Make “13″ YOUR Lucky Number

March 10th, 2015

LUCKY 13Free Advice. Donor Retention? Want guaranteed, proven results? Easy. Improve your donor communications. Jerry Huntsinger (the very best guide you’ll find) lists 13 of the strongest words in the English Language. Continue reading »

Insights for Successful Campaigns from Barrett Carson

December 18th, 2014

BarrettBarrett Carson, now Vice President of Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), was the speaker at this week’s Atlanta AFP Breakfast meeting . Having led many campaigns in his tenure at higher education institutions, he has had particular success at Georgia Tech (GT). He was asked to share some insights with those gathered there.

I took notes and they follow here. I present them here as he did, as “food for thought”. His experience is palpable so he just shared the keys he seemed to think would be most helpful to the rest of us. Am sure everyone took away pieces and parts they found useful and so I share my notes here.

Since joining GT in 1997, his first campaign was set for $300 million but ended with $715 million. Currently having exceeded $1.5 billion for this state university, he expressed his dismay that their fundraising organization is now ranked 53 in the world!

  • Define the campaign’s scope: Comprehensive or just Capital needs. For him, Comprehensive refers to wall-to-wall needs. It’s the type of effort he has focused on while at Georgia Tech.
  • Establish metrics that make sense for the organization from the outset to track progress
  • Diligence, discipline and reporting are easy words to list but key to achieving success
  • A campaign, by definition, elevates the sights of an institution. To that end he urged the audience to make the commitment never to revert to the staff or energy levels found during  pre-campaign status
  • Specifically, don’t gear up just to lay-off.
  • He is careful annually throughout the life of a campaign to add staff positions, which had been taken on for campaign purposes,  to become part of his annual budget. The idea is that by end of campaign those extra dollars allotted to new staff are by then part of his annual budget, allowing all new hires to be permanent members of the team. He never wants to step back to pre-campaign thinking or performance
  • When choosing staff choose who can be self-sustaining. Pay more to get better folks and then expect more of them. And demand that they do so without close supervision
  • Hire for collegiality not for rainmaking. Think long-term relationships with staff as well as donors. Their average tenure of staff at GT Development is 15 years
  • Define the Case for Support based on your organization’s aspirations. Temper each with reality and then set priorities and goals accordingly
  • Be diligent about accounting. Use accepted methodologies such as those set forth by CASE or CAE; make your own decisions as to how to “count” different gift types, like planned gifts, and then stick to it. Report each accordingly. Don’t deviate from your methodology
  • Outside fundraising counsel can be extremely valuable to leadership as an external source of legitimacy. As he explained it, his counsel often functioned as a sounding board for leadership’s new ideas. But be sure to hire the person, not the firm. You’ll be working with the person, not the firm.
  • Perhaps the most useful, not-to-be-overlooked statement to fundraisers was his view that Development is not to be evaluated for its cost center to an organization, but rather they are to be viewed as a Revenue Center. If management agrees, the organization will succeed because the fundraisers are then seen as respected, well-paid achievers/revenue producers 


In Support of Optimists Everywhere!

December 12th, 2014


2014 GIVING USA: Summary

June 30th, 2014

Giving USA: Americans Gave #335.17 Billion to Charity in 2013: Total Approached Pre-Recession Peak- See more at:

More specifics and quick summaries were provided by David King, President of Alexander Haas said at the monthly meeting of the Association for Fundraising Professionals — Greater Atlanta on June 17.

The biggest finding for fundraisers this year is that corporate giving is down to its lowest level in 35 years.

As reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, King said, “Giving by corporations decreased by 1.9 percent in 2013. Corporate giving as a percentage of pre-tax profits was at 0.8 percent in 2013. The last time it was that low was in 1979.high-water mark was in 1986 when corporations gave away 2 percent of their pre-tax profits, and it has steadily declined ever since… 65 percent of all corporate giving is in non-cash donations — and 21 percent of that giving is pharmaceuticals. So the actual giving of charitable dollars by corporations is much lower than the 0.8 percent.”

Interestingly, religion, though still the single largest sector, continues its decline. “In 1987, 53 percent of all charitable donations were to religious institutions, and now that has dropped to just 31 percent.”

During a recession, giving usually shifts to human services and the recent “Great Recession” was no different. Yet now that the economy is improving, charitable giving once more returns “to sectors that contribute to a community’s quality of life”…. “Giving to the arts, environment/animal and health organizations showed strong increases in 2013.”

Education seems to be the biggest winner as the economy improves. “Between 2009 and 2013, giving to education is up 37 percent.”

A Closer Look at the Data by “Giving USA“:

  • Giving by individuals increased 4.2 percent (2.7 percent adjusted for inflation) from the revised estimate of $230.91 billion in 2012.
  • Giving by corporations decreased 1.9 percent (-3.2 percent adjusted for inflation) from the revised estimate of $18.22 billion in 2012.
  • Giving by foundations increased 5.7 percent (4.2 percent adjusted for inflation) from the revised estimate of $46.34 billion in 2012.
  • Giving by bequest increased 8.7 percent (7.2 percent adjusted for inflation) from the revised estimate of $25.50 billion in 2012.
  • Giving to religion was flat (-0.2 percent) between 2012 and 2013, with an estimated $105.53 billion in contributions. Inflation-adjusted giving to the religion subsector declined 1.6 percent.
  • Giving to education is estimated to have increased 8.9 percent between 2012 and 2013, to $52.07 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to education organizations increased 7.4 percent.
  • Giving to human services increased by an estimated 2.2 percent in 2013, totaling
  • $41.51 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to human services organizations increased by 0.7 percent.
  • Giving to foundations is estimated to have declined by 15.5 percent in 2013, to $35.74 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to foundations declined 16.7 percent.
  • Giving to health organizations is estimated to have increased 6.0 percent between 2012  and 2013 (an increase of 4.5 percent, adjusted for inflation), to $31.86 billion.
  • Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased by an estimated 8.5 percent between 2012 and 2013, to $23.89 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to public-society  benefit organizations grew 7.0 percent.
  • Giving to arts, culture, and humanities is estimated to have increased 7.8 percent between 2012 and 2013, to $16.66 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to the arts, culture, and humanities subsector increased 6.3 percent.
  • Giving to international affairs is estimated to be $14.93 billion in 2013, a decrease of 6.7 percent from 2012. Adjusted for inflation, giving to international affairs organizations declined by 8.0 percent.
  • Giving to environmental and animal organizations is estimated to have increased 7.5 percent between 2012 and 2013, to $9.72 billion. Adjusted for inflation, donations to the environment/animals subsector increased 6.0 percent.
  • Giving to individuals is estimated to have risen 1.4 percent between 2012 and 2013, to $3.7 billion. The bulk of these donations are in-kind gifts of medications to patients in need, made through the Patient Assistance Programs of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations.

In Memoriam: Ted Kloss

April 18th, 2014
Ted Kloss, Designer


On April 11, 2014, I lost my best friend, my mentor and creative muse, Ted Kloss.

Although I first met him in 1978, when I was representing architectural graphics manufacturers, I really came to love him after deciding to start my own firm in 1985. He could not have been more helpful or totally supportive of me, my ideas and the talents he saw in me. He never wavered from his special, whole-hearted, loving friendship and guidance.

And, happily for me over the years, I slowly began to believe him. That sort of confidence-in-one’s-self is a gift that no one else in my business life ever offered and maintained; it set me on a course for creative problem-solving and consultation to others utilizing my own unique interests and skills. It serves me still.

An interior designer throughout his professional life, Ted viewed all of life as an interesting and creative challenge. Full of energy, music, playfulness and impeccable taste, he just innately knew how best we humans should experience our visual and physical environments… comfort. I’ve known and worked with literally 100′s of designers. None were ever as comprehensive in thought about the client as he.

So, when you ever consider the quality, ease of functionality and perfect appropriateness of our work over these years, see it all as a total reflection of him, his point of view, his design direction.  I take him, his lessons, and his love everywhere with me now. Thank you, Ted.

Written by Robin E. Williams