Conversations at 30,000 Feet

It’s finally starting to feel like spring here in Iowa (at least for the next couple days), and the spring conference and speaking season has fully commenced.

This time of year is equally exhilarating and exhausting as I find myself all over the country (from Boston to Seattle and Indianapolis to Dallas…and everywhere in between) reconnecting with friends and clients, sharing ideas and stories from the trenches and meeting new people along the way.

Just last week, as I was flying back from a quick trip to Boston, I was fortunate to strike up a conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me. He told me about the great success he’s had over the past 30 years in the digital, data and analytics space and we discussed how those areas continue to evolve. We agreed on the important role that data and analytics play in the work that we do with nonprofits and fundraisers in connecting passion and engagement with action.

As we shared ideas and traded business cards he mentioned that he and his wife are at the point of evaluating some of their philanthropic endeavors, and are struggling with a question that many donors face:

“We’re concerned that our donations may not have the impact we want them to have. How do we identify which nonprofits are the best investment for our money?”

This is no doubt a question that charities have faced for years, but even more so recently as more baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials see their giving as an ‘investment’ in a cause and the letters ROI are common in their everyday conversations. Add to that the emphasis on transparency in where the dollars are going, as well as the movement to give locally, and it’s no wonder many donors have questions and concerns.

At the end of the day, every donor has to do their own due diligence. There aren’t any ‘magical’ questions you can ask to unearth issues with every nonprofit you have interest in. But the conversation with my new friend reminded me of a blog post from a year or so ago where I emphasized the importance for nonprofits to think differently, invest in themselves, and “go big or go home.”

Click here to read that blog, along with additional information from the good people at Bloomerang and some thoughts from national fundraising consultant, Claire Axelrad.

PS—I’m on my way to the American Council on Gift Annuities conference in Seattle right now. If you’re attending, be sure to stop by Stelter’s booth (104/106) and say hi!

Leave a Reply