Jun 19, 2020

A Maritime AFP Chapter Seeks to Eradicate the Fundraising Ick-Factor


Raise your hand if you think fundraising is icky.”

Every one of the nonprofit board members lowered their eyes and raised their hands.

“It’s okay. You’re not alone,” I assured. “I’m here to show you how to put the fun in fundraising.” Thankfully, someone chuckled at my groan-inducing pun. 

I led the group through a Fundraising 101 presentation. We reviewed the operational tools needed for fundraising success and I stressed the importance of a compelling case for support. Heads nodded. A few people scribbled notes. But when I brought up a culture of philanthropy, heads raised and cocked to the side a bit. A culture of what?  Read more in the Mar/Apr issue of FOUNDATION Magazine...

Aug 17, 2018

Advancing Philanthropy - Summer 2018

I'm excited to share that the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation's Medical Dragons' Den article I wrote is in the summer 2018 issue of AFP's Advancing Philanthropy Magazine!

Click here to check it out >> Realizing Genuine Donor Engagement

Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) members automatically receive a subscription to Advancing Philanthropy as a member benefit. There are over 30,000 AFP members worldwide.

I'm just thrilled to have an opportunity to spread the word about the innovative fundraisers and generous donors here in the Saint John region and across New Brunswick.

Apr 18, 2018

Wise Words

As I sit, wasting time on social media, the little voice in my head says: "It's time to get off yer ass and do some laundry so you'll have something to cover yer ass tomorrow." Wise words.

Feb 9, 2018

It's Complicated

Oh, Saint John. Most times I love ya. But sometimes I hate ya.

I hate when you get stuck in the past.
But I love when you find innovative ways to respect your heritage.
I hate when you bitch and complain, and hold back progress.
I love when you stand up for what's right for all.
I love your grit, but not your grime.
I hate when you act entitled, expect handouts, and dump on those who've worked hard to earn what they have.
But I love your generous, caring side, and your genuine willingness to share with your neighbours.
I hate when you don't appreciate yourself.
And I hate when you can't see your value because you're distracted by pain and poverty.
I want to pick you up and hug you.
I want to give you a kick in the butt.
I tried to leave you, but you drew me back.
You're my home.
I want you to grow, and spread your wings, and reach your full potential.

Okay, I never really hate you.

Feb 6, 2018

Things Hidden

The writing prompt was:

"Give me a story that includes these five elements: a crack in the sidewalk, rat poison, rust-colored corduroy pants, leftover lasagna, and Einstein."


Things Hidden

At the very bottom of her mother’s cedar chest, under a wool blanket, was a faded Polaroid photograph. One glance set the reels of her memory archive in motion.

There was no point begging her mother to let her get pants that actually fit. Better to grow into them than to grow out of them, her mother would argue. She’d just have to roll the legs up.

School was a 20-minute walk. Even if she hurried, she’d be late. Her mother didn’t like mornings, and getting ready was always rushed and unpleasant. Her stomach grumbled. She thought about the peanut butter sandwich in her blue plastic lunchbox.

She was so embarrassed of that stupid lunchbox. It used to be her brother’s and it had a picture of Einstein on it. Why couldn’t she have a Barbie lunchbox like the other girls?

Her brother was sick for a long time. He always had nose bleeds and bruises – lots of bruises. After her brother died, the kids at school would tease her and say her mother killed him with rat poisoning. If she asked about him, her mother would slap her face.

The lunchbox. She forgot it at home. Too late to go back now. And she’d wake up her mother. Maybe her best friend would share.

She’d often daydream about food. She’d imagine the whole world was lasagna and she had to eat a path to school. She loved lasagna. She had leftover lasagna one time at her best friend’s house. Her mother had stomach ulcers, so they never had anything like it at home.

She stopped to pull up her brand new rust-colored bell bottom corduroys, then jumped with both feet on to the line between the squares of concrete sidewalk.

Don’t step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.

Sometimes she hated her mother.

The photograph: A 9-year-old girl looks into the camera. No smile. New school year. New outfit. Earth tones were all the rage.

Jan 26, 2018

The Big Top

The writing prompt was...

"Harvey, supervisor of the Loading Dock and ABC Trucking, hates to delegate. His new employee, Albert, is frustrated. Harvey’s boss, Bert, is getting ready to write Harvey up for poor performance because Harvey’s employee, Albert, who is untrained, keeps messing up. Albert has already sent a shipment of propellers to an obscure warehouse. Bad idea.

Is this a story? (One hint. Harvey shows up with a fake beard one day. Hmmm. Why does he do that? Clearly, this is not stereotypical business behavior.) What happens next?"

The Big Top

"Who knew it was necessary to stipulate ‘trained’ on the job description? Never in my wildest dreams…" Harvey’s voice trailed off. He realized he was talking to himself. What am I doing here? This place is a circus.

Harvey reached for the bucket at his side. What the –? He scanned the floor and turned 360 degrees. He had put the bucket down just a moment ago. Where did it go? He rolled his eyes. So much for that enchanted childhood notion of running away with the big top. He pursed his lips and took a deep breath through his nose. He immediately regretted the deep breath.

Redirecting his attention to the task at hand, Harvey leaned his shovel against the wall near a steaming pile of dung on the floor and went off in search of the missing bucket. As he turned a corner, he heard the handle of the shovel slide down the wall. He waited for the sound of the handle hitting the hard warehouse floor. Instead, it sounded like the handle hit something soft. Figures, he thought. Shit.

Mar 27, 2017

The First Rule of Good Customer Service Is...

We've all been on the receiving end of poor customer service and left feeling underappreciated and dissatisfied. Why is it, then, that we often can't see how our own actions (or inaction) leave our customers feeling undervalued?

In my years of managing consumer affairs and public relations, the two most important guiding rules I've learned are the Golden one and the Gratitude one

The Golden Rule was drilled into my head early: Treat others as you would like them to treat you. It's solid, timeless advice, and something I aspire to apply to every interaction.

But it wasn't until I entered the fundraising world that I really began to appreciate the Gratitude Rule and how important it is to both corporate and non-profit businesses. 

Good fundraisers know that the simple act of saying thank you is one of the most important, yet often forgotten, tools in the fundraising tool box. Donors want to feel their contributions are recognized, so every communication should reflect appreciation for what donors have given, and for their interest and involvement in the cause.

To ignore the Gratitude Rule is to miss an opportunity to connect and build a relationship with clients.

Has this ever happened to you?
  • You thank the cashier for giving you back your change, even though you were never thanked for your purchase.
  • You offer your time and talents to an organization, but the response was tepid and left you feeling like you inconvenienced them.
  • You send honest, constructive feedback about your product experience directly to a company, but never receive a reply.

What if it went like this instead?
  • I bought these fabulous boots on sale and the folks at the store made a point of telling me they know I had many choices, so they really appreciated me choosing to shop with them. 
  • I expressed interest in volunteering with a local non-profit, and while they didn't have a Board opening right now, they told me how much they appreciated my passion and my contributions to our community. 
  • I advised my favorite brand that I'm having trouble locating their product. They wrote back to tell me they've alerted their sales team, suggested other stores to try, and thanked me profusely for my loyalty.

The simple act of expressing gratitude can be the difference between leaving a client feeling indifferent about your business and building a lasting relationship that will bring you more business.
"Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones -- with ingratitude." -Benjamin Franklin