Ep 40: Overcoming Fundraising Mistakes (with Jim Bennett)

nonprofits are messy

Fundraising can be full of landmines.

You call a lapsed donor who tells you this isn’t a good time because, well, her husband recently passed away. Or another who is still holding a grudge because he got a crappy seat at the last gala.

But is there a way to turn these kinds of lemons into lemonade? Why yes, I do believe there is.

Time for some role playing with a Development Director with decades of experience asking for money. Oh, and he’s also an instructor at Second City, one of the most important improv comedy groups in the country, having graduated the likes of Tina Fey, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and so many of our greatest comedians.

Let’s have some fun, shall we?

About Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett is the Chief Development Officer for Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBT community and those living with HIV. Jim has more than 25 years of experience in advocacy, strategic planning, and development.

Prior to Lambda, Jim was the marketing and development director for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and has led development marketing and programmatic departments at the American Red Cross.

He also serves on the board of RefugeeOne and is a member of the Broadway United Methodist Church.

He has an MBA from the University of Illinois and an undergraduate degree in marketing from ISU.

Oh, and about the improv and sketch comedy… in 2013, Jim was Moth Storytelling Grand Slam Champion for his story about his experience in Iowa after Lambda Legal’s marriage equality victory. It was called, “Church of Hamballs”.

In this episode:

  • How learning improv can make you a better fundraiser
  • Typical fundraising mistakes
  • Jim’s first time asking for money
  • Getting over asking for a large donation
  • Why you need to care about specifically about who you’re raising money for
  • How to overcome the fear of asking for money
  • Fundraising role playing
  • How to know if you’re asking for the right amount
  • What to do if you asked for too much
  • How to handle a donor that feels slighted
  • How being a board member can make you a better fundraiser

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Ep 39: From Kitchen Volunteer to Board Chair (with Sylvia Vogelman)

nonprofits are messyOne of my absolute favorite nonprofit stories centers on today’s guest. It has to do with the reason she was able to go in short order from being a volunteer in a kitchen to becoming the chair of the board of a significant nonprofit organization.

I’m not going to spoil it here. You’ll have to listen to the episode.

But more broadly, we talk about the power of volunteering. Multiple studies show the positive benefits of volunteering.

But the positive benefits aren’t just for the people receiving services. They’re for the VOLUNTEER too.

The benefits are even more pronounced in volunteers over 50. But what about the impact on the nonprofit? Let’s talk about the “Ladder of Engagement” and what you can do to move volunteers up that ladder. Maybe even all the way to board chair.

About Sylvia Vogelman

After Sylvia Vogelman retired from a successful career in publishing and direct marketing, she became a volunteer at God’s Love We Deliver, chopping vegetables and preparing meals for homebound residents of New York. Eventually, she became a fundraiser and, ultimately, the board chair at GLWD.

Her story is inspiring and teaches all of us a whole lot about cultivating the assets your volunteers bring to the table (no pun intended).

In this episode:

  • How to grow your volunteers as your organization pivots or matures
  • How volunteers can save you literally millions of dollars
  • One very simple thing you can do to make your volunteers feel appreciated. It’s so simple, and costs nothing.
  • What you can do as a volunteer to grow into a new role at your organization
  • The importance of allowing giving at ALL levels a.k.a. “The Tile Story” (my favorite nonprofit story ever.)
  • How to identify volunteers who might be prime to move up the ladder
  • The care and feeding of volunteers (yeah, another food pun)

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Ep 38: What the Heck is Marketing Anyway? (with Sarah Durham)

nonprofits are messy

For lots of folks, the term “marketing” conjures up images of shady salesmen trying to convince their targets to buy things they don’t need.

For others, marketing is “something we’ll do once we have enough money.”

On today’s podcast, my guest Sarah Durham explains why this is entirely the wrong way to look at it. Sarah prefers the word “communications” over “marketing” (and she tells us why.) She explains how nonprofit communications isn’t about a cute logo or getting your name in the press.

Communications, done right, is an indispensable tool for any nonprofit. It’s central to all aspects of an organization, from raising money to attracting the best people to enabling programs.

Narrative. Money. People. Programs… well that’s 4 of my 5 pillars of a thriving nonprofit right there! (The other is strategy.)

Sarah is a terrific communicator and that comes through loud and clear during my interview. She helps nonprofits be more effective through branding, positioning, and by treating communications as a “utility” – just like your electricity.

She has a ton of experience to share that will really help you and your organization.

About Sarah Durham

Sarah Durham is the founder and CEO of Big Duck, a communications firm that helps nonprofits increase their visibility, raise money, and achieve their missions.

She is also the author of Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money through Smart Communications. She has been cited by NPR, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Guidestar, and many more.

Sarah is a sought-after speaker on a broad range of nonprofit communications topics and, in 2010, was named one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company. Sarah is an adjunct professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School at NYU and is the Vice Chair of the National Brain Tumor Society’s board of directors. She is extremely experienced in all aspects of nonprofit work and an expert in communications.

In this episode:

  • The 3 essential ingredients to maximize communications as a strategic tool
  • How communications can “light up” your organization
  • Why (and how) you should connect your internal and external communications
  • What do terms like brand, voice, authenticity, positioning, marketing, or communications really mean?
  • The 3 reasons nonprofits need effective communications
  • What communications looks like when it’s working; and when it’s not
  • How to use personas to define your organization and your audience
  • The big communications mistake most nonprofits make
  • The 5 communications success factors

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Ep 37: The Partnership That Drives a Thriving Nonprofit (with Kim Freedman and Nick Purrington)

nonprofits are messy

What is the single best indicator of a thriving nonprofit?

Ask five people and you’ll get five different answers. But I believe the answer is a strong partnership between the board leader and staff leader of the organization.

I think of it as a twin-engine jet with the Executive Director (or equivalent) and the Board Chair as co-pilots. When this partnership is working well, everyone gets to the destination on time and with minimal turbulence.

So I thought about how interesting it would be to have BOTH co-pilots on the podcast at the same. So today I spoke with the both the Head of School and her Board Chair to get their thoughts on how this partnership can help an organization fly smoothly.

About Kim Freedman

Kim is the Head of School at New Garden Friends School, a K-12 Quaker school in Greensboro, North Carolina. She came from the for-profit sector and moved into the nonprofit world in a variety of ways. She started an ADHD camp in Greensboro, worked in higher education in communications and social media and before taking over as Head of School at New Garden Friends, was the school’s Director of Admissions.

About Nick Purrington

Nick, the Board Chair at New Garden Friends School, is an attorney who founded Purrington Moody Weil LLC with offices in Greensboro and New York specializing in representing private investment fund managers. He is also a strategic advisor to The Center for Board Excellence.

In this episode:

  • How to make the time to be a great board chair, even when you’re insanely busy
  • Ways to leverage corporate experience in working with your board
  • The 3 most important words that define the partnership between the staff and board leaders
  • Fostering great communication: How often should you meet? Who sets the agenda? How do you decide the appropriate altitude of the conversation?
  • How to be the bearer (and the receiver) of bad news
  • Our guests’ best advice to others in their respective roles

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Ep 36: The Community Builder Who Became a Philanthropist (with Stu McLaren)

nonprofits are messy

How does a highly successful entrepreneur – one of the foremost experts in building online communities – end up devoting his time and energy to making sure thousands of children in Africa have a chance for a daily education?

What motivates this entrepreneur, who no longer feels guilty about making lots of money due to the nonprofit he co-founded?

What can he teach us about funding a tiny nonprofit (only 2 full time staff) so it can make an enormous impact?

And how has he used his deep knowledge of how to build a raving fan base online to benefit his charity?

We cover all of this and more in today’s episode of Nonprofits Are Messy.

About Stu McLaren

Stu McLaren is the co-founder of World Teacher Aid, a Canadian charity with the mission to improve education in the developing world. This philanthropy has become his passion and his “big why.”

As the former founder of the world’s #1 membership platform for WordPress, WishList Member, he had the chance to serve and support over 60,000+ online communities and membership sites. Through that experience, he gained a unique insight into the subtle membership nuances that produce massive results.

Today Stu uses that knowledge to help his clients launch and grow high-revenue membership sites. He also coaches and consults New York Times best-selling authors, top rated speakers, experts and niche celebrities on how to launch, grow and scale high-profit recurring revenue streams.

His goal is to give to his charity the bulk of the revenues that come into his business.

In this episode:

  • How a successful entrepreneur turned his eye to philanthropy
  • Why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you do make a lot of money
  • Why Stu chose to focus on Africa
  • Why working insane hours is exactly the wrong approach
  • How “touching the work” makes all the difference
  • The impact of Oprah’s “The Big Give”
  • How World Teacher Aid started (it’s kind of crazy…)
  • Getting the right people on the bus
  • How Stu approached fundraising
  • How to make donors feel like “members”
  • How to attract the people who want to get involved
  • The keys to building online communities

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Ep 35: Stop Asking Your Board to Fundraise! (With Gail Perry)

nonprofits are messy

So says my guest on today’s podcast, Gail Perry.

I think a lot of board members are going to be really happy to hear that!

Now, Gail’s not saying that the board should play no role in fundraising, but her point-of-view is certainly provocative and counterintuitive.

I’ll admit I was rather skeptical. But I will say that a) Gail is pretty convincing and b) she has an amazing track record of helping numerous nonprofits raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

So I was pretty excited to discuss board fundraising with her.

You won’t want to miss this.

About Gail Perry

Gail Perry, a long time fundraising expert and consultant, was recently named to Philanthropy Media’s list of America’s top fundraisers. She especially enjoys working with board members to help them become better fundraisers.

Her book, Fired Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion Into Action, is the gold standard for developing successful fundraising boards.

Gail has also served on more than 22 (!!!) boards herself. If we were going to ask anyone the right way to help our boards become more involved in fundraising, Gail is our gal. Have a listen.

In this episode:

  • Why pushing your board to fundraise is the wrong approach
  • Where it does make sense for your board to engage in fundraising
  • Why successful fundraising is less about “the ask” and more about retention
  • How to improve donor retention
  • The worst possible way to raise money
  • How to make “thank-you” calls that increase your donations by 39%!!
  • The 4 steps to a major gift ask
  • The appropriate role for a development committee

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Ep 34: Leading a Small (But Mighty) Nonprofit (With Joan Garry)

nonprofits are messyThis episode is a little different than those that have come before.

We’ll get back to the regular “interview” format next time. But today I wanted to directly answer a few of the many, many questions I get on a daily basis from leaders at smaller nonprofits who simply don’t have the same kind of resources available to them as their counterparts at larger nonprofits.

While my consulting practice tends to focus on medium and large nonprofits, I am determined to find ways to help reduce the challenges that the leaders of “small but mighty” nonprofits face. I have some big ideas on this topic that I’ll announce soon, but in the meantime, this podcast episode is a small step towards just that.

Another upcoming opportunity that’s tailor made for smaller nonprofits (though larger nonprofits will benefit too) is a free online workshop I’m running starting on May 10. It’s called “How to Build a Thriving Nonprofit” and is designed for both staff and board leaders.

I hope you’ll join me in the workshop and you can register at www.thrivingnonprofit.org.

In this episode:

  • Who should handle which tasks at a small nonprofit?
  • Should a small nonprofit be run more like a business?
  • What can the board do when a founding ED leaves things a mess and trains the new ED to run things the same way… poorly?
  • How do you fix a “rubber stamp” board?
  • Should an ED ever be in charge of running board meetings?
  • What should a new, first-time ED ask the outgoing ED?
  • Everyone is working insane hours and money is tight. How do you decide when it’s time to hire a new person to help lighten the load?
  • What resources are available to help leaders of small nonprofits, both on the staff and board sides?

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Ep 33: Successful Nonprofit Collaborations (With Geri Mannion)

nonprofits are messy

During my time at GLAAD, a funder convened a bunch of LGBT movement leaders. The funder wanted each nonprofit to share its 3-year strategic direction with the rest of the group. Many were unwilling to share.

Why? Was it that these leaders were fearful that somebody would “steal” good ideas? That a better funded organization would stomp on their missions? Yes, plus other reasons as well. How disappointing.

Nonprofit collaborations – the good and the bad – was a big topic at a recent conference I keynoted. I ran a breakout session and everyone laughed when the words “collaboration” and “hostility” appeared next to each other.

But I believe it takes a village to run a nonprofit. Today’s guest has spent her career giving away money. As a funder, she knows about the value of teamwork and will tell us a thing or two about the success that comes with nonprofit collaborations – and the potential hazards.

About Geri Mannion

As director of Carnegie Corporation’s U.S. Democracy Program, Geri Mannion brings a wealth of experience about the role of philanthropy in challenging, improving and deepening the civic dialogue. She has directed the division since 1998, after staffing the Corporation’s program of Special Projects for almost ten years.

Active in professional organizations that work to advance and strengthen the philanthropic and nonprofit world, Geri co-chairs the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, a national affinity group of funders active in supporting programs that impact immigrants.

In 2009, Geri, together with her colleague Taryn Higashi, received the Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking, one of philanthropy’s highest honors, for founding the Four Freedoms Fund, a funder collaborative. In 2010, she was named as one of the nonprofit sector’s top fifty leaders by the Non-Profit Times.

Geri claims never to have had a bad day on the job… I needed to hear about that!

In this episode:

  • What gets in the way of nonprofit collaborations
  • How to figure out where your organization can be complementary with others and how to avoid overlap
  • What happens when the funders themselves collaborate
  • What is at the root of all successful alliances
  • How to build nonprofit collaborations between organizations at the state and national levels
  • How to tap into the huge energy that has come out of the last election cycle – getting people out of the stands and onto the field
  • Why it makes sense to view social media as program work rather than simply as communications or marketing

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Ep 32: Even Roger Federer Has a Coach (With Michael Bungay Stanier)

nonprofits are messy

The word “coach” can mean a lot of things, but for business and nonprofit leaders, an executive coach can make all the difference.

But coaching – rather than simply supervising – is also the best approach for leaders to work with their employees.

The importance of coaching – whether in the culture of your organization’s approach to leadership or explicitly with an executive coach – is the topic of today’s episode.

Maybe you think of coaching as an unaffordable luxury. After you listen to this episode, you just might change your mind.

About Michael Bungay Stanier

My guest today is Michael Bungay Stanier, senior partner at Box of Crayons, an organization that helps organizations do less good work and more GREAT work. Box of Crayons is known for its coaching programs that help managers coach successfully in just 10 minutes.

Michael was a Rhodes Scholar, has lived all over the world, and has written two books: The Coaching Habit and Do More Great Work. He is a sought-after speaker who regularly speaks to businesses and organizations and has delivered keynotes at conferences around the world. He was recognized in 2016 as the #2 coaching guru in the world.

Sufficed to say, Michael KNOWS coaching. And, today, he will share that knowledge with us.

In this episode:

  • The value (and risk) of hiring a coach from outside your organization
  • Finding the right “fit” in a coach
  • Why coaching should not be seen as a sign of weakness (and how to address it with those who see it that way)
  • Why adaptive change is more important than technical change (and what that means)
  • Three ways coaching can happen in your organization, even without an outside coach
  • How to build a “coaching habit” in 10 minutes or less

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Ep 31: Givers and Takers at Nonprofits (With Adam Grant)

nonprofits are messy

Once in awhile you read a book that really sticks with you and changes the way you think. For me, one of those was Give and Take by Adam Grant. It made me think about the kind of person I want to be in the world.

What is a giver? A taker? And how do those roles play out in a nonprofit organization…or in your life?

I had the great privilege to have New York Times bestselling author Adam Grant on the podcast to discuss these topics and more. I feel so lucky that I can share some of his insights with you through this episode.

About Adam Grant

Recognized as one of the world’s 25 most influential management thinkers and a member of Fortune’s “40 Under 40,” Adam Grant is the author of two New York Times bestselling books. Originals explores how individuals champion new ideas and leaders fight groupthink. Give and Take examines why helping others drives our success, and was named one of the best books of 2013. His third book, Option B, with Sheryl Sandberg, is on the topic of resilience and is due out in April.

Adam is the Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management at Wharton School of Business and a professor of psychology. He has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for five straight years. Adam is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning and how to live more generous and creative lives.

In this episode:

  • What does a successful “giver” look like, especially at a nonprofit?
  • How can givers avoid burnout?
  • How can givers avoid becoming a doormat?
  • How to weed out the “takers”
  • Why “matchers” are supremely critical in an organization
  • Why writing a book is rarely about the money
  • Adam’s book recommendations for the social sector
  • The importance of asking for help and the Reciprocity Ring

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