Thursday, May 25, 2017

Are You Ready for the Rage Donation?

Since November and even before that, our donors have been gripped by the need to take action. GQ magazine first coined the term in its article on "rage" donations here. ACLU, Meals on Wheels and Planned Parenthood are just some of the organizations that have been flooded by donations reacting to the current political climate and decisions made. Not only have they been flooded by one time donations, they now have a large group of monthly sustaining donors that will retain for years to come.

Place your politics aside for mere moments and understand that this phenomenon may directly impact your fundraising and donor relations. Also understand that with a finite amount of charitable giving and an ever increasing number of nonprofits, the dollars simply cannot stretch equitably to everyone. Meaning that if one nonprofit experiences a windfall, like the ACLU raising $24 million dollars in one weekend, six times its yearly totals, that this money comes from another nonprofit's bottom line. It could even come out of yours. Is your nonprofit making itself a relevant cause or just fundraising like it always has? 

If you're behaving the same way you have in fundraising and donor relations in a pre-Trump era than you are now, you need to recalculate your planning. Also, donor relations becomes a more and more important endeavor to get right. Providing meaningful impact and engagement, filling their lives with gratitude is your competitive advantage in a sea of nonprofits. 

We are seeing our worlds collide,, lines are blurred between social causes and money now more than ever. Take for example a new app that capitalizes on rage or episodic giving. It's called WeCanResistit, and every time President Trump tweets, it makes a donation to a relevant cause. I'm interested in the capture of data and information and also interested in donor relations efforts. 

For example, you have an incident that causes a flood of donations, what is your donor relations approach? Do you throw them in the same exact communication stream as everyone else? WHY? Don't these new first time donors have different reasons for giving than your traditional base? How are your capturing the momentum and delivering impact? 

Have you made an episodic donation? How did it go? Has your organization discussed this phenomenon and are you planning for it? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Preventing Distraction from- squirrel!!

In this age of digital pervasiveness, are attention spans getting shorter? Is multitasking a myth or actually possible? As a frequent presenter in a room full of adults, I always know I have the audience if I can keep them "hands off" of their mobile devices. But what happens in your workplace- are you constantly distracted? There are some tips and tricks you can learn too. 

But first some information about the current state of play. 

If we have such little amount of time dedicated to training and development, then no wonder we're the home of stagnant ideas and little improvements on current processes! We're flying the plane while building it and that is seen as a point of pride in our industry. It shouldn't be. We need to take the time to hone our tools in addition to doing the work. 

I must confess I'm a serial multi-tasker most days, I can make it work, it's an art form I've truly mastered.  The time when I'm most productive is early mornings and I have to have noise on when I create, absolute silence and sitting still are my devils of productivity, I'm constantly moving and flipping between projects. Most folks would be driven mad by my process. 

That translates to my presentations. They're not meant for the overtly serious, sit still and lecture enjoying type folks. You're going to laugh, you're going to be challenged, and you will learn at least one take away that you can implement back at your work location. 

Tips of the trade? 

Have people be active: raising hands, standing, up, playing games... do it!
Provide brain stimulation: I use thinking putty and other fidget devices for my audiences, adults love them too and they help with absorption of information.
Build great presentations: no bullet pointed slides you will read to your audience, think images and stories, just like with your donors
Allow questions throughout: when the moment strikes them, allow people to ask questions. Don't say to an audience "hold your questions until the end" It's off-putting and will lead to crickets at the end
Acknowledge the reality: When most people leave a training they get absorbed into their daily grind so while they are there, have them send themselves an action item for the future- I enjoy using
Not every new technology and idea needs to be chased. Reinventing the wheel is frustrating, why not just add a new set of tires? Stick with one great improvement and do it well then move on. Try some ideation, sit in a space without your computer, or in a space that inspires you. Go for a walk, look at photos, listen to your music. Do something to shake up your routine and remove distractions. and if all else fails go feed the squirrels!

How do you handle the overwhelming work/distraction conundrum? What are your tips and tricks?


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Is there a fax number on your business card?

Go ahead, take a look. It's a cringe worthy moment. I know, hard isn't it? If you're ever wondering if your organization is resistant to change, or focused on the wrong things, then the flagship for this is your business card. Does it have a QR code on it? Well, bless your heart. One of my other favorites is to have social media logos on it but those little boxes can't be clicked now can they? OOPS.

You see as nonprofits we often focus on the wrong things. We focus on the size of our logo or the exact PMS color or the photo of our CEO, all the while ignoring major glaring indicators that we just aren't keeping up with what really matters to our donors.  WHY are they giving to your organization? How are we tapping into their giving heart muscles? Are we ignoring the truth of why we keep loyal donors at the emphasis on acquisition and ever higher dollar goals? These are the things I wonder about when I meet fellow fundraisers every day. Also, who's noticing the details? They matter.

So about that business card... Does it have the link to your LinkedIn profile on it? What does it say about you? When do you use them? Mostly in the "free lunch" bowls at the local eatery? Is it easy to read for donors young and old? What does it say about all of your communications when your first impression is one from 1994...?

So what are the best practices? Here are some things I look for in a modern organization:
Clear, bold design
Life is meant to be lived in color- a white business card with a seal is a snoozefest
Play with texture, should it be matte or glossy? Consider some cool UV coating
Work for an environmental organization, consider plantable cards
Make sure it's easy to read for all eyes
Is all of that information necessary? Pare down
Do something novel and something that fits with your mission
Don't put your mission statement on your card
Maybe on the back put why you work in fundraising in a quote or personal statement

The whole point here becomes clear, it's not just about your business card or one communication piece, it's about how we think about communication and change, how nimble and diverse we are in our thinking. What do your simplest communications say about your organization? When's the last time you took a look at them? And when you do, do you have diverse opinions in the room? What are your thoughts? Post a photo in the comments of your card, or tag me with a photo of your card on Instagram, @donorguru or email me your card at
I'd love to see your examples, until then I'll be waiting by the fax machine...