Philanthropy

The Attitude of Gratitude

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 | 0 comments

Attitude-of-Gratitude_1024x1024Life doesn’t always make us want to say “thank you.” We have ups and downs, successes and failures. And sometimes things happen that simply don’t make any sense at all. I’ve just experienced something like this. And after a week or so of shaking my head and wondering, as the transition plan from one assignment to another is in the works, as I’ve spent way too many hours contemplating how this change will effect me and others, I’ve finally taken a deep breath, regrouped, asked myself some serious questions, and now I have only one main thought:

THANK YOU!

  • Thank you for forcing me to shift gears.
  • Thank you for being the catalyst that made me reevaluate my priorities.
  • Thank you for returning me to my family.
  • Thank you for reminding me that every ending is a new beginning.
  • Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with amazing people on amazing programs.
  • Thank you for widening my eyes while broadening my experience.
  • Thank you for sharing your passion with me.
  • Thank you for all I’ve learned.
  • Thank you for this new start.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sometimes our initial reaction to change is knee-jerk, simply because it’s new, it’s foreign, it’s life-changing. Or sometimes, our initial reaction is because we aren’t prepared, we haven’t been paying attention.

Ask yourself, am I paying attention? If your career seems to be sliding into autopilot, if you’ve become satisfied with the status quo, I would suggest an attitude of gratitude is needed. Sit up straighter, write bolder, think broader, and be more grateful!

The right attitude can change your life in ways you never could have expected.

Ask yourself, what is my attitude saying to others and doing to me?

Today, my attitude is one of gratitude. I hope yours is too.

Now, ask yourself, what am I grateful for today?

Start writing!

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7 Lessons Learned (Because I Failed)

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 | 0 comments

Recently I’ve been on a speaking binge. I’m not sure why the flurry of activity, but within the past few months I’ve received invitations to speak at several national, state and local conferences and to a variety of nonprofit organizations.  I’ve enjoyed each opportunity to share my thoughts and meet new friends. I’ve been especially grateful for the excellent references and reviews I’ve consistently received from the groups I’ve been speaking to. It’s been a confidence-inspiring whirlwind of activity.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I failed.  It was a comedy of errors from beginning to end, but it wasn’t really funny.

My presentation fell flat. It was disjointed and probably confusing to the audience. It’s a wonder they didn’t ask me what I was talking about.  Following the presentation, I couldn’t remember anything I said.

This experience has taught me seven important lessons to remember if you find yourself speaking to a group:

  1. Arrive 30 minutes early.
  2. Preparation cannot be underestimated.
  3. Know your venue.
  4. Never assume.
  5. Anticipate what might go wrong.
  6. Punting is OK.
  7. Say “No” When Your Gut Tells You To
  8. Sleep the night before, no matter what.
I learned these seven important lessons the hard way. I failed on every one of them. Considering my speaking experience, there was and is no excuse for the comedy of errors, and more importantly, that I didn’t rebound well once they happened.
I learned these seven important lessons because I made these seven critical mistakes (and I knew better!):
  1. I arrived early, but not as early as I should have. A few extra minutes would have given me time to gather my thoughts, reorganize my notes and give a logical presentation.
  2. My preparation time was cut short. I managed a lot of non-essential tasks during the week prior to yesterday’s event: I should have spent that “free time” fine tuning my presentation and visiting the venue.
  3. I had not visited the venue prior to speaking: knowing the room set up helps prepare you to stand in front of your audience.
  4. I assumed there would be a podium – there was not. This was a first, but it’s now a question I will always ask: “Is there a podium?”
  5. And although I had asked for a projector and screen, I had not anticipated a lack of connection chords, the inability to connect to my MacBookPro, and I most certainly did not anticipate the sudden SNAP of the screen as it tore from the frame and flopped to the floor just before my presentation. I mean, who would EVER anticipate that? (The organizers actually tried to flop the screen over the top of the screen’s frame and for a few minutes my PowerPoint was beamed onto the flopping, buckled screen until my OCD took over and I asked them to turn it off).
  6. My presentation was tightly linked to the PowerPoint slides, and I attempted to give the same presentation without the slides…not smart. What I should have done was reorganized in my mind and hit the high points unscripted and without the crutch of slides. I probably could have done that if I had been better prepared.
  7. This was a very short notice request by someone I know and respect. I said “yes” when my gut was telling me to say “no”. I knew my time was tight and preparation would be tough.
  8. I only had 3 hours sleep the night before the presentation. I was exhausted, which undoubtedly added to my inability to rebound as I normally can.
Failure isn’t fun under any circumstances, but if we can learn from our mistakes, failure can become a springboard to greater success in the future. Remember the saying: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I resembled that remark yesterday.
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Philanthropy rocks.

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 | 0 comments

I’ve been a nonprofit person for decades. I’ve led organizations. I’ve raised money. I’ve lifted heavy boxes. I’ve swept floors after events. I’ve collected dues. I’ve managed silent auctions. I’ve built fundraising plans. I’ve drafted marketing content. I’ve packed boxes. I’ve done research. I’ve written grants. I’ve crafted mission statements. I’ve redirected entire vision statements so they align with the mission. I’ve told stories. I’ve shared experiences. I’ve spoken to large audiences. I’ve visited members. I’ve met with donors. I’ve recruited staff. I’ve made a lot of people very happy and I’ve pissed off a few. I’ve gotten down and dirty. I’ve been dressed to the nines. I’ve raised a lot of money. I’ve never been embarrassed to ask.  I’ve been honest, I’ve been creative, I’ve been direct. I’ve over-promised, and I’ve also over-delivered. I’ve failed a few times. I’ve disappointed on occasion. I’ve surpassed expectations more. I’ve learned, and I’m still learning. I’ve become a pseudo-techy. I’ve succeeded. I’ve survived.  I’ve been lied to and I’ve been a confidante. I’ve critiqued, edited, created, built up and torn down, pushed, pleaded, and even sometimes been silent. I’ve raced right into the radar and I’ve stayed under it. I’ve led and followed and done both at the same time. I’ve excelled. I’ve surpassed. I’ve underwhelmed. I’ve wiped sweat from my brow. I’ve torn my jeans. I’ve ruined clothing. I’ve involved my kids. I’ve shared with friends. I’ve moved all over the US. I’ve travelled internationally. I’ve worked. I’ve played. I’ve made lifelong friends. I’ve built relationships.

But no matter where I was, what organization I was working for, what my title morphed into, what my responsibilities were, who liked me, who didn’t like me, what I was doing, or what I wasn’t  – I was always working for a good cause, something I believed in.

I am a nonprofit professional. I work with people who share a passion to make a difference. And for that I will always be grateful.

I love what I do. Philanthropy rocks.

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Your Board and Fundraising

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 | 1 comment

Next week I will be facilitating a 3-hour Board Training workshop in Washington DC. Our focus is on the board’s role in fundraising and how each unique member can be effective in helping with a nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts.

As I’ve prepared for the training, it’s become very apparent to me that many board members don’t see themselves as fundraisers. Even more concerning, they don’t want to be involved in fundraising.

There are differing views on a board member’s role in fundraising for a nonprofit organization, to be sure. But to me, it seems like a no-brainer. Of COURSE they should be involved.

Your nonprofit board is not staff. They are not paid representatives of your organization (typically), but they are a critical part of your organization’s team. They have signed on as ambassadors by agreeing to serve on your board. They have often signed agreements to donate hours, money, resources. If nothing else, they have allowed you to attach their name to your organization. They are important. They are influential. They are key players…and not just in policymaking decision, but in fundraising.

Not every board member is able to donate funds to an organization, although all should be asked. But every board member can help with fundraising in many ways, including the following:

  1. Recommend your organization to their friends and colleagues
  2. Identify their personal and professional circle of influence and recommend potential donors based on their knowledge of the person or organization
  3. Sit on your organization’s development committee
  4. Attend your organization’s events and participate in the storytelling
  5. Attend civic and community events and share your organization’s story
  6. Join the CEO in potential donor visits
  7. And the list goes on….
Signing on as a board member for a nonprofit organization is more than just adding a name to the letterhead, it’s a commitment based on passion for your mission and confidence in your efforts and leadership. It’s not a surprise that many board members don’t think of themselves as fundraisers, not many do. It’s not a role many seek after. But with training and a little information, there is rarely a better fundraiser than a motivated board member. It’s worth the effort.
We can’t expect board members to know how to fundraise, or to even understand their role in fundraising, without providing them some basic training and information. It should be part of every organization’s annual planning retreat.
If you are a board member, you are a fundraiser. You may never have to ASK, but you will always be carrying the message.
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Helping Recovery Inc.

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 | 0 comments

In the past year, I’ve been working to create a new nonprofit organization. I’ve done this quietly but steadily. My goal was to launch in 2013, and guess what, we made it!

Helping Recovery Inc. was formally launched today and I am pleased to introduce it to you here, on my original website. Thank gosh I have the experience I do!

Helping Recovery Inc., the brainchild of a network of professionals connected personally and professionally to addiction and recovery. We are bound by a shared passion and understanding of the life-changing affects of addiction, to the addict and to anyone surrounding that person.

Addiction is everywhere we look; it is not what happens to everyone else. Addiction affects nearly everyone. At home, in the workplace, at church or school, etc. None are exempt.

Our mission at Helping Recovery is to save lives and to help break the grip of addiction by providing financial support for treatment to those in need.

I’ll peek in here from time to time, but for the next few months I’ll be focusing most of my time on Helping Recovery. Check us out on Facebook and Twitter and join us in this fight to save lives.

Save a life. Change yours.

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