Nonprofit Blog Carnival

March 31, 2010

Nonprofit Giving CarnivalI am hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival (last month’s carnival).  I was amazed at what a great response we had this month. Thank you all for your incredible submissions. Because we had so many submissions I’ve taken a few of my favorites to tell you about and included a listing of the others below. Take a few minutes and read through the headlines that stand out to you. There are some really tremendous posts that were submitted.

Joe with The Fundraising Authority posted, How Anyone Can Be a Superstar Fundraiser. If you have an executive leader or board member that wants to fundraise does not feel like they have what it takes or is afraid of fundraising make sure they read his post.

Matt with Matt’s Fundraising Blog started a great conversation on his blog about choosing your CEO and what to look for, Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Me What You Want. Check out his post for the top 5 traits to look for in a new leader including a number of reader submitted traits as comments.

The conversation on Matt’s Fundraising Blog continued on Janet’s blog Too Busy to Fundraise where she talks about the role of the board in hiring the CEO, The OTHER Board Responsibility. She describes two kinds of board responsibilities governance and fiduciary responsibilities including fundraising. I thought that was a beautiful way to synthesize the important roles a board member should play.

Another great Board Member post was submitted by Social Velocity, 7 Things Board Members Can Do To Raise More Money. My favorite is number 6, “Articulate Why Someone Should Give.” I saw this as modeling a perfect donor or volunteer. A good board member that can articulate why someone should give needs to give financially, engage their friends, and have a passion for the organization.

Not every post submitted was connected to Board Members or Executive Leaders. SOFII posted, Swipe Files, Revealed, on the value of creating a file of what other nonprofits are doing and ideas that work and don’t work. I posted on a similar topic a few weeks ago, Copying Good Ideas. The more we can do together to advance the fundraising profession the better off we will all be.


If you can let people know that the March Nonprofit Blog Carnival is live: post it on Facebook or Twitter, put a link in your blog. The more this post is mentioned the more everyone’s posts will be visited.

Submit your post to the April Nonprofit Blog Carnival. Thank you all for your spectacular submissions.

All Level Relationship Management

March 29, 2010

This may sound familiar to some of our discussions on the topic of All Donors as Major Donors. We do a great job of cultivating and planning strategically with our major and principal donors, but what about everyone else, especially our community and entry level donors? Discussions about cultivating these large donor groups often do not happen because we lack the time to deal with them individually.

Using data mining, segmenting, and social media tools, we can be more intentional and personal. Keeping your database up-to-date with important pieces of information can be extremely helpful. We use geographical, topical, and giving trends to segment our donor pool into groups for whom we can craft strategic and personal messages. For example, we have a special message for new donors or those from a specific area. Then we think intentionally about what themes and stories might appeal to that group and call a few to ask questions about what messages resonate with them.

Social media cultivation feels more like working with a crowd than an individual. Only a few of the many people you connect with will ever respond to the messages you are sending out. Often you will not know who has a dissenting opinion or if someone doesn’t like a direction you are going in until you are already moving in that direction. With social media the value is in the donor interaction. Overall the best way to work with a social community is to be consistent in how you engage them and to encourage thought leaders to help you positively distribute your message.

Tracking More Than A Name

March 24, 2010

We have just reached a point in our campaign where there is a need to be more meticulous about how donor prospects are tracked. Currently, we have a number of committees all working simultaneously with multiple prospect lists. The more events and prospecting sessions we have, the more difficult it becomes to track information and keep it consistent.

It is important when tracking donors to record past and current actions/status instead of solely prospect names. Knowing where a donor is in the pipeline of cultivation is essential, especially when working with a group or team of people. This is the only way to ensure that no one is dropping the ball and that everyone is staying on the same page with the donor.

Using a database is extremely valuable because you can both change information in one place and pull reports to answer your changing questions. In this way I can update actions and keep track of events without having to keep the information in several different locations. What information do you track and review on a regular bases when discussing donors?

Copying Good Ideas

March 22, 2010

I am constantly amazed at the diverse strategies and creative ideas all around us. However, in reality most of what’s new and exciting has already been done. Why, then, do we feel like we need to start from scratch? There is a lot of value to keeping your eye on what other people are doing and replicating strategies that work.

Often, a fellow fundraiser is more than willing to share his or her ideas. I’ve even had nonprofit professionals offer to let me use pledge forms and program descriptions they created word for word to save me time. In this way, I have found most nonprofit professional to be more collaborative than combative, very willing to speak candidly about techniques that work for them.

Before starting a new program I encourage you to search for some stories and organizations online that have already tried a similar concept. Call them up to see if they will give you a few minutes to chat about what did and did not work for them. This will help you evaluate your programs and avoid problem areas. Through collaboration you can have a refined program your first year launching.

Jennifer Maxwell: Featured Fundraiser

March 17, 2010

This month’s Featured Fundraiser is Jennifer Maxwell.Thank you Katherine Wyatt for referring her to me. If you ever would like to nominate someone for Feature Fundraiser just send me an email. – Jason

What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?

Photo of Jennifer Maxwell
I am the Executive Director for the Warrick Dunn Foundation. Our mission is to reward single parents who have taken the necessary steps to become a first-time home buyers by providing additional down payment assistance and home furnishings to qualified recipients chosen through a closed nomination process with our housing partners. We pride ourselves on keeping administrative costs low; therefore, our staff consists of two people (myself included) who fundraise through grant writing, events, corporate/individual gifts, planned giving and social media.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?

As Executive Director, I wear many hats and I consider development the most critical component of my job. We have a mission, program, measurable objectives, participants, funding and volunteers; none of which can work in isolation. Development is the glue that holds the design together; without it, no one aspect alone would succeed.

What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?

A professor of mine once said in reference to cause marketing and development, “If you’re not the best at what you’re doing, or at least second best, you shouldn’t be doing it.” Many nonprofits duplicate services and this makes fundraising almost impossible. Donors want to feel good about their contribution. Make it easy for them to know what you do and be able to communicate why you are the best at doing it (clean accounting, statistics, testimonials, donor benefits, etc.).

What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?

I think a main challenge of development is staying mission focused. There are endless grants and funds available and many times nonprofits chase them without doing the proper research on whether or not it’s a proper fit with what they are trying to accomplish. Watering down a mission or straying from it will not secure funding.

Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?

Recently, at an event, a potential donor approached me and said, “Your enthusiasm is contagious and I can tell you’re genuinely passionate about the work you do. Tell me how I can help.” While this was a flattering observation, it is important to note that enthusiasm and passion are key to fundraising. When people sense your commitment and excitement, you’re half way there. This sort of energy comes from perseverance and patience when job hunting, don’t settle for less than the job you want.

100,000 Visit Milestone

March 15, 2010

Readers I wanted you to join me in celebrating the first 100,000 visits on A Small Change- Fundraising Blog!

You are all amazing and I’m having such a great time talking with you about what I’m learning as a fundraiser. Thank you! It is a priviledge to have the opportunity to learn from you and be challenged by you.

In celebration of my 100,000 visits I’d love to hear from you. Since January 1, 2008 when A Small Change first posted to, I know my life as author and editor has been touched by you. Do you have any stories you’d like to share about a tip or mistake you’ve read about that helped you? Any situations or memories you’d care to share?

Thanks again for reading, you are the best!

The Technology Schedule

March 15, 2010

Living in Redmond, Washington I have a number of friends who work for Microsoft. Many of them start work at 9 am or later. They have the ability to set their schedules and work from home. Many serve on nonprofit boards and are often some of the easiest board members to schedule meetings with because they have so much control over their schedules.

I must say I am rather jealous of the flexibility their employer has given them. Employees have a lot of freedom to work at their own pace. This sliding schedule has worked to the benefit of the employer as many employees work all hours of the day and night to get a project done when it comes down to a deadline.

There are certainly dips and troughs in my days in regards to the amount of work and the demands on my time. Surely, there must be some value in providing a Grant Writer the flexibility to work from home and that it might be harder for a Major Gifts Officer. Do you think the nonprofit community could benefit from a flexible schedule like that? Would it even be practical to set up a program with that much flexibility to work from home?