Post Engagae P2P: The Run/Walk/Ride may be over, but it’s only the beginning

What is better than spending the day with the best and brightest nonprofit leaders? Why, rethinking Peer to Peer of course! What a pleasure to do so in last Wednesday’s session at the Engage P2P conference in Washington, DC. As both a Fundraising Specialist and Fundraiser, it was a privilege to be a part of the conversation.

Historically, Runs, Walks and Rides have dominated the P2P landscape. And certainly, organizations with this experience were well represented at Engage.  However, the day’s conversation centered on using the activity to BEGIN a meaningful relationship, using data to manage that relationship and having a broader end game than a large payoff for the event.

Among the Standouts For Me: St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s Head-Shaving Events

St. Baldrick’s Foundation presented a unique, event based opportunity for communities to rally for specific children suffering from cancer. The “Shaves” are run by Volunteer Event Organizers (or VEO) with minimal guidelines and in honor of a specific child.  This model brings additional fun to the day – and a shaved head provides a visible memory of a powerful experience.  Thanks to a committed group of VEO’s, St. Baldrick’s research program has benefited from more than 1,400 events so far this year with an ever growing audience and a group of VEO’s ready to be shaved again!

Technology’s Role in P2P

Through conversations at Engage, it is very apparent that many nonprofit leaders are broadening their development strategies, relying on powerful– and integrated – fundraising solutions to make better, more informed decisions. Real time performance metrics when managing an event is important, but it is crucial to continue to track patterns and potential all year long with your P2P campaign participants and donors. Whether volunteer raising, awareness raising or fundraising, nonprofit organizations need to keep their desired end result in mind – well educated, focused and engaged investors.

Taking Peer-to-Peer Fundraising to a New Level at Engage P2P

Abila is excited to be taking part in tomorrow’s Engage P2P conference in Washington, DC. The good people at Fundraising Success are bringing together thought leaders from throughout the nonprofit world to give hard-working fundraisers the techniques, tools and motivation they need to achieve major success through peer-to-peer fundraising.

The conference is intended to be an exclusive and very focused meeting of fundraisers and experts who will actually be using the power of peer-to-peer knowledge sharing to unlock the secrets and best practices to reach more donors and make peer-to-peer a central part of their fundraising efforts going forward.

We are proud to have our very own Ellen Tucker serving as moderator at one of the conference breakout sessions. Ellen, who is the account executive for Abila’s Fundraising Online solution, brings her many years of experience working with front-line fundraisers to this discussion. Her topic will center around Using Technology Intelligently: Let’s talk about how technology can help you make the very best of your P2P campaign. Is there something holding you back? Something you’re not doing but should? Or something that you’re wasting your time on? We’d love for you to join in our discussion tomorrow.

The Breakout Sessions begin at 11:30 a.m. at the conference on Tuesday, October 21. If you miss Ellen at the Breakout Sessions, or would like to continue the conversation, please stop by and visit with her at the Abila booth at the conference.

Our thanks go to Fundraising Success for hosting this important and much-needed conference.

GPA Annual Conference Preview: Building a winning grant team

I’m looking forward to traveling to Portland next week for the Grant Professionals Association Annual Conference on October 15-18. And I’m especially pleased to have the opportunity to lead a workshop session, Communication and Transparency: The Key to your Success, on  Saturday, October 18 at 10:30-11:45am. I wanted to provide this quick overview of my session for those of you planning to join me at the GPA conference, as well as those who can’t make it this year.

Grant managers deserve some recognition for all they do. They are storytellers, leaders, coaches, project managers, and shepherds. They have an extremely tough job because they have to constantly scan the horizon for new grant opportunities, while coordinating due dates, deadlines, and timelines associated with securing and administering grants. They also have to coordinate with the finance and program teams to make sure they are all aligned on the goals of the grant, the mission they serve, and how the funds should be appropriately allocated. That is a lot!

To be successful, grant managers have to think like team leaders even though the “team” most likely does not report directly to them on the organization chart. In my conference session I’ll be providing some tips on how grant managers can bring together team members from across the organization to successfully apply for, implement, and report on grant funding.

Here are my Top Tips to build a winning grant team:
1. Build your team first. Recruit your cross-team members from finance and programs, in addition to your grant team.
2. Get leadership buy-in. Your leadership team should be aware of the importance of the grants your team is working on and what they can do to help you be successful.
3. Bring the decision-makers together. Make sure the people on your grant team can make decisions about what needs to be done in order to complete their tasks effectively.
4. Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and goals for each team member.
5. Secure team agreement on project timelines so that everyone completely understands their part.
6. Hold short, but frequent, check-ins with your team so that they continue to keep each grant at the top of mind and can see progress on the project.
7. Be succinct and respectful of team members’ time. Keep meetings short, on-topic and productive.
8. Provide all team members with easy access to key information.
9. Celebrate your team successes and learn from your failures.

The entire Abila GPA Conference team (Bianca, Clegg, Heidi and I) is looking forward to meeting you in Oregon. Abila will be sponsoring the Welcome Reception on Wednesday in the Lloyd Center Foyer as well as a Booth (#6) in the Exhibitor Area. Be sure to stop by to hear more about how the Abila Grant Management solution can help you more efficiently collaborate as a grant management team. And of course I’d love to see you at my session on Saturday and look forward to answering any questions you may have.

The Moneyball Effect and what it means for Associations: It’s All About Learning

Everyone loves a good baseball analogy, but we took it a step further with our Moneyball Effect white paper. We examined how looking at data in new and different ways made the difference for the Oakland A’s, as portrayed in the movie and book Moneyball.

Download our whitepaper, The Moneyball Effect, now.

In parts one and two of this blog series, we introduced the concept of looking at stats (data) in new ways to achieve insights and success; shared the value of looking at the whole team collectively; and urged you to “step up to the plate” and be prepared to make changes where necessary.

In this third and final part of the blog series, we look at how to become a dynamic, data-driven, and constantly evolving and improving organization that remains relevant and valuable to your members.

At the end of Moneyball, Billy Beane, manager of the Oakland A’s, shows the world that his new approach actually works and he is invited to Boston where the owner of the Red Sox offers him a job. Beane was offered more money than any general manager ever. But he didn’t take it. He stayed with the A’s. After all, as successful as they were, they didn’t win it all, so Beane figured he had more work to do.

The most successful associations understand the value in learning from their data to help make better decisions and execute more efficiently. There’s always more work to do and more opportunities to uncover when you become a data-driven organization.

Here are some tips on how to keep the momentum going as a data driven organization:

  • Continue to analyze your data and share the analysis with all of your staff on a monthly basis.
  • Be sure to use a variety of methods to present the data: written reports, graphs, charts, etc. Your staff will have different learning styles and may be more receptive to a different presentation style.
  • Use these monthly data update meetings as opportunities to plan future activities and programs. Don’t be afraid to change long-held beliefs (or events) if the data justifies it.
  • Seek input from front-line staff – the ones who have most contact with your members on new trends they see, such as: most frequent questions from members, interest in programs and events, and suggestions for new offerings, or even members cancelling their membership.

Please share in the comments (below) how your organization has looked at and used data differently, what key lessons they learned and applied, and what was the outcome.

And if you’d like to learn more about how you might apply the Moneyball effect to your association, simply download the complete white paper.

Grant Management Technology helps nonprofit organizations to better manage grant lifecycle and win more funding

On a daily basis grant writers and grant managers are faced with numerous challenges – including identifying potential funders, working on expense reports, meeting with program staff and preparing for site visits. Because grant funding can account for a considerable portion of your nonprofit organization’s revenue, it’s crucial that grant teams stay on track with deadlines and deliverables.

For grant-seeking organizations, it’s useful to think of grant funding as a pipeline. You’ve got to put the right amount of applications in one side of the pipeline in order to win grants that produce adequate funding on the other side. To keep your organization well-funded, you need a steady supply of grants in each stage of the grant lifecycle: application, distribution, and renewal. Fortunately, today’s grant management technology enables you to automate processes so that you can efficiently and effectively apply for, and win, more grants, better demonstrate performance to earn more grant renewals, and manage every stage of the grant lifecycle with more precision.

grant management pipeline

Win more funding by more effectively managing the Grant Pipeline

There are two key factors in winning grants: The ability to complete on-time, accurate grant applications and to demonstrate past mission performance. A good grant management solution can support both functions by enabling organizations to better manage the complete grant lifecycle.

Apply for grants more easily: Utilizing a grant management solution to keep track of deadlines and manage multiple grant applications can dramatically improve productivity and efficiency. Grant management staffs can rely on their software to set up workflow and prioritize tasks based on approaching grant milestones. It can also help you see across the entire grant pipeline to ensure that you’re applying for enough grants now to satisfy future funding needs. Grant management solutions make the application process itself much easier, by consolidating and storing all of the relevant information in one centralized database for easy access to grant information, program details, performance measurements and key contacts.

Show grantors why your organization is most deserving: Accurate forecasting and measurement can help you back up your proposal with hard data that shows grantors exactly what you can accomplish with the funds. By using technology to precisely track past budgets and results, you know exactly how much you will need in the future, and you can “outbid” other organizations that aren’t able to show effectiveness on such a detailed level. Your organization can easily demonstrate its positive impact to grantors, individual donors and the public with the help of grant management solution to collect data and report on success metrics

Grant management technology allows your organization to achieve greater collaboration and save time, so you and your team can win more funding and focus more energy on advancing your organization’s mission.

Download our complete guide: How Technology Helps Win and Manage Grants.

The Moneyball Effect and what it means for Associations – Step Up to the Plate!

Dollarphotoclub_443x295In part one of this three-part blog series, we introduced the concept of looking at stats (data) in new ways to achieve insights and success, and shared the team value lesson. Using the book and movie Moneyball as an example of how “actionable” rather than “big” data, can be more significant for associations as well as baseball teams, we created a whitepaper applying the Moneyball effect to association management.

Download our whitepaper, The Moneyball Effect, now.

The Moneyball Effect whitepaper offers six lessons to help association professionals define and achieve an actionable data plan for their organization. In this blog post, we’ll look at another one of those steps. Lesson 5 is all about being willing to try new things and shake up the tried and true. Change is not easy, but it is necessary for growth.

The moves that Oakland A’s Manager Billy Beane made were not popular with much of the rest of his organization at first. This made his ideas difficult to implement. But getting results from your data-based experiments requires trying new things.

So, what did Beane do? He removed the barriers to the action he sought. And while many did not understand his moves, they enabled him to see his experiment through to action and results. It is not enough to analyze data and wonder if a new approach would work. You have to step up to the plate and try new things. And if your experiments go against tradition, be ready for resistance.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to cancel your annual conference to make room for some social media experiments. But you may have to give people permission to try new things. You might have to do some extra outreach to the department that doesn’t understand or agree with the experiment you want to try. You might need to pull some volunteer leaders aside to talk about why you are conducting these experiments and what value they will provide over the long term.

Remember, your organization has a culture, and cultures are inherently stable. The “way we do things around here” developed because those ways were successful, and even if situations dictate the need for change, the culture might need some convincing.

Stay tuned for part three of this three-part series. And please share in the comments (below) how your organization has looked at and used data differently, and what was the result.

And if you’d like to learn more about how you might apply the Moneyball effect to your association, simply download the complete whitepaper.

Abila Users and Developers Conference (AUDC15) – Early Bird Registration

Join more than 1,000 of your peers from the association and nonprofit world for the first-ever, combined Abila Users and Developers Conference (AUDC). AUDC is bringing together leaders, innovators, and technology experts, to share best practices, ideas, and know-how to help you and your organization better fulfill your goals and mission. And what better place than Austin? Being a proud Austin-based technology company, we are thrilled to welcome you to this vibrant, warm and weird city we call home.

For AUDC15 we will bring you educational tracks that focus on different industries and their different needs, as well as provide many crossover and “learning from each other” opportunities. The one-on-one tech support sessions (the very popular Purple Patch) will be available again – this year with the new name of Product Support Lab. AUDC15 will include roadmap sessions so that you can get a glimpse of the updates and improvements we’ve made so far, and what we have planned for the future to continue to meet your needs.

Product Support Lab

Purple Patch’s new name this year is Product Support Lab.

A highlight for me will be the opportunity to showcase the people of Abila at this conference. We know how valuable it is to put names, faces and expertise together in real life, so we’re hosting many networking opportunities with each other, with staff and with our wonderful sponsors. There will be two fabulous receptions for you to attend – one at the conference hotel and one at the world famous Austin City Limits Moody Theatre in downtown Austin. These events are an opportunity to relax, have fun, meet old friends and make new ones, too.

AUDC14 beach party

AUDC15 will be held February 22-24, 2015 at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin, TX. Our conference will be the inaugural event at the brand new JW Marriott, so if you’ve never experienced being the first-ever occupant of a hotel room – here’s your chance!

Register now at secure your Early Bird registration rate of $495.00. Please don’t delay, the early bird rate ends at Midnight (CT), October 20th. And I want to meet you, so book now to secure your spot.

See you in Austin!