Pumpkins with Nonprofit Tips

Photo By David Menidrey, Unsplash

Ghosting gaffes, frights and a few Halloween delights

By Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, Notes on Nonprofits

This is the annual Halloween column filled with sights, frights, and delights in the nonprofit sector.


Artificial intelligence (AI) such as CHATGPT may sound spooky but it has fundraising professionals under a spell! Early adopters are using AI to analyze giving data, create prospect lists, personalize donor communications, create efficiencies, and simplify work which extends the reach of fundraising teams.

There’s nothing scary about the second round of Small Investment for Program Success (SIPS) funding available now from the Children’s Services Council of Leon County. Organizations with a budget of $100,000 or less are eligible to apply for up to $15,000. Applications are due Oct. 31. Learn more at cscleon.org.


Beware of using percentage-based compensation for fundraising staff. This practice can lead to self-dealing, undermines donor trust, gives credit when it has not been earned, and reinforces the erroneous concept that fundraising is just the staff’s job. Learn more about the Fundraising Code of Ethics at afpglobal.org/ethics.

Board meetings that exceed two hours, without agreeing in advance to a longer meeting, send chills down our spine!

Board members who defer all financial decisions to the treasurer or Executive Director is a hair-raising practice. Every board member is responsible for understanding the finances and equally liable for all financial decisions.

Overcommitted (dare I say, zombie?) board members who ghost the board by missing meetings or call in via Zoom with no video or comments. This is deadly to board member engagement and results in board members not being accountable for the organization they were elected to lead.

Fundraising staff who send an email rather than picking up the phone. Simon Scriver @ToastFundraiser reminds us: emails get reactions, phone calls start conversations.

Hold on to your broom sticks! Nonprofits who don’t have their online giving page ready prior to sending a request for funds will send donors flying to another cause where giving is easy.

Nonprofit boards who do not provide proper oversight and rubber stamp every staff request are derelict in their duty of care, loyalty, and obedience.

It is a chilling sight when governing boards ignore term limits to keep power concentrated among a few members.

Nonprofits who let a leadership crisis sneak up on them because they have no succession plan in place to bring on the next leader.

Ghosting donors by not sending an acknowledgement after receiving a donation.


Now on to the treats…

Second Harvest of the Big Bend received a $950,000 donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This generous investment puts them over 75% of the way towards their goal of $13 million to build a 30,000 square foot facility to increase food distribution to 25 million pounds a year, expand volunteer space and open a produce processing room.

This event is sweeter than candy corns! The Big Bend chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals is hosting its National Philanthropy Day celebration at the Governor’s Club from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov.15. This event honors local philanthropists for their generosity and is one of the best feel-good events of the year. More information and tickets are available at afpbigbend@yahoo.com.

No tricks here! Nonprofits who recognize the nine signs of a strong philanthropic culture understand the difference between philanthropy, development, and fundraising. Check out Andres McManus, CRFE as she describes all nine at MovieMondays.com episode #167.

Nonprofits who are planning a “thank-a-thon” in November to let all their donors and volunteers know how much their support is appreciated.

Adopt Thankful Thursday as a framework for thanking donors and volunteers on a weekly basis all year long.

Readers who send feedback and ask questions have me under a spell. Thank you for reading this column and keep your feedback and questions coming!

Notes on Nonprofits is a column in the Tallahassee Democrat produced by Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting, and includes resources, responses to reader questions, guest columns, and timeless topics. This column first appeared on October 30, 2023 in the Tallahassee Democrat. Please send your comments and questions.

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