Mailbag: My Board has social media ADHD

Q:  In general, my board is full of great, smart, very accomplished people.  But they are fixated on whatever new social media platform or app they read about last week.  They don’t use them, they don’t understand the difference between Facebook and Pinterest and Tumblr and Vine (and sometimes get the names wrong…I’m not kidding, one woman told me I was behind the times for not using “Pee – Interest” in my development strategy.)  How do I get them to realize that I’m already overworked and when I’m having a hard time getting our basic materials together, I can’t run a dozen separate social media accounts too?

A:  Kudos to you for standing your ground, which it sounds like you’ve done.  Too many folks find it easier to simply yield to their board member’s desires and create institutional profiles and accounts.  I’m waiting for someone to be brilliant enough to create an actual dating profile for their organization in hopes of turning OK Cupid into their next great fundraiser…because that’s probably more useful than throwing together yet another cut and paste social media identity without understanding how that particular platform is going to fit into your brand and overall visibility strategy.  And oh, yeah – you’re probably not going to be able to raise a lot of money through Facebook.

You know all that already.  Here are some tips for convincing your board that there’s no magic bullet to be found on instagram or twitter.  Read more

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

Mailbag: Evaluating a Development Strategy in 3 Steps

Q: I’m on a Board for two different organizations.  One is having extreme financial difficulties, and one is just having run of the mill financial stress where fundraising seems stagnant so any program strategies keep getting delayed.  Both Development Directors are slick talkers with an answer and excuse for everything, so I’ve asked both to come up with a formal, written development plan for the year that can be reviewed by the Board.  But I’m not an expert, frankly.  I don’t know what I should expect to see in a good development plan vs. a bad one.  Can you tell me what I should be looking for?  I imagine it might be different for the organization in crisis vs. the one that’s just limping along, but I don’t know.

A: Great question.  There are probably as many formats for Development Plans as there are professional development officers.  You know I’m not a template person, but I have a checklist! (of course)  Read more

Things I wish Boards knew #1

A “prospect” is not “someone we’ve heard has money.”

Here are some things I’ve been told as a consultant:
  • We have a portfolio of prospects, we just need someone to manage the relationships.
  • We have more than 100 local prospects who are waiting to be contacted.
  • Each of our board members has provided a list of 10 prospects, but our development staff hasn’t been able to close a single gift.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a variation on this theme…and not once has it been what I would call “true.” Read more