Clairity Click-it: Fundraising Wisdom, Mission Statements, Target Markets, Email, Giving Triggers + Free Resources

Click it!

Click it!

 

This week’s Click-it is a mélange of fundraising wisdom, beginning with mission statements, target markets, email tactics, fundraising psychology and some insight from the invariably provocative Seth Godin.

And, as always, if you scroll to the bottom you’ll find some free resources I’ve found just for you.

You may recall that I promised to do new something new this year – “Dive the Five.”

I’ve selected five major themes to discuss with you this year in depth. Continue Reading

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2016

Photo of moon rise
I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2016– 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 life cycle of their engagement.

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

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2015

Photo of moon rise
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 life cycle of their engagement.

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

What “Chopped” can Teach Fundraisers about Productivity and Passion

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

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

Photo of moon rise

I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2014 – 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 push yourself and your organization towards transformative change. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities that change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today.

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.

Sun rise over river

… the sun will rise…

I have a dream you will ask not what your donors can do for you, but what you can do for your donors.  You will recognize that they don’t serve you; you serve them. You will embrace the true meaning of philanthropy as love of humankind.  You will remember that your donors are humankind; you must love them if you want to be a part of philanthropy.  Otherwise, you’re just transacting business.

I have a dream you will reevaluate your raison d’etre.  You will ask yourself whether you’re in the business of selling, and you won’t answer cavalierly.You will not pat yourself on the back for being different than your for profit brethren.  You will not tell yourself that nonprofits are about mission and values and doing good deeds; whereas for profits are about greed and sales.  You will reevaluate why people compare ‘making the ask’ to ‘making the sale.’

I have a dream you will embrace your role as a salesperson, understanding how fundamentally human this is.You will understand that selling (the very definition of which is to exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent) is something that we’re constantly doing. And you will have an “ah ha” moment that this is also what fundraising is about — a value-for-value exchange.  A donor gives something of value (money or an in-kind good or service) and the charity returns something of value to the donor.  As Daniel Pink writes in his new book To Sell Is Humanthe ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaption to the merciless world of commerce.  It is part of who we are.

Clouds parting with rays of light

… the clouds will part…

I have a dream you will come from a place of love, not need. When interacting with your supporters you will do more than tell folks how much money you require. You will consider how your supporters benefit and what’s in it for them if they invest with you. You will help people to value your accomplishments by assuring they understand your impact.  You will recognize that if you don’t demonstrate impact, then you can’t expect folks to worry what might happen were you to be unable to grow or, even worse, cease to exist.

I have a dream you will speak to peoples’ hearts; not just their heads. You will become aware that if the bulk of your communication with supporters is about numbers, finances and pie charts rather than stories of real people being helped, it will become increasingly difficult to expect anyone to care enough about your mission to invest in your success. You absolutely must clarify your stories and share them.

I have a dream your leaders will embrace a culture of philanthropy that engulfs your entire organization.  You will eliminate silos and include everyone in the transformative power of your mission. You will make sure that everyone associated with your organization is clear about the values you enact and has stories they can tell about the ways you help to repair our world. Philanthropy will become the glue that binds everyone together – every department and every volunteer – working towards a common goal.

Rainblow emerging through clouds

… and it will be because of the light you shine.

I have a dream you will engage in philanthropy; not fundraising. You will embrace the fact that just as business has changed fundamentally, so must fundraising change fundamentally. You will accept that we’re all social businesses now; merely “transacting” no longer cuts it. You will agree that for too long fundraising has been approached as transactional – as being primarily about money – and that this approach results in fundraising being seen at best as an onerous chore; a necessary evil.  You will see that philanthropy is fundamentally social; it’s about love — and nothing could be more transformational.

I have a dream for 2014 – and beyond.  Do you share my dream?

Want to apply this dream — this culture of philanthropy philosophy — to securing more and bigger gifts this year for your nonprofit? This is your LAST WEEK to register for my new 6-week E-Course: Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies for the small and medium-size shop. No more “hitting people up.” We’ll talk about setting achievable goals,  finding the right folks, meeting them,  moving them along a continuum and, ultimately,  inspiring folks to join you in your mission.  You’ll love this course — or your money back. Register by midnight PST January 25th to reserve your spot!

This article has been modified from an article originally published January 24, 2013 on Clairification.

Photos via Flickr:
55Laney69;lrargerich; Marc Crumpler

 

Your Donor Won’t Eat Your Meal Without Your Secret Sauce

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

What's your secret sauce?

What’s your secret sauce?

There are many other nonprofits out there doing what you do.

Or some reasonable facsimile of what you do. Many of them have similar missions.  But… there’s something that’s different. Don’t try to serve up what you do without your secret sauce.Continue Reading

WARNING: Your Donor is Getting Bored

Yawning person

You’re doing the opposite of inspiring me. Zzzzz…

I randomly checked out some nonprofit mission statements yesterday. I was going to check a few more, but… YAWN… I fell asleep.

I’m not kidding. 

I don’t want to embarrass anyone, butContinue Reading

Purely Practical SMIT: 4 Keys to Never Lose the Why

Never lose the why, by Gaping Void

By Hugh MacLeod

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

This month’s SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you) is to never lose sight of the “Why.”  And total props to Hugh MacLeod (whose brilliant cartoon is shared here) for the reminder. It’s a simple concept; not so simple to comply.Continue Reading

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

Photo of moon rise

I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2013 – 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 push yourself and your organization towards transformative change. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities that change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today.

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize your 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.

Sun rise over river

… the sun will rise…

I have a dream you will ask not what your donors can do for you, but what you can do for your donors.  You will recognize that they don’t serve you; you serve them. You will embrace the true meaning of philanthropy as love of humankind.  You will remember that your donors are humankind; you must love them if you want to be a part of philanthropy.  Otherwise, you’re just transacting business.

I have a dream you will reevaluate your raison d’etre.  You will ask yourself whether you’re in the business of selling, and you won’t answer cavalierly.You will not pat yourself on the back for being different than your for profit brethren.  You will not tell yourself that nonprofits are about mission and values and doing good deeds; whereas for profits are about greed and sales.  You will reevaluate why people compare ‘making the ask’ to ‘making the sale.’

I have a dream you will embrace your role as a salesperson, understanding how fundamentally human this is.You will understand that selling (the very definition of which is to exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent) is something that we’re constantly doing. And you will have an “ah ha” moment that this is also what fundraising is about — a value-for-value exchange.  A donor gives something of value (money or an in-kind good or service) and the charity returns something of value to the donor.  As Daniel Pink writes in his new book To Sell Is Humanthe ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaption to the merciless world of commerce.  It is part of who we are.

Clouds parting with rays of light

… the clouds will part…

I have a dream you will come from a place of love, not need. When interacting with your supporters you will do more than tell folks how much money you require. You will consider how your supporters benefit and what’s in it for them if they invest with you. You will help people to value your accomplishments by assuring they understand your impact.  You will recognize that if you don’t demonstrate impact, then you can’t expect folks to worry what might happen were you to be unable to grow or, even worse, cease to exist.

I have a dream you will speak to peoples’ hearts; not just their heads. You will become aware that if the bulk of your communication with supporters is about numbers, finances and pie charts rather than stories of real people being helped, it will become increasingly difficult to expect anyone to care enough about your mission to invest in your success.

I have a dream your leaders will embrace a culture of philanthropy that engulfs your entire organization.  You will eliminate silos and include everyone in the transformative power of your mission. You will make sure that everyone associated with your organization is clear about the values you enact and has stories they can tell about the ways you help to repair our world. Philanthropy will become the glue that binds everyone together – every department and every volunteer – working towards a common goal.

Rainblow emerging through clouds

… and it will be because of the light you shine.

I have a dream you will engage in philanthropy; not fundraising. You will embrace the fact that just as business has changed fundamentally, so must fundraising change fundamentally. You will accept that we’re all social businesses now; merely “transacting” no longer cuts it. You will agree that for too long fundraising has been approached as transactional – as being primarily about money – and that this approach results in fundraising being seen at best as an onerous chore; a necessary evil.  You will see that philanthropy is fundamentally social; it’s about love — and nothing could be more transformational.

I have a dream for 2013 – and beyond.  Do you share my dream?

Photos via Flickr:
55Laney69;lrargerich; Marc Crumpler

 

4 Ways to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is Storytelling


In the past series of posts I’ve talked about the reasons many board members loathe fundraising.  It boils down to: (1) fear (see here, here and here; (2) lack of clarity about their role (see here, here and here)., and (3) insufficient framing, training, coaching and cheer leading by staff.  As much as we staff love to blame our board members for failing to step up to the plate, often our first step to find the real culprit should be taking a look in our own mirrors.

Board members often say they will [do fundraising] and then they don’t [follow through]. Do you know why?  You haven’t set them up for success with a clear framework, fantastic training, top-notch coaching and inspiring cheerleading.  You will find that board members deeply appreciate this kind of backup.  They need clear goals, structure and inspiration to wake up their passion and keep them committed to your organization’s success. They need a really compelling story to tell and a way to tell it.
Sadly, staff often contributes to the fear and loathing board members feel when we provide only half-baked direction and support. You may think you’re offering support – and no doubt you are likely doing some things right — yet you may still be falling down in other key areas. Today’s post talks about the role of staff, and suggests four ways staff can do a much better job helping board members succeed in their important role.
(1) FRAMING: Setting an approach or query within an appropriate context to achieve a desired result or elicit a precise answer.

What if you were to frame ‘fundraising’ for your board as being simply about telling stories; then building relationships with folks who are interested in and intrigued by those stories, and then guiding these interested parties to the place where they, too, can become part of the story?  Whenever my friends say to me: “Oh, your job must be so difficult!  I can’t imagine having to go out and ask people for money,” my response is that I’m not asking people for money. I’m asking people for love.  It’s the difference between ‘fundraising’ and ‘philanthropy’. I ask folks to jump into a really awesome story and become a part of the plot.
When we frame fundraising as merely asking for money we fail to offer our board an appropriate context for their task.  Fundraising must be viewed as a servant to philanthropy. No one is asking for money merely for the sake of money.  They’re asking to serve a greater purpose and are engaging others in a compelling story; then matching folks who are interested in this story with a cause they value and a solution they can endorse.
(2) TRAINING:  Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient’s performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.
When fundraising is framed as storytelling, then training can be ongoing and revolve around the mission: stories of people who are helped and problems that are solved; not simply around sales techniques which many people find distasteful.  If you think hiring someone to come in and lead your board in solicitation role plays is sufficient, think again. Such trainings have a place, but if we start and stop there whatever the board hears will be in one ear and out the other. Our job as staff is to provide ‘mission moments’ on a regular basis so that board members can become truly inspired by the ways the organization is making a real impact in people’s lives.
No one is more wrapped up in your story than your committed, dedicated, passionate board members [or at least this should be the case if you’re doing your job connecting board members to the mission on a regular basis].  No one cares more about sharing this story.   And no one is better positioned to help the story move forward than the prospects with whom your board members are connecting.
Cartoon image of old bearded storyteller
(3) COACHING:  Extending traditional training methods to include focus on (1) an individual’s needs and accomplishments, (2) close observation, and (3) impartial and non-judgmental feedback on performance.

Your board members are story tellers.  This is what they do in their role as ambassadors, advocates and askers. Have you ever had a board member complain that “we’re a well-kept secret?” Well, this is what happens when board members aren’t out there in the community sharing your vision, mission and values. If no one tells your story, then no one will care what happens. A story untold will never unfold.
You must teach your board members how to tell the story.  Take them out for coffee.  Talk with them about what inspires them. Ask them to tell you about a story that moved them related to your organization’s work.  Suggest little ways they could share that story with others.  Tell them that talk with them has inspired you!  Help them to understand that fundraising is about doing exactly what the two of you are doing – having coffee… making small talk… learning about what each other cares about… trading stories… and helping one another act on shared values.

Smiley faces showing people will forget what you said quote by Maya Angelou

(4) CHEERLEADING:  Being an enthusiastic and vocal supporter.
Often we think of cheerleading as rather thoughtless and frothy; the best cheerleaders emphasize the ‘leading.  They inspire action and team spirit. For example, I’m a huge San Francisco Giants fan; they just won the World Series!!! Aside from great pitching and defense, a lot of their win can be attributed to the cheerleading of two players, Brian Wilson (who kept them going all season long) and Hunter Pence (who rallied them with a passionate clubhouse cheerleading session when the Giants, down by two games in a best of five series, were all but counted out).  Passion, especially when it comes from leaders, counts for a lot.
Staff must energetically lead with their own passion to instill passion in others. You’ve got to be excited about what you do.  You got to be excited about the mission of your organization. You’ve got to be excited about being on a team of remarkable individuals – and this includes your board – who are all dedicated to the same vision. You’ve got to actively guide your volunteers towards success. If you doubt the importance of cheerleading, see what some of the Giants players had to say about Hunter Pence’s speech:
“It wasn’t even so much what he said. It was the intensity,” Vogelsong said. “It was a great speech. Nothing off what you’d think you’d hear, but it was the way he said it. I can’t speak for everyone else in the room, but that hit home for me.

Said center fielder Angel Pagan: “We need people like this here. Hunter is a very positive person. It doesn’t matter if the game was 20-0. He believes we can win it. He gave us that energy, that fight.”

inspire be inspired cartoon by gaping void
Just as your board influences their connections and your prospects, so do you have the power to influence your board.  (1) Tell them that fundraising is storytelling; (2) Tell them the story; (3) Help them to tell the story, and (4) Keep telling them what a great job they’re doing with storytelling, and how many people are being affected as a result. When the story is shared with the right people – with inspiring anecdotes and details that staff provide and/or the board members experience first-hand – then, and only then, will your compelling tale have a happy ending!
If you had to choose one key to setting your board members up for success with fundraising, what would it be?