IRC office hours/Office hours 2010-01-27

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[5:30pm] cary: ====== BEGIN ======
[5:30pm] cary: Good evening / morning / afternoon all
[5:30pm] ashyrokova: hi all!
[5:30pm] peteforsyth: Hi Cary!
[5:30pm] rhandler: Hi everyone
[5:30pm] cary: welcome to Wikimedia's special Wednesday edition of office hours
[5:30pm] cary: Featuring Rebecca Handler, Wikimedia's head of major gifts
[5:30pm] • Philippe|Wiki cheers
[5:30pm] cary: Hi Rebecca!
[5:30pm] TimStarling joined the chat room.
[5:31pm] You changed the topic to " | Please use #wikimedia-office-talk for random chat".
[5:31pm] cary: I'd like to start off by giving Rebecca a few minutes to tell what she does, and the current state of major gifts
[5:31pm] Tango42 joined the chat room.
[5:31pm] rhandler: Alrighty...
[5:32pm] rhandler: First of all, very happy to meet all of you and apologies for any IRC accidents. I just joined IRC yesterday!
[5:32pm] rhandler: So...
[5:32pm] rhandler: A bit about what I do...
[5:32pm] rhandler: I joined WMF in the summer of 08 when fundraising efforts were really beginning to take off.
[5:33pm] rhandler: I am responsible for handling high level donor relationships, focussing on cultivation $10K+ annual gifts.
[5:34pm] werdna joined the chat room.
[5:34pm] rhandler: Individuals, family foundations, and corporations. Building and stewarding relationships.
[5:35pm] rhandler: I spend most of my time researching prospects, having intro to Wikimedia meetings, and telling our story.
[5:35pm] rhandler: I meet with donors & prospects in the Bay Area, and have done a few trips to NYC where we are developing some great relationships, and seeing our donor base grow.
[5:36pm] rhandler: I work with Jimmy and Sue, briefing them prior to meetings, and helping them learn how to ask people for money!
[5:38pm] cary: Okay!
[5:38pm] eekim: QUESTION: Rebecca, you get to meet a part of our community most of us never get to meet. What sort of feedback do you get about Wikimedia? Can you tell us anything interesting about some of these donors -- their interests, etc.?
[5:38pm] Philippe|Wiki: QUESTION: (softball, to get things started) - Why do we need someone specific for major gifts? Don't they usually just come in during the fundraiser? Is it a different skill set for cultivating these donors?
[5:38pm] cary: Now I'm glad to see a bunch of people here. I'm sure we'll have lots of questions
[5:38pm] cary: Please preface your questions with "QUESTION"
[5:39pm] rhandler: First I'll address Eugene's question.
[5:39pm] guillom joined the chat room.
[5:39pm] Tango42: QUESTION: How do you find prospects? In particular, do you have any advice for chapters on how to find them?
[5:39pm] NuclearWarfare joined the chat room.
[5:39pm] rhandler: If it's a cold meeting (I initiate it, they don't know much about WMF), I find they are often surprised that Wikipedia & sister projects are nonprofits.
[5:40pm] rhandler: I often use the NPR analogy to describe how Wikipedia works.
[5:40pm] Philippe|Wiki: NPR, for non-Americans, is...?
[5:40pm] peteforsyth: Observation: In my outreach work, I've found the same thing: many university professors did not realize we were a non-profit.
[5:40pm] rhandler: A lot of us use it, we ask you for a donation once in awhile, we want to remain ad free, etc...
[5:41pm] Jamesofur: QUESTION: What proportion of your donors give during the annual drive, and with that how much do you focus on finding them during that time (ie. alot or its really more of a year round thing)
[5:41pm] effeietsanders joined the chat room.
[5:41pm] rhandler: In terms of donors interests, I find that many of our donors are also interested in things like libraries, ACLU, educational causes.
[5:42pm] rhandler: Most of our donors just use Wikipedia all the time and want to keep it running.
[5:42pm] rhandler: A few of our donors never use Wikipedia but hear about it from young people in their lives, and know it's important.
[5:42pm] rhandler: Now to Philippe's question...
[5:42pm] Tango42: hang on
[5:43pm] Tango42: what is NPR?
[5:43pm] rhandler: Sometimes larger gifts come in unsolicited. But it's unlikely these donors...
[5:43pm] werdna: QUESTION: <+rhandler> Most of our donors just use Wikipedia all the time and want to keep it running. --> Is that the case even for grants and major gifts?
[5:43pm] Philippe|Wiki: Tango, NPR = National Public Radio
[5:43pm] werdna: National Public Radio
[5:43pm] eekim: NPR = National Public Radio <>
[5:43pm] rhandler: (sorry- NPR= National Public Radio)
[5:43pm] Tango42: thanks
[5:43pm] cary: back to Philippe's question, then Tango42
[5:43pm] rhandler: So it's unlikely that a donor would continue to give large gifts year after year without attaching some sort of relationship to someone on staff or a volunteer.
[5:44pm] rhandler: Other gifts are initiated by me or another staff person. Or Jimmy.
[5:44pm] rhandler: A major gifts program is important because it's good to have a diversified donor base.
[5:44pm] rhandler: Not have all our eggs in one basket, if you will.
[5:45pm] Philippe|Wiki: Having seen rhandler work, and been in the room when she does her pitch... she's good, ya'll. Thanks.
[5:45pm] rhandler: Responding to Tango42,
[5:45pm] cary: <Tango42> QUESTION: How do you find prospects? In particular, do you have any advice for chapters on how to find them?
[5:46pm] rhandler: The best way to find prospects is from our own database. We now have about 300,000 donors in our database, and it's all about mining for people with more "capacity."
[5:46pm] rhandler: I can give a recent example...
[5:47pm] rhandler: In Nov 09, we received a gift of $250 from a gentleman in NYC. Unsolicited, just responding to our drive.
[5:48pm] rhandler: When reviewing the list of donors, his name stood out as a wealthy philanthropist in NYC.
[5:49pm] rhandler: When planning a trip to NYC (I was just there 2 weeks ago), I called him to thank him for his donation and asked if he had interest in meeting with Jimmy and me.
[5:49pm] rhandler: He was delighted. We met with him, talked about Wikipedia, and then he gave us a check for $2,000.
[5:49pm] Tango42: Stood out? So you start from a position of knowing the names of rich people?
[5:49pm] rhandler: Well that doesn't hurt
[5:49pm] ashyrokova: you can definitely look a lot of people on the internet
[5:49pm] werdna: wow, that's pretty impressive
[5:49pm] Philippe|Wiki: There are philanthropist databases, right?
[5:50pm] rhandler: But we recently bought a software program where you can enter in someone's name and you can see their giving history to US organizations.
[5:50pm] ashyrokova: there are databases that help out too, like recent political contributions, or whether or not they own a yacht
[5:50pm] rhandler: It's basically a database of annual reports from a massive amount of organizations.
[5:50pm] cary: <Jamesofur> QUESTION: What proportion of your donors give during the annual drive, and with that how much do you focus on finding them during that time (ie. alot or its really more of a year round thing)
[5:50pm] Natalie: Heh, pinged.
[5:51pm] rhandler: Anya's my right hand man (woman) so she might field some inquiries as well.
[5:51pm] ashyrokova: definitely, tango42 if you have more questions about prospect research i'd be happy to help
[5:51pm] Tango42: Thanks - We can talk when I'm in SF next month.
[5:52pm] rhandler: In terms of chapters developing major gift prospects, the most important thing is to put yourself out there as much as possible.
[5:52pm] ashyrokova:
[5:52pm] rhandler: Try and expand your networks to include a cross-section of individuals.
[5:52pm] effeietsanders: question: how do you handle major donors outside the USA?
[5:52pm] ashyrokova: and to keep a good database of people that have given to you already
[5:52pm] peteforsyth: QUESTION: Rebecca, are there efforts underway to develop major donors outside the U.S.? I'm thinking especially in countries that don't (yet) have chapters. Donors to help fund efforts to establish chapters, perhaps?
[5:53pm] cary: questions queued: from Jamesofur, werdna, effeietsanders and peteforsyth
[5:53pm] werdna: mine is probably a bit late by now, but sure
[5:53pm] rhandler: Proportion q:
[5:54pm] rhandler: Well last month we had about $420,000 come in and my annual goal is $1 million.
[5:54pm] rhandler: So that gives you some idea.
[5:54pm] Philippe|Wiki: wow
[5:54pm] • Jamesofur nods
[5:54pm] Jamesofur: yea it does
[5:54pm] cary: <werdna> QUESTION: <+rhandler> Most of our donors just use Wikipedia all the time and want to keep it running. --> Is that the case even for grants and major gifts?
[5:54pm] rhandler: Many people in the US give toward the end of the year when they have a better idea of their finances and they want a tax benefit.
[5:54pm] ashyrokova: a lot of people give in december though because they want to put it on their taxes for 09
[5:55pm] ashyrokova: so its not necessarily telling that all those people gave because of the fundraiser
[5:55pm] ashyrokova: rebecca does a lot of cultivating throughout the year
[5:56pm] ashyrokova: but a lot of good prospects do come up because of the online drive that are then cultivated to give next year
[5:56pm] rhandler: With larger grants, the granter is usually more strategic is their giving. So not just wanting to keep WP up and running but wanting to help move it in a larger, more influential direction.
[5:56pm] rhandler: One interesting challenge for us...
[5:57pm] werdna: right, like the stanton and ford grants, to be the most obvious.
[5:58pm] rhandler: In more "typical" nonprofits in the US, some donors are interested in serving on our board, getting more directly involved. In general, our board works differently.
[5:58pm] • cary thinks effeietsanders and peteforsyth's questions can be combined, when we get to them.
[5:58pm] peteforsyth: cary: effeietsanders agreed
[5:58pm] rhandler: And our board does not really engage in direct fundraising efforts. Yet
[5:59pm] effeietsanders: rhandler: not?
[5:59pm] effeietsanders: or do you not refer to jimmy visiting people?
[5:59pm] effeietsanders: or other board members
[6:00pm] rhandler: Ideally, solicitations would be done by volunteers and not staff. More influential in general.
[6:00pm] rhandler: True, good point on Jimmy.
[6:00pm] rhandler: He is obviously immensely helpful.
[6:00pm] ashyrokova: cary, whats the next question?
[6:01pm] ashyrokova: got confused with the combination...
[6:01pm] rhandler: I can address outside the US...
[6:01pm] cary: <effeietsanders> question: how do you handle major donors outside the USA?
[6:01pm] cary: and <peteforsyth> QUESTION: Rebecca, are there efforts underway to develop major donors outside the U.S.? I'm thinking especially in countries that don't (yet) have chapters. Donors to help fund efforts to establish chapters, perhaps?
[6:01pm] rhandler: We have little pockets of great donor support in Japan, England, and lots of potential in India.
[6:02pm] rhandler: But with a major gift staff of 1 (part time), we can only do so much right now!
[6:02pm] rhandler: That being said, I would love for our donor base to reflect our user base.
[6:02pm] rhandler: I'm going to try to get out to London to do some meetings.
[6:02pm] cary: I want to come!
[6:03pm] rhandler: It sounds more glamorous than it is. Imagine me with a briefcase of annual reports pounding the pavement.
[6:03pm] cary: I've never thought of London as glamorous
[6:03pm] rhandler: Pete, re. chapter creation/formation...
[6:04pm] peteforsyth: rhandler: Let me know when you go, I def. have a good contact for you there!
[6:04pm] rhandler: There are some prospects who might be interested in doing something more local. I'm thinking about India in particular right now. We met with, and sent a proposal to, an Indian philanthropist who in the end wanted to keep the money in India.
[6:05pm] werdna: That's right, visit London right after Ileave
[6:05pm] rhandler: We don't yet have the resources to make sure that we could spend the money well and report on everything regularly. Someday soon I hope!
[6:06pm] peteforsyth: QUESTION: Can you talk a bit more about that dynamic? (donors wanting to have their money stay local -- geographically, or maybe just closely aligned with an area of interest)
[6:06pm] werdna: If there were an Indian Chapter, however, you could direct him to them.
[6:06pm] werdna: Is ther an Indian Chapter, for that matter?
[6:06pm] Philippe|Wiki: werdna: no
[6:06pm] rhandler: Additionally, we have a lot to learn about transferring large amounts of money across the world. Taxes, reporting, etc...
[6:07pm] rhandler: Sure (Pete's Q):
[6:07pm] peteforsyth: werdna: you might want to look at
[6:07pm] RoanKattouw: QUESTION: Does all of this cover in-kind donations, like a company donating a caching server farm in Asia? (coughyahoocough)
[6:07pm] peteforsyth: werdna: and/or
[6:07pm] rhandler: Currently, in general we don't accept restricted gifts of less than $250K. Restricted= assigned to a specific area of focus as opposed to covering general operations.
[6:08pm] rhandler: Restricted gifts, as Sara Crouse (Foundations) would attest to, restricted gifts take lots of time.
[6:09pm] Dragonfly6-7 joined the chat room.
[6:09pm] rhandler: I'm sure many of you have gotten mailings about giving to an organization where they give you an option of where to direct your gift.
[6:09pm] Dragonfly6-7: what counts as a 'major gift' anyway
[6:09pm] Dragonfly6-7: can one donate body parts to wikipedia?
[6:09pm] Dragonfly6-7: well, to the WMF
[6:09pm] kibble: peteforsyth, we actually have #wikimedia-office-talk for stuff like that. It's easier to put your comments there so it's not confusing to watch the Q&A.
[6:09pm] rhandler: That direction is complicated, hard to budget/plan for.
[6:09pm] rhandler: Major gift definition:
[6:10pm] werdna: kibble: yeah, but I'm not there, Philippe|Wiki also PM'd it to me
[6:10pm] rhandler: I define it as a gift that is cultivated one-on-one as opposed to en masse.
[6:10pm] rhandler: Here, we currently define a major gift as $10K + annual support.
[6:10pm] Dragonfly6-7: I donate my kidney to the Wikimedia Foundation.
[6:11pm] rhandler: But it gets tricky because it's not unusual for a "major prospect" to give $1000 now, and may give $100K in the future, with proper cultivation.
[6:11pm] Dragonfly6-7: rhandler - personal question, if I might
[6:11pm] Dragonfly6-7: how often do you use Wikipedia yourself?
[6:12pm] cary: Dragonfly6-7, hush
[6:12pm] rhandler: So I focus more on the relationship than the gift amount.
[6:12pm] rhandler: I use it all the time.
[6:12pm] Dragonfly6-7: thank you
[6:12pm] ashyrokova: Dragonfly6-7, we generally only accept gifts of cash
[6:13pm] Dragonfly6-7: do we accept gifts of hardware
[6:13pm] ashyrokova: oh that too.
[6:13pm] cary: Dragonfly6-7, we've actually been talking about a lot of this already
[6:13pm] Dragonfly6-7: well, I wasn't here.
[6:13pm] cary: The log will be posted
[6:14pm] RoanKattouw: Don't we have rather specific demands for hardware we buy?
[6:14pm] effeietsanders: rhandler: i was also wondering, as a follow-up, whether you involved / want to involve chapters for major donors in countries that have a chapter
[6:14pm] effeietsanders: in the case of the UK, have you approached WMUK for example?
[6:15pm] rhandler: I haven't yet worked with chapters to establish major gift programs abroad but I'm always open to chatting about it.
[6:16pm] effeietsanders: because you mention that you have limited time etc, that might be a logical consideration
[6:16pm] rhandler: I'd love to meet the WMUK chapter for example.
[6:16pm] effeietsanders: it will cost you a little time in the beginning, but should win you time and money in the end
[6:16pm] rhandler: True, sadly I have not quite worked out human cloning.
[6:16pm] rhandler: Agree. It's all long-term investment.
[6:17pm] peteforsyth: rhandler: I'm sure we have smart people in our community working on the cloning thing
[6:17pm] rhandler: And by the way, I love my job!
[6:17pm] rhandler: From what I hear about our community, I'm sure they could invent some pretty cool cloning technology.
[6:18pm] rhandler: Smart group of folks.
[6:18pm] cary: I know you didn't hear that from me.
[6:18pm] Philippe|Wiki: QUESTION: What's your favorite part of your job? What do you dislike the most about your job?
[6:18pm] Dragonfly6-7: it would be horribly flawed
[6:18pm] Philippe|Wiki: (I love that question)
[6:18pm] rhandler: Favorite part: meeting new people, working with an awesome staff & kick ass volunteers.
[6:19pm] rhandler: Least favorite part: getting rejected.
[6:19pm] Philippe|Wiki: Thanks
[6:19pm] Dragonfly6-7: rhandler - how did you get this job in the first place?
[6:20pm] rhandler: I used to work at another organization ( where Veronique Kessler, our CFO also had worked. I heard about the job through the grapevine, a friend sent me the posting.
[6:21pm] Dragonfly6-7: how does it compare to your expectations?
[6:21pm] rhandler: Smartest staff I've ever worked with. Passionate, ballsy, interesting.
[6:22pm] rhandler: And they have been very patient with me, as I figure out all this technology that "you kids today" are using.
[6:22pm] • werdna hands rhandler a walking stick
[6:22pm] rhandler:
[6:23pm] peteforsyth: for any who haven't had the opportunity to meet her, this joke is funny because rhandler is a kid like the rest of us.
[6:23pm] werdna:
[6:24pm] Tango42: QUESTION: You mention rejected, what proportion of initial prospects end up giving significant donations?
[6:24pm] rhandler: I wasn't sure I wanted to stay in fundraising because it's really tough work. But how can you say to Wikipedia? I've always been a huge fan and it's an honor to work here.
[6:24pm] rhandler: repeat: How can you say no?
[6:24pm] Jamesofur: QUESTION: How much of the money that you (in the general sense) bring in is from giant gifts and how much from smaller (say 2-25/50k) gifts.
[6:25pm] rhandler: Tango42: I'd say about 10% of prospects give.
[6:25pm] cary: okay, and those two will be the last of the questions
[6:25pm] • Jamesofur curses at cary
[6:25pm] werdna: bah
[6:25pm] cary: Jamesofur, yours is included
[6:25pm] Jamesofur: I was typeing a 2nd
[6:25pm] werdna: I was going to ask "If your target is $1m, and Sloan gives $1m per year, does that mean you're off the hook until 2012?"
[6:25pm] rhandler: We only have a handful of 5-6 fig gifts.
[6:26pm] rhandler: My personal goals have to do more with number of relationships, than amount of money.
[6:26pm] rhandler: Always better to have a larger pool than a few gifts from a few orgs.
[6:27pm] Philippe|Wiki: So, I think that wraps it up?
[6:28pm] Philippe|Wiki: Cary, any last words?
[6:28pm] cary: any closing comments rhandler ?
[6:28pm] rhandler: Thanks everyone. for any further conversation. Happy to be available.
[6:28pm] guillom: rebecca is doing a fantastic job and we thank her a lot
[6:29pm] Philippe|Wiki: Yay!
[6:29pm] cary: two c's, no h
[6:29pm] rhandler: Aww, thanks.
[6:29pm] rhandler: ONe last comment
[6:29pm] cary: have at it.
[6:30pm] rhandler: I'm one of those people who, in general, would always prefer to chat face to face if possible. I really enjoy that human to human interaction. So that being said, if you find yourself in SF, please let me know. And don't worry, I won't ask you for money. You do enough!
[6:30pm] cary: ====== END ======