#GivingTuesday– a good idea? A great idea? Another idea??


We are one month away from Giving Tuesday, defined on its website as:

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Now, in Seattle we are incorporating GiveBIG in the spring, our own annual giving appeals, events/galas, and more to create a balanced strategy for funding each year.  I admit to feeling a bit forced to participate in all these great campaigns.  I sure need to pay attention to them.
But when I stop, and take a breath, is #GivingTuesday that bad?  I think if we did a campaign that just asked for money, it would be too much.  Folks just spent money at our Gala and we are going to be sending direct mail at the end of the year.  So this year, we are going to focus on the volunteer aspect of #GivingTuesday and ask folks to give their time that day.  The time of year to say THANKS to our community.  And thanks to our volunteers.
I welcome any discussion on this.  Good? Bad? Gimmick?  Regardless, I am thankful for our donors and thankful for the work of all non-profits.

Donor camping trips

This weekend I am in charge of a handful of major donors who will be camping on the shores of one of the wildest and most beautiful rivers in Washington State. We’ll be rafting on the newly freed Elwha River, whose dams were removed last year and the salmon are returning.


Donors. Camping. Upfront we let folks know it’s casual. Breakfast will be provided and dinner is around the campfire. But I am wondering about expectations. This is not my family going out for the weekend. These are folks, in some cases, that I have never met. I’ll bring extra tents, sleeping bags and bug spray.

And a whole lot of patience.


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.