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
Do you want to risk not receiving generous gifts you could have otherwise received, just because you failed to go the extra mile to share relevant, useful and even critical information? Or because you just did the most basic things, failing to do what would have made your communications really stand out?
The Genuine Job of the Philanthropy Facilitator
Your job as a philanthropy facilitator is to do everything in your power to make giving to you as easy, joyful and rewarding as possible.
Doing everything meansDetails
No nonprofit can afford to be an island.
As tempting as it may be to stay in your comfort zone, wearing blinders that enable you to forge straight ahead without noticing what’s going on around you, this is a dangerous practice.
Because sometimes the landscape changes dramatically. And when it does, your nonprofit could get left behind. Unless you’re paying close attention.
This has been happening a lot over the past six years or so, as news and social media has been filling our brains, stoking our fears and tugging at our heartstrings as if from a firehose. People who care, when they see devastation and misery, want to help.
This happens, for instance, when emergencies arise. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Floods. Fires. Drought. War. Over the course of my four decades in fundraising, there have been years I’ve had donors tell me “This year we’re giving all our extra resources to respond to… Hurricane Katrina… Haiti relief… the Fukushima disaster… the refugee crisis… anti-hate organizations… .” The list goes on an on.
In the face of such natural human impulses, what can you do?
When things outside your nonprofit’s doors portend impact for your ability to fulfill your mission, you need to be prepared.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
Early in my career a mentor taught me something I never forgot: You’re not being strategic unless you diversify your sources of revenue! Even though you may be sitting pretty right now, with a preponderance of funding coming from one or two major sources that seem dependable, you can’t assume this will always be the case. It’s…Details
Your organization won’t survive and thrive with only great fundraising technicians. You—and the entire social benefit sector—need organizational-development-grounded philanthropic facilitators. In fact, you need a team – maybe an entire village – filled with them!
This is what it looks like in a culture of philanthropy. And it involves more feelings than tangibles. What does it feel like where you work?
Your organization’s culture can make or break your fundraising – and just about everything else. If you don’t foster a culture in which people want to work, great professionals won’t apply for, or stick with, jobs. You have to be intentional in creating a culture that attracts, retains and grows professionals. The kind who will inevitably build sustaining relationships with supporters.
Here are some things you can do to build a true philanthropic culture.
Say what the culture is, get buy-in; demonstrate it.
To foster an authentic values-based organizational culture, you must first identify and write down the main beliefs that make up the culture. This can be simple – as little as a sentence or single paragraph – but this written manifestation of the culture you want to foster is critical to helping people understand the culture.
Here are some questions to ask yourself or, better yet, to do as a group exercise with a team of staff and/or board.Details
Fundraising is too often seen, at best, as a ‘necessary evil.’
When viewed this way, folks – staff and volunteers alike – understandably prefer not to touch it with a 10-foot pole. Who wants to place themselves on the side of ‘evil?’
But that’s not what fundraising is at all.
The tagline for my business, Clairification, is “philanthropy, not fundraising.” I often talk to folks about how the word philanthropy comes from the Greek and translates into “love of humankind.” Nothing evil about that!
In fact, if you ask folks to throw out the first word that comes to mind when you say ‘fundraising,’ and then ask them to do the same when you say ‘philanthropy,’ you’ll see it breaks down pretty neatly between good and evil.
Why it’s Important to Reframe Fundraising
If you’re coming at fundraising from the perspective of ‘necessary evil’ or ‘no pain, no gain,’ you’re never going to be effective. Especially when it comes to asking individuals, one-to-one, for passionate gifts.
As long as you hate it, donors will be able to tell you hate it. I call this wallowing in the pain. Never a good approach. Distaste for asking begets distaste for giving. It’s done grudgingly, not passionately.
When donors can sense you’d rather be doing anything else than asking them for a gift, guess what happens? They follow your lead! In other words, they feel they’d rather be doing anything else than making a gift.
But there’s more to reframing fundraising so it’s seen as a really, truly good thing.
I like to reframe it thusly:
- It’s a responsibility.
- It’s a privilege.
- It’s an opportunity.
Fundraising is a Responsibility
If you’re fortunate enough to be a successful nonprofit, this means you’re helping solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.Details
What motivates someone to make a major philanthropic gift?
Generally it takes one or more meaningful conversations with a donor who (you hope!) may contemplate a gift to your organization. At some point you’ll be ready to make them an offer you hope they won’t be able to refuse. But how do you develop their interest and passion to the point where they’re willing and ready to enact them? Today I’m suggesting it’s actually pretty simple, as long as you truly understand the process of what the nonprofit sector has come to call “development.”
To get folks to “YES” you simply need to learn the language of gift planning!
It’s not just about HOW people give, but WHY.
Planning is the operative word. Alas, when many folks talk about ‘planned giving’ it’s a term that’s come to mean giving vehicles. Often it’s just about deferred giving vehicles. Most donors don’t think this way. Rather, they consider how they want to help. They concern themselves with the best ways to enact their values. This may mean an outright gift today or a deferred gift tomorrow. Or both. Form follows function. So thinking in terms of gift vehicles is a decidedly non-donor-centric way of framing things.
People making bequests or gifts in trust often visit legal and financial advisors. So we think of this more as “planning” mode. And we ask “planned gift officers” to work with these folks. This isn’t wrong, but it’s not as right as it could be if you approached the donor’s giving decision more expansively.
In othe words, major gift officers are also planned giving officers.
Anyone who contemplates a major, or stretch, outright gift plans ahead.
No one gets up one morning and decides spontaneously to give away $100,000.
Or let’s just stipulate it’s relatively rare.
Rather, would-be philanthropists consider how making a particular gift at a particular point in time may match their values and help them accomplish their objectives, personal and philanthropic.
It’s seldom a spur of the moment action.
For purposes of this gift planning article, let’s consider your audience to be prospective major (outright) and legacy (deferred) gift donors.
Let’s try an experiment.Details
I’ve written about some of the new charitable deduction opportunities included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed on March 27, 2020 before. But a recent post shared by Greg Warner of Market Smart — Dr. Russell James’ tips to help donors give wisely before this year ends — plus a recent conversation with a financial advisor, reminded me it’s a very good time to share with you again.
You see, there are several things that will impact donor deductions – THIS YEAR ONLY. It’s good for you to be aware of these as a fundraiser, because making your supporters mindful of these opportunities may lead to them making more, and larger, gifts to your organization.
Of course, you’re not in the business of offering legal, tax or financial advice. And it’s easier to tell yourself donors’ own advisors will likely tell them about these new provisions. And that “this isn’t really your responsibility.” Yet…
Not all of your donors have their own accountants or financial advisors.
And not all tax advisors are up to snuff, especially when it comes to charitable deductions. Do you want to risk not receiving generous gifts you could have otherwise received, just because you’re too lazy to share this useful information?
The Genuine Job of the Philanthropy Facilitator
Sorry about using that “L” word, but too many fundraisers (IMHO) don’t 100% understand their job as a philanthropy facilitator. Do you?
Your job is to do everything within your power to make giving easy, joyful and meaningful for your supporters. Everything. Doing everything meansDetails