For over 40 years, Alford Group has tested the effectiveness of written material with a variety of stakeholders (donors, volunteers, partners, community leaders, foundation and corporate funders, etc.) for nonprofit organizations ranging in size, sector, lifecycle stage and geography.
Over that time, we have identified aspects of effective storytelling that remain universally true. Below are four tips to keep in mind while crafting your prose.
With the current events of the past five months, the world is learning how to overcome the discomfort of talking about race and are having some real courageous conversations on how we can move forward together to create lasting change for people of color. This change will create a ripple effect where others who have been marginalized will benefit and increase their ability to thrive as well – no one is left behind.
It was Machiavelli who first advised “never waste a good crisis.” By that he meant one could look at the opportunities afforded by a crisis to change, to innovate and to improve.
To paraphrase Machiavelli, we advise “never waste a good pause.” Whether it’s a lull in activity or a forced rethinking of business-as-usual, most nonprofits are experiencing a “pandemic pause.” At minimum, everyone should take a moment to consider how to effectively navigate in the new normal. For those who are experiencing a pause, the silver lining is that we can utilize this time to strategically prepare for the future.
We can explore ways to embrace the pandemic pause to PAUSE:
On Wednesday, June 17, Alford Group hosted a panel of national experts and funders to discuss Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy in 2019 in light of current realities, new opportunities and our future as non-profit staff, funders and philanthropists. The full discussion, along with Alford Group’s Giving USA report, may be found here.
As Brenda Asare, Alford Group’s President and CEO, noted as she opened the panel discussion, we all had high hopes for 2020 – momentum within the sector was strong and anticipated to continue at the close of 2019 and through 2020. Of course, no one knew what was coming nor how incredibly important that cushion would be to the survival of many nonprofits. As leaders representing funders and philanthropists across the country, Laura, Marguerite, Steve and Beth offered critical insights into philanthropy today and provided some hope as Brenda said “we must look up and ahead, as that is where we are all going.”
A Message from Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, Alford Group
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created unexpected challenges and new daily realities for your organization. While this is uncharted territory for all of us, we know that the need for your services and programs continues and Alford Group stands ready to be your partner through this difficult time.
One reality that is not new is that Americans are generous – in good times and bad. That history of generosity has enabled us to weather challenges and come through difficult times stronger.
In recent meetings with many organizations we are helping clients navigate and create strategic approaches to meet increased demands for services, pivot on special events and engage with donors in meaningful ways. Over the past 40 years, Alford Group has helped our clients navigate through national crisis, economic downturns and organizational challenges.
The most important thing to remember is that your donors and volunteers care about you and your mission. They want to know how they can help your organization. Here are some proactive steps – and specific strategies being implemented by our clients – to consider.
Over 3,000 development professionals from across the country attended AFP ICON in San Antonio, Texas last month. Alford Group took advantage of this assembled fundraising brain-trust to conduct a highly scientific (wink!) survey around a few hotly debated fundraising topics.
Participants weighed in on three important “questions of the day” at Alford Group booth by placing colored ping pong balls into giant glass vases to cast their votes. Fundraisers from across the country representing diverse sectors and roles brought their expertise to challenge some misconceptions and tried-and-true best practices. So, we asked the following three questions:
Do you primarily tell stories or provide statistics in your fundraising appeals?
Do you favor direct mail or email fundraising?
Do you focus primarily on garnering restricted or unrestricted gifts?
During my tenure as the head of development with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, I was lucky enough to be there for the organization’s 125th anniversary.
As the 120th year of the YMCA of Greater Seattle loomed ahead, I asked our public relations volunteers if we should start getting ready to celebrate. Their reply? A resounding, “No! Save it for the big one at 125 – but start planning now.”
“Five years out?” I thought to myself. “That seems crazy!” But as we started to explore the significance of the 125th and realize that no update had been done on our history timeline since the 100th – not to mention electronically capturing our history and thousands of photos dating back to the late 1800s – we had lots to do. Continue reading “Getting the Most From Your Upcoming Anniversary”