Posts Tagged ‘philanthropy’

The Most Generous Nation in the World

December 7, 2013
Nora Gunn, CFRE

Nora Gunn, CFRE

Somewhere between the pumpkin pie and the holiday presents, tens of thousands of people in our community will take time to reflect on what they are grateful for. It is the season for giving, and the most important month for our profession. About one-third of all donations are made during December.

To those of us in the field, it’s no surprise that the United States was recently named the world’s most charitable nation. This generosity, resourcefulness and spirit was recognized worldwide by the 2013 World Giving Index which noted a higher proportion of Americans helped a stranger than any other country and, overall,  the percentage of people donating money, volunteering time, and helping others is growing.  

On Tuesday, the emphasis on giving was even more prevalent as AFP joined more than 10,000 nonprofit organizations that galvanized throughout the country to persuade their supporters to give time or money on “#Giving Tuesday.” The increase in participants helped double online donations from $12-million to $21-million according to early estimates.

This great news comes on the heels of more celebration. In November, many of you joined us for the annual AFP Suncoast Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day event presented by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.  We recognized Cherie Schonbrun, Volunteer of the Year, who is known for her servant’s heart; we cheered Youth in Philanthropy awardee Matthew Baar, who was busy raising money to help kids like his brother Joey who had Downs Syndrome, open heart surgery and leukemia when Matthew was diagnosed with cancer himself; we applauded The Pinellas Auxiliary of the Children’s Home for their philanthropic service to providing children a better tomorrow;  we appreciated small business owner Susan Benjamin for her commitment to provide art for all economic levels; we commended the Tampa Bay Rays role in giving to the community and teaching others to do the same;  we saluted Karen Dalton for her unique approach to advancing philanthropy; and, we were inspired by the words of Philanthropist of the Year Sandy McKinnon who said the world is a better place when people give.  In all, more than 100 communities and 50,000 people around the globe participated in NPD celebrations.

This month, the merriment continues when we present the J. Lloyd Horton Lifetime Achievement Award to Jane Arnett and bestow the inaugural Janet Ware Memorial Scholarship to Bryn Warner. As 2013 and my year as President come to an end, I certainly have a lot to reflect on and be grateful for. Foremost, I would like to extend my personal gratitude to our Board of Directors and committees for the countless volunteer hours dedicated to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, and education in our Chapter and our community. Additionally, I thank each and every member for recognizing the important role AFP plays in fostering the development and growth of fundraising professionals. Without a strong and vibrant membership, we could not be the resource we are for so many.

In the temper of an ancient proverb: May generosity fill your soul, may truth always be your compass, may patience be your shield and may love and respect be your signature. Happy Holidays to you all!

Nora Gunn, CFRE
2013 AFP Suncoast President
Vice President, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation & St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation
Phone: 813 872 0979

Changing the Culture at Goodwill Industries-Suncoast

October 26, 2013

Goodwill Industries-Suncoast is headlong into a new journey – one that many in the fundraising industry call “building a culture of philanthropy”. It started when Jim Williams, Vice President for Fund Development attended a national Goodwill conference. That’s where Goodwill employees from around the country go for education and to share best practices. Jim heard about a practical idea to raise more money – and he is using it to change the culture too.

It’s quite simple really. Rounding-up. When you shop at a Goodwill Industries-Suncoast thrift store, the cashier will ask you if you want to round-up your purchase as a gift. If you say “yes”, the cashier thanks you for your gift. If you say “no thank you” the cashier thanks you for supporting Goodwill by shopping at the thrift store. The small change from rounding-up has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Goodwill. No joke.

But how does that change the culture? When Jim explained it to me he told me that first he had to convince the Vice President of Retail, who was reluctant. Maybe customers would be uncomfortable being asked. Maybe the stores would be uncomfortable asking. Jim described how customers were already giving by buying and would be thanked no matter what – diffusing any awkwardness. He also agreed to do training at each store. The VP was willing to test it out in one store first. It was a smash hit – both in dollars and morale!

Now Jim and Melody Marrs, Goodwill Fund Development Manager, are launching the round-up initiative at all of the Goodwill Industries-Suncoast stores. They show up in the early hours of the morning to train staff about all of the programs operating under the Goodwill mission. Get a question right and win a small prize. Store members all receive a special Goodwill t-shirt and distribute Goodwill static-cling decals. And when a customer rounds-up on a purchase, the receipt prints out the gift amount.

The response?

  • Store employees are excited about the lives enriched through Goodwill – including the part they play.
  • Store employees are sharing the Goodwill mission and confident answering questions from customers.
  • Customers are asking how they can purchase a t-shirt.
  • Non-store Goodwill employees are asking about shirts and want to sport the decal on their cars.
  • The stores have been competing to see which one will have the highest gift income on launch day!

Like many organizations that have strong earned-revenue, Goodwill has to get creative to foster a strong culture of philanthropy and connect its earned-revenue services with its fundraising programs. The round-up initiative is a simple but powerful way to bring Goodwill Industries-Suncoast’s retail operations into closer collaboration with its philanthropic operations.

Thank you AFP Suncoast member Jim Williams for sharing your inspiring story!

Connect with Goodwill:  Facebook and Twitter
About the Author, Jen Filla

Jen Filla is a roving reporter on the AFP Suncoast Communications Committee. She is also president of Aspire Research Group LLC where she works with organizations worried about finding their next big donor, concerned about what size gift to ask for, or frustrated that they aren’t meeting their major gift goals.

Fully Engaged

September 5, 2013
Nora Gunn, CFRE

Nora Gunn, CFRE

Diana Nyad has made history this week as the first person to swim the 110-mile Florida Strait. This was Nyad’s fifth attempt, and it took her 53 hours to complete. Nyad, 64, said that her record-setting swim was about being “fully engaged” in life – a lesson in passion and persistence we all can take to heart. Here in the AFP Suncoast Chapter, we have several opportunities for our members and the community-at-large to become fully engaged in philanthropy.

Our keynote speaker on September 17 will be fundraising veteran and long-standing AFP member, Holly Duncan. She will be sharing a career’s worth of advice and anecdotes on her professional development experience. It’s a not-to-be missed program.

On September 20, nominations are due for our 28th Annual National Philanthropy Day celebration. This is a great way for your charity to honor donors and volunteers whose gifts of time, expertise and resources contribute significantly to the quality of life in our communities. The National Philanthropy Day committee, chaired by Bryn Warner, has been working hard to ensure this will be the best celebration to date. Please consider submitting one or more nominations on behalf of your organization.

This month, the Resource Development committee led by Judy Anderson will launch a philanthropic guide that highlights some of the most visible and valuable marketing opportunities for partners to support of the development profession.  Partners interested in sponsoring chapter activities should contact us as soon as possible as spots are filling up fast.

We will soon be electing a new slate of officers that will lead our organization in the years to come. I encourage you to speak with a member of our nominating committee if you have interest in serving in a leadership capacity or on a committee of the Board.

Diana Nyad’s goal took a team of experts that helped her make the swim from Cuba to Key West, giving her nourishment, protecting her from jellyfish and monitoring her health. For our volunteer-run Chapter to succeed and accomplish its goal of promoting ethical and effective fundraising, it takes the work of many members and professionals behind-the-scenes and along the way. Thank you to our members and leaders who are fully engaged with our mission, and welcome to those that would like to be.

Nora Gunn, CFRE
2013 AFP Suncoast President
Vice President, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation & St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation
Phone: 813 872 0979

How Good Ideas Spread

August 1, 2013
Nora Gunn, CFRE

Nora Gunn, CFRE

I recently read an article by Atul Gawande called “Slow Ideas.” Among his many accomplishments, Gawande is a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and has been named one of the hundred most influential thinkers by Time. He asks a question that many in the field of philanthropy have wondered, “How do good ideas spread?”

The basis of his medical research suggests that we yearn for frictionless, technological solutions, but that people talking to people is still the way to make change happen. The concept struck me as something that is so easily relatable to what we do in the Development profession. How we engage a donor with our not-for-profit, how a donor becomes passionate about our mission, how we inspire them to make a gift.

Gawande uses a series of historical medical advances and current third-world problems to illustrate a pattern of important, but stalled, ideas and movements. While his research work currently focuses on systems innovations in surgery globally, he emphasizes a very important point: we are in the first part of the twenty-first century, and we are still trying to figure out how to get ideas from the first part of the twentieth century to take root. Just like each of us in our not-for-profits, these change agents have been tackling problems that are big, but somewhat invisible to the greater majority of society. Drawing attention to our cause can be challenging in a distracted and fragmented world. 

In the era of social media, we’ve become enamored with ideas that spread contagiously. We connect with donors via email blasts; we post our latest giving opportunities on Facebook; we create YouTube videos about our programs. Gawande contends that technology is not enough to motivate action.

Mass media can introduce a new idea to people. But, change is a social process. To truly adopt a new idea (in our case, support to a cause) people follow the lead of other people they know and trust when they make decisions. To create new giving behaviors, we have to understand people’s existing norms, objections and motivations. We have to talk to them. The mere value of an opportunity is not enough. Human interaction is the key force in overcoming resistance and speeding change.

In Gawande’s research, he evaluated many common change approaches like group instruction, penalties and incentives. In our work, group instruction could be akin to public service announcements for our charity, penalties likened to more tax burden without philanthropy, and incentives equated to the donor benefits provided by our organization as recognition. What is interesting, and somewhat inherent, is that research has found the most successful approach to be when people are given mentors. In fundraising, we give our donors this kind of attention through our board members and leadership volunteers, and by when we sit down face-to-face and build relationships. It comes down to some basic elements of donor engagement: through personal outreach, they will come to know you; if they know you, they might trust you; and, if they trust you, that’s when they are motivated to change.

Want to read Atul Gawande’s full article? Click here.

Nora Gunn, CFRE
2013 AFP Suncoast President
Vice President, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation & St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation
Phone: 813 872 0979

Founding Philanthropists

July 3, 2013
Nora Gunn, CFRE

Nora Gunn, CFRE

Amongst the fireworks, parades and barbeques, Independence Day is a time to reflect on the many gifts we, as Americans, have been given through sacrifice and how deep the roots of philanthropy extend into the founding of our nation. It is through the efforts of a group of volunteers who dedicated themselves to democracy and building a strong community from which America grew to become the greatest country in the world.

America’s Founding Fathers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, led fascinating, often controversial lives and exhibited philanthropic influence can still be seen today.

The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, said of philanthropy, “it is the duty of every man to devote a certain portion of his income for charitable purposes; and that it is his further duty to see it so applied and to do the most good for which it is capable.” He donated his expansive personal collection to restore the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, the Library of Congress.

Benjamin Franklin, in addition to being a brilliant inventor, organized the United States’ first lending library and volunteer fire department, built universities and hospitals, and was one of the first Planned Giving donors, leaving a $2,000 bequest to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia.  

George Washington was one of the most notable philanthropists of his generation. He was generous toward the poor, supported orphans, and gave the largest gift to higher education in American record at that time.

Due in part to the leadership of our Founding Fathers, philanthropy has evolved over the years to a powerful and integral force in American society. The charitable virtues of these revolutionaries championed social responsibility, influenced knowledge, and addressed human crises. As we stand saluting hand-over-heart during the national anthem this holiday, we have one more thing to honor – the contributions of the philanthropists that have come before us who have shaped history. Happy Fourth of July!

Nora Gunn, CFRE
President, 2013 AFP Suncoast Chapter
Vice President, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation & St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation
Phone: 813 872 0979

Doctors of Inspiration

April 4, 2013
Nora Gunn, CFRE

Nora Gunn, CFRE

On two separate occasions in the last week while visiting with a donor and showing them the impact of their recent gift, the donor has found themselves in need of the services of our organization. No matter if we fundraise for a homeless shelter, a crisis center or a cultural center, all of us have, or will have, many occasions when a donor becomes a client or needs help. As a fundraiser for a hospital, I’m not talking about assistance with an office appointment or finding a specialist. I mean that right then and there, on the spot, these people needed a doctor STAT.

I don’t know what that says about my powers of persuasion, but at least I’m not putting them to sleep.  After the ambulance was called, the ICU bed readied, and the crises was over, I was left with this great appreciation and humbling reminder of just how critical charities are to our community. Who would our neighbors turn to if the not-for-profits we represent did not exist? What if the resources donors provide our organizations dried up?

The ways we connect, build a case for support and inspire people to experience the joy of giving is important. Equally important is the Association of Fundraising Professionals that provides the research, advocacy, education and ethical platform necessary to do our jobs better. It means so much to the clients, patients and patrons our institutions serve. Our fine colleagues at academic institutions might beg to differ with me, but I think fundraisers deserve an honorary degree…Doctors of Inspiration.

Nora Gunn, CFRE
2013 AFP Suncoast President
Director of Development, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation
Phone: 813 872 0979

Successful Major Gift Strategies with Michael Baker

April 1, 2013

Michael J. Baker CFRE

Michael J. Baker CFRE of M3 Development talked to the AFP Suncoast Chapter in March 2013 about Successful Major Gift Strategies. He advocated a 5% strategy – if your job is running the office as development director, dedicate at least 5% of your time to raising major gifts.

Michael covered much in his presentation, a copy of which has been added to the chapter website. Click here to download.

Some of the highlights include the following:

  • Don’t wait, just ask.
  • Get others to ask for the gift! Peer solicitors are an important resource.
  • The wealthiest 3% of the U.S. population gave 50% of all dollars nationwide.
  • 32% of donors give because of the tax benefit according to the  2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy.
  • Women control 60% of U.S. wealth.
  • If your organization does not have a strategic plan, your fund development efforts will not have a road map and will struggle with the case for support.
  • Look inside your existing donor pool first.

About the Author, Jen Filla

Jen Filla is a roving reporter on the AFP Suncoast Communications Committee. She is also president of Aspire Research Group LLC where she works with organizations worried about finding their next big donor, concerned about what size gift to ask for, or frustrated that they aren’t meeting their major gift goals.

An Interesting Time For AFP

February 4, 2013
Nora Gunn, CFRE

Nora Gunn, CFRE

by AFP Suncoast Chapter President, Nora Gunn

It’s an interesting time in the history of the Association Fundraising Professionals.

Not-for-profits are becoming major economic force, ranking third in the number of employed workers behind retail and manufacturing industries, long considered to be the engines of economic growth. The charitable world is growing progressively complex, with a diverse set of challenges.

Advocacy is becoming increasingly important. Your Association was instrumental in sparing the charitable deduction from falling off the fiscal cliff during the recent tax reform and deficit reduction negotiations. While AFP remains vigilant regarding legislative that could potentially impact our profession, it is only through the might of our members that we can safeguard the continuing vitality of philanthropy.

Here in the Suncoast Chapter, We represent nearly 250 members in a diverse array of fields and specialties. Nearly 20 percent of our members hold CFRE certifications, one of the highest in the Association. Our Chapter trends above the national average in growth and retention nationally and compared to chapters our size. As larger percentages of new fundraisers enter the field, it is our obligation to provide training which advances ethical and effective fundraising.

Surveys show we are meeting your needs, but we are never content to rest on our laurels. You have told us you:

  • Appreciate the friendships made and kept over the years
  • Found a position or hired from our Job Bank
  • Access AFP’s professional learning sources and seek advice from colleagues
  • Value the “professionalizing” of fundraising
  • Enjoy having a local connection
  • Like to keep in touch with trends; adopt a broader perspective
  • Learn about ethics and best practices

Since being involved in the leadership of our organization, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for our volunteer-run Chapter.  Your leadership cares about your experience and the mission of our organization. Both internationally and locally, we are working diligently to serve the interests and livelihood of our members and the philanthropic community.

Please reach out to us if you have a question or suggestion about your involvement.

Nora Gunn, CFRE
2013 AFP Suncoast President
Director of Development, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation

Happy 2023!

January 2, 2013

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 8.51.59 AMOver the next week you will read articles that circle around crossing the line into 2013, some retrospectives about the year that has been and the year that is to come. In short, very focused on the transactional date of New Years Eve. But, after all, we are a transactional business, take a look at what we measure. Cost per dollar, participation, average gift, number of calls, these are all interesting things to know and can be helpful. However, they lead to creating a culture of transactions not philanthropy. If the goal is to keep people supporting your organization year in and out then the metrics by necessity need to be longer and connected to relationships not just transactions. Our industry has very little “best practice” in creating cultures of philanthropy. We are quite bountiful with “best practice” that creates a culture of taking. Stroll through Linkedin discussions where you find the words “best practice” I suggest that almost 97% are connected to transactional thinking.

The key ingredient to creating a culture of philanthropy is an internal culture of extraordinary service. It is being driven by an internal set of values that holds the donor experience above everything else.  There are tools popping up all over the market place along with “experts” who have never put together a strategy that resulted in improved retention. Tools alone can not improve retention, only people unified by a set of core values….see Disney.

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 4.01.09 PM

Jay Goulart

This 2013 make the commitment for 2023 to be a great year for your donors. Sounds crazy I know, but the fact is that to design and
implement strategy that impacts donor behavior means you need to understand how to generate momentum. Several years ago I hired a PHD in physics to teach my team about the principles of momentum. That experience highlighted for us that short term measures would never really help in understanding if our strategies were creating emotional bonds to our mission and vision.

The great Peter Drucker once stated: “Every business model reaches a point of diminishing returns”. I have long been a huge fan of Peter Drucker’s thinking, this particular quote seems to go to the heart of the state of the fundraising business. But don’t take my word for it check out this STUDY.

Check out this exercise for improving retention HERE

About the Author

Jay Goulart is Director of Advancement at Academy at the Lakes and Managing Director at Bob Carter Companies. A veteran fundraiser, he shares his experience with readers in his own blog, The New Science of Philanthropy.

Mayor Buckhorn’s Proclamation

October 30, 2011

(L-R) Judy Anderson, Leana Lopez, Mayor Buckhorn and Sue Levitt

Mayor Buckhorn Declares November 16 National Philanthropy Day in the City of Tampa

By Mayoral Proclamation, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn recently declared Wednesday, November 16 as “National Philanthropy Day” in the City of Tampa.
During a recent ceremony at City Hall, the Mayor presented a proclamation to Sue Levitt, President of the Florida Suncoast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Leana Lopez, Chair and Judy Anderson, Co-Chair of the National Philanthropy Day Committee.  He urged all residents to join him in saluting the AFP Suncoast Chapter and especially the recipients whose contributions will be honored next month.
Philanthropists from the Tampa Bay area will be recognized for their dedication to community service and giving at a luncheon on National Philanthropy Day, November 16, presented the Florida Suncoast Chapter of AFP and our Presenting Sponsor, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
“National Philanthropy Day recognizes and salutes the great contribution that philanthropy, and those people active in the philanthropic community in the Tampa Bay area, have made to our lives, our communities, our nation and our world,” said Sue Levitt.
There is still time to purchase an individual ticket or a table for the event.  Single seats are $50 and table sponsorships are $500-$2,500 Please see website for sponsorship details or email Bryn Warner at for additional sponsorship information.  To register online, visit by November 11, 2011.
For more information, contact Leana Lopez at the University of South Florida, (813) 974-1894 or