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Unlocking Growth for Organizations and Idealists Like You

Chasing Your Purpose

I recall their words as I told them I was leaving architecture. The plan was to invest my time fully into my nonprofit – and more broadly, into serving people. But this choice came with sacrifices. I would have to surrender security in the process, leaving a healthy salary for zero income. Furthermore, I was leaving a settled career path for an ambiguous new venture.  

Some on my own staff doubted the decision. Even members of my own family questioned my choices. “Are you crazy? How will you sustain yourself? Isn’t this what you worked so hard for?” 

To be honest, I understood their concern, and I asked myself many of the same questions. I had been pursuing architecture since I was a child, and I worked my ass off to land a great job in one of the best firms directly out of college. But when I got there, I realized it was just another job to me. Generally, I enjoyed the work, but it wasn’t my passion. I could see in the eyes of some of my colleagues that this is what they were born to do, that this was how they best served the world. I desired that same feeling, so I left.

Topics: Wellbeing

How Effective Is Your Fundraising Program?

Your organization is revving up. You're on the move and all of your programs are full-steam ahead. Things couldn’t be better, right?

The truth is that we live in a culture of busy. We are fueled by the idea that more is better, faster is optimal, and our only goal is to keep moving forward. We drink the “just keep moving Kool-Aid” to the point that our only objective becomes not slowing down. The problem is that always looking ahead means we rarely look back and evaluate the effectiveness of our work. And in the case of social good organizations, the effectiveness of our work is all that matters because our work is to make the world better, kinder, healthier, safer, just, and sustainable. Which is why the most important question we can ask of our organization is – “Is all of our forward motion actually making an impact on the world?”

Topics: Funding

7 Tips For Being A Mindful Leader When Your Plate Is Overflowing

Nonprofit management is not for the faint of heart. It's a field in which constantly shifting priorities meet challenging budgets and colliding deadlines. Your team might be motivated, dedicated, and all around effective, but it is easy for the tides to shift as workloads increase and your available time diminishes. Devoting the necessary time to be a great leader, while developing a productive atmosphere and ensuring that everyone is working towards your joint vision isn’t easy, but it is a critical component of your team’s success. Fortunately there are practices you can put in place today that will help you grow as a leader allowing you to better support your team. Below are seven tips for being a mindful and successful leader. 

Topics: Leadership

Is The System Really The Problem?

Given the somewhat prickly political climate of late, I’ve noticed quite a few friends, pundits, and colleagues uttering disheartened comments that conclude with the statement: “I mean, the whole system is broken. The entire system is the problem.” And I’ve noticed that when someone makes this statement in conversation, everyone else kind of sighs and nods in agreement, and then looks down in discontent at their phone or computer screen or plate or glass of wine. The conversation shuffles on to other topics, and everyone feels vague despair and a general resignation.

Topics: Leadership

#1 Tech Dilemma: Choosing Function Over Shininess

In an era of hundreds of different email, CRM, collaboration, project management, and fundraising tools, it’s tough to know which is best for your organization. And once you’ve settled on a solution, it’s even harder to keep the constant doubt that you aren’t using the best tool possible at bay. It’s easy to drift into this mindset; we live in a world of constant updates, new version releases, and shiny new functionality that oozes out of every tool. So how can you surface the best tool for your organization, one that your team actively uses and that helps you accomplish the task at hand?

Topics: Strategy

Prioritizing Your Own Wellbeing

Recently, my partner gave me a deck of 50 affirmation cards that claim to “help you help yourself - without all the self-helpy-ness.” (If you’re interested, you can check them out here.) The cards are sarcastic and weird but for me, that approach helps me utilize them. The goofiness helps ward away the baggage that sometimes comes with “self-help.”

This morning I pulled the worthiness card. It reads: “I am worthy of the ultimate happiness. I deserve and accept it, and dammit I’m not going to feel guilty about it when I get it. Guilt is not invited to my happiness party – I won’t even tell him where it is. If he asks about it, I’ll be like, “No, I think you’re thinking of something else…” And then I’ll run away very quickly.”

Topics: Wellbeing

The Importance Of Meaning

The divisiveness in the world today is all the evidence we need that we have entered the “Age of Meaning.” Our fragile society convulses with the recognition that what has come before no longer serves us and what will be has not quite taken shape. It is into this middle ground, this breach of both opportunity and uncertainty, that today’s leaders must step if tomorrow’s world will become what it must.

Topics: Leadership

More Than the Sum Of Our Parts: A Recap Of P2P Forum

Since 2007, the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, formerly the Run-Walk-Ride Fundraising Council, has been the leading conference for the peer-to-peer fundraising industry. This year was the largest conference ever, and that fact alone speaks to the continued growth of the space. 

For the entire history of the conference, Plenty has been proud to be the analyst and key thought leadership partner of the conference and its Fundraising Thirty study. The Fundraising Thirty is an index, similar to the Dow Jones Industrial Average — it does not catalog the entire expanse of the peer-to-peer universe, but rather follows a sample of some of the largest and most compelling campaigns in the space.

Topics: Funding

The Rapid Evolution Of Third Party Fundraising

The US can proudly lay claim to an array of fantastic third party fundraising events; Boston Marathon, New York Marathon, and the Ironman Triathlon just to name a few. 

Over the last five years, many of us have also witnessed the growing trend in obstacle events and mud runs. In fact, according to Running USA, more people completed an obstacle course event in the US than the combined number of finishers in half and full marathons throughout 2014. Some in the philanthropic space were quick to take notice, including charities like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society who created their own signature event series, MuckFest MS, which has raised over $22M already. This rise in popularity can largely be attributed to the socially, tech-savvy audience they attract – millennials. This, coupled with the fact that many of these events bring a sense of community and teamwork, create a very powerful marketing mix for peer-to-peer fundraising.

Topics: Funding

4 Things To Know About DIY Fundraising

Conferences are a great vehicle for bringing people together to connect, learn, and share information. And the 10th annual Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum was no different. Fundraising professionals from some of the largest nonprofits in the country came together in Orlando last week for some good ol' classic P2P fundraising training. This year it was clear what most organizations have on their radar for 2016 - DIY fundraising.

Topics: Funding