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?