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Roughly one-third of nonprofits with profiles in The Giving Partner have an organizational account on Twitter. Some of them are regularly maintained with dynamic 140 character updates that fuel interest in their missions.

If your organization is questioning the value of Twitter, wondering if anyone out there is even listening, know that tweeting is not only about getting your message out. It’s also about listening to what others are doing, sharing, talking about.

Social media tools are made for this.

Here is a list of local tweeting nonprofits with their Twitter handles.

If you haven’t done it already, create a free account on Twitter for yourself or your organization and start following others.

Who do you follow?

  • Other local nonprofits and coalitions.
  • Community leaders.
  • Local, state and federal government agencies.
  • Local funders.
  • National funders.
  • Local & national news organizations that report about philanthropy and social good.
  • Thought leaders who post about donor retention, nonprofit marketing or nonprofit innovation.
  • National nonprofits with your mission focus.

What are you looking for from your followers?

  • Knowledge and ideas that make you more informed about what’s working and not working in your field.
  • Local and national initiatives that involve the same populations your organization is serving.
  • Material that your organization can re-tweet or share with your clients, staff, board members or volunteers.

Reciprocity in social media can help you discover and build relationships online that can bloom into reliable sources of intelligence to help you in your work, and they can increase your network of trusted colleagues.

I have made some good discoveries on Twitter over the course of the last five or so years, using it to…

  • Meet speakers we eventually invited to our community for events.
  • Stay connected to community foundations and leaders from around the country who I have met or hope to meet at conferences.
  • Access the latest philanthropic trends that inform the work and thinking we need to stay innovative.

Sure, we share our work as well, but so much of the value in Twitter is in listening and learning.

How many local nonprofits are you connected to on Twitter? Let’s go for it, rockin’ robins.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

I’m not sure how we got started with the tempura beets, but every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to share dinner with a special friend at Eat Here. The tempura beets are a necessity on every occasion.

The funny thing is, I don’t even like beets. Or didn’t. I’m a fan now.  But I think it has a lot to do with the company.

We have a great time together, we share a bit about our lives, brainstorm future possibilities in work, and relax in the chance to be authentic and genuine. As with anything these days, I have found a way to bridge part of our QT into a Giving Partneresque discussion.

So what can tempura beets teach us about good donor relations? Three things come to mind:

  1. Try something new. The initial fun of the beet experience was built on the newness of trying them together. Introduce some excitement into your donor relations by creating a new experience you can have together—a little adventurous but not over the top.
  2. Hang on to a successful tradition. Once something is a hit, build your nonprofit’s brand around that piece of tradition with your donors. That calling card will remind your donors of your organization and will be a special touch you can count on sharing together each time you meet.
  3. Focus on the quality of the time you spend together. No matter how fantastic the tempura beets of your nonprofit-donor relationships, the most important aspect of your work with donors is the quality of your interactions with them. Do you listen? Are your conversations reciprocal? Do you offer gentle suggestions without overpowering their wishes? Do you honor your confidential conversations?

And in conclusion, a special blog message to my tempura beet partner, who also happens to be a nonprofit guru I admire and respect endlessly: I hope you know how special you are. Nothing beets our time together.

Happy Friday, Giving Partner friends.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

DOINSURANCEBeing a board member–a good one–is a demanding but extremely rewarding way to share talents, experience, local knowledge, connections and passion for a charitable cause.

No one likes to think about the possibility of anything going wrong in this good work, but it can happen.

Are your board members protected?

Many shrewd prospective volunteer leaders would like to know that your organization has a current Directors and Officers Liability Insurance Policy (D & O insurance) before committing to a board position.

Based on data nonprofits have provided in The Giving Partner, how many local organizations have a D & O policy? Here’s the breakdown:

  • Have a current D & O Insurance Policy:  50%
  • Do not have a current D & O Insurance Policy:  35%
  • No answer:  15%

Nonprofits are not required to answer the D & O question to have their profiles published in The Giving Partner.  But an affirmative answer to this question is one good sign that your organization is prepared for a professional governing board.

The cost of D & O insurance is not (or should not be) prohibitive–it’s simply one cost of doing business. If your organization decides not to carry the policy, know the risks so that you can answer questions from current and future board members.

Donors and funders are using The Giving Partner to make informed choices about giving. Consultants, local foundations and others are using The Giving Partner to learn more about the training, resources and other services nonprofits need as they continue to grow as successful, sustainable organizations.

But the rest of the story rests in the sheer power of data.  We are learning a lot about the value of charitable organizations beyond what immediately comes to mind for many people when they hear the word “nonprofit.”

Let’s look at employment for example.

The 314 nonprofit organizations located in Sarasota, Manatee or Charlotte counties with published profiles in The Giving Partner employ nearly 7,000 full-time staff, nearly 4,000 part-time staff, and 2,000 contractors.

These numbers represent only part of our nonprofit landscape, but they provide a good indication of how important charitable organizations are when it comes to employment in our region.*

jobsthegivingpartner

Are you surprised by these numbers?

As you tell your own organization’s stories and accomplishments, consider how you can also tell the story of how powerful the nonprofit sector is as a whole. We need to let the world know.

Organizations with profiles in The Giving Partner were not included in this data set if their main offices are located outside of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte or Desoto counties, although these organizations also serve this geographic area.*

Derrick Feldmann’s recent visit to our community for the 2013 Fundraisers Forum helped us understand what is really important to Millennials if we want them to be involved in volunteering, giving or sharing messages about our nonprofits.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy just posted about some of his newest findings.

Here’s a checklist of what to do if you want to keep those Millennials far away from you.

  • Do not keep your website up-to-date.
  • Have a website that is not mobile-friendly.
  • Post lots of information about your organization but not tangible success stories.
  • Do not offer easy options for monthly giving.
  • Focus only on ways big donations can help, not what can be accomplished with smaller gifts.
  • Have little or no interest in social media.
  • Forget about ways raising money or volunteering for your cause can be developed into fun, social events.

What do you think? Is your organization building walls or making bridges to Millennial engagement?

Don’t forget to read “75 Percent of Young Donors Turned Off by Out-of-Date Websites.”  You will find lots of good stats to arm your fundraising and marketing strategies. You will also discover that making some enhancements to suit Millennials can be steps in the right direction for all of your donors as well.

GuideStar is working on making The Giving Partner more mobile friendly.

Meanwhile, remember there is a monthly giving option on every profile.  Keep your organization’s profile up-to-date, share those success stories, post your videos, and make sure the links to your social media sites take people to online locations that you are nurturing every chance you get.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

 

Nonprofit work can be extremely rewarding. As many of us have discovered, it can also be very challenging.

We deal with tough problems. We could do so much more with more people, more funding. We live in a world where reaching consensus plays a much bigger role than it does in a for-profit enterprise.

And of course, there’s the ongoing, unrelenting, and constantly debated issue of compensation.

Some positions in the nonprofit sector are widely regarded as revolving doors, with new hires in and out after just 6 months or a year on the job.

The hiring process plays a critical point in these issues, but making people feel valued in their roles is equally important so they stay with our organizations.

I just read this article in Forbes and loved it. It’s not about rewards, compensation or flowery kudos. Rather, Avery Augustine focuses on four ways you can be an authentic leader with your people, really making them feel valued:

  1. Be intentional with everyday conversations.
  2. Show them that others need them too.
  3. Challenge them.
  4. Recognize them as individuals.

Take a few minutes to read the full article–it’s short and meaningful!

What makes you feel valued in your position?

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Derrick Feldmann and Kelley Lavin, publisher of Sarasota Magazine, talk onstage during the 2013 Fundraisers Forum on July 12

Derrick Feldmann and Kelley Lavin, publisher of Sarasota Magazine, talk onstage during the 2013 Fundraisers Forum on July 12

Those famous words from mom about the Brussels sprouts still echo in the collective consciousness of adults around the country: “Just try them; they’re good for you.”

True, new things can seem like unsavory annoyances, but when we regard them as such, we miss out on opportunities.

I’ve seen nonprofits doing it–I’ve observed myself doing it.

Some organizations approach Millennial engagement in this way. Yikes!

Changing the standard nonprofit business model and donor cultivation route just because a “new” generation demands it is not always easy to stomach. The fact is, many of us find it hard to attract young people because we are expecting to do so in the same way we involve everyone else.  We do not know how to approach and view Millennials as they want to be approached and viewed.

After listening to Derrick Feldmann address nonprofits at the 2013 Fundraisers Forum on July 12, I hope more of us are convinced that we should try to cultivate Millennials, not just because we have to as a long-term investment, but because it’s good for our missions in the short-term too.

Tapping into the research Derrick Feldmann has conducted on more than 14,000 Millennials over the last four years, we can understand how our organizations can be more flexible, open, and responsive overall.

In Derrick’s keynote at the Fundraisers Forum, we learned that…

  • Peers (not organization leaders with fancy titles) are huge Millennial influencers.
  • Event fundraising–such as walk-run events–is deeply engrained in the Millennial mindset. It started in grade school when they were first introduced to raising money.
  • Millennials often count sharing your content on Facebook or Twitter as “being engaged” in your nonprofit.
  • The average donation from a Millennial is around $21. On average, Millennials contribute to 6 causes each year.
  • A Millennial’s allegiance is often to a particular cause, not a particular nonprofit.
  • Millennials expect openness and transparency and a focus on solutions.
  • They are prepared to spread their own messages about your cause and want to do so through multiple channels.
  • E-mail based donation appeals can be popular with Millennials, as long as they are short, compelling and illustrative of direct impact.
  • International organizations have been particularly successful with Millennials, largely because they make excellent use of imagery in appeals and showcase how a small donation can make a specific difference.

Are you ready to embrace the opportunities here?

Millennials have a lot to teach us, and it’s time to start letting them do it. If we are not ready for them, they will find a different nonprofit to support or start one themselves, their way.

You can check out Cause for Change: The How and Why of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement by Kari Dunn Saratovsky and Derrick Feldmann from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s nonprofit library. E-mail KCarroll@CFSarasota.org for information.

Many thanks to Derrick Feldmann for making a trip to Sarasota for the Fundraisers Forum, an annual partnership of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southwest Florida chapter.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County