The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Often, it starts with a tragedy, illness, or fueling an ambition. Then it goes viral, raising thousands of dollars for someone in need or for a particular cause. This is the new world of direct giving. But as we see more personal crowdfunding, questions are raised about why we give, how the funds are distributed and what we expect of the role of community and the state in supporting one another. The Agenda takes a look the state of charitable giving in the age of disruptive technology. This program features Caroline Riseboro – AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Board Member and Senior VP of Development with CAMH Foundation.
Posts Categorized: Next Generation Philanthropy
Laura Champion, Donor Relations Coordinator – Direct Response
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada
At almost 30 I still want to change the world. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and I still truly believe that I will do that in my chosen career as a fundraising professional. Some would call me naïve and others would call me ambitious. Recently, I have had two conversations with fundraising colleagues who had completely different vantage points on the topic of ambition.
Colleague One was saying that career ambition is something she feels she should have but does not. While this makes her feel guilty, she has reached the point of wanting the regularity of the 9 to 5 knowing that her non-work life would fulfill her. At the same time, she feels guilty because so many others in our peer group are working toward something different. She also feels a little judged because she found happiness at a level in her career that was/is not enough for others.
In contrast, Colleague Two has been chomping at the bit for nearly two years as a fundraiser, making connections and speaking with people on how to innovate their organization. He hustled in the best sense of the word and has not seen the results that he wanted. He says, he has become so frustrated by the sector not embracing his level of ambition he has considered leaving fundraising all together. He is motivated by his desire to support a family but blind ambition has impaired both that goal and his career. His blind ambition is not only impairing his career goals but because he cannot find a job is hindering his ability to reach personal goals, like supporting a family.
I find myself somewhere in the middle of One and Two. There are weeks where I network with industry colleagues almost every day, reading up to 20 fundraising blogs, and checking out job postings to make sure my skills are remaining competitive. Then there are weeks where I just want to go home and catch up with my old friend Netflix. The difficulty of being a young educated professional is that we are bursting with ideas but are not in a position to implement. Some of us are lucky to have supervisors who let us channel this creativity in our roles but I know this is not the case for most.
So what is one to do about all this? How do you channel your ambition is without any of the side effects my colleagues are experiencing? So far this is what I have found works for me:
1) Know thyself. What is your ambition driving you toward? To make a certain salary level, to reach a certain title, to be valuable enough to make your own schedule and hours, to be out of the office in time to take the kids to soccer, or all of the above? Know what it is you want and then be judicious about how you get there. Saying yes to anything is a good way to open doors but if you are not careful it is also a good way to lose focus.
2) Eyes on your own paper. Ambition can be fueled by jealousy and internal expectation. Do your best not to worry what others and focus on what YOU can be doing to get where you want to go. It is an important reminder of what we all learned at a young age – it does not matter where anyone else on the test, or in this case their career, you will not succeed unless you focus on what you need to do.
3) This is a marathon. As a young professional, you have at least another 35 years ahead of you in your career. You cannot do it all at once. It can be frustrating in the day to day when ambition or lack thereof is nagging at you but know that whatever you are working toward will all come with time.
As I approach my 30s, I realize that ambition is going to continue to be an important piece of my career puzzle. So fellow fundraisers – how did you figure it out in the early days of your career? Did you find that driving ambition was helpful or tempered level of ambition was just fine?
Let’s talk about it. @charitablelaura
Laura Champion is Donor Relations Coordinator at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has a thirst for fundraising knowledge and is always open to discussion. You can find her on twitter @charitablelaura.
Tara George, CFRE, Senior Vice President – Lead, Search Practice at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.), talks career advice with Cynthia Foo, Grants Manager at Environmental Defence.
CF: If you had to pick three “must have” attributes for the fundraiser today, what would you say these would be?
TG: Goal orientation – Regardless of the fundraising role, the individual has to be able to formulate goals, marshal resources, and deliver results. This takes persistence.
Communications savvy – All messages, written and verbal, regardless of channel, have to reinforce the strategy and drive results. Fundraisers have to be exceptional listeners.
Service orientation – The fundraiser has to really seek to spotlight the cause and others’ priorities, rather than one’s own. And if you do that with effective communications savvy, those three things are really fundamental and critical.
CF: How important is the role of a good fundraising manager?
TG: People can learn and model, but training is a factor. In the fundraising world I often hear people describe themselves as a “solo warrior”, or a “lone wolf”. Fundraisers who started young, and never managed other people for example, can get stuck at a certain level because of lack of opportunities to obtain diversity of experience.
So my advice to fundraisers is this: gain people and business management skills – learn about theory, and gain knowledge of best and emerging practices. You don’t become a good manager by accident: continuous learning is a key ingredient of the recipe for success!
CF: What about advice for mid-career fundraisers?
TG: This is the time to broaden your scope of fundraising, gain experience in other areas beyond your narrow field of expertise and prepare for more senior positions. You don’t get to be the CEO if you are just a specialist!
However, I don’t think of a career as a ladder, I think of it as a web. For example, someone who starts in event fundraising may need to go sideways to go up a level. Their event position may lead to an expanded role in communications which develops into learning about digital fundraising, or deeper involvement in annual giving.
I often hear complaints that employers can’t pay for all of employees’ courses and their training, but I say that you are responsible for your life and career – so why wouldn’t you invest in yourself? Don’t let these things stand in the way. I paid for my MBA myself – it was tough, but it was important to my growth, and I’m glad I did it.
CF: What are the three most common mistakes when marketing oneself in the job market?
TG: People come in ready to present their skillsets but they don’t know anything about the organization. Do the research and show your passion and knowledge about the organization and the cause. And it needs to be genuine – you can’t fake it.
The second common mistake is that people are not properly prepared for the interview process. Make sure you understand the role and provide evidence to back up your success. I’m always surprised to see people who can’t clearly identify the metrics of their success – either in percentage or numbers of donors increased. For a group of people who hang their hat on dollars, identifying numbers in their resumes is a must!
Finally, the most common mistake: Being too self-centered – not showing examples of contributing to the success of others and not recognizing the importance of team work.
No one landed their first seven-figure major gift completely single-handedly. Most likely, there was someone who did prospecting, others who did stewardship in the organization and so on. Demonstrating how you work with others is important!
CF: What do you see as reasons for high turnover in the nonprofit sector? And what do you see as the current biggest challenges facing employee retention?
TG: Generally speaking, high turnover in any position in any sector is not healthy and it’s not good for the individual: it can stain their reputation. When there’s supply and demand, the perception that the “grass is greener on the other side” heightens the sense of opportunity. I think people really should do their homework to make sure they can be satisfied and happy where they are and where they think they would like to go.
In my role, I hear people comment that money is the main motivator, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Often people move for personal satisfaction – they want to learn and grow and be challenged. Of course, people want better titles and money. But more importantly, they want to have impact and be engaged in their work, to be respected. Managers can play a huge role in making employees feel really good about their accomplishments and excited about what they’re learning – even when the organization cannot offer more money.
In today’s market, employers are showing less loyalty, so employees are doing the same. I think it’s important that employers hire for values – when that happens, the turnover rates drop. Hire people for their values and retain like-minded people who want to stay.
CF: Thank you so much for your time, Tara! As a parting thought – what are some of the fun things you do in your spare time?
TG: I love to read! I especially love to read novels and read a couple of novels a week. Sometimes I read business books: I enjoyed The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther-McGrath, which I won as a door prize at Congress. She was an excellent speaker there that year. I also read “Thinking Strategically” by Harvard Business Review, and The First 90 Days by Watkins. Every morning I also scan the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the Harvard Business Review, in addition to a number of other sites.
Tara George, CFRE – Senior VP Lead, Search Practice, KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.)
As the Lead Consultant for KCI’s Search Practice, Tara has successfully led more than 150 recruitment assignments for a range of non-profit clients across Canada. A respected advancement professional with extensive networks in Canada and beyond, Tara has a clear sense of the strategic vision, leadership skills and business acumen necessary to succeed in the nonprofit arena.
Cynthia Foo – Grants Manager, Environmental Defence
Cynthia Foo is the Grants Manager at Environmental Defence,a national environmental charity that just celebrated its 30th anniversary. She helps strategize, secure and steward foundations’ giving to help her organization grow. She also currently sits on the AFP Toronto Ethics Committee, and serves on the Board of the West-End Food Co-op and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto.
Digital Fundraising Consultant, b.bold
People like me always tell you you are losing money by not optimising your web page for mobile, making better forms and clearer content and calls to action. But do you know just how much? I’ve seen some real world-examples lately, and even I was shocked at the sheer amount of money left on the table.
I worked with several appeals for different charities over Christmas, but let’s focus on two of them. Traffic sources where quite similar, and the call to action was pretty much equal, and both campaigns where very successful, and the landing pages where both as close as possible to the actual payment.
One charity managed to get 8% of its mobile visitors to pay. The other only managed to convert 2,5% of its mobile visitors. I did the math. If charity two also managed to convert 8% of their mobile visitors, they would have raised CAD $56.000 more. That is some serious money to walk away from!
Even if we take a lower estimate, like 5%, they would have raised CAD $22.000 more.
So what does this mean for you?
It means that if on a dedicated landing page, you are converting less than 5% of mobile visitors, you are leaving money on the table. Lots of money. I strongly encourage you to find out.
These are some of the things you should look into fixing:
- Make sure forms work for mobile visitors. Even if they make up a small share of your donations today, that might just be because you are scaring them away.
- Don’t ask unnecessary questions. Yes, it’s nice to know how old your donors are, or how they found you, but is it crucial to processing the donation? If not – get rid of it. Every extra field in your donation forms lower your conversions. You can always ask follow-up questions later.
- Does your layout indicate clear paths forward for the user? Pressing the wrong button and having to start over might just make someone give up. This is especially true on mobile, where horisontal scrolling suddenly has to happen to find action buttons.
- Remove distractions. Does the landing page for donations have banners leading elsewhere? Is the form hidden far down the page, under menus, copy and unnecessary images? Make it front and center.
Good landing page design is an art and requires expertise, but the tips above should get you started pretty good! Think about the donor first – what are his or her needs in this situation? Make sure you fulfill them – and you’ll see your digital donations climb steadily.
Beate is a well-known international public speaker, who runs digital fundraising consultancy b.bold. She has more than five years of digital fundraising expertise, most of which is from the Norwegian Cancer Society, where she among other things doubled the digital fundraising return. Her special interests are user experience, landing page and donation form design, content strategy and using social media for donor stewardship. You can follow her on Twitter @BeateSorum
Laura Champion, Donor Relations Coordinator – Direct Response
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada
I am bad with confrontation. My face turns red, I stare at my feet and my first instinct is to run and hide in the corner. It’s a good thing I’m on the phone!
But as fundraisers, we have all been there. The phone rings and on the other side is a very displeased donor. Someone has issued the wrong receipt, sent too much mail or not enough mail. Perhaps they were excluded from a guest list. The donor is unhappy and they want you to know it.
As a millennial, I have easily avoided phone calls most of life. Call display, voicemail, texting and email have made it all too simple for me to go through my whole day without actually speaking to anyone. This has made my conflict resolutions skills mostly text based.
But one of the reasons I am a fundraiser and more specifically, an annual giving fundraiser is that it gives me the chance to speak to so many people. Most interactions are positive and cause my heart to soar! But every once in a while they are not the same type of inspiring.
Since I have met quite a few text based millennials among my fellow fundraisers, I have put together a few thoughts on how to maintain your composure and ease that pit in your stomach:
1) My motto both in the workplace and out is “Be a person”. Remember the reason that the donor is upset could be heightened by something else going on in their lives. It is a reminder to be kind, be honest and be present for those around you. A kind word from me may be all this donor needs to get through a tough situation.
2) Do not take it personally. It’s easy to internalize the criticism, especially if the mistake was your own. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. When you’ve completed the call with the donor, take a walk or get a coffee and settle back in. It is too easy to carry negativity – be careful not to let it burn you out.
3) Donors want to be heard. Whether it is a compliment, a complaint or a story, people want to feel heard. It is our job as fundraisers to understand that donors are giving to our organization because of a connection. When they take the time to call you – hear them. They are telling you what you can do to retain them long term.
4) Donors do not call unless they care. They do not want to leave your organization – they just want you to make it right. These crisis calls are an opportunity to learn more about these individuals and their motivation for giving.
5) Tell me about a time when… Remember you are always learning and growing in your role. These crisis calls may be difficult but it is important to think of them as an opportunity to improve your skills and gather material for the next interview!
With so much talk emphasis on being donor-centric and taking donors through their journey, we need to remember there may be some wrong turns or road blocks. Ensuring that everyone in your organization understands how to deal with dissatisfied donors without taking it to heart will lead to a healthier organization and a healthier donor base. Retention is the new acquisition.
And keep in mind – you are not alone. We have all been through a crisis – it is part of what forms a great fundraiser. Relationship management means working with donors when they are happy and when they are not.
Laura Champion is Donor Relations Coordinator at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has a thirst for fundraising knowledge and is always open to discussion. You can find her on twitter @charitablelaura.
Philip King, Founder, The Donation Funnel Project
You’ve probably heard about the new Apple watch, but don’t plan to buy one soon. Unless you’re super geeky, and if so please see me after one of my presentations at this year’s Congress!
But I’ll bet you’ve upgraded your smartphone in the past 18 months.
Did it hit your radar that Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion earlier this year? Wonder why a social networking company would pay so much for a messaging app that is popular in Africa and India? The world is changing, particularly from a marketing and communications perspective, and it is becoming harder to get anyone’s attention, including donors.
Let’s consider your new smartphone: I’ll bet you spend more time on it than you did on your old one. In fact, I’ll bet you read your email pretty easily now on that small screen. You may even spend more time on Facebook than you did when Facebook was a desktop/laptop-only experience for you. And with recent upgrades to the cellular data speeds you spend more time using your mobile browser to visit websites, often linked from your email or Facebook.
If you’re having this experience, it’s not hard to imagine that your donors are too. Of course you’ll have all sorts of demographic tribes in your donor base: young/old, male/female, rich/not-so-rich. And these tribes will all behave in slightly different ways. But one thing is for sure: they’re all going mobile!
I’ll jump straight to the punchline: take out your smartphone. Go to your charity’s website. Make a $5 donation.
How did that feel? For most of you not so great. Still using only your smartphone try registering for that run/walk next month, or buying tickets to the gala dinner. You get the point. Our websites haven’t kept up with our donors’ handheld technology. Even websites that are “responsive” can be clumsy to use and result in “bounce” or an “abandoned visit”: two of the most dreaded terms for online fundraisers.
Now fast forward to the not-too-distant future and imagine when donors start reading their email, checking Facebook and visiting websites on their watch… Last year we could comfort ourselves and say “that’s OK, most of our donors visit our website or Facebook page on their laptops or desktops.” But for many fundraisers this changed in 2014. The mobile tipping point has already passed, or will happen sometime in the next 12 months. Try this: get your team to estimate which month your “tipping point” will occur for your organization: the month at which most of your website audience will view you through a mobile device.
If you’re interested in topics like this I hope you’ll join me for one of my sessions at Congress, and we’ll discuss questions such as:
- How much lower are average smartphone donations compared to laptops and tablets?
- Who is doing a great job with mobile communications, and what does that look like?
- What opportunities will mobile give us to find new donors and new dollars?
Philip King is the founder of The Donation Funnel Project: an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. Prior to that he has a long and successful track record as a digital fundraiser as the President and CEO of Artez Interactive, VP of Mobile for Cornerstone, and VP of E-Business at the United Way of Greater Toronto. He has worked with some of the world’s leading fundraising teams including Comic Relief in the UK, Leukaemia Foundation in Australia, UNICEF and SickKids Foundation in Canada, and the Humane Society of the United States. Philip will be presenting at Congress 2014 and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilipKingIV
Angela Simo Brown – Director of Social Change Strategy and Co-founder
AIR MILES for Social Change, AIR MILES Reward Program/LoyaltyOne
Gamification is here to stay – and charities would do well to use this concept to make giving fun. It is important for charities to capitalize on our human habits and desires in order to grow donations in a shrinking donor base environment. We like games, we like our phones, and we like being winners. We also are looking for purpose and meaning and how we can make a difference. Mobile gamification for charitable causes can give us what we need.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either. Instead of building a game from scratch, charities should look to a corporate partner to co-create the solution. One example is mobile game developer XEOPlay who created Tilt World, a game that helps to reforest Madagascar. Points earned in the game translate to tree seeds purchased for and on behalf of the tree-planting charity WeForest. XEOPlay’s goal is to plant 1 million trees in Madagascar, which is suffering from the effects of deforestation. Another example is Games for Good, who donates a fraction of a cent to charity every time you play their games. Or more simply, it can be a voting game, like Fido and Evergreen’s 2011 ‘Share Your Care’ program. Fido donated $100,000 that was divided between 20 different local environmental projects based on Canadians voting online for their favourite project.
AIR MILES for Social Change has been partnering with different charities for the past 4 years by using reward miles as a carrot to increase giving and engagement with nonprofits. We infused gamification and behavioural economics motivational concepts into these initiatives with good success and have learned a lot in the process. Here is a list of top 5 lessons we’ve observed on how charities can best engage with today’s donor:
- People give to be personally recognized, not necessarily because they are emotionally connected to the cause: People like to be seen giving – in fact for many nowadays this is the main reason they give. They want their peers to see the good they have done, and some are defining their giving as a social measure of their personal success. So a tax receipt and thank you letter just aren’t enough anymore. Charities need to make sure that they are giving the types of recognition that people want today, and often social media recognition to the most cost-effective tool to use.
- People give to support their friends vs the cause more than ever: Fundraisers where donors reach out to their network have been around for years. These programs are generally more successful because people like to support their friends. The next evolution of fundraising is in driving more value from peer-to-peer donor networks. Crowdfunding is exploding. See the amazing success of pooling platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Causevox. Charities should piggyback off of these platforms and capitalize on their popularity.
- People want frequent touch points of thanks and celebration for their giving: Social media has trained us all to expect frequent virtual hugs and celebration by way of badges, trophies, congratulations and thank yous. We want to be told all the time how good we are. Rightly or wrongly, these are the new table stakes and charities need to give this recognition and appreciation to their donors more frequently. The thanks and recognition can be small, fleeting, and inexpensive to deliver at a regular cadence via social media.
- People want experiences to be social and fun: Gamification is one way to do this, as well as events where donors can be active participants, plus consumer-led social media movements like the Ice Bucket Challenge. Although movements are a fleeting and time-limited way to fundraise, the way that people engaged with the Ice Bucket campaign is different than ever before. Making giving into a game has proven to be a great way to engage a high number of people across multiple demographics and regions, and is an emerging trend that charities can’t afford to ignore.
- Youth want to make a difference hands-on: Youth want to tangibly experience the difference they are making, and just making a donation to an organization to do the work for them doesn’t suffice for this cohort. They want to donate their time, energy, spirit and dollars to grassroots organizations, and the most successful programs are going to be led by youth. See the popularity of giving initiatives such as community Giving Days, or PhilanthroTeens.” In addition to the hands-on experience, youth want to be able to share their experiences with others. Social media and games are the best way to engage the new youth donor segment.
The other key success factor is of course, mobile. People love their phones and the more they can do with their phones the more they will engage with your brand and the cause.
A megatrend of our time is that people are actively looking for new and impactful ways to make a difference. Charities offer up all the things we are looking for but they need to proactively shake up the way giving is done today. Gamification, crowdfunding and behavioural economics will be three key elements for successful, fun and rewarding giving programs of the future.
Angela leads the shared value, cause marketing strategy and program development for the AIR MILES Reward Program, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program. Under Angela’s leadership, AIR MILES has developed over 25 innovative program partnerships across the public, nonprofit and private sectors that have driven record increases in positive behavior change in healthy living, energy conservation and increased transit use. An engaging speaker, Angela has spoken at many conferences about the power of creating shared value using social change and cause marketing strategies.
Adam Lowy, Executive Director, Move For Hunger
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of creating real change. Nonprofit organizations talk about this quite a bit when they’re communicating with donors and foundations. You see it all the time in social media posts and fancy marketing pieces. But what does this really mean? Are we, as non-profit organizations, actually fixing problems, or are we just raising awareness that change needs to happen?
When I founded Move For Hunger five years ago, I really didn’t know much about the non-profit space. I didn’t even know anything about hunger – the problem I was trying to affect. Rather than start with a cause, we were able to work backwards with the solution.
My family has owned a moving company for over 90 years. After years of seeing non-perishable food get thrown away when people moved, we decided to ask people to donate their food during their moves. Our moving company was in the home anyway, so it really didn’t create any extra work. The food bank was just a few miles away. It just kind of made sense. Customers LOVED it! And why wouldn’t they? People want to work with companies that give back to the community. Companies are always looking for new ways to connect with customers. Add in the donation of food to local food banks and we’ve created a win – win – win!
We’ve since grown to mobilize over 600 moving companies across the US to deliver over 3.5 million pounds of food to our nation’s food banks and pantries; this is enough to provide over 3 million meals to individuals in need. With over 50 million Americans struggling with hunger, our work is only just getting started.
As Move For Hunger continues to grow, I find myself thinking about what we are really doing here. The real problem we are tackling is food waste. 40% of all food is wasted. The simple idea of rescuing food when people move is actually quite powerful when you scale it throughout an entire industry across an entire continent. We are literally changing the business processes of hundreds of small businesses and mobilizing them for a common cause. By creating a process that both moving companies and consumers want to participate in, we can guarantee its sustainability for generations to come.
If our goal, as nonprofit organizations, is actually to fix problems, then we need to begin to think more about process oriented solutions. We need more collaboration with our for-profit counterparts. We need to mobilize existing resources in a way that doesn’t detract from the bottom line. Companies won’t cut charitable initiatives that are helping increase profits.
In order to actually solve so many of the major problems our world is facing, we need to think less about our brand and our donors, and more about the sustainability and impact of the programs we put in place. If Move For Hunger was to shut its doors tomorrow, there would be hundreds of moving companies rescuing food and delivering it to those in need. If we are able to create an industry standard, then there is no need for our organization to exist, and we can move on to the next problem to be solved.
I am encouraged by the innovation I have seen in the nonprofit space over the past few years, and challenge some of our nation’s leading charitable institutions to take a step back and ask the question: Is the work we do actually fixing a problem or merely providing a short term solution? Though both create value, only one creates real change.
After seeing so much food go to waste, Adam launched Move For Hunger to mobilize relocation companies to rescue food during the move. Adam was included among Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2014 and proudly represents the NYC Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. In 2011 he became a Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellow and was honored at the VH1 Do Something Awards and NBC American Giving Awards.
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.”
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.
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 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.