Foundation Friday: Deemphasizing foundations to go where the money is

A promotional fundraising workshop by an outfit called Benevon, based in Seattle, underscored once again the importance of individual giving (84% of charity) and the relative triviality of foundation giving (12%, with corporate contributions making up the balance).  While the event was a bit Amway for the Nonprofiteer’s taste–as the presenter described the company’s technique for separating donors from their money she was also enacting it as a method for separating nonprofits from their money–it had a couple of positive components even beyond its appropriate emphasis on going where the money is:

  • recognizing the importance of telling a nonprofit’s story in a clear compelling fashion.  Many nonprofits fall down on this simple step, speaking in jargon and shorthand and talking about programs when donors are interested in clients and results;
  • arguing for movement from a poverty mentality to one in which fundraising is a vehicle for growth, and for telling donors precisely the total cost of operating the institution and asking them to underwrite a specific piece of it; and
  • offering an approach to donor cultivation which stresses speed and efficiency rather than providing endless opportunities for Board members and staff to avoid making the ask, a/k/a "flinching at the crunch."

The Nonprofiteer admits that part of her hostility to the program arose from its endorsement by one of those "crisis pregnancy centers" that exist to fool women into thinking they provide abortions as a means for using scare tactics, lies and intimidation to prevent them from actually securing one.  But she also recognizes that most tools can be used by anyone for any purpose.

If you’re curious about the specific method of fundraising taught by Benevon, you can find more information at the company’s Website.  N.B. the training program it offers costs $12,000, while promising to produce near-immediate results in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Maybe it’s worth it; you be the judge.

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2 Responses to “Foundation Friday: Deemphasizing foundations to go where the money is”

  1. shelly Says:

    This model of fundraising is obviously more of a money-making model on their part than the organization receiving the training’s part.
    To charge grassroot non-profits that amount of money, and then push the 201 etc. trainings which cost just as much is just wrong.
    If I wasn’t still working for an organization which uses this model, I would boycott it.

  2. Nonprofiteer Says:

    It’s particularly powerful to hear from someone who’s seen this system operate on the ground. Naturally, the testimonials offered at the promotional program made the results sound like the greatest thing since canned beer. I’m both glad they aren’t–because it validates my intuition–and sorry they aren’t–because nonprofits can use all the help they can get in separating individuals from their/our money.

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