Super Bowl LI…

How I Turned a Loss into a Lesson About Fundraising

It’s the day after the biggest night in sports and I – like many Falcons fans – woke up devastated. Unless you live on another planet, you know the Atlanta Falcons played the New England Patriots for the Super Bowl Championship last night. And by now, you also know my beloved Falcons lost.

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It was such a close game. It was a historical game since it was the first time in the 50-year history of the Super Bowl that the game went into overtime.  Obviously, the fourth quarter of the game was an emotionally charged nail biter to the very end. So, it’s understandable that I would be disappointed by the loss.

But what I woke up wondering is why I couldn’t just let it go. I’m not a player. I wasn’t getting any type of monetary gain if they’d won. I had absolutely no skin in this game. Yet, I woke up feeling like I was mourning the loss of a loved one.

Just as I was beginning to blow it off to being a woman and having intense emotions, I read something that shed some light. In fact, it’s very relevant to nonprofit work and charitable giving. Hence, the reason I’m sharing this blog with you. Otherwise, I don’t think you’d care one way or the other about my grief over this game loss.

It was a quote from a blog by Seth Godin. He wrote about fundraising. He explained his theory of why people give to charity or why we buy into a particular brand. Meaning, why we accept the story the brand tells about the organization.

He said: “We love the memory we have of how that brand made us feel once. We love that it reminds us of our mom, or growing up, or our first kiss. We support a charity or a soccer team or a perfume because it gives us a chance to love something about ourselves.”

That last sentence stood out to me. “It gives us a chance to love something about OURSELVES.” Now, I get it. I know why I can’t let this go.

You see, the reason I was pulling so hard for the Falcons goes way beyond my love of the game and my respect for the players. I love the story of the Falcons.

They have overcome some rough seasons to get to where they are now. They got a new coach last season, and this year they were the comeback kids. Going into the game everybody saw them as the underdog.

For me, they represented the classic American story of hard work paying off. They have put in the work as a team. The players formed an unbreakable brotherhood. They played better this year than they have in a long time.

I predicted this would be their year because I felt like they’d earned it. The stars were aligned and it was their time.

That’s the parallel of how I see my own story. I have had some rough seasons in life, especially the last couple of years. Last year I moved to Florida to get a fresh start. Things started out a little rocky, but I’m starting to feel like I’m getting some footing.

A victorious end for the Atlanta Falcons, was a premonition of what I believed was to come for me.

But…that didn’t happen!

The stars didn’t align, and despite all of their hard work, they didn’t win the ultimate prize. They didn’t win the championship.

I made the Falcon’s journey all about me. I had my own hopes and dreams wrapped into their journey. A loss for them was a personal loss for me.

Now, let’s look at this from your perspective as a fundraiser. When pursing funds from a donor, most fundraisers tend to get wrapped up in their own passion.

One writer put it this way: “fundraisers universalize their own passion. Because they’re focused on their mission, they think everyone else is focused on their mission.”

Here’s what you’re probably missing. Donors give “through” your organization to achieve their own desires – to fulfill their own aspirations – to live out their own values. Your organization is the means to the donor’s end. (Nonprofit Quarterly)

Here are the key points:

  1. Fundraising and giving isn’t about money.
  2. Identify the donor’s mission and seek to fulfill it, instead of your own.
  3. Figure out how to solve the problem the donor has identified. If it aligns with your mission, you have a winning combination.

If you can stop focusing on what you can get and instead focus your energy on what you can give, your luck will change. You will likely have more success with your donors.

Until next time…

Peace & Blessings!

 

What to Consider BEFORE Responding to an RFP

When the federal government releases a Request For Proposals (RFP) it can spark a variety of emotions, including excitement, intimidation and fear. Most people get excited about the amount of money available. But, depending on the size of your organization, and your capacity, it can also incite fear.

I want to help you overcome your fear and anxiety, and help you make an informed decision. So, in this week’s video message I discuss some critical things you need to consider before you decide to respond to an RFP.

The Key to Sustainable Outcomes

If you have worked in the nonprofit sector for an extended period of time you know that times are changing. With more and more nonprofits forming every day, the competition for funding is tight.

So, funding agencies are looking more closely at results. In particular, they want to know that any organization they fund will be around for the long haul. If a funder is giving money to your program or organization, they want to ensure you are yielding results – positive, sustainable results.

Unfortunately, for many organizations that doesn’t come easily. There’s a reason for that. It has to do with how they start off. Having a successful end game, has everything to do with how you start.

In this week’s video blog, I share the one thing that is tripping up many nonprofit organizations and preventing them from getting the funding, and ultimately, the outcomes they need.

Legacy Living

How Dr. Martin Luther King Has Impacted Me

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Today we are celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Had he lived, he’d be 88 years old.

This civil rights icon was inspirational to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. For me, I’m inspired by how much he accomplished in his relatively short life. Dr. King was 39 years old when he was assassinated in Memphis, TN. Yet, 49 years later his legacy lives on.

I heard the most profound quote about legacy living while attending an MLK Day Breakfast on this past Friday. It was a comment made by our guest speaker, Dr. Bertice Berry. She said, “Your legacy isn’t what you leave when you die. Your legacy is what you leave when you walk out of the room.”

That was such a profound statement because it reminded me that we’re always making an imprint on the lives of others. Or at least, if we choose to, we always have the opportunity. It made me consider my impact. There are times I’m very conscious of the impact and influence I have. But this comment made me think differently. People aren’t just watching and paying attention to my life when I want them to. They are ALWAYS paying attention.

Even in those moments that I’m just going through my day. Whether I’m attending a community meeting, or I’m shopping in the grocery store, I always have the opportunity to leave my imprint. As an ambassador for Christ, this is especially important to me.

So, on this anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest people to ever live, I’m reflecting on what kind of impact I want to have on others. Maya Angelou once said that you don’t know what your legacy will be. Because you don’t really know who you’re impacting in the world, or how. I can’t really control that.

What I can do, is live with intention. I can be very deliberate in my actions, knowing that everything I do can potentially impact someone’s life. I also realize that can be simple. I may never spearhead a civil rights movement, or open a school for girls in Africa. But, I can be kind. I can be helpful to others. I can always strive for a spirit of excellence in all that I do.

Success for me is contributing to the progress and the advancement of others. I want to help people be better. I want to inspire people to be better.

From this day forward, I vow to be more mindful of the energy and life I bring to every room I occupy. More importantly, I want to leave every room better than I found it.

What about you? What are you going to do?

 

 

How to Make 2017 Your Best Year

Believe it or not, there are only two weeks left in this year. If you’re like most of us, you can’t figure out where the time has gone. Nor can you believe how quickly it has gone. These are the same things we say at the end of every year.

Another thing that happens this time of year is we take time to reflect. Reflect on our personal and professional lives. For me, it was this time last year that I took a close look at my life and decided it was time for a major change. I was no longer happy in my personal or professional life. So, I took stock of those things that I had control over. For the most part, I had control  over all of it. I knew that I am the source of my happiness.

I also knew the greatest source of my frustration was Atlanta, especially the traffic. I was spending two hours a day in traffic just getting to work and home. It was robbing me of my quality of life. And I knew moving to another part of the city wasn’t the answer. After 10 years of living there, I’d pretty much lived in most of the areas that were appealing to me. I knew that wasn’t going to work anymore. I needed to shake things up in a drastic way.

So, I decided to leave Atlanta and to leave Georgia altogether. I wasn’t sure where I’d go, but I made the decision to move. Within weeks of sitting with that decision I narrowed down my choices. I set a goal to be moved by June 2016. I took all the steps to make that happen, and by the last week of May, I had sold my house and was on my way to Jacksonville Florida. By June 1st, I signed the lease on my new apartment.

I’m still amazed by how my life changed so quickly. I think my head is still spinning by how quickly everything happened.

So, as I’m again at the end of another year, I’m re-evaluating my life. I’m trying to determine what I’d like to see happen in the new year. How can I make my life better? The biggest change I’d like to see is professionally. I’d like to build a better foundation for my business in Jacksonville. I still have clients in Atlanta, and I’m fortunate to be able to work with clients anywhere in the country. However, I need to assimilate to my new environment. That’s going to require strategy and a commitment to do whatever it takes. Starting over is exciting, but it’s also very hard.

If you’re running a business, especially a nonprofit business, you are constantly reinventing yourself. You have to stay relevant and you have to continue to make an impact. That’s why I need you to give serious thought and consideration to what you want for yourself and your organization in the new year. Trust me, it won’t happen just because you wish it. You have to behave your way to sustainable change.

Here are a few tips I can offer you to facilitate that process.

  • Take a close and comprehensive look at what you accomplished this past year. The best way to plan for the future is to evaluate your past. What went well? Those are probably things you want to build on.
  • Next, look at what went wrong. Were there initiatives that didn’t go as planned? Were there any projects that were ineffective and didn’t yield a return on the investment you put into it? Whether that investment was time, money or resources. Perhaps, these are projects that you need to improve or drop all together.
  • Is your organization better off today than it was 11 months ago? Are your clients or target population better off as a result of working with you?
  • Of course, you also need to examine your finances. Did you attract any new donors? Did you lose donors? If so, why? What could you have done better to maintain donors? Were there funds you anticipated that didn’t come through? Were there funds you received that you didn’t anticipate having? If yes, how can you build from that?

Once you’ve examined these important areas of your organization, you need to set some goals. Attach timelines to those goals, and measurable objectives to help you accomplish those goals. Then, get to work to make it happen.

Congratulations for all you’ve accomplished this year, and I wish you all the best in 2017.

Until next time…

Peace & Blessings!