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

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

All The Things You Wrote

Last year my grandma gave me a big envelope, the contents bulging. “What is it?” I looked in.IMG_3059

“It’s cards and letters,” she said. “I don’t want my kids having to clean things up,” she said in her no-nonsense way as I pulled out a card. They were written to her from me when I was a kid. I looked through it a bit when I got home, but feeling melancholy I put it in my box of mementos.

But last week I was tidying the shelf that had the box of old photos and keepsakes and this unmarked envelope rose to my attention.

There it was: everything I ever wrote to her. I sat on the floor and read every one. There were lots of thank you notes and chatty letters, postcards from travel, some get well cards, my birth and graduation announcements she had kept. I felt sentimental and happy she had saved them.

Continue reading

Let’s resolve … to lead with gratitude in 2016

Welcome to 2016!

In the lead up to the New Year, did you see your inbox piling up with end-of-year asks? I sure did.

IMG_3030In those last days of the year, there was quite a bit of chatter on Twitter about that. But this tweet from The Whiny Donor struck my heart… “Sometimes we give in spite of the stewardship.”

Wow. So many fundraisers – or their colleagues – spent lots of time crafting “don’t-forget-us” or “please-give-right-now” year-end emails. Somehow, the same diligence doesn’t seem to apply to thanking quickly or with heart. Why?

As fundraisers, we all know that better thanking – prompt, heartfelt, sharing impact – leads to a stronger connection between a donor and the charity.

So why are there still so many courses and books and blog posts and conference sessions about thanking donors, crafting better donor stewardship, and reporting back to donors? Because thank yous still aren’t happening. (Check out this post by Lynne Wester about her Giving Tuesday experiences with gifts, thanks, and resolicitations.)

Don’t expect your donors to give in spite of the stewardship your nonprofit offers.

Thank you letter creation can end up being a process. Don’t let it.Instead, make 2016 the year you lead with gratitude… and here’s how. Continue reading

Who Gave You Good Stewardship?

Hey fundraisers!

I want to hear about the most fabulous stewardship YOU have ever received from a nonprofit.

What – to a fundraiser – makes a thank you extra special?

What – for a fundraiser – clearly and emotionally shows the impact of a gift?

I asked two of my BFFs about their favorites – Shanon Doolittle and John Lepp. Both of them had told me about some amazing stewardship pieces that keep them giving and feeling great.

Shanon gets a big thanks from Amara.  

Shanon loves Amara because fostering kids – and giving them a forever home – are important to Shanon. She has been involved with Amara in a variety of ways, and she was their key speaker at their gala fundraiser last fall (and her ask helped them raise the most money ever!).

What she loves about it: The card was a child’s birthday card –  which fits perfectly with their mission. She loves the sentiment “it made me think of kids and all the kids who will now be touch and helped thanks to your leadership and involvement. Roar.”

What I love about it: I love this because the sentiment is simple and heartfelt. No list of all the wonderful things about Shanon. It drives home how Shanon is making a better life for kids. Can you imagine picking up a basic card from the store and changing it into a tear-jerker?

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: