Tagged: Sustainability

How Much Do You Care About Your Donors?

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I’m not challenging your goodness or integrity.

As a fundraiser, you work hard to support a cause that means a lot to you. You strive to connect your donors’ passions to the needs of people your organization cares for.

And you are successful by staying true and focused on your organization’s mission and vision. This is exactly what you should be doing. Good for you!

But what happens when others are finding solutions to the cause that is important to you in different ways or through other organizations?

Do you feel tempted to create a new program in order to win their support?

Do you try to convince your donor to change her mind on the type of program she supports by trying to convince her that your organization’s methods or goals are better? Or reach more people?

Or do you recognize that other organizations may be filling much-needed gaps in the bigger picture of the cause you care deeply about and choose to honour the passion of each individual making a difference in ways that are meaningful to them?

Maybe it’s not about who is better at what. Maybe it’s about each person doing their part and in doing so, achieving better results than anyone of us could have, alone.

What do you think?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Caring For Future Generations

I wonder what would happen if...

I wonder what would happen if…

Each generation, at some point, bemoans the world they have inherited from the previous generation. With their whole lives ahead of them, they vow to leave a better world for the next generation.

 Then life happens.

The drive to provide for, and protect, their immediate tribe becomes priority. They block out the injustices in the rest of the world, not entirely, but where these issues intersect their own survival – they choose to protect themselves.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

This is how we have survived for tens of thousands of years. We’re not really wired to think about 10, 50 or 100 years from now.

But perhaps in our old age, with our lives mostly behind us, we are freed up to think about future generations.
Maybe then we are willing to plant the tree whose shade we will never personally enjoy.

I wonder what we could learn and what plans we would conceive if we listened to the idealistic dreams of the young and tempered them with the life-time wisdom of the aged.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Greek proverb

What can you do today to facilitate discussions about the state of the world for future generations? Who would you invite to participate?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Building Solid Donor Relationships

When You Are Looking For a Partner, You Have To Decide What Type of Relationship You Want

untitledYou may decide to start with the dating scene.

You just want to get a sense of what’s out there and meet a number of people with different interests and personalities.

Something, many of your parents may have suggested, if they felt you were getting too serious, too soon!

This testing of the waters, helps you to understand what you are looking for, and what potential partners are looking for, in a relationship.

It’s exciting. Sparks fly. Adrenaline is high, but for the most part, dating is a hit-and-miss endeavor.

When You Set Your Mind on Pursuing a Life Partner, It’s a Game Changer

It’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s not always going to be fun!

images3

The Same is True When You’re Working With Donors

Acquiring new donors, writing grants for the current year, securing sponsors for your events, etc., is like dating. Although necessary, in and of itself, it is not sustainable for the long-term.

If you want stability, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s not always going to be fun.

Building strong relationships with your donors requires good Stewardship. Things like:

  • finding out what they’re passionate about
  • addressing their concerns and questions
  • commitment and responsibility
  • transparency
  • trust
  • admitting when you make a mistake

What are you doing to strengthen your donor relationships?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Mission Drift – Wishy Washy Doesn’t Wash With Folks

 A LESSON FROM RECENT EVENTS WITH APPLICATION for your non-profit organization

imagesI18CTDYQOn March 28th, PC candidate and ex-Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith lost her bid to represent the Highwood riding in Alberta in the general election to newcomer Carrie Fischer.

Let me back up here to give you some background information that led up to these events.

By mid 2014, Smith, as leader of the Wildrose had successfully brought the party to a place where they’d won the hearts, imaginations and support of rural Albertans.

The party had become an effective opposition, shaking up the PCs who have held power in Alberta for more than four decades.

In the fall of 2014, the Wildrose party hit a few speed bumps when several party members crossed the floor to join the PCs. Smith was outraged and even ended a long-term friendship over the issue; telling the defector that she’d have her constituents to answer to.

Shortly afterward, in a plot twist worthy of a Stephen King novel, that left the mouths of many people gaping across the province – regardless of their political affiliation – Smith herself, crossed the floor, urging remaining Wildrose members to do the same.

So on the 28th, the residents of Highwood made their voices heard and expressed them loud and clear by rejecting Smith.

images3

A lesson with applications for the non-profit sector

This is what happens when who you are, and what you stand for, is discarded. In other words when mission drift occurs. And the same thing can happen to your organization if you don’t remain true to who you are.

When you take your eyes off the prize, when you go along with popular opinion, when you compromise who you are to chase money and garner support, your foundation begins to crumble. It becomes increasingly difficult to engage your community in meaningful ways. Your closest relationships and your best fundraising practices cannot save you when you stray from your mission. Wishy-washy doesn’t wash with folks.

If you don’t stand firm for something, you will fall for anything. And it will be those whom you serve that will suffer the most.

What do you stand for? How do you ensure you’re staying true to your mission?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Do Your Rules Help You To Do, or Prevent You From Doing, Your Job?

imagesGRJBE3VORULES ARE MEANT TO SUPPORT an environment that empowers people to do their best while protecting them from harm, right?

Recently, the town of Taber, Alberta introduced and passed a bylaw that enforces a curfew for teens and prevents people from yelling, swearing and gathering in groups of more than three in public. Click here for the story.

I can only speculate why they introduced this controversial bylaw that has Albertans buzzing with passionate opinions on both sides of the argument. My guess would be, that it was implemented to address issues with young people and, more specifically, their behaviour in the Town of Taber.

On the one hand, it’s understandable. It makes the lives of city employees easier. On the other hand, as well as targeting the specific demographic believed to be problematic, it lumps in the majority of folks who do not cause ‘problems’ in the town.

I can’t help but wonder. Have they considered other ways to address this issue? A consultation with youth service groups to create new youth programs, perhaps? Or training bar staff to recognize when someone has had enough to drink, and to cut them off when that happens?

images3

Creating policies and processes in organizations is often a microcosm of the same kind of methodology Taber and other municipalities implement to create an environment that allows its employees to do their jobs well. And it works; that is if the rules equip employees to do their job, but not so much, when they prevent them from doing their job well.

Sometimes policies make life more difficult for the majority of people who have not caused problems. Sometimes processes, although easier for employees, make it harder for people trying to access services or donate time and money to you.

How often do you review your policies and processes? Do they encourage an environment that allows for maximum effectiveness regarding your mission? Do they serve you or prohibit you from doing your job?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Related articles:

What do non-profits have to do to make it easier for people to help them?

Can Folks Get A Hold of You?

Collective Impact

IHeartHomeMy good friend Louise Gallagher recently invited me to attend the Community Summit on ending homelessness in Calgary, Alberta and I am so happy that I took her up on it!

WHY?

Because any time an organization can draw 450 people from 150 organizations together to work on addressing a common goal, the Community Builder in me is beside herself with joy!

The Community Summit was organized by the good folks at the Calgary Homeless Foundation, along with leaders in the homelessness sector, to introduce Calgary’s updated 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

The key piece that stands out to me is how this goal will be achieved.

Beyond collaboration, the success of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness is dependent on Collective Impact and involves everyone in the community; including service providers, government, the private sector, academia, media, faith community, those who have lived experience, or are members of the public.

And that’s just amazing to me!

There are five conditions that need to be met for Collective Impact:

  • Common Agenda
  • Shared measurement
  • Mutually reinforcing activities
  • Continuous Communication
  • Backbone support

To read more about the summit and get more information on Calgary’s updated 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, click here.

Does your organization work with multiple partners to achieve its goals? What are the benefits of working with multiple partners? What are your thoughts on collective impact?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Building a Case for Direct Mail

untitled2When a direct mail piece doesn’t yield the results your organization expects, they may be tempted to never do it again.

Or if your organization has never sent a fundraising letter, it may be hard to convince them to even try it.

And even if your organization is willing to send one, they may insist on sending an ineffective fundraising letter.

It’s very tempting for executive directors to scrap the idea when a letter flops. It can also be difficult to convince well-meaning leadership staff that asking is not a bad thing, or that fundraising copy is different from program descriptions and marketing copy.

As a fundraising professional you already know that direct mail is one stream of revenue in a diversified fund development strategy that will help you meet your organization’s fundraising goal. So how do you convince your organization to be on board with it?

You can gather industry data that shows proven results. You can speak to other organizations who have had success with direct mail. But what if your organization still seems unconvinced?

Proposing a test may be the answer.

In the case where an organization insists on sending their usual type of letter written by someone who is not a fundraising professional, propose a portion of the list receive a professional fundraising letter. Let the results speak for you.

In the case that the organization has never sent a fundraising letter, sending one to a portion of your constituents as a test may be an option. Asking does result in giving.

Once you have a robust direct mail program, testing key variables on portions of your mailing list continues to ensure that you are sending the most effective direct mail package.

Asking people to donate through your direct mail program is an important part of your organization’s diversified fund development plan.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.