Nonprofit Organizations

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? 

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. 

Nonprofit Boards and the Dysfunctions of Team

Nonprofit Boards and the Dysfunctions of Team

Nonprofit Board members are unprepared to govern.  That’s the finding of the 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, a study released in April jointly conducted by GuidestarBoardSource, and the Stanford Business School.

What remedies would we pursue if we were to view the breakdowns in our systems of nonprofit governance as failures of the early stages of team building rather than as the [later] results of process and outcomes failures? 

Nonprofits Blocking Social Innovation? I don't Think So

Nonprofits Blocking Social Innovation? I don't Think So

The piece is really disappointing, but hardly surprising from a man who heralds the end of corporate social responsibility, arguing “traditional corporate philanthropy is considered an inappropriate use of capital, a distraction of time and resources from business activities” (Forbes, July 9, 2014).  His July piece in Forbes counsels businesses on how to exit the “business” of corporate social responsibility.

How sad to me that a business leader would have so little appreciation for our common human and environmental interconnectedness, so little appreciation for the stakes all corporations have in the planet and its populations.

But mostly, in suggesting that nonprofits don’t work, I wanted to laugh out loud and ask “How on earth do we know? How do we know what nonprofits are capable of?”  Have we ever really tried them?  I mean, REALLY tried them?

A Firestorm: Marketing v. Fundraising

A Firestorm:  Marketing v. Fundraising

This year’s Nonprofit Communications Trend Report, published annually by Kivi LeRoux Miller, highlighted the possibility of conflict within nonprofit organizations’ communications and development departments about role definitions, goals, resource allocations, strategies, tactics, and more. 

And, just to prove how prescient the report might be, nonprofit fundraising and marketing bloggers have begun to slug it out online.

I suspect where communications and development cannot agree, collaborate, and talk things through, it is often the case that, in these situations, there is no culture of philanthropy. And while Underdeveloped calls on Development Directors to work to change from within the culture of philanthropy in organizations that lack it, it’s been my experience that in those organizations where no culture of philanthropy exists, the development director often lacks the power or authority to lead such change.  By the nature of the problem, the development director is disenfranchised in these situations.

Creating Your 2015 Development Plan and Setting Your Fundraising Goals

Creating Your 2015 Development Plan and Setting Your Fundraising Goals

Creating Your 2015 Development Plan and Setting Your Fundraising Goals

One of the things I'm often asked--especially by Executive Directors who do not have a fundraising background--is what is reasonable to expect of their development directors.

This question is hardly surprising since the overwhelming majority of executive directors are unhappy with their development directors and feel that they should expect more. The crucial report, UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising, reports that only 27% of Executive Directors of organizations with budgets of $1 million or less are “very satisfied” with their development directors.  Executive Directors at larger organizations tend to be more satisfied with their development staff, but even there, the majority are unhappy with them. At nonprofits with budgets over $10 million—the organizations that have the budget size that presumably allows them to attract and retain top-notch fundraising professionals-- Only 41% of Executive Directors report that they are very satisfied with their development directors. It is universal, then, that E.D.’s are unhappy with their Development Directors.

Further, disturbingly, 25% of the Executive Directors report that their last development director was fired.  The primary reasons for that are poor fundraising performance (31%), poor performance in general (31%), or a non-fit with the organizational culture (22%). On the last one I’ll say, if a fundraiser is trying to create a fundraising culture where there is none, then OF COURSE the fundraiser won’t fit with the culture AND ISN'T THAT A GOOD THING that the Executive Director should support?