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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


Sometimes in my world you go into a client meeting feeling confident and brash because you are convinced …

Sometimes in my world you go into a client meeting feeling confident and brash because you are convinced you are armed with the right stuff. You are going to knock it out of the park. Other times you go in feeling a little anxious and concerned because you know what you have just isn’t quite cutting it.

I got fooled this past week. Twice.

In both situations I walked into a client meeting feeling like we put together the smartest, coolest, cleverest concepts. I thought we would simply drop our ideas on the table and sit back and wait for the accolades. I found myself scrambling because in both cases the client was not buying what I was selling. The two situations are remarkable because they were so similar and happened so closely together. That’s what it took for me to learn the lesson. Both times we heard that yes, absolutely they were smart, clever and even cool. Both times we heard that they were too clever, too smart for many the donors who would be receiving them.

A great concept is not great because it is clever, greatest is found in simplicity and clarity. Whether online, in print, or at an event we have precious little time to make our point, grab our donor, and make an impact. We do not have time to make them think. If they have to think—we lose.

I found myself reflecting back on an advertising awards competition that I helped judge several years ago. There were tons of great complex, clever pieces in the show. There were multimedia pieces, Annual Reports, all kinds of cool complicated programs. Do you know what won the best in show award? An 8 ½ x 11 poster. There were three things on it: the name of the bar at the top, a large frosty mug of beer with a fly in the foam, and the words “Our patio is now open” at the bottom. It was simple. It was clear. It was funny. And admittedly, yes, it was even clever.

At the end of the day we do one thing for our clients, help them raise more money. Period. We will do this only if we deliver a clear, unvarnished, simple message. For charities this means giving up the desire to gratify yourself by portraying the complexity of your work. For us this means giving up the desire to create rich and complex creative pieces.

Just the facts, ma’am. Keep It Simple Stupid. Considered myself reminded.


Read more 03/01/2013
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