May you live in interesting times.
Blessing or curse? Probably both. Regardless, we’re living in these times and we can either bury our heads in the sand until it’s over, or open our eyes wide and take a good hard look at what we can do proactively to make the best of the cards we’ve been dealt.
Since little is ever really over – everything leaves its mark – the best way forward is one intentional foot at a time. One teeny human foot. One small step. And then the next. And the next. Until we’re joined by other feet. And we walk together to reach our desired destination.
Recently I came upon this C.S. Lewis quote:
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
We are here. Here does not feel so terrific right now. And as much as you don’t want to feel where we are… as tempting as it is right now for some to want to freeze time… let’s agree to resist this temptation. If you have board, staff or donors saying “Let’s hold tight until we can get back to normal,” please gently let them know this isn’t likely to lead to a happy ending. ‘Normal’ is an illusion, and recently we’ve all been learning how much the status quo hasn’t always been a good thing.
Consider instead the passions on which your organization was founded. What can you do to keep these passions vibrant, today and tomorrow?
Remember the movie Dead Poet’s Society? Robin William’s character quotes Walt Whitman’s ‘O Me! O Life!: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. That you are here—that life exists, and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
Now is your interesting time.
For what you do with it to make our world a better place, I hope you find some of these resources I’ve collected for you helpful.
Yours with gratitude for all you do,
P.S. Many thanks to Bloomerang for sponsoring the Clairity Click-it. And please also take advantage of all my original articles on this blog by enrolling in Clairification School!
Clairity Click-it, Your Nonprofit Ticket to…
SPECIAL CATEGORY: Tips for Not-So-Normal Times
Click-it: #HalfMyDAF – How to Encourage Your DAF Holders to Make Grants Now. Did you know there’s a movement afoot to get DAF owners to commit to giving out half the proceeds of their Fund by September 30th? All the charities to whom gifts are directed are entered into a random 7-15-20 drawing and are eligible for matching grants up to $10K. Eight will get $25K. They will have a second round drawing 9-30-20. They claim at least 150 nonprofits will get grants. They’re giving away $1.4 million. They even provide a sample letter to use for fundraising. Lawrence Pagnoni outlines the specifics in this blog for Bloomerang.
Click-it: 10 Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits from Kristy Fontelera via Nonprofit PRO. There’s also a link to a webinar on the topic should you prefer listening over reading.
Click-it: The Essential Guide to Nonprofit Live Streaming Video: How nonprofits can use live videos to strengthen relationships with donors, members, and supporters. I never fail to learn a ton from Julia Campbell, Marketing for the Modern Nonprofit, and this article is no exception. It’s jam-packed with ‘how-to’s and useful ideas.
Online Fundraising and Marketing
Click-it: How to Get Real with Donors in This Virtual Age. Nathan Stelter reminds us of the important elements of human interaction, and shows how to adapt them to the times in which we find ourselves. Don’t forget it mostly boils down to how you make your donor feel.
Strategy, Management and Leadership
Click-it: Stop being silent. If you or your organization struggle with how to rise to today’s challenges, it may help you to read this take by Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN. She writes that “the best learning I’ve done is by talking and trying and messing up and sitting with that and then trying again. What’s the alternative? Silence? Silence is killing people.”
Click-it: It’s time we fundraise in a way that doesn’t uphold white moderation and white supremacy [Read article; Save date for 7-13 launch event online]. Vu Le, Nonprofit AF, is issuing a call to arms to rethink fundraising as usual. Community-centric, not simply donor-centric. Remaking institutions, not simply perpetuating them. Let’s join the community, mark our calendars for the launch, and set aside some time for thoughtful reflection leading to thoughtful action. [Personal note: Two decades ago I attended a day-long workshop with Penelope Burk, the researcher who coined the phrase ‘donor-centered fundraising.’ I became immersed in her work, totally changing the way I did fundraising. Could it be time for another change?]
Click-it: The top 10 most harmful statements for fundraising. I put this here, from Reinier Fundraising, to show you you’re not alone if you feel underappreciated and too-little-listened to. Sometimes the work can feel thankless. I want you to know, if nothing else, I thank you. You are doing some of the world’s most important work!
Click-it: How to Connect with What Matters to You [quick video]. I always like to share a little inspiration from the Greater Good Science Center. Hope you enjoy.
NOTE: You’ll find more of my own ‘what to do in this crisis’ articles on Clairification (just scroll to the bottom of the Click-it).
WEBINARS & PODCASTS
Click-it: Talking about race with your board [Listen to free podcast]. Rhea Wong, Nonprofit Lowdown and DEI consultant, Martha Haakmat, discuss how to engage boards – often more conservative, wealthier and less diverse than staff and clients — on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. They also touch on how to create a sense of shared responsibility for DEI across board and staff.
Strategy and Management
Click-it: A Guide to Online Fundraising Compliance [Register for free webinar, 7-9-2020]. Most states don’t provide specific guidance on online fundraising registration requirements. Nonprofits are (understandably) puzzled about whether they must register before soliciting online and in which states they must register and report. Qgiv and Warren Harmon of Harbor Compliance pull back the curtain on this subject so you can move forward with absolute confidence.
Click-it: Analyzing Trends around Mental Health, Race, and COVID-19 [Register for free webinar, 7-15-2020] .Overlapping issues in the news have brought attention to the inadequacies of U.S. health care, education, and labor systems that adversely affect people of color. Join this GrantSpace/Candid-sponsored event to learn about the intersection between race, mental health, and COVID-19. Plus, you’ll discover strategies for addressing these issues at the individual, institutional, and sector levels.
DOWNLOADABLE GUIDES & REPORTS
Click-it: COVID-19 Direct Mail Fundraising Impact Reports [Download free data]. Merkle RMG has committed to publish data twice monthly on how the pandemic is impacting direct mail fundraising from 135 nonprofits whose data they process. It cuts across all industries, and you can see graphs showing what’s happening in whichever part of the social benefit sector you fall. This report covers transactions from February 1 through June 14, and compares them with the same period last year. There will be a new report on or around July 4.
Click-it: There Is No Going Back to Normal [Listen to on-demand talk]. Simon Sinek provides perspective on the times we’re in. It’s calming. This seems unprecedented, but it’s really nothing new. If you’re adaptable, you’ll be okay. Look at the assets you have, and figure out how to lead from strength.
Other Articles: The Beat Goes On
Click-it: A Fundraiser’s Most Valuable Prospect Research. I love this article from Penelope Burk, researcher and author of Donor-Centered Fundraising. It speaks to the power of influencers, and why you should use them sooner rather than later. You’ll retain more donors and generate larger gifts. And, yes, this means asking your board to make donor thank you calls!
Click-it: How to Think about Money and Your Job. This is an evergreen article, yet resonated with me differently in this time of so much discussion about inequity. Thought-provoking material, as always, from Richard Perry at The Veritus Group.
Online Social Marketing
Click-it: Your Social Media Strategy: What You Need to Know. The tips in this article from FlipCause apply at all times, but are perhaps more relevant than ever right now when folks feel disconnected. Did you know 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to? Learn how to more effectively engage supporters online. Right now, it’s all we have.
Click-it: How to Write an Impact Story that Moves Hearts & Minds. Some great reminders, specific tips and examples from Shari Rudolph, Good360.
Strategy and Leadership
Click-it: The Key to Making a Big Decision. Read this case example from Joan Garry, Nonprofits are Messy, dissecting the decision making process. It’s an interesting study of the roles of the CEO, executive committee and full board, and how things can go awry through poor communication.
Other Learning Opportunities
WEBINARS AND PODCASTS
Click-it: How to raise undesignated funds in your appeal letters. This week I published an article describing why you should ask for restricted gifts if you want to raise more money. You do, right? I showed how to do this in a manner that will also help you cover core operating expenses (see below where I list all my recent articles). Steven Screen, Work Less Raise More, goes at this from a different angle in this 5-minute video. The approaches are not exclusive, and can be combined.
Click-it: Validating–and Acting On–Screening Results [Register for free webinar, 7-27-2020]. Have you purchased donor analytics or predictive modeling, yet not really done anything with the information? The folks at Donor Search have some suggestions to get you on the fast track.
Click-it: How to Get Your Fundraising Engine in Working Order [Register for one or more free webinars, 7-20 to 7-27-2020]. Brian Saber, Asking Matters, has put together a series of four sessions designed to. What a valuable opportunity for anyone at your organization who has a responsibility to ask people for money!
Online Marketing and Fundraising
Click-it: It’s a New World: How to Cultivate Your Online Community [Register for free webinar 7-15-2020]. Join Angie Kubicek of Firespring to discover the secret sauce of cultivating a community of online donors primed and ready to support you. You’ll come away with 10 vital actions to cultivate a network eager to support you, and much more.
Click-it: Nailing Your Next Grant Proposal [Download free white paper]. Nonprofit PRO has assembled 4 ways to get grantmakers to say ‘Yes!’ to your nonprofit’s next grant application.
Click-it: 2020 Nonprofit Leadership Impact Study [Download free research paper]. Nonprofit PRO has put together this guide to help us understand how traditional nonprofit strategy meets today’s modern era. Included are: How to combat challenges brought on by a lack of resources; steps to ensure successful board development; prioritizing fundraising strategy, and investing in the right digital tools.
Did You Miss My Recent Articles?
Here are links to the most recent articles on the Clairification blog. I think you’ll find these fairly practical. Hope so!
- Stop Scolding Nonprofit Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts, Especially Now
- Fool-Proof Nonprofit Crisis Fundraising Communications Templates for Every Audience
- Let’s breathe in the trees… and get together soon
- Are You Unclear on the Concept of Why to Send a Nonprofit Fundraising Appeal?
- How Yucky Email Addresses – and Inhumanity — Hurt Your Nonprofit
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Photo of window sign found on walk in San Francisco. Series: ‘Signs of the Times.’