Delivering happy endings: Is the latest disruptive startup working out of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project… an escort service?


Update: InternD founder now says escort service is “not a real site.” See below.

I’ve written before about my disappointment at Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project in Las Vegas.

In particular I’ve criticised Hsieh [a Pando investor] for his TED Talk-friendly soundbites about “spontaneous collisions,” reinventing education, and “delivering happiness,” which bear precious little relation to the real experience of living and working in Downtown Vegas.

Well, it seems I spoke too soon.

Yesterday, a tipster sent me a link to one of the latest companies to make the Downtown Project its home. One look at its website shows that it checks every box for the kind of company Hsieh says he wants to attract to his project:

Encouraging spontaneous collisions? Check!

Reinventing education? Check!

Delivering happiness! Oh yes! Oh yes! Check!

The company is called InternD and it describes itself as follows…

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2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Survey Report [Infographic]


The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) has released the findings from their latest survey, and the infographic below summarizes some of the key findings of the report.


Report Highlights

The 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Project report summarizes data from 8,025 survey respondents (more than double from last year) covering year-to-year fundraising results for 2013-2014.

The report shows that:

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Gains of $ 3.611 billion in gifts from new, upgraded current, and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of $ 3.438 billion through reduced gifts and lapsed donors. This means that, while there was a positive $ 173 million net growth-in-giving, every $ 100 gained in 2014 was offset by $ 95 in losses through gift attrition. That is, 95 percent of gains in giving were offset by losses in giving for a net gain in gifts of 5 percent.

Gains of 3.615 million in new and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of 3.713 million in lapsed donors. This means that there was a negative (97,649) growth-in-donors and every 100 donors gained in 2014 was offset by 103 in lost donors through attrition. That is, 103 percent of the donors gained were offset by lapsed donors for a net loss in donors of -3 percent.

Growth-in-giving performance varies significantly according to organization size (based on total amount raised), with larger organizations performing much better than smaller ones.

  • Organizations raising $ 500,000 or more had an average 10.4 percent rate of growth.
  • Organizations raising $ 100,000 to $ 500,000 had an average 3.1 percent rate of growth.
  • Organizations in the under $ 100,000 groups had an average loss of -7.8 percent.

The largest growth in gift dollars/donors came from new gifts/donors, and the pattern was most pronounced in the organizations with the highest growth-in-giving ratios.

The greatest losses in gift dollars came from lapsed repeat and downgraded gifts, particularly in the organizations with the lowest growth-in-giving ratios. The greatest losses in donors came from lapsed new donors in all growth-in-giving categories.

The median donor retention rate in 2014 was 43 percent; no change from 2013’s rate. The gift or dollar retention rate increased from 46 percent in 2013 to 47 percent in 2014. Over the last nine years, donor and gift or dollar retention rates have consistently been weak — averaging below 50 percent.

  • The donor retention rate was 43 percent in 2014 (Median). That is, only 43 percent of 2013 donors made repeat gifts to participating nonprofits in 2014.
  • The gift retention rate was 47 percent in 2014 (Median). That is, only 47 percent of 2013 dollars raised were raised again by participating nonprofits in 2014.

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