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Unlocking Growth for Organizations and Idealists Like You

Girl Scouts: Satisfying Our Appetites & Dominating P2P Fundraising

Ask anyone what their favorite season is and you’ll get a variety of responses, from spring to winter and everything in between. But for the dessert aficionados among us, the most highly anticipated season of all – Girl Scout cookie season.

Since 1917, the Girl Scouts of America have reaped the many benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising through their hugely popular cookie program. The organization's ability to engage supporters and volunteers to raise funds is a classic fundraising success story.

Topics: Funding

Lies, Damned Lies, And Huge Excel Reports

I was in a meeting the other day trying to figure out a particularly thorny issue. We had a group of smart, experienced, opinionated people in the room - my kind of meeting.

About halfway through the meeting, one of the participants produced a huge, multi-page Excel print-out. Many of the pages had colored graphs, three or four to a page. A second set of pages contained an assortment of tables correlating variables against one another. An accompanying narrative outlined that there was a "significant" relationship between some of the variables because the correlation coefficient was over .5.

Topics: Funding

The Downfall of Tradition

Quick – think about something you do every year. Maybe it’s a vacation you take every summer, celebrating a friend’s birthday, or even carving Halloween pumpkins with your family. Regardless of the activity, we all have traditions that transcend time and age. For me, the tradition I look forward to most is the long car ride my family takes every summer to Maine – that feeling of freedom when we have everyone and everything we need packed up and ready for adventure is incomparable.

Now, think about why you keep doing it. You do things every year that could evolve into a tradition, but we choose to move on, to try something new. Only a few things stick and become part of our yearly rituals. What sets those things apart from the pack?

Topics: Funding Strategy

Duties vs. Priorities

For the past few months I have been focused on 2016 planning – a feeling I’m sure you can relate to. Last week, I had one of my many recent all-day meetings, and while “all-day meetings” often send the bravest among us running, I was looking forward to setting some time aside to chart out the upcoming year with a team of people I truly enjoy collaborating with. 

As we talked through the variety of responsibilities on our plates and attempted to sort them out in relation to our plans for growth, I realized that it is far too easy to get confused between duties and priorities.  

Topics: Strategy

Competitor or Ally? The Strategic Partner Your Nonprofit is Missing

Fervent followers and casual sports fans alike are familiar with the unprecedented impact that Serena Williams, 33, and Venus Williams, 35, have had on the sports world and beyond. The African American sisters, born in Compton, California in the mid-1980s, faced immense hardships due to the often-bigoted country club atmosphere of the sport, and had to battle just to get on a practice court. At the time, it seemed ludicrous to claim (as their father and coach Richard had) that the homegrown kids would become the best in the game.

Topics: Strategy

Are You Asking For Donations Or Apologizing?

Last week, while in the checkout line of a well-known national grocery chain (the one infamous for taking all or most of your paycheck) I was asked, “How would you feel about rounding up to the next dollar for charity?” A quick glance at the register told me that the ask was for 21 cents. It was at this exact moment that my mind started rapidly churning. Picture an extremely long thought bubble forming above my head as the cashier waited for my response. Below are some of my initial reactions: 

Topics: Funding Strategy

Your Fundraising Strategy: Seeing The Forest For The Trees

When I moved into my small Chicago apartment last year, I realized there was no room for a dining room table, which was unfortunate because I had a table in need of a home. Soon after this realization, other moving woes popped-up that required my attention and I quickly forgot about the issue, plus, there was an island in the kitchen with a bar and stools – which was the perfect small space solution to my problem.

Topics: Funding Strategy

Are You Saying What Needs To Be Said?

You’ve been there. You’re sitting in a meeting, or in class, or at lunch with friends, and someone says something that is so obviously wrong, incorrect, ignorant, predujiced, anecdotal, off-base, or just otherwise ridiculous that you stop chewing and drop your jaw. You glance over at the person next to you and it is clear that she feels the same way you do. You wait for a second, because someone is obviously going to disagree, right? Somebody is going to tactfully but firmly say, “Well, wait a second, I’m not sure I agree with that.”

You wait for a second or two, but the first person just keeps talking. No one interrupts. No one disagrees. Everyone leaves wondering, “Wow, am I surrounded by idiots and cowards? Am I an idiot and coward too?”

Topics: Leadership

Deconstructing charity: water’s Latest Fundraising Campaign

Every nonprofit in the industry is on a quest for the perfect story. Whether scouring the field for the most compelling protagonist, interviewing volunteers for the most moving anecdote, or searching photo galleries for the most striking banner image, marketing and communication teams are in hot pursuit of the perfect blend of creativity, authenticity, and demonstrated impact. Ask any consultant (including Plenty!) or practitioner for an example of that perfect blend, and they’ll point you to charity: water.

Topics: Funding

The Secret To Making Wishes Come True

Wishes do not come true!” exclaimed my daughter much to the confusion and concern of my wife and I. We tried not to panic and to take it in stride, “Why don’t wishes come true sweetie?” In the heart breaking beauty of her four-year-old mind she explained, “Because I wished I was a fairy and a rock star and it did not happen.” My wife and I exchanged nervous glances and started to stumble through the best explanation two novices could muster in this thing called parenting. “Sweetheart, it is awesome to have dreams and wishes, but wishing is not enough, you have to work for those things to happen.” Thankfully, she did not ask what type of work she would need to do to become a fairy.

Topics: Inspiration Leadership

4 Digital Tools Every Nonprofit Needs For Growth

For many nonprofits (especially those in their first year or two of existence), “growth” is at the top of the priority list. Sadly, with so much data at our fingertips, many organizations remain blind to how they should measure growth in the most effective way. If this sounds familiar and you’re still struggling to analyze your data know that you are not alone.

Topics: Funding

The Most Toxic Phrase In Philanthropy

Recently I spent a day with a team of passionate fundraisers discussing their fundraising program. The team had strong personal connections to both the organization and the event itself, and many had been working on the program for the majority of their career. In short, this was a dedicated and knowledgeable group.

Unfortunately, the program was in decline, and because the group is so connected and committed, they naturally had strong opinions about what they should to turn it around.

Topics: Leadership Strategy