Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2015

Moonrise large Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2015

I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2015 – and beyond. I have a dream  this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream  this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go. You will understand there is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision. You will share this vision broadly to attract people — and financial resources — to your cause. You will no longer be content to remain a “well-kept secret.”

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers  and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand that many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the lifecycle of their engagement.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization towards transformative change.Continue Reading

7 Proven Keys to Inspire Nonprofit Boards to Lead and Give

Key to the heart 7 Proven Keys to Inspire Nonprofit Boards to Lead and Give

It’s not about money. It’s about what’s in their hearts.

My first year as a nonprofit fundraiser was before social media, cell phones, email, computers and even FAX machines. I had never heard the term “information overload” and I wasn’t distracted by interruptions every five minutes.  Why do I mention this?

Because in today’s fast-paced world we are often so bombarded with bells, whistles and flashing lights that we lose sight of the basics. We lose focus.

Back in the day, I focused.

My number one focus was our board of directors. I knew that before we could get others to give, the board needed to give. Passionately. Continue Reading

What “Chopped” can Teach Fundraisers about Productivity and Passion

passion 300x300 What “Chopped” can Teach Fundraisers about Productivity and PassionOne of my secret pleasures is watching the show “Chopped” show on the Food Network. Today I watched an episode that just had me bawling at the end. It was the most heartwarming show I’ve ever seen. And it reminded me of why all of you do the work that you do in the social benefit sector.

So please allow me to share.

I don’t know if I can adequately convey the pathos I felt, but if you’ve had a chance to see this episode I would strongly recommend it. It will make you feel very good. At the same time, it will make you understand — even more than ever — how much work there is to be done.Continue Reading

Whither the Nonprofit Sector in 2015? 6 Ways to Assure Yours Doesn’t Wither

vines growing 300x199 Whither the Nonprofit Sector in 2015? 6 Ways to Assure Yours Doesn’t Wither

Think big to grow and bear fruit; Think small and wither.

I chose the word “w(h)ither” in my title very deliberately. It can mean “Where are you going?” It can also mean “Dying on the vine.” Which does it mean for you and your nonprofit?

If the former, where are you going? You’ll find some “To Do’s” in this article to help you on your way towards a sustainable future. If the latter, how can your prevent this from happening? You’ll find some “don’ts” to help you breathe life into your organization.Continue Reading

Still Time to Get 7 Perfect Holiday Email Subject Lines

Email holiday Still Time to Get 7 Perfect Holiday Email Subject Lines

Will your email say “open me!” this holiday?

Still stuck for subject lines for your year-end emails?

The subject line is like the outer envelope for direct mail. It’s the window into your message. Make sure it’s wide open and gives a glimpse of something that grabs folks’ attention. Make it intriguing, urgent, exciting, compelling, emotional, shocking or funny. The more useful and specific it is the better.

And by the way, if you’re not planning a series of year-end emails — get on it NOW! Did you know that a full third (33%) of December gifts occur on the 31st of the month? If you’re not putting forward your most compelling fundraising offer at a timed when folks are primed to give the most, you’re really missing your best opportunity.

In 15 Subject Line Examples for Your Holiday Email Marketing Ryan Pinkham provides inspiration that applies as well to nonprofits as to retail businesses.  Here are examples I particularly like, with thoughts about how you can use them to boost your year-end fundraising:Continue Reading

#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

Find Yourself Failing at Fundraising? Put on Your Radiator Cap!

Radiator cap 300x198 Find Yourself Failing at Fundraising? Put on Your Radiator Cap!

Put on your radiator cap and spread the joy of your mission far and wide!

Do you find yourself sinking into a fundraising hole?

If so, you’re not the first. And you won’t be the last.

I’m going to tell you how to begin to dig yourself out!

First, stop blaming others. It’s not because so-and-so foundation just pulled their grant (how dare they?).  It’s not because the government just cut back funding in your area (those bastards!). It’s not because your development director is lazy (why can’t she work 70 hours?)… and it’s not because your board doesn’t give enough (they’re so stingy!).

Sure, some of those things may be happening.  ButContinue Reading

8 Nonprofit Lead Generation Take-Aways from the Ice Bucket Challenge

ice bucket champagne bottles 300x199 8 Nonprofit Lead Generation Take Aways from the Ice Bucket Challenge

Celebrate what your nonprofit can learn about social media and fundraising from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Whether you fall into the “it was just dumb luck” or the “whoa… that was brilliant” camp when it comes to evaluating the recent Ice Bucket Challenge social media + fundraising phenomenon, there is certainly much to be learned.

I’m still amazed at the pooh-poohers who are wringing their hands over the fact that it’s highly unlikely ALS will retain more than 30% of these donors because these donors are new and new donor retention rates are abysmal . True, but… they secured over 3 million donors! So, at bare minimum, they’ve got 3 million “leads.”Continue Reading

October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

ScreamPumpkin 255x300 October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

H E L P! I need major donors!

I’m majorly S C R E A M I N G with delight to be hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival!

So majorly, in fact, that the subject this month is TRICKS or TREATS – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

Tell us your tricks – the ones that work! Do you HAUNT prospects through a series of managed ‘moves’?  Do you fly in on a BROOMSTICK and just drop in spontaneously? How do you put them under your SPELL?

Tell us some treats – ways you wow your donors! Smile like a JACK-O-LANTERN every time you think of them; then figure out a way to let them know? Give them lots of virtual CANDY (seriously, do you use social media for any part of your major gifts strategy)?Continue Reading