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Bot Basics in Layman Terms: Why I Created @FundraisingBot

on Oct 3, 2016

For no good reason besides satisfying my own curiosity, I made a Twitter bot. It’s name is FundraisingBot and you can follow it on Twitter here.

Over the past year I began noticing a surge in articles about bots, like “Bots, the Next Frontier” in The Economist, and “Forget Apps, Now the Bots Take Over” in TechCrunch. Each hypes the opportunity that bots offer, mostly in the area of automating personal assistant-like tasks. Think ordering dinner, sending reminders, booking a hotel room, etc.

If you still have no idea what I mean when I say ‘bot’, think Siri. Not a physical robot. These are programs that automate often simple routine tasks. The best ones interact with you in a human-like fashion, replacing the need for a human to carry out these simple tasks.

Building a Culture of Donor Love

on May 18, 2016

On May 11th 2016 I was fortunate enough to take part in the #DonorLove Rendezvous in Toronto. The concept was a fundraising conference that would be fun, inspirational, and creative. Speakers who talk with you not at you, idea-sharing and networking, and break-out sessions that address your needs with practical advice.

Alongside Gwen Chapman, Sheena Greer and Sarah Lyon, I helped facilitate some small discussion groups on the topic of “How to Build a Culture of Donor Love in Your Organization.”

As a follow-up to the discussion, we’ve distilled the main themes and some great ideas. You can read them all here. Please, use and share!


on Mar 28, 2016

The appeal of fundraising to me is that there is a clearly identifiable, positive social impact from my hard work. I can earn enough to raise a family, there’s a supportive network of peers, as well as room to grow professionally and intellectually.

What looms over us though is the reality of occupational and emotional burnout. Not unlike social workers, teachers and other public-facing professions there is an expectation to be “on” more than not, if not all the time. We can fall into a trap of developing a façade, a brave face, which can only accelerate a downward spiral to burnout.

Donor Fatigue vs. The Surprising Half Life of Gratitude

on Mar 14, 2016

Donor Fatigue vs. The Surprising Half Life of Gratitude

DIY: Calculating Donor LTV and Annual Retention Rates

on Jan 22, 2016

I’ve got a job for you, if you haven’t done it already. By the end of January, calculate your donor LTV (Life Time Value or Long Term Value, I prefer the latter) and annual retention rates of your donor file over the past 4 years.

It doesn’t have to be as hard as it might sound.

Here is my to my Excel LTV worksheet. It includes a general query criteria that should give you a sense of how to start pulling the data yourself. I first saw this particular layout in a Cornerstone Global File Audit, and decided to replicate it with my own data.

Dan Harmon’s Story Structure Guide – Free eBook

on Jan 18, 2016

Storytelling continues to be a popular topic amongst fundraisers, but I find that practical advice for beginners is difficult to find. Many of us know why storytelling is important by now, whereas how to tell a great story remains unclear for many.

Agreed? If so, then this (free) eBook is for you…

If you can’t answer this question, quit.

on Jan 12, 2016

There’s one question a fundraiser needs to be able to answer with unshakeable confidence:

What’s next?

Not in the broad “what are your goals for the year” sense. I mean in the literal, “what is the next task you’ll take on, because nothing else is as important right now” sense.

At War Child, our five year strategic plan has provided the broad strokes. For everyone on our team, we know the progress has come because of our consistent disassembly of those big multi-year goals into manageable projects and tasks. We couldn’t execute everything at once. Risk mitigation, investment ability, and staff capacity come to mind as obstacles along the way (so far).

Knowing where to start is sometimes the hardest part…

Your donor is crying. Now what?

on Jan 6, 2016

Every fundraiser earning their pay knows that emotion drives the majority of giving, especially in annual and monthly programs. At a recent IFC conference Dan Hill, author of Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success said:

If you want to be successful at fundraising, the more you make people think, the less they feel; and the less they feel, the less they are motivated to give.

This has been true in my experience, until gift sizes begin to outstrip a donor’s own budget for an impulse buy. When the gift crosses that line – which is different for everyone – emotion alone isn’t enough to put them at ease. Trust, logic, and accountability become primary drivers.

What’s not a primary driver for giving? Read on…