Category Archives: Gratitude and Recognition
When I talk to people who are new to the profession, they often want to know the same thing. “I work in a small shop,” they say. “Which activities will give me the most bang for my buck, no pun intended?” I am paraphrasing, but this discussion is definitely the #1 topic that I run across. And my answer is always the same: court your major donors.
When I first started, I wouldn’t have believed it were true. I wanted to get as many people excited about our cause as possible (which is important). I also wanted to create systems that were easy to maintain and monitor (also important). I wanted to design newsletters (keeping people informed is important) and hold (eek) special events (I won’t go there). I wanted to write grants (also helpful and important). But one thing I didn’t want to do was talk to major donors. I was afraid of them, didn’t feel that I had an rapport with them, and was scared to death of messing up, so I filled my time with other important—but not necessarily as important—activities.
I love Spring. Aside from the fact that New York Winters last longer than the other seasons f(or at least it seems that way), Spring gives us an excuse for a fresh start. It also gives us a fab impetus for cleaning up our offices, both literally and figuratively. Here are 10 ideas for Spring Cleaning, Development Style:
- Review your donor management software, and eliminate and merge any duplicates that you find.
- Freshen up your conventional donor thank-you ideas. Usually send a letter? Send a picture postcard instead, or make a phone call. Make a list of new ideas that you can use to say thank-you.
- If you’re fortunate enough to work with a staff, hold a meeting with them to talk about new initiatives for the development department.
- Sort and weed out your stacks of fundraising periodicals. Tired of paper pile-ups? Many development publications, including FundRaising Success, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy, are available in digital editions.
- Review your donor files and clean out any outdated materials or information that is no longer useful.
- Assess what is working and what isn’t with your current systems. Are there training modules you could order from your software providers, or could you lay to rest a “fundraising program” that isn’t cutting the muster and hasn’t been for years? The best systems and events are those that help you reach your goals.
- Add a few new decorative items to your office space. Photos of family and friends, pieces of artwork that you like, or motivational quotes are all good additions. If you ask nicely, you might even get permission to paint your office or get a new area rug or office chair.
- Take a day to physically clean your space if you don’t do it regularly. Studies have shown that keyboards, desks and phones can be some of the germiest spaces in your office!
- How is your filing system working for you? Do you avoid filing items because you dread losing them? An ideal filing system should enable you to file something in less than 30 seconds and retrieve it in less than a minute. There are lots of tips out there for building a great filing system. This tip is time-intensive, but very worth it in the long run.
- Spring-clean your self-talk. Feeling discouraged over the grey expanse of winter? Give yourself a pep talk. You’re doing good work for a good cause. Your passion inspires others, and the great part is that you can continue to improve if you choose to!
Do you have any “spring cleaning” development tips?
If you work for a nonprofit, dealing with volunteers—recruiting, keeping, and appreciating them—are probably a big part of your life. Volunteers make big things happen for many of us, and some of our best stories come from the experiences, actions and antics of our “donors of time.”
Relatedly, I often think about whether nonprofit professionals volunteer, and if they don’t, why they don’t. I used to volunteer all the time at my organization; in fact, I started here as a volunteer before I was a staff person. Sometimes volunteers make the best employees because of their passion for the cause. But over time, my devotion and desire to do good led me to volunteer for my organization outside of work hours. As you can imagine, this rapidly led to burnout. Sometimes, if the burnout is too profound, good people can be lost, be they volunteers or staff, and that doesn’t serve anyone well.
As professionals, we know full well the benefits of volunteering. We tout them everyday to others, and use them to make our cases for community involvement to our funders. When presented with volunteer opportunities of our own, however, many of us don’t take them. “I am already doing good things for the world at my job,” you may say, or “I don’t want there to be a conflict of interest between my job and my volunteer work.” I am as busy as the next guy; even I made those excuses at one point.
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: Membership may be required to access webinars.)
Ugh, just back from Cinefest, and too pooped to peep. The more efficient, “planny” side of me is currently teasing the flibberdegibbet part of me rather mercilessly with reminders that I could have—and should have—written this one in advance. Part of me wants to cop out in a big way. However, because this is The Daily Kylie, I will borrow from the gurus of our industry and the world at large to leave you with some inspirational quotes on this Sunday evening.
- Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving. – Hank Rosso
- Donors don’t give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe. – G.T. Smith
- In good times and bad, we know that people give because you meet needs, not because you have needs. – Kay Sprinkel Grace
- Fundraising requires both optimism and realism. Without the first, few if any gift solicitation efforts would be made. Without the second, few if any would succeed. – Howard L. Jones
- We should never forget that no Fundraising effort ever succeeds unless one person asks another person for money. – Andrew D. Parker Jr.
- Fundraising is not an event; it is a process. – Edgar D. Powell
- Fundraising opportunities will continue to exist throughout the next century. Those opportunities will equal or exceed all current experience or presently held future expectations. – Edgar D. Powell
- Fundraising is not a right — it is a privilege and we must always honor it as such. – Henry A. Rosso
- When we recognize that a better word for Fundraising is “friend raising,” we open limitless doors to creativity in support of our causes. – Sue Vineyard
- Appreciation can make a day–even change a life, Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. – Margaret Cousins
- Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. – Gladys Browyn Stern
If you have any quotes that you love and would like to share, please do. Have a great week!