Look out for hope

I was browsing through a store at the Munich airport, waiting for a flight to Sweden, when a series of postcards caught my eye.  One in particular stood out. The illustration was stunningly simple and directed my eye to its message: look out for hope. The card is by the German artist, illustrator Julia Schonlau and is posted here with her approval. I bought it, brought it home and placed it on my beside table. There, from its perch, it has been speaking to me, quietly overtime infiltrating my thoughts. I thought I’d share some of the things it has been saying to me… www.thecaseforsupport.com

  • “…meditate on “hope”.”  I realized that I tend to use the word hope rather loosely. I’ll often say to someone, I hope you have a great day. But hope is much bigger than a wish. Clinical psychologist Rick Snyder, at the University of Kansas, has developed what he calls hope theory.  The theory suggests that hope is behind a position our minds take toward circumstances that alters our outlook and our action. What we hope for has a lot to do with what becomes.  Continue reading
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Why?

When my daughter was young, I didn’t appreciate the seemingly endless why questions she asked. But today I appreciate the why. It is integral to making an inspiring case for a cause.

Yesterday I watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on How great leaders inspire action. The talk is 18 minutes long and well worth the investment of time. I encourage you to watch it. If you are in a rush, fast forward to the 15 minute mark; that’s where he brings in a nonprofit example.

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Seven ways to strengthen your fall direct mail appeal.

I could always count on my mother in law to be the first to announce that fall is in the air. At times the proclamation came when spring had just slipped into summer. But it is mid August, and for many nonprofits that means the direct mail package is about to go to print. Before you sign on the dotted line of the press proof, iStock_000021567117Smallask: What, precisely, do I want my reader to think, feel and do in response to this package?

Jot down your answer on a piece of paper. Then ask a friend or colleague (preferably someone from outside your organization) to read the package and ask her what it makes her think, feel and want to do.

If the appeal gets less than an A+, strengthen it by being more intentional about the content (thinking of the three points above) and by: Continue reading

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Tips on how to name (frame) your case for support.

What’s in a name? If it is the name of your case for support, there should be a lot in it. It’s a frame and a sign that sits on the most valuable real estate of a document, the cover. And it’s a frame and a sign of your most valuable document, your case for support. You want to use it strategically.nameing / framing your case for support

A sign, like a traffic sign, gives specific information about what to expect: Watch out for falling rocks, and it points to something: This way to Naramata. Like a sign, a name or title of a case should give specific information about what to expect and point the reader to a destination, i.e. their role in helping realize a vision or the promise embedded in a mission.

We can also think about a case title as a frame that puts boundaries and applies focus around specific content. It shows us what to look at. What’s in, what’s out, what’s important. The name of a case for support tells a reader about the content and helps them know what to look at and look for. And like a frame around a work of art, it enhances–decorates–the content.

A case name, then, is specific, direction setting and content enhancing. That sounds clinical. Let’s breathe life into this by trying on a few case titles. Continue reading

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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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