Tag: philanthropy

Being of service

Altrui is now in our twelfth month! Time flies when having fun, and aside from being one of the biggest learning experiences of my life, creating and growing Altrui has been a lot of fun. Part of what has been fun for me is the opportunity to be of service to a variety of nonprofits making the world a better place.

Nonprofits exist to serve others. As one whose business depends on working with nonprofits, and as one who fundamentally believes in serving others, being of service is very important to the mission of Altrui.

Being of service can take many forms. It can be an act that takes a moment or continual actions. Here’s a quick list of ideas:

Support a colleague in need.

Offer time to someone in need.

Go to one of your favorite restaurants that is struggling.

Post kind notes on social media.

Walk a dog at your local animal shelter.

Check in with a friend.

Donate to a nonprofit making change in the world.

Mail a card to someone.

The list can go on and on, and I look forward to hearing about the actions all of you take to be of service.

Thank you for reading.


For many in nonprofits and in business, the focus is on the money. Raising money and making money. I hear it all of the time. In my world of nonprofit fundraising, too much focus is put on how much someone can raise or how much a donor is going to give.

I’m not surprised anymore when someone in the nonprofit world, even a client, looks at me like I have lost my mind when I tell them that fundraising is not about money. It’s not.

Fundraising is not about money.

It’s about relationships.

Imagine putting more focus into the relationships you and your organization have with your donors and less focus on their actual giving. How is your donor? Why do they give to you? What program or part of your mission speaks to their heart the most? How did they feel getting a call on Thanks for Giving Day?

Build the relationship between you and your donor. Build the relationship between your organization and your donor. Put time and energy into the relationship. This of course is applicable with clients and customers if you are a business. Build and nurture the relationship.

A few actions I have found to be helpful in building a relationship with a donor:

Thank them quickly when they give. To be more specific, thank them within 24 hours. The generic email thank you does not count. Call them. Or better yet ask your executive director or a member of your board to call and thank them.

Give your donor a ring out of the blue. No reason. Just to say hello. Perhaps an update on their favorite program. How are they?

A personal note. Use a card you’ve created specifically for donors, like the one pictured above.

Ask your donor their opinion on something you are working on.

There are a dozen more ways to build that relationship. It’s that simple.

Give this a try. It will pay off for you, your organization, your mission, and the impact your organization has on our world.

Thank you for reading! Please share this post if you found it helpful!

Keep hustling

This is something I tell myself every day. As a small business owner and a nonprofit fundraising consultant, every day brings me new opportunities to serve others, support clients, build community and find new clients to work with.

And none of that happens if I don’t keep hustling.

Just like everyone else, my world changed back in March. All of my opportunities to meet with people in person, talk about Altrui, shake someone’s hand and go to public events where I could share my passion for fundraising were all of a sudden gone.

I had to re-calibrate. I had to re-think parts of my business plan.

That took about a day.

First, I had to make sure I showed up every day. To me that meant continuing with my video tips of the week, writing blog posts, communicating with clients, and reaching out to potential clients.

It meant figuring out how to stay involved with groups I used to physically engage with. Before I knew it I was hopping on Zoom calls.

It meant ramping up my social media presence and content.

It meant being at my desk showered and shaved, ready to rock it. OK, the shaved part wasn’t every day!

I kept engaging with other nonprofit fundraising consultants and we learned from each other. It was great, and still is, to be in community with all of these rock stars. This was a huge help.

I practiced self care. I reached out for help when I needed it and let those in my inner professional circle know when I was struggling or challenged.

I still struggle with keeping my work space neat!

Today all of these are second nature. People continue to hear about Altrui and I continue to be able to share what we at Altrui can do for them, their nonprofit, and their mission.

Thanks for reading!

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!

You’re not alone

We’re in tougher times. And we’re all in different situations. Some are working harder than ever and some aren’t working. In our world, the world of nonprofit fundraising, everyone is experiencing so many different things. The main thing I keep thinking of is that regardless of the situation you’re in, you’re not alone.

Of course if you are staying at home and have a house full, you may wish you were alone, but that’s not the type of alone I’m thinking about.

In the nonprofit world, you are definitely not alone. Everyone is having new challenges and having to look at their mission and their world differently. Feeling overwhelmed is typical in our world, yet can be even more intense these days. You’re not alone.

Now in the fourth month of a different world, we’ve seen actions that are really working. The biggest success we’ve seen is with nonprofits that are reaching out to their donors to continue building that relationship and to keep donors in the loop on what is going on and the continued impact of the mission. It’s so important. It’s important to ask how your donors are doing along with letting them know what your current needs are. If you have concerns around fundraising, remember you are not alone! Many nonprofit leaders are feeling the same.

Many of you are presenting budgets to your board for the next fiscal year (starting July 1st). Holy cow. It’s not easy. Budget time can always be a bit stressful and how in the heck to you budget the next year? Like with everything else, you give it your best shot, present it, and move on.

From special events to the next direct mail piece, everything is different. And if I know one thing about nonprofit fundraising professionals, it’s that we thrive in many situations and we just don’t stop.

Grab your coffee or tea, check in with those who inspire you, and keep doing what you do best.

Thank you for reading!

Create a development plan

I’m currently working on a development plan for a client and realized this would make a great blog post topic! There are several reasons why I think a development plan is important, the two biggest that a development plan gives you, your staff, supporters, and board good direction, and I continue to see “create a development plan” in so many job ads for fundraisers.

A development plan can include a communications plan and a marketing plan, it all depends on the size of your team, the size of your nonprofit, and your capacity. For this post, let’s stick with just development.

My development plans include a calendar of items, how to track work along with what success looks like, and what parts others can play in the overall development strategy (and the success of the plan). The calendar makes it easier to show how your plan breaks down in regards to all types of fundraising, and it allows you to incorporate events and special days into your plan. For example, if you’re a domestic violence group, you may add October in as part of your plan as it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Do you want to do a special appeal? Is that a good time to send an impact report to donors?

I include tracking in my plan as well. For example, connecting with 10 donors a week. Or getting to a certain level of giving based on the revenue budget by a specific date. It’s also good to include what success with your plan looks like. It can be as simple as connecting to the revenue budget, decreasing lapsed donors and increasing amount of gift from a specific amount of donors. Tracking donor contacts and meetings helps in determining how that type of work supports the success of the plan.

A development plan does not have to be pages and pages of information. I like to use a power point template for it as that makes it easy to follow and keeps me from adding in too much information per slide.

If you don’t have a development plan, I highly recommend creating one. It can benefit your, your agency, your mission and your impact in ways you might not even expect!

Thanks for reading!

Starting your own business

I’m in month eight of running Altrui Consulting full time, and even though that seems like a long time, it really isn’t. I continue to learn something each day about not only how to run a consultancy, but learning about something I hadn’t even considered the day prior!

Like most things in life there are pros and cons to starting your own business. I seem to have mostly pros so far. I also have a spouse that is bringing in a paycheck and I have other sources of income in other work. That’s important to consider. It’s great to go off and start creating the job and business of your dreams. Just remember that you need some type of revenue at all times.

I chose to go the Sole Proprietorship route. It’s just me and it’s always going to be just me. When I send some work out to a colleague, it’s due to the fact that colleague can do the job better, and they just take on the client. This has helped me build trust with my clients, saying when I don’t know or when there is someone I know who could do the work better than I could. Nothing like building a deeper trust with your client.

I set up a business account at my local credit union and got the smallest QuickBooks account. I learned quickly that as much time as I spend trying to grow my business and secure new clients, I also had to spend time with business housekeeping. For example, if I’m not sending invoices, I’m less likely to get paid!

I spend time in my social media accounts every day. I was fortunate to have had Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts when I began. After learning more I added a business Facebook account an a business Instagram account. Both are slowly growing and get me in front of different people.

A note about social media. I don’t need my Instagram account to have several thousand followers, unless I know the majority of them. I am carefully and strategically growing my Instagram account because I want it to be relevant and I want to be in relationship with those I am connected with. That takes time. I’m patient with the growth.

My last experience that I’d like to share is how important it is to have an accountant. One who will talk through next steps with you and can be a great resource on all things taxes. Yes, taxes!

More to come. Thanks for reading!

Altrui Consulting is here for you!

We’re open and ready to serve. Altrui is here for you!

The nonprofit world, as the rest of the world, is changing every day. As the need for nonprofit services rises, many struggle with making ends meet, fundraising, and keeping in touch with their stakeholders and donors. Increased workload and decreased resources.

Some nonprofits have decided not to fundraise during this time. Indeed, many have furloughed or laid off their fundraising teams. Meanwhile, we at Altrui have been encouraging the opposite. Support your fundraising team as much as possible. Support their efforts in engaging with your donors and keeping your donors up to date with how you are continuing your amazing work during these times.

Don’t stop fundraising.

And if you need help with any part of your fundraising or marketing, we’re here for you. We 100% believe in the power of nonprofits, and know that nonprofits will be OK through this especially if they stay in communication with their donors and let them know how they can help. Right now with current clients we are working on email appeals, social media campaigns, a planned giving campaign, a spring appeal an online fundraising event.

We know this will pass. We’re with you now and will be with you then. Thank you for continuing to do all you can to make the world a better place. Your impact is life changing.

Thank you for reading!

Don’t stop

Many of us are having a tough time right now. Any challenges we were having a few weeks ago probably seem so much bigger now. You’re not alone. We need you right in this moment. Please don’t stop.

Don’t stop serving our clients.

Don’t stop serving those who depend on us.

Don’t stop feeding or providing shelter.

Don’t stop making the world a better place.

Don’t stop fundraising.

Don’t stop relationship building.

Don’t stop calling to say thank you.

You are the rock stars. Nonprofit fundraising professionals can’t stop. Keep doing what you do best. So much that continues to shine right now depends on you.

Dan Hanley wearing a cap

Facebook live video – fundraising and books

I did my first Facebook live session. I talked about fundraising ideas for today and some favorite fundraising books.

Books I reviewed are:

“Writing without bullshit” by Josh Bernoff

“Retention fundraising” by Roger Craver

“The fundraiser’s guide to irresistible communications” by Jeff Brooks

“The happy, healthy nonprofit” by Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman

“Decolonizing Wealth” by Edgar Villanueva

“Magnetic nonprofit” by Jeremy Reis

“Influencer” by Brittany Hennessy


If you are in the arena of nonprofit fundraising, chances are you may be a little overwhelmed. If you’re not, I am super happy for you and my gift to you is that you can skip this blog post or save it for a time that you are.

My experience with clients and peers in nonprofit fundraising is that come 5pm or 6pm, it really is time to go home yet there seems so much more to do. Many stay longer, which negatively affects their family and their life, and others go ahead and head home but feel guilty for leaving and get down on themselves for not getting enough done.

We all experience feeling overwhelmed at times and I’d like to offer actions one can take to chip away when feeling like this. Some of these ideas are repeated from past blog posts. Here’s my list:

Create a list of must-dos for the morning once you arrive. I mean it, only must-dos.

Check and respond to email upon starting your day and then don’t check email again until lunch time.

Use an auto-response to communicate with those emailing you.

For future projects or work you are doing for others, be super clear in expectations, time line and boundaries in regards to what is possible for you to accomplish and what is not. If we can all have super honest conversations about what we are working on, the end result and how everyone feels when it is done is a much more positive space.

Ask for help. It’s OK. If you lead fundraising efforts and you simply do not have staff to help, go to your board. Then volunteers. My experience tells me that there is always someone who can help, even by taking the simplest thing off of your plate.

Get comfortable with saying “no”. Not no, I’m not going to do this. More like, no, this will take days not hours so I cannot get it back to you by this afternoon. Realistic work load scheduling helps a lot.

Go for a walk. I know, that makes no sense when you are swamped and feeling overwhelmed. It doesn’t make sense, until you are actually walking and begin to feel a bit better.

Don’t multi-task. That may look good on job descriptions (it doesn’t to me) and it will decrease your being overwhelmed if you focus on something and finish it, then the next something.

If even just one of these helps, I am super happy. Thank you for reading!

A simple thank you

I spend a lot of time on social media and with clients talking about thanking donors. Not a nonprofit? This blog post still might bring you value as I’m sure you have customers, guests or someone to thank.

Last week while working on blog posts I began to think on whether or not this whole thanking donors business is really that important.

That didn’t last long. I immediately remembered receiving a thank you letter in January for a donation we had made in early December. We have been donating to this organization for seven years. A month is a long time to take to send a thank you letter, and that wasn’t the only issue I had. For whatever reason I was negatively affected by what was missing from the letter: a signature from the CEO. Sure, their name was there at the end of the letter, it was stamped, as in part of the printed letter. The signature was not signed by the CEO.

Not a big deal? For some, perhaps. For me it definitely is a big deal. I don’t even know if the CEO knows that we donated. And if all I am getting is a printed letter that no one has to write on, what the heck took so long? In my nonprofit career I spent dozens of hours personally signing thank you letters, and in most cases adding a personal note. I always looked at it as part of my job, like this is how we do things in thanking donors and letting them know how personally grateful we are for their support.

I also believe that we only have so many opportunities to build relationships with our donors and how we thank them can make a difference in that relationship.

I’d love to hear what you think. I’d also love to hear stories about being thanked, or not thanked!

Thank you for reading!

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