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Register Now for Harvest’s latest Webinar “Women Lean In, On and Out” June 24, 2014

In change management, Discussables, Innovation, Inspiration, Webinar on June 17, 2014 at 10:57 pm

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Women Lean In, On and Out

Harvest Development Group’s Director of Client Engagement, Jeanne Boyer Roy, back from Indiana University’s School of Philanthropy Symposium this Spring, shares her thoughts on this extraordinary symposium. Join us for the second in Harvest’s Women Leading Philanthropy webinar series —  Women Lean In, On and Out.  This thought provoking presentation will bring to life the serious issues facing women leaders today. Learn why it is up to the women who are there at the governance table for nonprofits to Lean ON and OUT to their male colleagues in order to change the board culture. We hope you will join us for this insightful webinar.

Date: Tuesday, June 24th
Time: 12:30pm EST
Link:   https://harvestdevgrp.clickwebinar.com/Women_in_Philanthropy__Lean_in__Lean_out__or_Lean_on_/register

The Golden Rule of Fundraising

In change management, Fundraising, nonprofit organizations on March 22, 2014 at 1:32 pm

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When you don’t see the value in your donor prospects, they don’t see the value in you.

I’ve come to realize that nonprofits have what companies spend millions on– a pool of qualified prospects that represent customers who are interested in their product. Businesses, large and small, have entire teams of people devoted to the “sales” side of their business equation. They have entire departments focused completely on generating and then cultivating those new prospects. They do this because they know how valuable these leads are. They are worth their weight in gold, literally. In fact, many companies actually calculate the value of a lead, figuring how it translates into essential revenue.

And yet, few NPO’s I’ve come to work with have acquired a strategy related to this pool of prospects and how to move them to a “sale”. Do you know the financial value of a lead for your organization?

It doesn’t matter if your NPO is in healthcare, academics, social services or the arts. Every month you generate new major donor prospect leads that lay unnoticed. And these unnoticed leads, that are not being cultivated, are leading to revenue loss for your NPO.

Your lead generating system includes obvious things like events, but consider new clients and volunteers, people who signed up for your newsletters and RSS feeds, and people who inquire about your services and programs. But collecting these is a just a waste of time, if you don’t have a plan that you act upon.

There are four things ways you can capture prospects that are new to your organization. Let’s call them them our “First in the Door” prospects. These people have expressed an interest in you. It might not be as obvious as a lead saying “Hey, I like what you do, put me on your radar screen for a donation.”  It probably is more common that they have attended an event, as a guest or a participant, had been present at a workshop or lecture, read your blog or newsletter, or maybe requested information on your program for a friend. I can think of a recent personal example of this.  In January, my 80 year old father came to live with us and I contacted a not for profit senior housing and assistance group to learn more about their organization. While they sent it right away, no one from the group has since reached out or shared other information on their organization with me, even though we had chatted about the challenges of being a not for profit and their upcoming building campaign! I could be a terrific prospect for a donation, but I get the impression that they don’t value me as one. So, I’ll move focus my attention on another charity.

To help you with those First in the Door prospects, here are four really solid things you should be doing to get them the information they require to build rapport:

1) Email response with material. For every new person that is entered into your database- client, guest, or vendor- you should have an email mechanism thanking them for their involvement with your group (appropriately) and delivering to them literature on your organizations message. Remember stories sell, don’t push them away with statistics, but tell them a story that brings them closer. This material could be in the form of an ebook, a slide deck, or a video.

2) Blog. I can’t say this enough, blogging is a simple, inexpensive way to stay in front of your prospect pool and current donors. 250 words takes under ten minutes to prepare but represents days of retention with your supporters.  You already know they are interested, keep them engaged with a regular flow of blog posts about your work. Again, stories, stories, stories. Include a call to action or a response mechanism for further information. Send your First in the Door prospect this blog, link in a follow up email to the one above. Ask them to sign up for future posts.

3) Lectures and informational sessions.  I recently received a beautifully prepared pamphlet on upcoming arts and music lectures that interested my husband and me.  The series was to be held twice monthly and had some interesting speakers, including local historians speaking on New England music, an old folksinger of local fame, and a representative talking about a local non- profit art museum. This series did not come from an arts organization, but from a senior housing facility, a different one I had called upon.  Brilliant! I’m going to attend some of these programs, and I am excited about learning more about this innovative group that markets themselves so well.  My point is, they kept me engaged by attracting me to a program that they knew I, as their audience, would be interested. They could have easily invited me to a lecture on issues of caring for an aging parent, and I would have attended. But they diversified and offered me a value added opportunity as well.  I like them already. Your informational sessions can and should be about your services, but also about those things your audience likes. Do your research, know your prospects and clients.

4) Social media. It’s not for fundraising. I can’t stress enough how ineffective Facebook and other social media strategies are in actually raising a dollar. However they are invaluable when it comes to performing in the way they were intended—building your tribe of supporters and deepening your relationships.  Instagram pictures of your team, your clients (with permission of course just as you would do for your newsletter), and your daily activities. Instagram is informal, no need to save it for big activities. Tweet out information on upcoming activities, current successes, and research that relates to your work. Create Pinterest boards relevant to your work. Talk daily with your prospect pool on Facebook. Create a discussion group on LinkedIn. Invite your First in the Door prospects to all of this.

Right about now you’re saying “Oy!!  I don’t have time for all of this!!”  You won’t have any time, at all, if you don’t do this, because these people whom you are currently ignoring will not be your donors in the coming months. And without donors,  you’ll have no programs to offer. Ignoring your pipeline of prospects is putting your organization on ice, ignoring your financial future, and telling those people who have already said they are interested in you, that you don’t value them. They will leave, you can count on it.

Take a look at your organization today, create a strategy for cultivating those First in the Door prospects and decide who will be responsible for carrying out this prospect generating process. Many companies (and nonprofits) envy you for the pool you are building, show them you value your prospects as much as they do.

In Defense of your Board . . . Let Them Lead.

In Board, change management, consulting, nonprofit organizations on February 20, 2014 at 11:17 pm

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One of the most prevalent challenges for the nonprofits we work with is board development.  The conversation usually starts like this: 

ED: “I really need help with my board.”
HDG:  “What kind of help?”
ED: “They don’t actually do anything. They come to the meeting, I give them reports, they listen, then they give me ideas that I can never implement and they go home. And they don’t support us financially at all or not nearly enough.”
HDG:  “So what do you want them to do?”
ED: “Raise money:”

In defense of your board, you cannot expect them to perform at level that has not been clearly articulated.  The first steps toward rectifying this situation is a review of the organization’s board governing documents, processes, major giving program and cultivation events, and the board’s understanding of their role in the organization.

And, this is what we often find:

  • No role and responsibility documents outlining what each board member is expected to do, when, how, and with whom.
  • A role and responsibility document is in place, but it does not state how much the board member should give, nor what they should be doing or how they should help fundraising.
  • A role and responsibility document that is visionary, but not concrete i.e.”The board member will advocate for the organization in the community.” Huh?
  • A board agenda that has the Executive Director talking 90% of the time.
  • No, or very few, sub committees to do the heavy lifting of the board.
  • A board that is led by the Executive Director, who makes the agenda, sets the tone and runs the meeting.
  • A board chair who has no idea why he or she is there, and what to do once they have arrived.
  • An organization that has not developed a strategy for how their board will govern, and what outcomes and outputs they will expect and measure from the board.
  • A board that is not allowed to lead.

So often we hear from organizations that are challenged by their board’s inability or unwillingness to lead and govern or get involved in moving their organization forward. Most of the time, though, we find that it is the organization that is at odds with what to do with its board. There is a fine line between a board that governs and one that meddles. But even their meddling is often just their way of trying to be relevant in a situation that leaves them feeling lost.

Getting a board development strategy in place, and getting your board working effectively requires only four components:

1. An articulated vision for why your board exists and what you want them to achieve (outputs) and impact (outcomes).

2. A relationship (shared partnership) between you and your board chair. Build this together.

3. A set of governing documents that not only covers legal requirements,  but also communicates your expectations.

4. Programs that give your board freedom to engage Now back away and let them lead.

That’s it. Building your board as a program, with strategy, actions, timeline, expected outcomes, immediately strengthens your board’s position and their leadership role in your organization. Taking the time and investing the resources in board development can, quite often, be the most important thing you do for your nonprofit’s mission.

Empower your board to lead. Free yourself. Improve your results.

It’s Not What You Tell Your Donors, It’s How You Say It

In change management, consulting, Fundraising, nonprofit organizations on February 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

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I’ve seen my share of “donor death” due to the academic delivery of every specific detail relating to an organization’s mission.  It’s not pretty. First the eyes glaze over and the face slackens, the brow slightly furrows, then the fingers fret with each other as the donor begins to avert his eyes. This is quickly followed by phone checking, paper rustling, and long loving glances at wristwatches.  When this happens, there is no question that the end is near.

When a donor goes into this death spiral, the organization must work harder to keep the donor engaged and interested. Hard work requires more resources and additional resources are expensive. It is far more effective for organizations to understand the dynamics of donor engagement before the meeting.  Spending a minimum of upfront time, determining how to tell your organization’s story in an effective and engaging manner rather than reporting your organization’s destination will pay dividends.

Nonprofits as an industry, we are in love with our science. We love the academics and inner workings of our profession. It’s our passion for the science of what we do that drives us to perform. But frankly, for our donors, it’s the pedestrian, everyday results they can relate to that fires their engines.  I am reminded of a 1970s advertisement produced by Crispin and Porter, that illustrates this point (see above). Telling someone you need to get to a destination is uninteresting and even boring when you compare it to sharing with someone your need to connect with humanity, your family, your loved ones. Same message, but a very different emotion attached to that message.

Check your language. Review your letters, materials, your website. Are you alienating and potentially killing off your donors with your technical speak? Are you telling them where you need to be, rather than sharing with them what or who you want to become. They don’t need the details or the destination. They need the information that will spark their emotions, encourage engagement, and keep them excited about your cause.

How to Start a Movement

In change management, Discussables on February 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

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“Set yourself on fire with passion, and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”

You can’t lead movements without passion for your cause. I don’t care if your movement is for profit or nonprofit, you have to be on fire for your mission, product, service, goals. This however has much risk.

First is the risk of being alone in your passion. We are a people hard wired to belong in groups, in tribes. Seth Godin makes a great argument for that in his book by the same name, “Tribes”. Being alone requires one to be unafraid, to overcome their fears of ridicule, judgement, rejection, or attack. Being alone means bearing through the anxiety of uncertainty and the prospect of failure. Will I remain alone? Will anyone join me? Is this truth? What if I’m wrong? Being alone in your passion for your cause also bears the possibility of alienation. Look at the scripture persona of John the Baptist. He was labeled insane and spent years wandering the desert alone because very few joined his cause for a very long time. But then, he changed the world.

Secondly, being on fire for your passion requires you to inspire others. To find just the right actions to get others to join you. The risk in this is doing the wrong thing. Is there such a risk? Is doing the wrong thing a permanent fault?

Finally, being on fire for your passion can hurt. Risking your emotional well being requires bravery and piety, putting aside your own needs for the needs of the cause. And yet everyday, we are inspired by people who HAVE set themselves on fire for their cause. And there is a formula, as evidenced in this TED Talk by Derek Sivers.

The formula can be condensed into this:

  • You can’t be successful unless you are ON FIRE for your cause.
  • Passion drives performance. Feel your cause and let it move you to action.
  • Passion is contagious. Mentor others through your actions, words are a dime a dozen.
  • Have patience. Passion hears ‘no’ as Not Now.
  • Develop and deepen your faith. Trust that what you believe in will have followers. Somewhere. Sometime. If one person believes it, there ARE others.
  • Embrace your early followers and empower them to own the passion and the cause. Leadership means stepping aside to enable the growing fire to burn freely.
  • Celebrate small victories. New followers are like gold, treat them to a joyous celebration.
  • Think allow, not how. Once the fire burns, controlling it can consume you. Know that your passion has ignited a cause and it’s ultimate outcome is driven by your tribe of similarly passionate people.
  • Most importantly, be brave.

A world driven by passion is a world on fire for change.

The Long Tail of Events

In Board, change management, Discussables, Events, Innovation on November 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Spirited presentation this morning at the Ct Philanthropy Day Conference, around the translational opportunities with Events. It just takes a new perspective, for everyone, to make what has become a drudgery of futile transactional activities (events) into an amazing value added Long Tail translational opportunity!

Let me tell you what I mean by Long Tail. Webster defines Long Tail as:

A frequency distribution pattern in which occurences are most densely clustered close to the Y-axis and the distribution curve tapers along the X-axis. The long tail refers to the low-frequency population displayed in the right-hand portion of the graph, represented by a gradually sloping distribution curve that becomes asymptotic to the x-axis. In most applications, the number of events in the tail is greater than the number of events in the high frequency area, simply because the tail is long.

Did I lose you yet?!?

What it’s saying simply is the value of what is at the head (left) of a graph is not equal to and is less than the value of what exists collectively within the long line to the right. Here’s what that looks like:

Long Tail Graphic

Long Tail Graphic

In our theory on the Long Tail of Events, that equates to the Event itself being the head and the value from that event being greater than the event, that’s the tail.

Got it?

Measuring the value of our events is a long term view- we don’t measure the value of our acquisition appeal against that single appeal. If we did, we would determine that our ROI was a negative and we would stop. We measure the value of our acquisition appeal against a long term view that includes the cost benefit of collecting new prospects in our major gift pipeline and the cash value of those major prospects over time. Similarly we don’t measure the value of grant writing against a single grant submitted. Losing proposition financially. Instead we measure the value of grant writing against a long term aggregate of return on investment.

Then why do we allow our organizations to continue to measure the value of an event against itself as a single activity?

To expect your event to have a long-term financial value to your philanthropy requires a different perspective on event planning. It changes the way you think about and plan objectives for your events. It turns your inviting process on its head, giving a you a laser focus on attendees, and it places your board central to the development of this Long Tail. It demands data driven strategy on donor engagement and a commitment to numbers and dates as deadlines.

It can be done.

We’ll be developing a webinar on the Long Tail of Events in the coming months. We’ll show you what we mean and I guarantee you’ll walk away wanting to chase the Long Tail.

 

Intellectual Capital -or- He who has the best brains wins.

In change management, Innovation, strategic planning on August 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Intellectual Capital

               “We have moved from an economy of hands to an economy of heads.”

How are you managing the ‘heads’ of your organization?

The growing power of ideas – as manifested in innovative programs, policies and processes – is the key differentiator for a successful nonprofit organization.

This means that the most important resource in your nonprofit is not your donor database, or your special event… it’s the heads that walk through your door every day. These heads make up the differentiator known as Intellectual Capital.

Building your organization’s Intellectual Capital has become a science that has been shown to propel programs, services and fundraising, to higher standards of success.

To raise Intellectual Capital in your nonprofit in today’s competitive environment, create a culture that encourages creativity, innovation – get that good stuff out of those heads- and one that keeps your best heads around.

What are some signs that you are not leveraging the Intellectual Capital of your organization? Thomas Stewart, early proponent of the concept of Intellectual Capital through knowledge management states “like Lyme disease, knowledge management problems have  symptoms that sometimes mimic other problems.” Each of these symptoms indicate that people in the organization are not finding knowledge, moving it around, keeping it refreshed  and up to date, sharing it, or using it. (Zurbuchen, 1998)

Here is what to look for to determine where your organization stands in nurturing Intellectual Capital:

  • Same Mistake – seventh time.
  • Duplicated effort
  • “Silos”
  • Someone is out, and work comes to a halt
  • Consistent loss of materials and information for routine projects and processes
  • Goals and Objectives consistently not met
  • Poor customer feedback on performance
  • High turnover of excellent performing staff
  • Declining values: Financial, Performance, Membership
  • Poor Employee Morale

This list is not exhaustive but you get the picture, it’s a great illustration of the environment experienced by nonprofits who have not yet placed knowledge management of Intellectual Capital as a core business function.

Growing and retaining Intellectual Capital requires strategy, plan and measurement.

Growing Intellectual Capital

Some steps to take in growing Intellectual Capital:

  1. Make sharing knowledge easy: Create an organizational Wiki, a place for staff to enter learned concepts and share information or ideas.
  2. Encourage online communication: Organizational bulletin boards where your brightest can test theories through communication
  3. Reward innovative thinking: Most organizations are risk averse. This translates into new processes and programs meeting significant pushback. Flip your model of operating around to encourage, embrace and reward new processes and programs.

Retaining Intellectual Capital

Findings from the 2012 national Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey conducted by Nonprofit HR Solutions indicate that three-quarters of nonprofits do not have any formal strategy for retaining staff. That’s money out the door.

What are the key factors in retaining your Intellectual Capital investment? Surprisingly, in repeated studies of the nonprofit sector, rate of pay is not as important to retention as you may think. Here is what is important:

  1. An environment that encourages and rewards autonomy. That means self-direction, flexible work hours and environment (work from home, café, beach) and a results only measurement model. Innovative people like innovative work styles.
  2. Frequent, positive and meaningful feedback on work results. Especially with our newer generation of rising stars, Millennials thrive on feedback. This is a generation that, for good or bad, had helicopter parents, teachers and coaches, giving direction, encouragement and correction at every step.
  3. A role that requires diversity of talents, skills and functions. Many of the most successful people I know, have an entrepreneurial attitude about their work, even if they don’t own the company. Unlike multi-tasking (doing many things at once), multi-talenting is using a variety of talents, learned experiences and ideas in the execution of your work.
  4. Collaborative work. As a society, we have gained an addiction to tribal-ness: the desire to be affiliated and interrelated in our communication, experiences and work efforts. Collaboration also has the benefit of growing your Intellectual Capital through knowledge management. It needs to be encouraged.
  5. Work that is meaningful. Your creatives, innovators and those who are bringing the most Intellectual Capital to your organization, want to know that the results they are accomplishing actually are feeding into higher levels of success. Show them the corollary in an authentic and factual way.

Intellectual Capital is a key driver for competitive advantage in today’s environment for the nonprofit sector. He who grows the brightest and holds them, wins. Therefore, Intellectual Capital is an important, if not THE important, resource that nonprofits need to develop in order to gain sustained strategic advantage increasing their effectiveness in serving their constituency  and funding their mission.

Innovation as a Culture…..

In change management, Discussables, Random, Retail ideas on August 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm
It all started with a statistic in 2006, repeated in 2011: Two thirds of all executive directors of US nonprofits intend to retire by 2016 (Cornelius, Moyers, & Bell, 2011).

That led to a thought: Filling those positions are Gen X and Y, who work so very differently and embrace a culture of Innovation

That led to a fear: Is our industry prepared?

That lead to a revelation: We need to focus hard on developing Innovative Cultures now, in order to weather the shift.

Innovate: Verb

1: to introduce as, or as if, new
2: to effect a change in 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2012
 

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society. Innovation builds on existing ideas. It is not to be confused with Invention. The Printing Press was Invented, the Kindle was Innovative.

If our Grandparents were Inventors, then Gen X/Y are Innovators. They may not own the market on Innovation, but lead the charge and drive the process. Their Innovative spirit causes them to see work differently, and for those working in the Nonprofit Sector, and stepping into the vacuum of leadership soon to be created, that could be a challenge.

The exiting generation of Boomers tend to believe work was for life and WAS life. After all, they created the ‘workaholic’ and ‘superwoman’ concepts. The Gen X/Y to come, view work and their work life much differently. They are traditionally seen as individualistic, self-reliant and skeptical of authority. They expect great workplace flexibility. They are tech savvy and seek diverse groups. The speed and ease of the Internet  and its subsequent vast knowledge base, has led the ‘Net Generation’ of Y and Xer’s to be flexible and changing in its consciousness and with how it is communicated. We can see how this is in great contrast to the current environment of the risk averse, staid and steady world of the nonprofit.

However, we have seen some break-outs in the industry, nonprofits that have jumped the fence to do things differently, and with great results. For these nonprofits, we see that Innovation provides bold, new approaches to the way they work; they have decidedly replicated and integrated what can be learned from other disciplines; and they have provided ideas and strategies to our industry on how organizations can better foster new ideas and solutions to challenges and mission need.

Which is just the type of culture required to manage through such a massive shift in leadership, that is pending in our industry in the coming years.

What is needed for your organization to jump the fence into a culture of Innovation and to stand apart and excel in the approaching change?

Here are some simple and manageable ideas to get started.

1) Create and/or Embrace Your Constraints:

An excellent line from Marnie Webb, CEO of TechSoup Global, reflects “Innovation happens when people work within constraints — in an environment of not enough — and they figure out how to do it anyway.”  (Webb, 2011).   Well, doesn’t that just describe the EVER PRESENT environment of most, if not all, nonprofit organizations? So lack of resources, lack of time, lack of experience is a benefit and not a detriment to your Innovation.

Inspire a spirit of can do in your team: Teach them to routinely say to the world, “I know you said we can’t do this, but we are  going to figure a way that we can.”  A fun way to do this is to challenge your staff each month with one new problem to solve. It can be simple or complex, but make sure there are no single ‘right’ answers expected, and that all respondents get an encouraging word about their creativity in designing a solution. Take a look at the monthly responses and find one or two things that can be implemented from each, to make this activity actionable and inspiring.

2) Data is fuel for Innovation:

Research has had its day recently in the public square of discussion among the nonprofit set. It wasn’t until this recent decade though, that many nonprofits began to wake up to the fact that data drives exceptional performance. Metrics on outcomes of service and mission performance, as required now by grantors; benchmarks on philanthropy, collected and aggregated to drive decisions on fundraising expenditures; demographics on constituency that support political advocacy and marketing investments – all data driven for enhanced results.

Data drives Innovation as well.  How many experiments do you have currently going in your organization? What are you currently testing? If the answer is nothing, the future may look bleak for you. Testing gives you all the raw data you need to begin to get creative and innovate existing projects and services. Without it, you’re shooting in the dark.

It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start. Test something every week, every month and have a few tests going at the same time. Overall, testing does not significantly impact resources devoted to your project: You’re already completing the project with all the resources you have and need. Testing requires a simple tracking methodology.

A simple trial test, to get yourself and your staff acquainted with a culture of testing, is to develop a survey used with every donor/donation received. The survey can ask some common demographic questions, but also some quirky ones:  What color would you paint your car if you could paint it any color? What did you want to be when you grew up? What’s your favorite treat food?

The resulting data can be a rich playground for your team to get creative. What if more than 75% of your donors said Popcorn was their favorite treat food? How could you use this information to better your appeals, raise more money, sign up more volunteers, get more people to your programs? You could also take that quirky data, create an info-graphic and share with your constituency, giving them all an intimate look at the tribe they are part of in supporting your mission!

3) Free Access, Embrace Risk:

Let your staff play. Open up their access to the internet, create an environment of walking around to work, withhold judgement, encourage impossible dreams, create shared spaces for interaction. Let go of your organizational fear, and strict fence posts, and let your staff bloom! Additionally, inspire and ask you constituents and donor base to get involved. Create spaces for shared ideas, allow your donors to see their own giving histories, to watch projects unfold and to openly track progress of service delivery and program development.  Yes, even the warts and the odd parts.

Try this for one month: Using a cloud based program, like Dropbox or Google+, create a shared folder or a group for idea generation. Invite staff, board, donors, clients, to get involved. Post a problem or question of the month. Then encourage everyone to drop a comment. People love to give their feedback, so encourage that sharing on your real issues. Why not start with this question: What one thing would you change about us? Interact with the group, asking further questions, exploring responses, challenging perceptions.

4) Allow process, iteration, pivoting. Don’t kill the messenger or the message – massage it.

If you don’t give Innovation the time and attention it deserves, it will not produce and it will not gel as a culture. There are no bad ideas, only ideas which have not matured yet. Like a fine wine, an idea becomes innovative after taking some time to develop. Too often we rush to judgement on a solution, concept or strategy. Keep all ideas generative and don’t lose any along the way. Pop them open every so often, encourage follow through and push back on development on those that look promising or have some immediate potential application. Use data to tweak them along the way and send them out for more testing. Turn them over, look at them differently.  One of my favorite examples of this is asking the question: How is your_____________  like a ________? For instance, “How is your Nonprofit, like a Toaster?”.

5) Be sincere

Finally, don’t offer lip service on Innovation. It knows when you are lying and it knows when you are passionate about serving it well. Innovation is not a tactic, or a business management style. It is truly a culture, one which can only come from authentic, inspired and patient nurturing. Making it part of the spirit of your organization will yield powerful results.

SHIFT: Meeting Corporate Philanthropy Where It’s Headed- Key Behaviors in Successful Corporate Partnerships

In change management, Discussables, Research on May 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Key behaviors of successful NPO / Corporate partnerships

Continuing our series on Corporate Philanthropy, we take a look at what the key behaviors are that we see in  nonprofits who have developed partnerships that provide a strong, reliable and renewable revenue  stream?

1. They all have a Personal Relationship with the company leaders: As a personal investment, the requirement that we build meaningful dialogue and a unified voice in our efforts to identify opportunities for partnering is essential.  A relationship with our company partners is not a mail campaign.  It’s not a sponsorship pitch.  It is the same level of personalized cultivation applied to our individual major donors.

Getting to a partnership is a process. The flow from first connection (usually a gift of some sort) through partnership generally follows this route:  Transaction —–> Relationship—–> Information——> Partnership.   The relationship traditionally begins with a transaction of some sort: a sponsorship, a membership, a donation, a grant. Capturing the interests of the corporation and appropriately acknowledging and stewarding their generosity, a relationship is developed, where information is shared that further delineates the opportunities and shared values/goals of the two parties, which leads to a partnership.

It’s essential that you get comfortable with building personal relationships for funding or partnerships with your corporate donors. It’s crazy to even have to say that, but many fundraisers we have worked with are intimidated or lack dedication to the relationship building process.  Having a personal relationship with your corporate donors is the most important thing you can do to succeed.

2. Value proposition: Your Value Proposition is a definition of the key benefits you provide to the corporation, as a potential partner. Your client base, your donor market, your organizations core values, where do you operate, what is your brand, who do you influence?  These are value positions used to negotiate what is needed- cash, people, advocacy. Your Value Proposition is not what you do. Let me say that again: VALUE PROPOSITION does NOT equal WHAT YOU DO!

As evidenced in some of the past video and case examples, Nike and others did not partner with the chosen NPO’s because of what they did. What they did was important. And the outcomes were essential to the decision. But the value proposition of those organizations was the quantitative factors they bring to the table: who do they reach? who gives to them? where are they located? what community do they serve? What does their organization represent to the community?

Taking a value inventory will be critical. You can do this internally amongst your staff in a brainstorming session, or you can hire a facilitator to help in the process. Either way, having a very solid knowledge of  your value proposition is essential to successfully identifying and selling your organization to the right corporation for the right partnership.

3. Trust:  This is huge.  We think we know about trust, but in this sense we mean total and complete transparency, clear communication, and fulfillment. Trust is built slowly over time, as a friend recently reminded me. Its not an all or nothing position and it is only bestowed upon you or anyone incrementally with some consideration and time. It is also impermanent, it can change with the tide. Your organization must provide the framework within which that trust can be built with the corporation.  It may mean sharing challenges that you normally would not be compelled or comfortable in sharing about your programs and funding. If it knocks you out of the competition for the companies attention, so be it; better to have it done now, than after you have spent considerable time, resources and energy in building up the relationship. Trust also requires promises to be fulfilled. If you said you would do something with the funding, well you better have at it and show the results.  Things do happen that not goals off course or missed, but the frequent and candid communication you are engaged in, while building trust with your corporate partner, will have taken that into account.

4. Commitment: You know what they say- In breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.  Your commitment to long term strategies requires your organization to have a vision and a strategic direction. Commitment is not chasing the money; it is building on and resourcing the programs and services essential to your success. Nonprofits who have successful corporate partnerships have mission strategies that are imbedded in their DNA, they are clear and concise and tactical. They are committed to the outcomes, no matter what.

Following these four foundational behaviors will position your organization to be prepared for a myriad of corporate funding partnerships that provide long lasting benefits and outcomes.

NEXT POST: Developing a plan for your own corporate partnership program.

SHIFT: Meeting Corporate Philanthropy Where It’s Headed- Corporate Goals in Philanthropy

In change management, Discussables, Research on May 2, 2011 at 10:44 am

What do Companies want from their Corporate Giving?

While a market presence and position is always a number one consideration for business, as they play out their social responsibility in the community, it isn’t necessarily the only factor behind their engagement. It’s important we are aware and respectful of all the driving interests, if we are to develop winning corporate partnerships.

Business benefits top the chart of priorities –

McKinsey & Company, a 75 year old management consulting firm which serves over 70% of the Fortune 500 companies listed today, surveyed 721 executives around the world—74 percent of them CEOs or other C-level executives, about corporate social responsibility. You can find the complete report here.

In their survey, McKinsey found that the vast majority of companies surveyed—nearly 90 percent—seek business benefits, such as customer acquisition and product distribution, from their philanthropy programs.

And some 80 percent of respondents say finding new business opportunities should have at least some role in determining which philanthropic programs to fund, compared with only 14 percent who say finding new business opportunities should have no weight.

So, marketing drives philanthropic partnerships… well, not so fast.

While marketing is an important driver, it should not be the sole driver or lead the development of a partnership between you and the corporation you are seeking to join forces with, as doing so may leave your reputation in question and will certainly not do anything to enhance business benefits for the company. Todays consumers are savvy, much more so than ever in history. For the marketing line to work in corporate/nonprofit partnerships, the relationship with the cause has to make Sense, it has to have Value and be Comprehensive and it has to have a Meaningful Outcome. The cures for cancer that exist which have spawned an ever growing trend of “Pink Washing”, is evidence of the many partnerships that just DON’T make sense  and result in outcomes that are anything but positive and customer building:

Remember “Bucketgate” May 2010? This drew much criticism and debate when it launched around Mothers Day.  Poor KFC, while they thought the pink would bring them notoriety, they didn’t expect the kind they received. And while any press may be good press, this just didn’t make sense, in any remote fashion. And the consumer saw right through it.  Sadly, Susan G Komens’ judgement and incentives were questioned as well.

If business benefits are a leading factor in a company’s drive to develop NPO partnerships through their giving, and pink buckets of chicken are the anti-concept, what does a philanthropic/socially responsible partnership look like?  Take a look at what might be a plausible and valuable brand and marketing position, from Nike.  The Nike Foundation created the ‘Girl Effect’ with critical financial and intellectual contributions by the NoVo Foundation and Nike Inc. and in collaboration with key partners such as the United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Here is their introductory video. What business benefits might they be seeking in support of this cause? What new business opportunities are they building? How does this make sense?

Not to be a KFC basher (I’ve eaten my share of chicken), but do we see the difference? This program does not appear to have the ‘slap it on a bucket’ approach of KFC. This philanthropic/socially responsible partnership ensures that market is not the key driver, but an integrated aspect of the partnership Nike has developed.

Local Impact is a close second in priorities for driving decisions on philanthropy

Executives overall say their companies are much likelier to address a broad mix of local issues with their corporate philanthropy programs than to address the social and political issues that they expect will affect shareholder value the most. In addition, interviews conducted suggest that companies see addressing local community needs as an indirect way to highlight a company’s good intentions to groups such as board members, shareholders, and regulators.

Chase Community Giving is an excellent example of a corporate giving program that was developed to have local impact. And in an interesting twist, Chase has combined their local perspective with crowd-sourcing: allowing the community to choose the charities which Chase will support.  By having the community vote on their charity of choice. Chase is empowering their community to lead their philanthropy. What is interesting about this, is that it make a case for and support the concept of, nonprofit accountability. If your NPO is not relevant in your community, if your community does not know about, care about or support your work….if you’re not doing good work and reaching meaningful outcomes- then you’re not a contender for Chase philanthropy. Their vetting process for impact is knitted into their philanthropy program.

Employee Base needs is the third critical goal of companies in their philanthropic giving –

Respondents in McKinsey’s survey most often cite employees as the stakeholder group important to the way companies think about their roles in society and as the group companies most often address with corporate philanthropy programs.

Employee satisfaction, retention, recruitment, all are critical business factors to corporations. By aligning their philanthropy with their employee base interests, they develop efficiencies in both lines. Often a company will have employee driven efforts, special programs which only employees can access for philanthropic engagement, pooled funds from employee activities, volunteer efforts devoted to employee outreach to the community and more directed at the interests and activities of employee groups.

A Recap –

The goals most often cited by corporations in their corporate giving strategies— 1. business benefits: enhancing brand, market reach; 2. working locally; and 3. building employee capabilities, improving employee recruitment and retention, all must be factored into the developed program you are building with your prospective corporate partner. If your program offers all three, its the trifecta of a corporate partnerhsip.

Who are the innovators?

Lets take a look at two award winners from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s Corporate Philanthropy Day 2010. As you watch this, try to capture as many of the goals and key outcomes we just discussed, in the programs these two innovators have developed.

Pretty comprehensive right? And I can guarantee these were not created in a marketing office, but were organically developed between the company body and the nonprofit they had the closest relationship with.