November 16, 2015

Really good resources last forever

I’m sitting on the floor in the corner of my London hotel room. Feels good on my back. It’s actually 8:40 a.m. on October 16. This afternoon is the meeting of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, Plymouth University. I’m the chair of the Centre’s Advisory Board.

Yes, I write some of my blogs in advance…for example this one. In fact, I intentionally post many of my resource blogs weeks after the origination of the resource. WHY? Because really good resources don’t go out of date. Really good resources last forever.

You may have read the resource back when it first came out – because I’m so often sharing from places like NPQ…The Agitator…Jeff Brooks…BloomerangThe HubHillborn…wherever and whatever and more. But I want to remind you of the resource a while later. Because I think the resource is worth remembering and keeping and applying.

So here goes, some resources I find very useful and applicable and and and ….

“Your donors are trashing your emails. Here’s what you can do about it.” Thank you, Jeff Brooks. So many emails…How many get opened?

Carl Sussman’s magnificent always useful read it now article: “Making Change: How to Build Adaptive Capacity.” This is a must-read for any fundraiser, all management staff, board members. This is a great article for management of your own life, too!

Check out the 101Fundraising Blog. International. Yippee! And here are their top 10 right now. And read this one about looking out the window, not in the mirror.

Resources? More resources? Damn. I am so far behind! Read Steven Shattuck’s post of the Top 40 Blogs to read in 2015. I’ve shared this with you before. I’m sharing it again. And kicking myself to read more of these, too!

Okay. That’s it. I’m getting up from the floor now. Nice for my back but too hard for that other part of me at the moment!

Share some of your favorite resources in the comments section of this blog. We can all learn more together.



October 28, 2015

Bad government regulation…silent NGOs…cautious fundraisers…

I’m thinking this is a recipe for failure:

  • Several cups of: Government that doesn’t analyze; and, eliminates any input from fundraisers.
  • A couple cups of: Overly sweet NGOs with no tartness or saltiness at all.
  • Add a big dose of fear.
  • Add a pinch of arrogance.
  • Mix well to ensure no discernible flavor.

And there you have it… Nonsensical government regulation…sour and rotten. Accompanied by very few dissident voices because fear overcomes clear thinking and the will to fight.

Damn it. This is a too-commonly baked recipe in the nonprofit sector. 

Are you wondering what I’m taking about? A current British recipe resulting from the suicide of Olive Cooke. Her death is attributed to the crass fundraising strategies of ignoble nonprofits. Yes, that’s the hue and outcry from British media, and some vocal leaders of the nonprofit sector, mostly unchecked by thoughtful leaders.

What a silly, sorry accusation for an apparently lovely woman who gave time and money to charities that she cared about. How unfortunate that the nonprofit sector isn’t more respected and valued. Too sad that condemnation and threats cause so many to stay too silent.

So now there will be new regulations in the U.K. Bad new regulations that will hurt those in most need.

[A momentary aside: Despite the absurdity of “suicide due to fundraising,” it’s certainly valid to ask how NGOs and their fundraisers raise money. How we treat donors…How often we contact donors…What kind of choice we give donors…How we justify our voracious fundraising strategies with so little care for our donors…And on and on and on. Perhaps this is the wake-up call our sector needs?]

Don’t think that this can only happen in the U.K. Oh my, no! I’ve seen similar recipes in the U.S. for decades and decades. I listen to worried colleagues around the world.

Surely this entire situation – including response from the media and the sector and donors – is a useful conversation to have in your organization. What to do? Try the following:

  1. Assign your staff to read about Olive Cooke and the U.K. debacle. Then read Adrian Sargeant’s blog and The Agitator blog by guru Roger Craver. Now talk.
  2. Spend some time at an upcoming board meeting talking about the British situation. Then identify similar situations in your country. Talk about your NGO’s role in speaking out for or against public policy. Talk about how you might respond to donors who might be curious or even worried.
  3. Gather together some of your fundraising colleagues around your community – maybe your local fundraising association. Explore topics like: Position of the nonprofit sector, its value and respect for it… Speaking out as a sector, focusing on facts rather than hysteria and frenzy…

More recipes like this produce a weakened NGO sector. And a weakened NGO sector harms our communities, our societies, and – yes – the entire world.

So let’s get our act together. Please.


October 12, 2015

Setting your charitable contributions goal

From my archives… But I’m still flummoxed about how organizations do this…

How does your NGO set its charitable contributions goal? This is what organizations tell me:

First we add up all the expenses to carry out our mission. Then we figure out how much revenue we think is pretty reliable.” (That might be ticket sales if you’re an arts organization. Or maybe government contracts for services delivered. Or a for-sure grant from some foundation.)

“And then,” says the organization, “we figure out the gap and that’s our fundraising goal.”
Yup, the primary criteria for setting charitable contributions goal is how much the organization wants / needs to do its work.
Of course, most organizations also look at how much they’ve raised in the past. Let’s see: “Last year we raised 10% more than the previous year. So how about raising 15% more this year. Or, it’s a bad economy, so let’s just aim for raising 10% more again this year.”
Not good. Not the best way to determine your charitable contributions goal. In fact, I think the least important criteria for setting your charitable contributions goal is “how much you need.”
Instead, set your charitable contributions goal by examining both internal and external criteria. For example, internal criteria include:
  • donor-centered relationship building program
  • balanced mix of solicitation strategies and sources of gifts
  • board member participation to identify the predisposed, nurture relationships, and solicit gifts
  • number of qualified prospects in the pipeline
  • analysis of key donors to determine the likelihood of how much each one might increase his / her gift

And I have even more on my list!

Make sure you consider the external issues, for example, the economy.
And make sure that your board understands this is how an effective organization develops its budget and its charitable contributions goal.
July 6, 2015

One little starfish

On June 9, 2015, I presented at the Planet Philanthropy conference in Jacksonville, Florida. The 19 AFP Chapters in Florida come together annually to put together this conference. Wow. I’m impressed with the number of chapters in the state. And I’m impressed with the collaboration. Smart groups around the country – whether it’s professional associations or providers or or – collaborating makes a big difference.

The next day, I woke up to this email from a conference attendee.

“On behalf of all in that large room – I send appreciation for your spirit, enthusiasm and bold approach that we, as fundraisers need, so very much.
Your words were beyond a class, or a training, or a keynote speaker…They were empowerment – to do great things, every single day.. starting tomorrow.
Thanks for the huge difference you made to me – one little starfish, but one!
Thanks for the difference you made today.”

I am proud and touched by Marilyn’s comments. She summarized what I try so hard to accomplish. I do believe that fundraisers must be bolder. In knowing and applying the body of knowledge and research. I do believe that fundraisers must stand up to their boards and bosses: telling the truth; sharing critical information; fighting against “ill-informed opinions” and “we need money now syndrome,” and so much more.

Then Marilyn shared with me this video… which I had never seen. And Marilyn said: “What we do is as important as the different way we say it.”

Thank you, Marilyn Hathaway, CFRE… Habitat for Humanity – Seminole Apopa. Thank you.

Filed under: Leadership

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.)
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.

December 1, 2014

Overhead madness

MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The back and forth at the Agitator (Belford and Craver) …. and all the marvelous comments from people all over the world.

The back and forth at the Critical Fundraising Blog …. at the new Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy in the U.K.

Everyone in your organization should read this… THE WHOLE THING! It’s the comments that count. The original Agitator column stimulates the comments.

I’ll say it again: Read the whole Agitator thing! Now, read the whole Critical Fundraising thing!

And let’s join voices and tell the truth and explain. Explain through stories and metaphors. Don’t explain through data!

Convince some donors and get them to tell the story about why overhead matters.

Let’s launch a donor fight FOR overhead.

Keep up the critique of those silly watchdog groups who made this the center of their evaluations. Then after their leadership in furthering this fiasco… these watch doggies changed their tunes and said something like “of course, overhead isn’t bad; it’s necessary.” (Although they didn’t actually say they had helped further the fiasco and were sorry.)

Join the fight FOR overhead. Tell stories. Get your donors to tell stories about why overhead matters.

November 25, 2014

Interesting – even important – resources

A resource blog, colleagues. So much interesting stuff comes across my desk (and floor… stacks on the floor…the clutter makes me anxious…)

Happy reading. Remember…It’s our job to actually read stuff. Examine the implications and applications for our work, our institutions, our communities.

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!

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