How to Use Peer-to-Peer Fundraising to Grow Year-End Giving

Ask your advocates to raise their hands on your behalf!

Ask your advocates to raise their hands on your behalf!


Thinking about how to get more new donors this year?  Wondering if you should purchase lists?

Consider this: Response to peer-to-peer fundraising is about 25% compared with direct-to-donor campaigns where response is 1 – 2%.

Why?  People respond better to people than they do to organizations.  Especially when it’s people they know and trust.  Continue Reading

Partner to Solve Social Problems; Stop Acting in Silos


Does this look like a 21st century nonprofit to you?

Ask someone on the street if there are too many nonprofits addressing the same causes. Most likely, you’ll get a resounding “yes.”

When there’s a crisis, folks are confused as to which relief agency they should give their money. When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, they aren’t sure which organization will make the best use of their donation.

This confusion leads to “drop in the bucket” donations. Folks want to at least doing something, but don’t want to risk throwing their hard-earned money into a black hole.

This behavior stifles the entire nonprofit sector. Folks don’t trust their philanthropy will be effectively stewarded, so don’t give as much as they could. Even worse, folks with track records of investing — philanthropic (aka “social”) entrepreneurs — sit on the sidelines waiting. Waiting for the social benefit sector to do something that, up until now, it has not done well. What?Continue Reading

Is the Civil Sector in Death Spiral Mode?

Withering tree

Wither civil society?

Today’s post is a quick – yet very thought-provoking – share.

I happened upon Ruth McCambridge’s feature story for Nonprofit Quarterly, Jeremy Rifkin: The Future of the Economy is There for the Civil Sector to Claim.  In it she dissects Rifkin’s op ed for the New York Times, “The Rise of Anti-Capitalism.” I often hear a lot of doom and gloom about our sector, so this inspired me.

Maybe we’re not in a death spiral. Yet.

But we do have to create our own future.Continue Reading

Clairity Click-it: Events; Mobile; Social Media vs. Social Business; Acknowledgment Plan; Email Appeals; Corporate Sponsors

Click-it! No, not me. Your mouse!. Then, enjoy your read.

Click-it! No, not me. Your mouse!. Then, enjoy your read.

This week’s links are a real potpourri of pretty darn interesting stuff. Check ‘em out!


Click-It: The Secret of the Five Top. Simply brilliant advice from Seth Godin.  I dare you to try it at your next fundraising event. And if you’ve done it, let us all know how it worked!


Click-It: Top 5 Reasons to Use Mobile. This post has all the data you need to Continue Reading

Are You a Troglodyte Fundraiser? 3 Ways to Leave the Cave

Man crawling out of cave

Get out of the cave. It’s stunting your growth!

In case you don’t know, troglodytes are hermits who live in caves. There are 3 ways I’ve found that folks in the development profession fit this description.  Are you a cave dweller? If so, here’s how to get out more.

  1. Get out from behind your desk.
  2. Begin to embrace social media.
  3. Think outside the cave.  Continue Reading

Stop the Nonprofit Fundraising Treadmill: 3 Reasons I Want to Get Off

The treadmill is out of order. TIme to get off.Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

I’ve often wondered why we’re the only sector that defines ourselves by what we’re NOT. Nonprofit.  Why not what we ARE? Social benefit.  Rather than focusing so much on how to scrimp and save and be as cost-efficient as possible, shouldn’t we be focusing on how to spend and grow and be as big and effective as possible?

Nonprofits are stuck in a vicious cycle that jeopardizes their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed. Three “town criers” have recently shed light on the growing problem. Though they come at the problem from different perspectives, it is arguable that they’re headed in the same direction.  Let’s take a look at the underlying reasons for the sector’s inability to build sustainable capacity.Continue Reading

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising: How Inbound Marketing Enhances Opportunity for Human Connection

Dylan Lyrics to Times they are a changin'In my last post I channeled Bob Dylan, calling for a change in the way we do fundraising. Because the times truly are a changin’…

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command, your old road is rapidly agin’…

When I grew up in fundraising I had a shoe box as my database.  I wrote grant proposals on yellow legal pads.  When we got our first FAX machine I complained that now folks expected us to mail and FAX them (so double the work).  When email came on the scene I complained that now folks wanted us to mail and FAX and email (so triple the work). But it was still the same old road of outbound marketing.  At least I understood what it was all about.

Now we’re on a new road entirely.  Because folks are coming to us.  They’re telling us what they want.  They’re defining our brand.  And they’re doing so in real time via a multitude of online channels and using a multitude of Web-connected devices. Opportunity is knocking.Continue Reading

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising: Why Online Marketing Revolution Demands Nonprofits End Business as Usual

Bob Dylan Album Cover The Times They Are A-Changin

No more transactional fundraising folks. Transformational philanthropy is today’s game.

Once upon a time I knew what I was doing. I attended The Fundraising School, discovered a host of tried-and-true techniques, mastered the art and science of fundraising transactions and went forth to apply the tools at my disposal. Money was raised.

Fast forward several decades, to sometime about five years ago.  I had a dawning realization. I no longer knew what I was doing. I had somehow entered “wing and a prayer” territory. The culprit?  Revolutionary and disruptive technology that, simply put, has ended “business as usual.”

What can you think of that has been done the same way for 50 years? For too many nonprofits the answer is fundraising and marketing (aka “development”).  And it’s beyond time for a change.  In fact, a sea change. It turns out Bob Dylan got it right.Continue Reading

Why the Human Dimension is Key to Social Business Success

Human sculpture, Transport, at Canterbury CathedralWe’re really hung up on technology these days. And jargon. We use terms like “social media” to describe a range of practices – from digital communications to any form of customer-centered marketing that embraces the ways in which people interact, inform themselves, form communities and co-create within the current zeitgeist.  Then we mix it up with terms like “social business,” tending to again describe a range of meanings – from…. social enterprise to digital business to social ecosystem to social sales.

We’re confusing the heck out of ourselves, and it’s contributing to fuzzy thinking. It doesn’t so much matter what we call it, as long as we avoid common mistakes and get buy-in from our stakeholders that’s based on tangible, perceived benefits. You say potato; I say potahto.  What we should be able to agree on is that it’s not simply a matter of technology.

Make no mistake — we’re in the midst of a digital revolution that has fundamentally altered the ways people communicate and do business. There’s been an explosion of internet connectivity in the past decade. Social media is an important tool in today’s world.  If we ignore this, we risk becoming irrelevant.  However, using social media does not ipso facto make you a “social business”.

When we apply social media with ignorance it’s not much better than ignoring it entirely. For profit businesses do this as much as nonprofits.  In fact, they could learn a lot from nonprofits about the human dimensions of success – values, relationships and people.  The very definition of philanthropy – the social benefit sector’s financial engine – is “love of humankind.”

Because of the digital revolution we’re all social businesses now, whether we accept it or not.  We must accept. We must adapt. There’s no choice. We must move beyond outbound “telling” marketing to “inbound” sharing marketing. We must source the wisdom of the crowd, and shift our focus from outcomes to value.

What Fortune 500 Community Managers Can Learn from Nonprofits about Social Business, my monthly guest post on the Windmill Networking Blog, is all about the evolution we all face. It’s about how to be more social. How to build better relationships. How to get clear on the values that connect us and our constituents.

Please check out the article, with the actionable tips and checklist, and let me know what you think.

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Chris Beckett

Do You Make These 5 Social Media Mistakes?

stop sign

Stop Making Last Year’s Mistakes

Happy 2013!  Since 13 is one of my lucky numbers, I know it’s going to be a good year. You’ll see that Clairification has a fresh look, and that’s going to be the theme for this year.  A fresh look. A clairifying look, if you will.  So… since so many of you have questions about social media, let’s start by blowing out a few cobwebs and clearing our heads.  Because if you think any of these things, you’re making a mistake.

Continue Reading