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AFP eWire Skill Builder Printable Version: April 21, 2009

Direct Response Leader and Founder of CDR Fundraising Group Dies  

Raymond Grace, direct response pioneer and founder of CDR Fundraising Group in Bowie, Md., passed away from complications related to cancer on April 14.

He was a founding member of the Association of Direct Response Fundraising Counsel and the business advisory council of the National Federation of Nonprofits, which merged with the DMA Nonprofit Federation.

Grace was a lifelong advocate and volunteer for religious and nonprofit organizations.

“Few agencies have so successfully represented the range of clients Ray brought to CDR Fundraising Group–Catholic charities, health groups, animal welfare causes, and social change advocates,” notes a press release by the firm Grace founded. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, Ray had a special affinity for veterans’ charities such as Blinded Veterans Association, POW-MIA, Help Hospitalized Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Grace also worked with MADD, Christian Appalachian Project, Special Olympics, the Winter Olympics/Lake Placid and the U.S. Olympic Committee, children’s charities like Toys for Tots, and many more.

CDR Fundraising Group’s President and CEO, Geoff Peters, commented on Ray’s legacy: “Ray was a unique individual—they truly did break the mold. He was generous to a fault with his time, his expertise and his money which he donated to charities. He lived his life as a model for other professionals, reminding us that service to charities as a career is an honor. He built a company based on that credo and he lived it every day he worked there.”

When word got out that Grace was gravely ill, friends and family posted information on a Caring Bridge Web site, which was visited nearly 5,000 times by friends and colleagues posting messages of support, even as news was getting worse. AFP President and CEO Paulette Maehara was among those offering words of gratitude and support.

“You were a pioneer in fundraising in so many ways and so many people have benefited from your wisdom, work and counsel,” wrote Maehara.

The Raymond J. Grace Scholarship Fund

CDR Fundraising Group has establishment an independent trust, The Raymond J. Grace Scholarship Fund. This trust will provide scholarship support to young people from nonprofit organizations who seek to expand their knowledge of direct-response fundraising.

The employee-owners of CDR Fundraising Group have made an initial gift of $10,000 to establish the trust.

Donations may be sent to:

The Raymond J. Grace Scholarship Fund
c/o CDR Fundraising Group
16900 Science Drive, Suite 210
Bowie, MD 20715

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Assembling a Great Board  

What characteristics make for good board members? What sort of people are missing from your board? Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, says choosing the right board means going beyond affluence and influence. Great board members are brutally honest, passionate and collaborative.

“We as fundraisers, especially, need to understand that serving on the board is not all about money,” says Joyaux. “You might be a terrific candidate for a board and be a father of six who works in a kitchen. I’m violently opposed to the idea that boards should be composed of those with the most wealth and influence in a community. Do your values match that of our organization? Are you passionate about the cause? Do you bring something new? Those are the questions to be answered.

“Creating the best board involves understanding what makes groups work,” she says. “A good board member is candid, self-aware, even outspoken. But they know how to work for the good of the whole, not for their personal agenda and self interest.”

“Good board members are active in the deliberation of the group,” Joyaux explains. “First of all, they attend the meeting, they don’t just submit comments via email. Governance is about having a conversation. Your opinions may change when you hear deeper analysis and the issue is fully explored.” Therefore, a board member’s ability to listen, communicate and be a team player are just as important as personal connections and ability to give.

Another group dynamic that needs to be actively sought in boards is a high level of candor.  Boards should never shy away from disagreement. “Most boards suffer from dysfunctional politeness,” Joyaux says, recounting a quote from Alfred P. Sloan, long-time president and chairman of General Motors. In a board meeting, Sloan said about an important decision: “I take it that everyone is in basic agreement about this decision?” Everyone nodded yes. Sloan replied, “Then I suggest we postpone the decision. Until we have some disagreement, we don’t understand the problem.”

Diverse Skills and Diverse Opinions

Great boards are able to look at themselves and look around the table and ask, “What’s missing here?” or rather, “Who’s missing?” Joyaux says. You’re looking for people with the skills necessary to govern, provide vision and hold the organization accountable. Each person should bring something to the table. The same is true for life experience. The experiences of life differ among individuals and across cultures. Diversity of opinion builds strength, she explains.

What is the overall direction of your organization? What are its values? These are important things to consider when meeting with potential board members. Engage new people and expand your boundaries beyond friends of current board members. Look for a good fit beyond affluence and influence. Reach out to new communities. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, is a consultant specializing in governance, fund development and strategic planning. She is the author of Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last and Keep Your Donors: The Guide To Better Communications and Stronger Relationships. Joyaux is a faculty member of the Master's Program in Philanthropy and Development at Saint Mary's University in Minnesota.  She serves regularly on boards, founded the Women's Fund of Rhode Island and is a former chair of CFRE International.

More resources can be found in the electronic version of this story as web links to Simone Joyaux’s website,  

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Engaging Your Board in Sustainable Fundraising  

By Dave Sternberg

For many nonprofits, the concept of board engagement in fundraising is nothing new. In fact, they have probably heard about their role in fundraising so many times that telling them again is unlikely to get you the kind of response you envision.

“We’ve told them what they need to do!” you say. “We’ve even brought in outside speakers. So, why aren’t they doing it?” 

Well, stop telling them what they need to do and lead them through actually doing it. Take the time necessary to ensure that your assumptions about their abilities are correct by cultivating their skills over time. Furthermore, help them deal with their fears. Remember, most board members don’t want to be fundraisers—rather they want to be board members who are successful at fundraising.

An Active Role

Recently, one organization approached me saying that they continued receiving hollow promises from board members. Here was our approach.

We suggested they create a menu of fundraising activities and allow each board member to choose their role in fundraising. Some of these options included:

  • Hosting an event in their home for long-time donors or top prospects
  • Calling donors to say thank you
  • Accompanying staff on fundraising calls
  • Writing personal letters to peers asking for a contribution
  • Reviewing proposals to a funder
  • Recruiting new board members

Once each board member indicated how they would support the organization’s fundraising, we developed a board matrix of involvement to track their engagement. At each meeting every board member reviewed their progress. Why? Because disappointing you as staff is one thing, but board members are not crazy about disappointing their peers.   

To further stimulate the excitement around fundraising we arranged a few short term “wins”. The development staff talked with some of the organization’s closest supporters and pre-solicited a gift by discussing a potential gift amount over the phone. When the major gifts officer and board member went to the donor to seek the gift, the donor had been prepared and the board member was able to get his first “win”. This successful endeavor built his confidence to make other asks.

Hands-on Training

Another well-known organization requested a training session for their board. Staff indicated the board was not active in fundraising. During the training, it was clear the board not only knew their role in fundraising; they even knew some of the best practices. However, they lacked the knowledge of how to actually do it!  They had not been engaged by the staff and shown what fundraising actually felt like.

So the organization developed a portfolio approach with each board member. Every board member had five prospective donors and two existing donors to cultivate and steward over the next year. They spent time with the donor on the phone, in person and at the organization’s events. The development staff supported the board member throughout the process.

At the end of the year, it was clear that each board member was successful and enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with donors and colleagues. With a focused approach they felt ownership over these donors to ensure they were supportive of the organization’s mission. Better yet, they also were building lasting relationships that will benefit the organization in the years to come.   

These approaches to engaging your board will lead to greater long-term sustainability for your nonprofit organization, but making them work requires the staff to support activity from behind the scenes.

Finding the approaches that work best with your specific board is often the challenge. And, if you’re still not successful after employing some of these approaches, ultimately, you may have to find a different volunteer opportunity for those board members who are not willing or able to accept their role in fundraising.

Dave Sternberg is vice president and founding partner of Achieve LLC, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based consultancy providing fundraising, strategy and board counsel. These and other strategies can be found in Sternberg’s book Fearless Fundraising for Nonprofit Boards. Co-Author Nick Parkevich is the director of client development at Achieve.

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Diverse Boards—Are You Prepared for Real Change?  

By Maria Gitin Torres, CFRE

Diversifying your board requires organizational reflection. And inclusion does not end when you see new and different faces around the table.

Ask yourselves the following question: As an organization, are we ready to listen and adapt to new perspectives brought forth by a diverse board? If the answer is an honest and committed “yes,” then you have a good starting point. If your motivation in building a more diverse board is to better serve your constituents and donors, you will have a much easier time doing so.

If, on the other hand, your motivation for recruiting a more diverse board is to fill a quota or meet funder requirements, you may have a difficult road ahead of you. People join an organization completely, not partially. They expect to be heard and to see the things change that they know to be wrong or in need of improvement. That’s just human nature. If you were hired as a fundraiser, but you were not allowed to use all of the skills at your disposal, would you stay at that organization for long? Most likely not—and neither will a diverse board member.

Who is a diverse board member or donor prospect? Anyone who does not fit the regular demographic of your current board—people of color, gay and lesbian individuals, people with disabilities and perhaps women or even younger people. Remember, diversity is more than skin deep.

Young people, especially, are oftentimes overlooked for board positions, but what wonderful passion they bring! They aspire to see great results through nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, they are impatient to see results, particularly through methods that are beyond the conventional, classic model. However, if you say you want young people on your board—or any diverse person—be prepared. You’re going to hear some new approaches to problems. That’s what having diverse voices on the board is all about.

Ask, Don’t Assume

A very important element of the process of recruiting a diverse board is to listen for and talk with people about the expertise they bring. People do not want simply to be the diverse token on a board. They are successful individuals—professionals, community members and student leaders. You may value their viewpoints as representative of a diverse group that your organization serves, but evaluate them on what they bring to the table as a whole.

People are often so afraid to say the wrong thing that they become tongue-tied talking about diversity. My advice is to be sincere. Become interested and get involved in their community. Attend their events. Have a presence. This kind of involvement speaks volumes.

We all have assumptions and biases. The key is to realize this and welcome any opportunity to break these molds we create for others in our minds. Unfortunately, you can’t monitor what you say and think all the time. Being genuine and sincere is really the only way to truly reach out. Believe me, if you have less than sincere and open motives, it will be obvious to your prospective diverse board recruits.


Here’s some advice any fundraiser can relate to: Cultivate future board members in the same way you cultivate donors. This involves building a relationship. Ask questions. Get people’s opinions. If your organization is not diverse on board or staff, you might even ask them why they think that might be. Make the conversation honest and open. Listen to and accept their views. Don’t argue or defend your organization; rather, indicate what you personally are committed to doing to move the organization forward.

For any board position, look for people who are the right match and are passionate about the cause. Consider what’s in it for them. Why would they want to be on your board? For diverse individuals, answering this question may be deeper than just whether or not they are passionate about your cause. It also includes whether they want to be part of the culture of your organization and whether they believe in its willingness to change when change is due.

Maria Gitin Torres, CFRE, is principal of Maria Gitin & Associates, a national training, coaching and consulting group in Capitola, Calif., that specializes in ethnic-specific and cross-cultural fundraising, strategic planning and board development. Maria and her associate Samuel Torres Jr., Esq., will lead a workshop on “Building Diverse Fundraising Boards” at the AFP Golden Gate (San Francisco Bay area) Chapter's Fundraising Day May 4th.

Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2009 edition of AFP’s Kaleidoscope newsletter covering topics of diversity and inclusiveness in fundraising.

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Research Prize Awarded for Book on Strategic Philanthropy  

The 2009 Skystone Ryan Research Prize was awarded to Paul Brest and Hal Harvey for the book, Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy. The book offers a framework for both donors and nonprofits to design strategies to get the best results from philanthropy.

Paul Brest is president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Hal Harvey is director of environment program for the foundation.

“Money Well Spent represents a milestone in the science of philanthropy,” said the Research Prize Jury of the AFP Research Council in a statement about the honoree. “It applies research and concepts of strategic thinking and techniques that have been developed in the last couple of decades to the art of giving money away.” Written for donors, foundations and nonprofits, it features several case studies of nonprofit organizations.

Money Well Spent is a very readable, thoughtful, and balanced guide or strategy for philanthropists to use to achieve their philanthropic objectives,” said the council. “An important contribution for all involved in the art and science of philanthropy; both ‘askers’ and ‘givers’ will want to read this work to better understand how philanthropy can and should have an impact on the needs and issues facing our complex world.”

The book’s contents are divided into three sections: The Framework, Tools, and Organizing Your Resources for strategic philanthropy. Particularly important is the way that “strategy” is presented by Brest and Harvey, notes the AFP Research Council. The concepts in the book have broad application. The authors present a framework that can be applied broadly to issues affecting fundraisers. Understanding your “theory of change” is essential in any application of strategy. The authors also provide a series of case studies to bring the theory to practical lessons.

“The true test of this milestone work may be yet to come,” the statement notes. “When the authors penned Money Well Spent we were at an economic high as well as a ‘philanthropic’ high. It seems logical that their strategic framework will be equally effective in an economic low and with declining philanthropic resources.”

Brest and Harvey were announced as winners of the research prize at the International Conference on Fundraising recently in New Orleans.

About the Research Prize

Each year, the AFP Research Council awards the Skystone Ryan Prize for Research to the author of a book that contributes substantially to the knowledge and understanding of fundraising or philanthropic behavior. This year marks the 19th year of the award program.

The Prize for Research is made possible by an endowment from Skystone Ryan Inc. to encourage advanced research that extends the knowledge of fundraising and philanthropy.

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AFP Awards Materials Now Available—Nominations Due July 15  

Nominations forms for AFP’s Awards for Philanthropy and other honors are now available on the AFP website and are due on July 15.

The only exception is the Campbell & Company Awards for Excellence in Fundraising, nominations for which are due on Sept. 15.

Nominators should be aware that several changes have been made to the criteria and nomination process for the Awards for Philanthropy. Supporting materials for most awards are no longer accepted, and nominations MUST address the criteria in the indicated format. These changes were made because of the increasing number of entries and to ensure fairness and consistency as judges reviewed the nominations.

The nomination form can be found in the Attachments section below.

AFP Awards for Philanthropy

AFP offers a number of different awards for exemplary work in philanthropy and fundraising. These include AFP’s Awards for Philanthropy, which include the following categories:

  • Paschal Murray Award for Outstanding Philanthropist
  • Freeman Philanthropic Services Award for Outstanding Corporation
  • (CCS) Award for Outstanding Fundraising Professional
  • Changing Our World/Simms Awards for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Ages 5-17 and Ages 18-23
  • Award for Outstanding Foundation
  • Award for Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

Nominations for the Awards for Philanthropy are due on July 15 and must be submitted electronically. No supporting documentation is allowed, only the answers to the questions and criteria that are found on the nomination form.

Other Honors

AFP also offers other awards for outstanding fundraising achievements, service to AFP and chapter efforts in diversity:

  • The Barbara Marion Award for Outstanding Leadership to AFP recognizes an AFP member who demonstrates outstanding leadership and service to the association and/or its related entities, such as the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.
  • The Charles R. Stephens Excellence in Diversity Chapter Award recognizes the year's most outstanding demonstration by an AFP chapter of leadership, creativity, and initiative in building diversity in membership or programming. One award is presented in each chapter size category.
  • The Campbell & Company Awards for Excellence in Fundraising are presented to nonprofit organizations' development departments or fundraising programs that have developed an innovative initiative, program or project design, or technique that has increased their donor base, increased the amount of funds raised, and improved their fundraising return on investment. One award will be given in each of two categories based on organizational size. Unlike the other honors, nominations for the Campbell & Company Awards for Excellence in Fundraising are due Sept. 15, and supporting materials are allowed. More information can be found on the nomination form.

More information about these awards and the Awards for Philanthropy can be found on the AFP website at and clicking on National Philanthropy Day and AFP Awards.

Research Prize and Chapter Ten Star Award

The AFP Awards Committee oversees all of these awards programs except for the Skystone Ryan Prize for Research on Fundraising and Philanthropy and the AFP Chapter Ten Star Award.

More information about the Skystone Ryan Prize for Research on Fundraising and Philanthropy can be found here.

For information on the Chapter Ten Star Award, members should log into the "Member Gateway" section of the AFP website, click on this link and look for the Chapter Ten Star Award.

The awards nomination form can be found in the Attachments section below. Questions about the AFP awards program can be directed to NaTanya Lott at /about/.

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Two Upcoming Webconferences You Won’t Want to Miss

Major Gift Bloopers!

Save your organization from the most common mistakes in major gifts by learning how to avoid them in a fast-paced session with author and veteran fundraiser Julia Walker. Twelve “Deadly” Mistakes of Major-Gift Campaigns and How to Avoid Them! on April 23 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Special Ethics Program - Presented by Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE

In good times and bad, with stellar ethics, you will always have solid footing. AFP's president and CEO Paulette Maehara will explore how organizations can take a holistic look at ethics, identify how organizations can use ethics to reach out to the public to generate support and discuss current pressing ethical issues such as donor control and percentage-based compensation. Don’t miss Weaving Ethics Into Your Organization's Fundraising on Wednesday, May 6 at 1 p.m. EDT.

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Last Chance to Submit Proposals to Speak at AFP’s 2010 Conference

AFP is now accepting proposals to speak at the International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore on April 11-14, 2010. The online proposal form is now available in the Speaker Service Center, The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, April 24.

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