Keys for Achieving Big Goals

 

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It’s the time of year for Big Goals!  When we turn the calendar on a new year, it is natural to focus on the Big Picture.  Restless to achieve, and unwilling to settle into a routine, we turn our thoughts to the Annual Plan, the Deferred Dreams, and the Lofty Ambitions.  These items are capitalized because they are formal objects of our hopes, our imagination, and our energetic attention.  They loom large in our minds and in our hearts, and they shape the plans we make for the coming year.

It is good for fundraisers to have Big Goals.  There is always the next appeal that has to get in the mail, or the next fundraising event that needs to be planned, and then there are those three visits a week with donors and prospects that all fundraisers should be committed to.  But the Big Goals are the reason that you do all these other things.  So it is good to refresh your focus on the why of fundraising.  Here are a few suggestions for clarifying the Big Goals for your non-profit organization:

First, Big Goals are mission driven and mission focused.  Reread your organizational mission statement and be inspired by it again.  Think about some instances last year where you saw your mission transform the lives of some individuals, and put names and faces on those transformational moments.  Visualize that happening again in the new year to new people, and allow yourself to be thrilled by that potential.  Your mission changes lives; just imagine the lives that will be changed this year.

Second, establish a sense of urgency about your Big Goals.  Big Goals are big because they are important.  Take a look at the current needs of the population you serve, and clarify what has changed in recent months that has sharpened the crisis or made your case more urgent.  Imagine if your organization did not exist, and try to articulate the crisis that would result.

Third, lead a coalition to meet the urgent need and achieve the Big Goals.
Let others on your team know that you are serious about accelerating the impact of your mission on people’s lives. Remind them that they have the power to achieve that accelerated change and impact. Clarify roles and involve your team in making plans and carrying them out.

Fourth, communicate your Big Goals.
Let your donors and prospects in on your sense of urgency. Engage their imagination and their energy in the vision of transforming people’s lives. Let the impact of your work be known. Tell the stories showing the impact of their donations on individuals, families, and on the community. Sure, it is yet another restatement of your mission. But this time you are doing so at a time of year when we are all focused on the Big Goals, and after you have focused you and your team on the why of fundraising.

Have a great 2018! And may all of us achieve our Big Goals!

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

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It’s a new year…time to get rid of the clutter!

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Happy 2018!  The start of a new year comes an opportunity to begin again.  Whether you are one who makes resolutions or chooses to ignore the time-honored tradition, January offers us a chance to take stock.  Is there something you want to do differently in 2018?  Do you have a change you would like to make?  Here are a few simple steps to help you make some progress.

Name it.

Identify what it is you would like to change or do differently.   Do you want to be more organized?  Do you want to dedicate more time during the day to strategic work instead of “busy” work?  Or maybe, as my colleague David noted in last week’s blog, you strive to be better about meeting with donors this year?

Take stock.

Start by taking stock.  Allocate some time to determine what is standing the way of achieving your goal.  My guess is that you are experiencing some sort of “clutter”.

Perhaps you have…

  • a messy desk or briefcase
  • too many “to-do’s” in your head instead of in writing
  • been preoccupied with a business problem or personal issue
  • a tendency to respond to every email as it lands in your inbox

Move forward.

Whether the clutter is physical, mental or emotional, tackle the clutter.  Perhaps this means allocating a few hours to clean and organize your work space, taking time each day to identify your top 2-3 priorities for the day, addressing that problem or issue that is draining your resources or simply giving yourself permission to only respond to emails at designated times throughout the day, devise and execute a plan to deal with the clutter.  From my personal experience, acknowledging the issue and  a path forward eases the burden.  So get out there and tackle 2018 head-on!

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

What are your thoughts…?

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Happy New Year!

Here’s to you and to all that you do to make the world a better place. We hope that your year-end efforts proved successful and that you found some time to relax and recharge over the Holidays.

As we move forward into January and start thinking about and executing on our plans for the year, now is the perfect time to connect with some of our key donors. Yes, while there will be details to figure out with the new tax bill and how they might impact the way some of our donors give, this is not the time to abandon good development out of concern for the unknown.

Regardless of whether your organization is on a fiscal or calendar year, we know that most of our donors have a January to December mindset when it comes to philanthropy. With that in mind, this is the right time to get in front of your donors to seek their feedback and ideas about your plans for the year ahead. This is a great opportunity to offer them an “insider’s vantage point” and to treat them as true partners in your mission.

Schedule meetings with several of your most significant and/or longstanding donors to share you plans for an upcoming program expansion, a new initiative that is in the works or maybe a staffing change you are considering.  Ask them what they think about the plans and inquire if they think other supporters will favor the direction. Quite likely, their insights will help you to more effectively realize your strategic goals for the coming year and, in the end, you will be able to thank them for making it happen.

In light of this, it is also worth remembering one of our favorite maxims, “People support what they help to create.”

You don’t have to be launching a campaign or even a major gifts initiative for this to be an important and authentic way to build relationships. This is a chance to invite our donors into the process and for them to play an active role in moving the organization they care about forward.

So before you get used to writing “2018” in the date line, resolve to connect with your donors and engage them in your plans for the New Year. I promise, it will be time well spent.

by: David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Goodbye 2017…hello 2018

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In my colleague, Steve Murphy’s October 23, 2017 blog Lifelong Learning and the Art of Fundraising, he skillfully shares some advice which I’m constantly reminded of when communicating the important work of nonprofits. It is such a countless reminder to make sure the story we are telling carefully exudes the important work the organization is doing and allows for the donor to connect and relate to the organization through that lens.

He shared…

“Let the beauty of the work your organization does shine through in your communications.”

As we countdown the final days of 2017 and say hello to a New Year in 2018, I wanted to share a countdown of my favorite blogs from the HPS team that were shared over the past several months….

Ten: Clarity Matters – If everyone isn’t operating from the same playbook, and those responsible don’t have a clear understanding of their specific roles, you are ultimately leaving your success to chance.

Nine: …’tis the season – Simple reminders to ensure your event is a relationship success: Be guest- focused, provide the mission moment and follow through after the event.

Eight: Don’t Forget the Spouse! – Major gifts are major decisions…decisions are seldom made by individuals. Cultivate your prospects and their spouse.

Seven: Head out the Door! – We need to make a concerted effort to get out the door and spend our time in a way that is most cost effective for the agencies we represent.

Six: What’s Your Why? – IMPACT ⇒ INSPIRES ⇒ INVESTMENT…make it abundantly clear to them how their philanthropic support is going to help alleviate a problem they care about solving.

Five: Are you “tough as nails” or “soft as cotton?” – Be the type of leader you would follow.

Four: Seasoned and Green – It is often just a matter of observing, asking good questions – and truly listening to the needs and interests of your constituents.

Three: Show, Don’t Tell: Why Your Nonprofit Needs Data Visualization – It’s time you add them to your fundraising toolbox.

Two: Our Champions – “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is…what are you doing for others?”

One: The Symphony of Working with our Donors – We are the leader, or the conductor of this process, to ensure that these relationships continue to grow and flourish

Thank you for staying connected to HPS this year. We appreciate having the chance to share these thoughts and ideas with you and always welcome your comments and feedback. Enjoy this special time with family and friends.

All the best to you and yours for a healthy and Happy New Year!

by: Tim Kennedy, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Making Connections

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Have you heard that the secret to success lies in the very thing you’re avoiding? I’ve found this to be true and it applies to our personal lives as well as the development process.

Often our clients hesitate to pick up the phone and connect with their donors. “Oh, I’ll see them next month, or maybe I’ll just send an email instead. After all, they’re busy.” But that’s not creating true intimacy – and I don’t mean the type of intimacy that happens under the mistletoe. I mean intimacy of really talking with someone and making a connection.

So here are some thoughts that may help when you find yourself feeling so far out of your comfort zone that you reach for the safety of a computer mouse instead of reaching out in a personal way to really connect with your donors:

  1. You have 2 ears and one mouth use them accordingly –So many times, we listen with the purpose of determining what our response will be rather than truly hearing the person. This puts a lot of pressure on us. What will we talk about? What will I say? But the fact is that good conversationalists are actually good listeners, not good talkers. In fact, the 80/20 rule dictates that good communication is about spending a majority of your time listening and minority of your time talking.
  2. Ask “power” questions. These are open ended questions that are relevant for your organization. Some examples include, “How did you first get involved with…..” “What are your thoughts about how we are doing….” “Is there anything else we should know about ……” Good conversationalists ask relevant, thoughtful questions and then really listen to the responses.
  3. When you ask for money, you are not asking for yourself. Everyone can feel awkward asking for someone’s time or financial support. We don’t want to appear that we always have our hands out. But we need to remember that we are not asking for us. We are asking for others. We all raise money for important missions that help others who may be less fortunate. Keep their faces in mind when you ask.  You are their advocate.

So I challenge you to start today. Make three connections this week that you otherwise might just avoid.  All you really need to start with is “Happy Holidays, I was thinking of you.”

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Presents and Thank You’s and Lists…Oh My!

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The holidays are such a busy time of year for everyone.  We are scurrying around buying gifts…like the head-scratching gift for your Aunt Sally and the obscure toy that is at the top of your child’s wish list that you just have to find.  We are off to holiday parties, and waiting in line at the post office to mail packages and trying to get a photo for the holiday card that meets the approval of the scrutinizing eyes of the teenagers in the family.

As development folks, it’s also our busiest work season!  Final eblasts are going out, year-end letters are in the mail and hopefully, gifts are pouring in and you’re busy making calls and writing thank you notes.   On top of all of this, maybe a proposal has to get in the mail or you finally got that meeting set with a donor that you have been hoping you’d see about a major gift.

While gratifying and exciting (when you’ve found that perfect gift for cousin Andy, and, a large gift comes in as a result of cultivation and stewardship across the year), this time of year can be overwhelming and exhausting.  We are burning the candle at both ends to make sure that everything, both at home and at work, goes smoothly.

At this time of year, I’m not offering any thoughts on how to tweak that final eblast to include ideas about stock gifts or IRA distributions (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).  I do offer this thought, however…take some time for yourself.

You may think you don’t have an ounce of time to carve out for some “me time.”  But, work hard to find it.  Go to a yoga class and breathe deeply.  Make a lunch date and catch up with an old friend.  Go to the movies or a holiday concert – with a friend or by yourself.  Take a nap or read a book.  Whatever it is that brings you a little peace and joy during this busy time, make the effort to get out of the office and do it.  This little treat to yourself will go a long way …it will help clear your mind and recharge your battery so that you can be your best self – both at home and at work.

Happy and Peaceful Holidays to You and Yours!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

ARE YOU A ONE MAN BAND?

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If you’re like me, this time of year can feel overwhelming. Many of us in Development are serving as “one man bands” with responsibilities for soliciting gifts, acknowledging them, visiting with donors and many other daily activities.  We morph from Major Gift officer to administrative assistant with the click of a pen.

Conflicting priorities, multiple projects and deadlines can have even the best organized person feeling like they are drinking water from a fire hose.

So December seems like a good time to remember the teachings of Steven Covey. Remember him? He is the time management guru, and author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I read this book (long ago) but continue to think about his core teachings of creating quadrants to help with prioritization.

  • Quadrant I: Urgent & Important matters
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent & Important
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent and Not Important
  • Quadrant 4: Not Urgent, Not Important

The grid has many applications that include taking your current ‘to-do’ list and sorting all the activities into the appropriate grid. Then, assess the amount of time you have to accomplish the lists and, if necessary, reallocate activities. This exercise can be especially helpful NOW — during the busiest time of the year. So let’s take just five minutes and reflect on what decisions should be made.

For instance, there is a sense of urgency to get our acknowledgement letters out within 24 hours right? While I agree, this is an admiral goal, maybe this time of year, your office would run more effectively if you bundle acknowledgment letters, to two days, say Tuesdays and Thursdays. That frees up your time and mental space for more strategic activities such as planning and securing donor visits and staying in touch with those loyal supporters you hope to receive a gift from this holiday season. In this scenario, soliciting gifts and making donor contacts becomes a #1 priority and donor acknowledgement moves to the #2 priority slot.

Similarly, let’s remember those donors who reside at the top of our giving pyramid, but gave a thoughtful, large gift earlier this fall. Consider asking a colleague in your program department to send a Holiday card mentioning how much they are impacting a special program this year. That would be a #3 priority that you can delegate.

Franklin Covey calls this process Planning and Solitude. This may not seem like activity, yet it is. It’s a time of stepping away from your business and looking over it as though you are at 30,000 feet. This helps you identifying what needs attention, and where to focus.

Covey encourages his readers to do this every morning. So treat yourself to a morning cup of ginger bread latte and take a few minutes for planning and solitude.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Partnership Boards: Effective Vehicles for Advancing Your Mission

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I’ve recently been helping a non-profit organization that wisely decided to form regional partnership boards to strengthen awareness and support for their mission.  It has given me ample opportunity to reflect on the characteristics of effective partnership boards and when they make the most sense for an organization to consider implementing such a strategy.

A partnership board is a group of organizational supporters from a region where your organization is active.  The primary purposes of such a board are to enhance awareness of your work in the region and to strengthen your capacity for fundraising in the community.  It is not a governing board, and it does not take the place of a board of directors or trustees.

Partnership Boards may be right for your organization if you are trying to build support in different regions of the country or different communities in an urban area.  Think of them as similar to the regional alumni organizations that are hosted by national universities.  At first the gatherings can be primarily social occasions, designed to bring people together to hear from organizational leaders about new developments in the region, and to learn of the impact you have or hope to have on people who live there.  Every such occasion should include a menu of “asks:”  to donate, to become more involved, to identify others who should be included in future events.

When recruiting for such a board, you will want to identify key individuals who are leaders in the community, who have a passion for your mission, and who are willing to commit to helping you strengthen your efforts in the region.  You will want some philanthropists on the board, but more importantly, you’ll need to identify those who want to see your organization have a greater impact in the local community.  Ask yourself the question:  who are the people who can help us get the job done in this community?  These are the people you will want to invite to serve on your partnership board!

A partnership board can provide valuable advice and counsel to your organization without demanding a lot of time from its members.  Since you may have several such boards in different regions, you’ll want to plan for them to meet just twice a year.  Between meetings, you can keep members informed of the assistance you need in a given region, but you can also hold up examples of effective support in each region that will inspire other regions to do the same.

Partnership boards can be excellent proving grounds for building your board of trustees.  Those who excel at advancing your mission at the regional level can be asked to make the greater commitment to joining your board.

Fundraising is seldom about radically new ideas; it’s always about the old idea that your mission needs support!  Partnership Boards may help you achieve that support at the local level.

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

What’s so special about millennials?

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Today’s Post is from our partners at Just Write Solutions. With thanks to JWS Associate Scott W. Herr, PhD.

The odds are good that within the past month you have read at least one story about how Millennials are changing the world and the way that we all do things. The odds are also not bad that you read such a story every week for the past month. You might be wondering at this point, especially if the latter is the case, what makes this generation so special?

The Millennial generation, which includes adults born between 1981 and 1999, is special because they currently are the largest adult generation in the U.S. and, much like the Baby Boomer generation that formerly held that distinction, the marketplace is responding to their numbers. Unlike the Baby Boomers, however, Millennials’ influence has been bolstered by their coming of age in a digital world where information can be shared instantly. We know what effect millennials have had on McDonald’s and Applebee’s and how they are expected to disrupt the napkin, automobile, and beer industries, but how can nonprofit organizations expect to affected by this up-and-coming generation?

First, it is important to understand the giving habits of this generation. Among the adult generations in the U.S., the percentage of millennials that give to charity (83%) is second only to members of the Greatest Generation(individuals born before 1945). That may be easily overlooked because the average amount of money that millennials donate in a year is about one-fourth of what is donated by members of the Greatest Generation and their donations are distributed across half as many organizations. It is important to note, however, that the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth is currently underway. As the Greatest Generation declines in number, an estimated $30-40 TRILLION dollars is expected to be inherited by members of Generation X and Millennials, which will guarantee their influence in the nonprofit sector for at least a half century.

So, how do you get millennials to support your organization? First, nonprofits need to meet millennials on their terms – you need to go to them instead of expecting them to come to you. You will not get the attention of millennials if you are not using the platforms they use to communicate your message – and you are not going to change their preferred methods of communication. You also need to make it easy to donate to your organization and provide methods for them to be more engaged in fundraising. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your organization have a social media presence?
  • How does your organization use social media? Does your Facebook page read like a newsletter? Or do your posts call people to action and encourage sharing?
  • Does your organization provide potential supporters with the tools to raise funds on its behalf using Do-It-Yourself fundraisers? (Do you know what a do-it-yourself fundraiser is?)
  • Is it as easy to donate to your organization as it is to use Amazon’s One-Click ordering? Or do donors have to complete forms to make a donation?

If you were shaking your head from side to side (or if your head was spinning) while you were reading through that list, then you should consider reviewing your strategies for fundraising and communications and what age groups those strategies appeal to. You should also consider an internal review of your organization to determine what generations are represented on your board or in committees that plan fundraising efforts. Does your organization include millennials in any of its planning or governance? If not, then you should be considering how you might engage millennials in a way that they can actively and meaningfully participate to support your organization.

 How does your nonprofit work with millennials?

…’tis the season

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Last night, I attended the fourth benefit in as many weeks.  It is indeed the “event” season.

As I think back on each of the events, I am grateful that we have such wonderful nonprofits doing amazing work in the Chicago area.  And while each event had some great “wins”, as well as a “miss” or two, they all had one thing in common:  a connection to the guests.  Events are certainly designed to raise funds.  But more importantly, they provide a crucial touch point with donors – and prospective donors.  If guests leave at the end of the event filled with a sense of pride in supporting the mission and a sense of connectedness to the clients, staff or volunteers, then consider it a job well done.

Here are some simple reminders to ensure your event is a relationship success:

Be “guest-focused”

  • Make sure you know who will be in attendance and what their connection is to the organization.
  • Be thoughtful about seating.  While table placement is unimportant to some, it is very important to others.  It is also beneficial to put newer constituents near someone they know, so they recognize a familiar face.
  • Share the guest list and seating chart with key staff and Board members.  Ask staff and Board members to be ambassadors, which includes welcoming guests and keeping a lookout for those who may be new or “alone”, especially during the cocktail hour.
  • Provide nametags.  Personally, I hate wearing nametags, but I truly love to see them, especially when I see someone whose name I should know and cannot remember.
  • Circulate!

Provide the “mission moment”

  • Whether you have a video or a speaker, be sure your mission moment is compassionate, compelling and concise.  If possible, keep this mission moment to 5 minutes or less.
  • If you are going to make an “ask”, do so immediately following the mission moment.

Follow through after the event

  • We all breathe a sigh of relief once the event is over but remember – the work is not yet done!
  • Be sure to follow up with guests as soon as possible after the event.
  • Identify the VIPs’ – sponsors, those who made a significant donation and those who played a key role – and call each of them within 72 hours to say thank you.  Send a handwritten note within a week.
  • Identify others who should get a handwritten note – and then “divide and conquer” – key staff and Board members can help with this process.
  • Be sure to send out tax letters to all donors, and if possible, include a brief, handwritten thank-you note at the bottom.
  • If possible, send an email to all who attended with photos from the evening.

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions