Bringing back the Fab

It’s been a little quiet here on the Fablanthropy site. Certainly not for lack of activity, as I’ve been on the road quite a bit in the past year. The last year also had me firmly in capital campaign mode, and I was lucky to see the project I was working on make it to groundbreaking day.

And then I moved about 400 miles east and returned to higher education fundraising. It’s a big change, but a good one…one which will give me more time to focus on giving back to the profession which has given me so much. And I’m asking for your help to get the Fablanthropy flowing:

1. A bevy of blogging. Expect to see more here on the site. In addition to resharing great content, I’m also looking for suggestions, particularly in the themes below (but not limited to this schedule):

  • Mission Mondays: for those moments where the mission and philanthropy make a perfect match.
  • Technical Tuesdays: back to the basics … how has a technique made fundraising life good for you lately?
  • Women Wednesdays: female fablanthropy featured here 🙂
  • Thankful Thursdays: stewardship … how are you thanking your donors?
  • Fabulous Fridays: the sky’s the limit! Your brag moment of the week, a personal success or anything covered above is fair game.

2. Bring Fablanthropy to your organization. I’m not traveling for the rest of 2017 (I’m doing plenty of travel for the new job!), but I am booking ahead into 2018. I’m also available to work with organizations virtually, or within a few hours’ drive of New Orleans. Ways we can bring the Fablanthropy to you:

  • Presentations for professional association meetings/conferences
  • Webinars
  • Volunteer trainings
  • Writing/editing content (print/email/social)
  • General consultation

I look forward to hearing from you! Email me at with feedback or referrals.


#sm4events recap: Questions from the #AFPFC session

2016-03-20 11.13.06

Last week at the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference in Boston, Mass., Josh Hirsch and I presented a session on social media strategies for special events. During that session, we used a tool Sli.Do, which allowed audience members to submit questions as well as vote on polls related to the presentation.

Below are questions submitted by attendees during the presentation. Happy reading (it’s a long one, so grab some coffee and a snack!), and let us know if these answers spur more questions … we are happy to help! If you are interested in bringing #sm4events to your local chapter, let us know!

Overall Strategies

  1. My org. has many departments and I run SM alone, what is an effective way to manage social media (Hootsuite etc.) and train other employees to provide content?
  • First and foremost, you want to develop a social media policy for your organization. This will serve as the framework for how your employees engage with your brand on social media and engage with your constituents/donors. Check out AFP’s Social Media Guidelines: Ethical, Safe and Effective Practical Standards.
  • PolicyTool for Social Media streamlines the process of developing a customized policy for your organization … learn about this and more in this presentation on social media policies.
  • Josh’s personal favorites (as touched on in the presentation) include using Hootsuite to “listen.” Set up various streams with targeted hashtags based upon what conversation topics are related to your organization and cause.
  • He also recommends using Buffer to schedule your content. It will determine optimal posting times based upon user engagement with content you are currently sharing.
  • Another idea is to develop a simple form that you distribute to other employees for them to complete on a weekly/multiple times a week. This form can include highlights of programs and activities in their departments and can provide potential content. You can do this on an intranet or create a shared Dropbox folder, if you don’t have a shared folder on your internal network, where they can save pictures to be used with their content.
  1. My Board members are old. I’ve tried explaining the importance of investing in social media by showing them statistics, etc. Any tips?
  • We actually were able to answer this question live, but to recap: often the “proof is in the pudding”…you’ll have to show your board members as you go the results you are achieving.
  • Another idea is to network with similar nonprofits in your area having success with social media, and have them share their results to share with your board.
  • Finally, a great resource for statistics and technology information is the Pew Research Center.
  1. How do you convert a social media “friend” into a donor?
  • Philanthropy is a personal choice, so there is no formula for how and when you can make this conversion happen. What motivates one donor is completely different from another. An educated donor will do their due diligence and research about a nonprofit before making a gift, or multiple gifts. As an organization, you need to make it your job to educate your potential donor as to the great work you do in the community and the impact of their gift(s). Social media allows you the ability to have constant communication with potential donors, and a creative outlet with which you can connect with potential donors. Utilize the fact that we are always connected because of social media to your advantage. Keep in mind; cultivation of any donor is not going to happen overnight.
  1. How can we research a potential hashtag?
  • Hashtagify, is a hashtag search/discovery engine. It’s free and gives you some basic analytics data too. It allows you to find which hashtags are the best ones for your goals by seeing which hashtags are related to your conversation interests and their strength of correlation.
  1. How do you effectively use social media, if your organization is limited because of the vulnerable population(s) they serve?
  • For this we reached out to AFPeep Dave Tinker, who works for ACHIEVA in Pittsburgh, Pa., an agency serving clients with disabilities and their families. Dave says, “We are able to maximize social media by sharing information and to advocate on behalf of the people we serve.  A recent example is where we asked our constituents to contact their legislators about a bill that impacts their ability to save money.”
  • Dave said when it comes to showing their clients in social media posts, they focus on the positive and what they can do, rather than their limitations.
  1. Any tips on social media ideas for peer-to-peer fundraising events? For event participants to use and promote their own fundraising pages.
  • Many of the online vendors, such as Blackbaud’s Kintera, have built-in social sharing tools available that allow individual participants to share their fundraising page easily to social networks or via email. These often include pre-written email/social media post copy the organization works with the vendor to upload. Some organizations run contests among participants to measure interaction of their social posts, and you may want to consider this to boost activity and engagement.
  1. My organization’s federation has 75+ offices globally, each with its own social media presence. Any advice for synthesizing message/brand?
  • Strategy #1 that we discussed in the presentation, developing a hashtag, would be critical for your organization. Making sure that hashtag is then disseminated and used by all offices on their social media accounts would allow you easy searching and reporting on the activities of the various offices.
  • As mentioned earlier, a social media policy will be critical as well, to make sure that all offices are using content correctly and in an appropriate manner. You want to be sure the staff in each of these offices is getting photo releases, for example, for anyone featured in visuals used.
  • Finally, make sure you have regular opportunities for the social media users in your organization to interact, both with you as the manager as well as with each other. Not only will this help you stay on message, but also it will allow for growth of your online presence as the various offices share what is working for them and what might need improvement.
  1. Isn’t the best social media platform based more on your organization’s audience/donors?
  • It sure is! That’s why in Strategy #2 we encourage you to survey your donors and volunteers to see which platforms they use. No need to join a platform if your audience isn’t using it.
  1. It seems social media is a moving target … That said, how do you determine when to shift emphasis between evolving and existing platforms?
  • This is where Strategy #4, analysis, is key. If you notice a decrease in engagement on one platform and an increase on another, this may be time to shift your strategy. It also might be a good time to survey your donors and volunteers again, whether formally or even in an informal focus group.
  1. Is it best to out source social media if you’re a one man show?

          What is your opinion on hiring a consultant to help with social media?

  • That depends on your organization’s budget and goals for social media. It’s generally best for the voice of your social accounts to be someone familiar with your organization, but some smaller shops can have results with a contract employee or vendor.
  1. In terms of app development, how would you suggest pitching it as a very large project to a team that doesn’t understand what marketing/ad/pr/comm is?
  • Identify other nonprofits that have embarked on developing app solutions for their event and were successful. Use the data and past experiences from them as a case study to justify to those on your team that don’t understand the benefits. Data doesn’t lie.
  1. Do social media influencers only work for events?
  • Social media influencers are not tied solely to events; they also act as an external source to promote your nonprofit organization’s activities, helping to increase your sphere of influence.
  1. Aren’t there legalities that prohibit encouragement to engage with specific posts?
  • The same rules apply online as offline in that a 501(c)3 nonprofit in the U.S. is in violation of the tax law if it participates in political campaigning, thereby jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. We are by no means legal experts, and it’s a fine line between advocacy and campaigning, so we encourage checking with an expert in your jurisdiction.
  • Just the same, you want to be sure not to violate any privacy laws related to your agency, such as HIPPA (healthcare), FERPA (students) or COPPA (children).
  1. Suggestions for tailoring app and social messaging for clients (healthcare) and donors so that it is separate but equal?
  • It comes down what is the call-to-action statement. You can have the same framework and same story you are trying to convey, but depending on the call-to-action the posts can be different. You may also consider utilizing either Facebook groups or LinkedIn message boards as a place for clients to interact more privately.
  1. Any tips for increasing engagement?
  • A great way to increase engagement is ask questions/opinions of your supporters. Open-ended questions are much better than a one-word answer. It allows you to have a conversation with your supporters.
  1. Can you show us a successful mental health NPO’s social media?
  • Check out the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario, Canada. The hospital is active on five social platforms and was fairly engaged in #BellLetsTalk, funded by Bell Canada to open up conversations on mental health across the nation.
  1. How easy is it to set up app? Site??
  • It’s easy to get started on any of the social media platforms we’ve talked about … it would take maybe 15 minutes to enter basic information about your organization and upload a few photos.
  • As for creating your own app, that is more complicated and depends if you are working with a vendor that has a ready service such as Double Dutch, which is what was used for the AFPFC app. If you’d like to know more about how AFP IHQ set up the app, contact PeepMaster extraordinnaire Nick Ricci.



  1. What age group would look at Pinterest content?
  1. Is Eventbrite better for a younger audience? What would be the ideal age range for using it?
  • We couldn’t find hard data on the ages of Eventbrite users, but this article from Forbes notes a high usage by music festivals, conventions (think ComicCon) and other such events with a high millennial attendance. They do reference a survey stating 78% of Millennials would rather spend on an experience, and with Millennials dominating most social platforms, it would be fair to think they would be heavier users of Eventbrite, too. 
  1. My agency has a concentration on seniors. After FB, what platform is (or do you see becoming) the next hot platform for the upcoming generation of seniors?
  • According to the Pew Research Center stats, Pinterest is next up. But it’s a big gap between the 48% of those 65+ online using Facebook to 16% using Pinterest. After that, LinkedIn has 12% of the online 65+ users, perhaps those who are still in the workplace.
  • Looking at the 50-64 demographic, after Facebook, 26% use LinkedIn and 24% Pinterest. Perhaps your agency might consider starting some discussion boards on LinkedIn, and generating content with visuals and links that are easily pinned?


Application Specific Inquiries

  1. What are some strategies to gain Twitter followers that are local and relevant instead of random accounts who just want followers?
  • We touched on this some in the presentation, but think about building a team of ambassadors for your organization. One of the best practices we cited is the Houston Marathon. Each year, race organizers run a contest to select 10 ambassadors for the season. For the 9 months leading up to the race, these ambassadors are asked to create their own running-related content via their blog, as well as share and interact with the Marathon’s content and other running-friendly content. Through working with these 10 social media users, the race is reaching out to their networks and gaining more directed and engaged followers than just following random accounts … all for the price of free race entries and some running gear.
  • Another strategy is to run a search on hashtags related to your organization as well as your city/region. Seek out active users, follow them and message them to start a conversation.
  1. Would love to hear about Snapchat too.
  • We asked fellow AFPeep Heather Corey for tips as she presented on Snapchat in the Peeps Nest at conference. She says,” Snapchat is not for the faint of heart in social media for nonprofits. It’s an endeavor that will take a lot of time, energy, and effort, and you must have a large social media following (in the age demographic range) but can be REALLY fun!
  • Want to learn more? Heather’s presentation is online!
  1. Example of Facebook strategy (goal)
  • As noted in this article: 4 Easy Steps to Implement a Facebook Marketing Strategy, your Facebook marketing strategy shouldn’t live in a vacuum—it needs to be integrated with your overall marketing plan. Before you start marketing on Facebook, you should have these things in place:
    1. A good website,
    2. A clear business model and plan,
    3. An email marketing delivery service, and
    4. An optimized Facebook Page.
  • Then you can determine your strategy and goal. This goes back to what we said in the session about it lining up with your communications and development plans. Do those plans include certain metrics that your Facebook strategy can help achieve?
  1. I thought Twitter was slowing down rather than gaining?
  1. What are best practices on paid/promoted Instagram posts?
  • Check out this Ready Pulse article on 5 Best Practices for Effective Instagram Ads. The highlights:
    1. Drive engagment with video content,
    2. Use hashtags to keep the conversation going,
    3. Use authentic social influencers to tell your story,
    4. Optimize your posting schedule to maximize opportunities to buy, and
    5. Use ads to share exclusive content and discounts to increase engagement.
  1. What is the advantage to using Eventbrite vs. your own website?
  • Part of that depends on if your event is free or ticketed. The events we talked about in the presentation as a successful case study were free events, and the organizer cited Eventbrite’s online registration capabilities as a benefit. This online list was then easily translated into nametags, check in lists and then exported for database import and cleanup (mainly updating email addresses that were incorrect or the school did not have on file). For more on how Eventbrite works, visit their site.
  1. What should you do if your Facebook followers request to friend you instead of like the page?
  • This is something that should be addressed by your organization’s social media policy. Are your staff members allowed to connect with donors and volunteers personally? If not, you have an easy response.
  1. How many people should have access to a Twitter account for a NP?
  • This also is something that should be addressed in your organization’s social media policy. At the University of Houston College of Technology, it was our policy to have three staff connected to all our social media accounts for the college: our communications director, our information technology director, and myself (Lisa) as the head of advancement. That way, if someone was out sick or left the organization, the account was still accessible. For department accounts in the college, we asked to be added to these too in addition to the department user, so that was four staff. It’s ultimately your choice, but we recommend no less than two users in case of emergency, resignation or dismissal.
  1. Which is better to use Eventbrite v Blackbaud’s event page?
  • This is user preference for what you hope to gain from using either system. The case study cited in the presentation made a move from Blackbaud to Eventbrite due to the easy interaction with social media and several other features perceived to have more value to her. We would encourage exploring and testing both to find which works best for your organization.
  1. Why not G+ in the list of social media platforms in this session? Is G+ done?
  1. Am I the only one who doesn’t know where to go on the web for tweets?
  • Check out or download the application for your smart phone or tablet!
  1. For Twitter you made reference to a shortened URL, can you explain further??
  • There are several ways to shorten a URL so that you can save Twitter characters. When using a service such as Hootsuite, there is a tool in the composition window that allows the user to paste a link to be shortened and inserted in the tweet.
  • Another is to use a site such as, where you can create an account to shorten links, and then track the performance of said links. Yay analysis!
  1. What is the difference between YouTube and Periscope?
  • You Tube accounts are previously recorded videos, while Periscope is live streaming video. The app does have the capability for you to save a broadcast at the end, and reshare the content on other social platforms.
  1. Why Eventbrite opposed to using the tools through PayPal?
  1. What is blue check mark?
  1. How large of a photo can you put up on Twitter when posting?
  1. What software do you use to edit your videos?
  • Josh prefers Final Cut Pro because of the advanced features it offers. Apple’s iMovie is also a very capable program of editing videos. (Yes, we are admitted Apple geeks!)
  1. Logistic question, for your video, did you have media releases for every person that waved?
  • Yes, all the students in the video have media releases; completing them is part of their annual school enrollment packet. We got permission separately for photo and video, as well as internal and external communications.


A Closing Thought (congrats if you made it this far!)

The management of SM is so daunting!

  • Don’t let it overwhelm you! Develop a strategy, and take it one step at a time. Better to be really good at one platform then add others than to do three poorly. An inactive or “dead” account is most frustrating to users.

Winning at Conferences with tips from the AFPeeps

2015-03-31 11.14.11Spring is upon us, and in addition to ushering in allergies, weddings and graduations, it’s conference season for many of us fundraisers. Today, I’m en route to the Association of Fundraising Professionals Fundraising Conference in Boston. All conferences can be an adventure (and this year’s is no slouch with a promised nor’easter!), but I have to admit this one is my favorite child because after 6 years of attending (5 straight!), I’ve finally found a framily in a group called the AFPeeps.

Just who are these wacky Tweeters? The Peeps are a merry band of social media mavens whose volunteer duty is to promote philanthropy and AFP throughout the year, particularly leading up to, at and after the AFPFC. When we get together, it’s kind of like your high school reunion but everyone is a cool kid…and a nerd at the same time (xoxo Peeps!).

But seriously, the Peeps are a great resource of social media, fundraising and conference knowledge. If you get a chance at AFPFC this year, stop by Booth 835 aka the Peeps Nest and say hi! We are happy to answer your social media questions (no matter how basic or complex), and we will have a few mini-educational sessions as well. Or you can just hang out. Down time is important at conferences when you can get it!

And speaking of tips, how can you make any conference, particularly if you are a newbie, a success? Here it is from the Peeps’ mouths:

“Get out of your comfort zone and abandon any preconceptions about sessions, people, regions, types of nonprofits. Talk to everyone! And most importantly – be prepared to sit on the floor, because no matter how hard we try we never get the room size right! LOL! I’ve made good friends sitting on the floor!

Bring with you: band aids, Advil, tums, mints, extra power supply, long charging cord, power strip (make friends!), lip balm, water bottle, sweater (it’s either too hot or too cold), sensible shoes, umbrella, note pad if you’re an analog note taker, iPad with Bluetooth keyboard if you’re a digital note take or manic tweeter (yes you Josh #blamejosh). Oh – and the line for coffee is always ridic, so fill up before you get to the convention center. Ask for help, collect cool tchotchkes in the vendor hall, no whiners.” – Laura Amerman @leamerman

“It’s worth it to invest in a Mighty Purse or Mophie Pack for that extra phone battery charge.” – Katherine Morris @katonaleash (She’s right, I love my Jackery charger!)

“Don’t pick sessions on title and description, pick them based on speaker, a great speaker will always be a solid bet. Seek out those active on social with solid followings!” – Lynne Wester @donorguru

“If I’m not sure about a session – or am concerned it will be so popular that the room will overfill – I also pick a ‘plan B’ session for the same time period. I’ll map out how to get to it and if my ‘plan A’ session isn’t meeting my expectations, I’ll scurry to ‘plan B.’ Better than rushing down the hall reading the session signs at random. Using the Conference app, I’ll search for people who work in my same sector elsewhere in the country (like Children’s Museums or Informal Education) and chat them up via messages or in person to share ideas.” – Kirk Laughlin @klaugh

“(1) Go green by downloading the handouts ahead of time; (2) bring your own water bottle and coffee/tea travel mug; (3) visit exhibitors and engage with them (they spent a pretty penny to be there so show some respect; (4) complete your evaluation survey at the end of the day; (5) when selecting your sessions, don’t only chose them based on what you are currently doing in your job, consider where you want to take your career.” – Ligia Peña @ligiafpena

“Stretch – meaning go outside of your comfort zone with sessions. If you are comfortable with one type of fundraising it is easy to gravitate to sessions with the same theme. Instead go to sessions that make you think and get you out of that comfort zone.” – Dave Tinker @davethecfre

“Stop by the AFP Foundation booth and make a donation to ‘Be the Cause’ Camapign. Help pay it forward for philanthropy today and fundraisers of tomorrow.Bring lots of business cards to swap with fellow attendees and vendors.” – Heather Corey @hrcorey

“Travel lightly. Download materials onto a tablet and don’t drag a heavy brief case around all day. Regardless of the weather, get outside at least for a little while. Set up a really good and informative out of office message for your email and of course, put your phone on vibrate.” – Scott Fortnum @sfortnum

“1. If you’re a donor, bring your donor pin and wear it proudly. 2. The wifi information was included in the AFP IHQ email sent out this week. Write it down somewhere where you’ll easily find it again at conference. 3. Never, ever (even if you’re an introvert like me) be afraid to walk up to strangers and say, ‘hey, I don’t know anyone here… mind if I join you?’ I’ve made so many friends using that line, have never been turned away, and have patted myself on the back for doing something scary.” – Leah Eustace @LeahEustace

“When you introduce yourself to someone sitting next to you, don’t start with the tried and true, ‘So what do you do?’ or ‘Where are you from?’ Instead, jumpstart your intro with ‘Hey, I’m _____ (name) and lately I’m obsessed with ______. What’s something you’re super into these days?’ From there you can share job titles, hometowns, your ED’s most eccentric (read: FOR THE LOVE OF LOLLIPOPS PLEASE STOP) leadership habit, etc.” –Shanon Doolittle @sldoolittle

“Even if you don’t know anyone going, make sure to attend some of the evening events. This may sound obvious for some people but for me at my first conference I really had to push myself to leave my room and get out there. It helps loosen you up after a long day of learning and the evening events usually provide a more relaxed setting for networking of a more authentic nature. A great example is the Tweet Up Sunday evening at 9ish at Loretta’s Last Call. It’s a networking opportunity where it’s socially acceptable to stare at your phone!” – Emily Reed @emthesooner

One last tip: follow hashtags #AFPFC and #AFPeeps on Twitter to stay on top of the action. See you in Boston!

A day in the life

Ever since the AFP International Fundraising Conference in San Antonio two years ago, I’ve been interested in experiencing a day in the life of my school. It’s the one takeaway from a session (on major gifts, I think) that has stuck with me well past a conference. It may also be because while I attended Catholic schools on and off in my life, I didn’t have the chance to attend Catholic high school. Working in one for the past 2+ years has made me wonder what that might be like.

So when Year 2 of St. Agnes Academy’s Student for a Day program rolled around, I raised my hand. Today was the first of four days where faculty and staff will experience a day in the classroom. I was picked to live the day as a senior, and I’ll never look at my job the same again.

Today was a special schedule due to an assembly for Black History Month (shout out to all the students and faculty who worked so hard on it!). So the day started out in assembly uniform attire:

  (While I might be playing the role of Lisa Chmiola ’16, this photo proves I’m not as young as I used to be, as I’m nursing a strained finger from gym class behind that fancy KT tape. I didn’t even know about taping in high school!)

After the assembly, it was off to a full day of classes. That also meant the uniform rules went to a more relaxed version as seen here. I’ll admit, the uniform was kind of awesome … it was very quick to get ready this morning, and being in a girls’ school, there wasn’t pressure to do up hair or even wear makeup:

As a senior, my schedule was pretty intense:

  1. Theology 4
  2. English 4
  3. Advanced Acting
  4. AP Statistics
  5. Honors AP Chemistry
  6. Creative Writing
  7. Economics

What was different from my public high school experience is I felt more of a sense of community … even though most girls had no clue who I was (in my role, I don’t interact much with students unless they are a scholarship recipient and we are conducting a stewardship visit with the scholarship donor), they were pretty welcoming. The teachers also were great to accommodate me into their schedules.

The day gave me a greater understanding of what goes into the college preparatory experience. I have much respect for what the students juggle to take on the intense coursework (I had 2 hours of homework last night and that was just for three classes! I also did not take as advanced science and math in my high school.). I have a better understanding for what it must be like to parent a high schooler and help kids with that homework. And I really respect what the teachers go through to prepare up to seven classes worth a day of materials. As a conference presenter, I know what goes into just ONE 45-90 minute teaching session. My colleagues repeat that all day, five days a week, and my hat goes off to them.

This gives me a greater sense of empathy in working with our donors, who are often parents of current students or alumnae, or alumnae themselves. So to that conference presenter two years ago who encouraged getting an inside look at my organization, I thank you. And, I encourage my fellow development professionals to do the same in your organizations. Even if just for part of a day, experiencing our organizations through the eyes of those it serves can provide a greater sense of understanding which can go a long way in fostering philanthropic relationships.

Torn about #GivingTuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, and one would think that as a fundraiser I’d be super excited about today. But I actually have a lot of mixed feelings about the concept. Much like any other holiday or celebration, you have good and bad parts about the day. So in the spirit of Technical Tuesdays here on Fablanthropy, let’s think behind the scenes about the day:

One good thing about Giving Tuesday is it focuses some holiday spending on nonprofits. In a season where consumerism runs rampant, it’s nice to take some time to think about those less fortunate…those who cannot afford to go out and get whatever they would like for the holidays. It takes the focus off us and back on others, which is what philanthropy is all about – making a difference in our communities.

But it comes on the heels of three major shopping days. First Black Friday (which now starts on Thanksgiving…), then Small Business Saturday, and finally Cyber Monday have already flooded our email inboxes, social media steams and television commercials (for those of you who haven’t cut the cord!). Which means Giving Tuesday messaging can feel like another barrage of spending encouragement, one which comes after many have already spent hundreds and thousands of dollars in the preceding days. It seem like bad leftovers!

It helps encourage and expedite year-end giving. For organizations doing an end-of-year annual fund push, this can help staff avoid the crunch of gifts on or immediately before December 31. For donors motivated by the tax benefits, it’s an extra nudge to make their gifts with plenty of time to spare.

But the implications may outweigh the benefits. Has your organization prepared to receive, process and steward hundreds or even thousands of gifts today? (Check out Lynne Wester’s blog to keep up with her experience of giving to several organizations on this day; results coming soon!) What is the long-term plan to ensure these donors continue to stay connected to the organization? What is the investment of extra staff resources today versus the amount your organization will raise? And perhaps most importantly, WHY are you doing a Giving Tuesday campaign? If it’s just because every other organization you know is doing it, that may not be the best reason to do it.

And, does it encourage philanthropy, or just one-time giving? I’ll admit, I’ve not made a gift on Giving Tuesday. Ever. For me, my giving decisions are made with much deliberation, and typically not due to a date on the calendar. It’s because either the cause speaks to me, I had a personal experience with the organization, or my favorite…because someone ASKED me.

What I think Giving Tuesday can highlight (for good or bad) about our industry is the fine line between fundraising and philanthropy. Sure, raising funds for worthy causes is great. But it’s not the end game. In fact, we have a celebration of the full spectrum: National Philanthropy Day. NPD honors not only giving, but also volunteering and overall charitable engagement with nonprofits. After all, it is time, talent and treasure that make our sector great. It’s about building relationships, not just one-time transactions.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have Giving Tuesday at all, or that if you’ve made donations today they are any less valuable than ones made on another day. Rather, I’m encouraging both donors and fundraisers to be mindful about the extra attention focused on giving today, and let’s all do our best job to be sure this spirit lasts beyond these 24 hours and build some true relationships to better our communities.

Thoughts? What has been your Giving Tuesday experience? How can we make it a better representation of the philanthropic arena?

Guest post: Pear Tree Planning with Marcy Heim, The Artful Asker

Our first Women Wednesdays post comes from Marcy Heim, known as The Artful Asker. If you haven’t had a chance to hear Marcy speak, add it to your continuing education calendar! She’s great at making fundraisers think about what they can do to advance philanthropy, and she’s known to break into song while doing it!

Here’s Marcy’s post: “Pear Tree Planning”:

Here’s a lesson from my pear tree.  The fruit varies year to year, but this year, as early as the blossoms in May, we knew this would be a BIG year.

Thousands, I mean thousands of baby pears filled the tree. At one point a 5-inch-thick limb broke off from the sheer weight of all the pears.  And even as they were still developing – they had great flavor. This would yield quite a harvest!

And so went the summer – talking about the pears coming, hearing about canning and freezing, recipes and smoothie combinations. And, while I was determined I would not waste this abundant opportunity….. I did.  Most of the pears were bagged up and hauled to the dump.

I saw the opportunity. I talked about the opportunity.  I even took a few steps in the right direction gathering information and buying freezer bags.  And, yes, (victim thinking here) it was also our daughter’s wedding just as they really ripened.  And, yes, I had pear smoothies, pears for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks and accosted everyone I saw with a bucket of pears for over a month, but I didn’t follow through on the opportunity I saw.  Now these steps will be “good enough” by default.

And so it goes in our honorable and noble profession. We see milestones coming, events that offer more personal connections, a congratulations that could be shared or another program in town or at our organization that will bring in a plethora of folks we might touch.  If only.  If only we had taken action in time.

Sometimes my clients complain they are not given enough lead time to properly prepare for an opportunity.  Ok, “sometimes” this is true.  More often, and let’s be honest here, it looks far off and we let more urgent (generally not more important) tasks eat up the time between making something out of an opportunity, letting it slip by…or doing a schlocky job of it.

There is a place for “good enough” in our lives for you who share my perfectionist tendencies.

But here’s the deal. Life presents us opportunities.  It is always our choice what we make of them.  Our success and satisfaction is measured this way.

  1. See the opportunity
  2. Intend what could do and they decide what we will do
  3. Plan the action – laying out what by when
  4. Take the action!
  5. Celebrate the results

Simple, right?  WRONG.  But it is worth seeing your patterns and making small changes.  Here are 5 things you can do to make better use of your “opportunities.”

  1. Plan ahead for what you KNOW is coming – personally and professionally. You know your kids birthdays, holidays, etc. – why do they “sneak up” on you?  You know your event date – why are you tying ribbons on table favors at midnight the night before?  You know a big gathering in town will be a chance to network with several prospective givers – why do you let other work deadlines creep into the space until you feel like you really can’t go?  Stop and think about the opportunity.  Reflect. How do you want to use this opportunity?
  1. Make a Decision on your “good enough” action.  You can’t do everything. In fact, sometimes we go over the top and the action is really “too much” for the situation.  “Simple, yet artful.” (“I can buy cookies, not make them, and it will be ok for donor Joe’s visit to our organization.”)  What is at least some action we can accomplish that will help us take advantage of this opportunity?  Then embrace that this plan is “good enough” and set up the time to take the step.
  1. Determine what the “Best Action” is.  If you were really going to maximize this opportunity, what would that look like?  (I’d have a freezer full of pears.)
  1. Be open to the last-minute. “If it weren’t for  the last-minute, nothing would get done. “  While not a quote to live by, certainly it brings in the creative energy we get as a deadline approaches.  Use it in a balanced way.
  1. Celebrate. Learn. Plan and plan again. So that wasn’t quite what you wanted.  Ok, celebrate was DID work.  Enjoy the feeling of the little action you took that was a hit!  YES!  Say, “I create my life and I LOVE my life!”

Some opportunities get away on us.  The pears are spoiling and collecting bees.  But I DID enjoy many of them, give many of them away and at least learn about what I could have done to make better use of them.  For this year, that’s “good enough” and I am grateful for the opportunity to see what next year brings.  May you enjoy recognizing opportunities and turning them into “wins” for you, your family and your non-profit mission.

Invest in Joy!

Marcy Heim

The Artful Asker

Office (608)238-4024

Cell (608)772-6777

Toll Free (888)324-0442

© 2015 Marcy Heim and The Artful Asker LLC.
Marcy Heim, CFRE, PLCC
life and development coach, author and speaker, empowers deans, executive directors, development staff and key volunteers who are transforming the world by encouraging philanthropy for their missions. With over 20 years of in-the-trenches experience, she is a trusted authority in the development profession helping organizations and educational institutions uplevel their major gift success – forever.  Her workshops have a double track promoting both positive mindset as well as best-practice methods producing both dramatic fundraising results and confident, happy teams. Her monthly Artful Action newsletter inspires leadership and staff to embrace the real power and joy of philanthropy. You can sign up for a complimentary subscription at

Where Should You Avoid Meeting with Prospects and Donors?

Where do you meet your donors for visits?

Michael Rosen Says...

Whether you want to cultivate or ask for support, a face-to-face meeting with a prospect or donor will usually be the most effective approach. To ensure the success of your meeting, you need to carefully plan for it. That includes knowing where to avoid having that meeting.

Two types of locations make particularly poor choices for meetings:

Katz's Deli by Matt Biddulph via FlickrRestaurants/cafes. Such locations can be problematic for any number of reasons. Your guest might not feel comfortable discussing personal matters in a public setting. The noise level of the restaurant might not be conducive to conversation. Servers will inevitably interrupt your discussion. The choice of a specific restaurant could even be problematic. Consider the following true story that I shared in my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing:

The development officer picked up the donor at her home and drove her to the Four Seasons Hotel for lunch in the very lavish Fountain…

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social media 101: 5 golden rules

Great tips for those of us using social media in our philanthropic careers!


In creating a Social Media 101 workshop for campus users as well as a new social media users’ guide, I recently crafted five golden rules to consider before beginning social media efforts on behalf of one’s institution or organization. They borrow from advice from many colleagues, but I figured posting them here just might benefit others.

1. Be present. Acquaint yourself with any social media outlets before trying to use them professionally. If you’re not familiar with Facebook, creating a group or fan page 15 minutes after you sign up could be an uphill climb. Learning as much as you can about a particular platform or community will increase your chances of success.

2. Be prepared. Have a plan for who will post and/or respond to social media, how often you may want to post content and what goals you want to accomplish (see below). You may want to prepare…

View original post 260 more words