Part II: Nonprofit Self-Esteem Issues

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Andrew Swinney, in his master class sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, asked the group why there isn’t an association of nonprofit professionals.

In this article, they discuss nonprofit wages as an issue (Nonprofit Workers in San Francisco: The Forgotten Sector? – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly – Promoting an active an engaged democracy..).

But aren’t there other things we care about? Like the things that would benefit the people we serve? Women’s Way in Philadelphia has an advocacy program that addresses some of these issues. Would you join an effort to have a collective voice in issues that have an effect on our work?

Nonprofit Self-Esteem Issues

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On Wednesday last week I attended an Association of Fundraising Professionals (Philadelphia) class led by R. Andrew Swinney, president of The Philadelphia Foundation. A surprisingly small group of us spent the afternoon talking about nonprofit fiscal health. And Mr. Swinney spent that time prompting us to think about ourselves differently.

He did not prompt us to “think like businesses”. He did not tell us we needed program evaluation.

He told us to stop lying to our donors.

We in the nonprofit world are notoriously bad at asking for what we need to operate our businesses. We ask for what we think that person or foundation will give. Sometimes, that’s not enough.

In the following article at Social Innovation, there’s a nice give-and-take about how to respond to your donors when they push back and make unreasonable demands.  Financing not Fundraising: How to Rebut Crazy Donor Demands | Social Velocity.

Would you be able to do this? If you can’t, why can’t you?

Are you worried you don’t have the right stories?

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Are you worried that you don’t have the right (or enough) content to have a social media strategy?

Then it’s time to take a walk. Sometimes you need to break away from your day-to-day to see the content you do have on hand, readily available.

I know of an agency that taught photography in their after school program and never posted a single photo.

I know of an agency that visited Washington, DC, as part of an advocacy campaign with other like-minded organizations. And they didn’t tell any of their constituents.

What are you already doing? What is it going to take to get the entire agency working together to tell your story?

4 Ways To Create Brand Content People Actually Care About | Fast CompanyContent development and process begins with the organization. Perform a communication audit of existing collateral, creative assets, and positioning from the perspective of the customer. There are likely many existing content resources that with a bit of shine can be revitalized into powerful content marketing pieces–just take a look at the amazing photography that the New York Times incorporated into itsFacebook timeline. However, be a fierce editor, ruthless about sending things to the cutting room floor. Ask yourself honestly, “Is this any good?” “Do these images make me feel the right kind of something?” “Is this worth sharing?” In addition to reviewing existing materials, gather opinions about content opportunities and upcoming milestones from staff members. Involve your entire organization in a creative brainstorm to uncover the compelling stories that are already happening, ripe for the telling. 

Your fundraising hero: the development coordinator

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When we talk about fundraising we talk about building relationships and telling a story, strategy. I’d like to bring it down to the nuts and bolts: organizational skills. Nonprofit agencies should first hire a development coordinator — long before they hire a development director.  With training, he or she will be the hero of your agency.

The development coordinator is the person that keeps the fundraising calendar, follows up on meetings that the board and the executive director have and makes sure every note and gift is in the database. If you have a great development coordinator, you will raise money. And you will make your donors happy.

In small to mid-size agencies, we want to hire the Person Who Will Turn It Around. The Person Who Will Save Us. Please stop looking for that person.

Please start looking for someone who will organize the people who are already talking to donors. He won’t let anyone fall through the cracks. She will set up a lunch once the executive director has spoken with a potential donor. The coordinator is the key person for all of your fundraising activities.

In other words, the development coordinator structures your systems and processes. And then you can find someone to be your second donor relations person, your evangelist and strategist. In my experience, it is rarely one person who can do both well and at the same time.

Shameless plug: Work Better Consulting trains development coordinators.

Why do we forget about professional development for nonprofit professionals?

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Fast Company (see article via Nonprofit Quarterly below) is absolutely correct that nonprofits are a great place to learn leadership skills.

Why aren’t those same companies taking on nonprofit professionals to teach them about their worlds? It frustrates me that nonprofit agencies seldom invest in productive professional development. What if a fundraising officer could work with the business development team for a short period of time or as a collaborator on a project?

The benefits could be huge. And maybe both types of organizations would be able to hear each other better?

Nonprofits Offer Fertile Ground for Cross-sector Leadership Development – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly – Promoting an active an engaged democracy..

Photographing your mission

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Please, hire a professional photographer at least once a year to create beautiful images of your mission: renovated homes, families, smiling people, kids playing. In our world of Facebook and Pinterest (let alone your print newsletter and hand-written thank you notes), pictures still tell the story better than any sentence.

A volunteer is OK, but you’ll never know if what you’re getting is of the quality you need. Did you corral 20 people (the people who benefited from your program or volunteered at your event or donated to your cause) and then get photos you’re not proud to use?

Read this article, it’ll help. And then read part II.

How to Coordinate a (Cheap) Successful Photo Shoot for Your Nonprofit Part I.