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July 2012

June 2012

Nonprofit Blog Carnival: 'Swifter, higher, stronger' - what's your Olympic gold medal moment?

I am delighted to be hosting the nonprofit blog carnival in July.  And living in London, and with the opening ceremony only a few weeks away, what better theme could there be than the Olympic Games?

The Olympic motto of 'Swifter, Higher, Stronger' could easily apply to many nonprofits and over the years the Olympics and Paralympics have provided many memorable moments to draw inspiration from.

Moments of triumph, despair, courage, heartache and teamwork are just a few of the emotions that the Olympics provide.

So I'd love to hear your memories of the Olympics and how it has made you a better leader/fundraiser/marketer etc.

Alternatively, what moment in your professional life was your 'gold medal' moment or caused you the most despair?

Or how about picking your favourite Olympian and writing about the characteristics that made them great. What do you draw from them?

To enter your submission simply write a blog post or choose a recent post that fits the theme.  Email your post to - please include the permalink of your post, your name and blog name.

Submissions are due by the end of the day on Tuesday July 24 and I’ll publish the post on Thursday July 26 - the day before the Olympic opening ceremony. Check back then to see if your post is featured.

I look forward to receiving your gold medal submissions in due course!

You can read June's carnival, which has been assembled by Britt Bravo and is all about how you can use Pinterest. Check it out for some great inspiration!

P.S. What is a Nonprofit Blog Carnival?

It is a monthly round-up of blog posts on topics relevant to the nonprofit community. The host for each month develops a theme then rallies for posts on that topic. Then the host compiles a selection of what’s submitted and publishes them in a round-up post towards the end of that month.



Seven tips for making the most of conferences

With this year's Institute of Fundraising National Convention only a few days away, I thought I'd post a few tips to get the most out of the three days.

If you are going, then I hope to see you there - probably my favourite part of the whole event is catching up old and new friends in the bar and talking all things fundraising.

I'm biased (I was on the Convention Board this year), but I think it's a really good line-up of speakers and I hope people of all fundraising backgrounds and levels will pick up at least a few new ideas.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

  1. Prepare in advance: look at the topics/speakers, think how they relate to your job and what you want to learn from the session. Look for sessions that might take you out of your comfort zone as well.  If you're a direct marketer, then take in an events session.  Sometimes a new perspective can trigger a great idea or insight.
  2. Take a good pen and notebook and write down thoughts as you listen to the speaker.  It is amazing some of the triggers that a good speaker can spark off and if you don’t jot notes down you can lose the thought.
  3. Fill in your feedback forms at the end of each session and be honest - are all the sessions really excellent? In the past I've hardly spent any time on this, but this year I've realised how important the feedback is.  Your marks will influence if the speaker gets invited back and I know I have changed my style and delivery based on the feedback I've got.  It might seem tiresome, but they do get read!
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – take advantage of the opportunity to ask the speaker questions and learn from their experiences. If you don’t like asking in front of an audience then go up after the presentation and ask them directly.
  5. If a question comes up after the speaker has left then drop them an e-mail.  Every person I’ve ever e-mailed after a conference has always got in touch and been happy to help.
  6. Say thank you.  If you’ve really enjoyed a presentation then send the presenter a note saying so.  From experience, it will be greatly appreciated and can lead to further dialogue and insight.
  7. When you get to the office review your notes and action any of your ideas.Try and implement at least one new idea within a week of conference.

Do share any other tips you have for getting the most out of conferences and enjoy it if you are going!


Friday Fundraising Reading Round-Up

Most of my time over the last few weeks has been taken up with launching an appeal at work (you can learn more at www.littleheroesappeal.comif you're interested) and planning my two sessions at the forthcoming IoF Conference.

It's been a hectic couple of weeks for me, so my normal blogging schedule has gone out the window a little bit.  Hopefully things will calm down shortly and normal service will resume!  In the meantime, here's the latest list of articles worth checking out.

Passionate Giving have a great six part series on the secrets to becoming a great major donor fundraiser.  Here's the first part.

Katya explains what will make your donors give more.

Howard Lakes share a nice post on saying thank you and demonstrating impact.

101 fundraising on the future of face to face fundraising and the power of donating.

Kevin with some thoughts on branding.

The Fundraising Collective give some tips on engaging boomers in volunteering.

Jeff shares the biggest threat to your fundraising revenue.

Karen with 11 ways nonprofits bore their readers.

The Agitator asks if your donate page meets Sue's challenge?

Steve (on Aline's blog) with another fundraisng analogy!

Kivi on why you need a content strategy.

Wild Woman Fundraising on slactivism.

Seth with seven deadly marketing mistakes.

I'm currently reading Daniel Kahneman's fantastic book 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' - it's full of implications for fundraisng.  Here's one business world example on pricing.

Weekend Reading Round-up

The long jubilee weekend in the UK and a few days relaxing with family mean I am a week late with my reading round-up. So without further ado, here are some articles that I think are worth checking out.

Steve guests at Bluefrog Creative and shares a headline that increased income by 1 million percent!

Kev raises some good points about charity admin costs.

Reuben asks if charities can afford originality?

Good listening skills are crucial for successful fundraising. Passionate Giving share some tips to improve your active listening.

Amanda on why honesty is the best policy.

Jonathon with some survey stuff.

Wild Woman Fundraising interviews Brock Warner about fundraising - thanks for the mention!

Seven tips for welcoming new donors.

Katya looks at different types of work and time management.

Drayton shares 21 simple, stupid and amazingly popular ways to screw up your business.

Karen on creative and an interesting infograph (via Copyblogger).

Seth on the unforgiving arithmetic of the funnel.

Freakonomics share their top 3 of 32 innovations that will change your tomorrow.

Eaon shares three advertising campaigns - two good, one bad.


The Evolution of Fundraising

I was honoured to speak at SOFII's 'I Wish I'd Thought of That' event last week.  There were 22 great ideas presented and I took away at least three tangible ideas that I think I can adapt and use at work in the near future.

The ideas may wither on the vine or turn out to be the next big thing, but what struck me as I listened to my peers was how many of the ideas that people spoke about had evolved from previous fundraising campaigns.

For example, the effective use of rubble in the Great Ormond Street fundraising campaign during WW2 uses the same powerful copy and sense of tangibility that made the Amnesty pen pack so great, which in turn influenced the idea of the MSF sweet pills in Spain.

You can track the progress of the fundraising offer of making a blind man see for £10, to the development of child sponsorship products, which in turn led to spin off fundraising ideas like 'Adopt a Word' and Kiva.

It is the same sense of community and simplicity that makes the Macmillan Coffee morning and Movember such great ideas.

The concept of donor choice pioneered by Botton Village can be seen in the great comms from Charity:Water and Send a Cow.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

The event was one of those moments that makes you feel proud to be a fundraiser and to work in such a great profession, where people are willing to share the best ideas. 

Never have the words (which themselves evolved from John of Salisbury) of Isaac Newton been more apt:

"If I have seen further then it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

I'd urge you to watch the videos when they are available on SOFII (or read this great summary from Alison McCants on 101 Fundraising) and to consider signing up for SOFII's new subscriber scheme. It will be the best investment you can make to help the fundraisers of tomorrow learn from the giants of today and yesterday.