Home

what millennials wantWith Millennials (aged 15 to 35 years of age) now the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. population and making up the majority of the workforce, nonprofits are asking lots of questions about how to engage them.

How can we attract them as staff and keep them? What do they like as donors? As volunteers? Is it true that Millennials only respond to messages on their smart phones and social media?

Last week the Community Foundation of Sarasota County hosted a panel discussion led by some very talented local Millennial leaders to ask them these questions.

Here’s what we learned from our moderator Murray Devine, Communications Project Manager, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, along with his panelists: Andrea Knies, Assistant Director for Community Engagement, New College of Florida; Abigail Oakes, Education and Communications  Coordinator, Nature’s Academy; and Robert Young, Attorney at Icard Merrill Cullis Timm  Furen & Ginsburg PA.

Three Common Myths Millennials Hate

  • Myth: It’s all about me. Reality: Millennials want to be—and are—very involved in their communities. They also love working on teams and being part of teams.
  • Myth: You can best connect with me on my smart phone. Reality: They value and respond well to personal outreach.
  • Myth: I’m ready to take over the organization shortly after I start working there. Reality: They value access to key decision makers both to share ideas and to learn from them.

Millennials as Donors

  • Millennials look for a clear, concise, and well communicated mission.
  • Make it easy to give.
  • They’re masters at detecting canned content and know when they are part of a mass marketing effort or fundraising ask. #notappealing
  • When they’re personally invested in the mission—as volunteers—for example, Millenials are more likely to donate.
  • Millennials enjoy the elements of friendly competition. This is why the Giving Challenge and gamification of philanthropy can be very attractive to them. Teamwork and collaboration for causes they are passionate about speak to the social aspects of what they crave.
  • Annual giving is not a “done deal.” They are often more likely to give when a friend asks or in response to an individual outreach made by someone at the nonprofit.
  • They like to know exactly where their money is going—even if it’s going to operating.

Millennials as Volunteers

  • If you find one passionate Millennial volunteer, you can often access their network of friends and colleagues.
  • Millennials often look for a social component to volunteer opportunities.
  • They will volunteer to tell your organization’s story and do it freely, but you have to give them an easy and engaging story to tell.
  • Taking ownership of specific projects is appealing to most Millennials.

Millennials as Nonprofit Staff Members

  • Even if they don’t have a vote on a final decision, they value the opportunity to have a voice.
  • Money isn’t everything in a position. The opportunity for personal growth, informal/organic mentorship, and participation in key aspects of the operations can be very important.

We hope you will use the insights from this honest conversation to shape a few strategies to engage this huge pool of talent. We don’t want to lose them to other organizations, or to another community.

It’s also noteworthy that generations have a lot in common. Aren’t most of us more attracted to personal outreach than to mass appeals? Don’t most of us value being asked for our input and for opportunities to grow in our positions through access to experience?

Our panelists made it clear that they enjoy working with different generations, and they value relationships with older generations where reciprocity exists.

Post your comments and thoughts here and we’ll publish them to add to the conversation.

-Susie Bowie
VP of Philanthropic Education & Marketing
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Advertisements

MomDaughterThe Community Foundation of Sarasota County often uses The Giving Partner profile for Forty Carrots Family Center as a great example for nonprofits that wish to share meaningful information about their programs and services with donors and funders.

Even with its long history of successful programs and accomplishments, Forty Carrots’ team, led by executive director Michelle Kapreilian, is always looking for improvement. Together with nationally-known outcomes guide Hal Williams, the board and staff teams have embarked on an exploration to change the way they track and define program results.

Michelle recently shared five things Forty Carrots is learning from its focus on tracking achievement:

  1. A results focus is a mindset change for an organization. Forty Carrots included executive staff and its board of trustees in moving to this new perspective. It then trickled down throughout the organization.

  2. Moving toward tracking outcomes instead of activities is a process that involves some experimentation. Some of the changes worked as intended, but others did not. Forty Carrots took the successes and built upon them with continuous refinement. It viewed strategies that did not work as lessons for future decisions and changes.

  3. A results focus does not mean that an effective program needs to change, only how the results are measured. Michelle encourages mindfulness about not disrupting qualities that are key to program effectiveness or implementing processes where clients feel a need to “perform”. The focus should remain on understanding the real results.

  4. The “See and Hear” strategy can help drill down to the core of seemingly intangible and hard to measure outcomes. This involves looking at what you see and hear to identify whether a key indicator of success is present or absent, or that a behavior change has taken place.

  5. Discussions about the technology necessary to track your new outcome measures should be part of your organization’s investment. It begins with a clear understanding about what needs to be tracked. Understanding the technology choices available, investing in the right software, and staff training follow.

Seven local agencies in Sarasota are in the midst of finalizing a “small change project” with Hal Williams, in which they have taken an important program and refined the way they track and define outcomes.

The Forty Carrots case study and Michelle’s willingness to share it have helped our foundation and the participating agencies appreciate the process of this kind of work. It requires patience and commitment from all levels of a nonprofit team—from its volunteer leaders to the program staff.

We’ll be sharing more soon.

halA month ago, I woke up in the morning to find my iPhone in a terrible state of affairs on the floor beside the bed.

Apparently, in the midst of a nightmare I had flung my phone across the room. There was no protective case on it, leaving the screen shattered.

Not two hours later, I was waiting patiently in line at the Apple Store—anxiously hoping someone could repair the screen and forgo an expensive purchase of a new device. I also happened to be thinking…about outcomes. Embarrassing.

“If Apple was a nonprofit, providing a charitable service to me,” I thought, “what would I hope for in this experience?” Exactly what I hoped for as a paying customer at one of the most successful companies in history: a result.

Guess which question mattered most to me that day:

  1. Did my Apple representative care about me?
  2. Did my representative empower me to learn about the value of a protective case for my phone and explain the psychology of why I neglected to have a case in the first place?
  3. Was the Apple Store a place where I felt comfortable sharing how the phone accident made me feel?
  4. Did they actually fix my phone?

Questions similar to 1, 2, and 3 are often found lurking on evaluations forms for nonprofit services. It’s not that these measures of satisfaction aren’t important, but they do not get to a result.

My purpose in spending time on a Saturday at the Apple Store was not to have a satisfying experience with the employees or to be educated about protecting my screen–not even to shop at UTC for a few hours while waiting. I needed to have my phone repaired.

Smart donors are asking the same question of nonprofits delivering important services. They want to know how their dollars will actually impact another person, move the needle on a cause, or change the community.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is helping donors make investments where they can make the biggest difference through their philanthropy.  We encourage donors to look at performance instead of being hyper-focused on reasonable administrative costs required to achieve good results.

Through the program section in The Giving Partner, we find meaning in great examples set by organizations that are specific about their achievements. They set an expectation for talking more about results, instead of focusing on lists of activities that may or may not produce results.

Think about it the next time you’re shopping for a new product or service provider. I bet you will select a company that delivers the result you’re looking for. Any laundry list of activities they provide will be irrelevant unless the final outcome is what you had in mind.

What happened to me at the Apple Store that day? The tech team couldn’t match a new screen to the brains of my phone. So they gave me a new phone. Nice!

The activities they carried out behind the scenes to reach this outcome mattered little to me. I left feeling “satisfied” with the nice people who helped me. More importantly, I left with an iPhone that worked—a result I was happy to invest in.


 

Outcomes guide Hal Williams is currently working with a group of seven local organizations on a small change project through the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to help redefine (and simplify) the way they track outcomes for a specific program. Look for case studies shared on this blog.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

countdown

The countdown clock on the Giving Challenge website tells me we have less than 3 days until the 24-hour giving “extravaganza” we’ve been waiting for officially begins.

Here are some closing thoughts about exploring new possibilities in giving, brought to you by the letter “r.”

  1. Represent community. 
    Be an active role model in creating community. Be complimentary of what others are doing. We’re all in this together. See another organization doing well in the Giving Challenge?  Imagine what its success will mean for the people, places, or animals that benefit from its mission.

    Two people who have been particularly active on The Giving Partner’s Facebook page sharing positive commentary about other organizations: Carisa Campanella of Neuro Challenge Foundation and JoAnne DeVries of the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota. What nice examples they have set for building community online.

  2. Respect that donors are all different.
    It’s true that some donors choose to give to animal causes rather than those serving people. Some give to education, some to the environment. Some donors give to the same organizations year after year. Other donors give to a different organization every year, depending on where they can maximize their dollars. One reason philanthropy works in our community is because we have so many diverse interests when it comes to social causes. Respecting these differences will lead to more giving for all of the missions we care about.

    As you see the Leaderboard fill up with donations, remember that each one is there because one person deeply cares about making the world better in a certain way. We should celebrate that.

  3. Resist the urge to compare your campaign to others.
    Be proud of what your organization is accomplishing. Money for your mission is good! But so is bringing your team together, building an online community around your work, making more people aware of the services you offer, growing the fundraising participation of your board, appreciating your volunteers…

    Have you moved the needle in any of these areas? That’s success. If you set your target too high, that’s okay too. You learned what’s possible and what to tweak in your future fundraising efforts.

  4. Recognize your people.
    I bet you didn’t do it alone–we hope you didn’t do it alone. Donors will give. Social media ambassadors have been liking and sharing your posts on Facebook or Twitter.  Others have helped you plan and execute your campaign. Whether you celebrate digitally or at your office, take the time to thank people for being part of your organization’s success, and most importantly, share what this success will mean for the people, special places, or animals you serve.

  5. Reveal yourself as a new donor!
    What if each nonprofit staff member, volunteer, or board member gives to her own organization and to an organization she hasn’t supported before? You too can be part of The Patterson Foundation’s generous matching dollars, up to $250 when you give to a nonprofit as a new donor! Go to http://www.GivingPartnerChallenge.org to find the 449 participating nonprofits.

See you on September 1 & 2 from noon to noon!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

 

bert-ernie-rubber-duckyI just read a fun piece on Next Avenue called “5 Sesame Street Lessons We Need Again As Adults” by Bryce Kirchoff. Loved it. And of course I thought about our community’s online day of giving on September 1 and 2 from noon to noon.

Here are Kirchoff’s five big Sesame Street lessons with a little Giving Challenge commentary added. (Click here if you need some Sesame Street video time.)

1. Put down the ducky if you want to play the saxophone.
Kirchoff reminds us that on Sesame Street, Ernie actually has to put down his favorite rubber ducky if he wants to play the saxophone. It’s not always possible to do something new or to do something well until we make the space for it, right? Consider what you might need to put down in the next couple of weeks to promote a Giving Challenge campaign with the results you’re seeking. Better yet, can you combine it with an existing goal or effort to concentrate your success?

2. A sense of adventure never gets old.
Adventures cover new territory and give us new experiences. So put on your field boots and a hat. Bring your butterfly net. The Giving Challenge is a chance to be adventurous with philanthropy.  Plan thoughtfully but be flexible. Dress right for the occasion and lay the ground work, but build in a sense of excitement about the unknown!

3. Friends Matter.
Looking for new donors to give to your nonprofit for the $250 matching opportunity from The Patterson Foundation? Social campaigns are all about your friends and their friends. Your friends are your volunteers, board members, clients, vendors, family members, media partners. Reach out to them. Invite them to share your posts, host a gathering, follow the Leaderboard, make an appeal to 5 people they know, share, give, be a vital part of your campaign. When you let friends know how much they matter, they really want to help.

4. Celebrate Yourself.
September 1 and 2 is an AMAZING time to celebrate the good things your organization makes possible in this community. It’s not about what you do, but what impact you are making. To celebrate yourself, use your Giving Challenge messaging to tell stories about the lives you have improved and to share some data about positive changes resulting from your work.

5. When All Else Fails, Dance.
Think about movement and music. Consider how contagious they are. We’ve said it before, but when you have some fun with your campaign, and when everything is orchestrated with planning in mind, things flow. At the end of that 24-hour period on September 2 at noon, we hope you dance. Be thrilled with what you accomplished, whether it’s more funding, more Facebook fans, a more engaged board, a new partner, or a team effort that brought your volunteers together around your mission.

The 2015 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Follow the Giving Challenge using #GivingChallenge15 and online at http://www.givingpartnerchallenge.org.

 

How often do hard-working nonprofit staff members get to experience a “bubble bath for their minds?” We know, not often. But making time to discover, to embrace our fans, and to share invigorates us and keeps new ideas flowing into our organizations.

We are fortunate that award-winning marketing and communications professional Sam Davidson shared an insightful re-cap of the recent PINC.Sarasota event. As your year is winding down, consider how you can make some space for creativity.

 

Sam Davidson

Sam Davidson

It’s been a month since PINC made its American debut with PINC.Sarasota and it was, by far, the most inspiring day I’ve had in the “creative coast” since I arrived five years ago. Sixteen speakers from around the world told stories about their passions while the day was sprinkled with surprise after surprise. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the audience. Never had I seen such a wide range of people at one event in Sarasota. I saw retired corporate types talking with Ringling College students in one corner while explorers and photographers spoke with journalists and ad execs in another corner. It was a day to remember, but more importantly, it was a day we should learn from and use to push the needle forward in this dynamic community.

“PINC is like a bubble bath for your mind,” Nadja Schnetzler, speaker at PINC.Sarasota and Founder of BrainStore, said.

And wouldn’t we all like a nice bubble bath to clear our thoughts and get ready for the next day? Well, the next day is now and it’s safe to say that everyone who attended PINC is well prepared for whatever projects, both personally and professionally, that lie ahead.

For those who couldn’t attend, here are a few takeaways from PINC.Sarasota that stuck with me.

Never Stop Discovering

While PINC doesn’t technically have a theme, a common thread between many of the speakers was “discovery.” David Gallo spoke about discovering underwater Earth. Alexander Kumar charmed the audience with comedic anecdotes about his explorations in the Polar Regions.  Jon Jefferson left us amazed about his mid-life discovery of a new passion – forensic anthropology with a side of crime solving. And Rob Swan won the crowd over with his inspiring tale of becoming the world’s first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. All of these men have a “never stop discovering” attitude, and it’s paid off. Their lives have all found purpose at different ages, and they are all changing the way we see the world because of the way they are discovering it. One promise we have every day is that there is always something new we can discover. Whether it’s at an unknown part of the ocean or an unknown purpose of existence, for many of us, our greatest discoveries are still out there. By following the “never stop discovering” attitude, it’s only a matter of time before we find them.

You Don’t Have Consumers. You Have Fans.

For those looking for business lessons at PINC.Sarasota, speaker Alan Moore, author of No Straight Lines, resonated with me the most.  He told stories about innovative companies like Lego and Tesla. When speaking about how Lego redesigned their brand, he said, “They realized they didn’t have consumers. They had fans.” This struck a major chord with me. That statement is so appropriate when it comes to one of Sarasota’s top industries — our very own nonprofit community. Business partners and individuals who support nonprofits are not acting as consumers. Instead, they are simply fans of their favorite nonprofit. While sports fans have their favorite teams, and consumers have their favorite brands, philanthropists and volunteers have their favorite nonprofits. If the nonprofit community can find creative ways to tap into this fandom, they’ll find a connection that will thrive for years to come.

Share. Share. Share.

PINC is all about sharing. Speakers sharing stories. Audience members sharing conversations. And the PINC tradition of sharing a glass of champagne with a new friend at the end of the day. The concept of sharing has stuck with me the past three weeks, and it’s changed the way I converse with others – friends and strangers alike. Because of PINC, I have found myself starting conversations with strangers while waiting in line for a cup of coffee. This time of the day was usually reserved for checking my phone for new emails and keeping up-to-date on my Facebook newsfeed. Sharing with each other is very precious, and PINC reinforced the benefits of this lost art. There are hundreds of organizations trying to solve problems in this community – from the arts and animals to nature and children. Some will find great solutions this next year while others continue looking for new ideas. If we learn anything from PINC.Sarasota, let it be this: by sharing with each other, we will unlock the creative doors in our minds, look at problems in a new way, and eventually solve them quicker and more efficiently than if we kept our thoughts and ideas to ourselves.

Sarasota is poised for greatness, and because of PINC we are one step closer to reaching our full potential. Let’s see if we can use what we learned from the first PINC.Sarasota to discover new ideas, embrace our fans, and share our successes. With that, there’s a lot that will be accomplished before PINC comes back for round two in 2015.

-Sam Davidson

Sam Davidson is an award-winning marketing and communications professional. He has served on The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has received numerous accolades like Sarasota’s Young Professional of the Year and Biz941’s People To Watch. He is currently traveling the globe and has recently launched The Wanderkiss Project where he interviews couples from around the world.

Kevin Baird, a national leader in educational publishing and professional development, spoke at Sarasota County Technical Institute last night, energizing educators, nonprofit staff and funders who are innovating through EdExplore SRQ, an online platform connecting teachers to local community arts, cultural, historical, and science field-based organizations that provide opportunities to enrich the school curriculum.

Thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation and Sue Meckler, Angela Hartvigsen and Brian Hersh of Sarasota County Schools, we tapped into creative approaches to bring Florida Standards to life in our public school system.

We explored ways to encourage students to make intelligent inferences instead of memorization, ways for teachers to expand their own perspectives and openness to new teaching methods, and ways organizations can deliver a newfound excitement and spark for subject matter to both teachers and students.

Making more connections to the “real world” in reading, writing, math and science are more important than ever before–not just because it constitutes life readiness (vs. college and career readiness alone) but because it is far more likely to engage students in relevant, lasting skill development.

What are the top four skills we’re trying to master?

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Complex problem solving
  3. Judgment and decision-making
  4. Active listening

I can’t imagine what skills could be more important to prepare young people for nonprofit careers.

Can you imagine how agile our social sector organizations could be if we appointed board members and hired staff based on their skill or promise in these four areas?  The complex issues we face on a daily basis require flexibility and decisiveness, thinking and action, and the ability to quiet ourselves as we absorb others’ experiences and points of view.

If you view your organization as a learning laboratory for solving a social or environmental issue, consider how well are you doing on these core questions:

  • Is your organization investing in developing critical thinking, complex problem solving, judgment, and active listening skills for individuals at every level?
  • Are board members given the space to practice critical thinking and complex problem solving to move your organization forward during board meetings?
  • Do your leaders model active listening with staff, donors and clients?
  • When interviewing new potential staff and board members, do you ask behavioral questions that help you understand an individual’s critical thinking skills?

Kevin challenged us to think about how we can “help the science lesson become the science lab.” In other words, how can we build interactive (and sometimes fun) solutions to our most persistent challenges to achieve more? Whether that occurs in the classroom, in the field, or behind our desks at local organizations, novel approaches are needed to move us out of status quo.

Thanks, as always, to The Patterson Foundation for stimulating more thought about new possibilities.

 

Kevin Baird serves in a variety of education related posts through EdLead, his education fund and support organization. He is a founder of the Center for College & Career Readiness and a regular speaker and consultant working with schools and districts to create effective school management systems and processes.