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Posted on in Fundraising

Gratitude makes us more public-spirited.

Seems self-evident, yes? Someone looked out for us in our formative years, hence we “play it forward” and look out for others who are at that vulnerable time of life.

But here’s the twist: Feeling gratitude of any kind – even completely unrelated – turns out to make us more likely to invest in the public good.

And makes us happier, more optimistic, healthier.

Scientists have proven this to be so…

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Posted on in Fundraising

It’s that time of year – when all good nonprofits get out their end-of-year appeal.

Carefully crafted, visually appealing, lift notes written on top (hopefully) by the person who knows the donor best.

Cajoling done, we’ve collected contact information from board members, made sure to mail-merge and personalize each letter.

Package complete with reply card, self-addressed envelope, perhaps a brochure or fact sheet.

And then… into the mail (with a first class stamp) it goes.

Holding our breath, we wait.

But maybe, this year, there’s more to be done.

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Posted on in Fundraising

One year later, the folks who created the UnderDeveloped report – focused on the stresses of the development function in community-based nonprofits – are thinking deeper.

Moving beyond a loud and insistent account of the problem, the team, led by CompassPoint, is now researching “bright spots” – what works, and how that can help us realign our development programs to accentuate the positive and reduce the negatives that are pushing so many out of the field.

At the just-concluded Alliance for Nonprofit Management conference, a group of us talked about what we’ve learned from the folks on the ground who’re making this work.

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Posted on in Fundraising

As in: Social Norms. In Nonprofits. Around Fundraising.

When people segregate the function of raising money from the fulfillment of mission, fundraising fails. It’s as simple as that – and yet so complex to fix.

And the nexus in which all this comes together – boards that won’t engage, executive directors who shy away from the ask, program staff who create a Berlin Wall between program and fundraising – is the office of the development director.

Without a nonprofit “culture of philanthropy,” it’s a hard slog to go it alone. In fact, it’s not really possible.

No wonder the average development director’s tenure is about 3-4 years.

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Posted on in Nonprofit
I am writing this via candlelight. But my heart is lit with awe.

At the collective spirit of people to help each other, and at the nonprofits who have mobilized deep in their communities, their neighboring communities, and communities clear across the country, to pitch in.

Of course it's not just nonprofits. This photo is from a neighborhood restaurant which cooked pizzas in its coal oven by flashlight for a neighborhood starved for hot food. And reminders of the generosity of the human spirit abound, certainly in disasters but in the everyday as well.

But the very nature of a nonprofit - organized not-for-profit but in service of the common good - means the helping of others is at its very core. And we certainly saw that after Sandy - from Brooklynites helping Brooklynites to list serves that placed volunteers where they were most needed.

Our own New York State governor said it best:

“New York has one of the largest and most sophisticated non-profit sectors in the country and as we recover from Hurricane Sandy, this sector will be a critical partner."

It was good to hear a political figure acknowledge the tremendous force of nonprofits for good, and what a critical partner they are in building and bolstering a civil society.

Now if only nonprofit funding streams reflected this acknowledgement of their critical importance to the civic sphere...
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