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Unlocking Growth for Organizations and Idealists Like You

Why I Registered: A Runner's Perspective On Participation

On a recent Saturday morning, I ran 13.1 miles through the streets of Savannah, Georgia, to complete the first annual Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon. I was undertrained and recovering from an injury, so I had pre-race visions of myself hobbling to the finish line, but all went well and I finished with a smile on my face as I headed to the mimosa tent.  

Topics: Funding

Three Ways To Cultivate Your Peer-to-Peer Community

We’ve all, at one point or another in our academic careers, heard a professor or classmate invoke the tired existential conundrum, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" The platitude’s mere mention usually precedes a collective groan, but its logic raises an important (if equally groan-inducing) question for fundraisers: “If a fundraising campaign is underway and no one is around to support it, does it still serve a purpose?” And while we may not be able to answer the first question -- we’ll leave that one to the philosophy professors -- we do know the answer to the second: a resounding “no.”

Topics: Funding Strategy Community

Work, Balance, And The Things On The Living Room Floor

I’m coming home late from the airport again. It’s close to midnight as I pull into the driveway. The house is dark. Everyone has long since gone to bed. 

I wrestle my suitcase out of the back seat. There isn’t quite enough room for two cars and a grown man in this garage. I pull the door closed behind me. The doorknob is still sticking; I forgot to call about the replacement. I need to put that on my list for the weekend.

I haul my stuff upstairs where I do my regular scan of the living room. There are some socks on the floor, probably my oldest son’s. I grab them and stuff them into my coat pocket. There are some headphones, too, and a paperback book. I stack them into a nice pile on the coffee table. A throw blanket is on the floor. I stoop down to fold it, almost unconsciously, in the dark.

Topics: Inspiration Leadership

Your Mission Matters, But Not To Everyone

Think about an organization you have a strong allegiance to – be it a nonprofit, sports team, political party, or university. You don its colors, share its values, follow its progress, and sing its praises to your networks. And chances are good that, despite your convictions and well-articulated case for support, you’ve at some point come face-to-face with someone who backs a rival entity or is simply agnostic. These encounters are frustrating, whether a disagreement over ACC v. SEC, Cardinals v. Cubs, or Bush v. Clinton. But when it comes to a cause connection to your nonprofit, things get personal. After all, your organization is valiantly trying to save the world by ending hunger, curing disease, preventing homelessness, or fulfilling any one of many worthy causes that everyone should care about. 

Topics: Funding Inspiration

Three Reasons People Participate In Your Peer-to-Peer Event

My roommate Brittany is running an obstacle race on Saturday – in Las Vegas. Given the briskness of April in Chicago (which is really just a sunny version of winter), I can’t say that I blame her for seeking out west coast sunshine. Nonetheless, the race requires that she take an early shift on Friday and pay for a cross-country flight, two nights in a hotel room, and a not-insignificant registration fee. To some, that transaction – substantial time and money in exchange for a strenuous, arguably dangerous eight mile run – seems laughable, but for her, it’s the formula for a fantastic weekend.

Topics: Funding Strategy

Why The Power of Peer-to-Peer Goes Beyond Fundraising

When I was little, my mom picked up other people’s trash. Whether we were walking around the neighborhood, playing at the park, or waiting to eat at a restaurant, if she saw trash on the ground she would pick it up and throw it away. At the time, I was embarrassed. I just couldn’t understand why my mom would do this – it wasn’t her trash, so why was she picking it up?

As I look back on my mom’s actions now, with many more years of life experience behind me, I realize that she was teaching me something. My mom was teaching me that the world needs people of action. The world needs people who will fix things, even if they weren’t the ones who broke them. The world needs people who will tap themselves on the head instead of waiting for someone else to ask or tell them to do something.

Topics: Funding Inspiration

The Five Biggest Opportunities For Nonprofits In 2015: #5

#5: Think On Multiple Dimensions

[This is the fifth in a series of blog posts expanding on this year’s peer-to-peer fundraising trends, as presented from the main stage of the 2015 Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference and unpacked in our e-book, The Expansive Impact of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising]. 

When it comes to a nonprofit’s peer-to-peer program portfolio we often see organizations try to mimic the successful events and activities of other groups. And after playing the imitation game for some time, they usually ask us, “Should we really be doing XYZ or not?” The inquiry typically stems from one of two places: “Everyone else was already doing it, so we thought we should too, but now it doesn’t feel special” or “Everyone else was already doing it, so we thought we should too, but we’re not having much success.” In either case our answer is always “It depends.”

If you are going to replicate an activity, make sure that you don’t lose sight of the other key drivers that influence participation. The three drivers you should always have top of mind are:

Topics: Funding Strategy

The Five Biggest Opportunities For Nonprofits In 2015: #4

#4: Look To The Field

[This is the fourth in a series of blog posts expanding on this year’s peer-to-peer fundraising trends, as presented from the main stage of the 2015 Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference and unpacked in our e-book, The Expansive Impact of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising]. 

About this time last year, we didn’t know it yet but one of the most exciting nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns in recent memory was about to launch: The Ice Bucket Challenge. As an industry, we were stunned by how quickly the campaign went viral as well as by the level of public support behind it. In the months that followed, we at Plenty spent a lot of time helping other organizations understand how important the origins of that campaign were to its success: rather than being created by event staff, it came from the grassroots level and grew organically.

Topics: Funding Leadership Strategy

The Five Biggest Opportunities For Nonprofits In 2015: #3

#3: Now Is The Time To Invest 

[This is the third in a series of blog posts expanding on this year’s peer-to-peer fundraising trends, as presented from the main stage of the 2015 Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference and unpacked in our e-book, The Expansive Impact of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising]. 

In the early autumn of 2008, following an inexplicably magical summer of “hope” for both politics and fundraising, the great recession plummeted down on us all with astonishing velocity. We all know the reverberations and aftermath of the economy’s collapse: times got tighter and we found ourselves having to do more with less. In many cases a lot less. 

We slogged through the subsequent years, getting by with slimmer resources. We cut budgets, we cut staff, we cut programs, we cut services, and we cut events – and in many cases, the revenue from our peer-to-peer programs cut itself. We learned the hard way that we could only pry so much output from the same set of inputs. 

Topics: Funding Leadership Strategy

The Five Biggest Opportunities For Nonprofits In 2015: #2

#2: Design For People

[Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of blog posts expanding on this year’s peer-to-peer fundraising trends, as presented from the main stage of the 2015 Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference and unpacked in our e-book, The Expansive Impact of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising].

I have been out of college for a few years now – four to be exact – and though many of the academic lessons I worked so hard to learn have long since been forgotten (sorry Art History 211), a few important teachings have stuck with me. One in particular came from a marketing professor of mine, who constantly stressed that the key to effectively communicating with your audience is to listen. 

Back then this felt like a novel concept, for in many ways marketing feels like a one-way conversation. We brainstorm a campaign, schedule the messaging, and deploy the communications, all within the confines of our office and organization’s internal plan. But in reality, successful campaigns are built upon a dialogue between the organization and its audience, and of those, the most successful are constituent focused.

Topics: Funding Strategy