Contra Costa Times
"Couple find passion in fund-raising lessons"
West County Weekly (CA) April 2, 2004
Alan Lopez, Staff Writer, El Cerrito
Ann Lehman and her business partner Robert Zimmerman are so in tune with
each other, they finish each others jokes during their workshops. They
have different but complementary styles.
"He sounds like a college professor, and I sound like a neighbor giving
you advice," Lehman said. When they decided to write a book, it was mostly
Lehman's project and it was her job to put it together. Zimmerman, who
is considered the more detail-oriented of the two, read through the manuscript,
fixed the grammar and otherwise changed things he didn't like.
"He's probably the fastest typist anywhere," Lehman said. "He's a born
editor and I'm mildly dyslexic, so we need each other."
There's another reason they work so well together: They've been married
for 13 years.
That professional and personal partnership has resulted in the book published
by San Francisco publisher Jossey-Bass: "Boards that Love Fundraising:
A How-to Guide for Your Board."
The book is the culmination of years of experience by the couple, whose
firm - Zimmerman Lehman - has been offering advice, workshops and consulting
services to nonprofit organizations since 1988.
The book gives advice to nonprofit organizations on how to raise money.
There was $241 billion given to 1.4 million charitable organizations in
2002, the book says.
There's a lot of money available but the problem is that many nonprofits
don't do their best to go after it, Zimmerman said.
"Many board members, volunteers and staff members view fundraising as
'genteel begging' rather than as creating opportunities for citizens to
invest in successful enterprises through philanthropic contributions,"
the book states.
The problem is that "board and staff members don't ask for money effectively,
they don't ask often enough and sometimes they don't ask - period. Every
year billions of dollars that could be invested in the nonprofit sector
are lost because organizations aren't asking properly."
The book is a user-friendly soft-cover workbook providing information
on how to more effectively raise money. The key, said Zimmerman, is thinking
of the non-profit as a service to the community - which, of course, is
what it's supposed to be.
"Donors want to see organizations run like a business," Zimmerman explained.
"That they're evaluating their activities, that they're cost-effective."
Continued Lehman: "If more boards trained and more nonprofits had different
attitudes about the work they did, they could all raise more money."
Much of the content of the book is based on smaller books written by the
couple for their workshops. How difficult the book was to write came as
a surprise, said Lehman.
like almost everything in their lives, the book came to fruition as the
result of their life and business partnership.
two met in 1988, when Lehman, who has been the executive director of two
nonprofit organizations, took one of Zimmerman's fund-raising workshops,
shortly after he started his firm. They married in 1991, have a 10-year-old
son, Gabriel Zimmerman Lehman, a dog, Stella and an affectionate kitten,
complement each other well, Lehman said. In general, she looks at the
firm's big picture, while her husband examines the details and does the
enthusiasm is hard to resist," Lehman said. "There aren't many people
who love fund-raising as much as Bob. I love building the community, he
loves instilling confidence that you can go out and do this.
makes it (fund-raising) seem very doable, very easy. It isn't easy actually,
but he makes it seem easy. He takes the mystery out of it."
got into the nonprofit field after becoming a grant writer for a nonprofit
organization in Boston in the early 1970s. He has been the director of
development at a variety of nonprofit organizations, including an independent
living center for physically disabled people in Los Angeles and a national
public interest law office in San Francisco. He started the nonprofit
consulting firm in 1988.
is a lawyer and has been working in the public interest arena for 25 years.
She's directed an alternative bar association in New York City; worked
as a senior policy analyst on women, girls and human rights; and was the
executive director of a public interest law office specializing in issues
the couple is also working together to raise money for the renovations
of the Cerrito Theater.
with Dianne Brenner, Lehman is heading the steering committee for the
Friends of the Cerrito Theater, which is raising $200,000 over two years
to fund historic elements of the theater. The fund-raising effort has
recently begun in earnest with a mailing to residents urging them to contribute.
husband examined the letter before it went out, Lehman said. And then he
Reach Alan Lopez at 510-243-3578 or email@example.com
Copyright 2004 West County Weekly.