Carolyn’s Upcoming Tech Webinar and More

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.

Follow up: the presentation was excellent. Sharing a photo I took of Cathie Wood speaking at Austin Proper Hotel during SXSW 2023 (March 15, 2023). Thanks to Texas Capital Bank Group for hosting the event.

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

Old School Teaches New Lessons

Winter Storm Mara prevented me from speaking in person during the Real Places 2023 Conference, but we were able to visit with attendees remotely online. Our talk was timely, “Old School Teaches New Lessons: How Technology is Preserving a WPA-era Icon.” And in fact, being able to speak and share information online today is a godsend! Technology certainly saved our presentation.

I posted our slide deck to YouTube as a video. While our verbal commentary is absent from the video, we provided ample “notes” in the slide presentation to make watching it worth your time.

My thanks go to Jane Cook Barnhill, President of Atlanta Grade School Friends, and Danny Stanley, Treasurer, my co-presenters, and to the nonprofit arm of the Texas Historical Commission, the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission. A few years ago, I served on the Board of the Friends under former Executive Director Toni S. Turner. State funding is rarely enough to fully fund the restoration and long-term preservation of the many historic sites of Texas. Private sector donations mean so much and make saving the rich heritage of Texas possible.

I had been taking a late Christmas vacation in January to see my family in Tucson, Arizona. My flight home was rescheduled due to the winter storm something like six times! So, I recorded my part of the Real Places discussion on Vimeo, and while a little rough around the edges, you can hear my thoughts and avail yourself of more in-depth discussion via my YouTube channel. In addition, the full slide deck has been saved to ISSUU for ease of reading in digital magazine format.

You might be surprised to learn, we talked about technology being very helpful, but noted that it does not replace human beings. Relationships matter. But technology can enhance your organization’s “reach” dramatically. Partners of all kinds, donors, and especially younger generations are online in great numbers today. Why not be online with them using the latest social media communications and tech tools available?

I find technology makes the work of nonprofits more cost-effective. Remote working is safe and fairly easy! Several of the tools I reference are free of charge at the most basic level, and modestly-priced in more extensive forms. Thinking smart and making use of these tools can “up your game” dramatically and make you more attractive to audiences and partners of all kinds. I find the cost is mostly that of your time: take it.

My thanks go to our tech partners at Atlanta Grade School Friends. We are grateful for being able to avail ourselves of their convenient services.

In closing, I share a video showed at the conclusion of our presentation during Real Places 2023. It was made with a combination of Google Slides, PowerPoint and YouTube (channel and audio library). Enjoy! And if you would like additional information, email us via our new Gmail:, or reach out to me directly by using the secure contact form on my blog.

Thank you for reading this post, and best wishes for your fundraising and communications success this year.

Our presentation also references information from these organizations: Brookings Institution, Forbes, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, National Council of Nonprofits, Psychology Today, Social Media Today, and World of Statistics on Twitter.

Parting Thoughts on 2021 | Looking Ahead to 2022

As the year draws to a close, I wanted to thank my followers and visitors. As of this posting, 108 nations have visited Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog this year. From Nepal to Luxembourg, Norway to Guatemala, Lebanon to Mongolia, and from the good old United States to Hong Kong, welcome to all! You are the reason I installed the Google Translate widget on my website.

This year marks my 10th anniversary on WordPress. Launched when I had just moved to San Antonio after a productive decade working in South Texas on a variety of major gift projects, Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog continues today from my home office on the western edge of Austin in Bee Cave, Texas. Grant writing and ethics were topics of great interest to readers this year. Realizing my blog is a teaching tool, this year I added to the main menu links to a few slide presentations and videos that make the website even more helpful. I notice SlideShare received quite a few visitors that way!

This year involved more email mentoring, with several inquiries coming in via my secure contact form from people across the United States asking how they might transition to new careers in grant writing and fundraising. Questions about how to blog on WordPress also kept me busy, as my blog is quite searchable now after ten years online. Thanks to Google Search for the high rankings. Grants Professionals Association (GPA) and The Grantsmanship Center have received quite a bit of traffic via Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog, and I am glad to see it. Both are trustworthy organizations from which you can learn a lot.

Since 2015, I have been the primary volunteer organizer of Nonprofit Tech Club Austin. It is a partnership involving TechSoup Global, NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network and locally here in Austin, startup hub Capital Factory. As 2021 draws to a close and I peel off as lead organizer, I am delighted to see the club broaden its scope and become the TechSoup Connect Texas Chapter. Thanks to our volunteers this year and our valued partners. Your endorsement has meant so much! And we have more work to do. Follow the link above to sign up for program notifications and to obtain secure Zoom links direct to your inbox.

Normally at this time of year, I share my nonprofit predictions. Instead, I refer you to my fall 2021 post, “Nonprofit Fundraising: Reasons for Hope.” There are good reasons for hope, despite the many challenges we have faced!

In closing, I share below a menu of 2021 presentations and articles for ease of access. I enjoyed visiting with a wide variety of constituents across Texas and beyond, sharing my knowledge and insights. Thanks to those organizations for inviting me, and I look forward to 2022. In particular, mark your calendar for May 11: I will be giving a webinar on how to launch a career in nonprofit grant writing and fundraising – or transition from a for-profit position to a nonprofit one – for Qgiv. And on September 20, I look forward to speaking during the annual Crescendo Interactive Practical Planned Giving Conference on, “Using Technology and Data to Lay the Groundwork for Lean and Effective Major Gift Fundraising Campaigns,” which will be part of the “Navigating the Future” track. Check my Media Room for updates.

I hope to see you then, if not before!

Carolyn’s Activities

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