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Archive for January, 2016

The Path Is the Goal

Scrolling through Twitter this evening, I came to a post from @DeniseWakeman: The path is the goal – Buddhist Saying. This stopped me short. Made me think. Why am I getting a ring of truth from this? I did a Google search of the title and found the title of a book by Chodyam Trongpa. A Short book on Buddhist meditation. The essence: Meditation is the way into finding answers to life’s big questions.

The parallel that rings true for me is an analogy with relationship fundraising in the nonprofit realm. To help secure commitment from donors to the nonprofit mission, we need to facilitate the connection. This takes investment in building a relationship. A little meditation won’t hurt.

At the start of class meetings in the Northeastern University MS Leadership program, I turn down the classroom lights, ask students to close their eyes and to become fully present in the here and now. Right here. Right now. Something I learned from Yoga. The good Yogi take the first five minutes of Yoga class…to get us quiet, close our eyes, breathe with thought, and excise all unnecessary thoughts from consciousness. To be fully present in this moment, ready to practice.

I find that this helps my students in my Leadership and Nonprofit Management classes disregard their Smart phones and laptops and get right with what we are considering in that time we have together.

I encourage friends who lead nonprofits to get board meetings, staff meetings off to this kind of start. To clear the mind of the extraneous and be fully present. Right here. Right now.

I encourage you to take a Yoga class. To dissolve in the experience. And to consider that sense of mindfulness as a goal for how you engage friends, volunteers, staff, donors, the people you serve. The path is the goal.


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Beyond the Annual Appeal: The Extra Mile Campaign

Many nonprofits are in the midst of organizing the annual holiday appeal now. Most of these direct mail (or, more inclusively, “direct response”) campaigns are run in November – December, with follow-up in January – February. Increasingly, nonprofits recruit board members to conduct a personal solicitation component of the holiday appeal to high-level and “special handling” donors. This usually adds significantly to the dollars raised. A recent client conducted an e-mail component and raised revenue 20% over the previous year.

Now is a good time to consider an Extra Contribution or “Extra Mile” campaign for early 2017. Plan to identify donors who did gave, perhaps early on in your campaign, and ask these donors to consider going the “extra mile” and adding to their gift. Nonprofit staff and volunteer leadership need to feel comfortable taking this step. It’s possible that some donors will be turned off by this approach. In my experience, there is a significant number of donors who will consider doing more for your mission if you make a good case.

Your case for an Extra Contribution should be 100% focused on the people who benefit from the services you provide.

You will have thanked your donors at least once for their recent annual appeal gift. It’s a good idea to start the extra appeal letter with another “thank you.” To clearly acknowledge that your nonprofit and your clients (I refer to them as primary customers) appreciate what your donors have done. But there are unmet needs. And you will note one or two of these: the number of clients who need to be served but aren’t because there isn’t quite enough in the cupboard to get the job done.

Give it some thought. Talk it over. Let your development committee know what you’re considering and ask for their feedback.

The potential is there to add another 10% to annual appeal revenue.

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