September 2010 Archives

September 28, 2010

The Over-50 Set Jumps Into Social Networking

If you've been wondering whether increasing your nonprofit's presence on the social networking scene is worthwhile -- especially if many of your donors are older, not part of the "wired" generation -- you might want to check out this report by the Pew Research Center.

Older adults are not only increasing their use of social networking tools, they're doing so at a rate that's dramatically higher than that of younger adults.

The study shows that one in five adults between the ages of 50 and 64 now logs onto social networks on a typical day, double the number that did so a year ago.

True, the young 'uns are still the biggest users of social media. But it's old hat to them. I'm thinking that, if you can become one of the earlier "friends" to these newer adopters of social media, they're likely to develop some loyalty to checking out your postings. And they might email their children and grandchildren about what they find, too!
September 22, 2010

Bringing in New Nonprofit Board Members: The Nominating Committee Approach

Finding productive, skilled, and at least in some cases, moneyed board members is an ongoing challenge for every nonprofit. So I wanted to share the positive experience a friend of mine recently had. She was one of approximately 40 people who served on a nominating committee for a nonprofit seeking new board members. (I'll put this in her words for simplicity's sake, but, full disclosure and all, I'm paraphrasing based on my memory.)

"This happens to be an organization I really respect -- and would even like to serve on the board of myself, if I had any spare time. Why did I agree  to make time to attend the meeting? A friend of mine, who's already on the board, contacted me about it personally, so how could I refuse?

"The organization made it quite clear that the purpose of the meeting wasn't to ask us for money. They were looking for community movers and shakers who'd agree to consider what their organization does, and supply names and contact information for people who'd make good board members.

"The meeting itself was very well organized. We went around the room for brief introductions, watched some videos about the organization's work -- a great reminder of why we'd want to facilitate others getting involved  with it -- and then heard from the E.D. about what exactly they're looking for in new board members. That included community diversity, connections, an interest in fundraising, and more.

Toward the end, we were each given a form to fill out, where we'd provide the names of two prospective board members, along with an indication of whether we'd be willing to make the first overture. Toward the bottom were questions about whether we ourselves might be interested in board membership, and if not, whether we'd like to become further involved in the organization in other ways.

"I came away from the meeting with renewed respect for this organization. They'd respected my time (the meeting ended just when it said it would) and created an efficient process for bringing in new volunteer help. I'll bet they get some great new board members as a result."

Sounds like a model worth copying! 
September 20, 2010

Seminar Recap: Fundraising for Startup Groups

Thanks to all the enthusiastic participants in last week's seminar at the Foundation Center in San Francisco, discussing where to start with one's fundraising efforts. My focus was on considering what assets your group already has to work with -- in other words, instead of starting out by saying, "We need to write a grant," look at what skills, knowledge, and connections your staff, volunteers, and other members have, then decide how to best match those up to likely fundraising methods.

The best part for me was hearing the audience share ideas and brainstorm. Social media was definitely big on people's minds -- one participant said her group currently does ALL of its fundraising via social media, and is now facing the challenge of expanding to other fundraising methods! It's the very opposite of the position some groups are in, wondering how and whether to move into the social media realm. (I wonder which crossover is easier to make?)

Another participant was concerned about the issue of how to start charging people for information that they'd always given away for free -- a sensitive issue, but not insurmountable. Sometimes, asking for donations to cover costs is the first way in which a group actually makes the public aware that it's a nonprofit!

You can also see what one of the Foundation Center's incredibly helpful librarians posted about the event, here.

September 13, 2010

Fundraising for Startup Nonprofits: Free Seminar

I'll be speaking this Thursday, September 16th, at the Foundation Center in San Francisco, on fundraising strategies for the new or startup nonprofit.

This is partly to celebrate the third edition of my book, Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits, having just hit the shelves.

Get details on the seminar and register at

See you there!
September 6, 2010

Catch the Magic of a Live Auction on A Prairie Home Companion

Silent auctions seem to have become every nonprofit's default -- they can be tucked away in a side room during a gala dinner, and you don't have to pay an auctioneer.

But, for, a reminder of the energy that a live auction can create, check out the September 4, 2010 edition of A Prairie Home Companion. Host Garrison Keillor interviews auctioneer Bill Berg (ever wondered how someone becomes an auctioneer?) and they auction off two stuffed chickens (as in the fuzzy, toy kind) for charity -- and bring in a whopping $220. (After clicking the link, scroll down to "Segment 3," and move the little bar to "78:25.")

As Keillor says, Berg is "capable of taking charge of a large crowd of people and extorting more money from them than they ever thought they had to spend." And he does it in such a happy voice, almost as if he's singing. If you end up wanting to hire him, however, get ready to pay his plane fare from Minnesota.