriculum. A potential side benefit: helping colleges improve town-gown relations and, some professors said, cultivate future alumni donors.

    "Some of these kids will become very wealthy in the future,'' said Paul Schervish, a sociology professor and director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, who will soon begin teaching experiential philanthropy classes. "The professors see that this is a way to teach financial morality in the realm of philanthropy.''

    It's Time For More Innovations in Annual Giving

    Bob's brand-new CASE book - More Innovations in Annual Giving: Ten Global Departures That Worked - features creative annual giving strategies from institutions around the world, including Australia, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, France, the U.K. and beyond.

    "This second book by Bob Burdenski for CASE will further extend the reach of inspiration and courage. Bob's case studies, filtered through his expertise and enthusiasm, raise the competence of institutions around the world as they contemplate where to go next with their philanthropic fundraising," says Joanna Motion, Vice President for International Operations for CASE in London.

    The book is a follow-up to Bob's previous CASE best-seller, Innovations in Annual Giving: Ten Departures That Worked, which featured ten case histories of U.S. schools, colleges and universities that tried new annual giving strategies with success.

    Bob's featured examples from around the world include:

    • Parent Fundraising from the London School of Economics (UK)
    • Faculty and Staff Appeals from the National University of Singapore
    • Data Mining from Upper Canada College (Canada)
    • An Annual Giving Case For Support from the University of Sydney (Australia)
    • Phonathon Perseverance from the American University in Cairo (Egypt)
    • Direct Mail from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland)
    • Internet Strategies from the Indian Institute of Technology (India)
    • Leadership Annual Giving from Bates College (USA)
    • Donor Stewardship from the University of Warwick (UK)
    • Reunion Giving from INSEAD (France)

    You can download a sample chapter on Leadership Annual Giving Personal Solicitation direct from the CASE Web site here.

    Don't Stop Here - Browse Five Years of Bob's Email Newsletters

    All of Bob's previous (although now, not-so "Latest") Latest Annual Giving Departures email newsletters are available for reading free at

    Browse more than 5 years of newsletters - you can track the beginnings of data mining, recurring giving, and YouTube as annual giving strategies during that time. Thumbnail summaries of each newsletter tell you what's included in each one.

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