February 4, 2016

My stories…NOT YOURS!

Every fundraiser knows that story telling is critical. And stories are full of feelings. You know…all those emotions…like anger, fear, greed, guilt, flattery, exclusivity, salvation. And hope and love and and and…

Suddenly reason steps in. The fundraiser is explaining the rational rationale why you, the donor, should give. Oh my. Oh dear. Could we be any dumber? Yes, just plain dumb according to tons of research. (Just visit Tom Ahern and all his writings about neuroscience from all those neuroscience researchers. Read Seth Godin’s great blog, “A reason persuasion is surprisingly difficult.” And check out the research he’s referring to.

That’s bad enough….pursuing reason when emotion is what makes action happen. (I just love this quote by Canadian neurologist Donald Calne: “The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action, while reason leads to conclusions.” As a fundraiser – or marketer of any kind – I hope you want action!)

But too often, fundraisers (and their board members and staff colleagues) get confused about which stories and whose stories. Then the story listening part of the work gets lost somewhere in translation. You’re not listening to my story. And rest assured, that can get pretty ugly. Check out this article about fundraisers denying me my story.

Seth is pretty darn great at talking about story telling and story listening and who the story belongs to. Here’s one of my Seth all-time favorites. “The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not the brand.” And the “you” is the prospect, the donor, the customer, the buyer…

Here’s how Seth describes marketing – and what I call the non-listening problem. “Marketing is the empathetic act of telling a story that works, that’s true for the person hearing it, that stands up to scrutiny. But marketing is not about merely sharing what you, the marketer believes. It’s about what we, the listener, believe.”

And here’s one last thought: “Everything is a tale. What we believe, what we know. What we remember, even what we dream. Everything is a story, a narrative, a sequence of events with characters communicating an emotional content. We only accept as true what can be narrated.” [Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel’s Game]


January 18, 2016

Inspiring success … and sharing success!

I received this email below from Vicki in Queensland, Australia. Thank you, Vicki, for inspiring us all.

“Earlier this year – at the Fundraising Institute of Australia conference in Brisbane, you inspired us. You asked us to go out and create extraordinary experiences for our donors. And that stuck in my all year.

“I’m a member of the Queensland FIA committee and I help organization our professional development breakfasts. We only have two each year plus the Christmas drinks event. At the recent Christmas Drinks event – as a way of celebrating the great work our fundraising professionals do all year round, we asked that people share their Extraordinary Experiences.

“We had some lovely stories and I just wanted you to know that you have been the inspiration behind this. Each person that shared their story received a special certificate and the best storyteller received a bottle of Moet!

“The celebrations were held poolside at the beautiful Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa.”

Inspiring each other to develop extraordinary experiences for donors. Experiencing extraordinary experiences yourself. Sharing stories and listening to other people’s stories.

How perfect this was. And there were prizes and apparently it was warm as they were poolside!

June 15, 2015

Myths, legends, falsehoods, misunderstandings…

And all of these harm fundraising!

I keep telling you to engage your boss and board members and staff colleagues in a conversation. Conversations! Not presentations. Not PowerPoint. Not discussion where one side is trying to advocate the other side. And no personal opinions … only body of knowledge.

And I keep saying, “Start your conversations with an interesting blog. Or an interesting piece of research.”

So here I go again!

Share “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” at The Agitator (Craver and Belford). I’ve told you a gazillion times to subscribe to this daily blog. Read “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” over and over again. (Posted on November 25, 2014)

Now start those conversations. Take your boss to lunch. Of course, s/he reads the posting beforehand. Then you two talk. Use “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” as the basis for one of your Fund Development Committee meetings. The only item on the agenda. Examine. Explore. Apply. Learn. Change.

Talk about this blog at a board meeting for 15 minutes. Forget the dollars raised. Talk about how to raise the dollars. Forget talking about how to raise the dollars. Talk about how to keep donors, build loyalty.

Do it. Have those conversations.

May 6, 2015

Check out those Canadians

I like Fraser Green. He’s interesting and cool.

I respect Fraser’s work and that of his teammates at GOOD WORKS. (And this company uses cute photos. Remember, there is a biological concept called the “cuteness factor.” It stops parents from killing their young. Like dinosaurs and lions. And…)

So here’s some good GOOD WORKS stuff:

  • Check out their white papers. Research about things like: State of the Canadian web. (I’ll be non-Canadians could learn stuff, too!) Legacy marketing overview. And more.
  • Most definitely read Iceberg Philanthropy: Unlocking Extraordinary Gifts From Ordinary Donors (about bequests) by some Good Works people, Fraser Green, Jose van Herpt and colleague Beth McDonald. So very useful! I love this book.
  • Read Fraser’s book 3D Philanthropy (Make your donors love you by connecting with their minds, hearts and souls.)
March 9, 2015

Are you keeping your donors? Are you democratizing philanthropy?

Have you read my book (co-authored with Tom Ahern) about nurturing relationships and communicating with donors … all in a donor-centered manner … in order to keep your donors? After all, loyalty is the Holy Grail of Fundraising. (Thanks, Roger and Tom, you agitators!)

Have you read the final chapter, Philanthropy’s Moral Dilemma? Available in the book. And available in my Free Download Library.

Here’s what a Connecticut colleague said about the book:

“While your donor-centric world view greatly influenced me, it plays a poor second to your barely-below-the-surface passion for social justice. I admire what you wrote in your book Keep Your Donors on the topic. That you had the guts to write about it at all. Especially in a book that philanthropists of all political stripes would read, on a topic about the mechanics of growing philanthropy.

“God forbid you should write anything that isn’t carefully neutral, studiously focused on charity and on praising change generically and innocuously…. I was inspired by your willingness to let a part of your passionate self get captured in black and white – a part that most believe could alienate a decent portion of your customer base.”

January 28, 2015

Stacks of magazines! I’m so far behind…

I’m so far behind in my magazine reading. Ah Harvard Business Review… I love you and miss you. And there you are… all stacked up on the shelf. I’m so sorry I’m so far behind!

I have snow 2 feet deep in my yard. Generations of deer preceded us on this land where we live. The current 3 large adults are desperately foraging in the snow that’s swamping their bellies.

I have lots of work to do. But I’m distracted by the stacks of magazines. So I’m skimming to see what to keep:

From AFP‘s Advancing Philanthropy, Fall 2014

  • “More than the sum of the parts…What makes a fundraiser?” Paul Lagasse.  Could be useful for my masterclass in Australia in a few weeks.
  • “The Development Committee Workbook: Managing Your Volunteers to Success,” Michele Berard, MBA, CFRE…from here in RI.
  • “Analytics, Schmanalytics – It’s More Than Just Data,” Gilman Sullivan. It’s staff’s job to translate data / information into trends and implications. Come on people. Let’s get it together!

From AFP‘s Advancing Philanthropy, Winter 2015

The whole issue focus on creating a culture of philanthropy. YIPPEE! I’m taking this on the plane to Australia ’cause it’s one of my favorite topics…organizational culture…philanthropic culture…

I first wrote about a culture of philanthropy back in 1996, in the first edition of my book Strategic Fund Development, published in 1997. The book is now in its 3rd edition — and that philanthropic culture (along with organizational culture) is still there. And there’s a handout in the Free Download Library on my website, too.

I’m taking this issue of Advancing Philanthropy on the plane to Australia. Articles by Karla Williams, MA, ACFRE and Andrea McManus, CFRE, great people in our field. Articles about the philanthropic culture affecting morale and boards and donors and fundraisers. This issue is a keeper in my library.

January 12, 2015

Storytelling in different ways

The Rijksmuseum in Holland told a story…. The purpose wasn’t fundraising…. The purpose was to get people to go to the museum.

So the museum decided – first – to take the art to the people. Back when I was the director of an art center, we put up original local art in the Burger King. And people voted for their favorite and and and … That was 40 years ago.

So back to the Rijksmuseum and taking the art to the people… IN THE MALL…

The museum took one painting of Rembrandt – dated 1642 – called “Guards of the Night.” And….

Well, I don’t want to tell you what…

Click here. Watch this marvelous filming of what happened.

Then…Think about how your organization tells its stories. Its client stories. It’s donor stories. Whatever story…

And, make sure you read Paul Zak’s neuroscience research about brains and oxytocin. Check out “Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling.”

October 24, 2014

Fundraising from Valros, France

Hi. It’s moi (me) again. Yes, I’m still in France. The guests have left. (We had such fun with sister and cousin and their respective in-law partners.)

So now it’s email every day. And I read a lot and then I want to share with you. So here goes….

Some more research:

  • Ah, fundraising and technology. Check out this research,  2014 Fundraising Technology Trends. In this study with fundraisers, 80% believe that “better technology leads to more effective fundraising.” You’ll also find info about specific tech strategies, software, etc. — all focused on fundraising.
  • Did I already tell you about the newest research from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative? Check out their  “Nonprofit Fundraising Study – Mid-year Update (January – June 2014).” This regular study reviews charitable gifts for Canadian and U.S. charities.

Here are some keepers for all us nonprofit organizations, we leaders, us fundraisers… And some short little things to read and share with your colleagues. Please. Please. S’il vous plaît. Share these with your staff colleagues at an all-staff meeting. Help your program staff and the receptionist and the janitor understand staff.

Short little things to read. Good powerful little things to share. Please please please ….. S’il vous plaît. Share these things with your staff colleagues … Like at the all-staff meeting. This stuff is great to help your program staff and the receptionist and janitor understand stuff. And for your board members, too.

All these people are your ambassadors and your partners in philanthropy and fundraising. Ambassadors… So here’s a great one about brand ambassadors from Seth Godin. I hope you read Seth regularly. Yes, his comments are useful for fundraising and any business and pretty much most lives. Everyone is a brand ambassador for your charity. Everyone!

And there’s more! 

Every single one of these items could be a good conversation starter at your organization. Leaders stimulate conversations. Leaders bring in strategic and cage-rattling conversations to generate perspective and engage in meaningful conversation.

Yes, there is time to have these conversations. Yes, there is time to use conversation as a core business practice. If you cannot find / make the time… then what are you doing?!

Okay. That’s it. Back to vacation.

September 25, 2014

More help for fundraisers… storytelling!

Do you want to raise more money? Do you want to build donor loyalty?

If you do….

I already told you to read Roger Craver’s new book, Retention Fundraising: The New Art and Science of Keeping Donors for Life.

AND NOW… You must read Storytelling Can Change the World by Ken Burnett. Why?

Here’s what Roger Craver says on the front of Ken’s book: “To hell with statistics, policy pronouncements and self-absorbed institutional tripe. The world needs stories, transformational stories that move audiences to action that can change the world. This book shows us how.”

Ken is the first user of the term “relationship fundraising.” And you have to read that book of his. Ken is the inventor of the Showcase for Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration. And you have to visit SOFII regularly.

Ken covers such topics as:

  • Why we tell stories
  • The best sales opportunities you’ll ever have
  • The story of a story
  • Understanding your audience
  • Cornerstones of successful storytelling

We can do this! Go!

September 18, 2014

Oh my gosh…thanking customers

Nonprofits should pay attention to customer research and customer-centered behavior.

Sure…Yes…I know… NGOs can’t spend the money that for-profits spend. But NGOs can certainly think and reflect and focus on donors. NGOs can certainly reach customer research.

Check out the new SOFII website.

Read this wonderful post about making donors feel REALLY special.

Check out the absolutely brilliant videos of the bank and the airline.

YES. I believe that NGOs can be just as creative as for-profit companies. YES. I believe that NGOs can love their donors and show that love.

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