October 14 seminar: How to Get Your Board “On Board”

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I am excited to be leading this seminar on How to Get Your Board “On Board” graciously hosted by Cavignac & Associates Insurance Brokers… which means they are making it free to YOU!!

This seminar is for you if you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions:

  1. Do your board meetings run for hours and hours without making decisions on or accomplishing important items?
  2. Do your board members all look alike, lacking diversity in ethnicity, age, gender and skills?
  3. Do you have “deadweight” – board members who don’t show up for meetings or follow through on their commitments?
  4. Does your board need a fresh new faces and ideas?
  5. Do you fail to achieve 100% board giving each year?

Through this fun and interactive seminar, you will learn simple steps on how to get your board “on board”. I recommend registering early because it is FREE and the last seminar filled up to capacity early on.

Check out the Flier for all the details and how to RSVP: Cavignac & RCH Board Development Seminar 10-14-15-3

Donating Online: How to Set Up Your Website for Fundraising Success

According to Network for Good, online giving constitutes 10% of total philanthropic giving.

The average online gift is $146 compared with $38 for the average direct mail gift.

Garner Online Donations

  1. Place a prominent “donate” button on the header of the website that is easily visible in the same place from page to page.
  2. Offer the opportunity for the donor’s Company to match donations. List of participating companies.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 9.34.01 AM

Social Media

  1. Place social media links on the website and offer visitors opportunities to “like”, “follow”, and “pin”Social Media Icons for Website
  2. Vary social media posts to be universal/inspirational sayings and photos with posts specific to the organization’s work. Check out Charity Water’s social media examples here
  3. Feature “endorsement” quotes from prominent individuals testifying to the value of your organization to the community
  4. Feature any printed media or editorial ops

Video Killed Text

  1. Create a presence on YouTube with videos and embed into your organization’s website.
    1. According to Forbes Insight, 59% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text.
    2. Note Invisible Children’s “Donate” button below prominently displayed on their You Tube Channel.
  1. Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 9.58.54 AMThe video needs to be engaging and captivating within the first seconds and minutes.
    1. Eloqua, an automated email marketing provider, noted that including video in an introductory email reduced the number of subscriber opt-outs by 75%.
    2. According to research by Visible Measures, 20% of viewers will click away from a video in 10 seconds or fewer, about 1/3 by 30 seconds, 45% by 1 minute and almost 60% by 2 minutes.

If you need one more reason why to create videos for your nonprofit organization to help you fundraise:

Create repeat visitors

  1. Create a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter by mapping out 1-3 newsletter topics and content in advance. Ask website visitors to sign up on your website or through an immediate pop up screen when the open your websiteScreen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.34.47 AM
  2. Create a blog for the organization that features success stories, testimonies from community leaders about the work of the organization, guest bloggers (Honorary board members, prominent community members) written twice a month. Market the blog by embedding it in the website and promoting new posts via the organization’s social media
  3. Utilize Google Analytics or other system to track website visitors

To launch a new website

  1. Nobody likes to click onto a webpage and get the message: “Super Radical Website coming here soon…” As your building your website, have up a placeholder that will allow you to build a following as your website is under construction.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 11.34.01 AM
  2. For the soft launch, send the web link to the organization’s inner circle and solicit them for feedback (via email or a more formal online survey). The inner circle can include the individuals who participated in the strategic development survey and those who were on the list but were not interviewed; this is another step in the donor cultivation process for these individuals
  3. For the public launch, send out a video via email and have it prominently displayed on your website

San Diego Grant Resources


  • Did you know that San Diego is home to 600 grant making foundations with $3,085,409,601 in assets?
  • In 2010, these foundation gave $287,917,313… which accounts for 9% of their assets – exceeding the required amount by 4%!

The Caster Center at USD just published its latest study The Grantmaking Report: Foundation Giving in the San Diego Region for 2010. San Diego is home to over 600 very generous foundations that granted $287,917,313 in 2010 out of their $3,085,409,601 in assets. In addition to local foundations, $200 million in grants from foundations outside of the region are granted to our local nonprofit sector.

Many of us have been under the impression that foundations have been pulling back their funding with the downturn of the economy and foundation’s assets (from which they grant out the required 5% of assets each year). The study tracked the amount of dollars that foundations granted out as their assets increased, decreased or stayed stagnant.

In 2008 when foundation assets decreased by 11%, foundation dollars increased by 19%.

In 2009, when there was no change in foundation assets, they increased their giving by 18% from the year previous.

By 2010, assets had increased by 9%, but giving decreased by 23% from 2009. Despite the drop in giving, San Diego foundations still granted out 9% of their assets in 2010 – exceeding the required amount by 4%!

Grant Research Worksheet Sample

Grant Research Resources

Grant Proposal Outline

  1. Organization’s history, mission, goals
  2. Current programs and activities
  3. Organizational accomplishments
  4. Proposed program or project
  5. Needs, problems, and/or opportunities to be addressed
  6. Target population/geographic community served and how they will benefit.
  7. Project contribution to and impact on the community
  8. Program goals and objectives
  9. Program staff and volunteers’ qualifications and experience
  10. List of other organizations and partners
  11. Timetable for the project
  12. Long-term funding resources for the project
  13. Evaluation

Check out the San Diego Grantmakers Common Grant Application!

TeamBuilding through Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy works best when there is a true partnership in place. As we know from my Huff Post article, there needs to be a return on the investment for the corporation.

What if the ROI brought not only dollars, but also volunteers and meaningful skilled labor to the organization that directly benefitted the nonprofit’s service recipients?

Further more, what if the corporation was able to utilize their interaction with the nonprofit as an opportunity for their staff members to bond and serve the community in a meaningful way together?

How do these unique corporate sponsorships start? A lot earlier than you would think. Karen Begin, Director of Development for Habitat for Humanity in San Diego, says, “So many people volunteer for Habitat in some way shape or form in high school college or through work. When these individuals get into executive-level positions, they recall their positive experience with Habitat when their companies are looking to serve in the community.”

There is a source of funds from corporations that most nonprofits have not thought to tap. Many large corporations have money budgeted for staff development and teambuilding through human resources. These funds are in addition to the company’s marketing and sponsorship dollars. Habitat has found a unique and incredible way for employees to bond and support a charity. Begin says, “Not only do companies want to give back, they want an amazing experience for their employees to volunteer so they feel good, doing good.” Habitat offers that for groups of 10 or 400 employees ranging in sponsorship levels from $5,000 to $250,000. “We work with companies at their level and can always find an experience or an opportunity for companies to volunteer even if the company only has a couple hundred dollars to contribute.”

It helps that it is easy for company’s to buy into Habitat’s mission. Habitat has a story that is easy to understand: a stable, safe home is the catalyst for many positive changes for a family. At the corporate team build day, employees often have the opportunity to alongside the partner family who will receive the home. Each employee learns a skill like putting up drywall or molding – a skill that is different from his or her day-to-day work skills. The home building experience often allows the company President and an associate to work side-by-side – an opportunity that may not naturally occur in the office.

Currently, Habitat for Humanity San Diego is building 11 homes in Escondido, 6 homes in Imperial Beach and 6 in El Cajon. There will be four homes built in 5 days from the ground up during the last week of June 2015 in El Cajon through Habitat’s Home Builder Blitz. Each home is sponsored by one or more local builders who leverage their relationships in the building industry to gain donations of building products and labor with a goal of building the homes at zero cost to Habitat.

Habitat is flexible in providing a team building corporate experience and has the capacity to bring the experience to the corporation. The executives from MBK Senior Living communities are hosting their annual retreat in La Jolla this year and as part of the retreat, they wanted to have a teambuilding experience. Through a partnership with Habitat San Diego, the team will take a half-day of their retreat to build and paint 5 playhouses for 5 partner families – and make a donation of $2,500 per playhouse. Habitat will then distribute the playhouses to the families to reside on the property of their new homes.

It is not just cash gifts from corporations, in-kind contributions are a huge component of Habitat’s budget. Construction in-kind materials and service donations total $101,000 year-to-date (July 2014-February 2015) with a budgeted $270,000 for next fiscal year. Companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s give both in-kind materials and cash. For the Home Builder Blitz event, each homebuilder (Belfour Beatty, Clark, McCarthy, RQ Construction) takes on building one house. They call all their subcontractors to request in-kind services and supplies from their subcontractors (like drywall, plumbing, lighting, framing and electric). This type of donation allows homes to be built quickly (in 5 days!) and professionally.

And then there is the ROI of Recognition for corporations through Habitat. Begin recognizes that “it is feel good stories of Habitat that attract the press. The message is not just about Habitat doing good work; it is often tied to the corporate sponsor sending out 100 people to build half a home in one day. The media has opportunities to interview the partner family and the corporation.”

It helps that Habitat is a nonprofit organization with household recognition. Most people know that Habitat builds homes for families in need. Ms. Begin recognizes that “not every nonprofit can offer team building experiences to for-profit corporations like Habitat, but the key to successful corporate partnerships is to find unique experiences that allow corporate employees to interact with each other and with the nonprofit’s service recipients.”

If you want to learn more about corporate philanthropy, attend North County Philanthropy Council’s upcoming panel discussion around corporate philanthropy this Friday, May 1 at 11:30 a.m. at the Sheraton in Carlsbad.

Corporate Philanthropy: How can nonprofits effectively engage corporations in philanthropy that will positively influence their bottom line?

Join Me as panel moderator of

Corporate Philanthropy: How can nonprofits effectively engage corporations in philanthropy that will positively influence their bottom line?

at the North County Philanthropy Council Luncheon

on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 11:30 a.m.

at the Sheraton Carlsbad.

Interested? More info and registration here.


The business of philanthropy tends to rely on an emotional appeal to donors. Corporations are not necessarily driven to make donations for altruistic reasons nor are they influenced emotionally to support nonprofits – much like individual donors. Individuals have a heart. Corporations have a bottom line.


When corporations are engaged further in philanthropy through a method that positively affects their bottom line, they are more likely to give and engage with nonprofit organizations. This type of corporate philanthropy results in building healthy communities. We have great examples of these partnerships between corporations and nonprofit organization in North County.


The North County Philanthropy Council Luncheon Panel Discussion will answer: How can nonprofits effectively engage corporations in philanthropy that will positively influence their bottom line?


 Panelist Include

Neville Billamoria PhotoNeville Billimoria, SVP Membership/Marketing and Chief Advocacy Officer, Mission Federal Credit Union

Neville Billimoria is an effective communications and values leader, growing organizations through external marketing, media, and sales effectiveness, as well as internal organizational alignment, corporate communications and leadership development. He brings experience, energy and empowerment to his leadership role as SVP Membership/Marketing and Chief Advocacy Officer at Mission Federal Credit Union where he has accountability for a strategic array of crucial outward facing functions and promoting Mission Fed’s public image and brand. Neville serves on several boards including; the Mission Federal Community Foundation Board, San Diego Non Profit Association Board, & the Education Synergy Alliance Board. After graduating from UC San Diego, Neville remains involved on the UCSD Alumni Board, and teaching martial arts, yoga and meditation on campus for over 30 years. He is a frequent speaker on topics including marketing, branding, leadership and community engagement.





Tory See Photo



Tory See, Community Relations Manager, ViaSat

Tory See is the Community Outreach & Charitable Giving Officer for ViaSat, Inc. and has the

exciting role of shaping ViaSat’s footprint in the community through engaging employees in

philanthropic endeavors in the community. In her past roles at ViaSat, she was responsible to

guide strategic plans, process analysis, employee engagement and resource management. Her

previous experience working in a family private office managing both the wealth and family

foundation has led to her current role of engaging with the community and nonprofits on behalf

of ViaSat. Tory lives in Carlsbad with her husband and two beautiful daughters.









Chris Cochran Photo

Chris Cochran, Community Relations Manager, Stone Brewing Co

Chris Cochran is the Community Relations Manager for the Stone Brewing Co., and has been with the company for nearly 14 years. A graduate of UCSD with a degree in Communications with a focus on Mass Media & Marketing, Chris has used those skills to be a critical member of the Stone organization and has added greatly to their incredible growth. He also is very active in the North County community where he sits on the Board at the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos, on the Board of Trustees at The California Center for the Arts Escondido, and at ArtHatch/Distinction Gallery. He also served eight years on the Parks & Trails Committee for the City of San Marcos…where he also lives with his awesome wife Leslie and amazing cat, Tanner Finnegan!






Kathy Patoff Photo




Kathy Patoff, Vice President and Foundation Officer, Union Bank of California 

Bio coming soon.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: How-to-Instagram-for-Good

Did you know that 53% of donors will leave a nonprofit because of a lack of communication


Thanks to our modern technology, nonprofits can communicate in less than 140 words and with one photo to keep donors engaged. Instagram is a simple as snapping a photo and sharing it online. The key to making it an effective strategy to communicate with current and potential donors is the messaging of and with the photo. Here are my TOP 8 WAYS TO UTILIZE INSTAGRAM to thank and communicate with current donors AND engage potential donors, AND solicit donations for your organization. Check out how Charity:Water does it!


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#1 Share the NEED for your organization.


Charity Water Instagram Post Need


#2 Ask for a DONATION to support the NEED.

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#3 Share SUCCESS stories that are a result of a DONATION.

.Charity Water Instagram Post Success Story 1


Charity Water Instagram Post Success Story 2


#4 THANK your donors for the DONATION.


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#5 Give updates on your PROGRAMS that are a result of a DONATION.


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#6 Point followers to read your BLOG about the organization’s PROGRAMS.


Charity Water Instagram Post Blog


#7 Promote your organization’s PRODUCTS for sale that will support PROGRAMS.


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#8 Show off the CELEBRITIES who support your cause to encourage others to DONATE.


Charity Water Instagram Post Celebrity

“Heart String” stories: Telling Your Organization’s Story

“If you want people to understand and identify with a complicated concept, tell a story about it.”

-Donald Miller, Author and Storyteller



This video demonstrates that how you tell your story will change how people will respond – and will result in donations to your nonprofit organization.


Andy Goodman, author of Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, says that “sometimes you may find it particularly difficult to explain what you do in a concise and compelling way.”


In his storytelling workshop that I attended in 2013, Andy shared a story that demonstrated a number of facts about welfare. After the story, he shared the actual statistics – that did not actually line up with the story. However, what made the greatest impression on the audience and the message that they walked away with – was the story.


As nonprofits, we need to develop our “heart string” stories that help convey the programs we produce and the statistics we are trying to change or increase.


How do you write a good story?


According to Donald Miller, author and storytelling guru, “stories are terrific tools for communications. They instruct, provide rest, give us inspiration and help us learn empathy for others.” Stories are “a sense-making device.”


If you want to convey how your organization helps the community or a certain population, tell a story about an individual you were able to help with your services.


When telling the story, clarity is key. Miller says that “within a story, life seems to be clear” but cautions that the storyteller that “the more a story rambles and wanders, the more it feels like real life and the less people will engage.”


To gain clarity, you need a structured plot.


Miller’s storytelling formula:

  1. A character has a problem.
  2. Then meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action.
  3. That action either results in comedy or tragedy.


In the case of your nonprofit “heart string” story, the guide is your nonprofit (services or the program manager implementing the programs) the action will result in success for the character.


I agree with Miller that, “good stories don’t happen by accident. They are formed and molded and edited so they are clean and clutter free.” I encourage you to spend time writing out your heart string stories – whether the story will be told live in front of a group of potential donors or through a compelling direct mail letter. Rehearse the story so that it is clear, concise and to the point. Don’t ramble and keep it short.

Ask for Advice, Get Money Twice


Although the artist Pitbull is not my usual “go to” for fundraising advice, his latest pop song “Feel This Moment” featuring Christina Aguilera has solid fundraising advice:


Ask for money, and get advice

Ask for advice, get money twice.


There is something very valid in Pitbull’s lyrics. When approaching potential donors, it is often better to ask for advice than to ask for money.


It follows my favorite fundraising magic statement:

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When we ask individuals for “advice” instead of “money”, we are telling them that they (and their ideas, opinions and feedback) are important to the organization. We are also sharing our upcoming project or need within the organization that will require additional funding. This invites the individual to become our organization’s collaborator. In order for a donor to give, they must understand that there is a need. When you make them part of the conversation around the need, there is a higher likely hood that they will want to help fill this need.


Feasibility studies are another way to strategically ask for advice from current and potential donors. While the study is meant to determine if the project is “feasible”, I see the real value as an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with individuals and ask for their advice. While I am asking for their advice, the organization is gaining buy-in for their project.


As fundraisers, we have heard that involvement leads to investment. Asking for advice is a way to “involve” an individual with your organization. Often we are looking for reasons to meet with our long-time supporters or engage new supporters. Sharing with them about what the organization is currently doing – and then asking for their input is a valuable way to engage the donor.


Utilize the advice you receive wisely:

  1. Shape and better the proposed project.
  2. Gain an understanding on whether the individual is interested in financially supporting the project or not.
  3. Create an appropriate donation solicitation for the advisee.