Registration now open: March Connecting Coffee




Connecting Coffee Registration

Tuesday March 13, 2012
Topic: Foster Care
Special Guests: Philadelphia Department of Human Services
      Start time: 9am (promptly)
     End time: 10:15am (promptly)
     Location: 200 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA
      When you register you will be provided with the exact address. 

Is your business model up to date?


Have you thought about your business model recently? It’s not a question many nonprofits answer or even ponder. This article from Nonprofit Quarterly talks about six different business models for nonprofits:

Financial Independence: Six Approaches – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly – Promoting an active an engaged democracy..

I’ve  been reading “Business Model Generation” by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (see: I’m reading it ostensibly because I operate my own business and I’m about to convene a group of advisors to help me brainstorm some business model ideas.

And as I’m reading it, there are a good number of ideas for the nonprofits I work with. Strategic plans are the tool of choice these days, but I’m less enamored of these doorstops than some of my colleagues. Having a (lowercase) plan and a business model is so much more important.

  • Who are your customers?
  • What value do you provide
  • What are all of your potential revenue streams?

These are just some of the questions you will have to answer. You might surprise yourself with what you come up with. And it might shift your dependency on grants or one angel funder or all of those special events you hold each year.

(Thanks to Jen Hurley for suggesting I buy the book.)

Crowdfunding: my new obsession


I’ve become increasingly fascinated with crowdfunding. I saw a presentation at a conference last fall and now I see opportunities everywhere. Have you used crowdfunding? Would you? If you have any resources to share, please send them my way

Connecting Coffee. I need someone to help purchase coffee and pastries for this networking event.

– Volunteer Training video. We learned at a 2011 Connecting Coffee that some nonprofit agencies in Philadelphia are willing to share a resource for training volunteers, especially with cultural competency. The participants reported that their volunteers don’t understand poverty or its manifestations (for example, that a family’s phone might be turned on one day and turned off the next).

– Special projects at a nonprofit agency. Isn’t crowdfunding really just a grant application using video and social media?

How would you use (or, how have you used) crowdfunding?

Key tips: How to Crowdfund to Raise Money |

More Key Tips:

What the science says about your appeal letter


I am asked all the time about the “best” appeal letters. Everyone who asks is pretty sure that there is some science behind direct mail pieces. And there is science behind it. The science, however, is specific to each mailing and each agency.

The only way to know what the “best” appeal letter is for your group is to test it. Send out two letters, one is the “control” — the one you have used before. The other is the test with some new conventions (eg: full color envelope, 4 page letter, etc.).

Five acquisition tests: you choose the winner | SOFII.

In the link above, the author Willis Turner walks you through several tests and the results.  If you really want to know what works. Test it.

By the way, SOFII is an incredible resource. They have an extensive library of fundraising letters, nonprofit advertising and other articles.

Fun enough to bring in new people?



So many of us are trying to figure out how to get new people in the door for fundraising events.  This article has very creative ideas — targeted at young people.

These concepts can work for all of your supporters and their friends. You run the risk of alienating the folks who loved the event they had been attending for 10 years. BUT, it might also bring in those new people you couldn’t find for that beloved event. Worth a try?

Charity events buck tradition to draw young crowds – The Denver Post.

Structuring the day for success


Opening my own business, after a number of months, left me without the structure I’d had when I worked for someone else.  Without that structure, I wandered. I wasn’t nearly as productive as I knew I could be.  In 2012, with the help of some excellent guidance from a career coach, I’ve built my own structure.

– First, I found office space. Having a place to go and taking the time to get there and back is very helpful for my day. I walk 1 mile there and 1 mile back — a built in gym. During that time I come up with some good ideas and think about what I need to do (or wind down after the day so I can be ready for home).

– I write down my goals. Every day. These goals don’t change much from day to day. They are big goals. Dreams. I write them down so I remember what I am working for.

– I write down the tasks for the day. These are the things I need to do today so I can reach my goals at some point. On this list are client projects, questions I need to ask, ideas for a new direction. It even includes things I need to buy at the store. This clears up the busy-ness of my mind. I look at it throughout the day to get back on track.

– I meditate for 10 minutes. Nothing special here:  I do a quick google search for 10 minute meditations and play the first one that looks interesting. Taking this time to stop, breathe and take care of me makes my day much nicer — and at the end of the day the stress in my shoulders is always less when I take this time in the morning.

Following is a clip from the Harvard Business Review blog about rituals. I’m heartened to see he has similar things that he does.

Develop Productivity Rituals – Video – Harvard Business Review.