Tue, December 03 2013
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
The following is a special #GivingTuesday guest post by Brian Sasscer, Vice President of Strategic Operations at the Case Foundation.
Today, December 3, we will celebrate the second annual #GivingTuesday, a national movement that promotes charitable activities in support of nonprofit organizations. There are high hopes for this year’s campaign, which aims to spark the same enthusiasm to give back to nonprofits as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have done with individuals for shopping for the holidays.
Organized by the UN Foundation and 92nd Street Y, #GivingTuesday united more than 2,500 partners last year, including the Case Foundation, to set a new precedent in giving at the start of the annual holiday season. This year, more than 10,000 partners will unite in a collective effort to give back to their communities. Philanthropy is something that everyone can – and should be – a part of. The advent of micro-donation opportunities, along with new online and mobile platforms, has empowered donors to give how and where they want in real time. Online giving days like #GivingTuesday and Razoo’s Give to the Max Day have been successful mobilizing communities throughout the country and changing the way consumers think of giving.
We have witnessed the momentum of online platforms, including Network for Good, Causes, Crowdrise, and newer organizations like Indiegogo, and their mobilizing power for microdonations. Over the years, the Case Foundation has touted and supported several of these organizations and their collective efforts to make a financial impact for nonprofits. We first began exploring the power of small donations in 2007 through America’s Giving Challenge, a campaign to encourage, empower, and incentivize giving online. Nearly 200,000 people donated online and we raised nearly $4 million for thousands of causes across the United States through our campaign.
#GivingTuesday has capitalized on the power of social media and smaller online donations to nonprofits. It is our hope that giving back is not only amplified on this national day of giving, but continued throughout the holidays and throughout the new year. That’s why the Case Foundation expanded our own #GivingTuesday campaign this year to include ways people can give back all season long. Donations are an important place to start, but we can all make an impact in our communities online and through other ways – from volunteering, to giving gifts that give back, donating warm clothes, and even pledging a resolution to do good.
So this year we encourage everyone to make a list of causes to support and acts of good to share. Together, we can inspire more active and engaged donors all year round – from today moving forward.
Brian Sasscer serves on the Board of Directors for Network for Good. As Vice President of Strategic Operations at the Case Foundation he leads the interactive strategies team as they leverage new technologies in support of the foundation’s core mission – “to invest in people and ideas that can change the world”.
Tue, October 22 2013
We’ve all heard it before, “Give me your Rolodex, give me 20 names that I can contact.” It can be overwhelming to produce a big list of people who are eager to raise money for your cause. But what if 20 names is 19 too many? What if all you need is just one? This is the idea proposed by philanthropist Jeffrey Walker and fundraising expert Jennifer McCrea in their recent book, The Generosity Network.
Asking your nonprofit board members for just one person who might be interested in joining your cause will seem more manageable to them and is more likely to generate a thoughtful response. That way, you can meet with someone who is open to starting a relationship with you and—ultimately—your organization.
Meet in an intimate setting.
Invite your new contact to meet, but beware of asking them to your office! Conference rooms can be beautiful spaces: great for viewing PowerPoints, but actually hosting an intimate first meeting? Forget it! Go to coffee or breakfast so that you can be in a space that is made for conversation. In a coffee shop, sharing your story won’t come across as rehearsed the way it automatically would in a conference room or at someone’s desk. Context is everything.
Form a connection.
Remember, this first meeting isn’t a sales call; it’s a chance to authentically connect. Be ready to ask what your new contact truly values and consider saying, “For the record, I’m not going to ask you for money today.” If people think you’re just there to extract something from them, they might be worrying about your potential ask. If they’re only half listening, it will be hard to build a relationship of trust and explore a potential partnership. But don’t wait too long to ask for a commitment! It’s important to share what your organization is doing and what you could achieve together.
For more ideas on developing a relationship with your donors and how to turn them from one-time customers into lifelong partners, access the archived webinar presentation of Nonprofit 911: Build Your Generosity Network with Jennifer McCrea and Jeff Walker.
Mon, October 14 2013
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
What is the one problem you’d like to solve in 2014? What would happen if your organization could effectively tackle its biggest challenge? How much good would come from your organization reaching its most ambitious goal?
This probably sounds very exciting and a little terrifying, but a few lucky nonprofits will have an amazing opportunity to achieve more with help from one of the best champions for social good: Dan Heath. Heath is the co-author of Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive, and is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports social entrepreneurs. Dan is looking for motivated teams from nonprofits and for-profit social ventures to apply for The Duke CASE Change Academy, an amazing program that will run from January to July 2014.
The Change Academy program is a one-of-a-kind coaching experience tailored to help you conquer one of your biggest goals. Your organization’s team will learn how to identify the best strategies for tackling your challenge, how to lead change, how to communicate your plan, and how to create a framework for solving even the toughest problems. The program combines in-person training sessions with real-world organizational challenges that attendees will work on back at home. Like most worthwhile efforts, the Change Academy will involve a lot of hard work and passion—two things readers of this blog have in abundance.
I urge you to find out more about the Duke CASE Change Academy and apply by the November 1, 2013 deadline to be considered for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Only six organizations will be accepted to this inaugural Change Academy session. We can’t wait to hear the results!
Tue, September 24 2013
In The Generosity Network, philanthropist Jeffrey Walker and fundraising expert Jennifer McCrea team up to show how a shift from transactional to transformational philanthropy can help your nonprofit accomplish even bigger goals. The book is a deeply inspirational instruction manual for forging connections that can move your mission forward. Beyond inspiration, this dream team of social good offers plenty of practical advice for fundraisers looking to build meaningful relationships with donors and partners.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the focus on understanding the emotional roots of relationship building and learning to create true partnerships with major donors and community leaders through trust. As you might expect, transparency is paramount.
From The Generosity Network:
“Today’s best nonprofits recognize this truth. They welcome two-way transparency, even when it’s difficult or stressful—and that includes being willing to entertain tough questions and challenges from well-intentioned supporters. Painful conversations, they’ve found, can be a path to discovery, learning, and growth.”
To fully embrace the idea of transparency, Jeffrey and Jennifer say that nonprofits need to first understand the vulnerabilities of donors and partners, including:
—the importance of personal or public recognition. Some donors want public recognition, others prefer to stay out of the spotlight.
—the intensely personal reasons for giving. Each donor’s motivation for giving will be unique.
—how much connection the donor wants with your organization. Some donors may consider their gift connection enough, while other donors crave ongoing involvement.
—the experience your charity represents in the donor’s life. Has there been a life-changing experience that drives them to give to your cause?
—any concerns the donor may have about giving, such as how the money will be spent or how much of a difference can be made.
Of course, it’s still critically important for organizations to practice openness when forging partnerships and bringing on new donors. You can show your commitment to transparency by being open about these three factors:
Your mistakes and missteps. Be as open about your failures as you are your successes. Show what you’ve learned and how you’re improving. Don’t try to hide mistakes—as we have seen all too often, this usually backfires.
How your strategy has evolved. Changing course isn’t something to be ashamed of, it shows how your organization is growing and adapting along with changing circumstances.
Your areas of uncertainty. Be upfront about what you don’t know or areas of weakness. This can help you identify strategic alliances, but also lets partners know you are a real organization, with imperfections like all others.
The book is officially available today, and you can learn how to create your own Generosity Network in our free webinar on October 1 at 1pm EDT. Jeff and Jennifer will be our guests and will share their insights to help you build a network of partners that will create lasting results for your organization. Register now to reserve your spot.
Fri, September 20 2013
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
We often talk about the way stories bring your mission to life for supporters and inspire donors to give. Storytelling champion Andy Goodman reminds us that stories can also work within our organizations to inspire and build stronger teams. In a recent Q&A with The Bridgespan Group, Goodman shares Why Nonprofits Need to Be Storytellers and offers three types of stories that can strengthen your cause from the inside.
Simply put, these are the stories that tell the story of how and why your organization was founded. Creation stories often involve someone overcoming adversity, a vision for a different future, or transformation. These stories help root people in the culture of your nonprofit, motivate staff, and set expectations for your ongoing work.
Andy says: If you work for an organization, you should be able to answer the question, “Where did this organization come from? Who started it? When? Why?”
These stories illustrate the key qualities of your organization, what you stand for, and why you’re so passionate about what you do. Many organizations may have similar core values—justice, determination, diversity—but the way these values are expressed should be unique to each group. These values become tangible when they’re illustrated through storytelling. Value stories help your staff and volunteers identify with your organization on a personal level, and provide a common ground that can improve collaboration among co-workers and increase loyalty to your cause.
Andy says: What I ask organizations is, “Tell me stories of your people living and expressing those values in their work.” Have these stories ready so that when people ask you about your organization’s values, you can respond not with a list, but with stories.
Striving to improve stories
These stories reinforce the resiliency of your organization and show that you’re evolving and improving. Telling stories about a mistake or other lessons learned helps others benefit from your shared knowledge and fosters an environment of exploration, acceptance, and camaraderie.
Andy says: I think [striving to improve stories] are extremely healthy to have, because invariably when someone does screw up, you want to be able to throw your arm around his or her shoulder and say, “You know what? It happens. Carole made a similar mistake. Let me tell you the story about the mistake she made, how she learned from it, and how she did better next time because that’s how we do it here.”
The whole interview is full of a-ha moments and worth a careful read. Check it out, then post a comment below to share an example of a story you’re telling in your organization. I’ll select a few of the best ones to feature in an upcoming post.
(Thanks to Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies for alerting us to this fabulous piece.)