Category Archives: Philanthropy
Boy do I need a laugh today. And fortunately, I’ve got one! Non-Profit Humour is one of my favorites. It’s kind of like The Onion, but with more relevance to the daily grind of the nonprofit world. I have to say, the most recent post about Death being turned down for a job in a planned giving office hit the spot. Hope you like the post below (here’s the original link), and visit the site for other funnynesses.
I can remember distinctly the handful of epiphanies that I’ve had in my career that have made a true difference in the way that I do my work and flex my development muscles. At the risk of sounding shallow, one of those was definitely the idea that what you wear, and how you carry yourself, can make you instantly seem more competent and better equipped for success.
People, whether we like it or not, base a lot of their impressions of us on first impressions and appearances. Though it may not actually be the case, donors and colleagues look at a well-put-together development professional as more competent and more talented than their less stylish counterparts. (And yes, I’ve known a lot of super-lazy dandies that don’t fit this description, but, as the proverb says, perception is reality.)
For the arts professionals who read this blog, we’re fortunate in the sense that we have more freedom to assert our personal style in a professional environment than, say, our human services or political counterparts. Our orgs are creative by nature, and creativity is often encouraged amongst staff. Our own employee dress code (which I crafted, not completely disharmoniously, from that of a hair salon), states “All dress will project an image of fashion, professionalism and good taste.” (Today, for example, I am wearing a grey 3/4-sleeve jacket with a white button-down shirt, a long marcasite pendant necklace, and a grey knit muted leopard-print skirt with nude hose and patent snakeskin pumps. Not too over-the-top, but not too conservative either.)
You don’t need to pay a personal stylist or personal shopper to give you advice (though there are many reasonably priced ones out there). Much of what you need to know you can learn from books and websites. All it takes is practice, and a few friends or colleagues that will be honest with you. Enlist their help, and explain what you want to accomplish.
I could write about this topic all day (interview dress, the 10-point system, business casual, etc.), but instead I thought I would offer 10 Tips (and Links) to help you get started on your own professional-dressing odyssey. I’ve tried to provide a mix of guy, girl and unisex tips, but feel free to add your own in the comments section!
A short collection of the most interesting articles and features that found their way across my desk this week. I’ll be collecting these gems and posting them every Saturday. If you find any articles that rocked your world this week, let me know on my Contact Page and I’ll add them to the next Golden Goulash!
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.
No matter how much you love your job in the nonprofit sector (or any other sector, for that matter), you’re bound to have one of those days/weeks/months that your mama warned you about. From my vantage point, it sometimes feels like development directors carry the weight of a nonprofit on their shoulders like proverbial atlases. No funds = no programs = no service to the community. Oftentimes, that can also = low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, and added stress.
I stopped into the office on Easter Sunday with Art, to feed our resident cat and check on the theater. I sort of sighed inwardly, looking at the empty street and thinking that downtown seems pretty dead when we have nothing going on at the Capitol. On our way there, I had decided that I would take the opportunity to take some progress photos of some work being done in some of our newly-purchased buildings. My mind let out a kind of moan about working on my off hours, not having anyone to delegate photo-taking to, having too much on my plate already, etc. In an attempt to silence the negative voices in my head, I loaded the camera with new batteries, and strolled down front to see how Art was doing in his rounds.
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!
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.
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.