I’m taking a keyword from Steven Shattuck’s blog post about #GivingTuesday… but I changed it a bit from #ThankINGThursday to #ThankfulThursday, so that makes it okay, right? He brought great insight about one thing that fundraisers simply do not do well right now… retain donors.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying ALL fundraisers are bad at donor retention, but check this out… another thing I’m stealing from Steven is his slide about a survey done with Bloomerang.

Less than 45% of fundraisers even KNOW their retention rate at their given organization. That’s a striking figure.
Every donor has their own preference on how they want to be thanked, on how they want to be stewarded, and how they want to be talked to. This causes fear in many fundraisers minds. If I were to run a survey of fundraisers about what fears they have, I would venture to guess that “upsetting a donor” is at the top. Here is my suggestion…

Don’t be afraid of upsetting your donors.

It’s as clear as that. This fear paralyzes development departments. A trusting and loyal donor will understand honest mistakes such as (1) sending a tad too much direct mail, (2) giving one too many asks via email blast, (3) putting “Thomas” on an envelope when they go by “Tom”, and things like this. If a donor explains that they will NEVER give to your organization again because you sent one too many thank you’s, then I’d guess they weren’t going to give to your organization again anyway.

Here’s the one fear you SHOULD have… NOT LISTENING.

When the donor explains to you that they believe you are over mailing, over asking, or spelling their name incorrectly… fix it. Right then and there, your donor will feel as if they are valued because you understood you made a mistake, you listened to what they had to say, and you acted on it.

So… let’s thank away today on #ThankfulThursday. Let’s steward and act how we believe is right for our donors, and if we make an honest mistake, let’s be sure to fix it! Let’s stop being afraid of upsetting our donors because you never know when you will be able to make a second ask on the phone with a donor who originally called to complain about getting too much mail.

What is your biggest fear as a fundraiser? How do you overcome it?

Improve Your Neighborhood by Midnight Tonight

A few clicks of a button could be fresh, safe food to hungry children in you community.  Or, if you like, you could show your support for a new kid safe park down the street.

$25k for 40 projects

The State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program is a micro-grant program funded by State Farm that will give $25,000 grants to 40 different community causes across the nation. The program encourages individuals and community groups to highlight needs in their community via Facebook. Once the 3,000 submission cap was met, State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board selected 200 finalists. Those 200 finalists are now posted on Facebook and the public can currently vote for their favorite up until next Monday, April 22. Then on April 29, the top 40 will be announced and each of those causes will receive $25K to support its local mission.

10 votes per person

I really like this approach of having 10 votes per day.  You are able to spread your love to different projects that you’d like to be successful. Or you could go ALL IN for the organization that is nearest your passion.


Take a look at projects up to vote! You have until midnight tonight to use your 10 votes.  Don’t forget to tell you friends about the project either.

Click here to tweet it out!

What project would you propose to help your community?

How to Keep Pluggin’ along in your Nonprofit Career

I am definitely not using this post to say that I am an expert in career advice.  I have not been around the block a few times… I don’t even know where to turn on the block, yet.  At least I don’t think I do.

But, in my short 3 year career in the nonprofit industry, I have learned that it takes a certain mindset to keep plugging along.  Again, I’m not an expert, and I can’t compare this to the FOR profit world either.  However, speaking from the short experience I have and what I have learned from others in the industry, is that you can come up to a few roadblocks to keep your career from moving forward and growth happening.

1) Complacency

2) Frustration

3) Lack of motivation

flickr photo by greg westfall.

These are 3 things that, I think, pop up in any career, in any city and in any department.  But, here are three solutions that I suggest to combat these roadblocks.

1) Ask how to get better – a GREAT way to stop feeling comfortable and complacent with “the way things have always been done” or”I’ve done it this way, and it was fine” is to ask someone how THEY do things.  It’ll get the wheels turnin’, trust me.

2) Take some time off – If you are feeling frustrated… take some time off.  Even if that isONE DAY!Take a day off, have a “stay”cation.  Maybe you can use that day to set up a coffee, lunch, and after work drink meeting with 3 mentors that you feel comfortable asking how to handle certain situations at work.

3) Volunteer your time in direct service of your organization.  This may be the most important one.  The other two can be vital, but not much else can get the motivational juices flowing, than directly working with the people your organization is serving.  And while you are volunteering, ask clients questions.  By getting to know them, you may find a new tweak on a project or a new idea for a program that can be the fire behind you to keep you moving forward.

It has been a great transition for me into a new organization and a new position.  I have met these roadblocks in my short career, but serving those in need in the Indiana community has always been the fire chasing me.  Make sure to find yours and then find the best situation to harness that!

What do YOU do to stay motivated?
How do you avoid complacency?
Have you ever been frustrated when coming to work?
Comment below!

Mobile Technology – NFC & QR. Stay ahead of the Curve.

So, I almost hesitated in posting about this, but after seeing that the Event Manager Blog wrote about NFC back in April of 2011 I felt that we as fundraisers need to have this conversation.



SERIOUSLY?? What is with all of these acronyms? Honestly, you don’t NEED to know what they stand for, you just need to know what they ARE and what they DO.

What are QR codes and what do they do?

Hopefully by now, most of us know what QR codes are. Here is one below…


You can read this post in its entirety on the AFP-Indiana Chapter blog.  Click here to read now.

One Week Later – 3 things I will implement from #AFPMeet

A week ago today, I was asleep.

Today, I wish I was still asleep.

Everyone could use a little more sleep, but that is a different subject.  After a week back into the swing of things, I have gotten to wrap my head around what all went down at the AFP Conference in Vancouver.

Vancouver Skyline

Reading everyone’s takeaways, things they’ve learned and lessons taught got me thinking about one point that I read – getting smacked in the face with reality, and you can’t directly implement EVERYTHING you learned.  It’s tough when you learn so many great things from a ton of different people only to arrive back in a place where it’s not IMPOSSIBLE to implement but it will take a long while to do so.

Instead of burning myself out and trying to change organizational culture in a week, I have decided to pick 3 THINGS that I would be able to implement within the year.

Here are those 3 things:

1) Put my organization on Google+.
Credit this to Marc Pittman, and his Beyond the Basics education session on the very first day!  Using Google+ to train the search engine to increase your chances at being in the top 5 search terms can be very beneficial, especially for an organization whose majority of website visits comes from search engines.

2) Create good content and ASK.
A tough thing for nonprofits is getting stories picked up by the media, having corporate parties become a fundraiser, or getting a video to go viral.  Scott Harrison from charity:water showed us ALL that by creating good content and not being afraid to put it out there and ask people to show it, we can actually see our stories in the media and out in the community. (And don’t forget about getting good at video).

3) Keep in touch.
It is SO EASY at any conference to be really excited to meet new people.  And, I touched on this in my post before going to the conference.  Keeping in touch with the people that you exchanged business cards with TAKES ACTION.  You can’t just sit back and hope the the other person will contact you.  Just because the person my be from a different part of the world, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the same amount of excitement to keep in touch with them as you did when you initially met them.

#AFPmeet was great.  I learned a ton that was not listed here, and maybe I will end up somewhere someday that other lessons learned will fit within that organization.  But, continually learning lessons from others who attended, wrote blog posts or have thoughts in the future is what I can do now.

What did you learn and will implement from the AFP Conference?
How will you keep in touch?
Comment below.. or tweet me – @Willie_Matis

Managing your Work, Time and Energy While Still Having a Life – Karen Osborne at #AFPMEET


And she just asked us to take out a clean sheet of paper.  What?!?

Karen Osborne, within the first 5 minutes, had everyone hooked.  Work/Life blanace is something that EVERYONE struggles with.  We all want to be successful, we all want to be there for our families, and we ALL want and know that we need to take care of OURSELVES.

I think the best way to sum up Karen’s talk is by giving her great quotes as takeaways:

“You can work 24/7/365 and never ever ever be done with everything.  And what stinks, success breeds more work.”

“We can NOT multitask” (Sorry, Karen, I am live blogging this as you are talking. Oops!)

“Your [bio]rythms matter in this”

“Open door policy does not mean that others people’s problems are more important than yours”

“Everyone should have 3-5 priority buckets (a maximum of 5)”

Online Tools – Rescue Time, iDoneThis, TallyZoo, Simpleology, HeartMath, GravityEight.

“The average worker wastes 2.5 hours a week looking for documents.”

“Do you know how to say NO?”

“Don’t OVER PROMISE and under deliver.”

“Yes. No. Yes. Yes I understand why that is important.  No, I can’t get that done right now. Yes we can definitely talk about it sometime down the road.”

“What areas of life balance are missing for you?  How important is that area to you?”

“Brainstorm and Share solutions.”

I like this last quote the best.  When you identify what your biggest problem with work/life balance is, then present that problem to a friend and have them give you as many ideas as possible to help with that problem.  Find the solution that will have the highest impact but will be the easiest to do.

“It is okay to say, ‘I need to think about that’.”

Karen’s talk was AWESOME. I feel like we, as professionals, can never get enough tips on how to manage time.  Managing your time is very important.

Have any questions about what I heard from Karen about managing your time?  Comment below or tweet at me – @Willie_Matis.

Marc Pitman at #AFPMEET – Beyond the Basics: Twitter, Facebook & Google+ Tips for Nonprofits

So my first few days here in Vancouver were spent taking in the town.  And it can be summed up in one word…


Vancouver is a great place.  If you are looking for somewhere different, then I suggest coming here to spend a good 3-4 days.  My first full day was spent searching the west part of the city.  The second day, Nathan Hand got here, and we explored the southern part.  Capped off by a SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME win by the Vancouver Canucks!  It. Was. AWESOME!

And now it is time to learn…

Session #1 – Beyond the Basics: Twitter, Facebook & Google+ Tips for Nonprofits by Marc A. Pitman.

Everyone in the group here uses Facebook and Twitter… and a few of us are “ON” Google+.  I was weary about coming to a social media session because sometimes (and Marc said it best).. even some of the advanced social media sessions revert to a remedial session.

Marc did a fantastic job of asking US what we want out of the session.  And then he got to it…

10 Takeaways from this session

1) You will get most of your donations from email.  Email is still social media.  Email is where action actually happens.  Email raises more money than any other social media site.  Twitter raises the most money between Facebook, Twitter and G+.  With email you can put a more in depth call to action.

2) Social media is only one part of your marketing & fundraising.

3) Be consistent & Be playful.  The entire reason for having marketing & fundraising is to be recognized.  Stay consistent with your messages no matter what platform yo uare on.  But, but playful and feel free to experiment with different tone/voice.

4) A small little tidbit shared by Marc.  Do you have an ethical bribe for people to join your email lists?  Offer something of value so that people will want to sign up for your email.  It doesn’t have to be money, just offer something that people will want.  (For example, Marc will give you his slides and a book if you join his.)

5) FACEBOOK TIMELINE!!  The cover photo – make it 851 pixels by 315 pixels.  Your profile picture – 180×180.  Tab photos – 110×74.  A bonus – STATIC HTML (search for the app, do it).  Seriously… do it.

6) Encourage your staff to like your posts and comment on your posts.  Just make it be an internal email.  Don’t mandate it, but allow people to get on Facebook in a sanctioned way during the work day and simply ask them to share your recent post.  Then… sit back and watch your posts be put into more News Feeds.

7) To give a dog a pill, you have to do what? Wrap the pill in bacon.  Fundraising is the pill you are trying to give.  Social media is the bacon.

8.) Twitter lists.  Use them for your donors.  It will help yo uinteract with them online.  We need to treat our donors like people.  Not ATMs.

9) Google + is affecting your SEO.  Even if you aren’t actively using it.  Your G+ updates come up in Google searches.  And Google promotes you for certain searches.  Posting pictures on G+? THOSE show up in a Google search too.

10) gpluspic.com – it helps dress up your Google+ page.

I can’t wait to get Marc’s slideshow from this session.  He had so many nuggets of information that will help nonprofits to better engage online.  Recognizing that social media is just part of your marketing & fundraising approach is crucial to remember.

Got any questions about Marc’s session?  Comment below or tweet at me – @Willie_Matis.  Or just ask Marc – @marcapitman.

#AFPMeet: That’s THIS week?

I found out back in NOVEMBER that I was going to be able to attend this year’s Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference.  So I have had to keep reminding myself that – YES, WILLIE! It’s this week.  It feels like time has flown this year, and I am super excited to be headed to Vancouver for the conference.

I really want to take a quick second to express my gratitude to my AFP chapter, the Indiana chapter, for choosing me for the Chamberlain scholarship!  If it wasn’t for the scholarship, then I would DEFINITELY not be going to this year’s conference.  I plan on making the most out of this trip and hope to learn MORE than I can teach (which I don’t think will be very hard haha).  Everyone on the review committee, again, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity.

In an effort to make the most out of this trip, I put together 3 goals for the trip up to Vancouver:

1) See Vancouver

Vancouver Island
flickr photo by justinjfj

This goal just scratches the very surface, but sometimes I try to dig TOO DEEP for goals.  It is easy to get caught up in all of the sessions, events and more that go on at a conference (hey that is the entire reason you go right?), but I want to make sure I experience the city.  I may not ever have another reason to come to Vancouver.

2) Meet 5 new people

Don’t get me wrong… I am going to meet A LOT of new people!  I am already meeting a ton just by following the #afpmeet hashtag.  So, the reason I say “five” is because I want to meet 5 new people that I will be able to stay in contact with beyond the conference.  It is easy to go through a conference, meet a bunch of people, swap contact info and never take the next step.  I want to actually take that next step with at least 5 great fundraisers that I meet this weekend.  (if you want to meetup at the conference, shoot me a tweet – @Willie_Matis).

3) Grow as a fundraiser

Okay, so this is a goal that every attendee has (duh, Willie, if you didn’t want to grow as a fundraiser, then why would you go to the conference).  Let me explain.. this goal has goals within it.  When I think of my interests as a fundraiser, I think about cause marketing and online fundraising.  When I think of my strengths as a fundraiser, I think about being able to make new contacts via social media and not being afraid to ask someone to have a meeting.  When I think of my weaknesses as a fundraiser, I think of my lack of experience in sending direct mail pieces and lack of experience in developing donor relationships to ask for major gifts.

So – growth as a fundraiser – that means 1) learning about best practices in cause marketing and online fundraising; 2) meeting people who are BETTER at social media and networking than myself; and 3) attending the sessions regarding annual fund programs, making the ask, and donor cultivation.

I think that I just mapped out my time in Vancouver.

If you have kept reading this to the end, then I am glad you were interested in my goals or hope they helped you to find YOUR goals for #afpmeet.

If you are still reading and want to meet for some coffee or a drink before/between/after any sessions, then shoot me a tweet.  Even if your tweet just says – “Hey @Willie_Matis! Let’s meet up at #afpmeet“.. I’ll do it. (You could be one of the five people haha).

And, now….. if you are STILL reading, then you may want to subscribe to my blog.  I am going to be live blogging throughout the entire conference with lessons learned, things that confuse me, and points that I feel like the speaker got wrong.  I may even develop a Canadian blog accent!



How do you like to be thanked by organizations?

flickr photo by stickwithjosh

I recently read an article on the Event360 blog about Event Participant Retention.  Within the article they gave a good benchmark for return participants – around 30%.

While reading about building an event retention program, it made me think back to my post about the 3 reasons Twitter is the best tool for your event!  It enhances participant experience and allows them to engage throughout the year and want to come back for the same experience if not a better one than the year before.

So how do YOU want organizations to follow up with YOU after an event?

The Works

Are you looking for the works? A thank you letter, put on the eNewsletter list, thanked on a Facebook tab, and shouted out on Twitter?

Buffet Style

Or do you want the organization to have options during the event to choose how to stay connected?  Do you want address, email, Twitter handle, Facebook page as choices on a sign up sheet (all optional, none mandatory) and have the organization follow up that way?

See You Next Year

How many of you just want a quick thank you and to be left alone until next year?

Comment below, join the discussion on Facebook, or Tweet Me!

How advocacy campaigns can create a network of #millennial donors for your non-profit (reposted)

I am reposting this article because it ties in with my last post.  Tuesday’s post spoke about WHY SOCIAL MEDIA IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN, but why exactly are advocacy campaigns important to your fundraising efforts?

In July 2011, there was a great article written on fundraisingcoach.com. Written by Christina Attard (@gptekkie), the article entitled “Good news about Millennials and Fundraising” dove into great statistics and tendencies about millennial, specifically millennial donors.

Christina touched on the very important aspects of millennials to remember…

  • Millennials aren’t in the best position financially to be giving money away.
  • Millennials expect to be treated exactly like donors of past generations only through different media and outlets
  • 55% of millennials are giving already; what about recognizing the top tier of millennial donors
photo by pratanti

As a millennial, personally there is not a lot of cash to be given to ALL of the organizations that do a FANTASTIC job of serving the causes that I am passionate about.  However, there are plenty of possibilities to serve your nonprofit.

As a fundraiser, I want to make sure that potential millennial donors have a chance to connect with my organization, remember what we do, and make a positive impact.  Advocacy campaigns are built for millennials.

Here are some tips to make it easy for the technology-using, passions-flaring, and world-saving millennials to make an initial connection with your non-profit’s cause that will last forever:
  • Action alerts – whether this be asking to donate a tweet, use house party profits for your organization, or send an email to a legislator, giving millennials goals to achieve is the first step.
  • Leadership programs – create  an opportunity that encourages the millennial working for your organization or the millennial that has been volunteering since high school to lead a program that includes others from their friend network and professional connections to create awareness for your cause.
  • Volunteer/internship opportunities –  especially for college-aged millennials, the first volunteer or internship that they participate in could be the organization that they will support the most.  Knowing that you made an impact within a summer internship creates a link to that organization that is hard to break.

Advocacy campaigns are just the beginning, may not result in a lot of initial donation, but can create a group of loyal followers who WANT to make a difference.

Millennials – what opportunities with non-profits have caused you to maintain your connection with their cause?
Fundraisers – how have you created opportunities to let young professionals make an impact on the community under your organization’s mission?

Comment below!