tulip_tree_tree_liriodendron_tulipifera (2)As you know by now, we’ve been cleaning up the yard in our new house. And it’s been a prolific yard – not just in ivy, weeds and poison ivy – but also with animals (including a groundhog litter, a nest of baby cardinals and a litter of eight kittens)! There is also a tulip tree that has grown up. The blooms were beautiful when we moved in! However I received unfortunate news from a tree expert who can to assess our trees. Ivy around the base of the tree had provided a breeding ground for rot. There’s no saving the tree. It’s disappointing to say the least. Now we’ll have to start looking for a new tree or two (if you have ideas for pretty trees that would grow well in southern Indiana please let me know!).

Several of my clients right now are struggling with ‘weeds’ and ‘vines’ in their professional lives. You probably know what I’m referring to – those activities that eat up your time, but don’t bring money in. Those ‘weeds’ could be good things in some situations, but in your case are suffocating your fundraising program and starting to allow rot to grow. Here are some signs that you have weeds in your life: you are working 10+ hour days but are still not getting everything done; you struggle to find time to talk to donors and feel guilty when you do; you’re exhausted and overwhelmed.

These weeds did not grow up overnight – and you’re not going to get rid of them overnight. But here’s how you can get started. First, track your time for a week to see what you’re spending time on. Don’t overcomplicate this – keep a notepad on your desk and every couple of hours write down what you’ve worked on. At the end of the week look through the list and honestly assess where each activity ranks in two categories: how urgent is it and how important is it based on the life stage of your organization. Now for the hard part. If you’re going to grow your fundraising program, you need to have the time to meet with donors. That means that something else will probably have to go. You either need to just stop doing something or find someone else who can do it. Typically those things will be the ones that scored lower on the urgency and important scale. It’s not easy, but it’s imperative for the success of your fundraising program that you pull out the ‘weeds’ – before they cause permanent damage.

Would you like some help identifying which activities are essential AND important for the life stage of your organization? If you said yes, I encourage you to register for the workshop this Friday (June 20th). It’s all online and will help you identify those activities that will help you grow your fundraising program. Hope to ‘see’ you there.

Kind regards,


Article of the week:

Engaging with a Group: Volunteers / Prayer / Advocacy

Today we’re talking in more depth about options to engage people in the work we do. In case you’re like me and prefer to read something instead, here’s the transcript: In the last video we talked about things we need to know as we’re inviting people to become involved with us. One of the key points was having ways that they can interact with us that are personal, but don’t necessarily take much time. Today we’ll talk about ways to do that. Continue reading


Quote of the week: I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. - Edward Everett Hale

Kirsten Recommends:

June 20th Fundraising Planning Workshop – Attend Online!

Reach Your Fundraising Goals Faster When You Get ‘on target’ with a clear plan

Putting together a fundraising plan doesn’t need to be overwhelming. When you attend this virtual workshop you’ll be walked through setting up your plan.

Attendees will:

  • Create a fundraising plan, customized for their organization
  • Learn strategies that work for small and medium-size nonprofits, and those that waste your time
  • Receive forms, templates and examples to fast forward your planning process

Limited to 10 participants.

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

  • The Most Effective Follow Ups for Nonprofit Events and Campaigns Following up is an important part of any campaign or event. One of the biggest reasons for that is donor retention. In a survey asking donors why they stopped supporting an organization, 53% cited poor communication with the nonprofit. But there are many other reasons following up should be built into every campaign, such as preserving and expanding relationships with volunteers...@stayclassyhd
  • Emotion vs Logic — The Economists Weigh In Late last month we stated what is obvious to any direct response fundraiser: emotion trumps logic. Most Agitator readers readily agreed. And the scriveners over at FutureFundraising Now and Ahern Communications looked up from their illuminated manuscripts and smiled knowingly. But now, the economists have weighed in with proof positive. Well, positive and negative. @AgitatorEditors
  • Check your we I opened a piece of mail the other day. It was from an organization we’ve supported – one that does good work, important work. But here’s what jumped out at me right away about this short piece. It was ALL about them. I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed a pen and started circling the references to the organization. @mcahalane
  • Ads that Matter Bored Panda has collected “40 of the Most Powerful Social Issue Ads That’ll Make You Stop and Think.” See all 40 images here. A well-made advertisement is designed to grab your attention and to remain in your memory long after you’ve left it behind, and that is exactly what many of these social causes need. @ThunderheadWrks

Fundraising Planning

  • Surprise! Most Legacy Gifts DON'T Come from Major Donors PrintPlanned giving professional Greg Lassonde gives us step-by-step instructions for soliciting bequests and planned gifts, and sets this in the context of paradigm changes in the field: While there is a growing amount of data about the importance of legacy giving, two statistics about prospects stand out above the others. @ANonprofits
  • If It Were Easy To Do, We Wouldn’t Need You Major gift fundraising at its best can transform an organization.  When an inspired potential donor says, “We have to make that happen,”  “It’s critical that we solve this societal problem,” “How can I help?” incredible philanthropic investments follow.  So why do some of us spend so little time getting this right? @101fundraising
  • Six In 10 Charities Raise More Funds in 2013 Than in 2012; Rising Giving Seen Across Many Different Sources Sixty-two percent of charities raised more funds in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s Year-End 2013 Fundraising Survey, released today at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 51st International Conference on Fundraising. @AFPIHQ
  • Hispanic Trends Pew Research, my favorite source for US demographic and attitudinal trends, analyzes and publishes heaps of data on the US Hispanic population. Their Hispanic Trends Project has now launched an e-newsletter with bi-weekly updates on trends in this key demographic segment — basic demographics, media usage, political orientation, cultural and religious attitudes … you name it. @AgitatorEditors
  • Tried and True Techniques That Encourage Monthly Giving Monthly giving is an important part of any nonprofit’s development plans. Whether your organization promotes literacy, shelters animals, or provides medical treatment, recurring donations are especially valuable because they are a reliable source of income.   We studied a variety of organizations’ monthly giving programs to identify some best practices. @stayclassysd

Fundraising Tactics

  • To Give or Not to Give: How Donors Decide According to Psychology A hard reality nonprofit fundraisers face is that their success ultimately relies on donors’ personal choices. You can give them all the reasons your cause is worthwhile, you can show them the great progress you’re making, and you can ask for a reasonable gift, but in the end you can’t make them say yes. @stayclassysd
  • Want to Boost New Donor Acquisition Online? Try Speed-Dating, Not Dinner and A Movie If you’re like most nonprofits, you reflect at the end of each year. You talk about the goals you had, whether you hit them or not, and how you’re going to improve going forward. During that discussion, there’s one question that’s always raised: How can we raise more money? @Blackbaud
  • Direct Mail Appeals: Fast Starts = More Readers Brains aren’t warmed up when they first look at an appeal letter. The fastest way to discourage the reader from going any deeper is to insist they bushwhack through a dense opening paragraph. Much preferred: a single vibrating sentence surrounded by white space. @BloomerangTech
  • Asking for a Gift Personally The secret in asking someone for a contribution, even a friend, is remembering that it’s a conversation, not a presentation. @npquarterly


  • Is Your Nonprofit Board Chair Productive? Hundreds of articles have probably been published about the skills and abilities nonprofit CEOs need to have to meet the challenges of the nonprofit environment. These include: reduced funding, increased use of technology and increased responsibilities. @HuffPostBiz
  • What Every Board Member Needs To Know About Fundraising If you’re a board member for a nonprofit organization, I bet you are dealing with fundraising issues more often than not. As a board member, you are voting to support (or not support) various fundraising strategies. So why not know learn as much as you can about fundraising? @GailPerrync
  • Who's the Boss? The Board or the Executive? There is an abundance of advice for nonprofit boards and EDs that speaks to the advantages of "partnership" and "open communications." But sometimes that advice just doesn't feel like enough. Who's the boss? The board or the executive director/CEO? The answer: it depends on whether the board is acting as a body, or whether board members are acting as individuals. @ANonprofits
  • Is Excessive Deference Shown to Nonprofit Boards? Nonprofit CEOs and staff often feel that they have to defer to boards for various reasons. They can view the board as possessing ultimate powers, and its members having unusual insights because of their working positions. @HuffPostBiz