Grapes grow best in bunches

I just came from an non-profit summit, hosted by an local chamber of commerce.  And while at first, we might think, “Hey, we are all after the same corporate, individual and institutional dollars.  I compete with all the groups here…”  I think that instead…

Grapes grow best in bunches.


I think non-profits who network together and build on their strengths are in the end stronger, healthier and able to still reach their funders.  Many years ago, I started a theatre alliance.  Sure, we were in a small town and “competed” for ticket sales, but we learned that we could actually reach more audience members together AND they attended all of our shows. Well, not all of them.  But we did see cross-over in our sales reports.

We were in competition with our audience member’s remote control at home. Not each other. 

PLUS, it made for much needed monthly get lunches or happy hours (or both?! Wait, no…) where we could really share what we were going through together.

Here’s to reaching out to the best varietals out there and making friends.




It’s Wednesday and I have to admit… I LOVE running reports.  I am not a numbers person.  I don’t like paying bills.  I am no accountant. I would rather be out playing in the sun, riding my bike, scuba diving, getting a root canal.  But by Wednesday I just have to run reports, as many as possible, and stare for long hours at our donor statistics.

Yes, all good fundraisers use metrics to make decisions.  But I am starting to think I would rather stare at my numbers than pick up the phone.  I mean, it’s time.  Major donor cultivation, set up visits, get on the phone with board members time.

Reminds me of cleaning my room when I should be doing homework.

I write about this:

  • to let other fundraisers know they are not alone if they feel this way.
  • to put off picking up the phone, or running more reports. I really love the SYBNTY.  And I am a real sucker for % of attrition over a three year period.


Report Photo


Okay, whining complete.  I am now going to do that incredibly important major donor stuff.  I’ll report back how it goes.  I’ll even run you a report.

Why my three year old can raise a ton of money.

Here is why my three year old can raise money from absolutely anyone.  Here is her method:

Can I have a cookie?

Not until you finish dinner.

Can I have a cookie?

Not until you finish dinner- I am not going to repeat myself.

Can I have a cookie?



Five minutes go by.


Can I have a cookie?

Two more bites.

Dinner ends.  An hour goes by.

Cookie? I pick up toys.   Pleeeeeeeease?

Said child starts putting away toys.

You cleaned up by yourself?  Here’s your cookie.


Now… good parenting.  Nope. Maybe.  I don’t know.  I make this parenting thing up every day.


But…good advocacy on the part of my daughter.  YES.

1.  She was persistent.  I am not saying be annoying.  Or over ask, but “no” is maybe, or ask again later. And whining to the board or donors is a terrible idea. But she did ask– and more than once.

2.  She finally gave a benefit to me.  The donor.  As a parent, I thought, “WOW! She might start picking up after herself!  REWARD!!”  This psychology is not so different for the donor.  I want to see the value of my donation and how it relates to me.

NOTE:  If she had worn me down, I would have felt bad about the cookie and possibly only given a GUILT gift, which is a one-time get-out-of-my-face gift.  But she wisely played to what I needed and made me feel good.  On purpose?  Of course not.  She’s three and repeats herself until she gets what she wants.


Short take-away.  ASK.  Ask more often than you think. In between ASKING, let them know what you are doing. And most importantly, BRING THE DONOR INTO YOUR ASK.


Happy Tuesday.

#GiveBIG in Seattle… one day fundraising extravaganza

Today, Seattle (and other cities) are buzzing, trending, and screaming out that the Seattle Foundation will partially match their donations.  Most Seattle organizations have found another matching partner to guarantee a 1:1 match, so that it’s really clear that donor’s money will double today.

GiveBIG is a great tool.  And many non-profits are using it in really great ways.  But I want to call out the video created by the Seattle Foundation and TriFilm. I really like it- and it stars a good friend, Diver Laura, amongst other “heroes” in our community.

Check it out!

Here’s how we used the Seattle Foundation’s hero graphics on our images:


Photo credit:  Shana Pennington-Baird, International Coastal Cleanup 2013


Photo credit: Tsofia Richter, Gary Manuel Salon, Earth Month Belltown Cleanup

Last year raised $11 million.  What a campaign.


#HowSeattleRiots: From zero to 584 Donors in 17 hours – A crowdfunding success story

Feb. 2nd, 2014:  Seattle Seahawks win the Superbowl! The city of Seattle goes CRAZY. No one can believe they crushed the Denver Broncos!  There is mayhem in the streets…. sort of…

When I logged into Facebook on Monday, Feb. 3rd, I found that a friend has posted about the damage done to a local historic structure in historic Seattle, called the Pergola.  A handful of fans had climbed on top to celebrate and then climbed down after breaking some of the panels on top.   Here’s a link for more info about the structure.


Now, I watched the Superbowl with my three year old.  And being from Denver, I cheered for the Broncos for about five minutes and then immediately switched alliances, like a good fair weather fan, to the Seahawks when it become plain they were going to CREAM the Broncos.  And I wore blue, so I was okay either way, right?!  That night, I saw folks standing on this structure and it did look like some damage was occurring.  The next morning, the Seattle Parks Foundation reported $25K of damage to the structure.  Now, my friend Amanda, wanted to fix it.  I said, I can help. Hey- I raise money and stuff…

By the way, my friend deserves ALL credit for this idea.  And I won’t tag her here, because she’d kill me.  I just helped.  But I want to share the story for those of us to raise money.  And if you want the WHOLE story… yes, there is more…you must come to Seattle and buy me coffee.

Here’s the video that talks about what happened next  And it’s quite a fairy tale with good and bad all mixed together.  What an experience.  It’s worth a listen.


Also, I want to recommend that anyone in fundraising start following weekly free videos produced by Chris Davenport.  They are short (except this one) and have very good information.  Good stuff!!  They are always helpful to get me through the week.

Click here to subscribe.  AND be sure to sign up for his storytelling workshop this fall.  I know I want to go!

Please comment about any experiences you have had with crowd-funding,– good or bad.  I am really curious how you have used this platform– and how hash tagging has worked (or not worked) for you.

Thanks for reading.  And, as a new blogger, I must do a shameless plug… follow me?  Tell your friends who might care?  Muchos gracias.