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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the
October 3, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
How Non-Profits Can Raise Money Now
The words "bad news" have taken on a massively
heightened meaning. When the Borden Perlman Non-Profit Consortium
named its upcoming seminar "Dealing with the Press: Good News/Bad
referred to how charitable groups should deal with questions on
events within their organizations. Bad news now has come to mean the
terrible events of September 11 — events whose ripples are
further than anyone could have imagined.
Stoolmacher is president of Princeton Junction-based Stoolmacher
a fundraising, management, and marketing consulting firm with a roster
of non-profit clients, including the American Cancer Society, Isles,
Mount Carmel Guild, the Passage Theater Company, Union Industrial
Home for Children, and Womanspace. This is the time of year when he
prepares the all-important end-of-the-year solicitation letters that
go out to potential donors. This year, crafting the letters is no
The minds and hearts of area residents are firmly fixed on one spot.
Wallets are opening as never before as the impulse to do something
— anything — to ameliorate the suffering in New York finds
expression in gifts to disaster relief organizations set up to help
victims’ families. This is good and necessary. But, he says, it
problems for local non-profits not obviously connected with the rescue
and relief efforts.
"Fundraising is the most important function of a non-profit,"
says Stoolmacher. Furthermore, most of the money needed to run soup
kitchens, aid victims of domestic abuse, keep the arts alive, and
fund research into a cure for cancer comes from individual donors.
Contrary to common belief, he says, "most money does not come
from corporations. Eighty percent comes from individuals. If you
planned giving and bequests, it approaches 85 percent."
The question is how non-profits can approach donors swamped by the
suffering in New York City. How they can lay claim to a percentage
of charitable giving for their own work when the need in New York
is so great — and so clearly visible? This subject, not originally
on the agenda, will be discussed at the next seminar of the Borden
Perlman Non-Profit Consortium on Thursday, October 4, at 8:45 a.m.
at Greenacres Country Club. Cost: None. Call 609-799-5250.
moderates. Speakers include
Stoolmacher is a graduate of the State University of New York at
(Class of 1968), where he studied political science. He holds a
degree in political science from Rutgers. He was an urban analyst
in Richard Hughes’s administration, urban coordinator at St. Peters
College, and business manager of the Jersey City Board of Education
in the mid-’70s. Moving to the private sector, he was president of
one of Caliper’s operating companies before starting his own
company in 1987.
"When the seminar series thought about the bad news, the bad news
we were thinking about was not as bad as the bad news we got,"
Stoolmacher says. How will charities position themselves to raise
funds? "That’s the $64,000 question," Stoolmacher says. But
raise funds they must.
The fact of Americans’ unique generosity toward charities is not only
a happy national characteristic, it is an essential safety net.
not that we are better or more generous than other peoples," says
Stoolmacher. "We’ve structured our society to have individuals
take care of the needy. In Asia it’s the family. In Sweden and other
social welfare countries, it’s the state. In our country, we rely
heavily on individuals." This trend has only intensified in recent
years. Bush’s emphasis on faith-based initiatives is another move
in the direction of individuals caring for their less fortunate
With unemployment up, and economic uncertainty almost palpably
the air, 2001 never looked like a banner year for donations. Now,
says Stoolmacher, "fundraising sure isn’t going up." He is
hoping it will stay even for local charities. His advice to these
non-profits work so hard, year after year, to raise money for the
good works they do. If any of their administrators find it frustrating
to see tens of millions of dollars pouring into New York from all
directions with nary a direct mail solicitation letter in sight, they
had best not breathe a word of it. Any appearance of begrudging the
terrorists’ victims one dime of aid could set back a non-profit for
a good long time.
the Turnpike. "I’m reworking my previous letter,"
says of a direct mail solicitation he is composing for a non-profit.
"I’m looking for a way to say, `Even with the increased need,
don’t forget about the truly needy among us.’" Something like
that is the correct tone. Non-profits may have to assure donors that
they know they are giving to the relief effort, that demands on them
are heavy, but that the charities they have supported in the past
still need their help.
a charity’s caseload is up as a result of September 11, donors should
Everyone has heard that tourism is down, and that large numbers of
airline workers are being laid off. Stoolmacher says it is up to
to make those facts local, to remind donors that area residents are
among the baggage handlers and concession workers at Newark and
airports. Many of these people, already living from paycheck to
will quickly fall into poverty if they lose their jobs. Charities
that provide emergency food, shelter, or child care for these people
would do well to explain to donors how their clients have been
by the tragedy.
points to Prevention Education as a charity that would like to expand
its role in the wake of the tragedy. The non-profit presents programs
on child assault prevention, and, in response to requests from
would like to run programs to help children cope with grief and fear
associated with the attacks on the Trade Center. It is important for
that charity, and others in its position, to express this desire in
its fundraising materials and in interviews with the press.
for non-profits to boost their profiles, while providing a valuable
public service, by drawing up lists of coping tips and distributing
them. Non-profits of all sorts could provide advice on everything
from recognizing normal grieving patterns to applying for emergency
aid to get a business up and running again.
they have ever been. But that is no excuse for neglecting the
that can get each its share of the finite dollars of donors.
Asked whether she would like to see her children, now
three and five, join the family business some day,
says, "Oh yes! I would love them to join the company. That’s what
we’re here for." If the youngsters do follow their mom, they will
be the 10th generation of Lairds at Laird & Company, the 14th oldest
family-owned company in the country. But they won’t be the first
of their generation to help make, market, and distribute the applejack
the company has been distilling since at least 1717. That honor goes
to their cousin, J. Evans Laird IV, who just began work as a sales
rep in the company’s Pittsburgh office.
Laird & Company is a finalist in the Ninth Annual Family Business
Awards sponsored by the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies
at Fairleigh Dickinson, PNC Bank, and New Jersey Monthly Magazine.
There are 16 finalists and semi-finalists. They are divided into
with over $10 million in sales, and those with less than that amount.
The companies will be honored at a luncheon on Thursday, October 4,
at 11 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Somerset. Call 973-443-8842.
Only 30 percent of family businesses make it as far as the second
generation, and a mere 10 percent to the third generation. On the
list of New Jersey companies being honored on October 4 are four in
their fourth generation — Marotta Scientific Controls in
Bograd’s Furniture in Riverdale, Siperstein’s Paint & Wallpaper in
Jersey City, and Maria’s Homemade Ravioli in Wayne. There is also
one five generation company, Crofutt & Smith Moving & Storage in
At 10 generations, Laird & Company is based, as it always has been,
in Scobeyville, which is a part of Colts Neck Township. The area,
says Laird, was named for Captain Joshua Scobey. "He was a
she says. "The government gave him land to farm so he wouldn’t
be out pirating."
Laird, vice president, public relations and sales, says her family
has lived in the area since 1698. The applejack it began producing
soon thereafter was initially passed out among relatives and friends
or bartered. The company’s first recorded sale took place in 1780.
In the early days, the company’s applejack was made with apples from
nearby Monmouth County orchards, supplemented by wagon loads of apples
driven in from all over the state. Now, says Laird, most of the local
orchards have been replaced by housing developments. The remaining
orchards have pledged their produce to applesauce companies, including
Motts, and Laird & Company uses apples from the Shenandoah Valley.
The company’s business has been expanded beyond applejack to include
other distilled spirits, distribution of imported liquor, and bottling
for other companies, which find its mid-New Jersey location convenient
for distribution up and down the East Coast.
If Laird’s disposition and outlook on life are typical for her family,
it is not hard to see why the 50-person company is thriving into its
10 generation. A graduate of Washington College (Class of 1983), she
started to work in the family business in 1984. Originally, she had
wanted to be a veterinarian. "But," she says, "I ended
up getting allergies to cats." She switched her major from science
to economics, and betrays no regrets.
How did she end up in marketing? "I was kind of
placed there," she says. She worked at jobs throughout the
and especially enjoyed quality control, but sales was where her family
decided they wanted her, and that’s where she went. Vivacious and
articulate, she took to the job and says she enjoys it.
Laird’s father, Larrie Laird, is the company’s CEO. "My father
and I have a very rare relationship," Laird says. "We can
speak our minds, and then it’s over. We don’t carry it into our
lives." While differences over work issues are resolved on the
spot, other work-related discussions do carry over to non-work hours.
"We talk about business at the dinner table," Laird says.
"except when my mother says `Stop!’"
There are now four members of the Laird family in active roles with
the company, and more on the board of directors. Laird’s mother, Rose
Marie, however, is not among them. In the early years of her marriage
Rose Marie was part of the business, but no more. "My mother was
helping out, and she was like `forget it,’" Laird recalls,
that there is something about the husband/wife bond that is
to harmonious work relationships. Rose Marie now concentrates on
work and time with her grandchildren.
Meanwhile, the rest of the family concentrates on growing their
Laird says there is no friction, because "we all have the same
goal." Negotiating salary with her father has never been a
she says. Compensation is based on profit, and she shares his belief
that a large percentage of the company’s profits should go back into
the business. Besides, she says, in a statement many patriarchs of
family businesses only yearn to hear, "dad is very fair. He
gives less to himself than to his employees."
Tourism and transportation are high on the agenda for
Mercer County Chamber of Commerce’s chairman of the board. Owner of
30-person, Robbinsville-based ACT Engineering, Beske adds the chamber
position to a host of other civic responsibilities. Former West
mayor and councilperson, Beske is also president of the Mercer County
Park Commission, chairman of the board of the Regional Planning
and a member of the executive board of the Greater Mercer TMA, a
alliance of which she is a founding member.
The Greater Mercer Chamber welcomes Beske to her new position at a
"Changing of the Guard Reception" on Thursday, October 4,
at 5 p.m. at the Trenton Country Club.
honored as outgoing chairman of the board. Cost: $50. Call
Beske graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in
education, and taught for three years in Boston while her husband,
Grant Beske, was completing his doctoral studies at M.I.T. The couple
then moved to Wilmington, and then West Windsor, where they raised
four children. Beske became active in community affairs, and took
a job at the U.S.T.A., where she developed a rating scale for tennis
players that is similar to the handicaps golfers use.
Once at the top of the scale as a 5.0 tennis player, Beske says she
has slipped down to a "solid 4.0" as the demands of her work have
increased. Not an engineer herself, she was recruited in the ’80s
to do business development for an international engineering company.
When the company was bought out, she stayed on for several years,
running the Princeton office and handling business development from
Maine to South Carolina. In 1990 Beske decided she to start her own
firm. ACT Engineering specializes in civil engineering, planning,
surveying, and environmental engineering.
Beske first became involved in the Greater Mercer Chamber 10 or 12
years ago when she formed its West Windsor division. "At the
she recalls, "West Windsor was really becoming a business
onto itself with offices and shopping centers, but it was lacking
an identity." Along with other business leaders, she thought a
chamber of commerce would help the township develop one, but
want to set up a chamber."
"We looked at where we were best aligned," she says. The
Chamber turned out to be a good fit. Beske headed up the West Windsor
division for many years during the townships two big employers,
and American Cyanamid, were joined by scores of high-profile tenants
in the Carnegie Center.
During the same time period, Beske saw the Mercer Chamber grow to
1,000 members and expand to include a number of businesses in
and Burlington Counties and across the river in Bucks County. Beske’s
term as chairman of the board will run for two years. Her priorities
for those years include:
bureau," she says. "We have long been short on promoting the
wonderful things we have here. We haven’t packaged them as a
The county is home to Revolutionary War sites, the refurbished War
Memorial, Trenton’s baseball stadium and arena, and outdoor recreation
aplenty. Tying it all together, and creating a travel destination
is the challenge. The Marriott hotel and conference center nearing
completion in Trenton will help, and so, says Beske, will a tourist
bureau, which is set to open this fall. It will be housed and nurtured
in the chamber’s offices while it gets started on its job of promoting
economic success of the county," says Beske. Current traffic
are "a major stress factor for employees," she says. Employers
aren’t happy with conditions, either, and new businesses thinking
of relocating here take commuting time into consideration when
quality of life factors. "We have to be more and more farsighted
in finding alternatives," she says, suggesting light rail and
alternative buses as possibilities, and regional cooperation as a
that affects business owners," says Beske. She sees more of a
role for the Mercer Chamber in this arena. "We really need to
help out businesses large and small," she says. "We will see
more involvement in the future." Issues now before the legislature
include extending the range of benefits to which workers would be
entitled. For a small business, "that becomes critical," in
community can best work with school systems in Trenton and in the
suburbs. In addition to making sure workers are coming out of the
schools adequately trained, Beske says the chamber needs to be
at overall big picture in education."
responsibilities to running a company and working in a number of other
civic leadership positions is a stretch. "You just do what you
do," she says.
A resident of Princeton for the past four years, Beske recently
her husband, newly retired from DuPont, to work at ACT Engineering,
although not full time. She dismisses any talk of her own retirement.
Time to travel, perhaps? "We’ve taken out time to travel,"
she says. "I’ve been to Russia, Kenya, Singapore…" Recent
adventures include rafting in the Grand Canyon and hiking through
Alaska. The couple have planned a trip to Nepal, but whether they
go "remains to be seen."
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