Tag: Denver

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

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!

Shared nonprofit concerns

I am back home after my second Altrui road trip this year. This one was to Denver, where I spent most of my nonprofit fundraising time and where I am fortunate to call many nonprofit leaders friend. I ended the trip in Las Vegas where I am slowly building new relationships.

After dozens of conversations within the past couple of weeks with those directly involved in nonprofit fundraising, I can tell you that there are many shared concerns.

First on the list of concerns is fundraising. Most I spoke with had already been in solid communication with donors and funders and were relying on years of “donor love” practices that meant they were in solid relationship with their donors. Nonetheless they were still concerned about fundraising efforts and future funding.

Each person I met with had canceled a fundraising event. Half had created a new virtual event and all had created a fundraising campaign to make up some of the lost revenue of canceled events. I had several conversations on the success of virtual events and the success of asking corporate supporters to continue sponsorship with or without an in-person event. More and more are getting comfortable with the thought of creating successful virtual events.

Some of those I met with had furloughed or laid off staff, or were about to starting in July. My hope is with donor-centered approaches to fundraising along with virtual events that this does not become the norm for nonprofits.

Board support was half positive and half negative, so if you’re struggling with some on your board, which by the way may not be new, you are definitely not alone. Some board members have transitioned well to this tougher world and others have not. Consistent communication and one and ones can help, along with being as clear as ever in explaining what you need from each board member and the impact of their support.

If you have felt overwhelmed you are not alone. If you have felt sad you are not alone. If you have felt hopeless, again, not alone. You are also not alone if you have felt excitement with the successes you are having and large doses of hope as donor after donor continues to show up in support. Every person I met with has embraced their own personal creativity and that of their teams in focusing on solutions that enable them to continue their life-changing programs.

Interested in my thoughts around actions one can take based on all of my conversations? Sure! Here you go!

Connect with other nonprofit leaders and fundraisers.

Don’t give up on special events. Look into a virtual one.

Keep communicating with donors and funders. How are they?

Keep your website current. This includes current contact information.

Share your impact.

Lastly, whether this is our new normal or not, keep pivoting to meet the needs of your organization and your staff. Keep your programs strong and impactful. More than ever, our worlds needs strong nonprofits making the world a better place.

If you would like to talk about how Altrui might be able to support your fundraising and relationship-building efforts, please send an email to dan@altrui.org

Thank you for reading!


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