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AFP eWire Skill Builder Printable Version: June 30, 2009

Have you read the new Blog from AFP's CEO? Read "Paulette’s Point of View" today! Go online to

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Help AFP Fight Proposals That Would Limit Charitable Deductions  

The White House continues to press for harmful limits on charitable deductions to fund healthcare reforms. AFP urges you to contact members of Congress immediately to oppose these measures. The White House continues to press for harmful limits on charitable deductions to fund healthcare reforms. AFP urges you to contact members of Congress immediately to oppose these measures.

Two forms of a limitation on charitable deductions have been touted as a means of paying for health care reforms:

  1. The Obama Proposal: For those individuals who earn more than $200,000 (and those couples and families who earn more than $250,000), this proposal would limit the federal tax deduction they may take for their generosity to 28 percent (starting in 2011). Currently, they may claim up to a 35 percent deduction. This tax policy change would effectively devalue charitable gifts made by the very people who are in a position to make substantial donations at a time when they are sorely needed.
  2. The Alternative Proposal: When the tax rate likely increases to 36% and 39.5 % for certain taxpayers in 2011, their charitable deduction would not be increased proportionately. Instead, it would remain at its current levels (33% and 35% respectively).

AFP opposes both proposals and any other proposal that would impose limits on charitable tax deductions.  Both of these proposals would create a disincentive for taxpayers who give the most to charitable organizations to continue their generosity.  Moreover, both proposals, in essence, impose a tax on charitable giving.

What You Can Do

When Congress returns from the 4th of July recess next week, the Senate Finance Committee will introduce its proposals to fund the health care reforms, and it appears that some Members of Congress are seriously considering this limitation on charitable deductions as a means of funding health care reforms. 

Therefore, it is vitally important that you weigh in with your two senators and House member NOW to ensure that neither provision is enacted into law.

Detailed instructions are below.

  1. Identify your U.S. representative and two U.S. senators.

Use this link and type in your zip code to determine your U.S. representative:
Use this link to determine your two U.S. senators: U.S. Senators by State

  1. Call the congressional switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to speak to your House member or senator. Use the following talking points.
    • Say that you are calling from the senator’s state or the representative’s district. Please tell them your hometown.
      Ask the member of Congress to oppose any funding proposals for health care reforms that would impose limits on charitable tax deductions.
    • Explain that President Obama’s proposal to pay for health care reforms would limit the federal tax deduction to 28 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples and families making more than $250,000 starting in 2011. Currently, they may claim up to a 35 percent deduction.
    • Add that an alternative proposal to pay for health care reforms would freeze the federal tax deduction at the current rates (33% or 35%) for certain taxpayers when their tax rates would increase in 2011 (to 36% and 39.6%).
    • Note that both proposals would harm the charitable sector at a precarious time.  The Giving USA Foundation recently reported that in 2008, the decline in total charitable giving was the greatest since the organization began tracking U.S. charitable donations in 1956. Charities are already reporting that donations will likely be down further in 2009.
    • State that in these challenging times, charities and nonprofits already are finding it difficult to fulfill their missions because of reduced donations and resources.  At the same time, charities are being asked to provide even greater levels of assistance.
    • Finally, emphasize that your organization and many people in your state are counting on the member/senator to protect nonprofits in their district/state by opposing any provision that would limit the charitable tax deduction. [Mention the potential impact on your organization and/or your surrounding community].
  2. Mail three letters, one each to your U.S. representative and two U.S. senators. Cut and paste the sample letter below into your word processing software and personalize it with your own information (places where you can include your personal information are indicated in bold in the sample letter below):
    1. the representative’s or senator’s name and salutation
    2. your name and address
    3. a line or two about the impact the provision would have upon your organization.
    4. any other information you would like to add about your organization and its impact upon the community.


Sample Letter


For U.S. Representative, use:
Dear Representative LAST NAME:
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

For U.S. Senators, use:
Dear Senator LAST NAME:
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.  20510

As a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and a constituent, I urge you to oppose any funding proposals for health care reforms that would impose limits on charitable tax deductions.

AFP represents 30,000 individuals who are responsible for raising money ethically and effectively for a wide variety of charities—from large multi-national institutions to small grassroots organizations—engaged in countless missions and causes. AFP members are required annually to sign our Code of Ethical Principles and Standards, the only enforced code of fundraising ethics in North America.

The president has sought to fund health care reforms by limiting the federal tax charitable deduction to 28 percent (starting in 2011) for those individuals who earn more than $200,000 and those couples and families who earn more than $250,000.  Currently, they may claim up to a 35 percent charitable deduction.

An alternative proposal to fund health care reforms would freeze the federal tax deduction at the current rates (33% or 35%) for certain taxpayers when their tax rates would increase in 2011 (to 36% and 39.6%).

Both proposals represent a significant change in tax policy and would have incredibly negative impacts on charitable giving. The Giving USA Foundation recently reported that in 2008, the decline in total charitable giving was the greatest since the organization began tracking U.S. charitable donations in 1956. Charities are already reporting that donations will likely be down further in 2009. [Mention the potential impact on your organization and/or your community if charitable donations decreased as a result of this provision].

In these challenging economic times, charities and nonprofits already are finding it difficult to fulfill their altruistic missions because of reduced donations and resources.  Yet, in times of economic trouble, it is charities and nonprofits that do much to augment the work of the federal, state and local government in meeting the needs of the American public through their vital programs and services.  In fact, charities currently are being asked to provide even greater levels of assistance. 

The federal government, therefore, should seek ways to bolster charitable giving—as opposed to requiring charities to do more with less.

For these reasons and for the sake of the nonprofit community, I strongly urge you to oppose any provision that would limit the charitable tax deduction



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Unlock Deeper Engagement—Get Your Donor’s Email Address

Nowadays, having lasting contact with donors and supporters means having their email address. Getting an email address, however, requires doing more than just asking for it. Consider what’s in it for the donor.
Alia McKee, principal at nonprofit consulting firm Sea Change Strategies, spoke with eWire this week about the importance of brining offline, “snail mail-only” donors into online contact with your organization via email.
“Email is an extremely important medium for donor cultivation and engagement,” say McKee. “It shortens response times, allows you to share breaking news and allows you to tap into donors’ social circles. Plus, having a donor’s email address is especially important for retention.” With the high cost of new donor acquisition—retention, especially now, is a priority, McKee says.

Getting an email address is important even if donors do not give online.
According to Target Analytics’ study of 2008 Internet giving, offline donors who have an email address on file, and who have no record of giving online, give far more per year and retain and reactivate at higher rates than those who do not have an email address on file. The full study from Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company, can be found here.

As the study shows, average revenue from those who have an email address on file was $65 per donor in 2008 compared with $47 per donor for those who do not have their email on file with the organization. Furthermore, the retention rate among those with email on file was 61 percent from 2007 to 2008, compared with donors who had no email on file (50 percent retention), for organizations surveyed.

So how do you get that all-important email address? It’s a matter of incentive. “You have to sweeten the pot,” says McKee. She lists a few approaches that have proved successful for her clients in moving offline donors online.
Tactic 1: Online tax receipt or other online service

One strategy used by a client of McKee was to drive donors online to view their tax receipt. A postcard was mailed promoting the new online service. To access the service, donors had to provide their email address. Donors were given an option to opt-out of future emails if they wished.
The postcard, mailed to a list of what the organization considered “high value” donors, returned impressive email list growth. The mailing got a 10 percent response rate, produced 1,000 new email addresses, and later resulted in an average donation of $5 per donor. The best part? Donors were thrilled by the availability of an online tax receipt.
Tactic 2: Invite offline donors to view webcast

Another strategy McKee used with this particular client was to extend an invitation via mail to offline donors to participate in an upcoming webcast. Again, a list of “high value” donors was invited, with registration involving giving your email address with the option to opt-out of future emails. The invitation was sent out with an already scheduled mailing. The result was a 5 percent response rate (300 people) from people who had not previously offered an email address. Plus, the organization saved money by including the notice in an existing mailing.
Tactic 3: Chaperone emails
A chaperone email is a message sent by a partnering organization on your behalf, reaching a previously untouched audience that may have shared interests and values. Your organization, in turn, sends an email to your constituents on that organization’s behalf. This is a great way—and one that is often underutilized, McKee says—of reaching potential new donors. The message can help you collect email addresses in a variety of ways similar to the offline methods.
Tactic 4: Online event hubs

Finally, McKee describes an online offering provided to donors who have registered for events, called “event hubs.” However they register for the particular event, online or off, participants are invited to learn more—from driving directions and menu options to further details about the event and its sponsors—by going online. Prominently placed on that webpage is an invitation to opt-into the organization’s online community. To join, participants must (of course) provide their email address. They can then invite their friends to join the community via an email program. These people can then opt-in, attend the event and donate, and the email list—with a little luck—starts to grow exponentially.

Tactic 5: Email appends

Email appends allow you to acquire email addresses en masse. It is important to do this strategically so as not to alienate your donors, however. You should test an opt-in append only and decide whether or not to roll out to a larger segment of the file, McKee advises.

Try one of these ideas to build your own email list. You’re likely to get a better response from your existing donors once you engage them via email. After all, McKee says, engaging an existing donor is far easier, and cheaper, than acquiring a brand new one.

Alia McKee is a principal with Sea Change Strategies, where she helps nonprofit clients innovate engaging, inspiring, and successful online fundraising, advocacy and marketing campaigns. Currently she works with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Environmental Defense Fund, the International Rescue Committee, and Conservation International among others. Visit to learn more or contact her at

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Understanding the Value of Multichannel Fundraising  

By Andrew Olsen, CFRE

Multichannel fundraising. Many nonprofits are doing this, and doing it well. But thousands still aren’t. Some have a long history of successful direct mail programs, but little to speak of in the way of Internet fundraising. Or maybe there’s an Internet fundraising program—but it’s entirely separate from and unique to the direct mail program.

The results however, are crystal clear. Integrating your direct mail and online fundraising programs can yield significant increases in overall revenue. 

It did for us. Here’s a sample of our 2008 year-end campaign at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn.

In December of 2008 we conducted our typical year-end direct mail campaign. However, we added an email component as well. Our direct mail dropped the last week of November, and our emails began dropping the first week of December. 

The email campaign proved to be a very valuable supplement to our traditionally single-channel marketing efforts. 

Adding the online channel helped us raise 40 percent more revenue at year-end than we would have if we had only used direct mail. 

In addition to increasing our overall revenue, the multi-channel approach allowed us to reach donors that we otherwise might not have been able to get to. We received a batch of gifts in the mail (checks that came in the year-end direct mail envelopes), but instead of receiving direct mail reply devices with these gifts, the envelopes included printed copies of our email solicitation. These gifts totaled almost $10,000.

One of the things we’ve put significant energy and focus into (and I recommend you do the same) is to ensure that your online and offline efforts are fully integrated. Consistent messaging, creative and offers will help create a synergy between your marketing channels and likely create an overall lift in your program performance.

Here’s another interesting fact that might help you better understand the value of multi-channel communication to your constituents. We just tabulated results from an eight month period of time for two sets of donors:  one group that was not receiving our e-communications (control), and another group that was receiving our e-communications on a regular basis (test).

Over that eight month period, donors receiving our email communications performed significantly higher (across all channels—this was not limited to online giving).  The test group made contributions 9 percent more frequently than did the control group, and their average gift size was 118 percent larger than the control group.

These are interesting findings that most certainly lead to more questions than they do answers. We’re currently running additional analysis and I will post updates to my blog as the results come in.

Andrew Olsen, CFRE, leads the direct response fundraising efforts at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota. You can follow his blog, Nonprofit Strategies: Thoughts from an insider, at article originally appeared as a post to Olsen’s blog on March 18, 2009. Reprinted with permission.

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Nonprofits' Most Missed Marketing Tool—Email Signatures  

By Nancy Schwartz

Email signatures (a.k.a. sig lines) are powerful, low-cost, high-return marketing tools (a virtual business card or ad) for your foundation or organization. What's interesting is how seldom sig lines are used.

Consider this: If your organization has 30 employees, each of whom sends 15 emails daily outside the organization, then (assuming 250 business days) that's 112,500 business cards or ads distributed annually, at no cost. If you have 100 employees, that's 375,000 cards or ads annually.

What Is an Email Signature?

In general, your email signature is information automatically added as the last few lines of your outgoing email to let people know who/where/what you are. Consider your sig line as your online business card with "callback" abilities.

Here are a few examples:

Carmen Crinion
Project Director
Association of Small Foundations
Ph: 301-907-3337
Fax: 301-907-0980

Susan Michelson Brown
Director of Business Development
1085 Morris Avenue, Union, NJ 07083
Phone: 908.527.1166
Fax: 908.527.1207


Results-Driven Marketing & Communications
for Nonprofits & Foundations

Marian Sroge
Senior Associate, League Services
Association of Junior Leagues Intl. Inc
132 West 31 Street, 11th floor
New York, NY 10001

What a Strong Email Signature Does for Your Organization

Making the most of your sig lines, for yourself and every colleague in your organization, is analogous to leaving your business cards—but even more powerful.

Most importantly, in this age when we're all inundated with too many emails, your email signature is a clear signal to your recipient that the message is from you and provides the context (e.g., job title, organization name and website) that reminds that person who you are and enriches their understanding of your message. That's a lot more than can quickly be deciphered from your email address in the "from" field.

Beyond this most basic benefit, your email signature is a business card or ad that alerts the recipient to special news and enables them to have direct access to your website or send email back to you with the swift click of a mouse.

How a Consistent Email Signature Style Benefits Your Organization

What's critical is that everyone in your organization uses the same sig line format. Specifics such as name, title, email, and direct phone line obviously will change. However, certain elements (organization name, website address, tagline) and the order of elements should be standard for all staff sig lines.

Sig line consistency benefits your organization in the following ways:

  • Builds a brand or recognizable identity for your organization. The sig line becomes a key element of overall branding.
  • Serves as a cognitive flag, enabling email recipients to make connections among emails received from various members of your organization.

Case Study

Here is an example of a good email sig and a recommendation to make it even stronger. To protect the innocent, I'll use a generic version of the sample I was analyzing for this example.

Example (9 lines):

Organization Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code


I recommend cutting the street address (2 lines), line space, fax number, and email address and adding the organization's web address.

Recommendation (5 lines):

Organization Name
Organization Web Address (URL)

How to Create an Effective Email Sig Line

First of all, keep it brief. A general rule of thumb is that a good sig line is four-six lines in length. Eight lines is the maximum length, but that is pushing it. Remember, those to whom you email frequently see your email signature line again and again.

Musts include:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Organization name
  • Phone number
  • Web address

Optional elements include:

  • Tagline (organizational or specific event, campaign, etc.)
  • Graphical elements such as a horizontal line to distinguish your sig line from the rest of the email.

Inclusion of your email address is not recommended, since it's in the "from" field of the email and gets forwarded with an email that's passed on. Best to drive audiences to your website for more contact information details such as your mailing address and fax number.

More Creative Uses for Your Sig Line

A signature line can be used much like a classified ad if you're trying to motivate clients to use your services or register for your workshop. Add one line and/or a link. Examples include:

  • A quotation to share your organization's point of view.
  • A call to contribute to a capital campaign or other fundraising focus.
  • An issue-oriented tagline to promote an advocacy campaign.
  • An announcement of a new program, service or publication.
  • An invitation to a special event, conference or to subscribe to your organization's email newsletter.

Just make sure to keep sig lines up to date.

Adding Your Sig Line to Your Emails

Once you've decided on sig line content and format, you'll need to add it to your email program. Remember to train all staff members in creating their sig line as per organizational style and in adding it to the email program.

Check your email program's HELP menu and search for signatures. You should be able to find some information there about how to set one up on your program.

© 2002-2009 Nancy E. Schwartz. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author

Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. As President of Nancy Schwartz & Company (, Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to organizations as varied as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, and Wake County (NC) Health Services.

You can subscribe to her free e-newsletter "Getting Attention," ( and read her blog at for more insights, ideas and tips on attracting the attention your organization deserves.

Wanted: Powerful Nonprofit Taglines—Enter 2009 Tagline Awards Today

Your nonprofit or foundation could be one of this year's Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Award winners!  Enter today here ( ) A strong tagline does double-duty—working to extend your organization's name and mission, while delivering a focused, memorable and repeatable message to your base. All entrants will receive a free copy of the fully-updated 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report in late 2009. Deadline is July 31st.

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Know an Outstanding AFP Leader? Submit a Nomination for the Barbara Marion Award  

Do you know someone who has exhibited outstanding leadership to AFP or the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy? Nominate him or her today for the distinguished Barbara Marion Award for Outstanding Leadership to AFP.

Nominees must be a current AFP member (in any category) and must have been an AFP member for 15 years or more (as of July 15, 2009, when nomination forms are due). Nominees must have exhibited exemplary leadership on the regional, national and/or international levels, and at the chapter level.

To access the nomination form please visit and click on National Philanthropy Day and AFP Awards.

Standout Leaders

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.

Barbara Marion Award honorees have been involved in the creation and development of key programs and projects that have helped to advance and improve AFP and the entire fundraising profession. Previous honorees have encouraged others to take leadership roles while also serving as a team player and as a role model for others in practicing core values of the association (including ethics, certification, continuing education, etc.)

“This honor is one of the most important that AFP presents because it recognizes one of our own and directly relates to the development of the AFP community and the profession,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “I’m so humbled by the many volunteers who give so  much of themselves to AFP, and this is our way to recognize some of the most important contributions and achievements by our members.”

Last year’s Barbara Marion Award recipient was William M. (Bill) Moran, ACFRE, currently the executive director of St. Vincent’s Foundation in Birmingham, Ala. Moran has been a member of AFP since 1977, serving in a variety of leadership positions and spearheading several important initiatives for the association, including the development of the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) credential.

The award’s namesake, Barbara Marion, ACFRE, was the first woman to chair both AFP and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy board of directors and provided leadership and service to the association in countless areas.

Honorees are selected by the AFP Awards Committee and recognized at the Leadership Academy.

To access the AFP international awards program nomination materials please visit and click on National Philanthropy Day and AFP Awards.

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Contribute to Advancing Philanthropy

For the 2010 Advancing Philanthropy we are looking for people who have interesting ideas and good contacts for article interviews. This would not involve any great time commitment on your part—just excellent suggestions! Please contact Jackie Boice at if you are interested.

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Nominations Being Accepted Now for AFP Board of Directors

AFP is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to serve on its 2010 Board of Directors as a district director or as an at-large director. Forms are due on or before July 31, 2009. To nominate someone for AFP’s Board of Directors, go to the AFP homepage,, and click on the item in the to-do list regarding board nominations. Or see the electronic version of this story in eWire.

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Nominations Open for Foundation for Philanthropy Board

The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy is now accepting nominations for chair-elect (due July 10) and for officers and directors (due July 24). For more information and for a nomination form please visit the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy website at

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Don't Miss Two Upcoming Great Webconferences to Improve Your Fundraising!

(To register go to and click on Education and Career Development—AFP Web/Audioconferences)

Maximize Fundraising Through Your Website – Presented by Allan Pressel

July 8 | 1–2:30 pm ET

Learn how to plan and build a website which not only has a lot for the user to see, but a lot for the user to do as well. Consider the impact of a site that offers online donations, event tickets, membership dues, e-store purchases, affiliate marketing, even in-kind donations, planned gifts, investment donations and much more. Register today for Forty Ways to Maximize Fundraising Through Your Website presented Wednesday, July 8 at 1 p.m. Eastern.

A Blueprint for Fundraising Success in Any Economy – Presented by Kent Dove

July 23| 1–2:30 pm ET

Veteran fundraiser Kent Dove will describe and detail a comprehensive, integrated development model that has allowed numerous nonprofits to create programs that have grown exponentially and been able to sustain that growth over time. Learn how to apply techniques to build solid relationships with donors that provide annual, special major, planned and capital gifts over time and permit nonprofits to maximize their private giving potential. Register now for A Blueprint for Fundraising Success in Any Economy: Creating a Sustainable, Comprehensive Development Model presented Thursday, July 23 at 1 p.m. Eastern.

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