Good People, Good Work

Is this an ethical issue? Or am I fretting over nothing?

I am very grateful that the Canadian government matched my donations to Philippines relief.

Except that the government did not match my donations, at least not in the plain sense of the word. Nor, more importantly, in the way implied by some promotions by Canadian relief agencies.  And that worries me because I wonder if donors are being misled.

Emily the fundraiser breaks through

Let me tell you about Emily* the fundraiser.

A young woman knocked on my door one recent evening, part of a team going door-to-door canvassing for the Alzheimer’s Society. It was cold, it was dark, and a strong wind whipped down the street.

I opened the door and the young woman unveiled a thousand-watt smile.


I’ve written a lot of direct response mailings. Particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, I generated appeals and collateral for medical agencies, political parties, advocacy groups, social service, religious and international aid groups.

Part 2- The desires of your donors

We have learned a great deal by interviewing donors over the past 19 years, and out of their far-ranging comments we have summarized what they're looking for in organizations they are enthusiastic about supporting.

Part 1 was posted November 8, 2013 and is found here:

8. Leadership“Show us how that you are helping set the pace in your field.”

The desires of your donors

(Part 1 of 2)

My colleagues and I have interviewed hundreds of people, exploring the likelihood that current supporters of our clients might endorse and support some proposed initiative. The interviews are confidential — we don’t report what individuals say—but their comments strongly influence the advice we give.

In the process we have learned that donors from coast to coast want the same things. As one client said to us, what we list here is now the price of admission to being considered for significant support.

Thank God for the Volunteer

Officially, volunteer appreciation week is in April. But my appreciation for volunteers mushrooms on the first Saturday in November.

That’s when we open our church for the beginning of another season of Out of the Cold. Each Saturday night for 22 weeks, we’ll offer dinner to 125 or so people. About 60 will stay the night (our limit) and get a hot breakfast in the morning before returning to the streets and landing at the next location for Sunday night. We add in some clothes, some informal counselling, and lots of conversation.

Is this your organization? Then don’t rush into a major gifts campaign

Look around you. You may be able to save yourself the time and expense of conducting a campaign feasibility study. (At KMA we call it a planning study because we assess feasibility, and also produce a campaign plan.)  

Just look for these six signals that you may not be on the verge of greatness if you have a campaign now.

Building a relationship one transaction at a time

While riding the escalator into the upper regions of the shopping centre I saw the billboard pictured here. The copy reads: “We want to build a relationship with you, one amazing outfit at a time.”

I liked it – a well-defined exchange of value (cash, for “an amazing outfit”), a deal between two free agents, in a highly competitive market.  

“My most satisfying donation . . .”

“So you’ve made hundreds of charitable gifts. Some have been very large. May I ask, what’s been the most satisfying gift you have ever made?”

We were seated in his living room, with a scenic view of the ocean, in a grand house that showcased original works of major Canadian artists, on grounds protected by a gate and a guard.

We had completed the formal interview (for which I was sent by a client as part of a pre-campaign study), and it was time for me to leave. But I slipped in this one final question. I didn’t wait long. He didn’t hesitate.