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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Dollars in a Desert - Tools for Successful Fundraising in Tough Economic Times

In a challenging economy, people make tough decisions about where they spend their dollars. How do economic realities and personal perceptions affect the nonprofit sector? Some decide to give less to each organization they support. Others may choose to stop giving to certain organizations. How do they make these decisions? What efforts can you take to minimize the impact on your organization?

In this interactive session, GoalBusters Consulting's Alice Ferris and Jim Anderson discuss:
-Economic realities for charities nationwide and locally
-"The Perfect Storm"
-Strategies to minimize or avoid these economic pressures
-What to do (and please DON'T do) when a donor says, "I can't contribute now"
-Six things you can do now to stabilize your organization and empower your team
-How to find the "oasis in the
desert." Ten practical strategies for successful fundraising regardless of economic conditions.

(Recently hosted by the Yuma Area Nonprofit Institute (YANPI) and Arizona Western College, at the AWC College Community Center
(3C) in the Schoening Conference Center, Yuma, Arizona.)

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

Monday, November 23, 2009

LinkedIn - Why it Matters and Tips for Success


LinkedIn is a crucial resource in the branding of your online identity. It is the one online tool that business professionals, community leaders and decision makers use even if they are avoiding other "Social Media."

Who is using LinkedIn? They are mature, well educated, and high income earners.

LinkedIn Statistics from (11/22/2009)

Visitation/Usage -

Rank: 45th most visited website in the U.S.
Unique Monthly Visitors: 15.2 Million US, 30.2 Million Global visitors
2% of visitors are "Addicts" making up 40% of all visits.
39% of visitors are "Regulars" making up 45% of all visits.
59% of visitors are "Passers-by" making up 15% of all visits.

Demographics -

Age: 79% Are 35 or older
Education: 80% Are college educated. They are twice as likely to have Graduate Degrees than other internet users.
Income: 69% Make $60,000+ / 38% Make $100,000+

Creating a Profile
When creating or updating a LinkedIn profile remember that in many ways it is similar to an online resume. Much like a resume, your goals vary dependent upon your current employment status. Are you looking for a job? Interested in changing jobs? Or simply maintaining your personal "brand integrity."

Here are some tips that may help.

Photo: Select a professional "head shot." This is not the place to show how cute your kids or kittens are. Choose a sharply focused, closely cropped head shot. Crop well below your chin and leave a small space above your head. Fill the frame, don't crowd it. Be sure you're dressed professionally, looking directly into the camera and smiling. This is essentially Part 1 of your "virtual handshake." It's your eye contact.

Updates: These updates serve as a pulse of what you "do." Like Twitter they are short updates on status and activity. Unlike Twitter avoid posting random stream of consciousness. Remember 59% of LinkedIn users are "Passers-by" and likely only get their "Network Updates" once a week.
  1. Relevance - Seek opportunities to provide relevant information about your professional career and experience. Include information about events, trainings, workshops, volunteer work, non profit support, etc.
  2. Content - Provide links to relevant websites, photos, videos, etc. This gives viewers of your profile a way to actually interact with you even if you aren't aware of it.
  3. Tone - The updates should lean towards professional decorum but shouldn't be sterile. Occasional humor is encouraged.
  4. Filter - These updates should offer insight to your personality but recognize there is a line you shouldn't cross. Provide information you would share with coworkers, not what you share with close friends.
  5. Value - Avoid posting mundane drivel. There is no quicker way to turn off a prospective employer or business associate than to make it clear your posts aren't worth reading.
Summary: - This section will look different dependent upon your current employment situation, goals and personality. For the most part remember you're not really telling a story, you're presenting a product... "you." It's good to talk about experience, core strengths, values, aspirations and goals. Avoid redundancy of directly repeating information presented elsewhere in your profile unless it is a core message point. Keep in mind, this is your elevator speech, be brief. "Jimism #372 - Your elevator speech shouldn't take more than 3 floors."

Specialties: These can be simple skills bullet points or very short descriptive sentences. It's important that you are fully representing your skills, but avoid overkill. Choose the most important things to share in this section. It is called "Specialties" not "Everything."

Experience: When listing work experience don't simply provide a list of tasks you completed. Think in terms of why the completing the tasks was important. What was the end result? It's about spinning tasks to describe impact and importance. If you answered phones, did you "coordinate and facilitate customer service and satisfaction?" Don't "go nuts" you want to be descriptive but direct. You don't want to make every sentence appear to be "long winded" and self-aggrandizing.

Education: Pretty straightforward. Where did you go? When was that? (you might opt to skip years if you fear you'll be discriminated against based on age. Is it possible you'll be viewed as too old or too young?) What did you study? What activities and organizations did you participate in.

Additional Information: This is a valuable section in sharing information about organizations or causes that are important to you. It also allows you to share important accomplishments. Think of this as the part of the interview when you are asked, "So, tell me a little about yourself." What should you share? Rule of thumb, Keep it relevant and interesting. Quirky is okay here. It demonstrates your personality.

Social Media Cross Promotion: Should you link your personal sites to your professional LinkedIn Profile? I would say yes, but only if you are willing to invite "acquaintences" to your other social media worlds. Remember, when it comes to Social Media not everyone is really a "friend" in the classic sense of the word. How open are your networks? Do you ever post anything you wouldn't want a supervisor to see? If you want to maintain some privacy, you may want to skip linking your personal and professional profiles.

I hope these tips help. I encourage feedback and/or questions.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

For more Social Media tips, see Social Media FAQs Part 1 which discussed the mechanics and logic of initial Social Media profile set up.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When Developing Your Year Long Fund Raising Plan, Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Excepted from the GoalBusters' Webinar: "Developing a Year Long Fundraising Plan"
Reprinted in The Major Gifts Report, November 2009

In the process of developing a year-long fundraising plan, it’s important to analyze any previously developed fund raising plans, say James Anderson, a partner at Goal Busters Consulting, LLC (Flagstaff, AZ).

One way to do that is to conduct a “SWOT” analysis, he says, in which you look at your organization’s strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats.

Anderson outlines what to look for when analyzing each of these areas:

Strengths (internal)
What do you do well or exceptionally? What unique value do you offer? Often this will be your primary strength. What are the things you want to keep doing that you do better than other organizations?

Opportunities (external)
What could you be doing or doing more of? Where are the areas you could extend your offerings, your services, your programs? Where could you potentially tap into donors and donor bases that you may be currently overlooking or not fully capitalizing on?

Weaknesses (internal)
What are the things you know you are not doing well? Are there things you need to change because it feels as though you just keep pounding your head against the wall? or are they things you simply don't do well either because you don't know or don’t have the resources to do properly?

Threats (external)
What things will potentially negatively impact your plan and your organization? When you identify a threat, one way to assess it is to ask yourself what the worst-case scenario is. Some examples of external threats: 1) You are heavily grant-funded and funds are going to dry up and you know that; 2) You are heavily funded by a foundation and investments aren’t returning as strong as they used to and you know that will negatively impact gifts to your organization. “When assessing threats, you'll be facing either ‘conditions’ or ‘problems,’” he say. “Conditions are things you may have to address or handle but you have no real control over. You have to Manage, Accept or Adapt to conditions. However problems are something which you can Solve, Resolve or Fix."

When looking at your SWOT findings, you want to look for intersections, says Anderson:

· Where strengths and opportunities intersect, invest. You want to invest more of your resources, time, and capital on these opportunities.

· Where weaknesses and threats intersect, You may want to consider divesting yourself of that project or program, unless it is something you truly must maintain.

· Where strengths and threats intersect, defend. “If you have an external threat to one of your strengths, don’t let that negatively impact something that you do well, “ he says. “Instead, analyze what that situation is and determine how you can best continue to capitalize on that strength.”

· Where weaknesses and opportunities intersect, you should identify what you can improve on. “It may be a situation in which you can bolster the area of weakness or capitalize on what the opportunity is with the investment of additional resources, but that is a decision where you will have to look at whether your internal resources will allow it, and whether the return on investment (ROI) is worth the commitment of the additional resources,” he says.

Sources: James Anderson, Partner, GoalBusters Consulting, LLC, Flagstaff, AZ. Phone (928) 890-8239. E-mail:

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace


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