Tagged: Volunteers

A Good Time To Do Good

kindness-3“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” ~ unattributed

There seems to be a dispute about whether or not this quote can be attributed to John Wesley or not.

In fact there’s a whole website dedicated to the quotes John Wesley did not say.

But who said it, doesn’t matter nearly as much to me as what the quote suggests.

Doing good.

Right now, using all the gifts at your disposal, no matter the circumstances.

No matter where you are, what time it is, who you are with and how much time you have left, doing good is a worthy endeavor.

Not just when you’re at the top of your game; when all the pieces are falling into place.

But do good when your bottom’s falling out.

When you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Do good when you don’t want to — especially when you don’t want to.

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.

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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 An Annual Plan From Scratch

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Having a good annual fund development plan keeps you focused on the work that needs to get done and raises money for your organization. But what do you do when you join an organization that has no plan in place? How do you build a development plan from scratch?

Something that has worked for me is to envision what an annual plan will look like a few years down the road and develop strategies to get there.

SO WHERE TO START?

Examine the current status and get…

  • a good understanding of current trends and challenges.
  • a good understanding of the organization’s fund development history.
  • a good understanding of its donors.
  • a good understanding of who the organization is and what it does.

Explore fund development opportunities including:

  • Monthly Giving program
  • Major Donors program
  • Planned Giving program
  • Direct Mail program
  • Acquisition and Cultivation strategies including, fundraising opportunities with strong calls to action, third-party fundraising, proposal writing, marketing and promotions
  • Strategies for particular constituent types, i.e., individuals, businesses, foundations, groups, etc.
  • Tools and processes, i.e., database implementation, policies, procedures
  • Writing a case for support
  • Creating a good story and photo bank
  • Writing fundraising copy for each program for use in newsletters, fundraising letters, website, etc.
  • Creating a philanthropic culture starting with the board, staff and other volunteers
  • Identifying and developing strategies for capital needs
  • Creating volunteer opportunities and
  • Developing engagement strategies for the community at large

Once you’ve created a document of all the possibilities, develop a timeline for implementation with particular emphasis and detail on the strategies you plan to implement in the next 12 months.

Starting from scratch, allows you to build a plan that is customized to the needs of your organization. Although there is a lot of hard work involved, implementing the organization’s first annual plan will yield positive results.

Have you ever built an annual fund development program from scratch? What are some of the important lessons you learned? What tips would you recommend to someone who is building an organization’s first annual program?

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?

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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.

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Take Care of Your People

“Life is meant to be shared. We need each other.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita    images044OR7Q2

YOUR ORGANIZATION IS MADE UP OF living, breathing people.

  • Your Staff
  • Your Volunteers
  • Your Donors
  • Your Clients
  • Your Community

Building relationships and making the best use of the time, talents and treasures of your people, who are united in fulfilling your mission, is well worth your time.

This is based on the premise that although being fiscally viable is important, engaging with, and recognizing the valuable contributions of your people is equally important.

In fact, the latter is crucial to the success of the former.

Your vision and brilliant strategies aren’t worth the paper they’re documented on, without the people who have committed themselves to your important mission with you.

Take care of  your people or they may stop taking care of you.

Make a list of the stakeholder groups who are important to your organization. When is the last time you engaged with them? What are your strategies to ensure you’re staying connected with, and keeping each group engaged moving forward?

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 You Know How To Appreciate Your Donor?

 

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. ~ Voltaire

imagesUX8A5PA5MOST ORGANIZATIONS KNOW IT’S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE DONORS, but what happens when how you do it has the opposite affect?

I recently celebrated my birthday and was blown away by all the good wishes that came my way in person, by phone and by email.

Because it feels good to be appreciated

Even people whom I hadn’t had recent contact with, reached out to me through Facebook and Twitter; many letting me know the difference I have made in their lives, personally and professionally and wishing me a year of the same sort of kindness.

I was moved by their words and the creative ways they chose to express their gratitude and birthday wishes. And some of the most touching messages included videos, personal photographs and poetically woven words.

I LOVED IT!

But there are people who are not comfortable with public acknowledgement.

I suppose a more private person wouldn’t share their birth date on Facebook or click the feature that allows people to post on their wall.

How do you appreciate your donors?

How do you know what your donor’s preferences are?  Not every person is comfortable with public acknowledgement; preferring something more personal or even wanting to be completely anonymous. Do you know your donors well enough to know what makes them feel appreciated?

What’s the point of showing gratitude if your donor does not feel appreciated, or even worse, is offended and feels their privacy has been compromised?

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.

What You Say and How You Say It Makes a World of Difference

We sent them that email, why aren’t they getting it?

images2Have you ever asked yourself a question like that?

Whether you’re writing a fundraising letter to donors, or a memo to staff, leading a meeting, doing a performance evaluation, or sharing important information with a co-worker; what you say and how you say it makes a world of difference.

Most of us think we are being clear when we are communicating and are totally caught of guard when we’re not understood.

FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF COMMON MISTAKES WE MAKE.

Internal Speak and Jargon

Depending on your audience; don’t use acronyms. If you do, you may as well be saying, “Before you fill out the PTR check with your HM to make sure you’re not duplicating the RPDs.

Remember what adults sounded like on Charlie Brown?

Yeah? Don’t sound like that!

Every organization uses internal/industrial terms. New employees, volunteers and the general public do not know what you’re talking about when you use them.

Use clear and concise layman’s terms.

Taking for granted that everyone knows what you know

Don’t just say, “Contact the stakeholders,” for example. No one is as familiar with your job as you are. You know that by contacting the stakeholders you mean take steps 1, 2, and 3.

Spell it out.

Don’t assume that people know what you know.

Cleverness and Vagueness

Saying things like growing hope, blossoming futures and colourful opportunities to describe your after school program…well you may as well be talking about a gardening center for all anyone knows.

It’s much easier to understand that your after school program builds confidence, gives children the skills they need to be successful in junior high and teaches them to be leaders.

Cute and clever don’t get your message across.

Flowery and poetic don’t cut it.

Use simple and clear language.

Hint: The longer you’ve been at an organization, the harder it is to avoid these communication traps. It can be helpful to test your communications on people who have no idea what you do.

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.