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May 9, 2011 
Board Fundraising Optional?

Volunteer leaders are the secret weapon of fundraising. One of the top reasons donors give is because they were asked by a volunteer leader. Yet, a surprisingly high number aren't held responsible for bringing dollars in.
Fundraising guru and Cygnus Research president Penelope Burk
Fundraising guru and Cygnus Research president Penelope Burk surveyed over 22,000 donors in her latest report on philanthropy trends, which was released last week. The survey found that less than half of boards of non-profits with fundraising staff said they had an obligation to participate in fundraising. And only 9% set a minimum fundraising goal. Penelope tells us that a board that doesn't contribute to the bottom line in fundraising puts additional strain on staff who must try to raise funds without the unique influence that only leadership volunteers have.
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Fundraising guru and Cygnus Research president Penelope Burk
Penelope also believes that board members should be evaluated on their fundraising. "When there's no evaluation, they don't know when they're doing well," she says. However, only 18% of respondents said their boards performance in fundraising was evaluated. And even when fundraisers are evaluated, they are often evaluated on the wrong things, Penelope says. Not everyone realizes that retaining donors and increasing the average gift size are the two top ways to increase profit. Instead, fundraisers are most often evaluated on gross revenue (without consideration to net revenue) or bringing in new donors, which tends to be more costly.
Can Elmo save philanthropy? Back in October, we chatted with Penelope about one of the least talked about drivers of giving: religion. People who claim to be actively religious tend to give at a higher level and volunteer more. Yet, fewer and fewer young people are religious. While organizations may not feel the effects of this trend right away, it could have significant consequences down the road if organizations don't put something in place to reinforce giving the way that religion does. It turns out that Sesame Street is doing just that. The children's show recently developed a new program on financial literacy, which teaches kids to spend, save, and share. Penelope says if you can teach three- to five-year-olds to be philanthropic and continue that throughout the school system, the constant reinforcement will help turn them into future donors.

A Room Full of Billionaires
We can only imagine what happens when the world's wealthiest individuals get together in a single room. (Though it turns out the planet does not tilt on its axis.) Last week, participants in the Gates/Buffett Giving Pledge, who've vowed to give at least half their fortunes to charity, joined together for their first annual meeting. About half of the 69 pledgers showed up at the Miraval Resort in Tucson where the order of business was to share their visions and approaches to philanthropy. According to a Giving Pledge statement, the group discussed topics such as giving while living, how to measure impact, and how to give effectively. Shockingly, we were not invited, but we did snap this photo of Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein and Bill Gates at a dinner for the Economic Club of Washington in March.

Association's Most Wanted
The FBI wasn't the only group offering a reward for information leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Two associations have also been in on the action. The Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association offered $2 million on top of the government's $25 million reward. So far, the money has not been awarded.

Bisnow Hotel Investment Summit
Capital Hilton
Mark your calendar for May 10 (tomorrow!), our first national Hotel Investment Conference at the Capital Hilton, not just because it’s down the street from the White House (with a lovely view of the Washington Monument), but because the DC area is the new hotel capital of America. Enjoy great programing and plenty of time to arrange meetings with important contacts in the meantime (and in-between time). Click here to join the hundreds of top executives who’ve already signed up.
Send news and story ideas to reporter Jessica Sidman, jessica@bisnow.com.
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