I hope my readers are doing well. I have had a busy start to the year, but did not want to let too much time pass before posting and sharing my thoughts.
The United States economy continues to face challenges, although there are many encouraging signs. I read about business and the economy every day as I strive to better understand what my nonprofit donors are experiencing, and to spot new trends. A favorite of mine is Cathie Wood of ARK Invest. Follow this link to listen to her excellent discussion, “Is The Fed Listening?” and follow the channel for future updates. I always learn so much from ARK and also Bloomberg. I will be attending a talk by Cathie Wood in Austin on Wednesday, March 15 during SXSW 2023. I will do my best to post a bit on social media, so be watching, especially Instagram @cmappleton.
I have been expanding my work on YouTube and Zoom this year. I have created a few channels for nonprofits, and I have reorganized and refreshed my own channel @CarolynAppleton. I think nonprofit organizations absolutely must expand their use of video. As Tracey Witt of Sprout Social notes in, “Social media video statistics marketers need to know for 2023” (February 23):
Anyone who’s scrolled through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter recently knows that videos play a major part in your experience with these social media networks. Video has been a buzzword in marketing for years, and today brands are using it to carve out devoted followings on social media. Did you know users will retain 95% of a message watched on video as opposed to only 10% read in text?
Tracey’s mention of “brands” includes nonprofits, too. Donors are also requesting that our sector make more use of video to convey the impact of our work.
[Donors] described adjusting to new expectations, including accepting payments digitally and changing the way they engage donors. They noted that it was important to create more engaging content, for example by including images and videos to increase engagement.“The Giving Environment: Understanding How Donors Make Giving Decision,” Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, University of Indiana (2022)
Separately, I will be giving a webinar for Crescendo Interactive on April 4 at 11:00 a.m. Central Time. The program is free, and it will build upon my presentation during the Practical Planned Giving Conference last September in San Diego. Follow this link to read more and to register (a link to GoTo is provided). I would love to have you join us for, “Technologies for Effective Capital Campaigns.”
If you read my blog, then you know I am both an “old fashioned” nonprofit fundraiser and a modern one, in that I use technologies wherever I can to raise funds and to communicate efficiently and effectively (and to reduce reliance on other staff). But I also began my career in a traditional fundraising environment. I believe that solid foundation has been essential to my success still today! And I have been working in the field more than 35 years. You will be surprised to find I like some of the most basic “tech” software, and also some of the most advanced. So, please do not be intimidated by the “tech” focus of the webinar. One of the things I will stress is that I believe the “computer” is actually your brain. And I suggest nonprofit fundraisers tailor their technology tools to match their own way of working. I do not believe in allowing the tech to take over and overwhelm the brain behind it.
As it is March, I have been sharing an older post that still rings true today: “Make the Iron by Striking,” featuring a quote by William Butler Yates. As I note, while nonprofits must be careful not to solicit donations without proper advance preparation, when donors become interested in the work of a nonprofit organization and they are genuinely excited about being involved and helping, nonprofits should not be shy about asking for financial or other assistance. One must make the iron hot by striking!
Having said that, I recount a cringeworthy asking experience in the post, from which I learned a great deal. So often, nonprofit advisors make it seem like every call they make is absolutely perfect and fairly easy. I know that to be untrue. But “asking” remains one of my favorite things to do in fundraising, and you will find a few fun stories about that in my main menu, particularly in the A Brief Account section of articles.
Best wishes for your fundraising success, and I hope to see you on YouTube and my other social media platforms.
Carolyn M. Appleton
March 14, 2023