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Stop talking to yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and fundraising

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Feeling stuck in your nonprofit? Having trouble finding solutions? Maybe that’s because you’re just talking to yourself. The best way out? Take the conversation out of your nonprofit organization! Few things can build nonprofit energy and support as dramatically as getting board members and staff out into the world to ask others what they think about your organization and the challenges you face. Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE, President of Cause and Effect Inc. www.ceffect.com will share practical tips and tested-techniques for creating productive and rewarding conversations.

Stop talking to yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and fundraising

  1. 1. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Presented by Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE President www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 401.331.2272
  2. 2. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE ________________________________________________________________________ If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice. - Unknown Topics  Why conversations  Two models for starting conversations You know you need to do something differently when...  Your board is shrinking or aging  Your revenues are stagnant or falling  You keep having the same conversations over and over  You hear about important meetings you weren’t invited to  You have disagreements about direction that you can’t seem to solve  You are angry at board members for not spontaneously raising money  You haven’t seen the outside of your office in ages  Major funders, legislators or other important people don’t know anything about you  You can’t get the media to pay attention to you Here’s a remedy:  Go meet people.  Ask them questions.  Listen to what they say. Copyright (c) 2011 by www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 2
  3. 3. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE November 30, 2011 ________________________________________________________________________ Three Good Reasons for Having More Conversations Greatness has more to do with how nonprofits work outside the boundaries of their organizations than with how they manage their internal operations. – Heather McLeod Grant & Leslie Crutchfield, Forces for Good 1. You build critical abilities that are essential for survival.  Ability to build relationships  Ability to tell your story  Ability to engage people and nurture their participation “Supporting financial vibrancy in the quest for sustainability in the nonprofit sector” Marilyn, Struthers, Ontario Trillium Foundation 2004, on a study of 60 vibrant and growing Canadian nonprofits including ones that had recovered from “near death.” 2. You increase your social capital  Increase network connections & influence  Gain valuable information and connect into information pipelines  Improve your access to people, resources and information “The more connected you are to other people, information and opportunities, the more value you can extract from your environment.” Bill Traynor, Lowell CDC, Nonprofit Quarterly 3. You build evangelists  High impact nonprofits find creative ways to convert core supporters to evangelists. *  Practice builds new behaviors and increases confidence in talking about your organization  Insights have more impact and are more lasting when they are generated from within Copyright (c) 2011 by www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 3
  4. 4. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE November 30, 2011 ________________________________________________________________________  * Source: Forces for Good, 6 traits of high impact nonprofits And one more:  It’s not what you know, it’s who you hang out with.  Many people live in “information ghettos*” *Alex Pentland of MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab Why formally-structured conversations?  Many people don’t have a natural gift of gab  Provides right support for reluctant conversationalists  Helps you talk to people who might not respond to something informal Who to talk to?  Experts about your issues  Your peers  Current and former supporters  Community foundations & other important funders  Business interests  Faith leaders  People who know everyone  Political leadership & government officials  Your adversaries  Anyone else who might lead you to valuable information or needed resources What’s the excuse?  Conducting a community scan for updating your strategic plan  Getting input on strategic plan objectives & strategies  Getting feedback on how your organization is serving your donors  Considering launching a new program  Finding out what the donors think about the issues you address  Learning what is on the horizon  ___________________________________________________  ___________________________________________________ Copyright (c) 2011 by www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 4
  5. 5. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE November 30, 2011 ________________________________________________________________________ Technique 1: One-on-One Interview  Develop the questions you’d like to ask o Questions about your donors/colleagues/partners o Questions about your cause o Questions about your organization o Questions about your relationship o Questions about the future  Send formal request for interview o Cover letter o Brief backgrounder o Letter or email depends  Follow-up right away to schedule the interview  Prepare  Hold the interview o Break the ice o Ask the questions – the goal is for them to talk, not you. Don’t be defensive. o Take notes o Observe o Thank  Follow-up and follow-through o Thank you note o Follow-through with any commitments made o Write up what you learned o Debrief o Schedule next action Copyright (c) 2011 by www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 5
  6. 6. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE November 30, 2011 ________________________________________________________________________ SMALL GROUP WORK What questions would you like to ask? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Copyright (c) 2011 by www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 6
  7. 7. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE November 30, 2011 ________________________________________________________________________ Technique 2: The Group Charette  Invite multiple stakeholders into the room together to work on a question you pose o Visioning o Challenge facing you o Feedback on your new strategic plan or campaign o Brainstorming how to move plan to action  Half day with food (you have to have food)  Determine your question – make it compelling for attendees to show up  Consider whether you need an outside facilitator to help you design the process  Develop your list  Send letters of invitation with backgrounder  Follow-up to confirm attendance – aim for 15-25 people, depending on your skill facilitating a large group  Could be advance tour  Short presentation with Q&A, then make sure the session is interactive, get people talking in small groups and feeding back to the big group  Follow-up with notes and one-on-one as appropriate A few other large group processes  World Café  Focus Group  Learning Group  Study Circles  Future Search Copyright (c) 2011 by www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 7
  8. 8. Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE November 30, 2011 ________________________________________________________________________ A Few Resources:  Block, P. 2008. Community: the structure of belonging. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.  Crutchfield, L. & McLeod Grant, H. (2007). Forces for Good, The six practices of high impact nonprofits. Jossey-Bass.  Gottlieb, H. (2006). Friendraising, community engagement strategies for boards who hate fundraising but love making friends. Renaissance Press.  Struthers, Marilyn. “Supporting Financial Vibrancy in the Quest for Sustainability in the Not-for-Profit Sector.” CIO Symposium. July 9, 2004.  Sussman, C. “Building Adaptive Capacity: the quest for improved organizational performance” http://tinyurl.com/46lknuk  Weisbord, M.R. and Janoff, S. (2000) Future Search. Berrett-Koehler Publishers  TheWorldCafé.com My Action Plan  Make a list of people you’d like to talk to  Find out who on your board would be willing to do interviews with you  Assess whether charette or other large group process would be useful to your organization  __________________________________________________  __________________________________________________  _________________________________________________ Copyright (c) 2011 by www.ceffect.com gayle@ceffect.com 8
  9. 9. Dreaming about a bigger impact? Want to get better at what you do? Let us help you. Research* shows that those community benefit organizations with a big impact:  Pay attention to what is happening around them by listening and learning.  Value collaboration and nurture leadership.  Build evangelists among their volunteers, donors, staff, and advisors.  Act strategically by taking advantage of opportunities.  Serve well and advocate for systems changes that can magnify their impact. That’s what we’ve been helping our clients do for over a decade. Our experiences as staff at respected national, international and local organizations and our consultation with scores of others proved to us the effectiveness of these practices. We use them in our own work. We can help you:  Build a more engaged Board of Directors.  Listen and learn from research and the community around you.  Plot a future course based on strategic thinking and acting.  Develop a plan to enhance your revenues and state your case more effectively. About Cause & Effect Inc. President, Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE and Vice President Jonathan W. Howard bring many years of experience to their consulting work with nonprofits. Gayle’s expertise includes governance, strategic and business planning, organization and fund development, and public engagement design. She teaches organization development at Simmons College and Brown University. An in-demand consultant, trainer and provocative writer, Gayle writes for Contributions Magazine and is author of How are We Doing? a popular guide to evaluating your board. Jon’s expertise includes research, interviewing, strategic and business planning, international project management, and production of all aspects of organizational communications including direct mail, collateral materials, videos, newsletters, manuals, and exhibits. Jon’s work has taken him around the world, including staging two major exhibits on habitat presented at the United Nations in New York City, Turkey and Japan. Our clients have included, among many others, Community Works Rhode Island, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Grassroots International, House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, Essex National Heritage Commission, The Diaper Bank, New Roots Providence, PLAN USA, PLAN International, Progreso Latino, Rhode Island Foundation, WaterFire Providence, & Women’s Voices for the Earth. You’ll find free articles and tools that you can use today at www.ceffect.com. You can also subscribe to our blog, The Butterfly Effect, at www.ceffect.com/blog or follow our Tweets @gaylegifford. *Adapted from Forces for Good: Six Practices of High Impact Nonprofits. L. Crutchfield & H. McLeod Grant. Jossey-Bass. 2007. www.ceffect.com RI 02906 info@ceffect.com 401.331.2272

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