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To Be or Not to Be: What Goes in This Year’s Nonprofit Work Plan?

I’m wagering you’re too busy.

That means you’ve little space for adding new projects to your work plan for the coming year.

Never fear. Help is here!

First, let’s clear out some space.  

I’ve participated in many a planning session, and seldom do I recall – if ever – really focusing first on what we could stop doing to make room for new endeavors.  If this sounds familiar, you’re likely also familiar with the unfortunate consequences.

There are some things that really should not be part of your work plan moving forward. Or, at the very least, they should be pared down. Quite. A. Bit.

Here’s how you know you need, as Marie Kondo might say, to tidy up.

  • Do you try to stuff too much into your work plan and end up doing nothing as well as you’d like?
  • Do you allow daily clutter to crowd your inbox so you’re often responding to the little issues rather than the big ones?
  • Do you keep working on things that no longer have the payoff they once had, causing you to miss out on newer and more cost-effective opportunities?
  • Do you allow inertia to divert your focus towards ‘make work’ transactional stuff that satisfies your need to feel ‘busy,’ while you know it’s not really transformational work?
  • Have you allowed your job to become overloaded with tasks you don’t enjoy, to the point where you feel a bit like a lobster in a pot?

What if you were to look at your work plan this year from the KonMari perspective?

Time to Reframe How You Do Nonprofit Fundraising

Or else.

Reframing how you’ve done fundraising in the past is not optional.

It’s time for a change.

You must do it, because fundraising and nonprofit marketing have changed a LOT over the past ten years.  There is absolutely no denying this at this point. You need to adapt. Or suffer the consequences.

If you’re still doing the same exact things you did ten years ago, or even five years ago, it’s time to rethink. If you have leaders who doubt there’s a need for change, simply explain the reasons as I’ve outlined below:

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Donor-Centered Storytelling Boosts Fundraising. Period.

Donors are always a bit nervous about their investment in your nonprofit.  More than anything, they want to know what their hard-earned money is accomplishing!

Bloomerang found that 8% of donors failed to renew their giving specifically because they weren’t sure what their gifts accomplished.

THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN!

If you want more gifts, you must give them.

And in this article we’ll look at why stories can be the perfect donor gift!

For a lot of nonprofit insiders, this is a paradigm shift. Think about it.  I’m asking you to go from focusing on asking to focusing on giving.

Another way to consider this is to shift from focusing on selling to focusing on helping.

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Top 10 Nonprofit Monthly Recurring Gift Strategies

If a monthly giving program is not one of your key strategic annual fundraising strategies, this is the year you should add it to your development work plan.

Why?

It’s your secret to being sustainable, short-and long-term. Because recurring donors give more and stay more loyal over time.

These donors can become a reliable source of predictable annual revenue that minimizes stress and uncertainty.

This is something you should seriously consider, don’t you think?

And it’s really not rocket science.  It’s something you can and should do. And I’m about to give you a step-by-step process to help you maximize your annual contribution revenues.

Should you have any doubt that this will yield impressive results, take a look at

How Positive Feedback Boosts Nonprofit Fundraising

Recognition. Appreciation. Acknowledgment. Gratitude.

Psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, economists and historians have often studied and documented this phenomenon. It’s part of our quest for meaning and connection.

  • Darwin talked about “survival of the most loving.” Communities who took care of each other were the “fit” ones.  Similarly, those members most sensitive to group feedback survived. It’s difficult to make it alone.
  • Maslow talked about the need for love, community, esteem and self-actualized identification with a higher purpose.
  • Psychologist Matthew Lieberman, in “Social, Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect,” writes about how MRI scans reflect that our brains are hard-wired to respond to positive recognition from others.

I like the way

Reading on Laptop - How to Improve Your Nonprofit Newsletter

How to Improve Your Nonprofit Newsletter

Does your nonprofit have an email newsletter?

I’d rather see you rock a blog, but let’s talk a bit about your newsletter. Since you already have one, you may as well make it better.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

[BTW: If you don’t have an e-newsletter, go read the article above about creating and rocking a blog. Also read this. A blog can serve the purpose of an e-newsletter, and do so in a more donor-centric, user-friendly fashion. IMHO]

Okay. Back to improving your newsletter.

The real point of a newsletter is to stay top of mind with your supporters.

Why?

Because you want to keep them, of course!

Just like with any relationship, if the only time someone hears from you is when you want something from them, they’re not likely to stick around.

You need to woo them.

What Newsletters are For

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5 Strategies to Improve Nonprofit Use of Donor Data

I cannot tell you how many times I begin a consultation with a small nonprofit, only to discover they have no real donor database.

They’re still using Excel or Filemaker or something that was developed for the program or finance department many moons ago.

I also find many nonprofits that do have a decent fundraising database, but they aren’t really using it to their advantage.

It’s the equivalent of having a 747; then using it to drive down the block to the corner store.

If you’re not exactly maximizing the resources you have, or if you simply don’t have the resources you need, it’s going to adversely affect your fundraising results.

We live in an era of ‘Big Data.’ Which means that understanding why data is important, what data is most meaningful to you, and how to prioritize data collection and evaluation strategies to help you reach your goals has never been more important.

If your fundraising and marketing strategy is not currently undergirded by data, I guarantee you’re missing opportunities, working inefficiently and leaving money on the table.

Could you use a bit of guidance?

Read on…

The Best Online Strategies are Multi-Layered

Essential Strategies to Succeed with Online Fundraising Campaigns-Pt.2

In Part 1 of this two-part article I described the importance of:

  1. Beginning with your well-oiled content marketing engine and plan.
  2. Building an intentional donor-centered content marketing plan.
  3. Building an online fundraising campaign strategy that’s integrated with your content marketing plan.

Part 1 also included links to a lot of articles I’ve written previously about mastering online social fundraising. Some of them are on Clairification. Others are guest posts I’ve done for other blogs.

I truly, passionately, want you to master the integration of a robust online communications and fundraising strategy with an equally robust offline strategy. In our digitally revolutionized world, they are two halves of a whole.

You need to rock them both.

Today we’re going to layer on with some other important essentials if you want to succeed with your online fundraising.

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Essential Strategies to Succeed with Online Fundraising Campaigns-Pt.1

I’ve written a lot over the past several years about why mastering online social fundraising is critical to nonprofit success (e.g., here and here, just as starters).

A bit later in this article I’ll give you a link to a mini-guide for nonprofit online social fundraising. It really boils down to taking charge of the “customer experience” — which is a huge meme du jour in the for-profit world today.

If you need to persuade someone about why this is important, you can read up about how the digital revolution has changed the way people are influenced to give in Penelope Burk’s Cygnus Research studies from the past several years. Here are some of the indisputable truths:

I could go on and on about the why, but I’m going to assume if you’re reading this article you’re already sold.  You know you need to do this better than you’re doing it now.  You’re just not sure how.

A heartfelt story to tell

5 Guaranteed Ways to Raise Money Through Storytelling

Storytelling today is ‘hot.’

And why not?  It’s the fundamental human activity – we even talk to ourselves!

We tell ourselves stories all the time to inspire, goad, cheerlead and persuade.

“I’ve been knocked down, but I’ll pick myself up.”

“This cake will be even better than my mother-in-law’s.”

“The deck seems stacked against me, but I’m going to fight; I’m going to win.”

“Tomorrow will be a better day.”

Storytelling is something people naturally gravitate to. We’re wired that way.

Stories connect the dots.

They are the connective tissue that turns otherwise random acts into important sequences. Stories invite us in. When we add our own imagination, stories begin to acquire personal relevance.

Does this sound like something that might be useful for your content marketing strategy?

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.

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: Cauldron Full of Free Nonprofit Resources

It’s almost Halloween, and a great time to think about how not to scare your donors away; rather, give them treats that will keep ‘em coming back year after year! Here are links to articles you may find helpful.

Plus, as usual, you’ll find a cauldron full of free resources – downloadable templates, webinars, cheat sheets, and more.  Take some time to continue your professional growth and education. It will make you stronger, I promise. Share with others on your staff too; there’s something for everyone!

Clairity Click-it: Basket of Delightful Nonprofit Resources

Here are some goodies to help you raise as much money as possible during the last quarter of the calendar year! Keep your focus on inspiring storytelling that sets you apart from everyone else, yet don’t forget that who you tell your story to matters as much as how you tell it.  As does where you disseminate it (hopefully not just by snail mail, but also online and face to face). Click on these links to helpful articles I hope will delight you.

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: Fall Extravaganza of Free Nonprofit Resources

It’s mid-September and we’re well on the way towards the year-end rush of “giving season!” Now it’s time to get serious about end-of-calendar-year fundraising.  It’s when folks are most generous, and you don’t want to miss out.  So while I’ll continue to offer links to articles and resources aligned with my top Dive the Fivefundraising fundamentals for 2016, and beyond, I’ll also include some practical, basic stuff that falls a bit outside these categories.

It’s all good stuff and, as usual, plenty of free resources too. I count seven freebies, and 17 great articles! I dare you not to find something you can use right now.

Clairity Click-it Long Week-End: Bounty of Free Nonprofit Resources

Welcome back from summer – at least for my North of the Equator friends.  I hope you had the opportunity to read through some of the resources I offered up in my Summer Click-it Extravaganza.  If not, there’s still time over this long week-end.

Now it’s time to get serious about end-of-calendar-year fundraising.  It’s when folks are most generous, and you don’t want to miss out.  So while I’ve continued to offer links to articles and resources aligned with my top Dive the Fivefundraising fundamentals for 2016, and beyond, I’ve also included practical, basic stuff that falls a bit outside these categories.  It’s all good stuff and, as usual, plenty of free resources too.

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!

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: 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!

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Be Clairaudient to Make Your Nonprofit Donors Happy

Ever hear of “A.Word.A.Day” with Anu Garg?  I hadn’t. Until a friend recently shared with me that day’s word. She said, “this one’s all about you!” The word?

Clairaudience.

It’s a perfect word for fundraisers, because it’s precisely what you must do – a skill you absolutely must have – if you’re to succeed with sustainable fundraising.

It means the ability to hear what is in people’s hearts and minds. 

It’s a lot like clairvoyance, but it brings in the audience perception. It’s the ability to “hear” what is inaudible — by getting a read on what folks are thinking and feeling on the inside. Despite what they may reveal on the outside.

Guess who is good at this?

#ClairityClick-it: Major Gifts, Donor Retention, Online Social Fundraising + Free Resources

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesHope you enjoy these links, free resources and training opportunities. Usually I publish this on Friday, but it’s Spring Break and holiday week for many, so I’m on a wacky schedule. Again, I’ve organized according to three of the top 5 areas I’m hoping you’re working on improving this year.  This week it’s

  1. Major Gifts
  2. Donor Retention
  3. Online Social Fundraising

#ClairityClick-it – Links, Free Resources, Upcoming Training

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resources#ClairityClick-it is a bi-monthly publication linking to useful resources and insights I find across the web.  This year I’m also selecting articles that highlight the “Dive the Five” 2016 fundraising fundamentals we’re collectively digging into in depth over the course of this year. For more on this, read Want to Guarantee Fundraising Success? Dive These 5 Fundamentals on NonProfit Pro. Of course, I’ll add in other food for thought that I just can’t help but share with you as I come across it. As always, if you scroll to the bottom you’ll find some free resources and upcoming learning opportunities.

Clairity Click-it: 5 Fundraising Fundamentals; Free Resources

Clairity Click-it includes links to fundraising and nonprofit marketing resources from around the web.

The people have spoken! You’d like more original articles from me, and you still want curated resources and links to free stuff and great training opportunities, and you’d like about the same number of emails.

So… I’m moving the “Click-it” to twice/month to make space for more original articles.  And, as promised, this year I’ll be organizing the curated resources according to the “Dive the Five” fundamental principles we’ll be discussing in our ongoing virtual fundraising curriculum. Nail these, and you’ll succeed in 2016. As a reminder, they’re:

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Successful Storytelling: 5 Foolproof Ways to Raise Money

Content is the heart of your successful fundraising strategy.

If you don’t sell it, you won’t connect with your audience.

And if you don’t connect with your audience, you haven’t got a snowball’s chance in you know where to persuade folks to give to you to further your mission.

This is where learning to become a master storyteller comes in.

I know you’ve heard this before. Storytelling is the meme du jour.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay real attention.

We’re in a content marketing zeitgeist.

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What Your Donors Won’t Tell You about Your Nonprofit Newsletter

Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?
Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?

It’s boring them to tears.

Actually, let me rephrase. Not to tears. That would mean they’re feeling an emotional connection. Sadly, they’re not.

Most donor newsletters are boring to the point of numbness.

You’re not making the impact you need to make to keep your donors, let alone get them to give more the next time you ask.

Why?

Let me tell you what I learned from Penelope Burk, Donor-Centered Fundraising author, about 15 years ago. It fundamentally changed the way I communicate with donors.

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Your Essential 16-Point Annual Appeal Checklist

Your 16-Point Fundraising Appeal Checklist
Get Your 16-Point Checklist Here and Take Your Fundraising Appeal to New Heights

Are you starting to worry about whether you’ll raise enough money this year to meet your goals? Are you concerned because last year’s appeal didn’t raise as much as you had hoped? Are you fresh out of ideas for what to put into an appeal to generate the giving response you need to sustain vital programs?  Fear not!  Help is on the way!  Just use this 16-point checklist before you send anything to your printer.

Clairity Click-it: Philanthropists; Creative Stuff: YouTube, Twitter, Visuals; Thanking

Happy Friday the 13th! It’s my lucky day – both I and my son were born on Friday the 13th – so I feel only good things can happen today. Speaking of which, I’ve got some lovely “feel good” goodies for you today. Since “Heart Day” is tomorrow, let’s start with philanthropy – meaning “love of humankind.” Then I’ve got some fun social media and creative stuff to help you really stick out in the minds of your constituents.

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6 Best Ways to Make Storytelling Part of Your Nonprofit Culture

How do you fill the brains of your staff, volunteers and donors with stories about your organization?
What better way to talk about accomplishments your donors make possible than through stories that portray them as heroes?

Everyone loves a good story. Everyone.

Which is why storytelling should be at the heart of your nonprofit’s strategic communications. I know ‘storytelling’ is a meme du jour. But that’s no reason to ignore it. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! There’s a reason these phrases become buzzworthy. In this case, because you want to serve up content that’s relevant, attractive and accessible to your constituencies. Storytelling fits the bill better than anything else.

In fact, of all the content you can create, storytelling is your ultimate weapon and the most powerful means of communicating your message.

Let’s look at this a different way.

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Check Your Next Appeal Letter Against This 16-Point List Before Sending

Are you starting to worry about whether you’ll raise enough money this year to meet your goals?

Are you concerned because last year’s appeal didn’t raise as much as you had hoped?

Are you fresh out of ideas for what to put into an appeal to generate the giving response you need to sustain vital programs?

Fear not!  Help is on the way!  Just use this 16-point checklist before you send anything to your printer.

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What Nonprofits Can Learn About Donor Retention from David Letterman

If you’re not using social media to get and retain more donors, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Social media has ceased to be a nice little “toy.”  An “add on thing.”  It’s the thing. If you’re not hanging out where the majority of your constituents are getting their information, you may as well fold up your tent and go home.  David Letterman didn’t “do social media.”    ( See “Do you use the Twitter device?” ).  He’s going home.

Letterman  may be ready to go off into the sunset. But you shouldn’t be. You can learn new tricks!

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ONE BIG THING Your Nonprofit Must Do TODAY to Succeed in 2014

Adopt an integrated inbound marketing and fundraising strategy.

If you don’t know what that means, you’re in trouble. Read on.

If you do know, are you really doing it?

It’s time to stop pussy footing around this.

Here’s why:

(1) Nonprofit marketing and fundraising have changed more in the past five years than the preceding 50. I’m not kidding!  The digital revolution ended business as usual.

(2) Fundraising and marketing must be seamlessly integrated. They cannot be separate silos any longer.

Have you caught up with reality?

Clairity Click-it: Best of 2013, Move Forward, Never Apologize for Asking

 

Have you made your new year’s resolutions and picked at least one thing you’ll do differently or better in 2014? Here are some great posts to set yourself up for success in the coming year.

TOP 5 Clairification articles from 2013: In case you missed any of these, here are the five articles that generated the most interest and readers over the past 12 months.  Enjoy!