Category Archives: Philanthropy

Are you committing this taboo with your appeals?

Every six weeks or so I get a nasty piece of mail, my visa bill. I don’t like it. Who does? But if the charges on the bill are mine, then they are mine. If my neighbour asked me to pay his visa bill, I’d shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t ring up his charges.

Direct mail appeal

Yet, ‘pay our visa bill’ is a common undertone in direct-mail, fundraising appeals. I received such an appeal recently. A foundation had made a commitment to fund X, Y and Z and would I kindly make a gift toward the project. They have committed. I am asked to pick up the bill. The idea of positioning the donor as a bank bothers me, both as a donor and as a communicator. Continue reading

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My top four remedies to cure writer’s block.

At times, the words dance off my keyboard and other times I gaze on a blank screen for an embarrassingly long time. The latter is particularly problematic when a deadline is looming. One does not often have the luxury of waiting around for the writer’s block to cure itself, as a sniffly nose might. So, what to do to remedy the block? Here are my top four cures:   Continue reading

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How to write an inspiring case for a less-than inspiring vision.

Case for SupportThe other day, I read an interesting piece on the Donor Dreams Blog titled, Don’t set the  bar too high for your next fundraising appeal. This post resonated with me, as I am working on a project that involves defining and articulating a vision for a client organization. We are walking a fine line between creating a vision that has donor appeal while at the same time is reachable and do-able for the organization. Continue reading

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How to make your campaign message work harder.

Election campaigns Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 3.57.58 PMare much like fundraising campaigns. Just over a week ago, British Columbians went to the polls, and I was reminded of the power of the message. For those of you who don’t follow BC politics, six weeks before to the election, the NDP (New Democratic Party) commanded such a significant lead pundits and pollsters said it would be next to impossible for the governing Liberal Party to close the gap. We were expecting an easy NDP majority and an utterly obliterated Liberal Party. The results: a Liberal majority. What happened? Continue reading

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Yes. There is an “I” in persuasion.

I in persuasionWe all know that there is no “I” in team. But there is an important “I” in persuasion.

When I saw Arlene Dickinson’s book, Persuasion, on a display table at a local bookstore, I was curious. I know Dickinson from her role on CBC’s reality investment show Dragons’ Den where she is the lone female dragon. She appears to be confident, friendly, real and knowledgable. She landed the role because of her sharp business acumen and intuitive marketing mind. (You can learn more about Dickinson here.) So, I picked up her book expecting to read about sales techniques, dealmaking and argumentation. I am half way through the book and none of these topics have come up.

Dickinson’s focus is on the persuader. The “I”. The individual. She challenges me to think about who I am. Continue reading

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Dear board volunteers . . . Discover your case for support.

DonorDreams Blog

mardi gras mask3DonorDreams blog is honored to be hosting the May 2013 Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The theme this month is “Dear board volunteer . . .” and the idea is “If you could write an anonymous letter to a nonprofit board about something they do that drives you crazy, what would that letter look like and what suggested solutions would you include?” If you are a blogger and would like more information on how to participate and submit a post for consideration, please click here to learn more.

I wanted to expand the Nonprofit Blog Carnival concept in May. So, I reached out to real non-profit professionals and asked them to also write an anonymous letter to their board volunteers. These people are executive directors, fundraising professionals, board members, donors, community volunteers, consultants and front line staff. I promised everyone anonymity in exchange for their submissions.

We will…

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A tip for a better case for support

Take few steps into the National Steinbeck Centre in Salinas, California, and you will come across this quote: “If the story is not about the hearer, he will not listen.” It is from Steinbeck’s classic novel East of Eden. As I read Steinbeck’s work, I often pause and marvel at how succinctly he captures a complex idea and presents it in a few unpretentious words. The quote above is an excellent example. If the story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. The takeaway for the nonprofit sector is this: Continue reading

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The best advice I ever received

I follow Erik Anderson’s  Donor Dreams Blog. This week he posted a piece with the same headline as the one you see above. He explained that a colleague of his writes regularly under this headline. He must have received lots of good advice. I like the idea of sharing good advice. So here I am with the first of what may be many posts under the headline: The best advice I ever received. Funny coming from one who polices the use of superlatives.case for support

The best advice I ever received (part I) is this: Present a vision the donor can be excited about.

I was working on a planning study, interviewing a financially-successful young to middle-age man. I asked him about my client’s vision and if he found it compelling. As it turned out, the vision did not resonate with him, but what he said next resonated with me. Continue reading

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A reliable theory for predicting success.

This week I turned 51. I tend to reminisce on my birthday, and this week I found myself back at the beginning. I entered the world in Falun, Sweden. As a child I could never have imagined the path my life has taken. The notion of change is fascinating. What precisely has brought me to this place in life? Why did I make certain decisions and not others? Why do some changes succeed and others fail?

That's  me in the middle.

That’s me in the middle.

In the nonprofit sector we are certainly in the business of change. I think of the case for support as a change agent. It articulates an argument for the change we want to see in the world. The change may be for better access to local healthcare, enhanced literacy, housing for all, access to education, better care for the dying, sustainable communities at home and in faraway places.

Our nonprofits work to bring about important changes in society, and as we do we hear about campaigns that exceed target while still in the quiet phase, and others–with similar mandates and in equally affluent communities–struggle. Why?

While in grad school I did some research into change. I came across a theory Continue reading

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Are you scripting your speeches?

To script or not to script is a topic that inevitably surfaces this time of year, as nonprofits move into the gala and event season. My experience is that the opinions on either side of this coin are firm. But it’s not a matter of either or. There is an and to consider.speech_Case for Support

But first, what, precisely, is at issue? The issue is about control. Proponents of the scripted speech want to maintain control of the message and its length, and for good reason. Continue reading

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