Donors to Give a Little Bit More
WITH the troubled economy causing many Americans
to become more thrifty, fund
raisers face numerous challenges this holiday season in persuading donors to give generously.
Experts say charity officials
should stay in close contact with
donors, and provide flexibility in
giving arrangements, to maximize year-end donations.
Global Camps Africa, a small
charity in Reston, Va., that runs
camps for children in South Africa, plans to reach out to its
donors three times this season, compared with just once in
2008. Robert I. Evans, a fund-raising consultant who is working with the group, says he
moved up the first direct-mail
solicitation to late October. That
was followed by an e-mail blast
after Thanksgiving. A second
letter will go out soon to those
who have not yet responded.
“We’re more intensely following
up with donors in the last weeks
of the year than the charity has
in the last few years,” Mr. Evans says.
Some charities are starting
campaigns focused on monthly
giving, as a way to bring in significant annual revenue while
showing donors that such gifts
don’t cost much on a monthly
Grameen Foundation, a
Washington organization that
makes small loans to entrepreneurs, is asking its donors
to give $27 on the 27th of each
month, to commemorate the $27
that Muhammad Yunus loaned
to a group of Bangladeshi women in 1976, kick-starting a global effort focused on the power of
Small gifts help Global
Camps Africa aid youngters
like this one.
The Cerebral Palsy Center of
Knoxville, in Tennessee, rolled
out its “Double Nickel” campaign in November.
To celebrate its 55th birthday,
the small nonprofit group will
try to find 55 people to pledge
$55 per month for the next five
“I’m hoping it gives donors
some sense of control,” says
Tracey Bise, the center’s development director. “They can
pledge this amount and then
put it into their monthly budget.” —BEN GOSE
By Ian Wilhelm
The investment bank Goldman Sachs has pledged $500-
million to help develop small
businesses and train entrepreneurs, a much-scrutinized decision that some critics say is designed to improve the company’s
The financial-services company announced its program,
which it said would create or expand 10,000 small commercial
enterprises across the country,
at a time when it faces withering criticism for the billions of
dollars in compensation it is ex-
“It wasn’t a
move made out
out of proactive
A Sleep-In Captures Donors’ Attention
ALITTLE PUBLICITY never hurts fund-raising, especially during the important end-of-the-year period.
That’s why some charities
come up with headline-grabbing
events, contests, and auctions as
the year draws to a close.
Women in Need, which operates six shelters for homeless
families in New York City, auctioned 29 papier-mâché houses
decorated by celebrities in November.
The homes were on display
at Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship
store before they were sold.
The charity, which houses
about 2,500 homeless people every night, laid off roughly 5 percent of its staff this year, due to
declines in donations and government support.
Bonnie Stone, the charity’s
president, says Women in Need
came up with the idea during a
brainstorming session and then
put in plenty of hours lining up
the celebrity designers.
The houses were for auction through November 30 on
the charity earned more than
$29,000 from the auction, including more than $5,000 for
a house designed by Louisiana
artist George Rodrigue that features his iconic blue dogs.
Other charities also hoped
to make a splash with special
events and other strategies. Glo-balGiving promoted its second
annual “Great American Sleep-In,” pegged to Black Friday, the
day after Thanksgiving. The
charity, best known for connecting donors with development
projects overseas, urged people
to “rediscover the true meaning
of the holidays” by sleeping in,
avoiding the mall traffic, and
instead purchasing a GlobalGiv-ing gift card or making a donation in honor of a friend or fam-
ily member. The charity raised
$12,600 through gift cards and
tributes in the first four days
following Thanksgiving. A year
ago, the promotion raised about
$130,000 in the two weeks following Thanksgiving.
Even modest events can raise
a charity’s profile with donors.
The New York Foundation for
the Arts next week will host a
“swap meet,” where people can
trade things like books and
clothes. It’s one in a series of
forthcoming efforts the charity
is making to reach out to potential donors.
“If we can do a number of
smaller events where we make a
little bit of money and they don’t
cost us much, if anything, that
will supplement our income and
really raise awareness about
who we are and what we do,”
says Mark Rossier, the charity’s
pected to pay employees this
Some have characterized
Goldman Sachs’s philanthropy
as a way to quell the public anger.
“It wasn’t a philanthropic
move made out of proactive generosity,” said Nomi Prins, a former managing director at Goldman and now a senior fellow at
Demos, a public-policy advocacy
group in New York.
The amount Goldman is contributing is “pennies” compared
to its salaries and bonuses, she
In addition, Curt Weeden, a
consultant who helps corporations with their giving, said the
Goldman move would do little
to ease people’s criticism of the
company’s role in last year’s financial crisis.
The philanthropic program,
he added, “is not as sharply focused as contribution programs
developed by other less profitable businesses.”
$300-million—will help credit
unions and other types of non-profit groups provide capital
and business training to people
in impoverished neighborhoods
and other areas often not served
by commercial banks.
Of that money, Goldman is offering $50-million in grants and
$250-million in loans, which
the finance charities will offer
as credit to people who want to
start or expand their businesses.
Mr. Pinsky said the support
will be crucial to his membership. “It’s been an illiquid market for a long time now,” he said.
“For Goldman to put $300-mil-
lion into the marketplace is a
Asked if he is concerned about
the negative views surrounding Goldman’s philanthropy,
Mr. Pinsky said: “I am not concerned about a potential backlash against CDFIs [communi-ty-development financial insti-tutions] for participating in this.
The timing of release and what
is said about it is Goldman’s
business, not our business.”
Money for Classes
In addition to helping credit
unions and other community
finance groups, Goldman said
$200-million will support schol-
“Our recovery is
One-Day Online Campaign Reels In $14-Million
START A WEB SITE, raise $14- million. Can it really be that
Just two weeks after going
live, GiveMN.org, a Web site
that links donors with charities
in Minnesota, held a special
Give to the Max day on November 17. The promise of a match
on every gift brought donors out
in droves— 38,778 people gave
more than $14-million to 3,434
The site is the brainchild of
the Minneapolis Foundation,
a community foundation that
joined with the St. Paul Foundation and the Bush Foundation
to contribute a total of $500,000
in matching grants to the special giving day.
Give to the Max appears to
be the most successful effort
of its type to date. Similar giv-
ing days in Dallas, Pittsburgh,
and Columbus, Ohio, during
the past year raised $4-million
GiveMN.org lists every Minnesota charity on its site,
and the charities can contact
GiveMN to add logos, pictures,
and videos. Some 2,500 charities have personalized their profiles on the site—far more than
the 500 charities that GiveMN
had been expecting. “Once non-profits understood the benefit
to them, it spread like wildfire,”
says Dana Nelson, GiveMN’s executive director.
Some charity leaders worried that Give to the Max day
would not produce an increase
in giving but simply draw in
loyal donors who wanted to get
their gifts matched, but initial
reports indicate that the pro-
motional day brought in a large
percentage of new donors.
Second Harvest Heartland, a
food bank that serves 59 counties in Minnesota and western
Wisconsin, received the most
gifts (more than 1,200) and
the most cash ($185,000, plus a
small match and a $5,000 prize
for receiving the greatest number of gifts). That’s less than 2
percent of the charity’s annual fund-raising goal, but Joan
Wadkins, a spokeswoman for
the charity, says the long-term
payoff could be much greater.
The food bank estimates that 75
percent of the people who gave
to the charity on the special day
were new donors. “Clearly there
was something galvanizing in
the way that Give to the Max
was presented,” Ms. Wadkins
says. —BEN GOSE
Goldman said the small-business program is not a public-relations move.
The company said the philanthropic project has been in
development for almost a year
and is modeled after its 10,000
Women Initiative, which helps
educate female entrepreneurs
in 18 countries.
People who helped craft the
new program defended its mission.
“Goldman is trying to make
sure there’s a broad distribution of job opportunities across
the economy,” said Mark Pinsky, chief executive of the Opportunity Finance Network, a
coalition of community-development financial institutions.
Mr. Pinsky helped the company develop the charitable project.
Most of the commitment—
arships for small-business owners to attend classes at community colleges, universities, and
other educational institutions.
Initial grant recipients include the LaGuardia Community College and Seedco Financial
Services, both in New York.
Their Goldman Sachs-sup-ported efforts will start next
In addition to the monetary
pledge, the New York company
has recruited high-profile advisers, including the financier
Warren Buffett, to guide the effort.
The team includes Michael
Porter, of the Harvard Business
School; Hilary Pennington, of
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Margaret Spellings,
former secretary of education
during the George W. Bush administration.
In a statement, Mr. Buffett
said: “Our recovery is dependent
on hard-working small-business
owners across America who will
create the jobs that America
needs. I’m proud to be a part of
this innovative program, which
provides greater access to know-how and capital—two ingredients critical to success.”