Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

Archive for the ‘Relationship Building’ Category

You, Standing out in a crowd

In Communications, Public Relations, Relationship Building, Uncategorized on November 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm

8469849-standing-out-of-the-crowd-concept-with-individual-successful-goldfishPhoto source

In an often crowded not-for-profit market, it can be difficult to make your organization stand out. It’s definitely something we are always working on at the Society. We want to make sure that people know who the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia is and what we do.

So, how do we do that? Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

  • Plan ahead: Take some time to map out the year ahead, month by month. This will help you decide if there something specific you want to focus on each month. It’s amazing to see how often you can leverage something that is already happening to make sure your organization’s message gets out there.Here’s an example of how the Society does this:
Month Focus Angle
December Holiday season Tips for gifts/caregiving/ visiting someone with dementia
March Brain Awareness Week Better brain health/risk factors for dementia
June Father’s day Profiling the men in our lives

As great as planning ahead is, you still need to make sure you are flexible. Even though you have mapped out the year, something will likely come up at the last minute, and you need to be ready to respond.

  • Be active and engaging on social media:
    I can’t emphasize this one enough. Being part of the conversation on social media is a great way to talk about who your organization is and what you do. But, simply just posting isn’t enough – you need to make sure you are engaging your audience. For some social media tricks on how to best engage your audience – check out one of our previous blog posts here.
  • Get out there:
    Make sure you take every opportunity available to get in front of a crowd to talk about your organization. If you’re doing a media interview, an education session or speaking at one of your organization’s event – make sure you always bring it back to the overall message of who you are and how you can help.
  • Change it up:
    Don’t be afraid of change. By switching it up every now and then, you can start to create a buzz about your organization. We change it up every year with National Philanthropy Day, and it has definitely made people take notice of what we are doing.

These are just a few tips, but we’d love to hear from you. Do YOU have some tips YOU can share about making sure your organization stands out? Leave a comment below.

YOU, Remembering what it’s all about

In Relationship Building, Special Events on November 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

conferencepic.jpg large
It’s really easy to become so wrapped up in a project, event, or the everyday tasks of your job that you forget to take a step back and take a look at the big picture. I recently had the opportunity to do just that.

Over the past two days, the Society hosted our 25th Annual Provincial Conference. People come from all over Nova Scotia to attend this conference. Whether they are Doctors, CCAs, RNs, LPNs, family members, friends or partners in care, these are the people on the frontlines who face dementia on a daily basis.

It never fails to impress me how dedicated all these conference participants are to their work. They come ready to spend two days soaking up knowledge that they can take back to their workplace. They want to make sure they have the knowledge they need to provide the best possible care for people living with Dementia.

I’m also amazed by how our staff comes together. Whether it is greeting participants, helping with registration or setting up computers and projectors, we are all ready and willing to help with whatever is needed to help this event run smoothly.

So, what it all comes down to is this – when you have the chance, stop and take it all in. We may all have different roles to play, but at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to make sure we are doing the best for the people we serve. That’s something we can all be proud of.

YOU, the major gift fundraiser learning lessons everywhere

In Donors, Fundraising, Major Gifts, Relationship Building on October 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm
The writer with a golden ticket...to the next round

The writer with a golden ticket…to the next round

A few years ago, well, I guess about a decade ago now, I auditioned for a reality show. I don’t say that out loud very often, but there YOU have it. In 2004, my friends “challenged” me to put myself out there doing something I loved: singing.

I wasn’t a recording artist, or a Broadway show stopper. I was someone who just liked to sing with the radio, or in the shower, when my friends started asking me to sing in their weddings. Being on TV and hoping millions of Canadians voted for me was never my dream.

Auditioning for Canadian Idol (the process was three auditions over the course of one day) – in retrospect – has made me a better fundraiser. It was a cultivation process for the creators of the show; trying to figure out who they would put on stage and support.

There are several lessons to be learned from the experience. Here are my top three:

Overcoming insecurities: Just by stepping into the audition room, I went from amateur to professional. Many who were auditioning with me, were seasoned professionals. And even though I had a few registry signing singing performances under my belt, I felt I wasn’t good enough to be heard from.

It’s how I sometimes feel as I prep for meetings with major gift donors or senior volunteers. “Why,” I ask myself, “Would they want to hear from me?” YOU don’t have to be an extrovert (which I mostly am) to have these insecurities. Fundraisers just need to have passion, knowledge and the opportunity to earn a stakeholders support.

Listening to criticism: One of the saddest moments of trying out for a talent reality show is stepping into the bathroom after the first round of auditions. Every stall, every sink, every inch of floor either a crying contestant or a supportive friend.

There were hundreds of people auditioning that day, just like there are several organizations that appeal to the same major donors. It’s hard in the moment, but hearing criticism (or asking for feedback) about your organization, or the ask, or your project is tough. But actually listening to it, will only help YOU in the future.

My second audition of the day at Idol was brutal. Everything about my first performance was broken down and discussed. But I listened, and I made it to round three.

Now, when I hold a meeting with a potential major gift donor, I always ask the senior volunteer or my Executive Director (whoever came with me) to give me feedback once the meeting is over. Did I speak too quickly (a definite trait of mine)? Did I answer the questions asked of me, how was my body language, how was my language in general (not that I swear like a sailor in meetings, but did I use internal language too much?)

Relationship building/Friend-raising: My final audition of the day came almost 10 hours after the first. I no longer was shy or nervous, I was invested in succeeding. This was evident the moment I stepped in front of the producers, production crew and cameras. I had to make these people my friends. They had to believe in me and my (new found) goal of becoming the next great Canadian talent out of Nova Scotia (Sorry Ms. Anne Murray, excuse me Rita MacNeil, outta my way Rankin Family!)

Fundraising author Penelope Burke has said that when a fundraiser speaks to donors, “…it doesn’t matter your age or experience, YOU should just be interesting.” I went in to that last Idol audition prepared to let them see who Sarah really was: someone who was smart, liked to smile and could sing.

At the end of my audition I had everyone laughing, but my voice wasn’t Idol ready. No problem I said and thanked them for their time. As I was leaving I could hear them talk, “She’s funny.” “Great personality.” “Awesome girl.”

I left not with a title, but with people who supported me.

When I meet potential major gift donors, I really have to work hard on letting them see my personality, my expertise, my passion. It’s easy to be the staff person who seems to tag along and nods their head in agreement with everything that’s said in the meeting.

If YOU have gotten over your insecurity and listened to feedback, YOU know that YOU are not only prepared to be in that meeting, but YOU are the expert there, on how to help that donor change the trajectory of the cause your organization fights for.

As a fundraiser YOU have passion; there’s an argument for the fact that it is in our DNA, our need to make the world a better place. YOU also have passion for many other things. Maybe it’s cooking, running, reading or singing. What lessons can YOU learn from those to help YOU be the best fundraiser YOU can be?

YOU, Saying Thank You

In Communications, Donors, Fundraising, national philanthropy day, Public Relations, Relationship Building, thank you, Third Party on August 27, 2014 at 12:46 pm

thank you

source

We have blogged about this before. This is not a new concept. Saying thank you is one of the most basic concepts of fundraising. It should be innate to all of us. And while sending thank you cards and letters and including a thank you in every email response is a great habit, what about going further than that.

We have mastered the standard thank you. I worry that it gets lost sometimes. Are the standard thank yous in my emails getting noticed? Are people getting immune to them?

Our Philanthropy Department has been promoting the idea of an “outside the box” thank you for a long time, especially since we started participating in National Philanthropy Day. This is an amazing opportunity to explore if YOU are looking for a cool, new way to say thank you to your supporters. So now that the trend is set in our office and the bar is high. How do you thank someone in a memorable way?

I had an opportunity last night to do one of my most favourite thank yous of all. This thank you isn’t new for us, we have been doing it this way for a few years, but it is so well received and appreciated, that we just can’t mess with it now.

Every January we run a campaign called Forget Me Not Week. This campaign goes out to all universities and colleges in the province as a way to engage the younger generation. The schools compete against each other to raise money and whoever raises the most gets a prize. The prize is our way of saying thank you. For the past decade or so, the winner of the campaign has been the Acadia Axemen football team. They are extremely dedicated to our cause and have carved out a niche for themselves in their community. The team and coaches work extremely hard to win this challenge and it is important to us to do something meaningful for them, after all, we want them to stay engaged.

Working with the coaching staff we help develop a team bonding experience during their preseason training. This is an important time for them to gel as a team, and so giving them an experience that allows them to spend time together off the field is important. This is also a time where they are working extremely hard and don’t have a lot of extra energy to give. As a result we set something up that is relaxing; a private screening of a movie of their choosing.

It is amazing to see how appreciative and thankful the team is to have to this luxury. As students, they appreciate the free entertainment, and as a team they appreciate the opportunity to get to know each other and the coaches.

This also becomes an opportunity for us to say thank you directly to them while they are all together, and explain why what they do is so important to the people of the province.

We could send a hand written card to say thank you that gets tacked up on some bulletin board in the locker room (which we do). But this opportunity gives me face time with the team, gives the coaches a chance to accept a plaque in front of the team and helps me strengthen my relationship with the team. There is nothing like talking to someone in person to fortify a relationship.

It might not be the most outside the box thank you we could ever dream up, but here are some important things to remember: we did something that fit their schedule, we did something that fit their agenda, we did something they enjoy and we got that all-important face time. A true “thank you” success.

YOU, building meaningful professional relationships

In Fundraising, Relationship Building on August 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm

BuildingRelationships

Photo source

How many people do YOU connect with in the run of a day? I think that depends on what your profession is. If you’re a fundraiser, there’s a good chance that YOU will be connecting with staff, donors, sponsors and board members all in the same week.

It takes time to develop meaningful working relationships whether it’s inside the office or out.  YOU need to learn about the other person’s work ethic, how they react to situations, how much YOU can trust them and they need to learn all of these things about YOU.

Today’s topic seems like an easy thing and maybe YOU think that your professional relationships are just fine. However, there is always something  YOU can do to improve your professional relationships.

Here are a few things I have learned so far during my career as a professional fundraiser.

1. Be positive. If YOU go in with a positive attitude, YOU can’t lose. Even in difficult situations, having a positive attitude will help YOU identify opportunities and those around YOU will recognize that.

2. Stay true to your word. If YOU promise a donor that you’ll follow-up with them, YOU have to do just that. How else will they learn to trust YOU and your brand?

4. Connect.  It doesn’t always have to be about work! Get to know more about the people you work closely with. Take an interest in a hobby of theirs, ask about their family, send a sympathy card if it’s known they’re going through a difficult time. Tune in!

5. Do something special. In many of our blog posts, we have covered the importance of saying thank you, and saying it in a creative way. If you’re out and about, make a point to go and see some of your sponsors and bring them a coffee to brighten their day.

6. Show that you’re a team player. Take every opportunity YOU have to show that you’re a team player. Volunteer to take on an extra project in your department, or do a favor for a colleague. If those YOU work with know they can count on YOU, this will strengthen your relationship.

These are just a few suggestions but I’d love to hear from YOU! Leave a comment and tell us how YOU build meaningful professional relationships.