Category Archives: Fundraising

The Link of Conversation to Good Fund Raising

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Non-Profits face an extra challenge in these trying times as the fundraising season unfolds. Since large social events are restricted, many are struggling with creative zoom events to fill the void. In addition, the waive of the RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) from IRA funds in 2020 complicates the decisions of some donors.

Personal story: I donate to 4 large non-profits every tear from my RMD. This year, 2 sent me letters, 1 kindly called to tell me all the great things they were doing. The 4th (a man I barely know) called and started asking me questions. They were typical at first, and then he hooked me about some interest/activity I have and took an interest with me in the topic. I am sharing this because it was such a revelation to me as to how to get money from donors. I immediately decided I would take my RMD so I could continue to donate to this charity.

Moral of the story? Train and prepare all solicitors who contact your donors to master conversation and the art of asking questions!

The How To: Choose the Board members and staff who have the best social conversation skills to practice with each other. Call a training session just for this purpose – hopefully in person, at the office. Have them practice in 2’s with small talk until they grasp each other’s interests. It is not hard – just a lot of good questions.

These are very difficult times, and I hope these ideas will prove to be fruitful for you. Thanks for listening.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Thoughts on the Impact of the Coronavirus on Nonprofits

Ernest Stambouly

At a recent Executive Directors forum, the most pressing topic for conversation was the effects on the Coronavirus on nonprofits, and what to do with their upcoming scheduled events and campaigns.

The following article was shared by one of our forum members, Carrie Buck, Executive Director at Homeless Intervention Shelter House. 

Why Nonprofits Must Be Included in a COVID-19 Relief and Economic Stimulus Package

Nonprofits Are Significant Employers

Nonprofits employ 12.3 million people (the third largest workforce – tied with manufacturing), with payrolls exceeding those of most other U.S. industries, including construction, transportation, and finance. A substantial portion of the nearly $2 trillion nonprofits spend annually is the more than $826 billion they spend on salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes every year. Yet, in multiple disaster relief laws in the past, Congress has ignored this core economic fact and approved employment related tax credits that left nonprofit employers and employees out of the provisions.

Policy Solution: Any employment-focused relief or stimulus legislation must expressly apply to employment at tax-exempt organizations by making tax credits and deductions applicable not just to income taxes, but to the taxes nonprofit pay, such as unrelated business income taxes and payroll taxes.

Most Nonprofits Are Small Businesses

Most nonprofits are relatively small: 97 percent of nonprofits have budgets of less than $5 million annually, 92 percent operate with less than $1 million a year, and 88 percent spend less than $500,000 annually for their work. Thus, the “typical” nonprofit is community-based, serving local needs. Also, relatively few nonprofits have an endowment and most have limited reserves — about 50 percent have less than one month of cash reserves.

Policy Solution: Nonprofits must be expressly included in tax and other relief targeted to small businesses.

Nonprofits Are on the Frontlines of Coronavirus Response

No one doubts that hospitals, community health centers, and senior living communities will continue to be hit hard by the coronavirus. Most of those organizations are charitable nonprofits. And many other nonprofits are responding to the outbreak, such as local Meals on Wheels which are serving their normal community of elderly people and a growing number of individuals under quarantine. The list goes on to include nonprofit food banks, shelters, domestic violence services, houses of worship, early care and education centers, after-school facilities, and more that are being called on to feed, house, and care for people whose lives have been disrupted by closures, job loss, and sickness.

Policy Solution: Funds are needed to pay for the increased costs and demand for services arising because our economy and safety net was not built for a pandemic of this degree.

Nonprofits Are Experiencing Declining Economic Activities

Just as travel, restaurant business, and tourism have dropped off, so has the community engagement and related services of many nonprofits that promote and serve a vibrant economy. ASAE reports that meetings convened by all types of nonprofit associations in the United States annually attract more than 250 million attendees, contribute nearly half a trillion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product, and directly support 5.9 million jobs.v Many of those jobs will likely disappear in the coming weeks. As will the jobs and revenues lost as a result of closed productions at concert halls and theaters large and small, curtailed training sessions and other educational programming, cancelled fundraising events where many nonprofits earn significant mission dollars through attendance and sponsorships, and diminished attendance at cultural, religious, and community events. All of these activities are essential to a healthy economy and deserving of stimulus.

Policy Solution: Any economic stimulus proposals aimed at helping adversely affected industries and geographic areas must recognize the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits Are in Every Community Ready to Serve

Everywhere in America, charitable nonprofits are already in place serving the needs of residents. Every dollar granted, donated, or earned goes back into the community immediately to address clear and present problems. Nonprofits are our economy’s shock absorber when crisis hits. Dollars devoted to nonprofits – whether through new appropriations or expanded charitable giving incentives – will be spent immediately on solutions and recirculated in local communities.

Policy Solution: Congress should ensure communities are able to support their local nonprofits during this crisis by enacting a targeted, temporary giving incentive that enables all residents, regardless of whether they claim itemize deductions, to receive a tax incentive for giving to the work of charitable nonprofits responding to, or suffering from, the coronavirus.

[ The original article can be found on the Council of Non-Profits website. ]

Author: Ernest Stambouly, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Changing Pies

David Coffaro
Dave Coffaro

As nonprofit development professionals know, there are many factors that influence charitable donations. Emotional connection to an organization’s mission, commitment to creating a better community, giving back to a charity that made a difference in someone’s life or tax deductions can all be influencers. Add to these internal motivations the external reality of economic conditions and you have an ever-changing environment informing development strategies.

Strategy as a Process, not an Event

Successful leaders know that their ability to adapt strategy as environments change is fundamental to sustaining a thriving organization. Reading the environment, interpreting temporary and longer-term structural changes and proactively adjusting approach are critical determinants of success.

Today, nonprofit leaders face an environmental shift in terms of fundraising. New preliminary IRS information, reported by MarketWatch this week ( indicates that as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers have itemized $54 billion less in charitable contributions so far this tax season compared to the previous year. These numbers could change as the IRS receives more tax returns (the agency expects a record 14.6 million tax return extension requests this year), but the headline corroborates what many nonprofits have been feeling over the past year of fundraising.

At first blush, this news suggests that nonprofits must now compete for a smaller pie of charitable giving. However, when we dig a little deeper, it may be that there are other pies available to get a bigger slice. Here are three specific ideas to contemplate as your organization considers refining and adapting its’ strategy:

  • Market the mission – Step into the shoes of the donor and ask “why would I contribute to your organization”. Tax benefits are one reason, but for most of your donors, there is some kind of emotional connection to your mission. The work your organization does every day resonates with the donor at some level, or they wouldn’t be one of your donors. This is a perfect time to revisit your mission, how you articulate it, your organization’s value proposition and how you message all of this through every medium to make sure the story is communicated the way it needs to be delivered.
  • Increase focus on corporations and foundations – Concurrent with the 1/1% decline in the dollar amount of donations from individuals, funds from corporations and foundations actually  increased (+5.4% from corporations and +7.3% from foundations). Translation – there’s still a lot of pie available; you just may have to look in different places to get what your organization needs. This is where the role of leaders comes into play in terms of refining strategy based on a changing environment.
  • Explore non-financial gifts – Beyond the 2017 tax law changes, one theory suggests that equity market volatility over the past year may be playing a role in individual giving. This behavioral finance explanation suggests that when capital markets are volatile, investors feel less confident, therefore more cautious about donating from their investment portfolios to charities. As an alternative, developing or expanding your organization’s focus on non-financial gifts – real estate, automobiles, oil, gas or mineral rights, specialty assets or artwork may be a way to enable your donors to support the mission in a manner that is more comfortable in the current market cycle.

Effective nonprofit strategy is on ongoing, dynamic process that continually recalibrates to its environment. This is a perfect time to revisit your organization’s strategy to see how it aligns with current reality, and the pies that are available to you.

Author: David Coffaro, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Can Your Data Tell a Story?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond




How many of us input data, and never see it again, lacking an effective way to use it? What if the data could tell a compelling story that might inspire others to support the mission? An article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website provides some recommendations for helping your data tell a story/[1]


1. Data storytellers answer a question – “so what”. I recently had a client whose services had added 20 customers for the quarter. That number had no significance until he asked some questions:

  • What percentage is 20 of our customer base?
  • How does this effect our operation?
  • Who needs to know these numbers?

Analysis of the data leads to clarity and to more questions.

2.  The data should inspire us to ask more questions.

Back to the example:

  • What factors contribute to this increase?
  • How does it effect staffing?
  • What external factors are contributing to the increase?
  • How can we portray this information graphically for social media purposes?

3.  The use of rigorous analysis is better than numbers on a page. A concise Executive Summary of the findings from the analysis is a first step.The author, Jake Porway, favors visualization of the data over raw numbers – a graph or pie chart to crystallize understanding for an audience. Porway has several websites in his article for learning more about data visualization. This may be difficult for some IT personnel. But the goal may be worth the investment in order to impress upon donors and volunteers, viewing the media source, that their service and contributions are needed and welcomed.

[1] Three Things Great Data Storytellers Do Differently,  Jake Porway, author, Stanford Social Innovation Review, June 8, 2016

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Writing Effective E-mails

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


In this age of increasing technology, e-mail communication has become front and center. I found a terrific mini course on this subject at It is 8 minutes long. The takeaways are: (a) avoid vague subject lines (b) Be personal  (c) Be visual (d) Be structured

(e) No big blocks of text (f) Is there a better way to communicate like phone call or in person meeting. The course advocates the use of the acronym SMART: Specific,Meaningful,Appropriate,Relevant and Thoughtful. I highly recommend the course.

I also want to endorse the website It contains over 300 free courses to take in the NP sector. Many of the courses are from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe. One gets a global flavor of the NP world.

We at ECofOC are strong advocates of the website. The micro-learning center offers courses less than 10 minutes in duration. It is a strong resource for our coaching clients and ED Forum Members.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Form 990 Can Be a Public Relations Tool

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Many nonprofits consider the IRS Form 990 to be a dreary necessity at tax time. In the 2008 tax year, major revisions were made to the Form. Nonprofits have been slow to realize the impact the revisions may have for donors and the public.  The diverse information provided in the new Form is now available to the public and can be found online free at at such sites as, and

In a recent article by Michael Wyland, an author and member of the editorial advisory board for the Nonprofit Quarterly, Wyland points out the advantages to providing accurate and complimentary information on the Form.[1] The Form displays not only financial information (assets and liabilities), but also facts that address governance, programs, and fundraising. His article shows a breakdown of the Form with its schedules and functional area relevance, because not every nonprofit completes the same schedules. However, he points out that most of the 990 parts and schedules still address the multiple categories of governance, programs, and fundraising.

As Wyland notes,”not all organizations complete all parts of the Form, and not all file each and every schedule. For example, while most 501(c)(3) public charities must file Schedule B (Schedule of Contributions), it is considered confidential and not disclosed to the public. Private foundations, on the other hand, must disclose and make it publicly available.”

Never the less, ALL Form 990’s do reveal to the public governance (governing bodies and management, policies, and disclosures), programs, and fundraising. A potential donor may look for efficiencies and financial data, but still seek the charity that meets his/her passion for a particular service or need. A potential volunteer may consider who manages the organization and where they can fit in. It is important for all nonprofit staffs and boards to be aware of the public exposure, but also the opportunity to be more advantageously promoted to the public.

[1] Your 990: What Nonfinancial Matters Does It Reveal to the Media and the Public, Michael Wyland, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 17, 2017

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

No-cost Nonprofit Training Opportunities

Bob Cryer (NPRO) is a website of 43 interactive E-learning curriculums and 385 online classes and videos on a wide variety of nonprofit best practices, all at no cost to any user.  I took one of the curriculums (Management Essentials) and was impressed with the content and interactive presentation. More importantly, sixty thousand people have used the site in the past year, and six thousand new users join each month.

In my opinion, the more people in a nonprofit who know nonprofit best practices, the more effective that nonprofit is likely to be. NPRO best practice trainings can be accessed at no cost, at any time, from anywhere, for as long a session as the user has time for at that moment. It is, by far, one of the most convenient and cost effective methods that I am aware of for acquiring know-how in nonprofit best practices.

Here is a sampling of a few of NPRO’s most popular online courses, videos and curriculums:

  • Managing Expectations This 8-minute micro-learning online course on managing expectations contains a 3 minute video, quiz, summary document and additional short audio clips. Managing expectations is a crucial part of any professional relationship, from your colleagues to your customers.
  • Managing Your Boss This 8-minute micro-learning online course on managing your boss contains a 2 minute video, quiz, summary document and additional short audio clips. Your boss can have a big impact on the way you do your work, but your actions can also influence their management style.
  • Introduction to Proposal Writing This 27 minute video is designed for anyone involved in the proposal writing process. Course Objectives: • Understand the basic components of writing and submitting a project proposal
  • Introduction to Finding Grants This 30 minute video is designed for anyone seeking to better understand the grant-seeking process. Course Objectives: • Identify the 10 most important things you need to know about grant-seeking • Understand the primary misconceptions about grant-seeking
  • Project Management Essentials – Part A This 20-minute online course is designed for anyone responsible for managing projects and/or programs. Objectives for Part A and Part B: Define the life cycle of a project and structure it around milestones, Control your project using flexible tools, Create a plan for day-to-day project management.
  • Grantsmanship Essentials Pack In this 1 hour and 50 minute curriculum from the Foundation Center, you will learn the basics on how to find grant programs and funders as well as how to write a proposal that aligns with the funder’s criteria. Objectives: To understand how to identify funders aligned with your organizational mission and cause, To articulate what is required in receiving and managing grant funds, To identify the best practices for writing a successful grant proposal.

Please visit to learn more.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Tips to Engaging a Foundation

Adrianne Geiger Dumond



It is reported that most foundations are reluctant to accept unsolicited proposals.[1] Rick Cohen, the author, states that “philanthropy is increasingly an insider’s world” – meaning that if a nonprofit is not in the foundation’s circle, or doesn’t socialize with foundation leaders and staff they won’t be heard. Some foundations set aside funding for new nonprofits (see the article for names), but some 60% do not. However, Cohen contends there are ways to vault the wall and here is a shortened version of his recommendations.

  1. Get visible to build relationships. Attend conferences where many foundations show up. Never solicit money there, but try to meet leaders, get their names, and follow up with material they might be interested in. Cohen even suggests a ‘rump’ session led by a nonprofit leader, presented aside from the formal program. He reemphasizes that building relationships is crucial, and means being visible, connecting, and interacting.                                                                                                         .
  2. Research their boards and staff for connections. Doing homework first is probably the most important for success. Foundation websites provide lots of information – missions, key issues they support, board members names (and sometimes their bios and resumes), and staff names. When you find issues, topics and organizational interests that intersect, reach out to those individuals with information and materials.                                                                                              .
  3. Send information, working papers, and thought pieces. Cohen maintains that fresh thinking and new ideas may stimulate an interest in your nonprofit’s needs. He even suggests that one might ask the foundation’s leader to provide feedback and his/her reaction to the information.
  1. Send a letter of interest/information (LOI) anyway. Once the home- work has been done, you can also check with the Foundation Directory Online to verify foundations that align with your objectives. Sending information, and even including a cover letter that is close to an LOI, may stimulate new interest. But, again, NEVER ask for money in these kinds of pursuits. 
  1. Work for philanthropic change. Cohen makes the point that foundations need to be more open to changes in the environment, and seek to embrace more strategic thinking in their grant making.

[1] Scaling the Wall: 5 Ways to Get Unsolicited Proposals Heard, Rick Cohen, Nonprofit Quarterly, Feb. 22, 2017

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Is ‘Analytics’ Useful for the Nonprofit

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Analytics is the tracking of patterns, trends from the analysis of data. Better data analysis in the business community is a major trend for 2016. With all the sources of information now available, it is not difficult to understand the growing need for analytics in the for-profit community. But is it equally important for the nonprofit world to take note?

Most nonprofits collect data, but how useful is it. Is it turning information into knowledge? I know of a data manager who only knows how to enter the data. He has no tools or skills to analyze it. Collecting the right data requires some strategic thinking to ensure that the data is useful.

Quality versus quantity: Is the data we are collecting relevant to our goals and mission? Who benefits from using this data – programs, donors, funders, marketing?

Setting priorities: With the burst of new technologies for data analysis coming on stream, what are the most important targets for the use of our data? Is it to help monitor and evaluate programs – which strengthens the appeal to funders? Is it visual data – graphs, video, pictures, and testimonials – that tell great stories to our donors? Most non-profits will need professional training or outside help to install these capabilities, so it is important to decide what strategy is the most important.

In researching this article I found one website that appeared to be useful for advice and knowledge. The site is for a business model, not for non-profits, but provides an orientation to the data analysis process. It is Tableau Software ( I am sure there are others but they sent me an email immediately that explains the process in its free training video.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Seeking Pledges vs. Immediate Donations

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond



The Wall Street Journal recently posted an interesting article[1] on the benefits of asking donors for pledges rather than immediate donations. The authors had conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of the use of pledges. Their assumption was that donors might pledge today, but not be able to donate right away. They might be able to experience the joy of giving today if they didn’t have to donate immediately.

The article neglects to state the size of the study population, but donors were asked to make binding pledges, nonbinding pledges, and donations on the spot. While the nonbinding participants created a 100% increase in the number of donors, the contributions did not materialize. Allowing the donors to make a binding pledge, increased the number of donors by 30%.

A very interesting outcome came from a third group in the study who were asked for a nonbinding pledge. They were sent a ‘thank you’ immediately after pledging, and another ‘thank you ‘a week before the pledge was due. This strategy produced an increase of 35% over the immediate donors.

Fundraisers know the importance of thank yous, but these findings might say that more are needed – even if it requires more accurate bookkeeping.

WSJ[1] ‘When a ‘Maybe’ beats a ‘Yes’ by Dr. James Andreoni and Dr. Marta Serra-Garcia, University of California, San Diego, Dec. 14. 2015

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,