Easy Come, Easy Go: More Lessons from HubSpot’s Email Purge

Last week, I wrote about HubSpot’s surprising decision to cut 250,000 email addresses from its marketing roles and what we could learn about increasing our email open and click rates. To be clear, I haven’t spoken to anyone at HubSpot, I’ve only read about the company decision to make this move in some of their blog posts like this one by Pamela Vaughan

HubSpot's move was a big step, the kind of marketing decision that, down the road, people will hail as genius or will condemn as idiotic. 

Here’s why I believe it will have a happily-ever-after ending, why HubSpot was able to do this, and one of the things that we—in the nonprofit sector—should learn from them.

Are Your Sponsors Commitment Phobic?

Are Your Sponsors Commitment Phobic?

Do you have trouble getting your sponsors to sign on the bottom line?

Planning a fundraising event is challenging and time-consuming. You need a minimum of six months to plan an event (yes, I know it can be done in less, but it begins to get ugly if you have less time than that) and, ideally, nine months or more.

Lining up sponsorship commitments is usually something you do early in the process because that way, you can offer your sponsors maximum benefits—they can be in all of the pre-event publicity like participant registration or ticket sales and event promotional materials.

What if your sponsors delay making their commitment decisions? 

Sleep Soundly, Fundraisers

In a recently concluded survey of 1200 fundraisers, Gail Perry of Fired Up Fundraising asked “What Keeps 1200 Fundraisers Up at Night?” The answers were almost all were management related, painting a picture of pretty unpleasant places for many fundraisers to work. 

With the average tenure of Directors of Development now being less than two years and major gift officers being sixteen months according to a Nonprofit Times article out earlier this week, it seems fundraisers have good reasons for imitating the Runaway Bride, bolting out the door at the thought of making a long-term commitment to the organizations they serve.

In Gail's survey, fundraisers mentioned too much to do, too little assistance, too little support from management, confusion about priorities, changing priorities or changing goals mid-year, and an absence of a coordinated fundraising plan. Yuck!

No wonder we're unhappy with 57% of us planning to leave our current positions and 40% of us contemplating exiting the development profession altogether, according to Compasspoint's oft-cited Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. study. 

The More You Raise The Better You Raise

With the publication of the 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), many of us have reflected on the continued bad news about donor retention rates and what to be done about those. I notice within the FEP report, a really interesting fact that I think we, as fundraisers, should unpack.  The more you raise, the more you raise.

This might sound tautological.  Maybe it is.  But maybe it isn’t.

The report notes:

  • Those organizations that raise less than $100,000/year actually lose money (when their donor losses are reflected): - 7.8%
  • Those organizations that raise more than $100,000 but less than $500,000 actually have a growth rate of 3.1%.
  • Those organizations that raise more than $500,000 are the most efficient fundraisers. Their growth rate is 10.4%.

Reach Their Hearts, Not Their Heads

Reach Their Hearts, Not Their Heads

I love committees.  I'm serious. I do. Those of you who know me personally know, I'm an extrovert. I'm energized by being in a room full of other people. I love brainstorming and discussions. 

But there are somethings a committee shouldn't do and writing your end of the year appeal letter is one of them.

Thinking About Social Media Advertising

Thinking About Social Media Advertising

Should we use paid social media advertising?” a friend who is an Executive Director at a nonprofit asked.  “My Board of Directors has been suggesting that I look into it,” she continued.

My first question for my Board, if they asked me to consider social media advertising, would bewhy.  To what end would we be advertising? Would we simply be working to “raise awareness” or would we have a more specific call to action in mind? If our purpose was to “raise awareness” to what end would we be doing that? 

Fundraising, Federalism, and Donor Privacy


Since I’ve become a full-time fundraising consultant, I’ve been thinking a lot about federalism.

I hold a PhD in political science. You may at this point think:  “So that explains the federalism comment.  Who but a poli sci wonk would connect fundraising and federalism,” right?

But you’d be wrong.

Signs Your Organization Has No Culture of Philanthropy

Signs Your Organization Has No Culture of Philanthropy

Too many organizations want to treat fundraising as an add-on, like an extra appendage sewn onto the body. Imagine attaching a limb—say an arm—to the body, but not connecting it to the circulatory and nerve system and not re-wiring the brain to recognize the new arm.  How uselessly it would flop around!  Eventually, without blood, oxygen, and the protection of the nerve system, the limb would die.

For fundraising to work – that is, for fundraising to be done as sustained, donor-centric development, rather than as an episodic, short-term, organization-centered fundraising, fundraising requires changes with which many organizations are simply not comfortable.

If fundraising hasn’t been an integral part of the organization’s life from its beginning, it has to be skillfully grafted on in a way that wires it to the brain and connects it to the body’s major systems.

Here are my 13 Ways an Organization Reveals That It Is Not Serious about Fundraising

Should Nonprofits Blog?

Should Nonprofits Blog?

As I was leaving the building, a few workshop attendees approached me in the parking lot. One said, “A few of us wanted to talk to you because we were puzzled. You said it was really important to blog but we had just attended a fundraising workshop, before your workshop, on major gifts and the workshop presenter had said "Blogging is a complete waste of time. It won’t raise major gifts for you and you need to be getting major gifts.”

Wow.  Great to know what the confusion was about. We were able to have a terrific discussion. My only regret was that we couldn’t all have the discussion with the other presenter with us.  We could have had a really interesting exchange because I understand why he said what he said and in a way he is right. You certainly don’t ask for or receive a major gift because of anything you’ve written in a blog or posted on your website. 

HOWEVER, I think he has missed the point. 

Career Advice for Nonprofit Professionals

Career Advice for Nonprofit Professionals

In the nonprofit sector, we nonprofit professionals apply for positions in the nonprofit sector. We have experience with nonprofit jobs.  Because we’re nonprofit professionals with nonprofit experience, applying for nonprofit jobs, we assume that the people who are reviewing our resumes understand what our titles and positions mean and entail.  They don’t.  Even if we list our accomplishments, they don’t get it.  Too often, board members are hiring or sitting on the search committees that hire us. Those board members are almost always business people who don’t understand what’s involved in our jobs.