Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's Your Cause?

All non-profits have a cause, but few can articulate it well. This is what I will be posting about today. The Pinoy Fundraiser (PF) should know all the innards of the non-profit organization. You need to know why it exists, how it can make this world a better place, it all starts from there.

When you start a fundraising campaign, big or small, it usually evolves from a cause concept--the reason why you need money in the first place. From cleaning the local river, to making the air more breatheable, to taking care of children with the HIV virus, and you should believe that it is worth other peopele's money. Convincing others about it is another matter though.

So, how does one develop a cause concept. It starts with your vision. For example, if you have an orphanage and you started with housing orphans and you embark on a project to expand your housing facility from 25 to 50 residents, then its a cause concept. How you then communicate this need should now revolve around this concept. Explain the reason for the need to expand, how much it will cost, who will help you build it, how long will it take, etc. And from these questions, you can now outline how you would be presenting it.

Then show it others. Find out what they think about it. Ask your peers. Ask them if it works. You'll get a lot of reactions and you will be able to weigh things and improve your appeal. Unless you are a seasoned Pinoy Fundraiser, your first draft will almost always contain issues that needs to be addressed and improved. Don't be too attached that what you wrote. You are not your audience.

More to come on Monday! God bless!


And what are these? 8-)

In this acronym-crazy world we live in, these are very important to the Pinoy Fundraiser (BTW, these are also announcments of upcoming events.)

1. PCNC: Philippine Counceil for NGO Certification ( They are tasked to provide Donee Institution Status. This is important to you as a non-profit for the following reason stated in their website:

A certification of DONEE INSTITUTION STATUS leads to better things....
  • Encourage local donations to NGOs, made more important by the present trend of dwindling resources for social development projects
  • Recognizes NGOs of "good standing" that funding donors may consider in their choice of organization to support
  • Provides opportunities for self-assessment and improvement
  • Provides valuable assistance for organizational strengthening
  • Promotes professionalism, transparency and accountability of the NGO community
On Friday, May 29, 2008, PCNC will be holding its annual assembly. They will also have booths from member organizations that will exhibit their wares. Visit their website for further details.

2. CSA: Christian Stewardship Association ( This is what their website says about itself:

Christian Stewardship Association is a network of Christian fundraisers,business people and local pastors whose mission is to advance theGospel of Jesus Christ and God’s Kingdom work through biblicalstewardship education. CSA provides training and resource materials tohelp Christian nonprofit organizations mobilize resources to fund theirministries.

They also have a new class for A Certificate Course on Professional Christian Fundraising. the classes will be held at the Asian Theological Seminary in partnership with World Vision Philippinesand the Christian Stewardship Association. This will start on July 4, 2009 Saturdays 9:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

Course Schedule
July 4 Biblical Stewardship and Fundraising
July 11 Strategic Planning for Resource Development
July 18 Communications and Public Relations
July 25 Partner Development
August 1 Fundraising Methods and Techniques
August 8 Writing Grant Proposals
August 15 Accountability, Integrity and Ethics in Fundraising
August 22 Capacity-Building for Resource and Leadership Development (Utilizing and Mobilizing Assets)

3. LCF or League of Corporate Foundations ( Agai, from their website:

The League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) is a membership association of over 70 operating and grant-making corporate foundations and corporations, seeking to provide business solutions to social problems in the Philippines through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Collectively, LCF represents many decades of private sector involvement strengthened with public sector partnerships and multi-sectoral approaches in various development sectors including arts and culture, education, environment, health, enterprise development and CSR research.

On July 9 and 10, LCF will be holding its 8th CSR Expo dubbed, "Business Unusual: SOS, Skills, Opportunites and Sustainability at the SMX convention Cente. PFs should be there or be square.

Keep coming! God bless!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Did you say thank you?

One of the cardinal rules in donor development is that you have to send a thank you letter to your donor within 72 hours of receiving the gift (that's money in development speak).

Or does it take you 72 days to even think of sending it? With today's pace of technology, one has a huge variety of ways to say thank you. I read once that it is better to send a badly written thank you letter than to not send one at all. Is it true in your organization? I don't know about here in the Philippines, but it is a sad reality in the United States. Let us not be like them.

Here in the Philippines, our donors are more forgiving. A lot of people give to our non-profits because they know that what we do can change the world, albeit, a few people at a time. But that does not mean that we can take it for granted to thank them. They need to know that their hard-earned money was put into good use. They want to know that you received their gift and was not lost through pilferage or in transit.

Assuming that you are a small non-profit, here is what I suggest you can do once you receive a gift:

1. SMS them that their gift arrived. Call them if their gift is over 1,000 pesos.

2. Get the receipt processed ASAP!

3. Print the thank you letter. If your handwriting if is great, then handwrite those gifts over 5,000 pesos.

4. Now, post them. That means mail them at your local post office. Use a live stamp for gifts over 5,000 pesos.

5. After five days, call them and ask if they have already received your letter and receipt.

If you do this, i guarantee that you will have many happy donations to come.

God bless and I look forward to your visit tomorrow!

P.S. BTW, make sure their names are correct on the envelope!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kodak Moments

Does your non-profit have a reasonably knowledgeable photographer on-staff or as a volunteer?

As the saying goes, "Pictures are worth more than a thousand words." Photos are like a-sentimo-a-dozen in these days of the digital camera. Almost everyone has a camera, but, also everyone's knowledge is limited to pushing the shutter button, and sadly, nothing else.

Photo sites abound on the internet that shows anyone with a digital point and shoot camera get excellent results. These sites help you by showing you how to compose better, telling you how to use you camera, etc.

But then, nothing beats having an experienced photographer document your project. Aside from having better equipment, they also know how to capture the right (Kodak) moment. They can show more emotion from your subjects, put them in better lighting and so much more.

Most non-profits take their own photo documentation and try to learn it themselves, sometimes to the detriment of the organization. It is very easy to get volunteer photographers that will give your images more oomph!

So, how do you get better images?

1. Find out your local camera club and go to their meetings. Some meet informally, while others have more "official" setups. 8-) Again you can use Google for this. It is fairly easy. A lot of photographers are always waiting for opportunities to shoot. Present your cause and you'll easily get responses.

2. Buy a second hand wedding magazine. Look at the back and take note of the wedding photographers advertising their services. Write them a letter or visit them and give them a proposal. Wedding photographers are great documentarians becuase that is what they really do, document a couple's wedding. And their great in portraiture!

3. Get the names of your local newspaper's staff photographer. Contact them and ask them if they can cover your event or project. If its newsworthy, they'll come.

4. Get the names of your local newspaper's editor-in-chief. Get them as advocates of your cause and they'll send their paper's staff photographer.

5. Upgrade your point-and-shoot to a second hand entry level DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera like Nikon's D40 or Canon's 350D and their respective kit lens. Take time to learn from other people and you would easily increase the quality of your photos.

6. Get another person to do it! If you are leading the organization and still take the photos, this work for a while but get messy in the long run. Better have someone on-staff to learn it. You have better things to do.

Tomorrow again folks! God bless!

Camera Club of the Philippines:
Images Camera Club: --> This is a Cebu City based camera club
Alpha Camera Club:
Marikina Digital Photographer's Club:
Anton Sheker's Photographer's Guide:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Strut Your Stuff

05/25/09 AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've just edited the post below to correct some typos and other errors and to make the message clearer (well, to me at least).


Most non-profits do a great job of rendering social and humanitarian services, but has a difficult, no, a terrible time letting others know about it. Communication is one essential skill a Pinoy Fundraiser should have.

There are so many ways for you to show the world what good you are doing. Some, in modesty cannot bear to "lift their own chair" (ok, that was a lame and very literal translation of "pagbubuhat ng sariling bangko) or being too modest at ones' acievements. But if you really think about it, how else can you get people to give to you if you dont...let...them...know...!

Yes, let our fruits tell them how great we are, but then, those fruits take a lot of time to ripen, and when it happens (the fruit, ripening), your donor would have moved on to the next "fruitier" non-profit.

So what do you do? Get a communications plan going!

Write a letter to the 20 or so newspaper editors and the bazillion FM and AM jocks and tell them that you have a good thing going and has just started ("Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan?")

When you get to the middle part of your project, let them know again. Write a one-page announcement for the press. Call them! Text them! Blog it! Tweet it! Tell them to your friends over and over! Repetition is a good thing. They'll tire of hearing from you and they'd give up have no other choice but to give you a look. Remember the parable of the persistent widow? (Google it right now!). She was so persistent (not to mention annoying) that the judge she pestered surrendered and gave her justice. And when your done, let them know about it too!

So get a pencil and paper ready (a computer would do fine too!) and whip out your communications plan. If its the first time your doing it, you might fail--but you may also succeed!
More to come tomorrow, God bless!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Internet to our Advantage

Ok, let's use the internet for the advantage of the Pinoy Fundraiser (PF). One thing that the internet can help us with is give us a wealth of information that can raise the bar of our fundraising.

We need to know what others are doing so that we can evaluate if we can use it for our own. It is not wrong to know how others are being succesful and how others fail. We don't have to reinvent the wheel--but we can make it better. 8-)

Online resources are plenty in cyberspace. The PF should always visit Mal Warwick's website ( This guy has a lot to offer us. Make sure to look for his books (try, I haven't found his books locally) and whatever you think is applicable to you.

Your next stop should the website Fundraising Succes Magazine ( They share a lot of wisdom for all things fundraising. They even now have an online version of their magazine which I have been subscribed to for a few years already. Their columns are great even though they write in the context of the American economy. I'm sure you'll learn something beneficial to your organization.

Do visit the websites of the company's that make fundraising software like Blackbaud (, Compass Technology (, other fundraisers' blog (especially mine, hehehe). They offer white papers on fundraising, trial software, free strategy and a host of other things. Oh, don't forget Google ( and learn how to search with good keywords.

Last, but not the least, is to visit widely known non-profit websites like, the Salvation Army (, Food for the Hungry (, The Christian Broadcasting Network (, hey, I learned a lot from them! Almost all the big non-profits has a website that they use for fundraising and it would be wise if you find out what they are doing. You'll find out how they do it, who does it for them (suppliers, contractors, etc.)

More on Monday! God bless!

P.S. Yes, I know, the post is 13 minutes late, hey give me a break!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Who is your idol?

Now that all the hoopla about Kris Allen winning American Idol 8 over Adam Lambert is dying down (or is it increasing?), I'd like to shift today's post to celebrity endorsers.

Some experts have different views about celebrities endorsing non-profits. The American Marketing Association and its Foundation conducted a survey of donors in the Spring of 2005. It found that trust in the organization was far-and-away the most important consideration. At the same time, 58% of the respondents said that celebrity endorsements were "not at all important" in their decisions to give.

An online article supporting the idea of celebrity endorsers can be found in this link:

Here in the Philippines, there is a good chance that having a celebrity endorser can help increase your non-profit's public awareness. Obviously, because our country is so easily bedazzled by them stars. This is probably the reason why WorldVision in the Philippines has racked up quite a few celebrities to help them get the word out, Miriam Quiambao, Karen Davila, Christian Bautista, and most recently, Leah Salonga.

UNICEF has Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano as their National Ambassador. He is now on his tenth year with the children's rights agency.

So, does this work for everyone? Well, probably a "Yes" and "No".

Yes, becuase it will surely help you get people to your events and other activities. No, because their presence may not necessarily mean people will give. You do get top of mind recall from these people, so that when the time comes that they are ready to give, your non-profit will be on the top of the list.

One thing to make sure is that your non-profit should have the utmost dedication to integrity and service to its constituents. Your good work will most likely be remembered rather than the celebrity endorsing you. Another is that there is no assurance that your celebrity will always be in the positive side of the limelight. When they make a mistake, along with them goes your non-profit.

God bless!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where's my email? Part 3

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know this post is late. I got caught up in a lot of work at the office. But I still keptmy promise of posting from Monday to Friday. 8-)

Ok, let's start this post by asking a question which I think has been going through your mind since i started this series: "What paid software do you use for sending your email?

We currently use the services of Constant Contact ( I started with a trial account a few years ago where they let me use the system as long as I had less than a 100 people in the mailing list. Anyway, I was drawn to the fact that they have a reporting system on how many people opened the email, how many people clicked and what link they clicked, etc.

The system also provided me with a better way to manage the contacts we accumulate. They provided me with code so that you can put a form in your webpage and it would automatically update the contacts database in your account. Cool!

Before I used this system, I used what is supposed to be a "cheaper" method. I bought a software called "Mail Bomber". Since I was the geeky type, it seemed not a problem for me--until I was managing various lists with thousands of addresses. Also, you needed to paste HTML code that made up your email to the program. This code is passed on to me by a website programmer when he lays out the email. I paid the guy 250 pesos for each email he coded for me. Oh, did I mention the guy lived in Pampanga? And I was in Makati. Sure, we emailed. But he was not home all the time. He was working on other projects. I was the only one who worked with him in the office and understood how thing worked. It got tiresome, and it was not that "cheap."

So I went back to my trial account at Constant Contact, which already expired, and proposed to my boss that we really needed to switch to this system. After I got it approved, I upgraded the account to the paid service, showed it to one of our staff and asked her to learn it, which did not take that long. And it's now out of my way. I was able to delegate it to someone else!

Just recently, I got the code to put a form on our webpage and it has been doing the job of updating our contact database. For many months, my staff manually entered the email addresses that we collected, which is well over a thousand new addresses. I did not understand the code earlier so I hesitated to use it, I should have done it earlier and saved myself a lot of time.

Now, with Constant Contact, I know how many opened our email (our average is between 16% - 20%). I can find out who opened it and what links they clicked. We have at least 15% of the list clicking a link in the email. I find out how many addresses are "bouncing" and why. So I have it proven to be very useful.

Do I recommend that you use it? Hmmm, that's a tough one. Maybe you need to go to a paid service if:

1. You are emailing to over 500 addresses
2. You need to do something else better rather than mess around with kludgy email software
3. You have a global audience (OFWs, Filipino migrants, etc.)
4. You have to turn over the work to a non-technical person
5. You can afford to pay anwhere from 1,800 to 3,500 a month

If you answered "YES" to all of that, then, please subscribe to a service (if you let me refer you to, our account will get a $30 rebate). If you said "NO" to at least to items, then think about, pray about it.

Until tomorow (hopefully earlier), God bless!

P.S. I also heard about, so you can compare services. BTW, I finished writing this at 11:41 pm, Manila time, so this means I did not miss my deadline. 8-))

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where's my email? Part 2

AUTHOR'S NOTE: As I was reviewing yesterday's post, I noticed a few "glaring" typos and grammatical errors. I humbly ask for you forgiveness, and I hope you will give it so you'll feel better. Oh, there's another one. 8-)


So, where does one start if the organization decides to use email as a way to raise funds?

1. Do you have email addresses to send your message to? You can start with the email addresses of your friends and family. Then let it grow from there. Growing it will be the subject of another post.

2. Edwin, I have tons of email addresses, can I use them? Sure, why not? but, ask first. In the U.S. there is a law called CAN-SPAM that states that you need to get a recipient's permission that you want to send email to them on a regular basis, they call it opting-in. Also, make sure those addresses are working. It won't hurt to ask permission, they usualy give it. Trust me!

3. Text or HTML? If you are starting from scratch and you know nothing except how to type your message, and hitting the "Send" button, start with a text message first. I'm not referring to an SMS message ok? People will give not because your email is pretty (it helps though) but because they believe in your message and a plain, old non-HTML email will focus your reader to read.

4. Should I use a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail? Yeah, go for it! Just make sure that your return email address is not something like, or If your recipient's email client scans incoming mail for scams and spams, your email will most probably wind up in the SPAM BOX. The ideal is for you to use an email address that contains your non-profit's name like, You'll look (and sound) more credible.

5. How should I write? If you were the one receiving another non-profit's email, what would you want to receive? I personally go for short individual stories. Writing letters (on and offline, meaning on paper and via email) is both a science and an art. You need to feel what you are writing. If you aren't touched by your own message then others would also have a hard time get touched. The logical flow of the letter should be clear. Make it sound like a personal correspondence, not the business letter type. And don't forget a call to action. Let your recipient know that they can do something.

I still have a follow-up on this topic so come back tomorrow!

Let me know what you want me to blog about

Next week, I will be going into a more predictable schedule of topics to post. There would be a specific topic to talk about for each day. I'd like to ask your suggestion on what I should blog about. Something that you think will be worth your while to come here every day. Just post your comments below. All suggestions will be considered. Also, on certain days, there will be two posts if there are breaking news, exciting conferences or other opportunities that will help you, my dear readers, raise the level of your fundraising efforts.

For the Pinoy fundraisers (ok, Americans can join in too, not just Pinoys) out there who has something to share (seminars, discounts, suppliers, etc.), I will be entertaining them as long as it will help the Pinoy (Americans too!) fundraiser, I'm all for it.

God bless you!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Where's my Email? Part 1

Email fundraising can be both good and bad. Since nobody writes so much on paper anymore, email could be a good alternative to sharing your message. I am not averse to it, because we use it to! This approach is especially good in times of calamity where you really, really need to get the word out to as many channels as possible.

But email has its challenges. The first challenge is coming up with a list of email addresses to send your messages to.

Second, if you won't be careful, your email could end up in your recipient's SPAM BOX. Yeah, you read it right. Its not the blue can, its the electronic kind.

Third is timing. If you send it at the wrong time, your email will easily be the 66th email that your recipient may miss it. Fourth, a lot of people have multiple email addresses, their "official" company email, their Yahoo address, because everyone has it. Gmail because its cool. Hotmail, Rocketmail, Eudoramail, heck, they may even have an email address from their internet provider, i.e. username@pldtmydscl or

Email has its pros too by the way. Up to a certain point, sending email is free. Once you get to the level that you are sending to 150 addresses, then things start to get messy. What do you do when you've gathered up 500 addresses, how about 5,000? Will you enter the addresses each time? One-by-one? All 5,000 of it? (I'm exagerating, of course.) You can links to multimedia content--photos, videos, audio--that the user experience may be richer. Plus you can lay an email out as if its a webpage.

Also, there are free softwares out there that could help you. Batch sending, filtering, segmenting list, etc. But you won't have the ease of use, clear documentation and tech support that a service provider can give you. That is why for almost a year now, our organization has opted to go with a paid service since managing the lists and making the work easier has become a priority to increase productivity.

More to come tomorrow!
God bless!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Personal Letters are Sorely Missed

In the apartment compound where I live (in Marikina, Philippines), we have this common mailbox. I open this mailbox as often as I can. Can you guess what I see? I think you know the answer, credit card bills, utility bills, demand letter from creditors, and more bills.

There is probably like 12 doors in our compound and we all use this one mailbox. And since I do the direct mail fundraising program at CBN Asia, I seed my name on our mailing list so I will know how long it takes for the letter to arrive on our mailbox. BTW, posts from Makati City to Marikina City usually takes between, get ready for this, two days to five days!

Our ministry's letter is the only letter that does not look like a statement of account in our mailbox. It is so sad. People just aren't writing letters anymore. People are not rushing to their mailbox eagerly awaiting correspondence from their loved ones, because they know that all that they will see is the reminder that their budget will soon disappear. Which put Philippine non-profit organizations, in my personal opinion, in a very advantageous position.

Who do we ask support from? And who acts on your call for help? Probably people in their 30's or 40's who grew up receiving love letters (written on Sanrio stationery with strawberry scent) and correspondence from relatives in the provinces or abroad. Yes, email is a lot more convenient and faster, but a large portion of our population do not have easy access to computers and the internet. Yes, you can put up blogs, but you will not easily know if they are coming and seeing your campaign. Whereas your mail, if creatively done, will pique the interest of your reader and would eventually open it up. They may not open immediately but they can put it (aside from the trash can) in a table or cabinet tops to be opened later. Your email? Its gonna buried in the tons of spam that inundates your email software's inbox in a few short hours.

And their is one advantage of snail mail that email cannot compete with, the interaction and tactile feeling of paper. With paper you feel something, you smell something, there is a sort of mystery behind it. Email? You may have people passing up on your message they are so tired at looking at a computer screen inside their cubicle.

Did I make my point? On Monday, I'll make a case for, you guessed it, email fundraising.

God bless!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Welcome to Pinoy Fundraising

Thank you for visiting! The idea for this blog is to provide my perspective on fundraising in the Philippines gathered from my over 14 years of fundraising for non-profit organizations.

Much of my knowledge in fundraising, specifically direct mail fundraising, I owe to Gordon Robertson, who is now the Chief Executive Officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network. CBN is the producer of the long-running Christian program, The 700 Club. For five years, Gordon directed the development efforts of CBN Asia, Inc., the Philippine office of CBN, as an expat.

I consider Gordon as my mentor not only because he introduced me to the world of fundraising, but also because, he did not witheld information from me. He provided me resources such as books, magazines and most specially his personal experience.

Gordon is a big believer in direct mail fundraising and I believe that it works in the Philippines. Direct mail helped a lot in sustaining the early years of CBN Asia. Filipinos are givers and they give through direct mail. I'll tell you some my insights in my upcoming posts.

God bless!