Saturday, January 31, 2009

Great new web design

My friend John launched a new website

This site seems to have found a way to work through the cyberclutter and do what it is intended to do. Make you want to hire him.

Go visit it. Then hire idea design ....They will be too busy for new work very soon.

Congratulations John and Mark!

Thanks for spending time here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

People can change anything

"I'd like to say that people...people can change anything they want too and that means everything in the world. Show me any country and there will be people in it. It's time to take the humanity back into the centre of the ring and follow that for a time...think on that. Without people you are nothing."
Joe Strummer
take a moment to slow down and listen

Thanks for spending time here.

The inner workings of the Obama campaign

There has been so much speculation into the secret behind the success of the Obaman Campaign. In my post early December I wondered how much it cost to raise $600 million US and generate the extraordinary grassroots support and momentum.

Thank you Jonathon for going to washington to find out for us. As suspected the resources behind the Obama campaign were extraordinary. You can read more on Jonathon's blog. Regardless of what you read though I still cling to the opinion that without the integration of all elements it wouldn't have been as successful. What do you think?

Thank you for spending time here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coming Together to Talk About the Economic Crisis

In my post "snap out of it" I ranted a bit about the deluge of articles, messages, advice and reminders that we are in a very serious economic crisis. I do think these messages have potential to distract us and turn us into victims of the economic crisis rather then inspire us to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We can't let that happen. Jonathon Grapsas agreed and imposed a ban on all recession talk for a week. Good for you Jonathon!

It is important to be pragmatic without becoming too negative. It is impossible and dangerous to completely ignore what is happening. In October I predicted that our majors donors who provide donations of securities simple wouldnt' give this year. I met with them all at the end of 2008 and I was right. They couldn't give - they needed to rebuild their investment portfolio. Rather then getting a donation the strategy became to simply maintain the relationship. We need to stay closer than ever to our donors right now.

Fortunately Canadian Fundraiser and Pareto Fundraising are coming together to help us not only to survive but also to thrive. On February 17, 2009 there is a fantastic day planned to help us all during these challenging times. If you only go to one workshop this year - I think this one should be it!

I look forward to learning, exchanging ideas and developing strategies together on February 17, 2008. See you there.

Thank you for spending time here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Local Solutions for the Planet

When I started blogging I thought I'd talk about two things: Fundraising and the Environment. So far it has all been about fundraising. Until today. I made a speech at work this morning. I'm not quite as good as Barack Obama's speech writer but important politicians listened politely anyway.

I thought I'd just pop this up for those of you interested in what I actually do ... you know...when I'm not blogging!

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
Annual General Meeting
Kimberley MacKenzie, Foundation ED – Speech

January 23, 2009

Good morning, Thank you Chair Hackson, I’m pleased to be here on behalf of the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation today.

I fundamentally believe that the solutions to our very real global environmental crisis lay within the local work that happens in the ground. Picking up a shovel, getting your hands dirty and improving the health of your front yard will change the landscape and future of our planet. These local acts of kindness to the planet will cumulatively have a significant global impact.

The Lake Simcoe Watershed is an inspiration. It inspires because here we see a real commitment by all levels of government, the staff within the Conservation Authority are extremely passionate about their work and of course there is extraordinary community engagement on all fronts, but mostly the work that is happening here is inspiring because people are doing real tangible things to improve the environment right at home – in their backyard.

The Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation is extremely proud to be able to support this work through donations from individuals and businesses in this watershed. People who care so much they are willing to open their pocket book and put their own money toward many of the programs Chair Hackson mentioned a few minutes ago.

2008 was another record setting year for the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation. This past year we were able to contribute over $430,000 of private sector funding for a cleaner, healthier Lake Simcoe Watershed. This money was leveraged with government funding and resulted in an investment of $2.2 million. This funding helped plant over 55,000 trees to clean our air and more rocks than we can count to stabilize shorelines to clean our water. We also helped educate about 8,000 children to be responsible environmental stewards for their planet – this will protect our future.

These are great accomplishments and it is with optimism - for the future of our organization and our planet - that we can look ahead to 2009. Our board of directors is coming to the end of a very intensive strategic planning process. This new plan will set the framework for our future together and we look forward to working with the LSRCA board of directors and staff on its implementation.

Our fundraising in 2009 will continue to have a strong focus of enhancing our individual giving program and of course we will continue to build our major gift program. Our efforts will remain aggressive. The need is still great and there is a lot of work to do.

There is extraordinary momentum in our watershed. Together we can continue to be full of optimism for our future. The strong leadership that can account for our mutual success in 2008 will continue into the coming year.

Thank you.

Thank you for spending time here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

SOFII is a Gift for You

In my year end post from last year I listed what I learned. This provoked some thinking about the importance of actually doing something with your learning. The first was mindmapping. The second is SOFII.

Those of us who work on SOFII or The Showcase for Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration, are the first to admit it is a work in progress. Yes it is badly in need of being redesigned, also more content is essential and money is needed to keep it going. All of that will happen in time. (Although the money part is becoming increasing important).

In the meantime, there are a lot of things to love about SOFII. Only a few of which are:

1. SOFII helps you see beyond your own organization and stay in touch with what others are doing.

2. SOFII helps you learn from experts between conferences. The exhibits aren't just pretty pictures, they outline results, strategy and cost benefit too.

3. SOFII teaches about the history of fundraising.

4. SOFII reminds you that even if you work alone you don't have to be lonley in your work.

I think one of the things I love most is something David Love wrote about in Canadian Fundraiser newsletter. He wrote:

“Many things make the third sector - the not-for-profit sector - unique. Chief among our sector’s Unique Selling Propositions is our willingness to share what we learn. We freely share these details because we want to see our colleagues succeed.

Can you imagine a workshop where Pepsi outlines, in excruciating details, the results of a campaign so that Coke might benefit!”

It is true that corporations are trying to do more of what we do. As long as we continue to share and learn from each other they don't have a chance.

As the volunteer Canadian Ambassador for SOFII my job is to help get more registered users, network, create a Canadian Page and gather exhibits. The first three are pretty easy.

Speaking about SOFII at conferences helps and we were fortunate to have a session at IFC last year in Holland.

Getting exhibits is a little bit harder. Unless I donate to you like I do to David's organization (mostly so I can steal his stuff and learn about how he treats his monthly donors) it is likely I won't see your work. I don't have enough money to give you all a donation.

Won't you please send in your exhibit? All exhibits are welcome, personally I'd like to see more giant screw ups. A career limiting mistake. Wasted a tonne of money. Almost lost your job. Totally blew it! There are only two of these exhibits on the website (funnily enough one of them was submitted by David Love - I'm thinking the title of this post should be changed...)

Please share your brilliance. (or lack of it!) Email me and I'll help you do it or just send your exhibit straight to Maxine.

SOFII is a gift to all of us. Let's work together to expand it, share it and keep it going.

Thank you for spending time here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Moving beyond your comfort zone is uncomfortable and takes effort so we rarely do it.

We have all bought books, paid for conferences and asked for advice, only to ignore it and go back to familiar patterns and “safe” ways of thinking.

When I returned to work after a long and much needed vacation, I felt like I was lost. I forgot what my job was and why they even hired me to do it. It was a brand new year…and I had no idea how to start.

So what is a girl to do? Read her own blog of course!

In that moment of utter uselessness, thinking back about what I learned in 2008 served me well. I remembered that in the book Breakthrough Thinking for NonProfit Organizations by Bernard Ross and Clare Segal there was a section on something called mind mapping.

“Eureka!” I thought, “I can doodle a bit and pretend I’m actually working!”

So I dug out that old unopened package of markers I bought in 2007 (when I read the book for the first time) and pulled my copy off the shelf for a little refresher course.

Mindmapping isn’t a new tool it was founded in the 1960’s by a man named Tony Buzan and has been used for decades in psychology, business and education. However, as Ross and Segal point out, there are very real and practical applications in the non profit sector. Mindmaps can help us perform better, be more successful and breakthrough to BIG new ideas and extraordinary results. That was exactly how I needed to start my year.

The concept is simple. Get some coloured markers and as big a piece of paper as you can find. Change your physical space; maybe put it on a wall. Start with a central idea and create branches from that which flow into other ideas. Draw pictures, use colour and put down all your thoughts.

I had a few false starts but once I got the middle right I was just like Jackson Pollok – there was no stopping me! The traffic jam in my mind was now moving through my fingers onto paper AND I was having fun too.

Feeling deeply satisfied and highly motivated I emerged from my office triumphant, the year was planned and I was a superstar.

It was time to share my masterpiece.

There are only three of us in the Foundation but over 70 in the parent organization. It is fair to say that most people were a little perplexed at first. It took some time to explain to science and program staff what this “picture” was. Once they understood it, most people found it very refreshing. The manager of finance even asked me to take her team through the exercise and “How do you do all that?” was repeated often.

Each river draining into the Lake has a purpose. Each stream helps us get to that purpose. All of these small “ecosystems” will be supported by a budget and will raise money.

What this map also provides is a comprehensive look at how much the three of us accomplish and how it all connects. I also saw very clearly the areas I knew well and gaps in both my knowledge and resources.

This is not a board approved strategic plan. We are working on that now. However, I still need to keep operations going and I can not do that if I’m stuck or “faking it”. This exercise helped to motivate and inspire me - so I can work again. The three of us already posted copies of it on our wall. It will help us keep the big picture in mind and stay focussed – you can’t do that with a spreadsheet.

Having had a fantastic start to the year at work, I took my masterpiece home to impress my family. My 12 year old glanced briefly at it on the kitchen table and with no explanation she immediately responded with “So that’s how you are going to raise money this year? Cool.” My 10 year old came by a few minutes later, again, no explanation and responded with “Oh ya. So how much did you make last year?” They knew immediately what it was and what it meant.

Children already think like this! What happens to us? I think it is that we stop playing and being creative. We are trained to think it isn’t appropriate in an adult world. We start feeling safe inside our little box.

If you want to think differently and deliver extraordinary results read Breakthrough Thinking, if you just want to roll up your sleeves and try mindmapping Tony Buzan will tell you how right here.

Mindmapping is a tool I now have to be more productive, creative and solve any challenge. Just like phoning my donors, I am going to make this a habit.

When you learn something at a conference or in a book; when you demand time and advice from someone smarter and more experienced than you – don’t waste it, do something with it. Move beyond your comfort zone - good things will happen!

Thank you for spending time here.

(If you would like to read the map in more detail just email me and I'd be happy to send it to you)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Snap Out of It!

It seems like every time I turn on the radio, have a conversation, read a newspaper, check my email or surf the internet someone is telling me we are all doomed.

Every conversation I have with fundraisers and volunteers seems to be about the economy and how impossible it will be to raise any money this year.

There is a lot of advice out there. The best of which I think is from Ken Burnett who – true to form - does not disappoint. Check out what he has to say and his ten commandments for survival in this article from UK Philanthropy.

Frankly, I think all we need to \snap out of it!.

Stop whining and worrying and just get to work. Do your job better than everyone else does theirs!

Thank you for spending time here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Good Habit to Start

So I'm back at work. Dragged myself in if you want to know the truth. Now it is dark and I'm about to drive home (over an hour). Part of what I do everyday (hopefully) before I leave the office is sign tax receipts. We promise a 48 hour turn around on this and try to do it.

We have a lot today given we were on holiday. So it was quiet and I was signing and thinking (dangerous - can't seem to stop lately).

A lot of us read stuff or learn it at conferences but never actually do it. About seven years ago I read Thanks! by Penelope Burke. She suggested fundraisers end everyday by phoning donors and thanking them for their gift. When I started this job four years ago as Executive Director I was so grateful that I had control over this and could actually commit to doing it. It has become a habit.

I get the receipt, look at their cheque for clues - like wiggly writing (planned giving prospect) private banking account (rich) or special logos (WWF - competition and interest), then I check the database to look at their giving history. I don't really have a policy on who I phone. Whoever I feel like talking too really.

Some prompts are:

- renewed after a long time
- increased donation
- decreased donation
- gave me their number (hint they want to talk!)
- wrote a note on the pledge form
- gave very generously for them

It could be anything. Since I work in a small shop I can micro manage donations and receipting like this. That is probably one of the reasons I find small shops so satisfying.

I absolutely LOVE this part of my day. It doesn't matter what else happened. Phoning donors just to say thanks is fun!!! Do it tomorrow - it will make you smile.

I think I'll reference my post from last week about what I learned in a new series - What I'm Actually Doing. Would that be interesting?

Here is a hint of what else I did today....could be number one on the next series of blogs. I will give bonus point to anyone who can figure out what learning from last year I am applying here.

BTW: that red list on the right - that is what I have to do tomorrow.

Thank you for spending time here,