Rants

Nonprofit Apps We Didn’t Know We Needed

Technology is a wondrous thing, especially the apps we use on our little nightmare pocket rectangles. Here are a few someone should create to make our nonprofit lives easier. It would have to be a volunteer though, because we don’t have the budget this fiscal year.ComputerGuy

  • Oopz: Sends strongly worded emails to staff who have the audacity to tell you how to do your job, when they can’t be bothered to do their own
  • OopzPro: Sends strongly worded emails to board members when they overstep their boundaries
  • DonorImperfect: Aggregates publicly available data to discern whether the donor was actually inspired by your organization, or was just making a test gift
  • LolNoThnx: Delicately shoots down (via text, obviously) incredibly naive program ideas presented by millennial staff with less than five years experience
  • Fundr: Immediately lets you know if a corporate sponsor is actually interested in your mission, or if they just want logo recognition on print collateral
  • FundrPro: Translates foundation RFPs into simple terms, letting you know exactly what they want, when they want it, how many copies, on what color and weight paper, what random PO Box to use for mailing, and what board members are comfortable being secretly and inappropriately pitched because you “already have a relationship with them”
  • Coupl: Helps figure out if you should list the donor wife or husband’s name first on stewardship materials
  • NegotiatR: Helps effectively negotiate job offers which propose salaries at or below the poverty line
  • DoctR: Automatically locks Susan’s office door and flashes a “GO HOME” sign when she tries to come to work with massively contagious viral bronchitis
  • ThatIsUrJob: Finds YouTube videos which explain simple tasks like mail merges and replacing the Xerox paper when the office administrator claims those things are not his responsibility
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Rants

Seinfeld Explains Fundraising

I grew up in New York, so I have a strong affinity for Seinfeld — for me it’s like cultural oxygen. Often I have found the show to be incredibly relevant with myriad life experiences, one of which recently dawned on me.

The show’s episode 133, The Wait Out, is filled with the usual hijinks, and centers on a couple who get divorced. Jerry and Elaine pounce on the opportunity to pitch themselves as immediate rebounds, with Elaine famously conjuring up the plan to tell the ex-couple: I’m there for you. Then after a period of being “there for you” … we’re just “there.”

Seinfeld

Isn’t that… development? At the very least, it’s a pretty good development philosophy. You find the most right way to initiate with a donor or prospect, and move from initiation to presence. Great fundraisers are present, consistent and persistent (but not too persistent) whereas the less-than-great have sporadic, poorly planned interactions with donors, which can come off as transparent, ineffective and sometimes smarmy.

Now, this doesn’t excuse the work that needs to be done once you are there. In fact, that’s really where the work begins. Once you get to know a donor and their background, history, love (or emerging interest) for the mission and so on, maintaining presence — again, while not being too present — is so important. I may be a sample group of one, but the relationship should grow to where the donor feels comfortable enough to call or e-mail (or text or whatever is appropriate) if they have ideas, questions or concerns. Conversations shouldn’t only be about making gifts; in fact in some scenarios, gifts are made simply as a result of being present without any ask.

So what’s the takeaway? Don’t be the one-night-stand of fundraising; be the counterpart who’s “there.”

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Rants

Director of Strategic Failure

Society for Lax Administrative Processes (SLAP) — a nonprofit organization based somewhere — seeks to immediately and with reckless abandon hire its inaugural Director of Strategic Failure. SLAP has been in existence for some-odd years, and following input from several overpaid consultants and absentee board volunteers, has decided this new position will be vital to the success of its current and future deficiencies.

Handshake

Awkward handshake, awkward hire.

With the understanding this role will be led primarily from a perspective of “other duties assigned,” the Director’s essential responsibilities will be to:

  • Schedule meetings ad infinitum, all of which could instead be updates sent via e-mail
  • Wander the entire office suite at least once daily, muttering “Everything all good, here?”
  • Brainstorm new, innovative strategic initiatives with the executive director, ensuring each are ambiguously conveyed to the programming and fundraising staff
  • Telecommute every Friday, making sure the staff know you are unable to access any files outside the office because you “just don’t understand that whole VPN thing”
  • Copy-edit all marketing and communications materials using AP style for odd-number pages (1, 3, 5, etc.), MLA for even-number pages (2, 4, 6, etc.) and Chicago style for every tenth page
  • No less than three times each month, change the login passwords for organization’s donor CRM, e-newsletter platform and other administrative subscriptions, keeping the new passwords on a hand-written sheet of paper locked in a drawer in your home

SLAP prefers candidates with 25+ years experience in any field whatsoever, though please don’t be dissuaded from submitting an overzealous application because you have a master’s degree in nonprofit management and did a six-month internship that one time.

To apply, please mail 17 copies (single-sided on yellow cardstock) of cover letter, résumé, list of three references, headshot (or image from your childhood), memory of your favorite meal and writing sample to: Bea Arthur Fanclub, c/o Harris Productions, 11901 Santa Monica Blvd., #596, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

Interviews will begin immediately, though an offer will be tendered to a mediocre candidate after a significant waiting period of roughly two-to-three months. No phone calls, please, though since many of you will not even bother reading this , you may call 877–547–7272, which is the company headquarters of Papa John’s Pizza.

SLAP is committed to diversity, inclusion, equity, equality, Coldplay, the DQ Blizzard®, flannel shirts, antidisestablishmentarianism and pogs.

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