We are thrilled you’re here! In the blog posts below you will find resources, updates, news, and information about a variety of topics in philanthropy and the social sector. Enjoy!
Growing up in Kentucky during segregation, Jimmie Alford – The Alford Group’s founder – attended an all-white school, and didn’t experience racial diversity until the age of nine when his parents moved to Chicago. The move, due to the closing of coal mines, placed Jimmie’s family in a small apartment in the Englewood community. Jimmie was one of three white students in his third grade class of 40 students.
Along with his classmates, he understood economic diversity and its impact on themselves, their families and their community while living in extreme poverty within a predominantly affluent nation. He also directly and personally saw and felt the impact of discrimination. He decided at a young age that the injustice of discrimination was something he would never allow to penetrate his life and that he would work his entire life to eradicate it in all forms. Like many who grow up marginalized in one way or another, Jimmie vowed to lift himself out of his circumstances, make a better life and never forget the important life lessons learned along the way. His commitment to this goal was unwavering and steadfast.
Diversity is one of seven core values of The Alford Group, and one of Jimmie’s enduring “fingerprints” on the consulting firm he founded in 1979. One manifestation of this commitment is our 20+-year sponsorship of the Diversity Workshop and Diversity Art Showcase at the annual AFP International Conference. While our dedication to diversity and inclusiveness has remained resolute over the decades, the demographics of America – and thus the universe of donors and prospective donors – have changed dramatically. Lessons learned from diverse communities, and the shared values of diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DEI), are more relevant and more essential today than ever before. Continue reading
By Mary Kaufman-Cranney, CFRE, Vice President
I recently facilitated a panel of development professionals at the statewide Arizona AFP Conference in Flagstaff to discuss the ins and outs of preparing for and launching a major campaign. The session reinforced best practices along with the creativity and flexibility needed to adapt to the bumps in the road that come with any campaign.
Between the panelists and myself, we brought about a dozen or two campaign experiences, a half billion dollars raised and more than a few stories of how campaigns truly bring out magical moments – from motivated donors and serendipity occurrences, to inspired board engagement and giving.
What is a major campaign?
As we got going, the panelists were nodding their heads as I got us all on board with the definition of a major campaign.
Definition of a Major Campaign:
A carefully organized, intensive fundraising effort in a specific amount of time designed to secure extraordinary gifts for specific purpose(s) that propel the organization to a whole new level of achieving its mission & reaching its vision Continue reading
By Brenda B Asare, President & CEO, The Alford Group
The Alford Group sponsored this year’s Giving USA event in Chicago with Lipman Hearne and the Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise and Responsibility. We shared the recently released Giving USA 2018 numbers, discussed new research on megadonor archetypes, and hosted a panel of local experts to discuss what it all means for the social sector. Here are the main takeaways.
Giving USA 2018 Numbers
(Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017)
Total giving in 2017 reached its highest level ever, surpassing the $400 Billion mark for a total of $410.02 Billion.
Giving has been on the rise for the past few years. This year, giving increased among all four sources (corporations, foundations, bequests and individuals), with corporate giving increasing by the largest amount at 8 percent growth (5.7 percent adjusted for inflation). This growth from corporations is in part due to a $405 million bump in corporate gifts to natural disasters in 2017.
Practical Ideas and Tools
By Mary Kaufman-Cranney, CFRE, Vice President
While presenting at a recent AFP lunch meeting, I asked the audience, “How many of you have at least a few board members engaged in your major gift fundraising efforts?” Not to my surprise, only a handful of the more than 100 fundraisers in the room raised their hands. Then I asked, “How many of your board members are passionate about your mission?” As you would imagine, everyone in the room raised their hand! So, how do we turn that passion into fundraising action? Here are a handful of tips and tools to get results: Continue reading
The secret to a successful corporate/social sector partnership is for each partner to be simultaneously self-centered and other-focused. In this video post, Diane Knoepke talks about the three ways we are failing to live up to what we know about what makes these partnerships work.
Don’t we all agree that the most precious things in life are worthy of our best attention, effort and care? In the fundraising world, the most precious “things” are our donors and their philanthropic dollars.
Who among us has the luxury of a daily schedule that is just waiting to be filled with new ideas and activities? Nobody that we know! So let’s take 15 minutes – only one percent of our day – to ponder ways to work smarter and multiply the impact of our efforts, and benefit the most precious “things” – our donors!
How do you make sure that your donor stewardship is intentional, timely and effective? You need to plan for it! Wonderful ideas for individual stewardship activities, timelines and plans abound on the internet, so we aren’t going to reiterate them here. The idea we are offering is a strategy for multiplying the impact of your stewardship planning process by also using it as an engagement opportunity for key donors, staff and board members. Continue reading
By Diane Knoepke, Vice President, The Alford Group
If you’re working in the social sector, you’ve probably said – or at least heard – things like this in discussions of the dynamics between grantmakers and grantseekers:
“We want this to be valuable for both sides of the equation.”
“I’ve sat on both sides of the table.”
“We need to understand how things work on the other side.”
Perhaps this “both sides” idea is a misnomer. At least that is what I walked away thinking after moderating two dynamic panels of funders and their not-for-profit partners at Friday’s “Straight Talk: Unpacking the Power Dynamic between Grantseekers and Grantmakers” event, hosted by Chicago Women in Philanthropy. When we think of partners in funding relationships as the “asker” and the “asked,” we are missing a lot of dimensions to the power dynamics present in these relationships. Continue reading
Prepare your donor database for year-end fundraising with performance analysis, data clean up, and…dragonglass
Ok folks, Halloween is officially over and WINTER IS COMING (Game of Thrones references provided for our fellow fans – you’re welcome). Hopefully the change of seasons from fall to winter and the accompanying year-end appeal planning and execution feels less like you’re facing the Night King and an army of Wights and more like you’re planning a feast for your loyal bannermen or awaiting the Lannister loot train (minus the pesky Targaryen dragon attack).
For many organizations the year-end push yields a significant portion of annual giving. By November you’ve likely already planned your appeal, written your letters and booked your mail house, but have you planned for measuring your success and course-correcting any shortcomings? If not, we’ve pulled together a few tips to guide you on your quest for the Iron Throne, errr….I mean, for a successful year-end appeal!
By Molly Hansen, Vice President, The Alford Group
“Please be our next board chair. Joe, Sarah, and Ben have all turned us down and Andrew doesn’t want to stay on for another term.”
Has this ever happened to you or in your organization? With thoughtful planning and leadership development you can create a reality where begging for board officers and committee leaders just doesn’t happen.
In a 2015 BoardSource survey, only 49% of nonprofit CEOs agreed that their organizations had an effective process in place for officer succession. CEOs often navigate (survive?) multiple chair transitions, and cited building a board leadership pipeline as being among the most important area for board improvement.
A recent Board Effect blog post cites the report Succession Planning for the Non-profit Board Chair that finds:
“Most organizations can survive the successful election to the Board of an individual or two whose group participation skills and leadership attributes are less than stellar, as other stronger members of the Board will generally neutralize any adverse consequences to the organization. However, placing Board members into the organization’s highest leadership positions is a much higher-stakes proposition. Persons in elected leadership positions with mediocre leadership skills will, at best, do no harm, but might cause the association to miss strategic advantageous opportunities. Persons with poor leadership skills may create organization dysfunctions that may take years from which to recover, if ever.” Continue reading