Clairity Click-it: Culture of Philanthropy; Donor Retention; Online Social Fundraising; Annual Fund; Food for Thought + Free Stuff

My son got married this week-end (!), so I got a bit behind in my every-other-Friday publishing schedule for the “Clairity Click-it.” Please enjoy these links and free resources. I hope you’ll find plenty of food for thought, plus some useful practical tools to help you along your journey towards making the world a kinder, gentler and more loving place.

And here’s to all the June brides and grooms — past, present and future!

Clairity Click-it: Culture of Philanthropy; Content Marketing; Newsletters + Opportunities

Clairity Click-it includes links to fundraising and nonprofit marketing resources from around the web.Hope you enjoyed/are enjoying the week-end! Please also enjoy these links. There’s all sorts of interesting stuff for you on boards and fundraising, storytelling, newsletters that make money, how to get better results from snail mail and more.  You’ll find some great training opportunities and five (count ’em!) free resources.

Culture of Philanthropy

Click-it: Turning Board Members into Fundraisers: Q&A with Claire Axelrad. Emily Wang of Network for Good recently interviewed me on this subject. If you missed it, here’s your chance to check it out.

Clairity Click-it: Online Social Fundraising; Culture of Philanthropy; Events + Free Stuff

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesHope you enjoy these links, free resources and training opportunities. Again, I’ve organized according to two of the top 5 areas I’m hoping you’re working on improving this year.  This week it’s:

  1. Online Social Fundraising
  2. Culture of Philanthropy

I’ve also got some “food for thought” articles on special events, plus links to free resources and upcoming training opportunities. I hope you find at least one useful nugget!

Clairity Click-it: Culture of Philanthropy; Online Social Fundraising; Food for Thought

Hope you enjoy these links, free resources and training opportunities. Again, I’ve organized according to two of the top 5 areas I’m hoping you’re working on improving this year.  This week it’s:

  1. Online Social Fundraising
  2. Culture of Philanthropy

There are also some “food for thought” articles in other areas, plus links to free resources and upcoming training opportunities. There’s bound to be something here you’ll find useful!

Clairity Click-it: Events; Social Media; Generational Giving; Culture of Philanthropy + Free Resources

This week’s Click-it is another mélange of fundraising wisdom, ranging from events to social media and taking a look at which generations are good target markets for you. Plus some fun posts.

And, as always, if you scroll to the bottom you’ll find some free resources I’ve selected for you. There’s some really worthwhile stuff here — and I’ve got a lot of it this week.

See you next week where I’ll return to my “Dive the Five” virtual nonprofit curriculum. Want to know the top five priority areas for your focus in the coming year? Make sure you’re subscribed to Clairification so you don’t miss an article!

And now, on to this week’s articles…

Clairity Click-it Future of Fundraising Edition: Culture of Philanthropy, Donor Retention, Gratitude, Nonprofit Change + Learning Opps

Catch this Special Edition!
Catch this Special Edition!

This week is all about what we need to do, collectively and within our organizations, to assure a bright future for philanthropy. I’ve gathered articles from some of the leading thinkers and researchers in the civil sector. This is important stuff — and one “Click-it” you won’t want to miss! Plus, as always, some great learning opportunities for you (scroll to the bottom).

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Philanthropy Trends Your Nonprofit Needs to Know Mid-Pandemic

Mural art, pointing fingerCould you be getting it all wrong when it comes to the what, who, where, why, how and when of your nonprofit’s communications and fundraising as this pandemic plays out?

You could.

Especially if you’re leading from opinion above knowledge. You know, going with your gut when it comes to what your donors want or need from you right now. Otherwise known as guessing.

That’s never a good idea for someone whose job is to facilitate philanthropy. Because a lot is known about how much joy it brings people to demonstrate their ‘love of humanity’ through philanthropic acts. Your gut telling you donors don’t want to be invited to become heroes? P’shaw.

Now, thanks to the folks at Blue Frog Fundraising, more is known about how donors feel about giving in response to the current pandemic. In the recently revealed Coronavirus Research Findings: What do donors think now? they focus on what donors have told them about how their approach to giving has changed. Or hasn’t.

These philanthropy trends are important to understand, so I’ve selected the most salient among their key findings (highlighted in the break-out boxes) and have grouped them according to the traditional journalist’s rubric of what, who, where, why, how and when.

Research Graph, Blue Frog, What Donors WantI’m going to explain what your nonprofit should do to show donors you do, in fact, understand where they’re coming from.

Before taking any marketing message or fundraising appeal off your plate, and before adding anything new, always make sure to ask yourself these six important questions! They will help you assess almost any situation, plus focus your efforts and aid you in telling more relevant, compelling stories.

Let’s get started…

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2020

Today would have been Dr. Martin Luther King’s 91st birthday. During his lifetime he challenged us to recognize the privilege of being part of the struggle for goodness to prevail. He did not live to get to the promised land, yet he saw it from the mountain top. And in his famous speech he mused on the question of what he would say were he to be given the extraordinary opportunity to live in any moment in history. His answer to the Almighty was, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.”

Today we are here, and our challenge is whether we can approach our world with the same degree of gratitude and moral resolve. Our times are challenging.  Political division, escalating, senseless violence across the planet, threats to free speech, the spread of fake news, a deepening divide between classes, the existential threat of climate change, and a creeping sense of dread as events begin to seem out of our control.  The world can seem a cruel and barbaric place. Philanthropy – love of humankind — can seem elusive. Yet it’s right here. In each of us.

King challenges us to recognize that even in dark times, there is light to be found:I know that it’s only when it is dark enough that one can see the stars.” As we toil in the vineyards of the social benefit sector, it is our privilege — and responsibility — to carry Dr. King’s torch and let shine the light. To muster all our spiritual, moral, individual, and communal resources to drive out the darkness. Today, with my annual “I Have a Dream” post, I invite you to consider what you can do to adapt, stay positive and make a beneficial impact on the world within and around you — yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors and strangers.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream for 2020 – and beyond. I have a dream this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization this year. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today. You will find donors where they are.

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the life cycle of their engagement.

I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go. 

Parking Lot

Strategies to Leverage Donor Advised Fund Philanthropy

The use of Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) as a means for individuals to make philanthropic gifts continues to rise. So much so, in fact, I felt it imperative to help you understand how they work and how they may be of benefit to your charity.

Why?

  1. You don’t want to leave money on the table.
  2. You want to best serve your donors.

Today we’re going to take a look at:

  • What a DAF is/is not
  • Who DAF donors are/common characteristics
  • How you can best serve DAF donors
  • What you can do to leverage DAF philanthropy

Let’s begin at the beginning.

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2019

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of standing up for what’s right, even when it isn’t convenient. There is so much happening in the world around us today, and at such an unprecedented, rapid pace, it’s sometimes challenging to make sense of it all.  And, in particular, our place in it all. How will we face the world of 2019 and beyond? What challenges will we take on, and how? What can we do as individuals, as groups, as organizations, and as a community to adapt, stay positive and make a beneficial impact on the world within and around us — ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors and strangers. What can we do, especially, to protect and defend and care for the most vulnerable among us? What can we do that is not just transactional, but transformational?

“The time is always right to do what is right.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream for 2019 – and beyond. I have a dream this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization this year. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today. You will find donors where they are.

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the life cycle of their engagement.

I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go. 

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – How to Begin the Transformation

You probably know my tagline is “Philanthropy, Not Fundraising.” It’s my overarching philosophy, and I welcome you to read about it here. But make no mistake…

I’m still using the word fundraising.  In fact, I wrote an article entitled To Sell is Human; To Give, Divine – Why We’re All in Fundraising Now.  I understand this may be a bit confusing. In fact, I’ve had some comments to that effect. Some of you hate the word philanthropy; others hate the word fundraising.  So, let’s clairify.

If you want to move from a culture of transactions to one of transformation don’t get bogged down worrying about semantics! You say potato; I say potahto… a rose by any other name… It’s the CONCEPT of “philanthropy, not fundraising” I’m hoping you’ll grasp. The point is to come from a place of love; not need. A place that centers on your donor; not you. A place that is deeply relational; not one-sided. A place that focuses on impact and outcome, not money and process.

Let me share a few comments I received and contribute my thoughts:

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Adopt a Gratitude Culture: 5 Ways to Stop Losing Donors

It’s common for retail businesses to adopt the mantra: “The customer is always right.” But when’s the last time you heard “The donor is always right?” Too often, the opposite is true.

I hear a lot of complaining about donors. They should do this (e.g., give because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do; be compliant and not make us work so hard); they shouldn’t do that (e.g., give any way other than ‘unrestricted’; require reports that take us hours to complete). I don’t hear enough of “What can we do to delight our donors today?”

What can you do to delight your donors?

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of standing up for what’s right, even when it isn’t convenient. There is so much happening in the world around us today, and at such an unprecedented, rapid pace, it’s sometimes challenging to make sense of it all.  And, in particular, our place in it all. How will we face the world of 2018 and beyond? What challenges will we take on, and how? What can we do as individuals, as groups, as organizations, and as a community to adapt, stay positive and make a beneficial impact on the world within and around us — ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors and strangers. What can we do, especially, to protect and defend and care for the most vulnerable among us? What can we do that is not just transactional, but transformational?

“The time is always right to do what is right.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream for 2018 – and beyond. I have a dream this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization this year. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today. You will find donors where they are.

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the life cycle of their engagement.

I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go. 

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2017

There is so much change occurring in the world around us, and at such an unprecedented, rapid pace, that it’s sometimes challenging to make sense of it all.  And, in particular, our place in it all. How will we face the world of 2017 and beyond? What challenges will we take on, and how? What can we do as individuals, as groups, as organizations, and as a community to adapt, stay positive and make a beneficial impact on the world within and around us — ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors and strangers. What can we do, especially, to protect and defend and care for the most vulnerable among us? What can we do that is not just transactional, but transformational?

I have a dream for 2017– and beyond. I have a dream this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go. You will understand there is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision. You will share this vision broadly to attract people — and financial resources — to your cause. You will no longer be content to remain a “well-kept secret.”

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand that many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the life cycle of their engagement.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization towards transformative change.

The Meaning of Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – Part 2

In Part 1 I laid out why philanthropy inspires, and fundraising tires.

Fundraising must be done, of course, but there’s something about how it’s been practiced in the past that turns too many people off.  It’s been connoted as being all about money, when really it’s all about valued outcomes.

These valued outcomes are shared by many who support the cause – donors and non-donors.  Employees and volunteers. Development departments and program departments. Major gifts staff and annual giving staff. All these folks have a collective stake in the nonprofit’s survival.

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The Meaning of Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – Part 1

Philanthropy is a mindset. An embracing culture. A noble value.

Fundraising is a means towards that end. Servant to philanthropy.

Philanthropy, not fundraising.

This has been the tagline for my business and blog since I began Clairification in 2011. It grew naturally out of my experiences working as a frontline development director for 30 years. I’ve always insisted that no single person could possibly receive credit for a donation.  “Donors don’t give because of development staff,” I’d tell program staff.  “They give because of the great work you do!

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2016

Photo of moon rise
I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2016– and beyond. I have a dream  this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream  this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go. You will understand there is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision. You will share this vision broadly to attract people — and financial resources — to your cause. You will no longer be content to remain a “well-kept secret.”

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers  and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand that many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the life cycle of their engagement.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization towards transformative change.

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5 Ways to Revolutionize Your Nonprofit Culture to Stop Losing Donors

Do you have a "top service" donor-centered culture? If not, you're losing donors you could keep. Time for a revolution!
Do you have a “best service” donor-centered culture? If not, you’re losing donors you could keep. Time for a revolution!

It’s common for retail businesses to adopt the mantra: “The customer is always right.” But when’s the last time you heard “The donor is always right?” Too often, the opposite is true.

I hear a lot of complaining about donors. They should do this (e.g., give because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do; be compliant and not make us work so hard); they shouldn’t do that (e.g., give any way other than ‘unrestricted’; require reports that take us hours to complete). I don’t hear enough of “What can we do to delight our donors today?”

What can you do to delight your donors?

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream 2015

Photo of moon rise
I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2015 – and beyond. I have a dream  this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream  this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go. You will understand there is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision. You will share this vision broadly to attract people — and financial resources — to your cause. You will no longer be content to remain a “well-kept secret.”

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers  and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand that many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the life cycle of their engagement.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization towards transformative change.

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Purely Practical SMIT for January: Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – How to Begin the Transformation

Autumn leaves changing color
Change happens

Here comes this month’s *SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you):

I’m still using the word fundraising.  In fact, my most recent post was To Sell is Human; To Give, Divine – Why We’re All in Fundraising Now.  I received a lot of feedback (mostly embracing) on the first post in my 2013 Series: Philanthropy; Not Fundraising.  But there’s evidently some confusion.  So, let’s clairify.

If you want to move from a culture of transactions to one of transformation don’t get bogged down worrying about semantics! You say potato; I say potahto… a rose by any other name… It’s the concept I’m hoping you’ll grasp. The point is to come from a place of love; not need. A place that centers on our donor; not us. A place that is deeply relational; not one-sided.

Let me share a few comments I received and contribute my thoughts:

Not Today Covid 19

Anatomy of a Coronavirus Nonprofit Email + Thank You

Not Today Covid 19Last week I shared a number of real-life examples from innovative nonprofits taking creative steps to connect meaningfully to their supporters during these trying times. While staying connected, some organizations are succeeding in stepping up both their marketing and fundraising communications to the next level.

Sometimes this means virtual events, online conference calls and hang-outs and, yes, asking for the philanthropy needed to respond to urgent needs and stay in business for the longer haul.

I promised today I’d share an example of a straight-up email appeal.  Actually, it’s more than an appeal.

Because every communication you have with folks today must be more than business as usual.

It’s got to be empathic.

Let’s face it. All folks are thinking about today is coronavirus. If you ignore this fact, you’ll come across as out of touch and even insensitive. So begin every communication with some acknowledgement of what people are going through. Not just you. Them.

Check in with people and ask them how they’re doing.  This is actually always a good way to begin. We do it more in our personal lives (oddly, particularly with strangers).  You ask the clerk at the counter “How’s it going?” You leave the store saying “Have a nice day.” In fact, one of the hallmarks of a culture of philanthropy is you’ll find staff always asking each other “How can I help you today?” [See “Fundraising Bright Spots”]

Silver lining of this pandemic? Rediscover the power of empathy.  Take this opportunity to connect the dots between the problem you lay out and the solution with which the donor can be helpful. This is solid, basic fundraising – the way it should always be practiced but too often is not.  Use this opportunity to be better.

It’s got to be innovative.

Remember, this is not ‘business as usual.’ Already every nonprofit and their dog are sending out messages related to this crisis.  What will get your messages to stand out? Lots of things come to mind, including great subject headlines, compelling images and graphics, engaging stories and an authentic tone. All the basics apply.

Practice solid fundraising, of course, but try to add in a little bit of something extra. Novelty. Fun. Inspiration. Prayer. Social action.  Whatever is best suited to your particular brand and community.

Silver lining of this pandemic? Many of your familiar, tired strategies were probably due for a change anyway. This is an opportunity to reject the status quo, develop new skills and consider fresh initiatives that may, ultimately, serve you far better than the ones you’ve been using.

TIME TO SHARE AN EMAIL EXAMPLE: APPEAL PLUS

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FAKE Nonprofit News: 6 Fundraising Untruths

scrabble tiles: fake newsThere’s a lot about fundraising folks take for granted. And not in a good way. Because… much of it is untrue!

In fact, if you, your executive director, your board members or anyone else where you work subscribes to these fictions you’ll be in for a lot of pain and suffering. You won’t raise near the money you could otherwise raise. And you won’t enjoy your work.

But there’s a fix!

Previously I wrote about certain self-evident fundraising truths. Truths you want to hold close to become a fruitful philanthropy facilitator.  The problem? These tenets I call truths are too often not apparent at all.

Why?

A disinformation campaign is unconsciously being waged by leaders who:

  • Don’t understand how fundraising works.
  • Don’t understand pre-conditions must be in place in order for fundraising to flourish.
  • Don’t want to understand because then they’d have to step up to the plate and do things that make them feel uncomfortable.

Oh, dear. Guess what?

Like anything else worth doing, fundraising must be done well to succeed.

You get out of it what you put into it. And… the truth shall set you free!

If you believe any of the following untruths, your fundraising program is in jeopardy. And so is your mission. Let’s break these down.

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How Jargon Destroys Nonprofit Fundraising & Marketing

I hate jargon. With a passion.

Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

Just. Can’t. Stand. It!

Yes, I guess you could call it a pet peeve.

But, really, why would you ever use jargon if you wanted to truly communicate with someone?

Just check out the definition:

“language used by a particular group of people, especially in their work, and which most other people do not understand”

— Cambridge dictionary.

Jargon = Failure to Communicate

When you talk to people in words they don’t understand, really, what’s the point?

Are you just trying to make yourself look smart?

Because, trust me, that’s not how it comes across.

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Partner to Solve Social Problems; Stop Acting in Silos

Ask someone on the street if there are too many nonprofits addressing the same causes. Most likely, you’ll get a resounding “yes.”

When there’s a crisis, folks are confused as to which relief agency they should give their money. When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, they aren’t sure which organization will make the best use of their donation.

This confusion leads to “drop in the bucket” donations. Folks want to at least doing something, but don’t want to risk throwing their hard-earned money into a black hole.

This behavior stifles the entire nonprofit sector. Folks don’t trust their philanthropy will be effectively stewarded, so don’t give as much as they could. Even worse, folks with track records of investing — philanthropic (aka “social”) entrepreneurs — sit on the sidelines waiting.

Waiting for what?

Waiting for the social benefit sector to do something that, up until now, it has not done well. 

Museum painting of woman perhaps not living to her potential?

Are You Failing to Achieve Your Nonprofit Fundraising Potential?

Too often, fundraising is relegated to an administrative function rather than a mission-central function.  It’s viewed as a ‘necessary evil.’ As a result, either no one embraces it as central to their job description, or someone is hired and shunted off to a corner to do the ‘dirty work.’

Others don’t necessarily feel a need to cooperate or support the fundraising effort. It’s ancillary, not primary.

In fact, I’ll often hear executive directors or board members tell me, with some pride and a soupçon of defensiveness: “We can’t spend money on development staff right now; anything extra we have must go into the mission!”

As if fundraising doesn’t support the mission?  Seriously, that’s the entire purpose of what nonprofits call ‘development’ (aka fundraising and marketing). It derives its purpose from ends served. It’s never an end in itself.

What this so-called ‘mission first’ logic fails to acknowledge is that everyone associated with your nonprofit is guided by a ‘mission first’ philosophy and has a collective stake in your nonprofit’s survival.

And for most nonprofits, survival – or at least some level of mutually desired success – depends on philanthropy.

When fundraising is treated as an afterthought, relegated to the development committee, or delegated to the development director, it disenfranchises a huge segment of folks who care about sustaining the cause. This means you’ll leave money on the table and fail to realize your mission potential.

It takes a dedicated village to generate sustainable, meaningful philanthropy.

I’ve found four ways nonprofits don’t wholeheartedly commit to fundraising. They all have to do with typical priorities that aren’t standing them in good stead.

Beware of a Half-Truth; It May Be the Wrong Half

How do you get to the heart of what’s true and meaningful to your constituents?

It’s very easy. It’s also very difficult.

The easy part is simply to listen. As the old adage goes, “you have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.” Sadly, that’s also the difficult part. Because, too often, we think we know more than we do. So we don’t look too closely. We make a lot of assumptions. And assumptions lead to a closed door.

Too often we don’t genuinely invite response or commentary. So there is nothing for us to listen to. Opinion frequently trumps knowledge.  We say “I know what our donors think and care about better than anyone.” Or the boss says “This is the way it’s going to happen. Period.”

Too often those around us let us get away with this sloppy, self-validating approach.

If you think this may be happening at your organization, read on to see why this can be so damaging to your long-term success.

Why Creating Donor Engagement Opportunities Boosts Fundraising

I wish I had a dime for every time a nonprofit board or staff member told me “We’re the best kept secret in town; if people knew what we do, they’d give to support us.”

If I had all those dimes, I could make a nice contribution to your cause.  That is, if…

  • You endeavored to learn a little bit about me,
  • You engaged me personally,
  • Then you asked me.

You see, merely “building awareness” will not ipso facto raise more money for your cause.

Just because I care about something, and somehow learn you are involved in doing something about that thing, doesn’t mean I’m going to support you financially.

Why should I?  There are a lot of good causes out there, and making a decision to invest in you is something I need to act on.

I’m busy.  I’m overloaded with information. And inertia is just too powerful a force.

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Are You Leading Your Nonprofit Backwards?

More than ever before nonprofit leaders must lead from vision, not mission.

Why?  The world is moving really, really fast.  Blame it on the digital revolution if you wish.  But why waste time laying blame?  It is what it is.  Instead, get into the 21st century. Now.

The present (what you’re doing) is nothing more than a springboard to the future.

Never lose sight of the change you’re endeavoring to bring about. That’s what folks want to invest in. Positive, transformative change.

Nonprofits have tended to forget their visions in order to justify continued existence.

Sometimes founders and other leaders become too wedded to the status quo.  They can’t let their babies grow up. This is wrong. Nonprofits are founded to meet needs and resolve problems.  Needs change.  Problems get resolved (or they should).  Nonprofits should strive to go out of business, or

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Why Would a Donor Give to Your Charity?

People do not give to the most urgent needs, but rather they support causes that mean something to them.”

This is the finding from a report done by the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at the University of Kent: “How Donor Choose Charities.”  They begin their study from the widely-accepted premise that charities exist primarily to help needy people and the desire to meet needs is a key criterion in the selection of charitable beneficiaries. Interviews with committed donors found this was not the reason they gave. In brief, the study concludes:

Giving and philanthropy have always been supply-led rather than demand-driven: the freedom to distribute as much as one wants, to whom one chooses, is what distinguishes giving from paying tax. Yet the methods used to encourage donations tend to assume that philanthropy depends on objective assessments of need rather than on donors’ enthusiasms. The tendency to overestimate the extent to which people act as rational agents results in fundraising literature that often focuses on the dimensions and urgency of the problem for which funding is sought. The assumption underlying this approach is that donations are distributed in relation to evidence of neediness, when in fact much giving could be described as ‘taste-based’ rather than ‘needs-based’.

If there was ever a time to commit to finding out more about the folks on your mailing list so you know what floats their boats, this report indicates that time is decidedly NOW. Otherwise, you’re just ‘spraying and praying’ as you buy into the conceit that “if only” folks knew about the need we address they would give.  Because they “should.” That’s not why folks give.

In fact, the study cites four criteria that influenced donor decision making, and they are not based on meeting your or your clients’ needs.

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4 Nonprofit Strategies to Build Donor Trust & Lasting Relationships

Trust is the foundation of all lasting relationships.

If you don’t build trust, or if somehow you manage to destroy it, you’re going to lose your donor.

Sadly, this happens more often than not.  By now you’re likely familiar with the stats on donor retention from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project.  Only 23% of first-time donors renew. Only 46% of all donors, new plus ongoing, renew.

If you want to improve on these retention rates (and you definitely can!), I’m going to suggest you develop a plan to build trust.

Trust is built not simply by what you say, but by what you do.  Not just once, but consistently over time.

Is Your Nonprofit Floating or Sailing?

A sailboat without a sail might float.

For a long time, in fact.

But without a sail, it can’t go anywhere, can’t fulfill its function.

Floating is insufficient.

– Seth Godin

For you to ask and answer

  1. Is your nonprofit floating, or sailing?
  2. Are your development efforts floating, or sailing?
  3. Are your marketing communications efforts floating, or sailing?

These are serious questions that deserve your serious consideration.

So… take a moment right now to answer these three questions for yourself.

Go ahead.

Put an “F” or an “S” next to each one of these.

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6 Ways to Create a Superior Nonprofit Donor Experience

customer experience

Are you aware that one of the hottest things in for-profit management over the past 5 – 10 years or so is “customer experience?” There’s an entire industry that’s grown up around it.

It’s something that goes beyond customer service.

Customer service is to an outbound marketing world what customer experience is to an inbound marketing world. The former you do to your constituents; the latter you do with them.

You may be asking why this is important.

Post digital revolution, nonprofits must adapt to the realities of inbound marketing. The way people find and engage with you in a constantly connected, networked marketplace has changed. Your constituencies crave interaction. And meaning. And, gosh darn it, they want you to make them feel good!

They want a full-bore, positive experience with you.

Fail to deliver?  They’ll go elsewhere. 

Use the 'Seven is Heaven' priorities on your pathway to passionate philanthropy in 2017 - and beyond!

7 Powerful Nonprofit Opportunities: Your Path to Success in 2017 (Pt.2)

Last week I gave you my top priorities for nonprofit success in 2017: “Seven is Heaven.”  I suggested you focus on each of these with written plans in the year ahead, and that you persist in improving your mastery in each area.

If you embrace these priorities, I’ve little doubt you’ll see greater success in generating the contributions your nonprofit needs to fulfill your mission this year — and in the years to come.

  1. Create Compelling Annual Giving Offers
  2. Master Integrated Online Social Fundraising
  3. Master Major & Legacy Giving
  4. Master Donor Retention
  5. Master Donor-Centered Content Marketing
  6. Embrace Sustainable Business Leadership
  7. Shift to an Organization-wide Culture of Philanthropy

Last week, in Part 1, we covered the first four priority areas.  Today we focus on the final three areas.

Use the 'Seven is Heaven' priorities on your pathway to passionate philanthropy in 2017 - and beyond!

7 Powerful Nonprofit Opportunities: Your Path to Success in 2017 (Pt.1)

Last year if you followed me, I gave you 5 priorities for success in 2016. I called them “Dive the Five.”  This year, I’ve expanded my thinking a bit. ‘SEVEN IS HEAVEN.’ Create Compelling Annual Giving Offers Master Integrated On Social Fundraising Master Major & Legacy Giving Master Donor Retention Master Donor-Centered Content Marketing Embrace…

Lemonade Stand Rockwell

Warning: Have You Caught Deadly Nonprofit Lemonade Standitis?

Lemonade Standitis is a bit like Zika virus.

Silent, but deadly.

It infects you, but you may not realize it.

The symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed, only showing up later down the line in a different form.

By then, it’s too late.

If you’ve got it, you’re no doubt leaving money on the table, working harder than you need to, and putting the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit business at risk.

Want to avoid this dreaded sustainability killer?

Clairity Click-it: Cornucopia of Free Nonprofit Resources

This week’s Click-it is a cornucopia filled with an eclectic mix of goodies. Maybe not as good as Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie, but… sometimes your mind and soul need feeding too!

To my friends in the U.S. who celebrate Thanksgiving this week, have a good one filled with many blessings. For those of you scattered elsewhere around the globe, make yourself a nice meal anyway and gather together with people you love. Life’s too short not to.

This poem I wrote several years ago seems particularly appropriate this year, so check out “Attitude of Gratitude” if you’ve a mind to.

And if you can, try to find some time this week to dig into some of these resources.

Now… go make our world a more caring place, and hug yourself some hope!

I am thankful for you,

Claire

Clairity Click-it: Bounty of Free Nonprofit Resources for Year-End

Friday is Veteran’s Day in the U.S., so let’s give gratitude to all those who served and serve so that others will have better lives.

That counts you in too (Big time IMHO) – so here are links to articles you may find helpful whether you’re a veteran fundraiser/nonprofit marketer or a newbie. I’m emphasizing strategies to help you with this critical year-end time of year, when folks do their most significant giving.

Plus, as usual, you’ll find plenty of free resources – downloadable templates, webinars, cheat sheets, and more.

Thanks for doing the important work that you do. It gives me great comfort in these turbulent times to know you are there. Helping. Listening. Opening yourself to understanding. Holding people accountable. Restoring faith. Extending kindness. Kicking butt when you have to. Being the very best you can be, and the best of what humankind has to offer.

5 Winning "Today" Strategies to Raise Money Smarter

If you could only do five things between now and the end of the year to make a noticeable difference in your nonprofit’s fundraising results, what would you do?

I’ve been writing recently about five subject areas – key priorities for success this year, and beyond.  Today I’d like to offer one BIG “to do” in each area to help you hone in on some actionable steps that will move the needle and have a transformative impact on your results.

Clairity Click-it Summer Reading: Extravaganza of Free Nonprofit Resources

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesI’ve got a cornucopia of useful practical tools to help you here – enough to last the entire rest of the summer – and then some! If you don’t have time to click through to all these great resources now, this is a “Click-it” edition you’ll seriously want to tuck away for when you’re ready. If you use these tools, you’ll be a lot more effective. Why just work hard when you can work smart?

NOTE: As I’ve done throughout the year, I’ve organized these articles into categories aligned with my top Dive the Fivefundraising fundamentals for 2016, and beyond. Plus I’ve added a few articles with some great basics and specific tips. And plenty of free resources too.  And now… let’s dig in!

10 Ways to Build Donor Trust and Overcome Negative Views about Charities

trustWhat prompted me to write this article was a recent post by Matthew Sherrington on the 101 Fundraising Blog about the dangers to the public benefit sector posed by erosion of trust.  We’ve known for some time that whenever there’s a charity scandal, the bad behavior of one player can become detrimental to all.  But over the past year in the U.K. the problem has become even more challenging. Could it happen here?  Matthew says “yes.”  And I concur.  Trust is a fragile thing.

In the U.K what happened was a perfect storm of perceived over-solicitation and insufficient outcomes, exacerbated by a barrage of media that sounded an alarm about nefarious practices.  Trust plummeted. A wake-up call, for sure.

But what does it mean?

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How to Fundraise like it’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

How to Fundraise Like it's Yesterday, Today, and TomorrowTwo good posts recently at re: charity (Brady Josephson) and Future Fundraising Now (Jeff Brooks) about what charities should do today to prepare for tomorrow. Both embrace a quote from Jeff Bezos:

I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow are sort of the same.

Sounds good.

But think about this a bit more.

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How to Fundraise like it's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

How to Fundraise Like it's Yesterday, Today, and TomorrowTwo good posts recently at re: charity (Brady Josephson) and Future Fundraising Now (Jeff Brooks) about what charities should do today to prepare for tomorrow. Both embrace a quote from Jeff Bezos:

I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow are sort of the same.

Sounds good.

But think about this a bit more.