Merle’s Blog

/Merle's Blog

Pitch. Not Perfect.


Here's a quick thought for the day. Take a page from the entrepreneurial tech community. Pitch! A pitch is a short (usually 5 to 10 minute) overview of your organization. It's designed both to share information and to attract attention. You generally wrap it up with an ask. There are pitch competitions - even for nonprofits. There are Shark Tank like pitch events including 1 Million Cups, a weekly coffee fueled event that allows start-ups (including nonprofits) to share their story. And ask for money. If you are planning to pitch, keep in mind that perfection is not the goal. I've [...]

Pitch. Not Perfect.2019-10-09T16:37:23-04:00

5 Key Messages to Attract Donors to Your Nonprofit Organization


One of your key roles as a nonprofit leader is to get others excited about your organization. There are lots of ways to do that but they all rely on your communication. Whether it’s a one-on-one, in writing or standing at the podium, your words make magic happen (or not). Improving what you say and how you say it will pay off in more volunteers, advocates and donations. It may not seem fair but the best causes don’t get the most money. To get people to pay attention to you what really matters is what you say. Your words are going [...]

5 Key Messages to Attract Donors to Your Nonprofit Organization2019-10-08T16:33:01-04:00

Being a Connector


I decided to become a Connector. It was a deliberate act. Why? There were two reasons I made this choice: I was reading the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and discovered his conclusion that there are three kinds of people – Mavens, Connectors and Salespeople. I decided I was a Connector. Until I took his little test and failed. At the same time I was regularly meeting a friend, Kanani, for breakfast. I began to notice that every time we met I came away with a list of connections. One day, as I was walking home, I decided from that point [...]

Being a Connector2019-10-02T16:42:45-04:00

Minor Miracles


Today I’m thinking about the little things. They are on my mind because I’m giving a keynote speech at a conference for Volunteer Directors. My mother was a Volunteer Director, so I know how special this group will be. They are the ones who make an organization hum. I think it’s safe to say, it is not a role I would do well, but that makes me admire them all the more. When I thought about the message I wanted to deliver to inspire them, it kept coming back to “Minor Miracles.” Several years ago, I heard an Executive Director of [...]

Minor Miracles2019-10-01T16:30:42-04:00

Solving the Biggest Problems


What does it take to solve the big problems? How do we move from temporary fixes to real solutions? You can't do it alone. It takes a community of thinkers, doers and donors. It takes an ecosystem. I've been thinking a lot about ecosystems. It's actually entrepreneurial ecosystems (more on them later) that got me started. From there I went way back to basic biology and the interdependence of organisms and their physical environment. Nonprofits know a lot about interdependence. Your organization exists as part of a community, you are able to provide services because you have a board, receive donations, [...]

Solving the Biggest Problems2019-01-28T17:35:29-05:00

Be a Visionary


Do you avoid trying something new because it takes time? Time you can’t spare? There’s a way to make big changes, with big dividends, without investing any more of your time. Really. The trick is to switch your thinking from mission to vision. They are two different views or attitudes. You’ll be amazed at the difference this mental shift will make. Vision is what attracts people to your cause. As Simon Sinek says in his famous TED Talk, “Start with Why.” When people hear WHY you are doing what you’re doing they care. Caring leads to donating, joining, volunteering and advocating. [...]

Be a Visionary2018-02-05T09:43:41-05:00

Celebrate Victories


It's ok to have fun. Really. It makes you happier and more productive. A few minutes a day spent celebrating the little victories may pay off in big ways. So why not create some fun? Just like gathering miracles, we tend to wait for something big to happen or for the calendar to tell us it’s time for a party. But celebrating isn’t just about cake or annual events. Celebrate victories. The reasons to celebrate are already there. You’re doing great work! You’re providing services, attracting donors, advocating for your clients, receiving grants, fulfilling dreams and building a fabulous resume. How [...]

Celebrate Victories2018-01-29T17:09:26-05:00

Gather Miracles


Several years ago I heard a nonprofit Executive Director (before they became CEOs) talk about gathering miracles. I had already learned how important storytelling is to success, but miracles? I wanted to know more. He told us how each employee in their child welfare organization reported his or her Miracle of the Month. Of course, I wondered, “How could they have so many miracles.” He went on to explain that wondrous things happen all the time. But we overlook them. They aren’t important enough. Or they are hard to quantify. Maybe they are too small for most people to notice. But [...]

Gather Miracles2018-01-16T18:24:18-05:00

Attracting Millennials


Surprise! Young people like me. Really, they do. When I was a 20 something the saying was, "Never trust anyone over 30." Today's young adults not only trust us, they seek us out. I've found again and again that they want to learn from me and other people like me (well past 30). I love it! They have energy, dreams and skills we won't live long enough to master. Here are my quick tips for attracting millennials to your board, staff or volunteer opportunities. Offer connections. The younger adults I meet through Toastmasters, One Million Cups or my work are eager [...]

Attracting Millennials2017-12-19T10:12:37-05:00

Top Tips for Nonprofits 2018


How will you make 2018 your best year? Here are 5 tips that will get you started. Each one is easy and free so no excuses! You'll see quick results and that feels good. but, maybe even more importantly, they will get you and everyone else thinking creatively. Let's get started: Gather miracles. Everyday your work creates stories of success. Pay attention to them so you can share them. They are your single greatest marketing tool. Turn them into posts. Share them at events. One organization asks each employee to report their Miracle of the Month. That's a great way to [...]

Top Tips for Nonprofits 20182017-12-18T09:02:33-05:00