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

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

Secret sauce 300x225 Your Donor Wont Eat Your Meal Without 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

6 Things Matchmakers Can Teach Fundraisers in an Era of Digital Darwinism

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

Matchmaker make me a match 6 Things Matchmakers Can Teach Fundraisers in an Era of Digital Darwinism

Matchmaker make me a match

In many ways, what’s new is old and what’s old is new.  I read a lot of Brian Solis who speaks persuasively about The End of Business as Usual in an era where technology is advancing more rapidly than our ability to adapt. Yet we must adapt, or die. How do we do this, and what does this mean for fundraisers? I found food for thought in Solis’ recent article, The 9 Laws of Affinity in an Era of Digital Darwinism.

Rapid change can be dizzying. Ground yourself by remembering that though technology has changed, people have not. We have the same drives… needs… yearnings as prehistoric tribes.  It’s not just about survival. Darwin wrote about survival of the most empathic. We long for connection and meaning. In other words, it’s not just about the “fittest” but about the “fitting.”  Philanthropy provides that “fit opportunity” in spades (or, more aptly, in hearts).Continue Reading

Purely Practical SMIT: 4 Keys to Never Lose the Why

Never lose the why e1363822753557 Purely Practical SMIT: 4 Keys to Never Lose the Why

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

Why the Human Dimension is Key to Social Business Success

Human dimension Why the Human Dimension is Key to Social Business SuccessWe’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

Purely Practical SMIT for January: Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – How to Begin the Transformation

Transformation Autumn Leaves Purely Practical SMIT for January: Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – How to Begin the Transformation

Change happens

Here comes this month’s *SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you):

I’m still using the word fundraising.  In fact, my most recent post was To Sell is Human; To Give, Divine – Why We’re All in Fundraising Now.  I received a lot of feedback (mostly embracing) on the first post in my 2013 Series: Philanthropy; Not Fundraising.  But there’s evidently some confusion.  So, let’s clairify.

If you want to move from a culture of transactions to one of transformation don’t get bogged down worrying about semantics! You say potato; I say potahto… a rose by any other name… It’s the concept I’m hoping you’ll grasp. The point is to come from a place of love; not need. A place that centers on our donor; not us. A place that is deeply relational; not one-sided.

Let me share a few comments I received and contribute my thoughts: Continue Reading

The Shocking Thing Board Members Do and Why It’s Your Fault – Part 2 of “The 3 Ways We Go Wrong Asking Nonprofit Boards to Help Raise Funds”

ovqed00z The Shocking Thing Board Members Do and Why It’s Your Fault – Part 2 of “The 3 Ways We Go Wrong Asking Nonprofit Boards to Help Raise Funds
Is this a board member you know?


Board members often take unrestrained delight in not cottoning to fundraising.  They smile and wink and pat one another on the back about it.  “Oh, fundraising, that’s not for me!”  “No, it’s yucky; I’ll do anything but fund raise.” “Yeah, fundraising is for folks who like to sell.” “I’m not good at it, so it’s better if someone else does it.” Board members luxuriate in self pity, and we allow it.  How?  We agree with them!  We say, “sure no one likes to ask for money; it’s a necessary evil.” “You can do something else, like help open doors.” “We can train you so it’s not quite so painful.”
My last post was about the first way we go wrong when asking boards to help raise funds.  Today’s post digs into the second reason.
The 3 Ways We Go Wrong Asking Board Members to Help Raise Funds
1.         We let them think it’s about money.
2.         We let them wallow in how painful the process is.
3.         We’re unclear with them about their very special role.
The problem with letting folks wallow in how painful fundraising is.
Maya Angelou wrote: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  When we let our board members feel negatively about fundraising, they never forget.  It burns into their brains.  They wallow in it.  And, in the end, this leaves them stuck in the mud like a bunch of pigs in a sty.
We may think it’s nice of us to go with people’s flow, but we do our board members a disservice. Yes, people know what it feels like to detest fundraising. And they’re comfortable with their pain. They don’t know what it might feel like to embrace fundraising.  So that’s scary. But wouldn’t it be better to help them overcome their fears rather than leaving them scared and wallowing in the pigsty?
Fundraising is joyful when fundraisers are partners in creating positive outcomes.
We help board members overcome their fear of fundraising by reminding them it’s a value-for-value exchange. It’s not about money.  There’s nothing distasteful involved. Everyone wins.  Everyone gets value. The people they will approach for philanthropic gifts yearn to make a difference, but are simply clueless about where to begin.  The board member gives them the clue they need to become the change they want to see in the world. The donor then gives something of value (money; time; expertise) and the charity gives something valuable back (a feeling of satisfaction at having done something genuinely helpful).
We must give our board members the courage to stop the wallowing. Consider asking them the following questions:
1. What are you telling yourself that keeps you focused on the negativity?
2. What will you have to give up to leave the painful associations behind?
3. What will you gain from leaving the pain behind?
4. Who benefits from you staying in pain and self-pity?
Usually what folks are telling themselves is that fundraising is begging.  Overcome that argument this way.  What they think they’ll have to give up is freedom from an onerous chore.  Overcome that argument this way. What they need help understanding is that they’ll gain a boatload of satisfaction by helping others to enact their values. You can help them become inspired this way. In the end, it should become abundantly clear to everyone that when board members don’t engage enthusiastically in fundraising, no one benefits.  It’s a lose/lose.  But it’s so easy to turn it into a win/win once board members understand the very special role they play (that’s the subject of Part 3, coming up next!).
Do you have examples of boards wallowing in negativity? 
How did you turn this around?
Other posts to help your board members embrace fundraising:

Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None

23113358 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None
Why don’t I feel serenity?
Do you feel successful? Think a minute about what you and/or your organization do. Does it feel like enough?  Too much? Does it make you and/or others happy? Fulfilled?  Do you feel successful (or not) based on what other people say and do? Based on how much money you make or how famous you are? Or does fulfillment come from something deep within that defines your purpose? Let’s take a moment to consider the way we define ‘success.’

Is there a ‘secret sauce’ to create success? Recently I watched a YouTube video about mastery from the inimitable cartoonist/philosopher Hugh MacLeod, and I’m persuaded that mastery is the ticket. Not fame. Not fortune. Just doing something really, really well that you love. Hugh talks about seeing a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  Jiro owns a 10-seat restaurant, underground, in the Tokyo subway.  All he serves is sushi.  He works 365 days/year.  He loves his work. Others love his work.  They wait up to a year in advance to be able to eat there.  They’ll pay $1,000/head.  The tailors of Savile Row in London have a similar model.  They don’t have large overhead.  They aren’t billionaires.  Yet they have a year-long waiting list too.  Sewing buttons, cutting cloth. Sewing buttons, cutting cloth. Over and over.  And they have greater personal satisfaction than folks working on Wall Street for oodles of money. Through mastery. 
Is mastery the secret to fulfillment? Hugh draws all day at his work bench.  He says it’s boring; but he loves it. He, like Jiro and the tailors, does something simple and useful that people value.  The secret sauce?  Mastery. And no one can take this away from you. You take mastery with you wherever you go.
autonomy.1.1 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None
Cartoon from Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void

Mastery is a journey; not a destination. The journey begins whenever we decide to learn a new skill. In the book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment George Leonard writes about the ways in which mastery leads to greater satisfaction and excellence. He notes that mastery is not reserved for the super-talented.  Anyone can travel this path.

Those on the path to mastery enjoy the practice just for the sake of practice. Even when the work is frustrating, or seemingly not moving forward towards a defined purpose, it’s still enjoyable.  Every step along the way is meaningful, even though the pay-off isn’t quick or easy.

 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None
How to win with so many choices?

People who win the lottery don’t feel successful.They feel lucky. And thrilled. But the thrill wears off and they go back to feeling mundane. Sometimes they even feel guilty. It turns out that ‘having it all’ without having found an underlying purpose is not really that satisfying.

The ‘kicker’ is that finding an underlying purpose, and deciding to do something really well, means foregoing other opportunities. You can’t go down all paths simultaneously.  And since the journey towards mastery is long and slow, you can’t go down too many paths sequentially either. So you must choose; then put on blinders to everything else.  Otherwise, you become what Leonard describes as a ‘dabbler’ (yard-long resume filled with 1-year stints) or a ‘hacker’ (passable tennis player, but nothing more) or an ‘obsessive’ (sacrifices enjoyment of the journey for getting to the end result as quickly as possible). In other words, keeping all options open may lead you to become the infamous “Jill of all trades; master of none.

Life in the 21stcentury offers a dazzling array of choices at all times. It’s difficult to decide what to focus on in the next half hour, let alone the next 10 years.  One of the reasons we favor the urgent over the important is it postpones our decision; in our minds we don’t have to give up on anything.  We’re constantly busy and active. Yet we don’t choose to act; the situation chooses us and we react.  And we imagine that this makes us important. Yet does anyone strive to have “Was a part of every email chain” on their gravestone? Choosing not to choose does not lead to fulfillment.
 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of NoneFulfillment comes when we accept our limitations.  We cannot do everything. But that does not mean we cannot do something (or several things) meaningful.  There is a famous admonition in Judaism, attributed to Rabbi Tarfon, which states “You are not required to complete the task; neither are you free to desist from it.”
If we choose thoughtfully, there are things we can master.  There are things our organization/business can master.  And there are things our supporters, through us, can master as well. These things will be meaningful because we love them, and because others value them.  By embarking on the journey towards mastery, we will achieve fulfillment and success.
 
What have you mastered that people value?
What do you do that is outstanding and that no one else does quite the way you do?
What can your supporters master through you? They may not be able to save the entire world, but who canthey save?

The Shocking Truth About Why Your Social Media Isn’t Helping You

downonthefarm2 The Shocking Truth About Why Your Social Media Isnt Helping You
What we’ve been exposed to whets our appetite, but it’s not food
You lack relevant content. You’re just broadcasting something/anything…. without a plan or editorial calendar… without researching your constituents’ needs or desires… waiting until the last minute…

You’re focusing on the medium; not the message. Through whatever broadcast medium we choose to engage, the true value of the broadcast rests in the value to the consumer. In The Future of Media is Currently in Production Brian Solis reminds us that if we want to develop a long-term audience, it’s the content that matters.

It’s always been about content, and always will be.  The reason that the vehicle is important at all is because vehicles shape our behavior and expectations. 


Marshall McLuhan famously spoke of this in proclaiming  “the medium is the message” in 1964. Well, it is and it isn’t. In 2012, through social media, people can engage in ways never before imagined. Much like “How ya’ gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they seen Paree,” we can’t ignore the impact of exposure to different sights and sounds. If our constituents want to be fed through social media, we have to deliver that way.  But we still have to deliver.

Our constituents want us to offer them the opportunity for the interactive engagement which the social web enables. They’ve seen it.  They know it’s there.  They aren’t going backwards.
Social media, however, is not ipso facto an engagement panacea.  It won’t build relationships for us. Drivel on social media (or whatever new content-delivery medium is yet-to-be) is still drivel. The only true engagement is relevant, compelling content.  And, as Solis tells us, the market for such content is infinite regardless of medium.
In every business, for profit and non-profit, there are preconditions to success.  A market for your product.  Vehicles to deliver your product. Management, human resources, dynamic functions to develop and promote your product.  But this above all else: a product. To Thine Own Content Be True. Content (aka message) is king.
 The Shocking Truth About Why Your Social Media Isnt Helping You
What value are you bringing to people with your content? Think long and hard about this question.  People don’t buy kindles because they want contraptions.  They buy them because they want books. People won’t come to your Facebook page just because you have one.  They’ll come there if you have a valuable message to share.  
If people don’t value it, they won’t engage with you.  Period. Success comes when we connect people with things that matter to them. 
What’s your special and compelling message?
How do you clearly tell the world why they should care about you and your product or service?
Most popular content-related posts on Clairification:

Why You May Be Dull at Work: What You Can Do to Change

no purpose without play Why You May Be Dull at Work: What You Can Do to Change
Remember when summer used to mean time for play?  Have you lost that playful feeling?  Before fall rolls around, let’s see if we can get a bit of it back. Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void recently reminded me that there is no purpose without play. As anyone familiar with nursery rhymes knows, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
We accept that for children their “work” is play; that being free to explore and innovate is how they learn and make sense of the world.   Yet we don’t allow ourselves the same liberties as adults. We forget that we’re all children inside and that perhaps this is still a good way for us to expand our minds… think outside the box… grow… become inspired… and create.
If you’ve ever felt you’re just mind-numbingly working, working, working… tediously running, running, running… monotonously busy, busy, busy – like a hamster on a treadmill – then perhaps a little play is just the ticket to finding new purpose and meaning in your daily routine.

Much has been written on the subject of finding purpose and, towards this end, the importance of channeling a play ethic (See “The PlayEthic”; “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul”(by Suart Brown, M.D. ). Similarly, research into the science of happiness has shown us that an organizational culture embracing play and joy can be a key to improving employee morale and customer satisfaction – all leading to a purposeful and successful bottom line (Check out  “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom” (by Rick Hanson); “Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow” (by Chip Conley)). So what are we waiting for?
It’s time to stop plodding through the day, barraging our constituents with messages about why they should do something (e.g., buy a product/service; give a contribution). Let’s stop pressuring and invite folks to do something pleasurable, fun and meaningful. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s book on “Delivering Happiness” is particularly relevant to nonprofits as he also speaks to the importance of concentrating on the happiness of those around you to increase your own.  This means, if we do it right, making our clients and supporters (and co-workers) happy is what will ultimately win the day, enable us to fulfill our missions and make us happier, more passionate and newly purposeful to boot.
We need to cease thinking of play as a distraction and begin celebrating its benefits. How often have you heard an employee complaining, only to have someone else say “if it wasn’t so hard (awful; difficult) they wouldn’t call it “work”? Tony Hsieh reminds us that work doesn’t have to suck. Chip Conley exhorts us to find our own “joie de vivre” by going beyond short-term thinking and the daily grind towards an all-encompassing, joyful vision that bestows a sense of purpose and well-being among all who come into contact with it.
What can you do to become more of a “player”?
What keeps us from moving from a “work ethic” to a “play ethic”?
What playful strategies do you employ? Please share!

5 Tips to Becoming a Legend – And Not Just in Your Own Mind

 5 Tips to Becoming a Legend – And Not Just in Your Own Mind
Full confession. Seth Godin is getting to me.  Every day he inspires me and I just have to act (aka blog).  A recent post goes to the heart of what makes a business brilliantly successful.  And it’s not the strategy or the product. It’s Feet on the street.  And, I would add, it’s not just your feet. It’s theirs.
This is how Nordstrom’s set itself apart from its competitors. It let folks return their shoes. No questions asked.  It put itself in the shoes of its customers.  And people liked this.  They really, really liked this. We trust Nordstrom’s because they trust us. Nordstrom’s is legendary.What can you do to become legendary?

What can you do that your constituents will truly appreciate?  What can you do to strengthen your relationships and build trust?
Here are a couple of the things that Seth suggests that I think work especially well:
  1. Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one
      This is my favorite tip.  I used to keep a stack of five thank you cards on my desk.  By the end of the week if I hadn’t used them all, then I’d failed.
  1. Run classes for your customers
      It’s important to remember that it’s all about our constituents.  Without them, we’re toast.  So we must provide something of value.  It can’t all be take, take, take.  We must also give.  It’s a value-for-value exchange.  The more valuable we can be, the more we will be valued. This isn’t rocket science.  But we forget. Don’t forget this year.  If you can’t run a class, offer “how to,” “tips” and “recommendations” in your blog or on your website.
  1. Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach
      Again, consider your consumer’s interests, needs and desires.  What can you teach them that will help them get to where they want to go?  Information about financial and tax strategies?  Tips on how to stay healthy?  Parenting advice?  Insights into Mozart?  Behind-the-scenes information about how the sausages get made?  If you stop to think about it, you’ll surely have some ideas.  Or randomly ask a few constituents directly.  Or ask your receptionist what people seem to want to know. It may be eye opening.
  1. Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why
      For those of us who work in the social benefit sector, this advice applies in spades to donors and volunteers.  They don’t always stop for the reasons you think; so, don’t presume.  I once called about 30 lapsed donors and found out that only 3 of them had made a conscious decision to stop supporting the charity in question.  The others had simply forgotten or genuinely thought they’d given. The remaining three provided useful feedback that helped us change internal systems that genuinely needed to be fixed.
  1. Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged
      This one’s a challenge for many of us who are understaffed and technological neophytes.  Yet it’s the future (and the instant I wrote that word the ‘future’ arrived!). Online is where engagement today is having its heyday. We don’t want to miss it.  This is one of the very best ways to build relationships and also to engage in targeted customer research.  And, yes, Nordstrom’s has a blog.  And they respond to comments.
What ‘feet on the street’ strategies are working for you?
How do you build trust with your constituents?
Is there a way in which you’re considered ‘legendary’?