Quick Tip, LinkedIn Edition

I have always felt guilty about not doing more constituent engagement through LinkedIn. It seems so obvious – there are our donors, board members, volunteers, and all of their networks! At one point I took over a not-at-all-utilized Friends of ZUMIX LinkedIn group with very lofty aspirations. I invited a bunch of new people, and then did nothing else.

This morning I got the one tip I have been looking for – a way to engage in a meaningful way that http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/ativan/ doesn’t require continuous maintenance – at a HandsOn Tech Boston workshop on social media for nonprofits.

Mike Byrnes, presenter and ESC consultant, suggested using the recommendations feature to acknowledge the work of Board members, volunteers, and active donors. By doing so, you can publicly offer a sincere thank you, give that person a professional boost to their profile, and also get your organization some added LinkedIn visibility. Triple win!

Well played, Future Chefs!

Future Chefs LogoEight months in, I have not abandoned my resolution to attend 12 fundraising events in 2013. Recently, I attended a pop up lunch at Future Chefs, a fantastic youth development and culinary training organization.  (I am so excited to be on their fundraising committee and you should check them out.) The event was fantastic, but the greatest learning point caught me completely by surprise.

This was not exactly a fundraiser – it was more of what the Benevon model calls a “point of entry” – but I am including it anyway because ultimately one hopes these events will lead to increased support over time.  I enjoyed the pop up lunch quite a bit. There was excellent food, a chance to meet participants and alumni, mini-presentations highlighting the program, and an opportunity to chat with some folks that I’d like to have better connections with. So, with that winning recipe, of course I was inspired to make a donation.

To make a donation online, the Future Chefs website directs the donor to a Paypal http://healthsavy.com/product/zovirax/ portal. The surprise came after I completed the transaction and was directed back to the Future Chefs website to a “Thank You” page  which illustrates the impact donations make by highlighting recent accomplishments. This is such a simple step to take, but for some reason most of us do not do it. I was able to experience this as a donor, and it really made me excited about the gift I had just made. At a point where I would have just moved on to my next task, redirecting me to this page at a time when I was already engaged was a clever way to build goodwill and pass on a little extra knowledge.

But…very quickly I switched to fundraiser mode, and so I called a colleague into my office to look over it with me. I am happy to say that we are in the midst of a website redesign at United South End Settlement, and we will definitely be adding this feature.

4 Things I have Come to Regret



Over the last few weeks I have come up against some tasks that were made significantly more difficult by past decisions – some of them mine, some of them by predecessors.  In each case I can see why these Worst Practices seemed like a good idea at the time so I am lumping them all together and shaking a fist.
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My Life as a Muggle

This year, my husband and I decided to be more strategic about our charitable giving.  I’m surprised that it took this long, as we are people who love lists and a good chart.  And so we have our goal amount for total giving, a handful of organizations we know we will support, and then a wildcard pot for the things that just come up.

As we go through this together, it has become clear to me that he thinks like a donor and I think like a fundraiser who gave a gift.  As a relatively new/young http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/provigil/ fundraiser, sometimes I recklessly bend the rules and sometimes I go Grumpy Cat at the mere suggestion of a non-standard letter format.  I have realized that, in going through this process, it would be best to not over-analyze every single letter and email we receive, but to just allow my natural reactions to lead the decision making.

Today I was excited to come across the  Giving with Purpose course.  So, one hour a week for six weeks, I am just going to be a regular person learning how to better invest in my community.

Beware the Chatty Cathy’s

Mark Twain - the Greatest American of All Time - (allegedly) said, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

Mark Twain – the Greatest American of All Time – (allegedly) said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

I think we all know someone who talks too much. If you don’t, then you are that person and this post is for you.  In some contexts, one might choose to find this endearing.  But for fundraisers, where so much of our work hinges in our ability to communicate and connect with people, it can be a real hindrance (and also super annoying).  And so, I am going to lay out a few reasons why conciseness is next to godliness.

1.  Nobody likes a salesman.

A donor meeting goes well when I do about 25% of the talking.  If you are lucky enough to meet with a donor, remember that the conversation is all about them.  At this point, you have already sold the product!  The question is, why did they buy it?  You can’t find out why someone gave and what their connection is if you do all the yakking.  For prospects, I still apply the 25/75 rule.  While they are not yet as familiar with the program as you might like, the important thing to remember is that the vast majority of donors only know a handful of facts about the organizations they support.  Donors will choose you, not because you managed to ramble out the contents of the annual report, but because there was a story or a photo or a simple http://pharmacy-no-rx.net fact that stuck with them.  And how will you know what that is, or could be, unless you sit back and listen?

2.  The longer the pitch, the weaker the message.

Many nonprofit staffers, especially those fired up with passion for their work, seem to assume that there can be no harm in mentioning one more statistic, or telling just one more story.  In Robin Hood Marketing, Chapter 1 includes a discussion of the dilution effect.  The basic premise is that the opinions of audience members are weakened by information that is neutral to the message – meaning, when people babble, we tend to view them as less credible.  I don’t want to pilfer too much content because the book is wonderful and you should read it, but the gist is this – if you have a good point to make, make it, and then STFU.

3.  Make the conversation a pleasant experience.

On a very basic level, at the end of a conversation, you want the other person to leave feeling good about it.  This is a bit of a personal preference, but what I can say is that I do not enjoy exchanges where I am being talked at, or where it feels like the other person has an agenda and cannot be steered from it.  Rather than sticking to a script to try to make a donor, be flexible and try to make a friend.

Maybe social media is worth it after all?

Lately I have been wrestling with the question of whether social media channels are worth the effort for my organization.  It seems like a natural fit – founded in the settlement house tradition, we are community builders, so online communities are just an extension of that work.  My eyes kinda glazed over a little just typing that.  I am a social media cynic.  There! I said it.

It is easy for me to be a doubter because my office doesn’t do it well. And so the question is, is it worth the time and effort to figure it out, make a plan, and commit the resources for upkeep? Just as I was about to say no (see my previous post about my affinity for “no”), I came across this study from the Stanford Social innovation Review:  The Permanent Disruption of Social Media.

I’m not going to go too far into it because http://healthsavy.com/product/topamax/ obviously you are not someone who shies away from online reading, but the following tidbits gave me a lot to consider:

  • The pyramid model of donor engagement is old school, we are now operating in a vortex (cool graphic provided!) of continual opportunities for interaction.
  • 39% of survey respondents are motivated to get involved in causes that impacted someone they know, and 36% are motivated by a cause that is important to someone they know.
  • Slacktivists are actually just as likely to give as non-soap boxers, but they are much more likely to participate in an event, volunteer, or solicit.

By the way, I found out about this article through a 3 for Thursday bulletin from K Weill Consulting Group.  These bulletins are much more digestible and relevant for me than the average weekly newsletter so I recommend checking them out.




Urban Dictionary defines a “Yes Man” as “‘a person who agrees to every opportunity they come across, no matter how crazy it may seem and they do not weigh the consequences.”

I bet you know a fundraiser who fits this description. For development folks, it can be hard to pass up an opportunity, especially when we look at those financial statements every month. After all, our job is basically to raise as much money as possible. But perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned  over the past four years is that oftentimes you need to do less to raise more. Doing a handful of projects really well will usually result in more money and better relationships (not to mention a less stressed you) than a lot of thrown together endeavors.In my experience, it is wise to say NO to the following things:

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How do I thank thee? Let me count the ways…

I recently had a conversation with someone who commented that a nonprofit he used to be very involved with only ever reaches out to him when they want him to buy tickets to a major fundraiser.  Actually, I’ve had variations on this conversation with many people.  And this is an area where I am fully committed to making significant improvements in my new position.  With the recent launch of a major giving society, I have mapped out an annual communications plan will be applied to each major donor.  The overarching premise is that, in addition to the standard phone call and official acknowledgment upon receipt of the gift, we will reach out to them a minimum of four times over the course of a year where we are not asking for any type of support – and that we must do this before another request is made.    And so, this will require us to come up with some creative ways to share updates and give thanks.

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Well played, Jimmy Fund!


This campaign seems to fall in line with the age-old wisdom that “if you ask for money you get advice, and if you ask for advice you get money.” Good for them for killing two birds with one stone by asking for advice about raising money! I do not envy the extreme http://premier-pharmacy.com amount of work it will take to adsorb all of the interest that will be generated, but I have no doubt that if I could find a way to scale this to fit my own organization there would be a bountiful harvest of volunteers, board candidates, and donor prospects.


Amanda Palmer, Secret Fundraising Guru?

I found this to be a great TED talk and interesting on many levels. I often think about the exchange of money for art, and how our society so often undervalues the contributions of artists. I would recommend this TED talk to anyone who is uncomfortable asking a donor or prospect to give. She keeps coming back to this concept of a fair exchange between the artist and the patron and I think http://buydiazepambest.com there are parallels between nonprofits and their donors. If we view our donors the way Amanda sees her audience, it breaks fundraising down to a very human level. They key is that we are not asking for a favor, we are asking for help, and in exchange offering an opportunity for the donor to engage in our mission.