#GivingTuesday – How to Be a Winner

Apple with heart 300x198 #GivingTuesday   How to Be a Winner

Have you considered making #Giving Tuesday a gift to  your donors?

In my last post, #Giving Tuesday, Win or Lose Day? You’re in Control I talked about the origins of the day and all the good intentions that went into its creation. Yet I’ve heard from many, many nonprofits that they just don’t have the bandwidth to develop and promote one more fundraising initiative during this very busy time of year. I’ve been there, and I empathize.

Sometimes the newest bells and whistles are simply a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing in the end.  But rather than reject the notion of #GivingTuesday out of hand, I began to wonder if there were ways to jump on the bandwagon without cannibalizing other types of year-end fundraising.  Or without burning out staff and volunteers. Or without confusing donors who feel like they’re being asked for this, that and every such thing.

I noted that I love the idea of using #GivingTuesday to celebrate and thank our donors. We don’t thank our supporters nearly enough, so why not have a day dedicated to donor love?

I think there’s a way to make #GivingTuesday about both giving and getting. And I promised to share an example with you in my last post.Continue Reading

#GivingTuesday – Your Win or Lose Day? You’re in Control

Apple with heart 300x198 #GivingTuesday   Your Win or Lose Day? Youre in Control

What does #Giving Tuesday mean to your nonprofit? To your donors?

Giving Tuesday. What’s it all about? Read about the origins here. It’s one of those things that sounds good on paper, but in actual implementation it can be less than ideal. Why? Because it comes right smack dab in the middle of most folks annual campaigns. So there’s often little time to do it right. And it can cannibalize other fundraising efforts.Continue Reading

April Fools SMIT: 7 Tips to Stop Social Media from Peeing on your Nonprofit’s Floor

Puppy chewing shoes April Fools SMIT: 7 Tips to Stop Social Media from Peeing on your Nonprofit’s Floor

Take care of me, please.

This month’s SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you) is that if you don’t take care of your social media it’s going to pee on your floor, tear up your furniture and chew up your shoes.  No fooling.

Social media is like a puppy. Everyone wants to play with the cute, cuddly puppy.  But then it grows up.  It needs to be walked. It needs to be fed. If you’re gonna get one, you gotta care for it or it’s gonna die.    It takes time, attention and dedication. And just because you have one or two (perhaps named Twitter and Facebook) that doesn’t mean that adding a few more (named Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn) and caring for them is going to be a piece of cake.

Full credit: I’m nowhere near the first to make this analogy (see e.g.,  Is Your Social Network a Puppy or a Dog? by Jay Bear; Free Puppies by David Bowman; Social Media is Like a Puppy, and Surviving social media marketing: A puppy owner’s guide).

Puppy litter April Fools SMIT: 7 Tips to Stop Social Media from Peeing on your Nonprofit’s Floor

Don’t you want us all? We dare you!

What’s your current status vis a vis puppies? Will you get one? Everyone else seems to have one, no?  Your board members say you should get one, yes?  Maybe even a whole litter!  Or do you have a couple of puppies tucked in the corner, but for whom no one has claimed responsibility? Some days they get played with, fed and walked; other days, not so much?

Puppies driving car April Fools SMIT: 7 Tips to Stop Social Media from Peeing on your Nonprofit’s Floor

Are you driving social media or is it driving you?

If you don’t have time, resources and inclination to take care of a puppy right now, then do what you need to get ready. If you can’t nurture the puppies you’ve got, don’t adopt new ones.  If your puppies aren’t thriving, then consider whether to give them over to someone else (hire or outsource) or seek a trainer (consultant). Social media, like puppies, can be extremely rewarding.  Social media, like puppies, can become your best friend. But rewards and friendship have their costs as well as benefits.

Puppies and social media are decidedly not free; just like friends, they require care and feeding. [See infographic on How Much do Small Businesses Spend on Social Media?] A puppy is a living, breathing animal; not a toy. Similarly, social media is a living, breathing two-way communications channel; not just a shiny plaything. If you just toy with it, it may bite back!

Time to stop fooling around with social media. 

7 Tips to Take Social Media Seriously

1. Embrace social media as the essential communications medium that it is today. Today it’s one of the principle ways folks find out about and interact with brands. Get yourself and your entire household (aka organization) excited about the prospect of truly bringing something new into your lives.

2. Clarify your different social channels, understanding that different people use different networks for different purposes. (see Guy Kawasaki’s top ten social media tips for nonprofits). Figure out the places that make the most sense for your constituents; then go there first. It’s a much better strategy then simply adopting the same puppy your neighbor owns.  If you’re not a poodle organization, get yourself a Labrador retriever or a Chihuahua. Spend a bit of time figuring out your personality and that of your constituents before you leap in. You wouldn’t go to the pet store blindfolded and just ask the clerk to give you any old dog.  Don’t do that with social media.  All channels are not created equal.

3. Get, and keep, everyone involved.  Don’t make social media the province of just one or two departments.  It’s not just for I.T. Or marketing. Or development. Involve program staff. Involve the C-Suite. Involve your volunteers. Everyone must be on board if you’re to become a truly connected, relevant social business for the 21st century.

4. Really play the game. Don’t just buy a board game and keep it in a box. Participate enthusiastically and strategically.  When folks comment, respond.  When folks retweet your posts or ‘like’ you, thank them.  Engage. Remember the ‘social’ in social media.  Make a relationship. [See 6 Ways Your Nonprofit Wins the Game of Social Media].Make a best friend. 

5. Take the village to heart.  Remember the adage “it takes a village?” Trust in the power of crowdsourcing. You absolutely have to share.  Make every piece of content shareable.  Think about linking from one piece of content to another; from one channel to the next.  Don’t think about anything in isolation. [I’m reminded of being in college. My roommates and I used to keep the NYT crossword puzzle on the kitchen table all day; as we came in and out of classes, we’d each add a little bit. When we’d come back later in the day, there’d be something new added that helped us figure out something that had previously eluded us.  By the end of the day, working together, we’d have the puzzle figured out].

6. Test things. It’s a version of trial and error. If you throw a ball and your dog doesn’t chase it, then try a new game.  Do the same with social media.  Don’t just give up and decide your dog/constituent doesn’t like to play. Find what motivates your particular audience. You may learn that posting a video raises more money than a photo, or vice-versa. You may find that a 7 word subject line does better than a 3 word subject line, or vice-versa.  What works for everyone else may not work for you.  Pay attention; then tweak your system.

7. Track and report on what you’re doing. This will keep you focused on your ROI and also keep everyone in the organization involved and informed.  How’s your social media impacting your fundraising, volunteering, advocacy, public relations? Is this what you wanted to happen?  If not, how can you refocus?

When you bring a puppy into your life it makes demands on you.  Be prepared.  Also embrace how much meaning and joy social media can bring to you and your village.  After all, you’re all in this together.

Philanthropy is fundamentally social. I encourage you to check out the SPECIAL GUIDE:  7 CLAIRIFICATION KEYS TO UNLOCK YOUR NONPROFIT’S FUNDRAISING POTENTIAL. It includes easy-to-follow worksheets and exercises to prepare you to become an effective social media adopter and philanthropy facilitator in the 21st century.

Photos via Flickr: BuzzFarmers; Jacob and Kiki Hantla

6 Ways to Get Others to Promote Your Nonprofit Blog for You: Happy Talk – S.S.T.S. Series, Part IIIb

Word of Mouth Infographic 6 Ways to Get Others to Promote Your Nonprofit Blog for You: Happy Talk – S.S.T.S. Series, Part IIIb

Let the happy talking about you begin!

Talking is what builds your reputation and develops relationships with those who share the values your organization enacts. Talking is central to your blog – and entire social media – strategy. So… let’s talk!

In the first part of this two-part post about how to get others to promote your blog we discussed how to find your natural “sharers” – those folks willing to be spokespersons on your behalf, whether they be influencers or advocates.  Today we’re going to talk about how to get these boosters to spread your good word through digital word-of-mouth.


How to Find Your Nonprofit Blog Advocates vs. Influencers — S.S.T.S. Series, Part IIIa

Talk 1 e1362452010876 How to Find Your Nonprofit Blog Advocates vs. Influencers    S.S.T.S. Series, Part IIIaTo make your blog worth the effort, it’s got to be shared. And that’s what we discussed in Part I: Share and Part II: Shareable of this S.S.T.S. Series.  Great!  But how do you get folks to really TALK about you, rather than just shooting out one-shot shares?

You begin with content, of course. No one is going to share crap, no matter how easy you make it for them to do so. In the C.P.A. Series we talked about getting folks to open and read your post. Done! In the R.C.A. Series we discussed giving folks something engaging to talk about – relevant, constituent-centered and actionable content.  Done and done.

Now that you’ve got the good stuff, you need to get folks walking your talk!

You want more than short-term share transactions.  You want shares that drive desired action responses; you want transformation!Continue Reading

Games Board Members Must Play: How Your Nonprofit Leaders Can Help or Harm You

FollowTheLeader WHT original Games Board Members Must Play: How Your Nonprofit Leaders Can Help or Harm You

The absolutely most important game a board member must play is ‘follow the leader.’ In my last post series on “The 3 Ways We Go Wrong Asking Nonprofit Boards to Help Raise Funds” I spoke of the unique job board members have as role models. A growing body of research shows that human beings are, first and foremost, social creatures.  We use the brains of others to think for us and as storage space for our knowledge about the world. In considering whether and how to get involved with any nonprofit, people will look first to the board for guidance.

We ignore this at our peril.

We develop and learn about the world around us through the filter of other people. Board members are the filter through which others in our community will view us. The New York Times columnist David Brooks, author of “The Social Animal,” notes that we are not separate individuals but “emerge out of relationships” and are deeply formed and shaped by them. He states that “people learn from people they love.”
herd mentality Games Board Members Must Play: How Your Nonprofit Leaders Can Help or Harm You

If we really want to change things we need to understand how people behave. It was Aristotle himself who first described humans as “social animals,” and indeed his observation from 350 B.C. has been borne out by the field of evolutionary anthropology. According to the authors of I’ll Have What She’s Having: Mapping Social Behavior, we are a ‘we’ species, not a ‘me’ species. People tend not to think for themselves; they follow the lead of others whom they respect and admire. We are products of a herd mentality. 

The positive thing about us social animals is that we are hard wired to coalesce in groups. Today modern psychology and neuroscience reveal that the human species has just as much of a capacity for empathy and altruism as they do for selfishness and greed.  Frans deWaal writes of this in The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, and Darwin talked of survival of the most empathic when speaking of communities. Significant work by the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley, led by Dacher Keltner, also supports this notion. Work in the field of developmental psychology reveals we possess a neural capacity for empathy that guides us from the day we are born. As babies, we cry at the sound of another baby crying. We are attuned to each other’s emotional needs. We want to help one another.
At the same time, we’ve a tendency to pay tribute to the alpha male (or female) within the group. We look for guidance… power… strength… authority… leadership. And, if you will, the board represents the alpha males in your group/organization/community.
Simply put, what the board does matters. It matters a lot.  Foundations and businesses will ask what the board is doing before they commit.  Potential individual donors will decide how much to give based on the size of gifts committed by the board. New board members will decide whether they can abstain from fundraising based on the level of involvement in which they see existing board members engaged. And so on. We want to follow the leader.
Without a board that leads by example it will be extremely difficult for any social benefit organization to survive and thrive. You see, it’s not what we say that really matters.  It’s what we do.  People won’t magically fall in line behind us just because we have a good case for support.  Lots of organizations have a good case for support.  People will line up behind a leader way before they’ll step up to the line on their own.
influencer1 Games Board Members Must Play: How Your Nonprofit Leaders Can Help or Harm You

It turns out that influencers have tremendous power and clout. Authors like Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, Duncan Watts in a series of publications on social networks, Nicholas Christakis in Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, and Stanley Milgram who developed the notion of “Six Degrees of Separation” (though he did not use that phrase himself) teach us that networks matter, and that some folks within networks are more influential than others.  These are the folks we want to bring onto our boards.  And these are the folks we want to be sure will use their influence on our behalf.

Influencers influencing; this is the most important role board members can play for our organization.

Do you have a good way to help your board members step up to their role as influencers?
Other posts to help your board members embrace their leadership role in fundraising/financing:

Occupy Philanthropy: How to Raise Money in 2013

pyramid Occupy Philanthropy: How to Raise Money in 2013 October 15th marks the one-year anniversary of the community based Occupy movement. Since philanthropy is about creating a caring community, I’m taking a quick break from my current series of posts about boards and fundraising to remind us what we need to do to fully occupy philanthropy and connect with our best donor prospects as we move towards 2013.

 Occupy Philanthropy: How to Raise Money in 2013

If we view the entire world as one big neighborhood then it is incumbent on us, as Mr. Rogers used to tell us, to be a good neighbor. To everyone. This means paying attention to all our ‘would-be’ helpers. And not just at the top of the pyramid, but deep within our own database.  Here’s where we find smaller donors plus many who contribute to our earned income – the parents, patients, event attendees, subscribers and purchasers of services.  These are the folks who are ‘linked’ to us.

Not everyone who can give is immediately apparent. While many nonprofits operate on a major donor model of fundraising (which makes sense when 80 – 90% of the donations are coming from 10-20% of the people), I’ve long held that we’re missing a huge opportunity by not paying more attention to the 99% of folks who are already in our database making smaller gifts.  Sometimes these folks make multiple gifts, or have been giving for many, many years. When we don’t fully occupy our supporter base, we leave money on the table.

Is it okay to partially occupy your potential constituent universe and leave money on the table?  Personally, I don’t think so.  While many organizations are content to simply balance their current budgets, shouldn’t we strive to do more if our mission is vital?  And what about all the people who could become inspired and fulfilled as active supporters of our mission?  Don’t we deny them this opportunity when we ignore them? People want to be part of the solution; not part of the problem.

Part of philanthropy’s role in the web 2.0 and 3.0 world is to shape how newly connected groups grow and change the world around them. Technology is empowering people to come together like never before, and we must not ignore social media. We can learn a lot from the 99% about what is valued about our work, and how we could do what we do better.

It’s not enough to pay attention to the top of our donor pyramids; especially as  many nonprofits have donor pyramids that are in danger of toppling over. Let’s take a page from Aristotle, who emphasized the middle class as the core strength of a viable democracy. Let’s desist in focusing only on the select few and strengthen our cores.  The people at the heart of our constituency will always hold far greater sway in their spheres of influence than will we.

The digital revolution has handed us an opportunity to occupy the entire landscape.  The truth is that most organizations have not had true donor pyramids in a long time.  Yet many nonprofits still cater to the 1% (or 10-20%) to the detriment of much of their base.  I confess that I too was a proponent off this strategy for many years. But that was when our fundraising stool had three legs; it now has four (the new leg being peer-to-peer digital engagement). Donor neglect of all but a handful of our supporters creates a disaffected and disenfranchised base.

Our job is to equip folks to recruit those they know to participate in a cause we all value, and to assist them in coaching others into greater engagement and investment. Not only do we have the technological tools to make this happen, we also are in a zeitgeist (witness the Occupy and Tea Party movements) where people desperately want to be able to exert some control over the society within which they live.  The public benefit sector can give people the control for which they urgently yearn.

If we occupy anything, let’s occupy a philanthropy that truly is of the people, by the people and for the people. 
How do you empower your base?

The S.F. Giants School of Social Media: 3 Tips to Drive Nonprofit Fan Engagement

 The S.F. Giants School of Social Media: 3 Tips to Drive Nonprofit Fan Engagement
This is baseball heaven, Tweet courtesy of @bradmangin

Story+Customer Experience+Voice = Community

The Giants embraced social media during a time of magic for the team in 2010.  The franchise hadn’t won a World Series in 54 years. Finally, it was all coming together in an exhilarating way.  And social media was there to share the thrilling tale with fans all over the world.  From the Giants’ foray into social media come three take-aways:


What’s more shareable than a great yarn? In 2010 the Giants, with their fans, became social producers building something akin to a round robin tale. With everyone adding in, they succeeded in crafting a story people wanted to talk about.  AT&T; Park filled with “Fear the Beard” signs; the slogan “There’s Magic Inside” created an aura of enchantment.  
When fans become a part of your story it creates community.  Like-minded folks connecting with something they believe in. Good social media directors are directors of customer experiences, figuring out what fans want; then translating this into a win/win. Fans want to see their players on the All Star Team. The franchise does too. So the Giants successfully rallied their fans to vote local favorites onto the team through social media — one example of a natural alignment between franchise and fan desires.
Pablo+(Panda)+Sandoval+Gnome The S.F. Giants School of Social Media: 3 Tips to Drive Nonprofit Fan Engagement
Giants fans have a real voice, echoed by the social media ‘voice’of the team. Fans shared 40,000 photos on Instagramin the past two months! You learn a lot this way about your constituents and what moves them. The result? The Giants have had a sell out streak ever since beginning with social media and co-creating the experience with their fans.
When you align empathically with your customers it’s a game changer. Social media – not as a tool, but as an attitude — provides social meaning in a chaotic world.
See the full post published on Windmill Networking


Engagement Comes Before Marriage: How Nonprofits Build Sustained Relationships

 Engagement Comes Before Marriage: How Nonprofits Build Sustained Relationships
It’s a long way from “I like you” to the altar.  Where is the love?
Ask yourself if you’re trying too often to rush to the altar without an engagement. If you’re wondering why those folks who… “liked” you on Facebook…  gave after being strong-armed by their friends… bought a silent auction item while first-time event attendees… are not taking the next step and becoming ongoing supporters, then take a step back. Don’t Put the Fundraising Cart before the Friendraising Horse.You may be trying to force a relationship where none yet exists.

Sure, there are marriages (in name only) that happen without engagement. Folks may ‘marry’ as the result of a shotgun wedding, a business arrangement or a quick trip to Vegas in the heat of the moment, but these are not the marriages of which dreams are made. There is a vast difference between these transactional marriages and lasting, devoted relationships. Because transactions are made so easily in this digital age, we sometimes forget what’s important. Engagement that leads to lasting marriage requires a human touch and connection.
You must go through the engagement phase if you want a lasting pledge of faith and commitment. This is when friends and family get introduced. If properly stewarded, they sing your praises high and low. They invest passionately in your vision. This is what creates a community of folks who share something in common and who come together in support of their shared devotion.
it s not a business 2 .1 Engagement Comes Before Marriage: How Nonprofits Build Sustained Relationships
Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void
Once engaged, it’s time to build support. You should be cultivating evangelists who will spread the word among their networks. To achieve this requires: (1) clearly sharing your mission, vision and values (2) with folks who are like-minded and (3) who you knoware like-minded. This is IMPORTANT.  I repeat:  You must do all three things to get to engagement:
1.      Tell a compelling, relevant story that resonates.
 Engagement Comes Before Marriage: How Nonprofits Build Sustained Relationships
While remembering the importance of engagement, we must remember it’s not our end goal. To get that ring on our finger requires creating a yearning that leads to investment. If we want to sustain that investment we must go beyond yearning to create the deeper connection that leads to loyalty.
Which brings us back to love.  When people love you they put you first.  They do everything in their power to make sure you thrive. And if you will be loved, you must also love back.  Having a relationship means relating, and understanding that the engagement really never ends.

Do you put your supporters first?
Please share ways you add a human touch to your cultivation and solicitation strategies and engage continually with your supporters to create enduring and deep connections.

7 Practical Ways to Play at Work, Feel Better and Achieve More

wafcup 7 Practical Ways to Play at Work, Feel Better and Achieve More
Forget your troubles, come on get happy. My last post was about playing your way to purpose at work.  Since play is critical to innovation, not to mention well-being, today’s post suggests practical ways to enter the joie de vivre zone.  Goodness knows it seems 98% of the people I talk to express significant feelings of stress and/or ennui; most of us could use a little more ‘chill’! It’s actually not an impossible feat.  There are things you can do that are really pretty easy. Here’s what I’ve learned from a variety of experts, with my own twists:

  1. Play Idea Ping-Pong
ping ponging.1 7 Practical Ways to Play at Work, Feel Better and Achieve More
Image from Gaping Void
      The wonderful Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void suggests this metaphorically as a way to bounce ideas around your office.  What if we take him literally?  Consider bringing one of those portable nets into your conference room; then taking turns batting the ball back and forth across the table.  Each time the ball comes to you, throw out an idea. It’s fun, you’ll do it without over-thinking, and everyone will cheer you on! (Or just toss a beach ball around; for extra fun, go outside and toss a Frisbee).  Redefine brainstorming as “play-storming.”
  1. Designate a “Play Time”Just like parents set up “play dates” for their kids, how about setting up a regular play time for your work group? This promotes a playful atmosphere, integrating playfulness into the work week rather than making it a new job (it’s not going to work if you compartmentalize, stopping “business as usual” to say “OK team, stop working. It’s time to have fun!”). The goal is to get to a new normal. One group I worked with had a regular weekly meeting they called “Cocktails and Creative.”  It gave them permission to kick back and get a little loose, and they came up with amazing ideas during this period. Play time is something to which folks can look forward during the rest of the week.
generosity black 7 Practical Ways to Play at Work, Feel Better and Achieve More
  1. Write a Funny Thank You . We don’t always have to be so stuffy.  Shannon Doolittle shares ways to thank our supporters that are warm, playful and, above all else, joyful.  Remember, hopefully your supporter was coming from a place of joy when they gave.  Help them stay there. If you chuckle just a bit when you’re writing, then you’ve hit the sweet spot.  Nothing crude, mind you. Here are two from Shannon that particularly tickled me: (1) If it wasn’t weird, I would have sent you a picture of myself. Because I look totally grateful, and (2) You’re kind of a big deal. Don’t believe me? Ask our clients. Think about ways to bring a smile to your reader’s face
  1. Set Fun Goals. I know an E.D. who agreed to be dunked if his team reached a specific financial goal. And another who agreed to shave his head. When a target is not just about numbers but is also about play, staffs enjoy the journey more.
  1. Personally Commit to Doing Something Fun Each Week.  It can be as simple as turning on music and having an impromptu dance party, or bringing in donuts for an unexpected coffee break. Give people permission to dress up (or dress down).  Above all else, give permission. Anything that’s spontaneous and disrupts the routine can begin to create a culture of playfulness. There’s no shortage of ideas once you begin to let your playful, creative side show.
  1. Consider a Play Retreat.  There are numerous resources out there to bring facilitated and interactive play experiences into the workplace (check out interplay.org; innovationgames.com; Lego® Strategic Play® ).  I don’t endorse any in particular, but pointing folks towards the available resources and demonstrated successful outcomes could be a good way to get started and introduce the concept to your group.  One person playing is good.  A culture of playing is transformative.
  1. Share a Few ChucklesI recently came across this  Nonprofit Humour Blog.  I happen to find it hilarious.  You might want to consider sharing it with your colleagues. A laugh a day keeps the doctor away?
work play venn diagram 7 Practical Ways to Play at Work, Feel Better and Achieve MoreIt pays to play.  You don’t need to create a Googleplex, but perhaps there are things you can do to create a more relaxed work environment. Finger blasters? To understand this reference, check out this great TED talk by Tim Brown, CEO of the innovation and design firm, IDEO. Brown talks about how kids play and see infinite opportunities.  Ever see a kid play more with the box than the gift? Somehow adults lose the security and freedom to explore and engage with open possibilities.
Make work play. Remember, there are simple ways to be playful, laugh, enjoy your life more and feel more relaxed at work. We do have choices we can make to bring balance into our lives.  And, as the brilliant sociologist and futurist Brian Solis reminds us, with balance, generally, comes greater clarity, equilibrium and productivity .
PLEASE COMMENT if you have any thoughts on the following:
What are some ways you play at work?
Do you believe you have a choice?
How does play help you to be more productive?
What will you do to bring more playfulness to your work?