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Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

How a gift to someone else, can be the perfect gift for your Dad

In Discussables, News, nonprofit organizations, Random on June 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Dad’s, at least the Dad’s of my generation, had two jobs- Earn an Income and Make Pancakes on Sunday Night for Mom’s night off.

The first we knew represented his RESPONSIBILITY to his family.

The second we knew represented his LOVE for our mother and for us.

There never seemed anything we could do to repay  him.  There wasn’t a tie nor trip nor lighter nor ballgame ticket which could ever- EVER- be as valuable as what he gave and sacrificed and provided for our welfare, spirit and education.

And so maybe we stop trying. We give up on the gifts and just purchase a card. Or maybe we continue to maniacally hunt down JUST THE RIGHT THING, in a blind, ambitious desire to give him something that comes close to saying Thank You.

What Dad was doing was not only loving and nurturing his wife and his family. He was passing down years of learned respect and responsibility, he was educating us on what Fatherhood really means, he was mentoring and coaching a future generation to prepare them for the same offering of self that he so willingly provided, in love and in gratitude for all he was given.

And believe me, he doesn’t want a present for that. What he wants is to know that all of that good stuff has been passed on, that it continues and grows and moves beyond his years to others.

So this year, give him what he deeply desires, by supporting a nonprofit “Fatherhood Initiative” .

Fatherhood is not DNA encoded. It is not something every boy is born knowing, and sadly many do not  experience  in their short lifetime.

But it CAN be learned. And it CAN be shared. And it will live on through the noble work of these organizations and more.

Here are some to get you started. And when you give, give generously as Dad did, from your need, not your excess. And then say Thank You Dad.

                                 

Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening….. LUNAR ECLIPSE June 15th.

In Discussables, News, Random on June 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

www.harvestdevelopmentgrp.comComing Up JUNE 15th- TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE. Visible from Africa, Central Asia, South America and Europe.

Wait? Not America? Never mind….

The upcoming total lunar eclipse will happen on June 15, 2011. The Moon will pass directly through the center of the Earth’s shadow cone. The next such visible event won’t happen until 2018. But we wont see it in the states.

Doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Measuring the actions of nonprofit work is a little of the same, wouldn’t you say? Being told things are happening doesn’t quite seem enough. We don’t quite believe things are moving, actions are progressing, outcomes are achieved, unless we actually see it. You’d think we all were from Missouri (with respect to our dear friends down south).

Measuring is a good thing and necessary to establish credibility, check up on progress and ensure that, indeed, we are doing the right things. But too much attention on measuring- too rigid a program for actions and outcomes aligning- eliminates the human aspect of what we do in the nonprofit world. Scientifically calculating and demanding observational documentation of every aspect of our work, blocks out that measure of creativity, intuition, innovation, pivoting, iterating which is based on rationale and observations in real time, that comes from being in the field and experiencing the work “mano a mano”. The human frame of personalization, being present and experiencing the process. Too much measuring makes doubters of us all.

A healthy state of balance in measured progress, as well as a good faith belief that – even though we can’t see it- things are happening. Let our ancestors tell us- Only time and hindsight can tell.

For those of you interested, here are some websites which will broadcast the eclipse live:

Astronomy Live

Bareket Observatory, Israel

Astro-Viten, Norway

Skywatchers Association of North Bengal, India

What Flag Day can teach us about Passion, Brand Identity and Advocacy.

In Discussables, Random on June 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm

“The “Stars and Stripes”, the official National symbol of the United States of America, was authorized by congress on Saturday June 14, 1777 – the fifth item of the days agenda. In Waubeka, Wisconsin, in 1885 Bernard John Cigrand a nineteen year old school teacher in a one room school, placed a 10” 38 star flag in an inkwell and had his students write  essays on what the flag meant to them. He called June 14th the flag’s birthday.” – The National Flag Day Foundation

Flag Day was not officially established until 1926, by then President Woodrow Wilson. It would take another 33 years for congress to establish an act proclaiming National Flag Day.

Although not a noticed national holiday, it speaks volumes about the simple passion that a symbol can engender in the spirit of mankind. The flag of the United States is the most recognized symbol in the country and one of the most recognized flags in the world. It’s not the colors- many other countries host red, white and blue in their flags of origin.  It’s not the shapes, stripes and stars abound as well. It’s the passion behind the symbol that drives the recognition.

And that passion drives advocacy- the advocacy that lead to June 14th being established as National Flag Day by an Act of Congress in August of 1949.

Symbols are just pretty pictures without Passion. Passion is just a strong emotion without Advocacy. All three working in beautiful union can move mountains and congress and establish unthinkable outcomes.

Harvested News you can Use March 26th, 2011

In News, Random, Social Media on March 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

www.harvestdevelopmentgrp.com

[View the story “Harvested News you can Use March 26th 2011” on Storify]

Ethical Bonus Structure for Fundraisers

In Random on March 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In a recent discussion on a group in LinkedIn, the topic of commissions for fundraisers was a hotly debated point of disagreement, and often fierce agreement, among posters.

After 50 posts, the group began to consider another question:  If not commission, then is there an ethical way to offer compensation as a bonus for work well done by fundraisers?

I posted my response, outlining my successful experience and ethical structure for providing bonus compensation to staff. The response for a copy of the outline was overwhelming and after responding to a few by email, I decided to post it to my website for free download (PDF). You can go there and if you have further questions, feel free to contact me.

A few more thoughts on bonus compensation, and then would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Bonuses work. It’s a studied fact. But they don’t work in isolation and should be combined with non-tangible compensation as well. People want to be acknowledged and validated for their value, in ways additional to monetary compensation.

Establishing and working toward bonus goals should never be done in a vacuum. The goals-

  • Must be drawn from an organizational strategic plan, and relate directly to how the employee can help the org reach their departmental goals.
  • Must include more than just financial goals, and ideally only reflects financial goal achievement of the TEAM.
  • Must be developed in a collaborative fashion between the employee and supervising staff.
  • Must be built on the capacity for the fundraiser and the organization to achieve the goals realistically (“Can we get there from here?” is always a number one consideration in building bonus goals.)
  • Must be a PART of an overall performance management assessment tool and not the only factor.
  • Must be tracked monthly. Its only fair that the fundraiser knows where he stands on a regular basis, so that he can improve his performance or making changes to his approach. No surprises.
  • Must be calculated with a balanced, but benevolent approach and must include supervisory staff as well as Executive Leadership in determining final calculations. For smaller NPO’s that may mean ED and a Board member.
  • Must leave room for discussion. Don’t deliver it in an email or paycheck envelope, please!
If managed correctly, with sensitivity, a fierce determination to goal achievement and ongoing support- it can only be an ethical approach.

Social Media Fail?

In Random on March 1, 2011 at 9:37 am

Too many nonprofits make the mistake of thinking social media is only about fundraising or sharing information, like a newspaper or monthly newsletter.

But studies have shown that the more your social media activities act like a relationship, the better your “action rate”. And in social media benchmarking, action rate is king.

No one ever had a long term relationship via Twitter. Or facebook. Or texting. Not one that was meaningful anyway. It’s the same for your organizations relationships with its community of supporters. Social media is just one of many ways to engage and build. The action rate of your fans or followers is where the relationship builds and takes off.

NTEN released a report in 2009 that revealed a monthly fan growth rate of 3.75 percent, for organizations with a facebook Page or Group.
That’s more than the growth rate for email lists.
At the same time, these orgs also showed a churn rate of 2 percent. And a click through of even less. And when texting was focused on fundraising, the unsubscribe rate was at its highest.

We are using this media wrong.

While we are doing a great job of getting people to ‘like’ us, we drop the ball when it comes to keeping them or motivating them to go to the next level in building a relationship with our organizations.

We need to see our fans and followers individually, just like we would our friends, and address them as such. We need to do more than share news, vids and pics, or worse only ask for money. We need to provide a reason to call to action and get them working on our behalf. How that is done will be different for everyone of us, but it should be the goal of all of our social media strategies.

Social media is more than a presence. It’s an organism, living and pulsing with interactive life.
It is about engaging, collaborating, empowering, authorizing, motivating, stimulating, challenging, supporting, validating, bonding, communicating, sharing, inspiring and gathering. It’s a relationship between you and “one user” at a time. Stay invested and keep the flow of interaction swirling.

carpe diem

In Random on June 7, 2010 at 8:50 am

Seize the Day! Wisdom from the Roman ages.

So many excellent fundraising plans have been the foundation for failure…. All because the individuals implementing them did not seize the day. We spend numerous hours and beau coup resources developing the intricate, detailed and exceptionally well coordinated strategic plans. And we don’t file them, we leave them on our desktops ensuring we look at them daily. And yet, if we don’t seize the moment we end up with mediocre results. We can do a task or we can seize a task. The difference being the enthusiasm, focus and energy we bring to the effort.
Each day we are given 24 hours. I’m not suggesting we work longer. I’m saying work each minute to its maximum. If your plan requires 20 calls this month, make them matter. Give each call thought and attention, preparation. Plan what outcome you’ll be satisfied with after each call is completed: an appointment? More data? A promise to chat again? If your plan calls for developing a new product or service, get your hands dirty- to your elbows- in research and design. If your plan calls for getting this product out the door, wake up sprinting to the finish line, making sure everyone knows the item is ready for delivery.
We only have this moment. Make it count.

Drops of oil

In Random on May 13, 2010 at 7:11 am

In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coehlo writes about a young shepherd meeting a king, who invites the young boy to wander through his castle seeing all the sites. The king tells the boy the only catch is he must carry a teaspoon in which there are a few drops of oil. He must not spill the oil.
The boy sets out on his castle sightseeing, staring at the spoon and walking carefully. Two hours later he returns to the king, who praises him on his thriftiness with his oil and quizzes him about what he saw. The boy saw nothing as he was focused on his oil.
The king is greatly disappointed, as he had built the castle for all to enjoy. He sends the boy off with the spoon again and instructs him to truly look around him as he explores the old halls. There are many riches to see and experiences to have.
This time the boy returns with no oil in his spoon but many, many stories. The kings listens happily but then admonishes the boy for losing all the oil in his journey.
The secret to happiness, says the king, is to see all the marvels of the world, but never forget the drops of oil.

What are your drops of oil?

Don’t pollute

In Random on April 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

Happy Earth Day!
Today people across the US will consider their carbon footprints. They’ll think of ways to conserve, recycle and eliminate pollutants in their life, to ensure our world stays healthy and around a long time.

Often we pollute our donor relationships as well. Its the same careless lazy attitude that causes earth pollution, which leads to polluted relationships. Not spending time connecting to stay in touch, leaving questions unanswered, assuming someone else will tell them first, not saying thank in a timely way, not offering to help before we know its needed. These all lead to a destruction of the trust and affection between your donor and you. Worse are the implicit forms of pollution: white lies, enhanced truths, applying the old spin to results.

Today, while you’re reviewing your earth friendly actions, consider your donor friendly values as well. And clean ’em up!

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity

In Discussables, Random on April 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm

…or as a friend said to me while we were on his boat crossing Long Island Sound one weekend, discussing possible impending storms, “Chance favors a prepared mind.”

How do we get prepared? How do we continuously scan the horizon, absorbing the bigger picture, while staying present to the tasks at hand? How do we recognize and take advantage of those life changing moments as they appear, those moments that we may look back on in hindsight and say “My life changed that day”.

It’s impossible to believe we can stay ever vigilant, that we can be prepared always, that we can be on “one hundred percent” of the time. The physiological aspect of being in a state of readiness is not a sustainable state for the body to be in:  The body’s response to being in a state of alertness cannot be maintained for long periods of time because stress hormones produced in the adrenal glands help to heighten alertness, and prolonged release of these hormones can lead to illness, injury or even death, according to leading physiology docs.

But we can:

  • Stay attuned to change. Prepared for it. Ready to accept it and embrace its nuances and its large bats……
  • Stay prepared for new ideas. Look for the unusual in everyday life.
  • Stay alert to new relationships. Being willing to share yourself with someone new. No matter what the situation.

These three easy ways to have a ‘prepared mind’ are the least stressful to your psyche and body.

And reap the most rewards.