Focus on Philanthropy
A blog by the staff of The Curtis Group
You Can Plan, but Can You Execute?
Posted July 31, 2012 by Wendy McGrady, vice president.
On July 19th and 20th Keith and I participated in the Giving Institute’s Summer Symposium, this year held in Park City, Utah. The Giving Institute is a 40-member organization of consulting firms dedicated to education and the promotion of philanthropy and ethical fundraising. This annual gathering brings professionals together from across the country and provides an excellent opportunity for networking and sharing of best practices. The speakers led discussions on a variety of topics from the latest research on trends in philanthropy to strategies in social network fundraising. One of the most intriguing presentations was given by Martin West, former Australian jet fighter pilot, and now president of XGap, a consulting firm focused on successful business execution strategies.
His premise follows that most companies understand the importance of setting goals and many identify strategies for accomplishing them, however, many organizations fall short when it comes to execution. Martin draws analogies from his former military career, which focused significantly on delivery and execution, to demonstrate how organizations can achieve the goals they set. He outlined five rules which he calls “execution lessons.”
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fundraisers: Notes from Virginia Fundraising Institute 2012
Posted July 26, 2012 by Erin Philips, Marketing Director & Campaign Consultant.
Last week The Curtis Group sponsored and attended the annual conference hosted by the Virginia Fundraising Institute (VFRI) in Richmond, VA. We have been involved in VFRI for nearly a decade and we always look forward to this gathering of fundraising leaders from across the Commonwealth. The conference, comprised primarily of development professionals, provides an ideal forum for collegial networking and idea sharing and we commend this year’s co-chairs and planning committee for putting together a unique and innovative program.
The opening keynote, sponsored by The Curtis Group and titled “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Jazz Musicians—and Fundraisers,” was particularly noteworthy as it’s not every day we have the opportunity to listen to jazz and to learn what this music genre and fundraising have in common. Director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, Tony Garcia, led an interactive, entertaining discussion that drew parallels between the art of jazz and the art of raising money. A student quintet (drums, guitar, bass, trumpet, and sax) was on hand to demonstrate his various points. Visit our Facebook page to see them in action!
New Findings on Donor Behavior: Highlights from the 2012 Cygnus Donor Survey
Posted July 13, 2012 by Natalie McGaughey, Development Coordinator.
For the past four years we have looked forward to reviewing statistics on donor behavior from the Cygnus Donor Survey. This is an annual research study of active American donors that charts recent giving experiences and future philanthropic intentions. It is led by author, researcher, and president of Cygnus Applied Research, Inc., Penelope Burk. The 2012 survey assessed 708,000 participants’ responses to questions on monthly giving, sponsorship and participation in athletic-based fundraising events, nonprofit websites, and donors’ management of their giving. Participants’ answers reinforce the statement that giving is continuing to be sustained in The United States with 54% of respondents supporting the same number of causes in 2011 as they had in 2010. Along with the steady support of causes, 41% of survey respondents gave more in 2011 than in 2010. Donors who gave more in 2011 attribute their increased generosity to improvement in their personal financial situation and the effort nonprofits made to do good work. As an indication for this year, 28% of survey respondents expect to give more in 2012 than in 2011.
Giving USA Discussion at the Hudson Institute: Advice to Nonprofits and their Board Members
Posted July 02, 2012 by Erin Phillips, Marketing Director and Campaign Consultant.
On Friday the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, in partnership with Illinois University’s Center on Philanthropy, hosted a discussion titled “Giving USA 2012: Who Gave, How Much, and to Whom in 2011?” The Curtis Group’s Vice President, Wendy McGrady, along with Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy Executive Director, Patrick M. Rooney; Nonprofit Quarterly’s Ruth McCambridge; and Tom Pollack of the Urban Institute/National Center for Charitable Statistics served as panelists. Holly Hall of The Chronicle of Philanthropy moderated the discussion.
For those unable to attend in person in Washington, DC, the Hudson Institute simulcast the event and nearly 100 others participated virtually. The first half of the 90 minute program was led by Patrick Rooney and Tom Pollack who provided an overview of the study’s findings and some overall assessments. Tom concluded that despite increasing pressure from cuts in government funding and additional demand from donors to show return on investment, evidence shows nonprofits have a history of being adaptable and resilient to changing economic conditions. He closed with the statement that there is room for modest optimism with regards to the state of philanthropy in our country. Then Wendy and Ruth were each given the floor to present their respective takes on what the numbers mean. Wendy opened her remarks, “Now that you have seen these numbers, what do you do? How do you respond?”