Made You Look!

The foundational truth in any fundraising is that what you need people to give FIRST is attention. If no one looks, no one cares, and no one will pledge. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate style and branding as integral to any “ask”. Kevin Hees is a master when it comes to campaign style.
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Check this Out, Too

Giving is always good. But I believe it should really be great. One of my pet peeves is the grocery store check-out prompt that asks me to give. I could “Give $1 for veterans today.” The alternative to pressing “yes” and donating a dollar or two or five, is living with the guilt tax. But in that momentary transaction, the truth is we have no clear idea what the initiative is, and where the money will actually go.

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90211

Please come by and say hi – Bettina and I are enjoying the view from our new Philanthropic Council, LLC offices at 8383 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. If you aren’t in the neighborhood, let’s connect via Skype @philanthropyccc!
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Talk About Iconic!

If your organization enjoys high recognition with iconic branding that’s transitioned successfully across the centuries to be embraced by millennial donors today, you can skip this message and read the next item. But most of us can acknowledge that sometimes “iconic” is really a very lovely synonym for stale.

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High Impact Invisibles

I bet you’ve never heard of AIRI, the Association of Independent Research Institutes, and, that’s okay. AIRI represents the seventy-five most esteemed independent, not-for-profit biomedical and behavioral research organizations in the United States. Members share the common-goal of improving human health and advancing knowledge.

It’s a pretty heady group, engaged in high-level conversations across every bio-medical sector these institutes touch, as well as around government relations, to ensure their operational and regulatory functions. Historically, most AIRI member organizations haven’t needed to devote a huge amount of their resources to pursuing philanthropy because they are unusually well-funded from their founding fathers which have included: Howard Hughes, J.D. Rockefeller, Eli Broad, Jim Stowers, Jay Van Andel, etc. They simply haven’t needed my kind very much, so I’m especially honored and looking forward to speaking at the annual AIRI conference this fall in Washington, D.C.
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Dance at The Louvre

That’s a pretty provocative headline, believe it or not.

Occasionally I offer insights on the state of the art of fundraising in Europe. Here’s one intriguing development worth sharing.  In the United States, it’s not at all unusual for an art museum to offer events that integrate the fine arts—music, dance, even dramatic readings or performances. Such events begin as friend raisers and can launch affinities that support fundraising. France’s temple of high art, however has historically defined art as the stuff on the walls, or pedestals. It’s understood:  This is what’s on offer, enjoy. Enter dancer Bill T. Jones and choreographer Benjamin Millepied.
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Personal Brand Matters, More!

Dear Friends and Fans,

So many of you inquire regularly about my thoughts on personal branding, I have expanded here on a note I sent you originally when this newsletter was launched.

If I had to name two obsessions, I’d have to say impact and impression.

My goal is always to do something meaningful, and do it with an indelible professional style that cannot be forgotten.

It’s been my privilege to work with world-class arts, cultural and humanitarian institutions, and I have come to realize that my approach is, actually, more than an approach. It’s me, or what I offer as the Christopher Clinton Conway brand.

Heard of the seven-word mission statement?
I’m even more minimalist. My brand comes down to six Ps.
Personal. Purposeful. Portable. Positive. Pragmatic. Polished.

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Yes, Virginia, The For-Profit President Has Arrived

Some of us were more pleased than others with the outcome of our Presidential election in November, and that’s fair. Democracy reigns!

Now we face the unknowns, as Donald Trump, a supremely successful businessman with a serious interest in for-profit ventures ascends to the presidency of the United States. Trump’s world is business and he knows how domestic tax laws work.

For non-profits, major donors and foundations, the impending Trump presidency suggests there are many unknowns ahead. Turbulence is to be anticipated; change is likely. But I’m not convinced it’s time to press the panic button.

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#ParisIsAlwaysAGoodIdea

I’m looking forward to spending more time this year in Paris. As the U.S. settles into a new normal, one constant will be European cultural and humanitarian non-profits seeking to learn and borrow from our American expertise in fundraising, development, and friendraising.

This critical work in Europe is personally and professionally gratifying, as it points toward sustainable operations for many iconic organizations migrating away from government support and toward a more diversified funding model. Some of this change is by choice, some comes with the changing economic realities in Europe. All of it matters in stabilizing and growing organizations that define quality of life.

More Personal Branding Ahead!

Thanks to so many of you for the continuing feedback on the relevance of my insights regarding gifts, giving and personal brand. Early in the New Year, I’ll share some additional thoughts on the art of the appeal.

Give Greatly

Making philanthropic choices matter

I love that friends and colleagues frequently ask my advice.  I am famously frugal, and consider every transaction worthy of thoughtful consideration. The money matters, and every gift is also a communication of values, hopes and future thinking.

Here are the top FAQs and my thoughts.

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The Problem with Gay Marriage:
 It’s Way Too Taxing (For Some)

Many of my friends celebrated the great leap forward in our nation’s legal landscape by tying the knot last summer. #Lovewins was the hashtag and it’s a shorthand I love. But in the fine tradition of shorthands, #lovewins is entirely too cryptic to illuminate what it really means for gay couples to be legally wed.

When it comes to paying income taxes, marriage is most beneficial for couples with disparate incomes. The marriage bonuses can be up to 20%. One of the not so subtle biases against same gender couples – who more often have similar income levels – is that the tax penalties often exceed 10%.

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How About This Pair? Field + Lucas What Might Have Been!

Before quitting town with some fancy blueprints and the sting of defeat, here’s one of the solutions the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art might have explored: creating a defined space in the iconic Field Museum.  It’s a pairing that may have worked well for both.

The museum within the museum could be a discreet entity, and intersect the two with bridging inter-actives at appropriate junctures.

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Midsummer Madison: Mind the Millennials

Later this month, the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be hosting myself and colleagues from the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. I look forward to the exchange of ideas, especially around what matters to millennials.

Our next generation is inclined towards giving in the areas of education, healthcare and the economy, according to the latest research.  My experience says that’s true, provided there’s a creative approach to the project, and the ask. Stay tuned!

Looking Forbes-ward

When Forbes Insights asked me to comment on the culture of celebrity giving, I responded with a few thoughts about the influence of affiliation. By that I mean religious affiliation. In the world of Hollywood’s blended / secular / spiritual beliefs celebrities who give don’t necessarily practice any religion at all. But most I’ve talked to relate early experiences with family at church or temple as powerful influencers in their decisions to give, view the world through a moral lens and a desire to share. You can check out the full article out April 6th.

Women Give More — Money Too

The data is so stark about women’s philanthropic giving that what is most surprising to me is that for most of us, it is new information.

Here’s a snapshot of the power of women’s philanthropic giving today:

•  Women born during the baby boom give 156% more than men.
•  40% of women out earn their husbands.
•  70% of women will receive some inherited wealth over the next two decades.
•  And, for nearly 90% of high-net-worth households women either make all the decisions or are equal partner in making the decisions about charitable donations.

The numbers make it clear that this is not a squeaker margin of additional generosity. These facts point to a pattern of giving by women that is increasingly established and sustainable.

My work with major donors and mid-level supporters across health and cultural non-profits has taught me that women are particularly generous when the need is local and visible. Perhaps, due to managing their own, or family finances, many women seem acutely aware of the transformative power of more. Women know first hand that a little more is definitely helpful, a lot more can be a game changer, and significantly more can transform the entire operation.

In meritocratic California, I find that successful entrepreneurial women who give big are confident. They’ve made the money once, and don’t seem to fear losing it, or their ability to make it again. So they give generously.

I’ve also seen the power behind the theories in research published this month by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, pointing up that women give when they know stories as well as statistics, and turn the point of giving into community. As I’ve said before, giving is fueled by connections. That means in philanthropic circles the math isn’t all math: stories and relationships always add up to deeper commitment, and bigger gifts.

How Hip Am I?

Actually, it’s not about me!

Welcome to another year wiser! For the aging Gen X-ers among us, like myself, working with and managing millennials, our darling disruptors, can be both exhilarating and challenging. Personally, I’m loving it. I’m learning a lot, adjusting my own attitudes, and have a few insights that seem worth sharing.

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Leadership Confidential

It’s amusing to me that the appointment of the accomplished Whitney Donhauser as the new Director of the Museum of the City of New York is controversial in some quarters. Please.

Whitney spent 23 years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, serving in development, administration, external affairs, and for ten years as the senior advisor to the President. Whitney is smart, insightful, prepared, and was, apparently, the best candidate for the job, in the estimation of the City Museum’s Board of Trustees. Yes, despite the fact that she has no direct management or curatorial experience.

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Forecast for 2016

Nothing says Happy New Year! like a little market volatility.

Add to that the distractions and diversions an election year inevitably brings to many nonprofits’ missions, and I’d say it’s time to double down on fundraising. CCC style means make it very personal. Reach out and reach back to supporters with a message that makes it clear what the work is this year. Be specific. Be straightforward. Be genuine with the gratitude.  Be ready for whatever 2016 brings.

President Jimmy Carter: The Legacy Lesson

Here’s some advice philanthropic advisors don’t usually dispense:

Stop thinking about your legacy.

Yes, I’m a little different, and so is my advice.

Legacy planning is pragmatic, reasonable, and even strategic. That’s all good. But I’d like to advocate for simply doing the right thing, and having that become your legacy. That kind of genuine legacy is not a plan, it’s an orientation. I’m thinking about this right now because President Jimmy Carter, 90, announced that he is battling cancer.

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New Vision for Future of World-Renowned Doheny Eye Institute

Legacy through a different lens.

My affiliation with the Doheny Eye Institute began in one era and now enters another. In July, the Doheny Eye Institute’s Board of Trustees named Dr. SriniVas Sadda as the new President and Chief Scientific Officer.

A widely respected and highly accomplished doctor, researcher and public health innovator with expertise in the retina, Dr. Sadda’s credentials and leadership intelligence is impeccable.

As a philanthropic advisor, I view this transition, like similar shifts in peer institutions, as profound and full of potential. Read More

An Invitation from The Aga Kahn

An intimate dinner with Prince Karim Aga Kahn IV was elegant, of course. His Foundation continues to operate with an eye towards the preservation of international cultures with keen strategy and directed generosity.

What I loved most on my most recent trip to France was seeing the transformation of the Stables of the Chateau at Chantilly. This remarkable and storied edifice was the center of life in the region from as early as the 16th century — both a family’s home and a regional engine of economic prosperity. Today as part of the Institut de France, the building, grounds and collection are pristine. Read More

The Re-Think: Healthy Organizations Do It Daily

There’s much to be said for the examined organization: transparency, new efficiencies, honest awareness of practice, purpose and clearly articulated goals for all.

For that, McKinsey Consulting has consistently set the gold standard in non-profit self-exams. Their online OCAT (Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool) is perennially popular, useful, and even regularly updated.

And yet…the creeping obsolescence of these tools is upon us. Read More

Look Ahead 2015: Philanthropic Counsel Opens Paris Office Exporting Best Practices in Fundraising to Europe

One of the most exciting elements of my work is watching growth happen where it matters. So with shifting philanthropic economics in Europe and the momentum of successful engagements in the UK and France fueling my enthusiasm, I’ve decided to take the plunge.

What’s compelling about Paris is yes, arts and culture, but so much more. The city is a thriving biotech capital and there is significant room to grow funding to the human services sector.  Paris is also an excellent intelligence hub for assisting clients in London, Zurich, Munich and Rome and other European centers of arts and science. Read More

Onward! Talking about what works AND…What doesn’t

When I’m invited to speak, I like to say something original, or, why talk at all. Right? But who knew my ideas for addressing the California Museums Association in Napa this spring would be so off-the charts unconventional that the group’s executive committee even had to convene a call just to adjudicate on my topic before I was allowed to speak. Here’s what I proposed talking about: the short seven year run, and early death of COPIA, the multi-million dollar non-profit institution dedicated to the evolving culture of at the intersection of American wine and food and the arts, backed by none less than Robert Mondavi and Julia Child.

I must admit, I was surprised that there was so much pushback on the very idea of my talk. People are positively stuck on being positive, even when real life begs us to examine the negatives closely to find out what went wrong and why. It’s more than a facile exercise in “learning from failures”. COPIA was a carefully planned, fully funded, strongly supported institution, so it matters why it didn’t fly, or — did fly, but ultimately faltered, and fell. Read More

A Most Generous Season’s Greeting from California!

Catch this personal message from one of the coolest cutting edge envoys of generosity out there, Reno Makani, a GoPro ambassador, and Surfers Healing volunteer.

GoPro is innovative in pretty much every way, from its mounted camera technology to the ginormorous gifting culture that’s steering Silicon Valley philanthropy. (See this quick read on their $500 million gift.)

Here’s a cool connection:
Way, way, way back in 1999, it was considered groundbreaking when I facilitated a major philanthropic, restricted stock gift from then tech start-up Priceline. That multi-million gift helped support The Carter Center’s disease eradication efforts in the developing world—a giant boost from one of Silicon Valley’s early darlings. Read More

Seeds of Growth: Danforth Plant Science Center

There’s something instructive about the scenario I encountered this fall at the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis when I led a philanthropy discussion at the invitation of Dr. William Danforth, former chancellor of Washington University and the force behind the founding of the center. The Danforth Center is dedicated to solving world hunger through agricultural advances, but much of its generous funding has come from local donors. Read More

Ballet Idaho Debut: KC Driscoll, Boise Fundraiser with Flair

by CCC

As KC Driscoll steps into the role of Manager of Development at Ballet Idaho, she says good timing is on her side. “Ballet Idaho has generous donors and corporate sponsors looking to help us extend our reach in the community now.”  says Driscoll.

Forbes consistently ranks Boise as one of the top U.S. cities for business and careers.

A graduate of Boise State with a degree in Communications, Driscoll began her career in Boise at the Girl Scouts through AmeriCorps.  She subsequently joined the Girls Scouts working for more than two years as a young professional fundraiser for environmental stewardship programming and camps.  Her first job with the Girl Scouts was a perfect fit, says Driscoll. “I came to Boise in love with the city and the outdoors, and this was my chance to enhance it, and share it.” Working in close partnership with program staff helped deepen her understanding of the role of development in supporting and promoting an organization’s mission. “It became very clear to me that fundraising was critical, and I loved the community building aspect of reaching out,’’ says Driscoll. Read More

Generally speaking, you’re an expert!

by CCC

I’m aware that I’m a very specific person. I’m definitely me, as I’ve blogged before. I never worry that people who’ve met me at a professional gathering, might days later come across my business card or receive an email from me and find themselves wracking their brains, trying to remember which one I was. I’m okay with knowing my style makes me memorable, whatever that means.

But I’m also surprisingly comfortable knowing that as specific a person as I am, being a generalist, professionally speaking, is an enormous asset — for all of us who work as fundraising professionals. Read More

From the Red Carpet

by CCC

In this season of so many red carpets we’re saturated with superlatives — some deserved others . . . meh. It’s impossible to say, really, exactly what makes one artist’s performance the “best”. But we do it anyway, obsessively and with a kind of certainty that belies the fact they cannot be easily and objectively represented on a spread sheet. But oh, how we love to rank things, and people, and institutions.

So it’s always intrigued me that while there is plenty of data to support about how well a non-profit is performing, for some reason, it’s long been an anathema to crunch the numbers and call out the performance measures. It’s almost as if there’s a certain decorum dictating that “good causes” not be subjected to tough scrutiny. GuideStar is useful in promoting transparency among non-profits, but that organization clearly states its mission is not as an evaluator or watchdog, but rather to encourage philanthropic giving.

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