Quick Tip: Waterlogue

I don’t get paid to plug anything.  But I love to share my excitement about products that make my life easier or more pleasant…and this one makes me look like a graphic genius with my consulting work.  (And while I have a good eye, I have very few execution skills.  I need my tools!)

Don’t worry – after handing over a few files, I tell them how I did it…my consulting philosophy is always to provide a platter of fish and rod at the same time.  The best way to earn new work is always to be so good that you’re working on referrals more than repeat business…after a while, folks start to wonder why they’re paying you. AGAIN.

Here’s my “secret” new toy: Waterlogue.  For $2.99 (at the time this post was published), you can turn low grade photos into passable art for your organization’s publications, website, tumblr, Pinterest, and/or prints for donors.

That last one is a fun idea.  Snap some not so great photos at the gala?  They’ll be much better as watercolors.  And your donors won’t see it coming – they’ll be impressed and delighted, you’ll come across as memorably sophisticated.  Wins, all around.  You’re welcome.

Online Fundraising Dos and Don’ts

There’s a consulting group (Dunham+Company) that put together an interesting research project, analyzing the actual online fundraising practices of 151 US-based charities.  They used it to make an Online Fundraising Scorecard, which you can download for free…but I’m going to give you a rundown of some of the biggest findings and how they might apply to you.

Online fundraising is here.  It may someday be obliterated by a new, unforeseen technology, but for now, you’d better embrace the need for it, because it’s growing for every demographic. 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: 11 Steps to a Case Statement

Q: I work for a pretty small organization.  We’ve been able to get started on government and foundation grants, and after two years working hard to build an Annual Fund, my board thinks we’re ready to add a major giving program.  I have never done this before.  I’m willing to try it, and I’m reading everything I can on how to do major gift fundraising, but I’m scared and I’m stuck.  I know I need a case statement, but I don’t know how to write one, and I have no idea what to say.  Do you have a template you recommend?

A: I don’t recommend a lot of templates.  They can be very very useful, don’t get me wrong, but templates too often give people implicit permission to literally think inside the box.  You’re so focused on properly filling in the blanks in your form (sorry – template) that you’re no longer thinking about what you actually need: what makes your story unique, what makes the way you tell your story unique, and what makes your audience unique.
So I’m going to do two things: first, congratulate you on asking for help, and two, encourage you to keep doing it.
Oh, and since I’m not totally heartless, I’m going to explain that, and give you a worksheet for how to create a case statement.   Read more

Mailbag: I think my biggest donor hates me

A very edited version of a question received from a friend/reader:

Q: It’s my first year in a new position, and we’re working on launching a capital campaign.  We really really need a huge new gift from my organization’s biggest donor…but I think she hates me.  It’s messing with my head, paralyzing me with fear, and making it hard to think about anything else.  I don’t think the campaign will succeed without her, and what if it’s my fault she turns us down?

A: OK, so the stakes seem high here, but I don’t know if you’re making an honest assessment, or whether your fear is leading you to obsess about a worst case scenario. Read more

Anonymity vs. Public Legacy

Mark Oppenheimer wrote a great article in the New York Times about a couple of different things that motivate big donors: naming rights vs. anonymous donations (and altruistic satisfaction).  He came at it from a religious angle – both Judaism and Christianity elevate anonymous giving, giving without any expectations of recognition or return, giving without strings attached…

Without getting into any whiff of the hierarchical morality of various giving styles, this article can help inexperienced fundraisers gain a little insight into what might drive a donor.   Read more