Tag: blog

Lessons learned from Altrui

I’m in my 21st month of Altrui Consulting and while I’m having the time of my life, I still get surprised by how many lessons I learn each day. Some of these come from my amazing clients, others from my super supportive peers, and still others by those of you who are kind enough to share your experiences on social media and teach people like me.

This past week I was reminded once again by how much I have to learn as a consultant, and thought it was a good time to share some lessons learned so far.

First, I’ve learned to slow down. To take it easy. Take it day by day. Focusing on what I have in front of me right this moment is super helpful.

Another big thing for me to learn has been around business housekeeping. I talk about this often and it’s super important. I have been in nonprofit fundraising for a long time, and I have a comfort zone with sharing my experiences and knowledge when it comes to fundraising and relationship building. At the same time I had never been a consultant or run my own business. Lots of learning curves! Keeping up with business work is crucial, and I have learned to take a few hours one day a week to solely focus on Quickbooks, invoices, vendor check-ins and marketing.

Next has to be communication. Clear, continuous communication. In my nonprofit career, I spent a lot of time with my team and peers. Lots of meetings and many discussions on whatever we were working on. This type of work is different. Sometimes there is only one conversation to plan the work and contract and then another to kick it off. Expectations, concerns, end-game wishes have to be clear to everyone involved. There has to be trust that you are listening, understanding, and fully focused on not only the work but them. This is something that is on the top of my mind with every client interaction.

Lists. I wasn’t a big list person before creating Altrui. I know. How did I survive? That has all changed now. I plan my weeks in advance and each day have my list of what client work I need to accomplish that day. Lists are incredibly helpful and I’m not sure why I wasn’t on the list band wagon before Altrui.

Build relationships. I learn more about this every day, even though it’s a huge part of what I offer to clients. Keep engaging. Keep listening. Pay attention all of the time.

Lastly, for now, I’ve learned to express gratitude even more. Gratitude is a big deal when you work for yourself and you run your own business. It’s important to share all of the gratitude that begins to fill you up. Let clients, vendors, peers and everyone else you learn from know how grateful you are for them.

Thank you for reading! Questions? Email me at dan@altrui.org

Your donors still need you

I’ve written posts that engage people who donate to nonprofits, reminding them that their favorite nonprofits still need them. While writing these and seeing the conversations that rise from them, I realized that our donors need us just as much.

When my husband and I donate to organizations, we’re doing so because their mission is something we care about, typically something we care about deeply. It’s important work to us, work that in some way is making the world a better place. Their work strikes at what causes are important to us.

I think this is important to write about and discuss because I also have heard from nonprofits who sometimes believe that with everything going on in the world, their mission and work may not be as important to their donors.

They are.

And your donors will do everything in their power to be able to continue to support your work and ensure your impact. This is especially true (perhaps always?) when you are in good relationship with your donors.

Keep this in mind. Whether or not your own world is getting back to normal or not, your donors are there. Keep them posted, keep reminding them why they donate to you, and keep asking them to help you make the world a better place.

Thank you for reading.

Notes from our Nonprofit Jobs Summit

Thank you to everyone who joined us!

Here is a list of notes and links from our summit last week on Clubhouse. There were many in the room new to Clubhouse, and that was wonderful. If you’re not on Clubhouse yet and would like an invite, connect with Alex or I and we’ll send you one upon availability.

First, an audio link: https://anchor.fm/fundraising/episodes/Clubhouse-Episode–Nonprofit-Jobs-Summit-with-Dan-Hanley-and-Alex-Simon-e12k1bt

Connect with our presenters:

Heather Campbell https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-campbell-0880765a/

Erika Pinheiro is on Twitter at @eeerox. Vu Lee is also on Twitter at @nonprofitaf.

Hash tags mentioned: #fundraisingtwitter #ShowTheSalary #CrappyFundingPractices

If you are in the Los Angeles area and would like to subscribe to Dan’s List (not me!), a daily listing of nonprofit jobs, email Dan at dan@dans-list.org.

One of my favorite nonprofit job boards that I mentioned is the Colorado Nonprofit Association board: https://coloradononprofits.org/careers/nonprofit-jobs

Other job boards starting with Mac’s List which was brought up in the room:

Mac’s List (northwest US ): https://jobs.macslist.org/

Higher Ed Jobs: https://www.higheredjobs.com/

Inside Higher Ed Careers: https://careers.insidehighered.com/searchjobs/

Aspen Leadership Group: https://opportunities.aspenleadershipgroup.com/

Lindauer Group: https://www.lindauerglobal.com/

Annual Giving Network: https://agnresources.com/jobs/

On Twitter you can find Alex at @dalexsimon and myself at @fundraiserdan. We’re also both on LinkedIn!

Alex: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dalexsimon/

Dan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danhanleyaltrui/

Open positions brought up in the room:

Al Otro Lado – Staff Attorney and Development Manager – https://alotrolado.org/employment-opportunities

Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice – Family Law Attorney – https://www.laclj.org/employment/

OkaySo – Techinical Lead – https://okayso.homerun.co/technical-lead/en

That’s it from our notes! Thank you again for joining us!

Supporting our nonprofit community

I’ve already written a post about our upcoming Nonprofit Jobs Summit, and this one is part reminder and part “let’s strengthen our nonprofit community”.

In trying to be creative of what value we could bring to the nonprofit community while wanting to create a conversation on Clubhouse, Alex Simon and I landed on the Nonprofit Jobs Summit. At first the data that 7% of our nonprofit peers had lost their job in the last year was a big enough reason. Then we created our own poll which showed 80% of those we are connected with on LinkedIn actually know a nonprofit peer in a job search.

We also realized that in the last few months we’ve both seen an increase in nonprofits looking for staff, especially in the development/fundraising arena, which is our home.

Since we announced the summit and began promoting it, I’ve been surprised by all of the conversations and connections that have happened, some ongoing. Part of me feels like the summit has already been successful. I certainly have met many peers since we started talking about this, and have also learned of awesome nonprofits that are finding value in platforms that promote their open positions.

I’m also happy that Heather Campbell with ThinkingAhead Executive Search, Erika Pinheiro with Al Otro Lado and Vu Le with Nonprofit AF will be joining us to share about hiring, job descriptions, and the diversity of positions in the nonprofit world.

Now I find us in the week of the summit and I am ecstatic. We may have ten guests join, possibly 20. My hope is we make a few connections, evn if it’s on the level of connections I’ve made since planning this in which I know more peers and know of more nonprofits doing work I love.

If you’re interested n joining, here are a couple of actions you can take that would help us:

If you’re seeking a position and know you want to join us on the 10th, connect with me (@danhanley) or Alex (@dalexsimon) on Clubhouse. That way you can see the link at the bottom of our profiles for the summit. We’ll also be able to “ping” you upon starting the room as a reminder. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn where we’ll have updates and reminders all week.

If you’re looking to fill positions, we’d love to make sure we get you “on stage” so please let one of us know ahead of time. We’ll have a list.

Lastly, for everyone, please have your Clubhouse profile updated with links to Twitter and or Instagram. That’s makes connecting for everyone easier.

Nonprofit Jobs Summit

Thursday, June 10th

2:00pm EST/11am PST

Clubhouse, in The Nonprofit Club club.

Thank you! I hope to see you there!

Nonprofit Jobs Summit

Updated June 3, 2021.

This post is to let you know of an idea that has become the upcoming Nonprofit Jobs Summit on Clubhouse (In the “The Nonprofit Club” club), hosted by myself and Alex Simon. We decided to do this because we know many in our nonprofit world have lost their jobs and we want to connect as many people with nonprofits as possible. It’s a small action and hopefully with just promoting the event and then having people attend and connect, we may be able to help those in search of employment. That would be awesome!

The summit will be June 10th at 11am PST/2pm EST. It will go an hour and a half or so and consist of a few presenters about nonprofit hiring and then will be open for people looking for a nonprofit position and nonprofits wanting to promote open positions. Each person and nonprofit will have a minute or two to share what they’re looking for.

The presenters are Vu Le with Nonprofit AF, Heather Campbell with Thinking Ahead Executive Search and Erika Pinheiro with Al Otro Lado. They’ll share about experiences in hiring and what nonprofits and candidates can do to strengthen their chances of being chosen. Then we’ll invite people “up to the stage” (Clubhouse speak) to take a minute to say what they are looking for as far as a position or what type of positions they have open. After the event we’ll share contact information via a blog post here.

Those looking for a nonprofit job: Please have your Clubhouse profile updated with a way to connect, and a Twitter and/or Instagram link.

Nonprofits looking to hire: Connect with Alex or I before the event and we will make sure you have time to present your open position(s).

The nonprofit community is wonderful. I have always felt so supported here, and love being a part of it. This is a chance for us to build community and support those looking for work. I look forward to seeing you there.

Questions? Email me at dan@altrui.org We’ll be sharing a link on social media soon. Alex’s Twitter is @dalexsimon and mine is @fundraiserdan. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn.

Dealing with fear

Every week I begin conversations with clients with a question about urgencies. Regardless of whether my client is a head of fundraising, a nonprofit CEO, a small business owner or a family wanting to solidify their philanthropy, I find that talking about their biggest urgency is a great way to begin the thought process on how I can best serve them.

Most of the conversations around this question center around…..


Fear of not enough funds, not enough time, not enough capacity, not enough skills. The list can go on and on.

I like this reference for fear: face everything and rise.

And this is what we end up talking about: rising through our fears. What can be done about this fear? Is it as simple as just letting it go? Or are there specific actions we can take to get rid of the fear. Typically both of these come into play.

There are definitely actions that can be taken when becoming consumed with fear. In my personal journey, I find that if I create a list of actions (even if they have nothing to do with my fear) and get started on them one by one, that my fear usually subsides. This is mainly when the fear is around work and things I am accountable for, and simply taking actions help a lot.

Another action that always helps is talking about the fear with a peer or colleague. Always helpful. For both parties. Talking about it and taking action seem to free us of the power of fear, and allows us to continue our work in making the world a better place.

Thank you for reading. I’d be thrilled to discuss fears with you, especially ones related to nonprofit fundraising and consulting. You can email me at dan@altrui.org

Small donations add up

Most of the work I do is with small, grassroots nonprofits. They all have some donors that give at the higher level, but where they really rock it is with continually receiving a large amount of smaller donations. These smaller donations add up, and allow the organizations to have even greater impact.

I know, a lot of what you hear about is major donors this and major donors that. I’m sure most of what you hear is true, at least for the nonprofit saying it. This post isn’t about major donors and isn’t saying anything negative about them. The point here is to open anyone’s mind around the value of all of your donors who are giving smaller amounts.

Most smaller donations come from e-appeals. They also come from people who have some level of interest in your mission. If you have the capacity to grow your smaller-donor base (and the desire!), the e-appeal is a great place to start. The organizations that have built their base of smaller donations begin here. Then they ensure quick thanking coupled with shared impact.

Once these have been done the next move can be to invite these same donors to become monthly donors. Share the impact of their moving to monthly giving. Keep in mind that growing your list of monthly donors takes time, both time to grow and time to work those relationships. Capacity is key to starting this.

Keep in mind that some of your appeals targeting smaller donations will be for the one-time donation and others will be to create donors from those who give. Regardless of where a specific donor lands, their donation can be the start of an ongoing relationship.

Relationship? With someone who donated $10.00?

Definitely. At first look remember that you know nothing of this donor, have no clue why they gave, and that it’s up to what the next step is. My idea is to start building the relationship as soon as you receive their first donation.

What can you do this week to connect with your donors giving at smaller amounts?

Thank you for reading!

It’s OK to ask for help!

In eighteen months of working with Altrui clients, the number one thing I end up reminding people is that it’s OK to ask for help. This has become an important part of mental health wellness.

Help from your team. From your boss. From your board.

Many fundraising teams are overwhelmed. Some have less resources than they did a year ago, with more expectations put on them.

Success, however you look at it, is possible. It’s easier to get to when you have support. And remember that people cannot support you if they don’t know you need help.

Here’s something to consider. Grab a coffee (I’m a coffee guy) or tea, create a list of urgent items that need to be accomplished, and then next to each item add who you think could help with it.

Think big. The list of people who can help you can be more like a dream list.

Regardless of who or how, the important thing is that you are good with asking for help. We can’t, and shouldn’t have to, go at it alone.

Thank you for reading!

Burning out is not mandatory

I’m on a road trip to work with some Altrui clients. While planning the trip I decided to plan time for self care. Burnout is common in the world of nonprofit fundraising, and although I am far from that I want to keep it that way and be an example to my clients of taking time for oneself.

Self care looks different for each of us. For me it means doing some camping on my own and spending time with friends in my intimate circle. In between Altrui client time and project work I’ll be doing both.

Burnout is real in our field, specifically the field of nonprofit fundraising. I could also say it’s real in the nonprofit world in general, and since I work specifically in fundraising that’s what I am writing about.

Expectations, deadlines, budgets, mission work, too many hours, lack of supportive leadership. All of these can not only add stress to one’s life, they can add to personal burnout. You may see burnout all around you. You may see co-workers having tough times at work. I remember talking to a fundraiser at a nonprofit a few days before an event and they said “aren’t we supposed to be super stressed right now.”

No. We don’t have to be stressed, and we don’t have to burnout.

Remember when becoming so burned out that your only solution is to quit your job is not the best way to deal with burning out. I suggest we as a collective community deal with issues leading to burn out long before anything like that begins to make sense in our heads. And when we begin to practice this and practice self-care, it makes it easier for other to consider it.

And let’s support each other on a deeper level. It makes a difference.

Thanks for reading. And as always, my email is dan@altrui.org if you have any questions. Or comments!

Hiring a new development team member

All is going well at your nonprofit and then you receive the news that your amazing fundraising team member is leaving. It’s time to hire a new development person!

I’m offering this post because I’ve been part of two searches in the past couple of months and have had several others reach out to me for advice in finding the next right person. Keep in mind that this post is more about finding the next person, less about hiring them.

There are a few things you can do this week to make sure your next candidate search is ready to go whenever you need it to be. First is the job description. When was the last time anyone laid eyes on it, let alone got it close to what the actual job is? Doing this before you need to post the position is always helpful.

I suggest adding this to your calendar and going over it with the person currently doing the work. Have a current job description along updated copy for the posting will make this process so much easier for you. It also my help you find someone sooner rather than later.

By the way, make sure the job posting includes your salary range. The salary range is of course up to you, and it won’t come as a surprise that I suggest you give this good consideration which will end up having your position be of higher interest.

Create a network of people you know and work with who will support you in spreading the word of your position. The more people who are sharing the job posting, along with their excitement for your organization, the better.

Have a list of online resources where you can post the position. This is any easy document to have and to keep updated. In Los Angeles we have Dan’s List, an amazing, daily email sent our every day by a development professional in the area listing open positions in the LA area. It’s a wonderful way to get in front of people working in the nonprofit world or part of it somehow.

Lastly, now that you have the job description solid and up to date, have clear copy ready as to what the expectations are of this person, what you want them to be accountable for in the first year, and what your absolutes are in regards to their experience. This is all something you can work on now, rather than worry about when you need to start the process. Having this ready to go will make the period of time when you are doing the search much less stressful.

I hope this is helpful to you. Please email me at dan@altrui.org if you have any questions.

Thank you for reading!

The good, the bad, and your updates

After speaking with a donor last week I realized that she had given me a great reminder: Transparency is super important between your organization and the donor. What this means to me is sharing the good and bad (or not so good) with your donors. Share the ups and the downs.

I have learned from working with donors that they love to be included in what is actually happening in the organization they’re supporting. They love to hear stories of success and they love hearing about your challenges.

Many donors want to know how they can help during difficult times, not only around giving but around other ways to help.

If your organization does some type of newsletter, be sure to include challenges with successes. If you send a personal update to donors, include the same, along with actions a donor can take to support the organization with their challenges.

The more a donor knows, the stronger the relationship can become.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions about this or other posts, feel free to email me at dan@altrui.org

An attitude of gratitude

In the last year or so I have changed how I talk about thanking donors, from a process of thanking them to a whole strategy around expressing gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is part of this.

For those who read my blog regularly (well first, thank you!), you may be inclined to say something like “yes Dan, we get it, we’re thanking our donors”. I commend you. To everyone out there thanking quickly and thanking personally and not relying on auto-thank yous, rock on.

Expressing gratitude and having an attitude of gratitude is more than one thought. For me it means that there is a collective thought and action pattern of ensuring that your donors knows that their support of your mission is known, appreciated, and that it has impact.

It does not mean that the donor is a savior, that they are always right or that they know how to better serve those you serve than your team does. It simply means that for every donation received, the person on the other end of that donation feels the gratitude for the donation and knows its’ significance.

When a donor receives a personal thank you quickly, and knows how you have spent their donation along with the impact of their donation, your relationship with them grows.

An attitude of gratitude.

Thank you for reading!

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