How to get talent to quit, or how to lose donors?

I love sharing (and commenting extensively) on some of the best and worst articles I find around the internet.  Here’s one from Mel Kleiman on Ragan (a communications news compiler) on the Top 10 ways to get your top talent to quit.

Straight up, it’s really good advice for managers.  Taken together or separately, these are things that create toxic, unpleasant, and talent suffocating work environments.  So if you manage people, or better yet, have power over overall organizational norms/rules/practices, go read it!

But I’ve been doing development work in my consulting life of late, trying to help several boards wrap their head around how to help and empower and manage their lead fundraisers.  And predictably, these groups overemphasize the importance of getting new donors.  We just need to build our base, I keep hearing.  How do we bring in new audiences?

But God Bless the Authority of the consultant, because I don’t think they’d listen to the same admonition coming from one of their staff…You’re getting ahead of yourself, I’ve said twice already this week.  What are you doing to keep your current donors?  Read more

How to Succeed Outside the Box

There’s a great new marketing/solicitation campaign that is being profiled by some of the nonprofit industry news machines, and it’s worth knowing about.  Names For Change is a project by Urban Ministries of Durham (North Carolina) that is tackling their fundraising challenges head-on.

It’s a complaint that many of you probably face: the things you most need to fund are the least “sexy” to package for donors.  These guys aren’t pulling any punches with their campaign…socks. Basic toiletries.  Adult diapers.  They’re selling naming rights to all those things, essentially daring people to reconcile all the hype – “we want to make a difference/have a tangible impact/know where our money is going” – with the reality that many donors still want to be able to brag a little bit about their donations, or feel good about telling people what they’re doing with their money, or experience some other sort of public response to their generosity.

Urban Ministries is banking on people realizing their hypocrisy, when it stares them in the face.  But before you roll this out to your board as a new strategy, let’s dissect their work a bit, OK? Read more

New resource – LinkedIn’s volunteer marketplace

As you probably know by now, LinkedIn (which used to bill itself with some paraphrase of “like Facebook, but for the professional you” – which is not too bad a comparison to this day) has just launched a volunteer marketplace to help connect organizations with volunteer openings to people who want to add volunteer experience to their resume.

Thankfully, it’s not free.  It’s close enough, from a general perspective – they’re only charging 10% of what they charge businesses to post a job listing, which puts it just under $20.  But hopefully that little bitty bit of money is enough to make organizations ask themselves: is this a good idea for us?  (It’s amazing how little money it takes to trigger that momentary hesitation and introspection for people!)

So…is this something that’s right for you? Read more

Make your crowd funding campaign better with these words

Let’s be clear: I can’t promise that these words are going to help you meet your crowd funding goals.

  1. I’m pretty sure that the concept and content of what you’re writing about is actually more important than including these words and phrases.
  2. This study has identified PREDICTORS not CAUSES of success.

But aren’t you curious?  Yeah, I was pretty excited to see the results too.   Read more

Mailbag: First Quarter Blues

Q: I just worked my behind off in December.  While everyone else in the nonprofit was enjoying tons of time off with their family for the holidays, I was killing myself trying to bring in every last penny before the end of the year.  And now everyone else is energized and excited about getting back to work after their vacations, and I’m exhausted.  I’m totally burnt out, and want to cry every time we schedule a team meeting to talk about gaining some new momentum as we start the year.

A: Oh, I hear you.  Welcome to one of the least rewarding parts of life as a fundraiser.  If you’re not killing yourself in December, you’re leaving money on the table.  But then what?

I’ve got some truth to lay on you, something that hopefully will help you shift your own perspective, and then some tips for how to be productive when you’re brain dead and struggling with the internal motivation of a comatose sloth.  Read more

What to do with the bad eggs?

In any large enough workplace, you’ve got folks who pretty much play by the rules, and those who are  anything but good “citizens.”  Nothing that racks up to be a fireable offense, but a ton of misdemeanors – the kind that, left unchecked, can poison the morale of a team.  Prank-playing (pretty annoying when it’s just one person playing the pranks – “fun” for them, but no one else is in on the joke), extra-long breaks, etc.

Managing these folks is particularly challenging – they’re misbehaving, and you can tell it’s having an impact (on their work, the department or team or organization’s work)…but when it comes to actually disciplining them, it might feel petty to tell them that they really need to take shorter breaks.   Fewer trips to the coffee machine.  Shorter conversations with colleagues, and keep it professional, OK?  It’s easy to imagine that conversation going very poorly.

Ah, but you should, because: science!  Here’s how to get those problem people to turn things around. Read more


Do you know what mindmapping is?  The concept is pretty self-explanatory; it’s a way of organizing all the thoughts that are chaotically bubbling around in your head, putting them into a visual map so that you (or others) can come back to them later.  You’ve seen them on TV – the big crime solving boards on most police procedurals are one form of mind map…and you know they always solve the case, in about 50 minutes, so they must work, right?

Cool, you say.  So, I should be trying that?  Yes, but if this isn’t something you’re in the habit of doing these days, chances are that it seems hopelessly daunting, even if I tell you how useful it can be for some people.  Let’s see if we can break it down into easy to try pieces.   Read more

Sorry – But should you be?

Women apologize more than men.  I’m one of the people who, when asked to take note and keep track of how many times in a day I utter the words “I’m sorry,” – in ANY context – find myself sort of horrified at how many times I’m apologizing.

I’m sorry, you guys…
I’m sorry, you guys…

Oh, but I’m not apologizing, I want to say.  “I’m sorry” can very often mean “I’m sad that this condition exists.”  And it doesn’t help that somewhere I picked up “I’m sorry?” as my go to phrase for “I didn’t hear that, could you please repeat what you said?” (Where’s that on the dialect map?)

It still hurts you in the workplace.  Read more

Mixed messages, or, how to help women keep feeling bad about having any salary at all

If you’re a professional woman, you would be hard pressed to miss the fact that most women are not paid as much as men for similar (or, in some companies, the exact same) jobs.  It’s constantly in the news…which makes it all the more shameful that it’s still the case.

At the same time, a lot of people like to talk about how women don’t negotiate – at all – when it comes to salaries.  The cynical suggest that this would explain the wage gap (see?  we’re not sexist bastards, we play hardball with everyone, and if women just played the game, they’d be doing better.) – not true.  The reality is that it’s complicated – women who negotiate tend to have a variety of challenges that men don’t face, from the response to negotiation to blowback after they start the job.  So tread carefully!  But do you really want to be part of that statistic?  One of the 70+% of women who simply take whatever job offer is made, without further discussion? Read more