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Author: Jenny

Customer Success Manager at Blackbaud Canada

linkedinHonestly, if you can’t personalize the 11 words in your pre-formatted LinkedIn note, I’m really not that interested in connecting with you. This post is about making it personal. It’s something that I spend a lot of time thinking about because I wear two hats – I run a small business, but I also work with not-for-profits. Funnily enough, I use the same correspondence rules for both: Be personal, be genuine, and do your best to make each and every one of them feel important and unique in your eyes.

giftHere is my list of earth-stopping phrases that I heard at AFP Congress this year. These are the ones that really made me think about what I am doing, and how I am doing it. You can sSend me  your "aha" moments in the comments section below. 1)  Your donor sees his or her thank you card as the beginning of the relationship, while more often than not, the organization sees the thank you card as the ending of the relationship – Tom Ahern 2) You can’t do it all. You are just going to have to choose what falls off your deskKaren Osborne, The Osborne Group 3) Millennials (young people between 12 and 31 years of age) see themselves on equal footing, and equal hierarchy with fundraisers and staff who have been in the business for over 15 years. Get over yourselves and accept the fact that good ideas can come from anywhereBarbara Talisman. Link to PPT slides from “Millennials in the workplace” here.

Below is a recent letter that I wrote to Kivi Leroux Miller about my experience in one of her online classes.  My biggest take-away from Kivi’s class was that there are people out there that are struggling with the same issues that I am, and that we really should find ways to “share the space.”

Here are three suggestions for including peer-to-peer support in your daily work routine:

  • Pick up the phone and talk to a fellow fundraiser about a challenge you are having. Better yet, invite them out for lunch to talk in person;
  • Use a conference, or a learning opportunity to connect with a fellow fundraiser – someone with whom you would like to build a relationship. The fact that you like their energy, or their perspective is as good a reason as any to start a conversation;
  • Formalize any of the above-mentioned relationships into a bi-weekly or monthly call with your new colleague.  Use skype, or google hangout - so that you can actually see each other – and create a peer-to-peer safe environment where you can articulate short-term tasks or professional goals that you want to accomplish before the next peer coaching session.

For all you smaller not-for-profits out there who are thinking about starting a sponsorship program -  this one’s for you. Meet Diane and Jen: local Ottawa real-estate agents interested in making meaningful connections in the communities where they work. Diane and Jen want to do more than just “give money” to these communities - they want to reach out, and touch the pulse of these communities so they can get to the essence of what each neighborhood is about. Wait a minute! that sounds like a lot of not-for-profits I know. Yes! Read on.

toddler wavingDo you wave and say thank you to other drivers when you are in your car? Do you communicate  and say thank you when they let you into a crowded lane, or when they urge you forward at a shared stop sign? I do. It was my 8 year old that noticed it. “Mommy, why are you waving at that guy you don’t know in the other car?” she would say. “Oh, he just let me into his lane, and I wanted to say thanks, honey.”  She is a very observant 8 year old. “But you don’t know him, mommy.” I paused to think about her question, and said “I know, but if it were me letting me in, I would want someone to say thank you.”

This month I gave my most meaningful gift ever. And because the gift felt special to me, I have been reflecting on why I give.  I asked myself: Why now?  Why this amount?  Why is it meaningful to me? Maybe it’s all this talk about vulnerability, but I am ready to share with you my personal thoughts on Why I Give. By listening to my reasons, I hope it will help you understand why your donors give. It’s very simple:

Talking on the phoneLately, I’ve been investing more money in my business. And every time I spend my hard-earned money, I get nervous: my stomach gets all weird and crampy the instant I phone and ask for help. Do I REALLY want to do this? How can I be sure that I will get exactly what I am looking for? The reality is  I can’t  That’s why it’s so scary. I am here to tell you that asking for help can not only be as good as you imagine, it can actually be better! The only certainty for not-for-profits is that change is a reality. No matter how great your staff, programs, and board are, if you don’t look for ways to improve and change, you will be left behind. Let me repeat that - you WILL be left behind.

The Dinner Party. It was a social fixture in the ‘60’s, but in the last few decades it has lost some of its allure. If you are a not-for-profit development officer, read on: there are some really good reasons why revitalizing the dinner party can lend meaningful support to your organization. The best story I have ever heard about hosting “home turf” dinner parties was shared with me by my friend, Kate Jaimet, a writer and journalist here in Ottawa. She was hired by the Chelsea Club - a women’s club for Ottawa’s high society ladies - to compile a mini-history of the organization. The interviews that Kate conducted shed enormous light on how networking happened in Ottawa high society during the past few decades. Here is the story of one of her interviewees.

Mr. and Mrs. Dick Bell

Mrs. Ruth Bell, now 92 years old recalled how her husband, Mr. Dick Bell, an elected Member of Parliament, had a long list of friends, supporters and fellow parliament members that he needed to “spend some quality time with.”

Belonging. It’s a three syllable word that, in the wilderness, is the difference between life and death. Here in civilization, belonging may be slightly less dire, but it still packs a pretty big wallop.  In other words, you may not live and die by your association with a local non-profit, but the sense of connection that comes with “belonging” to such a group may significantly contribute to the sense of “wholeheartedness” in your life. Let me back up a bit and introduce you to Brené Brown. She is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. I was introduced to Brené Brown though a creativity workshop. Since then, I have shared this TEDtalks video of Brené countless times. Please watch it. Really. I mean it. Twenty minutes to a more authentic life is what I am asking you for. http://youtu.be/X4Qm9cGRub0