By Gayle Gifford

7 tips to see new fundraising opportunities

Is your fundraising stuck in a rut? Have you lost the ability to see new fundraising opportunities in your current work?

Have you ever played with a kaleidoscope? Those are those tubes that you look through and as you twist them colors and images shift.

I hadn’t played with one in years until I received one as a gift for presenting a workshop at a fundraising conference. Instead of creating designs from shapes embedded in the kaleidoscope itself, this one made fascinating patterns out of whatever you were looking at.

Successful fundraisers are a lot like kaleidoscopes.

How? Excellent fundraisers have the ability to look at people and their own organizations and see limitless opportunities for making interesting designs together.

As fundraisers, we are always on the lookout for donors whose dreams and desires are a perfect match with our organization. Sometimes that match is pretty straightforward, as when a loved one is stricken by a disease and family members give to the organization that is working to find a cure. Or the guidelines of a foundation are a perfect fit with our programs. Read more

Do your board leaders have too much responsibility?

In the P.C. (pre-Covid) year of 2018 P.C.,  a team* of consultants, members of  the Alliance for Nonprofit Management  Governance Community of Practice set out to learn more about the formal leaders of nonprofit boards. We assigned the phrase board leaders to refer to officers and committee chairs.

three bowls with signs from the fairy tale Goldilocks

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Who responded?

Through the magic of survey monkey and a process called snowball sampling, we heard from 398 leaders of boards of local, regional and national organizations. They came from 35 US states and about two dozen from across Canada.

Of these respondents:

  • 216 chairs were board chairs, 36 of whom were co-chairs.
  • 78 were vice chairs and 31 described themselves as chair-elects.
  • 69 were board secretaries (also known as a clerk in some states)
  • 35 were treasurers.
  • 51% indicated they held positions as committee chairs, some of which overlapped with their officer positions.

How hard is it to recruit board leaders?

While we asked many questions, I wanted to zero in here on what we heard about job size.

For those of you serving on nonprofit boards, this may sound very familiar. Three-quarters of the leaders answering the survey said that it was at least somewhat challenging to recruit the formal leaders of their boards with 28% Read more

Goodbye to hate. Good riddance 2020.

Say goodbye to hate.

Kick out racial injustice. And every injustice.

Say goodbye to this pandemic (soon, a little longer still).

Ring in  the opportunity to rebuild better.

I’m inspired by this reflection from author Arundati Roy:

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

“We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

I would like to acknowledge the amazing feats that my colleagues and clients in the charitable sector pulled off in 2020. Our nonprofit world is too easily denigrated by those on the outside. But your hard work, creativity and perseverance in the face of adversity like no other were a bright beacon of hope this year amidst the chaos. You inspire me. I am thankful for your presence. Here’s to new beginnings in 2021. #creativity #nonprofit #leadership #gratitude

Goodbye to hate.

True donor gratitude

Henrietta White-Holder, Founder and CEO of Higher Ground International

On this day of giving thanks, I’m resharing this post from 2018 about true donor gratitude, from a heart filled with love.

All my best to all of  you and your loved ones for this Thanksgiving.

You might want to read about the history and myth of Thanksgiving while  you are waiting for the turkey to roast.

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We talk a lot in fundraising circles about gratitude. We hear over and over again how we need to honor all of our donors.

But then organizations revert to form by tiering their gratitude to the size of the gift. The biggest gifts get the most personalized thank yous. The biggest donors get priority mention in the annual report. Big givers get their names at the top of the donor wall. They are forever fixed in our minds, remembered by name and amount.

The little gift donor barely registers.

Yet that small gift may be a much bigger act of philanthropy. How often do you celebrate that small gift? Do you stop to think what kind of sacrifice might come with that gift? Someone of limited means or on a fixed income may have reached deep to send their donation.

So when I saw this message bubbling with gratitude on Facebook, I knew I had to share it with you.

With the permission of its author, Henrietta White-Holder, founder and CEO of Higher Ground International, I bring you a close-up, truly authentic example of loving your donor for their act of generosity:

“Lounging around and I received a notification on my phone that someone had made a donation to HGI via our website.

“I checked, and there it was – a wonderful woman had donated $10.00 (ten dollars).

“I found it very significant and heartwarming that she would think of us in such a loving and kind way to donate what she could. It is not the amount that matter[s] but the fact that she contributed in such a thoughtful way means a LOT to us.

“Now, her generous gift of $10.00 is going to help purchase ice melt to help keep the premises of the HGI’S Rukiya Center safe!

“Oh, Happy Day! ❤”

Thank you so much, Henrie, for reminding each of us that donor love starts within our own hearts.

More on donor gratitude

An attitude of gratitude

13/100 Things we’ve learned: Build a culture of gratitude

Hiring a fundraiser? Six questions to get you started.

Free Download: Bringing a Development Director on Board Are you excited about hiring a new fundraiser?

While looking at all those exciting resumes, it’s easy to forget to bring the necessary rigor to your interview. Don’t get swayed by all those gobs of money allegedly raised!

As we learned from the ground breaking study UnderDeveloped, it’s really hard finding a fundraiser you can afford with the experience you need. Don’t be charmed by the individual and hire for all the wrong reasons. We share our cautions in our article: The Ten Worst Reasons For Hiring Your Development Director 

To be more confident about who you hire, be meticulous about reference checking.

Another screen is to be very thoughtful about the types of questions you ask in your interviews. Here are some tips:

What kinds of questions do you want to ask in your interview?

  • Because you need someone with both fundraising knowledge and the ability to execute, ask questions that probe for technical skills in action.
  • Consider questions that uncover the candidate’s personal attributes, like creativity, passion for achievement or people skills.
  • Be sure to ask about your candidate’s approach to work to help you understand how they might fit in your workplace.
  • Because you wanted dedicated professionals, ask about professional membership, professional development and service to the profession or philanthropy.
  • And of course, it’s important to know where they are heading, so ask about their future ambitions and goals.

Read more

Please take our board coronavirus survey.

Smiling faces on video conference

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC

How is your board doing? And other boards in New England. Would you like to know? Then please take this board coronavirus survey. Click here for survey.

Board service is challenging in the best of times – and these are not the best of times.

Cause & Effect Inc. and BWB Solutions have partnered to survey non-profit board leaders and chief executives in New England. With your response, we can better understand and record how the pandemic has affected the process and practices of your board. By sharing your insights and experiences, we’ll all do better in the challenging times ahead.

Read more

Through the storm

“I couldn’t believe what i was seeing… this storm was actually pulling the house toward the sky…

“…Aunt Seneva told us to clasp hands… Then she had us walk as a group toward the corner of the room that was rising… 

“And so it went, back and forth, fifteen children walking with the wind, holding that trembling house down with the weight of our small bodies.

“More than half a century has passed since that day, and it has struck me more than once over those many years that our society is not unlike the children in that house, rocked again and again by the winds of one storm or another, the walls around us seeming at times as if they might fly apart…

“But we knew another storm would come, and we would have to do it all over again.

“And we did.

“And we still do, all of us. You and I.”

Congressman John Lewis from the prologue of his memoir, Walking with the Wind.

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I’ve been searching for words to share to express the outrage and anguish I’ve felt over the events of these last few weeks.

This outrage in our country has been intensifying over the last four years, though it started long before. 400 years and more ago.

A good share of my grief is watching that upward movement on the arc of justice I thought was happening take a deep downward plunge. I’ve been overcome by guilt for leaving this mess of a country to my children and family.

inscription John LewisAnd then today,  a beacon arrived for the darkness. In a BFR workshop called “Keys to navigating change post pandemic”, presenter Sue Harvey read the above story from the prologue of  civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis’s memoir. The passage above is a shortened version of the story.

Jon reminded me that we had the Congressman autograph a copy to our sons who were just about to turn 13 at the time we saw him speak.

Congressman Lewis’s metaphor of holding down the house through many storms expressed what I was searching for.  We have a lot of work to do to end racism and create an equitable society. Let’s all keep walking with the wind.

In peace and justice,

 

 

 

Enough with the shoulds.

I don’t know about you, but my twitter feed has a heck of a lot of shoulds directed at nonprofits. It seems lots of folks have lots of certain advice to give nonprofits in this time of a global pandemic and economic shut down.

Me, I’ve never lived through a pandemic before. Well, not as an adult. Or at least lived through one that shut down huge portions of the US and world economies and ways of life.

I was born on the downside of the polio epidemic and remember getting both vaccines in elementary school. Read more

Older dog, new tricks in the video age

Since the full force of the Covid 19 shutdown took place a few weeks ago, Jon, Alex and I have had to rapidly adjust how we work. Yes, this older dog is sharing and learning new tricks in this video age just as fast as she can. dog with bowl

Ironically, I’ve been working from a home office for 26 years since the founding of Cause & Effect Inc. For at least the last five, I’ve been enjoying videoconferencing with colleagues across the US and Canada through the wonders of Zoom. I have been singing its praises. We even opened Christmas presents with the sons, spouse, fiance and my LA based daughter and my son-in-law over a few hours. It was a lot of fun.

I’ve been promoting videoconferencing as an essential skill of the 21st century board.

See: Technology-aided board meetings: A critical skill for your nonprofit board..

BUT,

I never imagined that videoconferencing would be the only realistic way to connect with the nonprofit teams I work with.

And I’m sure that those directors, staff and volunteers never imagined it either. If you’ve already have a geographically disperse universe, you are likely an old hand. But most of our clients are within driving distance and they have had an abrupt learning curve. Read more