Posted by & filed under Board of Directors, Career Development, Ethics, Financial/Legal, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy.

by AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Ethics Committee

De-stigmatization – An Odd Lesson for Ethics

There is a lot we can learn from various de-stigmatization initiatives that have captured the public’s attention of late. Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Campaign for mental health is a shining example. Decades ago people were too ashamed to talk about depression or anxiety, and now it is commonplace to understand and appreciate that nearly one quarter of the entire workforce have a mental health struggle.

In an odd way, we need to de-stigmatize talking about ethics in fundraising and the charitable sector. People often have one of two reactions: It is either, “… our organization’s ethics are fine; it’s everyone else that has a problem,” or “… ethics? We don’t have the time or resources to worry about ethics.”

photo credit: vanhookc via photopin cc
photo credit: vanhookc

Talk About Ethics

Just like mental health, a bit of knowledge is a powerful thing. When you know what ethics actually are, the causes and symptoms of healthy (and unhealthy) ethics, and how to sustain balanced personal and organizational ethics, you have the ability to diagnose and remedy problems. Better yet, you are able to create and sustain operational excellence, increase and deepen your relationships, and be a leader for your donors and volunteers, who deserve your utmost respect.

The first place to start is to talk about ethics – to put ethics on your personal and organizational radar. One of the best places to begin is to acknowledge what you know and just as importantly what you don’t know. Ethics relates to governance matters such as a board’s fiscal responsibilities or care of duty for staff. Strategically, ethics relates to fundamental fundraising practices such as the integrity of your case for support. Ethics on an operational level can be about the information you use and share when it comes to determining a potential donor’s ability to give. Personally, ethics can even be about the level of information you share about a donor with whom you have worked during a job interview, and if you promise to “deliver” said donor to demonstrate your fundraising prowess.

At its core, ethics is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand where they are coming from – good, bad or indifferent. It is through the sharing of each other’s stories that we discover solutions to differences in values and ethical conundrums. Again, the key is to talk, to engage, and to do what’s right – together.

Share Your Story, and Help Build the Ethics Library

To that end, the Ethics Resources Committee of Greater Toronto is promoting AFP’s growing library of ethics case studies. These are reality-based overviews of ethical situations that executives in the charitable sector have faced and managed successfully. They are fascinating. The case studies are also excellent learning tools and are available for download.

The Committee has created a new case study template to chronicle new examples of challenging ethical situations. We invite you to share one of your stories anonymously so that others can learn and continue to understand best practices, and apply them as the highest level fundraising practitioner. When you talk and share, you and your organization succeed. Best of all, donors and volunteers will be moved to give and continue giving because they know at a fundamental level they can trust.

Please fill out the case study submission form to either suggest a new case study not already covered, or to submit your own case study example.

It’s a Big Deal

Chances are that whatever ethics challenge or success you have faced or are facing, someone else is in the exact same boat. One story at a time, we give staff and volunteer leaders the ability to make their charity and fundraising everything they can be.

Posted by & filed under Analytics, Data Management, Marketing/Communications, Metrics.

Liz Rejman, CFRE

Let’s face it: most people would much rather be meeting with donors than updating contact information in the database. Very few people jump at the chance to review data protocols and establish coding. Data management can be scary, confusing, and overwhelming.

However, poor data management costs your organization time and money. When properly managed, data can improve customer service, operational efficiency and assist in informed decision making within an organization.

Here’s the secret to inspiring a love for data and data management: it isn’t the data itself that is compelling. It’s the story it tells. Do you know what your data is telling you?

In order for your data to tell you an accurate story of your organization, there are three things to consider.

You need to know why the story is important.talk data button
Why do you need the data? What will it be used for? Do you send customized documents and letters to your donors? Do you track and report specific metrics for your board members? How do you measure success within a campaign or in your performance reviews? In all of these instances, data helps to tell the story of your past successes.

Data should be telling stories, but not secrets. Just as data will help tell a great story; it shouldn’t jeopardize donor trust while doing so. Don’t collect data for the sake of collecting it. Give serious consideration as to why you want to collect data and what will be its use.

For example, when I work with fundraisers to establish reports, I always ask them to share their vision of what the report will look like (and in some cases, I will even ask for a mock-up of the report). I want to know:

  • What is the purpose of the report?
  • What is it measuring?
  • Who will see it? How often will they see it?
  • How detailed does the information need to be?

Knowing what the end result will be helps determine what pieces of data are needed, who needs to be collecting and maintaining that data and how often it needs to be reviewed.

You need to have your data talk in a consistent language.
The first thing I learned about database management and reporting was “garbage in, garbage out.” If you data isn’t consistent in both where and how it is entered, the story will always be inaccurate. This is where you can get your database to work for you – take advantage of drop-down menus and checkboxes for consistent formatting. Text boxes have their place, but know that if there are multiple ways to spell a word or format a phrase, it will be spelled and formatted in every way conceivable.

You need to ensure that everyone can add to the data conversation.
If the data isn’t in the database, it doesn’t exist and it won’t be part of the story. You need to make it easy to add data to the database. Data entry protocols that are too complex won’t be adopted or remembered. If a particular data entry protocol can’t be mastered in a 10 minute training session, it’s too complicated. And if a piece of data needs to be coded in multiple places, there better be a really good reason why.

Data can tell you where you’re at, help you establish trends and patterns and assist in making informed decisions. It can tell the story of your past, present and even predict some of the future. But you need to help it talk to you. So the next time the topic of database management comes up, don’t be afraid to say “talk data to me.”

LiZ RejmanLiz Rejman, CFRE has spent her entire career in the nonprofit sector bringing her dynamic expertise to health care, education and the arts, with a focus on database management and prospect researchShe recently transitioned from full time researcher at a large hospital foundation to Head of Development and one person fundraiser for Museum London (Canada). Follow her on Twitter, @erejman or visit her blog.

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

Alan Clayton – Director, Clayton Burnett Ltd; Chairman, Revolutionise Global; Chairman, Grove Practice; Managing Partner, Inch Hotel and Inspiration Centre

Last week, I had the honour and pleasure of addressing the Young Nonprofit Professionals, Toronto. Young and professional they certainly were but, as I was preparing and then delivering my thoughts, something struck me. The majority of the audience worked in fundraising. Not all, but the audience was definitely fundraiser heavy, perhaps due to the topic, perhaps due to the influence of the sponsor – Stephen Thomas.

This really set me thinking. The term ‘nonprofit’ is used to describe the entire sector we work in – predominantly in North America, but increasingly in Europe as well. In context, this suddenly seemed an apologetic, inappropriate and perhaps even self-defeating term. The European ‘Third sector’ is scarcely any better. You see, the primary purpose and skill of most people in the room was the ability to generate profits… significantly large profits and at a very impressive margin compared to other sectors. The rest of the room were employed in spending said profits.

I had a realisation. We are the only sector which seeks to define itself by what we don’t do. Even more contradictory, we define ourselves by something we don’t do (nonprofit) but we do in fact actually do it. We invest reserves and revenue and we generate huge returns on these investments – up to twelve times greater than returns achieved by professional investors, in fact.

The difference in our sector is not the profits we make, but the way we choose to spend those profits. Profits with purpose, if you like. Is it any wonder we come in for ridiculous criticism (CEO salaries, ROI ratios, admin costs and even ~gasp~ paid fundraisers) if we ourselves start from such a negative and defensive position as ‘nonprofit’?

We should define ourselves by what we do… that is, how we spend the profits we make. That way we start from a positive hypothesis and can better explain our purpose to questioners and detractors. Even better, we will come to be proud of what we do.

Perhaps we could be the ‘For change sector’, the ‘Social purpose sector’ or even ‘The brilliant way to invest your money and get massive relative returns which make the world a better place sector.’

I am sure you can do better than that. Perhaps AFP could start a competition to find a better term? Suggestions welcome…

Alan Clayton

Alan Clayton is one of the leading consultants, creative directors and inspirational speakers on the world circuit, currently based in the UK, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Alan created charity marketing agency Cascaid in the UK in 1998 following a career working in-house in charity marketing. He ran Cascaid until 2008, when it merged to form The Good Agency. Alan has worked with over 250 nonprofit clients in the UK and around the world. 

Posted by & filed under Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Colin Hennigar, Associate Director, SickKids Foundation 

How do you engage a group of young professional major gift donors? Listen to them.

Fundraisers are frequently challenged to grow their pipeline to secure major gifts, often with the expectation of a donation to be confirmed over a year or two. But what happens when you invest in laying the seeds of philanthropy in the next generation? Results.

When we asked what is important for young professionals who make a donation, over and above purchasing an event ticket, we directly heard that they want a tangible impact, exclusivity, and networking opportunities. Solicitations for unrestricted funds don’t often appeal to this group – they want to know how their donation will make an impact. They want to meet the experts who will use their donation. They also want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to look around the room and see like-minded philanthropists who are all at the same stage in life and have rallied together to make a difference. They want to share their involvement with their peers and get them engaged as well. We see this in donors who come together to build a house or school or participate in a team fundraising event, but now we’re starting to see it in major gifts programs.

What we’re doing at SickKids Foundation is challenging young professionals to think big – to make an investment through a program that will see them surrounded by their peers, that will give them access to the organization’s leadership, and that will allow them to make a collective impact. The result of listening to this demographic is SickKids Innovators which saw 20 individuals invest $100,000 in an underfunded priority of the hospital last year.

Access to the hospital’s leadership and exclusive experiences isn’t free. In terms of stewarding this group of young professional donors, we do have to bend the rules or adapt the conventional donor matrix to develop meaningful events and opportunities. What we have to keep in mind is that we listen to what will engage this group. As they progress in their careers, with the philanthropic seeds planted, their involvement can expand to additional gifts through cause marketing campaigns or third party events enhancing their commitment to the organization.

Today, fundraisers need to adapt our traditional ways of engaging donors, especially as we work with groups of like-minded philanthropists, such as young professionals. What we need to do is listen, create, engage and then wait patiently for the results, if not today, then definitely tomorrow.

Colin Hennigar is an Associate Director on the Major Gifts Team at SickKids Foundation. Prior to joining SickKids Foundation in 2010, Colin held a number of roles at the Royal Ontario Museum Governors Office. Colin graduated from the University of Toronto with a Double Major in Fine Art History and Classical Civilizations and a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. He will be speaking at Fundraising Day 2014 on May 28th in Toronto. You can follow Colin on Twitter @travellercolin 

Posted by & filed under Corporate/Sponsorship, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications.

Jennifer Jones, MBA, Director, Indigo Love of Reading Foundation

I recently was on a panel at an AFP session on the topic of what corporations are looking for from their charity partners. The room was full which was a pleasant surprise and yet, also disappointing. It’s 2014 – why are we still learning to navigate these critical relationships? Building successful partnerships is hardly a new concept yet it was a lively discussion. Here are some of the key insights.

Charities, follow the process: If a corporation asks you to follow a specific process to submit a grant or a sponsorship request, please do that. We’ve given this process a lot of thought. When you honour it, you have the opportunity to put your best foot forward. And maybe, as you start the process you’ll realize how poor a fit the partnership would be and you’ve saved yourself – and me – time. And that’s a good thing considering how time strapped we both are. There’s a misconception that corporations have big teams and big money but believe it or not most of us run really lean – I run Indigo’s social responsibility portfolio as a team of two.

Leverage relationships: Sure, you can use your network to jump the queue – maybe one of your Board members knows my CEO – in fact, that’s very smart. But it’s not a guarantee. Thankfully most executives these days understand we have a strategic focus, which isn’t overridden because of relationships. Our cause is children’s literacy and no matter how much an executive might love dolphins, we’re not redirecting funding for dolphin research! What that introduction will do is expedite the conversation and we’ll both figure out, probably with a quick phone call, if there’s a potential partnership to explore.

Date 1 introductions: If we meet in person to dig a little deeper, please don’t come with what you believe is the solution for how we’re going to work together. Slow down, after all, this is only our first date! Show that you’ve done your research about our organization, as I have done about yours. This is the time to really understand each other’s business goals and how working together can be mutually beneficial. This is the time for both sides to come with thought starters and have the other react to them. This is the time to decide: do we go on date two?

Date 2 and beyond: Assuming our goals are aligned, we’ll keep dating as we dig deep to develop our goals and strategic plan. You’ll have to trust me to sell it internally so we get the resources we need to be successful. After all, as a team of only 2, or 4 or 5, corporate foundations and CSR teams lean heavily on the corporate resources to run a successful partnership.

A beautiful marriage: When we’re committed partners, like in any relationship, the work isn’t done. There needs to be clear and consistent communication on progress and results as originally agreed upon. And if all those criteria are met, then this could turn into a beautiful marriage. After all the time and effort put into the partnership, that’s what we really hope for. It’s way more productive than always being on date number one!

Corporations, pay it forward: if your first date doesn’t work out, consider introducing the charity to organizations you think would be a good fit. If I don’t have anyone in mind, I often suggest a quick brainstorm session over the phone to identify untapped opportunities. Yes, it reflects well on me and Indigo but it also is just the right thing to do and it’s one more way I can pay it forward.

Lastly… I just received this question from the organizer of an event bringing together a NFP and its charity and corporate partners.“What changes have you seen in the role of partnerships between nonprofits and corporations, and what in direction do you see these partnerships heading?” My answer? As charities are increasingly able demonstrate their social impact I feel the power imbalance between charities and corporations is slowly starting to equalize. And I’m all for it.

Jennifer spent her early years in marketing communications, across industries in Toronto and Asia. She worked at CIBC Small Business marketing and sponsorship and then joined the CIBC Corporate Sponsorship team to run the CIBC Run for the Cure and Weekend to End Breast Cancer. Jennifer joined Indigo six years ago with responsibility for Indigo’s social investments, overseeing the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation and the launch of Adopt a School, Indigo’s first cause marketing program, which unites stores, schools and their communities to puts books into the hands of children across Canada. 

Posted by & filed under Congress, Crowdfunding, Marketing/Communications, Social Media, Speakers, Stewardship/Donor Relations, Volunteers.

Robert C. Osborne, Jr., Principal, The Osborne Group, Inc.

crowd

If you go to any crowdfunding platform and search past the featured projects on the home page you’ll see that many, if not most of these projects are well behind in their goals. Sometimes it is because the project

isn’t a very compelling one, sometimes it is because the media associated with project isn’t very well done, and sometimes it’s because the rewards aren’t well thought out. But I would argue that in almost all cases the real underlying reason for lack of success is a lack of planning.

Here are some tips for successful crowdfunding:

If you build it they will NOT come – If you simply throw up a crowd funding project on IndieGoGo or some other crowdfunding website and hope that people will stumble across it and give, you are in for disappointment. This pretty much never happens. You need to drive people to your project and this takes a little thought and planning.

Think through your mediaHaving good pictures and video for your crowdfunding campaign is critical. Take the time to think through what your messages are. Remember that you want to talk about future impact. What will be different in the world tomorrow because I gave money to your project today? Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Emma Lewzey, CFRE, Senior Major Gifts Officer, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

If you work in a small or mid-size shop, there is a clear path to stability and sustainability for your organization. You need to focus on the right donors: individual donors. Now, don’t get me wrong – corporate gifts, special events, and foundation grants can all play an important role in a balanced and diversified fundraising program.

The reality is that individual donors give the vast majority of philanthropic gifts – here in Canada, the latest available stats show that 71% of donations come from individuals, followed by foundations at 16%, and corporations at 11%. If you are like most small to mid-size organizations you and/or your team are probably spread pretty thin – you’re wearing multiple hats, and have a diverse range of responsibilities in your portfolio. And chances are, you’re not spending 71% of your fundraising time and resources focusing on individuals. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Data Management, Marketing/Communications, Metrics, Mobile Giving, Social Media.

Claire Kerr, Director of Digital Philanthropy, Artez Interactive

woman-with-smartphone

Many nonprofit organizations are closely measuring online activity across their websites and donation forms… And with good reason! Tools like Google Analytics can be more useful than user surveys when we want accurate information about what our donors and supporters are really doing online.

When diving into your own numbers, have you noticed the difference between web traffic from laptops or PCs, and mobile traffic from smartphones and tablets? At Artez Interactive, we track fundraising activity for millions of visitors to charity and nonprofit donation pages every year. We’ve noticed that for most organizations, the peak time of day for online donations is between 9am – 11am.

What’s driving this pattern? A few things! Donors are responding to email solicitations in their inboxes and logging onto social sites like Facebook at the start of the day; often while at work. It makes sense that charities and nonprofits would see a spike in donations during this period. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Alan Clayton, Director, Clayton Burnett Ltd.

If it doesn’t, I’m leaving.

Human emotions are complicated and infinite in their variety and combinations. I was asked recently by a journalist ‘Does guilt have a place in fundraising?’ I asked her, ‘please define guilt.’ When she failed to do so, I politely declined the interview. Of course guilt has a place in fundraising as does every emotion that anyone is capable of experiencing and transmitting.

‘Guilt’ is only a hair’s breadth away from ‘pity,’ which in itself is only a razor’s width away from ‘compassion.’ Only a judgmental fool would try and define the difference and preach to us which of our emotions is acceptable and which is not. What I feel as guilt, you may feel as compassion and someone else may feel as religious duty. We are all right.

live-laugh-loveFor fundraising to succeed, and for donors to have the experience of it they deserve, a gamut of emotions is involved. The donor journey is a repeating loop of:

• ‘Reward’ emotion.

• ‘Need’ emotion.

• (rational pause to check out the facts.)

• Gift.

The power of the need emotion is the cause of much controversy, of course. It’s a debate we should have widely in our sector. I look forward to it. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Corporate/Sponsorship, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Speakers.

Bernie Colterman, Managing Partnereducate-your-employees

Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

As the competition for philanthropic dollars increases, more and more nonprofit organizations are looking at sponsorship as an alternate revenue source to more traditional fundraising methods. However, the transition to the marketing-based approach that is required for sponsorship-driven revenue is not easy for many organizations because it requires a mind-set that is radically different from traditional models. Some of these challenges include:

  • Working with large numbers of stakeholders who do not understand sponsorship and how it is different from the philanthropic environment;
  • Establishing “fair market value” for organizational assets;
  • Unrealistic expectations of what revenue can be expected (and when) from various opportunities;
  • Limited internal expertise to market and deliver the program; and,
  • A “business-oriented” culture that is typically not in line with the entrepreneurial approach required to market, negotiate and deliver on sponsorship agreements.  Read more »