Nonprofit internships – paid or unpaid?

23 Dec





Should nonprofit interns be paid?

I read a good article in the NPQ about an interesting debate on whether or not interns at nonprofits organizations should be paid. Ideally, everyone should get paid for a job well done.  Realistically, nonprofits significantly rely on free help from volunteers and interns to accomplish the mission.  According to the article:

Interns are usually young and comparatively unskilled persons undergoing a period of apprenticeship for the purpose of learning an important life or work skill.

Agreed. I would welcome my interns and spent allotta time training them so they could do a good job for us. It was always sad to see them go back to their studies. I relied on my interns so much that I would always try to convince them that they should stay with me and not go back to school. I could teach them everything they needed to know about life. Once upon a time my summer intern from UPenn almost believed me but her mom thought I was trying to brainwash her and she had to ‘leave early for a family situation’. Sad.

Were my walkathon interns always paid? Sometimes Yes and sometimes No.


When I was working for the Walk for Hunger, we had a relationship with the co-op program at a local university. The university would pay a stipend to a student if they took a co-op with one of the approved nonprofits in the area. Luckily, we were one of them and we were able to have a student join us full-time for a few months. We had the student lead the volunteer recruitment for the event. I liked that we could give the student a specific task that they could see through from beginning to end.  Recruiting and training 2,000 volunteers was a HUGE job and having the co-op allowed us to focus on team recruitment.

These co-ops earned their stipend (and then some!) and were crucial to the success of the walk.

While working on the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, I would have both paid and unpaid interns. Since we raised over $3M each year, we allocated small budget for an intern to help us with the donated snacks and beverages for the finish line. This was always a summer internship and for some reason it was a pretty competitive gig. We would receive upwards of 100 applications for the opportunity to be part of our crazy train.

We would also have a few high school students that we could not pay and they would receive a glowing recommendation letter for their college applications as compensation.

It is crucial that a high percentage of the fundraising dollar go toward the mission. Headcount can be a detriment to that percentage. Nonprofits rely on volunteers, interns and co-ops to work toward that goal.  We appreciate all you do to contribute to the success of the event!


Pinkshaming the Pinkwashers of Pinktober 2015

13 Oct



October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

If you are a regular reader of my blog then you know my main pink peeve it the marketing of all things pink to support those affected by breast cancer. Pinkwashing. It makes me nuts that companies will spend more on the Pinktober marketing budget than the donation (if any!) to a breast cancer charity. Companies have been marketing pink items since August and some are promising to donate a portion of sales to a breast cancer organization. Some companies just market pink items for the heck of it.  Here are a few Pinkwashers I’d like to Pinkshame this season:

Need some Pink Pepper Spray? Here ya go!  Found this one at BassPro Shop.  I did not see any beneficiary of this on the packaging, but BassPro does give 20% of their
“Hunt for the Cure” proceeds to  Yep. Hunt for the Cure.  I wonder if Komen will go after them for the use of their trademarked “for the Cure” slogan.


Michael’s Craft Stores have a big-honkin’ pink display and tagging the items with Team Hope.



Michaels craft stores are marketing their pink items under Team Hope.












I visited the Michaels website and did not see anything regarding Team Hope. I typed “Team Hope” into the search bar and no products were found to match my search. I scrolled to the bottom of the Michaels webpage to look for any charitable alliances and found nothing. There is no charitable alliance noted on any of the Team Hope packaging. I think it is safe to say that none of this pink product money is going toward any breast cancer organization.  Pppfffttthhhhtttt.

These next pink items were found at the checkout at one of my fave crack dens –  Five Below.





The laces are packaged with “Walk of Hope” and the mirrors are packed with “Reflections of Hope”


I visited the Five Below website and was pleased to see a tab on Philanthropy.  Nothing was found regarding a donation to breast cancer charities, but they do align themselves with Alex’s Lemonade Stand and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.  The packing of these items do not indicate any charitable intentions with the sale of these products.  Ppppffftthhht.

One organization doing Pinktober the right way is the NFL and their Crucial Catch campaign.  If you are a football fan, then you have seen the pink accessories and signage at the games this month. The NFL is aligned with the American Cancer Society and promotes what each of the 32 NFL teams are doing this month to promote breast cancer awareness.

The Arizona Cardinals is having Gloria Gaynor sing “I Will Survive” accompanied by 175 breast cancer survivors and their cheerleaders. Not joking.

I did not see any outright dollar amount for a donation, but the NFL indicated that pink items worn by players will be auctioned off with proceeds going to ACS.

Pink skull cap worn at game.  Anyone?

Pink skull cap worn at game. Anyone?


Stay tuned for more pink-shaming!  And go get your mammogram! xoxo



Looking for a billionaire donor? Here they are!

30 Sep



Looking for a large donation? Do you have a sad and unproductive donor database? Not sure where to start?

Lucky you!

Fortune has released the Top 400 list of Billionaires.  You only need $1.7B to get on the list. That’s all!

So how do you get on their donation radar? Email them and as for a million or billion for your cause? Call them and hope they personally pick up the phone? Mail them the “proposal” and hope it does not go directly into the trash with the others? Or better yet – wait for the letter or postcard thanking you for thinking of them for their charitable giving and sadly explaining that their efforts do not align with your mission. What to do?

I started this blog a few years ago with a post about Magic Mike with hopes of answering this question. Magic Mike did not wait for his donors to come to the club and place (donate) dollar bills into his thrusting pelvic region. He walked around a different club before the event and cultivated his donors by talking to them and personally invited them to his event.

magical mike

What did Professor Magic Mike teach us?

1. All good donor cultivation starts with a relationship.

2. If necessary, find a door opener to the person you want to cultivate.

3. Foster the relationships with the door openers because they can be as important as the ultimate check-writer.

4. It is a relationship and hand holding is necessary before you hug, then kiss, then get engaged and then married.

That’s the order – right? Magic Mike did not teach us all of the above but you get the idea of taking baby steps to meet the right people and the “art of the ask.”

I could be wrong about all of this and I’d love to hear from somebody that has received a 5-digit donation from an email or a written proposal. I want to know if anyone has ever received a large donation from a person or foundation or corporation without actually having to speak to a human.  C’est impossible? Do tell!

Thanks for Fortune magazine for providing this call list for free. Now get on it and let is know how you did!


Just another gratuitous photo of Magic Mike. Because I can.


Start a charity or name a building?

23 Sep




The Powerball jackpot is over $250 meeeeeellion dollars tonight and it is always fun to think about what you would do with the money if you won.

My kids and I talk about winning the lottery when a large jackpot is in the news and what we would do with the money if we won. My kids look at me skeptically when I tell them that they have already won the lottery since they have me as their Mommy!


What do you do when you come into a big honkin’ pile of money through hard work, family assets or winning the lottery? There are lots of decisions to make regarding how (and if) you want to leave your charitable financial footprint. I appreciate and congratulate the good intentions of wealthy people who want to make the world a better place by giving their money away to a cause that is meaningful to them.  Some people will start their own charity as a way to do this.  Sometimes that is not a good idea.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal speaks of the pitfalls of starting your own charity.

Having worked for a few charities, I can tell you that there are some serious (and sometimes debilitating) overhead and expenses that come along with being a charitable organization.  Much has been written about charities that give few, if any, dollars to their intended recipients. I see this a lot with celebrities and professional athletes. Their bank accounts are large and intentions are good, but the operational aspect of running an organization can be overwhelming. Some of the larger expenses include:

Salaries:  Expect to pay people to run your organization. Family members included.

Professional Services:  Accountants, Consultants, Lawyers etc..

Facilities: (If you are not doing this out of your home) Rent, Utilities, Maintenance, Snow removal!!

Insurance: Especially if you are having any events. You are liable if your guests gets injured.

Equipment: Computers, hardware, software, printers, desks, chairs, phones

Supplies: Pens, pencils, paper, postage

There are plenty of charitable avenues to take to be a hero for your cause. I’d like to recommend that the most responsible way to do this is to give your money to an established charity that has a mission similar to your own. They are staffed and already figured out the financial logistics on how to appropriately manage expenses (we hope).  If you want your name to be associated with your mission, then let the charity name a building, a wing or a conference room after you!


Check out my LINKS page to see the websites that can help you with your research.

If my kids ever win the lottery, I can only hope that they will be smart and not buy all of their friends gold necklaces or depreciating assets.  Good luck!


Walking On Deck for a Cure

12 Aug





Walkathon on a cruise ship – why not? Great idea!

Our family recently went on a cruise, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that a walkathon was happening while on board!  We received a flyer in our stateroom promoting the “On Deck for a Cure” walk that raised money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.


WalkathonMaven was intrigued, and checked out the logistics of the event.

 Walkathon Route – Promenade Deck! One mile around = 2.5 laps. All right turns. No police needed for street crossings!

Registration – Wheelhouse Bar on Deck 7. Each participant is asked to contribute a minimum of $15 that will be charged to the onboard account. No money handling! Participants received an “on Deck for a Cure” baseball cap and refreshments.

Transportation/Parking – none needed! Participants are culled from GenPop. GenPop is jailspeak, I hear,  for General Population, but you know what I mean!

Entertainment – none. This tradeoff with the ability to walk with an alcoholic umbrella drink makes up for it.

First Aid – onboard infirmary

Snacks and refreshments – Deck 15 buffet!

Volunteer NeedsShip crew

So where does the money go? I found that Princess Cruises and Komen have had a partnership since 2007, and The Foundation donates 75 percent of each registration fee to Komen for the Cure, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $450,000 through 2014.

The crew was unable to tell me how much was raised during our voyage. It appeared that several dozen people took part in the walk. I watched them while sitting and sipping inside the Fusion nightclub during the afternoon bingo session. (I lost – again.)

The Princess Cruises Community Foundation website noted the response from passengers was nothing short of amazing. Over 11,000 vacationers spent a portion of their holiday time on board walking in support of breast cancer research.

I applaud the cruise line for doing a charitable good deed with a captive audience at sea! Our cruise was to Alaska and I highly recommend this for your family. Go see the glaciers before they are gone!




What’s your sign?

17 Jun





I love a good outdoor event. I love a good outdoor event with plenty of potties. I love it even more when I see some reaalllllly bad logistical decisions, which gives me things to write about.  Lucky you! I was at my daughters lacrosse jamboree last weekend (she scored a few times – thank you!) and came across these signs:

lax1 lax2

The tent offenders can probably plead ignorance since the signs were barely visible, barely readable and were randomly placed.  Here are some sign suggestions from the Walkathon Maven:

  1. Use large, bold letters or numbers
  2. Ensure the sign is readable from 20 feet away
  3. Raise the sign at least 5 feet off the ground
  4. Place the signs in heavily traveled areas
  5. Make sure the materials are weather-resistant

If the organizers distribute a survey, I’ll be sure to share the above with them!

Reminder – Father’s Day is this Sunday.

Make that Daddy in your life feel loved!


The forgotten charities of Boston 2024

5 Jun




I get annoyed when charities waste money.

A recent article in the Boston Business Journal describes a study from a Charitable Foundation with over $1B in assets that commissioned a report on the economic impact of the Olympics coming to Boston.  The report was favorable – however – they forgot to mention the part about how it may affect local charities. Is this really happening? A large Boston foundation that supports local charities paid for a report that did not include information about how the Olympics would potentially impact the corporate giving of Boston companies. Jaw drop.

According to the article “The omission is noteworthy because of evidence that prior Olympics badly hurt local charities in other host cities..”

So there it is.  Hosting the Olympics would be good for the economy but bad for the local charities.

 I wrote about this is January and here it is again, regarding the possibility of the Olympics coming to Boston in 2024.

I love watching the Olympics.

I get the tingles when I hear the big drum beat when the Olympic rings appear on the screen.

Boom boom ba boom boom…..

If you haven’t heard, Boston is the USAs submission for consideration of the 2024 summer games. Officially known as the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad. We will find out in 2017 which city is chosen to host.

Much has been written these past weeks since Boston has been chosen for the short list. According to CBSnewsBoston joins Rome as the only other city that has officially decided to bid. Germany will submit either Hamburg or Berlin, with France and Hungary among those also considering bids. Some Bostonians feel that there should a referendum put up for a vote to gauge the support of those residents that may be affected.

The hope is that no public funds will be needed or used to help pay for the Boston Olympics.  Things that make you go Hmmmmmm. A CNBC article  says that the Olympic organizing committee hopes to produce this event for ONLY $5 Billion! What a bahgain!

So how will they pay for this?

If you have read my previous blog posts about the Sochi and London Olympics, then you have seen that millions (billions?) of corporate dollars are needed to produce these events.  Sponsorships. Corporate Sponsorships will help pay for the games.

This is where the WalkathonMaven is concerned.  Having a blog allows me to have an opinion on many things. Since this potential event is close to home (I live 20 miles from Boston) there will be many-an-opine coming from moi.  Buckle up. As you may know, I am an event junkie. I love attending, volunteering and sometimes producing an event.  If the 2024 Olympics do come to Boston, then I will be out there volunteering with my other AARP-brethren pointing to where the toilets are.  I may even brush-up on the French I forgot from high school. I may even challenge myself to learn “the toilets are this way” in several languages!  WooHoo!  I will live in my SUV near Carson Beach while I rent out my home for meeeeeeellions of dollars.

Local non-profits rely on the corporate dollar and mostly the corporate sponsorship dollar to produce their walkathons in and around Boston.  The corporate sponsorship dollars help defray the costs of producing an event.  Corporate sponsorship dollars are needed to pay for sexy things like tents, toilets, chairs, printing, police, postage etc… This allows more of the walker donations to go toward the mission of the non-profit organization. With me?

There are many worthy causes competing for the corporate donation dollar. When the Boston Marathon bombings occurred and the One Fund Boston was established to help those affected, many corporate donation dollars were directed toward this.  Great cause, yes – but these same corporations have a limited donation bucket capacity and had to reduce the support they usually gave to the other organization that rely on their sponsorships.  Many walkathons in Boston had reduced support from local corporations since they were supporting the One Fund instead. Still with me?

My main concern regarding the Olympics coming to Boston is that many of the corporate donations that local walkathons rely on will be directed instead to Boston2024.  While many of the local walkathons have sponsorship levels at $5K, $10K, $25K or $50 thousand, these same corporations will instead be asked for $5M, $10M, $25M and $50 MILLION to sponsor the Olympics.

I really HOPE that Boston gets the Olympics and I really HOPE that the corporations will minimally level-fund their walkathon sponsorships.  This way the for-profit and non-profits in and around Boston can happily share the world spotlight on our great city!  For more information about the Boston bid for the 2024 Olympic, please check out their website here.



The Mutha of Walk Weekends

11 May


mom weekend


Mother’s Day was this past weekend and it is a traditional time for me to escape my mommy duties for a day, and also for many fundraising events to happen.

One of the larger national events that occurred last weekend is the the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Washington DC. This year, they had 15K participants and their top fundraiser raised over $31K!!   Whoa!!!   Years ago, this 5K walk/run event had 40,000 participants and was the largest in the nation for Komen. I was surprised to see that Hulk Hogan made an appearance as the Grand Marshall. I thought it was a random choice for a Grand Marshall, but apparently Komen has a partnership with the WWE that has helped them raise over $1.5M!!  I wonder if any events have a partnership with the MMA.  Can you imagine seeing a promotional charity banner hanging in the Octagon while the fighters kick each others teeth out?


I found that Washington DC has a walkathon just about every weekend, and came upon a fantastic and comprehensive listing of all the events for the area. SO many walks for so many great causes. Holy Walkathon Hotbed!  Is your cause or issue having a walk in the DC area?  Here are the links:

Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation

National Walk for Epilepsy

MS Walk – National MS Society, National Capital Chapter:

Walk for Lupus Now

Breath Deep 5K Walk for LUNGevity

National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Relay for Life

Ronald McDonald House Charities® Red Shoe 5K Run & Walk

Great Strides for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

We’ve Got Your Back 5K Race and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk

Walk to Cure Diabetes

Psoriasis Network Walk to Cure

Stomp Out Sickle Cell Walk

Walk Off Parkinson’s

Out of the Darkness Community Walk

Prevent Cancer Foundation 5k Walk/Run

“Join the Voices! D.C. Walk”

Huntington’s Disease Society of America Hope Walk & 5K Run

FARE Walk for Food Allergy in Northern Virginia

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Cornerstones Help the Homeless Walk

Down Syndrome Association Buddy Walk

Making Strides of Washington, DC 5K Walk

Walk Now For Autism Speaks

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk

American Diabetes Association’s Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes

National Walk for Hemophilia

AIDS Walk Washington


Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation 5K Walk

CureSearch Walk for Children’s Cancer

Greater Washington Heart Walk

St. Jude Give Thanks

You could say that the DC area is the Muthaship of all Walkathons! I may need to create a WalkathonMaven satellite office in the Nation’s Capital!


Walkers at the POTS event

Walkers at the POTS event


Not every walkathon has to be huge to bring awareness to an issue. Yesterday, I read a story in the Boston Globe about a small walkathon for a disease I have never heard of.  POTS. About 400 people showed up for the walk in the Boston area to raise money and awareness for an organization called Dysautonomia International, that raises money for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

What is POTS? The article says that POTS is A malfunction of the autonomic nervous system that can leave sufferers unable to function, POTS is estimated to affect between 1 million and 3 million Americans, most of them young womenWho knew? Dysautonomia International is a new (2102) organization and is currently unrated with Charity Navigator.  On GuideStar, I found that they have an annual budget of $100,000.  All of the big walks started small like this, and I wish them the best as they grow to be a more visible event that provides a place for other caregivers/affected persons to gather.

Why do you walk?

For the t-shirt?

For the cause?

To be part of a community of people that would like to bring awareness and raise money for a cause that affects them?

Big or small, a walkathon is a great way to be with other like-minded individuals who share the same interest in making things better.

Here is a walk coming up next weekend that raises money for homeless kids so that they can have a birthday party.  Everyone loves a Cake Walk!









Rebranding the Avon Walk

31 Mar


The walk previously known as the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer wants you to know that they have rebranded into the Avon39.  So why the change?  I think that there was some confusion about the breast cancer multi-day walks.  Currently, there is a 2-day that used to be a 3-day and a completely different 3-day event. Here is the Avon statement regarding the rebranding:

AVON 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer. Formerly known as the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, the AVON 39 series is kicking off its 13th season with a refreshed look, but the same steadfast commitment to eradicate breast cancer. The 2015 weekend events take place in seven cities from April to October.

There are a couple nationwide breast cancer multi-day walks out there – Avon and Komen. What’s the diff?

If you want to walk 39 miles in 2 days and raise a minimum of $1800 – then you may like the former Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, now the Avon39.

Old logo

Old logo

VERY old logo. Confused yet?

VERY old logo. Confused yet?


If you want to walk 60 miles in 3 days and raise a minimum of $2300 –  then you should check out the Susan G. Komen 3Day walk, now presented by Bank of America. Interesting that the BOA logo is now part of the event logo.  I poked around to see how much that cost but only found a little small-print-info on the pu-pu platter of pink offerings (credit card, donation amount per card to Komen) from their websites.


FYI: The previous Chief Mission Office with Komen has just left to be the CEO of Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG charity.  I wonder how she will rebrand LIVESTRONG to make us forget the face of their doping founder, Lance.  Good luck with that!

Mother Jones posted an article about how Avon wants you to know that they are not Komen.   These folks are so very serious about their  brands that they have purchased ads on search engines like google and yahoo.  Type in “breast cancer walk” and see what ads pops up first on search results.  I wrote about the Avon walk last spring when they were in Boston, with all the deets on where the money goes. Not sure how much they pay for advertising.

So what to do if you want to support breast cancer awareness but do not want to walk for 3 days or 39 miles?  There is a nationwide event called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer that has no fundraising minimum and you walk for only 5 miles.  In an out in a few hours instead of a few days. strdies

The fundraising pipeline is full of several other breast-cancer-focused events nationwide raising money to eradicate this disease.  Here is an article in the Boston Business Journal outlining the Boston area breast-walks and their impact. Someday we won’t need them (fingers crossed), but until then the branding folks will do their best to help us keep it straight.


Super Bowl XLIX

31 Jan




Super Bowl XLIX (or 49 for the roman-numeral-challenged) is tomorrow!  My beloved Patriots are playing the defending champs (name omitted on purpose) for the title of Best NFL Team. Being an event junkie, I needed to read about the logistics involved in hosting such a HUGE event.  I found the Host committee website to peruse the volunteer opportunities, sponsors and the like.

Apparently, Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix is sponsored by Verizon. The VSBC Verizon Super Bowl Central (VSBC) will take over and transform Downtown Phoenix into the epicenter of Super Bowl activities with 1 million visitors expected to attend.  I think that the Host Committee did a great job on the website making the event idiot-proof with regards to transportation and other FAQs.  They even have a tab that lists contact information for ALL of the vendors that have provided services to their event.  If you have room to spare on your walkathon website, it would be nice to include ALL the vendors that provide services for your event.  Perhaps the mention on your site will encourage a greater discount or outright donation of services for your next walk.   FYI – the name of the potty company is called “A” Company Portable Restrooms.  Your welcome.



Many news sites have done non-football-related comparisons between New England and the other team.  My favorite is the one from titled: Super (Generosity) Bowl: Which Team Has the Edge?  The article compared things like:

Which city is more generous?  (Answer: the other team. Their giving ratio is 3.09% vs. our 2.54% of income. )

Which teams foundation gives more?  (Answer: Patriots with $3.12 million in grants. BTW, only the Cowboys give more)

Which team owner is more generous? (Answer: The other team.  The owner, Paul Allen,  is the co-founder of Microsoft.  ‘Nuff said.)

Charitable standouts on the roster. (Answer: toss up)

Looking forward to seeing the commercials, especially the Budweiser Clydesdales search for ‘Lost Dog’!  Let’s go Patriots!!!