Winter is for Reading

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It’s cold outside! Pour yourself a warm mug of tea…or a cold, crisp glass of wine…and stay in with a great book.

This is what’s on my reading list for the next couple months. So far, The Sparsholt Affair and Between the World and Me have been completed. The Blue Zones Solution… is nearly done and then I’m reaching for Reader Come Home…

Would love to know what you’re reading and what’s on your list. Leave your replies in the comments section or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World
    by Maryanne Wolf

  • Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling
    by Philip Pullman

  • The Sparsholt Affair
    by Alan Hollinghurst

  • How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
    by Michael Pollan

  • Between the World and Me
    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • Corrosion of Conservatism
    by
    Max Boot

  • The Blue Zones Solution: Eating & Living Like the World’s Healthiest People
    by Dan Buether

  • The Confessions (The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, Vol. 1)
    by St. Augustine (Author), Maria Boulding (Translator)

  • The Complete Works (Everyman's Library)
    by Michel de Montaigne

Assessing 2018 Fundraising Results

A recent headline – “Dec. 31, 2018: The Day Fundraising as We Know It... Died?” – reflected some of the conversations I’ve been having with clients and colleagues.

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How are your 2018 results looking? Preliminary reports seem to be mixed: some organizations are up slightly; some are down dramatically.

A number of broad market concerns are being cited.

The new tax law. From the outset, there have been fears that increasing the size of the standard deduction would cause a decrease in the number of people making charitable contributions. A number of studies appear to support this. For example, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s Quarterly Fundraising Report for Q3 2018 showed a 4.3% decline in the number of donors and a 2.6% drop in revenue (compared to 2017 results).

A volatile economy. From early November to Christmas, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed nearly 17% of its overall value. What impact might that have had, especially among older donors nearing or already in retirement?

Contentious political environment. Nationally, the polarization leading up to the 2018 mid-term elections appears to have continued, culminating in a government shutdown just prior to Christmas. Internationally, pivotal trade partnerships and political alliances  appear to be precarious as well. Is this an additional concern? Even a distraction?

Donor fatigue. While giving was strong in 2017 – Giving USA reported a 5.2% increase in giving by individuals – some interpreted it as a short term reaction to the 2016 election results. In the months since, more organizations seem to be sending more appeals than ever before, hoping to maintain or even increase fundraising budgets.

So, what’s an individual development director to do?

While broad market forces may be beyond your control, the specific acquisition, retention and reactivation strategies you can implement are not. Some of the trends that appear to be working among our clients:

  • More targeted versioning, in both email and direct mail appeals

  • Acknowledgement of prior involvement and giving

  • Increased emphasis on monthly/sustainer programs

  • More careful monitoring and management of retention status

  • Increased use of social media as engagement tool

What’s working for you!? Please comment below or chime in on Facebook and Twitter.

Equity: Making Diversity and Inclusion More Than Just Words

YNPNkc Coffee Talk, November 13, 2018

YNPNkc Coffee Talk, November 13, 2018

Diversity, equity, inclusion …

These words get thrown around a lot, but do they really mean anything to your organization? How do you work to make them more than words and truly part of your culture? 

These aren’t easy questions to answer, but they have to be asked and they were the topic of “Leaders of Color in Nonprofits: Representation & Inclusive Spaces,” a recent YNPNkc event. 

In comments from a panel of local nonprofit leaders of color and through roundtable discussions with attendees, it was clear that real change takes time, hard work and everyone committing to it.

Several M&C staff attended and we took away good points for ourselves and the nonprofit community we work with. The panelists expanded our awareness of how people of color are often treated in this space and ways we can all work to make things better.

  • Get real. The reality is nonprofits are not doing well with this in general. Every panelist shared stories of their struggle to be taken seriously as a leader and person of color. When the audience was asked if they see any organizations doing diversity and inclusion well, no one responded. When the vast majority of nonprofits are led by white people, we must be honest about the situation in order to deal with it.

  • Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Moving from some people having privilege to equity for all gets uncomfortable, but that’s ok and everyone has to be embraced. No one is perfect, and mistakes will be made, but awkward moments or difficult situations shouldn’t stop us from trying to improve.

  • True diversity means looking at more than one metric. You can’t have one token person and say you’re diverse. Not all minorities are the same, and not everyone in a particular minority group is the same. Look at diversity holistically - race, gender, socio-economic background, education, age and more. When that happens, we’ll know we’ve really achieved the goal.

  • Manage up. People of color need to look for ways to build relationships with leaders. If you just get a seat at the table, you’ve already lost when you come to the meeting because the important conversations happened beforehand. Leaders who are white need to be aware of this and work on inclusion.

  • Be rooted and find people to water those roots. Know yourself and your “why.” Because you won’t last if you aren’t self-aware and doing self-care. Know when to pick your battle and when to walk away, and find trusted allies who can and will help you navigate these decisions. Find where you can make an impact.

  • Everyone must be on board. The audience at this particular event was largely made up of minorities. Since the event was billed as advice for people of color on entering nonprofit leadership, it could be they’re the ones who showed up, but this meant others missed out on a needed discussion. Change will require everyone’s involvement. Those of us who are white must be willing to listen to people of color, learn and help.

Thanks to YNPNkc and the panelists who made this discussion happen. At M&C, we hope this was just the beginning. We look forward to supporting more conversations and the people working for positive change in the Kansas City nonprofit community and beyond.

To learn more about great programs like this, check out Nonprofit Connect’s 2019 program schedule.