This is Not A Blog Post

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The Treachery of Images: This is Not A Pipe. The photograph of Rene Magritte’s painting is © C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. The painting is held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Starting this week, we will only offer one blog post/week. This is historic! For years, since the start of RAISING CLARITY, we have blogged twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays.

We don’t need to blog now because we are getting such good word of mouth from all you wonderful soul-colleagues. Please continue to tell everyone about us! See this special deal to help you give away our time to your friends and colleagues.

We will continue to blog now once/week just because we love it.

Thank you to all who read us–on social media and (our favorite) as subscribers to the RAISING CLARITY blog through our website.  We do occasionally offer special treats to subscribers to say “Thanks!” to help make it worth your while.

We will begin now clarifying the blog to be more useful, so if you have suggestions, please make them in the Comments to this post.


PS! We are offering a yearlong supportive and coaching group to improve your promotion of your work. Here is our Application. The price is negotiable and group size will be limited to 15. The deadline to apply is October 3rd.

Fundraising as Building Friendships

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Friends. Image by Jaume Ventura, Barcelona, Spain uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, accessed via Creative Commons Search.

As this is published, I am in Beverly, West Virginia at an historic preservation conference. My workshop is Any Place We Love Can Be Saved Fundraising as Building Preservation Friendships and if you click on that link, you’ll be able to download my detailed proposal for the workshop.

The purpose of this post is to advance the idea that

fundraising IS primarily the act of what those two women are doing in that photo: building friendship.

Primarily in the way they are doing it, too: Relating. Discussing. Considering. Responding. It’s such a subtle photo.

Fundraising is NOT primarily crowdfunding,  asking for grants or large amounts of money,

although we’ve posted (click and see) on how to do each of those things.

Those things are merely vehicles for people to pour money into your cause, project, organization. They will not build your friendships for you. Only humans can do that. Here’s an example as it applies to marketing.

Please remember this as you raise funds for your non-profit (or even investments in your for-profit).

If you’d like the agenda + handouts I designed for this workshop, they’re here. If you’d like me to design a workshop for you, just say the word. Here is a list of all the areas in which we have already designed workshops.

PS: Happy New Year! Today is the Fall Equinox.


*This post’s title was inspired by Alice Walker’s Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism.

Buy One Hour, Give One Free: RAISING CLARITY’s Non-Bogus BOGO

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I love bogo. Image by Mark Morgan uploaded to Flikr, accessed via Creative Commons Search.

Our darling soul-colleague J (we’ll let you out yourself in a comment) suggested we’d reach our just-right people if we offered BOGO.  We’re doin’ it! It is now RAISING CLARITY policy that if you buy some our time, you can gift the same to anyone who’s never worked with us before.

This offer is non-bogus because it’s retroactive:

if you’ve ever bought an hour of our time, you can gift one

and it’s fractal:

if you’ve bought a half-hour, you may gift a half-hour. Or even 15 minutes!

Here’s how it works:
  1. Email us at bethraps@raisingclarity.com with the name & email address of the person to whom you’re gifting the hour. (It can be an organization or an individual. Coaching is what individuals want for themselves; consulting what they want for their organizations or projects, but you can let them choose.)
  2. We will send them a fancy, branded RAISING CLARITY email letting them know you’ve gifted them and initiating conversation about what they’d like to use it for. (We never start the clock til we know what we’re doing. Anything prior to that is free, considered “scope of work,” a fancy phrase for “figuring out how we can help.”) We cc you on the initial email.
  3. You can do this as many times as you like: one gift hour per paid hour, a gift half-hour per paid half-hour or even a gift quarter-hour per paid quarter-hour. (Our work is that good: you actually make progress in 15 minutes’ coaching or consulting. I have the testimonials to prove it.) Our rate is $100/hour unless you purchase 10+ hours at a time, which brings the rate to $80/hour–or you’ve negotiated a different rate with us.

Promote This! A Yearlong Group for Practicing Promotion with Integrity FOR YOU

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Sunflower Sunrise by Leon Brooks. Source: Public Domain Images. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Fae, who has uploaded 2,031,946 images to Wikimedia Commons and is a license reviewer. Thank you, Fae!

You love your work.

You hate promoting your work.

Sound like you?

Consider applying to our one-year Promotion with Integrity Support and Coaching Group. It starts in November after I approve no more than 15 Applications and negotiate the best meeting day and time with our members. The deadline to apply is Monday, October 3rd by 5pm Eastern US time.

And it’s affordable: I negotiate an individual rate with each member. 

Group membership includes:

  • monthly group telephone support and coaching sessions
  • promotional homework assignments that are practical-creative challenges to build your promotional success while you’re in the Group and forever after, well beyond your time in the group. Initially, you may not feel ready to set assignments for yourself. This group will help you grow into defining what you need to surpass your edge–with my support, ideas and gentle nudging. This is a lasting investment you make.
  • my careful, personal review of and response to your homework
  • up to two hours of  individual coaching or consulting with me per month.

Benefits

You’ll

  • get my help figuring out what promotional strategies belong in your calendar, and where to go after them.
  • set your own goals, gently nudged by me toward your edge, not someone else’s.
  • take on promotional homework assignments between meetings.
  • set up a promotional calendar–and keep it, while building in sanity, time for reflection, and evaluation.
  • learn how to evaluate your success to make wise, elegant, effective changes in your strategy and your calendar.
  • coach with me privately in what I call the “divine curriculum” using your promotional challenges, successes, and opportunities + the inner growth “stuff” that arises from you putting yourself out there. We may also decide to use a session to discuss your writing, audio or video; role-play an “ask”; or tweak a speech or presentation.
  • see and appreciate your progress, your ideas, your allies, your gifts–and how to use them. This approach gently develops you as a promoter of your work.

For a taster, browse our Summer 2016 series of blog posts and phone chats! Each and every post in this Summer’s series has a recording that gives some idea of how our Group will feel. But our Group will be closed to new members, and much more focused on our members’ needs and desires.

To Apply

Click here. Read the “Intention” and “Basics” at the top of the page, then zoom to the end and follow the “Instructions and Selection Criteria.” Questions? Please do contact me. You can email or call.  I want this to work for everyone, you included!

and if you know someone who should apply please Promote This! and send them this post. Thank you!

Crowdfunding: Letting A Thousand Flowers Really Bloom/Part Six: BLOOM!

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Giant White Shasta Daisies. Image by and uploaded to Flikr by Swallowtail Garden Seeds with a Creative Commons license.

Bloom!

Let’s look at the word “bloom” a minute. It’s Old Norse for flowering–and prosperity! Humans have connected blooming, thriving and wealth for a long time. This post teaches you how to take the crowdfunding you’ve done in parts one, two, three, four, five and CONNECT them so they EXTEND into your fundraising future. (IF you were only crowdfunding investors for a new gadget, congrats, you’re done, you don’t need to read this post.) IF you were crowdfunding to take your organization to a new level of prosperity, please do read this post.

What people seldom tell you is that your long-term rewards come AFTER the crowdfunding campaign. This post sketches the steps to take. It is not a complete detailed listing of every step. (I tried that. It came to the length of a Russian novel.) If you want the detailed version, contact us for a free scope of work session to find out how little it would cost to have our help translating your crowdfunding campaign into long-term dollars and relationships.

  1. You’ve received gifts from new donors. (If you can’t tell your new donors from your existing donors who also gave to the campaign, G-d help you, but contact me).  Assume they know nothing beyond your campaign.  But know this: you’ve earned these new donors and they belong to you, not your crowdfunding platform!
  2. Build their loyalty by showing them loyalty. Find out about them! Build them into your records. Include every scrap of information you can find out about them from the crowdfunding platform. At minimum, this should be each new donor’s
    • name
    • email address
    • perk(s) they chose
    • notes to you and yours back to them.   Also add their
    • geographic location
    • postal address
    • and other campaigns they funded…. if the platform tells you this information.
  3. After you build them into your records, build them into your work. Thank them upon completion of the campaign. This is a second thank-you beyond the one you sent with their perk, Remember: you can’t over-thank. Yes, I do mean each of them. It’s like your teeth: only take care of the ones you want to keep.
  4. At this point, take a breath. Enjoy having stopped the campaign.
  5. Now start up fundraising again committed to increase the time you spend communicating with your people. (It will be less than you spent during the campaign but more than you spent before the campaign.) You will start setting aside time to communicate with all your (segmented) existing donors AND the new donors you got from this campaign–and from every future source, like petitions and event sign-in sheets.
  6. Use some of your set-aside time first to tell your new donors a bit about your organization.  Email them a short, snappy, and visually rich piece customized just for them. Give them a flavor of the work you do, not the whole meal. In your email, ask they do something simple, specific, and online to show support of your work. Here are some ideas: sign a petition, Like your Facebook page, sign up for your blog.  Small, specific, and online because you want to see if they are willing to do once more what they did for you during the campaign OUTSIDE the campaign platform. Make it easy and fun for them. Remember: they are not loyal yet. You are building loyalty. It’s your job (your opportunity)–whenever you get a new donor.
  7. Make sure you can tell which of them do this small, specific, online thing. You can do this: (1) manually by comparing new blog or petition sign-ups or Likes to your new donor list or (2) by tracking them automatically if you have the tools or savvy.
  8. Thank each of your new donors who does this small, specific, online thing. Most people who give via crowdfunding platforms like to be noticed. Don’t worry, you won’t have to notice them this much forever 😉  Soon some will become care more about you getting your work done than recognition. But you are helping them transition to that kind of loyalty.
  9. Make a note in your calendar to reach out to these new donors at least once more and possibly twice more. Make a note that you want to customize your outreach a bit specially to the new donors who have taken the action you asked. Invite them to join you in something, for example.
  10. Finally, invite them to opt into your permanent donor records. OR simply add them, and let them know so they can opt out if they like. This decision depends on your organization’s culture and how you already handle this kind of thing.

That’s it, our series is complete. Again, just a sketch but it gives you RAISING CLARITY’s take on crowdfunding details too often unmentioned. Questions? Comments? Thank you!

Crowdfunding: Letting A Thousand Flowers Really Bloom/Part Five: Really

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Giant White Shasta Daisies. Image by and uploaded to Flikr by Swallowtail Garden Seeds with a Creative Commons license.

Here you are at part five out of six in our series on crowdfunding. You’ve read all the other parts carefully: you remember to budget time to let the platform work for you after you choose it carefully and design your one of a thousand flowers. This post is about how to make your flower REALLY STAND OUT.

Really

Here is a checklist for how to keep your campaign a standout:
  1. post short fun updates (every day is not too often; every few days essential)
  2. post new pictures (every few days at least)
  3. posting new, short (=under 30-second) videos of
    • the campaign’s success (and also what you’re raising funds for–in that order)
    • animations or memes or graphic cutenesses that are great to share–sort of like online fridge magnets we talked about last post
    • (interesting, animated) people talking about the campaign
    • what you’re raising money for happening, or starting to happen, or needing to happen.

Remember that you need to budget time. See our posts on Time for our unique, contemplative approach to time-sculpting. You can remain perfectly calm while crowdfunding if you plan for many small work-periods throughout your campaign to post your updates. But you will be even saner if you set aside time for weeks before the campaign preparing perks, taking “new” photos, making little videos, and pre-writing or at least drafting post.

Honestly, I learned this from the brilliant organizers in the article I keep wanting you to read. It’s here, linked in this first post in our series.

OK, time to wrap up. And let your flower BLOOM! Part Six is far more than a recap: it’s all about “where you go from here” after a crowdfunding campaign!

NOTE! The soul-colleague who inspired our series on crowdfunding is taking this online crowdfunding course to prepare. He showed me the link and it is wonderful. I have reviewed each preview-able section and really like the work of instructor, Eli Regalado. I learned a lot just from the previews! Instructor Eli says he “has a degree from Hard Knocks University on Social Engineering and a Masters in The Art Of The Hustle.” I can tell he is a master. I only disagree with him about crowdfunding being the thing for “nonprofits who’ve realized the old way of doing things isn’t working anymore,” because the old ways of doing things work very well. What’s needed is how to integrate old ways with new ways. We hope to have made a dent in that with this series of blog posts .

Crowdfunding: Letting A Thousand Flowers Really Bloom/Part Four: Flowers

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Giant White Shasta Daisies. Image by and uploaded to Flikr by Swallowtail Garden Seeds with a Creative Commons license.

Welcome new readers! I bet we met at the Communities Conference this past weekend! See the * at the end of this post.

Your crowdfunding campaign is the first thing some people will ever see about you. How do you make it stand out? (If you want to know how to prepare for this question, read Parts One, Two, and Three of this series.)

Flowers

All crowdfunding platforms woo you.

The platform makes money from you.

They know you have choices. They appeal to you by

  1. promising lower fees (fees are similar and not a wise top priority of yours)
  2. easy set-up
  3. super-great customer service.

That’s all fine.  It’s just that YOUR DONORS HAVE TO BE ABLE TO FIND YOUR CAMPAIGN FOR IT TO SUCCEED.

When you shopped for a platform, did you notice how hard it is on some platforms for new donors to find you?

All platforms are not created equal when it comes to the donor’s experience.

As you choose a platform, examine how hard is it for you to find a campaign at random, one that’s not featured on the platform’s home page. How easy is it to browse all their campaigns? Second, how easy is it to find a campaign by category? Suss out what categories your campaign fits. See who else is in your  category. Maybe experiment with another category; what other campaigns are in that one? If all the other campaigns in your category are (for example) gloom-and-doom or a medical emergency and you (and your campaign) are revolutionizing health, your best bet may be another category–or another platform.  Check out the platform comparison articles I gave you in the last post for help with this.

It’s not all on the platform, however. Not by a long shot. True, new donors must be able to find your campaign with only a small amount of effort if you want that crowdfunding magic we talked about to kick in. But your current donors also need to find your campaign! And that’s on you.

Your current donors find your campaign in every old-fashioned fundraising way you already use: personal email, social media posts, events where you announce the campaign, hard-copy postcards, refrigerator magnets you send out when you launch.

You get the idea. These are all discussed in the article we referred you to (and shared with you) in Part One.

Want your campaign to “go viral”? Ask your donors to promote the campaign by sharing your posts, forwarding your emails, sending your postcards to their friends, talking up the campaign when their friends come for dinner and see your eye-catching magnet on their fridge.

Reward sharers with perks if you like–but most important is simply to thank them very publicly on your campaign page–and of course personally.

You can’t over-communicate with your donors, I promise. You can over-ask them (maybe; most askers err on the side of being too reticent) but you cannot over-thank them.

Crowdfunding really is just a fancy channel for your (existing) donors to give you money. So please make sure they know where to find your campaign.

You also can not over-communicate your campaign. And yes, you end up doing the same kinds of communicating we have always done. But you gain some new donors (I’d guess no more than 20% of your total) plus new and extra gifts from your existing list.

Everyone involved (you included) gets to feel excited and part of something bigger than ourselves and very modern and all of that’s good too.

How do you keep them excited? On to Part Five.


*If you’re reading this blog for the first time, welcome!. Please browse the other posts in our six-part crowdfunding series if you feel like you’ve arrived in the middle of something. You have! And please know yourself invited to join our Promotion with Integrity coaching and support group.  If you are promoting a cause or a community, I hope you will apply. It starts in November. You have to apply by October 3 and I encourage you do so a lot sooner. Here is the Application form + information. For my series of posts on doing promotion with integrity, click here.

Crowdfunding: Letting A Thousand Flowers Really Bloom/Part Three: A Thousand

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Giant White Shasta Daisies. Image by and uploaded to Flikr by Swallowtail Garden Seeds with a Creative Commons license.

Greetings to those coming to RAISING CLARITY from this year’s Communities Conference held over Labor Day weekend at Twin Oaks, Virginia!

Gain all you can from this post, and ask questions in the Comments. See also the Invitation at the end of this post.*

All y’all: that goes for you, too!


Let’s review:

You understand how to let money flow in by keeping your pump primed using excitement (Part Two). 

Now, how do you let people know about your campaign?

A Thousand

In crowdfunding, your campaign is one…of a thousand. It’s both totally unique–and ends up looking like everyone else’s campaign on the same platform.

Your chosen crowdfunding platform is, first and foremost, promoting itself. Not your campaign.

Remember that when you go “platform-shopping.” And you must go platform-shopping. Don’t take the platform anyone else recommends on faith. There are a great many out there. The rest of this post helps guide you through the morass of choosing. But know that the platform that felt right to someone else may not be the one that feels right to you.

When I went platform-shopping** for my client recently (as mentioned in Part One), I noticed something no one else had told me: each platform has a different feel.

Some platforms are stodgy–surprisingly, because crowdfunding is not even 10 years old.

But slower-paced donors might be more comfortable with a clunkier platform; they might find the stodgy feel comforting and familiar.

Some platforms feel hot and happening.

Donors who like to know what others are giving and want others to know what they are giving love these.

Other platforms are for creatives or bookish types.

Some platforms emphasize dire! catastrophe! emergency! Others cuteness, quirkiness, artistry.

Crowdfunding Platform Comparisons

I found three articles I trusted comparing platforms–each of these clicks through to the article:

You should also look at each platform’s website, of course. Please don’t be silly and trust what they say about the other platforms. Do your homework.  (Thanks.)

What I mean by “feel” is most obvious if you look at the platform from the DONOR’S perspective. This has everything to do with how your donors will find your campaign.

OK, let’s look at that in more detail: on to Part Four.

For an index to the whole series, click here.


*Maybe you’d like to know: I’m running a coaching and support group called “Promotion with Integrity” that starts in November. You have to apply by October 3 and I encourage you do so a lot sooner. Here is the Application form + information. For my current wisdom on the topic of promotion with integrity, click here.

**I researched a dozen platforms (there are many more; there is even one for barnraisings! thanks to J for that news!) and constructed a ranked list of ten. I’m happy to do the same for you! Two platforms I liked were by and for overseas users (Australia and the UK), which when you are receiving money, ends up being important because of banking laws. My client is in the US and Canada, so I didn’t put those on my research list for him.

Crowdfunding: Letting A Thousand Flowers Really Bloom/Part Two: Letting

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Giant White Shasta Daisies. Image by and uploaded to Flikr by Swallowtail Garden Seeds with a Creative Commons license.

If you are confused, it may be because you are starting with Part Two of this series. Start here instead. Then come back.

Letting

Once you’ve understood that crowdfunding is part of fundraising, you want to know how to let your crowdfunding flowers bloom.

Think of money as water. Think of fundraising as opening up channels to receive that water. Crowdfunding is just fancy plumbing and a pump.

Your job is to keep the pump primed, and the plumbing unobstructed.

What crowdfunding does that seems so magic is open up a channel right where so many people seem to live, and so many give: online. When you crowdfund, you are going to be inundated. Hopefully, you’ll be inundated with money. For sure you’ll also be inundated with work. There’s a level of excitement you must maintain if you bother to do crowdfunding. It’s part of the job.

Excitement is the pump. Your cause can be best in the world but if your crowdfunding campaign is boring, please just don’t do it at all. Go back to Part One, read the article, and only do the stuff they talk about besides crowdfunding.

If you are committed to crowdfunding, commit. That’s what we mean by “letting”: let it work for you.

You have to work to let it work for you, though! Nothing in social media stays the same for long. People live online because it distracts them. If you want their attention, be distracting: be engaging, interesting, quirky, even provocative. Above all, be appreciative.

Appreciation is fun for people to read about as well as receive and inspires giving.

If you’re going to crowdfund, you need to budget time to keep up with it. Time to prepare perks in advance, for example. What a great idea! Hey–it came from the folks who wrote the article I advised. (Here’s the article again.) Take time to troubleshoot in advance what they figured out through trial and error (with over 100 years of organizing under their belts) and which they share in the article.

Crowdfunding is a magic wand because you work your butt off creating the magic.

Then you have to make sure people see it!  A beautiful crowdfunding page is like a beautiful website: it just sits there. Yes, some of the magic of crowdfunding is that people do browse looking for things to fund. How cool is that?!

But don’t rely on it!

You have to tell people to come to your campaign!

How? On to Part Three...

For an index to the whole series, click here.

Crowdfunding: Letting A Thousand Flowers Really Bloom/Part One: Crowdfunding?

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Giant White Shasta Daisies. Image by and uploaded to Flikr by Swallowtail Garden Seeds with a Creative Commons license.

So appropriate, this series, as I prepare to launch a campaign including crowdfunding for a new client who has quickly become a soul-colleague. Let’s take it from the top:

Crowdfunding?

  1. You think you want crowdfunding. Think again: do you mean you want fundraising? Fundraising is a multi-pronged endeavor that can include crowdfunding. Here is an article I advised, “Our Multipronged Approach to Crowdfunding: Melding the Old & the New” that shows you what I mean.
  2. Read it and if you don’t understand it, ask questions in a comment to this post.
  3. If you don’t understand what made this client’s crowdfunding successful, read it once more, take notes, and then ask questions here.

If you can’t tell what was crowdfunding and what was fundraising in the article, you’ve got it!

You’ve understood the basics and you understand the article. Proceed to Part Two!