Happy New Year, Nonprofit Notes readers!  We are ready to start your year off right with 5 new articles about fundraising and organizational development.  January is the perfect time to pick up some good habits that will pay off for your organization all year. Did you resolve to…

So, grab a warm drink and settle in for a good read.  And don’t forget to post a comment at the end -- we love to hear what you think! 


The Essential Development Dashboard: Tracking your fundraising effectiveness beyond the dollars raised
Winter 2018 by Heidi Thomson-Daly

Essential Development Dashboard

Throughout my time as a fundraising consultant, I’ve found that many nonprofit organizations only use the bottom line to measure their fundraising success. Whether you’re using a development revenue report, or simply the monthly financial statements, relying solely on year-to-date dollars raised as the measure of fundraising progress can be risky. It’s also an unreliable way of evaluating the degree to which your organization’s development strategies are working.

Now, of course you need to keep an eye on the money that’s coming in the door (or not coming in the door!). But the reality is, what gets tracked is what gets done. This is why it’s far more meaningful to track progress toward a core set of key fundraising activities and non-revenue goals. There are two specific reasons to do so. First, tracking these metrics illuminates the story of what the organization is doing to actually raise money. Second, it creates a culture of accountability and a disciplined use of time, which is critical to raising money, especially more money.


De-Mystifying Donor Engagement Strategies: What Makes Them Effective and How to Create Your Own
Winter 2018 by Jennifer Weber, M. Ed., CFRE

Donor Engagement

One of the first questions I ask my non-profit clients who want to strengthen their major gift program is this: “Tell me about your current donor engagement strategies? What do you offer your donors in terms of meaningful experiences to inspire them to increase their giving?” I ask this question because I want to know what the organization is doing (outside of their annual event) to deepen people’s understanding of and connection to the mission and move them along the path of increased commitment. The answer I hear most often is “Well, we invite our donors to coffee or lunch to get to know them.” It’s surprising but true, the proverbial coffee meeting is often the only time when many non-profit leaders are interacting with their donors, outside of a large event.


Please don’t ask me to fundraise from my friends: Sure, it’s hard, but you can do hard things
Winter 2018 by Julie Edsforth

Fundraise for my friends

You’ve joined the Board of an organization you care deeply about that is addressing an issue, problem, or opportunity in a way that you think is absolutely vital. If only the development director wasn’t pestering you all the time to fundraise from your friends.

You find all sorts of reasons why you can’t do it: your friends will think you’ve crossed a line by talking about money. Or you worry your friends either aren’t interested in or able to donate their money. Or you’ll be burdening them with a request. Often these fears lead you to rationalize that you bring other skills to the Board and fundraising should be done by others, who are surely much better at this than you. The inner dialogue keeps you from filling your table at the luncheon or inviting friends to a house party or sitting down with someone to discuss supporting your organization’s work. And you probably feel a healthy dose of guilt and fatigue from the whole cycle.


Cultivating a culture of learning: Resources and Ideas
Winter 2018 by Sara Lawson

Cultivating a culture of learning

Some of the most effective leaders I know make learning a priority: for themselves, for their teams, and for their organizations. Skillful leaders tend to be naturally curious about new ideas and different perspectives. They have vision and opinions, for sure, but they also know that they don’t need to have all the answers. And sometimes the solution to a problem comes from a divergent thought, an unexpected inspiration, or a new connection between seemingly unrelated ideas.

That may sound great, but among the day-to-day pressures that you and your team face, how do you make time for learning and reflection? In Part 1, I’ll share a handful of approaches, from very-brief meeting openings to more substantive retreats and learning series. And in Part 2, I’ll offer some books and resources as food for thought.


BEST EVER Ideas for Inspired Board Recruiting: Nonprofit Notes contributors share ideas to make your board prospects say Yes!
Winter 2018 by Emily Anthony, Dani Beam, Sara Lawson, Jennifer Weber

Inspired Board Recruiting

New year, new board members – at least, we know many of you are hoping that is what the new year will bring! In light of that, this month Nonprofit Notes asked four of our contributing authors to share an idea to inspire better board recruiting. In the sections below you’ll find ideas about how to make your board recruits feel valued, connected, and excited to join your board team. Those of you who are interested in this topic may also want to check out this case study from a previous issue, which lays out a step-by-step plan for recruiting board members.

One last thing: when I was writing the titles of these sections, it suddenly occurred to me they could just as easily be the headlines in a how-to article about dating: “Tell them why you want them”; “Treat them right”; “Focus on the fun parts”; “Always be learning and growing”. Board recruitment tips doubling as relationship advice? Funny, but in a weird way it makes sense, since board recruitment really is all about developing closer relationships with people who are passionate (see what I did there?) about your organization. Good luck! –Emily