Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Back to the Future of Philanthropy

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

I received a kind email from Erik Anderson, of the Donor Dreams Blog , suggesting I take on the subject of The Future of Philanthropy for this month's nonprofit blog carnival. Easy peasy, right? Well maybe not.

Challenges of an Interim Executive Director

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kirsten Bullock for her Nonprofit Leaders Network podcast. The conversation turned quickly to my experiences over the years as an Interim Executive Director. Whether your organization is thinking of using an Interim ED, or whether you are a consultant thinking of getting into this sort of work, I hope you will find some advice in this conversation that will help you navigate the relationship successfully.

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Did LinkedIn help nonprofits & leave nonprofit professionals behind?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Some time back I blogged about LinkedIn's (then new) Board Connect Service as a great new resource for nonprofit organizations. In the couple of years since, LinkedIn has built upon and expanded their vision of "LinkedIn for Good" and their offerings to nonprofits.

Every Donor a Major Donor

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

One question that's always likely to come up when I teach a workshop on fund development is, "How do you define a major donor?" People ask this to determine some sort of line in how to thank and care for their donors; where to set the bar in setting aside one group of donors for "special treatment." If that's their goal, then the answer really depends on the size of the organization, and how well-developed and successful their individual giving program is.

The Five Stages of Nonprofit Board Fundraising

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

In the 1960s, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, working with terminally ill patients, hypothesized her five stages of grief, popularized in her 1969 publication of On Death and Dying. Since that time, the Kübler-Ross model has been applied to just about any form of personal loss, including job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, surviving natural disasters, and even incarceration.

Nonprofit Mergers & Alliances: An interview with Thomas A. McLaughlin (part one)

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Regular readers of this blog know that I've been involved in two successful nonprofit mergers, as well as a third attempt that was never consummated, and I've written several blog posts on my feelings about nonprofit mergers.

Empathy for Sale

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

I've written about the power of storytelling in fundraising many times over. I've also written about the ethical question of organizations sharing their client's stories ( see Who's Story is it Anyway? ). Well, here we go again. Last weekend, walking along Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, I spotted a gentleman behind a card table set up on the side walk. He appeared to be in him mid-50s, neatly groomed long gray hair, comfortably dressed, ready to be of service.

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Nonprofit Rescue: The Pitch

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

We all have dreams for the nonprofit sector: increased individual giving, more effective boards, simplified government grant applications, better trained staff. Well, one of my dreams for the sector is greater public understanding of the nuts and bolts of how nonprofits operate, and I've got an idea for implementing it: a reality TV show. So far the only time real, community, grass-roots nonprofits have been seen on reality TV is on shows like the Secret Millionaire.

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Personal, Political, and Professional

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

The common sense advice that is frequently given about social media is to keep your personal and professional identities completely separate. Much like the age-old saw about not discussing religion or politics at social gatherings, this is meant to avoid controversy, and, more to the point, not give any work associates reason to disagree with you (or terminate your job, etc.).

Boardroom Musical Chairs

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

At lunch with a group of consultants a couple of months back, we were lamenting the tendency of certain local organizations to fill their empty board seats by simply bringing on the termed-out board members of closely-linked organizations. In this scenario, as positions open up, a director will typically say, "What about so-and-so? I know her from board X." And so on, as our boards shuffle around in very small circles. So, what's wrong with this?

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The Waiting is NOT the Hardest Part

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

A Proposal for Uniform Feedback of Grant Application Denials From Guest Blogger: Brian Leitten. Mr. Leitten is an experienced non-profit leader and consultant, chief executive and attorney.

Multichannel Communications - Management & Tips

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

A point I''ve been harping on for some time whenever I speak to groups of nonprofits is the importance of communicating to your supporters the way they want, not the ways you''re used to. In other words, while some of your supporters may still be looking for that annual holiday letter in the mail, others want to hear from you on Facebook, or by email, at an event, or even by the old telephone. This is what we mean by multichannel communications. This guest post is from Madeleine Hammond.

Top Three Takeaways from the Nonprofit Overhead Challenge

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

If you''re not already talking about overhead, you should be, and you will be soon. Overhead, of course, is shorthand for what nonprofits spend on general management and oversight, fundraising, and membership development. In other words, anything that isn''t directly mission-related programming.

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Nonprofits as the Equalizing Force

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Today is Blog Action Day 2014. Each year, BAD organizes bloggers from over 100 countries to write on a single theme for one day of coordinated action. This year''s theme is Inequality.

Giving With Impact - The Benevolent Way

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

I''ve blogged endlessly about the importance of storytelling in fundraising. Last month I wrote specifically about the human need to feel and show empathy for others , and its relationship to fundraising. Yesterday the connection between empathy and giving was demonstrated again in an article on Bloomberg Businessweek about the online donations going directly to the victims and families impacted by the Boston Marathon bombing ( Bombing Victims Get Millions as Internet Redefines Giving ).

Why You Have To Do It Better

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

The "It" referred to in the title of this post is Social Media. And the problem is nonprofits who are under the impression that Twitter, Facebook, etc., are just about marketing. They think that it's just fine if their postings consist of nothing more than a sales pitch (or, in the nonprofit case, a donation pitch). Nonprofits can be forgiven, somewhat, for thinking that way. After all, using the news feeds from many local small businesses as examples, that's what we frequently see.

My First Nonprofit Job

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

A first blog posting after a long absence is always difficult; so many things to talk about, it's hard to decide what the most relevant topic would be. First, let me remind you where I've been. After about seven years as an independent consultant, in January I began a regular, full-time executive director position with a local nonprofit organization, and spent the month fully immersed in learning the programs, the culture, and the needs.

Crowdfunding Roundup for Nonprofits

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

It seems that with the rise of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, crowdfunding is on everybody''s minds these days, but what''s a nonprofit to do? First, let''s clear up what we mean by crowdfunding, and how it differs from traditional online fundraising. Crowdfunding generally refers to grassroots efforts to raise money for a project or product that is in development, directly from the eventual purchasers.

Interim Executives Are Part Of Succession Planning

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Yesterday, on Alan Harrison's Voice of Reason blog, he posted a great article about the pitfalls of bad succession planning and the occasional need for Interim Executive Directors. As a consultant who has five times served as an Interim ED, I agree with much of what Mr. Harrison has to say. In Mr. Harrison's colorful example, Jack is the departing long-term Director, who helps to personally choose Jill as his successor. Jill then flounders along for about a year before being eventually replaced.

Reaching Across Generations

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

How are you involving millenials in your organization''s work? This is a question we''ve all been hearing a lot lately. But I''m not sure that I like some of the answers. I''ve been in several conversations and meetings in recent months where the idea of creating a "millenial advisory group" was brought up. It was generally agreed among my peers (those of us between 40 and 65) that the younger generation may not be ready for the responsibility of being on a board of directors. "Oh,

When is a Donation Not a Donation?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

A donation that's not a donation? What's that? When it's a situation where the supporter believes they've a donation, but the nonprofit does not see it that way. Such as, a small nonprofit puts a link to Amazon on their website, because they get a few pennies back from each book sale as part of the "associates" program. The nonprofit thinks, "We're providing a service, and getting a little extra cash." The organization's supporter thinks, "What a fun way to make my donation!"

The Irregularity of Regular Giving

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

We love our regular donors. As nonprofit professionals, we just love to look over our donor rolls and know that there''s a good percentage of those listed who will give again and again, year after year, and all we have to do is send them a nice annual letter. Maybe there''s even a few of those donors who have trusted us enough to let us charge a small amount to their credit card every month without even asking. Man, do we love them! But don''t get too complacent.

The Power of Zilch: An interview with Nancy Lublin

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

One of my pet peeves has always been when well-meaning, but somewhat clueless outsiders tell us in the nonprofit sector that we need to be "more businesslike."

Social Media 101 for Nonprofit Consultants

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Yesterday I had the opportunity to present an introductory workshop on social media to a few of my colleagues in the Fund Builders Alliance. We covered some of the basics of what social media is and is not, got into the how-tos and whys of facebook, twitter, linkedin, and blogging, and briefly went over the variety of other services available (pinterest, storify, g+,). It's always a great day when you can get together with a group of professionals that you respect and teach them something new.

Nonprofits and the 99%

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

By now I'm guessing that you have all heard about the Occupy Wall Street protests and the 99% movement. The Wall Street protests started more than three weeks ago, and was at first largely absent from the domestic press, with coverage only getting to us through the European press until the story was just too big to ignore. What surprises me is how little I'm still hearing from the nonprofit press about the movement.

What's Your Non-Profit's Bottom Line?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

From Guest Blogger Nick Cooney. Nick is the author of "Change Of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change" (www.ChangeOfHeartBook.com) , and the founder and director of The Humane League, an animal advocacy organization based in Philadelphia, PA. Is your non-profit succeeding in its mission? How can you tell?

Three R's of Grant Writing

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

We had a great turnout at yesterday's Basic Grant Proposal Writing workshop at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. The group asked a lot of great questions, and we covered a lot of material. Exhausting, but in a good way!

The Power of We the Nonprofits

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Today is Blog Action Day 2012, " Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. " The topic this year is " The Power of We."

Can non-profit organizations meet all the needs for-profit businesses currently meet?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

I just came across an interesting blog post by Stephen Monrad with title of " Can non-profit organizations meet all the needs for-profit businesses currently meet? " His conclusion is that "If a non-profit organization wanted to produce toothbrushes, there is no reason in principle that it couldn't." I found it to be an interesting post.

Nonprofit Website Mistakes: Lack of Transparency

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

When people talk about mistakes nonprofits make with their websites, the first thing that comes to mind is usually either no direct donate button from the front page, or an unclear mission statement. But I'd like to focus on a different type of mistake; lack of transparency. First off, what do I mean by "transparency?" I'm talking about communicating with your community (clients, members, potential donors, neighbors, elected officials, etc.)

LinkedIn Launches Board Connect Service

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals of all sectors, has just announced the launch of their new Board Connect service for nonprofit organizations. If you're not already familiar with LinkedIn , it began, basically, as a place to post your online business profile/resume and connect with others in your field to grow your network using a "six degrees of separation" model.

Whose Story is it Anyway?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

I am one who has always believed in the value of good story telling in fundraising. Nothing earth shattering in that statement. Most anybody who has been successful in nonprofit fundraising - whether writing grant proposals, doing direct mail, or creating event programs - will tell you the same thing.

I'm Nonprofit and I Vote!

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Two of my recent posts here were encouraging nonprofits (the organizations and the people behind them) to be more politically involved ( Nonprofits Talking Taxes & Nonprofits and the 99% ), so I feel I should also post a quick update when I see examples of how nonprofits are flexing their political muscle.

About Grant Writing Fees & Commissions

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

As a professional grant writer, I usually charge an hourly fee, or sometimes a flat fee per project. Never do I charge a percentage of funds received or in any other way work on spec or contingency. First off, this is just accepted professional practice in the nonprofit industry. Second, as a professional I need to be paid fairly for my work. But, most importantly, it is a matter of ethics.

What Would You Say if You Were Me?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Alternate title for this post, "What you got to say for myself?" What am I talking about? I'm offering you a chance to write the Nonprofit Consultant Blog for a day. I am interested in occasionally having guest bloggers come in and take over. The topics should be of interest and benefit to those working in the nonprofit sector. They can be new tools and tips for fundraising, using social media, advocacy, industry news and happenings, or just plain old boring good management.

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How Much Should Board Members Give?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

This is the question that has haunted many a nonprofit Executive Director and Development Director. How to encourage Board giving without either asking too little or scaring off new members. A posting today on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's website asks if "the expectation of giving is something that is simply understood?" and gives a quick roundup of how some organizations answer the question.

Yet more on percentage-based fundraising - AFP ups the ante

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

Just other day I posted an email exchange I had in which my correspondent argued that, contrary to what AFP (Association of Professional Fundraisers) and others may say, there are times when when contingency or percentage-based fundraising fees may actually be more ethical than flat fee or hourly rates.

Are You Treating Your Cats Like Dogs?

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

I love dogs. Who wouldn''t? They''re fun, happy, and above all, loyal. It doesn''t take much to earn a dogs love. a scratch behind the ear in just the right spot, a tossed tennis ball, or dropped bits of food of any sort will do the trick. Dogs are easy. I love dogs, but I prefer cats.

Why Common Core Will Fail

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

You''ve likely heard or read about Common Core by now.

The Business of Philanthropy - A Rant

Nonprofit Consultant Blog

I apologize in advance that today''s posting here is going to be more of a rant than a helpful article, but I hope you will sympathize with my frustration. This comes from two articles I read yesterday that left me shaking my head, wondering if the world''s gone crazy.