Tagged: keep

Don’t shy away from difficult people

“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” – The Little Prince.

Many people believe the late Stephen Covey made famous the phrase “iron sharpens iron”. However like many of his other leadership catch phrases, this was lifted directly from Gods word in the Bible through King Solomon.

King Solomon was given the gift of Wisdom from God and he nurtured wisdom in his people. His wisdom is captured in the Book of Proverbs. A great read if you haven’t picked up a bible yet or in a while.

Proverbs 27:17 (27 is the chapter in the book, and 17 represents the verse line. Don’t worry, you won’t have to count sentences- they’re numbered 😁) says – “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another”. This isn’t the first time the Bible, or a business leadership guru quoting the Bible, has revealed wisdom in working together. More are to be found as instructional material on how to relate in Luke 6:38; in Hebrews 10:25; and in Matthew 5:23-24. (I’m going to leave you to look them up. A free bible app can be found in the Apple store 😉).

In our work within the nonprofit sector, we interrelate with many people. People of all backgrounds and beliefs and upbringings. Of all temperaments and inclinations. Many ‘fit’ with us- that natural smooth easy connection, building naturally to a comfortable and stable balance of friendship. And many do not. They rasp at our good nature, they have sharp edges which make it difficult to stand near them. They repel instead of invite. And they make us uncomfortable, mostly uncomfortable with- ourselves. It is these very people we benefit from most greatly. We should be leaning into their sphere, not shying away.

In looking back over the almost thirty years I have been leading nonprofits I can clearly see from where my greatest growth came. It wasn’t from my work companions, the ones I looked forward to seeing, who shared my gossip and validated my bitterness and distress. It was from those very people who caused it.

One of my first positions was with the National March of Dimes. I was hired to work out of an office in Connecticut. I had no justification for having received this position, which had me leading three counties in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. But they gave me a binder of ‘things’ and a desk and a file box of index cards scribbled with donor details and said “Go”.

The office was large and employed about a dozen people. Two of those dozen people terrified me at first. They were oppressive, demanding, and brutally frank, one might say. I cowered from their attention, frozen silently like a rabbit behind my desk whenever I heard them walk by, for fear they would turn their gaze – and their performance attentions on me. I was fearful mostly of being found out that I didn’t measure up.

Overtime my terror turned to agitation and then to rebellion. How dare they. They’re no better than anyone else here. They are bullies. This was my 30 yr old voice speaking to my heart. But I was wrong.

The more I tried to repel these two, the more they zeroed in on me and my work. It was enough to make me quit! And I did, but not before securing another job. And this new job? It was a higher position with almost twice the paycheck.

Now at that time, at the age of 30, my hubris and youthful ignorance prevented me from seeing the truth of this new situation. The honor bestowed upon me by their attentions was precisely what caused me to be promoted into a new more profitable role. Without their demands on perfection and their laser gaze on meeting performance standards I would be just another employed commodity of no interest or benefit to any other organization. But the accomplishments achieved in this first position, under the pressure of these two sharp edged individuals, set in motion a trajectory that has led me to where I am today.

They were not alone. In each progressively more important role I was challenged and pressed against iron to hone my skill and value. Even up to my last corporate position as Vice President of a multi hospital network. The sharpening became more intense and painful as the jobs grew, but the sharpening never let up.

Who are you being sharpened by? If you can’t think of anyone right now, then you need to stop shying away from those challenging people in your life. Because without them, your refinement will not happen. Reject your status quo. Go find that one person you avoid and press into a relationship with them that causes their iron to yield your greatness.

Camp CEO

Sondra Lintelmann-Dellaripa, President of Harvest Development Group, was honored to take part in Camp CEO hosted by the Girl Scouts of Connecticut on June 28-30, 2018.

The camp included 17 girls aged 7-14 as well as 12 successful businesswomen. Over the span of three days, the members of Camp CEO participated in activities where they learned about social enterprises from ReSET, and then created their own social enterprise to pitch to a panel of “Sharks”.  In addition to the social enterprise project, campers and CEO’s enjoyed the full camping experience by participating in horseback riding at Trails End, swimming, boating, archery, and a Young Professional Career Jam.

For their social enterprise project, the camp split into groups where they created their own ideas to present. The team known as the GEMS (Grace, Emily, Margaret, and Sarah) and mentored by Harvest Development Group President, Sondra Lintelmann-Dellaripa, created the “Wrap Pack”, modeled after the women in Sub-Saharan Africa who carry their children in wraps.

The “Wrap Pack”, modeled after a traditional backpack, has a wrap feature to it so one can wear it however they want, unlike a traditional backpack which is only able to be carried on your back. After extensive research, The GEMS’s concept is a new backpack made of waterproof fabric, that would appeal to all ages and genders.  The social enterprise concept is one where Wrap Packs would be made by the women in Africa who would be hired and receive a fair wage for their hard work. All profits would then go to teachers and translators who would educate women and children in Africa. The team went one step further and strategized an advertising campaign through a viral Instagram movement, which would create   paid ads and a campaign where people post pictures of themselves with the “Wrap Pack” using the hashtag #howwillyouwrap, encouraging other others to buy the product. The work done by the GEMS to create the idea was very inspiring and after pitching it to the Sharks, the team won the Innovation Award!

“One of the most interesting part of Camp CEO was the nurturing, safe environment that allowed the girls to express themselves and interact in a way that had no enforcement of sociological expectations” said Sondra Lintelmann-Dellaripa. She shared, “The atmosphere of the camp was very genuine and open where the girls didn’t feel like they were being supervised but that they were partners with the CEOs who they could have honest conversations. Camp CEO was a great opportunity for girls through Girl Scouts to be exposed to the powerful way their ideas can manifest into real opportunity!  I was honored to participate!”

To read more about the Girl Scouts of Connecticut and Camp CEO, click here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/316075

Compete for your impact not for your event.

For those nonprofits which rely heavily on event revenue to make their bottom line, the news out of the nonprofit ecosystem regarding the plateau, stagnation, and downturn of revenue derived from walks, runs, rides, and other type events, is startling and of great concern. In an article this week from Denver, (https://businessden.com/2018/07/02/funds-on-the-run-nonprofits-struggle-with-declining-charity-run-ride-revenue/) evidence shows that run/ride style events are no longer the juggernaut of fundraising they once were. If you depend on them for more than 30% of your annual nut, that’s a serious problem which cannot be ignored.

Sadly, the reaction of many nonprofits to this concerning turn of events is to double down on their run and make it more outrageous or unique, competing for the event and not for their impact. What gets lost in the message?

The value of an investment into your organization and the return your participants bring as lifetime loyalists to your cause.

Yes, having thousands onsite for your event gives a great opportunity to blow up your optics and share your mission- all eyes on you. But the reality is the runners, walkers, and riders, will most likely forget your cause by the next week.

Unless you have a Long Tail plan.

For decades nonprofits have seen these events as a means to an end- raise funds by having fun. Period. Oh, and tell the participants about your cause.

Once a year they assemble the masses, speak the mission statement, pop the starter pistol, cheer on the runners. Then they post a few pictures, get a mention in the local paper and move on to the next big thing.

In the meantime, the runners participating are getting cultivated by other organization that they find valuable and worthy who have forgone the heavy costs of an event and have instead investment in personal engagement and speaking to impact. They are being solicited by mail, invited to lunches, meeting staff and clients, mingling with board members. All without you in the room. They are being courted, 365 days a year, by other organizations not investing all their time and resources into a once a year event.

It’s not as dire as it sounds though, IF you have a plan of action in which you invest resources into cultivating all your attendees AFTER the event and leading up to the next year’s engagement.

Begin your plan before the event even reaches the starting gate. Identify those who are registered through wealth screenings. Note the high net worth individuals. Create relationship trees in your database to see who is connected and nurture those connected to your organization currently.  Make plans to introduce those who are not.

Define which participants you need to meet, which need to meet the board, which need a place of honor. Which ones can get you to the next big donor? Who is of notoriety? Who represents a company you need to connect with? Who represents a group valuable to your mission? Data knowledge pre-event is gold.

Then be prepared with a plan of action beginning the day after the event is completed. Outreach by email, mail, phone calls, notecards, group invites to all participants in some level, in some way. No one is left untouched until the next year. You’ve spent, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of dollars to get them to you, now keep them and nurture them the remaining 364 days of the year with very specific tasks and actions to engage each one.


Your investment will return:

Greater event participant loyalty

Increased participation in your event through donor networks

Increase in low to mid-level donations outside of event revenue

Increase in major donor prospects

Increase in major donor gifts and the quality of major donor gifts

Greater brand awareness

Greater recall and loyalty to your mission and impact

Greater advocacy for your cause

Increase in your pool f prospective volunteers

Increase in prospect pool for committees and boards


Isn’t it worth the increased investment in resources toward nurturing the attendees toward a lifetime of giving rather than creating a bigger and crazier event?

Donor Relationships

By Melanie Cecarelli

When I’m in a social setting and people learn I’m with a nonprofit consulting firm, it’s like being a CPA being asked a tax question or a physician being asked, “Does this look infected to you?” I usually get questions or comments about how nonprofits are missing an important feature when it comes to their donors, and that is the relationship.
A colleague shared their recent experience with me. They contacted a nonprofit three times within a three month period regarding a restricted gift they wanted to make to the organization. Now one would think the organization would jump at a non-solicited gift coming across their desk. There was no ask, no cultivation or stewardship involved. It was theirs for the taking. Then why would they let the offer stand idle? Is it because the nonprofit didn’t understand the need and the importance of a good donor relationship?
As nonprofit leaders, you know it takes time and energy to cultivate and build a relationship with a donor, especially one that you hope will grow into a major gift. Little stumbles like this have a lasting impression. Remember the saying it takes years to build a good reputation and only takes a minute to ruin it? Think about that when you ignore your donor or just see them as a means to an end to help you get achieve your philanthropy goals.

So, how do you think this story ends? Was the donor persistent in trying to make their gift? Did the organization finally contact them? And what did the organization do after the gift was received? Sounds a bit like a cliffhanger for a TV serial. At the end of the day, it’s up to nonprofits to embrace donors for their value and your worth…but that’s a topic for another day.

Ask yourself these questions.
How do you view your donors? Are you treating them as a one collective group? What are you doing to cultivate your repeat donors from a transactional into the translational relationship, especially when comes knocking at your door? Do you know the art and science behind the cultivation process?
It’s much more than frequent communications and the request for a gift. It’s about connecting the donor to your organization, and not to what you think is important to you but what is important to them and being sure it aligns with your overall goals. A donor suggested a “buy a brick” concept for a walkway at an art gallery and the program director ran with it. The few donations they received were outweighed by the actual cost of the materials and labor to install, and didn’t align with the gallery’s overall development initiative. Yes they had donors, but at what cost? And were these opportunities that could have been cultivated for something else?

How do you know what’s important to your donor? By listening and connecting with them, and not just once but multiple times. It’s not about coming out of the gate and asking for their gift, but understanding what motivates them to give to your organization. Are they interested in the outcomes or more interested in how the program operates? Do they want their dollars going to a program or are they more interested in capital improvements or longevity through an endowment or planned gift? It’s all about helping the donor grow alongside your organization. Cultivation.
And most of all, be responsive to your donors. Don’t keep them waiting especially when they come to you with a gift. Opportunity may knock more than once, but it’s not going to keep on knocking until you are ready to answer.

Give Back Tuesday

By Melanie Cecarelli

With the holiday season upon us, how many emails, text alerts, and Facebook ads did you receive for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? And now there’s “Give Back Tuesday”, a way for nonprofits to maximize year end giving with donors.

On “Give Back Tuesday”, I’m struck by the number of appeals that are flooding my inbox and social media pages. I think I received as many requests on “Give Back Tuesday” as I did for all the store and online sales. Many are from friends or colleagues who perhaps sit on a particular nonprofit board or maybe have given to the organization in the past.

Does it work? Some of the organizations are brave enough to post their progress toward a goal, and there’s little to no movement for donations. One organization tried “Give Back Tuesday” when it was first introduced as a concept. Out of the hundreds of emails and posting sent to their donor and membership base, only one gift was received. Why? Because organizations are reaching out to their donors who in turn are reaching out to individuals who have little or no knowledge of them. And a short 140 byte message isn’t going to move someone to give ‘sight unseen’ to your cause.

So ask yourself, “Is the squeeze worth the juice?” Are you putting time and resources toward an appeal that isn’t yielding results?
Like most things, one organization may have tremendous success with crowdsourcing and everyone jumps into the game. As a friend once said to me, “You need to know how deep the pool is before you jump in with cement shoes”. And that goes for “Give Back Tuesday”. How big is your social media footprint? Are these individuals who are connected to your work and mission or are you just jumping into the pool without knowing your audience? And what is your strategy for keeping the one or two new donors connected to your mission.

Many organizations see “Give Back Tuesday” as a way to close the gap for their overall development fund. While it may work for some, more attention needs to be given to creating a culture of philanthropy that engages donors and prospects throughout the year. Loyal donors are going to respond to your annual appeal and the cultivation you work on throughout the year. You don’t want to wait to year end to close gaps. The time to plan for next year is now.

So, how did Give Back Tuesday work for you?

Servers and Rewarders

Not everyone is a giver. Connecticut Public Radio recently completed a two year project on ‘Giving’, and while many (most) of the people they interviewed applied to participate because they were givers, I’m sure the ones who did not respond to be interviewed were not givers. Not everyone is a giver.

One thing is for certain though – if you have donors then you have givers. These givers are people who have a desire to impact another’s life; offer themselves and their possessions to others. There are non-givers in the world, people who care nothing about other’s needs, but people in this latter category usually fall under the heading Narcissists and Sociopaths. For the most part, the majority of people are givers; it’s an innate part of our DNA. From infancy we have empathy for others that causes us to act to help.

But givers are not at all alike. In fact it is my opinion that there are two distinct types of givers.


Husband and I are celebrating thirty years of marriage this year. This is remarkable because 1) Most marriages don’t last that long and 2) it’s a miracle that despite our vast differences, we are still together 30 years later. Ketchup on eggs/no ketchup on eggs; music as an alarm clock/silence is golden; Volunteer for everything/volunteer for nothing; in all ways he and I are as different as the proverbial night and day.

And when it comes to giving we remain distinctly at odds: fundamentally, I am a Server and he is a Rewarder.

As a server I tend to see others’ needs as they appear to me and then act to assist in some way. I seek to put others first, looking for ways to be a blessing upon someone who has done virtually nothing to ask or ‘earn’ it in anyway. If a person is struggling with full hands and is trying to enter the subway car, I’ll reach out to help. If I see someone being uncomfortable with silence or with a comment I jump in to comfort them (usually inserting foot into mouth along the way, but hey…). In most situations where I am moved to empathy by a person’s situation, I am also moved to act.

That’s not to say at all that my husband is not empathetic, kind, or not a giver. He is very much so, and often is brought to the brink of tears by others’ stories of struggle or injustice. It’s just that his pragmatic nature causes him to be more of a rewarder than a server.

For him, giving is triggered by people’s actions towards him or towards themselves. In this way giving is a reward, a reward for action. Recently we had a young visitor stay with us. My husband was his cordial self. But not very giving. The young man had a 16-foot truck full of stuff. Only after he asked my husband to help did hubby jump into full blown action, clearing places in the garage and hauling boxes. I on the other hand was already making virtual plans for assistance when I heard the news of the truck arriving.

During a recent visit to NYC, we passed by one after another of types of people needing assistance; some homeless, some were able bodied individual’s just experiencing life’s nuanced challenges. By days end, I was an exhausted drained mess, having depleted my reserves and brain power in trying to ensure I helped each and every person in some small way possible. Hubby was surprised that the number of people I counted needing help even existed. He did hold the door for a gentleman who asked nicely. And he was grateful to do so. Raising our kids, Hubby was so very generous when a child overcame a struggle or performed an action that made hubby feel proud, inspired, or just dog gone emotional about his kid. But he allowed the struggle to occur, whereas I had blisters from gripping the broom I used to sweep the path of struggle for each one of my three children.

Rewarders often appreciate the self-reliance necessary to be built in order for gratitude to kick in, in order for the reward of giving to have a lasting impact. Often rewarders want the individual in need to acknowledge their need for a deeper meaning, a learning that occurs in building character and in forming a bond between helper and the one being helped. Additionally, some rewarders don’t always see the obvious and might not be inclined to fore think the needs that others might have, but that does not make them any less of a giver. Rewarders give based on need AND actions, whereas servers give based on needs alone. Servers are driven innately by their own desire to serve and feel good about serving. Rewarders are driven by the need that exists and the call to action from the one needing help.

Your DONORS are Servers and Rewarders as well. Which is why it is so very important to have a continual stream of consciousness flowing by them of not only your constituents’ needs, but ALSO your constituents and organizations’ actions and your call to help. I recently facilitated a strategic planning session where the ED implied that more publicity would raise more funds. Her rationale was that when people see what we are doing and the people we serve, they will say, “Hey that’s a good cause, I’ll send them money”. She wasn’t wrong. But she wasn’t totally right either. She only had half the equation; she was speaking to the Server givers in her donor pool, who would see the article and intuit the need and be moved to action, their own defined action, based on what they read that caused them to emote.

The other half is that a rewarder would read the news article, close the paper and walk away. They would certainly appreciate the work that was being performed, but would not be moved to action because there was no call to action; there was no request for help nor any evidence of the organization doing something that a rewarder could well, reward with their assistance. To complete the cycle and speak to both groups of givers – servers and rewarders – the organization would also have to show action, maybe a piece on the results of their activity or a testimonial from a constituent served on what they did because of this group, as well as a request spelled out –“We Need Your help Now. Please send us $25 today to take this work to the next level”.

Servers and Rewarders are both equally giving, they are just compelled to act based on different criteria.Recognizing this, preparing for it, and employing different techniques in communication and solicitation will help you meet both of their needs.

Wise Warren.

“When I buy businesses, it’s the same as investing in philanthropy. I’m looking for somebody who will get the job done and is in synch with my goals. You can have the greatest goals in the world, but if you have the wrong people running it, it isn’t going to work. On the other hand, if you’ve got the right person running it, almost anything is possible.”

– Warren Buffett

Capacity Building

If we ask any of our nonprofit prospects and clients, what is there biggest challenge besides fundraising, the answer is invariably “building capacity“.

Capacity building is a broad term that encompasses “actions that improve nonprofit effectiveness”. According to a journal released by the Foundation Center in 2003 entitled “Investing in Capacity Building: A Guide to High-Impact Approaches”, capacity building can take many forms, including:

  • Professional development for staff and board members
  • Opportunities for peer learning, networking or leadership development
  • Creating or re-examining organizational plans
  • Initiating collaboration with other nonprofits
  • Developing new sources for earned income
  • Utilizing pro bono support for high-impact projects

Many of the community foundations and professional associations for nonprofits with whom we work offer numerous opportunities for capacity building- from grants directly to the organizations to bring on talent, expand knowledge and build strategy; to offering workshops, seminars and conferences from which the nonprofits can learn.

Yet we are still talking about capacity building over a decade later. If we know these things mentioned prior can work, what isn’t working?

Our firm has studied this issue for two years. We have worked with over 1000 prospective clients in trying to establish a solution set that met their needs and their budget.  We’ve heard from each of them as to what they have tried to do on their own and with help from foundations, associations and in some cases universities. What we learned was that for each one, where the process of capacity building fell apart was in execution.

Good ideas, strategy, recommendations, action steps, all are excellent in theory but will fail the nonprofit if they feel unable to execute. Some obstacles to execution are time and resources, confidence and experience, and accountability.

Of the thousands of prospects and clients we spoke with, about 80% were deserving, viable nonprofits. They have neither the resources nor the time or support needed to truly benefit from a contract for private consulting support.

after our study of this issue, we built what we believe to be a game changing answer to the capacity building issue for these nonprofits.


When we realized the scope of this problem, we thought, what if we could create a learning lab, curating the best of educational videos, podcasts, journal articles, and books, in which nonprofit executives could reliably and affordably access these tools in an online workspace, at any time. And what if we supported each learner with a private coach, who would have complete access to their learning progress in the lab, evaluating and mentoring them through assignment completion and assessments, and meet with the learner by phone, skype or google hangout once a month for 90 minutes.

And then what if we could provide an upfront assessment for the learner and the coach and learner could identify one looming key performance issue in the organization that they want to create a long term project around, affecting real time change to the nonprofits outcomes.

And finally what if we assembled six learners in a team, where they could interact, share ideas and have rich discussions around topics relevant to the nonprofit industry, effecting their organizations?

Around these assumptions we built BLOSSOM: The Virtual Incubator for Nonprofit Executives.

The incubator is a twelve month program, covering fifteen different nonprofits business topics. Learners start with an assessment on their influence style and on their organizations health. From these assessments the coach will develop leadership learning opportunities and will define with the learner their long term project. The Learner receives an online workspace that has the best of curated educational materials, tools, and templates, along with a resource library of additional information and downloadables. Learners are assembled with five other executives, for teams of six, who meet once per month online to discuss general nonprofit topics of interest. They also hold each other accountable for the progress and completion of their long term projects. The program culminates with a review of real time outcomes acheived, completion of the long term project, and a new network of colleagues and support members to continue the growth and sustainability acheived.

Early feedback was overwhelmingly rejoiceful! Yes, rejoiceful, lol!  Brilliant was one word used, Something I can really rely on for change in my organization was another phrase heard often.

We would love to get your feedback. Request access to the Free Trial Module and tell us what you think!

[email protected] or call us at 888-586-1103 

The Golden Rule of Fundraising


When you don’t see the value in your donor prospects, they don’t see the value in you.

I’ve come to realize that nonprofits have what companies spend millions on– a pool of qualified prospects that represent customers who are interested in their product. Businesses, large and small, have entire teams of people devoted to the “sales” side of their business equation. They have entire departments focused completely on generating and then cultivating those new prospects. They do this because they know how valuable these leads are. They are worth their weight in gold, literally. In fact, many companies actually calculate the value of a lead, figuring how it translates into essential revenue.

And yet, few NPO’s I’ve come to work with have acquired a strategy related to this pool of prospects and how to move them to a “sale”. Do you know the financial value of a lead for your organization?

It doesn’t matter if your NPO is in healthcare, academics, social services or the arts. Every month you generate new major donor prospect leads that lay unnoticed. And these unnoticed leads, that are not being cultivated, are leading to revenue loss for your NPO.

Your lead generating system includes obvious things like events, but consider new clients and volunteers, people who signed up for your newsletters and RSS feeds, and people who inquire about your services and programs. But collecting these is a just a waste of time, if you don’t have a plan that you act upon.

There are four ways you can capture prospects that are new to your organization. Let’s call them them our “First in the Door” prospects. These people have expressed an interest in you. It might not be as obvious as a lead saying “Hey, I like what you do, put me on your radar screen for a donation.”  It probably is more common that they have attended an event, as a guest or a participant, had been present at a workshop or lecture, read your blog or newsletter, or maybe requested information on your program for a friend. I can think of a recent personal example of this.  In January, my 80 year old father came to live with us and I contacted a not for profit senior housing and assistance group to learn more about their organization. While they sent it right away, no one from the group has since reached out or shared other information on their organization with me, even though we had chatted about the challenges of being a not for profit and their upcoming building campaign! I could be a terrific prospect for a donation, but I get the impression that they don’t value me as one. So, I’ll move focus my attention on another charity.

To help you with those First in the Door prospects, here are four really solid things you should be doing to get them the information they require to build rapport:

1) Email response with material. For every new person that is entered into your database- client, guest, or vendor- you should have an email mechanism thanking them for their involvement with your group (appropriately) and delivering to them literature on your organizations message. Remember stories sell, don’t push them away with statistics, but tell them a story that brings them closer. This material could be in the form of an ebook, a slide deck, or a video.

2) Blog. I can’t say this enough, blogging is a simple, inexpensive way to stay in front of your prospect pool and current donors. 250 words takes under ten minutes to prepare but represents days of retention with your supporters.  You already know they are interested, keep them engaged with a regular flow of blog posts about your work. Again, stories, stories, stories. Include a call to action or a response mechanism for further information. Send your First in the Door prospect this blog, link in a follow up email to the one above. Ask them to sign up for future posts.

3) Lectures and informational sessions.  I recently received a beautifully prepared pamphlet on upcoming arts and music lectures that interested my husband and me.  The series was to be held twice monthly and had some interesting speakers, including local historians speaking on New England music, an old folksinger of local fame, and a representative talking about a local non- profit art museum. This series did not come from an arts organization, but from a senior housing facility, a different one I had called upon.  Brilliant! I’m going to attend some of these programs, and I am excited about learning more about this innovative group that markets themselves so well.  My point is, they kept me engaged by attracting me to a program that they knew I, as their audience, would be interested. They could have easily invited me to a lecture on issues of caring for an aging parent, and I would have attended. But they diversified and offered me a value added opportunity as well.  I like them already. Your informational sessions can and should be about your services, but also about those things your audience likes. Do your research, know your prospects and clients.

4) Social media. It’s not for fundraising. I can’t stress enough how ineffective Facebook and other social media strategies are in actually raising a dollar. However they are invaluable when it comes to performing in the way they were intended—building your tribe of supporters and deepening your relationships.  Instagram pictures of your team, your clients (with permission of course just as you would do for your newsletter), and your daily activities. Instagram is informal, no need to save it for big activities. Tweet out information on upcoming activities, current successes, and research that relates to your work. Create Pinterest boards relevant to your work. Talk daily with your prospect pool on Facebook. Create a discussion group on LinkedIn. Invite your First in the Door prospects to all of this.

Right about now you’re saying “Oy!!  I don’t have time for all of this!!”  You won’t have any time, at all, if you don’t do this, because these people whom you are currently ignoring will not be your donors in the coming months. And without donors,  you’ll have no programs to offer. Ignoring your pipeline of prospects is putting your organization on ice, ignoring your financial future, and telling those people who have already said they are interested in you, that you don’t value them. They will leave, you can count on it.

Take a look at your organization today, create a strategy for cultivating those First in the Door prospects and decide who will be responsible for carrying out this prospect generating process. Many companies (and nonprofits) envy you for the pool you are building, show them you value your prospects as much as they do.

Must-Haves, Wants and Needs

It’s so very easy in our personal lives to live by imperatives — those must-haves we need to exist, to enjoy our lives, to be successful, and to be fulfilled.  Some of my own imperatives for my personal life include: the need to have good food, well prepared meals, and someone to share them with; the need to have laughter and social situations that inspire laughter; the need to have a partnership with someone I love and admire; the need to communicate clearly and be understood; the need for shoes . . . ok, that’s more of an obsession than a need, but I NEED to have a wide variety of fashionable and sometimes comfortable footwear to feel inspired! You get the picture.
However, when we leave our homes, apartments, schools, and move into our professional life, our imperatives for the organizations we lead and work for can become somewhat murky. I’ve watched many capable nonprofits struggle when it comes to defining their imperatives. They wrestle with the needs of their group, their culture, their operations, their mission. They have a difficult time determining difference between an imperative, a strategy and a tactic. Defining your imperatives for your organization must start with a look into how you and others perceive your work, your mission, and your outcomes. It must review where you are successful  and where you have failed. And it must be objective, taking into account the inherit strengths and weaknesses of the organization.
Given a deep dive into these areas, you may discover that you need talented marketing people, employees or volunteers.  You might need to recruit board members who bring specific strengths to the organization or executive leadership experienced in a specific industry. Or maybe you just need more space to do your work, or an area to call your own. Imperatives can be complex or simple, but universally they are truths that, if denied, ensure certain failure for your effort. Take the time to determine your organization’s imperatives today, and allow them to drive your actions and outcomes to success