April Nonprofit Blog Carnival: Advice to your younger-fundraising-self


blog carnivalI’m so honored to be hosting the April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival. When announcing April’s carnival theme in my April 4th Call for Submissions post, I was excited to see how the non-profit blogosphere would respond to this question: “If you could go back in time and give your younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have made many mistakes over the last 20+ years of fundraising and non-profit management, and I love to share those teachable moments with younger professionals. However, the idea of learning from some of our sector’s greatest non-profit thinkers was fun and thrilling.

I challenged my fellow bloggers to incorporate time travel movie references into their posts. Having read all of the submissions, I think you won’t be disappointed. Not only did bloggers serve up some amazing advice, but in some cases bloggers included fun references to movies such as Back to the Future, Groundhog Day, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Howard the Duck, and much more.

I hope you enjoy this month’s virtual carnival rides and the sweet and savory posts chock-full of advice and tips!


time travelJoe Garecht at The Fundraising Authority blog reached out to some of the non-profit sector’s best consultants, speakers and authors and asked them to answer this month’s carnival question in his post If Famous Fundraisers Had to Start All Over Again… What They Wish they Had Known… Very entrepreneurial, Joe!  😉

I am never disappointed by what Jeff Brooks writes over at Future Fundraising Now, which is why I was so honored when he wrote something for this month’s carnival. As a young fundraiser, Jeff was prone to extreme fundraising approaches. If he could go back and advise himself, he’d tell that young extremist that moderation is a lot smarter. (Note: I think Jeff is being too hard on himself when he refers to his present-day-self as “a gray-haired, middle-aged codger.”) Click here to read his non-codger advice.

“It’s about sticking with what you know is right,” explains Claire Axelrad in her Clairification post titled The Meaning of Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – Part 1. And she always knew that she couldn’t take sole credit for money that was raised under her watch. But she wishes she had known how important it is to actively give others credit. While her younger-self understood this to a degree, she didn’t to the extent that she does today. It’s so important in fundraising to come from a place of love. Because, in essence, that’s what philanthropy means.

I had no idea that Ignited Fundraising blog’s Lori Jacobwith had worked on a U.S. Senate campaign back in the 1980s.  In her post Don’t Make My Fundraising Mistakes, Make New Ones, she would tell her younger-fundraising-self that if she’s counting on people, especially volunteers (and anyone who is NOT a fundraising professional is a volunteer!) to support her work in ANY way. . . she needs to treat them like her favorite and most special donors or customers.

bill murrayI love the fact that Bill Murray makes a cameo appearance in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival thanks to Empower Nonprofits‘ Jeremy Koch.  Jeremy will tell you everything Bill Murray taught him about how to free yourself from the fundraising time loop and improve your fundraising. Keep Calm and Chive On, Jeremy!

My longtime and dear friend, Dani Robbins over at Non Profit Evolution, went into overdrive this month and submitted two posts with tons of advice. In her first submission, she shares EIGHT Teachable Moments that she wishes someone had given her when she was younger. She adds another 23 things she learned along the way in her post Reflecting on my Pursuit of Social Justice. Simply amazing . . . Thanks for sharing, Dani!

Mary Cahalane at Hands On Fundraising blog won me over by referencing one of my favorite movies — Working Girl — as she talked about her fundraising career path. She wonders how things might have been different “if only . . .” While everyone will benefit from reading To my younger fundraising self – and maybe you, new fundraising professionals are simply going to LOVE this post!!!

Seth Rosen’s post over at Joan Garry Consulting‘s blog complements the previous submission regarding the keys to building a fundraising career for those just starting out in the field. If you are new to fundraising, you’ll want to read Fundraising Career Advice: What I Wish I Knew Then.

In Zach Hagopian’s first fundraising event that he hosted with his co-founder in 2014, they learned a valuable lesson: “To leave limitations behind and think bigger / outside the box.” Event coordinators won’t want to miss out on reading Accelevents’ Back to the (Fundraising) Future.

Of all the non-profit consultants I know, Pamela Grow has an inspirational journey line stories to share. I simply love how she tells the story about what happened when the board hired a new executive director for her organization. I won’t give away the surprise, but I guarantee you will love the advice she dispenses to her younger-self!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and all of that time travel. But if after consuming all of those sugary and sweet blog posts full of advice you still find yourself craving more, then you will want to check out five additional carnival posts that I wrote throughout April for the DonorDreams blog community. Here are links to those posts:


Craig Linton at Fundraising Detective blog will host the May 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The theme will be “Leadership in Fundraising: the best or worst boss you ever had. What did you learn? How was the experience? Tips for others.” Click here for more details and how to submit your blog entry for consideration.

As I say at the end of all my blog posts . . .

Here’s to your health! (and try not to eat too much cotton candy at this month’s carnival)

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

Advice to my younger-fundraising-self about phone-a-thons


blog carnivalThis month DonorDreams is hosting the nationally acclaimed Nonprofit Blog Carnival, and the theme is: “If you could go back in time and give your younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, what would it be?” In addition to asking other non-profit bloggers to submit posts for consideration, I am also focusing this month’s DonorDreams blog posts on the topic. Today’s post is the final one prior to the April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival going live on Thursday, April 28, 2016. So, mark your calendars because this month promises to be full of fun submissions.

Today’s Matrix-inspired post involves a younger me who learned valuable lessons about managing phone-a-thons. Enjoy!


Back in the early days of my career when I worked for the Boy Scouts, I remember managing my first phone-a-thon fundraising activity. It was a clean-up strategy at the end of my first Friends of Scouting (FOS) annual campaign. Here is how it worked:

  • phoneathonRecruit a handful of volunteers who don’t mind calling people and asking for money
  • Find a volunteer whose company had a bank of phones available after work (this was prior to cell phones)
  • Secure a list of previous year’s donors who hadn’t renewed their FOS pledge (names and phone numbers)
  • Develop and provide a phone script to volunteers
  • Conduct a short training before unleashing volunteers on the phone and answer all of their questions
  • Ask volunteers to complete the pledge form for those donors who made a commitment over the phone (and in lieu of a signature simply write “phone solicitation“)
  • Send pledge reminders to donors whenever the Finance Department’s next batch of invoices is scheduled to be sent

As I recall my first annual campaign, I am painfully reminded of those horrible “year-end pledge uncollectible phone calls” that both I and all of my fellow district executives were tasked with making. I remember the exact moment when I realized how many of those calls were being made to donors who had contributed via the phone-a-thon.

Unfortunately, I’m now even remembering a specific discussion with an irate donor who insisted he never made a pledge and challenged me to find any documentation with his signature on it.

<Ugh>

matrixI sometimes wish those cool phones used by the characters from the Matrix movies could be used today for time travel. Because if that was an option, I would totally go back in time to my first phone-a-thon in the late 1990s. I would tell my younger-fundraising-self the following:

  • Phone solicitation is not effective . . . you’ll raise more money by organizing campaign mop-up activities focused on in-person visits (“Just Say NO” as Nancy Reagan was famous for saying)
  • People have been conditioned for decades by telephone solicitors to be evasive
  • People receive so many phone solicitations (e.g. newspaper subscriptions, credit cards, etc) that they all blur together and can be hard for donors to recall days and months after they occur
  • Don’t just let volunteers complete the pledge form for the donor without a signature . . . create a special phone-a-thon pledge form that requires the solicitor to sign-off on the authenticity of the pledge (now you at least have the name of someone you can contact if things go wrong)
  • Set-up a procedure where donors are called within 24 hours to verify they made the pledge
  • Send out pledge reminders within 24 hours of the verification call

If you’ve gotten this far and find yourself thinking a phone-a-thon sounds like a great idea, then I refer you back to the first bullet point.


If you are a non-profit blogger who wants to participate in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival, you are unfortunately too late for April’s carnival which goes live on Thursday, April 28, 2016. However, you should check out how to participate next mont’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival at Pamela Grow’s website.

If you are a DonorDreams subscriber or reader (or someone who simply stumbled upon this post), then please come back in a few days for the April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival. Prepare yourself for some of the non-profit blogosphere’s “best & brightest” who will be sharing invaluable lessons from their fundraising and non-profit pasts. And once you’ve had your fill of sweet and savory blog posts (note to reader that I am trying to channel fun carnival imagery here), I encourage you to share the carnival with your staff and board volunteers and via your social media networks.

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

Advice to my younger-fundraising-self about event management


blog carnivalThis month DonorDreams is hosting the nationally acclaimed Nonprofit Blog Carnival, and this month’s theme is: “If you could go back in time and give your younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, what would it be?” In addition to asking other non-profit bloggers to submit posts for consideration, I am also focusing this month’s DonorDreams blog posts on the topic. The April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival is scheduled to go live on Thursday, April 28, 2016. So, mark your calendars because this month promises to be full of fun submissions.

Today’s time machine post involves a younger me who learned valuable lessons about inspiring and managing special event volunteers. Enjoy!


howard1As many readers know, I was once an executive director for a non-profit organization that ran a Duck Race fundraiser. For those of you who don’t know what a Duck Race is, it is simply a raffle where serial numbers on the bottom of little rubber ducks correspond to numbered adoption papers sold to donors. The first 10 ducks that cross a water raceway finish line win prizes. The challenge from a revenue perspective is essentially two-fold:

  1. Sell lots of sponsorships
  2. Sell lots of duck adoptions

The key to selling lots of duck adoptions is also simple. Organize as many volunteer teams as possible. Encourage them to sell to their friends, family and co-workers AND set up adoption tables in high foot traffic areas (e.g. outside of grocery stories, in malls, etc).

The big challenge from a non-profit fundraising professional’s perspective is:

  • inspiring volunteers to sell duck adoptions
  • creating a culture of fun
  • being creative with accountability
  • instilling a sense of urgency
  • keeping people focused on the goal

Being a young fundraising professional, I made the decision to use weekly update reports in an effort to inspire competition between duck adoption teams as well as foster a sense of accountability and urgency.

Of course, as we got closer and closer to the event and the duck adoption totals weren’t exponentially jumping, my weekly reports ended up doing the opposite as they were intended. Not only were volunteers uninspired, but some board members started whispering about whether or not I knew what I was doing.

<Sigh>

howard2In the 1986 box office flop Howard the Duck, Howard gets transported from his home world of “Duckworld” by a dimensional-jumping device. If I had access to that device today, I would totally transport myself to a place where I could share the following nuggets of advice with my younger-fundraising-self:

  • reporting can cut both ways with volunteers (esp. when falling short with goals)
  • always find good news to spotlight regardless of how small it may be
  • perceived negativity is like a flu virus (very catchy and spreads quickly)
  • “who” issues the report is important (peer-to-peer accountability is powerful and reports should come from the volunteer event chair and not staff)
  • positive incentives and fun recognition items are important to tie to a reporting tool

I would also put my arm around my younger-fundraising-self and tell me that using “reporting tools” to create accountability and “goal setting” to create urgency are best practices, but these tools must be used in conjunction with the following volunteer engagement strategies:

  • well run, in-person meetings
  • mission-focused messaging and activities
  • training
  • setting expectations upfront
  • helping people feel organized and being personally organized
  • celebrate success (both big and small successes early and often)

<Sigh>

Where is a dimensional-jumping device when you need one?  😉


If you are a non-profit blogger who wants to participate in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and submit a post for consideration on this month’s carnival theme, click here to read the “call for submissions” post I published a few weeks ago. It should answer all of your questions and clearly explain how to submit your entry. If not, then simply email me and I’ll be happy to help.

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

Advice to my younger-fundraising-self about about direct mail


blog carnivalThis month DonorDreams is hosting the nationally acclaimed Nonprofit Blog Carnival, and this month’s theme is: “If you could go back in time and give your younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, what would it be?” As I’ve done each of the last three year’s when I’ve hosted the carnival, I plan on focusing this month’s DonorDreams blog posts on the topic as a way to help inspire other non-profit bloggers to submit posts for consideration. The April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival is scheduled to go live on Thursday, April 28, 2016. So, mark your calendars because you won’t want to miss what other non-profit bloggers have to say on this topic.

Today’s time machine post involves a younger me who learned valuable lessons about direct mail after a fateful experience with one of my first year-end holiday appeals. Enjoy!


rocky horrorAs a teenager, I was a Rocky Horror Picture Show groupie, which I bet you couldn’t have guessed, especially now that I routinely wear a tie and constantly talk about non-profit, fundraising and organizational development stuff. I’ve seen this cult movie more than 50 times in my life,

So, there you have it. LOL

I only mention this weird little personal fact about me because today is Tim Curry’s 70th birthday. For those who have experienced this movie, you understand that Curry’s Rocky Horror character, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, is a time traveling transvestite from outer space. Of course, I only mention all of this because this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival is time travel related.

Speaking of going back in time, if I had the opportunity to do so, one place I might stop top give my younger-fundraising-self a little advice would be November 2001. I was a relatively new executive director, and I was grappling with how to bring the cost of my year-end holiday mail appeal down.

timewarpInstead of picking up the phone and talking to mail professionals, that 31-year-old executive director decided to engage a few friends and do a 12,000 piece mailer by himself. Uh-huh. I thought it would be easy to:

  • Print everything in-house
  • Fold
  • Stuff
  • Stamp (pre-paid nonprofit stamps)
  • Lick
  • Sort
  • Box
  • Deliver to the post office

I’m sure you have already guessed that my friends quickly abandon ship after the first few hours and figuring out the insanity of what I was asking.

But did you skip over the bullet point labeled “LICK“.

Ugh!

Somewhere after the first few hundred letters, I made the decision that the wet sponge was just too sloppy. So, instead of using less water, I made the horrible decision to lick every stamp and every envelope.

When I think back to that moment in time, I still get that HORRIBLE taste in my mouth I experienced at the end of that long weekend. <ick>

If time travel was possible, I would go back and provide the following advice to my younger-fundraising-self:

  1. Don’t quickly dismiss the idea of calling a mail house because they might have been able to save you money with CASS certification and bar code automation (e.g. you never know unless you ask . . . work smart)
  2. Don’t lick those stamps and envelopes (it won’t save you any more money . . . it won’t raise you more money . . . it might even make you sick)

If you are a non-profit blogger who wants to participate in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and submit a post for consideration on this month’s carnival theme, click here to read the “call for submissions” post I published last week. It should answer all of your questions and clearly explain how to submit your entry. If not, then simply email me and I’ll be happy to help.

Here’s to your health! (And Happy Birthday, Tim!)

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

Advice to my younger-fundraising-self about delegation and collaboration


blog carnivalThis month DonorDreams is hosting the nationally acclaimed Nonprofit Blog Carnival, and this month’s theme is: “If you could go back in time and give your younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, what would it be?” As I’ve done each of the last three year’s when I’ve hosted the carnival, I plan on focusing this month’s DonorDreams blog posts on the topic as a way to help inspire other non-profit bloggers to submit posts for consideration. The April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival is scheduled to go live on Thursday, April 28, 2016. So, mark your calendars because you won’t want to miss what other non-profit bloggers have to say on this topic.

Today’s time machine post involves a younger me who learned valuable lessons about how not to delegate and collaborate with others. Enjoy!


I am embarrassed to admit how many times I made the same mistake before finally learning how to effectively delegate and collaborate. In the following two sections, I will share examples where my younger-fundraising-self goofed up. In the final section, I will share with you what I’d tell my younger-self if I could go back in time with a few pieces of advice.

Annual campaign management

is anyone out thereAs a young Boy Scout professional in the 1990s, I was just starting to learn may way around fundraising principles and best practices. While I previously had helped out with a few special events and written a grant proposal for another organization, I never helped plan-organize-implement an annual campaign pledge drive, which is what I was being asked to do with a group of Friends of Scouting (FOS) volunteer within my district.

With the help of the council’s Finance Director, I easily plowed through the early deadlines in my backdating plan. I nailed the pre-campaign tasks such as volunteer recruitment, setting FOS unit presentation dates, identifying community donor prospects, running pledge cards, goal setting, etc. I remember thinking early on how easy it all seemed.

And then the official “kickoff meeting” happened . . .

All of my volunteers gathered before work for an early morning meeting I sold as the “FOS Kickoff”. For slightly more than an hour over coffee and donuts, I walked my team of fundraising volunteers through training, review of materials, and even prospect assignment exercises. Everyone walked away from that meeting knowing the who, what, where, when and why.

Or so I thought.

Four weeks after the kickoff, nothing was happening. The signed pledge cards weren’t coming back to me with pledge amounts. Six weeks passed . . . still nothing was occurring and no one was returning my phone calls. Finally, I started panicking at the eight week mark because there was only one month remaining before the end of the campaign. It didn’t look like we’d come anywhere close to hitting our overall goal.

What I didn’t understand was that while I might have delegated all of those fundraising solicitations to volunteers, I still owned all of those tasks even though someone else had agreed to do them.

Grant reporting

deadlineFast forward a number of years into the future when I was a first-time executive director for a Boys & Girls Club.

After the resource development director, who I had inherited from the previous CEO, had resigned, I hired a replacement who had good pledge drive and event planning skills. Unfortunately, he lacked grant writing experience. I quickly concluded that I was the organization’s best writer, and I took over grant writing responsibilities.

As a former newspaper editor in a previous life, I knew how to write and took to grant writing like a baby duck takes to water. In short order, I fell into the routine of “research, cultivate, write” (aka rinse, later, repeat). And when we received funding, I turned everything over to one of my direct reports who was responsible for operations.

Whenever I handed over a grant, I always sat down with the operations director and reviewed the grant deliverables. I clearly explained what needed to be done (e.g. hiring, program planning, scheduling, kid recruiting, program promotion, outcomes measurement, etc). I also shared reporting deadlines from the funding partner.

As with the aforementioned annual campaign story, I walked away from those meetings knowing the who, what, where, when and why were as clear as possible. Everyone knew what needed to happen and by when.

Or so I thought.

I’ll never forget the first time a funder called me asking where our close-out report was and why we had missed the last few quarterly deadlines.

Even though it had been a few years between the lesson I had learned with my annual campaign volunteers and the staff supervision story pertaining to grant management and reporting, I still had obviously not learned the simple truism that delegating action items doesn’t mean I’m allowed to wash my hands of them.

Where is that time machine when you really need it?

delorean time machineSometimes when I daydream, I see myself standing outside my house in the street with Dr. Emmitt Brown (aka Christopher Lloyd’s character in Back to the Future), waiting for the lighting storm so I can jump into that DeLorean Time Machine. I know exactly where in the past I would first point myself.

It would be either immediately before my first FOS annual campaign kickoff meeting. Or it would be right before one of the staff meetings when I handed off grant materials to the operations director. <sigh>

I also know exactly what I’d say to my younger-fundraising-self if I had the opportunity:

  • Never remove deadlines from your calendar even though you might delegated reporting to others
  • Use your Microsoft Outlook task list and set future reminders to yourself about checking-in with employees who were tasked with reporting
  • Include campaign goal amounts + deadlines + meeting dates/times in the campaign volunteer description to help set expectations during the recruitment process in order to help volunteers determine whether or not they are able to do what you’re asking them to do
  • Schedule in-person “report meetings” every few weeks throughout the annual campaign where volunteers are asked to share their progress (or lack thereof) with each other
  • Email campaign reports illustrating how the overall campaign is performing as well as how individuals are doing compared to each other

<Sigh> If I only knew then what I know now.  ;-)


If you are a non-profit blogger who wants to participate in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and submit a post for consideration on this month’s carnival theme, click here to read the “call for submissions” post I published last week. It should answer all of your questions and clearly explain how to submit your entry. If not, then simply email me and I’ll be happy to help.

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

Advice to my younger-fundraising-self about email usage


blog carnivalThis month DonorDreams is hosting the nationally acclaimed Nonprofit Blog Carnival, and this month’s theme is: “If you could go back in time and give your younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, what would it be?” As I’ve done each of the last three year’s when I’ve hosted the carnival, I plan on focusing this month’s DonorDreams blog posts on the topic as a way to help inspire other non-profit bloggers to submit posts for consideration. The April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival is scheduled to go live on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

Today’s time machine post involves a younger me who learned a valuable lesson about how not to use email. Enjoy!


emailAhhhh, yes. I remember this embarrassing lesson very well. It occurred in the late 1990s when I was a young Boy Scout professional who was responsible for membership management, district-wide programming, local unit support and fundraising for a small suburban district in the Northwest Chicago suburbs. It was the 20th Century and the idea of email was new and evolving as a way to communicate with non-profit volunteers.

As a young GenX non-profit professional, I took to email like a duck takes to water. At the time, I thought this technology must have been sent from heaven because it was a solution to all of my volunteer management.

  • Snail mail was too slow when it came to getting fundraising volunteers annual campaign progress reports
  • FAX transmissions were only available to some volunteers, if their office had a FAX machine, and it wasn’t always acceptable to send someone something “not business-related” to their workplace
  • Phone calls to check-in on fundraising volunteers took lots of time and the amount of “phone tag” was maddening
  • Face-to-face meetings were great for doing collaborative work (e.g. planning, prospect evaluation, prospect assignment, etc), but . . .  if the agenda didn’t seem important or substantive enough, and only included updates, then many people wouldn’t show up

So, it felt like email solved a lot of issues facing my younger-fundraising-self.

  • I sent out annual campaign update reports via email
  • I sent out meeting notices via email
  • I asked volunteers for information via email
  • I would even drop volunteers notes with reminders or requests via email

The more I used email, the more it felt like a “communications tool“. What I failed to understand was email is only an “information technology” tool.

email graphicTo better understand what I just said, I will use a simple analogy . . .

Email is akin to the the envelope that you put a letter into. It is a vehicle to deliver a letter, report, etc. Email is NOT akin to the actual letter that you place inside of an envelope.

If I could go back in time and give my younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, it would be . . . DO NOT use email to have conversations with volunteers about things that are better done in-person or on the phone.

As I write these words, I am remembering an email I sent a volunteer. She was a great volunteer, but she and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on the need to start a second Cub Scout Pack at an elementary school to alleviate overcrowding at the existing unit. It got to the point where she simply stopped returning my calls, which is when I started sending emails.

I won’t go into details because they are embarrassing. As you can imagine:

  • I tried to be clear with my reasons, but I came across as lecturing
  • I referenced our previous discussions and tackled her objections, but I came across as confrontational
  • I explained how this impacted my annual performance plan, which made it personal and cast me in the role of a selfish person rather than a mission-focused professional

You get the picture. <sigh> It was your basic email nightmare. And a few minutes after clicking the send button, I then learned the “recall email” function on the 20th Century version of dial-up AOL was a joke and didn’t work the way I thought it did.

The volunteer didn’t receive the email very well. I can’t imagine that anyone would. While she didn’t respond, she did resign her volunteer position. She never spoke to me again, but she did share the story with any volunteer who would listen. She also spoke to my executive director and forwarded the email to him. <ouch>

To this day, I have a hard time telling this story. It was a painful lesson to learn, and I sometimes find myself re-learning the same lesson with friends when I become careless and thoughtless with email threads and forget that “tone” cannot be heard in emails.

terminator time travelSometimes, when I’m daydreaming, I imagine myself in a time machine going back to 1999 to have a serious conversation about email usage with my younger-fundraising-self. I also sometimes wonder if it would be helpful to take a page out of the Arnold Shwarzenegger Terminator movies by traveling back in time to sabotage the work of the person who created email.  ;-)

Do you have a story/experience with email that you’d be willing to share? Are there tips or guidelines you personally use to guide your decision-making around email vs. phone vs. meeting? If so, then please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. Why? Because we can all learn from each other.

(Note: You might also want to check out a post titled “Email vs. Phone Call vs. Face-to-Face” on the Leader Impact blog and all of the great links to other online articles embedded in that post.)


If you are a non-profit blogger who wants to participate in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and submit a post for consideration on this month’s carnival theme, click here to read the “call for submissions” post I published last week. It should answer all of your questions and clearly explain how to submit your entry. If not, then simply email me and I’ll be happy to help.

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 organization ready for Millennial donors?


While it is well established that Baby Boomer donors currently are in the prime charitable giving years, the fact of the matter is Millennial donors are becoming a force with which non-profits must reckon. So, I’ve asked Zach Hagopian from Accelevents to weigh-in with his suggestions on how your organization should start thinking about acquisition and retention of this new powerhouse generation of philanthripists. I think you will like his four suggestions. Here’s to your health!  ~Erik


4 Ways to Acquire and Retain Millennial Donors

By Zach Hagopian
Co-founder & COO of Accelevents

millennialIs your nonprofit organization trying to break into the millennial space in order acquire and retain more millennial donors?

In this post, I am going to outline some of our most useful tips for both acquiring and retaining millennial donors.

But first, let’s discuss why millennial donors are so valuable…

According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, a whopping 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014. Long gone are the days of assuming millennials are a predominantly selfish group of consumers.

While we can all agree that capturing millennial donors is immensely valuable for your nonprofit organization (or just for your annual fundraising event), many NPOs and fundraisers struggle to acquire and retain these donors.

Here are four of my best tips for acquiring and retaining millennial donors.

1. Get Personal

Our first tip is to get personal with your potential donors – tell the story of your cause and how it personally relates to your experience.

While inclined to donate, millennials constantly seek stories that they can identify with. Affinity in values and social responsibility are extremely important, when it comes to the restaurants millennials eat at, the stores they shop at, and even the organizations they donate to.

Conveying your story in a meaningful way will get you in the door with millennials, and the rest will be history (if you follow our next three steps…)!

2. Utilize Technology

One thing that we can all agree on is that millennials are very connected.

Whether we are checking our iPhones every 30 seconds, or sneaking a look at our Facebook news feed during a conference call, we millennials have the means to find and share any information instantly.

And fundraisers / nonprofits should be using this to their advantage!

In today’s world, millennials are willing to donate to charitable causes, but they desire to do so on their terms, which means embracing easy-to-use, flexible, and accessible donation tools. For the most part, this entails making the switch from traditional means to online and mobile enabled platforms.

These tools can be anything from donation pages to mobile silent auctions and raffles and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.

Regardless of the tools you decide to move forward with, embracing technology will allow you to offer millennials a much easier channel for them to donate whenever they’d like.

3. Embrace FOMO

Our next tip if for your organization to embrace one of the strongest emotions felt among millennials – THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT (aka “FOMO”).

When used with online and social fundraising methods, FOMO can become one of your best tools for millennial acquisition AND retention.

The key here is to hold your donors socially accountable. Did your supporters just buy a ticket to your next fundraising event? Has one of your donors just made a donation to support your cause? Provide them a means to share this to their social network!

When your donors share updates about your cause, the benefits here are twofold:

  1. Acquisition – Other millennials will witness all of the passion and excitement around supporting your cause, and will flock to join. Just like that, you’ve acquired new millennial donors.
  2. Retention – Your current supporters may not have returned to support your cause for a second time. FOMO comes to the rescue, reminding them that they too should be joining in the excitement of helping a great cause.

4. Show Your Appreciation (with a twist!)

While our final tip applies to donors of all ages, it is still extremely important for your millennial donors. As most people do, millennials appreciate being acknowledged for their support and contribution to your cause.

Traditional methods of thanking your millennial donors work great, but your thank-yous are even more effective when you can add a twist!

Some of our favorite examples of unique acknowledgements for millennials include:

  • Donor Spotlights – Has one of your donors (or a group of donors) gone above and beyond in their support of your cause? If so, create a nice piece of content on their story, and share this out to your audience. Not only will the highlighted donor(s) feel appreciated, but your other supporters will see the lengths that your team goes to, in order to acknowledge your donors
  • Create a Sizzle Reel Did you just wrap up a great fundraising event or have your best year in terms of donations? Spend some resources to create a great video or “sizzle reel” to share with your audience. An exciting video will stand out against the hundreds of emails your audience receives each day, and it’s also a great piece of content for your donors to share out to their networks!

About the Author

Zach HagopianZach Hagopian is the co-founder and COO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text-message bidding.  An active member in the Boston fundraising scene, Zach focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.

As a Millennial living in Boston with strong ties to the Boston fundraising community, Zach most recently spent the past two years organizing a fundraiser geared almost completely to millennial donors. In his first year, they attracted 850 guests to their event and raised over $65,000 for the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In year two, they raised $108,000 from over 1,000 Boston-area millennials and young professionals.

Nonprofit Blog Carnival call for submissions: Advice to your younger-fundraising-self


blog carnivalIn a nutshell, the Nonprofit Blog Carnival is an online traveling show of non-profit bloggers. Each month one blogger hosts the carnival and asks their fellow non-profit bloggers to submit a published post from their blog focused on a particular topic. The benefit to this approach is that readers are able to get a large concentration of advice and resources from a variety of non-profit thought-leaders all in one place.

I am honored and privileged to be hosting the Nonprofit Blog Carnival for a fourth year in a row.

As has been the tradition ever since Kivi Leroux Miller founded the Carnival in 2006, the host publishes a “Call for submissions” at the beginning of the month. In that post, the following is explained:

  • theme
  • deadlines
  • fun or special rules in order to be considered for inclusion
  • deadlines
  • how and what to submit

In the space below, I will walk you through all of these things for the April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival. Now please excuse me, while I step up to the online carnival main stage and proclaim to the world:

Step right up! The April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival is live and we’re gonna do the time warp again!

If you are looking for a link to last month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival hosted by Allyson Kapin at RAD Campaign, click here to read more about what the non-profit blogosphere had to say about “Reaching Millennials And Beyond“.

I hope you are ready for a fun Nonprofit Blog Carnival in April. If so, please keep reading to learn more.  ;-)


If you could go back in time and give your younger-fundraising-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

back to futureA few months ago I was onsite with a client and found myself working with a young fundraising professional. They hadn’t been on the job for long. In fact, their background wasn’t even in resource development. If my memory serves me well, then I think they had a college degree and an internship’s worth of experience in marketing or public relations.

My work with this organization was focused on a particular fundraising campaign, and the “issue of the hour” had to do with the level of engagement (or lack thereof) of their campaign volunteers. After spending a little time with this new fundraising professional, I discovered their love of email to communicate with volunteers. So, I spent much of my time talking about the value of report meetings, rallies, update reports and phone calls instead of a constant stream of emails.

back to future2Later that evening, I was working from the hotel room with the television chirping away in the background. One of the “Back to the Future” movies was the evening feature. Ignoring Michael J. Fox and focusing instead on my work from earlier in the day, I started thinking about all of the fundraising mistakes I had made (and hopefully learned from) when I was younger.

And then something spectacular happened both on the television set as well as in my head. Christopher Lloyd’s character, Dr. Emmett Brown, successfully completed one of his time travel experiments and I found myself thinking:

If only time travel was possible. There are so many things I would tell my younger-fundraising-self!

My very next thought was . . . “Holy cow! THAT would be an awesome topic for a Nonprofit Blog Carnival. I would LOVE to read what some of the blogosphere’s best non-profit bloggers (e.g. Pamela Grow, Marc Pitman, Jeff Brooks, Gail Perry, etc) would go back in time to tell their younger-fundraising-selves.

So, there you have it bloggers!

The April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival theme is all about:

“What one piece of advice would you give your younger-fundraising-self if time travel was possible?”

If you aren’t a fundraising blogger, you are welcome to adjust the theme to what one piece of advice would you give your younger-nonprofit-self”.

I encourage bloggers to be specific. Perhaps, you could consider telling us about a situation from your early days as a fundraiser or non-profit professional that was challenging and what you would travel back in time to tell yourself that would’ve made a difference.

Obviously, it is your blog and you may do whatever you please within the parameters of this month’s theme.

Special rules in place for April submissions

bill and tedLet’s have a little fun with this topic. It lends itself nicely to it. Right?  ;-)

It hasn’t been unusual for me in the past to get a ton of submissions for consideration. On a few occasions, I had to exclude some bloggers because there were too many posts from which to choose.

In order to stimulate a little creativity this month, I will give “special bonus points” to bloggers who include a reference to a time travel movie or build their entire post around such a motion picture.

terminator time travelThere are literally tons of movies from which you could choose. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Back to the Future
  • Terminator
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
  • Star Trek
  • Hot Tube Time Machine
  • Austin Powers

And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Since this topic is very broad, I encourage you to focus on a time when you were young and working on a project such as writing a resource development plan, capital campaigns, annual campaigns, special events, planned giving, board development, marketing, program development/implementation, grant writing. Or you could drill even deeper by talking about micro-topics such as developing a case for support, prospect identification/evaluation, stewardship/retention, donor database selection, year-end board member evaluation, etc. Simply tell us about the project, your experience, the result and what you would choose to go back in a time machine and tell yourself in order to get a different result.

The sky is obviously the limit . . . so let’s get creative and have some fun!

Of course, if you aren’t into movies, that is fine. Please feel free to submit anything, and you have my assurance that I’ll include your post if there is space and if it is on topic.

How bloggers should submit their work for consideration?

austin powers time travelYou are welcome to write your blog post anytime during the month of May (or even submit a post you may have previously published); however, I must receive your submission by the end of the day on Monday, April 25, 2016:

How do you submit? Simply email the following information to nonprofitcarnival[at]gmail[dot]com:

  • Your name
  • The URL of your post
  • A two of three sentence summary of your post

We will publish the April 2016 Nonprofit Blog Carnival on Thursday, April 28, 2016 right here at DonorDreams blog.

Illinois budget crisis impacting non-profit organizations — Part 4


When I started this blog series two weeks ago, I thought it might be a good idea to invite a few of my local elected officials (as well as former policy-makers) to weigh-in on the subject. Unfortunately, everyone has either declined or not responded except for Michael Noland, who is my state senator. I want to thank Senator Noland for taking the time to be thoughtful and responsive. (A copy of the senator’s guest blog can be found in the space below.)

For those of you who are coming to the party a little late, here is a quick summary. In Part 1 of this series, I shared survey results provided by United Way of Illinois along with other insights and perspectives . In Part 2, I talked to a non-profit executive director whose organization lost significant funding as a result of Illinois’ budget impasse and shared some surprising developments. In Part 3, I offered a few suggestions for Illinois non-profit leaders on how to tackle this issue inside their organizations as the crisis deepens.

I hope this four part series on the Illinois budget impasse and its effect on non-profit organizations has been information and engaging. Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. Here’s to your health! ~Erik


noland

In February of 2015, the governor proposed his first budget to the General Assembly, a budget that would make harsh cuts to important services in our state. His message was a call to cut waste where at all possible. In 2015, I was hopeful that we would be able to work with the Governor to establish both a source of revenue and make responsible cuts to balance the state budget.

The Governor also submitted for the General Assembly’s approval what he referred to as his “Turnaround Agenda”.  The agenda was one that called for creating Right to Work Zones; an end to collective bargaining for teachers and state workers; reduced funding for education and health care and tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy; all, clear non-starters for Democrats.

A year has passed and it has become clear to me that the Governor wants nothing more than to continue his standoff to push a “turnaround agenda” that is harmful to the people of Illinois and specifically to the working-class families I swore to represent.  And so, since June 1st 2015 Illinois has operated without a budget.

Over this time I have received numerus emails from citizens, heads of social service organizations, small business owners and others over the lack of a state budget and I continue to share in the anxiety and hardships that this places on my constituents and on our state. The result of this delay and uncertainty over the funding for our vital programs and services in Illinois is an inexcusable disaster that I do not go a single day without standing at the ready to negotiate a solution with the Governor and Republicans in the General Assembly.

The truth is, in Springfield, in the senate, we have passed numerous budget proposals since June 1st in attempts to address the budget impasse. The senate has fought for a budget for K-12, worked to secure the appropriation of federal funds, battled for funding for the Monetary Award Program to support our college students, attempted to grant funding to human services programs not covered by consent decrees and more. Most recently, the senate approved SB2059, which would appropriate 3.8 billion dollars in funds to various agencies, including social service programs and higher education. The fact remains that the Governor is simply unwilling to negotiate a budget that does not include multiple aspects of his harmful agenda.

Through all these legislative proposals the public must understand something very important that is often forgotten: the General Assembly does not have the power to distribute these funds. All we can do is grant the Governor the ability to do so. The Governor, as chief executive, directs staff to write the checks we have allowed him to write. This budget impasse is shaped by two main causes. The first and foremost is the Governor’s unwillingness to compromise and listen to the angry voices coming to him with legitimate concerns and crises.  These angry voices, our social services, colleges and universities and health care providers are asking to be paid for their services and the Governor, quite simply, refuses to write the checks for the money the state owes them.

However, the Governor is right about something that is impossible not to acknowledge.  We have a lack of revenue in Illinois. Elected officials that ignore this are simply kicking the can down the road, something I personally refuse to do. There are social service programs that simply cannot be cut, there are educational services and public safety programs that need more funding and to do this the state requires more revenue.  There is ample evidence that we, as a state, are more than capable of providing that revenue.  This is a discussion that needs to be happening in Springfield now and not later when the state is in even greater crisis than it already is.  As we now return for the second half of the spring session in the Illinois General Assembly, I look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to craft a state budget that meets the just demands of the good people we are sworn to represent.

Sincerely, State Senator Michael Noland (D-22nd)
noland sig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois budget crisis impacting non-profit organizations — Part 3


illinois budgetEarlier this week and last week, I started writing about the State of Illinois’ budget crisis and how it is impacting non-profit organizations. In Part 1 of this series, I shared survey results provided by United Way of Illinois along with other insights and perspectives . In Part 2, I talked to a non-profit executive director whose organization lost significant funding as a result of Illinois’ budget impasse and shared some surprising developments. Today, I have a suggestion for Illinois non-profit leaders to mull over as the crisis deepens (and there is lots here for non-profit leaders from other states to chew on, too).

Frog in boiling water

We’ve all heard the story about frogs and boiling pots of water. Right?

Assuming that some of you haven’t any clue of what I’m talking about, here is a nice summary from Wikipedia:

“The boiling frog is an anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that occur gradually.”

I have no clue what the origins of this old story are, but I do know this . . .

IT IS A MYTH!

boiling frog1Don’t want to take my word for it because you might have heard it from your grandfather or another beloved family member. No problem … I completely understand. Let me provide you with scientific proof. Simply click here, click here for more, and click here if you are in deep denial.  If you clicked all three links, I’m guessing you probably also believe a number of other grossly inaccurate things about other animals and suggest you the Snopes.com article titled “Critter Country: Wild Inaccuracies

So, what does any of this silliness have to do with non-profits and the Illinois budget impasse?

Your organization is like a frog!

In other words, your non-profit should (and likely will) jump out of the boiling waters of government funding if things get too hot. It is a simple matter of survival.

Question #1: When?

I’ve lamented too often — right here on this blog — that too many non-profit boards operate poorly. They don’t understand (and sometimes reject) their legally defined fiduciary responsibilities, focus their meetings obsessively on monitoring rather than governance, micromanage the organization and its staff, rubber stamp things (oftentimes very important things) that staff put in front of them, and my list can go on and on.

If anything in the last paragraph describes your organization’s board of directors, please hear me clearly . . .

You’re at risk!

In other words, you might just be on the road to proving all of the scientists, who said in the last section that “the boiling frog story is an urban legend,” are liars.

boiling frog2Your board is likely made up of smart people. If they aren’t being used (at a minimum) as a “sounding board” on the issue of government funding and what to do about it, then my suggestions are:

  • Stop business as usual in your boardroom
  • Start adding a 45 minute “generative discussion” agenda item to every one of your monthly meetings for the foreseeable future
  • Focus your discussions around various aspects of your government funding situation
  • Bring in guest speakers who know more than you do about state funding and your grants
  • Pose open ended questions and facilitate an engaging dialog where everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings
  • Don’t just have theoretical conversations … also pose action oriented questions (e.g. what are our options? what should we be doing?)

If you and your board can make this adjustment in non-profit governance, I guarantee you that . . .

It will be clear when it is time to jump out of the boiling pot!

Question #2: What?

boiling frog3Of course, the more difficult question for most non-profit organizations is “What to do about it?

If your organization isn’t reliant on government funding, the answer is easy . . . carry on and try not to gloat too much around your non-profit friends. For those of you who rely on modest (or perhaps significant) government money, then you want to keep reading.

If you and your board have decided the water is getting a little too hot, then here are a few suggestions:

  • Re-exam your non-profit revenue model
  • Explore other models (refer to previous section about generative discussions in the boardroom)
  • Make a group decision about which model (or hybrid model) is best for your organization at this time
  • Don’t try to turn the battleship all at once … choose one (or a few) things to “try on for size” and experiment with small aspects of your new revenue model (e.g. write a private sector foundation grant, engage a corporate partner, identify prospective individual donors and start a conversation with them; write a business plan for a potential social enterprise, etc)
  • Invest time, energy and effort in evaluation of every new thing you undertake and commit to nurturing a culture of improvement and excellence
  • Celebrate every success from top-to-bottom and side-to-side of your organization (no matter how big or small it may be)

If you got this far and still find yourself scratching your head over the idea of different non-profit revenue models, then you need to click-through and read a Bridgespan white paper titled “Ten Nonprofit Funding Models“. I also highly suggest clicking on and reading every hyperlink embedded in the white paper.

If you don’t believe your organization can do this without help, then I have some good news. There are countless non-profit consultants (myself included) who are available for hire.

Stop listening to stupid people

boiling frog4I’ve heard state funders (e.g. foundations, United Ways, etc) say loudly and clearly, “The state cannot expect funders to fill the gap created by the State“.

I do NOT believe foundation leaders and United Way professionals are “stupid people“. However . . .

I have heard some people (in fact some are even dear friends of mine), amplify the cautionary words of foundations and United Ways and then twist them by concluding “private sector philanthropy” cannot fill the gap. It is these folks to whom I urge you to please stop listening.

The reality is that foundations, corporations and United Ways only account for 20% of the $358 billion of charitable giving. The remainder of the pie (a huge whopping 80%) comes from individuals either directly or through bequests.

Moreover, charitable giving is only 2% of our country’s GDP.

The pie can be increased. There is room to expand and grow. Foundation leaders and United Way professionals never said private sector philanthropy couldn’t be the solution (or at least a big part of the solution). They were simply say that politicians need to stop telling voters their organizations will fill the gap.

Are you a doubting Thomas? If so, then I have a proposition for you . . .

Add this topic to your board agenda. I think it makes for an awesome generative discussion. If you’re an Illinois non-profit organization and you’re looking for someone to speak in your boardroom on this subject and facilitate a generative discussion, then please contact me because I would be willing to consider it.

Next up in this blog series?

I’ve sent emails to a handful of politicians and policymakers who I trust and respect. I’ve invited them to share their thoughts on this subject. If any of them respond, then I’ll publish those next week.

In the meantime, please use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences on the Illinois budget impasse, the impact you’re seeing on the non-profit sector, your thoughts on what organizations should be doing about it, or anything else that is top of mind regarding the state of government funding (federal, state or local) and those trends. 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

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