Common sense fundraising and management for small non-profits.

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I just received my fifth notice of a January 15 proposal deadline from a major foundation.

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We’ve all been there: you have a great idea and want to know how to make it happen. The first four people it is proposed to respond with “I love this! But first please read this 1,000 word essay on why you don’t understand how busy I am.” Read the rest of this entry »

Look at this statement off Senator Sanders’ Facebook page:

“…his campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump or anybody else. This campaign has got to be about you, your kids, your parents, and your grandparents. Whether the media likes it or not, that is what we are going to stay focused on.”

What do you see there?

It’s a classic donor-centric message. It’s not about me, it’s about you.

Bernie’s campaign is full of stories, and absent self-aggrandizement. When he’s not focusing on “you,” he’s telling you about impact, including his record and specific ways his work has helped specific people in specific ways.

The same statement quoted above also says that it’s hard. But donor-centric messages are the way to raise enthusiasm.

Feel the Bern, fundraisers. Whatever you think about his politics, he’s got the donor message down pat.

Artists work for other people. Entrepreneurs work for themselves.

If you’re an artist, working for yourself through your own business or nonprofit organization, you’re a hybrid beast: the Artist Entrepreneur.

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Yes, you can print your proposal out on your little desk top printer, then hop in your car and spend 2 hours driving to the funder’s office to drop it off. Or you can plan to get the thing done with enough of a margin to print it on the high quality machines at the copy shop and then spend 20 minutes (or less if you have them pick up) sending it by Fed Ex Super Saver.

Oh, but….

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The foundation rep is coming to see your program. Now what.

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For the successful ask, it all needs to align.

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Actually you can.

Budget writing is one of the minefields for start-up nonprofits, where you probably don’t have seed money, savings or an endowment, and need to run the business on current revenues.  But writing a budget doesn’t have to be a scary or onerous proposition, although you should be prepared for a lot of research and several drafts.

Here’s a step by step overview of the process.

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Want to set a development director’s teeth on edge? Insist that your $100 donation be used for “direct expenses” only.

Totally aside from the fact that not even Microsoft has software set up to specifically track any given hundred dollars that comes in, most donors have no idea what they mean by “direct expenses” or “program expenses” only. Mostly what they want is for not a single dime to go to fundraising.

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At a recent event, a senior staff member was trying to introduce me to someone. “This is Xan, she’s our…. I’m not sure what it is Xan does, hahaha”

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