Happy Birthday Boobaloo Princess!

Today is my daughter Abigail’s birthday. Her grandfather called her Boobaloo. My grandmother referred to her as Snickerfritz. And her dad calls her Abs-a-Dabs-a-Doo.

But whatever the moniker, she is a gem. At age 18, Abbey enrolled in the US Marine Corps (triggering every mother’s deepest, darkest fears). But my loyal readers were right there by my side, with reassurance and encouragement. Abbey made it out, better and stronger than ever.

Next month, Abbey graduates from Drexel University. To date, she’s been accepted to Villanova Law and Temple Law. She’s made it through college while juggling three jobs, as well as volunteer work. She recently signed on to be a CASA mentor.

Here’s the thing about Abbey: she has a strong sense of self. Lately, recognizing that she’ll need to ramp it up even more for law school, she’s started picking up self-improvement books.

She started with Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Stephen Covey’s classic covers the importance of prioritizing the activities that are important but not urgent in lieu of more urgent (and less important) tasks. As my coach might say, “Are you working in your business or on it?” In our work, what it comes down to is this: Are you putting out fires or are you working on growing relationships?

Be honest with yourself about that one. It’ll only help you see where you are (and maybe where you need to be).

Abbey’s smart in more ways than one. She knows the importance of daily habits.

Make your daily habit gratitude.

In another great read on Abbey’s list, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It, Kelly McGonigal explains that we should think not in terms of progress, but in terms of commitment.

“When people who have taken a positive step toward meeting a goal – for example exercising, studying, or saving money – are asked, “How much progress do you feel you have made on your goal?” they are more likely to then do something that conflicts with that goal, like skip the gym the next day, hang out with friends instead of studying, or buy something expensive. In contrast, people who are asked, “How committed do you feel to your goal?” are not tempted by the conflicting behavior. A simple shift in focus leads to a very different interpretation of their own actions — “I did that because I wanted to,” not “I did that, great, now I can do what I really want!”

You’re committed to your mission, but are you committed to funding your mission? There’s a critical difference, you know.

McGonigal advises us to use a “daily rule” to help us end that debate that so often dissuades us from moving in the right direction. Is there a daily rule that you can live with that will bring you closer to your fundraising goals? One rule I’ve encouraged for years (we’re talking since 2006, people) is to commit to a daily “gratitude habit.” Every morning, (before you check your email or voicemail – but not before you’ve had your coffee ;-), make it a habit out of spending 15-30 minutes on the phone calling your donors. Why?

Just to say thank you.

For years, we’ve heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit for the long haul. But in reality, it turns out that’s a bit of a myth. I say…commit to these daily calls, come hell or high water, for three months straight. Jot it down on your calendar and begin tomorrow, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And then, reach out. I want to hear from you.

What habits are you embracing to ramp up your fundraising this year, [First Name]? These little things can inspire some huge results. Don’t underestimate them. Earlier this year, we featured a filled-to-GoToWebinar capacity training that you may have missed out on. If you’d like to catch it now, you still can. You’ll get an overview of where philanthropic dollars really come from, so you can better plan your year, and you’ll discover the habits of my most successful students! Click here to watch.


What’s in my Mailbox | “Annual Report”…or “Gratitude Report?”

February 22, 2017

A little back story… Back in 2006, I was working as a dedicated grant writer for a wonderful organization serving women and children. Like so many of us in nonprofit work, who sometimes wear many hats, I was often called off-task. And one of those tasks was to write and design our annual report. That […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | “I’d give anything to get my hands on her again.”

February 20, 2017

Because we are such visual creatures, stories through video can be ultra compelling for us. Video is a medium that, when it comes to nonprofit storytelling, is rarely utilized, even though it has its own unique advantages. Especially for narratives that are careful, nuanced, and purpose-driven. Obviously, for the video narrative to work, it needs […]

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Find Your Nonprofit Mentor and Make a Bigger Impact

February 14, 2017

The value of being mentored seems pretty obvious: new skills, confidence, friendship, etc. And in fact, the research shows that people who are mentored get more job promotions and earn more than people who aren’t. But mentoring is also great for mentors: networking opportunities, leadership development, and a stronger sense of community. Jesse Bethke Gomez […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | A low-calorie Valentine’s Day can be the best kind when the cause is right

February 13, 2017

What is Valentine’s Day, February 14th, all about, really? Is it a day to express love in a meaningful way? Is it a time to lament being single? Is it a time for all of the chocolate companies to put their brains together and plan 24-hour world domination? What have I said, time and time […]

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Fundraising Friday | February 10, 2017

February 10, 2017

What are the five biggest nonprofit storytelling mistakes you need to avoid at all costs? Guest post from John Haydon. How are you celebrating the donors who make your work possible? 12 Ways to #LoveYourDonor on Valentine’s Day (and throughout the year) What do your foundation grant thank you letters look like? Reader Tim Delaney […]

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10 Sad Facts from a Monthly Donor Retention Check-up

February 9, 2017

Be forewarned, this is a sad story… but it can have a good ending! As you know from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, based upon 2015 data, the typical donor retention rates were 46%, which is why monthly donors are so important as monthly donor retention rates are much higher. The good news is that more […]

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What’s In My Mailbox: “We brought a foundation back from the dead!”

February 8, 2017

2017 has already been a spectacular year for The Portland Children’s Museum in Portland, Oregon. Timothy Delaney, the museum’s Grants Manager, recently reached out to me to explain why, attaching a response letter that PCM’s Executive Director, Ruth Shelly, had written. Tim explained, “I think it’s a good example of “moving beyond the rote” when […]

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12 Ways to #LoveYourDonor on Valentine’s Day (and throughout the year)

February 7, 2017

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and it’s a prime opportunity to share the love with the donors who make your work possible, grow relationships, and – coincidentally – raise money! Here are just a few ideas: 1.Show them that you know them. Set up Google alerts on your best donors. Forward them that […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | 5 Biggest Nonprofit Storytelling Mistakes to Avoid

February 6, 2017

Whether told face-to-face with a major donor, in a thank you video, or in your fundraising emails, stories are the most powerful tool in your fundraising and marketing arsenal. That’s because human beings are hardwired for nonprofit storytelling. We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind […]

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Fundraising Friday | February 3, 2017

February 3, 2017

Bloomerang, with New Study Shows Donor Retention Rates in Decline. What are your internal processes for taking your first-time donor…to lifetime? Smart fundraisers know that the gift isn’t the goal – it’s the long-time relationship that counts. Are you saying thank you like you mean it? You need Emotionraising: How to astonish, disturb, seduce and convince […]

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Are you saying thank you like you mean it? Taking your donor from first-time to lifetime.

February 2, 2017

You need more major donors, right? And lately it seems like mid-level and major gift fundraising is all the rage. The experts are hammering the point home that smaller nonprofits aren’t raising major gifts (duh). And there’s seemingly been an influx of major gifts fundraising classes, too. Of course, who wouldn’t want Oprah or Ellen […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | One of the best direct mail packages I’ve ever seen…thank you, Sheena!

February 1, 2017

There are many reasons I make a conscious choice to receive more snail mail than the average human being. For one thing, I’m interested in studying the impact of direct mail communications that are sent to donors, and I’m consistently putting my donor hat on and seeing what works and what doesn’t. For another thing, […]

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You need Emotionraising on your fundraising shelf. Read on to see why…

January 30, 2017

Okay, I’ll admit it: when I’ve got some time to myself, I love me some Netflix and chill. I recently took a chance on one of their comedy specials, which are often hit (hilariously funny and engaging) or miss (a complete dud that I turn off midway). This one, featuring burgeoning comedienne Cristela Alonzo, was […]

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Fundraising Friday | January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017

Should you include a remittance envelope in a thank you letter? It depends. How are you empowering your donors to “bee” the change? I loved this mailing from Ontario Nature and our friends at Agents of Good. What’s in my Mailbox. It’s right around the corner! 14 Ways (With Examples) to Share the Love During […]

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An “ask” in a thank you? It depends…

January 22, 2017

An email recently landed in my inbox, and it was all about the “ask.” As I’m sure you can imagine, it wasn’t the first email I’ve ever received about it, and it surely won’t be the last. The “ask” is such a nuanced thing, and it lives in a gray area, which is often the […]

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Fundraising Friday | January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017

A year-end appeal can raise over 200% of its goal — see how in this week’s What’s in my Mailbox.  Just how irritating are you to funders? I can attest to seeing many of these first-hand. Use this checklist, courtesy of Vu over at Nonprofit With Balls, to make sure you’re not giving your funders […]

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What’s In My Mailbox | A year-end appeal can raise over 200% of its goal — see how!

January 18, 2017

In this installment of What’s In My Inbox, I’m focusing the spotlight on a truly stellar direct mail packet from The Hope Project, a Michigan-based nonprofit organization engaged in promoting awareness of sex trafficking, as well as helping its victims to heal. Currently, they’re in the process of opening a rehabilitative home for girls aged […]

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How to write a swimming pool. Essential Resources for Nonprofit Copywriters

January 11, 2017

”John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now, let’s write a swimming pool.” ― Paul McCartney What if you knew that when your organization’s hot water heater died, you could sit down at your computer and write one? Your organization needs to serve 275 more kids in 2017? Not a problem. You […]

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Drawing donor parallels: Wake up, Annenberg, because purchasing your tickets was no picnic

January 10, 2017

A spinning wheel of doom churning on for an eternity and a half. A bizarrely ambiguous error message that did little to ease my worrying mind. Two blunt tweets that should have been answered in the name of good customer service, yet remain ignored as of now. It’s the kind of cryptic misfortune that belongs […]

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