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I like bacon with my bacon, please.

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 | 0 comments

What was it Benjamin Franklin said? Oh yeah, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.”

I would like to echo that sentiment. Life keeps marching on, but to its own drummer. I may have a certain cadence in my mind, but somehow “life” always overpowers with a heavy drum beat that isn’t at all what I had in mind.

Peaceful tranquility? What’s that? Blissful retirement? Not on your life. Gentle breezes flowing through flowing golden locks…are you kidding me? First of all, I’m a redhead, so from the get go, my vision of how life should be was never going to happen.

Life, and my vision of life, keeps changing. And I’ve been known to remind people that change is good. But the reality is, change is…well, change is change. There’s just no getting around it.

And in fundraising, change is constant when it comes to methods, practices, and creativity, but when it comes to mission, it will remain the same. Fundraisers are taxed with the job of bringing in the bacon – so to speak – and that isn’t going to change.

Recently I had the opportunity to take some time to reflect on my mission, not only the mission of my consulting company, but my own personal mission. I realized that my goal was to change lives, and that I am at my very best when working with people directly.  As I pondered these thoughts, I realized that my current role with several of my amazing clients and past employers didn’t provide opportunities for me to accomplish either my personal or my corporate goals, and a new ah ha! moment was birthed: I haven’t been doing what I’m really good at.

With several past employers and clients, I was hired to meet with donors, but it never happened. I was hired to help with re-organization, but it never happened. I was hired because of my public speaking skills, but it never happened.

We get so caught up in the day-to-day policies, processes, and procedures, that we sometimes lose sight of our original goals and plans. In my case,  I was hired because I am the very best when working with people; not behind a computer, not word-smithing, not managing a database, not strategizing fundraising goals – although all of these things are critical to a successful fundraisers efforts and I can manage each one effectively.  So, yes, I am adept at all of these things, but I am best, I help an organization the most, I have the most success, I am the most effective, when I am working directly with people – one on one, or in large groups, or small groups. Me and them. Eye to eye. Knee to knee if need be.

This recent ah-ha! moment has caused me to reevaluate and instigate personal and professional change in my life.  My focus will continue to be with nonprofit organizations. And my expertise has not changed, but my focus has narrowed. I know what I’m good at, and I plan to work with folks to want to take advantage of that. because that is how I will be able to help them the most.

Thankfully, the nonprofit fundraising gods were listening during my ah ha! moment, and they are helping out. Since that memorable ah ha! day:

  • I have been invited to speak on moves management at a 2013 national conference in Florida. This is one of my strengths, I am one of those strange humans that loves public speaking. And moves management is a fundraising passion of mine.
  • I have recently had two personal visits with two potential donors to two different organizations, and successfully brought home the bacon (so to speak). Lots of bacon.  More bacon than I expected. Bacon, as in, I like bacon with my bacon (most fundraisers do).
  • I have the ability to read an organization’s culture after spending only a few days in their midst, and I can fairly quickly identify its strengths and weaknesses. This allows me to provide support to the organization by suggesting problem-solving practices that will help the organization become more effective, more synergistic, and more successful. I’m working with an organization in California right now on this very thing.
Obviously, I’m thrilled about all of this change in my life. It’s exhilarating to feel like you’re making a difference. The exact opposite of feeling that you’re not contributing. I thrive on success, and action, and positive movement, don’t most of us?

Change is hard…even this recent personal change didn’t come without some pain. But my mission hasn’t changed, I am simply using my talents and experience where they will be most effective in completing my mission, which is to support nonprofit organizations effectively. And I’m doing what I’m good at, using my talents to further a worthy cause by helping  to raise the needing funding for life-changing programs.

Maybe it’s true that death and taxes are the only things we can always count on, and maybe it’s true that life’s drumroll sometimes drowns out our chosen beat, but I still believe we can create our own destiny. It’s all about setting priorities, setting boundaries, and setting goals.

If you’re struggling, I suggest a time-out for your own ah-ha! moment. There’s room for a variety of talents in the nonprofit fundraising world. Are yours being used effectively?

Maybe the nonprofit gods will smile down on you too!

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Yup, that’s me!

Posted by on Jul 28, 2012 | 0 comments

Katya made a point in a recent blog post about “the one thing every home page needs”.

I have repeated over and over again the very same advice, in fact, I have implemented it with several organizations I work with. And yet, my home page is missing the one thing every home page needs.

Katya reminded me of the importance of the human connection when someone lands on your home page. I’ve always phrased it as having “eyes” on your home page, someone looking straight back at the viewer. Because when people surf the internet and land on your page, you have 3 seconds to catch their attention. As I’ve said before, the eyes have it.

A viewer’s gaze will automatically connect with the eyes on the face you have chosen to share. Visit your home page, take a look…is there anyone there? If so, do they make you feel welcome? Engaged? Hypnotized? (just kidding)

When you gaze into those eyes,  do they say “Come in and set a spell” or “I need your help”? If not, they should.

And yet, as of this moment as I am typing,  there are no “eyes” on my home page. No one to welcome you to the site and invite you stay awhile.

Therefore, today begins a new strategy. My image will now be used on the blog posts until I can redesign my home page (time is the challenge here, so bear with me please; it will get done!).

So take a look, let me know what you think. And yup, that’s me.

Come on in and set a spell!

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Excellence Exemplified: CHOICE Humanitarian

Posted by on Apr 21, 2012 | 0 comments

I’ve been to Guatemala and Mexico numerous times. I have dear friends in Nepal, Kenya and Bolivia, as well as Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and around the world. I consider myself very fortunate.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Central and South America in both comfort and simplicity. I’ve slept in humble homes and stayed in luxurious hotels. I’ve shared meals of beans and little else, and I’ve dined in the fanciest restaurants.

My memories, the things I remember best, are from my experiences in those humble homes. The names of the hotels and their extravagant meals are forgotten.

The feel of a clay bowl in my hands will never be forgotten.

The memories of the villagers’ simple joys have never left me. Nor has the memory of how their life was so difficult, and could so easily be made better – with a little help from outside of their impoverished world.

And there’s an amazing organization that is making life better for those who live in poverty: CHOICE Humanitarian.

CHOICE Humanitarian is about people. With support from our donors and partners, we connect motivated villages to resources and tools that allow villagers to change their lives. By building skills, capacities and leadership of the villagers, entire communities can break the cycle of poverty. Communities continue to move forward by defining objectives and leveraging connections.”

CHOICE Humanitarian is making a difference in Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal, Kenya and Bolivia, places where I have traveled and have friends. Of all my travels, my memories of Guatemala are the clearest, as if they happened yesterday.

  • I remember being graciously offered  the only “chair” in a villager’s adobe home, and the shock when my then skinny bottom landed on hard planks of wood layed side by side (covered by a thin woven fabric giving the appearance of a cushion).
  • I remember humbly and hesitantly accepting the gift of a framed picture that had been hand-embroidered on muslin, the only picture that had been hanging in the adobe home.
  • I remember the small hole to release smoke in the thatched roof, and I remember the large hole in the “backyard” where they had dug out the mud adobe to build their home.
  • I remember the gracious generosity of those who had nothing to give but who were willing and wanting to give anything they could to make their guests comfortable.

And I remember my first CHOICE event several years ago where videos and stories were shared about how lives were changed. Fresh water was pumped, a new school had been built, women were starting small businesses with microloans…it was early in this organization’s life, but I remember thinking that they really had it together. My hunch was correct.

CHOICE has a blog. Read it and be inspired, then get involved, and change a life.

The opportunity taken, to change lives, is truly excellence exemplified.

And that’s what CHOICE is about: people and changing lives for the better. Is there any better mission?

Make YOUR CHOICE today – change a life. And experience excellence.

And if you get the chance, savor some beans from a clay bowl while seated on a plank in a humble adobe hut. There’s nothing like it.

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Dear Valentine, Your Reputation Stinks

Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 | 0 comments

heart

This blog post is taken verbatim from Claire Kittle’s Talent Market February Talent Update. If you don’t know Claire, you should; she’s an effective matchmaker when it comes to nonprofits and employees.

Talent Tip #30: Dear Valentine, Your Reputation Stinks

So here you are on Valentine’s Day, sitting alone in tears watching The Notebook. Why? Because you are a nonprofit manager who has had difficulty filling key positions in your organization.

Nonprofits regularly ask me why they are having problems hiring for a role. Often, it’s because the opening is a challenging one to fill (i.e. fundraising!); but sometimes it’s due to reputational issues.

In this market, candidates are skittish about joining an organization with anything less than a solid character. Candidates in the hunt for a job take into account several reputational factors when considering whether they want to work for an organization.

Here are several dynamics candidates talk to me about regularly:

  • Financial Stability – Is the organization financially stable? Has it had layoffs in the recent past?  What does the 990 look like? If it’s a small, Mom and Pop shop, can it weather these difficult economic times?
  • Turnover – What is the turnover rate? Is it abnormally high? Why are people leaving? Do they sense they are on the Titanic?
  • CultureWhat type of culture does the organization have? Is it a healthy, positive culture that helps employees learn and grow? Is it a vibrant, entrepreneurial place to work? Or is it “churn and burn”? Are there people in high places who are notoriously difficult to work for? What is the word on the street about the organization’s inner-workings?
  • Impact – Is the organization really making a difference? Is there movement-wide excitement about what the organization is accomplishing? Or is the work stale, staid, and inconsequential?heart free market

heart hire me not 2If you’re the president, executive director, or hiring manager for an organization that may have reputational problems, take heed, but don’t give up hope.  Remember that repairing or changing a reputation takes time, but it can be done.

In fact, if you take action now, next year you won’t be sitting alone watching a sappy Rachel McAdams movie. Instead, you’ll have a repaired reputation and a happy staff with whom to hang out.

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10 Strategies to Beat the Monday Blues

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 | 0 comments

I’ve got ’em, do you?

Leave it to a child to remind us that attitude is a choice.

But seriously, how do we pull ourselves out of the Monday blues and end the day with a sense of accomplishment?  As the sign says, “Paint yourself a different color.”

To do this, you need to clear the canvas. Review your thoughts, examine them carefully and identify the negative influences. Remove or change the negative thoughts. Instead of thinking, “I hate waiting in this line, the guy in front of me is so slow,” change your thought to “At least I’m ahead of the 5 people behind me.” Instead of looking at the pile on your desk and thinking, “I will never get this done,” change your thought to “I can break this into specific topics and tackle them one at a time. I can do this!”

Be more confident in yourself. Be brighter, happier, more positive. Think of the glass half full, instead of half empty.

I know it sounds like a cliche, and of course, it is a cliche, but it works. Your mind controls how you feel. If you’re feeling blue, it’s because YOU chose to feel that way. You chose blue.

In our interactions with colleagues, donors, family, friends and the public, it’s imperative that our attitude is painted positive. Your attitude can directly affect their attitude. It’s a domino effect that should not be underestimated.

“One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you.” This quote, from the  2009 Success magazine article by Kieth Harrell Why Your Attitude Is Everythingsums it up perfectly and the article’s 10 strategies to improving your attitude are great examples of how we can CHOOSE our attitude.

As I said in a recent blog post, choice is everything. But as we’ve been reminded today, so is attitude.

I know it’s late on a Monday, but it’s never too late to improve your attitude. So grab a paint brush, turn that frown upside down, and make it a good day. It’s really up to you.

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