What will Trump’s impact be on the non-profit sector?


I’ve been struggling with how to blog about President Trump and his administration, which isn’t even through its first 100 days in office (even though it feels like it has been a lot longer on some days). I literally had a blog post queued up to go live the week after the election, but I unscheduled it because it just didn’t feel right. In fact, when I came across that old draft post this morning, I opened it up, re-read it and promptly deleted all of it. I’m starting over and sharing my newer, evolved thoughts with you this morning. Please let me know what you think by using the comment box below. Thanks!


Lots has been said about President Trump and how his administration will impact the non-profit sector. The thing that strikes me as funny is that if you go back to those speculative news articles and online stories that started popping up in November and follow them through to current day, everyone seems to be right and at the same time wrong.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Perhaps, the best post I read immediately after the election was written by Dan Mollsen at American City Bureau (one of the oldest fundraising consulting firms in the country). He wrote the following:

Come 12:00 p.m. January 20, 2017 we will have a new President. I’ve been reading quite a bit about the ramifications of a Trump Presidency and a Republican-controlled congress on nonprofits. There appear to be three main concerns for nonprofits:

  1. Tax overhauls that would jeopardize tax breaks that encourage giving – he campaigned on capping all write-offs at $100,000 for single people and $200,00 for married – but there are powerful congressional leaders who won’t agree.
  2. Federal budget cuts to social service agencies – promotes cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years. There will be cuts, but the depth is unknown. Most agree that Obamacare will be cut back, as will funding for civil rights, environmental protection and social welfare.
  3. Increased scrutiny and pressure on foundations to fill the voids created by those budget cuts.

Key your eyes on the major economic factors with the strongest relationship to individual charitable giving:

  1. Income levels
  2. Wealth/net worth
  3. Tax policies
  4. The S&P 500 (this is the strongest predictor of giving)

Truer words could not have been spoken in my opinion.

A wise person once told me when I was a college student studying planning that when the current state is chaotic, it is difficult to craft a vision or do much planning, but it isn’t impossible if you choose the right planning model. (For some reason, I’m stuck trying to figure out how to turn this into something that sounds like it came from Star Wars’ Master Yoda. LOL)

I think the reason why I have struggled with writing this blog post for so long about non-profits and Trump is because I felt compelled to write about how the next four years were going to be a disaster (and there is a compelling argument to be made) BUT my non-profit soul was conflicted and screaming:

“The Trump Administration will mark the beginning of a renaissance for the non-profit sector!”

Shocked? Wanna argue with me?  Awesome … please take that energy to the comment box below. If you are curious as to why I might hold this opinion, then I encourage you to stay tuned to tomorrow’s post. I’ll share a few thoughts as to why my intuition is telling me something very different than what many other experts seem to be saying.  😉

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

Advertisements

Another book that every non-profit professional should own


For those of you who are keeping score, it has been three straight days of posts. And the entire week has been “all Mazarine … all of the time!” I think it should be fairly obvious at this point that I’ve become a big fan and I think you should be, too.

Let’s take a moment to recap where we’ve been and where we’re going:

  • Two days ago, I reviewed one of Mazarine’s books in a post titled “One book that every non-profit professional should own
  • Yesterday, I shared with you a virtual interview with Mazarine. In that post, she talked about her upcoming Fundraising Career Conference, which does not require any travel or lodging expenses because it is an online virtual conference
  • Today, if you keep scrolling down, I will talk briefly about another one of Mazarine’s books that I absolutely loved
  • In a few months (sometime this summer), there will be a fourth and final blog. I will share with you another virtual interview with Mazarine. We will talk all about her other online virtual conference in September — Nonprofit Leadership Summit

Are you new to the fundraising field? Do you fundraise for a small to mid-sized organization? Are you expected to know a little bit about a lot of fundraising things? Is your resource development plan full of diverse revenue strategies? Then I think I’ve found a great book for you — The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising.

In fact, if you are an experienced fundraising professional, who has already raised millions of dollars throughout your career, then I suspect you, too, might really appreciate this book. (Teaser . . . I’ll explain this a little more later in the post)

From the very beginning in the foreword section of the book, Mazarine captured my sense of curiosity when she wrote:

“Why I wrote the Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising?

  • The world needs more realistic optimists
  • There are so many good causes, and so few fundraisers
  • You can change the world with these tools, and the world needs some big changers right now

I wrote this book to be a fun primer to fundraising I never had.”

Seriously? How could I not keep reading?

  • I wanted to know more about what she meant by “realistic optimists” as it pertains to the fundraising field.
  • I completely agree with her about too few fundraising professionals and the power to change the world using a philanthropy paradigm.
  • But most of all, I was super curious about how she intended to transform a book about fundraising into a “fun primer.

Most of the fundraising books I’ve read throughout the years, immediately start off in chapter one with technical, wonky resource development concepts. With all due respect to those authors (and I really love those books, too), it can sometimes sound like Ben Stein’s teacher character in the 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

But Mazarine started off completely different.

  • Chapter 0 (not a typo … indeed she has a chapter zero) is titled “All About YOU! Your Family Background
  • Chapter 1 immediately tackles the myth that fundraising is about money. She titled this chapter “Development is about communication
  • Chapter 2 is about finding a fundraising job that it a right fit for you. And even if you already have a great job, I think you might find some of the resources in this chapter really fun and helpful (e.g. link to her presentation on ‘your fundraising personality,’ instructions on how to write stories using a ‘What-How-Wow structure,’ etc)

I expected the first three chapters to be about special events, grant writing and annual campaigns and trudging onward into major gifts, capital campaigns and planned giving. This formula is fairly typical for most entry level fundraising books. But Mazarine is far from typical. She threw me a curveball, and the first three chapters were all about ME. Needless to say, I was hooked. Go figure. LOL

It is worth noting that Mazarine tips her hand by starting her book in this way. The fact that the first three chapters are all about ME and not about her (or about fundraising strategy) sends a clear signal that her teachable point of view on resource development aligns with Penelope Burk’s Donor-Centered Fundraising books and school of thought.

Before I give you the wrong impression about this book, there is lots of material written on traditional fundraising topics. Here is a list of just a few chapters (and yes, these are her actual chapter titles):

  • Building Relationships: How to find & cultivate donors
  • Events (AKA Kicking Ass and Throwing Parties!)
  • Appealing (Ever want to write beautiful letters for a living?)
  • Phone-a-thons (Yo, what’s your ring-tone?)
  • Putting it all together: Your Wild Development Plan!

There are 17 chapters in all. None of the chapters are very long. Every chapter is packed full of suggestions and resources. Most importantly, nothing reads like an Econ 101 textbook (not that there is anything wrong with that).

There is a lot about this book that I like, but the one thing that I LOVE is how she distills big ideas down into simple nuggets and surrounds them with easy to implement suggestions. It is what makes this book so AWESOME for new fundraising professionals.

As I teased earlier at the start of this blog post, I think this book is a treasure for experienced fundraising professionals in the following ways:

  • It is a fun way to “refresh” your point of view on many fundraising ideas (and there are links to resources in this book that I appreciated as a long-time fundraising professional)
  • It is a great resource to use during a new employee orientation, especially if the newbie to your development department is kinda new to the profession or nonprofit sector
  • It is a great resource to give to the volunteers serving on your organization’s resource development committee

Learn more about Mazarine Treyz

If you can’t tell, I’ve quickly become a fan of Mazarine Treyz. She is one of the more genuine people who I’ve met in my travels, and I’ve quickly become a fan. Like me, Mazarine is a blogger and you can learn a lot about her by visiting her blog and sifting through her posts. You can find her at Wild Woman Fundraising. But if you do nothing else, you should go buy a copy of this book. I promise that you won’t regret it!

Interview with Mazarine Treyz about the online Fundraising Career Conference


Yesterday, I posted a review of “Get The Job: Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide,” which is a book written by a very talented fundraising coach/consultant by the name of Mazarine Treyz. If the title of the book intrigues you, then you definitely want to check out my review. I suspect that after reading more, you’ll most likely be running off to Amazon to get yourself a copy.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Mazarine (or gets to know her through her books) that she used her book as a foundation to build an online virtual conference called the Fundraising Career Conference. This year the online conference is on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting on April 17th. There are 10 different sessions, and Mazarine has some very awesome presenters lined up. (If you are looking for CFRE credits, then you don’t want to miss this opportunity to earn some)

The training sessions are designed to deepen your knowledge on the topics presented in the book. The ultimate outcomes for participants include:

  • Finding a new job
  • Better understand your skills gaps
  • Creating a better work environment for you and those around you
  • Identifying and achieving your career goals

And if you’re afraid that someone also logging into the conference will see your name in an attendees box and tell your boss, then fear no more because Mazarine is keeping everyone’s identities hidden.

If you aren’t yet signed up for this online conference, I urge you to click-through and check it out. After all, it isn’t just for people currently looking for a job.

In order to give you a better feel for Mazarine and what her book and conference bring to the table, I “virtually” interviewed her. You can read the transcript in the space below. Enjoy!


Q: What drives your passion to write a book and host an online conference to help people with their fundraising career aspirations?

A: I have such a passion to help fundraisers because I feel like fundraisers are my tribe.  I’ve moved on up from Development Associate, Development Assistant, Development Officer, to Development Director and now, finally, to Fundraising coach and conference organizer.

When i left my last fundraising job in 2009, I immediately began to write The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising with everything I knew from the last 3 years of full time fundraising jobs in a one person shop.  I wanted to pass on what I knew to people because so often in our fundraising jobs we just WING IT and we aren’t set up to succeed.

Now of course, after 8 years of teaching, I have so much more to teach that I’ve written 10 e-courses and a number of webinars about various aspects of fundraising in a LOT more detail than I went into in the book.

And during my time in full time fundraising, I had the experience of bosses that really did not know what they were doing. We had the issue of the MBA boss coming from the board in my last 2 fundraising jobs, which means they may understand business, but they don’t know fundraising.

So because of this experience, it makes me feel like we have to protect fundraisers from unrealistic expectations, and help them find out if there are going to be these unrealistic expectations RIGHT IN THE INTERVIEW. So what we teach at the Fundraising Career Conference is career self empowerment. Everything from how to negotiate your salary to how to build a better relationship with your boss.

But! We also have to teach bosses what fundraising is and how to manage us better. So that’s why in 2016 I created the Nonprofit Leadership Summit, so we could speak to both sides of the aisle.

It helps people learn how to fundraise more effectively but it ALSO drives home the cost saving message that if you TRULY want your nonprofit to be efficient and effective and raise BUCKETLOADS of money, you need to treat your staff well, and help them stay.

 

Q: What is the biggest challenge you see fundraising professionals grappling with regarding their career path and advancement opportunities?

A: I tend to see two types of challenges with people. One is people who are victims of gender bias as women. They tend to be underpaid, under-appreciated, and under-resourced in their fundraising jobs. So usually they have to move to another nonprofit to make any changes to their situation.

Sometimes women who are older, who feel like no one wants to hire them because they are older women come to me and ask me what to do. They get the double whammy of age bias and gender bias combined.

And then there’s people who have had bosses who don’t understand fundraising, which leads to a whole host of problems, including no money invested in fundraising databases, or events, or marketing, or insisting that the fundraiser be at their desk when they need to be out in the community meeting people. That’s why this year at the Fundraising Career Conference we’re going to talk about how to manage up at your fundraising job, and teach your boss why you do what you do, and how they can best support you.

 

Q: The average tenure for a fundraising professional is just a couple of years according to some studies. Why do you think the development director position is such a “revolving door?”

A: The revolving door is a result of a few things. According to Penelope Burk’s Donor Centered Leadership, AND the Underdeveloped Report by the Haas Jr Fund, people leave because:

  1. They do NOT have a good relationship with their boss. That’s why this year we’re going to teach how to deliberately build trust with your boss at the online Fundraising Career Conference in April 17-21, 2017.
  2. They can get a better salary elsewhere. And this is unfortunately how it goes, instead of negotiating in their current role, they jump ship and go somewhere else. But in this fundraising career conference we’ll be teaching people how to negotiate their salary at their current organization, as well as in a new job. But we’ll also talk about what else you can get, aside from salary, to help this be your dream job.
  3. I find that when people in fundraising are supervised at all, at least in small nonprofits, we aren’t encouraged to focus on our strengths, and we are given 3-5 people’s jobs to do, and we burn out. This does happen much more often than we like to admit, and so often we see it as a personal failing that we can’t do the work of 2-3 people. But it’s not a personal failing. It’s not your fault.  This is what is known as a super job, when you have to do more than one person’s job for no extra pay. And lots of people have this problem, from hotel maids and pepsi truck drivers to nurses and doctors. So we need to work on our boundaries, and last year we went over that.

So in this 2017 Fundraising Career conference we’ll talk about how to manage up, use your strengths, and create space for deeper conversation instead of pretending the problem doesn’t exist.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for fundraising professionals who seek greater longevity and a sense of fulfillment in their current job?

A: Yes. I wrote a whole book about it, so answering this question feels like trying to fit an elephant down a plughole.

For greater longevity, read this interview with Kishshana Palmer about how to manage up in your fundraising role. This will help you be aware of what your boss does and doesn’t understand about fundraising, and hopefully help you start conversations that will make your workplace support you more.

Next, for greater longevity, you want to help your boss learn to trust you. Read this interview with Marc Pitman, as he talks about the signs that are there when there’s lack of trust, and gives you 13 tips on how to create trust with your boss.

Then, if you want a greater sense of fulfillment in your work, you need to check out the Gallup test, where they interviewed 3 million people, and found out that people have these strengths. Take the Strengthsfinder 2.0 test online. Once you find your 5 strengths based on that test, you’ll have a better idea of what you are good at in fundraising and what you should focus on. We’re always told to shore up our weaknesses, but in honesty we should focus on our strengths as much as we can, because this is where we get the juice to be a good fundraiser.

Of course, you can get the book, Get the Job, Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide, on my website, and you can definitely come and ask questions at the Fundraising Career Conference, because these two things together will help you get this.

 

Q: Most fundraising professionals need to become experts at “managing up” in their organizations. Do you have any tips or fun success stories on how to do so effectively?

A: Oh yes! First, you want to ask your boss, what’s your favorite communication style? And they might say, “Email” or “Texting” or “Phonecalls” so, you want to try to communicate with them most often in that manner. However, face time is still important. So,

Second, insist on meeting with your boss every week for 5 minutes on Monday. Go over your priorities for the week, explain why they are your priorities, and ask your boss if they have questions. Or, if your boss is setting your priorities, ask if there’s anything they would like you to do differently. This way you’ll be able to head off any miscommunication at the pass.

Third, if they expect you to do 2, 3, 4, or 5 people’s jobs, when you have this meeting, you can say, “OK you’ve given me 80 hours of work. Which 40 would you like me to do?” This is a way you can push back and have better boundaries at your job.

We are going to be covering how to manage up in a LOT more detail at the Fundraising Career Conference, with a session on how to do this with Kishshana Palmer. I’m really looking forward to this, people are going to learn so much! (Myself included)

 

Q: What is your favorite story you like to tell others about your book “Get The Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide” (either in writing the book or anything associated with the book)

A: I like to tell people that the reason I wrote this book is because I GOT MAD.

I got mad when I saw good fundraisers raising a lot of money and being treated like garbage.

I looked at them being thrown out for systemic problems, not because they didn’t know what they were doing.

I was outraged when I witnessed people being fired for no reason other than their boss got a wild hair. This led me to research workplace bullying, and help people understand it.

It upset me when I saw bosses stealing large sums of money, and lying and cheating their staff out of the wages they were supposed to have from a government contract.

I heard about friends going to interview and being offered $10/hour and having the interviewer laugh and say “ha ha we all wish we could make more! You just have to believe in the mission!!” and that made me even more upset.

Probably the most egregious thing was when I talked with a government leader at the Portland Development Commission, who was in charge of facilitating better relations with the largest apparel and technology companies in our state (Nike, Adidas, Intel, etc).

I asked him, “Why don’t you focus on nonprofits?” And he said, “Because nonprofits bring the median income of a region down.”

And that, right there, is when I knew that I needed to agitate for worker rights, and for helping fundraisers and all nonprofit staff demand a higher salary, better working conditions, no super jobs, a pension and retirement fund, better healthcare, and just decent work.

Why should we be punished with bad wages, no real healthcare, and no way to retire, just because we wanted to make the world a better place?

HOW can nonprofits say they want to create a better world when they actively make it worse for their employees? It’s the height of hypocrisy.

I wrote my Get the Job book in 2013, but it wasn’t enough for me. I wrote a research report called Shafted in 2014, but that wasn’t enough either.

So in 2015 I started the online Fundraising Career Conference and in 2016 I started the online Nonprofit Leadership Summit, and it’s my goal to have as many people as possible take part in these events, so that we can start a larger conversation around decent work in this country. They’re already having the conversation in Toronto with the Ontario Nonprofit Network in Canada. We’re lagging behind here and we’ve got to get caught up.

 

Q: I see that this is the third year you’ve hosted the Fundraising Career Conference. What new and exciting things can participants look forward to this year?

A: Yes! I’m so psyched about this year because we’re going deeper into how to create a better relationship with your current or future boss.

Now, if you’re any good in fundraising at all, you will have been fired, because to be a good fundraiser you have to be able to say no. And so you probably have had a boss who, to put it mildly, has NOT been able to support you in the best way in your work.

Well, this year we’ll have a session from Marc Pitman about how to build trust with your boss, deliberately, which I’m looking forward to very much.

We’ll have a session with Pearl Waldorf, a therapist, who is going to be talking about how to create space for authentic communication at work, and how to assess your boss to see how to communicate with them.

We’ll have a session from Peter Drury all about how to be a better mentor and manager.

We’ll have a session from Kishshana Palmer on how to manage up,

And we’ll have a session for new consultants on how to be a better consultant, how to market your business starting out, and more.

There are so many good sessions that are new and exciting this year, it’s hard to not list them all. But these sessions are the ones that I think signify the integration theme of this year, where it’s not adversarial against your boss, and we’re not focused on healing. Rather, we’re focusing on how you are like your boss, and how your boss is like you. We’re encouraging people to step up and be leaders in their organizations, no matter what their titles are, and that, I think, is a true step towards self empowerment in your career.

 

Q: Unlike in-person conferences, the Fundraising Career Conference is online. What inspired you to develop and offer a virtual conference? And for those who have never participated in an online conference, what should they know and do you have any tips for them?

A: Here’s the deal.  I’m a millennial. Millennials are lazy! That’s why you can attend this conference in your pajamas. Just kidding. Millennials have no money. Because we’re in late stage capitalism. And on top of that, many nonprofit people are underpaid.  That is why you can attend this conference without having to go on an airplane and buy a taxi ride and eat crappy airport food and stuff like that. I wanted it to be available to anyone who wanted to go.

At an online conference, the nice thing is, you can sit at your desk at work (or in a coffeeshop somewhere) and attend this conference. Then you can go back to doing your work.

And if you have to miss some sessions, we’re recording everything for you, so you can go back and watch it later. And we have a phone number to listen in as well. So whether you choose to connect on the phone or on your computer, you’ll have  a way to be involved. We also have a questions pane where people can enter questions during the sessions each day, so everyone will have a chance to have their questions answered.

This is one of my favorite things, being able to answer questions during and after each session, and pass questions on to the presenters, who have also graciously volunteered to answer questions after the conference is over.

Learn more about Mazarine Treyz

If you can’t tell, I’ve quickly become a fan of Mazarine Treyz. She is one of the more genuine people who I’ve met in my travels, and I’ve quickly become a fan. Like me, Mazarine is a blogger and you can learn a lot about her by visiting her blog and sifting through her posts. You can find her at Wild Woman Fundraising. But if you do nothing else, you should go buy a copy of this book. I promise that you won’t regret it!

One book that every non-profit professional should own


A few weeks ago, I was at Bloomerang’s Bloomcon conference in Orlando, FL when an energetic fundraising coach/consultant walked up and introduced herself. Her name was Mazarine Treyz. Much was discussed and at the end of the day I walked away with two of her books.

As the weeks have passed, I’ve rapidly consumed Mazarine’s written thoughts on resource development and charting a career path in fundraising. To say that I’m impressed would be an understatement.

This week’s three blog posts will focus on Mazarine’s two books and an virtual online conference she is hosting.


If you don’t own a copy of “Get The Job: Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide,” then I strongly suggest clicking over to Amazon and purchasing a copy of this book.

As I read this book, it dawned on me that everyone can benefit from Mazarine’s work:

  • Individuals looking to break into the fundraising field
  • Fundraising professionals looking to find work-life balance and fulfillment
  • Employees looking to “manage up
  • Executive directors and board volunteers currently in a search process

To those who are interviewing

Mazarine breaks it down for you with practical and pointed advice on:

  • Writing your cover letter and resume
  • Interviewing
  • Negotiating your salary and benefits

In these initial chapters, I really liked what she wrote about anticipating certain tricky interview questions and how to respond. One such question she tackles is, “Why do you want this job? How does this fit into your plans for life?” Sure this question seems simple, but as someone who has been tripped up by it, I really wish I would’ve read this book first.

What I liked even more than the chapter on interview questions was the section addressing what types of questions you should be asking of your interviewers at the end of the interview. Here are just a few gems:

  • How much was raised last year, and how much would I be expected to raise in the first year?
  • How many times has this position been filled in the last four years?
  • What are some difficult decisions that need to be made? Staff cuts? Budgets? Funding cuts?

For the person currently looking for a position in fundraising, this book is pure GOLD!

To those searching for balance and success

Mazarine starts from Day One with a chapter on what your first 90-days should look like. She provides tips on how to be a better fundraising professional; how to manage your career path; and how to focus your efforts and balance competing demands on your time.

Perhaps, some of the best stuff in the book for individuals currently holding down a fundraising job are case studies (e.g. interviews with other successful non-profit professionals). There is more wisdom shared in that chapter than I can possibly describe.

Managing Up

Mazarine hits the nail on the head when she describes the day-and-the-life of a typical fundraising professional in a one-person development shop. In approximately 10-pages, she covers lots of ground including:

  • Organizational culture
  • Managing your boss (aka the executive director)
  • Assessing what type of boss your work for

There are many things that go into making a top notch fundraising professional, but one thing I see in almost every single one is their ability to “manage up.” Lots has been written on this subject, but Mazarine digests it down very nicely.

Are you hiring?

If you are an executive director or board volunteer currently in the middle of a search process, Mazarine’s book can act like a mirror. It can help you better understand the candidates with whom you are meeting. It can help you craft better interview questions and anticipate what good candidates will say in response to those questions. It will help you know what questions those interviewees may ask of you.

It may even make you a better employer.

Learn more about Mazarine Treyz

If you can’t tell, I’ve quickly become a fan of Mazarine Treyz. She is one of the more genuine people who I’ve met in my travels, and I’ve quickly become a fan. Like me, Mazarine is a blogger and you can learn a lot about her by visiting her blog and sifting through her posts. You can find her at Wild Woman Fundraising. But if you do nothing else, you should go buy a copy of this book. I promise that you won’t regret it!

Are we starting to see year-end solicitation letters v2.0?


direct mail3A few years ago I noticed some of the letters being sent to me by non-profit organizations were getting less wordy. In fact, these next generation donor communications pieces were mostly featuring a big photograph of someone/something that was supposedly mission-focused.

At first, I really didn’t like this new approach to donor communications. Don’t get me wrong . . . I disliked the blah-blah-blah letters. Like most readers, I would read the old solicitation letters like this:

  • Salutation (e.g. did they spell my name right?)
  • First few sentences (e.g. how much do they want and what’s the case for support this time?)
  • Skip to the signature (e.g. do I know the person who signed the letter?)
  • Post script (e.g. don’t know why, but I always read the P.S.)
  • If this five second review hooks me, then I’ll go back to the beginning and start skimming (honestly probably paying more attention to bullets, highlighted text and anything in bold/italics)

I was even worse with gift acknowledgement letters, which I would read like this:

  • Salutation (e.g. did they spell my name right?)
  • Did they get my pledge or gift amount right? (e.g. this is for the IRS and I can’t afford an error)
  • Is there a personal notation on the letter (e.g. did my gift merit a little love or was this just a transaction?)
  • Is the boilerplate IRS verbiage about the value of any goods or services being received by me from the non-profit as part of my contribution correctly listed (e.g. as I said earlier . . . I don’t wanna tangle with the IRS)

The first few times I received what I am describing as “next generation donor communication pieces,” I simply didn’t like it because it represented change. It threw me off my reading routine, which is silly reason to dislike something. Right?

However, the first time one of these letters was used to acknowledge my contribution by a local non-profit organization, I was upset for a few reasons:

  • In their haste to use as few words as possible, they got wrong the boilerplate IRS verbiage about the value of any goods or services being received (this was a technical error)
  • I felt slighted because it was as if “my gift didn’t even rise to the level of deserving a handful of kind words” (by the way, the letter couldn’t have been more than three or four sentences with a giant cute picture of a client)

And then . . . I changed my mind after recently receiving the following year-end solicitation letter from my alma mater

uofi-yearend-letter


Three short paragraphs. One large picture. Lots of wonky ways to give my money.

Here is what appealed to me and changed my mind about this style of donor communications:

  1. The picture took me back to my college years. I know exactly where those four students are standing. I’ve stood there before. I suspect that I felt that same way they appear to be feeling. This picture created an immediate emotional connection for me in a way that words never have.
  2. The logo at the top of the letter also created an immediate emotional connection. It is a picture of the iconic Alma Mater statue. For many students, this artwork at the entrance to the Quad symbolizes many things (e.g. a sense of welcoming, nurturing, school pride, etc). Many students have fond memories attached to this statue.
  3. The shortened fundraising verbiage cut to the bottom line and the three most important things to me and most other donors: a) the university is grateful for my last contribution; b) my gift made a difference in the life of a student; and c) they want me to continue my support. All three of these messages are emotional in natural (e.g. they love me, they flatter me, they want me back).
  4. The multitude of choices is appealing (e.g. cash, credit, EFT/ACH, monthly giving options, gift restriction options). This makes me feel “in charge” and not like I’m giving money to a large, faceless organization that is going to do whatever it pleases with my financial contribution. Again, another emotional message (e.g. providing choice implies trust and respect in our society)

I’ve been a fan of Tom Ahern for years. I think he is one of the smartest donor communications experts in the field. In his videos and e-newsletters he often takes about the the six most powerful emotional triggers that marketers use to get people to do “something” like purchase a product, vote for a candidate, make a charitable contribution, etc.

Just in case you’re wondering, here are those six emotional triggers:

  • anger
  • exclusivity
  • fear
  • flattery
  • greed
  • guilt

Tom also talks about the 13 strongest words used by marketing professionals. Here is a list of those words:

  • discovery
  • results
  • proven
  • early
  • safety
  • free
  • save
  • guarantee
  • new
  • money
  • health
  • YOU

I love Tom, but I do cheat on him from time-to-time by reading other donor communications and direct mail experts like Mal Warwick.   😉

The following are five positive triggers that marketers use to emotionally move us to do something:

  • hope
  • love
  • compassion
  • duty
  • faith

As you review these lists of emotional triggers and powerful words offered by some of the smartest thought-leaders on this topic, can you identify which trigger the University of Illinois wove throughout its letter? Can you see how they did it? If you look really hard, you’ll be surprised at how much more is actually going on in this very short and powerful letter.

Please use the comment box to share your thoughts and observations. 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

Want to know what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving?


thanksgiving2013A few weeks ago I was reading my friend Jay Love’s Bloomerang blog post titled “Donor Advised Funds: A Wake Up Call For Fundraisers,” and it was at that moment I knew exactly what this Thanksgiving’s “big thing I’m grateful for” would be. Towards the end of Jay’s post, he starts gushing about Vauhini Vara’s New Yorker article “The Wealth Gap in Philanthropy” on October 27, 2016.

Seriously gushing . . . Jay included THREE pullout quotes from Vara’s excellent piece.

It was the last of the three pullout quotes that left me feeling thankful for the non-profit sector and grateful to people like you (DonorDreams’ readership which is composed of nonprofit professionals, board members, volunteers, donors, and other consultants).

Here is that quote that I’m hanging my hat on this Thanksgiving:

He said that philanthropy is only partly about raising funds—what’s more important, he said, is its capacity to mobilize communities around important issues. He pointed to the role of nonprofits, and the individuals involved with them, in changing societal perceptions about issues like civil rights, the role of girls in sports, and drunk driving. “Real social change happens when millions of people get involved, average donors get involved, and work collectively on big issues,” he said.”

Thanks to all of you for what you do. Happy Thanksgiving!

(And I think I want to add a second “big thing foe which I’m grateful” . . . the Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series. WooHoo!)

With lots of gratitude . . . 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

How you can stop the vicious cycle of trading donations with your friends


reciprocity2Just the other day, I found myself in a boardroom facilitating a training on how to make a textbook-perfect, face-to-face solicitation. Discussion topics focused on all the usual suspects including fears, begging, best practices for getting on someone’s calendar, the 12-step process for making the actual ask, etc etc etc. However, at the end of the training and facilitated discussion, one board volunteer asked the following question:

If you ask friends to contribute to this organization, then how can you stop them from coming back and asking for reciprocity for their favorite charities?

I get this question all of the time, but I’ve never blogged about it. So, I thought I’d tackle this issue today by providing a few simple solicitation tips/tricks/suggestions that I’ve seen work.

Stop worrying about it!!!!

Does “quid pro quo solicitation” occur? Sure it does. Does it happen often? Well, it depends on how you solicit other people. However, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as you think it does. This is a classic example of how fear manifests itself and makes things seem bigger than what they actually are.

I titled this section “Stop worrying about it” because control is an illusion. There is nothing you can do that will stop your friends from doing anything in this world, which includes asking you to make a pledge, buy some cookies or volunteer a little time.

This is a mindset issue, which is why I encourage you to start with changing how you look at this.

Of course, there are other things you can do to minimize how often you get asked for charitable reciprocity. So, please keep reading . . .

Stop asking for “favors”

reciprocityOver the years, I’ve heard volunteers say all of the following things when trying to fundraise:

  • Hey, I need a favor. Can you find some time in your busy calendar to sit down with me to talk about [insert name of organization and their fundraising activity]
  • Thanks for agreeing to sit down with me. You know I wouldn’t be here asking for a contribution if I wasn’t an expectation for board members to do fundraising. I would consider it a favor if you’d make a pledge to support [insert name of organization and their fundraising activity]. Anything you can do would be appreciated.”
  • Do you remember the time when you asked me to make a pledge to [insert name of organization and their fundraising activity]? I need to call in that favor because I’m raising money for [insert name of organization and their fundraising activity].”

If you stop asking for “favors” during the solicitation process, the number of “return favor” requests will go down. It really is that simple.

Don’t beg for money. Frame your ask as a social investment in the community.

Make your passions known

When soliciting friends to make a contribution to your favorite non-profit organization, make sure to share your commitment and passion right before making the official ask for support. It might sound something like this:

  • As you know, my non-profit passions are 100% all about [insert name of organization and their fundraising activity], which is why much of our household’s charitable giving is dedicated to this organization. I wouldn’t be asking for your consideration today if I wasn’t all in.”
  • I believe so strongly in [insert name of organization and their fundraising activity] that this is only one of a very small number of charities we support and focus our philanthropy on. We wouldn’t be asking other people to invest if it wasn’t something we believed strongly in.

Sharing your commitment during the solicitation call does two important things from a psychological perspective:

  1. It is a reminder to yourself that you’re personally invested and not begging for money and definitely not asking for favors
  2. It is a direct message to the person you’re soliciting that your philanthropic priorities are set, which is a subtle message about what you may or may not consider in the future if they choose to solicit you on behalf of other charities

Be prepared to say NO

Saying NO is a difficult thing for most people. It usually comes with a number of fears. However, if you are afraid of friends coming back to you to leverage their contribution to your favorite organization for your contribution to their favorite organization, then you need to start practicing the art of saying NO.

Of course, the challenge is saying NO the right way.

The following are key messages you’ll deliver during that quid pro quo solicitation call with your friend:

  • You’ll remind them of what you said during your solicitation visit with them about your philanthropic portfolio (e.g. priorities, preferences and household charitable giving budget)
  • You’ll remind them that you asked them to support your charity of choice because you felt like it was a good fit with their philanthropic passions.
  • You’ll gently tell them that you didn’t ask them for “a favor,” but rather offered them an opportunity to invest in a great organization with a great mission and community impact.
  • You’ll appreciate them for their passion for their organization. You’ll ask them to share their stories and ask questions along the way.
  • If you end up saying NO to a financial contribution to your friend’s charity of choice, hopefully you’re willing/able to engage in a brainstorming session about who else in your shared social circle might be willing to consider involvement or financial contribution.

Saying NO involves an explanation, compassion, and gentleness; but it isn’t as hard as you think. While this might sound silly, I suggest practicing this conversation in the mirror or in your head in order to become comfortable. If you need more advice on saying NO, I suggest clicking through to Alexandra Franzen’s blog post — How to Say No to Anyone (Even a Good Friend).

Have you had experience with charitable reciprocity and your friends? How have you dealt with it? Please us the comment box to share your experiences, thoughts and practices. 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

When you have to say “I’m sorry” to donors, volunteers or anyone


sorryLet me start by being transparent. The idea for this post grew out of the fact that I haven’t posted a new blog for a few weeks.

I recognize there are many readers and subscribers to this blog who enjoy reading my musings. I know this because of how many people tell me they keep an eye on this space and thank me for putting time into sharing my experiences, thoughts and best practices. You’ve shared this with me at conferences, while visiting my exhibitor booth, during conference calls and site visits, and even in kind emails and handwritten notes. Please know that I appreciate your gratitude. It is what has kept this little blog going for more than five years. Really!

So, when my work and travel schedule get a little hairy and I let my blogging slip, I feel a little guilty and know the right thing to do is apologize. So . . .

I’m sorry for becoming undisciplined and distracted when it comes to keeping up with writing for the DonorDreams audience. This was wrong because I made a commitment to keeping this site current with content, and over-promising and under-delivering is never acceptable. In the future, I will do a better job of juggling my commitments or finding guest bloggers to fill-in for me. Will you forgive me?

The truth is that none of us are perfect, and all of us have had to apologize for things throughout the years. However, I believe non-profit professionals are more carefully scrutinized because we work with other people’s money.

In my experience, I think I did more apologizing than any other time in my life when I was an executive director working on the front line. Sometimes, those apologies were because I goofed up in major ways. (Let’s face it. We’ve all been there. Right?) And other times, the mistakes were small but magnified by circumstances, egos and the simple fact the buck stops with you.

So, if you’re going to pursue a career in non-profit work, I suggest you learn how to apologize in a heartfelt and sincere manner.

Since I’ve had to do so much apologizing in my 20-year non-profit career, I think I might have some credibility on this subject and thought I’d share a few tips that have worked for me.

Channel Brenda Lee

In the 1960s, Brenda Lee recorded the song “I’m Sorry” and it climbed the record charts. If you can’t recall her catchy lyrics, then click on the YouTube graphic below to jog your memory.

brenda-lee-im-sorry

I’ve always found it helpful to dig this song out of my long term memory and start humming it while I contemplate what I’m really truly sorry for. I don’t know why it helps. It just does. Maybe it puts me in a humble and reflective mood.

Tell them why you’re sorry

I believe it is important for volunteers and donors (and anyone else you’ve wronged) to hear you say the words “I’m sorry” followed by exactly what you are sorry for.

In my experience, apologies are more likely accepted when the person you’re apologizing to can see/hear that you understand why you are apologizing. Failing to do this has oftentimes escalated the conflict because the person I was apologizing to thought I was just trying to move past the situation.

In recent year’s, I’ve even found there is another step beyond apologizing and naming the offense. If you are able to demonstrate why the offense was something needing an apology, then you are well on your way to having your apology accepted.

And after all, isn’t that really what this is all about?

Avoid the pitfall of explanation

Ugh! This is hard for me, and I fail at it more often than I succeed. (I just did it again the other day and wanted to kick myself)

There are always reasons for what went wrong. However, listing off those reasons sounds like excuse making, which is akin to throwing gasoline on a burning fire.

One thing that helps me avoid this is simply jotting down the four or five things I want to say on a piece of paper. I’m not talking about writing a speech. Just a few short bullet points to help keep me focused. It works great if you’re apologizing on a phone call. When doing so in-person, it can look and feel awkward, but you can work through that by telling the person that you made a few notes because you didn’t want to goof up what needed to be said.

Make the ask

If you are a good non-profit professional, you know there is nothing worse than the “non-ask ask.” What I mean by this is when you make your case and then imply you’d like the donor or volunteer to do something. If I had a nickle for every time I’ve seen a rookie fundraising volunteer or professional forget to ask for the money, I’d be a wealthy man.

Well, the same is true when it comes to apologies.

Verbalize what you want from the person to whom you’re apologizing . Simply ask “Will you please forgive me?” or “Is this something we can get past?

You better get used to this

Let’s face me. Leadership is hard and good leaders make tough decisions. On top of all this, everyone makes mistakes. And even if it isn’t a mistake, edgy difficult decisions can result in hurt feelings and bruised egos.

It comes with the territory. And so does learning how to becoming an expert apologizer.

Do you have additional tips to share from your experiences? If so, please do so in the comment box located below. We can all learn from each other!

My promise to DonorDreams readers

The next few months are going to be very busy for me. While posting two and three times a week might not be possible, I will make it a priority to get something new up every week (probably on Wednesdays). And in weeks when I can do two and three posts, I will definitely do that. I promise! I hope you can forgive me.

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

You need to dance with the person who brought you – Part 2


leadershipLast week in a post titled “You need to dance with the person who brought you,” I wrote about the difference between traits, characteristics, skills and experiences and specifically what combination of these go into making effective non-profit board leaders. Today, I’m looking at the same thing, but I want to turn this lens on the non-profit executive director position.

To recap . . .

The differences between traits, characteristics, skills and experiences (in my opinion) are:

  • A trait is something someone inherits or is born with
  • A characteristic (e.g. quality) is something that describes someone
  • A skill is something that someone has learned
  • An experience is something someone has experienced

With regards to traits and innate abilities, I started writing about this topic a few year ago in a post titled “Non-profit executive directors take the heat every day.” I shared with readers the following talents that Joe Lehr once shared in with non-profit professionals in an article he wrote. The following is a list of those talents:

  • Belief — passion, fire, and strength of conviction all stemming from organizational mission, vision and purpose.
  • Vision — an ability to see the organization’s future and getting others to see and believe in it, too.
  • Focus & clarity —  sorting through a lot of information, knowing what is most important, and getting others to see clearly see it.
  • Maximizer — a burning desire for greatness and an ability to act as a catalyst for all other stakeholders to reach for greatness (via accountability, transparency, urgency, etc).
  • Empathy — self-awareness, emotional intelligence, along with the intuition and ability to sense what others are feeling and thinking and use that to effectively communicate with others.

I generally agree with Joe and won’t spend more time and space discussing traits, and . . .

If you are a believer in the science of personality testing, there is much written on what inherent personality traits a great non-profit executive director should possess.

From a Myers-Briggs perspective, Paul Sohn speculated in his post titled “The Best Jobs For All 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types In One Infographic” that ENFJ’s and ENTJ’s might be well-positioned for success.

In a study published by Dewey & Kaye titled “Nonprofit Leadership Development: A model for identifying and growing leaders within the nonprofit sector,” they found many non-profit leaders are rated highly as “High D’s.” This personality aspect is described as:

Direct and Decisive. D’s are strong-willed, strong-minded people who like accepting challenges, taking action, and getting immediate results. People with a high D component like to take charge and are typically found in positions or power and authority.”

While the jury is out and the science isn’t precise (in my humble opinion), the fact is that boards can really stumble when hiring an executive director if they don’t try to wrap their collective heads around what a successful candidate innately needs to bring to the table.

As it relates to characteristics, I’ve seen successful executive directors features/qualities:

  • well-networked with a large circle of influence
  • organized and focused
  • an understanding of the complexities associated with organizational development
  • hard working and strong work ethic
  • unfazed by long work hours
  • servant leader at heart and joyful warrior
  • high integrity
  • role model who is a mentor to others
  • self-starter who works well in fuzzy supervisory environments
  • connection and personal story that connects them to the organization’s mission

Skills are learned as a result of life experiences, and the good execs seem to have honed the following skill sets:

  • resource development/fundraising
  • board development and supportive of board governance
  • great communicator
  • collaboration and partnership development
  • leadership
  • financial management
  • human resources
  • planning
  • volunteer management and engagement

From an experience perspective, non-profit executive directors who thrive seem to have:

  • worked at various levels of a non-profit (e.g. front line operations, fundraising and management)
  • had success at all levels of resource development and not just one aspect (e.g. individual giving, corporate philanthropy, grant writing, government funding, etc)
  • successfully provided guidance and leadership to teams of people
  • excelled in environments where they had limited real authority and succeeded because of their ability to influence outcomes

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with these categories and lists, the reality is that non-profit boards have a handful of roles/responsibilities they cannot shirk. One of those responsibilities is hiring and managing the organization’s executive director. Failure to take this seriously is a recipe for disaster.

How does your organization integrate the aforementioned traits, characteristics, skills and experiences into its executive director search process? What specific tools have you used that you found helpful? Are their any specific traits, characteristics, skills and experiences that I missed that you would add to the list?

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

You need to dance with the person who brought you


board of directors3There is an old expression that says, “You need to dance with the person who brought you to the prom.” It essentially means you need to work with the person who got you where you’re at today in spite of the circumstances. When I think of this in terms of volunteer management (e.g. your board members and fundraising volunteers), it means you need to get the job done with those who you recruited.

The implication of this interpretation is that your organization is only as effective as those who you recruited to do the work that needs to be accomplished (e.g. raising the necessary funds, governing the organization, etc). So, you need to be very careful at the beginning of any recruitment process and pay special attention during the identification and recruitment process to the traits, characteristics, skills and experiences that an effective volunteer will need for the organization to be successful in whatever it is trying to accomplish.

This begs the question . . . what is the difference between traits, characteristics, skills and experiences?

  • A trait is something someone inherits or is born with
  • A characteristic (e.g. quality) is something that describes someone
  • A skill is something that someone has learned
  • An experience is something someone has experienced

When I think of traits I’ve seen effective non-profit board members exhibit, I think of things such as:

  • Detailed-oriented
  • Focus
  • Collaborative / Team-oriented
  • Confident
  • Communicator
  • Decision-oriented
  • Optimistic
  • Accountable

Characteristics of effective board members in my opinion include someone who is:

  • Mission-focused and passionate about what you do
  • Eager to participate and ask questions
  • A life-long learner
  • Willing to contribute their time, talent and financial resources to your organization
  • Socially engaged in the community with a large circle of friends and influence

When I think about skill sets, there are are many different ones that need to be present around your boardroom table, which is why diversity is so important. In other words, you won’t find people who possess ALL of the skills you need. The following are some of the skills you need to make sure find their way into your boardroom:

  • Accounting & financial management
  • Marketing & promotion
  • Planning
  • Sales, resource development, fundraising
  • Insurance & risk management
  • Facility management
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Human resources
  • Organizational development
  • Management

Experience is a tricky consideration because you should be looking for individuals who have had successful experiences not just any experience. When I was in the business of identifying board volunteers, I looked for people who had successfully:

  • Served on other boards
  • Participated in fundraising activities
  • Worked well with other people in team environments
  • Managed other people
  • Thrived in situations with deadlines and urgency
  • Managed their time
  • Been entrepreneurial and grown their own business

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it often where non-profit volunteers look at their social networks and asked others to get involved based on the likelihood of getting a YES regardless of whether that person possessed many of the traits, characteristics, skills and experiences necessary for success.

This is usually a recipe for disaster because “you need to dance with the person who brought you.” Essentially, if you recruit the people lacking what you need to help govern your organization or raise money to operationalize your mission, it is next to impossible to make quick wholesale changes, which likely locks you into an undesirable outcome.

How does your organization integrate the aforementioned traits, characteristics, skills and experiences into a prospect identification, evaluation and recruitment process? What specific tools have you used that you found helpful? Are their any specific traits, characteristics, skills and experiences that I missed that you would add to the list?

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

%d bloggers like this: