Saying thank you before the year end cycle begins…

It is getting very close to year end giving campaigns. A very important step in that process is recognizing your donors and prospective donors before you begin another ask. Here are a few ideas for how you can say thank you to your donors:

Smaller Donors

For your smaller donors, I recommend a simple thank you note and social media post. I love custom thank you notes, but if you don’t have the budget for it, try something like these. They are super cute, and I love that they come with the envelope stickers. They make the note feel more special which is the entire goal.

Medium Donors

For your medium sized donors try something a little more special. I really love these little scented candles. You can have people on your staff or volunteers deliver them to your donors. They are very affordable, and deliver a very nice message of thanks. The gift is simply a nice leave behind, the important part of your visit is to see that person face to face and say thank you.

Large Donors

Your large donors require a bit more love! I recommend setting up time to meet with them in person to see what their why is for giving to your organization. Once you learn about the why, you can tailor your communications in your year end campaign around that message.

Here are few great ideas for thank yous at this level:

These are so cute and they are so cheap!!
My favorite is this journal and it’s so cheap!!
Love these!!

I love all three of these gifts. They are great for volunteers or donors, they have a very long life or they can be shared. My favorite is they journal because you can write a message in it to the person that they will see all year.

The gift is not the most important aspect of this exercise, so don’t get bogged down in choosing. The important part is that contact. Let your donors know that you are thinking about them when you are not asking for dollars. Let them know what is going on with your organization and the good work you have done this year. Let them know why they are important to you!

Share the successes you have had with thank yous below! XO!

Books Every Nonprofit Executive Should Own

If you are in the nonprofit world there are a few books that you should just own. Here are my top 3 books you should own and why. These three books will help you run your board, manage events, and motivate your staff and donors. Good luck and let me what you think of them!

  1. An essential guide to good governance for board leaders at all levels of experience and expertise This bestselling book for nonprofit board members and professionals offers an updated resource that answers the most-commonly asked question on board governance. The book covers such topics as board structure and process, board member recruitment and orientation, board-staff relations, and financial management. This new edition includes updated information on topics that have recently increased in importance including new Form 990; dealing with the financial crisis, risk management, and mergers. I refer to mine all of the time.

2. For event planners, there’s no such thing as a dress rehearsal! Any event you plan and stage is a reflection of your organization’s image — from the initial invitation to onsite operations. Whether you’re planning a product launch, conference, sales meeting, an incentive event, or a gala fund-raiser, remember that the magic of a truly memorable event is in the details, but so is the devil. Whether your event is for 50 or 2,000 people, whether it has a budget of a few thousand dollars, or hundreds of thousands, it has to be perfect. This unique book is loaded with practical advice on:

  • Choosing the best venue
  • Preparing and managing the budget, with sample costing forms included
  • Scheduling, staffing, and collaborating with other related professionals
  • Coordinating food and beverage, décor, entertainment, and themes.

3. Start with Why when motivating donors and employees. In 2009 Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work and, in turn, inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on Start with Why – the third most popular TED video of all time.

Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

Start with Why shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way – and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with why.

Virtual Fundraising

In this environment, we have all been forced to become more virtual.  I recently worked with a nonprofit that did an online gala BC (Before Covid 19).  It was very successful. Now more than ever, it may be time to try it something like this at your organization.  Mobile Cause has put together a great info-graphic with a ton of wonderful ideas.

Take away: Stay Home, Stay Safe, & Get Virtual

Virtual_Event_Ideas_20_Infographic_v05 (1)

20 Tips for 2020!

I love the New Year, new ideas, new goals, new events, so much opportunity.  Here are 20  ideas/thoughts to help you make 2020 your best year ever.

Tech TIPS:

  1. If you are not already using it, sign up for Canva.  It is the best thing to ever happen to nonprofit marketing in my opinion.
  2. Check out they offer nonprofit savings on Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, Intuit QuickBooks. New and refurbished laptops and desktops, mobile hotspots, printers and more.

    Check out a how to video on You Tube.

  3. Create a Facebook ad for your next event.  The results are great, and they are very affordable.
  4. In this digital age, most people don’t have the time or energy to look out for a nonprofit to make a donation. Adopting mobile giving, allowing donors to give on the go, will make it really smooth and simple for them. You want to make it as easy as possible to give.
  5. Sign Up for the Donor Experience 101 Newsletter.  It’s a great way to keep up with new ideas, trends, and tips. Plus, I will post where I will be teaching so you can join me for new classes.


  1. Use your board to help you write thank you notes. It will make your life easier and your donor’s will love hearing from your board members.
  2. Ask your board members to bring you a connection to each meeting.
  3. Let a board members come into the office to shadow you and your team once a month.  It really helps them see how hard you work and what day to day life is really like.
  4. Make sure your board has the tools they need to be successful.  Do they need training, do they need collateral, etc…?
  5. Hold your board accountable.


  1. Ask for help!
  2. Be prepared.  There is nothing worse than having volunteers ready to serve with nothing to do.
  3. Create an assignment board.  Post things you need help with on it, so that your volunteers can easily pitch in.
  4. Educate your volunteers, make sure they understand their job and your expectations.
  5. Recognize your volunteers with a thank you at every opportunity.


  1. Evaluate 2019.  Did you accomplish your goals, is it time for a change?
  2. Set SMART goals to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and achieve what you want in 2020.
  3. Set up time for you and your staff to brainstorm.  What would you do if you could do anything?
  4. Connect.  Make it one of your goals to connect with some new in your industry each month.  The fruit those relationships will bear is endless.
  5. Speaking Engagements – Sign up for one of my classes. They are full of ideas and always FUN!

I hope your 2020 is absolutely amazing!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

HELP! My Board is Not Engaged

Can you give me some ideas to help with my board, they just seem disinterested?  How do I get a more engaged board?  How do I get my board to do something?  When I hear that a board is disengaged or ineffective, I often begin with this question “how are your board members recruited?” You have probably heard fire fast, hire slow.  The board member selection process is the same.  The easier the process the less engaged the board member.  I recommend, a solid process, setting specific expectations, and diligent communication all designed to aid in the creation of a true partnership.
If you are having challenges with board engagement, it might be time to look at your processes.   Here are a few things to think about.
Do you have:
  • a board-skills matrix that can be used to align candidates with the competencies needed to balance your board?
  • guidelines for appropriate committee deliberations regarding confidentiality, rumors, and innuendo?
  • an application form for potential board candidates?
  • a sample matrix used to score multiple board candidates according to the skills, experience, competencies and geographical regions needed for your board?
  • a list of questions and a detailed guide to use when interviewing board candidates.
There are so many resources available to help with developing these processes.  This new book is one great resource, “Recruit the Right Board: Proven Processes for Selecting Critical Competencies.” In addition, I love almost everything Board Source produces.
Take-away: The time is now!  Everything in your organization begins and ends with a strong board.  Check out these resources, and if you still need help contact me.

Year End Fundraising TIME!

One of my favorite topics is year end fundraising.  It’s easy for this to be my favorite because it is when more money is raised for nonprofits than any other time of year.

In fact, 30% of funds raised are raised in December, and 10% of all annual giving occurs in the last 3 days of the year.  Year end fundraising just makes sense.

To that point, I would like to share some helpful tips and resources.

I recently posted this How to Create a Successful Year End Fundraising Campaign presentation on slide share.  These slides are from the class I teach, and are packed full of ideas, samples, and best practices.

In addition, this is a great campaign planning tool that I helped create when I was a part of the team at Sage Nonprofit Solutions.  This template is a bit dated, but the strategies and suggestions are as classic as a good black jacket!

And before I bid you adieu, I will leave you with one of my favorite blogs about year end fundraising…Top 10 Ways to Kill Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign.

I wish you well on your journey to Year End Success.

Take-away:  Don’t wait to get started…the time is now!

The Top Ten Questions You Should Be Discussing with Your Board

My newest presentation will focus on the ever changing landscape that is the Nonprofit of 2020, and the discussions that should be permeating through your board room.  One of my first catalytic questions centers around our politically charged landscape.  Where are our donations coming from and why are they coming to us?  While I was working on the presentation I came across a great article from the New York Times.

Take-away: I would encourage you to read it and discuss this with your board.  There are a lot of implications that come with accepting donations today, and I think this read will help open the eyes of some members and maybe even some of your staff.