Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thick Skin and Good Advice

There's an old quote from Babe Ruth that I love to apply to fundraising: "Each strike gets me closer to the next home run."

I was reminded of that yesterday when I read Adviser to fund-raisers: Go where the money is in The Journal News. The article is about Peter J. Gallagher, who has been in the nonprofit fundraising business for over 40 years.

"Failing nine times out of 10 is enough to get a worker fired in most jobs," the article begins. But, in the world of nonprofits, "[G]arnering a 10 percent response rate to fund-raising solicitations is considered a benchmark of professional success."

That's important for all of us to remember. At some level we do know that it takes about a dozen asks (or grant applications) to get to one "yes." But at another level, we all want our statistics to show greater success than that. The key to reaching a higher-than-average success rate is to maintain a positive attitude.
"You can't allow yourself to get discouraged," Gallagher said. "It is like when you fall off a horse. Get back up again. ... You have to define what your message is so that you can persuade people to hop on your boat."
The reference in the title of the article is, of course, to another old quote. Willie Sutton, a notorious bank robber of the 1930's, was once asked, "Why do you rob banks?" "Because," Willie replied, "That's where the money is."

For nonprofits, where the money is, is individual donors. I've talked about it here, and you've heard it a million times elsewhere, but it bears repeating: "Foundations and corporations account for a combined 17 percent of donations. Individuals account for 83 percent."

Gallagher's advice to fundraisers: Go where the money is

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