Tag Archives: fundraising

Just Bag It

The other day I got an email from a local nonprofit organization announcing “an amazing opportunity.” That certainly piqued my interest – for a few seconds.

What was this amazing opportunity? Well, the email directed me to go to one of two branches of a major supermarket chain. Once there, I was to buy a special-edition reusable grocery bag. And if I did that by December 31 – voila! – the nonprofit would receive a dollar.

This is what some people refer to as a “win-win.” I’ve come to be wary whenever the phrase win-win is used. One side, it seems to me, inevitably wins more from a win-win than the other side. That’s certainly true in this case, and it’s not the nonprofit that’s doing the victory lap. Continue reading

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Stories, Not Bullet Points

We all tell stories, though not necessarily well.

I like to think I’m better at it than most, but my too-deliberate-and-full-of-detail style doesn’t work with everyone. It particularly bugs my friend Mary. On more than one occasion she’s interrupted my meandering narrative and said, in total deadpan, “OK, Al. Now cut to the chase!

But talented or not, we all persist in telling stories. We describe what happened when the cop pulled us over on our way to work. We talk about how we nearly rode our bike into a moose (seriously — this happened to me over the weekend), or describe how our extended family reacted when a bat flew into the dining room, or recount how we turned on the t.v. just in time to see the game-winning overtime goal in the Stanley Cup. (“I just kinda had a feeling!”) We give the blow-by-blow of an argument at work, and we talk about how we let our boss know that we’d taken another job. (“What a look on his face!”) We tell stories about our kids, and movies, and books, and, well, everything. Continue reading

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Best-Kept Secrets

Here’s the scene: A nonprofit board is discussing how to attract new supporters.

One board member, in an exasperated but sincere tone, says, “But it’s so hard to interest people… because, well, no one knows about us.” And then the board member adds these cringe-inducing words: “We’re the area’s best-kept secret. You have to do something to change that!”

Let’s analyze this line of argument. Continue reading

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Fish Stories

I was visiting with the staff of a small human services agency the other day. I asked them how they liked their board of directors, and they were generally positive, until it came to talking about the board’s attitude about development.  At that point, their calm professionalism fell away, replaced within seconds by apoplexy. Continue reading

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