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Customer Success Manager at Blackbaud Canada

help!I have had the most amazing week! I received a book in the mail from a friend from far away. Do you know Brené Brown the author and sociologist? The book I received was Daring Greatly. Haven’t heard of her? Stop what you’re doing and watch this video NOW. Brene’s work is all about letting yourself be vulnerable-  to let yourself “be seen” by others, messy parts and all. (Here’s my blog post about providing board members with a space so they can be vulnerable with each other.) I think as fundraisers – especially in isolated, small shops – we think we can figure things out, get to the end of the appeal letter, the to do list, and the board retreat documents if we just work harder, put in more hours and cram one more thing onto our already busy work week. Fundraisers are not good at letting themselves be vulnerable (and I am including myself in this bucket!) We are crappy at saying “I need help.” And if we get to the point of needing help, we have no idea who to turn to because by then we’ve cut ourselves off from the very community that might be able to help…because we’ve been too busy. We need to change this.

Studying for my CFRE exam has forced me to reflect on the differences between amateur fundraisers, and professional fundraisers. There is a place for everyone - and we need both – but it’s worth enumerating the not-so-subtle differences between the two. This list will help many small to mid-size charities clarify fundraising motivations to the board. Many Board members consider themselves fundraisers. The question is: are they amateurs, or professionals?

This article originally appeared in Hillborn Charity e-news. tweet cottage pic7 women, one cottage, a shared vision to support small charities through pro bono work, and an undisclosed number of wine bottles. And so #TweetCottage2014 begins! This annual retreat, now in its third year of existence is hosted at the cottage of Leah Eustace, Chief Idea Goddess at Good Works, but the origins of tweet cottage are firmly rooted in the desire for fundraising consultants (and full time employees) to support their community through pro bono work. You can read more about last year’s #TweetCottage here. Fundamentals in 4 hours? The “talk on the dock” this year centred on one main theme: the lack of basic knowledge around fundraising best practices from small shops. “It’s two years in a row now that we find #TweetCottage applicants are craving fundamental fundraising knowledge,” explains Leah. “They don’t know what a fundraising plan is, what’s included and how to build one.  How do we tackle this as a group of women meeting for 4 hours over a long weekend in August?”

death starVolunteer task forces are a great way to change your organization’s “Death Star” practices. Grab a group of your volunteers and “task” them with addressing ONE area of the organization that is not working. Who should you invite on your task force journey? Keep the group small to make sure everyone is able to participate - somewhere between 4 and 6 people. Include at least one staff member who can give context to your discussions. With the right mandate, task forces can be empowered to really clean things up. Task forces are attractive to new volunteers because they are:

Finite – They involve a specific number of meetings, and a short-term commitment;

Specific – Volunteers have the opportunity to “get closer” to the organization without having to sit on a board.

Outcome-driven – There is nothing like that feeling of getting something done to charge up a volunteer.