Tag Archives: Nonprofit

Tips on how to message a fundraising gala

Tips on how to message a fundraising galaWith gala season around the corner, I am re-publishing a post from last year on how to message a gala. 

The other day, a client asked me for tips on how to message a gala. Since we are approaching gala season, I thought I’d share my reply here with you.

Every gala is different. So instead of giving you advice and specifics that may not be useful for your organization, I will share my approach.

Gala messaging is not about reinventing the wheel. It is about expressing an already strategically, thought-through case for support to a specific group of individuals.

I keep the message real by developing it with real people in mind, Continue reading

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The kids are coming home.

I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying this season. There is anticipation in the air. The kids are coming home. Woo hoo. There are gifts under the tree. There’s baking in the freezer and we’re spending more time visiting with friends and family that we usually do.Case for Support and Christmas

So, I’ve been thinking, where is the lesson for the case for support in this season? Is it how to make your cause stand out amongst other causes? Is it how to get your donors attention amidst the busyness? How to get the most out of your year-end appeal? Those are good questions to address this season, but the case lesson I keep coming back to is wrapped up in our need and desire to be in relationship. Continue reading

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Need a good vision story?

“A man came upon a construction site where three people were working. He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man answered, “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man answered, “I am building a wall.” He walked up to the third man, who was humming a tune as he worked and asked, “What are you going?” and the man stood up and smiled and said, “I am building a cathedral.” If you want to influence others in a big way, you need to give them a vision story that will become their cathedral.” — Annette Simmons in The Story Factor.

Uppsala Domkyrka (Cathedral). Photo by Mark Wilson: Wikimedia commons

Uppsala Domkyrka (Cathedral). Photo by Mark Wilson: Wikimedia commons

We can assume from the story that all three men were bricklayers. The difference is how they understand their role, their contribution and the significance of their involvement. Notice how the third man was humming and smiling. 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.

Continue reading

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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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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 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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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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