When Does a Start-Up Stop Being a Start-Up

Over the last twenty years we have seen the phenomenon of start-ups move from the hi-tech world to the nonprofit world. Just as earlier start-ups created hi-tech innovation, today social entrepreneurs and nonprofit start-ups bring about social innovation - developing initiatives that seek to create new models to respond to needs and implement social, educational, and health services. All start-ups, whether they are in the hi-tech or nonprofit arena, face the same dilemma as they morph into more permanent status: How can they maintain their uniqueness as they begin to blend into the social fabric of the community and strive to secure the benefits of a more permanent position? One of the decisions that social innovators face is whether their start-ups should become more a part of establishment … [Read more...]

Shared Ownership and Involvement of Staff Members Builds Stronger Nonprofits

decision making model

Chief executive officers (CEO) face the continuing challenge of determining the extent to which they involve their professional and administrative staff members in the decision-making process. Whether the decisions have to do with setting priorities or initiating new services or with administrative issues such as setting work hours or arranging emergency coverage, there is always a question as to when and how much the CEO consults with and involves the staff in the decisions he or she needs to make. Some CEOs prefer to involve their staff only after the decision has been made, seeking their advice on how to implement a “done deal.” Other CEOs understand the added value to engaging staff members in discussions earlier rather than later. In the past year I have been working with the executive … [Read more...]

Professionalization Does Not Mean the Lack of a Personal Connection

Recently I have been working with a client who has slowly come to realize the lack of efficacy of his continuing to raise funds for the organization he founded on the basis of his personal relationships with donors. Over more than forty years, his organization has grown to where its annual budget has reached eight figures. To raise funds, he has traveled to cities throughout Europe and North America and has met with potential donors who have responded generously to his passion, personal commitment, and charisma. This effort is no longer sufficient. As the organization has grown exponentially he has felt immense pressure and the burden of meeting the annual budgetary and capital needs of the institution he established. In the past, financial support was more forthcoming both from the government … [Read more...]

Stretching the Limits of Involvement

Very often when we have developed relationships with professional colleagues, volunteer leaders, or donors in the community we encounter a road block in our efforts to involve them more in our organizations. We find there are issues of competition among organizations, on one hand, and the person’s desire to keep a low profile and not wanting to approach other people for donations, on the other hand. Whether we are communal professionals or volunteer leaders, how do we reach those who are already involved, but are reluctant to become more active and committed to the organizations we think are most important to the community? It is standard practice to involve in annual fundraising campaigns or special targeted campaigns those people whom we know have a prominent profile and standing in the … [Read more...]

Fear of Fundraising

In the lives of many nonprofit organizations, a very strong fear of fundraising is felt by both board members and staff members alike. Fundraising is an activity that rarely engenders great enthusiasm; at best it is perceived as an obligation that has to be fulfilled or at worst as a burden that people accept reluctantly. More often than not, there is a very strong aversion to speaking to people about money and even more so to asking them to donate their money to a cause or organization. On the one hand, it is true that soliciting a contribution is not the most comfortable conversation to have with someone, but on the other hand, we would not have the plethora of services in the Jewish community were it not for the generosity of our contributors and supporters. Accepting this means that we have … [Read more...]

The Gift of Donor Cultivation: A Book Review

Donor Cultivation and The Donor Lifecycle Map By Deborah Kaplan Polivy John Wiley and Sons, 2014 by Stephen G. Donshik It is very rare when an author writes a book that is a real gift to its readers. Well, Dr. Deborah Polivy has written such a book. "The Donor Cultivation and the Donor Lifecycle Map: A New Framework for Funding" is a gift to all of us who are involved in nonprofit organizations. In one way or another, every nonprofit organization is concerned with financial resource development and with attracting and engaging donors and sustaining their involvement. The real beauty of Dr. Polivy’s book is that it integrates theory and practice. She does not remain on a theoretical level, but instead demonstrates each of her strategic approaches with vignettes from both her practice … [Read more...]