Blog Archives

Are You the Future of Philanthropy? Meet Becky Hardekopf


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 Becky Hardekopf

Becky Hardekopf, Chief Relationship Officer for Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois and Founder and Past Chair of Elgin Young Professional Network, has worked in the non-profit field for over 10 years and spent another five in the for-profit sector. This helped shape her exceptional relationship building, presenting and training skills which she uses in the workplace to innovate, build teams and manage projects all in the interest of advancing philanthropy.

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

Becky’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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Are you the future of philanthropy? Meet Danielle Ward


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 Danielle Ward

Danielle Ward opened her non-profit consulting practice, DMW13 Consulting, in late 2014. Prior to this undertaking she worked or volunteered for the following non-profit organizations or consulting firms:

  • Marklund
  • Meyer Partners
  • Lake Forest Symphony Association
  • Association of Lutheran Development Executives
  • Toast of the Fox Toastmasters
  • The Renewal Center

Danielle is a CFRE who loves philanthropy. She recently joined the Fox West Philanthropy Network’s board of directors. On her LinkedIn page, she announces to the world that she proudly supports the following organizations:

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

Danielle’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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

The 6 Questions Nonprofits Need to Ask Before Hiring an Event Manager


Lisa Green is an aspiring blogger who has graciously agreed to provide this amazing post while I am taking a much-needed vacation for the next few weeks. Thanks, Lisa!  ~Erik


lisa1An event hosted by a nonprofit is often fighting an uphill battle even before the first committee meeting is scheduled. A finite amount of funds and resources are often all that is available to these worthy causes, which makes raising money for cancer research or underprivileged children even more crucial. However, the lack of resources can leave those involved frustrated, overworked and unsure of how to make an event impactful while working under such budgetary conditions.

Even when working with such few resources, a fundraising event can be successful if a nonprofit organization has a high standard of excellence for any sponsor or company they work with rather than aiming for whoever offers the lowest price on the market. A prosperous nonprofit should instead look for sponsors, vendors and companies that can help provide excellent support and top-notch service as well as having experience working in the industry, all while being affordable.

One way to accomplish all of these goals for a fundraising party or dinner is to invest in an event manager. This might on the surface seem like an unnecessary expense, but a quality event management company will know how to make the most out of what is available as well as how to raise the most funds for a cause.

To ensure you are hiring a stellar event manager that will benefit you in the long run, you will need to do your research. In particular, you will need to know what specific questions to ask to help you determine exactly what you’re getting when you hire a company.

Do you know how to work with a nonprofit budget?

An event manager should never ask you to spend outside of your budget. Instead he or she should maximize the amount of funds you have and help you make your gathering look like it cost far more than it actually did.

Verifying that your event management company has worked in the industry previously and asking for specific references or companies they’ve worked with will let you know if they have this capability and if they can provide all that they claim.

What is your experience with fundraising and money collection?

A huge portion of a fundraising event is collecting and keeping track of donations. This can be a tricky business, particularly when working with promised amounts and personal information.

That’s why it is crucial for to verify that an event planning company has a clear plan on collecting funds from your supporters. Whether that is through a verified mobile bidding service that allows you to collect bids from around the globe or a paper-based system that focuses on the crowd in front of you, your event planners should have a sterling reputation with money as well as a clear plan for when you will receive your donations.

It is also important to verify that your event planners have certain connections and abilities to help save you money in the long run. For example, a smaller business might have to pay a large fee for your guests to pay with a certain credit card, but a company with a relationship with that particular card can save you from paying such a large charge.

How involved are you?

This is how you can determine if you are getting a day-of coordinator or a planning partner. An event company that gets involved from the beginning is preferable to one that comes in late in the game, as an involved planner will know your budget, help you craft a doable timeline and will care about your cause as much as you do.

lisa2How can you improve our donations?

Part of the appeal of hiring an event planner for a nonprofit fundraising event is the idea that if the event runs more smoothly and looks more enticing, donations will increase. The company you hire should be able to outline a clear way in which they can help you earn more for your cause, be it a specific marketing plan or an online payment method for auctions.

Do you have any guarantees on your technology?

Should the event planning company have any technology that they offer to employ for your event, be it a customized website or an online auction app, you will need a formal promise that the company has a back-up plan in case of an emergency. This guarantee should come in the form of a service-level agreement (SLA) that details specific ways the company will ensure that you do not lose money in case of a power outage or other disaster.

For example, with a mobile-bidding app, an event-planning company should plan in case of bad cell reception. A SLA would detail what would be done in this case, such as installing cell signal repeaters to ensure constant coverage.

How do you improve guest experience?

Earning money for a good cause is obviously the primary goal of any fundraising event, but it is also important to create an atmosphere that helps attendees enjoy themselves. These event planners should help you plan games or entertainment, as well as help ramp up competition on auctions to help increase donations and interaction among the attendees.

A great event planning company for a nonprofit should do more than just contact caterers or set up a silent auction. They should put the cause first and respect the needs of a nonprofit, ensuring that your charity earns the most donations possible to accomplish the true goal of this event – helping those in need.

LisaGreen

“Hangin’ with Henry” and talking about group solicitation strategies


It is the first Thursday of the month, which can only mean one thing at DonorDreams blog. We’re “Hangin’ With Henry” today and talking about fundraising shortcuts like the group solicitation.  

For those of you who subscribe to DonorDreams blog and get notices by email, you will want to click this link to view this month’s featured YouTube video. If you got here via your web browser, then you can click on the video graphic below.

After listening to Henry for the last 6 minutes, I was transported back in time to my earliest fundraising solicitations as a District Executive working for Boy Scouts of America’s Northwest Suburban Council. While part of their Friends of Scouting annual campaign pledge drive model was based on in-person, one-on-one, face-to-face solicitation, the bigger part of it was group solicitations in front of gatherings of parents at Cub Scout Pack Nights and Boy Scout Court of Honor events.

I honestly don’t miss dragging the old slide projector and screen all of the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. LOL

As I listened to Henry, everything rang true. I learned the hard way that highly capable donors lowered their philanthropic sights when solicited in a group setting.

I also remember learning that the smallest dollar amount mentioned during my presentation usually resulted in scads of pledge cards with that number on it. It was with this lesson that I re-trained myself to do the following during my group asks:

  • Stop saying: “Even a gift of $25 makes a difference.”
  • Start saying: “People who pledge $150 tonight will walk out with a complimentary Norman Rockwell coffee mug.”
  • Bring a box of donated chotskies (e.g. yo-yo’s, baseball cards, etc) and tell parents their kids were welcome to a free gift if they allowed them to bring their pledge cards to the front of the room.

Ahhhhh, those were fun days when fundraising was new to me and every day brought a new lesson.  :-)

(Note: Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m not very proud of some of the group solicitation tactics I employed even though I became one lean, mean group solicitation machine compared to my fellow co-workers. Needless to say, I was nothing more than a transactional fundraiser who couldn’t say “donor-centered” if I tried.)

Henry did indicate there can be an appropriate time and place for your organization to employ a group solicitation strategy. For example, some non-profit organizations are very successful with Terry Axelrod’s annual campaign model that you might know as Benevon.

If your organization uses a group solicitation fundraising strategy, please scroll down to the comment box and answer one of the following questions:

  • under what circumstances do you use a group solicitation?
  • what are a few “lessons learned” that you feel comfortable sharing?
  • how do you ensure that larger donors aren’t lost in the shuffle and contribute less?
  • how do you create a sense of urgency for donors to ink their pledge cards on the spot?
  • what post-solicitation follow-up strategies do you use with pledge cards that walked out the door?
  • what pre-solicitation cultivation strategies and post-solicitation stewardship strategies work best for you?

Please take a minute to share your thoughts and experiences.

If you want to purchase a complete set of videos or other fundraising resources from Henry Freeman, you can do so by visiting the online store at H. Freeman Associates LLC. You can also sign-up for quarterly emails with a FREE online video and discussion guide by clicking here.

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

Do you want to improve your fundraising event?


Kari Kiel of DoJiggy reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d be willing to let her periodically guest blog on my site. As I have done from the start, I’m  thrilled to allow other voices access to this space such as Marissa Garza, John Greco, Dani Robbins, Mike Johnson as well as others. I’ve always received rave reviews from those of you who I know about our guest bloggers. I’m confident you’ll love Kari as much as you have the others. Enjoy!    ~Erik

6 Tips to Help Your Nonprofit Achieve Better Results at Your Next Fundraiser

By Kari Kiel of DoJiggy 
Guest blogger

In order to be successful in your fundraising efforts, it’s important to create a solid fundraising plan. Fundraising is not just about sending a donation request letter to your donor database and then waiting for donations to come to you. It’s much more strategic. It’s about effective communication, planning and leadership, managing time and resources efficiently, integrating new ways of reaching out to existing supporters and tapping into new potential supporters.

kari1

Below we share six tips to help your organization achieve better fundraising results through strategic planning:

  1.  Choose Your Campaign Wisely

Before you get started planning a fundraising event, you must choose your campaign. Of utmost importance is making sure the campaign theme and type of fundraiser makes sense for your cause. Explore a variety of fundraising event ideas to find the perfect one for your organization.

Consider the following:

  • Mission alignment: does the chosen campaign communicate your mission and/or cause? if you are an organization promoting health and wellness, perhaps your campaign should mirror that mission by offering a walk-a-thon or fundraising campaign that promotes well-being in addition to raising funds
  • External factors: what time of year is it? Are people anxious to get outside where a walk-a-thon or golf tournament might be the right fit? What’s the state of the economy like? Are budgets tight? if so, consider seeking smaller investment amounts from a larger pool of donors rather than hosting an extravagant gala event.
  1. Setting & Monitoring Goals

kari2What goals do you hope to achieve with your fundraising campaign? In addition to raising funds, what else do you hope to accomplish: spread awareness, gain new supporters, strengthen relationships, etc. Jot down your goals as this will shed light on the activities that will follow.

Here are some examples of goal setting:

  • If you wish to spread awareness of your cause and gain new followers, then perhaps an online fundraising campaign is right for you. With a crowdfunding initiative (or peer-to-peer fundraising campaign), you engage participants to help spread the word through their networks via numerous social channels. This attracts funds from a much larger pool of potential donors by spreading your message beyond typical channels.
  • Perhaps your goals are more focused on strengthening relationships with existing donors. If this is the case, maybe a gala fundraising event or celebrity golf tournament is a better choice. You invite select VIPs and treat them to a night of entertainment and appreciation. Money can be raised through ticket sales, a silent auction, contests, and more.

Another part of goal-setting is monitoring progress. You should consistently be aware of where you are relative to your goal. When using fundraising software, fundraising thermometers can help you see where you are relative to your goals and also give you an opportunity to highlight top performers, thus motivating others.

  1. Budget & Resources

Be sure to choose a fundraising campaign that’s within your means. What budget do you have for planning your campaign? If it’s pretty small, perhaps an online donation drive or charity auction might be the perfect fit, as these have lower associated costs.

What about resources? How many people will be working on the fundraiser? Do you have a leadership team to help plan and manage or is it left to just one or two people? Consider your network and your board of directors. Are there any ties to local businesses that might be interested in sponsoring the event? Consider any way you might be able to creatively minimize expenses: Use volunteers whenever possible, use online channels to spread the word (rather than paying postage), and seek donated items for raffle prizes or charity auctions. You may also wish to ask businesses to donate items that typically cost you money (i.e. printing, signage, or decorations) In exchange, you can offer them exposure at the event.

  1. Outreach

kari3Who is your target market and where can you find them? Are they active online? If so, make sure you have a fundraising website that’s attractive and easy to navigate. Then not only will you want to make sure your message gets broadcast through online channels, but also make sure it’s easy for people to share your message. Use social sharing widgets & post cool imagery and videos that draw people in. Give people an incentive to help you spread the word. Award people who raise the most funds or drive the most traffic to your website. Look to relevant social media groups that are already invested in your cause and may be more likely to give back. Don’t forget about online channels such as online community groups, local email lists, online calendar of events listings, etc. Leverage existing connections by asking them to tap into their networks.

If your event is a local attraction (such as a charity golf tournament or local fundraising event) seek local media coverage. Invite media to attend the event and you’ll get some free press and increased awareness. You may also want to put posters up in local stores, mass transport or community centers. Don’t forget about pitching local businesses for sponsorship. They love the opportunity to get their products and services out in front of a receptive local community and in exchange, you can raise money through sponsorship fees and take advantage of their help promoting the event.

  1. Be Organized.

Of utmost importance is being prepared. Create a fundraising calendar and checklist to make sure you are staying on track. Most fundraisers require starting at least 6 months out! By planning ahead, you can ensure sufficient lead time for publicizing and preparing for these events. Situations change, so remaining flexible is essential; however, by scheduling events well in advance you can be certain that everything is in place and ready to help make your fundraising activities successful.

Use fundraising software! There’s no need to create excel spreadsheets and file folders of all your to-do items. With fundraising software, your planning team can use a back-end administration area to manage all the details of the event. They can publish and update information, post announcements, and generate numerous reports. Your organization becomes much more efficient by using a software service. Instead of manually taking registration cards, participants can sign up online and automatically get added to your database and communication list. You can also collect online donations with credit cards instead of manually dealing with cash. Progress is tracked in real-time; as each donation is made your fundraising thermometer rises.

  1. Evaluation

Keep comprehensive records of the entire planning process. See what you did right and what could be improved on. By maintaining records of each contact with potential donors and the work that has been done in your fundraising efforts, you can ensure that you are not duplicating efforts or neglecting to follow up with interested donors. You may want to survey those who were involved. Find out what participants liked about the process. If you utilized fundraising software, did they find the website user-friendly? Did you see donations increase with the ability to accept contributions online? Make use of Google Analtyics®. Your fundraising website can show you were traffic came from. This can help you see which social channels were most effective, or if you received leads from a particular partner or media channel.

In Summary

Strategic fundraising can help your organization be more efficient in your planning efforts. It can also help you maintain a solid reputation in the eyes of your supporters. By managing your fundraising strategy effectively, you can ensure greater financial stability while hosting more lucrative fundraising campaigns.
kari blog sig

What skills and experiences are critical to your board volunteers’ success?


boarddev1Do you know which skills and experiences are most important for a new board volunteer to possess in order to succeed on your board? Knowing this could help your organization conduct better prospecting exercises and result in better prospect recruitment lists. Today’s post is the third in a three part non-profit board development series that started last week.  During this time, we focused on a recent survey released by our friends at non-profit technology research firm  Software Advice of 1,545 board volunteers and people tasked with recruiting new board members. The survey’s key findings probably won’t surprise you, but the implications might change the way you think about your organization’s future board development efforts.

The final two findings of SoftwareAdvice.com’s survey that caught my eye related to skills and experiences. The first finding was:

Basic computer skills (e.g. email, Excel, etc) are the most important technology skill for service (44 percent).

The remaining 66% of responses were as follows:

nonprofit-board-tech-skills

The other finding was:

Fundraising experience was the most cited (24 percent) skill set and experience that has the greatest impact on a board member’s success.

The other responses included:

nonprofit-board-professional-skills

As I digested these final two findings, I immediately had two visceral reactions.

Was Carol Weisman wrong?

weisman1If you haven’t heard Carol speak or read her books, then you need to figure out how to check those things off of your non-profit bucket list. She is amazing!

When I read the study’s finding about “basic tech skills,” my mind immediately wandered back to a Boys & Girls Clubs of America conference hosted somewhere in the Midwest more than 10 years ago. Carol was one of the keynote speakers, and she was talking about building an amazing board of directors.

I remember her sitting on a stool on a large stage with a wireless lapel mic telling fun stories about non-profit boards and individual board volunteers. She was also likely promoting one of her many books. I was a relatively new and young non-profit executive director, and everything she said sounded right on target.

During Carol’s presentation, one of the things she talked about was how technology is changing non-profit boardroom dynamics.  She shared a story about a board she had worked with that had embraced technology. If my memory serves me correctly, the following were just a few examples:

  • Every board member was provided a laptop computer by the organization
  • Board members received their board meeting agenda and info packet electronically
  • Volunteer who were out of town for meetings would use their webcam and remotely attend and participate

weisman2I am a member of GenX, and this news made my heart sing. I was so excited to hear that my Baby Boomer board could be transformed into that type of board. I came home from that conference with renewed focus and determination to figure out how tech can help my board become more engaged and efficient in governance.

I started digitally scanning my board packets. I created an intranet site for the board. I uploaded board packets and other materials (e.g. policies, procedures, etc) to the intranet. Needless to say, no one followed me, and I abandon my tech efforts a year later.

The lesson learned was:

“You get the board you recruit!”

We had not recruited the board that Carol described in her conference keynote speech. My board development committee had not included “better-than-basic tech skills” as a skill set criteria. The result was that my board possessed basic tech skills related to the Microsoft Office productivity suite and email. They were light years away from going paperless and using Skype.

So, I guess Carol wasn’t “wrong” because tech will obviously change the boardroom experience, but . .

  • change will likely take much longer than we thought (and will likely happen when GenX and Millennial board volunteers make up the majority on most boards)
  • change will occur faster only if board development and board governance committees include tech skills in their search criteria when assembling their prospect lists

If you are looking for additional board development tools to add to your organization’s board development toolbox, then you should read a wonderful blog post by the National Council of Nonprofits and check out their hyperlinks to additional online resources. The post was titled “Finding the Right Board Members for Your Nonprofit“.

Fundraising experience is underrated

scaredWhen I read that only 25% of survey respondents identified “fundraising skills and experiences” as having a great impact on a board member’s success, I literally groaned and rolled by eyes.

Sure, it was the number one response, but it was still only one-quarter of respondents. As my 10-year-old niece would say . . .

“Really? Seriously?”

I suspect that fundraising might not be as important for non-profits that rely on fees and government money to buoy their business model, but the vast majority of non-profits with which I’ve worked aren’t hospitals and universities. Many non-profits have fundraising at the core of their business model, and it is one of the most difficult things I’ve seen board volunteers struggle with.

More oftentimes than not, when I’ve seen a board volunteer frustrated and on the verge of resigning, it usually has something to do with fundraising.

Of course, the solution is the same as I mentioned in the last section . . . “You get the board you recruit, and the board development committee needs to include fundraising skills and experiences in their search criteria.”

The tougher question is “what are fundraising skill and what should we be looking for?” My suggestion is to look for the following when going through prospect identification and evaluation exercises:

  • people who donate to other charities and appear to have an appreciation for philanthropy
  • people who are social and appear to have larger than average social networks
  • people who have served on other non-profit board with a business model rooted in fundraising
  • people who belong to service clubs that organize fundraising activities
  • people who are passionate about your mission (e.g. are willing to walk across hot coals to achieve success for your organization)
  • people who are well-versed at “closing the deal” in their professional lives (e.g. people who work in sales, banking, self-employed, etc)
  • people who are assertive, persuasive, good communicators, relationship builders, etc.

Gail Perry speaks much more eloquently than I do on this subject. You might want to read her blog post titled “Mastering the ‘Soft Skills’ of Fundraising” and figure out if you can add any of those qualities to your board development prospect identification and evaluation process.

If you missed the earlier blog posts in this board development series, I encourage you to investigate the previous two posts from last week. You might also want to click-through and read SoftwareAdvice.com’s full survey report titled “Tech Skills and Other Considerations  for Joining a Nonprofit Board IndustryView“.

What are your thoughts and experiences regarding tech and fundraising skills and experiences and your board of directors? Are you doing anything different now as part of your board development process that might help other non-profit professionals and volunteers re-think their approach? Please use the comment box below to share.

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

What can your non-profit learn from Southwest Airlines?


A few weeks ago, I signed a contract to do a little work with an organization on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I must admit that it was nice to get out of the Chicago winter, even if it was only for a few days. On my way home, I found myself waiting for a delayed airplane at a Southwest Airlines gate at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. As time elapsed and the plane became increasingly more late, people understandably became more agitated and upset. It was in this moment I saw a Southwest Airlines gate agent (I think his name was Aaron) demonstrate the type of leadership that every non-profit executive director and fundraising professional could learn from.

Let me attempt to tell this story pictorially.

southwest restless gate

In the picture above, you see that no one was particularly happy. No one is smiling. There are some arms crossed. In fact, every time the gate agent used the PA system to announce a new piece of information, there were audible groans and grousing from weary travelers. It wasn’t a pretty scene.

Then something happened as you can see in the pictures below . . .

southwest line daning

Uh-huh . . . your eyes aren’t deceiving you. You see people in the picture above line dancing.

southwest dancing

Yep . . . this last picture is the gate agent dancing with one of those delayed travelers. What you can’t hear is a fellow passenger playing music on his accordion.

So, what happened?

Simply put, the gate agent realized that people were unhappy, and he stepped into the leadership void and filled it. However, what was most impressive was that he didn’t have many resources at his disposal. Over the course of more than an hour, the gate agent facilitated the following activities with people in the gate:

  • charades contest
  • trivia game
  • line dancing
  • talent show (e.g. an accordion player, magician, and a 7-year-old girl performing her dance competition routine)

When the delayed aircraft pulled up the gate, no one noticed because they were too busy having fun. There wasn’t a frown to be found anywhere.

Mission accomplished!  :-)

So, what happened here that your non-profit organization can learn from?

Well, scroll back up to the first picture of angry people being told that their flight was delayed. Now pretend that those aren’t angry travelers, and they are instead angry donors and key community stakeholders.

The reality is this can happen to the best of us. Our organizations make decisions that make people upset. Sometimes management decisions simply don’t work out. Other times external circumstances lead us down roads fraught with crisis.

When this happens, people get angry. More oftentimes than not, you aren’t in a position to wave a magic wand and fix the situation, but you better do something to keep things from getting worse. (Very similar to the Southwest Airlines gate agent’s situation, right?)

Here are a few tips when your organization finds itself in similar circumstances:

  • Take responsibility
  • Don’t make excuses (even though you want to explain what is happening and why it is occurring)
  • Empathize with those who aren’t happy (we’ve all been there)
  • Do whatever you can to make people happy even if you can’t fix the problem (ask those who are upset if there is anything you can do to make the situation better)
  • Coordinate your response (especially when dealing with a crisis, only have one spokesperson dealing with restless people)
  • Know your resources and use them!

This last bullet point sounds simple, but it is hard to do when you’re in the middle of a challenging situation. However, the reality is that most non-profit organizations have many more resources than the Southwest Airlines gate agent I’ve highlighted in this post.

The following are just a few examples of resources at most non-profit’s fingertips:

  • talented staff
  • board volunteers
  • clients
  • donors
  • community supporters (e.g. program volunteers)
  • collaborative partners (e.g. other non-profit partners)
  • technology
  • budgets (albeit probably stretched thin)
  • facilities (albeit not every non-profit is endowed with physical space)

This short list of resources is like a list of food ingredients for a chef. Surely, some spontaneous recipe can be cooked up?

The reality is that whatever mess you find yourself in, you don’t have to be in it alone.

Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. No one is in this alone. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

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

Your non-profit can learn from Hillary Clinton’s email mess


hillaryIt has been called a crisis, scandal, controversy, and problem by journalists. If you are remotely plugged into the world around you, then you’ve probably heard or read something about Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private server located in her private residence which stored tons of personal and governmental emails during the time she was Secretary of State. This news story is layered and smells as bad an onion, but there is a silver lining to this story, which is:

You and your non-profit organization can learn a valuable lesson from Hillary’s “situation”

I was in Hillary’s shoes (kinda)

It was April 1, 2006, and it was my last day as the executive director of my local Boys & Girls Club. I was packing up my office and trying to get out-of-the-way of the interim executive director, who the board had hired to keep the organization stable durning the executive search process and impending transition.

As I was taping up my last box, I realized that I had an email situation that needed to be dealt with.

Over my six years as executive director, I had:

  • never deleted any of my sent or received emails
  • blurred the lines between my personal and business email accounts

hillary7None of this was malicious. It was always done out of a frantic sense of convenience and lack of time (or so I told myself).

So, I spent my final hours pouring over emails and deleting everything I didn’t consider a business-related correspondence. Ugh . . . and the things I found in those emails:

  • There were all sorts of emails to my mother and sister pertaining to family gatherings
  • There were emails to my then-partner and current spouse regarding social plans
  • There were correspondence to people in my Rotary Club

Frankly, I was surprised at how many non-business related emails existed. None of it was inappropriate, but so much of it was garbage. In the moment, I had the following questions running through my head:

  • Why wasn’t I more careful about segmenting my email by using my personal email account for personal things and my business account for business things?
  • Why didn’t I clean out my email inbox every day?
  • Who owned these emails? Am I allowed to delete all of these emails on my last day?

The reality is that my non-profit organization didn’t have any policies in place to help me answer these questions. Unlike Hillary Clinton, I didn’t have to deal with:

  • government transparency issues balanced against state secrets and delicate diplomacy discussions
  • executive orders and regulations from the President of the United States
  • congressional legislation (e.g. Freedom of Information Act)

The silly thing is that we’re just talking about email, and the tech challenges to your non-profit organization are so much bigger.

Since my last day on the job at my local Boys & Girls Club in 2006, our technological world has only gotten more complicated. Right? It isn’t just email anymore. Now there are social media questions that government agencies, for-profit businesses and non-profit organization must grapple with.

So what lessons can be learned?

Establish clear policies on technology usage

hillary2Most non-profit organizations are stretched too thin. I know, I know. But this is something you need to make time for because it is important.

It is a great opportunity to engage technology volunteers in a meaningful project that can benefit and protect your organization. It is also an important project that can help manage your organization’s legal risks and public exposure.

The following are just a few questions your policies should address:

  • What is appropriate vs. inappropriate content?
  • Can employees use organizational email for personal communications?
  • When is it appropriate for an employee delete email? What should be saved? How should all of this be archived?
  • In a social media environment, what is inappropriate and what will the organization do if the employee is caught violating the policy? (e.g. should an employee be Facebook friends with clients or supervisors or board volunteers? what if an employee is vocalize a political view on a social media site that adversely impacts how donors view the organization?)
  • Should every organizational email possess a “legal disclaimer” as part of the signature block?
  • Is it OK for employees to create and store documents of a personal nature on your organization’s server?

The following are a few resources you might want to check out to help you with this project:

hillary3Create separation and segment your life

I’m a member of the GenX generation, and separating my personal and work lives is difficult. Much has been written about my generation’s blurring of these boundaries, and I have to admit that I resemble those remarks.

But segmenting email communication shouldn’t be horribly difficult. Right?

When I think about my email situation, I have four different accounts (and many people have multiple email accounts):

  • My sbcglobal.net account is what I use for eCommerce and junk. (this is the account I give companies because I know they are going to spam me)
  • My gmail.com account is what I use for personal emails (this is the account I use with my friends and family and for all things non-business related)
  • My heathynonprofit.com account is what I use for business communication (I try to limit to only communicate with my clients using this account)
  • My acb-inc.com account is only used to communicate with capital campaign clients with whom I work as a subcontractor to American City Bureau to provide service

Do I goof up and accidentally blur the lines between these accounts? Of course! To err is human, right?

But that shouldn’t be an excuse not to try.

Moreover, you can now segment your email accounts on your smart phone. I have different buttons on my phone for each of my different email accounts.

I recognize this doesn’t come naturally to some people, but our changing world demands that we change our systems and practices or risk being left behind (or risk looking like Hillary Clinton does right now).

A side not about Hillary’s “crisis-scandal-controversy-situation-etc

hillary6It hasn’t been talked about much, but the Hillary Clinton email story is a “Non-Profit Story“. Think about it for a minute.

Hillary blended her emails. She likely had emails in her blended account pertaining to:

  • State Department business
  • Chelsea’s wedding
  • Funeral arrangements for Hillary’s mother
  • Personal stuff (e.g. yoga class)
  • The Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative

The Clinton Foundation is a non-profit organization.

In fact, The Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit organization that politicians and news media outlets continue to question about overseas donors and if/how those contributions influence family members who still operate in the public sector (e.g. Hillary’s time as Secretary of State and her alleged desire to be our next President).

This email story raises all sorts of non-profit questions including:

  • What level of privacy should donors expect when electronically communicating with your organization?
  • What legal impact can a donor’s email have on their charitable gift or pledge (e.g. restricted vs. unrestricted donations)
  • If your non-profit organization accepts large quantities of government funding, are your records governed by transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act?

Does your organization have an email policy? Tech policy? Social media policy? What resources did you find useful when developing these policies? Do you find enforcing these policies difficult? If so, how? Please scroll down and use the space 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

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