Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

I’ve Moved!

Posted: October 6, 2010 in Leadership
Tags: , ,

First, many, many thanks for being a regular reader of my ramblings.

My little patch of the blogosphere has over 100 e-mail subscribers and each new post attracts an average of 400 unique readers. I know those aren’t really big numbers in the blog world, but I cannot express my appreciation enough.

Labor of Love
Love what you do and you cannot fail.  I started a blog as an assignment for a graduate school class I was taking and fell in love with the medium.  I find it cathartic, engaging, educational and a lot of fun.  As those of you who know me in real life, the majority of my posts are to share what I’ve learned from my own personal and professional follies, screw-ups and occasional success.  If I were a ‘case study’ writer I’d write case studies of failure and what was learned rather than the glowing reviews others tend to present.  Not sure when case studies evolved into press releases and advertisements, but they’re not my thing.

The Social
I have created some profound relationships through blogging, and met people that I never would have met otherwise.  We must never forget that social media is about people and to be able to engage with each of you on and offline has helped me grow immeasurably and I hope it continues.

Leadership For Good
I have moved my blog to and it is my hope that you will subscribe there — I refuse to move you involuntarily.  As you are all aware I have not used my subscriber list for any other purpose than to share new posts and I refuse to ever violate that trust or your privacy.  I’ll keep this blog up for some time and may re-purpose it in the future as I have 3 blog ideas brewing yet not enough time.

I look forward to engaging and working with you in the new site, be sure to explore it, offer advice, reviews, about 20 of your have expressed very strong opinions and I always appreciate your candor.

Feels like I’m all grown up and moving up and out — hope you make the move with me.

My deepest gratitude and respect,



The current economic climate has all businesses and organizations under unprecedented scrutiny.  Nonprofits are not immune to scrutiny, organizations known for doing more with less are now often expected to do much more with much less.  Sure beats being a bank or firm on Wall Street…maybe.

Does it take money to raise money?
Kind of.  There is nothing worse for any business or organization to be referred to as “the best kept secret in town” — ouch!  Building awareness is a key objective of any nonprofit.  I’ve worked with nonprofits that are more well known to those needing their services than to the local philanthropic community — interesting how we can be viral with the community that needs us and not exist to the community that we need.  Awareness campaigns are not easy and they can cost money.

Everyone’s a critic
A well designed marketing or awareness campaign can certainly bring out the critics.  “Such a fancy event, mailer, flier, brochure, etc. that money should go to those in need!”  And don’t dare try to  upgrade your website — “how can you cry poverty (critic-speak for request donations) when spending on such extravagances?!?”  I have seen television ads for banks that received TARP funds, I see ads for bailed out corporations, yet people will quickly criticize and scrutinize a small nonprofit and its efficiencies long before they mouth off to a corporate behemoth.  Bailed out companies can surely have advertising, sales and marketing be 10% or much more of their operating budget, but a nonprofit is expected to keep theirs at 1% or less?

Damned if you do, lost if your don’t?
Building a relationship is a journey, a journey of trust and not to be taken lightly.  Call me arrogant, but if you are unable to bear witness to the impact my organization is having on the families in our community, we probably won’t make good partners (or my message was somehow lost).  I’m looking for shareholders that measure our results by depth of impact, not how we build awareness.  If you’re focused on the quality of a piece of paper I may need to work on my content.

Awareness to relationship
Nonprofits must focus on building relationships with those that embrace their mission and impact.  Relationship building is an art.  We move from casual (we are aware of each other), connected (you’ve donated or attended an event), to committed (you are at the table with us).  Too often we embroil ourselves with our critics and waste precious energy responding to their challenges.  I believe if we dug a little deeper into the mindset of the critic, they are simply justifying their “no” (unfortunately out loud).  Focus on those who are connected, for they will serve as a platform of growth.

I challenge the critics — put your money where your mouth is — underwrite or sponsor design, billboards, ad placements, direct mailings, call campaigns, text giving campaign, website upgrades, online giving programs, and other marketing/awareness activities — display your committed belief in the cause and those in need, THEN come share your thoughts on efficiencies.  Until then, a simple “no” is acceptable, thanks for your consideration.

We must avoid the tendency to plan and execute awareness campaigns based on what the critics may say — it is a recipe for disaster.  It’s not a nonprofit, but when was the last time Apple sought the approval of critics?  Create masterful content that inspires and motivates supporters and prospective supporters to act.

Thoughts?  It’s OK to call me crazy.

There is a tendency to rely heavily on a brand.  Once established it will drive traffic, generate leads, establish and communicate identity, and create customers and hopefully advocates.

Your brand serves you.

You must also serve your brand.  Deliver on its promise, exceed expectations when possible, be a constant model of it.  Disappointing a customer is failing your brand.  Your relationship with your brand must be synergistic.  Serve your brand well and it will not let your down.