Posted on in Fundraising

Who’ll chair this year’s Annual Barbecue-A-Thon?

When board member Cynthia raises her hand, everyone is grateful, appreciative, and relieved. The matter’s settled till the next year.


If the next time you think about fundraising volunteerism is when you need the next hand raised, you’ve lost a real opportunity to get the right person doing the best job.

Nonprofit succession is not just about executive directors, or board chairs. It’s a year-long effort to build an evolving leadership team: a diverse and complimentary lineup of responsible, effective volunteers. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

We spend our nonprofit lives providing service, meeting challenges, pushing for change…and putting out fires.

We juggle, we track, we focus.

We solve what’s in front of us and, if we’re lucky, we get to look around the corner a quarter – or a year – ahead.

But when do we, as nonprofit leaders, get to move beyond the critical-now quadrant, to the key-but-not-pressing arenas?

If not in August – when? 

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Searching for a Savior – and Coming Up Short

When the Big Apple Circus announced an online campaign in June to stabilize its finances, it cited an 8-year decline in earned revenue as the cause of the crisis. Addressing their shortfall through several large one-time donations and support from “a core group of committed board members,” the Circus was unable to build a stable base of supporters large enough to finance its ongoing operations.

So it turned to the web.

Looking for unknown benefactors to bring in $2 million of new revenue, the organization failed to meet its goal, with a total raised of $900,000.

There are so many cautionary lessons to be drawn from this tale.

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How does it add up?

Sure we know our work changes the trajectory of one life, even a bunch of lives…but is the world a better place?

With the past week’s eruption of violence around the world, it certainly seems like things are getting worse, not better. Discouraged, appalled, despairing, furious – the reactions of those of us living in the nonprofit universe run the gamut from upset to enraged.

Is our work, actually, making a dent? 

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Board members have many objections to fundraising. From “I don’t like it” to “I’m just not good at it,” every potential undertaking has a reason it might fail.

One of the most common? “If I ask my friends for money, they’re just going to turn around and ask me for the same thing for their own favorite cause.”

The next statement? Inevitably, it’s “So why don’t I just make a larger gift to this organization, and be done with it?”

Not so fast…

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