Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category
If you’ve been raising money for any length of time, you know that it’s not always the easiest job. In fact, sometimes, it can be downright hard.
Let me tell you about a conversation I had recently with a client.
This woman is a smart, educated, professional Executive Director of a rather large nonprofit. She’s fairly new in the job, and as you can imagine, she’s still coming up to speed on the organization’s programs, and getting to know the staff and Board. She’s also spending some time visiting with some of the organization’s donors.
From our previous coaching sessions, I know she cares about the mission and deeply wants to serve the people of the community. Raising money is high on the priority list, yet she’s having trouble actually asking for a gift.
“I don’t mind asking someone to volunteer or to help with an event,” she said to me. “But asking for money intimidates me.”
I’m not surprised. Money has a lot of emotional and psychological baggage associated with it. The minute we start talking with a donor about money, all that crap we carry around from our past experiences comes up and gets in our way.
I find that resistance to asking for money often stems from mindset.
Mindset is your way of thinking and looking at the world. If you have a negative mindset about money or wealth, you’re likely to have a tough time asking for donations, especially large ones.
Your current mindset is a result of a lifetime of programming. Your mind interprets every experience you had throughout your life and uses it to shape your views on things. Think about this: when you were little, if there was a fight every time money was discussed in your home, you may well have some fear around talking about money. And if you were like me and your parents said snotty things about people who appeared to have money, you may have some negative mindset about “rich” people (which took me a long time to work through and clear up).
All of this stuff gets in our way as fundraisers.
So, back to my client. As we talked, it became clear that there were mindset issues at play for her and they were holding her back. With a bit of coaching and some personal work on her part, she’s well on her way to overcoming these obstacles. By identifying what’s holding her back and changing her mindset, she can be about the business of raising big money to change lives in her community.
Now it’s your turn to identify your mindset issues. What’s holding you back? Do you ever find yourself thinking or saying any of these?
- “I can’t hit up my friends for money”
- “Our cause isn’t cute. We don’t have puppies and kittens like the animal shelter.”
- “We’re just a small nonprofit”
- ”I’m not good at fundraising”
- “Fundraising is so competitive with all the nonprofits out there”
These are all signs of negative mindset. The good news is that they can all be overcome.
I was in Florida this past weekend, speaking at the Friends of Florida State Parks, and I got to enjoy a little time on the beach. I LOVE the beach and I could sit and watch the waves for hours.
I was thinking about how much fun it would be if a magic lamp washed up with a genie inside to grant me 3 wishes for the nonprofit world this year. There are so many things I’d want for you, but here’s what’s at the top of my list:
- Ditch any stinkin’ thinkin’ you might have. Way too many people suffer from a negative mindset when it comes to money and fundraising. They hang on to thoughts like “we can’t raise big money because of the economy” or “we’re just a small nonprofit and no one will give us a big gift.” That kind of thinking holds you back and gives you an excuse to not have to stretch yourself and work toward bigger goals. When you can think BIG, you can accomplish BIG things! And with so many people out there depending on you, thinking BIG would be a good thing.
- Learn to tell your story in a heart-grabbing way. How many words does it take for you to say what your organization does? What if you left out all the jargon, the acronyms, and the industry slang and found a way to describe your organization’s work in language that a 6-year old child could understand? I think it would be a tremendous exercise for you and I think you’d find that it would attract more donors and prospects. Being able to tell your story simply is a key skill for any professional fundraiser!
- Focus on making friends, not getting gifts. Life in your world would change DRAMATICALLY if you focused on developing friendships instead of just getting money in the door. Friends will be there for the long haul and will support your dreams. They care about your success, and they’re there for you when things aren’t going so well. People who give you money aren’t necessarily friends and they won’t necessarily give again. See the difference?
You know what? You don’t need a genie to make these happen. You have the power yourself to shift your mindset, tell your story, and make friends to make 2013 YOUR year!
Well, it’s End Of The World Day and we’re still here. No apocalypse, no catastrophe. Just a blustery, bitter cold first day of Winter here in Tennessee.
Still, it’s a good time to evaluate life and how we do things, and make some changes.
I challenge you to think about what’s working for you in your life and in your nonprofit. Also think about what’s not working. Let me give you a bit of help:
- Being kind
- Talking with people, not at them
- Relaxing and letting go of things outside your control
- Slowing down the pace of life and work
- Spending time with people you love
- Spending time with people who lift you up
What’s not working:
- Working all the time
- Not getting enough rest
- Not enough play time
- Being reactive
- Second guessing yourself
- Not trusting your instincts
Once you figure out what’s working and not working, put a stake in the ground. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Commit to changing things to make your life better. When your life is better, EVERYTHING else gets better too. You’ll be a better fundraiser and do more good in the community and the world.
Let’s call it No More Mediocrity. And it starts today.
If you’re willing to join me to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not, leave a comment and let me know. ‘I’d love to know who my tribe is on this one!
What happens when the people you want to help aren’t seen as worthy of help?
This summer, I had the privilege of travelling to Montego Bay, Jamaica to lead a Board retreat for the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf and Servant’s Heart Jamaica. Both are amazing nonprofit organizations doing mighty work.
The country is beautiful (what tropical island isn’t?) but I was struck by the sheer poverty that most people faced. My guide told me that I probably saw more of the true island that 90% of the people who visit Jamaica. Apparently, when you stay inside the walls of the resorts, it’s a different experience than when you visit downtown.
I marveled at the way the staff of the Deaf School did so much with so little. Sophia, the school’s Director is fiercely dedicated to the children. She has personally adopted a couple of kids and she has dedicated her life to doing everything she can for the others.
One of the cultural differences that was a bit shocking to me was the lack of accommodations for people with disabilities in Jamaica. No wheelchair accessibility, no Braille, etc. In some of the stories I heard about the kids at the school, it sounded like their families viewed them as a burden and they were considered ‘throwaway.’ Still other stories indicated that not all the children were born deaf – some suffered untreated ear infections as babies that cost them their hearing.
So much sadness. And yet these kids and their teachers were so happy to be at the Deaf School. I couldn’t help but fall in love with it all!
I returned home with a renewed sense of how much STUFF we have as Americans and how much access to stuff we have. If you want a box of nails, you have 5 or 6 choices of stores within a short distance, and each store has many choices. Not so in Jamaica. With most everything being imported to the island, choices are limited and prices are high. Couple that with the limited job opportunities, and the high poverty becomes understandable.
The hardest thing for me was to hear that the Deaf School is experiencing a hardship. Support has been down recently, and they are operating with a deficit. I saw a note from Sophia recently where she said there is literally no food in the cupboards and the teachers haven’t been paid.
Their monthly budget is just under $14,000 per month. Can you imagine running a school for 45 kids, with teachers, staff, vehicles, facilities costs, and more on that small amount? I’m telling you, they are excellent at managing money!
I want to try to help them increase their monthly support, so I’m asking for your help. If you’d like to join me in changing the future for a throwaway child by giving the gift of education, please go to www.missiondiscovery.org and designate your gift to Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf.
For about $10 a day, you can provide the gift of a bright future to a child who desperately needs it. Won’t you join me in making a change?
And if your website doesn’t make a good first impression, you’ll lose the donor and the gift faster than you can say ‘goodbye online donation.’
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the simpler, the better. It just needs to look professional, clean, and inviting. If it looks out-of-date, hard to read, or uninteresting, people will click away, which is the worst thing that can happen.
I’ve looked at a lot of nonprofit websites. Many look as though they were thrown together at the last minute or were done in response to someone saying “We need a website”. Some are design nightmares – hard to read with too many fonts and too much text on each page. Others haven’t been updated in years. Others contain way too much text. Remember that people are very impatient online – don’t make them work hard to find the information they want on your site.
Be sure that your website has all the information that someone might need to make the decision to give. Here are some questions you should ask about your site to see if it is helping your fundraising efforts.
1. Does your web site represent you well? Does it tell a compelling, moving story (i.e., photos of people helped by your organization)?
2. When someone visits your site, can they find what they want easily?
3. What’s the call to action on your site? What do you want visitors to do?
4. Does it convey legitimacy and credibility? Does your visitor get the sense that you’re a real organization and that you’ve taken the time to create a good site?
5. Is there evidence of your nonprofit status? Do you post the names of your board members, i.e., members of the community who stand behind your organization?
6. Do you offer people the ability to give online safely (through encryption technology)?
7. Are you offering people the ability to have a dialog with you? Is there some sort of interaction, such as a survey or a place to post comments? Is there an email address they can use to contact you? Donors want the ability to communicate with you online.
8. Do you have a physical address and phone number prominently displayed?
9. Does your web site share how past donations have been used? (This is where you can share your good news, terrific stories of what you’ve done with your funding.
10. Are you telling visitors how they can volunteer? (You certainly don’t want to give the impression that you don’t want volunteers! But this topic is sometimes completely missing from a web site.)
It can take a little time and effort to create a strong website that represents your nonprofit well, but the investment is well worth it! Once prospects see your clean, clear, welcoming site, they may just decide to stick around and make a donation.
Hi Sandy: Thank you for staying in touch with me with your helpful information. I think one of the issues with getting things done, as well as keeping them going is that it is so disappointing to fundraise and not have anything come of it. Also, motivating people to help in these days is hard because everyone wants to be paid for everything they do. As soon as they hear that the help in putting on a fundraiser is voluntary, they seem to disappear. Any advice on these??
Anne, you have two separate issues going on here. First is trying to stay motivated when things aren’t going as planned. Second is to find the right volunteers. Let’s look first at the motivation issue.
Zig Ziglar said “Motivation is like bathing. It doesn’t last. That’s why we recommend it daily.”
I suggest you find a way to plug into your passion for the organization you’re serving and fan the flames every day. When I worked as a Development Director, all I had to do was visit the front lines of the organization to remind myself why my work was critically important. I understood clearly how my work made a difference in the nonprofit’s ability to deliver service, and I did my best to raise all the money I could. When one fundraising activity didn’t meet my goals, I would evaluate the planning and execution of that activity to see if I could put my finger on what went wrong. Then I would either tweak it to improve it or I would discontinue it and go on to something more productive.
Just because you try something and it doesn’t seem to work doesn’t mean much until you understand why it didn’t work. What I see frequently happen is that the activity wasn’t planned in enough detail or wasn’t executed well. In your upcoming fundraising, be sure to put enough time into planning so that you know exactly what needs to be done to reach the goal for that particular activity. And set realistic goals. No need to set yourself up to fail by setting a goal so high you can’t possibly reach it! (If you need help with planning, check out my Simple Succes Fundraising Plan.)
Your second issue is really about finding the right volunteers. If people seem to want to help until they find out they won’t get paid, they’re not the people you want helping in the first place. Ideally, you want folks who simply want to help because the love the work your nonprofit is doing in the community. Be clear when you recruit that this is an unpaid opportunity, and you’ll be more satisfied with the volunteers you recruit. Set the expectation up front with potential volunteers about the work they’ll be doing and what they’ll get in return (to feel good about helping a wonderful cause).
Finally, be very careful of your mindset. Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to start thinking that nothing will ever go right again. We can talk ourselves into some pretty negative thinking pretty quickly, and it doesn’t serve us. Remember that one instance (or even two or more) of fundraising falling short of goals doesn’t mean that everything from here forward will be that way. Every day, we have the chance to start fresh and to make new choices about how we will think (positively or negatively) and what we will do. Take advantage of that today and draw a line in the sand to mark the start of a new experience. Tell yourself that beginning today, you’ll do things differently and put your best into your fundraising. Then do all you can with what you have from where you are to make your fundraising successful.
If you’re like me, you have more to do during the day than you can get done. Here’s a short video featuring Stephen Covey explaining a technique to help you focus on getting the most important things done.
Last weekend I had the privilege of speaking at the Ohio Habitat for Humanity conference. I work with lots of Habitat affiliates across the country and this was a treat to be at an event with hundreds of them!
I presented several sessions, and there were definitely some themes among the info I shared. Here are a few of the important ones.
First, you must be passionate about your work. If donors and potential donors don’t see you as excited about the work your nonprofit does, how do you expect them to get excited? Share your enthusiasm for your cause.
Next, accept that if your organization is doing something worthwhile, it’s worthy of receiving donations. Lots of donations. BIG donations. I’m astounded at the number of people who view their organization as “just a little nonprofit” and don’t see it as equal to other nonprofits. They say things like “Our mission isn’t sexy like _______.” “We don’t have major donors like _______ does.” “We can’t get the media’s attention like _______ does.” Do you see the stinkin’ thinkin’ here? When you think like this, you are actually setting the course for the future. You’re dooming your nonprofit to remain small. Here’s the truth: your nonprofit is just as worthy as any other nonprofit out there. So start acting like it.
Finally, you must believe that no matter what you hear on the news about the economy, there are people out there who want to support your cause and are willing to make a gift. (If you need to, read that sentence again and again.) It’s true. I heard from a client just the other day, that they reached their campaign goal already this year (and it’s just barely November!) and are in great shape to start 2012. Another client started 2011 with a cash surplus because they did so well last year during the holidays. I’m here to tell you that you are no different. You can do this too.
You can see that these themes apply to everyone, not just Habitat for Humanity. The success in fundraising happens when you use best practice fundraising techniques with a positive outlook, and you expect good things to happen.
Once you learn how to recognize and speak the truth, I bet you’ll find it incredibly freeing, and you’ll find fundraising to be easier and more fruitful.
Today is Ash Wednesday which means it’s the start of the Lenten season. Whether you celebrate Lent or not, now is a good time to think about something you can afford to give up in your nonprofit – your poverty mindset.
Most nonprofit organizations were started on a shoestring because someone wanted to help people or change a situation. A vision was cast and the adventure began. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of funding crept up fast, and instead of thinking about how to raise needed funds, founders learn to work within what they have.
It’s like trying to build a house and choosing the manual saw to cut the wood while the power saw sits unused. You’re limited in what you can get done, and everything will take much longer than it needs to.
Way too many nonprofit leaders and staff think small. They look at a book or a training program and say “we can’t afford that.” How about thinking about options and possibilities instead? What if you simply insert the word ‘how?’ Try saying “How can we afford this?” and then brainstorm a list of ways. There are always options.
Poverty mindset stunts a nonprofit’s growth. Adding or expanding programs is tough when you aren’t willing to think big. Think of a food pantry for example. Let’s say they’re serving 50 families a week and they’re satisfied with that. What if we start thinking about the need? How many families are not being served? How many families would the pantry need to serve to totally meet the need? Once the number is identified, fundraising goals should be based on it.
This kind of thinking is riddled with doubt, fear, and negative beliefs. It’s like a gray cloud of gloom that follows you around and keeps you from really moving forward in your organization. It keeps you stuck right where you are in terms of organizational growth.
So how about giving up the poverty mindset and small thinking for the next 40 days and see what happens?
Let me speak to those of you who are founders for a moment. You know who you are – you started a nonprofit because you saw a need that needed to be met and felt a spart in your heart to do something about it.
I want you to remember that spark for when times get hard. Sometimes when we are following a dream, we can experience bumpy roads. Things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes there are detours and sometimes we get confused about what we’re doing, wondering if we’re doing the right thing. When you start to feel this way, go back to the spark. Go back to the reason you started the nonprofit in the first place.
Remember that there are people out there waiting for you to offer services so they can be helped. In fact, your nonprofit is probably the answer to many prayers. That’s why you can’t give up and you can’t quit. When the going gets tough, keep going.
One day, you’ll be able to look back and see your path. You’ll be so proud of what you’ve accomplished and the many lives you’ve impacted. And you’ll be glad you stayed focused.
Want help making your nonprofit dreams a reality? We’re launching my new book “Get Fully Funded: How to Raise the Money of Your Dreams” on September 30. In it, you’ll find all the steps you need to take to raise big money for your nonprofit. Stay tuned for more details. coming very soon! And until then, enjoy the 30 Days of Tips right here on the Get Fully Funded blog.