Time to Understand Influence

When movements such as March for Our Lives inspire more than a million people across the country to get off their sofas and smartphones and take to the streets, the big question always is, How did they do it? How did organizers get so many people to participate?

The answer: Influence. Someone whose opinion mattered to them said or did something that got them to act.

In this new era of social movements and causes, it’s imperative we understand the remarkable power we all have to influence others.

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Susannah Buehner
Linking Challenge to Opportunity to Strategy

Most of us dread the annual strategic planning process. It's a daunting task to have to stop and think about the future when your days are already super busy with the work you do for your organization's clients and beneficiaries.

Then there's the fact that the plan itself can be a document that inspires and creates a visionary context for an organization, or, as I've seen lately, a series of work plans detailing what the organization is going to do over the next few years and how it's going to do it.

Regardless of which approach your organization takes, here are a few things to think about as you and your colleagues sit down to develop your next strategic plan:

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Are You Too Predictable?

Earlier this month, I got the kind of call that so many donors get from the organizations they support. 

"Derrick, great to hear your voice. It's been a while. I'd like to sit down and share an update on our work, get your thoughts on our progress, and see if you’d be interested in talking about ongoing support."

This from an organization that calls me once a year. Like clockwork. The first week of May — just in time for the organization's fiscal-year-end close.

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Susannah Buehner
Spoiler Alert: It’s Not All About Fundraising

As a nonprofit leader, you'll be delighted to learn that new research affirms what most of us knew: Americans are generous. In fact, this year’s edition of Giving USA found that charitable giving by individuals in the U.S. was up nearly 4 percent in 2016, hitting an all-time high.

But as The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes in How America Gives, a recently released analysis of American giving patterns, these gifts are coming from fewer people.

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Derrick Feldmann
Labels...Do They Matter?

Philanthropy researchers have spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to understand the donor's point of view, and they've taken much of what they've learned and condensed it into a sector-specific typology: Donor. Volunteer. Activist. Advocate. Maybe it's time, however, for a more sophisticated approach to how we classify these types of constituent relationships — and how we structure our organizations around them.

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Derrick Feldmann
2018 Forty Under 40: Derrick Feldmann

“The first time we released research for the Millennial Impact Project [a multiyear study comprising the largest body of data and analysis on how U.S. millennials interact with causes], we received a call from the Financial Times newspaper. I had no idea how to work with the media or even if the study would be useful. That was the moment I realized this is an important study for helping so many understand how and why we engage with causes.”

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Susannah Buehner
Creating a Movement, Addressing Inequality Differently

By the time Mallory Brown, founder of World Clothes Line, returned from her first study-abroad experience in college, she realized she’d caught the travel bug, and it wasn’t going away. She spent half of her senior year traveling the world again, backpacking through places like Indonesia, Thailand, and Southeast Asia.

These trips were different from what she had witnessed in countries in Europe. She saw firsthand the inequalities that existed in the world, including children and families struggling to have food and clothes, the bare essentials we take for granted.

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Susannah Buehner
The Secret to Motivating Donors

With year-end fundraising season fast approaching, it's easy for development professionals to fall into the trap of focusing on a single project for which their organization really needs funding. Other nonprofit leaders are frantically crafting year-end appeals, checking and re-checking their donor lists, and trying to come up with creative new ways to engage donors.

No surprise, then, that this is the time of year when we're approached by nonprofits who want to know how they can develop a strategy for new donor acquisition and turn their one-time donors into loyal supporters.

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5 Mistakes You're Making With Awareness Campaigns

With the busiest fundraising season fast approaching, nonprofit leaders everywhere should be spending much of their time thinking about their end-of-year fundraising campaigns. But when fundraising isn't top of mind, nonprofit leaders often turn their attention to another type of activity: the awareness campaign.

Awareness campaigns typically are defined as a sustained effort to educate individuals and boost public awareness about an organization's cause or issue. And in almost every instance they should:

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4 Questions to Help You Develop Your Year-End Messaging

“Movements are built by and for the people. The people generate the movement, spread the rallying cry of the message, and depend on one another to meet the collective’s goals in addressing the social issue at hand. The people, though, are bound by a common vision and a common narrative — to change the course of an issue that has affected so many people. But how is this possible? How can an individual turn his or her attention from the general issues present in so many communities to the importance of one issue affecting a group of people they may have never met before?

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Susannah Buehner
Millennials, Causes And The Election: How Millennials’ Perspectives Of Personal Impact And Activism Change In An Election Year

The 2016 Millennial Impact Report investigates how millennials’ cause engagement behaviors may change during an election year, and how these changes may be influenced by important demographics such as their political party affiliation and/or their political ideologies, geographical location, age and race/ethnicity or by the emerging candidates for election. This study also examines millennials’ interest and activation in specific causes that may be differentiated by their support of a particular political party

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3 Ways to Bring Your Work to Your Donors (Instead of Asking Them to Come to You)

Nearly every nonprofit organization I deal with is careful to include an "experiential" touch point somewhere along the donor journey. That is, once they've cultivated a new donor, they spend a considerable amount of time and effort attempting to persuade that donor to volunteer or participate in some kind of hands-on activity at their headquarters or at an off-site location where the donor can experience their work firsthand.

Sound familiar? If your organization does something similar, how often is it successful? (Be honest.)

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Millennial vs. Boomer Strategies: Time to Move On?

If you've ever talked to or heard from a consultant about how your organization can and should reach younger donors, I'd almost guarantee you were told something like, "Wait till they turn seventy-five," or, "Your young donors are fifty-five."

But is that right? Should you only focus your fundraising efforts on Silents and boomers? And is a millennial-focused strategy so bad?

Let's take a closer look.

No doubt about it, a millennial-focused fundraising strategy can be a challenge. (That's not an insult; it's supported by data.)

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Susannah Buehner
Who could’ve predicted how millennials would vote?

At Achieve, we have watched the millennial generation (born between 1980-2000) grow, explore and change over the last seven years through our work on the Millennial Impact Project — which we have led with the support of the Case Foundation. In light of the recent turn of events related to the 2016 Presidential Election, many have turned to us and asked, “Did our research predict millennial turnout and voting choices on Election Day?”

Maybe predict is too strong a word, but in retrospect, our 2016 Millennial Impact Report offers compelling data to consider.

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How Associations Can Overcome Fundraising Barriers

Over the last three months, I've had conversations with four associations about their approach to raising money. The conversations usually touch on many of the same points:

"We're an association and are struggling to raise additional funds from our members."

"We think it's because a lot of our members may not fully understand what we do and why we need to raise money from them."

"We've seen a decline in our membership and have had to restate our membership levels."

"We are trying to figure out how we can offer our members giving opportunities as an alternative to membership dues."

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