I Wish I’d Thought of That!

Have you ever stumbled upon a brilliant fundraising idea that inspired you to say, “I wish I’d thought of that!”?

Light Bulb Moment by Kate Ter Haar via FlickrSome of the greatest tactics and strategies we will implement during our careers are ideas that originated with others. Fundraising and nonprofit management ideas surround us. The challenge is not that there is a shortage of ideas; the challenge is knowing which ideas are truly great.

Now, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration have teamed up to make that task easier. At the AFP International Fundraising Conference (Baltimore, March 29-31, 2015), AFP and SOFII will host the session “I Wish I’d Thought of That!”

IWITOT is a unique seminar that will be moderated by Ken Burnett, Founder of SOFII, and involve 16 top-notch fundraising professionals who will each have up to seven-minutes to present his/her IWITOT brilliant idea. The fundraising ideas must be those the presenters admire or envy — an innovative replicable idea that we can all learn from. The proviso is that the idea cannot be their own or from their own organization, says Burnett.

The presenters include:

  • Adrian Sargeant, Plymouth University
  • Derrick Feldmann, Achieve
  • Tom Ahern, Ahern Communications
  • Amy Eisenstein, Tri-Point Fundraising
  • Simone Joyaux, Joyaux Associates
  • William Bartolini, Wexner Medical Center and Health Sciences Colleges
  • Valerie Pletcher, Brady Campaign & Center to Prevent Gun Violence
  • Daryl Upsall, Daryl Upsall Consulting International
  • Stephen Pidgeon, Stephen Pidgeon Ltd.
  • Amy Wolfe
  • Laura Fredricks, Laura Fredricks, LLC
  • Robbe Healey, Simpson Senior Services
  • Alice Ferris, GoalBusters, LLC
  • Frank Barry, Blackbaud, Inc.
  • Missy Ryan Penland, Clemson University
  • Tycely Williams, American Red Cross

“Each speaker will have a maximum of seven minutes each focused on a single big idea. This means that it’s a fast, colourful, entertaining, and inspirational session with much to learn for everyone and lots of fun, too,” says Burnett. “The speakers have been carefully chosen to give a balanced mix of seasoned professional leaders, sector gurus, and new, fresh ‘rising stars.’”

Here’s a limited preview of some of the ideas you’ll learn about during the IWITOT session:

Healey: Donor Circles.

One great way to cultivate donors is to seek their advice in the context of a “Donor Thought Circle.” Healey recalls the adage, “Ask for money, and you get advice. Ask for advice, and you get money.” By seeking donor advice, you will be engaging donors and letting them know their views are important.

Healey suggests limiting the conversation to five questions beginning with, “What are the things that initially connected you with our Fabulous Organization? What keeps you connected?” During her presentation, she’ll share the other questions as well as tips for managing an effective Donor Thought Circle session.

Ferris: Share Powerful Images.

Ferris was personally moved to support Degage Ministries after watching a powerful time-lapse video of a homeless veteran receiving a “makeover.” The video has gone viral with well over 21-million views on YouTube!

Ferris will discuss why the video is so powerful and how the organization leveraged technology to distribute the video and attract new support. A viewing of the video reveals some of the reasons for its success: The video is real, emotional, dramatic, and contains a happy conclusion.

Fredricks: Communicate with One Clear Message.

When communicating with prospects and supporters, it’s essential to communicate clearly and avoid confusing people. One way to distill your organization’s core message is to think about your “elevator speech,” that brief commentary you can deliver during a quick elevator ride.

To develop a powerful elevator speech, Fredricks recommends asking yourself three simple questions: “Who are we? What do we do? What are our priorities?” Then, think of a question that invites your prospect’s or donor’s response. Remember, good communication is about engagement, not making speeches.

Joyaux: Quantity Can Equal Quality.

In development, much of our focus is on securing major gifts. Major donors make mission fulfillment possible. For many nonprofit organizations, 80 percent of donations come from 20 percent of the donors; for many other charities, the ratio is 90 percent of donations coming from just 10 percent of donors.

While the pursuit of major donors remains important, Joyaux finds that many small donors can also have a powerful impact. “Citizen advocacy — individuals banding together — is important in life, the world, etc.,” says Joyaux.

Whether it’s individuals or groups, working collaboratively can yield massive change that would not otherwise be possible. In other words, while individual major donors are often essential, we must also understand the power of groups.

Eisenstein: Be Creative to Engage Your Board in Fundraising.

“Campaigns (annual or capital) are exponentially more successful when board members are involved and engaged,” asserts Eisenstein. The challenge is: How can we effectively engage board members and inspire them to be involved in fundraising?

Eisenstein found one answer in the new book Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money: A Cookbook of Easy-to-Use Fundraising Exercises by Andrea Kihlstedt and Andy Robinson. The book contains a large number of exercises to help board members think about their role in fundraising.

Eisenstein says she’ll “highlight one specific exercise called ‘How High Will You Go’ which asks board members to think of the high and low gift they would consider giving this year (either towards a specific campaign or the annual fund), and then think about the things that might convince them to give at the higher end. It also focuses in on helping them understand how giving decisions are made by other donors, and how they can use that as solicitors themselves.”

You can gain valuable tips by attending this fast-paced session at the AFP Conference or by purchasing the session recording following the Conference.

I know many of the IWITOT presenters personally. Listening to any one of these speakers would be time well spent. Hearing from all of them in just one session promises to be amazing. While not every idea will be appropriate for your organization, you’re certain to discover some that will be beneficial.

I also want to point out that, in addition to getting useful advice, you’ll have a chance to experience a creative presentation format that you might want to adopt for your own organization or AFP chapter programs.

By the way, I’m planning to attend the Conference. Let me know if you’ll be going. I hope to see you there and at the #FRTweetup on Monday evening.

Finally, whether or not you plan to attend the AFP Conference, please take a moment to share your own personal IWITOT-great-idea below as a comment.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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4 Responses to “I Wish I’d Thought of That!”

  1. Michael,

    This is a wonderful idea. NewSci will be launching an opportunity on a unique platform to allow every attendee of this conference to share an idea. We are excited about having thousands of fundraisers in one place and offering each one a voice. As David Weinberger says: “The smartest person in the room, is the room itself.” See you soon!

    • Jay, thank you for your comment and for NewSci’s initiative to collect great ideas during the AFP Conference. That in itself is a terrific idea! I hope droves of people stop-by your booth in the Exhibit Hall to contribute to the initiative.

  2. After I wrote the above post, I came across several relevant quotes about ideas that I thought you would enjoy. So, I’m going to share them with you:

    “Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.”
    — Mary Kay Ash

    “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”
    – Buddha

    “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”
    – Howard Aiken

    “Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act.”
    – Andre Malraux

    “An unimplemented good idea is just a fantasy.”
    — Michael J. Rosen

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