Posts made in September, 2011

Wordsmithing Out the Yin-yang

Posted by on Sep 30, 2011 | 0 comments

It’s Friday and I am wordsmithing several documents. I can sum up my mood in one word: gray. And I can sum up my mind in one word: void. And one word (or two) is about all I can muster.

What is it about Friday that curbs typically high enthusiasm to produce? How does a quick mind become dull overnight?

After all, it’s easy to write a witty, attention-grabbing intro for a Thursday eBlast on Tuesday. And the ad content needed for a Friday deadline is a breeze to crank out on Wednesday morning. Even on Thursday words flow easily for the finishing touches on a grant proposal.

But Friday..? Not so much (and let’s just pretend Monday doesn’t exist).

Following are are some tips for the Friday Wordsmith’s Block:

  1. Pretend it’s Tuesday.
    •  Just kidding.
  2. Use your Search Engine.
    • Look for ideas online, randomly surf the web to discover new ideas or relevant information (you might want to give yourself a time limit, because this type of search can go on for hours!).
  3. Read a hard copy newspaper.
    • Take a break (java or water or tea or whatever your choice of beverage might be) and spread out the “black and white and read all-over” across your desk or breakfast counter (or better yet, backyard patio table), and read it from front to back (even the social/calendar and comics).
  4. Check out your social media.
    • Twitter and YouTube now provide instant news on every topic. Scroll through, search for topics, watch some fun videos along the way (Groucho Marx is a fav of mine). Facebook, Google+, every other conceivable social app on the planet, plus all of your personal bookmarks are also a great resource. 
  5. Get out and about.
    • Find opportunities to network with people – eat lunch at a counter-style restaurant and talk to the person next to you, wander down the street to your favorite coffee joint and settle into a comfortable chair, take a walk in the park…start a conversation.
  6. Pop some popcorn and become a temporary couch potato.
    • Although much of TV is ridiculously over-the-top, there are still some great channels for information searching: Travel Channel, Food Network, History Channel, News Sources (choose the most fair and balanced from YOUR particular point of view), and talk shows. 
  7. Make a call (or, reach out and touch someone).
    • Check in with someone who is knowledgeable on your topic, or call a friend. Breaking the “brain block” with laughter and human interaction will help you get back on track.
  8. Take a bath.
    • OK, this won’t work for everyone, but for some (who shall remain nameless), baths are a quiet time when ideas flow, revelations come, and thoughts seem to organize on their own. Try it, you might like it.
  9. Get organized.
    • A messy desk may be the sign of a brilliant mind, but it also might be the sign of a disorganized mind. If you have writer’s block, maybe a quick effort to organize the piles on your desk of papers, files, bills, recipes and loose notes would help. You might find something that sparks a thought and brings you back to fruitful efforts!
  10. Breathe.
    • Finally, take a minute to breathe. As motivational as they might sometimes be, deadlines can suck the life out of anyone. Shake your head, rotate your shoulders, take a long deep breath and exhale slowly. Remember that words really can’t be forced, but that you are a wordsmith. A person who works with words. You can do this!
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Getting Naked to Build Relationships

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 | 0 comments

Nudist camps aside, there are very few reasons most of us get naked, and building professional relationships is probably not one of them. However, there is a type of nakedness required to connect with your (fill in the blank) ______________: 1) audience, 2) donors, 3) clients, 4) readers, 5) followers, 6) others.

This type of “getting naked” isn’t related to clothing – it’s about who you are, the real person behind the public persona. And how much is too much? Getting naked about your real personality doesn’t include sharing labor and birth stories or your deepest secret. It does include an ounce or more of empathy, and a huge dose of humor.

When building strong relationships, it’s necessary to expose enough of the “you” behind the business suit or blog post to establish a connection. Relationships are between real people, and although a crafty delivery – verbal or written – will capture someone’s attention for a few minutes, without some feeling of personal connection the initial interest won’t last beyond those early moments of interaction.

Sonia’s blog post from says it much better than I can, so strip away your fears, remove all doubt, expose yourself to new experiences, settle back into your chair, and, well, get naked.

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Nonprofit Soul Searching

Posted by on Sep 28, 2011 | 0 comments

It’s not always easy to stay on mission, but it should be. And it’s even harder to take a deep breath and look inside your nonprofit to identify values and principles that define what and why your organization really is.

This GREAT blog entry from the Chronicle of Philanthropy talks about the importance of a nonprofit finding its soul (an appropriate blog entry to follow my “Are You Having An Affair….” post earlier this week, don’t you think?).

But seriously, the blog post author, Mark Haas, outlines values that many nonprofits find difficult to truly “live” in day-to-day business. Take a look and do a self-assessment of your nonprofit.

” Crafting a set of values is a difficult, heart-wrenching exercise. If the organization hasn’t thought deeply about values, it may take months for leaders to work through them. Then they must see if the chosen values make sense to the organization’s supporters, clients, and others who care about it.”

Soul searching can be a tedious process, but it’s worth every ounce of effort! And your supporters will notice the difference.

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Love is in the Air

Posted by on Sep 26, 2011 | 0 comments

Love is in the air, or it should be.

I just spent a week in Nashville, meeting with colleagues, potential donors, community activists and the like. I loved every minute, and fell in love with every person I met.

I am serious.

The enthusiasm and authenticity of every individual I spoke with was palpable in their words, their actions, their dedication.

One night I called my husband following a particularly long day and instead of sounding tired (which is how I felt) he commented that I sounded happy. HAPPY. And I was. I was beyond happy, I was ecstatic to have met so many truly good people. I was in love.

Are you in love with your donors? If you’re not having this kind of experience in your fundraising efforts, maybe you should give a bit more thought to who these people are: who are your donors, who is your audience? Do you know them? Do you like them? Do you love them? If not, how can you be successful in your efforts?

To help you jump into this love affair, don’t miss this blog post  by Stefan Lanfer of the Barr Foundation, written after The Communications Network conference earlier this month. Good luck!

Luv ya!  ~ Jean

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Nirvana. It’s in the Cloud.

Posted by on Sep 24, 2011 | 0 comments

Never in a million years would I have imagined myself eagerly perusing techie websites for “geekie” how-to information. After all, I managed for half a century to travel through life without being called a geek.

But just as there’s a not-white-and-fluffy “Cloud”, I am a not-a-real-techie “Geek”.  And it didn’t come easy. It’s been a long road.

I have carefully planned most of my steps and taken humiliating falls along the way, but I can clearly see (from where I am now) that it’s definitely been worth the effort.

Yes, it’s true: I have embraced my Geekitude.

Honestly, I believe that my transformation from professional woman to borderline geek comes as close to an out-of-body experience as I will ever have. I know it’s me building this website, speaking in 140 characters, and uploading video on my iPhone, but then again, is it REALLY me?

“It is.” (was that my voice speaking from above me?)

So, there you have it. I have found myself in Geeksville. It seems I am looking for new techie information each and every day, so it dawned on me (the me sitting in the chair) that it’s quite possible that others are also seeking nirvana techie info.

And as a result, I encourage you to embrace your geekness. But first, a word of caution: be aware of voices (that sound like you).

And to further enlighten you, I will share a great site where you can have your own out-of-body-type experience; I hope you will find it as helpful as I have, because we all need to know How To Geek.

See you in the cloud. (or maybe I’m already there?)

Oddly, I wrote this post with no awareness that today the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind album. Funny how that cloud thing works!

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Relationships Matter!

Posted by on Sep 21, 2011 | 0 comments

My life is about relationships, both personal and professional. It wasn’t always that way, I used to be more selfishly focused, always wondering what “was in it for me” not what was in it for the other person. I was not as happy then as I am now.

Once I discovered that strong, honest, committed relationships enrich my life and my work, everything got easier. It’s not that life became simple – because committed relationships are hard work, but it’s work I have learned to love. And it pays off, committed donors give more and true friendships really do go both ways.

This morning I was reminded of some relationship tips while reading Katya’s blog again (I told you she was my favorite). Below are 7 ways to have a committed relationships with your donors. Take a look at your development plan, think about your donor relations (ponder your personal relationships while you’re at it) but this is about fundraising, so ask yourself: do your donors know that:

1. Your team is working effectively to reach mission goals?

2. There will be an appropriate and expected behavior from you when they do or ask or need something?

3. They will receive a sincere and timely thank you?

4. Their opinions have value and you will make time to hear them?

5. They are part of your team and working with you as a donor participant?

6. They are valued, their involvement is appreciated and important?

7. They will receive current updates on goals achieved and progress made?

According to Donor Voice, for every 1,000 donors moved from low to high commitment you can expect $200,000 in increased revenue. Donor voice donor commitment study_2011 executive summary.docx

As I’ve long said, it’s truly all about relationships. Make your donor relationships a priority in your fundraising efforts. And while you’re at it, call a friend. 🙂

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The Eyes Have It

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 | 0 comments

Where your web visitor looks on your website will determine how long they stick around. Think about where your eyes go when you click on a website. Do they move left to right and then down the page? Now relate that to your homepage – is your website designed with visual appeal in mind? Read through this article from for interesting data on how our eyes “work a page”.

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Babushka Fundraising

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 | 0 comments

Another excellent  blogpost by Katya! So excellent that I have quoted it in full below.

“Once upon a time, when I was living in Ukraine, I met the staff of a community foundation named Dobrata that was trying to encourage businesspeople to give money to charitable causes. This was not an easy task in a country emerging from decades of Soviet rule and with no history of corporate philanthropy, and Dobrata staff expressed some disappointment over their problems in efforts to motivating motivate entrepreneurs.

They showed me their latest advertisement, which they had aired on local television. It was an animated, black-and-white ad with mournful music playing in the background. A stooped babushka enters a pharmacy. She looks up at the shelves and then down at a few stray coins in her pocket. Tears slowly course down her cheeks. She is unable to buy the medicine she needs. A voice-over and accompanying text urge people to help by calling Dobrata. What happened when the ad ran? Dobrata was flooded with calls from babushkas asking for money to buy medicines. Virtually no one called to donate money. The main problems: lack of a clear audience and an appeal to that audience’s values. Businesspeople didn’t see the ad as meant for them. It was depressing—everyone in Ukraine knows the collapse of the Soviet Union hit pensioners hardest—but not personally motivating. No one believed a call to Dobrata could resolve this enormous social problem.

After some reflection, Dobrata went back to the drawing board. The next time I saw their staff, they handed me a video of their new ad. It was a colorful, animated spot to be shown in movie theaters. This was a far better venue than television for reaching their audience, because only those who are relatively well-off, people like businesspeople, can afford to go to the movies in Ukraine. In the spot, a businessman is shown slumped over his desk, signing paper after paper handed to him by a secretary. He goes on autopilot, numbly working his way through massive stacks. The picture zooms into his brain, which has the cogs and wheels of a robot. Life has become mechanical and without feeling. Then an alarm clock goes off on his desk and suddenly the scene brightens. The secretary places before him a donation request from Dobrata, and he signs, breaks out of his rut, and regains his human self. A friendly voice-over and call to action (wake up and give to Dobrata) end the spot. The ad was funny, motivating, and memorable. It clearly spoke to businesspeople by whimsically highlighting the drudgery that comes with any job, especially in a country with lots of red tape. It positioned charitable giving as a way to fulfill a desire to break out of the grind and feel good. Dobrata hit its mark.

I relate this story because it shows so much: The art of fundraising isn’t to show need—it’s to inspire action.  Tears may attract attention but it’s hope that wins hearts.  Don’t lose sight of the joy of giving.”

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Donors Give Here, and There Too!

Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 | 0 comments

From our friends at NTEN: a recent report from Target Analytics found that the donors most likely to become multichannel givers are those acquired online: It is the ability of online-acquired donors to become multichannel donors — that is, to start giving through direct mail — that significantly boosts the retention and long-term value of this group of donors far beyond what they would be if online giving were the only channel available.

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It’s OK to Ask for Support!

Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 | 0 comments

From Sasha Dichter’s 2008 blogpost In Defense of Raising Money: a Manifesto for NonProfit CEOs, a conversation that should happen between fundraiser and donor, in one way or another: 

“You are incredibly good at making money. I’m incredibly good at making change. The change I want to make in the world, unfortunately, does not itself generate much money. But man oh man does it make change. It’s a hugely important change. And what I know about making this change is as good and as important as what you know about making money.

So let’s divide and conquer – you keep on making money, I’ll keep on making change. And if you can lend some of your smarts to the change I’m trying to make, well that’s even better. But most of the time, we both keep on doing what we’re best at, and if we keep on working together the world will be a better place.”


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