Questions Worth Asking 

This month, I had the privilege to have a virtual fireside chat with amazing Beth Kanter (author, master trainer & social media guru) who was featured on  “Questions worth Asking” video chat series run by Philanthropy University. The interview was watched by Philanthropy University learners from across the globe, many of whom had submitted questions in advance. In this blog, I will revisit some of Beth’s answers to the questions which can serve as a resource and inspiration to nonprofit leaders and many out there. Beth has over 35 years working in the nonprofit sector in technology, training, and capacity building and has facilitated trainings for nonprofits on every continent in the world (except Antarctica). Beth will be answering questions on Digital Strategy for Nonprofits, Networking for Social Change, and Crowd Fundraising.

What is the most challenging thing you face while working with nonprofit organizations?

“Mindsets, especially with tech over the last twenty-five years. Twenty-five years ago, I  was teaching people how to do Google searches and they were resisting. ‘Why do that when I could just look it up in the dictionary or read the newspaper? Why would I want to email someone when I could fax them?’ There’s always this human element of resistance and fear. Not everybody is curious about it like I am, so I really had to learn how to have empathy and work with that.”

Where do I find the best places to learn about digital capacity building?

“I’ve written a bit about capacity building on my blog. Africa Grantmakers, which is funders investing in Africa that are also doing capacity building. Equal Footing also does similar work. The Foundation Center, has a global partnership and provides a lot of online training, workshops, a lot of free and low-cost materials. For fundraising, one of the best is Global Giving, they have a free resource center. The Resource Alliance serves a lot of the international organization, but they also have a commitment to serving local groups in other places of the world and they do pop-up classes. These are just a few because I could probably do a whole hour talking about resources in capacity building.”

How can we boost our NGO branding with a small budget?

“Your group of advisors are your ambassadors to others. Recruit people aligned with your work, but also have influence in their community or in their network; because people trust them, that trust extends to your organization. Have a clear identity about what you do and who you are, like consistent taglines, logos, and messaging on your website.”

What are the footsteps to building a culture of giving for those who have limited disposable income?

“You don’t want to treat potential donors or stakeholders like an ATM machine or have it be a transactional relationship because it won’t create a culture of philanthropy, it will definitely fall flat. First of all, do some research on gift levels, know what the giving potential is. The next step is then to prioritize those donors and figure out how you’re going to build and cultivate relationships. This isn’t about asking for money right off the bat, it’s showing a true authentic interest in the donor and building that relationship. Then, it may be an ask, or maybe you have a group of people that are like them and already have a culture of philanthropy, so that it’s an ask from a peer. If they do give some money, even if it’s a little amount, you want to give recognition and support because the first gift is the beginning of the relationship and you want to support them and continue that cultivation over time. You have to look at the long term, you can’t look at this group of people as a quick way for us to make some cash.”

How can I apply the crowdfunding method to raise funds for my social startup?

“The one thing that’s really important is to have a really good story. I call it the “story of impact”. If I’m a donor and I’m investing in your project, what is your project doing to change the world? Tell me about what will happen as a result of investing in this project. You want to make sure you tell that through the story of a beneficiary, so you have character, the character’s journey, and the call to action which is the ask. There are a lot of resources on the Global Giving Resource Center site about how to do good storytelling. Step one is crafting a really good story.”

To watch the full interview please click here.

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