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  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 4:39 PM | Karen Eber Davis

    Is it time to write or revise your mission statement? The following outline will give you a start on getting all your ideas down and working toward those few, but important, words you need.

    What is a Mission Statement?
    A mission statement is a philosophical statement about the human or societal situation your organization addresses.

    How Will a Good Mission Statement Help Your Organization?
    If used well, it will:

    Educate you, newcomers, volunteers and the community
    Tell you what you need to do to thrive and
    Help you evaluate and initiate activities and set priorities for the investment of your limited resources
    This last item is often the most critical. For example, in the midst of a decision-making process ask, “Which choice brings us closer to achieving our mission? Why?” When resources are limited, you can use the mission statement in this way to help you say “no” to interesting but off-target opportunities.

    Questions to Ask While Developing a Mission Statement
    Select some of the following questions to ask during a mission statement session:

    Why do we exist? Why do we do what we do?
    What about this organization is important?
    If the organization didn’t exist, what would the world miss?
    What do we want to achieve?
    To what needs does this group respond?
    Why did you join this group?
    In the end, for what must this group be remembered?
    From the organization’s perspective, what challenges face the community today?
    What business are we in? What business do we want to be in?
    So, What Makes a Great Mission Statement?
    In all honesty, work. Good mission statements are short, memorable and inspiring. Usually, they take a combination of group discussion, individual word play and time to percolate. Once you have input from others and have narrowed down your words to a handful of choices, place these ideas on stickies. Post them around your work area to look at for several days, stopping to replace words and rewrite as you move through your workday.

    Using these statement starters can prove helpful:

    Our organization…

    • Increases
    • Decrease
    • Eliminates
    • Prevents
    • Inspires

    Good mission statements result in the following:

    2.The need for immediate action toward a shared goal.
    3.An anticipation of future accomplishment.
    4.When fulfilled, meaning for individuals, the community, and the world.
    5.Memorization in fewer than 15 minutes.
    Here are some examples to inspire you; note how succinct and inspiring they are:

    The National Multiple Sclerosis Society 
    To end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis.

    Girl Scouts of the USA
    To inspire girls with the highest ideas of character, conduct, patriotism, and service that they might be happy and resourceful citizens.

    Florida Arts Council
    More art for more people more of the time.

    An emergency room (as reported by Peter Drucker)
    To give assurance to the afflicted.
    (This organization developed a corresponding goal to serve everyone within one minute.)

    The Nature Conservancy
    To preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and water they need to survive.

    The Salvation Army
    To make citizens of the rejected.

    Christian Congregation (with thanks to George Villa)
    To know Christ and make Christ known.

    Sign up to receive Karen' newsletter, Added Value to grow your nonprofit's resources and revenues.

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 4:15 PM | Karen Eber Davis

    Did you hear the story about the million-dollar gift from the father of a nonprofit’s vendor? Or, the staff member who turned a $7,000 gift into $70,000 by connecting a donor to the development team? Tales abound about development directors, staff members, boards, and others who successfully snag significant donations for beloved nonprofits. What don’t we hear about? The misses. Times when organizations lost large gifts.

    How can you avoid losses? Engage everyone in developing resources. Allow no one to stay in the leadership circle, neither staff, board member, volunteer or donor who states, “Not me.” Get “all hands on deck.”

    Watch: You Can't Opt Out

    Three fundamentals exist in getting everyone engaged. Meet all three to avoid both windfall and modest donation loss:

    1. Fit. Right size jobs to people’s skills. You don’t want your intern negotiating a significant gift. However, the intern can introduce a potential donor to the development director.

     2. Reward Efforts, not results. If you only reward success, you’ll never know what you missed and places where people need skill development. Praise, uplift, and celebrate actions. Affirm your board member’s effort even if the neighbor they invited didn’t attend the event.

     3. Educate. Be a fundraising learning organization in subtle and overt ways. Break “scary” fundraising tasks into chunks. Repeat the fundamentals frequently. For instance review quarterly this scenario at your staff meetings, “It’s after hours. You’re alone working on a deadline. A call comes in from a possible donor. What do you say?”

    For more about gaining your board’s help, read this post, Creating Board Member Income Heroes. You will learn:

    • How to claim your superpowers
    • How to find board member income heroes
    • Who is in charge of creating board member income heroes

    Sign up to receive Karen' newsletter, Added Value to grow your nonprofit's resources and revenues.

  • Wednesday, December 06, 2017 10:46 AM | Liz Wooten Reschke

    The Wimauma Corporation to Develop Communities (or CDC) is currently looking for a dynamic, experienced and passionate leader to work collaboratively with the board and community. This process is being driven by a search committee consisting of WCDC board leaders, community partners and funders.Wimauma is located in South Hillsborough County and is undergoing a major transformation as a result of population growth and community initiatives. It is a diverse community with a longstanding agricultural industry rich with Florida history.

    The search committee is looking for qualified candidates with demonstrated ability in leadership, outreach, sustainability (including fundraising & grant writing), finance, AND administration/management of staff & volunteers. This person will be operating within and throughout the Wimauma community serving as a community leader, partner and facilitator as the role requires.

    For full position information visit the Connectivity Community Consulting website. 

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 2:31 PM | Anonymous

    Submitted by Member: Jennifer Filla

    Big institutions have been using prospect research long before the internet turned the field upside down. Those institutions still lead the way in things like database analysis, multi-channel direct appeals, multi-million dollar gifts and multi-billion dollar campaigns. Big is nice, but if you’re not that big, how can you be sure prospect research will work for your organization?

    Here are ten things you should know as you evaluate what type of prospect research will work for you.

    (1) In-person research is a must

    As a front-line fundraiser talking directly with donors, you are responsible for some of the most important prospect research your organization can do! You are the one who gets to ask donor prospects questions about why they give, what they love about your organization, what is going on in their family and so many other crucial questions.

    Example: A donor prospect can look great on paper, until you visit and discover that the child has special needs, aging parents have run out of money for care and the wife has just cut her career back to care for family.

    (2) Google really is good

    Google and other search engines are an incredible source of information. Learning how to use search engines effectively has become a life skill. As a front-line fundraiser, you should be able to quickly find some basic information on your donor prospect. However, you will short change yourself and your organization if you do not get professional prospect research before asking for a major gift of $10,000 or more.

    Example: A fundraiser had been engaging a donor for years and he was now on the board of trustees. When they were planning a campaign, she asked for an in-depth profile to help decide the size and type of leadership gift he might be capable of. Research discovered significant commercial real estate investments unrelated to the prospect’s primary business. The fundraiser was able to ask another board member who had made complex real estate gifts, to help cultivate and solicit.

    (3) Peer Review has pros…and cons

    Peer review – asking a select group of volunteers to review and rate prospects – can help you uncover personal information about prospects that formal research does not find, including great insights into a prospect’s personality. But we’ve all known prospects who impress people as wealthy when really they carry a lot of debt or still rely on money from their wealthy families. Peer review is one piece in the prospect puzzle, not the whole picture.

    (4) Information is always as good as the source

    One of the first rules of research is to scrutinize the source of information. Some sources are more reliable than others. It is important to ask your vendor and keep yourself educated on the sources being used in prospect research.

    Example: A Google search on your prospect’s name might reveal a bio saying she serves on a local hospital’s board, but does she? Checking the hospital’s website and/or IRS tax form 990 is a better source. Or you could just ask her…(see #1)

    (5) Prioritizing is not an exact science

    Your organization has done a stellar job of managing its annual appeals and building its database. Now you have to figure out who among the 5,000+ records should receive event invites, specific appeals, or be asked for a major gift. You don’t want to start with the letter “A” and go from there. But recognize that prospect screenings and data mining efforts are not perfect.

    Example: Sweet Charity was methodically working through its best-rated prospects from a recent wealth screening when a donor not on their list expressed an interest in a naming opportunity. It turned out that the donor held a middle-class job, but had a large trust fund as an inheritance. He had been well-stewarded by Sweet Charity for five years and when he read about the campaign in the newsletter he wanted to honor his parents.

    (6) Donor Giving is Confidential

    Every fundraiser is aware that a donor’s gift to your organization is confidential. We know to ask permission before sharing donor names and stories. Keep this in mind as you review results from database screenings and prospect profiles. Prospect research can only find gifts that have been disclosed to the public by the nonprofit or the donor.

    (7) Private Companies are Private

    Entrepreneurs are a very philanthropic group and usually own and operate one or more private companies. Private means that the shares or ownership of the company are not available to the public for purchase. It also means that the company does not have to share information, such as sales or profits. Really. Sometimes they do share, but most often we have to guess. It also means we don’t know how much of the company they own or what they sold their company for – unless they tell someone. And sometimes they do tell.

    (8) Maybe you can find out stockholdings

    Unlike private companies, public companies trade their shares with the public. So you might think that if someone owns shares of a public company we could find out, right? Wrong! Maybe we can find out. Stock ownership is reported only if the person is an insider: top executive, director, or owns 10% or more of the company stock. There are exceptions, but not too many.

    (9) You get what you pay for

    Many organizations want cheap research. Why should you pay a lot of money for research if you are not sure you will even get the gift? Because, when done well, you raise more money. If you know how to use a prospect screening effectively, every area of your fundraising could have improved results. Really, really. And if you hire a professional prospect researcher (i.e., researcher-fundraiser), you will get donor profiles that provide the kind of wealth and giving insights you need to maximize major gifts. Freelancers often don’t have the experience or the paid resources to give you what you need. How committed are you to using the information? Pay accordingly.

    (10) Partnering with Prospect Research raises money!

    So you invest in serious prospect research, but it still feels generic and not so helpful. Make sure that partnering is part of the purchase. Prospect research is most effective when research can answer a clearly defined question. That means discussing the project before work begins, during and after. Prospect researchers are fundraisers too and we want to raise money – get a “Yes!” – just as much as you do! So let’s talk.

    Can you trust prospect research? Absolutely! When you buy quality and use it skillfully, prospect research can make your fundraising efforts SHINE. Are you looking for prospect research solutions for your organization? Contact Aspire Research Group at 727 202 3405 and ask for Jen or email jen at or visit us at

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 2:28 PM | Anonymous



    The following is a case study interview between Brian Saber, Asking Matters, and John Collins, founder and executive director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, to understand his strategy behind successfully preparing board members to become leaders and advocates for his organization.

    Read more here:

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 2:25 PM | Anonymous

    Submitted by Member: Heather Grzelka

    When caught in a prickly situation, deciding your next move can be a difficult task amidst increased media scrutiny. The key to navigating any crisis requires:
    • Admitting there is a problem.
    • Describing how your organization is taking action to correct the problem.
    • Taking the corrective action you've promised as quickly as possible.

    Need a lifeline? We're here to help. Know that  a crisis can happen to any organization and is not a question of if but when. The best defense is having a good plan in place.

    Schedule your complimentary crisis consultation today to learn more about how your organization can better position itself to avoid or reduce the impact of troubled times.

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 2:20 PM | Anonymous

    Submitted by Member: Darrel Spacone

    Stop and think about the health of the data in your donor database. When was the last time any cleaning or maintenance was done? Is it part of a normal routine?

    We all run into situations on an almost daily basis that scream “Dirty Data”, “Duplicate Data”, “Useless Data”, etc. But what are you doing about it? Do you know what to do or how to do it? There are always issues with data that will creep up over and over again until they are addressed.

    Your donor database is highly complicated and detailed. Over the course of time, how many staff and volunteers, with different skill sets, have been allowed to edit your data in some way and contribute to the less than stellar shape that it is in?

    Most organizations face the same issues, but how they deal with or ignore them separates them. An audit is the starting point to finding out exactly what and how much is amiss, addressing it, and then making maintenance and cleaning part of your normal routine.

    In my career I have had direct experience with wearing many hats and having heavy workloads thrust upon me as a nonprofit employee. Sometimes there is little or no time to navigate the data trail, finding and fixing common, glaring issues.

    You know or suspect you have problems, but how and when can you tackle it?

    If you don’t have someone on staff with the expertise to clean up your donor database, consider hiring a consultant to provide you with an audit. An audit will identify what you are doing right, what is going wrong, and what steps you need to take to get back on track.

    So, when should you get an audit? NOW of course!

    Following are some of the benefits of an audit:

    Mailings: An audit will expose missing titles, names, addresses, addressees, salutations. Are you mailing to or soliciting minors? What about your service area or state? Do you target solicitations to certain counties? Is the county field populated?

    Duplicate records: Do you have the same person with multiple records? Are they necessary? Are you mailing to spouses or other household members separately? Should you?

    Duplicate addresses: Every time you add a new, preferred address, are you checking the address tab?

    Merged records: Duplicate information can be copied over during this process.

    Security: Are you lazy when it comes to security? Does everyone have the same access regardless of their job function and capabilities? Often this is the single largest problem and causes the most damage.

    Deceased constituents: Are you mailing to or soliciting dead people? Have you overlooked the surviving spouse?

    Record archiving: How long do you solicit a prospect? How long has the record been in the system without any activity? Do you know how to keep your history, but remove from your mailings?

    Data underpins all of your development efforts from gift acknowledgement, invitations, prospect identification, stewardship and beyond. When your data becomes a tangled web, your ability to fundraise suffers. Donors are not thanked and renewed. Major gift opportunities are lost forever. When you add up the losses incurred from bad data, the return on investment in your data skyrockets.

    The Devil’s in the data! Make it Good.

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 2:17 PM | Anonymous

    Submitted by Member: Karen Eber Davis

    How can you enhance your career? A 30 minute podcast with Jane Alexander, Executive Search Experta

    Jane Howze, Executive Search: Enhance Your Work By Creating a Great Team. What are the most important actions any CEO should do to manage their career? What are the key skills of successful leaders? How might CEO, chief development officer, and board chairs find out if they share “common development philosophies” that benefit income growth? In terms of succession, what specific actions can boards take now to prepare–even if it’s the first day of a new leader? And finally, when do you need an executive search firm? Based on decades of experience, Jane Alexander shares answer to these questions.(31:05) Follow this link to the podcast:

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 2:14 PM | Anonymous

    Submitted by Member: Karen Eber Davis

    Almost every nonprofit can use more supporters to help it fulfill its mission. “We need to get the word out so more people will help us,” mentions a new board member. At staff gatherings, your special event planner pipes up, “If only we had more corporate support.” The good news is that you can grow your supporters. The first step is planning how you will do it. Using a chart like the one below will help.

    When you are ready to take action about growing your supporters, gather a small group of creative thinkers to fill in the chart. In this chart you will start your thinking about organization needs and from them identify potential supporters. Filling out this chart can help you to move your organization forward by helping you to identify new partners and obtaining items and resources you need.

    Activity/Needs Why Needed Priority Who Benefits

    (Aim for 5 or more groups for each need)

    New Potential Support Cash Only? (y/n)
    Books for children to read -To increase literacy

    -To support children’s continued interest in reading

    1 1. Children

    2.Teachers/ schools

    3. Libraries

    4. Families

    4. Future employers

    5. Booksellers

    6. Community college, the local university

    1. Schools & libraries can be asked to donate books scheduled to be discarded

    2. Local employers ask to sponsor a class or buy books about topics related to their field

    3. College students asked to donate their childhood favorites, with a note about why they liked the book

    Meeting room for quarterly children’s literacy events on

    Sat. afternoons from 2-5

    -To create community support for reading

    -To increase literacy

    -To support children’s continued interest in reading

    -To involve family members

    2 1. Children

    2. Families

    3. Local business

    4. Other nonprofits

    5. Community

    6. Libraries

    7. Book stores

    1. Partner with the health department; parents also receive free health information concurrently

    2. Ask a book store to co-sponsor event(s)

    3. Ask local business with training room to co-sponsor

    PR and Media coverage about our programs in the Alta Vista School District (Pilot area) To create community support for reading 1 1. Children

    2. Families

    3. Media- interesting local new to cover

    4. Potential supporters- knowledge

    5.Communty positive info.

    6. Local photographer-opportunity to market to parents

    7. Others listed above

    1. Ask the college for a PR intern or work with a professor to create an assignment drafting press release and materials for events and reading

    2. Ask marketing firm to donate one month of services in exchange for free publicity

    3. Contact local photographer about covering event and setting up holiday family pictures theme around books at event


    Clarifications and Instructions:

    Activity/Needs: Clearly identifying your activities and needs provides you with the best opportunity to fulfill them. Write a description of the resource you need. What is needed to move your mission forward? To run more effectively? To create more outcomes? What barriers stop you from creating more services? Move beyond money—to what money buys. This is the most important section of the chart. Be specific. For example, rather than “more public recognition of our work,” write “more public recognition in the Alta Vista school district.” The later helps you to focus on the district resources vs. the whole community.

    Why Needed: List the results you plan to obtain with the resource.

    Priority: Rank the item 1, 2 and 3 depending on its high, medium or low priority

    Who Benefits: This is about others who receive something of value when you succeed. Who else does your work help? What exact benefits do you anticipate for them? Who else benefits from the increased value you provide? Besides individuals served, list groups or organizations that benefit when you benefit. For example if your goal is for youth to read more, potential benefits groups include: children, parents, teachers, book stores and libraries, but also, backpack sellers, second-hand book stores, newspapers, magazine publishers and colleges.

    Potential Support: List potential supporters; again be specific. Name names. As in the example above, this list may include new groups, even if they were not listed in the previous column.

    Must It Be Cash? This is a yes-no questions. Finding ways to fulfill needs by accepting non-cash resources provides new possibilities. For instance, you work with a bookstore that sells new and second-hand books. They will exchange a used book for free when a child younger than twelve brings in book with a one-page illustrated book review. The store posts these reviews in their new children’s book area. The store benefits because parents browse and often make purchases when they bring in their children. You also help them obtain publicity. Resource you gain: new books incentives to help children read more and a new partner.

    Yes, you can have more supporters. The first step is plan for them by identifying who benefits when your activities succeed. Using the chart above will help to identify potential supporters in an organized manner. Use the chart below to get started today. For more help identifying supporters listen to Podcast #5, How to Grow Your List of Supporters.


    Activity/Needs Why Needed Priority Who Benefits

    (Aim for 5 or more groups for each need)

    New Potential Support Cash Only? (y/n)















  • Friday, August 25, 2017 9:33 AM | Anonymous

    New management trends have cropped up recently in the social impact sector that are changing the way nonprofits approach their work. Purposeful goal-setting, sustainability, and a new emphasis on technology (for both marketing and productivity) are just a few of the principles behind these new trends.

    Here, several nonprofit executives and members of Forbes Nonprofit Council explain six leadership trends they've adopted — and why you should consider doing the same.

    1. Using For-Profit Strategies

    Our internal teams must maintain their soft skills and build on their hard skills. We’re seeing rising demands for resources and philanthropic giving that are taxing the capabilities of the nonprofit. Now more than ever, nonprofits must think and strategize like for-profit businesses, even as we improve our agility in order to remain viable and competitive. - Peggy Smith, Worldwide ERC

    2. Taking A Holistic Approach To Goal-Setting

    We'll soon see more nonprofit leaders not only being able to only identify the organization’s next destination but to clearly explain why it's headed there. Goals don't matter if you're not clear on what "there" means. If you can't explain why reaching your goal will improve the organization as a whole, scrap the goal or rework it. Goals without context (or that exist merely for the sake of having goals) are a waste of time. - Chip Rogers, Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA)

    3. Leveraging Productivity Tools

    In today's fast moving and on-the-go environment, tools to help with productivity are critical. Lucky for us, there are many out there — and the investment can be minimal. I've used tools like Wunderlist, Evernote, Slack and Basecamp for various reasons. It helps us stay organized, connected and on-task. - Jeff Rosset, The Chicago Leadership Alliance

    4. Taking On A Coaching Style Of Leadership

    Leaders in the nonprofit world have to be agile and look to the future as much as their colleagues in the for-profit world. There is no room, however, for a lone leader. Nowadays, the main attributes of leadership include self-awareness and an inclusive, coaching style of leadership. It's especially important for younger generations joining the workforce — they want a voice in decisions. - Magdalena Mook, ICF (International Coach Federation)

    5. Building Sustainable Revenue

    Nonprofits need to think about how they can generate funds while still following their mission, so any product or service you offer must be in line with your brand. Include your board and employees in brainstorming what you're good at and how you can monetize it. Build diverse funding streams including donors, grants, corporate grants and corporate revenue. This fosters true financial stability. - Pamela Hawley, UniversalGiving

    6. Looking For Cross Functionality

    I see more nonprofit leaders becoming experts in social media management and online efficiency tools like Asana for program management and collaboration as well as Xero for financial/accounting management. These cloud-based services connect the entire organization and allow leadership to constantly connect with their full-time and volunteer teams. - Sean McIntosh, Bunker Labs KC

    Forbes Nonprofit Council

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