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Unlocking Growth for Organizations and Idealists Like You

On The Market For A New Fundraising Campaign? 3 Ways To Get Moving

Let’s play a quick word association game. I’ll say a word, and you say (or write, or think quietly to yourself at your desk) what that word brings to mind. Ready?


What did you think of? Chances are, terms like: “stressful,” “expensive,” or “inconvenient” came to mind. Whether based upon a bad experience moving a grand piano through a crooked hallway, or just a gut response to the idea itself, I’d wager that most responses fell on the negative side of the adjective spectrum. It’s no surprise that we humans are hard wired to either dread change or avoid it entirely, especially when predicated upon doing a lot of (literal or figurative) heavy lifting. And unfortunately, this often precludes us from making necessary changes in our personal and professional lives.

Topics: Strategy

How To Select The Right Social Media Platform For Your Brand

If you clicked on this post because you’ve been dying to know which social media platform is best, we’ve got news for you: it’s a bit of a trick question. Why? Because no single social media platform delivers a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, each offers a unique set of advantages and opportunities. And then there's the fact that social media is always changing. What was "best" a year or two ago may no longer be appropriate or adequate today. 

Topics: Strategy

The Past, Present, And Future Of Mobile Giving

In the beginning, there was only good, old-fashioned face-to-face “begging.” What started at Harvard in 1643 as a fundraising campaign to raise 500 pounds to build up a new college has since evolved into numerous trends and technologies, including direct mail, telemarketing, and online giving. So what’s the current buzz in the philanthropic space? Mobile giving. 

Let’s take a closer look at this game-changing giving channel, along with what you need to know to maximize your mobile giving efforts.

Topics: Strategy

Bridging The Management Gap

It’s called the corporate ladder for a reason; that is, most companies offer a linear progression for their employees, showing a clear path from entry-level to manager. The reasoning? When employees don’t feel there’s opportunity for growth or if they feel like their hard work is unrecognized, they often don’t feel motivated to perform to the best of their abilities. Offering structured, regular opportunities for promotion drives staff to excel, according to research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

However, according to a recent Gallup report, The State of the American Manager, only one in ten people have the skills to effectively manage others, and only another two in ten have functioning managerial skills. As the report states, “the majority of managers working in the U.S. today are wrong for their role.”

Topics: Leadership

Which Online Tools Do You Need First?

Feeling so overwhelmed by today's enormous assortment of online tools that you don’t even know where to begin? Or maybe you're still trying to sort out a tweet from a blog, or a post from a pin? If so, you’re hardly alone. Social media can be an unwieldy beast, but understanding how to leverage its full power to your advantage can help you best implement your fundraising strategies and reach your goals.

Let’s take a closer look at five sensible spots to start - from major players to rising stars - when it comes to making online tools work for you.

Topics: Strategy

Four Nonprofits Who Have Mastered Storytelling

Think fast: who is the best storyteller you know? Odds are, it's someone who doesn't simply tell what happened. Rather, the best storytellers show what happened by punctuating their stories with rich description, vivid examples, and compelling details. 

In today's intensely competitive market, nonprofits face greater challenges than ever before when it comes to distinguishing themselves from the crowd. A lifeless, text-dense website or social media presence is not only forgettable, but does nothing to engage and steward donors, volunteers and other constituents. 

The key to success? Not just having a great story, but knowing how to convey it in the most powerful way. Let’s take a closer look at four nonprofits who stand out when it comes to showing instead of telling. 

Topics: Strategy

Lessons From The Private Sector: Peer-to-Peer Technology

We — as individuals, as groups, as nonprofits, as businesses — operate in an environment that is fundamentally networked, and we’re seeing those networks become increasingly alive and powerful through the application of peer-to-peer technology.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits to leverage technology to mobilize their constituents' networks, and expand and recalibrate their fundraising programs. As the nonprofit peer-to-peer space continues to evolve, the ever-expanding for-profit peer-to-peer sector often referred to as the “sharing economy” offers a number of lessons you can learn from as you design solutions meant to mobilize your constituents and their networks. 

Topics: Funding Strategy

When To Take Your Campaigns Offline

The Internet is amazing. Just this morning, I’ve used the Internet to share a cute picture of a dog with my roommate, send a tweet to my followers, and order groceries because I’m feeling a little lazy. Awesome, right?

The Internet has made things faster and more convenient for everyone, including your nonprofit. Just like other sectors, the nonprofit space uses the Internet to grow, to raise money, to communicate, to advertise, and much more. But, like any good thing, you can have too much of the digital world we operate in (something I quickly realized as the delivery fees for my groceries were adding up).

There are many processes the Internet has improved; the ease and speed at which we can purchase, learn, and communicate being some of the most obvious. But what do we loose when we turn to our screens and away from one another?

Topics: Funding Strategy

Nonprofit Trend: Filling The Impact Void

I was recently meeting with a nonprofit that I hadn’t worked with before to learn more about what their organization does. We discussed their growth over the past few years due to their powerful development portfolio, and how their organization takes a fairly unique approach to implementing its fundraising programs. Both of which are exciting topics in my world! But as engaging as it all was, I kept waiting for the staff in the room to dig into the “so what." I wanted to hear them articulate how their well-funded, unique programs help them achieve their specific goals around improving the communities they serve. I waited and waited, but the so what never came. 

Topics: Inspiration Strategy

Going Bald: St. Baldrick's Fundraising Success Story

When you think about childhood cancer, what images come to mind? What acts of selflessness or empowerment resonate? Chances are, head shaving is one of them.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the “world’s largest volunteer organization for childhood cancer” has captured the power of head shaving, packaged it for communities, and unleashed its full potential to mobilize networks through peer-to-peer. What began as a challenge between a few colleagues in 2000 has exploded into a scalable social DIY fundraising program mobilizing nearly 58,000 “shavees” to raise a whopping $38,988,526 in 2014.

Topics: Funding

Growing Your Growth Mentality

The summer campaign season is coming to a close and many of our clients are turning their attention to end-of-year and beyond. Here at Plenty, I see that change reflected in the growing number of strategic planning engagements on my calendar. I’ve enjoyed the chance to take part in a good number of visioning meetings as the long-term planning process we’ve all come to love and hate kicks in.

It’s always gratifying to be a partner in these discussions, to sit in on the development of the biggest dreams and the grandest visions of our clients. I’ve never worked with a team that hasn’t found the strategic planning process ultimately insightful and inspiring.

And yet I’m always struck that it takes a day or two for people to shift their thinking. One of the challenges to strategic planning is thinking like business builders and not budget creators. As you begin your long-term planning, I'd like to invite you to join me in the creative, risky space of entrepreneurship. 

Topics: Strategy