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Everybody wants an angel.

Along with “why don’t we just get some grants” it’s the top comment from new small nfp clients– “We just need an angel.”

Well that’s great, and if you’ve got one in (with?) the wings with a few extra $zeros lying around to give to you, go for it.

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You’ve got a Facebook page and a Twitter. You use Constant Contact eblasts, and your Executive Director has a linked-in profile. Seventy percent of non-member sales are on line. But “it doesn’t work, because we never get gifts from the eblasts.” Read the rest of this entry »

So, you have a policy, a rationale, and a tool.

How do you get people to use it? No number of protocols, tools, or rules will get you a clean, consistent database without buy-in from the people using it. And the key is training and support.

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I’m touchy. Probably a consequence of my, well, feeling of consequence. I think I’m really good at what I do, in fact, I have a secret conviction that I’m the best at what I do.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t do that well in heirarchical organizations. I find it impossible to wrap my brain, or behavior, around the  concept that because someone has a more important job than me, it means that they are either more important than me, or somehow better than me.  Not, there aren’t people more important or better than me, more that I consider these to be intrinsic attributes or earned accolades, not things that can be awarded based simply on longevity, age, or seniority. We’ve all had incompetent bosses, right?

When I write something, my instinct is to seek input, but my reaction to that input is often prickly and defensive, especially when presented as “I’ve fixed this for you.”

But I also have a bone-deep belief in collaboration and cooperation. I like “buy-in.” I don’t like to hand tablets down from the mountain anymore than I like to receive them.

This article got me thinking about this. The blogger is talking about offering criticism.

But what if you’re soliciting it?

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I’m a big believer in hard copy. In most organizations, no matter how much you push computer filing protocols, people’s computer files will be stored idiosyncratically if not completely arbitrarily.

But somehow, people behave themselves with hard files.

So I always copy my proposals.

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How, you may ask, do I have time to sit here and write a blog post? Last you heard, I had three Friday deadlines and no time to spare.

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It’s a well-known statistic. People in the U.S. are incredibly generous, with 75% of families donating an average of almost 3% of their annual household income.  A third of this goes directly to religious institutions as tithe, but it’s still an incredible statistic.

And yet we all know people who never give a dime. In fact, we all have clients and patrons who never give a dime, or from whom every dime needs to be extracted with power equipment, no matter how much they say they love you. How can this be?

I like to think of givers as having a “charitable impulse.” It’s that innate desire to give. You cannot teach it, you cannot compel it. People want to give, or they don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

As I mentioned in an earlier post, your meeting agenda is a powerful and very poorly understood tool. An agenda is not just a piece of paper, it’s, well, it’s your agenda. It is your short-term action plan for getting things done. Learn how to use it and you’ll find your productivity, effectiveness as a leader, and control of your staff and board increase.

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As summer gears up, I look forward to attending concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Grant Park.  These free concerts are generally packed—as many as 10,000 people in the seats and on the lawn to listen, not to some superstar act from out of town, but to our own homegrown Grant Park Orchestra.

Afterwards I, and thousands of others, walk around the marvelous open museum that is Millennium Park, again, free.  As it should be. Free, publicly supported arts are a vital recreational option during an economic crisis, or any time. Viewing something unhampered by a commercial motive is critical to a thinking society.

Unfortunately, I will be unable go to the Art Institute, a formerly dirt cheap, publicly funded museum operating rent free on public land, because they had to raise their entry fee to punitive rates. Read the rest of this entry »

The worst thing that ever happened to development was that baseball movie– “If you build it, they will come.”

From my observation, every Executive Director in Christendom has taken this as gospel and now believes that the simple power of their marvelousness will lead donors inexorably to their door. No other effort needed. Further, there’s a prevailing attitude that if “they” don’t come either they can’t be convinced, or aren’t worth the trouble. Never a thought given to either the product or the communication. Read the rest of this entry »