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What I Learned Last Night From Bill Clinton

Last night in San Francisco was the Clinton Foundation Millennium Network Launch Reception – an event which intended to attract philanthropic leaders under 40 to get involved with the Clinton Foundation. The pre-event organization and mobilization effort online was impressive and it was a great opportunity to see Bill Clinton live locally, a great cause, and a fabulous group of people.

Let’s start with the stats. The event raised $200,000. That means the Clinton Foundation now has $200,000 more to use in their efforts in saving lives around the world – particularly in their efforts working with those suffering with AIDS and from terrible poverty. It sounds like they have had some real success in places like Rwanda from what former President Clinton said in his short speech.

As to the event itself encompassed 1500 people standing room only in a mid-sized ballroom in SF. Before that, I was in a room for the host reception with about 75 people. Having heard how charismatic and impressive he can be in person, I expected to be wowed by being in the same room with him and I expected a grand entrance, but there was no fanfare – he just came in to take photographs and shake hands before going down and speaking to the main reception. In the main ballroom, people were waiting patiently for the speech – many of them who had never seen President Clinton (like me).

Once Clinton entered the main ballroom, he was greeted by an excited crowd and his speech included a lot of wonderful information about the work of the Clinton Foundation. Although I have worked in online fundraising and online marketing for campaigns for many non profits, I learned from Bill Clinton’s speech. He said that online fundraising does make a difference and he cited examples as to how small donations with the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina made a huge impact. I hadn’t heard that angle before. And the event itself proved that point very clearly. We all learned in 2004 how online fundraising can make an impact in elections, but this really showed the grassroots, ground level impact. More importantly, I was impressed that he was up there emphasizing this fact. Many politicians give it lip service, but when Clinton gives his stats, people listen.

I learned after the fact that the Clinton Foundation hopes to expand the Millennium Network to several cities around the country and get people under 40-45 involved globally. I know a lot of people who attended the event are looking forward to hearing more about how we can be active not just in fundraising but in ground level work, grassroots organizing, etc. so when I find out more about that, I will post about it and let people know. They will be holding more events – starting with New York City – soon and this is the beginning of a lasting effort to get a more active, young professional membership for the Foundation and to continue fighting big problems like AIDS, poverty, global warming and childhood obesity.


  1. >P.S. I found out that the event is deductible for $75 per ticket.

  2. >Note: The original post listed above has been altered. It was intended for the few people who found out about the event below through my blog and then attended it. Those people helped me raise a lot of money for the Clinton Foundation and they provided much of the feedback originally included in this post and was intended for those individuals. Included were impressions gathered from several people but the point was to highlight the event and the achievements of the foundation. It included some criticisms from objective perspectives of those who have planned and attended many events.After reviewing the post, I decided to remove some of what was originally written. It’s not an attempt to censor – it’s more an effort to correct in an ongoing editorial effort so that I feel it provides the proper overall lasting impression. I’d rather have something online in perpetuity that shows the overall achievement of an event than a few criticisms I had about it which have been voiced to the organizers. For anyone who would like to read the original post, send me email.