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3 Years of Altrui Consulting!

It’s difficult to believe that we are celebrating three years of Altrui Consulting this week.

Altrui has become one of the biggest gifts for me, an opportunity to work with many amazing nonprofits and hopefully be a part of their impact in making the world a better place.

Three years ago, I left my position as a CDO unsure of what was next. I had thought about Altrui for years and had slowly begun creating the consultancy. I had a website that was almost complete and a business plan. I simply wasn’t sure of whether I wanted to take the risk.

The risk was saying goodbye to a 40-hour a week (plus) position at another nonprofit I was passionate about, where I had a secure salary and where I could do what Ioved. Or, leaving that behind for a chance to build a consultancy from the ground up and having the opportunity to work with many nonprofits in building their relationships and fundraising. The risk was starting from scratch, with no guarantee of income.

Having a supportive husband was critical. Along with a community of friends and colleagues and of course the group of people I like to call my inner circle.

By mid-October I was speaking with someone who would become my first client, and by Giving Tuesday and Colorado Gives Day (December), I was working with several nonprofits and starting to believe that maybe Altrui could become a reality.

Self-doubt appeared many times. Yet the amount of times it stayed with me kept decreasing as I worked harder to build Altrui, to share my dreams of what nonprofits could excel with around fundraising and relationship building, and to keep listening to those I trust in my inner circle who were alongside me 100%.

I often tell people that I feel like I have the dream job, and at the same time don’t feel like I work. Every client is wonderful, doing incredibly important work, work I am uber-passionate about. I want them to have as many resources as possible to rock their impact into another dimension. And I’m forever grateful that they have chosen Altrui to help them with that.

It’s with deep gratitude that I share this news of our third anniversary. To all of you who have been a part of Altrui in any way, thank you.

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

Your business and philanthropy

When I created Altrui, I decided I would work with clients (nonprofits) that are working in areas closest to my heart and passions.

This means nonprofits whose missions are in the realms of human rights, animal rights, domestic violence, refugees, border/immigration work, homelessness, and a few others.

Working with nonprofits whose missions I have intense passion for, my work in helping them build relationships with donors and increase their fundraising, is easier. I want them to have what they need to serve who they serve. I want them to excel in their mission.

Here’ where the reader comes in. Who do you donate to? What missions get you going, touch your heart, or make you feel better about the world. Who do you share your time and treasure with?

Many reading this are small business owners. I can relate, being in that category. Philanthropy is one of our values at Altrui, it’s not only the “why” in regards to us existing as a business, it’s also how we see our part in the world. We know nonprofits make the world a better, safer place. We want to financially be a part of that.

Starting philanthropy for you and your business can be pretty simple. You most likely already have an idea of what causes you are most passionate about. You may already donate to several charities.

I tell clients that a donor is someone who has donated two or more times. A donation comes from someone who donated because their neighbor asked them to sponsor a walk they were doing for a charity. In some cases the person donating may not even know their mission.

They become a donor if they donate again.

The point here is to use your treasure to support nonprofits that you are passionate about. Ones making change that is important to you.

Consider making a donation to at least one nonprofit from your profit, not just from your extra spending money. Make a donation that is more than the neighbor supporting neighbor donation. This is especially important if you are finding success in your business, which based on so many stories on Medium and LinkedIn, you most likely are.

It will also make you feel better, like you are part of the solution. That your donation is making the world a better place.

If you want to donate to a charity and have no idea where to start, and would like help in figuring that out, let me know. I may be able to help based on my years in the nonprofit world both fundraising and donating.

One suggestion that will catapult your small business

As a nonprofit fundraising consultant, I created Altrui so I could use my love of nonprofit fundraising and of relationship building to work with nonprofits whose missions mean the world to me, supporting them in strengthening relationships with their donors and building their fundraising.

I had little knowledge in starting a business or running a business once it was off the ground.

Just as I found value in having a great relationship with my CFO wherever I was head of fundraising, I realized I needed the same type of financial brilliance for Altrui. For me this meant hiring an accountant/CPA to not only do my taxes but to take a look at everything financially to keep me going in the right direction.

My one suggestion that will catapult your small business is along these lines.

Hire an accountant/CPA who you trust, who you enjoy working with, and who will take the time needed to keep an eye on your financials while teaching you how to be better.

I did this last year, in preparation for my tax work for 2021 and it completely changed Al trui for the better. I started with the same CPA that did our family taxes, and that was good, but I didn’t feel the focus on Altrui was good enough. When they moved, I had the chance to speak with other CPAs, and found one I really wanted to work with right in my local chamber of commerce monthly breakfast!

Once it was official, they asked for access to my QuickBooks. I immediately said yes, warning them that it was a mess. Yes, everything was in there, and most items were most likely coded incorrectly. They soon confirmed my thoughts on the status of my QuickBooks and offered to help with two suggestions.

Let them clean up my QuickBooks to their standards.

Teach me how to add data so it matches their standards.

“Yes” I said to both. These two ideas, which may be common, made me feel like Altrui was now a real business, with super-accurate financials, and the knowledge to keep that going.

Other things I love about this CPA is that they sent me an app to download all of my documents, from my phone! Again, this may be common but it was a lifechanger for me. I had everything downloaded for family and Altrui by the end of January, and a meeting with my CPA and their team by mid-Feburary completeling everything. The app helped so much!

They also offered to check in at the end of June, go over my bank statements and QuickBooks, and let me know how it all looked to them. I loved that. And there were only three data entires that I had put in the “ask my accountant” file! Everything else was good to go.

Like my time in nonprofit fundraising, hiring the best people for areas in which I don’t excel can by critical to my success, and the success of the organization. At Altrui, I want to know every line of my financials, just like I wanted to know what every line of my nonprofit’s budget meant. It makes a big difference in both arenas when you are commfortable with knowing all about the financials.

If you don’t have a CPA like mine, consider one. If you’re in California I’d be happy to recommend mine!

Thank you for reading.

Thank you for two years of Altrui!

Today I am celebrating two years of Altrui Consulting and am filled with gratitude!

Two years ago I left the job I thought I would retire from, created a website that included a few thoughts on how I might be able to help nonprofits with relationship building and fundraising, and Altrui was born.

Although I had been in the nonprofit fundraising world for many years, the worlds of consulting and running my own business were all new to me. There is a long list of lessons over the past two years, and every day I learn something.

It’s been a magical road. I have loved every minute of it. While Altrui I have grown, we’ve been honored to work with nonprofits that are making the world a better, safer place. Their impact inspires me every day, and I am lucky to be a part of their work.

My thank-you list is extensive. If you have supported me in any way, thank you. That means a kind word, a warm welcome, sharing your experience, listening, a retweet, a kind comment on LinkedIn, or if you are one of hundreds whom I have learned from. I am forever grateful for that and happy to have you in my life.

I am ecstatic to see what year three brings!

Thank you all!

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

Small business housekeeping

I found myself in the same spot. Again. I had stopped doing Altrui housekeeping every Friday and was all of a sudden overwhelmed.

Background. Altrui Consulting is just over one year old. For the first several months all I did was hustle to build the business. Nothing could take my eyes off of the prize, which was making sure Altrui would make it.

I soon realized that although I had years of nonprofit fundraising experience and relationship building experience, I had not run a consultancy. Taxes were rather simple for me as I had learned all I could about them and when I needed to pay them. In Q2 of my first year I subscribed to QuickBooks which helps significantly.

If I enter the data.

Working with clients, for whom I am super grateful, is my passion. It doesn’t feel like work. It’s wonderful. It’s all of the “business” upkeep that I get behind in.

I wanted to write this post so that those just starting with their own business, whether a consultant or something different, realize that they’re not alone. There’s a lot to do, and it’s not all as fun as your work. I’m finding that if I just calendar a couple hours a week to do business housekeeping, then I’m good and I don’t have to experience that feeling of falling behind.

I also have found, which may sound pretty obvious, that keeping my workload list up to date really benefits me. My list includes any project due to a client and when it’s due. I use an Excel spreadsheet but there are also programs out there that can help you make this process easier.

Lastly, being a member of my local chamber of commerce helps me a great deal with all of this because I get to meet with other small business owners and share stories of what’s going on. As I often say, I’m always learning, and being surrounded by others who consider themselves always learning and who also have their own small business is beneficial to me.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading!

People are donating

As I read of more nonprofits laying off fundraising staff, I thought now was a good time for a reminder.

People are donating. People who have a lot are donating and people who are struggling are donating.

People are trying to figure out how they can make a difference during these trying times. They want to help. Many feel powerless.

That’s where we in the nonprofit fundraising world come in. It’s up to us to let people know what we’re doing, the impact we’re having, and most importantly, how our mission matches how people want to make a difference.

We have to keep building relationships and honor those who give.

We have to ask.

Nothing new with any of this.

Thank you for reading.

Building relationships

As I celebrate one year of Altrui Consulting, I have had many reminders about the work we do and why I believe it’s so important. Our biggest successes in the last year have been working with nonprofits to support them in building stronger, lifelong relationships with donors and stakeholders, and working with small businesses to do the same with customers and clients.

The common denominator with nonprofits and small businesses is that in many cases leadership/the leader are overwhelmed, feeling like they do not have the time, capacity or funds to grow or sustain their mission or business.

Even in the midst of a changing world and difficult times for many, there have been ways for nonprofits and small businesses to survive and thrive. I’m excited to have been part of that for many, and as one who is “always learning” am grateful to be working with so many passionate people that are making a difference in this world.

As I look back through the first year, here are some actions I have suggested organizations taking that are working for them:

Strengthen your social media. Make it so you can communicate quickly and effectively with donors, stakeholders, customers and/or clients. If you have five platforms but are honestly only working one, get rid of the rest and focus solely on that one. Communication with those who support you is critical.

Make sure everyone who supports you, in whatever way, knows how grateful you are for that support. An instant email after a donation or sale does not count. A quick check in upon leaving your restaurant or their volunteering at your nonprofit do count. Knowledge of your gratitude goes a long way.

A few months into COVID, one of the small, local businesses we support posted on their Facebook page that thanks to all of their customers, they had been able to keep 80% of their staff on payroll. We gave them more business the next day. Share important and impactful stories with your customers and donors. It will make differences beyond your wildest dreams.

Lastly, and equally important as the other three, take a breathe. Breathe. Relax. Trust those you hired. Confide in your closest confidants. If you are not fine when someone you trust asks you, don’t tell them you’re fine. We can’t do all of this by ourselves. And we don’t have to.

Thank you for reading.

Altrui Consulting turns 1!!!

I’m not sure what I thought my life or my business would look like after one year of working Altrui full time. September 30th is that one year mark for me. One year since I left a great nonprofit development position to create a consulting company that could perhaps make the world a better place by working with nonprofits to strengthen their relationship building and fundraising.

Just like that, one year has passed. It’s been quite the year. I have worked with some of the most amazing people, people who are as committed as I am to make the world a better place, to creating positive change for all living beings. Every conversation with a potential client has been an awakening for me into yet another world in which a committed person and team work passionately toward their mission for the biggest impact possible.

I am forever grateful. I’m grateful for all of the great things that have happened along with all of the learning lessons I have experienced. And my goodness there have been learning experiences, almost every day! I had no idea how to be a great consultant or how to run a small business. All I knew was that if I could match my passion for strengthening nonprofit fundraising and impact with others who had that same passion, then nothing could stop us.

Just like that I was sending out contracts. I was paying taxes. I was telling people about this far-fetched idea called Altrui, my vision and my hope of being better, doing better and taking my experience in the world of nonprofit fundraising to small and large nonprofits all over the country. I was making sure that I showed up fully ready to rock it for my business and my clients, always giving it my all.

I had and continue to have a huge amount of support from those who are in the arena of nonprofit fundraising, past and present peers and co-workers, friends and family and people I have met along my nonprofit journey who see our work as I do.

My consistent hashtag is #alwayslearning. Indeed I am. Every day is certainly an adventure and even someone as positive as me has wondered out loud if this is really for me and if I can be successful in this world of consulting. And then I brush that off, check in with someone on my personal board of directors, and get to work. I just keep hustling, regardless of what might be in my way (hello COVID).

Big thanks to all of you who have supported Altrui in any way.

Thanks for reading!

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.

Relationships

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!

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