Category: How tos

How to Cure Founder’s Syndrome

Founders—the people who create nonprofits—are remarkable. They miss sleep to build websites, skip lunch to meet with potential donors or partners, and do whatever it takes to turn their dreams of a better world into reality, creating an organization in the process. They literally create something out of nothing with their drive and passion. Yet as nonprofits develop from start-up to adolescent, many founders… Read more »

You know what’s the easiest money your charity will EVER raise? BEQUESTS!

Right in front of us. Easy to do. And yet rarely done well. What’s WRONG with this picture? You know what’s the easiest money your charity will EVER raise? BEQUESTS! One little known fact about your website, though… “Website visitors spend 84% of their time above the fold, as this heat map shows” ~ Source: Ann Wylie, from Nielsen Norman, 2018 Where are you… Read more »

Creating A Board That Works

Let’s face it. Board bashing is something of a sport amongst nonprofit leaders, especially executive directors and CEOs. There are two primary complaints I hear all the time, both of which are surprisingly solvable! First, too many nonprofit leaders expect board members to be human ATMs. “Go raise lots of money or write big fat checks and leave me to do my important work!”… Read more »

Best length for a newsletter article aimed at VIPs?

This consultant insists it be 750 words or less “because science says so.” Right or wrong? Jeff Brooks and I are Moceanic’s Blithering Idiots. Our esteemed colleague, Michelle B., wrote the two of us recently for advice (her first mistake)… Hello, my fundraising guru friends! I have a random question and am wondering if either of you has some evidence/research, etc. to support a theory, one… Read more »

Multichannel Now! Julia Campbell vented this:

“Hey fundraisers: Can we stop vilifying social media & digital, and just accept that is where many people spend a lot of their time? *We are not our donors.* Just bc we hate Facebook doesn’t mean they do. Multi-channel is the only way to reach present & future donors. Multi.

“My point is not that one channel is better than the other. There is no one-size-fits-all for any nonprofit. My point is that it’s so easy to blame social media for all of our problems and all of our ills without looking inside our organization.”

Hot off the presses, Nonprofit Management 101 (2nd edition) is a must-have book for anyone working in the nonprofit sector

Hot off the presses, Nonprofit Management 101 (2nd edition) is a must-have book for anyone working in the nonprofit sector. The new edition has been updated and is full of practical, easy-to-implement tips and tools. Compiled by Blue Avocado Editor-in-Chief Darian Rodriguez Heyman, and featuring concrete insights from nonprofit executives and writers, Nonprofit Management 101 is available now.  The contributors to this owner’s manual… Read more »

The Best Way To Put Clients First Is To Let Them Lead!

Those of us who work at nonprofits are drawn to a particular mission and a desire to do good and give back. Most of us have navigated our careers thoughtfully and intentionally and have worked hard (perhaps even tirelessly). Yet often, despite our good intentions and hard work, we find ourselves replicating the practices that created the inequity we committed to disrupt in the… Read more »

Breaking the Nonprofit Financial Glass Ceiling

The fact is that a financial glass ceiling exists for nonprofits — a limit, which many nonprofits hit, where the money just won’t grow. They may have a great solution to a social problem, but they are unable to attract the money necessary to deliver on that solution. I see this all the time in my consulting practice. A nonprofit has existed at a certain budget level — let’s say $1.5 million — for years and years, and though they have big ideas for how much more they could be doing, they just can’t seem to get past that $1.5 million mark.

How to Tell Stories About Complex Issues

Storytelling is one of the greatest tools we have for engaging communities on complex social and environmental issues, in ways that can drive belief and behavior change. People are far more likely to remember information if it reaches them in the form of a story. Good stories also have an incredible ability to reduce counterarguing on divisive issues. And when people are transported by a great story, they remember the events in the story and feel like the experiences were their own. As a result, the story has the power to influence future beliefs on related issues.

Breaking the Ignorance Ceiling

Why this book screamed to be made In the US, as of 2017, there were something like 1.3 million government-sanctioned charitable organizations. It’s a growing sector: at current rates, about 47,000 new US charities are born each year.[1] Is that a lot or a little, for a nation of some 330 million? I say it’s a lot. After all, the same population gets by with… Read more »

“In a billion-dollar campaign case,” she wondered, “where do you stick the ‘letter from the Dean’?”

Ummmmmmm…. Good question, Echo. ¶ In our little world [The Case Writers], where we pretty much get to write and design whatever we think is best, working with a group of clients who want exactly that, every “normal” element is questionable. You start each day with this question, “What if everything I think I know is wrong?” ¶ In other words, if something normally… Read more »

Some Say Fundraising Is Just Sales: They’re Wrong!

Early in my 30-plus year career in the philanthropic arena, I was looking for a major gifts officer for a reproductive health clinic in Los Angeles. Of the many résumés I received, one was from a candidate with ten years of solid experience—but for eight of those ten years, he worked for religious charities that opposed the values held by my organization. Within the… Read more »

The Board vs. Staff Game Replacing Divide and Conquer with Let’s Make Millions Together

It started with a threat, from a board member in the midst of a board meeting.   “If she doesn’t produce in a year, she’s out of here.”   Thirty seconds. Sixty seconds.   Silence hung in the room like fog at dawn.   I was beginning my third job with a nonprofit. The first two positions were highly-sought-after spots with low-pay and high-perks. … Read more »

Why Does Your Board Micromanage? Learn from My Error and Create a Board that Governs

It was a beautiful August morning. Twenty campers and four counselors outfitted in orange lifejackets paddled silver canoes across a glassy blue lake in northern New Hampshire.    We pulled up to a sand spit. As we unloaded, I, one of the junior counselors, muttered, “I wish I had a brownie. We should have brought snacks.”   In response, all twenty campers moaned in… Read more »

Leaders: It’s OK to not know everything

Recently, a CEO confided that the accelerated disruptions occurring in her industry, with the advent of new technologies, new entrants and new business models, were shaking her usual confidence. While an expert in her field, she was doubting her adaptability to the increasingly complex nature of the challenges leaders face today, from work to home life. She is far from alone. More and more,… Read more »

Return On Investment – A new age of business-mindedness dawns for nonprofit enterprises

Suddenly it seems like everyone’s talking about it. Or maybe “finally” is better than suddenly. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has gotten weighty on the subject. On June 7, it featured a scathing article by Amanda Pearce, CFRE, under the headline, “Nonprofit is a Tax Status, NOT a Business Model.” Even US charity watchdogs have admitted they got it wrong. In case no one at… Read more »