One time I started a casual, collegial conversation at an organization’s annual luncheon. It was a formal affair, with gracious table settings and lovely flower arrangements. As one honored donor was getting up to leave her place, I noticed a napkin was caught on her belt.
“Excuse me,” I coughed, “may I take that napkin from you?”
She guffawed and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness!” as we shared a loud, hearty laugh. Recovered from our side stitches, she sat back down and said, “By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask you something about how my gift works.”
We discussed her giving for a good five to ten minutes. The conversation ranged from what she enjoys giving to, her motivation for philanthropic gifts, and how she would like to continue giving in memory of her late husband’s life. It was one of the most authentic, honest and engaging conversations that the two of us ever had. What started as a comical faux pas became the entry way to a purposeful conversation.
The napkin incident alone would not have been a quality contact, but the following conversation was a quality contact. Continue reading →
You’ve made it through the busiest time of year for gift-giving! The ever-challenging journey of Year-End Fundraising might have thrown you a curveball or two, taken you down a path that wasn’t anticipated, or went exactly as planned with minimal hiccups.
Now comes the time for reflection.
Like any experience, it’s important to assess it before the memory becomes fuzzy. Below are some questions to get the juices flowing. So, gather your team and sit down to have a candid, eyes-wide-open conversation.
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.
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 →
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 →
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why do I bother with volunteers? It would be so much easier if I just do this myself.”
I admit it; over my 30-plus years as a fundraising professional, that thought has crossed my mind more than once. Yet whenever that happens, I think about the many times during my career when volunteers have made the critical difference between success and failure, between reaching that stretch campaign goal and falling short, or between successfully recruiting that key board member and having them turn down the opportunity.
So, how can you make sure that your volunteers really are worth their weight in gold, instead of being too much trouble to bother with? Here are some tips that might help you and some resources for more information. Continue reading →
During our recent webinar Getting the Most from Your Board: It’s a two-way street we had several questions from participants that we weren’t able to answer before the webinar ended. We’d like to share those questions – and our answers – with you here!
Q: Our board members are really busy people and never seem to have enough time to devote to our organization. How do you deal with that?
A: Be sure your meetings happen when the most board members can be there and change the day and/or time if needed. Be careful that board members don’t overcommit and sign up for too many activities or responsibilities. Think about how many meetings you have and cut back on unnecessary meetings or offer remote attendance options (video/phone).
Q: Our board attendance is really low. How can we encourage better attendance?
A: Be sure that your meetings are productive and really well-run. They should start and finish on time. Include key decisions and action items and discussion of strategic issues on the agenda, not just a bunch of reports. Include a “mission moment” that helps educate and inspire board members. Continue reading →
Photo: Alford Group staff at As Good as It Gives: America’s Philanthropy Today on June 17, 2016 at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.
The Alford Group co-sponsored As Good as It Gives: America’s Philanthropy Today with Mesirow Financial in Chicago to share this year’s Giving USA numbers and discuss what the numbers mean for not-for-profit organizations.
Here are the main takeaways:
Giving is on the rise
The Alford Group’s Executive Vice President Sharon Tiknis and Senior Consultant Diane Knoepke presented to the room and reported that 2015 was America’s most generous year ever, as donors collectively gave over $373 billion. Giving is on a two-year increase, as 2014 was previously charted as the most generous year of giving. Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, giving has increased by 23 percent. Individuals continue to represent the majority of giving in America at 71 percent of total giving in 2015.
Midway through last week’s Cause Marketing Forum (CMF), during Katrina McGhee’s great talk on personal branding, I noted that a significant number of the CMF presenters—representing both causes and companies—were explicitly emphasizing one key practice. These cause marketing leaders focus on their strengths. They understand their organizational strengths and partner with others to mitigate their organizational weaknesses. In contrast to the trends earlier this decade when it started to feel like major cause marketers were shifting to owning self-made cause platforms over building partnership portfolios, this strengths-based approach is facilitating significant creativity and impact.
Instead of adopting a certain trend in structure or activation, today’s cause marketing leaders are focusing on what will work for them. For some, that is creating an owned national platform with local and agency partners providing support. For others, it is forging one or more partnerships of complementary opposites who each bring what the other needs. Through collaboration, they are then able to achieve the business and social impact results that they could not have achieved on their own.
Four Examples from Cause Marketing Forum 2016:
A few examples (of many, many more) that I found particularly instructive from last week’s event: Continue reading →