I had a pure strategic fundraising post all ready to launch today, but I just couldn’t quite do it. The world seems wildly out of whack right now. I can’t pretend it’s business as usual. I try to stay away from “politics,” because I know that’s not why you read my blog. However, we live…Details
Effective Philanthropy Facilitation RECIPE: Love +Meaning + Empathy + Cooperation +Attention + Interaction
I firmly believe part of the role of a philanthropy facilitator is to foster both individual and community well-being. You must both: (1) focus inward, as you can’t help others unless you first help yourself, and (2) focus on the way you connect with others. What you say, What you do, and, most important, How…Details
Actually, with the most awe-inspiring transformational journeys, you feel good before, during, when and after you arrive. Why? Because you’re following something that calls to you. The siren song of the calling stirs you, continually. You, your organization, your supporters… you’re all journeying forward on a quest that takes you each where you’re pulled to…Details
I can’t get no… Oh, I can’t get no… satisfaction…
Fundraisers report money is the number one reason they leave their jobs [See Part I of this two-part series here]. Hmmn… hmmn… hmmn…
Is it really all about the money?
While I do believe too many fundraisers are underpaid relative to their skill sets and performance, I’ve a hunch it’s not the real chief culprit for fundraiser dissatisfaction. What is?
The real reason fundraisers leave their jobs, and the sector, is very similar to why donors leave you. Today’s article will help you learn both:
- how to keep more fundraisers, and
- how to satisfy, inspire and retain more donors.
I gave you a hint in the title. Yup. It’s what Aretha Franklin famously sang about:
It’s not just respect for fundraisers as individuals that’s lacking. It’s respect for their profession. For what it takes to succeed with development in a nonprofit organization. For what it means to be a part of a team — all working together towards the same goal — and why it’s impossible to succeed without a supportive infrastructure and culture.
And, by the way, donors won’t thrive absent a supportive culture and infrastructure either. They’re looking to be a part of your community, your family, your way of life. If you won’t give them this warm, fuzzy, connected feeling — they’ll find someone else who will.
So what pre-conditions must be in place for fundraising staff, and donors, to want to stay?Details
Money is only part of the story of why fundraisers leave
If you’re a fundraiser, does the following statement sound like you?
Show me my money!!!
According to five years of research by Penelope Burk (culminating in her book, Donor-Centered Leadership) as well as a much-talked-about study, Underdeveloped, by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, half of chief development officers plan to leave their jobs in two years or less and 40% plan to leave fundraising entirely.
The number one reason fundraisers give for leaving is to earn more money.
What’s going on, and how can you fix it?
Is it about money, or something else?Details
You are known by the company you keep.
No nonprofit stands alone.
It may be born alone, or die alone, but it stands together.
That’s because it’s not about “I,” but about “we” and “us.”
Your nonprofit not only fulfills a demonstrated need, but it addresses problems other folks agree need addressing. All of you are “in” on addressing the problem and making the community and world a better place.
The company you keep should reflect your community.
Community based. Significance-based. Story-based.
Friendships. Deep connections. Relationship building.
This all creates the nonprofit brand.
Put another way, as my friends at The Ross Collective say: “People who are closest to the problems are weighing in on the solutions.”
Branding is Vital in Today’s Rapidly Changing EnvironmentDetails
I have a dream…
Today would have been Dr. Martin Luther King’s 94th 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 two decades in, 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 2023 – 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, embrace 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.Details
You know your mission. Your raison d’etre. The core of what you do. (At least I hope you do).
But hiding in plain sight are a bunch of shining, inspiring, hopeful visions. Not just the practical day-to-day work, but your hopes for what you’ll achieve if your wildest dreams come to fruition.
Big donors, and small ones too, are inspired by these dreams. It’s not that they won’t give to the mission; they’ll just give more to the vision.
Why? Because they can visualize it, and it makes them happy to think of this vision becoming reality.
Your nonprofit likely has a mission or vision statement of sorts. But… which is it? And does the difference matter?
Not all mission statements are vision statements
But they really should be.
Let me explain by showing you the difference between a mission and a vision statement for a food bank.Details
I had a fundraising post all ready to launch today, but I just couldn’t do it.
The world seems wildly out of whack right now. I can’t pretend it’s business as usual.
I try to stay away from “politics,” because I know that’s not why you read my blog. However, we live in a political world. And so do our nonprofits, our staff, our volunteers, our donors and our clients. Simply put, politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups.
Nonprofits cannot seal themselves off in little bubbles, pretending what’s happening in the rest of the world doesn’t exist.
That’s why, during the pandemic, I encouraged you to talk about how events touch those who rely on you. It’s why, all the time, I encourage you to relate your work to what’s in the news and top of mind to donors. Be it hurricanes, fires, famine, drought, social unrest, war, civil liberties, mass shootings, homophobia, racism, sexism, bigotry, or anything else horrifying to body, mind, heart and soul.
If it’s something you’re thinking about, you can bet it’s something your constituents are thinking about.
If you don’t address it, you risk coming across as unimportant, blind, shallow or out of touch. Being relevant, and meaningful, means getting inside your supporters’ heads and knowing what’s important to them. What are they thinking? How are they feeling? In what way do the emotions they’re currently experiencing interact with your mission? How can they help you, and you help them?
I don’t know how you’ve been feeling, but many folks I’ve been talking to have mentioned anger, outrage and fear. Even those who are happy about one or two things are deeply concerned about other developments. And this holds true for both sides. Listen to Fox News, then listen to MSNBC. You’ll hear equal doses of horror. The pendulum has been swinging wildly, back and forth, and the world seems madly out of whack.
What can the social benefit sector do to bring things back into balance?
I keep coming back to the Golden Rule. What if none of us ever did anything to anyone else we didn’t want them to do unto us? What if we only treated others as we would want to be treated? It seems so simple. So logical. So in everyone’s best interest.
What is it about the human animal that leads the same people who don’t want government to impose mask or vaccine mandates on them wanting to impose no abortion mandates on others? Or, from the other perspective, those who don’t want government telling them they can’t smoke pot wanting to tell others they can’t carry guns? All of this “I can impose, but you can’t” is nonsense from the perspective of “do unto others.” Yet, we persist.
The only way to make sense of these things is through an understanding of balance. We must strive toward philanthropy (translated as “love of humanity”).Details
If you’re constantly encountering people on your staff or board who want to curtail your fundraising efforts, you’re not alone.
Generally, people hate fundraising. It’s an “F” word.
And folk can get creative telling you why it’s an “F” word; hence, something to be avoided.
I call these creative explanations, at best, half-truths.
“Beware of a half truth. It may be the wrong half.” – Danish proverb
I use this cautionary proverb a lot.
It fits a lot of circumstances. Half-truths, myths, “common wisdom,” and crowd-sourced beliefs all have the “ring” of truth; this ring, like all bells and whistles, can be distracting. Beware: the core of the matter can get overlooked and/or distorted.
What can you do to avoid basing your fundraising strategy on a lie?
How to Kill Persistent Fundraising Myths
I too often come across six fundraising myths – lies and half-truths — in my work with nonprofits. These myths exist because the word fundraising leads with “fund.” Fund means money.Details