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Developing Fundraising Skill in the CEO

Today, most nonprofits seek a CEO with fundraising experience. Generally, that experience is in the annual campaign and major gift fundraising.
But at times, the nonprofit Board hires a new CEO who has built successful special events. With the expectation that this new leader will apply that ability successfully.
My advice to Board search committees is, negotiate with the top candidates on how this will be applied in six month blocks of time from hire date. What is the hoped for result? What experience and qualities of the candidate can be best applied to get improved results?
Building on a solid track record has the best chance of success. Focusing on candidates who get the mission, who communicate with enthusiasm, who seem most engaging with other people…look for the skills that will have the best chance at success.
Then monitor progress along the way.

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Join the Social Media Conversation: Sunday May 1 8:00 PM EDT

Looking forward to an hour on Twitter Sunday May 1 8:00 PM on #CargillChat on Twitter with @CargillCreative Bob Cargill. The guy with the marketing sensibility that points us in smart directions on how to build Nonprofit communication effectiveness by applying social media tools. Relationship Fundraising means we first build the relationship. The donations follow when the donor gets the impression that your nonprofit is delivering value to a client base s/he feels some empathy for. It’s about the good you deliver to customers. The nonprofit is an empty shell if it’s only promoting its own survival. It’s about the primary customers you serve and how they value your service. Social media are tools that help deliver that story.

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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.

Truth.

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Social Gathering to Network with your Target Audience

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston hosts First Friday events. These gatherings starting late afternoon and going ’til 9:00 PM seem designed to draw younger audience to come have a cocktail, listen to music and congregate with folks from a similar age group. They are drawing nice crowds.

The idea is to identify MFA as a nice setting to gather after work on Friday night and socialize.

The hope is that young up-and-comers will see MFA as a “with it” spot to meet others with some similar interests…the basis of an on-going relationship.

Good idea for a nonprofit seeing to attract younger generations who might take an on-going interest in the mission of your nonprofit.

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Fully Engaging Your Nonprofit Networks

Here we are, ready to launch into 2015.
The New Year is a good time to take stock. How is our Annual Appeal doing? Are we going to meet or exceed goal? How are we doing reaching our friends and our potential new friends with a message that properly declares the need of those we serve?
In recent years, our economy has not experienced inflationary growth. Some might say that growth is far too gradual. We need to raise more funds from more friends of our mission to feel “successful.”
Nonprofit organizations must utilize their precious networks — to strengthen their ability to deliver on their mission today and to grow tomorrow.The goodwill, future financial support, and contacts developed by networking will be the silver lining to emerge if we work our resources well.
Networking is the art of identifying, cultivating, and engaging friends of your organization. These friendships ultimately may yield monetary support, sources of non-financial support, and ambassadors who can cultivate more friends. Now is the time to identify these potential friends, hone your messaging, and plan how to best deliver those messages. By getting your staff, board of directors, and other volunteers ready to communicate your message, you’ll build your capacity to thrive.The best place to start is a meeting of the board of directors, who must stay mindful of their role as emissaries for the organization to which they have committed. They know the mission, they know the goals, they know the good that the organization brings to the community. How do they communicate this value? How do they spread the good news with people they work with, play with, pray with?
Start with a conversation. Take some time at a staff meeting and the next board meeting to talk about reaching out to friends to share your mission. There may be members who are doing this now. Identify them before the next meeting. Ask them to share their techniques with the group. Use their experiences to kick off the discussion. Listen for the ideas that have been most successful. Share a summary of the results with all who can benefit from these experiences.
Continue the conversation. Be sure to put the discussion on the agenda for subsequent meetings. Find out in advance who is trying the new techniques. Ask one or two of the new practitioners to report on what they’re doing.
Engage communications experts to share advice. Do you have a director of communications on your staff? If not, does one of your board members or volunteers have communication expertise? Strategize with this person about your approach to engaging networks. Incorporate messages that are consistent with your brand so your staff and volunteers are talking about your work in a unified and consistent way.
Twitter? Facebook? Blogs? Is someone on your team familiar with social media and willing to show others how to effectively use these tools? It’s likely that this person will be younger than most of the team. If so, this is an excellent opportunity to let an up-and-comer show their stuff. An effective plan for social media can engage people you otherwise might miss who will support your mission once they learn what the organization is about.
What’s your story? Nonprofit organizations have numerous stories about your clients’ great experience with your services. Incorporate telling of stories as part of “conversation time.” A program staff person or a volunteer probably has more than one such story to share. Let your group hear a story or two each time you meet, and encourage your board, staff, and volunteers to retell these stories when they are out engaging their networks.
Begin at the beginning. Gary Stern, a marketing expert based in Portland, Maine, encourages nonprofits to be sure that their mission and clients are in the forefront of their thinking, planning, and doing. “Begin at the beginning” is his first admonition in his pamphlet, “Ten Things Every Board Member Should Know.” In your networking, you want your conversation and stories to be about the people you serve. That way, potential supporters and volunteers will be more eager to join your cause when they realize that it’s more about the people you serve than it is about your organization.
There is a reservoir of good will out there, ready to hear about the good you do. And every day, your volunteers and staff talk with many people who will want to help bring the “good” you deliver to more people. Your organization’s job is to forge links through staff, board, and volunteer networks so you can grow the circle of friends and supporters. When you take the time to apply creative approaches to communication through networks, you engage and energize people for your mission. It takes commitment and work, but it will put your organization in the strongest possible position as the economy continues to strengthen.

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