Discovery: Don't put it off - it matters now more than ever!

Nov 05, 2020

If you don’t start a terrific conversation now, another nonprofit will. And when that donor is ready to give, it won’t be you they think of.

Put simply, the #1 way to ensure your university’s success and your future success as a fundraiser is to stay ambitious and consistent with discovery now.

Discovery is arguably the hardest part of fundraising. It means, by definition, that you are calling someone you don’t know. For most of us – even seasoned fundraisers – cold calling is consistently nerve-wracking, sweat-inducing, and just plain awkward.

Why is discovery so uncomfortable?

Fear. Fear of intruding, of offending, of making someone angry, of rambling or sounding stupid, of getting hung up on, or even being yelled at.

How can you conquer that fear?

Make discovery a habit. Like every other fear - the more you do it, the less scary it is. Make dependable time for this work and put it on your calendar. Even three focused hours a week will yield...

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UPLIFTing Ideas For You

Jun 08, 2020

I've got chills.

The first week of virtual UPLIFT was so inspiring!

Amazing ladies from more than 20 states and Canada met on Zoom for a truly happy Happy Hour.

We laughed. We shared. We connected. We lifted one another up.

There were so many great ideas shared and we want to keep on sharing!

Each week in June, we'll update this post to include books, films, podcasts, apps, exercises & quotes shared throughout UPLIFT.

Planners/gratitude practices:
Creative Ideas:
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What time is it??

Apr 28, 2020

For weeks now, time has both completely stopped and never moved faster. 

I've never felt more distracted and more focused.

I've been terrified and confident - anxious and totally relaxed - alone and more connected than ever before. 

I've done more:

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Walking the dog
  • Running the dishwasher (one BILLION times!)
  • Exercising
  • Zooming
  • Drinking
  • Working
  • Worrying

I've done less:

  • Shopping for cool shoes
  • Flying
  • Wearing makeup
  • Wearing uncomfortable cool shoes
  • Wearing real pants
  • Worrying about what I'm wearing
  • Eating out
  • Hugging
  • Worrying

With so much that feels unknown and out of my control, I'm finally, maybe, hopefully focused on what I can control.

This quote from author and entrepreneur, Claudia Chan, is truly resonating:

The big question: Who do you want to become?

Oddly, with the exception of less hugging (and let's be honest - wearing cool shoes), I'm much closer than ever to who I want to become.

Without so many distractions, so much future-focus, so much...

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Wine Wednesday in Strange Times

Mar 18, 2020

It is Wine Wednesday. This is an old picture. Jenna and I will be doing a virtual "Cheers" today - to each other and to you.

Because, like most of the United States, we're doing our part and staying home.

Thank you to every one of you who has sent me inspiration these last few days. I have loved every bit of it and wanted to share a little of my own.

If you're home and adjusting to a new schedule - could use a smile, some motivation - check this stuff out. :)

This is an incredibly moving - and to me, quite surprising - film.

Its focus is the unlikely relationship forged between the current pope and his predecessor.

In a particularly affecting scene, each hears the other's confession - the foibles and regrets of both humanizing their singular office.

At its core, this movie is about change. It celebrates the possibility that both people and age-old institutions truly can change for the very much better. 


From the sublime to the ridiculous, but staying on theme, I read...

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"I have another offer."‚Äč Is there a better way to your next raise?

Feb 11, 2020

Do you know the rules of the “I have another offer” game?

It goes like this…

You: I want and deserve a raise, but the only way to get it is to get another offer, take it to my boss and see what they’ll do to keep me.

 Ideally, your boss says: We don’t want to lose you. Of course! We’ll match that offer!

 But your boss is thinking: Couldn’t we have talked about this before the offer? Does she really want to stay or is this just about the money? When is she going to play this game again?

 I never played the “I have another offer” game.

And it cost me financially.

Those who interviewed elsewhere got bigger raises than I did.

But if you truly don’t want the offer and want to stay, there’s a big risk, right? A risk that your current employer says, “Congratulations, good luck!” AKA: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Even when the gambit works, managers often...

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What's your plan?

Feb 07, 2020

Do you love to plan?

Or, like me, do you feel a little claustrophobic when you have too many things on your calendar?

Do you feel like a failure when too many checklists go unchecked? 

Does it feel like your plans are too big and overwhelming?

Or are you just eking out daily tasks without the big picture in mind?

You are not alone! I've been in every single one of these places.

Which is why Nancy and I spent much of January in planning mode.

For the first time in a really long time, I feel like I've created a plan for my own work and my own life that I'll actually achieve.

3 reasons why this plan feels doable:

  1. Two new tools - This planner by Ink+Volt. With sections for weekly goals, reflection & celebration and writing prompts like: "Done is better than perfect. If you never finish, your work never sees the light of day. What can you push ahead on this week? Where is "good enough" better than perfection?", this is not your ordinary planner. Doing these exercises at...
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Monday Inspirations: Read, Make & Listen

Dec 30, 2019

Despite a long road trip, a few too many mornings full of biscuits and gravy, and a pinched-nerve inducing guest bed, I found some inspiration over the Holidays.

If you're looking for something inspiring to read, make or listen to this week...

Like, right now, read: Educated by Tara Westover.

Educated is the memoir of a girl raised by Mormon survivalists in the mountains of Idaho. With no formal education, she taught herself into college at BYU. A professor helped her into a study abroad program at Cambridge, while another helped her actually get into Cambridge. She then went on to earn her PhD in History at Harvard.
This searching, beautiful book resonated so clearly with me. Here are the themes still swirling in my brain…
The struggle to find your own identity. How do you untangle yourself from your family’s expectations? How do you justify becoming who you want to be when it hurts them? Or when it goes against their beliefs? What are your beliefs?

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Stop the Meeting Madness!

Dec 18, 2019

Do you have too many internal meetings?

Do you leave most meetings thinking:

"Damn, that's an hour of my life I'll never get back."

Are your meetings mostly reporting out on what you did and what you'll do next?

You're not alone!

Nancy and I just spoke with hundreds of fundraisers at the CASE V conference in Chicago who are overwhelmed with too many unproductive meetings.

How can you stop the meeting madness?

Here are a few tips that aren't always easy, but can truly make change for you and your team:

  • Before accepting ANY meeting, ask the organizer: AM I MISSION-CRITICAL?

Most meeting invites are habit: he always comes to these meetings, so I should invite him...Other meeting invites are, believe it or not, just a courtesy: if I don't invite him, he may feel left out. Don't let yourself fall into these traps! By asking if you're mission-critical to the meeting, you'll know why and how you can add value.

  • Say no to 60 minutes. Hour-long meetings are another weird work habit....
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Want a little UPLIFT?

Jun 17, 2019

Behold the remarkable (smart, driven, open-hearted) women of UPLIFT.

Thank you, ladies, for two days of candid conversation, thinking big about work and life, and powerful planning. We will never forget it!

One comment we treasure, from the fabulous Kim Schmelz:

I loved that the whole conference had dialogue...I didn’t drift off to my own space once!

Thanks, Kim!

Here’s what UPLIFT proved:

  1. You are hungry for dialogue – real conversations, often about tough stuff without easy answers.
  2. You learn as much from each other – regardless of position or “experience” – as from “experts,” so diverse groups matter.
  3. We are (much) better together – healthy teams, tribes, troupes achieve more and have a lot more fun.

It has never mattered more to find your voice and use it, bravely and authentically, in service of big visions. The ladies of UPLIFT made an amazing start and we can't wait to hear what every single one of them do next.


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When's the last time you tried something new?

Apr 19, 2019

It had been a long, long time since I tried something really, truly new that scared me.

It was not pretty and it was not easy.

It was exhilarating, terrifying, kinda humiliating, and really inspiring.

This spring break, I learned how to SURF in Costa Rica!!

On Day 3, when I was finally standing up more than falling, I had a revelation (a few, actually):

When you try something totally new – and hard to do – you start with a lot of instructions. You tell yourself the 1, 2, 3, 4 in your head. Chest up, jump up, feet parallel, look UP, butt DOWN, arm up, etc.

Pretty soon, you realize that your brain and/or your body just can’t follow all those instructions. They basically have to happen all at once. You can’t remember and recite them, you just have to DO.

Soon after that, you realize that instead of trying to control the whole thing (because you really, really CAN’T), you’re going to have to surrender and trust your brain/body to start getting it...

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