Tagged: engagement

Success Strategies for Volunteers – Morning Musing Workshop

Hosted by The Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Presented by Harvest Development Group, LLC. Client Engagement Director, Jeanne Boyer Roy.

If you want to go fast – go alone! If you want to go far – go together!

Nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers – their passion, their commitment, and their time. Volunteers help nonprofit organizations meet their mission, and in doing so, they are key ambassadors in the community.

Harvest Development Group provides tools and strategies to craft a plan for managing volunteers that will ultimately lead to increased participation in fund development.

This workshop is free to nonprofit organizations – space is limited and pre-registration is requested.

Register by e-mailing Jamie or calling 860.347.0025.

 

Success Strategies for Engaging, Recruiting, and Maintaining Volunteers Morning Musing Workshop

Hosted by The Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Presented by Harvest Development Group, LLC. Client Engagement Director, Jeanne Boyer Roy.

If you want to go fast – go alone! If you want to go far – go together!

Nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers – their passion, their commitment, and their time. Volunteers help nonprofit organizations meet their mission, and in doing so, they are key ambassadors in the community.

Harvest Development Group provides tools and strategies to craft a plan for managing volunteers that will ultimately lead to increased participation in fund development.

This workshop is free to nonprofit organizations – space is limited and pre-registration is requested.

Register by e-mailing Jamie or calling 860.347.0025.

Date/Time
14 Oct 2014
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Location
Community Foundation of Middlesex County, 211 South Main Street, Middletown, Connecticut

 

It’s Not What You Tell Your Donors, It’s How You Say It

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I’ve seen my share of “donor death” due to the academic delivery of every specific detail relating to an organization’s mission.  It’s not pretty. First the eyes glaze over and the face slackens, the brow slightly furrows, then the fingers fret with each other as the donor begins to avert his eyes. This is quickly followed by phone checking, paper rustling, and long loving glances at wristwatches.  When this happens, there is no question that the end is near.

When a donor goes into this death spiral, the organization must work harder to keep the donor engaged and interested. Hard work requires more resources and additional resources are expensive. It is far more effective for organizations to understand the dynamics of donor engagement before the meeting.  Spending a minimum of upfront time, determining how to tell your organization’s story in an effective and engaging manner rather than reporting your organization’s destination will pay dividends.

Nonprofits as an industry, we are in love with our science. We love the academics and inner workings of our profession. It’s our passion for the science of what we do that drives us to perform. But frankly, for our donors, it’s the pedestrian, everyday results they can relate to that fires their engines.  I am reminded of a 1970s advertisement produced by Crispin and Porter, that illustrates this point (see above). Telling someone you need to get to a destination is uninteresting and even boring when you compare it to sharing with someone your need to connect with humanity, your family, your loved ones. Same message, but a very different emotion attached to that message.

Check your language. Review your letters, materials, your website. Are you alienating and potentially killing off your donors with your technical speak? Are you telling them where you need to be, rather than sharing with them what or who you want to become. They don’t need the details or the destination. They need the information that will spark their emotions, encourage engagement, and keep them excited about your cause.

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.

LinkedIn Board Connect

LinkedIn has brought forth another way to use their social media tool. This one is targeted specifically at nonprofit leaders seeking to strengthen and grow their board leadership.

LinkedIn’s new Board Connect, is a suite of tools, including talent finder and a LinkedIn group, that allows nonprofits to ‘advertise’ their organization, mission, vision and goals and to review prospective board members resumes. The hope is that, progressive, caring, thoughtful business leaders will be revealed through this process.

Now for the reality.

Despite many other innovative technological and social media partners considering and launching the same concept – a pool for nonprofits to jump into and peddle their wares- the ability to attract and retain high level leadership is no further advanced.

I commend LinkedIn for their effort. It does no harm, and that is the most that can be said about this endeavor. It feels good for LinkedIn and their leadership team to be doing something – anything – to help the NPO sector. It gives yet another venue for NPO’s to congregate to, in the hopes of landing those really incredible volunteers.

But like the other efforts, it offers only passive development, not active, and creates yet another large room, devoid of substance, but filled with clutter and noise, that can be overwhelming and uninviting to the audience: the prospective business leaders.

A better approach is to create a source for those business leaders interested in seeking a more vested role in the nonprofit sector, to post their interest, areas of interest(types of NPO’s, causes, role seeking) and to have that be presented in LinkedIn as a searchable database. NPO’s have clear guidelines and matrices they use in seeking out and vetting specific people to be on their board. Contrary to common belief (and the way this new LinkedIn resource is designed) it’s not a matter of any captain in the storm or any suitor interested . Board selection is a scientific, strategic process that is lead by a core objective- to secure the right person for the right need in the boards governance goals for the organization.

My hope -and I truly believe LinkedIn is intent on making this a more sophisticated, valuable tool – is that the next iteration leans more toward what the NPO needs in this manner.

 

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.

27.1 million golf players ….. and you without a tournament?

Golf is in the air.  TPC, US Open and your local favorite charity.

Golf has become big business for nonprofits.  At one time,  I lead my staff through more than forty-two… 42! …annual fundraising golf tournaments. Most were third party events, lead by dedicated- borderline maniacal- golf enthusiasts.

People take their golf very seriously. According to the National Golf Foundation’s 2010 golf participation study, there were 27.1 million golfers in the U.S. in 2009, where they played 486.2 million rounds of golf, at over 15,890 golf facilities. According to a report by SRI International for GOLF 20/20, the total size of the U.S. golf economy in 2005 was just under $70 billion, not including equipment and related purchases.

Those are some serious numbers.

Which is why charities should take their golf seriously too. 

If you haven’t already, consider developing and leading a strategic golf initiative at your organization. Gather the expert, and not so expert, enthusiasts within your volunteer ranks and task them with developing a vision, a charge and a strategy for incorporating more golf into your revenue stream. Ask them to focus on making this effort turnkey or low cost/high return. Your empowered base of greens-walkers will be instrumental in designing a program that captures some of the lucrative trends in the industry. Be certain your plan contains a method of resourcing the effort as well.

The success outcomes from this approach?

  • Expanded volunteer and donor base
  • Reliable new revenue stream
  • Substantial increase in community buzz
  • New executive and corporate relationships
  • Broad dissemination of your mission and programs
Here are some helpful websites to get you “on course”  (lol, you didn’t think I could go a whole post without an awful pun, did you!)
GolfLink: A database of golf tournaments

GolfRegistrations.com: This site has valuable freebies to help you get started on your own tournament

 

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.

                                 

What Flag Day can teach us about Passion, Brand Identity and Advocacy.

“The “Stars and Stripes”, the official National symbol of the United States of America, was authorized by congress on Saturday June 14, 1777 – the fifth item of the days agenda. In Waubeka, Wisconsin, in 1885 Bernard John Cigrand a nineteen year old school teacher in a one room school, placed a 10” 38 star flag in an inkwell and had his students write  essays on what the flag meant to them. He called June 14th the flag’s birthday.” – The National Flag Day Foundation

Flag Day was not officially established until 1926, by then President Woodrow Wilson. It would take another 33 years for congress to establish an act proclaiming National Flag Day.

Although not a noticed national holiday, it speaks volumes about the simple passion that a symbol can engender in the spirit of mankind. The flag of the United States is the most recognized symbol in the country and one of the most recognized flags in the world. It’s not the colors- many other countries host red, white and blue in their flags of origin.  It’s not the shapes, stripes and stars abound as well. It’s the passion behind the symbol that drives the recognition.

And that passion drives advocacy- the advocacy that lead to June 14th being established as National Flag Day by an Act of Congress in August of 1949.

Symbols are just pretty pictures without Passion. Passion is just a strong emotion without Advocacy. All three working in beautiful union can move mountains and congress and establish unthinkable outcomes.