What fences exist in your fundraising program?

This week we’re looking for non-profit and fundraising advice from one of my favorite books — “It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider” — written by Jim Henson, The Muppets, and Friends. In yesterday’s post, we examined a movie quote from Kermit the Frog and talked about donor recapture initiatives. Today, we look at a quote from Jon Stone who was one of the creators of “Sesame Street” and the person who brought Jim Henson into that television family.

The following short three sentence description of Jim Henson by Jon Stone encapsulates a very important idea that all non-profit and fundraising professionals need to understand and take to heart:

“Jim didn’t think in terms of boundaries at all, the way the rest of us do. There are always these fences we build around ourselves and our ideas. Jim seemed to have no fences.”

A few days ago I was sharing a cup of coffee with an long-time non-profit friend. She was talking about how things used to be before the Great Recession and how things need to change as we enter “The New Normal”. She talked a lot about the need for non-profit professionals to focus on “unrelated earned income” and entrepreneurial ventures that augment the more traditional charitable giving revenue model upon which most non-profits operate.

While I’m not certain, I suspect my friend might be a Jim Henson type of person. She definitely doesn’t have any fences in her life.

A week ago Jamie Morris, the development director from the Boys & Girls Club in Evansville, Indiana, sent me a YouTube link to a video titled “Trickwinkle” that they produced with former New York Yankee Don Mattingly. They sold some sponsorships and raised some money. According to Jamie, they are trying to get their video to “GO VIRAL” . . . I ‘m still not positive that I understand all of the resource development aspects to this project (I think might even be a possible product sale angle around the T-shirts you see being worn in the video), but I am certain that those guys in Evansville don’t have any fences in their lives.

Please click the link to Boys & Girls Club of Evansville’s “Trickwinkle” YouTube video and do them a favor by posting it on your Facebook page and sharing it on Twitter.  They’d consider it a personal favor and so would I.  😉

There are very few of us who can claim to have Jim Henson’s ability to operate in a boundary-free world. However, we can do the next best thing which is invest in evaluation and assessment efforts and ask this simple question: “What fences exist in our non-profit organizations and fundraising programs?”

Please scroll down and share with us what some of your fences may be? Have you ever used fundraising volunteers to help with evaluating your resource development efforts? If so, did you ever discover things that you might not have otherwise seen? What did you do about it?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

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