Nonprofit Change Management Tips: KISS

One of the areas I advocate for the most in nonprofit management is surveying and making data driven decisions.  Often these types of activities result in the need for change.  Here are a few tips to keep at the top of your mind when you are getting ready to embark on change.

Tips for making change stick:

1.KISS- This is good advice for all things, but particularly in nonprofit management.  Start with the small things and don’t try to do everything at once.  Your success will most likely be linked to your managing the change piece by piece, not by overnight sensation.

2. KEEP IT MOVING- Constantly evaluate what is and what is not working.  Make changes if you need to make them.

3.KEEP IT TOGETHER- A united force from top to bottom is required for any successful change.  Meet with your teams regularly and see if there are obstacles that you can remove from them.  Your goal is to help your employees become more effective by sticking together.

4.KEEP IT FLOWING- Open conversation is at the heart of every successful change.  Speak to your team members about the change and make sure they know they can talk to you about how they are feeling with no ramifications.  Part if the change may be venting and/or celebrating.  Either way, be prepared to help your team with whatever may come by creating an environment of open communication.

5.KEEP EVERYONE INVOLVED- Getting everyone involved and involved early is key.  Having people at every level involved and let your team members have the freedom to make decisions on how best to implement the change.  Remember, you are all on the same team and keeping it that way will help immensely.

6.KEEP IT A SUCCESS- Remember that change takes time and may look like a failure before it looks like true success.  Celebrate the small victories early on and the big ones are sure to follow.

Take-away: Change is good!!!

My Favorite Quotes from Philanthropy Day

National Philanthropy Day was first established in 1986.  The celebration is dedicated to those who give tier time, talents, and treasure for the betterment of society.

Today, I had the pleasure of attending the Austin Chapter of AFP’s celebration.  I was moved by the speeches and touched by the amazing work that is happening in our community.

I think that you may agree the people below are simply outstanding.  Here are my favorite quotes from the day:

Outstanding Small Philanthropic Corporation- Fleming’s

Award winner, Darryl Wittle provided a great tip, “Ask people to provide what they are good at and what they do.” And, he closed his speech with some great advice, “always strive to represent something bigger than yourself.”

Outstanding Large Philanthropic Corporation- HEB

Did you know that HEB has been giving back to the communities they serve for 107 years.  Giving back was a part of what they did in the very beginning.  I think that is amazing.  Thank you HEB for that and your amazing motto, “Each and Every Person Counts.”

Outstanding Fundraising Professional

Brett Barnes is the Development Director of Lifeworks, a favorite customer of ours.  His speech today was charming, funny, and kind all at the same time.  His Mom’s advice to him, “Leave the world a better place than when you entered it.”  I ❤ that!

Outstanding Philanthropists

Jeannie and Mickey Klein were grateful when accepting the award today for their generosity.  Mickey borrowed from the late Darryl Royal when saying, “I don’t deserve this, but I don’t deserve arthritis either.”  While Jeannie reminded everyone that the secret to life may just be found in giving back.  “The more you make {giving} a basic part of your life, the more you find the joy, meaning, and satisfaction in living.”

Outstanding Philanthropic Youth

My favorite award of the day, the philanthropic youth award!  I am always amazed and touched by what these winners have done.  The winner this year started giving back at 13, and as a high school student today, he has founded and runs an insanely successful nonprofit.  His speech, love for his mother, and respect for his educators was remarkable.  I can’t wait to see who Brody Roush becomes…maybe President of this great country.

Take-away: I am in awe of the amazing work being conducted by these amazing people.  I hope you enjoy this amazing day and find inspiration to keep doing what you do.  Thank you!

“A small group of committed citizens can change the world, in fact it is the only thing that ever has.”


10 Things Every Organization Should Do to Enhance Donor Loyalty

As published in:

Developing a solid donor base is not something that happens overnight. It takes time to cultivate a database of constituents who support your mission time and time again, and recommend your organization to others. Many factors are at play in the development of true loyalty, engagement and trust. How your organization utilizes its resources, the impact of your programs and your ability to communicate effectively with donors all factor into the equation and can significantly impact your organization’s ability to earn lasting loyalty.

With the goal of providing you proven, effective methods of increasing donor loyalty, I asked a sample of development professionals for their ideas on this topic. I received dozens of great responses, so thank you to those who provided feedback.

Building an effective program takes time and effort. Here are a few ideas to help you foster the one thing we all desire most, retention.

1. Listen to your donors
Find out what will compel them to further help you achieve your mission. Ask for their advice, and put it to practice.

2. Share your good news
Communication is key to building any relationship, and nonprofit relationships are no different. Think about newsletters, e-mails and face-to-face visits to keep the flow of information open.

3. Measure your success
“In general, donors like to receive regular, measurable and concrete feedback about how their money makes a difference,” says Ursula Pfahl, vice president of business development at Bigham JewelersOpens in a new window, who worked with CMON — The Golisano Children’s Museum of NaplesOpens in a new window. By sharing the impact in real measures, you solidify the good work you are doing.

4. Survey your donors
When Courtney Polster, fund development manager at Agrace HospiceCareOpens in a new window, started surveying her donors, she discovered that a high percentage were utilizing planned-giving vehicles to support a charity — but she was surprised to see how few said hers was their charity of choice for this option. This revelation led to further research. “Quality initiatives like these are helping build a stewardship and recognition program as well as a planned-giving program,” Polster says. “It has been most beneficial!”

5. Leverage donor loyalty

Use your board members to make calls and write thank-you notes. The power of appreciation from a strong board member can go a long way in building loyalty.

6. Involve donor in the cause
By regularly inviting donors to come and see their donations in action, Keith Greer, fundraising and membership coordinator at Popejoy Hall,Opens in a new window has changed the way donors view his organization and increased retention rates by 14 percent and the average donation size by $500. According to Greer, many of Popejoy Hall’s donors always shared the great work of the organization, but with stronger collaboration he has seen a shift in the way donors began talking to their friends after participating in the mission. Now it’s, “Look at what I’m doing to help.” In addition, today he has excited donors asking how they can do more. Greer says that the firsthand experience has “been more powerful for loyalty, engagement and increasing giving than any communication piece we have ever done.”

7. Get social
Create connections in the social networks where your donors spend their time. Connecting socially is very powerful.

According to the 2012 Sage Nonprofit Insights studyOpens in a new window, 84 percent of nonprofits are in social networks, with FacebookOpens in a new window topping the charts. Surprisingly, 69 percent of participants say their organizations are not blogging. Blogging is a great way to keep donors up to date on the status of the organization. Additionally, through social sharing in tools like Facebook and TwitterOpens in a new window, nonprofits can further engage donors and volunteers with those same updates.

8. Customize your approach
“Bottom line: Loyalty comes when we show folks we know them. This means we have to really listen to them. There’s no cookie-cutter approach, as donor preferences vary. We have to be sensitive to our donors’ particular styles, then give them what they want,” says marketing and fundraising consultant Claire AxelradOpens in a new window.

9. Recognize repeat donors
“Whether your organization is new or has been around for years, you can recognize continuous yearly donors in your annual report. Give recognition to donors who have supported you (at a set level) for three years, five years, 10 years — break it down however it works for you — but with recognition, if they have to drop a nonprofit one year, hopefully it won’t be yours!” says CFRE Debbie Joyner.

10. Say thank you
“One easy element is thanking donors for every gift either with a phone call or personalized e-mail. When dealing with loyal donors, I am always sure to mention how long they have been giving and let them know how much their continued support is appreciated. Most donors haven’t thought about how long they have been giving, and I think these small gestures have deepened donor relations with a pretty small investment of my time and our long-distance bill,” says Daniel Blakemore, assistant director for individual giving at International House, New YorkOpens in a new window.

Take-away: Loyalty, retention and engagement seem to be harder to come by these days — probably because we all seem to be running the race faster and faster. True loyalty takes time, effort and commitment to yield fundraising success, but the return is happier donors with a strong commitment to your organization.

Nonprofit Lessons from Black Friday

My favorite (I say that about every holiday) holiday has come and gone.  Yes, I am one of those crazy shoppers who just after saying thanks for all of my blessings embarked upon a 13 hour shopping spree.  It has become a tradition with my family and I love the social aspect of it all; the great deals don’t hurt either.

My Daughter’s Inaugural Black Friday Trip

As I began to plan and prepare for the big day (a week ahead online) I was quickly overwhelmed by the volume of emails I received.  I am confident that I received over a hundred each day.  What surprised me most about this pre-week email onslaught was that I had not received one single email from any of the nonprofits I support.  I figured it must be in spam, but no indeed there was nothing.

Then the big day came, went, and cyber Monday was here.  Again, the emails flowed in and again, not a single email from any nonprofits.

Here’s an idea: if you are a nonprofit that serves children during the holidays, why not ask shoppers to pick up a few extra things for those in need.

Surely, there are nonprofits that sent things out around the big day.  I must have just missed them or maybe they are all waiting for today, Giving Tuesday.   Is your nonprofit doing something to raise awareness or funds today?


1. Make a Plan.  Year end fundraising right now, don’t miss the biggest fundraising opportunity of the year.

2. Jot it down.  Black Friday & Giving Tuesday will be here again before you know it.  These days presents a great opportunity to reach out to your donors that are in the spirit of spending, so don’t forget what could be an important ask for your nonprofit.

Engaging Donors in an Online Age

Tuesday, I will be presenting at Emerge 2012.  The presentation will focus on how nonprofits can engage with their donors online.  The crux of the presentation revolves around three key aspects:

1. Listen– To be successful online nonprofits need to invest time in listening to their constituents, and engaging in authentic conversations.   By listening and engaging online nonprofits can create a 1:1 conversation with their donors in a 1:many environment.  

2. Learn– Nonprofit organizations should invest time and money in their online programs.  They should optimize their websites, create engaging donation forms, invest in integrated programs that include online elements, and they should make sure that their online story is just as (or more) engaging than their in person story.

3. Make in Easy- It is critical that organizations make it easy to engage online.  If the basics are covered, they should all be writing blogs, joining forums, providing RSS feeds, and participating in social media.  Thus making it genuinely easy (and fun if possible) to interact with their organization online.

Take-away: Check out the entire presentation, and please share some of the tips that you are utilizing to engage with your donors online.

Check out the entire presentation to learn more tips and tricks for engaging your donors online.

Engaging Donors in an Online Age on Prezi

Things I have learned from our nonprofit customers that you can use!

We just hosted our first Customer Success Tour.  The idea, which seems like a no brainer now, had never been done before.   We wanted to bring our customers together.  Share where we are going and see where they are and want us to be.  Simple!

The event was an amazing success.  Here are a few of the top lessons I learned from our customers that you can use for your donors:

1. Communicate- Your donors want to know more.  Email is not enough.   We need to share what we are doing multiple times, and we need to share it in multiple channels.

2. Share- Your donors want to know how the organization is impacting others and what others are doing in the organization.   One of the primary benefits of the success tour was being able to share the success The Jazz Foundation is having with Sage Fundraising Online.   It was a win/win for everyone in the room.  We were able to share the success of  great product, and our customers were able to learn a great deal about online fundraising.  You can do that in your organizations too.(Thanks Petr!)

3. Give them what they want– I have said this a million times and heard it a billion, but it bears repeating.  If you are sharing information about dog rescue with a cat person the message will not be heard.  Target your audience based on what they want to hear and what they care about.

4. Timing- New York in December is beautiful, but it is also hard to navigate and a very busy.   Sadly we inconvenienced our customers by bringing them into the city during the Holidays.   A great lesson for us and you.   Is the timing of your events suited for your schedule or the schedule of your donors?   Make sure they both jive.

5. Answer the questions– A great learning for me was that we need to have a more succinct resource for supporting our customers, so we put together  a customer resources page to help answer their questions.  Time and again, I stumble upon nonprofit pages that don’t answer the basic questions of donors.

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why should I give you my money?
  3. Are you accountable for the money you have gotten before?

These are must have’s for all nonprofit websites, and it was a great reminder for me.

Take-away:  All in all, I learned more from those four short hours than I have in my five years with Sage.  When was the last time you got your donors together and asked them how you were doing?  Maybe it’s time!!!

How to do a great video interview

Video interviews are a great way to get the google juices flowing and share a wealth of information.  Sadly for me, I loath myself on video.  However, it presents a great training opportunity.

See how many next times there are in this video and then scroll down to see if you got them all.

Lessons Learned

The did wells:

  • Good background–Charity Channel did a great job setting up a clean, clutter free background
  • Sound quality–Make sure you can hear the people speaking.  This was great considering the room was an area in a conference hall.
  • Interviewer–Make sure he/she knows what to ask.  Rod, the interview, was amazing.  Great voice, strong knowledge, prepared with good questions.
  • Have fun–When you are smiling and laughing your audience is more likely to feel good about what you are sharing.

The next times:

  • Get software you can easily edit–for example, when I said .org instead of .com that should have been edited.  No reason I should look so dumb.  🙂
  • Length–keep your videos short, ie edit them.   No one wants to watch anyone for 10 minutes on YouTube. 
  • No no, Um–Um, we all know not to use um.
  • Prepare— I had no idea what I was going to say.   Funny how we all have tons to say until we have a camera in our face.
  • Be still–I am always on overdrive, if you are high energy be careful not to move around.
  • Look at the camera–I know it feels strange not to look at the person doing the interview, but remember it is not about him/her.  It is for the people on the other side of the camera.

Take-away: Videos are a great social sharing tool for nonprofits and business.  Be sure to follow the tips above and you are sure to love the end result.