Helping you change the world.



Who’s the boss?

Why are people always trying to get people to do things they don’t want to do?
I remember several …

Why are people always trying to get people to do things they don’t want to do?

I remember several years ago the frenzy was around trying to ‘get people to our site’, and then the lights went on and organizations realized, no, ‘we need to get to where people are hanging out’.

It’s the same thing today. It’s amazing how many conversations I have that begin with a client trying to figure out how to migrate, or convert, donors. How do we get them from giving money to a friend who has given up her birthday for our cause to becoming our monthly donor? How do we get someone who has given at a golf tournament to give us another gift? How do we get a disaster donor to support our child soldier program in northern Uganda?

These, my friends, are precisely the wrong questions. Our supporters tell us what they care about through their giving channels, rather than trying to turn them into something they are not, we need to be giving them more opportunities to do the things we know that they love doing. If guilt-free golf is their pleasure, let’s figure out a way to keep them on the golf course while supporting our cause. If they give to disasters, how do we make them our disaster champions?

Last year I talked with a woman who organized one of Europe’s largest charity cycling events. I asked her how they convert race donors to ongoing regular supporters of the charity. She looked puzzled and said ‘why would we want to?’ She went on to say that they communicate year round and encourage supporters to organize their own team for the next the year. They keep the supporters focused on the event, and even go so far as to minimize the information about the charity being supported. Ah, now I’m learning.

As long as we try to get our supporters to do what we want them to do, life is going to be one big arm wrestle. If we give up that wrestling match and realize that they are the boss and our job is to make them (and ultimately their friends) happy, we’ll work at doing just that, and keep them right where they are – happily giving.


Read more 10/29/2014

A whole lotta good in Guelph

I’m excited about the upcoming Do Gooders summit in Guelph on May 7th.
A lot of organizations struggle to …

I’m excited about the upcoming Do Gooders summit in Guelph on May 7th.

A lot of organizations struggle to keep the donors who support them and attract more. In most cases I think they struggle because they are spending all of their time thinking about themselves – what they do, what they want to communicate, the donor opportunities they have, what makes them unique, them, them, they, they. Organizations that are attracting all kinds of new donors are not thinking about themselves — they are thinking about their supporters. How do we create an experience that fits the lives of those who support us? What will work for them? How do we get our supporters fired up? And yes, at the end of the day we are going to have to connect our work to the lives of the people who help us do what we do. These organizations are thinking about the donor experience.

I can’t think of a better example than the Me to We, We Day and Free the Children group of organizations. They are focused on their donors and supporters and giving them the experience of a lifetime. At the Blue North Do-Gooders Summit on May 7, one of the early leaders of this organization, Russ McLeod, will be telling us stories of how they got started and how they’ve become who they are. We also have donors speaking, and other non-profit leaders – the common thread is trying to get organizations to focus out, not in.

This day is a chance for you to network with your peers in the industry, learn from leaders and generally recharge your batteries. Be there or be square.


Read more 02/25/2014

A good talker with a really good story

I checked in with my friend Taylor Conroy this past week to see how things are going in …

I checked in with my friend Taylor Conroy this past week to see how things are going in his world.

For those of you who don’t know Taylor, he founded Change Heroes. He doesn’t consider himself a fundraiser. He’s a charismatic guy with a lot of good contacts and friends, in other words he’s a great fundraiser. Like any good fundraising story his is simple. His tool of choice is the web/social media fundraising.

He’s such a good talker that he’s taken his story to the United Nations, Harvard, the national media circuit,  our very own Do Gooder’s Summit, and TEDx a couple of times.

He did some math for me on his most recent TEDx talk:

-1 in 50 people that watch that TEDx Talk, sign up to build a school

-25% of those sign ups actually start a campaign

-the average raised is $7,500 per person who starts 

-that means that for every 200 people that watch the talk, $7,500 gets raised 

-what’s even cooler is that means:

For every 266 people that watch that talk – a schoolhouse is built that will serve 1,000 kids :)

 That is pretty compelling and powerful math.

I’ve been asked ‘how do I convert hand raisers and likers into givers?’ or ‘How do we make money with our website?’

Taylor’s answered these questions. Keep it relational. Keep it simple. Keep it compelling and exciting. Taylor isn’t the only guy doing this but he does it really well.

Perhaps the most critical lesson here is to focus on outcomes. Understand your story and what you need to accomplish and then deliver a message and a program that makes it happen.

Go get ‘em.


Read more 09/17/2013

The Do Little approach to Doing More

David putting the finishing touches on the Earthbench.
When asked to think of people who are making a real …

David putting the finishing touches on the Earthbench.


When asked to think of people who are making a real difference in the world, who do you think of?

I used to think about tireless champions for meaningful causes, noisy advocates, go getters, celebrities with platforms to promote their passions, the wealthy and influential set. . . people like that. The common thread is that these people are busy and making lots of noise.

A friend of mine has caused me to change my thinking.

David Breaux is taking the other path.

A number of years ago David was prompted to think about compassion, and the potential for compassion to have a quiet and profound impact in the lives of people and in the world. David walked away from conventional life, got rid of almost everything he owned, moved to Davis California and in June 2009 started quietly standing at the corner of C and 3rd. He stood with a pen and a notebook. He asked people to stop for a moment, pause and write down their own personal definition of compassion. And he stood. Quietly. Today, several years later, he still stands. Quietly. When you ask him how he’s doing he responds ‘peaceful.’ He briefly disrupts the lives of those who pass and causes them to stop and reflect.

By most standards David has done nothing for the past several years. No job. He’s hardly moved. He hasn’t said a lot. Just stood. Quietly.

At first people were puzzled, perhaps even a little wary. But he waited them out. He wasn’t noisy. He wasn’t aggressive. He didn’t buy billboards or advertisements. He stood. Quietly.

What’s happening?

David has got thousands of people to stop for a moment and reflect. People started talking. AT&T, the company that owns the property on which David stands, supported him in his effort to build a permanent Earthbench (built as a monument to compassion)  on the corner that is now known as compassion corner in Davis. He published a book that presented many of the definitions he’d collected. Newspaper articles and speaking engagements followed. Now David’s work is being supported by the Dali Lama Foundation, an organization that exists to help spread peace in the world.  And so it spreads like a California wildfire.

I think the fire surrounding David’s compassion project is just starting to catch and spread. And still David stands. Quietly.

There was no paid promotional support, no social media campaign, no direct mail, just a guy standing there with a deeply held conviction.

I’m thinking. I’m inspired by how little David is doing in order to do so much more. Sometimes to wake people up and stand out we need to do the opposite of what you would expect. Being loud, noisy and aggressive in this loud, noisy and aggressive world no longer gets attention. But being quiet, peaceful and still, now that is different.


Read more 09/07/2013
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