Blog Archives

Are you the future of philanthropy? Meet Stephen Taylor

NPBlogCarnivalBannerFor the third year in a row, DonorDreams is proud to be hosting the Nonprofit Blog Carnival in May. On May 4, 2015, we published a call for submissions from non-profit bloggers across the blogosphere on the topic of “You are the future of philanthropy,” which stems from a 2007 TED Talks video presentation by Katherine Fulton. I asked bloggers to pontificate on any number of topics including the democratization of philanthropy, aggregated giving, social investing, and much more. If you are a blogger looking for more details, click here to read the May 4th call for submissions.

We will publish the May 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival on May 28, 2015 right here on the DonorDreams blog platform.

In addition to whipping the blogosphere up into a frenzy, we are dedicating our Tuesday and Thursday DonorDreams posts throughout May to people involved in local philanthropy. We’re videotaping donors, volunteers and non-profit professionals and asking them to answer the following question posed by Katherine Fulton at the end of her TED Talks presentation:

“Imagine 100 years from now and your grandchildren are looking at an old picture of you. What is the story? What impact did you want to have on the community around you? What impact did you make?”

Meet Stephen Taylor

Stephen Taylor opened his non-profit consulting practice, Taylor Philanthropic Services, in early 2015,  but he has worked in the non-profit sector for a lifetime. Starting in 1976, he joined the Boy Scouts of America as a District Executive and worked his way up all the way up the org chart to council Scout Executive, which is where he served three councils in Mount Prospect, IL; Spartanburg, SC; and Alexandria, LA. After 36 years and retiring from the BSA in 2012, he had stops at Bell Fundraising Consultants and DayOneNetwork.

Stephen is a CFRE who loves philanthropy. He co-chaired the Fox West Philanthropy Network’s Philanthropy Day in 2013 and 2014.

For all of these reasons, we thought we’d ask him to take a crack at answering the question that Katherine Fulton posed at the end of her TED Talks presentation.

Stephen’s philanthropy story?

(Note: If you receive DonorDreams via email you may need to click here to view today’s video interview.)

Stories from your community?

Katherine Fulton says in her TED Talks presentation:

“We have a problem. Our experience to date both individually and collectively hasn’t prepared us for what we’re going to need to do or who we’re going to need to be. We’re going to need a new generation of citizen leaders willing to commit ourselves to growing and changing and learning as rapidly as possible.”

Have you met someone in your community who you think embodies the future of philanthropy and is a member of a new generation of citizen leaders? If so, please scroll down and use the comment box to tell us about that person.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Nonprofit Blog Carnival call for submissions: You are the future of philanthropy

NPBlogCarnivalBannerI am thrilled to be hosting the Nonprofit Blog Carnival this May for the third year in a row. This year’s theme is inspired by a TED Talks video filmed in 2007 of Katherine Fulton talking about the “future of philanthropy“. I’ve seen this video countless times, and I’m always inspired by it, which is why I’m using it as a springboard for non-profit bloggers this month.

Throughout the years, I cannot count the number of times I’ve spoken with non-profit friends who openly worry about who will step-up as their community’s next philanthropic movers-and-shakers. They point to the impact of globalization and how it has transferred wealth and philanthropic decision-making away from Main Street.

Watching Katherine speak reminds me there are forces at work that will likely reshape the future of our work. She talks eloquently about the “democratization of philanthropy,” which always makes me think about how the resource development tools in our exist toolbox probably need to be re-thought or tweaked.

Of course, rushing to embrace these changes too soon is fraught with peril as some bloggers like Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks has warned us about in so many wonderful posts throughout the years.

For this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival, I’m inviting non-profit bloggers to first click-through and view Katherine’s TED Talks video and then write something inspired by her words.

Katherine Fulton

The following are just a few ideas I can imagine non-profit bloggers seizing upon as inspiration for what I anticipate will be amazing submissions to this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival:

  • Moving from closed-small-slow-fragmented-short to open-big-fast-connected-long assumptions
  • A new generation of citizen leaders
  • The democratization of philanthropy
  • Mass collaboration
  • Online Philanthropy Marketplaces
  • Aggregated Giving
  • Innovation Competitions
  • Social Investing
  • The Social Singularity

If none of these topics are appealing, I invite bloggers to participate in the picture frame exercise at the end of Katherine’s presentation.

During the month of May, DonorDreams blog is dedicating every post to bringing you videos of non-profit leaders, donors and every day people like you participating in Katherine’s picture frame exercise. If you are not a blogger but want to videotape yourself participating in the picture frame exercise, I am happy to post your vlog on my blog platform. Simply videotape yourself, upload it to YouTube and email me the link with an explanation of who you are and what town you live in.

How bloggers should submit their work for consideration?

You 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, May 25, 2015:

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 May 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival on Thursday, May 28, 2015 right here at DonorDreams blog.

Go visit April’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival

In April, the carnival was hosted by Craig Linton at his blog — “Fundraising Detective”  The theme was “A Celebration Of SOFII – Will You Inspire Or Invest?” . He challenged bloggers to submit 100 new articles and exhibits for SOFII (Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration).

If you’re interested in seeing what some very smart and talented bloggers submitted, click here.

Miscellaneous details?

Click here to learn more about the Nonprofit Blog Carnival and sign-up for monthly reminders. If you want to view the archives, then you want to click here.

I am very much looking forward to see what you decide to do and where you decide to take this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Marketing experts weigh-in on how your non-profit can break through the noise

Just the other day my spouse and I were sitting on the coach unwinding from another busy day when this Geico commercial came on television:



I blurted out, “Oh, I just love this commercial.” My partner’s response was “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one.

Of course, this commercial has been airing for weeks, and it has taken a long time for it to break through the noise for my partner. It was this revelation that got me thinking about this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival theme “Breaking Through the Noise” being hosted by RAD Blog.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve scratched my head wondering what could I possibly add to this topic that smarter marketing professionals haven’t already said, which is when it hit me:

Go ask the experts!

Over the last year, I’ve had two amazing marketing professionals in my life. I decided to just ask them to say something wise about how non-profit organizations can break through the everyday noise and information overload that our donors, supporters, volunteers, and prospective supporters and donors experience.

This is what they very graciously shared . . .

Meet Noel Childs

noelI first met Noel more than a year ago when I signed a capacity building contract with Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra focused on resource development and board development. He is a board volunteer who currently serves as the organization’s Vice President.

As I got to know Noel, I discovered he is one of those creative-types who understands how people communicate. He is the President & Founder of 9ine, and this is how he describes himself on his personal website:

Designer. Artist. Father. Founder.
Arsenal FC Gunner. Guild navigator.
Dirt farmer. Marten herder. Folk hero. Lover.

Did that break through the noise for you? Yeah, it did for me too, which is why I asked Noel to weigh-in on the question of how non-profit organizations can go about breaking through the noise with their communications strategies and efforts.

Here is what Noel had to say:

Stay true to your core mission

Progressive non-profits are realizing that with institutions dying and culture in flux they need to innovate more then every before when it comes to marketing and communications. Changing with the times is essential, but not at the cost of your mission. Find new tactical ways to engage your stakeholders, but all strategy must flow from your purpose — your “why you exist“.

Assess your digital ecology

Take a closer look at all of your online channels, websites, social media, mobile initiatives, digital marketing, and advertising to make sure it’s interconnected without barriers. Stakeholders (both existing and potential) expect to easily flow between channels and if you’re digital ecology has disconnects you’re missing opportunities.

Identify online communities

Online users behave differently from one another. Conduct research to understand their habits and desires and group them. Seek out the influencers that are at the hub of these groups. They are your key to a higher level of engagement. Create communications that will connect at a deep, sub-conscious level.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it

Cut out the marketing and communications that don’t have some metric tied to it. With a lean budget, not being able to assess a communication’s ROI is like burning money.

Authentic storytelling cuts through the noise

Traditional advertising and marketing is outdated. People are skeptical of being sold to. Millennials completely ignore it. Show the real value of your non-profit though true stories that connect via content marketing.

Meet John Mitchell

john mitchellJohn is the other marketing guy who has been in my life for the last year.

I first met John during a capital campaign project with Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. He is one of the busiest cats I know, and he graciously agreed to serve as the chair of the Club’s capital campaign Communications Task Force. He is the Owner & Executive Director (and self-described ping pong guru) of Monarch Media Studios.

John has a very strong and powerful point of view when it comes to cutting through the din that everyone now experiences while watching television, sitting at your computer, driving to work . . . in fact just living.

Like Noel, I consider John to be a communications genius which is why I asked him to weigh-in on how your non-profit organization can break through the noise and reach those with whom you need to speak.

Here is what John had to say:

There is a worsening marketing NOISE developing that is causing the process of messaging to become both more difficult and simpler at the same time….I’ll explain.

While you’re reading this, you’re probably receiving an email, a push notification, and a news alert about something that you will likely ignore while promising yourself that you will find a way to unsubscribe when you have time.

It has never been easier to get your message in front of your target audience, but it has never been harder to make them pay attention.  The most profound of messages will likely be lost in a sea of sports scores, political updates, cat videos, and free wal-mart gift card opportunities.

It sounds overwhelming, but the noise has actually provided an opportunity as well.

The opportunity is for a return to honest sentiment and simple truth. Whiteboard sessions that focus on semantics and tag lines can now be replaced with coffee house meetings over stories of real life change and passion.

Call me naive, but I believe the way to cut through the growing marketing noise is with simple, honest, clear, and real messaging.  It stands out in a sea of swooshes, sexy hamburgers, talking animals, and 3-D billboards.

In this way, not-for-profit messaging has never been at a bigger advantage, when it comes to getting the attention of potential donors.

If I’m selling a widget, I have to dig deep to find a profound, honest message that speaks through the noise.  This is why marketing has started to look more like visual gymnastics than like intentional messaging.  When an organization has a message that is driven by human story (i.e Boys and Girls Clubs stories), passion and compelling calls to action become the low hanging fruit.

So, my advice to non-profit organizations (as a marketing minion who has done more visual backflips than I care to admit), is to lean into your advantage in the midst of the noise.

  • Look for the human stories.  People make us care.  Stories make us move!
  • Find the common denominators in your stories.
  • Speak clearly and honestly to your audience.

Good news . . . you have the power to break through the NOISE.

So, what did you think? Did the advice of these two marketing pros resonate with you? What is your non-profit organization doing to break through the increasing noise of the world around us? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.

A special thanks to both Noel and John for taking time out of their incredibly busy and creative days to share their thoughts. Won’t you please do the same? We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

How are you improving your productivity in 2015?

plates spinningFor the last few decades, I’ve been on a quest to become more productive with the time I’ve been given. My counselor introduced me to the idea of mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises. Microsoft introduced all of us to Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. David Allen and Stephen Covey introduced us to time management strategies, tools and techniques.

Truthfully, all of these things have helped make me a more productive person, but I’m still looking for the holy grail.


I’m not sure. It could be a loose screw in my head. Or could it be that 24 hours in a day is simply not enough? Perhaps, it is most likely that as I get older life feels like it is going faster and faster with more balls to juggle and plates to spin.

With all of this going on in the background of my life, I was drawn to the question Beth Kanter posed in her January 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival call for submissions post:

How are nonprofit folks strengthening their personal productivity online muscles in 2015?

I’m dividing this post into two sections. First, I want to talk about some of the new things I’ve been pursuing online to boost productivity. Second, I will talk about what I am doing off-line to tame the online beast that I’m feeding.

Online productivity

jugglerOn March 28, 2012, I published a blog post titled “Getting your ducks . . . er . . . volunteers in a row“. I talked a lot about various online services and software I had started using to work with volunteers such as Doodle, Google docs, GoToMeeting, etc. However, it was clear that I had fallen in love with an online project management service called Basecamp.

For the last few years, I’ve exclusively used Basecamp to work with my non-profit and executive coaching clients. It is intuitive and easy to use. Its functionality simply falls into the following areas: shared calendar, task list, documents file cabinet and writeboards.

I know this service fills a need in my non-profit clients’ professional lives. I know it because I’ve seen some of them continue their usage of Basecamp after our engagement ended. As our lives get busier and busier, Basecamp provides non-profit professionals and volunteers a virtual online space where they can collaborate and get work done without having to call another in-person meeting.

With all of this being said, I’m no longer convinced that Basecamp is the end all and be all of online collaboration services. A few weeks ago one of my clients asked me to look into Microsoft’s SharePoint and, much like Alice, I seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole.

Since the end of December, I’ve sunk time into:

  • watching YouTube videos about SharePoint
  • reading the book “Office 365 in Business” by David Kroenke and Donald Nilson
  • reading the book “SharePoint 2013 for Dummies” by Ken Withee
  • speaking with friends who use SharePoint in their office

Embarrassingly, I must admit that I’m still trying to wrap my head around what exactly SharePoint is and how to use it. I’m not a “tech-dummy,” but the functionality of this software/service is huge. In the interest of brevity, here is how Ken Withee summarizes the question of “What is SharePoint?” on page 40 of the Dummy’s Guide book I just referenced:

“Officially, Microsoft represents SharePoint as a “business collaboration platform for the enterprise and web.” SharePoint is a platform from Microsoft that allows business to meet their diverse needs in the following domains: collaboration; social networking; information portals and public websites; Enterprise content management; business intelligence; and business applications.”

In other words, it does A LOT and it is complicated.   🙂

I’ve concluded that the 21st Century will be a time of online evolution for non-profit organizations in the area of productivity and collaboration. In just the last few years, I’ve personally seen it with my clients as some embraced Basecamp and now others appear to be checking out SharePoint.

If you are one of those non-profits investigating Basecamp versus SharePoint, I found this awesome compare/contrast page created by TrustRadius. This is definitely worth the click!

Please scroll down and use the comment box to share some of your thoughts and experiences regarding Beth Kanter’s January 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival question. We can all learn from each other!

Offline productivity

meditationI remember it like it was just yesterday. In 2006, I started a new job working for a national non-profit organization providing resource development capacity building services to local affiliates. On Day One, I received my first ever “smart phone,” and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

It was a Palm Treo (you never forget your first true love).  😉

Since that time, I’ve gone from a Treo to a Blackberry to a Motorola Droid Razr to a Nexus 6 (Google’s first attempt at manufacturing a phone after buying Motorola Mobility).

My love of these mobile devices is rooted in the idea of 24/7 connectivity, which makes me feel more productive. However, my love affair has ended, and I’m starting seeing these little hand-held devil boxes as a ball-and-chain that adds weight to my work-life-balance challenges.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I started working with a counselor almost two years ago. Without getting too personal or entering the realm of TMI, let me just say that I’m working on stress and anxiety reduction strategies that include mindfulness, breathing and meditation.

As online services provide non-profit professionals greater levels of productivity, the price many of us likely pay is stress, anxiety, conflict, and loss of balance. Ironically, all of these things place a drag on our productivity.   LOL

For those of you looking for resources and advice about stillness and meditation, I suggest checking our Russell Simmon’s book “Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple“. It is an easy read and a wonderful place to start.

In the end, I believe you need to blend online and offline strategies to move the needle on your personal and professional productivity.

What are your thoughts? Please share your experiences in the comment box below.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Donor loyalty bibliography

dogThose of you who regularly follow this blog know that every post in May 2014 was dedicated to the idea of how non-profit organizations build loyalty among various stakeholder groups (e.g. donors, board members, staff, volunteers, clients, etc). All of those posts culminated yesterday when DonorDreams blog hosted this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The theme for the carnival was “Letting the Nonprofit Sector Go to the Dogs.”

This morning I realized that the month of May isn’t over yet and found myself faced with the following decisions while plodding away on the treadmill:

  1. Skip today’s post and let readers continue feasting on a ton of content left over from yesterday’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival
  2. Write one more post on loyalty
  3. Pretend that it is June and push forward with new topics

While it was tempting to skip a day, I ultimately decided to stay the course with one more post about building loyalty.

Instead of pontificating on the subject, it dawned on me that in all of my reading on the subject of loyalty there are always beefy bibliography sections and references. So, I decided to toss a bone to those of you who are thirsty for more reading on this subject by publishing some of the more interesting written and online references and tools (in a few cases the reources are books and the link points you to

dog2Enjoy the reading!

Have you read something recently on the subject of building loyalty hat your fellow non-profit peers might benefit from reading? If so, please use the comment box below to share that resource and point us in the right direction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s focus on building loyalty including the big build up to the May 2014 Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Programming changes at DonorDreams blog

changesWelcome to May! While this month represents lots of things to lots of people (e.g. rain, flowers, planting gardens, non-profit conferences, etc), May is an anniversary month for The Healthy Non-Profit LLC and DonorDreams blog. It was three years ago this month that the company and the blog were started. So, today we’re going to do a little celebrating in addition to announcing a few programming changes.

WooHoo . . . Let’s celebrate!

Over the last 36 months, you and I have accomplished the following things together including:

  • 725 blog posts
  • 332 direct blog subscribers
  • 1,839 individuals checking in from time-to-time via blog subscriptions, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
  • 1,353 comments (not including the comments you’ve written on different social media sites pertaining to my posts)
  • 53,924 page views
  • Readers from 23 different countries around the world on all five continents

These bullet points just represent the accomplishments related to the DonorDreams blog. They don’t include business-related accomplishments associated with my non-profit consulting practice — The Healthy Non-Profit LLC — such as:

  • the number of clients we’ve been privileged to serve
  • the conferences we’ve attended
  • the trainings we’ve facilitated
  • the plans we’ve facilitated and helped develop
  • the organizational capacity we’ve helped grow.

Hip hip hooray!

Programming changes at DonorDreams blog

For the last three years, I’ve been able to write something almost every day, and I’m humbled by how many people have read and engage in conversations around these posts. I believe that my blogging helps me be a better consultant, facilitator, planner and trainer. For this, I am grateful!

I honestly believe that WE have grown this blog and The Healthy Non-Profit LLC together. I am indebted to you and your readership. Thank You!

Unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be), I cannot keep up with blogging every day and providing capacity building services through my firm. As a result and starting this month, DonorDreams blog will scale back its publishing schedule to two days per week — Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I’m currently looking at two options with regards to content:

  1. Focusing content around a monthly theme
  2. Focusing Tuesday content on board development and Thursday content on fundraising

If you have an opinion, I would love to hear your thoughts. As always, please share them using the comment box below.

With regard to the month of May, you may have noticed that we’re hosting the national Nonprofit Blog Carnival. In our April 29th post, we issued a “call for submissions” to the non-profit blogger community. This month’s theme centers on how non-profits can build LOYALTY among various stakeholder groups like donors, staff, volunteers, etc.

We will publish the Nonprofit Blog Carnival on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. In the meantime, we will focus all of our DonorDreams posts in May (remember we’re now only publishing on Tuesdays & Thursdays) on the same topic of building loyalty.

Thanks again for your readership and continuing support! I look forward to working with you and seeing what you and I collectively accomplish here at DonorDreams blog in the upcoming months and years.

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Nonprofit Blog Carnival call for submissions: Letting the non-profit sector go to the dogs

Betrys3Approximately 14 years ago, I was a young and eager executive director of a non-profit organization in Elgin, Illinois. While I had already worked in a number of different capacities in the non-profit sector, it was the first time I had held the job of “executive director.” Thinking back to that time in my life is where I pull my inspiration for the May 2014 Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

As a new executive director, everything was new and there were days I found my head spinning, especially when I thought about which metrics and indicators I needed to watch with regard to my agency’s health.

However, I very clearly remember the day when all of that stopped. It happened after a Board Development committee meeting, and one of my board members pulled me aside. He asked me how things were going.

We talked about the organization’s health and how I knew what I thought I knew. It was at that moment he decided to play Oprah and pointed me in the direction of the following two books written by Frederick Reichheld:

Just to give you a small taste of what these two books are all about, here is a short quote from chapter one of “The Loyalty Effect“:

“. . . businesses that concentrate on finding and keeping good customers, productive employees, and supportive investors continue to generate superior results. Loyalty is by no means dead. It remains one of the great engines of business success. In fact, the principles of loyalty — and the business strategy we call loyalty-based management — are alive and well at the heart of every company with an enduring record of high productivity, solid profits, and steady expansion.”

Not to be too dramatic, but that informal book club assignment changed my point of view on all things pertaining to the non-profit sector. After reading those books, my personal non-profit management litmus test usually centered around this simple question:

“What would Betrys do?”

As you’ve probably guessed, Betrys is our 13-year-old Welch Terrier who is featured in all of the pictures you see in this blog post.

This brings me to the May 2014 Nonprofit Blog Carnival . . .

With all of the talk about donor loyalty in recent years, I thought dedicating an entire Nonprofit Blog Carnival theme to the broader idea of LOYALTY might be fun.

So, calling all bloggers!  Please write and submit a post this month focused on how non-profit organizations can and should be building loyalty among any of the following stakeholder groups:

  • donors
  • employees
  • volunteers
  • board members
  • social media networks

If you can identify another type of stakeholder group with which you believe a non-profit organization needs to build loyalty, then please feel free to blog about that, too. This is intentionally a broad topic. Feel free to get creative. All I ask is that you include in your blog post strategic or tactical suggestions on how to build loyalty so that our collective readership can walk away from our content with lots of new ideas.

To help get into the spirit, I will dedicate all of the content at DonorDreams blog in May 2014 to the idea of building loyalty.

Betrys1But wait . . . there is more!

If you couldn’t tell from the title of this post, I am a dog lover. Is there anyone or anything in this world that embodies LOYALTY more than dogs?

At the end of the month, there will be difficult decisions made about which submissions get published and which ones end up on the cutting room floor. If you can incorporate some reference to the canine community in your Nonprofit Blog Carnival submission, then you will get bonus points.  🙂

So, I’m sure some of you are wondering what I mean.  

A reference to the canine community could be as simple as working your dog (or someone else’s famous dog like Spuds MacKenzie, Snoopy or Lassie) into your post. It could be more complicated like the time when John Greco centered an entire organizational development blog post titled “Puppy Perspective” around his dogs.

Good luck and regardless of whether or not you get a dog into your post, please have some fun with this month’s carnival!

Betrys2How to submit your work for consideration?

You 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, May 26, 2014:

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 May 2014 Nonprofit Blog Carnival on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 right here at DonorDreams blog.

Go visit April’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival

In April, the carnival was hosted by Nancy Schwartz at ” her blog — Getting Attention!”  The theme was “The Work Behind Your Work: Your Methods and Wants for Nonprofit Blog Carnival“. She asked bloggers to consider the following questions:

  • the methods and tools you use to stay focused, productive and happy on the job
  • or the barrier that keeps you from getting there

If you’re interested in reading what some very smart and talented bloggers had to say about this Nonprofit Blog Carnival theme, click here.

Betrys4Miscellaneous details?

Click here to learn more about the Nonprofit Blog Carnival. If you want to view the archives, then you want to click here.

Do you want to become a “Friend of the Carnival” and receive email blasts twice a month with reminders about the Carnival? Click here if you want to receive those reminders.

In a tip of my hat to the Nonprofit Blog Carnival that I hosted last May, I leave you with this Dr. Seuss-inspired quotation to inspire your much anticipated submission:

“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go . . .”

I am very much looking forward to see what you decide to do and where you decide to take this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Dear Non-Profit President / CEO / Executive Director,

open letterMy online friend, Marc Pitman is hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and asks his fellow non-profit bloggers to write an open letter to executive directors in honor of President’s Day.  For those of you who don’t know of Marc, he is well-known to friends and business associates as “The Fundraising Coach“. As the coach describes in his call for submissions post, he runs into CEOs who think hiring a development director gets them out of their fundraising responsibilities.

I have run into the same situation many times, and this open letter is my President’s Day gift to those executive directors.

Dear Non-Profit President / CEO / Executive Director:

Congratulations on making an important investment in your agency’s resource development program. Hiring the right fundraising professional should help take you to bigger and better things. You’re embarking on what is surely a fun and exciting organizational journey. Enjoy it!

However, the road ahead is full of potholes and obstacles.

First, please know that you can never abdicate your role as the agency’s “Chief Development Officer“. Sure, you’ve just hired someone to take on that role, but Harry Truman said it best when he said “The buck stops here.” Your fundraising role may look different now, but you will likely still be involved in some capacity with:

  • Cultivating prospects & stewarding donors
  • Soliciting donors
  • Supporting fundraising volunteers

Your focus may shift from more annual fund activities involving pledge drives and special events and move more towards major gifts and cultivating long-term donor relationships.

What is most obvious is that you’re role as “fundraising visionary” is more important now than ever before.

Why? Simply because there are more chef in the kitchen.

As you open your executive director toolbox, you will find many different tools that you need to become proficient at using, including:

  • written resource development plan
  • fundraising dashboards and scorecards
  • donor database (or CRM)
  • staff and volunteer job descriptions

However, one of the most powerful tools that you need to master is the annual performance plan for your new employee — the development director.

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it too many times, where an executive director fails to provide the newly hired fundraising professional with a written performance plan. Instead, they simply say: “Go raise some money. Chop-Chop!

Please don’t be one of those Non-Profit Presidents. You are better than that. Besides, not providing your new employee with a written annual performance plan is akin to setting them up for failure. How? Why? Because they don’t know what success looks like at the end of the year. They aren’t mind readers and don’t know what you’ll be grading them on other than raw dollars and cents.

For those of you who are new to annual performance plans, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure each objective is measurable
  • Make it clear what it will take for the employee to go from a “meets expectation” to “exceeds expectation” for each objective
  • Link the performance plan back to the agency’s written resource development plan or strategic plan
  • Ask for feedback and input from your new fundraising partner and make any necessary adjustments

Finally, once you’ve cemented a performance plan in place, sit down with the new development director and engage in a clear discussion around what your new role could and should be with regard to resource development and fundraising.

Well, I hope your President’s Day was awesome and best of luck on your fundraising journey.

As always, I raise my glass to you and say, “Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Outcome measurement madness

Today’s DonorDreams post is from a guest blogger, Rose Reinert. Rose is a young non-profit professional who happily serves in the trenches and grapples with our sector’s newest challenges as they relate to data, impact, and program outcomes. When it comes to data systems, she has experience with membership management databases, financial management software, donor databases, and program outcomes measurement systems.

Outcome measurement madness

By Rose Reinert

In a former life, I served as an Executive Director of a youth serving organization. As you can imagine, as in any non-profit, the heat was on illustrating short-term and long-term impact. These efforts, of course, were to show that we were fulfilling our mission of preparing young people to be contributing citizens. Unfortunately, more often than not, we focused on short-term impact in order to keep funders and donors engaged and happy so they would renew their investment.

lotsofdata1One of those funders, who I would work at keeping happy with their investment of money and time, was my board of directors. I used to love packing my board book with tons of statistics “showing” our hard work. I would use pretty graphs and pie charts, comparisons from the previous year, week, minute.

I was so proud of those thick board packets!

Now, the tables have turned and I serve on a board of directors for another area non-profit. In a recent board meeting, as I was overwhelmed with pages of statistics I sat thinking, “So what! What does this all mean?

Oh the irony!

When I was leading my organization, we used to measure anything that moved. We were swimming in pre- and post-tests. By the time we closed out one session, we were at it again with pre-testing.

There were days, amongst the insanity, where I would have moments of clarity. I realized how many opportunities had been lost. We were caught up in the “Outcome Measurement madness“. We lost opportunities to truly, without defense, use the data to assess how we were doing and if we were moving the needle.

What would happen if we got off the hamster wheel and took a step back? What questions could we ask about our outcome measurement strategy?

One great tool that I found to help re-frame and create a strategy is a publication titled Intermediary Development Series: Measuring Outcomes at

lotsofdata2If you are just starting or if you could use a fresh look, these questions can help:

  • Where should we focus?
  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • Who is on the team, and how do we involve others in organization?
  • What resources will you need?
  • Do we need additional help?
  • What is our timeline?

Taking a step back to reframe, or create a strategy to ensure that we are measuring what matters is critical. There is no escape from outcome measurement, and there shouldn’t be. Data is critical; it guides decisions, informs investors, and points out areas for improvement. However, you can measure a lot and still have no clue.

How have you found clarity in the outcome measurement madness? How does your organization involve all levels in developing the strategy and executing it? How do you share your data with stakeholders?  Please share your experiences in the comment box below.
rose draft sig

Nonprofit blog carnival: “Dear board volunteers . . .”

carnival2I love the Nonprofit Blog Carnival because it is an online collaborative space where bloggers can focus on a specific nonprofit theme and readers can easily access different points of view on the same topic. I am very honored and humbled that the DonorDreams blog will host the May Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

Let’s get this party started with the immortal words of Dr. Seuss from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!“:

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

Attention all bloggers: Calling for submissions to the May 2013 Nonprofit Blog Carnival

The theme for May’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival is . . .

“Dear Board volunteers . . .”
If you could write an anonymous letter to a nonprofit board about something they do that drives you crazy, what would that letter look like and what suggested solutions would you include?

carnival mask

I encourage you to have a little fun with this topic. You can write it from any of the following perspectives:

  • executive director
  • fundraising professional
  • fellow board member
  • nonprofit consultant
  • donor
  • volunteer
  • program staff

You can also theme your letter on any number of issues pertaining to: fundraising, board development, leadership, financial management, planning, organizational culture, volunteerism, etc. The possibilities really are endless!

And remember to keep the letter “anonymous” just like the Mardi Gras carnival!

Go visit April’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival hosted by Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog

In April, the carnival was hosted by Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog and the theme was “Best Advice“. She asked bloggers to consider the following questions:

  • How has it transformed your work? 
  • What is your own best single piece of advice for people who work at nonprofits?

If you’re interested in reading what some very smart and talented bloggers had to say about this Nonprofit Blog Carnival theme, click here.

But wait . . . there’s more!

If you couldn’t tell from my introduction, one of my favorite writers is Dr. Seuss, and he has been described by many as an “architect of social change“.  In my opinion, the genius behind his writing is that he talked about social issues in a way that even a child could understand.

So, those of you who can incorporate some reference or tip of your hat to Dr. Seuss in your Nonprofit Blog Carnival submission for May will get bonus points.

It can be as simple as incorporating a quote or a moral to one of his stories into your anonymous letter to nonprofit board volunteers. Or it can be as complex as composing your entire letter in a Seuss-like format.

dr suessI’ll even help by providing you with these online resources and ideas:

What exactly do bonus points get you? Simply put, it increases the chances that your blog post will get included in the Nonprofit Blog Carnival in May, which will be published on the DonorDreams blog platform on Wednesday, May 29th.

Finally, if you choose to accept the Seuss-challenge, be careful about copyrights, trademarks, and all of that legal stuff.

How to submit your work for consideration?

You are welcome to write your blog in a house or with a mouse or in a box or with a fox; however, I must receive your submission by the end of the day on Monday, May 27, 2013:

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

  • Your name.
  • The name of your blog.
  • The permalink of your post.

Who will make the decision on what gets included?

During the entire month of May, I’m turning the DonorDreams blog over to the Nonprofit Blog Carnival theme of Dear Board Volunteers . . .”

In the last few weeks, I’ve invited a ton of executive directors, fundraising professionals, board volunteers, and nonprofit consultants to do the same thing that I’ve invited you to do, which is write an anonymous letter with some advice in it to their nonprofit board volunteers. Of course, I didn’t ask them to get creative with the Dr. Seuss curveball because they aren’t creative bloggers like you!  😉

I am publishing their work at DonorDreams throughout the month of May. (If you are looking for some inspiration, I encourage you to periodically click over to DonorDreams. Something you read may just spark a blog post for you.)

I will ask those nonprofit professionals and volunteers who get published at DonorDreams in May to help me judge what you and other bloggers submit at nonprofitcarnival[at]gmail[dot]com. Remember, the big carnival celebration happens on Wednesday, May 29th.

Miscellaneous details?

Click here to learn more about the Nonprofit Blog Carnival. If you want to view the archives, then you want to click here.

Do you want to become a “Friend of the Carnival” and receive email blasts twice a month with reminders about the Carnival? Click here if you want to receive those reminders.

Here’s your final piece of Seuss-inspiration: “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go . . .”

I am very much looking forward to see what you decide to do and where you decide to take this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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