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How to Be an Agent for Change

25 Mar

This weekend I spoke about “leading change” as a panelist at the Silicon Valley Education Conference (www.siliconvalleyeducationconference.org) in Mountain View, California.  The conversation was so refreshingly honest and insightful, I thought I would share with you my takeaways.

If you want to be an agent for change–a leader of change–there are three things you can do:

  1. Lose yourself.  Make a commitment to yourself that you are not interested in what you deserve or what you are entitled to.  90% of the important advances in the world are accomplished by tired people.  Focusing on yourself–trying to be less tired, trying to have more time for yourself, trying to protect your own interests–will only make you unhappy in the end.  Forget yourself and decide that you will focus externally, knowing that in the end, working on “greater good” is what has the power to make people (including you) happy.
  2. Decide who you are.  There are three types of change agents:
    • Visionary:  Someone who can see with true clarity of vision what others cannot see, and who can motivate and inspire others to get there.  Nothing happens without this person.
    • Organizer:  Someone who may not have seen it on their own, but recognizes it when he/she sees it, and can bring extraordinary organizational skills to bear to make sure the vision becomes a reality.  Nothing happens without this person.
    • Doer:  Someone who rolls up their sleeves and dives in with unparalleled craftsmanship and pride.  Whatever their unique skillset, they apply it within the organizational framework to advance the mission with efficiency and excellence.  Nothing happens without this person.
    • None of these roles is more important than the other two.  They are all equally necessary to effect change.  The most important thing is to recognize which of these describes who you are and then commit to play that role the very best you can.  Don’t get caught up in titles–figure out which of the three roles you were made to play, and then evaluate opportunities to play that role.
  3. Choose your cause.  You must actively look for your cause–it will not come looking for you.  Don’t wait for someone to give you “permission” to create change.  By its very definition, opportunity to effect change will not emerge out of the status quo, and you will not find it in your current job description.  Being a change agent doesn’t require a title or a certain job anyway.  You can make positive change where and when you decide to.  Look for the cause you care about, identify the role that you can do well, make sure the people filling the other roles are as passionate and capable as you , and then JUST DO IT!

Of course, whenever you are involved in change, the highs are high and the lows are low.  When you are at your lowest, remember point #1 above.  It is not about you.  You are working toward a higher good.  If this venture doesn’t work out, the next one will.  The less you can focus on yourself and the more you can focus on the change you are making for good, the easier it will be to get through the low times.  When you are able to stay focused and determined despite the odds, you will be surprised how often things break your way.  Things that seemed impossible suddenly become possible, and pieces that didn’t fit before suddenly find a solution.  This does not happen when you give up or get discouraged or distracted, but it happens a surprising percentage of the time when you stay focused.

I really enjoyed my co-panelists, Josh Edwards (Amazon) and Jessica Johnson (RBL Group) and the moderator, Maggie Goloboy (McKinsey).  Thank you!

-db

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Connecting with Other Nonprofit Leaders

18 Jul

Nonprofit leaders are either inspired human beings with a passion for change or just plain glutton for punishment. I can think of few other careers where people work so hard for so little and come away from the office with a smile on their faces. Amongst running a complex business, managing a variety of personalities, attending a spectrum of events, and always being on their best behavior in case they find themselves in contact with a potential donor, these captains of the philanthropic world also wear multiple hats: ambassador, accountant, counselor, marketing manager, and errand boy. Connecting with other people who are in a similar position isn’t just a helpful idea, it’s a necessity.

Other than finances, it seems like one major thing that those who run organizations always lack is time. Whether it is due to running from meeting to meeting or following up on a dozen urgent phone calls, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Fortunately with social media, a lot of connections and inquiries can be addressed in one place. Want to know what other organizations in your area are doing? Friend them on Facebook. Looking for some new fundraising ideas? Search for #fundraisingtips. Want to plug in with other leaders in the corporate world? Create an account on LinkedIn. Knowing where to look is half the battle.

While social media fundraising is one of the newest ways to garner funds, it doesn’t have to be complicated. The good thing is that with every new development, there are some great resources to provide updates for the common user. Mashable.com is an amazing resource that always has the most current and usable information pertaining to online technology. HuffingtonPost.com is also another resource I rely on for up to the minute news and predicting the social tides. If you just want quick tutorials, YouTube has a ton of hands on videos to show how to navigate social networking sites. There are also some great blogs written to help master the use of the web. (Personally, I do my best to find practical ways to apply online resources into your fundraising strategies. I’ve worked in the nonprofit world for over 15 years and I write about things I’ve learned or that I think will help the charities that I’m currently working with.)

Other resources to consider are the great conferences that you can attend or view online. Most conferences either do live streaming of the presentations or video it to be viewed at a later date. With the rise of social media, you can also follow along with most tech conferences on Twitter by following the appropriate hashtag.

If you live in or near the Silicon Valley, Social Media for Nonprofits is bringing their informative conference to the area on July 26, featuring an all-star lineup sharing practical tips and tools for leveraging social media for fundraising, marketing and advocacy. Fundly CEO Dave Boyce will be participating along with keynote Beth Kanter, plus Libby Leffler of Facebook, Meg Garlinghouse of LinkedIn, Deborah Alvarez-Rodriguez, CEO of Goodwill, Sarah Dines of Change.org, Dawn Andreas of Eventbrite, Lee Fox of KooDooZ, and media consultant Amy Gahran.*

Online fundraising (or running a nonprofit for that matter) can be a lot easier when you partner with others in the field. Connecting with other leaders through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, conferences, and doing a little internet research can maximize the most of your precious time.

*Discounted tickets are available for small nonprofits at $95. For for-profit and larger nonprofits, use the discount code “Fundly” to save $20 off $125 and $175 tickets. Conference registration includes access to the full day conference, breakfast, and lunch. For more information or to sign up, visit Social Media For Nonprofits – Silicon Valley 

You Ask, We Answer: Creating Successful Online Campaigns

17 Jul

Last week’s Twitter Q&A had some great questions asked and we hope that these highlights and expanded answers help you towards your online fundraising goals.

Q: When you don’t have a huge following, what are 3 good tips to get people to pledge?

Tip 1: Reach out to your small following and ask them to share with their contacts on social networking sites. Facebook has over 350 million active users and the average user has about 130 friends. With these facts in mind, it’s obvious why social media fundraising should be a top priority in your fundraising strategy. Even if you only have a following of 20 people on Facebook, it means you have the potential to get your organization’s name out to 2,600 people if each supporter shares your post or link. If just ten percent of those people are inspired by your mission enough to share with their contacts, you could possibly reach another 33,800 potential donors. Realistically not every one of the 130 friends checks their messages daily and the average post lasts on a page about 20 minutes, but where else can you spend a few minutes and zero dollars to reach so many potential donors? This is why it is critical to create thoughtful posts on a regular basis with intriguing pictures to stand out from the crowd.

Tip 2: Create an engaging story that is easy for people with a shared interest to relate to and rally behind. While Facebook is an awesome hook, there needs to some great bait on the line for donors to bite. Your story needs to be relatable, cause an emotional reaction, and honest. It’s not the most eloquent or detailed story that gets the best response, but one that is inspirational and heartfelt.

For each story, it is also important to include a photo to increase the memorable factor for the reader. In a society that is as visually driven as ours, we connect more with a person or location when we know what it looks like.

Tip 3: Contact local news and related websites to ask for coverage of your fundraiser. Not only does this provide legitimacy for people who are unfamiliar with your cause, but it connects you with people who are like-minded. Facebook casts a broad net, but partnering with related websites narrows down the audience to those who care about a similar cause. Local media is also a great resource to rally your community around your online fundraising campaign.

* This question also received an answer from another Fundly Campaign, Bruce Funds. They suggested: “Humanize your cause. Put a face on your needs, if possible.”

Q: Can online fundraising be used in conjunction with “old-school” fundraising events?

A: Online fundraising is a great way to rally supporters before the event and allow donations for those unable to attend. It is great for advertising, taking RSVPs, asking for volunteers, requesting donations for an auction, and for posting pictures after the event and thanking those who participated. We did a series back in May pertaining to event fundraising that you may want to check out: Event Fundraising Using Social Media.

Q: Is it ok for a kid to run a campaign?

A: Yes! Kid participation helps people become more invested. Here are a couple of examples: MAKE-A-STAND! and Jack’s FUNraising Page.

I also wrote an article on this topic that will give you helpful tips and ideas for getting the next generation involved in philanthropic work: Getting Kids Involved in Online Fundraising.

Do you have a question about online fundraising that you want to ask one of our Fundly professionals? Follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause. If you won’t be able to attend the Q&A, leave your question in the comment section below and look for it in the recap next week!

Fundly Hosts Weekly Tweet Ups

11 Jun

Blogs can be great for finding tips and ideas to advance how you incorporate social media into your online fundraising strategies, but sometimes you just need someone to answer your questions. While consultants can be expensive and participating in forums can be confusing, finding an expert who will guide you in the internet maze to connect with donors is priceless. With this in mind, Fundly is excited to present their weekly Tweet Ups to help those who want the aid of our social media fundraising specialists.

You might be wondering, what is a Tweet Up? It’s basically a conversation that takes place when a bunch of Twitter users log on at a scheduled time and discuss a specific topic using the same #hashtag. The great thing about this resource is that it is an open online meeting where you can brainstorm, garner advice, and network with others in your field. (To learn more about Twitter chats, you may want to visit Quick Guide to Twitter Chats.)

As the largest online fundraising platform in the world, Fundly is eager to hear what questions you may have. Do you want to know how to utilize your social networks to promote your cause? Is your donation site stagnating and you need to find a way to inject new life into your campaign? Are you unsure of how to create a personal fundraising page? We would love to answer these and whatever questions you may have at our Tweet Ups!

How can you participate? Follow the #fundraisingtips hashtag on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. PST. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause.

If you are unable to attend this week’s Tweet Up, feel free to leave your questions in the comment section below!

In the TechKnow

8 Jun

For anyone who has been in the nonprofit world for any length of time, you probably are familiar with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the vision, connections, and education they bring to the philanthropic world. With over 50 years of experience working in the charitable fundraising realm, they have stayed abreast of the difference strategies and technological advancements that have changed the landscape of how we garner dollars to promote a cause. At the beginning of this week, the AFP put on its first annual AFP TechKnow Conference in Orlando, FL and has proven to be a forerunner in strategic planning combined with social networking.

At the core of the TechKnow conference is the idea that fundraisers should know what tech tools are available to them without using complex jargon. In this world of instant messaging, a tangled web of social network contacts, and a new language of communication comprised of 140 characters or less, fundraising has more opportunities than ever before. Without the basic knowledge of current media forums, these opportunities can be major obstacles in reaching donors and supporters. At the TechKnow conference, these barriers were torn down with informative presentations, interactive workshops, and in-the-know exhibitors.

With social media being at the hub of the varying topics presented at the conference, the many speakers brought valuable insights to the sessions such as Laura Howe, Vice President, Public Relations for the American Red Cross and her discussion on case studies using social media success in fundraising and reputation management. International fundraising consultant Adrian Sargeant, Ph.D. focused on donor retention using technological strategies. Other topics included donor engagement, collaboration, and taking your social media strategies to the next level. The event closed with Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, his “vision for tomorrow”, and his challenge to nonprofit leaders: “Once you know something is possible, you can do it!”

Were you not able to get away to attend this extraordinary event? Obviously technology can come to your aid. Check out their website, http://www.afptechknow.org, for links to their Facebook page, to read up on Tweets posted from the conference, and to download valuable handouts that were distributed at select presentations. Online fundraising is a huge asset to any nonprofit organization. While this new cyber world can be intimidating and complex, there are great resources out there to help you tackle this medium to reach your fundraising goals.

The Future of Money

14 Mar

What is the future of money? Quite honestly, the farthest I’ve ever really gotten with the question is whether I’ll have any or not. However, Fundly CEO Dave Boyce was on a panel dedicated to this topic at the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX on Monday and the reality of technological innovation is mind blowing.

In an interview with AP Mobile and MTV host Abram Boise* , Dave shared some of the topics that were presented to the panel. The future of online payments and consumer transactions are ready and available for use today and credit cards, wallets, and cash will soon be distant memories. (I was going to add checks into that mix, but somehow they seem to have already entered into the almost obsolete category.)

Basically, the future of money boils down to trust. A few years ago when I first started to use eBay and make other online transactions, I was terrified of cyber-hackers stealing my credit card information. Now I have a habit of researching products online, looking for the best deals, and without a second thought I put in my personal data to purchase anything from clothing to furniture to vitamins.

Dave uses the great example of the trust that people put into Facebook. Users post family pictures, events in their lives and share information for all to see. Regardless of generation, Facebook users from 12 to 100 years old have put their trust in the Facebook brand. Can you imagine if you could purchase goods through a Facebook account?

Secondly, the Apple Corporation has also won the trust of its users. This is one of the most tangible ways that transactions will be effected. Picture going into Starbucks, pulling out your iPhone and having the funds directly taken from your account without a bill or credit card in sight. According to Dave, “the technology is ready; the missing link is the trust.” Furthermore, the applications are available to retailers with minimal investment.

Dave also brought up the valid point that you spend money on things you want to be a part of your identity such as music, film and the philanthropic causes that you care about. Why not share the charities that touch your heart with your Facebook friends and challenge them to give, too?

Also directed to non-profit fundraising, Dave mentioned that the reason PayPal is not fulfilling their potential is because it is a difficult platform for third party users and the experience isn’t pleasant. “You either have to own the experience or own the platform,” advises Dave. This is a great principle for charities to apply to their own websites: is your site difficult to maneuver? Is it too complicated for your donors to give?

The future of fundraising is online, and the future of money concerning internet payments and mobile transactions is closer than we realize. Are you ready?

* Watch the full interview: http://http://bit.ly/yueFXl

Fundly Proud to Be a Part of SXSW Conference This Week

9 Mar

Next week is the interactive portion of the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) and we are excited that our CEO, Dave Boyce, is going to be a panelist on Monday in the workshop “The Future of Money.” This action-packed event was designed with the purpose of creating, “an event that would act as a tool for creative people and the companies they work with to develop their careers, to bring together people from a wide area to meet and share ideas. That continues to be the goal today whether it is music, film or the internet.”

From March 9 – 18 at the Austin Conference Center, thousands will gather to experience the latest in cutting edge music, film, technology and global networking. The first week will focus on technology by organizing “compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer.” With Fundly being the largest online fundraising company in the world, we are honored and thrilled to be invited to participate in such a groundbreaking event.

The SXSW is also well-known for its impact on the entertainment industry. With music and film moguls from around the world, these two weeks are also directed at sharing industry insider information and networking with other creative types to further the careers and successes of musicians and film makers. In this spirit, performances from Lionel Richie and Jay-Z are scheduled to entertain and inspire those in attendance.

For those who are unable to attend this great conference, they are offering web streaming on sxsw.com/interactive/live Friday, March 9 through Tuesday, March 13. With presentations entitled “Conquering the Digital Overload,” Driving Global Technology and Innovation,” and “Hack Your Brain for Peak Performance,” there’s bound to be a workshop that would interest you. Please visit their website for more information: sxsw.com.

Social media is a part of our world and nonprofits can truly benefit from watching other industries utilize these incredible resources. From watching web videos to online fundraising, technology is truly woven into the fabric of our culture.