Your agency’s fundraising program is like an iceberg


antique documentOne of the many projects I’m currently working on involves cataloging a resource development toolbox for a client. The things I’m finding in that toolbox are amazing and include: samples,templates, whitepapers, training curricula, calculators, and even an online wizard to help with resource development planning. (Cool stuff!)

However, there is one document I consider an absolute treasure for the ages. It was a speech delivered by Mrs. Leonard (Be) Haas in 1963 to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. The speech was titled “The 10 Basic Commandments of Successful Fundraising“.

(Note: In an effort to provide context and give credit where it is due . . . Haas was a fundraising consultant who helped launch Grizzard & Haas in Atlanta, GA which became a powerhouse fundraising firm in the Southeast United States. From what I can tell, the firm spun off into two powerful and influential firms today — Grizzard Communications and Alexander Haas, both of which are still located in Atlanta.)

After reading Mrs. Haas’ speech, I picked my jaw up off the ground and marveled at how on target she was about our profession more than 50 years ago.

While I would love to re-publish the entire speech, I’m not going to do it because:

  1. It is long
  2. While I’m fairly sure it is a public domain document (a 51 year old speech that wasn’t likely copyrighted), I want to be respectful.

However, there is one section of the speech that I can’t resist sharing. It is Haas’ fifth fundraising commandment that she titled “Consider the Iceberg”.  I encourage you to read the following passage and use the comment box below to share your thoughts.

“The actual mechanics of a fund-raising campaign all reduce themselves to very simple terms.  The job is to get the right man to make the right appeal to the right prospect for the right amount at the right time.  Guess you could call this our exclusive “Bill of Rights.” 

This objective may sound simple, but it requires as much behind the scenes planning and hard work as the part of the iceberg below the sea relates to what you see above the surface.  Getting the right people committed to work, compiling a list and evaluating the prospects so that you have the right prospects, putting those two together so that you have the right man making every important solicitation-armed with a pre evaluated request for a specific amount, this vital planning and preparation takes a lot of – time, hard work and know-how. 

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., once said, “When you have gone to all the trouble to sell a prospect on the worthiness of your project, he also has the right to expect you to answer his next question-how much should I give?”

Our experience shows that making specific, individualized requests are imperative for success.  By this we do not mean asking the prospect for X dollars.  Rather, you would say “We are seeking 19 gifts in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, and we hope you can make one of these,” or “We must have a grant of $100,000 to kick this campaign off and assure success.”

Organizing the soliciting teams, scheduling the campaign, pre-selling the prospects, backing up the solicitor with a competent office staff, these are all part of the iceberg beneath the surface of fund-raising. This thorough approach spells the difference between success and failure.”

Have some time on your hands? Click here to read the speech in its entirety.

Does your agency have a fundraising toolbox? If so, what is in it? Is there something in it that you believe everyone needs in their toolbox? What is it? Would you like to share it? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. Please also share your reaction to the snippet from Haas’ 1963 fundraising speech.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Does your non-profit agency utilize the power of “IF-THEN”


if thenFor those of you following the last few blog posts, you know that I’m reading “The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control“ written by researcher Walter Mischel, which is a book about human behavior, delayed reward and resisting temptation. There are tons of organizational development lessons throughout the book, and there is so much that non-profit organizations can learn from this research.

For example, chapter five — “The Best-Laid Plans” — looks at a concept researchers labeled “hot stimulus” (aka temptation), which is one important factor in the entire delayed reward equation at the root of the marshmallow test. In this chapter, they looked at strategies that children were asked to use in order to improve the amount of time they spent on a project before caving in to a distraction or reward.

One of the strategies that seems to work well is creating “If-Then Plans.” The way this works is when a child is presented with a situation like a foreseeable distraction or temptation, they automatically do something that helps insert their self-control. Here is how Mischel talks about this phenomenon on page 98:

“With practice, the desired action of an implementation plan becomes initiated automatically when the relevant situation cues occur:

  • When the clock hits 5 pm, I will read my textbook;
  • I will start writing the paper the day after Christmas;
  • When the dessert menu is served, I will not order chocolate cake;
  • Whenever the distraction arises, I will ignore it.

And implementation plans work not just when the IF is in the external environment (when the alarm rings, when I enter the bar) but also when the cue is your internal state (when I’m craving something, when I’m bored, when I’m angry).

When I read this chapter, it got me thinking about how powerful IF-THEN planning can be and has been for countless numbers of smart non-profit organizations. The following are just a few examples:

  • IF our executive director resigns or leaves some day, then we will a) hire an interim executive director, b) form an executive search committee, etc.
  • IF our largest funding source cuts or stops funding our agency, then we will cut XYZ from the operating budget and immediately access X% of  funding from our reserve funds and raise Y% of funding from a special appeal to select major gifts donors.
  • IF our capital campaign feasibility study comes back with news that we can raise less than expected, then we will scale the building project back in the following ways:  X, Y, and Z.

Developing IF-THEN plans for your agency on a variety of different issues can help your organization get through tough situations like executive turnover. More importantly, it will help you avoid distracting shiny-object-types-of-issues that are endemic to most crisis situations.

Has your agency developed a succession plan or anything else that qualifies as an “IF-THEN” plan or strategy? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. I would love to hear about your successes and your lessons learned.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Is your non-profit board more like the grasshopper or ant?


marshmallow1As I explained in last week’s post titled “Should you administer the ‘Marshmallow Test’ to new non-profit board prospects?,” I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which means I’m looking for good books to read at the airport and on the airplane. The newest eBook on my iPad is “The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control“written by researcher Walter Mischel. This book is all about individual human behavior, but I find myself thinking a lot about non-profit organizations while turning the pages.

For example . . . let’s look at Chapter 6 — “Idle Grasshopper and Busy Ants

I’m sure most of you know Aesop’s fable about the grasshopper and the ant, which is all about the virtue of hard work and planning ahead. Mischel uses this classic story to frame his Marshmallow Test work around immediate rewards versus future rewards and what it tells us about people and their future.

While reading this chapter I couldn’t help but think about non-profit boards and the decisions they make pertaining to saving for a rainy day and building a “rainy day fund“. I’m sure this idea is top of mind for me because a number of my current clients use “number of days cash on hand” as a key performance indicator (KPI) to measure their agency’s financial stability. In fact, right before cracking this chapter of the book, I was visiting with a client who has less than a month of operating cash in the bank, and they are working through ways to grow that number.

Whenever working on issues like “number of days cash on hand,” my thoughts often wander to questions like:

  • Why do some board volunteers make decisions in the non-profit boardroom that they wouldn’t dare make in their own corporate boardroom?
  • Why does building a rainy day fund of 3-, 6- or 12-months feel wrong to so many boards?
  • Why are some non-profit boards so focused on today and less focused on tomorrow?

THEN IT HIT . . . after reading the following sentence on page 61:

“There’s no good reason for anyone to forego the ‘now’ unless there is trust that the ‘later’ will materialize.”

I read this sentence over and over again, and then I wondered the following things:

  • Could this mean that your non-profit board of TODAY doesn’t want to save for a rainy day because they can’t visualize (and don’t trust) the agency’s non-profit board of tomorrow?
  • Could it mean the board doesn’t have faith in their policies, processes, procedures and practices for bringing on the next generation of board members? Will the future board be good stewards of the rainy day fund?
  • Could it mean the board doesn’t have faith in who the next executive director will be and whether or not they will see the rainy day fund as an excuse to relax fundraising efforts?

TRUST

Wow! It is all about trust and the uncertainty of the future. DUH!

Of course, this begs the question: “What can we do TODAY to build trust among board members in what future boards look like and how they will act?

grasshopper and antI believe the answer is as simple as evaluating what “The Ant” would do if they were a member of your board of directors.

I think The Ant would build a strong Board Governance Committee that would take the following roles/responsibilities very seriously:

  • Board Roles and Responsibilities
  • Board Composition
  • Board Knowledge
  • Board Effectiveness
  • Board Leadership

I think The Ant would invest in development of policies to help guide future boards such as:

  • bylaws
  • investment policies
  • resource development policies
  • board development policies

I also think The Ant would roll policy development into planning projects such as:

  • long-range plan
  • strategic plan
  • board development plan
  • resource development plan
  • succession plan

Reading this chapter also took me back to what I said in last week’s post about administering The Marshmallow Test to prospective new board volunteers. For example, I’m left wondering how many “Ants” versus “Grasshoppers” sit on your board of directors? Does your board governance committee look at this dynamic when conducting its annual gap assessment? Should it? If so, how?

Please scroll down and use the space below to share your thoughts and experiences with regard to the questions I just posed in the previous paragraph. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Should you administer the ‘Marshmallow Test’ to new non-profit board prospects?


marshmallow testI’ve been on the road a lot lately. When this occurs, I typically look for eBooks to help pass the time during airport delays and other frustrating travel hiccups. Last week, I downloaded The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. I selected this work of non-fiction because I blogged about it on October 26, 2012 in a post titled “Does your non-profit agency pass ‘The Marshmallow Test’?” It was part of an ongoing series we called “Organizational Development Fridays” at DonorDreams blog, and it was based on OD blog posts at johnponders ~ about life at work, mostly”.

The Marshmallow Test blog post was one of my favorite posts during that time period. So, when I saw the eBook I knew that I just had to read it.

I suspect the next few DonorDreams posts this month will likely connect back to this book. Today, we are talking about the always elusive idea of what characteristics and traits make-up a productive non-profit board volunteer.

The Marshmallow Test explained

The Marshmallow Test (as it has been dubbed by the media) is an experiment to test self-control in small children. In a nutshell, here is how it works according to Walter Mischel, the book’s author and lead researcher:

“On the table were a desk bell and a plastic tray the size of a dinner plate, with two cookies in one corner of the tray and one in the other corner. Both the immediate and the delayed rewards were left with left with the children, to increase their trust that the treats would materialize if their waited for them as well as to intensify their conflict.”

Here were the rules:

  • The researcher would explain to the child that they had to leave the room for a little while. The child would be left alone with the rewards in plain sight.
  • The child could ring the bell at any time and the researcher would come back immediately.
  • If the child waited until the researcher came back without ringing the bell, then the child would earn the two cookies (aka marshmallows) on the plate in front of them.
  • If the child rang the bell and summoned the researcher back, then they would only earn one cookie.
  • The child had to remain in their seat and not wander off to play in other part of the room.
  • The child was allowed to eat one cookie at any time, but if they did then they forfeited their right to the second cookie.

Researchers observed behavior and timed how long various children took before they rang the bell or caved in and ate a treat.

In subsequent years, researchers have followed up on their research and found that kids who did better on the tests (exercising self-control and opting for the delayed reward) actually did better in life (e.g. income, retirement savings, weight control and health, etc)

Using marshmallows during board recruitment?

Of course, this is a whimsical question. I’m not suggesting you pull out marshmallows and administer the test as part of your agency’s board recruitment process, but the mental image makes me giggle.

However, as I read more and more of the book, I find myself wondering if some of the characteristics and traits of those who practice self-control should be added to our board development prospecting processes.

For example, the following is a list of key board member competencies and characteristics that I recently found included in a sample non-profit board member job description:

  • Has achieved recognition and status within the community.
  • Is knowledgeable about the social concerns of the community.
  • Has the resources (personal and/or corporate) to apply to the needs of the organization.
  • Is committed to youth and the agency’s mission.
  • Has the ability to listen, analyze, and think strategically.
  • Has the ability to work well with others and demonstrates tolerance of differing points of view.
  • Is willing to prepare for and regularly attend board meetings and relevant committee meetings.
  • Exhibits honesty and sensitivity.

In Chapter 8 “The Engine of Success: I Think I Can!” the author ends the chapter with the following list of characteristics and traits of successful people who exercise self-control and maintain an optimistic view of life:

  • pursue goals with persistence
  • develop optimistic expectations for success
  • cope with frustrations, failures and temptations
  • inhibit impulsive responses
  • develop mutually supportive, caring friendships

I couldn’t help but wonder if these characteristics and traits should be added to our prospecting criteria when searching for new non-profit board volunteers?

What criteria does your agency use as part of its board development cycle? How do you assess whether or not a prospect possesses those traits and characteristics? How many of your board volunteers would pass “The Marshmallow Test” if it were administered at the start of your next board meeting? What does that say about your board? ;-)

Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Your agency’s greatest asset? Your staff and volunteers, of course!


Sorry, everyone! I’m on the run today and blogging doesn’t fit into the schedule. So, I dug up an old guest blog from my friend, John Greco. I think it is a great reminder of why non-your profit is wealthier than your balance sheet says it is. Enjoy the re-post!

~Erik


 

Cubicle Diamonds

By John Greco
Originally published on March 15, 2012
Re-posted with permission from johnponders blog

diamondsAn African farmer heard tales about people who had made millions by discovering diamond mines.  These tales so excited the farmer that he could hardly wait to go prospecting for diamonds himself.  He sold the farm and spent the rest of his life wandering the African continent searching unsuccessfully for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world.  Finally, worn out and in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm happened to be crossing a small stream on the property one day, when suddenly there was a bright flash of blue and red light from the stream bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone…

It turned out to be one of the largest diamonds ever discovered.  

And his creek was full of such stones, not all as large, but nonetheless valuable…  The farm the first farmer had sold, so that he might find a diamond mine, turned out to be one of the most productive diamond mines on the entire African continent. 

That first farmer had owned, literally, acres of diamonds, but he didn’t look there.

— Update, from a reader: From a lecture by Russell Conwell and popularized by Earl Nightingale many years ago.  Thanks Deb!


This is a pretty well-traveled story, with a pretty straightforward lesson.

Before you look out, look in.  You may already have what you need to accomplish what you want.

I’m going to “mine” this differently.

There are diamonds of a sort all around you now.  Can you see them?

Look outside your office.  Down the hallway.  In the cafeteria.  Every single meeting you go to.  And all the ones you don’t.

diamonds2Jerry, the financial analyst, can make a mean bouillabaisse.  Mary, the executive admin, is a Toastmasters organizer.  Julie, in inside sales, does graphic design for her church’s marketing pieces.  Peggy, in tech support, is a stand up comedian.     Bill, in logistics, does resumes on the side for family and friends.  Susan, in customer support, is on the board of a local non-profit.  Judy, a software tester, volunteers at the local hospice.  Christian, a call center agent, paints.  John, an industrial engineering manager, blogs.  Damian, a research analyst, is an actor in a local drama troupe.

Diamonds, all.

Our people are our greatest asset.

Indeed.

Too bad their added value is off the books.

Undiscovered, in cubicles, unmined.
john greco sig

Non-profits are using digital videos to say THANK YOU


It is well documented that non-profit organizations need to 1) show gratitude, 2) prove that a contribution is being used in the manner it was intended, and 3) demonstrate impact in order retain a donor. This could be one reason why some non-profit organizations are starting to produce online videos to say THANK YOU to donors.

When you think about it, video is a great medium to “show” people all sorts of things including the three elements of stewardship that I just mentioned. Additionally, the low-cost (virtual no-cost) of digital videos makes this an irresistible activity for many non-profit organizations.

The following is a video from the Boys & Girls Club of Lorain County, and it was produced by the kids for Lebron James:

Lebron

The next video is from the same organization, and the donors being thanked are a church congregation:

House of Praise

After a little clicking around online, fellow blogger and non-profit marketing guru– Kivi Leroux Miller — wrote a similar post almost a year ago titled “A Few Great Thank You Videos” with a number of fabulous links to videos.

If your organization is interested in trying its hand at directing a “thank you video,” you might want to check out the following resources:

Is your agency starting to use digital technology to steward donors? If so, what have you learned? What feedback, if any, have you received from donors? Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Attention board members: Beware of staff complaints about the executive director


pandoras boxIf you Google the definition of “Pandora’s Box,” the all-knowing internet oracle says the term means: “a process that generates many complicated problems as the result of unwise interference in something.” I love this expression, and I used it a few months ago when talking to the board president of a non-profit organization who was describing to me how they were handling a complaint about the agency’s executive director.

In a nutshell, the board president in question was approached by a staff member with a complaint. The board president asked the staff member to put the complaint in writing and agreed to take it to the entire board of directors.

While on face value, this might make sense because the executive director works for the board. I believe this opens the flood gates, and anytime staff have an issue they will now likely circumvent the executive director and go straight to the board.

My advice?

Don’t undercut your executive director like this. You might as well fire them if this is how you’re going to manage them.

With that being said, I bet there are many of you who are wondering what the right course of action should be. After all, it is a fiduciary responsibility of the board to hire and manage the executive director.

Here is how I suggest the board handles all staff complaints pertaining to the executive director:

  1. Immediately ascertain if the executive director has done something ILLEGAL, UNETHICAL or VIOLATES AN AGENCY POLICY.
  2. If the issue rises to the level of illegal, unethical or policy-related, reach for a bottle of Maalox or Pepto and ask for staff to put it in writing (and if illegal call the police and an emergency board meeting immediately!). Or more importantly, follow the written process if you one.
  3. If the issue doesn’t rise to this level, then politely turn them around and ask them to try working it out directly with the executive director. Explain that there is a process to follow and it starts with trying to first work it out with the boss. Empathize with their situation and express confidence that it can be worked out. Walk them through your agency’s policy/procedure. Explain the circumstances of when they might submit something to the board in writing after they try to work it out with the executive director (e.g. retaliation, etc). Be transparent. Be genuine. Empathize. But draw the line clearly.
  4. Circle back around to the executive director. Be transparent about what happened. Encourage them to work things out. Remind them of the importance of staff morale and the power of team. Remind them to stay within the agency’s policy boundaries. Express confidence in their abilities to solve the issue.
  5. Prepare for the worst case scenario.

Please don’t misread what I’m saying here. I did not just tell board volunteers to wash their hands of staff complaints unless it rises to the level of “illegal, unethical, or policy violation“. What I am saying is . . . not all complaints are equal and the ones that don’t rise to the level of illegal / unethical / policy violation should be handled in a way where you’re not undercutting your executive director.

Because . . .

If you choose to allow staff to circumvent the board’s one employee — the executive director — then you’re opening Pandora’s Box, and I guarantee that you won’t have an executive director for long. You will either fire them or they will quit.

There are some assumptions that I’m making about your agency when writing this blog post such as:

Let me bottom line this complicated issue:

  • You don’t want to undercut your executive director
  • You don’t want to abdicate your fiduciary responsibilities to supervise the executive director and ensure the agency is well-run
  • You want to think these things out in advance — proactive and not reactive
  • You want written policies and procedures in place and you want to follow them (don’t be arbitrary or capricious in enforcing the rules)
  • You don’t want to put the agency in a position to get sued

Is that it?

LOL . . . yeah . . . that’s it. Good luck!

Since we can all learn from each other. Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences on this topic. Please also feel free to point your fellow non-profit professionals and board volunteers to awesome samples and online resources to assist them in managing risk.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Your non-profit reputation and the internet


whats in your walletI woke up this morning with the words of Samuel Jackson echoing through my head. While this actor has played a number of different roles in Hollywood, the words in my head were from his Capital One credit card commercials . . . “What’s in  your wallet?” As I shuffled around my hotel room trying to wake up, I started reviewing all of the possible reasons why I woke up with this popular commercial on my mind. After a little thinking, I’ve decided that my subconscious mind is still wrestling with an email I received yesterday morning from a non-profit organization asking me not to delete any reference to them in a blog I posted last week.

Here is what the email said (of course, I’ve removed names to protect the innocent):

“We noticed that you referenced ABC Agency in a blog post and linked to a 2005 memo written by our former Director of Development. As the information is old, and the director is no longer with our organization, we kindly request that you remove the reference from your blog post.”

Let me start by saying . . . of course, I honored their request. I’m a nice guy, and my professional goal in life is to help non-profit organizations and not become a thorn in their side.

However . . . something is obviously bothering me about this email. After thinking it through, I figured it out.

I found this document with a simple Google search. So, this agency (or someone associated with the agency at one time) uploaded this document to the internet. Once you do that, it is likely “out there” for the entire world to see and use. Forever! Once something is put into the public domain, it is almost impossible to take it back.

whats in your wallet2I think there are a number of “lessons learned” associated with this situation. Here are the one’s I can identify:

  • Be careful about what you post to your organization’s website, social media, blogs, etc. Consider putting policies and procedures in place to guide what employees can and can’t share about your organization online.
  • If your agency has decided to have an online presence, adopt the wise words found in the Serenity Prayer when it comes to things you can and cannot change. In the long run, it will likely save you from “Maalox Moments“.
  • In order to protect your brand’s reputation, monitor your organization’s good name. Periodically Google your agency name. Set-up a Google Alert and let Google tell you when someone is saying something about you.
  • When something is posted about your organization that you don’t like, a polite email with your request to remove the comment, reference or document can be appropriate (however I refer you to what I said earlier about the Serenity Prayer). More important, be careful about what you say in the email because you have no idea who will read it, who it will be forwarded to, or where it will end up. (Please note that I shared the agency in question’s email with the world on my blog. Enough said?)

If you are looking for a few resources on this subject, this is what I found:

What is your wallet? LOL Seriously, how has your non-profit organization decided to tackle the question of appropriate online content? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences? Why? Because we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Putting your donors’ names on stuff


naming1I was on the phone with an old friend a few days ago, and our conversation turned to two naming opportunities with which he was struggling. One situation dealt with naming his agency’s golf outing after an aging volunteer who is the central organizing force behind the event. The other situation pertained to a planned giving prospect who is contemplating the possibility of leaving a very large legacy gift.

For me, the big question isn’t whether or not to name something after a donor. The BIG QUESTION is whether or not you’re ready to go down that road?

Not sure what I mean by this? Consider the following . . .

Naming opportunities are endless. The following are just a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Annual campaign giving levels
  • Donor recognition societies
  • Memorial fund
  • Tribute fund
  • Endowment fund
  • Scholarship fund
  • Event sponsorships
  • Program sponsorships

Moreover, there are all sorts of vehicles you can use to affix people’s names to things:

  • Plaques on rooms
  • Signs on buildings
  • Engraved bricks
  • Wall art (e.g. giving trees)
  • Electronic signage
  • Website opportunities
  • Print materials (e.g. program books, campaign materials, etc)

naming2Finally, have you thought about the permanent nature of putting someone’s name on something and what happens when life throws your agency a curveball? If I’m being too cryptic at this time in the morning, I want you to think about what you would’ve done if you had accepted large donations with naming opportunities from either of these infamous gentlemen:

  • Bernie Madoff
  • Jerry Sandusky

I probably could’ve created a list of infamous names as long as my arm, but I’m only on my second cup of coffee this morning and I think you get the point.  ;-)

Before your non-profit organization starts talking about naming opportunities with a donor, you really need to answer the following questions:

  • what will we name and what won’t we name?
  • how will we and how won’t we affix names to stuff?
  • what are rules will we put in place around important issues such as: sunset provisions, procedures for removing names, who has the final say-so and how does that decision get made, etc

In my opinion, this becomes a great policy project for your organization’s resource development committee (e.g. Named Gift Opportunities Policy, Donor Recognition Policy, etc)

I’ve done a little research for you this morning and found a handful of documents and samples for your consideration.

Has your agency been down this road? What did you do? Did you approach it as a policy writing opportunity? If so, what type of policies did you write? Please use the space below to share your thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Seeking your input on donor databases and QuickBooks Online


data integration1One of my many jobs in this world is being the webmaster and community manager for a large national organization’s resource development website, which essentially acts as a fundraising toolbox for their local affiliates. One of the many functions of the website is an “Ask the Expert” service where front line staff can ask resource development questions and receive an answer in approximately 24 hours. A few weeks ago a question was asked about donor databases and QuickBooks Online. While I’m happy with our answer, I’m wondering if there isn’t more advice that could’ve been provided.

So, this morning I’m inviting all of you to become one of our “experts” and weigh-in with advice that will help round out the response that was originally provided.

The Question

“I am looking for guidance on purchasing a donor management system. We currently use QuickBooks online version and are having difficulty finding a solution that will integrate with the software. Are there any solutions out there that are recommended?

The Answer We Provided

There is a great workbook in The Vault titled “Getting the Most from Your Decision: Four Steps to Selecting Donor Management Software.” It is located in the Donor Management Guides section where you will find many more interesting resources that can assist you in making a sound decision.

It sounds like your organization has ranked data integration with your QuickBooks Online account as a high priority. As you move from the second step of your search process (e.g. prioritizing) to the third step of the process (e.g. deciding), you will end up:

  • engaging a variety of companies
  • viewing many product demonstrations
  • using your list of preferred functions and features to screen your options

I encourage you to walk this path with other people (e.g. preferably other system users and individuals who will be impacted by this decision).

With all of this being said, it sounds like you are following this process and disappointed in how few options exist when it comes to data integration with your QuickBooks Online account.

The national organization has a policy that prohibits me from recommending specific products. So, please do not construe any of the following information as a recommendation.

After some preliminary investigating, it looks like the following two donor database products offer the feature that you’re looking for:

I also found an online service called itDUZZit which seems to work with DonorPerfect in the cloud to configure and integrate your data with QuickBooks Online. You should check into the willingness of this company to create other bridges for other products. From what I saw on their website, this might be an option.

It is important to note that I have no experience using DonorSnap and itDUZZit, and I have very little experience with Donor Perfect. Again, please don’t view any of this as a recommendation to purchase those products. I am simply suggesting these options might be worth further investigation.

However, I am recommending the following:

  • Keep looking . . . Google is a great resource and so are all of the articles located in The Vault
  • Identify other non-profit agencies in your community who use QuickBooks Online and ask them if/how they bridge their systems
  • Think outside of the box . . . many cloud-based database systems have export features that give you what you need to upload to QuickBooks Online (and being OK with a few extra clicks might expand your database search options)
  • Don’t lose sight of the fact that data integration is likely only one of many functions and features that you desire. While integration with QuickBooks Online is obviously at the top of your list, I encourage you to guard against letting it blind you from your other functions and features needs.

In researching your question, I reached out to Nancy Guthrie who is the owner of Business Matters, an accounting firm who works with many non-profit organizations like yours and has experience with QuickBooks Online. Here is what she had to say:

Time marches on and there are solutions . . . there are many external softwares that now integrate with QuickBooks online.  I googled “Quickbooks online donor integration” and hit the choice below (DonorSnap). I am sure there may be others.  I support looking at all of the online solutions for data and accounting. It is where the attention is and gives the most flexibility and most modern choices and connections to time and communication tools.  The integration with QuickBooks Online has come a long way!

In a second email, she added this:

At this point, reverting to a desktop-based accounting software will NEVER get my vote — no matter the integration.  The amount of the transaction entry time for deposits saved will never make enough difference to change the accounting away from the Online version, which is so perfect for non-profit organizations.”

I hope this helps. If you have additional questions, please feel free to come back and “Ask the Experts”.

And now . . . the rest of the story?

data integration2OK . . . you’ve had a chance to read the question and answer. What additional advice would you have provided? Do you use QuickBooks Online and a donor database with a data integration bridge? If so, what can you tell us about the data bridge and the database (or CRM)?

Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. I will happily pass your thoughts along and possibly even append the response that we uploaded to the website.

Similar to Tuesday’s post about revising a whitepaper/brief, I’m asking you to “pay it forward” today.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
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