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

Marc Ralsky, Director, Community and Donor Development
Ontario SPCA

“We paid our dues from back in the day.”

“I am 10 or 20 years into my career.”group-conversation

“I don’t have to talk to donors or see them or call them.”

“We can just shoot them an email.”

My sense is a lot of us in the sector have forgotten some of the basic components of making a connection and raising money:

  • Talking to people in the flesh, or a novel approach – on the phone!
  • Writing a handwritten note (have you seen your handwriting lately?)
  • Speaking to a donor or potential donor face-to-face, even if we are not the major gift officer or planned gift lead

We have all embraced the digital age – integrating this, integrating that, adding SEO and SEM to optimize and measure clicks and visits. We have multi-channel campaigns that are supported by social media, emails, maybe some telemarketing and then followed up by a reminder email or two. We have organizational websites that rarely link to people – though some in the sector have now added a “Click here to speak to a live person!” – a new experience!

Of course digital fundraising and all its associated activities provide us with great tactics that work. They raise money efficiently and effectively. I know they do – my team has won international integrated marketing awards. So, am I contradicting myself? No. But I realized there is a piece that was missing.

It ‘clicked’ for me during a visioning session with our vendors in a meeting before the holiday break. We came up with a key value in the animal welfare sector: the human-animal bond.  It got me thinking while walking my dogs before work on these past cold dark mornings: What about the human to human bond? What are we doing with that in our nonprofit charitable sector? Where did it go?

We rarely hear about our sector holding events that are not fundraising events anymore – events that plainly are designed so people can talk to others with interest in the same cause. Instead we invite our stakeholders to join a Facebook page or a private password protected microsite where people can download materials to read about their cause of interest, alone in their own space. We have removed the human bond obtained through direct in-person interaction.

I recently suggested the idea of holding education open house events in one of our centres that wants to re-invigorate its connection to the surrounding community. The response I received was WOW – what a great idea! They will come to us? Yes, I thought, just like they did before. Remember when people called into to charities asking for educational brochures to learn about various diseases and treatments? I think it’s now called inbound marketing…

We all attend conferences or breakfast meetings and more than 75% of the sessions talk about creating a relationship with your donors. Usually, the presentations focus on how to email them or get them to like and share your social media page. We spend more time at conferences with like-minded colleagues then we probably do talking to and mingling with donors and stakeholders at all levels of our organizations. And yet, we have somehow decided that it is no longer efficient to meet and interact with our donors in person.

People love people. Our worst fear as humans is being alone or feeling like we are the only one with a specific problem or interest. We like affinity groups! How about making strong in-person connections with people and keeping them on file longer?

My challenge to our sector is this: let’s get back to basics. Let’s integrate some real human to human bond back into our integrated inbound marketing strategies. Imagine what will happen if we do all the digital channels and add in some real opportunities to talk to our donors, stakeholders, clients and the public. Try chatting about why your charity was originally established and how the work you do is made possible each day. Think about the opportunities that will present themselves when people meet and find others who have the same issues or challenges or likes. Doors will open. People will see the faces behind the names and endless emails and texts they receive from us.

As our moms told us: Try it, you will like it!

Ralsky_MarcMarc Ralsky is Director, Community and Donor Development at Ontario SPCA. He is a seasoned fundraiser with close to 20 years experience working with organizations and volunteer groups to achieve successful outcomes.His practical streetwise common sense approach to peer to peer, event management and fundraising in general allows him to innovatively offer knowledge and experience to develop insights and recommendations that will help not for profit and volunteer groups to achieve measurable growth.

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Crowdfunding, Digital, Ethics, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Social Media.

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.

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

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.DON'T QUIT

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 Campion PhotoLaura 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.

 

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.