crowbar-vineA couple of weeks ago I started work on removing vines from trees in the back year. Most of them were fairly simple to pull off just using pruning shears and a little effort. There were a few though  that required a lot more work. In fact, one of the vines required a crowbar just to get it away from the tree so I could cut through it – and the pruning shears weren’t nearly enough. It required a lopper (and yes, I did need to look up lopper and pruning shears to make sure I’m using the right terms).

Now if someone had told me a couple of months ago that I’d need a crowbar to trim back vines I probably would have laughed and thought that would be overkill, however in this case I needed to use the tool that was required to complete the job.

Now, there is a nonprofit / fundraising thought to this. Please stay with me.

Most of the time just the basics will do. However there are times in the life cycle of our organizations when routines and patterns of doing things (in ways that are not helpful to the growth of the organization) have gotten so ingrained that it will take a dramatic shift in the fabric of the organization to start turning towards patterns that will be better suited for the organization’s future. A dramatic shift such as that will often take an outsider coming in to shake things up a bit (or in the analogy, bringing in a crowbar). It may sound a little like overkill, but it might be exactly what you need to complete the job. 

If you want to maintain the status quo your current toolbox will do just fine. But sometimes, bringing in help (whether it’s me or someone else you’re working with) can have a dramatic impact on your organization.




Article of the week: Asking: It’s About the Mission

It’s not about the money. I’m not sure how to make it more clear than that, but here’s a video where I share more about what that means for nonprofits trying to raise money.  In case you’re like me and prefer to read something instead, here’s the transcript:  Asking for money can feel like a really scary thing. Let’s face it, taboos exist around talking about money, let alone asking for it.  Continue reading


Quote of the week: Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew. - St Francis de Sales


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Here’s a summary of recent articles and blogs related to fundraising and nonprofit organizations. As always, please forward this to others who might benefit from the information. Thanks again for reading!

Awareness / Communications

  • Five ways to capture unique and useful photos for your nonprofit Being a nonprofit marketer or communicator usually means helping out with all aspects of your organization, including photography. Fortunately, it doesn’t take an expert’s experience or equipment to take great photographs. Here are five tips that can help you get the best shots possible and capture your nonprofit as you want it to be seen. @CharityVillage
  • Disciplined Email: Five Sentences or Less According to a 2012 study by New York City-based management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, the average worker spends 28 percent of their day reading and answering email. That amounts to nearly 13 hours a week and to 650 hours a year. Keeping emails brief and to the point can help you reclaim some of this time, increase your productivity and improve your chances of getting a reply. @99u
  • Use Your Newsletters to Keep Donors Loyal, Focused, and Giving You’ve seen it happen: When we stop putting energy into relationships with family and friends—relying on past interactions to hold us together—those relationships tend to fall apart. Relationships with organization’s donors require the same kind of focus and energy for the duration—if you want to keep them happy, involved, and giving. @NancySchwartz

Fundraising Planning

Fundraising Tactics

  • How Can Your Nonprofit Leverage 24-Hour Giving Campaigns to Raise Big Bucks in One Day Online offers endless giving opportunities for nonprofits, but leaves everyone in search of ways to "go viral." There isn't a set formula to do this, unfortunately -- but there is something that comes close: 24-hour giving campaigns. @HuffPostImpact
  • Fundcrushing vs. fundraising: see the difference at work Fundcrushing is the practice of using large numbers to motivate donors to give. It doesn't work very well most of the time. Because it reinforces the common belief that "my gift is too small to make a difference." Fundcrushing is common, because it's so tempting. Big numbers, after all, are newsy. They get our attention. @jeffbrooks
  • A Give and Get Fundraising Model – Why It Works for buildOn In the U.S., buildOn empowers urban youth to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service and to change the world by building schools in some of the economically poorest countries in the world. To raise money to build schools in developing countries, buildOn uses an incentive based fundraising model. @stayclassysd
  • From Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Zero to Hero in One Read If you’ve never launched a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign before, it might seem pretty daunting. You might be unsure of where to even start, or whether you’ll have the resources to make it successful. Essentially, you may just feel like you’re starting from zero. And we know that can feel scary. @stayclassysd


  • Combatting Burnout in Nonprofit Leaders Supporting the personal well-being of nonprofit leaders is critical to the success of effective organizations, and grantmakers can help. @SSIReview
  • Planning for Any Future that Could Come Along As Samuel Beckett put it, “Everything will turn out all right—unless something unforeseen crops up.” That’s why fundraisers need to be ready for any contingencies that might arise. Simone Joyaux shares the lenses she uses to peer into the unknown and prepare for whatever’s on the horizon. @npquarterly
  • Ten Tips for Building a Better Board Everyone wants a high-functioning Board. Yet few know how to make it happen. At the AFP conference in San Antonio, I had the privilege of hearing Simone Joyeaux present a session on Boards. I thoroughly enjoyed it (she’s an entertaining speaker!) and I took some great notes. Here’s the summary of what I caught so you can learn with me. @SandyRees
  • Why your whole organisation must be proud of its fundraising Income grows when the entire organisation is proud of its fundraising as an integral part of its mission. This is what Professor Adrian Sargeant said in summary of the Great Fundraising report that last year set out to identify the differences between rapid-growing organisations and those that were flat lining, or worse. @howardlake


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