Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 Ways to Keep Fundraising Results Up in a Down Economy

The economic news is not good. Across the globe, we continue to struggle with a recession that won't let up. Consumer spending is down. Retailers are nervous. No one knows what's to come of the 2011 giving season or 2012.

This is a tough time for nonprofits too. According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, "changes in giving are linked to changes in the overall economy. During good economic times, giving tends to grow robustly. However, when the economy grows at a moderate or slow rate, philanthropy continues, although at a slower rate of growth. In general, during economic downturns, giving tends to decline, after adjusting for inflation."

We've all heard the tragic stories of families and individuals rocked by job loss, protracted unemployment and upside-down mortgages. Maybe this is your story too.

You can't change the economy, but you can do your best to keep your fundraising on track. Here are five steps for fundraising in a recession and making the most of the year-end.

1. Keep asking
While your instinct may be to stop asking your donors for cash in a downturn, this is the worst thing you can do. Need doesn't go away in a recession; in fact it often goes up, and your donors know this. Give them the opportunity to say yes or no to your appeals. It is your responsibility to continue to tell your story, ignite passion for your cause and ask for support.

2. Think like a retailer
If you want to make more money at year-end or any time of the year, provide gift-giving opportunities in addition to opportunities for charitable donations. You don't need to create a four-color catalog today. You simply need to:

  • Provide specific detail on what a $20, $50 or $100 gift will do.
  • Provide a mechanism for generating gift receipts. This enables you to "double-dip," i.e., gain access to the holiday gift-giving and charitable-giving sides of your donor's wallet.

3. Focus on retention
In addition to bringing new donors into the fold on Dec. 30 and 31, make a huge effort to retain the donors you already have. Send multichannel appeals to lapsed donors. Call your current donors. Invite existing donors to respond to a matching gift. In short, do all that you can to keep existing customers in the fold.

4. Get their friends involved
You should have a peer-to-peer giving strategy year-round but particularly at year-end. One way to mitigate the financial burden of giving is to provide your donors with an opportunity to give together. For example, instead of asking one donor to contribute $100, ask each donor to rally five friends for the cause. Five $20 gifts enables you to meet your fundraising goals and provide new prospects for next year. Peer-to-peer fundraising also makes giving more fun.

5. Say thank you
According to Penelope Burk, author of "Donor-Centered Fundraising," "46 percent of donors decide to stop giving for reasons that are tied to lack of meaningful information or to a feeling that their giving is not appreciated." Saying thank you in a fast, friendly and fun way might be the single most important tool you have in your fundraising toolbox. Create a thank-you video from your clients and staff. Send handwritten cards. Write a thank-you song and link to it from a thank-you e-mail. There is no shortage of ways to show gratitude to your donors.

Fundraising in a recession is no joke. Donors are stressed, and chances are that your nonprofit is stressed too. We're all hoping for the bad times to end.

The good news is we have the tools to succeed. It's our job to use our ingenuity and resources to create a sound strategy to keep fundraising results up in a down economy.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Help End Hunger This Holiday Season

What do Kevin Bacon, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Bridges, Charlie Sheen, Jeff Gordon and John Stamos have in common?

They are all participating in a 6-day campaign to help end hunger in the U.S.!

From Dec. 1 (today!) until Dec. 6., these celebrities, their friends (and you?!) will be raising money to help end hunger.  A new charity will benefit each day. 

Check out the video below, learn more about the campaign and donate if you can.



P.S.  Full disclosure: This campaign is powered by Network for Good where I work.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and not just because of the food.

What a great idea to dedicate one day of the year to giving thanks for life's many blessings.

I don't know about you, but I have SO much to be thankful for.  Here is a short list. I hope it inspires you to write your own.

Warmest regards,



1) I am thankful for you dear readers.  Thank you for reading my blog (for four years!) and encouraging me to keep writing even when I fear there is nothing left to say.  I feel so privileged to have this small space in the Universe to express my feelings and share my thoughts. 

2) I am thankful for the crazy nonprofit capacity building community.  Thanks especially to luminaries like Katya Andresen (Nonprofit Marketing Blog), Holly Ross (NTEN), Beth Kanter (Beth's Blog), Allyson Kapin (Frogloop), Kivi Leroux Miller (The Nonprofit Marketing Guide), Alia McKee & Mark Rovner (SeaChange Strategies), and Allison Fine, who work tirelessly and passionately to help nonprofits build a better world.  I'm SO honored to be part of the crew.

3) I am thankful for my mentors, Clint O'Brien and Bob Gilbertson, who taught me what it is to be a good leader (and follower) and continue to inspire me with their leadership every day.

4) I am thankful for Fundraising Success, especially Margaret Battistelli Gardner, Editor in Chief, who gave me a chance to write for a magazine!  Thanks also to Katya Andresen for sharing her column with me.

5) I am thankful for my husband Dan Moore.  You are the world's greatest coach and have a beautiful heart and mind.  Thank you for  indulging my never-ending (often boring!) monologues regarding how to improve the practice of nonprofit leadership, marketing and fundraising.

6) I am thankful for a special nine year old girl, who asks the most remarkable questions.  You remind me to stay focused on the important things in life like pillow fights, eating pie and singing really loud!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are You Happy?

 Are you happy?
  • Do you spend time each week on important things like yourself?
  • Do you have work or hobbies that you love?
  • Do you make time to commune with family and friends?
  • Do you spend your time, talent, and treasure wisely on things like helping others vs. buying more stuff?
If the answers to the questions above are YES, you get a hall pass.

If NO, keep reading.

I read a fascinating book this weekend called (what else?) Happy by Ian K. Smith.

According to Smith, 50 percent of our happiness is hardwired at birth.  (Yes, it's possible to be a natural born grouch!)  However, the good news is that the rest of our happiness is up to us!  And there is much that you can do to boost your happiness. 

You should read the book, but here are a few happiness boosting tips that jumped out at me.
  1. Start a gratitude journal. - Make a few notes EVERY DAY about the things that you are grateful for.  In addition to boosting your happiness, a gratitude journal will make you a better fundraiser because you'll get better at thanking your donors, volunteers and employees.
  2. Spend your money on things that last. - There is scientific evidence to show that how you spend  your money may be more important that what you make.  Spending money on others (aka CHARITABLE GIVING!) boosts happiness.  It makes those endorphins dance in our brain.
  3. Spend LESS time on social networks and more time with friends and family IRL (in real life).  It's also well-researched that people with strong social ties are happier than loners.  Make time to nurture your close relationships and develop strong ties with others.
  4. Choose your work wisely.  With commuting times at an all time high and work days growing longer in the U.S., where you work is key to your happiness.  We're not all lucky enough to get to choose our jobs but even if you aren't pursuing your preferred profession yet, find ways to make your current work day better.  Bring snacks for your team!  Send thank you notes to co-workers who brighten your day!  Take some time away from your work every day.  It's the small stuff that will lift your mood.
Happiness is not all up to us.  As mentioned, researchers believe that much of our outlook on life is hard coded at birth.  But the good news is that biology is only part of the story.  According to positive psychology, at least 40 percent of our happiness is variable and we can improve our own happiness by working at it every day.  

Make it a priority to make yourself feel better and by extension sow more joy in the world.  Being happy is your birthright, it's also a better way to live.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cool New Online Giving Infographic for You!

Every wonder how online giving has trended over time?  

If you're a geek like me, the answer is "YES!"

My company, Network for Good, has produced this cool infographic (feel free to share it with your fundraising friends!) for our 10th anniversary.

Check out how much online giving has evolved in the past 10 years.

My takeaway: Online giving is mainstream and it's only going to continue to grow! 

Translation: Get online today!



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's Scary About Nonprofit Communications?

Halloween is over but chances are there are a lot of things that still scare you about the brave, new, world of nonprofit communications.

My frolleague (friend and colleague) Kivi Leroux Miller, author of The Nonprofit Marketing Guide has launched the second annual Nonprofit Communications Trends Survey to identify all those creepy, crawly, communications critters that get under your skin!

Please take a few minutes to complete this short survey and share your thoughts about what frightens and fascinates you about nonprofit communications.  Deadline is Friday, November 25.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What's Your Portable Potential?

Did you know that "in the U.S. more than a quarter of people own a smartphone" and "in the final quarter of 2010, smartphones passed global PC shipments for the first time in history?"

Clearly, we're going mobile as a society but what does this mean for your nonprofit?  

A: You need to determine if you need a mobile strategy and what mobile means for you!

According to the new e-book by Convio, A Guide to the Mobile Web: Best Practices for Nonprofits, you should be thinking about a mobile engagement strategy if one or all of the following conditions apply:

  • 5 percent or more of total visits to your website are coming from mobile devices.  (Use Google analytics or another analytics program to evaluate visits to your website.)
  • You have a robust social media strategy. According to Strong Mobile Trends for Leading Social Companies by Kleiner Perkins, "roughly 30 percent of Facebook's and 50 percent of Twitter's memberships are mobile users," i.e. it stands to reason that these constituents will access your site via their phones. 
  • You're looking for younger, donors, activists or members.  
  • You're planning on redoing your website soon!
Think that mobile may be right for you?  Determine the best mobile presence.

Now that you're convinced that mobile might be right for you, you need to determine the right mobile presence for your org.

My advice: Focus on mobilizing your website content first vs. creating an app or engaging in SMS/text

Apps are expensive and don't work unless you are super creative and find a really great hook for engaging your constituents.  SMS/text doesn't work either unless you organize BIG events with BIG stars or do disaster fundraising. 

What about content?

Going mobile is a GREAT exercise for a nonprofit because it forces you to determine how to STREAMLINE and SIMPLIFY your content to ensure that it is digestible and useful on a small device.  It also means thinking strategically about your top engagement priorities, e.g. e-newsletter sign-ups, advocacy calls to action, and donations.  (Important note here: You simply cannot smash all of your website content into your mobile site!)

You can mobilize your website by building a "basic browser-detection script" into your main website.  This may become a best practice in new website design. Another option (that I like!) is to build a 3 - 5 page mini site with opportunities for users to donate, take an action, read current news items, or share your cause with their friends.

Whatever you decide, mobile is here to stay.

Determine your portable potential and use this on-the-go, always-on, in-your-pocket channel to engage more people in your good cause!



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Are You Accountable?

You get up every morning.  You go to work.  You may even put in a longer day than most.

But are you accountable?  And to what?

Do you set goals and achieve them?  Do you deliver results?  Or are you just going through the motions?

I'm reading a great book by Denny Strigl, former CEO of Verizon called, Managers, can you hear me now?

Strigl, who transformed Verizon into the nation's #1 wireless carrier, says there is only ONE THING that will drive results in your business (and I would argue your life) and that is ACCOUNTABILITY.

Everyone says they want results. 

"We want to raise more money this year."  "We want to diversify our revenue."  "We want to create real value for our employees, clients and donors."  "I want to find a good partner."  "I want to eat healthier."  " I want to work out."

But if you dig a little deeper, you often find that there is NO PLAN in place to achieve these righteous results and worse, no one is ACCOUNTABLE for getting the job done.  No wonder that weeks, months and sometimes years go by with organizations and individuals stuck in the status quo.

On the other hand, I know many people and organizations that THRIVE in an environment where everyone is accountable to daily, weekly, and monthly results.  These individuals appreciate the transparency and clarity of organizational and personal goals and willingly step up every day to OWN their part of the puzzle.  

Why the difference?  And how can you create more accountability in yourself and others?
  1. Be willing to fail.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but unless you are willing to take the risk of looking stupid or messing up, you are unlikely to embrace accountability.  Being responsible for a task, process, or policy is hard work (some people won't like you) and things don't always work out as planned.  But if you are willing to fail and to fail fast, then it doesn't matter if the road you choose leads to a dead end.  Part of being accountable means owning your failure and success. 
  2. Be willing to make decisions.  Accountable people are willing to say what they feel and do what they say!  I can't tell you how much I personally ADMIRE this trait in others.  You should gather data and ask for feedback, but at some point you have to press GO!  Be decisive.  Be willing to make a decision and see if it bears fruit.
  3. Be proactive.  Accountable people try to get ahead of the mess.  Because they take ownership of and responsibility for their work, they are always on the lookout for ways to improve and make things better.  This means knowing that SHIT happens and finding ways to avoid it vs. waiting for it to hit the fan.
  4. Don't play the blame game.  This is the most unproductive and unattractive trait at work and at home.  Don't do it.  Nuff said!
  5. Be confident.  It may sound silly but unless you believe in yourself and your own ability to affect change in your work and in the world, you'll never enjoy being accountable for tangible results.   Like the cowardly lion, you'll want to hide and you'll be wary of activities that put you in the spotlight.  Having confidence is the cure.  Believe in your abilities.  Believe in the good stuff that people say about you and be willing to act.  No one says you have to be perfect.  But you do have to show up and do your best.
I see too many organizations and people looking for change in the world without putting in the hard work to make it happen.  And it occurs to me that this is not because people lack good intentions, it's because they lack a practice of accountability.

Consider setting goals for yourself this week and working diligently to achieve them.  Want to write a blog post?  Write it!  Want to update your homepage?  Update it!  Want to ask for a raise?  Ask for it!

Practice accountability. 

Say what you want and do what you say. 

If you hold your feet to the fire, you'll boost your self confidence and you'll probably see the results you covet.  Either way, you'll be setting yourself up to grow.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Thanks a Million: How to Thank Your Donors So They'll Come Back and Give More

I have the privilege of giving this presentation to a group of nonprofits today at a training for Give to the Max Day: Washington - a one day fundraiser to raise over $3 million for DC nonprofits.  You can watch the event LIVE here.

I'm speaking on the topic of saying thanks or showing gratitude to your donors.

Sounds sort of dull and obvious.  (Do we really need reminders and tips on how to say thanks?)

Unfortunately, Yes!

According to Penelope Burk, author of Donor Centered Fundraising, one of the main reasons that people STOP giving to charity is that their gifts are not recognized.  According to Burk,

"46% of donors decide to stop giving for reasons that are tied to lack of meaningful information or to a feeling that their giving is not appreciated."
That's a DISMAL statistic and so easily fixed. 

Here are some of my recommendations.

1) Be personal.  Do NOT send form letters.  Get your volunteers, board members, and staff to write a few thank you letters each day, in their own hand.

2) Be creative.  Make a thank you video from your staff.  Write a thank you song!  Watch this video from Charity: Water for inspiration.

3) Be tangible.  The other reason that donors STOP giving to nonprofits is because they don't understand how their gifts are used.  Tailor your thank-yous to the ask or how the gift came in and let donors know they great work you are doing with their gifts.

4) Be donor-centered.  Put your donors in the center of all of your communications, including your thank-yous.  This is not the time to wax on and on about your organization.  Make your thank-you about ME!

5) Be fast.  This is SO important.  Do your acknowledgements within 48 hours of receiving a gift, no matter the size.  Think about it.  If it takes you weeks or months (Yikes!) to thank me for my gift, that plants serious doubt in my mind about the efficacy of your work and does not make me feel valued.

We have a GREAT OPPORTUNITY as nonprofits provide our donors with an outlet for their altruism and to acknowledge their value as people!

Take every opportunity to lavish your donors with thanks and praise.  After all, their time, talent and treasure powers the work that you do.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Nonprofit Marketing Talent is Hard to Find. Linkedin Can Help.

This is a guest post by Geri Stengel from Ventureer. Enjoy!

How Will You Fill Your Nonprofit’s Staffing Gaps? 

According to a new survey from, a lot of nonprofits are planning to hire in 2012 and many of them will be looking for hard-to-find fundraising and communication talent. But most of them have no budget for recruitment.

Oops! That’s not going to work too well. Recruitment needed and no budget to do so.

But, hey, this is the age of social media, which now gives us social recruiting. The king of social recruiting is LinkedIn, that massive database of resumes, accomplishments, and connections. LinkedIn has new tools to make recruiting faster, cheaper, and easier.

You can do a lot for free, using Advanced Search but to really mine that database, you want to look at LinkedIn Recruiter. It’s fee-based but LinkedIn will be giving discounts to eligible nonprofits.

Where’s the talent?

The LinkedIn database allows you to search for people using all kinds of parameters, from zip code to skill set, from volunteer activities to education level. Say, your nonprofit sees social media looming larger in its marketing mix. You may want someone with Facebook and YouTube experience. Just use those keywords as your search terms and see the wealth of talent you can choose from.

LinkedIn Recruiter expands your reach, allows you to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for, gives you tools to track the progress of contacts and interviews, and lets you contact candidates easily through LinkedIn.

You’ll even get links to passive candidates, those not actively looking for a new position but who may be ideal for your organization.

In other words, LinkedIn is a lot like hiring a search firm but it costs less.

How do you look to the candidates?

LinkedIn is not just about recruiting the best candidates. It’s also about looking good to the people you want to recruit. You want to be wanted.

Candidates will access information about your company, its leaders, and its mission. Make that information easy to find, vibrant, and inviting.

Your organization, board members, top staff, and key volunteers should have up to date, interesting profiles -- interesting, not resume-bland. Candidates want to know your personality as well as the good you do when deciding whether to accept your invitation for an interview.

Take an hour out on Oct. 13 to learn more about LinkedIn’s social recruiting tools in Ventureneer’s free webinar - How to Use LinkedIn for Nonprofit Staff Recruitment. It’s the first step to getting your marketing team ready for 2012.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Put Your Most Important Relationships First

I have one husband.

I have one child.

I have four close women friends.

Compare this with the fact that I have 261 "friends" on Facebook, 239 people who have added me on Google+, 500+ contacts on Linkedin, 2,575 followers on Twitter, and 1,437 subscribers to my blog. 

This is not a popularity contest. 

My challenge is this, how in the world do I (and you) manage all of these relationships?

I am struggling to figure this out.

The promise of social media is its ability to connect us to amazing, new people across space and time.  And while I have met new and interesting people on Linkedin and Facebook, that I wouldn't have bumped into elsewhere, I can't keep up with all of these connections.  Not in any meaningful way.

I hate to admit it but I don't have time to thank everyone who RTs (retweets) my stuff on Twitter.  I don't have time to check status updates on Facebook.  Heck, I hardly have time to get through my inbox!

So what's a marketer, fundraiser, aka relationship-builder to do?

I think the answer is twofold.

1) Create a small tribe - a core group of peers, colleagues, friends, etc. and build deep and authentic relationships with this group over time.  Regardless of the tools you use to stay in touch, nurture these relationships with great care.  These people should get the bulk of your time and attention. 

2) Create or join a big tribe - a group of peers, colleagues, friends, etc. and stay loosely connected to these folks over time.  Read their blog posts when you can.  Send an email twice a year.  But instead of aspiring to know these people on a deeply personal level be content with living at arms length. 

The trick is determining who goes into which group and why. 

It may seem obvious, but my husband, daughter, friends and co-workers belong in the first tribe.  I spend most of my time with these folks.  More important, I have committed to making these relationships work.  If I do my core relationships right, my peeps and I will blossom over time.

Vendors, past customers, clients and collaborators go in tribe two.  I nurture these relations as best I can but I don't expect big ROI from these connections.  I spend the minority of my time with these folks. Sometimes (though rarely) someone moves from tribe two to tribe one.

The PAIN of technology is that it has made us more scattered.  I am easily lost in a swirl of insignificant communication.

Don't let this happen to you.  Put your most important relationships first.  Choose your tribes wisely and allocate the majority of your time and attention to the most important people in your life.  Then let go of the guilt that says you're not doing enough.  



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quote from Steve Jobs for You

I love this quote from Steve Jobs.  I hope you too find your voice and follow it.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.  Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking.  Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary."
- Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meet Allison: Your Personal Year-End Fundraising Guide

Did you know that according to the Online Giving Study, 33% of all online giving happens in December?

What this means for you.

Year-end fundraising is no joke.  It can make or break your annual budget. 

Get ready now!

Shameless plug.  My company, Network for Good, is offering a $50 year-end fundraising training (a $200 value) facilitated by your personal guide (see Allison above!) and other fundraising experts, including Katya Andresen, author of NonprofitMarketingBlog and Mark Rovner and Alia McKee of Sea Change Strategies.

Buy now!

What you'll get.
  • A step-by-step guide to creating your year-end fundraising plan.
  • Access to an exclusive live training webinar.
  • Templates of fundraising appeals that you can use.
  • The opportunity to have your year-end plan and one of your year-end appeals reviewed by our team of experts.
Learn more and buy today.

Happy Fundraising!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

How Do You Engage People in Social Change?

Web of Change 2011 from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Check out this thought-provoking video from some super smart folks at Web of Change 2011 - a gathering of passionate organizers working at the intersection of technology and social change.

Do you LISTEN to your constituents?

Are you OPEN to being affected by the people you serve?

Do you know how to connect with others on a meaningful and deep level?

Do you genuinely care about what others need and want from you?



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is Your Donation Page Ready for Prime Time?

We are fast approaching year-end - that time of year that all fundraisers dream about and dread!

Like retailers, we know that a HUGE chunk of revenue is going to drop from the sky or not.  Manage your campaigns correctly and you're set.  Falter or make a misstep and you can break your annual budget.  It's a nail-biter!

You can't control the economy.  You can't know what disaster, natural or man-made, is going to impact fall fundraising results.

You can get your donation page ready for prime time.  Do it now!

My frolleagues, Alia McKee and Mark Rovner of SeaChange Strategies and Eric Rardin of Care2, wrote this GREAT and FUNNY white paper to help you do some basic usability testing and whip your donation page into shape.

Download and read The 2010 Procrastinator's Guide to Year-End Fundraising today.  (It's a year-oldy but goody.)  In particular, focus on the 11 deadly sins of donate page design.  Here are some highlights.
  • Make sure that your donation form doesn't exceed one page.
  • Don't make me give you my first-born to donate.  In other words, kill any unnecessary fields.  The more information you require the more you kill your conversion rate.
  • Make your donation form about giving and nothing else.  Don't give me options to volunteer, read your mission statement, or watch a video.  Call me crazy but your donation form should be about DONATING!
  • Provide contact information on your form, including a telephone number, in case something goes wrong. 
  • Put a link to your privacy policy.  No one will read it but it will make your donors feel more secure.
  • Showcase your Charity Navigator or BBB Wise Giving Alliance charity seal if you have one.  This gives you street cred.
  • Include an "ask string" or alternative giving levels and make the default gift higher than your average gift in an effort to upgrade donors.
  • Consider including "impact donation labels" or concrete information on what donors "get" at each giving level next to suggested donation amounts.
  • TEST the user experience with three colleagues or friends.  (This is an EXCELLENT idea and will help uncover the majority of problems with your current form.)
Year-end giving is not for the faint-hearted.  Use every opportunity to get it right.  Specifically, spend time next month optimizing your donation form.  You'll be glad you did!



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Technology Can't Help You

  • Should you purchase new fundraising software?
  • Should you upgrade your blog to Wordpress?
  • Should you integrate peer-to-peer fundraising into your website?
The answer is, "Yes and No."

If your donation page is non-existent or your website looks like it was created in 2000, then you definitely need to upgrade your stuff.

However, technology ALONE will never help you raise more friends or funds. 

Unless you LEARN how to INSPIRE your donors and ENGAGE them in your work, you'll never raise more money.  It doesn't matter if you have the slickest website, the fanciest fan page or both!

At the end of the day, fundraising is all about INSPIRING OTHERS and building and nurturing RELATIONSHIPS. This can only happen when you write great appeals, thank people for their contributions, explain how their gifts make a difference, show them the impact of their donations, and bring more people into the fold.

Sure technology can FACILITATE connections and make your job easier (sometimes!).  It can also help you save money.  But no technology can make you a better writer or make you love your job more than you already don't or do. 

Want to raise more money this holiday season?

Invest in a staff or board member who ENJOYS connecting with other people, knows how to fundraise and loves to write.

Good luck!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Being Generous

Being generous.  It's insanely hard to do.

I don't know about you but I beat myself up every day for being so self-absorbed.

  • Am I making the right decisions at work?  
  • Will I ever lose those five pounds?
  • Why didn't I mail the bills on time?
  • Why didn't my husband go grocery shopping on Sunday?
  • How am I ever going to pick up my daughter from school on time and exercise as planned?

If I am mindful enough to STOP all of the chatter, I realize that this narcissism prevents me from SEEING the world anew and recognizing all of the things that ARE GOING WELL.  It also leads me away from helping others.

How can I step outside of myself; how can I quiet my mind long enough to FOCUS on others?

There are simply more important things to pay attention to, including:
  • The child who goes to sleep every night without food.
  • The elderly woman who is dying a slow death without family near.
  • The family that has no place to call home.
Help me break through my malaise - this self-imposed, self-indulgent way of being in the world, that leaves me feeling isolated, upset, and unnecessarily unfulfilled.

I can do better.  You can do better.  We can set aside our private, petty concerns and do something bigger in the world!

Maybe I won't lose 5 pounds.  Maybe I'll never get to the bus stop on time.  Maybe dinner will ALWAYS start out frozen!

Who cares?

We are SO MUCH MORE than our petty little minds would have us believe.

No one is waiting for me to be perfect.  Everyone is hoping that I will show up, smile, pay attention and do the best that I can.

XO, jocelyn

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Must Read for You!

Are you searching for best practices in how to manage your Twitter, Facebook and Flickr communities?

Interested in benchmarking some of the nonprofits that are innovating with social media and mobile advocacy and fundraising?

Trying to get the basics - website, email and DonateNow campaigns - in shape for year-end?

Order a copy of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits by Heather Mansfield today! 

Heather is a GREAT resource for nonprofit marketers, fundraisers and communicators. 
She been in the sector for years and has coached hundreds of nonprofits on how to master the Web.  You can find out more about her and her webinars at Diosa Communications.  She's also listed on Twitter's Top People to Follow.

This is a REALLY useful book.  I particularly liked the tips at the end of each chapter which share concrete examples of nonprofit excellence and provide detailed checklists on more resources to research.



P.S.  Full disclosure, my company - Network for Good - is featured prominently in the first section of the book but I'd tell you about it anyway because I think it's an excellent resource.

Friday, September 9, 2011

7 Reasons I'm Not Going to Donate to Your Nonprofit

  1. I've never heard of you.
  2. I don't really understand what you do.
  3. I'm not clear how my gift will make a difference.
  4. No one else gives to you or I can't tell if they do.
  5. I can't find your donation form.
  6. It's hard to use your donation form.
  7. You haven't asked.
Can you turn these objections around?
  1. Start to build a presence for your org and even more importantly for the people who work in your org on social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Get your name out there!
  2. Nail your "elevator speech" on your website in ONE SENTENCE.  And provide concrete examples of what you've accomplished thus far.
  3. "Merchandise your mission" by providing me with concrete examples of what my $25, $50 or $100 gift will do.  This doesn't mean that you have to restrict my gift to these activities but it does mean that you will help me understand what my gift can do.
  4. Provide testimonials from OTHER donors and funders on your site.  Show who else has given, how much and why.
  5. Put your donate button on EVERY page of your website.
  6. Require the minimum amount of information necessary for me to make a donation.
  7. ASK for my support!


      Tuesday, September 6, 2011

      Economy Got You Down? Focus on Retention.

      A new study by Durham + Company, reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows that the continuing BAD news on the economy is making donors more cautious about fall giving.

      According to the study, "two-thirds of donors plan to cut back on charitable giving due to economic woes."  :(

      This is BAD news for all of us, especially since we are heading into "year-end," the most important time of the year for charitable giving.

      Unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do about the economy.

      However, you can (and should) think carefully about your year-end fundraising approach.
      1. Be sure to stay in close contact with all of your donors and express your gratitude for their support.
      2. Be sure to be VERY CLEAR about how their hard earned dollars are making a difference in the world.
      3. Validate your donors' financial concerns AND make a solid case for why their support is still critical.
      4. Realize that retention is the name of the game.  
      You know this, but it is SO much harder (and expensive) to acquire a new donor than it is to keep a current one.  Don't ignore acquisition but DO pump up your retention game

      According to a survey by the Agitator, there are three key components to a great retention strategy.
      1. Employing a high quality acknowledgement and thank you process.
      2. Being willing to invest in non-donor communications.
      3. Making sure that the second 'ask' makes reference to the donor's initial giving preferences.
      You can read more here.

      What are your strategies for maximizing retention and winning in a down economy?


      Monday, September 5, 2011

      Your Right Questions

      Is there water on Mars?

      Do cows have eyebrows?

      If bananas are a fruit why don't they have seeds?

      What does God look like?

      These are some of the excellent questions I get from my daughter! 

      Questions and questioning provide the fire for life.  Our innate curiosity about how the world works and why it works the way it does can lead to great discoveries.

      The problem is that not all questions are created equal, especially at work!

      For example, as a manager, you should spend less time on "what colors and fonts should we use on our website" and more time on "what are the key performance metrics that will help us to track our failure and success?"

      In other words, one of our key challenges as managers is asking the right questions about our organizations.

      It's not easy.

      Asking the right questions is HARD because:

      1) We get DISTRACTED by quandaries that are easy to solve but unimportant.
      2) Asking leads to answering which leads to accountability, which is scary.
      3) Some of the hardest questions don't have right or wrong answers.  To answer "correctly" we simply have to take a leap of faith. (Also scary.)

      I wish I could tell you Your Right Questions but I can't.

      Your organization is peculiar.  There are some things only you know about your people, plans and processes.

      That said, here are two places to start your Socratic Journey.  Check out The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Nonprofit Organization by management guru, Peter Drucker.  Also, peruse Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution by Robert Simons.  Both of these books will give you a head start in determining which questions SHOULD keep you up at night!



      Wednesday, August 31, 2011

      How Will You Use Mobile in 2012?

      Are you going to integrate mobile into your fundraising and marketing strategy for 2012?  If so, how?

      My frolleagues at Smart Online want to know.

      Take this 4-question survey and I'll share the results.



      Monday, August 29, 2011


      We've been without power for approximately 36 hours, 15 minutes, and 2 seconds.  But who's counting?

      In case you are wondering, these are the things that I miss most.

      The microwave.
      The coffee-maker.
      The Internet!
      My flat iron.
      Did I mention light?

      Over the past almost two days, it's been interesting and enlightening to reflect on what I LOVE about electricity.  (I didn't know that I LOVED electricity.)  As you can tell, most of what I miss is pretty innocuous stuff.  But, my higher level beef about this powerlessness is that it makes me feel OUT of CONTROL.  

      I have to THINK about the smallest tasks.  I have to rejigger my brain to build new habits.  For example, I have to pee, put my contact lens in, brush my teeth and wash my face in the dark! :(

      What does this all have to do with fundraising and marketing you ask?

      A LOT.

      According to The She Spot: Why Women are the Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them, women in particular crave a feeling of being in CONTROL.

      And it's easy to understand why.  We're so busy!  We have kids to care for, jobs to do, meals to make, and laundry to fold and only 24 hours in each day. 

      If you want us to DO MORE for your nonprofit and connect with you, you'd better make it EASY and you'd better let us do it on OUR TERMS!

      One of the gifts that you can give your donors is the feeling of having more POWER and CONTROL in their lives.  Here are some suggestions for how to do it.
      • Provide lots of ways for us to get involved with your cause.  Think in person and online volunteer opportunities.
      • Hold meetings in the evenings and on weekends.  Provide child care or create family-friendly events!
      • Offer options for how and when to give.  
      • Offer options for email frequency, i.e. when and how much to hear from you.
      • ASK your donors why they give and try to be responsive to their motivations
      • Make engagement a 2-for-1.  For example, if we can donate time AND hang out with our friends this saves time and allows us to accomplish two tasks at once!
      As I've recently learned, POWER is a PRIVILEGE.  (Thanks, Irene!)  Find ways to give your donors the power and control that they crave.  This will bond them to you.



      Do You Miss Me?

      My daughter’s martial arts school has mastered the art of customer service. 

      It’s not one big thing that they do well.  It’s lots of little actions, which make us feel like her school is more of a community than a business and keep us coming back and PAYING more!

      Here is an example of Black Belt Martial Arts Center’s customer service in practice.  

      When Talli misses class for a week, we often receive a simple communication, such as the email above or a handwritten postcard signed by one of her instructors to let us know that they miss us! 

      These communications serve three purposes.  1) They remind us that we actually missed class!  (Sometimes I get so scattered that I can’t even remember if we made it to class last Wednesday!)  2) They serve as mini-guilt trips (small doses of guilt can be motivating) to make sure that we are fulfilling our obligations as parents to ensure that her training stays on schedule.  3) They make my husband and I feel like we’re still getting our money’s worth even though Talli isn’t training.  Wow!

      In sales, we would call this an effective touch point – a quick but deliberate communication – to stay top of mind.

      It’s also good business.

      Remember: Good customer service is not an end in itself.  (Although, it sure does make work more fun!) It’s actually a critical business function, which if executed correctly will increase the strength and the financial VALUE of your relationships with donors.

      What can you do to improve customer service at your nonprofit?  In other words, how can you delight your current donors and make sure that they stay happy and keep investing in your work?

      As we head into year-end fundraising season, try improving your customer service. 

      Answer the phone CHEERFULLY, send a handwritten note to your donors, create a homemade video of your staff, send a fun, light and kind email focused on ME! 

      You may be surprised to find that the small stuff goes a LONG way to strengthening your relationships with your donors and increasing their loyalty to you.



      Friday, August 26, 2011

      Put Your Cause in the Eye of the Storm

      You cannot prepare for a disaster. 

      Sure, you can buy bottled water and batteries for your flashlight.  You can even lock up your valuables and hide under the covers for a while.  But in the last instance, you can't guard against disease, divorce, or death. 

      It's depressing but true. 

      If we're honest, there are some events that catch us ALL by surprise. 

      - 9/11
      - Earthquakes in New England
      - The debt crisis
      - Challenges to climate science
      - Threats to women's rights

      Most disasters are a SURPRISE.  It's only in retrospect that we create coherent narratives for their prediction.

      What's a nonprofit to do?

      Be aware and be ready.  

      Read the news and follow current events so that when a hurricane strikes, an earthquake hits or Congress decides to defund your mandate you are prepared to STRIKE BACK. 


      During disasters we are LISTENING.  We're finally taking time out of our busy, distracted and distracting lives to SEE what will happen next.

      Too many nonprofits squander these public awareness opportunities for fear of appearing self-serving. 


      Instead USE THE NEWS CYCLE to your advantage.  This is your moment.

      Tell your story about inadequate funding for emergencies, about the woman who depends on your clinic for reproductive health care, about the need for better housing for military families.

      Disasters are NOT a time to be silent.  On the contrary, disasters are a time to tell the truth about the way that the world is not working for all of us.

      Put your cause in the eye of the storm.  We're WAITING.


      Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Can You Merchandise Your Mission?

      I mentioned on Friday that one of the four trends in fundraising is to learn how to merchandise your mission.

      I want to say more about this topic because I think it's an important trend and one that more nonprofits should master.

      First, let's get our definitions straight.  According to Wikipedia, "merchandising refers to the variety of products available for sale and the display of those products in such a way that it stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase."  

      If you've shopped at GAP and Macy's (sorry Macy's) then you know the power of good merchandising.  Good lighting, clear signage, and the ability to EASILY understand what is on sale and what's not is really important to the shopping experience.  Merchandising can make or break a sale.

      Traditionally, charities have been wary of "merchandising" for two reasons.  First, we don't usually think of ourselves as being in the business of sales (although in many ways we are).  Second, it's often hard to translate what we do into a discrete product or service.  Third, we're (understandably) loath to encourage more restricted giving.

      However, more and more nonprofits are getting into the act because according to the online consulting firm, HJC New Media, good merchandising, also known as symbolic giving, can bring new and younger donors into the fold!

      So how do you do it?

      First, think about the work that you do and see if you can turn it into a discrete product or service.  For example, if you work on family planning, can you offer your donors a chance to purchase condoms as a gift?  Or, if you work for a homeless shelter can you offer donors a chance to purchase a turkey dinner for a family of four?

      Second, benchmark others.  Oxfam Unwrapped (see above) is great at merchandising their work and offering symbolic giving opportunities.  Notice that in addition to making a general donation to help lift people out of poverty, you can also give to Oxfam by buying a pack of seeds, art supplies and soap.  Heck you can even purchase poop!

      Global Giving is another charity that has mastered the art of merchandising.  They offer myriad giving options for donors.  See below for an example of a HeroRat gift.

      One caveat: If you do decide to offer specific gifts to your donors be sure to be VERY CLEAR about the fact that they aren't really making restricted gifts.

      I hate to burst your bubble but when you buy a heifer from Heifer International, they are not really shipping a brown cow across the globe.

      Adopt clear language like that used below to ensure that you are transparent with donors about where their gifts go.

      "As a donor, you are given the opportunity to designate gifts to specific country programs or for specific animals. Gifts are deposited into various animal accounts, such as "llama/alpaca," "tree seedlings" or "bees." We have different accounts for every type of Heifer International animal. When any animal fund becomes depleted and there is still a need, monies from any other animal fund can be used where needed most. Meeting the needs of hungry families always comes first, but we do our best to accommodate your wishes, too.

      Every gift to Heifer International represents a gift to our total mission of purchasing and transporting food and income-producing animals, as well as providing intensive training in animal husbandry; environmentally sound, sustainable farming; community development and global education. Again, gifts designated for a particular project or animal are used as requested until that need is fully met. Any remaining money is put to use where it is needed most."
      Again, finding discrete ways to merchandise your mission may bring new donors into the fold.  People are looking for fun and imaginative ways to give.  In addition, they want to know where their funds go.  Help them help you by enabling them to to give in new and unique ways!



      P.S. Thanks to Mazarine of Wild Woman Fundraising for encouraging me to write more on this topic.

      Monday, August 15, 2011

      Do You Have a Personal Board of Directors?

      Do you have a personal board of directors?

      Do you have 5 - 10 friends and/or colleagues that you can rely on to tell you the TRUTH about how you're doing in your work and personal life?

      We've all heard of the concept of mentoring but I came across the idea of a having a personal board of directors while reading Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton this weekend.

      I like the idea of have a posse that you can go to for frank advice about your career, leadership style, work challenges and opportunities, etc.  What a gift to have a few people who you can talk to about ANYTHING!

      Do a quick audit of your current colleagues and friends and consider asking a few folks to engage in a more formal relationship with you.  Then, start checking in with these folks quarterly or twice a year to share updates on your life and get feedback.  This will enhance your leadership skills and give you a great sounding board for what's next.


      Friday, August 12, 2011

      4 Trends That are Changing the Face of Philanthropy

      Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of giving the keynote presentation at the 2011 AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) NC Philanthropy Conference.

      The main goal of my presentation, which you can see above, was to encourage this dynamic group of fundraisers to start thinking about ways to UNLEASH the GENEROSITY of new donors vs. engaging in a "fundraising smack down" with other nonprofits.

      There are 4 trends in particular that I highlighted, which will enable us to ENLARGE the donor pie.  They are:
      • Embracing the changing demographics of our country.  In particular, finding ways to engage more people of color, women and young people in philanthropy.
      • Using technology - STRATEGICALLY - to achieve and exceed our fundraising goals. 
      • Embracing technology-driven Social Giving or Peer-to-Peer Giving as a new way to raise funds and friends online.
      • Finding ways to personalize giving by MERCHANDISING your cause.
      Unfortunately, you cannot read the full transcript of my presentation, but do take a look at the "Questions for You" which are sprinkled throughout.  I hope they spur your thinking about how to take your fundraising program to the next level while having more fun!



      Thursday, August 4, 2011

      The Future of Fundraising

      Here is my new column in Fundraising Success. 

      It's a bold move to try to predict the future. Five years ago, who would have guessed that Facebook would have more than 600 million members or that we'd be talking to each other in 140-character tweets — LOL, BTW, TTYL? 

      That said, I'm going out on a limb to predict the future of fundraising. Here's my take on four key trends that will dramatically change our field in 31 years. 

      In 2042, fundraising will be profoundly multichannel 
      Giving through one channel will become the anomaly vs. the norm as media continue to proliferate and millennials mature. Whether it's texting a donation, giving through a mobile website, responding to an e-mail, writing a check, organizing and giving via an event on Facebook, tweeting to donate, rallying gifts from your tribe on social fundraising sites, giving through the phone or because of a DRTV appeal, the idea of the single-channel donor will be dead. Smart nonprofits will learn the fine art of communicating via multiple channels and meet donors where they live. This will require a focus on analytics to track donor engagement. It also will require nonprofits to reorganize their fundraising departments. 

      In 2042, fundraising will be profoundly multi-ethnic
      According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2042 may be the year that the U.S. becomes a "majority-minority" country, i.e., people of color will outnumber non-Hispanic whites. I predict that this demographic reality will set the stage for a renaissance in fundraising.

      Signs already point to the increasing wealth of minorities. For example, according to the Commerce Department's Minority Business Development Agency and the Census Bureau, "the number of African-American-owned firms in the United States increased by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 1.9 million firms. African-American-owned businesses also drove job creation over the five-year period, with employment growing 22 percent, exceeding that of non-minority-owned businesses." 

      There's also the issue of remittances, or the flow of money from people of color in the U.S. to people in their home countries. According to the World Bank, remittances to developing countries were $250 billion in 2006! This compares to just more than $300 billion in giving to all charities in 2010. Imagine how remittances will grow and how nonprofits and causes will be affected if they can tap into these dollars. Smart nonprofits will get to know these new audiences and become more culturally competent. They will also hire diverse leadership and welcome diverse board members.

      In 2042, fundraising will be decentralized
      In 31 years, I predict, the traditional fundraising department will be less a driver of donations and more a facilitator of philanthropic impulses. The growth of social fundraising sites like Crowdrise, Jumo and Razoo and the massive sums of money raised from peer-to-peer fundraising events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure are indicators that people don't need organizations to raise money. In the future, we will see more friends, families and colleagues coming together at will to pool resources and raise funds on their own.

      Of course, this behavior is not new. Peer-to-peer fundraising has been practiced forever. However, its growth will be encouraged by new technologies. Smart nonprofits will leverage the charitable impulses of these donor-fundraisers by getting out of their way instead of trying to control the passions of these networked individuals. They will also develop killer strategies for cultivating donors who are not formally affiliated with their organizations. 

      In 2042, fundraising will be even more hampered by restricted giving 
      This is not a welcome trend, but I'm afraid that restricted giving will become even more prevalent in years to come as our hyper-local, hyper-individualized consumer culture bleeds into our philanthropy. If I can customize the color and style of my new Nikes, why can't I customize my philanthropy — i.e., only give to specific individuals, locations and projects that I like? Rather than lament this reality, smart nonprofits will communicate within the worldview that says, "I am unique." They will find creative ways to make fundraising feel special, fulfilling and deeply personal. Good luck!