What are we accomplishing???

I’m a bit obsessed with the people in the photo above. For anyone who doesn’t recognize them, it’s the cast of The West Wing. I’m currently working my way through season 5 of 7 and I just love it.

I couldn’t find the actual quote from the show, but I believe it’s C.J. Cregg, played by Allison Janney, who reflects one episode on the fact that on that day she actually got to accomplish something. What a notion! But I feel that in many workdays, too. I do a lot of work, but am I actually accomplishing anything? It’s not an indication of not working hard enough, but we spend so much time discussing things, following up on things, that how often do we complete things? How often do we get to point to something and say, “I did that for the organization!”? Or, even better, “I did that for the donor!”

I’m writing this post because I had that moment very recently. I met with a donor back in September who had generously started an endowed award at the university. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons that were no individual’s fault, the award hadn’t been given out to a student last year. Naturally, the donor was unhappy about this, and keen to find out how I was going to rectify the situation. As a result, was keen to rectify it.

So I worked… I met with people, I followed up on the student award application process, I checked in with the appropriate departments once, twice, and even more times… and guess what happened? The award has been given out this year! And, there were two eligible recipients, so since it hadn’t been awarded last year, it was given to both students this year! I feel so proud. I even had the pleasure a few weeks ago of going out for dinner with the donor and the two recipients. Delivering on our promise to the donor, and giving them the opportunity to see the impact of their generosity in the success of two great students? Priceless.

Some days we actually get to accomplish something. I’m going to work to see if that can become most days.

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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Guest Post: 5 TED Talks all Non-profit Leaders Should Watch

5 TED Talks All Non-Profit Leaders Should

I’ve been talking and writing a lot about leadership lately. It’s a topic I am incredibly passionate about – because we are never going to raise the money we need to raise if we don’t have good leaders who inspire their teams.

Regardless of our age, or experience level – we all need to spend as much time learning about leadership as we do fundraising.

With that in mind, here are my top 5 favourite TED talks that I think every non-profit leader (present and future) should watch:

  1. Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe I am a HUGE fan of Simon Sinek. You probably know him from his book “Start With Why” – but it is this talk on the role of a leader that resonated with me. In 12 minutes, this TED talk succinctly summarized one huge problem with working in the non-profit world – we need to feel safe in our jobs to be truly successful.

“Great leaders are willing to sacrifice the numbers to save the people. Poor leaders sacrifice the people to save the numbers.” –Simon Sinek

  1. Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work? What makes employees happy at work? Feeling like the work they are doing is making a difference. We need that to feel fulfilled in the work we do. IN FACT using salary to incentivise performance often has the exact opposite effect you want it to. Frankly, this is a video I wish I could force all fundraising directors, EDs and CEOs to watch Clockwork Orange style.

“There’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business does”
–Dan Ariely
   

  1. Susan Cain: The power of introverts In a world where many charities treat major gifts like it is the best kind of fundraising, Susan Cain’s messages are bang on for our sector.

“I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas. It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone seems like a good presenter, easy to get along with, and those traits are rewarded. Well, why is that? They’re valuable traits, but we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.” –Susan Cain

  1. Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! How often does ego get in the way of good leadership? Too often in this fundraiser’s opinion. Being a great leader means you need to have the confidence to be vulnerable and LISTEN to your team.

“Nobody in this world can succeed alone” –Ernesto Sirolli

  1. Michael Norton: Money can buy happiness This TED talk has another powerful lesson on how to have happy, high performing teams: don’t spend money ON you team members – let them spend money helping each other.

“Teams that are pro-social sell more stuff” –Michael Norton

You’ll notice Dan Pallotta’s The way we think about charity is dead wrong isn’t on the list. Why? If you haven’t seen this TED talk, you may be living under a rock and I’m not sure this blog can help you. Just kidding, if you haven’t seen this one, it is also a must-watch.

That’s my list! What’s yours? Share your favourite TED Talk you think all non-profit leaders should watch in the comments below.

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Written by Rory Green

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Rory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Guest post: 5 Reasons Why Society Needs Charitable Trusts

You’ve probably heard a lot about charitable organizations and foundations, but perhaps you don’t know much about charitable trusts. Put in the simplest terms, a charitable trust is an irrevocable arrangement whereby one person gives real or personal property to another to be used for the benefit of a class of persons or the general public.

In the United States, charitable trusts come in two basic varieties: remainder trusts and lead trusts.

  • Remainder trust: Assets are signed over to a charitable organization for a specific period of time that can be either a few years or many years after the death of the donor(s). After the specified period of time has elapsed, the assets become the property of the charity, along with any interest or profits that might have been generated. One example of a remainder trust is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, set to expire 50 years after the deaths of Bill and Melinda Gates. With more than $30 billion in assets it is currently the largest charitable trust in the world.
  • Lead trust: The donor retains control over the trust properties rather than giving control to a charity. Interest from the trust’s assets can either go to the charity or be split between the charity and the donor’s beneficiaries. When the trust expires, the charity doesn’t gain control; rather, the trust property reverts back to a party of the donor’s choosing (usually heirs or designated beneficiaries).

Other countries also have charitable trusts, including the United Kingdom and India. Charitable trusts can provide significant tax breaks for donors, but they are also good for society. Here are five ways society benefits from charitable trusts:

  1. They save lives in crisis areas of the world. It’s not much of an exaggeration to speculate that the survival of much of the human race could at some point depend upon the work of charitable trusts. The aforementioned Gates Foundation oversees a diverse range of projects in high-poverty areas of the world, helping with programs to ensure access to clean water (an issue that is predicted to reach a true global crisis point within a few decades); vaccinations against deadly diseases; and famine relief.
  2. They provide disaster and war relief. The world’s weather and other natural events seem to be getting more extreme, and whether all of that is just part of a natural cycle or is due to human factors, the fact remains that we’re seeing more catastrophic floods, fires, earthquakes and tsunamis. And then there are “wars and rumors of wars.” All of these events are devastating to many thousands of people every year, and those who don’t lose their lives often lose everything but their lives. They desperately need help, and the Red Cross can’t do everything (in fact, it depends upon help from charitable trusts as well as from other sources). Organizations such as CVS Caremark Charitable Trust are there to lend a hand.
  3. They help people help themselves. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” The Gates Foundation and other charitable trusts help people help themselves by overseeing a range of programs from micro-financing loans that help people in impoverished areas start small businesses, to sustainable agriculture programs.
  4. They support education. Even in the less impoverished areas of the world, charitable trusts add to the quality of life for millions of people of all ages. For instance, the Pew Charitable Trusts and MacArthur Foundations, as well as numerous other charitable organizations, have been funding quality (educational) television programming on PBS in the United States for decades.
  5. They support the arts. Some contend that once the basics of survival are covered, the arts are what make life worth living. Charitable trusts such as the J. Paul Getty Trust – worth more than $10 billion – fund arts programs all over the world. The Getty Trust also funds A.’s renowned Getty Museum.

No matter where the trust is established, it must fulfill certain legal requirements in order to qualify as a charitable trust. In the United States, for instance, the settlor (the person who is establishing the trust) must have a clear intention to create this type of trust. There must be a trustee to administer the trust, and the trust must consist of some type of property, known as res. The charitable purpose must be clearly defined, the class of persons (though not the individuals) included in the beneficiaries must be expressly designated, and the beneficiaries must actually receive the benefit. Similar requirements apply in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

As may be evident, there is a lot of accountability with a charitable trust, as there should be. But if you have the assets and you want to contribute to the “greater good” in some tangible way, a charitable trust might be just the vehicle to consider. If you don’t have the assets, consider volunteering or applying for a paid position with a trust whose mission interests you.

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Written by Daphne Holmes

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Daphne is a writer from http://www.arrestrecords.com.

Connect with Daphne via:
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Guest Post: The women are giving!

Sara Blakely, the gutsy founder of a wildly successful business, Spanx, is the first woman billionaire to sign Buffett and Gates’ Giving Pledge. And she’s only 43 years old!

We all know that great wealth doesn’t wait for age 60 or so anymore. But what do we know about the wealthy women of the world or even just the U.S.? How can your organization find its own Sara Blakely?

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Blakely had a problem with pantyhose and set out to solve it. Here’s the condensed version of events:

  • 1998: Age 27 she used $5,000 to explore and invent new shape wear for women
  • 2000: Oprah Winfrey listed Spanx as one of her Favorite Things
  • 2001: She pitched her product on QVC and sold 8,000 pairs in the first six minutes
  • 2005: Became a contestant on The Rebel Billionaire: Richard Branson’s Quest for the Best
  • 2006: Launched the Sara Blakely Foundation
  • 2007: Handed Oprah Winfrey a $1 million check for her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa
  • 2012: Graced the cover of Forbes magazine on the Billionaire List
  • 2013: Signed The Giving Pledge

What amazes me about Blakely is that from very early on she was thinking about giving her money away instead of waiting until she had “earned enough” to give away. The recent study commissioned by Yodlee Interactive is suggesting women need less money than men to feel wealthy. I think they are way off base; I suggest that women feel differently about money.

If you listen to Blakely’s interview at the Forbes 400 Summit, she tells us that her entrepreneurial drive has always focused on helping women. Money came along for the ride. Let that sink in for minute.

Not only has Blakely known from really early on that her goal in life is to help women, but she tells us in the Forbes 400 Summit interview that her relationship with Richard Branson has given her a mentor in business and philanthropy, and that joining The Giving Pledge gave her access to people who could teach her about philanthropy.

Blakely readily tells us the problems we can help her solve: how can she be a great philanthropist and how can she help women.

Here are two BIG takeaways the vocal dynamo Blakely tells us that can improve our prospect research and fundraising efforts:

  • Change your giving capacity calculations to account for women who are more likely to give sooner in their careers because they view wealth accumulation as a means to an end – that end being helping others.
  • Give women the opportunity to network with your top donors. Wealthy women, especially those earning the wealth, are time-pressed with work and family and want business and philanthropy mentors.

Sara Blakely’s philanthropy is in its very early stages, but I can’t help but cringe when she finds a mentor like Richard Branson instead of… maybe business superstar Jennifer Lopez or what about Jacki Zehner of Women Moving Millions?

Get ready. The women are giving!

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Written by Jennifer Filla

jenfillaAs CEO of the Prospect Research Institute, Jen Filla helps create and deliver the first-ever graded, online courses in prospect research in the fundraising industry. She is also a prospect researcher at Aspire Research Group.

Connect with Jennifer via:
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The 5 Most Interesting Things I Learned on Day 1 of #AGCongress14

 

the 5 most interesting things I learned on day 1 of #AGCongress14

Ideally I would save this blog post for next week, but my sanity relies on routine, so I’ll stick with my regularly scheduled “every other Friday at 10:00 a.m.”.

What’s today’s post about? Well, right at this very moment I am in a session called “Picasso & Edison: Learn how to be both an artist and scientist in today’s fundraising world”, led by Samantha Laprade, CFRE (a.k.a. @GryphonReport). No, I am not blogging in front of her rather than paying attention to her session! I am writing this post from the comfort of my hotel room in Toronto on Thursday at 5:00 pm. I have just attended Day 1 of the 2014 Canadian Higher Education Annual Giving Congress in Toronto a.k.a. #AGCongress14. Yes, it’s me and dozens of other Annual Giving nerds talking about what we do and how we can be excellent at it. I’m in heaven!

So on that note, today’s post is the five most interesting things I learned yesterday on Day 1 of Congress. Here goes…

  1. STOP! Be stupidly creative. The very inspiring Joel Faflak of Western University started the day off by telling us to stop doing what you’re doing and do something mindlessly creative. Draw, see a musical, do something! Our creativity is being threatened by the business of our every day work, but we can’t stop cultivating it.
  2. Don’t solicit young alumni with the traditional academic segmentation. My friend Ryan Brejak of the University of Guelph (and a guest blogger for this site) delivered a great session on young alumni giving and stressed that millennials need to be segmented differently rather than by their faculty. Segment them by the non-academic affinities they have.
  3. Why would they care? I attended a panel about “How to Write for Development” and asked them what’s more important in a fundraising letter, to emphasize need or success. Chuck Chan of University of Toronto replied that it’s most important to focus on why the reader would care about this. Would they care about a dilapidated building, or would they care about what’s going to happen in a new one?
  4. There are three types of donors. I attended my mentor Paul Nazareth‘s session about planned giving and he outlined three types of donors: (1) the DNA donor, where giving is in their DNA, and so is your organization; (2) the academic, who values your institution because of how they turned what they learned into success; (3) and the trouble makers and weirdos who had a great time at your institution who will give back because of their experiences.
  5. Everyone should be an annual fund prospect all the time. The last session of the day was led by two fundraising powerhouses: Lorna SomersBob Burdenski. They talked about the worlds of major giving and annual giving colliding, and Lorna stressed that major gift prospects/donors should never be taken out of annual solicitations. They should always receive the calls, direct mailings, etc. and major gifts should “opt out” of this if really necessary, whereas the default will be that they’re solicited annually.

What a great day Day 1 was. I bet I’m already energized by Day 2 and it’s only 10:00 a.m.

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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Guest Blog: Top 5 Takeaways/Moments from APRA International’s 27th Annual Conference

From July 30 – August 2nd, we had the pleasure of attending the 27th Annual APRA International Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Nearly 1,000 attendees from multiple aspects of the profession – prospect research, relationship management, prospect management, data analytics, advancement services and fundraising – came together to network and participate in educational workshops. Like the prospect research sponges we are (okay, maybe a little nerdy?) we were eager to gain some knowledge and insights from fellow researchers.

  1. Proactive vs. Reactive Research. While both types of research are extremely valuable to development, the importance of focusing on proactive research was stressed in numerous conference sessions and keynote addresses. In the past, prospect researchers have been focused on reactive research (research profiles, answering reference-type questions, etc.). While this type of research is still a pivotal part of the prospect research field, there has been a large shift in the last few years towards proactive research, which is instrumental in the laying of a foundation for a successful campaign. What exactly is proactive research? This type of research includes establishing and tracking measurable metrics, generating project-focused new prospects, and effectively managing portfolio sizes. How is this done? Prospect research must identify and strive to forecast the needs of each individual development team member in order to best support them (see point #4 for more information on developing partnerships with fundraisers).
  2. APRA Canada Meet-up. Members of APRA Canada arranged to have dinner together one night while we were in Vegas, with 16 of us in attendance. We ‘inconspicuously’ (not!) met in the hotel lobby where a Canadian flag was proudly being waved. It was fantastic to compare notes from our sessions, and to swap stories from the prospect research trenches. It was beneficial and fun to share prospect research tactics from north of the border. And we finally didn’t get weird looks for our use of “eh”.
  3. Network – Use other prospect researchers as a resource! Best practices are generally transferrable from one organization to the other, no matter what country or type of organization you are from. We found that networking with fellow conference attendees, volunteers and speakers was extremely beneficial in taking ideas and concepts back to our organization. Coming from an academic institution ourselves, it was extremely helpful to interact with individuals from development offices of American institutions who have well-established and successful fundraising practices in place (Harvard University, University of California – Berkley, University of Pennsylvania to name a few).
  4. Strategic partnerships with Major Gift Officers. (a.k.a. Help us help you!) This ties in with proactive research (point #1) but deserves its own point. Prospect Research should understand the fundraisers’ benchmarks and their funding priorities, and on the flip side, the fundraisers should clearly communicate these goals. All too often, workplace silos can get in the way of productive partnerships and meaningful conversations that can result in success (ie GIFTS!). So, how do you develop these partnerships? It is important for the prospect research team to demonstrate to major gift officers that they are strategic partners in the fund development process. Some ways this partnership can be harnessed is through open communication with the fund development team, attending campaign/team meetings, having portfolio review meetings and integrating your prospect research work with their major gift goals (proactive research!).
  5. Smorgasbord of helpful tips and tricks. Investment advisors, real estate, public disclosure documents! Oh my! Between the conference sessions, keynotes, chatting with vendors, and networking we learned a lot of useful tips and tricks that will undoubtedly aid us on our quest to become prospect research superstars. We won’t go into great (and probably boring) detail about all the new and tweaked research tactics we learned; just know that we were in research and data bliss over the entire course of the conference.

We hope to one day return again to the APRA International Conference, to continue to gain knowledge and strengthen our skills in this field. Until then, we will continue to implement some of the great advice and suggestions to our own portfolios, and strive to practice exceptional research and support to our team.

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Written by Shannon Doherty & Sara Glover

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Shannon & Sara are both Prospect Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Finding Motivation When the Sun Is Out

Just over a week ago, I was delighted to contribute a guest post to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter Blog. When I was invited to write a blog post for AFP Greater Toronto, I hemmed and hawed over what I might write about… and then I lost my motivation. That’s been an overarching theme of my summer, and was when I was working for Trinity College School, too. In educational fundraising, summers are especially tough. At first it’s a great novelty to have the students empty from campus at the end of April, but by July it feels like there’s no energy to tap into.

This is not an unusual predicament for any professional to be in, and fundraising professionals are no exception. I hope you can find some inspiration in my post because when the sun is shining in through your window and distracting you from the work at hand, you might need it!

Please enjoy my post here, and I encourage you to check out AFP Greater Toronto Chapter’s blog on a regular basis to see what other fundraising professionals have to say.

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It’s the summer. We’re all staring longingly out our office windows (if we’re lucky enough to have them), wondering why on earth we’re stuck inside working when we could be enjoying the sun, the fresh air, and this brief period of time in Canada where we don’t need a jacket or coat of any sort. Prospects aren’t returning our calls or emails, our colleagues are all taking turns going on vacations, and it’s hard to find the motivation to get back to the work in front of us.

I’ve had a few of these moments lately myself. Despite the lack oSummerKitef motivation, summer is an important time for planning and preparing for the new fundraising year. It’s during these quieter months at work that we have the rare opportunity to sit and think; analyze what worked this past year, strategize about what we need to change, plan out our mailings, and firm up our stewardship processes. It all sounds well and good, but there’s one problem…

I just can’t find the inspiration! Where is that passion I had for my job a few months ago? So naturally I turned to Facebook and asked my friends, what do you do in this situation? How do you motivate yourself?

One of my very wise friends said, “I have stuff on my wall in my office to remind me of the outcomes of my work.” Brilliant! And then I turned and saw a card on my desk that I received from an alumna of the institution who was selected this year for our annual Philanthropy Award. She wrote me to thank me for my help in preparing her for the event that honoured her. She wanted to thank me! She has a great philanthropic story to tell; she’s never given more than $350 in any given year, but she’s given to the university every single year since she graduated.Every year!

Even better, her gifts have been designated annually to pretty much wherever the funds were needed most. In many cases she’s directed her gift to our unrestricted fund, giving the university the flexibility to respond to unforeseen emergencies or even worthwhile opportunities. She’s given to the library many times, too! Her gifts directly impact students, and that’s what I’m here for in the first place.

Speaking of students, next to the card on my desk is a photo of a student and a donor. This donor created a financial assistance opportunity at the university in memory of his deceased son. I had the opportunity to set up a meeting between the donor and this year’s recipient of his award which gave the donor the chance to truly see the impact of his philanthropy. The student expressed – eloquently, I might add – his gratitude to the donor, and he shared what he plans to do with his life after university. It was so rewarding to witness a donor seeing the effect his generosity has on an actual student.

All of us fundraisers, wherever we work, are here to raise money to make an impact. The outcomes of our work are clear; we are so lucky in that sense. Other professionals out there might struggle to see the point sometimes, butfundraising professionals know exactly what they’re here to do, and we have lots of examples that can motivate us through even the sunniest of days.

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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Prospect Management at a Cocktail Party for Introverted Fundraisers

Prospect Management at a Cocktail Party for Introverted Fundraisers

I know I’ve spoken about being an introvert before. This is not a weakness of mine nor is it an area for improvement, but in a world dominated by extroversion, you do have to make a concerted effort as an introvert to determine your approach. Case in point: prospect management in a cocktail party setting.

In my role at Laurier, I am a prospect manager. I now have my own portfolio of prospects to cultivate, solicit, and steward. This occasionally involves a cocktail party-format donor appreciation event, one of which took place this past Tuesday.

Now, I wouldn’t say these kinds of events aren’t natural for me, nor would I say I find them difficult… I’d just say I find them draining. I might even say I find them very draining. So for a person who’s trying to strategically use their energy in that kind of event, what should the approach be???

Make a plan: One thing that helps me in these situations is making a plan in advance. I figure out how many prospects I have attending and write their names down on a list that I can reference throughout the event. On Tuesday I had 4 prospects who RSVP’d yes, so I wrote down their names and planned to connect with all of them.

Adjust the plan: Does everyone who RSVPs to an event show up?  Never.  On Tuesday I hovered near the nametag table a few times to see if my 4 prospects had shown up.  In the end, only 3 of them had.  I adjusted my list and now planned to connect with my 3 prospects throughout the evening.

Take breaks: I can mingle pretty decently, but as I’ve said, it takes a lot out of me.  In order to survive the cocktail party, I need breaks.  On Tuesday there was a room where the staff had put their coats and things, so 3 or so times during the event I escaped to the room to check my notes, take a breath, take a break, and then head back into the fray.

Quality over quantity: With 3 prospects at the event there was nothing stopping me from meaningfully connecting with them all, but that doesn’t mean I could expect a lengthy conversation with all of them, nor did I necessarily have the stamina for it.  My mantra for cocktail parties has become quality over quantity.  Small talk and glad-handing takes a lot out of me, so I try to find an opportunity for a meaningful conversation with even just one person at an event of this nature. On Tuesday I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity; one of my prospects – the one I knew the least of the 3 – was sitting alone eating at a table.  I approached him, asked if I could join, and we got to know one another over the course of about 30 minutes.  It was fantastic; I was sitting down, in a quieter area of the venue, and got to really understand the passions and interests of an unknown prospect.  These kinds of conversations do in fact energize me, and they’re what made me want to do one-on-one fundraising in the first place.

With all of those strategies in place, I was able to have a personally and professionally successful evening.

What are your strategies, for introverts or extroverts???

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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Is your organization’s brand authentic?

Do your communications to your donors and prospective donors reflect what they love most about your organization???

My colleague and recent What Gives Philanthropy guest blogger, Kimberly Elworthy, and I were having a conversation about our respective university experiences and how much we had enjoyed them.  Both working in alumni relations-esque positions, we went on to discuss whether we felt that the alumni communications we received reflected that experience.

As an educational fundraiser, I know how powerful a tool nostalgia is when engaging alumni in the life of your institution, as well as when soliciting gifts.  If an alumnus is going to make a donation, they have to care.  We’d like to assume they care because they attended the institution, but can we make that assumption?  Perhaps they’re 20+ years removed from their graduation.  Assuming they had a great experience, can they still recall that?  Or, is their perception of the university based entirely on their alumni experience now?  And, if so, does that make their perception of the university positive?

I think these issues apply to whatever fundraising you’re doing.  Are you creating a strong brand for your organization?  Is that brand based on what’s considered to make up a powerful brand these days, or is it authentic?  Hopefully it can be both, but my feelings are that it needs to start out as authentic.  The people who are engaged in your organization care about your cause for a reason.  To keep them engaged, and to engage more people, they must feel their experience and passion reflected in your branding.  Otherwise, that dreaded “institutional voice” will overpower your authenticity, and when you don’t seem authentic, donors get skeptical.  Don’t let that happen to you!

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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Guest Post: 8 Fundraising Lessons I Learned from Beyoncé

8 fundraising lessons I learned from Beyoncé

#1. “Pretty Hurts”

pretty-hurts

 The message for fundraisers: what looks nice doesn’t always raise more money. Have you been at the mercy of a marketing department, brand standards, or a graphic designer who “wants more white space”? You will know that pretty does hurt – it hurts revenue. As Jeff Brooks says: “Fundraising is good, not bad, when it’s ugly”.

#2. “I can have another you by tomorrow / So don’t you ever for a second get to thinkin’ / You’re irreplaceable”

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The message for fundraisers: Your donors can have another charity in a minute! You are not irreplaceable. Your work needs to be focused on your donors, and your cause. The second your organization gets a big ego is the second “everything you own” will be “in a box to the left”.

#3. “My daddy taught me how to love my haters”

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The message for fundraisers: Don’t let complaints stop you from fundraising. I think this is especially true for direct mail complaints, which are an opportunity to start a conversation, and a sign that your materials are being noticed.

#4. “I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want” “And I’m making (all these racks, all these racks)”

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The message for fundraisers: this is a grown profession. We have, standing behind us, a body of knowledge and years of theory, research and testing. Don’t let your board, or volunteers, or your non-fundraising CEO/President undercut your confidence. Especially when your smart fundraising decisions are making “all these racks”.

#5. “My sister taught me I should speak my mind”

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The message for fundraisers: don’t be afraid of your beliefs. Speak up about what you believe, what your values are. Don’t be afraid of having an opinion, something worthwhile to say. Too many charities are focused on appealing to the “general public”.

#6. “Finally, you put my love on top”

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The message for fundraisers: love is what this profession is all about. Love for one another, love for humankind.  When you find yourself getting lost in spreadsheets, reports, meetings, office politics, find a way to put love of your donors and love of your cause back on top.

#7. “We Are Here”

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The message for fundraisers: There are big problems in this world – but we are here. It is our calling, our vocation, to understand those problems and challenges. To think big about the solutions, and to connect people to opportunities to make this world a better place.

#8. “I’m a survivor, I’m not gon give up, I’m not gon stop, I’m gon work harder”

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The message for fundraisers: Don’t give up.  This is important work, but it isn’t easy. The best, most exciting things in life will scare you, and push you. The obstacles, road block, and hard times will make you stronger. Take them in stride. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.

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Written by Rory Green

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Rory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, I connect donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about my cheeky observations about life in fundraising.