Sunday, November 30, 2008

Do You Have Your Own Mission Statement?


Last week about 900 fundraising professionals (including me) attended the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Fundraising Conference.

Words cannot express my gratitude to AFP for everything they have given me. I have been attending this conference for about eight years and thought I knew what to expect.

This year I was surprised. I attended the very best session ever. No it wasn't lead by someone with a British or even Scottish accent. It was lead by a woman I didn't know anything about. A woman of colour - who was really young and...wait for it...American! I must admit I almost skipped it. The session was about Work Life Balance. I was busy, I thought perhaps I could have made better use of my time.

Well I went and... Rosetta Thurman - You Amazed Me!

This wasn't just another session about time management. Rosetta forced us to define our personal values, look and how we are spending our time and finally to write a personal mission statement. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time.

I've replaced the "about me" section in this blog to not talk about who I am but rather who I am striving to be. I welcome you to join me on this journey.

Thank you Rosetta and thank you AFP. My life is richer for the experience.

Now then, I want to know from the now twenty people who read this blog: Do you have a personal mission statement?

Thank you for spending some time here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Reason I Didn't Accept the Award


A very cool thing happened to the Foundation I work for yesterday. At the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Philanthropy Luncheon our organization was presented the award for Outstanding Small Organization for Excellence in Fundraising.

This is a really big deal for us because we are:

- small
- new
- under resourced (isn't everyone)
- experiencing extraordinary growth
- delivering fantastic resources to programs

- in the middle of an intensive strategic planning process

Here's the thing though, since this award was announced a few months ago people have been saying things like:

"Kimberley, congratulations on your award."

"Kimberley, well done!"

"Kimberley, you must feel so proud."

"Kimberley are you making a speech?"

Uuuuuh guys.....this isn't my award.

Perhaps it is time for a small reminder that we fundraisers are mere mortals. Hired hands to act as stewards for philanthropy. In The 11 Pillars of Fundraising Wisdom by Ken Burnett number 7 states:

"Be aware that people support nonprofits in spite of as much as because of fundraisers..."

You can read the entire document on SOFII. (I'm saving a blog about SOFII for after you have told all your friends about my blog and they start reading it, bit but Sean Triner has a great series already posted so check out his blog)

Excellence in fundraising is about so much more than increased revenue. There were 25 people with me yesterday at the luncheon. Our board, program delivery staff, admin support and those very first donors to the major giving program. This award belongs to them. This success is theirs.

That is why I didn't accept the award yesterday.

Just between us cheeks are a little sore from smiling so much.

Thank you for spending time here.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Update on the 10 year old capitalist


In a recent post (the Seven Key Ingredients to Building an Organization) we learned how a 10 year can intuitively do what we all work so hard to learn. I thought some of you may be interested in an update on how his business is doing.

This past week we received two feet of wet snow. I thought this barrier may be too big to overcome. Friday morning when I woke up Chase was out working.

In order to save time he has decided to stockpile the bottles in the garage and make one big trip. He has a plan for this of course. Put the extremely full garbage can in the wagon and haul it week after the next load.

He now has a problem; his landlords don't want all these bottles lying around. His shortcut has resulted in an operational challenge he cannot overcome alone. He needs staff (or at least a consultant) and there is only one option available. His sister.

This will no doubt be a very expensive "shortcut".

Our lesson: sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and get the job done.

Thank you for spending time here.

The Nice Things People Do


Well this was one crazy week. Up and down the 400, a few snowstorms, power outages, new staff to train, donors and prospects to charm; I read some horrible news about sex crimes in the congo that had tears streaming into my keyboard, the bathroom flooded -while I was reading about the congo (which made the 130 year old plaster below very soggy!) and sadly I had a parting of ways with a friend.

THEN guess what happens - out of the blue and totally unsolicited someone offers to do something really nice for me this afternoon.

Before I tell you what that was you need to know that I am a luddite. The clock in my car is 70 minutes fast because I don't want to learn how to program it. This past year I just figured out text messaging and how to program contacts in my cell phone. I started a blog because I have things I want to say and talk about. NOT because I'm keen to learn how to manage and manipulate a website - that is what my 12 year old is for!

So today after some casual comments about the template of my blog, my friend John Lepp offered to fix the header. You may have noticed. This blog now has an "obama-ish" feeling about it! Thank you John, I'll try to live up to this great new look with some solid content.

Now don't all five you go rushing and asking John to do this for you. He is very busy and very expensive! (but worth every penny of course)

Today he shared his skills with someone who could use them and didn't even ask for them - no strings attached. John you are a very cool person!

Thank you for spending some time here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Seven Key Ingredients to Building an Organization

Building a business or a charity involves seven key ingredients:

Sweat Equity
The Competitive Edge ( or Staying 15 minutes ahead)

Somehow without reading a single Jim Collin’s book or attending any conferences my son Chase has figured this out. This is the story of how a ten year old can build a successful business on sheer instinct.


Make $20 per week (measurable) to buy a Play Station 3 (big vision) before the Christmas holidays (timebound).


Pull out the wagon and gather bottles from recycling bins. Take those bottles to the corner store and cash them in for truckloads of cash. (I think this is technically illegal but don’t tell anyone, we are all learning a lot here.)

Chase’s first task was to create a map of our village and a list of all the people he felt would give him the best return for his effort. (Okay he scoped out the heavy drinkers – beer and wine bottles have significant deposits attached to them in Ontario)

Then he marked those houses with an “X” on the map so he could strategically hit them first. Most money for least effort.

There is also a sheet that documents, his time, the number of bottles and the amount of cash. To measure his ROI – obviously.


Three weeks ago Chase spent a Sunday afternoon cleaning up our storage space to create an office. He has a bulletin board, telephone (it doesn’t work but its there), supplies, desk – basic business stuff. His map and list are up on the wall for easy reference.


He negotiated a “partnership” with his older sister Skye (12). Since she didn’t contribute to the plan or the grunt work of the space he wanted to offer her 35%. She felt her sweat equity of helping him return the bottles was worth 50%. He needed her to go to the store for the first time and she bought him an iced tea so he caved. (There is certain finesse to being as successful as possible with the least amount of effort but that is another blog, person and story)

One week later when returning home from work very late and very tired, Chase told me “She can’t take a leave of absence once my business started really rolling so I fired her!”

That’s an actual quote by the way. Apparently, the partnership didn’t work out.

She says: “I just wanted fair pay.”
He says: “This is a child’s business not government” (another blog…)

Sweat Equity

For three weeks now every Friday morning, my son bounces out of bed at 6:30 am grabs his wagon and walks around our village in the dark stealing stuff from recycle boxes. I have refused to go with him for obvious reasons.

On Friday after school he hauls his load to the corner store where they take his bottles and give him money. So far he has earned $25.00. (plus the $6.30 he paid Skye the first week)

This is a huge job for a ten year old. In fact when I spoke to the manager of the store today he indicated that he felt sorry for Chase hauling such a heavy load in every week. I reassured Darren (the store manager) No need to feel sorry for him, he’s a capitalist!

The Competitive Edge

Part A: The original plan was to go out Thursday night before anyone else went through the boxes. On the first Thursday Chase quickly realized that this wouldn’t work since most people put their boxes out either later than he is awake or in the morning. So he has chosen 6:30 am the next day when it is still dark – so his competitors can’t see him – and the boxes are already out.

Part B: There are some boys who were already doing this over the summer. Chase doesn’t go down their street because he doesn’t want them to know he has entered the market.


The “competition” is onto him. When challenged about his business, while playing video games together, they discussed territory issues. The details of that meeting are unclear to me. No one took minutes and I'm sure Robert's Rules were not followed. However, one hour ago Chase told me he is thinking of getting into the odd jobs business and asked if I would help him design a flyer. The conversation started with Chase saying:

“I think I’m going to get out of the recycling business.” “Why?” I asked. “Too much competition.”

In Summary

The past three weeks has included a little stomping through the kitchen, a few tears, moderate violent actions, some deep breathing and sheer determination. Haven’t we all felt that way at times? Wouldn’t it be great if we were ten and could openly express it?

I’m lucky to live with a ten year old capitalist; it will save me a lot of money on books and conferences.

Thank you for spending time with me today,

PS Written with permission and posted with the approval of the 10 year old capitalist

PPS Skye thought of the title…she wanted me to say that.

PPPS Yes our house has an “X” on the map!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Measures of Success


Last year I advocated for a development audit and a strategic plan. We have been growing so fast we simply couldn't afford not to stop and take a look at where the gaps might be and how to address them. It was time. The board said absolutely - Let's Do It!

I know the development audit isn't a judgement on my effectiveness as a fundraiser. Honestly though, when you are a lone fundraiser it is a gruelling experience! (there I wrote it down for the whole world - or the four people reading this - to see)

I know the strategic plan is the responsibility of the board. Honestly though, I'm overwhelmed by all the things we need to do and can't help but think about operationalizing it before it is even done.

I know this is very important work to do, I trust our consultant, my President and the process. On an intellectual level it is thrilling. Emotionally it just isn't any fun. Bloody hard work actually. I'll seek therapy when I have time.

Today an amazing thing happened. In the midst of statistics and spreadsheets and attrition rates, one of my board members said a beautiful, beautiful thing:

"We measure ourselves by the happiness of our donors."

How cool is that?! Some of our board defaults to a donor centred place.

I'm very proud of them all. Time to go home...

PS I know I said I'd talk about Obama today. But everyone else is anyway and its my blog. Thank you for spending some time here. Goodnight.

PPS Thank you to the friend who pointed out an important spelling mistake. You are my official editor now! :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Does Being a Pacifist Mean We Shouldn't Remember?

I believe that in the most difficult conversations we should be able to negotiate and reach consensus.

I was the parent who refused to allow water guns in the house because they promote violent action. And yet, every year I go and I remember....

Here in Canada it is Remembrance Day. Being from Liverpool, my Dad's father and uncles fought for freedom and they won! My Dad remembers....

As a child, every year, we attended the Remembrance Day service and learned the importance of acknowledging and remembering the sacrifice of people, much braver than us. We were taught to remember...

In fact I can't remember...not remembering.

This has been an important part of teaching for our children. Cold services on army bases when they were little. I remember Chase disappointed at four when he realized the "parade" was just marching soldiers. No clowns, no Santa. But...he remembered...

Now today my daughter in grade seven read Flanders Fields to 400 children (and a very few adults) They remembered....

I disagree with a lot of government policies. The Iraq war for example....don't get me started.

Should Canada be in Afghanistan or not - I honestly don't know. But we can't leave now.

It's a bank holiday today, so that people will go and remember. But I ask you, why are the malls open? How many of the government workers who get the day off take the time to think about it? How many of us took the time to remember?

Even if you disagree with the policies of government that is fine, vote differently next time, but, we live in a democracy and we only live in a democracy because of the men and women who were brave enough to risk (and loose) their lives for it. They deserve to be remembered.

I'll talk about Obama's fundraising campaign tomorrow. For now let us just remember those who put their lives on the line so we can exercise our right to vote.

Take a two minutes now and think about how little time from your day it would take to remember.

In peace,


Meeting Without Purpose


In a busy world every minute of the day counts. Time management is essential.
I can't stand getting stuck in unproductive, long meetings. Or meetings for the sake of
meetings when a ten minute conversation standing up in the
hallway or walking around the block will do it.

I've seen people who were booked for one hour get up and walk out at exactly one hour.
I've done this - it is very liberating (when board members and donors weren't involved of course!)
So this morning during reading I came across this cool article about meeting free Fridays

So many of us pretend we are busy or spend our time doing things with no purpose.
What if we stopped pretending and just sat and looked out the window for awhile?
Thinking, processing finding quiet moments.
A lot of answers and ideas come in the quiet moments.

We have an understanding in our office - if you aren't being productive, if your distracted by
something personal - leave. If you just need to play solitare for a few minutes - do it.
Surf the internet please....whatever it takes to get back into a space of productivity.
At the day delivering results is expected. Face time is much less important.

I like the idea in this article of meetings operating more like a sports team.
Huddle, determine the objective and go do it!

Make your day as productive as you can and remember....take time to think it through.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just Getting Started....


Having recently discovered "blogging" and liking it - I've started one!

I often find myself thinking about things. Mostly about working as an Executive Director of an environmental organization but also about life, values, how people treat each other and the way the internet has changed our interactions. The problem is usually finding someone who is thinking the same thing at the same time and wants to discuss it! My twelve year old daughter says the internet helps her with this so she has helped me set up this blog.

Like most things I do....I usually learn as I go. If there are rules or a protocol I don't know what they are. You could tell me - I may or may not follow.

This blog will mostly be about fundraising, environment and quirky observations about how people interact with each other and the internet. My world moves so fast usually personal and professional blends together in odd ways. I don't live in neat and tidy boxes. This blog will likely reflect that.

I'd love your comments, thoughts contributions. I make no apologies for content - like my facebook albums if you care enough to look at them you are welcome to it!

I look forward to traveling with you on this new internet adventure.