Archive for December, 2007

Implementing a Philanthropic Idea

I love to get notes from people who have read my books and implemented suggestions. I was particularly touched by this note because Nurses for Newborns was my first client (you never forget your first!) and I had the privilege to work for Build-a-Bear Workshop as well. I have to remember to write a colleague and thank him for an idea of his I used recently!  I wrote Deb and she gave me permission to reprint the following: 


I was pleased to get your note and see that you are continuing to spread the word.  I very much enjoyed meeting you last year and reading your book and would count that experience among the things that I am thankful for in 2007.  I implemented a couple of your suggestions with my kids including the birthday money.  Kristina decided to give her money to The Magic House to help them expand their space.  Elizabeth decided to give her money to Nurses for Newborns.  Both girls and their cousin went to Build a Bear and created three new bears each to contribute in kind to Nurses for Newborns as well.  They received a wonderful note from one of the nurses that took three of the bears to sisters that joyously received them stating that they never would have been able to have Build A Bears otherwise.  The joy of giving hit home for our girls in giving a gift that they would enjoy themselves.   All the best, Deb Grossman    


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Under Promise and Over-Deliver on Special Events

The opening of the new gambling casino in St. Louis last week crapped out. My husband and I weren’t invited, but many of my friends who are married to big shots were. My husband would rather be invited to an autopsy than the opening of a gambling casino. (Being a physician, this is also more likely). Anyway, the invitation promised big things. The uber expensive invite indicated that there would be visible grandeur and perhaps fireworks.
     Just getting to the black tie event was a problem. No one thought to have spent time or money on signage. Once you arrived, getting a drink was damned near impossible. And food? Well, one of my friends found the sushi table and planted herself there. Another friend said that she couldn’t even see the food. Guests were given coupons to shop at the stores, but they weren’t open.
     But the real talk of the town is that with all the hype, they dragged the grumpy, hungry and still sober guest outside in the cold to witness the magnificent lighting of of the building named Luminarire and it didn’t work. A few bulbs flickered, but then nothing.
     The valet parking took one of my friends an hour. Another friend’s husband stayed to gamble. She took the car and left. He won $27. When he asked the valet to get him a cab, no one knew how to do it. He finally got one using his cell phone. The cab was only $25. At least he was working in the black! The next day, he realized he had forgotten his driver’s license which he had left as collateral for chips or some such thing. The phone number for the casino was unlisted. The mailbox the the PR firm was filled. The meeting planner is no doubt in rehab.
     One of my clients is having the mayors from a number of municipalities in for a meeting in two weeks. The trick to events is to under-promise and over deliver. I’ve suggested to indicate that there will be sandwiches, then have goody bags. Their mission is healthy living. Fill reusable bags donated from a local grocery store with a pedometer, snacks etc. If you tell them, as Luminarie did, to expect the event of the century, and then fail, you will wind up in the blog of someone who didn’t even get an invite!

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The Myth of PR

OK, so in the last month, I got my book Raising Charitable Childrenin an article in Parade Magazine, circulation 90 million, as the cover story of Scholastic Parent and Child, circulation 9 million, in the on-line edition of the New York Times, add in, oh, let’s say another 11 people. So on Monday, I get an order from Amazon. My hands areaquiver. I can smell the dough. I’m ready to do the money dance. I enter my magic pass word. The order appears. One book. Yes, you read it correctly. It was an order for one, uno, eins, 1 book. And not only that, it WAS NOT Raising Charitable Children. It was Build a Better Board in 30 Days!

Is there a black cloud over my head? I don’t know. Are there 10,000 new copies in a warehouse on the lovely Missouri Riverfront? That I do know. The answer is yes.

And yet…and yet…I got the sweetest letter for a guy asking me to send him 6 more for his family and how much it had changed his life. If only he had a slightly larger family. Like 9999 more members. Will keep you posted.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, PR Hound and flummoxed in St. Louis

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My Feud With Denzel Washington

parade.jpgI don’t know what the story is with this guy. I think he just gets up in the morning and thinks, “How can I prevent Carol Weisman from peddling a few books or getting another speaking gig.” But that is how Denzel Washington is. Its time the public knew the truth.

This all began about 5 years ago when I was suppose to do an opening for a large nonprofit’s anniversary. It was going to be a live audience of 10,000, my biggest to date. I got an excited call from the meeting planner 2 weeks before the engagement informing me that Denzel Washington had volunteered to do it for free. I responded, “And your point is?” His point was that not only were the bumping me, but they would appreciate it if I would return the deposit. The planner then used my absolute favorite line (NOT!) “You know we’re a nonprofit.” I managed not to say, “No duh.” I then offered to not make them pay the balance of the amount they had committed to in their contract and would apply the deposit to future work for them and that they would owed me for the plane fare. He thought this was very ungracious of me. I thought I was being a real sport. He then told me that Denzel was paying his own transporting. I hung up.

Fast forward another year and a half. Denzel attacks part two. Same thing. Big nonprofit keynote. Denzel offers to do it for free. I’m out. The good news on that one is that they paid my full fee.

This morning Parade Magazine came out. This mag has the largest distribution in the world: 90 million.  I had done an hour interview with a reporter for the story on American Giving. She was thrilled with what I had to say. She said that she was going to feature my book. I was ecstatic. Guess who is on the cover of Parade with Oprah? If you said Denzel,  a duck should be coming down about now.  Guess who is still made the article, but on the last page? Moi.

Well, the gloves are off. No right thinking person could think this was a coincidence. He is out to get me. Therefore, my New Years Resolution, which I proclaim today. I am going to start auditioning for all of his parts. Boxing movies, gangsters, the lot. Beware, Mr. W. Carol has your number!

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, not afraid of the fame and good looks and generosity of Denzel Washington

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Amuse ’em, Use’em or Lose’em, The Board and Fundrasing

I recently did a board retreat with a dynamic foundation board. The development director was tearing her hair out trying to get trustees to show up. The folks who did show were amazing. They were CEO’s, dedicated community volunteers, people of wealth and affluence and influence. I was wowed. The  “A Team was in the building. The problem: They were being asked to work on a golf tournament. Period. Not only that, if you deducted staff time, they were-making about $11.00. They were like using a race horse to pull a beer wagon. The power balance to the mission was off kilter.

What would get the whole team together? A massive goal that matched the talent pool. One of the members had just funded a building for a hospital that will bear his and his wife’s names. He alone could have written the check for the golf tournament gross amount and everyone else could have gone to jazzersize or watch reruns of the West Wing.

If they don’t get these folks excited, use their talents they will for sure lose these dynamos. The questions: Does your fundraising goal match your board? Too staggeringly high and they will feel overwhelmed. Too low and they will disengage.

You can bring this up with the board as a whole, or ask them individually. The questions are:
1. Is our fundraising goal going to meet our organization’s needs to drive our mission?
2. Do we have the right people in the room to achieve this?
3. Are we using you, our board member, effectively?

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, wanting to spread all this talent.

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Choose Your Clients Wisely

I really blew it on Monday morning. I got up at 4:30 a.m. I read my notes. I did my hair. (Everyone knows you can’t do adequate strategic planning with bad hair). I stopped by Northwest Coffee for a double latte. I was loaded for bear.

I showed up 15 minutes early to begin facilitating the meeting. I was to run a series of committee meetings to help the board and stakeholders create a strategy for growth over the next 5 years.

We began at promptly at 7:30. 30 minutes into the meeting, one of the board members said, “I am really confused here. What does all of this have to do with governance.” I brilliantly replied, “This is the program committee meeting.” Everyone assured me I was in error. All 7 members of the governance committee were suddenly reassured that they weren’t crazy. It was their consultant who wasn’t making any sense.

I had done something I am truly embarrassed about. I had wasted my client’s time. They couldn’t have been nicer. They even rescheduled a follow-up meeting to work on real governance issues, not the program issues I had been prattling on about for the first 30 minutes of the meeting.

I felt like a total moron. Has my life been difficult lately? Yes. Should it be my client’s problem? No.

Not only will I make an end of the year contribution to these wonderful people, but I will also find a way to make this up to them.

Choose your clients wisely. We all fall on our faces periodically. It is nice to have someone lend a hand to help you up rather than stomp on your crumpled body.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, embarrassed in St. Louis

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