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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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 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 5 :)

Feb 16, 2018

Happy Friday, Generous Changers!

This week we've been so inspired by the amazing nonprofit leaders in our Fundraisers' University and Fundraisers' Monthly. These hard-working humans exemplify servant leadership and remind us that we learn so much more - in every single interaction - when we ask great questions.

Quote we're digging: 

"What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question." -Jonas Salk

We're watching: Simon Sinek talking about leadership on Marie TV.  This is seriously good stuff. Heart of the matter: those with leadership roles are responsible for their people (more than "production"). If leadership is at all an obsession for you, as it is for us, give it a watch.

Bonus takeaway: just seeing a generous act provides a jolt of oxytocin, a happy hormone!

We're reading: The Coaching Habit. We cannot refer people to this book too much. The subtitle says it all: "Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way...

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?:

Feb 06, 2018

Retention.

It's a big hairy issue in fundraising - one that's made up of a ton of other big hairy issues: time, money, engagement, productivity, training, management and culture.

Why should you care?

If you lead a nonprofit - money & time (and time is money!).

  • According to research by Penelope Burk, it costs a minimum of $127,650 to replace a fundraiser.
  • The average tenure of a front-line fundraiser is 2 years, but it takes at least 10 to 12 months for fundraisers to feel up to speed in a new role.

If you're a manager - you have the power!

  • 50% of employees who quit cite their manager as the reason.
  • Managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. (No surprise: Engaged employees are happier and more productive.)
  • In short, great management makes all the difference,
  • But, nonprofits provide little to no training for fundraising managers.

If you're a fundraiser - you want to succeed.

  • You're driven by meaning & mission.
  • You get little to no training....
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Friday Inspirations, Episode 2 :)

Jan 26, 2018

Happy Friday, Generous Changers!

A few thoughts as you finish up your work week...

Quote we're digging: Seems we're all struggling with work/life balance these days. Here's a nice little reminder:

"Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you."                                                                                         - Carl Sandberg

Tricky, but transformative, to remember that you own your time and only you can give it away. We may or may not be great at this, but we're working on it!

We're wowed by: water.org's collaboration with Stella Artois. Buy a specially designed Stella chalice on Amazon for $13, and Stella makes a donation that provides clean water for someone in the developing world for five...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 1 :)

Jan 19, 2018
 

Happy Friday, Generous Changers!

We're about to add a new video, "63 Ways to Thank Your Donor," to Fundraisers' Monthly.

Which got us thinking that we'd like to thank you.

THANK YOU AMAZING CHANGEMAKERS!!. We appreciate you so much.

So we thought we'd begin to celebrate Fridays by sharing a few things that make us happy-dance every week. (We're shamelessly ripping off Tim Ferriss's Five Bullet Friday here, which, btw, we highly recommend.)

Here's what we're celebrating, pondering, fascinated by this week.

We're celebrating the late Maya Angelou's gorgeous quote: 

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Making people - donors, colleagues, friends, strangers - feel terrific is a pretty great goal every single day!

We're admiring  Pencils of Promise's outstanding tag-line:

250 MILLION KIDS CAN'T READ THIS | Let's change that

Any doubt about their mission? Try to get that brief,...

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Those Awkward Silences...

Jan 18, 2018

Do you feel like you have to fill every single silence in a donor conversation? 

Do you end up saying weird things, like:

“Woo, it sure is sunny outside. This weather, right?!” or
“Whew, I sure have had a lot of coffee today. Do you like coffee? I really like coffee. A little too much actually. Is it hot in here?”

I’ve used the restroom in the middle of a few donor visits just to talk to myself in the mirror:

“Calm down, crazy. You’re scaring the nice person.”

When you talk to a stranger, there are always awkward moments.

A donor once told me that the person who came to visit him a few years ago was really great, but I seemed nervous.

Which, um, made me nervous!

If you have these moments, try a few things that have helped me (almost) get over it:

  • 80/20 - Listen 80% of the time. Talk 20%. If you’re an extrovert this will be tough, but for my fellow introverts, this can lift the glorious burden of talking and put the emphasis...
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