Topic: Random

Mark Your Calendar for Harvest Development Group’s Latest Webinar

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“How Do Women Lead Strategic Philanthropic Initiatives?”

Do you have what it takes? Discover how some of the most successful non profit female executives of today successfully advance their missions over and over again!  Harvest Development Group’s Director of Client Engagement, Jeanne Boyer Roy, just back from Indiana University’s School of Philanthropy Symposium, will highlight important considerations for female executives as they orchestrate strategic philanthropic initiatives. We hope you will join us for this insightful webinar.

Date: Thursday, May 22nd
Time: 12:30pm EST
Link:   https://harvestdevgrp.clickwebinar.com/Women_Leading_Philanthropy?lang=en.

Lessons From My 93-Year-Old Kindergarten Teacher

Mary Beth Washington is the stuff that kindergarten dreams are made of. “She did almost everything contrary to the rules: she took the kids out walking in the rain, she napped with them during naptime, she came to school dressed like a circus performer. She was in love with birds, dancing, poetry and people.” Now in her 93rd year, she is as spirited as ever and still going strong with her walking stick, cheery stockings and shoes, and many layers of scarves. “I teach the big children, now,” she says, in a chance encounter with a parent whose child was one of her students. With hearty chuckles and magical winks, there are many lessons to be learned from this special woman. (10901 reads) 

Lessons From My 93-Year-Old Kindergarten Teacher

The Accidental Fundraiser

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“Your body determines your mind, your mind determines your behavior, your behavior determines your outcomes”. Amy Chuddy, TED Talk presenter.
I didn’t aspire to be in this role. In fact, I never knew this existed–this world of goodness, and compassion, and humanitarian promise. I wanted to be a teacher when I was seven. Or a mom. But somewhere over the course of 25 years, between graduating teachers college and being mom to three young kids, I took on some volunteer roles, which translated to part time employment with a large nonprofit, which migrated to director level and finally executive level leadership of a multi-million dollar foundation. And then to this, sharing what I learned through experience and education with other nonprofits.
In some ways I am an accidental fundraiser. And I have come realize that quite possibly you may be as well. The path to nonprofit work is rarely straight, and it’s not lined with specific degrees, tests, or passing of boards. It’s crowded with teachers, lawyers, and social service professionals. With doctors, nurses, and with administrative support personnel. It doesn’t have one face, it has a million faces.
How do we all know what to do? Aside from the academics of seminars and trainings, I’d say we fake it until we become it.
My first board meeting still haunts me. I was the side show, not even the main course, but my palms were so sweaty I was afraid to hold the paper for fear of leaving stains. I paced for a full hour, feeling nauseous and shaky. I was certain I was a fake, that I wasn’t supposed to be there, that I would be found out, and that I would die of embarrassment when I was. I was exactly the person Amy Chuddy speaks of in her terrific TED Talk, “Your body language shapes who you are“.
This twenty minute talk is a grounding starting point for everyone of us who as ever felt like we accidentally ended up in a role we didn’t deserve, couldn’t manage, or didn’t aspire to.  She provides terrific recommendation on how our body language speaks to us and how we can arrange our bodies to increase confidence, power, and authority.  Fake it till you become it. Because you are here, you do deserve it, and you can do it.
 Highly recommended, this talk will change your life.

What is new is not always relevant. What is relevant is not always new.

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Crowd Funding PBS Special

PBS has been blogging about crowdfunding – the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet   – and their latest post engages nonprofits in thinking about the significant opportunity for financial success in crowdfunding.

From PBS’s post:

“The need for alternative fundraising methods clearly varies a lot across organizations. But even comfortable non-profits accept that crowdfunding has the potential to deliver a deep engagement between fundraisers and backers. And, as emergent civic crowdfunding models suggest, it has the potential to produce new alliances”

The post goes on to highlight success stories in the the crowdfunding sphere:

“In April, the Chicago Parks Foundation raised $62,113 for the expansion of the city’s Windy City Hoops basketball social program on IndieGoGo.”

” The Long Now Foundation is using this model for its Salon campaign, which has raised just over half of its $495,000 target. “

The post ends with this note of validation for many nonprofit’s marketing savvy and the opportunity to leverage that expertise for crowdfunding success. “Many non-profits are established experts in these areas. Many of them have stronger and more-established brands than even the best-known crowdfunding platforms. The quality and scale of crowdfunding campaigns would undoubtedly increase if they decided to apply their expertise to the field.”

While I appreciate what these types of articles do for innovative thinking, when they are sent out into the npo-sphere such as this, with no context to the implementation or integration of such a strategy into a broad range of tactics, it sends most charities desperate for money on a wild – and often disappointing- goose chase for their tens of thousands of dollars from ‘the web’. At best this is a distraction and a waste of resources which could go toward raising real money. At worst, it could be the straw that crumbles an already ailing organization.

In reality, what is new is not always relevant. What is relevant is not always new. Basing revenue development on scholarly data and best practices is essential to helping our nonprofits prosper.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Shaping the future of philanthropy

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Shaping the Future of Philanthropy

From the Foundation Center, this series is interesting and provides insight into the next generation of philanthropists: young people from families of wealth. Despite my misgivings listed below, it is well worth the time invested in listening to the series.

It misses the mark in my opinion on two fronts- it focuses too narrowly on the next generation of philanthropists from a very small slice: those families already heavily invested in philanthropy. I would argue that many leaders of the next generation will find their own path in philanthropy and I would want to know their thoughts as well.

Secondly, it is disappointing in who they interview….. many of these individuals are not necessarily the key age demographic I would position as the next gen of philanthropy. I had hoped for a younger crowd, but many leaned more toward 40 years old.

However, its a start! I suggest listen to this one and then migrate out to the website at Grantcraft.org  to hear the remainder of the podcasts.

Gen Y and Nonprofits

In this interview with WomensRadioDavid J. Neff , co-author of The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age, makes some interesting points. However, his argument does fall short of an explanation. Here is my response to ‘Gen Y Driving Nonprofits to Innovate and Thrive’.

A study by CompassPoint and the Meyers Foundation in 2011 called Daring to Lead 2011 , found that two-thirds of executive directors surveyed indicated that they intend to retire by 2016.  This will create a large gap, which Gen Y will be filling. We need to pay attention to this the incoming executive director generation and think about how we should be forming and evolving our nonprofits to be ready for their leadership.

The big national nonprofits like American Cancer Society, are not necessarily innovative, their behavior is pretty traditional. However, they do have the resources needed to strive for innovation. Resources are critical. Grantors and other funders need to design funding programs aimed at growing innovation in nonprofits.

Nonprofit organizations should definitely remember they are a business. Being tax exempt is just their tax status. They need to behave more like a corporation, strategically designing revenue, resourcing revenue development, creating marketing plans, and conducting research and strategic approaches, not just on programs, but on all four areas of operations – human resources, marketing, and finances as well. To do this, the general public needs to abandon their determination to judge a nonprofit by “how much money goes to program and not administration”. Some of the most successful nonprofits spend more on administration, but still achieve amazing results in mission delivery.

Nonprofit employees are actually compensated well, considering their limited sector specific education. Most nonprofit employees do not have a degree in nonprofit management. Many don’t have finance or business backgrounds either.  So the $55k salary for a director at a nonprofit organization, with no educational background specific to the nonprofit sector, is pretty decent. More colleges need to offer nonprofit management degrees, and more nonprofit organizations need to hire specifically for the job. This means not promoting a Program Manager to Executive Director or Fundraising Director for their dedication or their longevity to the organization, as that rarely if ever works out well. Nonprofit organizations should hire professionals with the education and experience background suitable for the specific job role.

Teamwork is important. It always has been. I wrote a white paper on retaining talent, innovative talent. Gen Y works differently. Nonprofit organizations need to change the silo mindset that each person is responsible for their individual tasks and performance measures, and move toward group managed, dynamically measured projects.

Where nonprofits find their supporters is also changing.  SXSW is one great idea. The old stodgy nonprofit organizations don’t think of being there. Bad for them, that’s where the new future donors are. And what Gen Y wants to support is unique; they want ownership and specific outcomes. They want to see a start, finish and most importantly an end. We need to change the way we prospect for donors, cultivate, and solicit donors.

Many of the start-up nonprofits we are working with have been started by executives who have aged out of the corporate sector or young Gen Y/X entrepreneurs. They are excited and passionate about starting their nonprofit and need the business guidance to start up well. They bring high risk tolerance, drive for outcomes, aren’t afraid to fund-raise and understand the need for marketing and publicity.  It’s the new nonprofit.

Innovation as a Culture…..

It all started with a statistic in 2006, repeated in 2011: Two thirds of all executive directors of US nonprofits intend to retire by 2016 (Cornelius, Moyers, & Bell, 2011).

That led to a thought: Filling those positions are Gen X and Y, who work so very differently and embrace a culture of Innovation

That led to a fear: Is our industry prepared?

That lead to a revelation: We need to focus hard on developing Innovative Cultures now, in order to weather the shift.

Innovate: Verb

1: to introduce as, or as if, new
2: to effect a change in 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2012
 

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society. Innovation builds on existing ideas. It is not to be confused with Invention. The Printing Press was Invented, the Kindle was Innovative.

If our Grandparents were Inventors, then Gen X/Y are Innovators. They may not own the market on Innovation, but lead the charge and drive the process. Their Innovative spirit causes them to see work differently, and for those working in the Nonprofit Sector, and stepping into the vacuum of leadership soon to be created, that could be a challenge.

The exiting generation of Boomers tend to believe work was for life and WAS life. After all, they created the ‘workaholic’ and ‘superwoman’ concepts. The Gen X/Y to come, view work and their work life much differently. They are traditionally seen as individualistic, self-reliant and skeptical of authority. They expect great workplace flexibility. They are tech savvy and seek diverse groups. The speed and ease of the Internet  and its subsequent vast knowledge base, has led the ‘Net Generation’ of Y and Xer’s to be flexible and changing in its consciousness and with how it is communicated. We can see how this is in great contrast to the current environment of the risk averse, staid and steady world of the nonprofit.

However, we have seen some break-outs in the industry, nonprofits that have jumped the fence to do things differently, and with great results. For these nonprofits, we see that Innovation provides bold, new approaches to the way they work; they have decidedly replicated and integrated what can be learned from other disciplines; and they have provided ideas and strategies to our industry on how organizations can better foster new ideas and solutions to challenges and mission need.

Which is just the type of culture required to manage through such a massive shift in leadership, that is pending in our industry in the coming years.

What is needed for your organization to jump the fence into a culture of Innovation and to stand apart and excel in the approaching change?

Here are some simple and manageable ideas to get started.

1) Create and/or Embrace Your Constraints:

An excellent line from Marnie Webb, CEO of TechSoup Global, reflects “Innovation happens when people work within constraints — in an environment of not enough — and they figure out how to do it anyway.”  (Webb, 2011).   Well, doesn’t that just describe the EVER PRESENT environment of most, if not all, nonprofit organizations? So lack of resources, lack of time, lack of experience is a benefit and not a detriment to your Innovation.

Inspire a spirit of can do in your team: Teach them to routinely say to the world, “I know you said we can’t do this, but we are  going to figure a way that we can.”  A fun way to do this is to challenge your staff each month with one new problem to solve. It can be simple or complex, but make sure there are no single ‘right’ answers expected, and that all respondents get an encouraging word about their creativity in designing a solution. Take a look at the monthly responses and find one or two things that can be implemented from each, to make this activity actionable and inspiring.

2) Data is fuel for Innovation:

Research has had its day recently in the public square of discussion among the nonprofit set. It wasn’t until this recent decade though, that many nonprofits began to wake up to the fact that data drives exceptional performance. Metrics on outcomes of service and mission performance, as required now by grantors; benchmarks on philanthropy, collected and aggregated to drive decisions on fundraising expenditures; demographics on constituency that support political advocacy and marketing investments – all data driven for enhanced results.

Data drives Innovation as well.  How many experiments do you have currently going in your organization? What are you currently testing? If the answer is nothing, the future may look bleak for you. Testing gives you all the raw data you need to begin to get creative and innovate existing projects and services. Without it, you’re shooting in the dark.

It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start. Test something every week, every month and have a few tests going at the same time. Overall, testing does not significantly impact resources devoted to your project: You’re already completing the project with all the resources you have and need. Testing requires a simple tracking methodology.

A simple trial test, to get yourself and your staff acquainted with a culture of testing, is to develop a survey used with every donor/donation received. The survey can ask some common demographic questions, but also some quirky ones:  What color would you paint your car if you could paint it any color? What did you want to be when you grew up? What’s your favorite treat food?

The resulting data can be a rich playground for your team to get creative. What if more than 75% of your donors said Popcorn was their favorite treat food? How could you use this information to better your appeals, raise more money, sign up more volunteers, get more people to your programs? You could also take that quirky data, create an info-graphic and share with your constituency, giving them all an intimate look at the tribe they are part of in supporting your mission!

3) Free Access, Embrace Risk:

Let your staff play. Open up their access to the internet, create an environment of walking around to work, withhold judgement, encourage impossible dreams, create shared spaces for interaction. Let go of your organizational fear, and strict fence posts, and let your staff bloom! Additionally, inspire and ask you constituents and donor base to get involved. Create spaces for shared ideas, allow your donors to see their own giving histories, to watch projects unfold and to openly track progress of service delivery and program development.  Yes, even the warts and the odd parts.

Try this for one month: Using a cloud based program, like Dropbox or Google+, create a shared folder or a group for idea generation. Invite staff, board, donors, clients, to get involved. Post a problem or question of the month. Then encourage everyone to drop a comment. People love to give their feedback, so encourage that sharing on your real issues. Why not start with this question: What one thing would you change about us? Interact with the group, asking further questions, exploring responses, challenging perceptions.

4) Allow process, iteration, pivoting. Don’t kill the messenger or the message – massage it.

If you don’t give Innovation the time and attention it deserves, it will not produce and it will not gel as a culture. There are no bad ideas, only ideas which have not matured yet. Like a fine wine, an idea becomes innovative after taking some time to develop. Too often we rush to judgement on a solution, concept or strategy. Keep all ideas generative and don’t lose any along the way. Pop them open every so often, encourage follow through and push back on development on those that look promising or have some immediate potential application. Use data to tweak them along the way and send them out for more testing. Turn them over, look at them differently.  One of my favorite examples of this is asking the question: How is your_____________  like a ________? For instance, “How is your Nonprofit, like a Toaster?”.

5) Be sincere

Finally, don’t offer lip service on Innovation. It knows when you are lying and it knows when you are passionate about serving it well. Innovation is not a tactic, or a business management style. It is truly a culture, one which can only come from authentic, inspired and patient nurturing. Making it part of the spirit of your organization will yield powerful results.

Boss-man

Recently, I had the unfortunate opportunity to sit in the presence of a supervisor from my past, for an extended period, and listen to him speak. I was struck once again, even after so many years, of what an awful leader he was and obviously still is.

Then, this post this morning on twitter got me thinking about leadership in the nonprofit sector. 

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I’d give attribute for the picture, but there was none provided.

I was originally going to post today about innovation, and still will this week, but I think going back to basics about leadership is critical for any innovative approach to work.

So here is the translation of the above list for the nonprofit sector:

If you are leading your fundraising staff or a nonprofit team, then by definition you are-

  1. Coaching employees: Providing them with opportunities to fail, to learn, to gain insight and to achieve.What I mean is: To fail is to learn. To learn is to gain insight. And by gaining insight your staff ultimately achieves. What not to do? If you want to be a BOSS and not a LEADER, then say “no” often, chastise and punish for failures, limit projects, micromanage, get in the way, direct often, maintain an air of criticism when things don’t go well and show distrust in their efforts.
  2. Building goodwill among your team: You are authorized to lead. You are not authorized to dictate. A good LEADER will build authentic camaraderie based on respect, admiration of skills and honesty. From this will flow goodwill. Building goodwill, while for those not comfortable with leadership may sound superfluous, is at the core of every well run and successful nonprofit organization. Goodwill is contagious, it inspires others to do well for others and to help each other in a supportive environment. You can always tell an organization that depends on authority and has bankrupted goodwill – no one is safe from backstabbing.
  3. Generating enthusiasm:   Fear. ::shudder:: Fear shuts people down. It causes people not to think, to become myopic and to distrust everyone and everything. It places stress on the nervous system and creates negative filters. Fear kills. And most certainly it brings fundraising to a screeching halt. Building fear in your staff may bring you the perception of respect, but it will not help you reach your goals. Alternatively, being a cheerleader, generating enthusiasm for the work you do, for the mission of your organization and for the opportunity to serve the community, elevates peoples spirits, spreads joy. Think about those who speak highly of a LEADER (not a BOSS) and you will hear words such as: spirited, supportive, honest, good-natured, humble, encouraging and fun!
  4. Saying “We” and not “I”: In an industry driven by data – number of donors, number of gifts, cost ratios, number of prospects, number of visits… saying “we” can feel risky. How will I be judged for my performance if I cannot ‘count’ my numbers? Your staff will only conspire to share the wealth of achievement if you model such behavior. Authentically identifying when a group effort has achieved a goal or supported progress is the most important way to break down silo’s. BOSS-men take credit for everything good and demand accountability from others for everything bad. Horrible Bosses do so with impunity.To address the personal performance issue for your management of staff, I always suggest to my clients they follow this rule: Praise all publicly, assess privately.
  5. Focus on solutions not blame: Throwing around blame reminds me of monkeys in a cage, flinging……..well you get the picture. See number one in this list and realize that blame inhibits good coaching interactions, which instills rigidity and fear and will eventually break down any fundraising effort. Innovation cannot exist in a blame filled environment. Skip the poo flinging and get your team focused quickly on the resolution.
  6. Lead by example: Sometimes, just sometimes, I question whether leaders in the NPO sector actually ever did any fundraising at all? Too many times, I find that leaders are really, really good at A) stating what they read about fundraising or B) demanding some crazy concept they derived as effective -most often based in myth and not reality or research. Good LEADERS learn the craft and then teach the craft through interaction, experience and modeling behavior.
  7. Develop people, don’t ‘use’ them: We all met this person in junior high school. Eddie Haskell, looking for favor to gain his own ends. That guy (or gal) who is transparently disingenuous and only calls upon you when they need something. Or worse, the BOSS  who places you between himself and a bad outcome. Invest your time in developing relationships with your staff, learn about their personal lives, their likes, their dreams, their fears. Don’t be afraid if they don’t match yours. And don’t be judgmental. CARE about people (Create an Authentic and Respectful Environment).
  8. Gives Credit: I have been on the receiving end of a BOSS who speaks at a podium, taking credit for all the hard work I and my team have accomplished in reaching a lauded outcome. I have also watched as a BOSS does the same to others. The funny thing is, the BOSS looks like an ass each time. Because the dirty little secret is- everyone knows who did the work. Everyone already knows who gets the credit. Don’t be that BOSS, unless looking like an ass is a personal goal. Giving credit is easy, and contrary to how BOSS-men think, giving credit takes nothing away from you. In fact giving credit gives credit to your leadership. Because, as we see in the previous seven points in this list, your leadership inspires great things from your team.
  9. Asks: I am going to unapologetic here when I say “Ask your staff if they can perform a duty, do not tell them to.” The measure of your success as a LEADER will be in their answer. Good leadership inspires people to say some form of yes 99% of the time – “Yes, right now” or “Yes, shortly”  or “Yes” with adjustments. But they will want to say yes, because, they want to be a part of this team, they want to lead, they want to perform, they want to please others, they want to excel, they want to work. If you still are hesitant about asking, then you probably have guilt about your leadership style. Change your dance steps and the people you lead will change theirs.
  10. Saying “Let’s Go!”: I think playing on a team sport during your formative years should be mandatory. Nothing inspires and teaches good leadership like a good sports coach. Or the military. Team is unified, it is collective, it is cellular in nature. It is not independent entities working as one. It is one entity working independently. The core of the team is we. The battle cry is “Let US go”! For your fundraising team, how often do you expect the directors to go around the board table and report on “their” area? Try this instead: before every staff meeting, have each director interview one other to determine how that area’s projects are doing? Ask them to focus their questions on primary data capture: how many mailings, what was the return, etc. Then request they ask followup questions such as “How could I help you in this project?”, “How can we as a team support the effort?” and “What did we do that lent to the outcomes?”. Then at your staff meeting, the interviewer gives the report on the project. Watch the dynamic change.

I am a firm believer that everything which happens in our lives has purpose. For me it was at one time being supervised by this BOSS, and then getting to see him in action again. It helped me realize that LEADERSHIP is more than being a big person at the top. It’s about being that BIG person that brings others to the top. Thanks for that.

 

 

How a gift to someone else, can be the perfect gift for your Dad

Dad’s, at least the Dad’s of my generation, had two jobs- Earn an Income and Make Pancakes on Sunday Night for Mom’s night off.

The first we knew represented his RESPONSIBILITY to his family.

The second we knew represented his LOVE for our mother and for us.

There never seemed anything we could do to repay  him.  There wasn’t a tie nor trip nor lighter nor ballgame ticket which could ever- EVER- be as valuable as what he gave and sacrificed and provided for our welfare, spirit and education.

And so maybe we stop trying. We give up on the gifts and just purchase a card. Or maybe we continue to maniacally hunt down JUST THE RIGHT THING, in a blind, ambitious desire to give him something that comes close to saying Thank You.

What Dad was doing was not only loving and nurturing his wife and his family. He was passing down years of learned respect and responsibility, he was educating us on what Fatherhood really means, he was mentoring and coaching a future generation to prepare them for the same offering of self that he so willingly provided, in love and in gratitude for all he was given.

And believe me, he doesn’t want a present for that. What he wants is to know that all of that good stuff has been passed on, that it continues and grows and moves beyond his years to others.

So this year, give him what he deeply desires, by supporting a nonprofit “Fatherhood Initiative” .

Fatherhood is not DNA encoded. It is not something every boy is born knowing, and sadly many do not  experience  in their short lifetime.

But it CAN be learned. And it CAN be shared. And it will live on through the noble work of these organizations and more.

Here are some to get you started. And when you give, give generously as Dad did, from your need, not your excess. And then say Thank You Dad.