Category: How tos

And — here’s your bonus — Vida Joven will teach you, dear fundraiser, volumes about state-of-the-art donor-centered, donor-worshipping, donor-appreciating, make-your-donor-very-happy comms

The Vida Joven story amazed me from the start: since 1996, this determined (and for many years all-volunteer) orphanage has rescued thrown-away children from the merciless, dangerous gutters of Tijuana (in 2019, TJ was the “most murderous city” on earth, statistically) … and yet … eventually … those very same VJ-rescued kids mostly go on to college.

Goldfish pay more attention than humans (but goldfish can’t make gifts)

Read a chapter from Tom’s new book… as usual… it’s fabulous!   Chapter 14  Goldfish pay more attention than humans (but goldfish can’t make gifts) Every day thousands of messages aim for your brain, to reach your heart, mind . . . and wallet. It’s a well-funded assault, too . . . via web, streaming TV, your car’s radio, free newspapers, magazines, roadside advertising, flyers pinned… Read more »

Running Your Nonprofit’s Accounting Department During Covid-19 and After

When stay-at-home orders hit a year ago, was it a seamless transition for your nonprofit, or was your bookkeeper sneaking into the office early on Saturday mornings to scan documents and do work on your desktop version of Quickbooks?   Your organization may be in the latter category, perhaps because you never expected something like Covid-19 to happen. Or maybe you don’t fully trust… Read more »

Free advice (for what it’s worth)

Fifteen years ago, as I began my transition from commercial copywriting into the nonprofit world, I made an offer that proved popular with fundraisers: a free crit. The deal was simple: they’d send me something. I’d go over it, applying what I’d learned during a successful career in marketing. In exchange for that, they’d let me publicly post their critiqued appeal or newsletter or… Read more »

A Year Into the Pandemic, Long-Term Financial Impact Weighs Heavily on Many Americans

About a year since the coronavirus recession began, there are some signs of improvement in the U.S. labor market, and Americans are feeling somewhat better about their personal finances than they were early in the pandemic. Still, about half of non-retired adults say the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak will make it harder for them to achieve their long-term financial goals, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Among… Read more »

Effective leadership, successful fundraising

Fundraisers are managers utilizing a fundraising plan as a management document to achieve goals and meet metrics. However, even though fundraisers rarely hold a nonprofit’s top staff position, fundraisers are also leaders. Knowing the difference between fundraising management and fundraising leadership is essential for fundraising success. While management is focused on today’s details, leadership is focused on tomorrow’s possibilities. Those possibilities are rooted not… 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 »