Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Check Is In The Mail, But It Depends on Whom You Ask


Exactly how relevant is the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to the business world when it comes to payments? Not very, according to business users who’ve flocked to the company’s vCheck solution, enabling ready-to-print checks processed via the Web and rendering the phrase, “the check is in the mail” as irrelevant.

But the same may not be said for nonprofits who are protesting Congressional plans to gradually phase out USPS discounts they receive for mail appeals and other materials.

Lawmakers are concerned about huge deficits faced by the Postal Service, which lost $10-billion last year.  Darrell Issa, a California Republican and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee said recently that mail volume has dropped 20% during the last five years because of new technology.  In addition to talks about no Saturday delivery and the closing of some USPS branches, Issa introduced a bill that would gradually eliminate the discount charities receive. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, proposed similar legislation.

Businesses can rely on services such as Serrvistree, to continue business despite USPS cutbacks, however, charities currently pay 26% less, on average, than businesses to send direct-mail solicitations and other communications to supporters.

Those mailings are important for many charities.  While electronic appeals have taken off in recent years, few large nonprofits have found anything as effective for fund raising as direct mail.

The lung association raises $31-million a year from direct mail and says it now spends $6.3-million on postage; Special Olympics raised $35-million from direct mail last year.  Both organizations sent a letter of protest to Mr. Issa.

There is an assumption that nonprofits can simply move all of their fund raising online but be assured that if online fund raising were as successful as direct mail, with a substantially lower cost, it would not take a spike in postage rates for them to change their strategies.

While many for profit businesses are turning to technology services to conduct banking and payment processing operations, charities still rely on non-tech savvy donors and are eager to hear the phrase “the check is in the mail!”



Celebrities Join Together to Help 3,000 Women Start Their Own Businesses


High-profile celebrities Demi Moore, Cindy Crawford, Jason Alexander, Emma Watson, Kelly Rutherford, Anna Lynne McCord and many more have pledged their commitment to joinFITE.

joinFITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) was created to release the untapped potential of women through entrepreneurship.   To date, joinFITE has funded over 5,000 women and strives to reach 25,000 over the next two years. The Lend Your Hand campaign aims to raise funds over the next six weeks that will help 3,000 women around the world in starting their own businesses.  To be part of this effort, visit  and guess which celebrity is lending his or her hand.  By doing so, you not only get a free $1 microloan to direct as you choose, but you will also be entered to win great prizes just for taking the time to participate. Prize winners will be determined through a drawing and announced at on November 18. READ MORE

Questioning the Sincerity of October “Do-Gooders”


Each year, I’m reluctant to write stories or provide additional publicity to entities wanting to show how “socially responsible” they are during the month of October.  True philanthropy is a year-round commitment, not a one-month lure to increase sales of products that are simply re-branded and re-packaged in pink.   I often times question the sincerity of companies behind “pink” products and wonder if it’s just a way for them to look charitable and improve their image while making a profit.

For a nonprofit, every penny counts, so by no means am I against the support of breast cancer and the viable organizations that raise money and awareness for the disease. In fact, each October I am in awe of their marketing strategy and reminded just how effective and valuable marketing and public relations are in persuading consumers to do exactly what you want them to do.  The influence it must take to get the entire NFL and their big, burly football players to wear pink on national television…well, let’s just say marketing geniuses!

Knowing that heart disease, a cause supported by the American Heart Association, is the #1 killer of women, it baffles me how such an empire has been built on a misconception – with no fault given to the Susan G. Koman Foundation or other cancer research and awareness foundations, because let’s face it, they are the crème de la crème when it comes to marketing and raising money for their cause, as it should be.

I can go on and on about this topic and my discernment for those looking to make a quick buck on the shoulders of a cause…..but I won’t.  Instead, I’ll just encourage other nonprofits (large and small, national and local) to examine the tactics of cancer research and awareness foundations who join together, at least for the month of October, to share in the wealth of donations that support their cause and benefit the greater good.

As for the October “do-gooders” who don’t want to be out-done, overshadowed, or left behind so have jumped on the bandwagon of so generously donating a portion (however small) of their October sales to “the cause”, I hope that this is just the beginning of a more robust, comprehensive social awareness plan that allows you to truly stand up and fight for humanity. READ MORE

Ten Philanthropists recognized for their Good Will and Giving


Recipients of the 2011 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, which recognizes philanthropists who, like Andrew Carnegie, believe in dedicating their private wealth to the public good, will receive Carnegie Medals at an invitation-only ceremony at the New York Public Library on October 20th.

The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, now in its 10th year, is awarded every two years to individuals and families in recognition of their exceptional and sustained records of philanthropic giving as well as the important and lasting impact their philanthropy has had on a field, nation, or on the international community.

The ceremony will be hosted by Christiane Amanpour, anchor of ABC News’s “This Week” and former chief international correspondent at CNN.  The philanthropic activities of this year’s Carnegie Medalists span the globe and include pioneering support in education, culture, art, international peace, justice, science, citizenship, research, healthcare, technology, and the environment. READ MORE

List of America’s Top 400 Charities released


The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently released The Philanthropy 400, an annual list of America’s top charities that raise the most from private sources.  Charities on the Philanthropy 400 are an important benchmark for the state of giving, and how American donors are responding to the bad economy.

Sixty-eight percent of the Philanthropy 400 organizations that offered projections, say they expect giving to increase by a median of nearly 5 percent this year, while 32 percent, say they expect a decline in giving this year.

In The Chronicle’s ranking of the 400 groups, organizations collected a total of $70.3-billion last year, with most of the gains coming from contributions in the form of donated products or in stock gifts, which revived with the market recovery last year.

Browse the full list of the 400 charities that raised the most money and see the entire special report.

Here are some related articles published by The Chronicle that help put perspective on the current state of giving.

How The Chronicle’s Survey of America’s 400 Largest Charities Was Compiled

America’s Top Fund-Raising Groups Face Big Struggles

Why Some Charities Performed Better During the Recession

Connecting Donors With the Mission Takes on New Importance in Bad Times

Reaching Out to Minorities and People Around the World Pays Big Dividends

Seeking Support, Some Charities Zero In on a Rising Generation of Donors

Many Big Charities Struggle to Raise Money in the Bad Economy

“Quote for a Cause” Campaign fulfills insufficient funds


Nationwide Insurance has recently teamed up with the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to support recession strapped minority students in Texas.

For every auto insurance quote requested by drivers who visit or call 972-744-1422, now through October 23, Nationwide Insurance will donate $10 to UNCF’s Campaign for Emergency Student Aid. Nationwide Insurance’s “Quote for a Cause” campaign will make the donation for each quote provided. No obligations.  No purchase necessary.

UNCF created the Campaign for Emergency Student Aid to provide emergency scholarships to help UNCF students at risk of being forced to leave college – with priority given to graduating seniors and other upperclassmen. In many cases, funding from this program is the difference between a senior graduating from college and going home.

“All students should have the opportunity to complete their education and achieve their dreams,” said Terrance Williams, regional vice president of Nationwide’s Southern and Central Plains Regions. “These bright young people desperately need our support. Nationwide is proud to support the UNCF and the Campaign for Emergency Aid.”

During the 2010 academic year, UNCF schools reported student unpaid debt at over $11 million with the average unmet need to help a student stay in school being $1,700. The Campaign for Emergency Student Aid has allowed thousands of recession-impacted students graduate from college. Thanks to the generosity of donors, to date the campaign has raised $9.5 million and helped 4,800 students to graduate on time or avoid being forced to leave school because of insufficient funds.

“No group of young people is more deserving of support than these UNCF students who have worked hard to pursue a college education,” said Diane Stephenson, Area Development Director of the Dallas/Fort Worth office of the UNCF. “We sincerely appreciate Nationwide’s support in helping us address this critical need for low income students in the state of Texas.”

Source:  United Negro College Fund  Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter

Advertiser: Nationwide Insurance

The United Negro College Fund is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization.  To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. UNCF supports education through scholarships and other programs, by supporting its 38 member colleges and universities, and by advocating for the importance of minority education.  UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 21 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs.  Learn more at


Bearing 70 Pounds of wood to help 25 Million eat


After ten grueling days of trekking in unpredictable weather with 50 to 70 pound wood bundles on their backs, The Paradigm Project, along with a group of supporting organizations, crossed the finish line at Space 15 Twenty in Hollywood on Thursday, October 13th.  The group began their journey at Sea World, San Diego on October 4th in honor of the 3 billion people still cooking over an open fire in East Africa.

“There have been a couple of times during this walk that I’ve literally just wanted to drop the wood bundle and be done with it,” said Greg Spencer, Paradigm Project. “My dad and I were both at the end our ropes on day eight, but then we met Edith, a Kenyan woman.  She stopped on the side of the rode because she had carried wood since she was a child in Kenya until she got to move to the states.  She really confirmed who we’re doing this for and why we are doing it.  She symbolizes the women in Kenya and all of the developing world and honestly that’s what gave us the pick up that we needed in day eight, and that’s what’s going to carry us across the finish line today.”

The Paradigm Project has made it their mission to create a compelling experience with the ‘Woodwalk,’ while engaging the local community to take action and assist in raising funds as the organization develops their work in East Africa. With these necessary elements, The Paradigm Project hopes to end open fire cooking for 25 million people by implementing more than five million fuel-efficient rocket stoves before 2020.  WATCH VIDEO