Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Find Your Why

I have a crush…his name is Simon Sinek.  He is a British-American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant and the author of several books including the bestseller “Start with Why”.
Sinek contends that people do not support you or your organization because of what you do or how you do it – rather they support you and your organization because of why you do it.  When you can tell people your purpose, your cause, or your belief and it aligns with what they also believe that is when they can connect, engage, act, and give.
Often our organizations tell the world what they do or how they do it.  Everyone thinks in those terms.  We ask each other things like “what do you do” or “how is that done”?  But what if we flipped the script and told people why we do what we do.   For example - I could say I am a fundraiser for higher education.  It is true it is what I do and have done for the majority of my career.  But what if instead I said I have devoted my career to helping people pursue their dreams.  Which statement would resonate with you more?
Do you know your why?  What inspires you to do what you do?  Having a Why Statement gives you confidence - it is your purpose. It reminds you and motivates you to drive forward. It becomes your brand – it is how you show up every day. 
Getting Started -
Start by writing down all the things in your life that motivate you, get you excited, and/or give you energy.  Make this list as big as you can.  If that seems too broad – just focus on your current job.  What do you do that you love?  What task do you do and you lose track of time when you are doing it?  What makes you feel fulfilled?   And then ask yourself why do you love it?  Be specific.  If writing a meaningful acknowledgement letter is something you love – stop and ask yourself why?  If it is planning an amazing event that will bring your donor to tears – ask yourself why is that important to me? 
Getting to your “why” is powerful.  Simon Sinek said once, “I imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves.  As non-profit professionals we are making a difference.  We are changing the world.  We are creating opportunities.  We are contributing to something greater than ourselves.  Do you feel fulfilled every day?  If not, then maybe the first question should be “why”.
Go find your “why” and if you need help let us know. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

5 Top Takeaways from the Pulse of Donor Relations Survey

It's been a week or so since the results of the Pulse of Donor Relations survey went public, and I have to say I'm humbled and inspired by your responses. This year's report received a huge facelift thanks to my designer partner, Tyler Wessel- check out his amazing work here. If you haven't read it yet, you can download the survey here as well. I would like to share some of my key takeaways with you and would also ask that you leave your key learnings in the comments below!

1. Our experience level continues to deepen, even as we welcome hundreds of new professionals into donor relations. In addition, donor relations is emerging as a career of choice in advancement with a huge importance on tenure, we love our jobs and stay with the field for a long time! 73% of us want to stay in the field. At a recent 4 Pillars conference in Atlanta, there were no less than 5 people in the room that had left a career in front line fundraising for the wonderful world of creating magical donor experiences! #winning

2. Conversely, less than half of us have strategic plans!! We will fail to grow in importance and depth as a profession until we elevate from task based positions to strategic thinking. One must not simply strive to do the work involved with our donors, to check a list off (which is really satisfying) but we must also constantly inquire, is there more? How do I strategize for the future of our donors' needs? What else can be enhanced? Donor Relations is not a series of tasks to reach an outcome, it is a lifestyle and vocation centered around the donor experience.

3. Honor Rolls and traditional recognition continues to fall by the wayside. As the self- proclaimed list killer this continues to be music to my ears. I recently heard from someone that they had a staff transition and the annual list of donors fell by the wayside and by the time they went to pick it back up not a SINGLE donor complained so they eliminated it - A chorus of cheers rang out! Keep up the good work killing those nonsensical sacred cows!

5. Future Trends: Here are the repeated themes I'm seeing in this question:
  •  Custom, custom, custom, getting to KNOW our donors and that one size does NOT    fit all. 
  • Digital Digital Digital- the more video and digital the better- it also further enhances the unicorn like nature of the hand-written, special touch!
  • A strong desire from donors for increased accountability and transparency with their funds, regardless of amounts

Finally, when asked what you want the fundraising world to know about donor relations, the answers were profound and inspiring. Here is a word cloud of your responses:

What are your thoughts after reading the results? Please add them below! Again my deepest gratitude to the more than 3000 of you that contributed! 


Thursday, February 1, 2018

All the Little Things

In the world of events, I often have the opportunity to onboard new talent (sometimes a little too often it seems). Recently, a new hire asked me about my event “pet peeves” — the things that drive me bananas at an event. Unsurprisingly, I’ve developed a few over 20+ years. And in the interest of transparency in establishing expectations with your team, I encourage anyone who manages others to share your own list up front. 

But in that moment, I had a different thought: How fun would it be to share our event “pet pleasures” — the little things that make us break out into a happy dance? After all, couldn’t everyone use a healthy dose of joy these days? So, in no particular order (but kinda, because NO order is just chaos), I present my five faves: 

  1. An event that Runs. On. Schedule. Everyone shows up on time, the caterer is on point, people actually sit down when asked (what is it about that move from pre-function to function anyway?). Many hours go into planning the perfect timetable for your show. Bask in the glory when the clock on the wall lines up with the schedule on your clipboard. 
  2. Zero no shows + zero walk ups = zero scramble! This is the rare spotted-flying-unicorn of events. But your unicorn dreams can sometimes come true! Just be sure to enjoy the relaxed look on your team’s faces when it happens. And your own. #LetMeTakeASelfie 
  3. Anything mini. Mini desserts. Mini appetizers. Miniature horses. Even these mini cocktails:
    Mini = portable, easy to hold, and easy to consume while working the room. Mini makes things better! (Except on tables. What is that? A miniskirt?! Why would they make a linen that doesn’t reach the floor?)
  4. That “a-ha” moment. Maybe it’s the student speaker. Maybe it’s the impact video. Maybe it’s the president’s remarks (it happens — I’m lucky to work with one of the best). When events go well, there’s a moment that it all comes together perfectly and purpose is omnipresent. The guests feel it, you feel it — the energy is palpable, and in that moment, we all know why we’re here.
  5. A thank you note. I built a career through the hospitality industry, so I know better than to pin my hopes on a parade of post-event kudos. Yet … every now and then … I am still delightfully surprised to find a handwritten note in my mail, usually from a donor, expressing their gratitude for an experience that strengthened their connection with our organization. In moments like this, I’m reminded that the late nights and hand wringing and cat herding that ultimately deliver us to an event day truly matters — that our work makes a difference.  
What about you? What aspects of an event will inspire your happy dance? Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a conversation about the little things that drive us crazy. Let’s start a conversation instead about the little (and big!) things that bring us joy! 

With purpose, 

I hope you enjoyed this guest post by DRG Group member, Matthew Helmer (@ExperienceGuru).