Better Boards

Apr 27, 2018

This week, we were lucky to listen to Anne Wallestad, CEO of BoardSource. She presented findings of their excellent report, Leading with Intent.

This survey of over 1,700 nonprofit leaders showed that 67% of executives and 64% of board chairs said fundraising performance needs to improve. So, if you're wishing your board would step up to raise money, you are not alone!

 Two things we can all do to help: 

  1. Be clear about fundraising expectations when recruiting and orienting new board members.
  2. Provide lots of "mission moments" so that board members really know what your org is up to and can tell personal stories about why it matters.

Check out the report for tons of nuggets on how to help your board be the one everyone wants to join - and the one that makes an inspiring difference.

Need a little help with board inspiration? We are reading THE POWER OF MOMENTS, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This book is full of amazing ideas to provide moments of elevation,...

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You are a Badass

Apr 20, 2018

That's right! We said it.

You. Are. A. BADASS!

If you need a little reminder, refresher or reinforcement of how badass you really are, read Jen Sincero's books, You Are A Badass & You Are A Badass At Making Money

We are still fan-girling over Jen's talk this week at super awesome Watermark Books in Wichita.

She was irreverent, honest, sarcastic and inspiring - all the things you'd hope for in an author who titles chapters: Love the One You Is, Your Brain is Your Bitch and Gratitude: The Gateway Drug to Awesomeness.

I keep a copy of Jen's 10 Secrets to Being a Badass in my office. Here are 3 of my favorites:

  • Leap Large - Take risks. All the time. Big, hairy, scary ones. Thrilling and terrifying are opposite sides of the same coin - if you're serious about changing your life, you will be feeling them both. Often. They are excellent signs that you're on the right path. When you get an intuitive hit to do something scary, run straight towards it before the excuses start...
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Do you have Big Potential?

Apr 06, 2018

We don't know about you, but we are ready for some SPRING around here! Yesterday we were bouncing around in over 60 degrees; today, it will snow. Grrr.

Wishing you all some sunshine - whether literal or metaphorical. Here, we hope, is a little. 

We are reading Big Potential, by Shawn Achor, and man does this book fit the "Friday inspiration" bill. We can't recommend it highly enough.

It turns out happiness, productivity, and career achievement are all about... interconnection. 

The questions that drive success are no longer " How smart are you?" "How creative are you?" or "How hard do you work?" They are instead:

  • "How smart do you make others around you?"
  • "How much creativity do you inspire?"
  • "How much does your drive become contagious to a team or family?"

Even at hyper-competitive Harvard, those who achieved the most, both in college and after, were not the individual stars, they were the people who activated everyone around them.

Sounds generous, right? It's also...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 11 :)

Mar 30, 2018

This has been an amazing week in America, Generous Changers!

We are truly blown away by this $29 million gift from the blockchain tech company, Ripple. With their cryptocurrency gift, Ripple funded every single project on DonorsChoose.org - a public school crowdfunding platform where teachers submit projects or classroom materials in need of funding, like this one from Mrs. McCarthy at Chaplain Watters Elementary School 24 in New Jersey. Her 6th through 8th graders are "...ravenous for books that are able to provide them with self to text connections." She's asked for $557 to buy a set of 66 novels. Anyone who loves a great book would agree with Mrs. McCarthy when she says, "We may not be able to take many trips, but these books would make for a wild adventure!"

Led by our amazing friend (and Jayhawk) Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple made the largest contribution of digital currency ever to a single charity. The gift will fund projects like Mrs. McCarthy's, submitted by over 28,200...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 10 :)

Mar 23, 2018

Happy Friday, changemakers!

This week while working on branding (for ourselves and some of your orgs), we came across this quote

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This feels especially resonant for fundraisers. Several of you have told us that it can be tempting to become a chameleon in donor conversations. (We've done it; it feels creepy.) Resist the temptation! As Emerson knew, you connect and inspire best when you are ... you. 

We're reading: Derek Black, an heir apparent in the white nationalist movement, until he attended New College of Florida. There, he was invited by fellow students to a Shabbat dinner, which he attended that first night and regularly for the next two years. "Outreach and discourse won't magically solve the problem of hate. But without those private conversations with people I cared about, I might not have seen the weaknesses in my arguments....

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 9 :)

Mar 16, 2018

Happy Friday! 

If you are looking to reinvigorate your work and achieve at the next level, we recommend this great read (picked up at the airport like most good books): Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, by Harvard B-School prof Morten Hansen. It has great insights for fundraisers.

Hansen identifies seven principles that "accounted for a whopping 66 percent" of variation in work performance while also providing "better work-life balance, higher job satisfaction, and less burnout." Who doesn't want that?

Here they are:

  1. Do less, then obsess: Choose just the few things that matter most and then absolutely obsess  - make huge efforts to do terrific work in those areas. (If you don't have it already, see our Purpose-Driven Productivity Formula!)
  2. Redesign your work: don't pursue goals, but value. For example, instead of "Visit with 150 donors," you might want to "Advance meaningful gift conversations with 100 donors." You know...
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Friday Inspirations, Episode 8 :)

Mar 09, 2018

This week has flown by. Hope it was a great one for you!

We led our very first Fundraisers' University course for 21 amazing nonprofit leaders in Kansas City. An awesome range of fundraisers and executive directors - from one-day-on-the-job to 12 years, from a $440K budget up to $1.2B - joined us at Nonprofit Connect. We threw candy at them, said "yay" about 27 times and left truly inspired by their drive, curiosity and missions.

We're feeling this quote from author Mary Anne Radmacher:

"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way."

We're reading The Generosity Network. I can't believe it took us this long to find this beautiful fundraising book! Authors, Jennifer McCrea and Jeff Walker, are 1000% speaking our language, with chapters on "human-to-human connection," "transparency & vulnerability," and "the fundraiser as mentor and guide." If you love a good philosophical experiment, check out the Brave New World exercise on page 78. The goal is to help...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 7 :)

Mar 02, 2018

Wish you were here with us in sunny San Diego for Social Media Marketing World 2018 - the conference.

True confession: we came here a little grudgingly. Two years ago, Jenna and I weren't even on Facebook - and we didn't want to be. We thought social media was mostly a waste of time. We. Were. Wrong.

This conference has absolutely wowed us. Every single talk has focused on community, connection, trust, service. Is that all that happens on social media? Of course not. But it's the best of what can happen on social media - and it's exactly what nonprofits do best.

We've also learned endless tools and approaches that can help nonprofits maximize their reach, build their following and boost fundraising. 

We are listening to, watching and reading these amazing social media gurus:

  • Brian Solis, author, analyst and "digital anthropologist." He was there at the beginning of social media and remains a "hopeless optimist" about it. He reminded 3,000 people here at #SMMW18 that...
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Friday Inspirations, Episode 6 :)

Feb 23, 2018

Happy Friday, Generous Changer!! 

Finding inspiration absolutely everywhere this week. Lots and lots of it! (Read to the end for links to cool tools!)

Quote we're loving: 

"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."  - Oscar Wilde

We're reading: Bill and Melinda Gates' Annual Letter 2018. (There's a teaser version on LinkedIn, where I first saw it.) I am pretty fan-girly about these two - they take their philanthropy very seriously. But my favorite part of this letter is the personal bit at the end: 

"Maybe 20 years ago, we could have made a different choice about what to do with our wealth. But now it’s impossible to imagine. If we’d decided to live a different life then, we wouldn’t be us now. This is who we chose to be."

A great reminder that giving means a lot to generous people - it can be deeply defining. Which makes our role as connectors to causes honorable, enviable, lucky.

We're viewing: the Picasso show at the Nelson-Atkins...

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How To Talk About Money On Your First Visit

Feb 20, 2018
 

Asking for money before you even know someone can feel creepy.

And it may not be appropriate. But....it probably is.

This potential donor knows why you're there, right? At the very least, they saw the signature line of your meeting request? 

Think of it this way: if they know what you do, then it's actually weirder not to talk about money. Right? Kinda gets things off on the wrong foot?

Honestly, if you don't say something on this first visit, it only gets more awkward later. 

Here are a few approaches that may help (thanks to peeps on Office Hours last week for asking!).

If s/he already gives at any level:

  • "Thank you so much for your generous gifts through the years." And, as you discover what s/he is excited about/interested in, then name a level of support and ask about future interest: "It is amazing for students to have international experiences. We have a lot of donors who give $1,000/year to help with tickets - often that alone makes it possible. Some have...
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