Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications.

By Mo Waja

With AFP Congress arriving in a short 2 months, burgeoning and tenured thought leaders alike are preparing themselves and their talks to bring new, ambitious, and exciting ideas to the world of fundraising. But ‘thought leadership’ as a marketing activity isn’t something done just once a year or even once a month. It is not exclusive to large scale speaking events or even to a single guest blog post. Thought leadership as an activity or, more accurately, as a result is something that individuals and organizations commit to as a regular piece of their marketing mix.

 

Now, the idea of thought leadership is not new. In fact, ‘thought leadership’ as a marketing strategy has been in vogue for a number of years now. The challenge is that many individuals and organizations, particularly smaller organizations, can find the concept of taking on thought leadership daunting, particularly in the face of many larger organizations or more tenured leaders out there leveraging their much more developed content machines to pump out a near-continuous stream of articles, interviews, blogs, podcasts, and talks.

 

The first step is to recognize that ‘thought leadership’ or becoming a ‘thought leader’ is not a strategy. It’s not even a tactic. It is the result of consistent, quality content that is useful to your audience. To become a thought leader and create thought leadership content is to become an authority on a certain subject, within a certain field. Just as not everyone who picks up an instrument is a musician, not everyone who puts fingers to keyboard (feet to stage, voice to podcast, etc.) is a thought leader.

 

Thought leadership is something that must be established, not simply done. While one talk, interview, or piece of writing might put you on the map – it’s the cumulative work, experience, and expertise that brought you there that builds your foundation as a thought leader. For an organization seeking to become a thought leader in their industry, that becomes the collective work, experience, and expertise of all of your contributors. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Leadership/Management, Mentorship, Next Generation Philanthropy.

The woman I am today has a lot to do with the women I’ve met throughout my life. I come from a single-mother home. I have tons of outspoken, brave, hilarious aunties. I went to a university that had a student body of largely women. I work in a sector that is largely made up of women. I am an intersectional feminist. I love being surrounded by inspiring women and have been so lucky in my short career to be mentored by some of the most incredible women out there.

I’d like to take some time to recognize how they’ve shaped me.

When I began my first professional fundraising job, I had a boss who I immediately bonded with. A single mother. A feminist. An amazing and creative fundraiser. She encouraged my ideas and pushed me to dream. Her leadership transformed me into a confident fundraiser. It is because of her encouragement that I no longer believe there is a ceiling to what I can accomplish in my career. She became one of my best friends and continues to help shape and guide both who I am as a person and who I am striving to be professionally.

My professional association (Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Toronto Chapter) has a great mentorship program (check if your work has one and, if so, take advantage of it). When I joined, I was matched with an incredible woman who has been in the sector for over 30 years. She is a phenomenal writer and direct mail genius. Her depth of knowledge is never-ending and she is a shining example of a woman who has paved her own way, runs a successful business, and just generally kills it. When I was getting run down and stuck in a job I no longer loved, she helped me revise my resume and search for jobs – she actually found me the job I am currently in (and loving!). She taught me how to sell not just a cause, but myself. She taught me style and grace in dealing with difficult people and how to present myself for success in all things.

I am also constantly being led by women who have no idea that I am their protégé. I follow as many female leaders in my sector as I can on social media, attend as many workshops as possible, and take in as many drops of their wisdom as I can. The non-profit sector certainly has a long way to go when it comes to getting women into positions of power and adopting a more inclusive vision for our work. But at the same time, there is so much knowledge we can glean from those who have paved the way for us. I am inspired by the women in this sector who have fought for their dreams and for the betterment of the world.

Calling all young women:

Get a mentor. Get as many mentors as you can. Learn as much as you can. And then let’s get to work.

Calling all women who are established in their sector:

Be a mentor. Pull up the women who are behind you. Lend your wisdom and your experience. Remember that we are your legacy. And, above all: if you have privilege, use it! Help open doors for other women and do your part to bring those opportunities forward. The women around you may be facing more challenges than you, and it’s your responsibility to lift-up women of colour, trans women, and other marginalized groups. Remember – we’ve only truly reached equality if we all get there together.

Who has helped shape who you are at home and at work? Take some time today to email, call, or text them and let them know how impactful they’ve been for you.

The post was originally published on the Canadian Women’s Foundation blog.

About the Author

Deanna Codner is a creative and passionate fundraising professional. She is energized when bringing donors, new and old, alongside the non-profit sector’s mission to solve our society’s greatest systemic issues and prioritizes inclusion in her day-to-day work. In her spare time, you can find Deanna drinking Caesars at the cottage,or dancing around to musicals in her apartment.

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management.

 

Janice Cunning, ACC, CPCC, Leadership Coach, Life on Purpose

Values represent who you are, what is most important to you, and how you want to express yourself in the world. As fundraisers we are passionate about discovering our donor’s values and helping them express these through their philanthropy. Sometimes we get caught up in our own work and focused on meeting our goals and we forget to create space to explore and connect with our own core values. When we do this we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.

Three positive things happen when you honour your values:

wmi1. You feel motivated to take action

Think about something you need to do that you might have been avoiding. For example, you might have a set of call notes that you need to enter into the database. If this isn’t something you enjoy it can get pushed to the bottom of your list. Your values can help you find the motivation to complete this task authentically. If you value connection, then you can think about entering the notes as a way to deepen the relationship between your organization and the donor. If you value fun, you can make the task into a game by timing yourself and having a reward for beating the clock.

2. You can quiet your gremlins

We all have those voices that keep us stuck in the status quo. It might say you aren’t good enough or convince you that you don’t want to move outside your comfort zone. Truly connecting with your values can help you move forward despite these voices. Perhaps you want to apply for a promotion at work. Your gremlins might ask if you are qualified enough to do that job. They may tell you that a promotion will mean more work and less time for family. Your values are always stronger than the gremlins. If you value purpose then you can approach the decision from that perspective. You can reflect on how this new position will help you have a greater impact on your organization and those it serves.

3. You have a more fulfilling career

Values serve as a compass and point you in the direction of what will be most fulfilling and meaningful to you. This isn’t always easy. If you value honesty then there will be times you need to speak your truth even if it contradicts what your organization is planning to do. You will do this even if you are the lone voice speaking out. If you value stillness there will be times you have to say no people and tasks at work because creating space for yourself is key to your success. When you consciously choose to honour your core values you create a career that truly reflects who you are. And that is the ultimate goal.

So what are your core values? Your values are there inside you and you express them every day. However you may not have articulated them to yourself.

The simplest way to unearth your core values is to explore this question: “What must I have in my life for it to be fulfilling and meaningful?”

This is an exciting question that can be explored in so many ways – in thought, in writing, in pictures, or in conversation. Brainstorm a list of all the possibilities. Make sure you explore fully each aspect of your life. For example you might say I value my career. Explore what values are represented in your work, such as connection, contribution, making a difference, achievement, etc.

Spend a few days creating a list of words and phrases that represent what is most important to you. Use your own words and be creative. Once you have a full list, choose the 5 or 10 that are most important to you.

Now you are ready for the most important part – using your values to guide your choices each and every day. What will you choose to do today?

Janice Cunning is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach trained by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) with over 15 years of experience as a fundraising consultant and researcher. Janice was a Senior Consultant at KCI where she provided coaching to leading university prospect research departments with a focus on strategic planning, teamwork, and communication. Janice will be presenting at Fundraising Day 2015 in Toronto. You can follow her on twitter @janicecunning