Posted by & filed under Congress.

Kathy Hay
President & CEO, The Credit Valley Hospital Foundation

When people think about fundraisers, I can almost hear what they are thinking, “watch your wallets everyone!” Or worse, I can hear them thinking about what they perceive is important to me as a fundraiser , “show me the money”! Better yet, I can hear my colleagues at the hospital (or at the university in my former world) thinking “can’t they just run an event or make a quick phone call, I need a linear accelerator”.

Here is the real deal, and I will speak for all my development colleagues out there, “we are not fund-raisers, we are not event planners, we are not friend-raisers, we are not salespeople”.  We are in fact a highly professional group of strategists that are charged with ensuring that our institutions are fully funded to deliver on their mandate. While we may raise funds, plan and/or attend events, align “friends”, close “deals” – that is just part of what we do, as a highly professional group of strategists. Read more »

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

Alice L. Ferris, MBA, ACFRE
Founding Partner, GoalBusters LLC

Many well intentioned fundraisers have made a cultural misstep: you schedule a major event on a religious holiday, pick a menu that features food that is culturally taboo, or you make an assumption about someone’s beliefs only to find out the hard way that you are very, very wrong. So how can you navigate cultural traditions, norms and unwritten rules when you are not a member of a certain group, yet you need to work with the group for fundraising?

  1. Think about things you have in common with individuals within the community.
    When we meet someone new, if you’re good at getting to know people, you immediately start to try to find things that you have in common. But isn’t it interesting, that when you consider groups of people, suddenly it becomes easier to find things you don’t share? Try to find common values and interests with that person. Not only will this help with building respect for a potential donor’s values, but also works to develop relationships that are critical to the fundraising process. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Board of Directors, Congress, Speakers.

Siobhan Aspinall
Fundraising Consultant, David Suzuki Foundation

Are you drinking too much merlot and muttering that your board “just doesn’t get it”? Why aren’t they perfect fundraising ambassadors who make their own gifts first and champion every campaign?

Think of the way you treat a red-hot prospect in your major gifts program. That’s right – it’s like prom night but with better manners. Meanwhile, a board member is treated like the grumpy old chaperone. Where is the romance? No wonder they run when you mention fundraising.

Think about your board members as prospects themselves. They are prospective ambassadors, donors and champions of your fundraising activities and like every prospect, you need to develop their relationship with the organization. Think of this in terms of the major gifts cycle. Research your board members, cultivate a relationship with them, engage them in philanthropic activity for your organization and steward their actions and successes.

If this sounds time-consuming, it isn’t. I’ll talk more at the conference about how to engage your board as a group and get even the most reluctant members to think about fundraising in a different and positive light.

Siobhan is currently working in major gifts for Junior Achievement and the David Suzuki Foundation. She will be presenting “Cultivating Your Board’s Interest in Fundraising” at AFP Congress 2011.

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

Bob Penner
President & CEO
Strategic Communications Inc. (Stratcom)

By now many of you have heard about or even participated in a Telephone Town Hall. Stratcom has been pleased to bring this to the Canadian marketplace, although, even for us, it took some persuading.

We do a fair bit of work in the United States and are a member of various American industry associations. For many years, some of my colleagues in the political arena have been telling me that we should use Telephone Town Halls. They are a great communications tool and clients love them, they said. 

But for whatever reason, I didn’t immediately pick up on this suggestion. It was a different sort of tool for us, we were already busy and I didn’t immediately see the value. But they persevered and when an opportunity with a new vendor with superior technology was presented to us, we decided to give it a try.   

But it wasn’t until our own first Telephone Town Hall that I fully got it, and became a believer. This event was for a candidate for mayor of a major Canadian city. There were more than 10 candidates in this mayoral race and our candidate, although an experienced politician, was not particularly well known and was in the middle of the pack. So, we conducted a Telephone Town Hall and invited most of the city to participate. We were amazed to have him speaking to an audience of more than 18,000 people, and at one point 4,000 were on the line. What else could I do cost-effectively or in fact in any way to find our relatively unknown client an audience of this size? Many of the people asking questions during the Telephone Town Hall were saying how they’d never heard him speak before and how impressive he was to hear and also that they liked to be asked to participate in this way. So clearly, the Telephone Town Hall was, as my American colleagues had said, a strong campaign communication tool. Our client didn’t win, but he ran a strong campaign. 

However, while we do have political clients, most of our business is in the non-profit sector. So, we starting to think, in the same way, about how many of our clients’ donors have never heard that organization’s leader speak. The non-profit market is also a crowded field and the same fundamental premise exists. If you call a public meeting, you might attract a few hundred local people or fewer. But, with Telephone Town Hall technology, you can reach thousands of people across the whole country to listen to your message from the comfort of their own home. It’s easy to set up and provides great communication, great interaction, great feedback and, in my experience, the audience is always enthusiastic about them.  

It’s not rocket science, it’s just basic communication that’s made easier because of advances in technology. And, it’s now affordable because of the significant way costs have been reduced in the telecom system, and how the Telephone Town Hall can make use of this opportunity. 

Although we’ve done a lot of Telephone Town Halls by now, we’ve only just begun to experiment with it and its endless possibilities. Watch this space to learn more. And, at our presentation at AFP Congress, I will discuss some of the more interesting Telephone Town Halls we’ve done so far. We’d also like to hear from you – if you had an experience with a Telephone Town Hall or if you have an idea for how it might be utilized to meet the objectives of your organization, let us know and we’ll discuss it in our blog and at our session. Looking forward to seeing you at AFP Congress. 

Bob will be presenting “Telephone Town Halls: A New Way to Engage Supporters and Donors” at AFP Congress 2011.

 

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

Jackson Wightman
Minister of Propaganda
Proper Propaganda

Peer to peer marketing is very hard. The organization has to basically “create conditions” for its best friends to do its work. Organizations, filled with humans who want to keep their jobs, don’t relinquish control easily. Peer to peer requires exactly that.

Because letting go is hard and because so much gets lost in communication, organizations MUST keep the ask in a peer to peer campaign SUPER simple (there should only be one bottom-line related ask). This is the key. If an organization gets this part right and remembers it throughout the entire planning and execution of a peer to peer campaign, they’ll usually win.

I get that you need to add other bells and whistles. Indeed as part of a peer to peer campaign, your community should perhaps be asked to change their Facebook profile pics, share a piece of content, use a hashtag, etc.

HOWEVER, all of this stuff MUST be secondary to the one, simple business ask that forms the core of your peer to peer campaign.

Otherwise, “Whoopi! Everyone changed their Facebook profile but nothing, nada, zip changed in terms of the bottom line.”

Peer to peer marketing in the era of social media should have bells and whistles. BUT, it is still about that one simple thing you want your biggest evangelists to get their friends to do (whether that be make a donation, register for a course, or buy the new product you are releasing).

Don’t lose sight of this. Keep it super simple please.

Jackson Wightman is Minister of Propaganda at Proper Propaganda, a digital savvy Communications consultancy that helps organizations tell stories that get noticed and drive action. He is speaking about peer to peer marketing for non-profits at the 2012 Congress.

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

Jessie Sitnick, MMSt., MA
Senior Officer, Partnership & Development Communications, WWF

Today I finished a major case for support.

Okay, let me qualify that. Today I finished the last round of edits on the fourth version of the “final draft” of a major case for support. Wait, let me rephrase. Today I finished what I think is probably the last round of edits –at least for the next six months…oy.

Let’s face it. Cases for support are never really done. Maybe they shouldn’t be. They are, in a lot of ways, as organic as your organization. They mature, they morph, they spin off, they shift – in all the same ways that your programs and priorities do as they evolve to meet your mission. 

But, also like your organization, they have milestones. Moments (it can feel that brief) when your case has finally elucidated the kernel of truth that everyone agrees to—what you’re doing, why it matters, how it will change things, what success looks like, how you’ll get there, how you’ll know you’ve arrived. Actually, what I’ve just described are two accomplishments, which ideally happen together: (1) you’ve discovered and are able to articulate the answers to all of the questions written above and (2) everyone agrees with those answers. 

This pokes at the squishy heart of what I think cases are all about. More than anything else, they are a process. A process which is, perhaps, not all that different from group therapy. 

Yes, you need a good case to raise money. Because being able to answer all those hard, juicy questions is essential to inspiring donors to support your work and even more critical to telling them what their support has accomplished. But, if your case is a bridge between your organization and your donors–a metaphor I like to use—you have to remember, as my co-presenter Trevor Zimmer so aptly pointed out to me, you can’t build a bridge to nowhere. In other words, creating your case is as much about catalyzing internal alignment—having those “come to the mountain” conversations—as it is figuring out how to communicate externally. 

My “case breakthrough” moments over the past year did not happen in the isolation of my cubicle or in the quiet space of my mind.  They came as the result of long, impassioned, and loud conversations. They were formed through whiteboard sessions where people furiously drew arrows and boxes and underlined random words vehemently. They happened when I proudly presented my first fantastic draft of the case that I finally (sort of) finished today and was told—clearly, certainly—that I had gotten it wrong, wrong, wrong.  

What I witnessed, in these moments, wasn’t just my own enlightenment. It wasn’t just the “dense fundraiser” finally getting it. It was all of us –scientists, policy-wonks, communications specialists, senior leaders and, yes, donor managers—all “getting it” together at the same time. 

Look, I know everyone wants a nice, tidy, finished case. We need them for our one-pagers, our two-pagers, our proposals, our pitches, our impact reports. But—in the tradition of fortune cookie wisdom—sometimes the journey is as valuable, and potentially even more important than the destination. In the case of cases, I think the cookie speaks the truth. 

Jessie Sitnick is Senior Officer, Partnership & Development Communications at WWF. She will be presenting “They Blinded Me with Science: How to Turn Complicated Programs into Compelling Cases” at AFP Congress 2011.

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

Gord Muschett
Partner, The Donnée Group

Direct mail’s dead right? Better sign up for those 47 sessions on social marketing with your pet, your doctor, the environment and anyone else who may have a stake in your fundraising career, yes? Maybe. 

Or maybe you should attend a session that may help you do a better job of tapping into those revenues that are, you know, actually paying the bills. How much money did that last Facebook campaign raise for you? Lots of folks clicking on your QR codes? 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a ‘living in the seventies’ direct mail dinosaur. In fact, I’ve been living the online world before a couple of you were even born. I guess that’s why I have a tough time shaking that healthy skepticism towards marketers pitching the latest gimmick that’ll lead you to fundraising nirvana. 

Let me ask – do you bank on your cellphone? Back in 2000, I was front and centre during the dot-com boom with Canada’s stock market darling, 724 Solutions. Here’s a clip from the news on the day of their IPO: 

There’s a new kid in town on Nasdaq– and the kid is from Canada. The company’s name is 724 Solutions and it’s going public at a time when investors are hungry for fresh high-tech stories, especially in the high-demand field of wireless communications.  The 6 million shares that made up the company’s first stock offering surged Friday, the first unofficial day of trading, to $71.81 US on Nasdaq and $103.50 in Toronto.  

And here’s a more recent clip: 

  • Nasdaq 5,000: 10 years later
  • Flashback: The tech bubble was about to burst
  • Remember these stocks?

 724 Solutions, a network and data service company, was regularly gaining $20 a share back then, pushing the stock price of the former dot-com darling close to $300. By 2006, the stock was delisted from the Nasdaq.

Why the financial history lesson on a fundraising conference blog? I think it’s a lesson you should remember when selecting sessions for this year’s outstanding AFP Conference. Fads come and go. Ten years ago, people were making millions on a bet that the world was going to bank through their wireless device. To this day that hasn’t happened and some people lost their shirts (and pants) because of it. 

So “The Winning Test” session at this year’s AFP is going to introduce you to some things you perhaps didn’t know about your bread and butter direct mail program. Myths may be debunked or confirmed. Testing best practices will be reviewed. And you’ll get to have your vote in a fun way on the tests you think are the winners.

But most of all, you may learn something that may help you in a way that chasing the latest fad may not. You’ll learn something that will help your organization raise more money.

Look forward to seeing you there…

Gord Muschett will be presenting “The Winning Test” at AFP Congress 2011 

Posted by & filed under Congress, Leadership/Management.

Jane Griffith, MA
Principal & Fundraising Practice Leader, Odgers Berndtson Executive Search

Many job searches for fundraising executives are now being lead by professional search firms. This is a somewhat new experience for Fundraising executives, and many have questions about how the process works. What are the key skills and experiences that recruiters are looking for in fundraising executives? How do your structure your CV so that it highlights your personal successes, as well as your goals and aspirations? Should you post your information on sites such as LinkedIn? And how do you engage in a conversation with a recruiter – what are the do’s and do not’s? My session entitled “Speaking the Language of the Recruiter” will help answer these, and other, questions and provide some guidance about how the executive search process is completed. In the time leading up to this session, the AFP Congress Blog offers us a spot to start this conversation. I look forward to exchanging ideas with many of you here on the blog, and at my session.

Jane Griffith will presenting “The Next Generation of Non-Profit Leaders: Recruiting and Keeping the Best New Talent” at AFP Congress 2011 

Posted by & filed under Congress.

Ann Rosenfield, CFRE
Executive Director, The WoodGreen Foundation

In case you haven’t guessed, I love Congress. Have loved it since the first one. There are many reasons to love Congress but one of them is actually the vendors. There was this Dilbert cartoon about “Friendors” – half vendor/half friend. Needless to day, Scott Adams had a very funny, slightly twisted point of view.

However, I find that vendors really are an incredibly useful resource – after all, while my problem seems just intractable to me, vendors are always “oh, that problem, well in the other 497 charities, I have seen the following 3 three things work really well.”

I also find that many vendors are willing to let me hire them for just a day or half day to help work through a problem. As a small fundraising shop, that can be an economical way to get the expertise I need without breaking the bank.

Which brings me to my beloved Friendor, Pam Gignac. Pam is a 3 for 1 deal because she has expertise in prospect research, Raiser’s Edge and fundraising. I have known Pam since forever and every year at Congress we catch up on kids, life, and data.

So the reason I knew that Pam was the solution to the problem I was facing (curse you complex list extraction) was because I had bumped into Jeff (her lovely spouse) when he was a vendor at Fundraising Day. Seeing Jeff, helped me connect the dots on how to solve my problem.

See, if you walk the vendor aisle, not only can you get a year’s supply of free pens and your body weight in chocolate, you can also reconnect with vendors, bounce a quick idea off of them and who knows, maybe even hire them to solve a problem (bless you, Pam for sorting out that fiendish list extraction).

Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE is the Executive Director of the WoodGreen Foundation and is a big believer in the strategic, selective use of expert advice.

Posted by & filed under Congress, Financial/Legal.

Kate Lazier, LL.B.
Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

Over the last few years the public has been hungering for more information on charities.  As a fundraiser it is important to know what information is publicly available about your charity.

Congress has a wealth of information to help fundraisers and in my session we will examine the various sources of information that are available to your donors and the media.  For those who want to get a head start on looking into their charity’s public image, the CRA’s website has a searchable listing of registered charities.  This website provides instant access to information, including:

  • a charity’s name,
  • address,
  • contact information,
  • registration number,
  • designation (charitable organization, public foundation, or private foundation), and
  • T3010 information returns for past years (which includes the names of directors or trustees, finances, fundraising costs and employee salaries).

It is a good idea to check out the charity’s listing and ensure the information is accurate.

Kate Lazier of Miller Thomson LLP will be speaking at AFP Congress 2011 on “Maintaining a Stellar Public Image”