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Unlocking Growth for Organizations and Idealists Like You

Bringing Your Whole Self To Work

Nine months ago, I joined Plenty. We work hard to help nonprofits unlock the power of peer-to-peer by advising them on strategy, development, analytics, training, and implementation, but it’s more than just putting our noses to the grindstone. I know that one of my teammates had a root canal yesterday, his second since March, and I was genuinely worried about how much pain he’d be in today. I can scroll back through my email to see everyone’s best vacation photos from the summer, and I’m anxiously awaiting stories from my co-worker who is currently in the middle of a spontaneous trip to Ireland. These people and the work we do together matter to me.

I’ve gotten better, but I’ll admit that I’m still not the most open person on the team. However, my teammates definitely know just how much I needed the sunshine and barbecue of a girls trip to Nashville I recently took and how excited I am to introduce my boyfriend to my extended family for the Fourth of July. They know how fired up I get about our clients’ missions and the impact we help them make. And they know a many other things in between. But there are some things that - before last week - I just didn’t share. These are important things that contribute to who I am and how I see the world.

Topics: Inspiration Leadership

What Construction Can Teach You About Measuring Impact

Last week, I co-presented my first webinar as a member of the Plenty team. To break the ice and calm my nerves, I lead with a few of my favorite jokes about the Windy City: In Chicago, there are only two seasons – winter and construction. As lame as that anecdote is, it has proven to be true: it’s finally summer, and a large construction crew has blown apart my street to lay a new gas line. And while I assume this project to be a necessary evil of city life, it struck me recently that I would be more open to the noise, detours, and water shut-offs if I knew why the new gas line was necessary, and what it would add to the neighborhood. 

Topics: Funding Inspiration Leadership Strategy

Moving Beyond the Dishes in the Sink: The Obligations of Leadership

Have you ever engaged in a test of wills over the dishes in the sink? Perhaps you live with a couple of roommates. Maybe you’ve settled in with your significant other, or with your partner and a child or two. 

Whatever the case, I wonder if you’ve encountered this scenario:

It’s morning, and you walk into the kitchen before work. It looks like someone decided to get ambitious and make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Good thinking – wow, it smells good in here. Unfortunately, the cook’s ambition ended with the last bite. The dirty frying pan is sitting in the sink, with a plate, a coffee cup, and some silverware piled on top of it.

Topics: Inspiration Leadership

The Most Important, And Often Forgotten, Piece Of Fundraising Advice

Recently, I met with a client who wanted to add a new campaign to their multi-million dollar fundraising portfolio. While their existing portfolio was successful, it was primarily powered by one lucrative channel, and the client was rightfully concerned with revenue diversification. Previous attempts at developing and launching new revenue streams had been undertaken, but ultimately were not successful in replicating the success of their primary campaign.

As we looked to the future by addressing their unsuccessful campaigns, the focus of the conversation always drifted to the activity. In grappling for an explanation, questions like “Maybe people don’t like to run anymore?”, “Are walks still popular?” and “Do we need to try something new?” surfaced. The immediate conclusion was that the organization hadn’t developed compelling activities, and that to be successful moving forward, they needed to double-down on their efforts to find the next big thing.

Giving USA Report: The Paradox Of These Good Times

By the time most of us are in high school we’ve been asked to wrestle with a classic entry-level philosophical conundrum, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” So forgive me if I give you flashbacks to the tenth grade with this entry-level fundraising mindbender: If we're in the good times but no one believes it, are these really the good times?

Topics: Leadership Strategy

Nonprofit Technology: How To Avoid Buyer's Remorse

Deciding on a new nonprofit technology solution is tough. New tools constantly enter the marketplace, each with a different added feature and price point. The sheer volume of choices can cause confusion, not to mention your constituents’ expectations are evolving rapidly, which means your technology needs are too. Therefore, the solution you ultimately choose must be carefully considered. It has to add value to your organization, meet the needs of your constituents, and be more durable than a passing fad. 

In theory, a technology solution’s salesperson should be your partner through the buying journey, providing insight and informed recommendations. In reality, however, the balance of power skews heavily in favor of the salesperson. Not only do they have much more experience in selling than you have in buying, but they also have a vested interest in pushing their product over the competition. Fear not though – or at least fear less – because at Plenty we spend a good deal of time thinking about and using technology systems to support fundraising campaigns. Consider us your platform-agnostic guide to selecting the technology solution that will best optimize your peer-to-peer program.

Topics: Strategy

How The Common Cold Can Improve Your Fundraising Results

Oh man, have I been sick the last few days. I’m a terrible patient, too – I predictably let myself go to the point that I spent a good part of the last few days as well as half of the weekend flat on my back in bed.

You’ve probably been there. It started last week – I woke up kind of groggy one morning, with my nose a bit stuffed up. “It’s just allergies,” I thought, and against my better judgment I proceeded to work out and head into the office as usual.

The next day I spent most of the day working with a client in a frigid boardroom. When I say “frigid,” let me clarify that my clients themselves were kind and welcoming – but the temperature in their boardroom was just a tad warmer than Chicago in January. Halfway through the day I felt some aches coming on, and by the end of the day my nose was running like a Summer Olympian. “Maybe I just have a headache,” I said to my team as I took some Advil. 

Topics: Funding Leadership Strategy

Donor Stewardship: Bridging The Gap Between Passive & Active Supporters

Congratulations, a new donor just made a gift to your fundraising campaign. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back, you’ve earned it. New donors and fundraisers are great, but you know what’s even better? Repeat donors and fundraisers. Not only is it cheaper to retain past supporters than to acquire new ones, it is also beneficial to your peer-to-peer community as their ties with your organization are strengthened year-over-year.

Simply put, the first gift is great, but the second, third, fourth, and so on are just as important. This is why it is crucial for your organization to focus on donor stewardship just as much as donor acquisition. But as you know, it isn’t always easy to keep your donors and fundraisers actively involved as time passes, so we are exploring donor stewardship and sharing what you need to know to keep your supporters engaged.

Topics: Funding Strategy

What Your Dinner Parties & Social Media Strategy Have In Common

If you’ve ever been to a dinner party where you sat next to someone who likes to talk about himself, you know how painful that can be. Endless stories about his self-proclaimed fascinating life, from the appetizer round all the way through the salad, main course, and dessert. You know the guy. You walk away feeling like you were talked at all evening instead of talked with.

Topics: Funding Strategy