Archive for the ‘Initiative: Nonprofit Operations’ Category

Create an Emotional Atmosphere

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The Only Difference is Zeros: 10 Steps to Improved Nonprofit Development and Fundraising

Step #8 Create an Emotional Atmosphere

Now that you have had the Exploratory Meeting, and have now formulated an incredibly creative and compelling donation proposal, you are now ready for the second meeting with your potential donor. You are now ready for the Proposal Meeting.

And while Step #8 does not take a ton of explaining, it is none the less very, very important to present your proposal in a setting that is just right.

First, make sure in advance you know what type of venue you are presenting in. Is it a conference room? Is it an office? Does the potential donor think you are going to present the proposal over a meal at a restaurant? (If so, I would quickly suggest that you do NOT meet at a restaurant for the proposal and re-schedule to present in a more controlled and focused environment. You want the FULL attention of the potential donor).

Second, it is critical to prepare a way to engage the interest and attention of the potential donor right away. Figure out a way to connect with the potential donor emotionally right from the beginning of the presentation. While it is absolutely true that emotion will not close a deal—only a sound and measurable philanthropic endeavor and initiative can—an emotional introduction to that endeavor touches both the heart and the mind. An introduction of this type also puts the potential donor in a positive frame of mind. You can never know what issues or challenges the potential donor had to deal with just prior to your meeting, or what fires had to be put out! As you begin to present, you a warm and positive vibe to be wafting throughout the room.

And finally, make sure that the method you have chosen to establish the emotional backdrop to your proposal shows off your organization and the great work you are doing. Whether it is a story that is recounted, or a DVD that is shown, ensure that it reinforces the fact that there is something very special about your organization, and that anyone can be proud to be associated with your organization.

Again, what ultimately will be of most interest to your potential donor is the strength, efficiency and impact of the work your organization undertakes. But always remember that often times the road to someone’s mind and donation commitment first passes through their heart.

Next Installment: Step #9: Be Brief, Be Bright, Be Gone!

This is part 8 of a 10-part series: The Only Difference is Zeroes: 10 Steps to Improved Nonprofit Development and Fundraising.

-Don Stirling

Creating Meaning

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

As human beings, we crave belonging and seek to find a meaningful existence. Very often, that feeling of meaning comes from helping others. One of the many reasons that people start nonprofits is to give meaning – to life, to a memory, to a person, to a cause.  Having a nonprofit creates a structure and a platform from which one can elevate a message and aim for a solution or a cure or an answer.

There are nonprofits staffed with some of the most eager and idealistic people the world has to offer. Nonprofit work is not easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. In the best situations it causes people to look at the world differently, to find solutions beyond the obvious and to work harder on behalf of those whom the organization represents. Nonprofits, in their very purest form, can create meaning.

However, nonprofits are plagued with the same challenges as any other organization in the global marketplace. Every day there are new nonprofits competing for the same donor dollars. Generally, nonprofits’ intents are purse Most of the motivation is selfless. So what causes one to create lasting meaning while another is left behind?

Last week, I attended a seminar by marketing guru Seth Godin. He spoke on his new book, Linchpin, and the new economic marketplace. His focus was on individuals, but some of what he said (and what is in his book) resonated for me in regards to creating meaning as a person and as a nonprofit organization. In his book, he writes of the new “American Dream”:

Be remarkable. Be generous. Create art. Make judgment calls. Connect people and ideas.

He writes that the new dream is about “vision and engagement.” As nonprofits we have an already have a vision, or we wouldn’t exist. Most nonprofit organizations seek to engage the world to come together to create art (solutions). We celebrate the remarkable. We generously give money and time and information to those whose lives we seek to improve.  We make judgment calls – determining how we can attain the most good for the greatest number of people with the limited resources we have.  By virtue of working to serve some sector of the population, we aspire to connect people and ideas.

Organizationally, we might (at least on paper) have it right. Yet how many of us who work for nonprofits are engaged in the same path of creating meaning? How many of us have a vision? How many of us seek the things Mr. Godin suggests? Do our employees exude the same passion that our brand does? Do we seek to create real, tangible meaning in our day-to-day work behind the scenes?

Or do we settle for average?

I thought a lot about it as I read Linchpin. A nonprofit organization doesn’t set out to be average. Average doesn’t change people or save the world or find cures or save the whales. However, while the organization’s vision may not be average, it will only truly fulfill its vision if the people behind the scenes are extraordinary.

Mr. Godin has this to say about that very thing:

“The only way to win is to race to the top … An organization of indispensable people doing important work is remarkable, [successful] and indispensable in and of itself. What the [organization] really wants is an artist, someone who changes everything, someone who makes dreams come true. What the [organization] really wants is someone who can see the reality of today and describe a better tomorrow.”

What the organization really needs is people who are as committed to creating meaning as much as the organization. Together, with a solid vision and a group of employees creating real, tangible meaning each day – we have the opportunity to truly change the way things get done. To have more resources, more bandwidth and more ability to impact our neighbors, our communities and our world.

How do you create meaning at your organization?