Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rock it in January!

Sometimes I think January can be the new November.

Or whichever the second-biggest fundraising month is for you.

Several years ago I began making a concerted effort to spend the last few days of the year connecting with as many donors from the previous year who had not yet given during the current year.

Of course that type of effort can really happen all year, and in my development office it does. Still there are those who really don't respond until the end of the year.

The first year I did this we reached out to hundreds of donors. Many board members helped with calls and it made for a lot of excitement at the end of the year.

What I learned was not only did we increase giving for the last week of the year, but because of all of the connections and conversations January became our second-biggest fundraising month of the year!

In a fundraising world where everyone is always so "busy", our best successes can come from simply doing what we do best: engage with donors.

This year our team is all set to to completely engage the last two days of the year. We will be full force with lists and email addresses and phone numbers all ready to ensure that every donor has an opportunity to support us before the end of the year.

Between the phone calls, two email blasts and a gorgeous postcard that landed the day after Christmas, my hope is that we are definitely on people's minds as they consider a year end gift.

And it doesn't end at midnight on the 31st. On January 2nd we are right back, engaging, answering questions, thanking, expressing our gratitude. By the first full week in January we have the opportunity to connect with people about our upcoming Gala, our goals for the new year, our excitement of successes in the past month and pretty much anything that will help us engage with our donors.

Happy New Year! My wish is that 2014 is filled with peace, love and more passion for fundraising!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Year end giving

If you are like me, you might be wondering how the heck did we already arrive to mid December?

I mean seriously, wasn't I just on my summer vacation?

What happened to fall?

And is Christmas really only two weeks away?

If you are also like me, and a fundraiser, your winter/year end appeal mailed over five weeks ago. You have sent out a ton of thank you letters and you have sent out a friendly reminder to those who have not yet responded to your appeal.

I always look forward to the last couple weeks of the year. For me it means a lot of conversations with donors and the opportunity to share my excitement about our mission and the successes and challenges we are having with people we are in relationship with.

It's an exciting time. It can be stressful, but doesn't have to be.

If I have rocked it during the year, meaning if I have built relationships with donors, reached out to lapsed donors, thanked everyone promptly and have told them how we spent their money, then the last couple of weeks of the year can really be spent just checking in with people.

Yes, Ms. Jones, I also can't believe it's already almost the end of the year. Time not only flies for you, it also flies for your donors. Many people I speak with just can't believe that I am speaking with them about the year end campaign.

Have fun. Engage with your donors. Don't stress. Each conversation creates a stronger relationship for you and your organization.

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Would someone please return my phone call?

Getting a message like this is a fundraisers worst nightmare.

Well, one of them. At least to me.

As one who works daily to build strong relationships, when I hear a message like this I cringe. It doesn't say much about the value of a relationship when a donors call or email is not answered quickly.

On my team, our rule is within 24 hours. Return a call or respond to an email within 24 hours. Of course a call that came in at 5pm on Friday means a Monday return. I'm not crazy. I'm simply paying attention to building a lifelong relationship with our donors.

It is critical. It says a lot when you return a call quickly. It says even more when it takes you a couple of days.

I know, you're busy. So is your donor.

Return a call soon. Respond to an email soon. This will change your relationships with donors for the better. They know you're busy so the quick reply means even more.

While I'm on the subject I'll share a few other ways I like to communicate with donors.

Every Monday I change my voice mail. I let folks know which days of that week I am in and which days I'm not in. I would like to get to changing my voice mail every day yet for know the weekly change works.

I use my "out of office" for email not only when I am out for a day or more, but also on days when I know I am going to be slammed.

I also have sued my "out of office" email to support a campaign. For instance, leaving a message that says "I hope you received our Winter Appeal. If you didn't please let me know." can remind a donor to make their donation or entice someone to ask about donating.

A lot rides on our being successful in relationship building. The entire mission of our non-profit depends on our success. The people we serve depends on it.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Relationships are the key

I use the "R" word a lot.

Peers on my fundraising team have heard this word so much that they incorporate it into many of their conversations and actions.

Fundraising isn't about a check. It's not about a response to a direct mail appeal or a company saying that they will purchase a table at your annual Gala.

Fundraising is all about relationships.

Having a problem with lapsed donors? You wouldn't be  alone. Many non-profits aren't even paying attention to those donors who once used to financially support the organization but for some reason stopped.

Having a challenge with taking a one-time donation to a long-term donor? I wonder how many non-profits are even paying attention to this.

Fundraisers are vital to the mission of a non-profit. I hear all of the time that fundraisers are too busy to do this or that. Too busy to call a donor. Too busy to actually sign a thank you letter. Yes, I was honestly shocked when I received a thank you letter letter from a local major non-profit I had donated to and the signature was pre-printed on the letter. Seriously?

We cannot be so busy that we don't make time for relationships. Relationships are the key to any fundraising successes we will have.

And you have time for them!

Every donor receives a tax letter/thank you letter. Call them the second you receive their donation!

Send something to a new donor. Perhaps a note signed by the board or perhaps an invite for a tour.

Use all of your social media to thank a corporate sponsor.

Sign every thank you letter. Add an additional note.

Call a few donors every week. Not for an ask, just to check in.

Build relationships. You won't regret it.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The "What can you do for me?" relationship

I work for an organization that serves youth experiencing homelessness and youth on the verge of experiencing homelessness. We serve in in every way, from bringing food, clean underwear and other necessities to them wherever they are on the streets to providing emergency shelter, GED training, transitional housing, employment training and placement, case management, mental health services and so much more.

Some mornings I have to step over youth you have camped out overnight in front of our door way as I make my way into our building. The youth we serve come from trauma-filled lives, lives that have included sexual trafficking, drugs, alcohol, sexual, physical and verbal abuse and many things that you just don't want to read about right now.

Fortunately, there are thousands of people, companies, places of faith, foundations, civic groups and governments that want to support the youth we serve. These folks support us in so many ways. They might have different reasons for supporting us (every donor has their own very personal reason for supporting us) and in the end they all wish to give hope to the hopeless and a voice to the voiceless through our organization.

If you have been in fundraising for some time, you might be able to relate to what comes next.

Then there are those people who call me or send me an email, and I get at least one of these a week, and begin by saying how much they love our organization and then quickly move into wanting to do something "for the kids". I know that they mean the youth we serve who are ages 15 -24. They want their group to meet our youth, they want to "help" our youth, etc., etc.

I call this masking.

Someone masks as one you really wants to help our organization, and after being presented with the myriad of ways they can do that, passes on all of them.

They really want something from us. They want to know if we can support them.

A recent caller wanted to help, had never been here, and couldn't make time to come down to see what we do. Too busy.

I get that. We are all busy. Seriously.

If you want to make a difference in the world and support a non-profit, make sure that your support is unconditional in that you have considered this and truly want to support the non-profit, without any benefit for you. Businesses and organizations that want to purchase  table sponsorship for an event or sponsor an entire event obviously probably want to get something out that and when someone is donating $10,000+ I want to make sure they get something too.

Volunteering for a non-profit and financially supporting a non-profit changes the world. We need more people who want to change the world with us and less people who want to know what non-profits can do for them without care of who a non-profit serves.

Thank you so much for reading!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Is your year-end appeal out?

I am already getting year-end appeals in the mail at home.

Hopefully, your agency's appeal is either already out or is at least at the printer.

Mine is at the printer. My goal is always to have it mailed the first week of November, yet creativity got in my way and it took a little longer.

I have learned over the years that an annual appeal needs to go out in early November. There are those that send it in late October which I think is great too. Gone are the days when a year-end appeal is mailed the first week of December.

So your appeal is out and you're done, right? No way!

Follow up is crucial for a successful appeal. I realize that is you are mailing to 10,000 folks, connecting with all of them after they have received the appeal would be nearly impossible. Our year-end appeal is going to 1900 donors. One week after the appeal mailed we start calling donors to make sure they received the appeal. Just another touching point. We do this with volunteers, and it makes a huge difference. No ask, just confirmation that they received our appeal and asking if they have any questions.

Then, the first or second week of December we send a reminder to donors who have not yet replied to the appeal. The reminder is a colorful postcard bringing a friendly reminder.

Board calls? You bet. Board members can help by calling donors, especially their friends. Another idea is to have the printer drop off all of the appeals before they are made and invite board members to come by and write a personal note. This of course would have to happen in October if you want your appeal out by the first week of November.

I would love to hear what you're doing for your year-end appeal!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Keeping my eyes on the prize

We have all heard this before.

In fundraising, the prize is our budget. We have to ensure that our agency (or whoever we are fundraising for) gets to the amount of revenue that is in the budget.

I do that by constantly creating, growing, nurturing and sometimes letting go of relationships.

Relationships are key to the success of my development plan and to my goal of getting to the prize. When I put focus and energy into relationships, challenges I seem to be having go away.

When I lose focus and start getting bat crazy about this thing or that thing or this person or that person, I totally take my eyes off of the prize.

I do this a lot. Not all of the time and certainly not most of the time, but I do get drawn in to drama, sometimes drama of my own making. There is honestly no place in fundraising for drama. It is toxic.

Less drama, more eyes on the prize.

Get that year end appeal out.

Thank the donors who donated yesterday.

Meet with my team about what we are all working on, even though we just met a couple of days ago.

Call a donor just to chat.

Put some time into the fundraising dinner.

Ask team members if they need any of my support to ensure success in what they are working on.

There are many things we have no control over as fundraisers. In the end, we have to raise money. In the end it's the relationships we have created that matter.

Now you've seen what my list is to keep my eyes on the prize. What does your list look like?

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

We fundraisers have to be nice

Being nice pays off. And for many of us, it's just the right thing to do.

When I was laid off in January and in the midst of a job search, I would say this often. I seriously felt that being nice to people had paid off for me as I had so much much support and so many invitations to interview. Sure, I feel that I am a great fundraiser, but who wants to hire someone good at something if they are not a good person?

In fundraising one would just assume that fundraisers are nice. At least to donors.

Unfortunately that is not always the case.

It doesn't take a lot of energy to be nice. I actually believe it takes more energy to not be nice.

So what does being nice look like?

Respect everyone. Donors, staff, clients, volunteers.

Rock it with real kindness. To everyone I just listed above.

Do what you say you're going to do. If you can't do something, don't say you will.

Return a call or email within the same day.

Say thank you. Say it often.

Don't judge. We never really know what is going on with someone. I try to allow folks to have tough moments, offering any help is always good to.

Assume the best intent. Not easy, and it totally makes a difference.

Now that I have written all of this I realize that we all know when we're showing kindness and being nice and when we're not. It's pretty clear.

Our kindness pays off big time. It pays of for us, for our non-profit, for our mission and for those we serve.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Talk with your donors!

This past week I got yet another call from a nice guy who works for a fundraising company and wanted me to talk about hiring them to help us with our donors, especially with retaining donors and finding new donors.

There are a lot of companies out there who do an amazing job in supporting fundraising efforts for non profits.

But there are some things that you just have to do for yourselves. 

If you are fearful of speaking with your donors, of getting to know them and their vision for your non profit (and making sure it matches their personal vision) then you might want to try another field.

Don't hire someone to do something that is so vital in fundraising as speaking with and working with your donors.

For me, this is one of my favorite things about fundraising. I love getting to know our donors, asking them why they first got interested in us and our mission and making sure they know everything they want to know about how we are doing as an organization and the successes we are having within our mission.

Don't be afraid. I know, that sounds weird. Just pick up the phone and go from there.

Here's an example for something you can do today, right now:

Pull a list of donors who made a donation last September, but have not donated since.

Listen to your "pump me up" song.

Make the call, letting them you wanted to check in with them as this is the time of year they normally make their donation and you'd like to let them know what your organization is up to.

Offer to send them a newsletter, annual report, etc.


You can also leave a voice mail.

You can do it. Your organization, your mission and those you serve depend on you being able to talk with and engage your donors!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 19, 2013

921 volunteers representing 921 homeless youth

This blog post is a call to action. A request for volunteers. 921 to be exact. If you live in or near Denver I would be very grateful if you joined us, and if you don't live here if you'd pass this along to friends who might.

As you may know, I work for an organization called Urban Peak. We serve youth experiencing homelessness and youth on the verge of becoming homeless from food, to emergency shelter, to GED training, transitional housing, job training and so much more.

We serve approximately 2600 youth every year.

In January, after the Point in Time count for of homeless people had been done, we received the information that this year's count increased: from 777 in 2012 to now 921 in 2013. This means that on any given day there are 921 youth calling the streets of Denver home. This is a huge increase.

To show our community and our supporters what this actually looks like, we are asking 921 volunteers to join us at our offices in downtown Denver on Tuesday, December 10th at 8:00am for a photo shoot. This photo shoot will coincide with Colorado Gives Day, a statewide day of giving to non-profits online.

I am ecstatic about this event and know that it won't be easy getting 921 people to join us.

Will you help? Will you spread the word?

Urban Peak's 921 photo shoot
Tuesday, December 10th
730 21st Street, Denver

For mroe information please call me at 303.974.2949

Thank you for reading!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Having a Community Breakfast

After a few months of planning, our annual Community Breakfast is only a few weeks away. The excitement is building, especially because this will be my first one with my new organization.

I'm sure you've been to a breakfast like this. It's a wonderful way for a non-profit to take just an hour of someones time and give the the basic 101 on your organization, your mission and your successes. Ours is a fundraiser, and it's one of those where we offer a free breakfast and then ask for a meaningful gift at some point during the breakfast.

Some of you might be thinking, "oh, another event" and not in a good way. I guarantee you that a community breakfast can be fun in many ways and is a wonderful way to re-engage donors, introduce your mission to new potential donors and raise money all at the same time.

When we decided the general time of the year that we wanted to have the breakfast, we went to hotels and asked for space and a plated breakfast price. I have found that when you give the hotel the the opportunity to pick a date that works best for them, then that can relate to a less expensive breakfast.

Once the date and location were settled, I took this information to a board meeting. I told them that this is a huge opportunity for us to show what we do to potential new supporters and to raise money. I also told them how many table we wanted committed and by when we wanted them committed. Then I asked each board member to commit to hosting a table, which meant they would be in charge of filling one table at breakfast.

Because of that presentation and then a week filled with calls to known supporters, we were at 80% of our table goals in two weeks.

It's a free breakfast. Sure there will be an ask, and the ask is for an incredible cause.

We built energy and excitement around the event. We maintained consistent communication with all of the table captains. We began a list of people who wanted to attend so we could plug them into tables of captains who did not have their table filled.

I get even more excited just writing about. A room filled with 450 people, all a mix of levels on how they support us from never having heard about us to having donated and volunteered for years.

Have you had a community breakfast?

Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Do you love your job? And why I love mine!

I have been in fundraising/development for a few years now. Decades if I count the volunteer work and part-time positions I did.

Recently I have been reading reports and studies that suggest more than have of fundraising/development professionals are seeking employment elsewhere or would leave their current position if the opportunity presented itself.


So this news begs the question, at least from me: What do you think? How do you feel about your job.

I would definitely love feedback around this question. I have been continually reading about it, pulling up articles and having discussion with other development professionals.

I for one am very happy with my job. Things that help create and nurture that happiness are:

I am empowered.

I am not micro managed.

My boss has an open door policy and she means it.

I have all of the tools I need to succeed. Of course I want more tools, and those will come as I continue to become more and more successful with fundraising and relationship building.

I have the right people in the right seats.

I have aboard of directors that is active and shares the same vision as I do.

I work for an agency that serves youth experiencing homelessness and that is a huge fit for me.

I am respected by my peers.

I make a fair salary and have wonderful benefits.

I am allowed a great work -  personal life balance.

I think I'll stop there. That covers a good portion of it. I think this list is a great start as to how someone can be totally happy with their position.

What do you think should be added to this list?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I don't beg

I have been fundraising for several years. When I tell people I am meeting for the first time what I do for a living, they usually say something about fundraising.

"I would hate to have to beg for money all of the time" is a common response.

There are some people who actually believe that. When I respond with something like "well, I don't beg" then the immediate response is usually "oh, I know" and then they try to explain their original response.

I don't take it as an insult, I simply want to correct them.

You see, as a fundraiser I am in the relationship business. I don't need to beg or keep my fingers crossed for a check or think about how much someone is going to give me when I am meeting them. I am always focused on building a lifelong relationship with someone, a group of people, a foundation or a business.

All I think about is their vision and our vision and how those two visions meet to potentially create an amazing relationship that benefits them and us.

It's that simple.

Many times I say that I am keeping my eye on the prize. The prize is the relationship. And I always remember that an amazing relationship between me and our donors and supporters can only make our agency stronger and only be better for our mission.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lessons Learned: Training for a half marathon

I have written a couple of blog posts about my training as I prepare to run the half marathon portion of the Colfax Marathon on May 19th. At 7:00am.

For those of you who, like me just a couple of months ago had no idea, a half marathon is 13.1 miles.

Two months ago I could barely run one mile. One my first training run six weeks ago I thought I wasn't going to make it after 2.5 miles. I could barely catch a breathe and I felt parts of my legs and feet that I had never felt. Last week I ran a 12.25 mile training run!

I am running this to raise money for Urban Peak, the amazing non-profit I am privileged to work for, that serves youth experiencing homelessness.

While training, I have learned so much, both around running and about life, and have been reminded of many things I already knew but may not think about often. So here you go:

First, about running:

Stretching is SO important. Really stretching. Find a friend who is already a runner and ask them to teach you. It makes a HUGE difference.

Invest in solid running shoes. Go to a place that can video you running and then will offer you shoes on what they see. My shoes were on sale by 20% and cost me $85.00. It's a lot (for me) but totally worth it.

My best, most comfortable and longest training runs have been in the morning after a good night's sleep. I drink lots of water starting when I wake, and drink a smoothie with kale, blueberries, flax seed and Arbonne protein powder. For some reason the combination of all of these helps me run longer.

My average pace on my 12.25 mile run was 13:45. That is slow for many but just perfect for me. I want to finish, that's all.

Music is important for me. I created a latino pop station on Pandora and Juanes, Carlos Vives, Diego Torres, Mana, Shakira and Bacilos get me going.

Have fun. Make it fun. I run around Sloan's Lake in Denver and love it. All of the other runners, cute dogs, and views of the lake and the mountains.

Now, about life in general:

My friends, family and husband are the best ever. I feel their love and support on a daily basis, and training for this run has been no different. Several of my friends are runners and they been huge in showing me the way.

I would do anything for causes I am passionate about. A couple of months ago I would have NEVER of considered training for a half-marathon, or any type of run. Throw in an opportunity to support young people who are experiencing homelessness and I am there!

I can do so much physically. At 47 I consider myself fit, but never thought I could run distance. This experience has taught me that if I work at it, I can accomplish a lot in trying to stay fit.

One day at a time. I have been trying to live like this for a long time. Most days I am successful. Training for a half marathon forces me to do it.

Don't quit. I know, I've even written blog posts about this. Never give up. You can do it.

And you don't have to do it by yourself. As I said at the start of this, family and friends and even new friends can help in so many ways.

An open mind works best, like a parachute, when open. I'm sure some of you have seen this bumper sticker. Amen. I agree. Being open to others experiences and opinions and feedback makes life so much much easier. And better.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Building lifelong relationships

This phrase is heard often in our development office.

It's not about a donation.

It's not about a check.

It's not about someone attending one of our events.

Everything we do is all about building a lifelong relationship between someone and our agency. To take their care for what we do and build from that. To take their interest in our mission and vision and grow it.

Lifelong relationships. Lifelong partnerships.

We are similar to many organizations in that we have donors who have given for several years and typically give the same amount around the same time of the year. We have donors who for some reason or another stopped giving last year or even several years ago. We don't know why.

We don't know why because we never asked. What we do now is try to engage with donors as much as possible. If you typically make a donation in May, then we hope to chat with you in April. If we know that you received our latest appeal and our latest newsletter yet haven't heard from you in over a year, then we check in. That might look like a personal note or an email. Just a simple check in.

I always have believed in the best intent of people who donate to us. After having made over one hundred calls to donors just since I started a couple of months ago, I know that our donors are just as busy as we are and in most cases cannot believe that it has already been or year or so since they made their last donation.

Time flies. For us, and for our donors.

Recently I decided to spend the night out on the streets of Denver to get a small glimpse into what the youth we serve go through every day. You can check out my previous post if you'd like to read about that. Taking that story and that experience and sharing it with donors has very much added to our relationships. Donors want to know what's happening at your organization. They want to know about the ups and downs, the successes and the challenges.

They also want to know how you spent their money. This is huge when creating lifelong relationships. After we receive a donation, we make a quick cal to thank them, which is followed up by their thank you/tax letter. A few months later we send them another letter that tells them how we spent their donation.

Hello lifelong relationship.

The biggest reason I know about the power of all of this in building relationship is that this is how I want to be treated as a donor. I want to know how things are going and I want to know how you spent my money.

Thanks for reading. I would love your feedback. My email is dan.hanley@urbanpeak.org

Friday, April 19, 2013

One night on the streets

As promised, I wanted to follow up yesterday's post (and last night's night out on the streets) with a post about what Chris and I experienced.

For those who don't know, we work for Urban Peak: Chris is the Outeach, Education & Employment Supervisor and I was thrilled when he said he would join me. The reason I wanted to spend the night out on the streets was so I could get just a tiny glimpse into what the youth we serve at Urban Peak go through.

We left the Urban Peak office at 5pm and decided to just walk around with our backpacks. We brought cold-weather clothing and sleeping bags. We walked around parts of downtown Denver where people experiencing homelessness gather, like around the Denver Rescue Mission and the park across the street.

After walking around for about two hours we started thinking that we had no idea what to do. It was still light out and way to early to find a place to sleep without drawing attention to ourselves. I was also thinking that we had walked a couple of miles and we were getting a good feel for what the youth we serve go through: always walking. I didn't want to tell Chris but I was already getting tired. I can't imagine what the youth do when they have no place to go and the cold realy starts to set in. As warm as Chris and I were as we did all of this walking in the daylight, soon the sun went down and we began to feel the reality of being outside as the temperature drops.

We walked more. We ran into youth and adults experiencing homelessness. We started to get chilled. Chris knew of places around the Platte River that used to be camping areas where youth we serve would live. That all changed when Denver passed a camping ban. We didn't see any youth along the river. They go further away from downtown and further away from people enforcing the ban.

As I write, our drop-in center is minutes from opening and youth we serve are standing in the sun to stay warm while they wait for our breakfast service to begin. Every Monday through Friday we serve breakfast at 8am to an average of 40-50 youth. For those of you who have not yet toured our drop in center (this is your personal invite from me), youth  can come and eat breakfast, do their laundry, and take a shower. They also sleep.

And I totally get that now. Both Chris and I are exhausted. We slept maybe a total of an hour last night. We started out trying to sleep along the Platte River, and ended up in an alley next to a garbage container, sleeping on pallets to keep off of the cold ground. One doesn't really sleep. The sounds would alert me to the possibility of someone coming by, but were usually just street noises. I found that I was on edge all night. So when I see youth just completely crash after breakfast, I totally get it. There is no rest on the streets.

To sum up some of our experiences:

We, as adults, felt relativeley safe. It was very obvious to us that predators abound, whether at the bus station or along the 16th Street Mall. They are just waiting to take advantage of a youth.

We got very cold. By sunrise, my toes felt almost frozen. So cold. The temperature dropped to 14 degrees.

Living on the streets is not fun. In any way. We could create a list of reasons why but won't. Our experience last night proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Some of the youth we serve sleep on the streets, wake up, and go to work everyday. Both Chris and I agree that after a few nights of this we could not consistently go to work. At this very moment we are exhausted just from one night out.

On any given day in Denver there are nearly 800 youth experiencing homelessness. Nationally there are one million who experience homelessness throughout the year.

Urban Peak is here to serve those youth. If you do not know about the vast amount of services we provide, please come and check us out. Your life will change as you experience our life-changing work.

Of course donations make this all possible. You can donate online here: http://www.urbanpeak.org/

If you would like to discuss a larger type of gift or monthly giving, please email me at dan.hanley@urbanpeak.org

If you'd like to learn more about our drop in center, outreach services, or education and employment programming please email Chris at chris.venable@urbanpeak.org

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One night of homelessness

A couple of months ago, shortly after starting my new job at Urban Peak, I decided that I needed to spend a night out on the streets. At Urban Peak we serve youth experiencing homelessness, over 2500 a year. On any given night, there are 700+ youth calling the streets home in Denver.

It is 27 degrees as I write this and tonight it will be in the low teens.

I have never been homeless and wanted to get a very small glimpse into what our youth deal with every day.

I asked a co-worker of mine to join me. He works with out Education and Employment and also our street outreach. He said yes.

I didn't want to do it by myself.

We will start at 5pm and stay out until 8am. We will walk around the city, find something to eat, try to sleep, try to stay warm. Because Denver has a campaing ban we cannot openly sleep anywhere so will have to be creative around that.
Wherever you live, there are youth experiencing homelessness. It's a shame. And the folks who work at Urban Peak deal with the reality and brutality of homelessness every day.

I love that at Urban Peak we don't ask what's wrong with you. We ask what happened to you.

Drug abuse, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, alcoholism, extreme poverty, physical abuse, parent in jail, getting kicked out because of one's sexual orientation, and the list goes on and on.

The streets become a safer place for them.

Urban Peak is usually a youth's last resort. The last thing they want to do is trust another adult.

Yet they come in. They grab breakfast at our drop in center. They may confide in one of our employees. They can do laundry and take a shower. They can seek overnight safety in our shelter.

And that is just the start of what we provide. And we have been doing this for 25 years.

I wanted to let all of my friends and fundraising peers know what I am doing tonight. I would love it if you shared this so we can get more and more people thinking about youth who experience homelessness. A national number around this is 1 million every year. Can you imagine?

I will write about my experiences. Meanwhile, please think about youth experiencing homelessness. If you are in a position to donate, a small donation goes a long way at any agency that serves youth experiencing homelessness.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Creating your amazing fundraising team

It's not easy.

Sometimes in my career people have told me that maybe I should lower my expectations.


No way.

My expectations are not that crazy:

Hire the best fundraisers.

Create the most exciting, healthy fundraising team.

Rock it with relationship building.

Build lifelong relationships with donors, funders, community leaders and business partners.
Bring the brand to the entire community.

Honor everyone.

Excellence in everything we do. Superb communication. Respect. Integrity. Keeping our eyes on the prize not only around fundraising but also on the mission of our organization.

Having honest conversations with staff, the team and donors is crucial.

I look for all of this when hiring new team members. I look for passion for our mission and for fundraising, successes in fundraising campaigns, relationships within the community and a personality that shows me they are ready to join an incredible fundraising team.

Our team had a development retreat yesterday and as I looked around the room all I could do was smile at all of the passion and professionalism in the room.

It's possible to create an amazing fundraising team. Make sure you have the right people in the right positions. Empower your team. Support them and listen to them.

And then go out there and rock it!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Staying focused and positive

Keep your eyes on the prize.

I say this often to myself and to my team.

I love being a fundraiser. I love everything about it. I love building lifelong relationships that enhance some one's life while supporting our mission.

It's not always easy.

A donor is angry. A co-worker, peer or boss has had a bad day and acts in an unfortunate way. A long-term corporate relationship ends. A grant is declined. Your recent appeal goes south.

I run into these things all of the time. I'm fortunate to work with a solid team of professionals, people focused on our mission and being successful in it as well as in fundraising goals. That helps. Yet there are still times when I just want to shut my door, crank up my music and take a break from it all.

That's the moment when I decide to rock-n-roll.

I always have a list of recent donors and that's where I turn first. I get on the phone. I speak with people who are in relationship with us or who have just started a relationship with us. I thank them. I engage with them. Any negative thoughts or feelings of being overwhelmed seem to vanish after engagement with donors. I also might go for a walk, go grab a coffee or call a board member I trust.

Sometimes this feeling comes about because I have not put the time into a project that I need to work on. It's funny how putting a little focus on that project takes any negative feelings away.

Focused. Positive. Keep your eyes on the prize. Our mission is way too important to get bogged down in negativity, for whatever reason. There is always a way out of that and it usually includes looking in the mirror and deciding to go out there and rock it.

Honor where you're at. Take care of yourself. Then go out there and rock. For all of you out there who constantly remind me of this, thank you!

And thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Have you seen a development plan lately?

Every job posting titled Director of Development I looked at while on my job search included one item that puzzled me: Must be able to create a development plan for the agency. As I read this my mind would wander off with questions like:

What happened to your development plan?

Why do you need another development plan?

Why do you want a new development plan?

And finally, and most importantly...

Why do you want the newest person on you non-profit team to write the development plan?

Of course there are answers for all of these questions and  I'm sure that in many of the postings the agency was just making sure that when the time came, their new fundraising professional could blow their minds with a development plan.

I am currently working on a new development plan at work. First and foremost, I am not working on it alone. I am working on it with the co-chairs of our board development committee, with my ED (our agency's CEO as well as some of my staff. It's going to be a development plan that rocks and the title of it is "We will rock you!".

NOTE: Development plans do not need a name or title, it's just my personal preference.

Our development plan is going to focus on this fiscal year and the next fiscal year. Being that our fiscal year begins October 1st, this plan will have goals and ideas to support development through September 30th of 2014.

First and foremost, our plan is about building lifelong relationships, not about fundraising.

"We want to be in a lifelong relationship with you" as opposed to "We want you to give us money".

Our development plan includes challenges/opportunities to reaching our goals for the budget as well as specific goals around areas like lapsed giving. One can use a development plan as a support piece while working on the next budget and can also plug in numbers from a current budget as overall goals.

Our development plan also includes major events, corporate partnerships, foundation giving and examples of how simple ideas support some of the goals listed. I always love including a page of what increased giving looks like on certain levels and how the overall reach of that adds so much to the giving totals. An example of this is if 50 donors who currently give $100 increase their gift this year to $200 then that is a $5,000 increase towards individual giving. And that is just one example at one giving level.

Do you have a current development plan? What is your favorite thing about it?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Don't stop believing

A donor cancels lunch.

The company that bought a Gala table last year said no this year.

A board member doesn't return your call.

The government grant is not going to happen.

You spilled your coffee on your keyboard.

The website got hacked!?!?

It's not always easy. I think if it were, I wouldn't love fundraising as much as I do.

Every day we might deal with one or more of what I listed above. Sometimes all of this could happen in the first hour of your day!

In my time of being a fundraiser I have walked through many a dark moment, or at least it seemed like a dark moment at the time. The reality is that people will say no sometimes. I don't think it means no, never. I think it means that at that particular time it is not good for them to give, for whatever reason.

The deal for me is that I wholeheartedly 100% believe in the mission of the organization I work for and the people who work there making sure the mission is fulfilled every day. No matter if that grant comes in or if a donor says yes or no, we are still going to have youth experiencing homelessness that need a meal or a cot to sleep on or help studying for the GED. That's what we do, and as long as I am truly committed to that and keep believing that this mission is so worthwhile, everything will fall into place.

I also reach out in tough times. I have a list of other fundraisers that I can call or email and say hey, I'm having a tough morning. Or, I just received an email from a donor and I don't know how to respond. Just reaching out and having a conversation with someone who does what I do and has experienced what I am experiencing at that moment is a huge help.

And it's important for me to support other fundraisers.

So let's rock it! Today I am working on my spring appeal and working on a lapsed donor campaign. I am also going to reach out to several donors just to check in. I have my coffee in hand, my music play list on and am ready to ROCK IT!

For all of the fundraisers reading this, thank you for what you do!

And thank you for reading!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Where have your past donors been?

I could also title this post "What to do with lapsed donors?".

After being unemployed for a month, this past week I began a new adventure and am experiencing all of those joys that come with starting all over in development and fundraising. It didn't take long for me to start taking a look at lapsed donors and what they look in the overall realm of moving forward with an incredible fundraising effort.

My definition of a lapsed donor is a donor who had given up to a certain year, and then last year did not give.

There are most likely hundreds of books and articles written on how to keep lapsed donors low or how to "deal" with them.

First things first. To me, make sure your fundraising plan is solid in connecting with current donors so that the likelihood that they become a lapsed donor is low. A couple of things I like to do is to thank the donor ASAP for a donation. I also like to let them know within a few months how we spent their money. Exactly. As a donor myself, I love knowing that the money I donated went for a homeless dog's spay or neuter, a meal for a hungry person or simply support for the overall operation of the agency.

The more time and energy we put into creating and nurturing relationships with those who financially support us the less time and energy we have to use in trying to figure out what happened to them.

All of this being said we are all still going to have a number of lapsed donors.

I already have a list of those who donated to us in 2011 but not in 2012. Some were just late in giving and made a donation in January of this year. For those left, I have a plan. I am sharing names with the development team, with board and with other staff. I am going to ensure that we reach out to all of these donors to check in. Being an agency that serves youth experiencing homelessness, I seriously doubt that a donor has become angry with us, but one never knows. many times all it takes is a phone call to check in, which to the donor is a reminder of something they have been meaning to do!

Before long, donors get used to being communicated with, and not just when being asked to give. It is a terrible day when a donor thinks that the only reason you are calling is to ask for a donation.

I will keep you posted on how our lapsed giving efforts go. Thank you so much for reading!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I got a job!

The day I was laid off was tough. Not money tough or fear tough or what am I going to do tough. It felt personal. No matter who said what, if felt like getting fired for not being good enough. I wasn't sure if I wanted to share all of that on my blog, of getting laid off and the process I was going through. Well, I did. I posted a blog post about losing my job and it became one of the most read, most commented on posts I have written.

The gift in that, beyond continuing to always use my blog as a way to help others, be a voice for the voiceless and build bridges, was that our blog readers were incredibly supportive of the process I was going through. For that I am beyond grateful and want to say thank you to all of you who wrote messages of support.

During my 22 days of being unemployed I learned a lot. I learned that there is a stereotype or even prejudice around the unemployed and that even folks who are unemployed don't like telling people that. I was having a wonderful conversation with this guy, and his whole interaction with me changed when I told him that I was unemployed. I was blown away.

My experience of being unemployed was short lived. I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for the huge amount of friends and colleagues who invited me to coffee or lunch, called to check in, told me about a job, helped with my resume and cover letters, gave a gift card of some kind or swung by the house with a hug and flowers. The support I got was incredible and I hope all of us can be as supportive whenever a friend loses their job.

On my 22nd day of being unemployed I accepted an offer at an agency in town that helps homeless teens. I am super excited and can't wait to start! I will continue in fundraising, which is what I love to do.

I hope to write an e book about searching for a job. I will keep you posted. I also made changes on my fundraising blog, adding links to job search websites in an effort to help folks still looking for a job.

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Job search 101

I hope that anyone reading this will never be laid off or lose their job. I hope that you will only look for a job when you are ready, and that you have a job while looking for your next job. I think that is the best scenario.

This post is for those who for whatever reason are unemployed and are on a search for a job.

I have written some suggestions for actions while unemployed, actions that I myself have taken in the 19 days I have been unemployed. I though that with this blog post I would write about simple actions one can take that will benefit them during the search. A lot of these ideas came from friends of mine in the first day or so of being laid off.

To bring you up to date with my job search, I am currently considering an unofficial job offer. It will be official when I receive the offer letter which I have been told will come later this week. I have two more interviews coming up. I have sent out 19 resumes to date.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Create a list of friends and colleagues who can help get the word out about your job search.  Email them as a group frequently to keep them posted on your search.

Create a "job search" file on your computer or on a disc. In this file keep your resume, a sample of a cover letter you love, a salary history and a list of references.

On my list of references I have seven people, their addresses, phone number and email. As I send a resume package I choose which three would be best for the position I am applying for.

Send your resume as a PDF. A dear friend taught me this, and she also professionally edited my resume. What I do now is create one document that includes everything the employer has asked for, make it a PDF and then send that one PDF document to them. Most folks attach several documents that the employer has to print out which can become quite a task. Having to print just one makes it a lot easier.

Keep tweaking your cover letter. Some of the basics can be kept in each one you send out but make sure every cover letter that you send is very specific to the agency to which you are applying. Give them very clear details as to why you are the one, details that may not be covered in your resume. Remember that they are most likely reading a ton of cover letters. Yours needs to stick out!

Network Network Network. I have been happily surprised by all of the support, ideas and encouragement that I have received from people I am connected with on LinkedIn. Networking with all of these folks has definitely helped me in my search. I have learned a lot from them and been able to pass along ideas to get feedback. If you are not on LinkedIn get on now. If you are on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is up to date and that anything on LinkedIn matches what is on your resume.

Unemployment benefits. I applied for unemployment about 15 minutes after being laid off. I had already researched how to do it as the feeling was in the air that I might be laid off. It takes ten minutes to do and that starts the process. I bring this up because yesterday I was approved, day 19 of being unemployed. So it takes time.

Because of that, have some cash in savings. We all hear, and hear it often. Have an emergency savings account. It will make a HUGE difference when hearing the words that you are being lad off. Having a little cash aside makes the job search a whole lot less stressful. Even just putting in $25 a pay period will make a difference over time.

Stay positive. Grab coffee with people who adore you. Accept the lunch or dinner invite. Keep your inner circle posted and love on yourself.

More to come. Thank you for reading!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Trudging the road of unemployment

I finally honored a boundary I set this past weekend and did no job searching on Saturday! Very proud of myself. And Sunday I did just a little. For the most part, my weekend was spent with my family and friends, a great racquetball game and a wonderful bike ride.

One thing I did do around being unemployed on Sunday was to re-apply for unemployment benefits. In Colorado this has to happen every two weeks. You basically report to the state that you have applied for at least five jobs, are currently able to work, have not taken on a job and could start immediately if hired. It's all online and all rather simple.

The benefit itself has not yet come my way. It takes a while and could take all the way into February until I receive my first payment. I have done everything on my end, and now paperwork has to go to my past employer who will confirm my story and then my account gets approved and I can receive the benefit.

The moral of this story is to do as so many financial gurus say: have some cash in an emergency savings account.

I could write a whole blog post series on that, including everything that has benefited me once laid off that I had done prior to being laid off. No one ever thinks that day will come, but for tens of thousands the day has come, and it can be taken a little easier if you have prepared a little.

Today is day 18 of being unemployed and I have a second interview. The tomorrow and the next day I have an interview each day. It seems that week one was kind of slow as I began getting resumes out and settling into the process of a job search. Now I feel that things are happening and the main thing for me is to stay on my game.

Staying on my game means thank you notes to those who have helped in any way or those who have interviewed me, keeping my connections throughout social media updated on how the search is going, continually checking the several job posting websites I use for any potential job that seems interesting to me and most importantly, taking care of myself. That means working out, time with family, time with friends and long walks with my dogs. It means staying centered and positive, keeping in mind that all is going to be well.

If you have a friend or family member that has recently lost their job, reach out to them. Invite them to coffee or lunch. If you know something about resumes or cover letters, offer to edit their resume or send them a copy of a cover letter you have used. If on Linked In, recommend them. Support from family and friends has made this new journey for me so much better, and in some ways even fun!

Meanwhile the national unemployment rate is 7.8%. The Labor Department recently said that unemployment rates fell in 22 states in December and rose in 16. They were unchanged in 12.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Were you just laid off?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a pro on what to do when you leave the office or meeting room you were called into to get the news that you no longer have a job. I just experienced this for the first time a couple of weeks ago. When I was laid off I had an amazing network of friends and colleagues ready to help and support, and a lot of what I did (and am doing) came from their suggestions.

No matter how much good you know will come from this later, it is not a good feeling when it is happening, especially, like many who will be reading this, if you totally rocked it at your job and were the most loyal employee ever.

First things first. Create a personal email address. You most likely will already have one and perhaps you can use that, but not if the address is something like IloveBlackSabbath@hotmail.com. No, this address has to be a little more professional as it will be the address you use to let professional colleagues and friends know that you have just been laid off. It's also the address you will use to send out resumes. I created a gmail account.

Next, create address books within the account. I have one personal and one professional. I also have one for my "inner circle" of professional contacts, those who I have a wonderful relationship with and I know will support me with a lot of energy in finding a new job.  Once you have an inner circle address book go ahead and create a short email to them letting them know that you were just laid off and that you would appreciate it if they could keep an eye out for any positions they think you my enjoy. If you know exactly what you are looking for, let them know. NOTE: These same people are the ones you will be meeting with within the next week or so for moral support and guidance. They will rock your world.

As soon as you possibly can file for unemployment. In Colorado the process is online and it took me less than 10 minutes. From the time you apply to the time you get your first check it could be several weeks, maybe over a month. So the quicker you do it the better. And once you have applied read the instructions! There are several other things you'll have to do, none of which take a lot of time but are important in the process of you getting your benefit.

Social media can make a HUGE difference with your job search and with getting the word out that you have just been laid off.

Create a LinkedIn account. It would be perfect if you already have one. I already had one and it has bee incredibly helpful. I have been able to search jobs as well as get help around my resume and cover letters. I keep my connections informed on what I am doing and many reach out to see if they can help. Some online application processes allow you to log into LinkedIn from their online application and download all of your resume information. Let the folks on LinkedIn know what you are looking for. It's OK to ask for help!

I would say the same for Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is of course a little more personal. Let your friends know what is going on. Not a day passes that someone on Facebook doesn't let me know of a job they think I might love. On Twitter I have a personal account and a professional account. The professional account is just that, and I use it to make connections and let friends there know about what has happened and what I am looking for.

More to come. Thank you for reading! My email address is fundraisingdan@gmail.com

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two weeks unemployed

I have been counting the days since I was laid off, mainly as a reminder to myself. The day I was laid off I wasn't thinking about how long I would be unemployed. I figured I didn't want to find any job, that I wanted to find the job. As a good friend put it, I didn't want a "rebound" job.

Two weeks unemployed and I have had some good results:

Two interviews

One interview coming up next week

16 resumes out

Over a dozen lunches/coffees with friends to talk about work

Applied for jobs I would not have even known about or considered had I not been laid off

Started to think about an out-of-the-box job that might include some consulting, some development work and some writing

Applied for jobs in San Diego

Spent great time with a dear friend

Have been reminded how much love and support is out there for me

With much support, am writing awesome cover letters

I'm not sure what the next two weeks will bring. As centered as I am being unemployed and working hard to find a job, I don't want to be here for a long time. I have loved the idea of doing something on my own. A lot of folks are doing consulting, filling in, headhunting,etc. Perhaps I could do something like that?

For the many of you who have supported me, given me an idea, spent time with me, connected with me on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter or Facebook, helped me with my cover letters or supported me in any other way, thank you. I am deeply grateful. As have been said to me many times, I believe that things happen for a reason and I know that there is an agency out there prime for a big dose of Dan Hanley.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cover letter example

 I am in day 12 of being unemployed and hoping to get in front of more possible job options this week. I have written many cover letters to date and have gotten some great feedback. With this post I would like to share one that I have used in the hopes that I can make my cover letters stronger. I would be thrilled to get your feedback, either in a comment or emailed to me at fundraisingdan@gmail.com

This cover letter has a generic Employer and I took out the name of the agency.

Dear Employer:

I am ecstatic to apply for the position of Executive Director.

My experience from several non-profit Director of Development positions, hotel sales positions as well as time in the US Navy and work with many diverse communities have brought me to a place in which I thrive in building relationships throughout many communities and believe that I excel in relationship building and partnership building.

I read position details and qualifications and have experience in all of the categories. I have worked with several Boards of Directors and have had great success in working with specific board members in becoming more active within the mission. I have managed staff and teams from three to seventeen people and have always succeeded in helping create a work environment that is positive and productive. I excel in the entire fundraising category and am in bliss when building relationships that become the core of a fundraising plan. I have written budgets, cut spending and can work closely with a team to look at a five-year or more budget plan. I also thrive in community relations and have worked in several diverse communities. I believe that collaboration is one of the keys to successful relationship building and fundraising.

I am a proven fundraiser and have many good relationships in the Boulder area. I have had success in creating and supporting a more positive and productive workplace. This would be my first Executive Director position and I feel I could bring a lot to____ from all of my past experiences. My personality is one that allows me to be just as comfortable speaking with clients as I am at a Chamber event, with a major donor or at the state capitol.

I bring a history of non-profit successes, community building, engagement with diverse communities and a personality and attitude that remains positive and energetic in any situation. I have spent most of my life working in human rights and trying to make the world a better place for all living beings. Working with ____ would be the perfect match.

Thank you very much for your time.


Dan Hanley

Thank you for reading!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Actively seeking employment

For those who are reading my blog for the first time: Having been recently laid off, I decided to stop writing about fundraising and to write about the process of being unemployed. It's a new experience for me and my hope is to help others who might have to go through this process some day.

Day 10. It's a beautiful in Lakewood, Colorado and being that it is a Sunday I am only going to spend a little time on the job search today.

I have realized that it is important to create boundaries around the job search. It's sort of like working from home. At 5pm, your day is done and it's family time. In the past ten days since I was laid off I have not done well with boundaries. I have worked on my job search anywhere from 4:30am through 11pm at night. In the past couple of days I have gotten better at the search and with boundaries and this is how:

During the week I get up early just as I would if I were going to work. I respond to emails, look at all of the job posting sites I have bookmarked and tweak some cover letters.

If I work on the job search during the weekend I have specific goals and specific amounts of time.

If I am going out for coffee or lunch with a friend or a colleague, I dress as if I am going to meet a donor. Not a full suit and tie, but business casual for sure (which I might ad in the Denver area is probably a little more casual than on the east coast).

I have a more clear idea of what I want in my next job. Not necessarily who I want to work with/for rather what the benefit package, including salary, looks like. As I am looking in Denver and San Diego, I have different thoughts for each place, knowing that the cost of living is higher in San Diego. 

In our social life, I have decided not to make my being laid off the main story of what is talked about. With my inner circle it can be, especially when I feel I need more emotional support. Yet out and about I am trying to focus on everyday life and remembering how awesome of a life I have, employed or not.

More to come. I am very grateful that you are reading my blog posts. My email is fundraisingdan@gmail.com I would love your feedback, especially if you have been unemployed or are hiring!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From laid off to unemployed

Being that this is the first time I have been unemployed, I am still getting used to the idea. Today was one week since I was laid off. I have started to think about that. I'm not sure when I can start telling people that I am unemployed as opposed to telling them that I was laid off.

It's not easy telling someone you are unemployed. If they don't know you, there seems to be a little prejudice around the fact that you are not working. I got that today. The look was something like "well you look like you should be able to work". Buddy, you have no clue.

The last thing I wanted to be was unemployed. I loved my job. I was one of the most loyal, ethical, positive, productive and successful employees my past employer had ever seen. I brought 100% every day. And although that was not enough for my past employer, I am sure there is a company or non-profit out there that will think I will make a great addition to their team and they will embrace all of those attributes.

I realize I am not the only person unemployed. Based on recent numbers, I think about 8.8% of the able-to-work US population is unemployed. I am doing everything I can to not be in this category for too long. There are a lot of jobs out there. Fortunately for me, I have seen several that I think I would love. Also fortunately for me I have this incredible network of friends and colleagues who have been so wonderfully supportive of me. It is truly unbelievable.

I have tweaked my resume so many times. I try to not send the same resume to every place I am applying to. I am getting pretty good at writing a cover letter. One page, maybe two. I have the job posting in front of me while I write the cover letter and that seems to help my creative writing, which is a struggle at best.

Then I get an email or a call from someone who has received my application materials. They call me Daniel as I use my formal name with the resume. So far each one of them has been kind and respectful, and we both have laughed at some point of the conversation.

I also get many calls and emails from people I love and people I barely know telling me that they are there, that they will do anything for me and that I will land something quickly. I'm not sure how quickly I will find a new job. I don't want a rebound job. I want a job that I will love with a company or non-profit whose mission or product I can get behind. I want a job that will honor my ethics and loyalty, and one that will pay me well and honor my personal life with a good vacation package.Definitely not too much to hope for.

I know it's out there.

Thank you for reading. My personal email that I am using for my job search is fundraisingdan@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unemployed: The Job Search

I decided to keep writing blog posts while I am unemployed. This helps me keep people updated and hopefully it will help others who have recently been laid off.

It is day 6 of being unemployed.

Before I get to the job search part, I want to write about other actions I have taken during my so far brief unemployment.

As soon as I was told I was being laid off I applied for unemployment. I am not sure how this works in other states or if it is the same everywhere. The process to me was easy and took only about ten minutes, online. All the information needed I already knew, so there was no need for paperwork or collecting items needed to fill out the information.

I'm not sure how the process works from here. On Monday I got a PIN number that allowed me to go online and enter bank information so that my unemployment can be put directly into our account. I also got some information about education opportunities. I printed a calendar of reminder dates for when I need to apply for benefits, which is every two weeks. I'm not sure how that works but assume that includes where I have looked for a job, etc. In addition to unemployment, I also signed up on the Colorado work website, which I think is another thing you need to do in the unemployment process.

The day after I was laid off I went to the local job center. This one is the Jefferson County Work Center, in Golden. Easy to find. The woman who greeted me, if you can call it that, had no interest in me at all. She did, however, refer me to a gentleman in the other room who was very friendly and helpful. He pointed me to a list of jobs on the other side of the room and offered the use of a computer to aid in my job search. I checked out the job listing, which is the same as is online.

As the friendly gentleman told me, everything that is at this work center I can see online. The big deal for the center is that it offers online access for those who don't have it at home.

As this is the first time I have been unemployed and been part of this world I had never been to a job center or work center. I honestly was disappointed. My expectations were way too high. If I ran the place everyone who entered would feel honored and supported. I didn't feel that at all, except for the friendly gentleman.

I have now sent in nine resume/job packages and have had two interviews. I do searches on the Colorado Nonprofit website, Andrew Hudson's Job List, LinkedIn job postings and google searches for fundraising jobs around the country. And I have to keep repeating how grateful I am for all of the job leads and calls and emails of support. Thank you.

And thank you for reading.

Monday, January 14, 2013

My first days as unemployed

Last week I was laid off from my position as Director of Development at Opera Colorado. I have never been unemployed, fired, or laid off, so this is a new experience for me. I thought I would share my experiences being unemployed with all of you as I go through this process.

Fortunately for me, I felt this coming. What I did as I started getting that feeling is something that I have come to find out most people already have. I created a list of emails in my gmail account of friends and of professional contacts. This has become very useful as I get the word out about me seeking employment.

I also had already spent time tweaking my resume, have friends look at it, and creating a list of strong, current references. All of this was in place the second I was laid off.

Another thing that was already in place was my presence in social media. I already had a LinkedIn account that was very active and I already had a personal/professional Twitter account. Immediately I was able to use both of these resources to let people I know know that I had been laid off. So I highly recommend both of these if you are not already suing them.

As you read this, please keep in mind that I never thought I would be laid off. Towards the end of the year I knew my company was in trouble, and also knew that the only way I would lose my job was if we closed, and I was not going to let that happen. I knew that if given a chance I would be able to raise whatever money needed to be raised for the company to survive and thrive.

Yet that didn't happen. It doesn't hurt to be prepared for a job loss, and creating a social network can even help you in your current job, especially if you are a fundraiser!

The day I was laid off I was home by lunch time and started thinking about what had just happened. It is important to process everything that is going on within yourself as you start the process of looking for your next adventure. Be on the lookout for self-pity, anger and maybe some fear. Share with friends, your spouse, really anyone who cares about you. And one thing that became very clear very quickly to me was that there are a lot of people who care about me.

I posted a note on Facebook letting everyone know. I let people know that I was free for breakfasts and lunches but that they would have to treat (I wrote that partially as a joke and partially serious) and by the end of the day I had 57 invitations. I had to start writing them all down. I was blown away and my heart was filled with gratitude.

Then came all of the support in other ways. Job suggestions, gift cards, flowers, introductions, job websites, and much more. I am honestly struggling to keep up with all of these and make sure I am thanking each person.

Thank you for reading. I will continue sharing my process. Thank you for your support and please keep the suggestions coming!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Getting laid off

At 46, I realize that I have been beyond fortunate in employment. I have loved my jobs, never been unemployed and rarely had to look for a job. Usually I would get a call from an organization interested in me and go from from there.

This past week I was laid off. In my professional life I am a fundraiser, a Director of Development. I had rocked it for almost two years at our local opera company. Loved my job. After a very tough year in fundraising my boss decided that cutting back would begin with me.

I wasn't surprised. Life had become dark at work in the past couple of weeks. A lot of closed door meetings and no communication at all.

When my boss called me down to his office and I walked in to see him and our Human Resources guy, I was honestly relieved. He told me his story of why, my HR guy gave me some paperwork and I headed back to my office. Tears were shed by some of my peers. I was grateful for their kindness and support, and for helping me move out of my office!

So I guess you can take this blog post as a resume, as part of my job search.

In the last couple days I have applied for seven jobs, had one interview and have another interview tomorrow. I keep tweeking my resume and continually working on cover letters that do a great introduction of who I am and what I can bring to an organization.  I have been on LinkedIn, Indeed.com, Colorado Association of Non-Profits, Idealist.org, several arts websites, Andrew Hudson's job list and have followed up on leads from many friends.

I have seen a couple of jobs that excite me. Is this the time to start looking at an Executive Director position? Perhaps it's finally that time and opportunity to move to San Diego? Become a consultant? As my friends and professional colleagues continue to remind me, the possibilities are endless.

It's Sunday so I am going to take the rest of the day off and enjoy my family and friends. Thank you for reading this and I would be grateful for any leads or suggestions. My twitter name is @FundraiserDan and my LinkedIn account under Dan Hanley in the Greater Denver area (I couldn't figure out how to link it here!).

Saturday, January 5, 2013

So you want to join a non-profit board?

Throughout the years I have been incredibly grateful to work on and with several non-profit boards. After a few conversations recently with colleagues in the professional world as well as a couple of friends regarding joining a board, I decided to write this blog post. I hope it is helpful to anyone considering joining a non-profit board of directors.

Here are a few things to consider before joining a board:

Have a passion for the cause. If you are on a board, most likely you will be asked to not only fundraise for the non-profit but to also be a cheerleader for them. It's vital that you have a passion for their mission.

Check out the days and times that the board meets and make sure you can make it to the meetings. Meeting attendance is important as that is when the action of the board takes place. It's also your opportunity to meet other board members and see where else you might be able to use your talents for the non-profit. Finally, board meeting attendance is important when it comes to grants for the on-profit as many granting organizations ask for the attendance percentages of the board and consider that percentage when deciding on grants.

While talking about meetings, you may also be asked to join a committee of the board, like finance or development. These committees will take even more of your time, time that will be well served. Keep this in mind before committing. 

Have a clear knowledge of expected giving and know that you can afford that (and be willing to make that kind of financial commitment to the organization). This is crucial. Most boards have a giving requirement. Sometimes it is give and get, meaning the total number includes what you yourself can donate and/or bring in through others donating. It's important to be comfortable with the amount that is required aside from any other amounts of money you may give to the organization, say for tickets to an event or a table at the annual Gala. When fundraising plans are developed board giving is typically one line and event revenue another. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not you can personally afford to be on the board.

Ask yourself why you want to be on the board. I have seen many people who serve on several boards and wonder why. I also wonder how much commitment can they seriously give to so many organizations and how effective can they be to each of those organizations. If you have passion for a group, wonderful. If you want to look good or add something to your resume, make sure you can bring something to the organization, and I mean more that a check or attendance at a few meetings.

Non-profit organizations can thrive with an active, fundraising and effective board filled with members who have passion and skills. Make sure you can bring 100% to them before you commit. This will make your experience on the board more fulfilling and at the same time strengthen the non-profit.

Thank you for reading!