Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nonprofit Giants Make Deals To Improve Donor Data

Three of the most prominent companies in the fundraising business are in the process of growing even further and providing more convincing evidence that data is king at the end of the day. Blackbaud, based in Charleston South Carolina, is a technology firm that markets financial and online fundraising software. The company spent $17.5 million to buy public interest data in Alexandria Virginia, which provides database management services, acquisition list services and data analytics and enrichment services for nonprofits. The Internet fundraising firm Convio, based in Austin Texas, announced that it will be spending at least $5 million in order to acquire Strategic One, an analytics predictive modeling and database marketing services company located in Kansas.

Strategic One touted itself in the innovative terminology of 'business intelligence', which refers to the collection, modeling and integration of fundraising and donor information. In each of these cases the companies agreed to pay as much as $2.5 million more depending on the relevant revenue objectives. In addition to these business developments, WealthEngine, based in Bethesda Maryland, a provider of wealth identification- and information-based fundraising solutions announced that it purchased and will put to use Oracle exit-data database machines. The upgrade is expected to dramatically improve the performance, user-friendliness and scalability of its wealth intelligence solutions. The financial information related to this deal has not been released.

Nonprofits Benefit From Super Bowl Buzz

Super Bowl Sunday turned out to be beneficial for more than just football and its fans. A number of charities organized fundraising events that used the Super Bowl as the primary hook. This is the focus of this top-notch video produced by Nonprofit Times. The celebrity musician Prince held a concert in downtown Dallas that benefited the Michael-Goss Foundation. Tickets reportedly started at $1,500. Prince performed at the Super Bowl half-time show three 3 years ago.

In the state of Texas 1,000 people attended an event called 'The Best Party In Texas' which was organized to benefit a variety of local and national charitable organizations. The event was sponsored by the Feliciano Foundation. It is more important than ever for nonprofits to utilize creative fundraising strategies as the impact of the current economic downturn continues to be felt around the country, and indeed, around the world.

Fundraisers Contemplate Ethical Issues

Making sure that nonprofits use funds in a manner that is consistent with their mission and the motivations of their donors ranks as one of the most common and difficult challenges faced by fundraisers. This is according to a new website poll conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Participants in the poll were asked what kind of ethical challenge they were most likely to face in their fundraising efforts, and they were presented with 7 choices.

Nearly a third of all respondents reported that the use of donated funds was the greatest area of concern. Sixteen percent selected challenges related to privacy and confidentiality, and fifteen percent highlighted the issue of donor control over gifts. Other options included percentage-based compensation/commission and conflicts of interest. According to Paulette Maehara, CEO of AFP, the use of donated funds is one of the key aspects of ethical fundraising practices, particularly as charitable gifts increase in size. Maehara has stated that it's crucial that fundraisers and donors collaborate and develop sound documentation to ensure that disagreements are avoided. The results of the survey are based on the input of 569 people who participated on January 20th.

The Armstrong Foundation Achieves A Major Stock Gain

A gain of over three million dollars in the stock market has been achieved by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The foundation is a content provider for Demand Media, which has a licensing agreement with the foundation that allows it to make use of the Livestrong name and brand. The foundation sold off 150,000 of its shares, and Lance donated 68,000 of his own shares as well.

Demand Media recently went public on the New York Stock Exchange. It has created a for-profit health and fitness Internet platform known as Livestrong.com which utilizes the Livestrong brand. The Armstrong Foundation currently still holds in excess of 60,000 shares, and has annual revenue of approximately $48 million as a result of licensing arrangements with companies such as Nike and Oakley, and thanks to members of the public who continue to show their support with a donation.

Contemplating The Outlook For Charities In 2011

Elizabeth Boris is the director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute located in Washington DC. Nonprofit Times caught up with her and she took some time to share her insights regarding the outlook for the nonprofit sector in 2011, particularly as it relates to planning. Boris feels that 2011 is going to be a difficult year for a large number of charities. This is especially true of nonprofits that have any government grants or contracts because the budgets of many states are in very poor shape.

A sharp decrease in state funding
Human service providers who rely on state funded grants will face some of the toughest times in the year ahead. Boris feels that nonprofits need to have contingency plans in place if they are to survive the times ahead with as little loss as possible. Conserving resources as much as possible is key, as well as learning from these circumstances and building up as many reserves as possible in the future that will enable them to weather similar storms which they may yet have to face. The challenge facing nonprofits is three-fold; contributions are down, demand is on the increase and government grants are in decline.

Nonprofit mergers on the increase
Boris expects that a number of charities will go out of business in 2011, and that there will also be an increase in mergers in the nonprofit sector as charities seek to pool their resources in an attempt to ride out these difficult economic conditions. Nonprofits need to be making an investment in fundraising and grant-writing, and with any luck, they can observe improvements in the economy towards the end of the year.