Monthly Archives: February 2013
I love a good webinar, and there are a ton of them out there! For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, they are seminars on a variety of topics, offered over the internet, usually with an expert speaker and a visual presentation. They’re great training for people with limited training budgets who want to know more about a particular development topic; many of them are offered for a nominal fee, and some are even free! I’ll be posting a list of them weekly; if you’re interested, follow the link for more information and to register. See my Webinars page for an ongoing listing. (NOTE: Descriptions are excerpted from the host website.)
I don’t know about you, but when someone mentions to me that we should do a fundraising “special event,” I’m inclined to run the other way. That particular brand of “special” brings to mind Dana Carvey as the church lady on Saturday Night Live, and not in a good way. And, as my boss is wont to point out, we’re a nonprofit theater. Every show we do is a fundraising event…well, ideally.
My admiration for those that can plan, execute, and raise funds from a special event is boundless. Some events that I am familiar with are wildly successful, and are a pleasure to attend. Many events, however, hit the same roadblocks and fall short of their goals, which can be heartbreaking after months of planning and hundreds of hours of work.
Before you jump into the special events ring (especially for the first time), ask yourself these questions:
1. Why are you doing a special event? And please, please, please don’t say “because we do it every year” and leave it at that. To quote Seth Godin, from his book The Dip, “Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations.” If an event is an albatross around your organization’s neck, if it is entrenched and more and more people are losing interest in it every year, just stop. STOP. And reassess. You may choose to scrap it altogether. Or you may choose to modify it. Look closely at it. Do a SWOT analysis. Then keep the strengths and leverage the opportunities. Breathing new life into an old event is fine, as long as you are honest about its weaknesses and dedicated to changing it for the better.
If you are thinking of doing an event for the first time, ask yourself why, and answer yourself candidly. Is this the best vehicle for the goals you want to achieve? Read on for more important questions.
“Magic Monday” posts help you start the week off right. Monday is a great day to review and regroup; if you set your mind to it, you can make this your best week yet. Thank gosh it’s Monday!
While this video is not specifically about development, if you’re like me, the to-do lists that you use to manage your many projects at the office can sometimes get a little convoluted, losing their punch at best and derailing you for days at worst.
If the information in the video makes sense to you, you may want to check out Allen’s productivity classics: Getting Things Done, and it’s “sequel” of sorts, Making it All Work. The philosophy and methods that he describes in Getting Things Done have resonated so much with people that it has started a veritable wildfire of devotee blogs and articles. (Allen’s company, the David Allen Co., can be found here.)
What did you think of the video? Do you have to-do tips that help you stay sane? Any horror stories about out-of-control to-do lists? Feel free to share them here.
As I write this, I am snuggled up on my couch, enjoying a Sunday off. I know very few in the field of arts development who enjoy regular weekends off, and this is my first free day in our Monday-Sunday workweek. From time to time, it’s nice to remember that we are individuals with our own lives.
Most development professionals I’ve met work in their field because of a passion. Often, it is an overarching passion for doing good work. Often, it is coupled with a passion for the particular industry that we work in; I, for example, was steeped in the arts as a bassoonist before I became passionate about the Capitol.
A likely side-effect of this passion is a desire to contribute to other causes. Though artistic causes dominate my roster of charitable donations, the causes that I donate to run the gamut, and my donations are usually driven by an emotional attachment to a charity. Much of my giving is driven by my experience with their programs or their impact in my community. Research−such as this study featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy−finds that I am like many female donors in this regard.
So I’m sitting here, making boxed macaroni and cheese for breakfast (mmm brain food), pondering today’s topic. Sure, this blog is about development. But, as I mentioned to my husband, Art−who also happens to be my boss−at the breakfast table, development is kind of a big thing. In addition to the various facets of the job itself, there are certain life traits and work habits that are the purview of most, if not all, good fundraisers, and developing these skills to the best of our abilities seems par for the course. Knowing the technical ins and outs of various development-related tasks and systems is obviously necessary, but the idea that time management, organization, and initiative, and other factors are required is not lost on me.
For those of you who have been in the field a long time, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Especially those of you in small shops. I had to smile the other day at the job openings that I was posting on my Twitter account. Let’s see now, as Development Director of a 1.5-person shop, I would love to hire a Grant Writer, a Special Events Coordinator, a Prospect Researcher, a Major Gifts Manager, an Annual Fund Director, a Planned Giving Coordinator, a Senior Development Associate. But it’s a chicken and egg situation−in order to hire additional development staff, my department would have to raise much more in resources, or my organization would have to realize dramatically more revenue, for that to happen. And even if both of those things were true, hiring these positions may not be our first priority.