Tag Archives: Non-Profit

Proper Nonprofit Twitter Etiquette

Are you representing your nonprofit organization on Twitter? Are you trying to use Twitter to get the name of your organization out there and possibly get new donors? If so, you had better listen up, and fast. There are a couple of things you should know before you start to make enemies on Twitter. You might call these the rules of the road. While it’s good advice for anyone looking to make new contacts, it’s particularly important for nonprofits.

  1. Follow people who follow you- This is one of the dumbest mistakes I see people making with Twitter charity profiles. My username on Twitter is “PhilanthropyCFP”. If you are a nonprofit, why wouldn’t you follow back someone with the word “Philanthropy” in their name? That’s just dumb. If your objective is to recruit people to follow your cause, the first rule is to follow them back. There are no exceptions to this rule in my opinion. If you don’t follow someone who has expressed an interest in your charity profile, not only will they likely be upset because you weren’t interested enough to follow them back, but they will find another charity who is “interested in them”. This is dumb. Don’t make that mistake. I can’t tell you how many nonprofits I have unfollowed because they didn’t follow me back. While I’m not making myself out to be anyone “important” here, the bottom line is that it is a lost opportunity. We’re in the same industry, yet for some reason, their organization wasn’t interested in what I had to say. I say “NEXT”…
  2. ReTweet interesting articles that people post. If you are generous, people will return the favor and your followers will grow.
  3. Post interesting content (Not just yours). Did you read an interesting article that your followers might find interesting? Great post it. Useful Twitterers will increase their followers.
  4. Show your personality (as long as it isn’t negative). In my case, it’s my company and I can be negative if I want. If people don’t like what I have to say, they can look elsewhere. I’m positive most of the time, but as my friends know, I do take a stand when needed (like here).
  5. My favorite: “Tweet others like you would like to be tweeted”

Twitter can be a great way to meet people for any number of reasons. Just understand these basic rules and you should be just fine. If anyone has other suggestions, please feel free to add them here.

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We Forgive You Mr. Madoff: Love, Advisors, Nonprofits, & Jewish Community

Dear Mr. Madoff,

We in the Investment Advisory, Nonprofit, and Jewish community forgive you (well maybe not EVERYONE) Let me explain:

About a week ago, I asked people if you could ever be forgiven for the crimes you have committed against charities who help to make others lives better, your own people in the Jewish community, and from advisers in the investment business (which happens to be the same business I’m in). I asked the question whether you could ever be forgiven, not because I believe that you ever will, but because I wanted to know because of my own sense of religious curiosity, whether someone who had committed the crimes you had could ever be forgiven in the eyes of god.

Prior to today, I wondered and questioned whether it was even plausible for someone who had the reputation that you did, to knowingly deceive your fellow Jews, charities who help people, and innocent investors who turned over their life savings to you. I didn’t think that anyone had it in them to be able to look someone squarely in the eye when someone turns over their life savings to you (lot of trust there right, I know, because I have these same conversations every day with people), and KNOW the way you DID that you were GOING to bankrupt them. You looked people in the eye knowing you were going to ruin them.  Whoever read my previous posting on this subject, please forgive me.

Today I learned the truth. You are a monster. You knew exactly what you were doing. Sometimes when the train has left the station, it’s difficult to admit when we have done something wrong. We may tend to ignore difficult things because we don’t like to deal with them, perhaps because we are afraid. Sometimes there are consequences for this.  That’s not what happened in your case though. With you, you knew what you were doing was wrong, you SAID you knew that one day it would catch up with you. Why would you CONTINUE to lure more victims when you knew would get caught? You took money from charities, Jewish ones, as a fellow Jew. You took from CHARITIES and gave to YOURSELF. The enemies of the Jews are rejoicing for what you have done. You ARE a terrorist of the worst kind. You ARE a monster.

Ruth Ann Harnisch and I exchanged a series of emails about you after she posted a comment on my article about you where I questioned whether it was possible for someone to knowingly do what you did. I couldn’t believe it. Perhaps I’m a softee and believe that people deep down want to do the right thing. Ruth Ann Harnisch didn’t think I was looking at reality. She was right. You are the monster. We already know that now though. The discussion that we proceeded to have is worth repeating to others. It has to do with forgiveness. This was the question that I had originally asked. Could you ever be forgiven? The answer we came to was YES.

The kind of forgiveness we are talking about is the same kind of forgiveness someone has when a serial killer murders their child. We forgive the act. We forgive, because WE don’t want to hold on to the poisonous venom that we feel for you for what you have done. We forgive because forgiveness is good for us, Mr. Madoff, not for you. Make no mistake Mr. Madoff, you ARE a murderer.

As I looked into “forgiveness” further, I came across the story about “casting the first stone”

The King James Version of the Bible, in John 8:1 – 11 scribes and Pharisees had caught a woman in the act of adultery (the woman commonly referred to as the prostitute) and told Jesus who was teaching in the temple that the Mosaic Law required she be stoned to death. Trying to make an opportunity of this to trick Jesus that they might accuse Him, they, with stones in hand, asked Jesus what He says about the Law. After Jesus tried to ignore their repeated questioning, He told them “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” One by one each man dropped his stone and walked away.

Jesus was not arguing with the judgment. Nor was Jesus arguing the law nor the woman’s guilt. Jesus was arguing with our right to execute the woman. Once all the men had dropped their stones Jesus confronted the woman and asked her if any of the men were still there to condemn her. When she answered “No man, Lord”, Jesus told her that neither did He – He forgave her of her sin. He did not excuse the sin of adultery/prostitution, he forgave her of it. All that is sinful before forgiveness is still sinful after forgiveness. Not only was Jesus not afraid to call a sin a sin, He was not afraid to call a sinner a sinner. He even reminded her of the sin of adultery/prostitution by telling her “Go and sin no more.”

I asked my Rabbi about the process of asking for forgiveness when you have committed a sin against another. He told me that in Judaism, part of  repentance is the process of providing some form of restitution. Another smart man named Randy Pausch, whose “The Last Lecture” became an instant classic about how to live said this; “When you do something bad and want to apologize, know that a good apology has three parts.  1) I screwed up 2) I’m sorry 3) (This is the part most people don’t do) How can I make it right?”

Today in court Mr. Madoff, I heard you say you screwed up, and that you were sorry. What I didn’t hear was any interest in making good on the wrong you had done. READ WHAT MADOFF TOLD THE JUDGE Fortunately for you Mr. Madoff, you will have a lot of time to figure out how to make it right. Frankly, I’m not interested and don’t really care what you do. I’ve learned that to forgive, does not necessarily mean you have to “receive” someone back into your life. So with that Mr. Madoff, I’ll let you know that I’ve forgiven you, and now I’m done with you.

“You Go, and Sin No More”


Investment Advisors, Nonprofits, and your friends in the Jewish community

Read my earlier post Can Madoff Ever Earn Forgiveness?

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Nonprofit Recession Survival Guide to Getting Donations

First the markets, then Madoff, now the Obama administration is proposing reductions in the charitable tax deduction for your biggest donors. What else could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the snow day and nobody came to work. One thing is for certain; raising funds in the current environment is much more difficult that it was last year at this time. Here are some specific suggestions and things to keep in mind as you talk to donors:

Speak the Unspoken Truth
Personally, I like this tactic. Call it like it is. What are the most powerful four words in the English language? “I NEED YOUR HELP”. Talk to your existing donors about what is happening and the state of your organization. Tell them you need help. Let your donors know how the current environment is impacting your organization.

Be Specific With The Ask
This is something that is always a good idea. Even before the mess the last year, donor fatigue was certainly an issue. I believe that in general, nonprofits do a poor job marketing themselves when it comes to being specific about their accomplishments, how donations help, and making specific connections between the ask and the impact. Kiva.org is the opposite of everything I just said. Their supporters choose the cause (lending to a specific entrepreneur who needs a loan), and Kiva reports back on the status of the loan from the individual it was given to. It’s a terrific example of the donor getting involved directly with the cause that they support. Strategic, venture, or tactical philanthropy; call it what you want, people have been demanding more accountability in recent years. This trend towards greater accountability and transparency is only likely going to increase. Help your donors go from a “spray and pray” approach go giving, to being focused and knowing exactly what they are giving to.

Create A Donor Adviser Panel
Invite your top donors into a room for a “Manhattan Project” style round table. The objective of the group is not to gang up on them and tell them how badly you need their money, but to come together and brainstorm new ideas for raising funds. Let them know how much you have appreciated their past support and you are offering them a “no money required” way to help make a huge difference with the organization. Ally you want is their input. Not only will they feel appreciated, do you think there might be a possibility they could cough up a little extra after sitting in on that? If I were a betting man, I’d say your odds are pretty good. That’s not the objective though. Remember that. You are after their ideas and things you are not thinking about right now.

Address Financial Fear
Your donors are shell shocked with what’s going on in the markets now. Everyone is. Do you want to be someone’s hero? Address this head on. This is the one I think that nonprofits have traditionally been the most uncomfortable with. Even large organizations that have planned giving departments have struggled with “the line of control” that exists between donors and their professional advisory team. While planned giving folks want to “get that seat at the table”, and be INVOLVED in the conversation with the financial adviser, attorney, or CPA at the time giving decisions are being made, often they are not. Understand that there is a line, and there should be. Generally speaking, the unspoken truth is that donors know that planned giving officers have one motive, to get money for their organization. This is nothing new though, so what?

The real opportunity to be a hero here is to talk about some of the things that donors are afraid of now and things that they can do to feel more financially secure. The number one concern of the wealthy is that they will lose what they have. While this has always been the biggest concern, the fear is now being realized. Understand that unless your donors feel financially secure, they will likely not give at the levels they had given previously. You cannot help them feel more secure, but you can make recommendations that will. One of the things that’s at the top of the list is recognizing that donors and high net worth clients traditionally have had multiple advisers giving them advice. Their accountant is discussing their returns, their attorney discusses their will (or might not have in a while), and their “financial adviser” is talking only about their investments. Most people have no idea who they should be talking to about the big picture and their ability to achieve what’s important to them.  No wonder you have such a hard time getting a seat at the table, that’s because there usually IS NO table. The advice your donors receive is sporadic and fragmented in professional silos and generally NOBODY is discussing the big picture! Markets aside, the tax changes occurring are faster than the drop in their portfolio value and now is a good time for them to be meeting with their team to reassess where they are and reevaluate their goals.

The key to success lies in your ability to have a trusted relationship with your donor, understand what attracted them to you, what inspires them, what they are afraid of, and how to connect them with the appropriate resources who can help them achieve everything that’s important to them. To the extent you make yourself a master networker and not make it about you and your cause, you’ll be a hero. Ask your donors, “How can I help, YOU?”

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Filed under Current Events, ECONOMY, ESTATE PLANNING, Financial Life Planning, FINANCIAL PLANNING, INVESTING, NON-PROFIT & CHARITY, TAX, venture philanthropy

List of Philanthropy People Using Twitter (Via Chronicle of Philanthropy)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy had a great idea to compile a list of philanthropy related users on Twitter. I encourage you to check out the list since they are providing folks a great way to introduce themselves to one another. For those of us who have ADD, I’ve taken the time to summarize the list of users and promise to keep the list updated. You can also post an update in the comments here and I’ll add it to the list.

Here’s another idea. Since I also use LinkedIn, I’d invite anyone who who is interested in charity, social entrepreneurship, non-profit, fundraising, corporate social responsibility, foundations, or anything else related to “folks who give a damn”, to list their LinkedIn profile here in the comments section. I’ll put a separate list of those folks together.

ANNOUNCING…The new CHARITWEEPS group on LinkedIn. Click here to join. For any of you folks who are interested in this list and are also on LinkedIn. After you join, check out the Discussion Board to list your Twitter profile, a quick blurb about yourself, and what you can offer to other folks. Please continue to add to the list here so that all of the Twitter profiles are listed in one place. Ain’t technology great? 🙂


Names listed from Chronicle of Philanthropy as of 10am 2/24/09
@philanthropyCFP (That’s Me!)

I Follow: (Still working on this)

SPECIAL MENTIONS (Still working on this)

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5 Ways I’m Using Twitter to Meet the Right People

Ok, so I joined twitter about 3 weeks ago and while and I’m still finding my way around, I think I’ve picked up a few things that might help people. While it’s fun to use and completely different than any of the other social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, ultimately I’m there to meet new contacts for my business. I wouldn’t think this would come as a surprise to anyone, but there do seem to be quite a number of people there for social reasons. Since I’m there for business purposes, here’s what I’ve done to get over 800 followers in 3 weeks. As with anything, Twitter is what you make of it so you have to invest some time to get results.

  1. If you are there for business, post things that will be interesting to the people you want to connect with. Sometimes I’m a bit of a ham, but I let that come through in some of my posts even when they are unrelated to business. That’s me, I’m a ham sometimes and I just can’t stand not sharing the fact that both of my identical twins projectile spit-up on me almost the same time. Frankly that’s what makes it fun. All work and no play makes Rich a dull boy. I’m a real person and I let my Twitter follower people know it.
  2. If someone you are following posts something interesting, RT it (Retweet it). That means that “Hey, I just liked what you posted, so I’m sharing that with my own followers. When you do that, it let’s people know you are not just interested in having a one way conversation saying “hey everyone, look how great I am”.
  3. Follow people with similar interests. Don’t worry, if you follow someone they won’t think you’re stalking them. That’s what this is all about.
  4. If you follow someone with similar interests, look to see who they follow and follow those people too. This is how you expand your network. The more people with similar interests you follow, the more likely you are to be found by people you want to meet.
  5. Use Google to help you find people you want to meet. Instead of doing a standard search in Google, use the “Advanced Search” feature, then select “Search within a website”. Choose Twitter.com and type the search terms you are interested in. Example:

In my case, I want to meet successful social entrepreneurs, Philanthropists, CEO’s/ Business Owners, and Non-Profits. I go into Google, hit “Advanced Search”, then type “BIO Social Entrepreneur”.

Most of the Google results that come up are Twitter profiles with Social Entrepreneur in their bios. Click through the Google results one by one and see who interests you. Follow the people who interest you. If you are talking about the same kinds of things, odds are they will follow you back.

Ultimately, I believe that there are people within my areas of interest who will be looking for someone to help them with their wealth management needs. You can’t come right out and say that and people just don’t like to talk about money (especially now). Developing contacts is about developing trust. Using Twitter allows you to develop relationships and stay in touch with the people who you are interested in meeting and who are interested in hearing from you. Whether that winds up driving people to explore my services is another story.

Chime in with suggestions or send me a DM @PhilathropyCFP (Direct Message for you non-Twitter folk).

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Filed under TECHNOLOGY

Do Something’s CEO, Nancy Lublin Certainly Did: Dangers of A Rant in Fast Company Magazine

Wow, how I DO LOVE a good rant! We all need to vent once in a while and I think that the non-profit sector is as good a place to take a shot these days as as any. For those who relish a good rant, and I am certainly one of them, (see the rant I posted “You Call Yourself a Social Entrepreneur?” here http://tinyurl.com/bau5dv I say “rant away”, with caution.

On January 13, 2009, Fast Company Magazine published an article by Nancy Lublin, founder of the non-profit  “Do Something”, and President of Dressed For Success, a group that helps women find work. The article “Nonprofits? Not a Recessionary Refuge for Job Seekers”, seems to have touched of a torrent of angry comments from readers because of the harsh tone she used to describe what seemed to be an endless stream of people coming to her looking for advice on how to make move from the greedy for-profit world into the caring non-profit world. Lublin states; “I take these meetings out of the goodness of my unnaturally large heart, which should be considered a handicap.” and Your Harvard MBA won’t make me drool. Twenty percent of my staff graduated from Ivies — and we’re not the smartest people on the team.” While I’m just reporting the news here, ok fine, i’ll give my opinion…I think she might have crossed the line based on the comments she received. The tone did have a somewhat hard feel to it.

I have a great amount of respect for anyone who has enough passion to start an organization to help other people. There are a number of things that non-profits must deal with that the for profit world does not. As Nancy points out, marketing for one is very difficult on a shoestring budget. While we who serve the donor community have demanded more accountability from non-profits in controlling and being responsible for things like administrative expenses and excessive executive compensation, many of us feel that non-profits have their hands tied when it comes to spending money to make money or to ultimately deliver results. We have become focused on the wrong metrics. We focus on expenses and administrative costs, instead of measuring outcomes. In our attempt to make non-profits be more accountable, we have in many respects, tied their hands and made it more difficult to accomplish their mission. I think that Nancy’s article in Fast Company was in many ways, a rant about being frustrated that they are forced to play by a different set of rules. That’s my take anyway. Nancy, I hear ya but it appears that a lot of people either took what you were saying the wrong way (as sometimes happens), or they just didn’t like hearing it in that tone of voice.

So where do I come off having an opinion on this?  I help successful folks figure out how to make the financial leap into doing more meaningful things in their life (what Nancy was talking about). Often this includes social entrepreneurship related activities, thinking about volunteer or opportunities to give money/time, starting a private foundation, or something else that is not about self, rather doing for others. Without further clarification from Nancy Lubin, I’m afraid she’s done a real injustice to herself and possibly alienated good people who wanted her help to move to a more meaningful career. My rant on social entrepreneurship a few weeks ago was designed to inspire people to “Do Something”, just as Nancy says, but unfortunately, after reading this, it seems many folks might not be interested in doing anything for “Do Something”. Perhaps it might help for her to clarify what she wrote, or perhaps that’s exactly how she feels. Stay tuned. I just love a good rant.

Here’s the article from Fast Company

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Re: Jabs at my fellow Social Entrepreneurs

In my previous post, I may not have conveyed all the things that I intended so let me set the record straight here.

First. I take no shots at social entrepreneurs actually doing things and I firmly believe that there are no right or wrong ways to give. Whether one chooses to write a check, or get their hands dirty, they should be applauded for actually taking an action. There are many examples of wonderful folks doing wonderful work as were highlighted in the comments left. I take issue when people have their head in the right place, but don’t actually don’t do anything. As for the folks who DON’T have their head in the right place to begin with, well those folks just don’t get it anyway and they aren’t the ones reading any of this stuff anyway.

I disagree that capitalism is the cause of the problem. The problem is deeply rooted in the fears we have to take chances on what we believe, even when there is a risk of failing, and doing what is right instead of accepted as convention. I also blame the financial system as a whole in creating an environment of mistrust and creating the very roadblocks of mistrust that keep those with big hearts from stepping forward and asking for help.

I don’t think we are all granola eating tree huggers at all. For one thing, I don’t even like granola all that much (actually I do like it, but don’t tell). Social entrepreneurism has enormous potential and continues to gain in popularity each day. If we want to not be viewed as the “tree hugging granola eaters”, we need to continue to take action based on what we believe, not just talk about it. We must follow the path of those who have succeed and get advice on how to make our dreams become realities. Despite the fact sometimes it appears that the entire financial industry is out to eat investors for lunch, there are fellow social entrepreneurs who care, and caring advisors who want to help you folks make a difference. From this side of the table though, I have seen far to many folks who are just interested in making their portfolios a big as possible, not happy with their life, and wondering why in the world their financial success hasn’t translated into true happiness. For those of you who actually do something (and there are many), thanks for caring AND doing something. Those of you who want to create great things with your wealth can come to the front of the line, the rest can take a number.

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