Every day this virus haunts us. It reminds us of what is truly important. Coming together. Helping each other. Giving. Receiving. Finding balance. Finding meaning. Being grateful for tiny beautiful things. Acting with purpose. Helping others act with purpose. Bringing joy. Experiencing joy. Feeling what it is to be human. To support. And to lean.…Details
The times we’re in are extraordinary, and ‘business as usual’ isn’t. Having strong coping skills today are truly important. As is being more thoughtful and strategic than usual, because you can’t rely on the ‘normal’ playbook.
I recently happened on a thoughtful article I want to share from the University of Colorado, Something for Everyone: 25 Tips to Get Through Your Day. I’ve selected what I believe are the Top Ten Tips for nonprofits.
Use these tips to help you make the most of this time into which we’ve been thrust. See if you find anything that speaks to you. Apply to both your personal and professional life to the extent you can. I’m quoting from the author in the highlighted segments, and following with a number of targeted fundraising and donor communication strategies you may want to consider.Details
Balance. That should be your ‘today mantra.’
I’m talking about balancing self-love with donor-love.
You can’t help others unless you first take care of yourself.
This is really a truism you should carry with you throughout your life. But it’s never been truer than the times in which we’re currently living.
At the bottom of this article, I’m going to offer you some ‘don’t panic’ self-care strategies.
Since, however, you primarily look to me for fundraising advice, let’s begin with some specific strategies to try right NOW.
FIRST: Take Care of Your Donors
Connect, Connect, Connect – with Everyone!
Talk to your donors about how they’re doing. It’s always been good practice to stay in touch with your supporters. In fact, the numero uno reason donors stop giving is due to your poor communication with them. So use this time as your reason to – finally — get your donor love and loyalty plan off your back burner!
Take this opportunity to connect with folks with sensitivity and empathy. Show you care about them. As people, not just donors. Let them know you’ve no idea how this pandemic may be affecting them, personally and professionally. Listen and empathize with what they tell you. Depending on what your organization does, you may even be able to help them. At least put out an offer of help, and a listening ear, should they need you in the coming weeks and months. Then – as appropriate — share with them the situation for your organization and those who rely on your programs and services.
NEXT: Take Care of Your Mission with Specific Strategies to Try Right NowDetails
There’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.
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.Details
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.Details
We live in an age of information overload.
As a result, many of us (me included) have gotten into some really bad habits in an effort just to “keep up.”
These habits are not only killing your productivity, they’re killing you!
So today I thought I’d take a step back from offering fundraising tips and tools, and offer up some brass tacks advice to lighten your load.
And I want to take on the killer of all time sucks.
What’s in a name?
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said Shakespeare.
But, would it?
Seth Godin thinks words matter. As do I.
The meaning of the word is the reason we used the word.
If we don’t agree about the meaning of the word, we haven’t communicated.
Instead of, “that’s just semantics,” it seems more productive to say, “I’m confident we have a semantics problem.”
Because that’s all of it.
The way we process words changes the way we act. The story we tell ourselves has an emotional foundation, but those emotions are triggered by the words we use.
— Seth Godin
What do you call the folks who respond to your fundraising appeals?
Are they donors?
Maybe that’s okay. Or perhapsDetails
I’ve created for you a little “Declaration of Fundraising Independence” to help you become a fruitful philanthropy facilitator from this day forward.
This Declaration incorporates what I consider to be essential fundraising truths — four pre-conditions which must be met before you’ll be able to successfully exercise your fundraising strategies. Within these four pre-conditions are additional hidden truths (don’t worry; I’ll call them out for you).
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that not all charities are created equal, that they are endowed by their constituencies with certain unalienable visions, missions and values, that among these are visions, missions and values that some, but not all, members of the public share. That to secure these visions, missions and values, charities are instituted among the public, deriving their just powers from the support of the public. That whenever any form of charity becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to fail to support it, and to instead support those institutions as to them shall seem most likely to effect the safety, happiness, goodwill and public benefit of the populace.
Fundraising is not an end in itself. It serves noble ends.
(1) When those ends are ones valued by the people, and
(2) When folks trust you’re doing an effective job meeting needs they believe must be met, then
(3) You earn the privilege of fundraising and, in fact,
(4) You assume the responsibility to fundraise to assure those who rely on you to meet these needs are not left high and dry.
So… this is where you get your Declaration of Fundraising Independence. You are ‘free to fundraise’ once you’re able to make a case to enough people that you deserve to exist. For this to be the case:Details
The late Jerold Panas*, fundraising guru and author of a bunch of books (two of which, Asking and The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards, I frequently use with boards to inspire philanthropy), left us with a gem of a final article published on the Guidestar blog: Nurturing Your Potential as a Fundraiser.
It got me thinking.
All of the traits Panas lists (he calls them “verities” that distinguish consummate fundraisers from those who, I presume, just dial it in) are important. I encourage you to read the full list (or even the full book from which they’re excerpted: Born to Raise: What Makes a Great Fundraiser Great).
Today I want to focus on one trait that particularly struck me.
I happened recently on an article in the New York Times where the author, David Pogue, asked readers for their very best ‘life advice.’ I enjoyed it so much, I want to share some of my favorite pieces of wisdom with you. And, of course, I’ll suggest how this might apply to your nonprofit work and work/life balance.
Are you over-worrying about a cat stuck in a tree?
Not every problem needs to be addressed immediately. Some will work themselves out.
“You’ve never seen a cat skeleton in a tree, have you?” When Alexandra Aulisi’s cat couldn’t get down from a tree, her grandmother reassured her with those words, predicting (correctly) that the cat would come down on his own. “This advice made me realize that, sometimes, you need to shift your perception of a problem to see a solution,” Ms. Aulisi noted.
— David Pogue, NYT
While it’s tempting to drop everything (e.g., whenever a new email appears in your inbox, especially if it’s someone asking for help), it’s important to assess if this situation actually requires a rapid response. If not, you have options.
1. Lil’ Bo Peep: “Leave it alone and it will come home.”
Ever been on vacation and noticed a flurry of emails, back and forth, forth and back, from members on your team? Often by the time you’ve returned the ‘problem’ – as urgent as it may have seemed at the time based on all the email hyperbole – seems to have evaporated. I’m not suggesting you ignore legitimate, pressing problems; just use common sense and exercise judicious restraint, as appropriate.
2. Could someone else handle this?
I’ll never forget some excellent advice I received (actually from one of the donors I worked with during the years I was a young parent). While I was stressing about potty training, she told me: “Have you ever seen anyone at college who still wears diapers? If you don’t potty train your son now, never fear. His college girlfriend will!” It was silly, yet made a whole lot of sense. I didn’t need to oversee and micro-manage every little thing. Sometimes things happen on their own time frame. This was a reminder that patience can be a virtue.