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, December 27, 2006

Bay Area nonprofits score well, Learning from SPAM, and a Happy New Year

First off, I want to thank all of my readers and subscribers for your support in 2006. This has been a great year, and I've been very pleased with the reaction to this blog since starting it a few months ago.

Second, I apologize for having taken a slightly longer than anticipated break during the holidays, but there was a bit of family business that needed my attention. All is well and good now, and I am looking forward to a great and productive 2007.

On to the news...

According to the Mercury New, most large Bay Area nonprofits spend the majority of their funds on programming. Of course, that's what we expect them to do, but in this business, we all know how administrative and fundraising costs can creep upwards.

MediaNews researched and analyzed 100 large Bay Area nonprofits and found that 85 of them reported spending at least 75 percent of their annual revenue on programs. The benchmark the study looks in "healthy" nonprofits is 75 percent or more for programming, 15 percent or less for administration, and 10 percent or less for fundraising.

The warning signs for donors (according to the survey), and the reason why some nonprofits failed to meet their guidelines, was the use of high-cost telemarketing or other outside fundraising services. Companies that collect and sell used vehicles on behalf of nonprofits were also called out for passing too little of the sales price of the vehicles on to the causes they claim to represent.

Knowing that donors are looking at these reports, and are aware of the costs of outside services, do you need to re-evaluate how you're raising money for your organization? Would you have passed the test?

While we're on the topic, "a fundraiser" of the Don't Tell the Donor blog, asks, "What can nonprofits learn from spammers?"

No, he's not suggesting that we spam our donors or potential donors. But, he does point out the sophistication of some the spammers research and techniques and asks, "Are your approaches to fundraising emails this sophisticated?"

Just some interesting food for thought as we begin a new year.

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