BOOK REVIEW: Start Something That Matters

  1. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about being selected to participate in the TOMS Shoes’ “Books for Bloggers” promotion. I received two copies of TOMS’ founder, Blake Mycoskie’s, new book “Start Something That Matters.” One copy was mine to read and review, while the other was meant for me to give away. While this post is about my review, details on the giveaway can be found here.
  2. I read the bulk of “Start Something That Matters” while commuting to and from work on Chicago’s el. As I was reading, I tweeted the passages that most resonated with me…here are the quotes and context, compliments of Storify:
  3. “Increasingly, the tried-and-true tenets of success are just tried, not true.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 17, 2011 7:07:36 PM EST
  4. This quote was found in SSTM’s opening pages and its quirky word play was what inspired me to tweet out interesting passages as I came across them. Though I usually abhor puns and think they scream “GIMMICK,” I believe that Blake has truly touched on something valuable; today’s business world is long on advice, but short on originality and risk-taking. The same can’t be said for Blake himself, nor for TOMS Shoes…which should become apparent as you continue to read.
  5. “Stories are the most primitive and purest form of communication.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 21, 2011 9:08:11 AM EST
  6. Blake is big on story-telling and attributes it to TOMS’ success. Anyone can make a cool, comfortable pair of shoes…but TOMS was able to connect product with passion. Their customers feel like partners and ambassadors, all because of a compelling and inspiring story.
  7. “If you doubt your own authenticity, it will sap your passion.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 21, 2011 7:12:06 PM EST
  8. Think about your contacts in the business and/or nonprofit world. Now think about the people who personally commit to their product/mission…and think about the ones that “just” do their jobs. My guess (and Blake’s hypothesis) is that you’ll see two distinct groups emerge — one that’s passionate and successful, the other that’s ambivalent and middling.
  9. “What distinguishes the ultimate successes from the ultimate failures is what you do with them.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 22, 2011 9:04:31 AM EST
  10. Sometimes, there’s a fine line between good and bad…between pass and fail…between success and failure. Blake suggests that it’s not so much the idea that dictates a project’s success, but the drive and reactions of the person or people implementing it.
  11. “I surround myself with inspirational quotations.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters #meta
    November 22, 2011 9:12:36 AM EST
  12. Each chapter starts with an inspirational quote. I guess it’s no suprise, then, that Blake wrote a book filled with inspiring words from his own mind.
  13. “Lack of resources inspires creativity… It’s one one of the reasons @TOMS succeeded.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 22, 2011 6:35:22 PM EST
  14. One of the most compelling (and easy to replicate) parts of the TOMS story is how the company started on a shoe-string budget and found success before it was logistically ready to handle it. How did Blake avoid business disaster? By staying simple, exploring every possible cheap/free option and resisting the urge to burn capital (ahem, pets.com) simply because it was available.
  15. “Simplicity is simple. Perhaps this sounds redundant. But it’s true, and it’s important.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 23, 2011 4:12:28 PM EST
  16. ‘Nuff said.
  17. “Ur org’s next great idea may come from…the top down, bottom up or zigzagging thru the middle.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 25, 2011 4:46:01 PM EST
  18. Power to the people! Organizational hierarchy is often important, but Blake suggests that it not come at the expense of innovation. Often, the best insights can come from those employees with ears closest to the ground. Make sure you set up a system in which their observations are collected, appreciated and acted upon.
  19. “Being clear about where your donors’ money goes is the best way to build their trust.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 25, 2011 5:02:23 PM EST
  20. This is gospel to fundraisers, but cringe-inducing to many of our accounting offices. Yes, transparency requires a lot of extra effort…effort that will be rewarded tenfold by loyal, appreciative and increasingly well-educated nonprofit donors.
  21. “Compliment publicly and criticize privately, but do both directly.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 12:09:11 AM EST
  22. What a great business tip! This one has already gone into my rotation.
  23. “Incorporate giving in2 ur business model & give ur business a mission larger than ur bottom line” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 23, 2011 9:16:37 AM EST
  24. “Giving feels good. But…giving is truly good for business as well.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 10:23:28 AM EST
  25. “When giving is incorporated into ur business model, customers become product marketing partners.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 10:26:19 AM EST
  26. These passages appear in different sections of the book, but I’ve united them here because the message is a common one.While not every for-profit business can or should work on TOMS’ “one for one” model, Blake (and a growing number of other business leaders) suggests that to build loyalty among customers, today’s companies need a connection to social good. You may not be able to give away a million pairs of shoes to children in third world countries, but your customers will appreciate and reward your genuine efforts to make a difference in your local community. And really, can’t every business do that? Shouldn’t every business do that?
  27. “I firmly believe that every person alive can make this world a better place.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 10:45:04 AM EST
  28. Carpe diem, Blake. Carpe diem.
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The Difference Between Charity and Philanthropy

The words charity and philanthropy are often used interchangeably, but it is the difference between the two that makes the biggest impact on the world around us.

Charity is ingrained in America’s cultural fabric – we give to charity because we feel a moral or religious calling to do so. Charity is how we show compassion for people displaced by natural disaster, or our support for victims of crime or violence. Charity is the change we leave behind in the jar to find homes for abandoned animals, or the extra dollar we contribute to fight poverty in third world countries.

Goodwill Industries is an American institution (and a former two-time employer of this blogger) that relies on charitable contributions to help support its services. And yet, its founder, the Reverend Edgar J. Helms, believed that Goodwill should be “not charity, but a chance” for people in need.

How does that chance happen? The answer is philanthropy.

Steve Gunderson, former president of the Council on Foundations, helped distinguish the difference between the two ostensibly interchangeable ideals:

Charity tends to be a short-term, emotional, immediate response, focused primarily on rescue and relief, whereas philanthropy is much more long-term, more strategic, focused on rebuilding. One of my colleagues says there is charity, which is good, and then there is problem-solving charity, which is called philanthropy, and I think that’s the distinction I have tried to make.

Whereas charity is essential to address immediate needs, philanthropy is the means by which individuals and nonprofit agencies achieve their greater missions. Philanthropy is breaking down the stereotype that an ex-offender can’t contribute to a business and society at-large. Philanthropy is building a well for a remote village in East Africa. Philanthropy is changing hearts and minds and cultures, it’s righting wrongs, it’s making the world a better place.

Charity is giving…philanthropy is doing.

Modern philanthropy paraphrases another of Reverend Helms’ favorite sayings. Charity can be a vital hand out to someone in need, but philanthropy is the hand up that allows that individual to find lasting success.

Few of us can make the kind of gift that adds a wing onto a hospital or builds a new library at our alma mater, but almost all of us can – with a little planning – be philanthropists that make a difference in some small (or large) way.

The difference between charity and philanthropy is one we can all define, if we take a little effort to make the distinction. Are you up for the challenge?

Secret Strategies to Maximize Fundraising Event Revenue

  1. On November 15, Shanon Doolittle (of the Group Health Foundation) hosted a fundraising event webinar as part of the National Fundraising Event Series. When I read the webinar teaser, signing up was a no-brainer:
  2. In this new economy, event fundraisers have to work even harder to sustain or grow their event revenue. But what if instead of working harder, you had the tools to work
    smarter? By focusing on activities that will drive event revenue, you’ll
    maximize your impact to raise more money for your cause. This webinar will spill
    the beans on specific techniques that can help you efficiently achieve better
    financial results. From audience development to auction procurement, you will
    learn new strategies for helping your nonprofit maximize its event revenue and
    other best practices are now trending in our industry.

  3. And guess what? The session was even more valuable than I imagined it would be!

  4. “Which revenue bucket makes you want to scream into a pillow at night?” – this is how I know this webinar is for me @sldoolittle #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 2:16:44 PM EST
  5. Our hostess with the mostess, Shanon Doolittle, started the webinar by asking about event fundraisers’ most common frustrations. Clearly, she “gets” it.
  6. Trouble securing event sponsors? Figure out the month when their funding decisions are made. Solicit on their schedule, not yours. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:16:24 PM EST
  7. NPO event sponsorship: get in touch w/ prospect and ASK when they make funding decisions- plan accordingly #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:18:02 PM EST
  8. Often, our pitches are good enough to warrant funding. But if the corporate prospect makes funding decisions in March, the world’s greatest ask won’t work if it’s delivered in December. How do you know when your prospect makes a funding decision? Shanon says it’s not complicated…just ask!
  9. Create entry-level (lower $) sponsorship opportunities. Opens door for new sponsors at accessible investment amounts. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:19:08 PM EST
  10. event sponsorship is like dating. don’t ask them to marry you on the first date. ease in and provide entry level sponsorship opps #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:20:26 PM EST
  11. An idea so simple you’d be amazed how many people miss it. Not every sponsor can be a platinum one; create an entry-level opportunity and you’ll get more sponsors, increased revenue and better relationships!
  12. Table sales: create a committee and gamify/incentivize the process. Competition breeds success! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:20:45 PM EST
  13. NPO event table sales: top salesperson from ur org who sold most tables- give em gift, let em choose where they wanna sit etc #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:21:26 PM EST
  14. Selling tables can be a challenge, but Shanon suggests creating a committee to focus only on table sales. Offering those volunteers an incentive is a great way to get the best results.
  15. NPO event table sales: offer smaller size tables 4 those who can’t afford full table. get em in door & next yr will be easier #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:22:15 PM EST
  16. Don’t just offer tables of 10/12. Offer a small table option too…you’ll fill the room easier! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:22:17 PM EST
  17. Some people just can’t afford and/or can’t fill your standard 10- or 12-person table. Sell a half table, says Shanon. Part of an event fundraisers’ job is to reduce opportunities for prospects to say no!
  18. NPO event ticket sales: offer discounted prices 4 young ppl. and YES- this totally works!!!!! #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:23:57 PM EST
  19. Many organizations are trying to reach the young professional demo. If you want to capitalize on their energy and networks, why not offer 20- and 30-somethings a discount to your event?
  20. use your invitation to share your story. make an emotional impact. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:25:33 PM EST
  21. NPO event invitation: treat it like direct mail- tell ur orgs story!!! if some1 cant go 2 event- invitation should make em wanna GIVE #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:25:44 PM EST
  22. Love this. “Treat your event invitation like your direct mail.” Another great opportunity to tell your organization’s story. #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 2:27:11 PM EST
  23. Event invitations are often the most boring mail we receive. Why not design them with your marketing eye? Doing so can only help drive event revenue AND brand awareness. If you already do direct mail, you should have an idea for what works and what doesn’t.
  24. NPO event invitation: include matching gift info #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:26:29 PM EST
  25. Include matching gift information on your invitations. You’re wasting an opportunity if you don’t include the option. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:26:49 PM EST
  26. It logically follows that if you start treating your invitations like direct mail, you should also include matching gift information (like you do in your direct mail pieces). Different donors will want to give in different ways; make sure you’re opening up every possible avenue.
  27. NPO event raffle: u can pre-sell tickets b/c person doesn’t need 2 be at event to join raffle. helps build buzz 4 event #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:28:09 PM EST
  28. Offer multiple raffle items that people can choose from! #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:29:29 PM EST
  29. Shanon’s charity raffle tips include pre-selling to ensure you maximize revenue from people who can’t attend your event. Also, create multiple prize packages/buckets so people can choose which prizes they’re eligible to win.
  30. If you’re doing a charity auction, use a professional auctioneer. Don’t let a volunteer do it…you’ll leave money on the table. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:33:03 PM EST
  31. NPO event auction: limit number of items; use professional auctioneer- u may be leaving $$ on table. they know how 2 get more bids #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:33:10 PM EST
  32. While your Board chair may think he can run your auction, a professional auctioneer will instinctively know how to maximize the bids for each item…and keep the event from devolving into chaos.
  33. Doing a “raise the paddle” event? Pre-solicit starting donations. The worst thing you can do is get ZERO bidders on items. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:34:13 PM EST
  34. It looks really bad if you can’t get anyone to make a starting bid. Talk to your major donors/leaders prior to the event and get them to agree to start off the bidding at a comfortable level. In most cases, other bidders will follow.
  35. use #donation cards to capture your quiet donors at the end. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:37:08 PM EST
  36. Don’t forget to put a donation card on the table. Not everyone wins the auction/buys raffle tix. Create another donation opportunity! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:36:04 PM EST
  37. I love this idea of the “quiet donor.” Putting a donor card at every seat ensures that EVERY guest has one more opportunity to make a gift.
  38. Post NPO event: send event summary as quickly as possible after event, could be titled: Join us at our Virtual Table w/ donate button #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:39:59 PM EST
  39. ask non-attendees to join you at a post-event “virtual table” … and yes, follow-up with an ask. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:06 PM EST
  40. After your event, email an event summary to both attendees and non-attendees and feature the DONATE button. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:13 PM EST
  41. Post NPO event: u CAN make an ask after event, send e-appeal 2 ppl who didn’t RSVP or come- let em know ur org still needs their help #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:57 PM EST
  42. After your event, you should STILL be asking for donations (from both attendees and non-attendees). Shanon invites people to join a “virtual table” at which they get an event recap, see pictures/video and hear another call to action (the ask).
  43. Let your event dictate the technology you use; don’t let “cool” technology drive your event decisions. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:49:56 PM EST
  44. There are a lot of exciting tech toys available to event fundraisers. Make sure you’re using the tools that make the most sense for your org and event…not the ones that are the shiniest.
  45. NPO event sponsorship: RESEARCH UR PROSPECTS!!!!!! if u cold call, let biz know u understand what they do, engage etc #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:58:59 PM EST
  46. No one likes cold calling (or being cold called). But you stand the greatest chance of success if you let corporate prospects know that you understand what they do and why they do it. Research their philanthropic agendas thoroughly before you ask them to contribute.
  47. You rock my world. Thanks for live tweeting my little webinar, @fundraisinisfun @matthewsm1th @jesstaback @mackenzietl @kantifaeff! #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 5:11:52 PM EST
  48. No, Shanon, you rock OUR worlds.
  49. I’m hoping someone is going to storify @SLDoolittle & #nfe11 awesome info! Event fundraisers need this info in the playbook!
    November 15, 2011 2:42:21 PM EST
  50. Done and done! 🙂

5 (More) Fun Ways to Celebrate National Philanthropy Day

November 15 has been declared National Philanthropy Day – a day meant to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our lives, our communities and our world. My friend, Nathan Hand, posted 10 fun ways to celebrate NPD on his blog. It was a great list…but I think he could have gone even further.

So without further ado, here are five more ways you can celebrate National Philanthropy Day:

  1. Watch the National Philanthropy Day official video…and share it across your social networks– ready to be inspired? Watch this three minute video:
  2. Follow the high-level conversation on Twitter – all day, the White House is convening a forum on nonprofit leadership. Though closed to the public, this event – featuring discussions led by White House officials and business and nonprofit leaders – will be Live Tweeted at the hashtag #NPlead.
  3. Research and recognize philanthropy’s all-stars – the Association of Fundraising professionals today released the names of its 2012 Awards for Philanthropy winners. These amazing people and organizations deserve to be publicly lauded!
  4. Talk about philanthropy – our personal and professional lives – while often fulfilling – are a constant drain on our energy and attention. Maybe we can’t always afford to think and act philanthropically, but for one day, we can talk about it. Mention philanthropy in your next conversation…chances are, you can be an inspiration!
  5. Blog about National Philanthropy Day – see what I did there? Let’s all keep spreading the word!

Have any more celebratory ideas? Post a reply below!

Start Something that Matters…and Win a Free Book!

This blog is just over a month old, so it’s high time that I give something back to my tens of loyal readers. And what better for a social media/philanthropy blog than a philanthropy-themed contest promoted via social media?

Let’s back up a few steps. Yesterday, I was thrilled to get an email from one of my favorite for-profit companies, TOMS Shoes:

I was fortunate enough to hear TOMS founder and Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie speak at the 2011 Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference and was so inspired that I bought a pair of TOMS that night (I even wore them during my wedding two months later!).

Photo via Dawn E. Roscoe Wedding Photography (that's me and my TOMS on the right)

So now you’re probably saying, “Enough about you…didn’t you say something about a contest?” Fair enough. As part of the Books for Bloggers program, I will be giving away one copy of Blake’s book, “Start Something that Matters.” Here’s how you can win:

I want to hear how you’ve done something that matters – something in your community, regionally, nationally, globally, or even at a one-on-one level. The winner won’t be selected because of the number of people he or she influenced, but rather by the originality of his or her inspiration. Frankly, you could have even been unsuccessful in your efforts…results don’t matter as much as passion.

Enter this contest by posting a synopsis of how did something that matters in the comments section below (note: your candidacy will be given a boost if you can document your efforts). While I’d love to hear entries via the blog’s Facebook page and/or through Twitter, only those entries submitted as a comment on this post will be considered. I reserve the right to subjectively choose the winner (please be prepared to share your real name and mailing address if you win). This contest will end on December 31, 2011.

“Start Something that Matters” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most everywhere books are sold. No retailer compensates me for referrals, so I’ll let you find the links on your own. Good luck!

Report the Facts and Create a Conversation (a Tweetwally Review)

Today I’m going to kill two birds with one blogging stone – this post is my review of a recent philanthropy webinar, utilizing a catalog of my live tweets of the event. Don’t worry about how boring this all sounds…just enjoy the goodness.

On October 19, I attended a webinar hosted by my friend, Allison Lewis Lodhi, entitled “Report the Facts and Create a Conversation.” Allison was presenting some great research regarding donor retention, attrition, stewardship and more. While she didn’t offer earth-shattering findings, Allison’s work reinforced what most fundraisers should know (but too infrequently act upon) – that engaging donors is a continual effort that requires ongoing, open and transparent communication. We’d all like a road map to major gifts, but every individual donor requires some individual, customized touches.

Allison Lewis Lodhi

I had planned on providing a bullet list of my live tweets from the webinar, but thought I’d instead utilize a newly discovered tool to do the heavy lifting. I recently learned about Tweetwally – a tool that lets you create custom “Tweet Walls” for whatever username, keyword and/or hashtag topic you want to search. The result, for me, was a dedicated URL of my live Tweet’s from Allison’s #npreport webinar.

Still confused? Check out my Tweet Wall, read Allison’s insights and tell me what you think!

Allison Lewis Lodhi, CFRE, is Vice President of Consulting at Pursuant. To view her on-demand webinar and/or view her PowerPoint slides, please click here.

*****

Update: 10/27 @2:30 pm — apparently, Tweetwally only catalogs tweets for 7 days, so my entire Tweet Wall is gone. That’s a pretty big flaw, huh? So much for the infinite storage of the world wide webs.

The Birth of a New Blog

I have authored three blogs in the past: one that was an exercise in vanity and unemployment, one that had political aspirations (and middling success) and one with tepid commitment from your’s truly. So what will make this effort any different? Geez, it’s just my first paragraph. Get off my back.

The truth: I believe that I have something to contribute to the conversation in the rapidly evolving worlds of social media and philanthropy, as well as the intersection of those sometimes aligned, sometimes adversarial circles. I am not a social media expert; I am not a philanthropy guru. I’m just a guy with 10+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector…who is fascinated by the power of social media and gets easily distracted by shiny objects. Ideally, the lessons I’ve learned and my slightly skewed takes will prove interesting to readers other than my mom.

If not, I’ll try (and often fail) to make you laugh. It’s the least I can do.

Your snuggle bunny,
Matt

PS – many of you are more accomplished and knowledgeable bloggers than I am. I will happily accept any and all constructive criticism. Destructive criticism? Keep it to yourself, bub.