Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Friday, October 20, 2017

List or no list?

For many years I would listen to fellow fundraisers and leaders in the non-profit world talk about their lists. It's how they were successful in planning their days and weeks, and they would speak enthusiastically about how making lists of tasks helped them be successful.

I never understood, or at least I never allowed myself to understand.

Last year I organically created a list. I wasn't thinking about it and hadn't made a decision to make the list, it just happened. It was a Friday morning and I wanted to make sure I finished certain projects before leaving for the weekend.

I got excited. The list kept me engaged and focused. A little more focused than usual. Before I headed to a lunch appointment I looked it over to see how I was doing. On my way home that day I smiled thinking about a hugely productive day.

Sometimes I need a simple reminder. Sometimes I need to take a hard look at everything I have said yes to. And sometimes I just need to know that I am on track.

Lists have helped me. Yes, I have changed my mind! These days I create one on Monday morning for the week. It includes team ideas, donor actions, event goals, time for board members, and time to be off email. Oh wait, that's for another post!

Are you a list person? I would love to hear more ideas!

Thank you for reading!

Monday, October 16, 2017


Not that word!

It's time we talked about this. Procrastination is taking our best efforts and turning them upside down.

I should speak for myself. Yet knowing many of you and having had honest conversations with you has led me to this post.

It is difficult to believe that we are already in mid-October. As a non-profit fundraiser, this means that I am at the start of my year-end fundraising plan. Fortunately I did not procrastinate about this, nor did my team. We were up and running ahead of time and all systems are go for everything we want to do between now and the last day of the calendar year.

It doesn't always work out this way, especially on a more personal level. Day to day actions I wanted to take that I put off. By mid-week I am under water and by Friday I can't believe it's already the end of the week as I look at all of those tasks that have not been completed.

Typically they are simple tasks, ones that wouldn't take more than a few minutes: a quick report, a touch-base with a vendor or donor, re-reading emails, doing a quick budget or doing a quick social media post. These action items add up during the week, especially if I put them off one moment for another time.

My personal worst is with email. Read an email, take action, delete it or file it. Pretty simple. This morning I have way too many emails in my box that I have read but are still somehow just hanging out. The more they add up the more I want to put them off. To be clear, not to put them off in regards to reading them, as I have read them all, but to take action on them and delete or file. I see that some I have even taken action on!

I wish procrastination only affected my email but that's not the case. It truly lives everywhere, as long as I allow it. And as long as it is present, I am not being as successful as I can be and not having as much impact as I want to have.

As simple as the solution is, here you go: Just do it. Yes, Nike has it correct. Based on personal experience, you will feel so much better about everything if you just start knocking out projects and taking action. I guarantee it. I can do that because I have experienced this and my best days are days when nothing could stop me and I simply went from one task to the next. It's possible to not let procrastination win!

I hope this helps!

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Is LinkedIn helpful?

Like many parts of social media, LinkedIn seems to have it's positive and negative moments for people. I recently have seen some peers in non-profit fundraising post about their challenges with LinkedIn and after reading all of the comments on their posts (by far negative) I thought I would share some of my experiences.

Just to be clear, I'm not an employee of LinkedIn nor am I paid to write positive things about them.

I have been on LinkedIn for many years. Two years ago I decided that I wanted more from LinkedIn and decided to put more effort in it. Before creating strategy around that I decided to clean it up. I wanted to be connected with people I actually knew, people in my field (non-profit development and fundraising) and people in fields I could collaborate with (corporate leaders, recruiters, activists). This took a while as it was before one could delete from the profile. I had to go through each profile and decide if there was relationship or partnership potential there.

All of that time totally paid off. I ended up deleting almost half of all of my connections, quickly realizing that I had too many connections with people I didn't know and couldn't think of how we could benefit each other.

I started fresh. My goals include building relationships with people in my field, those who I can learn from and those who I potentially might want to work with one day. Another goal is to engage with people and businesses who might want to partner with me and the non-profit I work for. By partner I mean that they get something out of the relationship and we get something out of the relationship, not just me as a non-profit wanting them to donate and then see you later. A true partnership. Finally, and this can be inclusive of the partnership part, I want to engage with the community around the children served by my non-profit, specifically who we are as a non-profit and why we need to exist.

In other words being on LinkedIn for me can't be all about me.

Additionally, like all of social media and most things that end up being good for you in regards to goals, I need to work it. Seriously work it. That doesn't mean being on LinkedIn 24/7. It simply means that I need to be proactive if I want results or if I want to feel it's worth my while. On LinkedIn that means adding posts and articles that might benefit my connections and/or my goals, liking peoples posts, engaging with their posts (writing a comment), introducing people and sharing job openings/searches.

In the last two years my LinkedIn experience has totally changed. I hope what I have shared can be helpful to you! My LinkedIn profile is here if you would like to check it out.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Another silent auction?

You're planning your next fundraising event and it is up to you and your team to decide on whether or not there will be a silent auction.

Last year there was. And the year before.

Everyone complains about the time and energy that have been put into the silent auctions, and you think that maybe the time has come to pass on the idea.

As a fundraiser and as someone who loves a good (note: good) silent auction, I say go for it.

These are a few things I incorporate that will make your next silent auction rock without affecting your budget or draining you and your team:

Create a budget of how much you want to net.

As you secure items, add a conservative value to them, meaning how much you think you will get.

Build partnerships and relationships with those who donate items just as you would with those who donate money.

People (including myself) love bidding on experiences. Think of a staycation or a super-sweet place to stay that is a short distance away.

If you're thinking of a trip further away, it's not easy securing airline tickets and I have found that if an incredible package including lodging can be created then you don't necessarily need airfare. Sometimes the tickets get in the way of how your donor wants to do their trip.

You might be thinking that all of this is great but your organization doesn't have an event where you could do a silent auction. No worries! Create one online! I recently bid on a few items for an online auction supporting Second Wind Fund in Lakewood, CO. I honestly don't even know if they had an event associated with it. They may have, but the auction was complete without anything else.

Lastly, please know that I am fully aware that this takes time. I can't give you that. I can tell you that it's possible to plan and execute a successful silent auction without it being a complete drain on staff and volunteers. Perhaps that is another blog post!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Reignite your fundraising: donor communications

Whenever I am at a conference or meetings about fundraising and non-profit development, donor communications is always a topic. Great ideas and solutions are shared and everyone seems to leave with a list of initiatives they will work on when they get back to their organization.

And then everyone gets busy. Many of those wonderful ideas are left as notes and don't become reality.

As we reignite our fundraising, here are two opportunities:

First, consider that simply thanking a donor isn't enough if you want to build a relationship with them and create a long-term desire to support your organization. Actions you can take include a phone call to your donor upon receiving a donation; adding a personal note on the thank you letter (and please sign the letter, don't use a stamped signature!); ask you CEO or a board member to follow up with a phone call to thank. Then, you can really take the relationship to another level by letting them know how you spent their donation!

Yes, a few months after their donation let them know how you spent it. That makes all of the difference in the world to your donor.

Second, create a very personal communication between you and a group of your donors. Mine is a monthly impact email I send to major donors. Directly from me to them, very short, containing information that lets them know how their giving impacts our mission. This has been very well received by donors and has allowed me to engage them on a higher level.

Don't let the communication stop there. Check in every once in a while. Ensure that the only time you are speaking with them is not when asking them to consider their next donation.

More ideas to come!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Shout out to non-profit fundraisers!!!

This is a big shout out to all of those professional non-profit development fundraisers out there!

Non-profit development folks rock this world. Every day they build relationships and connect visions so program people at non-profits can change the world and make it a better place.

I'm talking about those development professionals who are filled with passion and purpose and bring it everyday for the benefit of their non-profit.

I am honored to be in your company and grateful for the work you do.

If you are in non-profit leadership, on a non-profit board, a non-profit recruiter or a donor, take a minute to thank the fundraiser you work with. It goes a long way!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Passion with purpose means successful fundraising

What are you passionate about?

One of the traits I immediately see when looking at someone I consider to be an amazing fundraiser is the amount of passion they have for the cause they fundraise for.

It makes sense. Work for an agency that serves in an area that you are very passionate about and your passion is bound to support your fundraising efforts. This has certainly proven true for myself. Yet it's also true that passion alone might not be enough. I also need purpose.

There are many in our field who are in fundraising for some other purpose other than being able to allow their non-profit mission to totally rock.. Perhaps they believe it's a good stepping stone to something else or perhaps they needed a break from the corporate world and this position fits for them at this time. These scenarios don't really benefit the agency, and they could detract from successful fundraising. There is little we as fundraising professionals can do about this except ask more questions when hiring and keep the passion alive on our teams.

I would personally much rather have someone on my team who is hugely passionate about the cause, and whose constant actions and thinking will be focused and purposeful on the success of their work, not thinking into the future about what might come next. Focus is huge in fundraising.

I have met all types of fundraisers since I entered this world and those making the biggest change have passion and purpose.

Just something to think about when considering a new staff member or when thinking about what makes for success in fundraising.

It's also something to think about when you are thinking about a move. It's always something good to consider when taking a look at yourself in the mirror, whether for a new position or your current one.

Thanks for reading!