All the gifts my first boss gave me…

1994-09 Harborview Goodbye Party

Some pals at my goodbye party leaving Harborview; Cliff is on the left, that’s me on the right.

At times, you only understand how good a thing is when you look back on it.

Such is the case with the boss in my very first job – Cliff Sanderlin.

My first fundraising job was at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. What a great mission, what great healing, what changed lives! A Level I trauma center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, with heroic stories of healing, Harborview was a part of the University of Washington. They were some of the most dedicated staff – medical staff and non-medical staff – I’ve met. It was a privilege to raise needed funds while there.

And three of us – Cliff, Rebecca Fong and me – were building the fundraising office from the ground up. I was so excited. And I had no idea how it would change my life as I started on a fantastic career journey I’m still on.

I know now that the most important things I got out of my time there were the many gifts that Cliff gave me.

Gift #1 – the opportunity. We often come across this gift in life – a door opened. When we get a gift like this, we always need to make the most of it – take that first step to walk through the door (or even knock on the door to get it opened!). I was intrigued by what fundraisers were doing when I was working at the University of Washington College of Engineering in a secretarial role.  Cliff was the Associate Director of Development there – and when he left to take a job at Harborview, I asked if I could become a fundraiser too – I wanted a job there. We talked. He saw something in me that would succeed. I applied and joined the team.

Gift #2 – he built a great team. Cliff looked for someone he had worked with before (Rebecca), and someone new (me!). Cliff considered his strengths, and tapped another colleague to join him. And then he added me to the team. And then, he worked with us to set expectations and help us grow. He made sure there were times of fun along with the hard work. It may have been the ease and challenge of a small shop, but we felt we could do almost anything! Continue reading

Bundle of Love

One of the things I love to do is to send surprise packages to people…

IMG_3551If I see a little something, I’ll pick it up, find a suitable card, and in the mail it goes! (Here’s a little something I’ll be sending to Leah Eustace – if you know Leah, you know she loves shoes!)

The closest thing I can get to sending lots of people a little gift is this Donor Happiness Bundle that my pal Shanon Doolittle and I dreamt up ahead of Gratitude Camp (summer edition starts June 6!)

The grand prize winner receives:

  • registration to Gratitude Camp,
  • one of our fav books, Retention Fundraising, by Roger Craver,
  • one of my fav books, The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk, and
  • “A Year of Gratitude” by Compendium.

Continue reading

Joy at Work

I love being a fundraiser and I always say that, for me, fundraising isn’t a job but a calling.

So I got excited listening to Shankar Vedantam’s recent podcast, “How to Build a Better Job,” where he interviewed Amy Wrzesniewski, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management. My ears perked up because I know not every fundraiser is happy in her job. And there lots of reasons for that. (Psst! I don’t believe that there is a perfect job – one that will make you ridiculously happy. After all, that comes from inside YOU.)

“People who see their work as a calling are significantly more satisfied with their jobs, they are significantly more satisfied with their lives,” notes Amy. “They are more engaged with what they’re doing and they tend to be better performers, regardless of what the work is.”

This is great news. Because many of us in the nonprofit space are passionate about what we do. And sometimes, passion isn’t enough.

My maternal grandfather, T. Thompson, with his logging truck in 1943.

My maternal grandfather, T. Thompson, with his logging truck in 1943.

The truth is that too many within the sector work (or have worked) in nonprofits that are dysfunctional, have poor decision-making, or lack appropriate human resource guidance – to disastrous consequences.

In other cases, sometimes fundraisers become discouraged and leave because they aren’t allowed to do the jobs for which they were hired, are unable to unleash their creativity, or are blocked from making any decisions, even within the job scope.

This is where Job Crafting can come into play.

Continue reading

Gear up for Gratitude Camp!

Ready for some adventure?!

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 8.26.25 AM

If you’ve been a long-time follower on my blog, you know that once or twice a year my BFF and I host Gratitude Camp. I hope you’ll join us April 4!

It sounds like a bunch of fun – and it is! – but more importantly it is about focusing on donors, and showing them the #donorlove.

Here are the facts, according to the 2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Project:

  • Donor retention in North America in 2015 was still rather bleak – 46%.
  • For every $100 raised in 2015, $91 was lost through gift attrition.
  • For every 100 donors gained in 2015, 96 were lost through attrition.
  • We know that a simple 10% increase in retention can lead to a 200% increase in lifetime donor value.

Continue reading

Habits of Highly Successful Fundraisers

BAL speaking BostonDid you have the opportunity to attend the international conference of AFP (the Association of Fundraising Professionals) in Boston?

So much fun! And I was able to see It was March 20 – 22, 2016 – the weather was changeable (sunny and then SNOW!), you just couldn’t predict what was coming next – except lots of great sessions from many of my professional heroes.

My BFF, Shanon Doolittle, and I prepped up a session on the 10 Habits of Highly Successful Fundraisers. (Which, we were delighted to find out, was chosen to be live streamed during the conference!) We created a highly interactive 75-minute session, with audience members invited to come up and join us on the couch for some one-to-two coaching.

With strict instructions of “No PowerPoint!” we kept it playful and crowd sourced typical challenge fundraisers experience and shared habits we thought would help. Afterwards, we had a lot of call for our “Habit Maker” handout and slides.

I want you to be able to sign up and be first on the list to get our goodies. Simply click here to opt-in to our Habit Maker and slides! (You’ll need to confirm your email.)  When ready we’ll send it along.

After I return from celebrating my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday in the UK! Check Rose out here – she’s looking at least as good as Her Maj, who is only 90!

Mum with her card from the Queen, celebrating 100 years!

Mum with her card from the Queen, celebrating 100 years!




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