Archive for March, 2010

Make Money from Donated Tickets

March 31, 2010

See the article, Unused tickets become nonprofit cash, about a new fundraising site. At, people who’ve bought tickets they can’t use for sports, music, theater and other entertainment activities can donate the tickets to a charity.

So far, the site seems to be for Chicago-based events and charities only, but it’s a nice idea.


And Why the Internet Exists…

March 31, 2010

Neurosonics Live from Chris Cairns on Vimeo.

What You Wanted to Know about the Internet

March 31, 2010

Here’s everything you wanted to know, in just a few minutes:

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

Your Next Top Model (Funding Model, That Is)

March 29, 2010

Who are you? Are you the prettiest nonprofit on the block, or are you the nonprofit with a lot of potential but no compelling look or style?

If you don’t know, you might want to read “Ten Nonprofit Funding Models” by William Foster, Peter Kim, and Barbara Christiansen in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

The authors point out that, if you don’t know what kind of organization you are, you risk missing out on good matches with philanthropists. “When nonprofits and funding sources are not well matched, money doesn’t flow to the areas where it will do the most good,” they say.

Here’s their list:

  1. Heartfelt Connection (example: Make-a-Wish Foundation)
  2. Beneficiary Builder (Princeton University)
  3. Member Motivator (Saddleback Church)
  4. Big Bettor (Stanley Medical Research Institute)
  5. Public Provider (Success for All Foundation)
  6. Policy Innovator (Youth Villages)
  7. Beneficiary Broker (Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership)
  8. Resource Recycler (AmeriCares Foundation)
  9. Market Maker (Trust for Private Land)
  10. Local Nationalizer (Big Brothers Big Sisters)

The article describes the various models and also how to maximize each model’s assets to find fame and success.

Note that, although articles like these are often reductive (think Cosmopolitan magazine’s “10 ways to make him love your hair” or whatever), it sometimes helps to make lists. They make you think about your organization and clarify your strategies, even if you decide you don’t quite match any of the options.

Obfuscate! How to Cut Down on Spam from Your Own Website

March 29, 2010

A July 2009 Technology Review article talks about the work of spam researchers from Indiana University. Some of key bits of information are:

  • Probably more than 90 percent of the email messages traversing the Internet are spam, according to MessageLabs.
  • Email addresses included in comments posted to popular websites were more likely to be picked up by spambots and to result in spam.

But also:

  • Using a simple obfuscation technique like replacing the @ with “-at-” works “surprisingly well” against email harvesting, according to researcher Craig Shue.
  • Submitting an email address to a legitimate website rarely resulted in spam. “If you go to less reputable sites, then you will get spam,” said Shue.

Fast Smart Web Design generally obfuscates emails on the websites we set up for our clients–what appears on the client’s Contact Us page, for example, is a mailto link on something like “emailname at”

Sometimes the client complains that the email doesn’t work (“You used ‘at’ instead of the @ sign!”). But after a little digging, we usually find that the person trying to use the link hasn’t chosen an email system with which to send an email from the web page. Each browser—Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox—has an option or preference for picking the email program you want to use.

For example, in Firefox, under the Tools menu, pick Options, then go to the Applications tab. Scroll down to “Mailto” and pick your favorite email program. Sometimes this solves the problem. Sometimes it doesn’t, and I don’t know why yet. (Anybody have any clues?)

Fidelity’s Managed Giving Fund #2 Grantmaker: Who’d Have Thought?

March 19, 2010

The Nonprofit Quarterly online newsletter published an article recently on the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. The fund is managed by Fidelity Investments, a very large mutual fund organization in which you yourself may have a 401(K) or IRA.

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund doesn’t decide who to send the money to but rather lets its investors tell the fund where and when to send cash. It also makes it easy to distribute money:  “Fidelity seems dedicated to a low barrier approach to its donor-advised funds, recently lowering the minimum level for a donor’s investment for setting up a fund down to $5,000,” says the article’s author, Rick Cohen. “It has, according to Libbey, also entirely eliminated any minimum level required for adding to a donor-advised fund and lowered the minimum size grant to $50.”

The fund distributed more than $1 billion last year. For more information, see Fidelity’s Charitable Gift Fund Shows Well in Recession.

Note: Vanguard and Schwab also offer managed gift funds. See Yes, you can start your own charitable gift foundation for more information.

Money from government

March 5, 2010

If you’re trying to get money from local, state, and/or federal government sources, check out this article from GuideStar:

Place Your Bets: How to Get and Preserve Government Funding in Tough Economic Times

Some of my favorite bits: Why state and local funding tends to be more volatile. Enlisting a choir of angels to praise your program for you. Work with your competitors instead of against them. Invite legislators to your place of business.