Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Does passion help success?

I often go back and forth in my head on whether or not passion for the cause helps to make a fundraiser successful. Can you totally rock and roll in fundraising and relationship building if you do not have a passion for the mission of your non-profit?

I imagine the answer to this question is yes.

But not for me. I believe many of the successes I have in fundraising and relationship building come directly from the huge amount of passion I have for the mission of the non-profit I represent.

I often think about this when I meet or hang out with other fundraisers. Or when I meet someone for the first time who tells me they work in development and then tells me how unhappy they are at their current position.

First time meeting them.

I realize these are two different topics. I'm sure someone can be unhappy at a job that is at an agency whose mission the individual loves but for some other reason they are unhappy.

Then there is the non-profit fundraising employee who is only focused on their career and always moving up. I get it. I was once 25.

But back to passion. Does it help you in your fundraising and relationship building efforts? Do you believe it is critical to hire people for your development team that are passionate about your mission?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where is non-profit leadership?

As someone who has been in the non-profit world for some time, and who loves it, there is something that is clearly missing from our community.


Not management. Or micro management.

Just good, inspiring leadership.

And before someone in a leadership role gets a little angry with me, I am writing about all levels of leadership, including my area, fundraising.

I am writing as a fundraiser and as a donor.

Recently one of our donors was sharing with me their experience with another non-profits Executive Director as well as their Vice President of Development. The words she used to describe them were arrogant, not mission embracing and not interested in their donors.


I'm not surprised. I have been asked several times by peers a question that makes me ponder: How do you have time to call your donors? They had not called a donor in months. The number one reason why? Time. As a donor, I don't like hearing that. As a fundraiser, my time is best spent building relationships with donors, including calls.

What I love seeing in ED's, non-profit CEO's and Development executives is what I love seeing in anyone who cares about the mission of a non-profit: Prefers to spend more time leading than managing; understands how vital it is for them to fundraise and build the brand; allows their staff to rock it with what they were hired to do; and is a huge, vocal supporter of staff. They do not fear a staff that is incredible at their jobs, they embrace them.

They spend their time meeting with leaders in the community, heads of local business, potential funders as well as other leaders in the non-profit world. They encourage and engage their staff, and most importantly, they trust their staff. They do not get bogged down in managing the non-profit or their executive leaders nor do they allow those same folks (or themselves) to get bogged down in the ever ending amount of meetings that tend to engulf some non-profit teams. They support the relationship-building that is crucial to any non-profit and they are good listeners.

A lot of this can be addressed when board members are interviewing candidates. Regardless of how much time someone has already been a CEO or ED, how comfortable are they sitting down with a funder and making an ask? What does leadership look like to them? Board members can be inspiring to non-profit leaders. Their direction, love of the mission, and knowledge of the non-profit can be a huge benefit. On the other hand, there are board members who sit on half a dozen boards. How much time and energy is your non-profit actually getting?

This type of Executive Director is out there, believe me. The reason I am writing this post is because I don't think  there are enough of them out there.

Our amazing missions and those we serve depend on incredible leadership.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


In a casual check-in with one of my co-workers, she told me that we had raised $86.00 from eBay sales the prior month.


For many of you reading this, there may be no cause to celebrate. Indeed, many people might have chosen to not read this post because of such a low number in the title.

A couple of months ago we began selling items on eBay. We also began the process of letting our donors, volunteers and supporters know that they could donate to Urban Peak from items they sell on eBay.

Our first month we received a direct deposit of $1.26.

Now we are up to $86.00. And that is only from what supporters have sold online. With no effort on our part. Sellers on eBay can choose to donate anywhere from 10% to 100% of the sale to a non-profit.

This is huge to me.

This is how an entire new way of fundraising begins.

This is what the creation of a new budget line item looks like.


Of course we are late onto the eBay bus. But we are super excited and cannot wait to see what happens. Not only do we get the opportunity to raise money in support of our mission serving youth who are experiencing homelessness, yet imagine the brand visibility we get when folks are buying and selling on eBay.

This is just the beginning.

With all of the time we spend on campaigns, donor cultivation, lapsed giving, planned giving, corporate giving and special events, there are still so many other options out there for us to look at and see if we can do something with them.

Sometimes it's fun to not really think or act outside of the box, but to simply act as if there is no box.

If you raise money on eBay for your organization I would love to hear from you. We are in the early stages, yet we all believe that we can go very far with this idea of raising money from the millions of people who sell and shop on eBay. Generosity is alive and well online and I want to be  apart of that.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Using video for fundraising

I have been creating a  lot of videos lately in an effort to not only fundraise but to build stronger relationships with our donors.

Here's an example of one I did this morning:

I must admit that this morning I was sleepy and freezing cold but I think the message I was trying to get across is loud and clear.

I did this with my iPhone 5. It's simple and costs nothing.

I have made videos to ask for an urgently needed item, to make an ask for donations and to invite people to an event. I have also made videos to thank people as a group and specific videos for just one donor that I email then for a special thank you.

Imagine how your donor feels when they open their email and there is a video from you just for them to thank them for their donation!

I recently created a Vimeo account. We'll see how that goes. Our agency currently has a YouTube account and I highly recommend that!

Give it a try. Post it on your groups Facebook page and see what your supporters think. After a month or two of many videos, I asked our supporters what they thought about them and if they thought that I was doing too many. The feedback was a resounding "we love them and keep it up"!

Give video a try. You have nothing to lose!