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Advice from Local Nonprofit Leaders: Communication, Passion and Being Different

January 17, 2014

Last week, we posted some commentary on a Chronicle of Philanthropy piece sharing advice from national nonprofit leaders about focus points for 2014. Now we want to share some local recommendations from our friends in fundraising, leadership and consulting roles.

What should we focus on in 2014?

Share your passion.
“Giving is an emotional decision and can be contagious. We are in the business of people because we love what we do and care deeply for those that we work with. It is vital that we help our donors to connect with our passion and begin to care as deeply as we do for the mission that we live for. Make sure that everyone that we meet becomes our ambassadors: Volunteers, staff and Board.”  -Rose Chapman, LCSW, President & CEO, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the Suncoast

Think of communication as a mindset.
“In order to leverage relationships with donors, employees, board members, funders, beneficiaries and the community, you must make sure they hear and understand your story and message.  However, with so much noise competing for attention today, your story and message are at risk of being drowned.  Commit to developing a communication mindset so that your message is shared consistently, strategically and emphatically to those who need to understand and by everyone within your organization.   Each interaction (in person, letter, tweet, blog, ad, video, audio, conference, etc.) is an opportunity to educate someone about your organization, its work, its mission and its contributions.”  -Michael Corley, Senior Consultant, The Patterson Foundation

Consider telling your story LIVE.
“How better to connect with your current and prospective friends and donors, than sharing your signature events in real time?  Facebook, Twitter, Video, Pinterest, Instagram…the possibilities are endless. Board members can experience your impact virtually and current supports can share ‘you’ with their on-line networks. With 88 percent of adults under 30 online (as well as 71 percent of all adults), Web 2.0 is a part of nearly every young person’s life. Sharing events via social media will increase your connections with youth and young professionals to build the next generation of leaders, patrons, and donors. Realize Bradenton has gone LIVE with the Bradenton Blues Festival and ArtSlam the last two years with excellent results. This past December, we also did a world-wide video streaming of the Blues Festival with 3,000 hits in 24 hours. WOW.   2014 is the year to increase your LIVE online exposure!”  -Johnette Isham, Executive Director, Realize Bradenton

Do it different and expect more!
We know that revolving development staff are often ineffective.  So, too, are staff of long-standing who keep doing it the same way each year.  In 2014, do it a bit different.  Even if that solicitation letter, phone call or personal visit netted improved results, put a twist on it. Promise yourself that you will make the next letter zing; the next call overflow with enthusiasm; the next visit measurably meaningful.  And don’t settle for more dollars raised.  Expect upgraded gifts, more new donors; set a goal to bring those lapsed donors back!  –Zoltan Karpathy, ACFRE, Florida Regional Director, Charitable Giving, The Able Trust

Great advice from those who have been successful!  What ideas you would you add to the conversation? We hope you will share them with us.

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