Cats and Dogs Living Together? No, Just Brilliant Nonprofit Leadership

Turnkey Promotions' CEO, Katrina VanHussOne of my clients asked me to do a strange thing recently.  It was a puppy head tilt and ear-raising kind of request.

Rich Rumsey,VP, Development and Communications at Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) said (paraphrasing), “Katrina, I’d like you to come to a 3-day retreat with the other vendor-partners my organization uses. These partners, along with my staff, will represent every person who touches any sort of individual giving at Project HOPE.”

WHAT?!  Does this mean I will be breaking bread with (gasp!) DIRECT RESPONSE people?! Major gift grabbers? Corporate relations radicals? Cats and dogs living together?! My peer-to-peer heart grew weak.

Since 1958, Project HOPE has worked to make quality and sustainable health care available for people around the globe, working in more than 120 countries. Now Rich wanted us to work together to, as he said, “make all boats rise,” AND, it turns out, he wanted us to make s’mores together too!

Says Rich, “We are only as strong as the people we surround ourselves with, so I want to build a team that will help Project HOPE fix our engagement and relationship issues. We are diving into the deep end of peer-to-peer and needed the right partners to guide the effort right from the start.”

Frankly, I have never seen a nonprofit do this, put such a diverse vendor and staff mix in a big room and ask us to help each other. But it worked. Brilliantly.

Suddenly, one of my personal goals as I work the peer-to-peer route is to see how many new names I can deliver to the direct response people. The silo we all lament just blew up.

The direct response people suddenly want to help us promote, in any way they can, our new peer-to-peer event. THEY SHARED THEIR CRM CALENDAR WITH US! Oh, the insanity! Usually there are three layers of people between us and that calendar.

Major gifts grabbers now see peer-to-peer as a lead generation vehicle. And, guess what? As long as I can benchmark and measure new names to the direct response list, I would rather see the money move to major giving because they actually know how to develop these potential major giving leads better than I do. Imagine my excitement to realize that Project HOPE might mark their database to see where the people who give big money originated!

“The insanity then got baked in as we were assigned to different projects to be completed over the next few years. Each project had vendors from various companies and staff.”

The brand development people invited those from other groups to sit on a brainstorming committee. Usually it takes an act of Congress just to get the brand assets for use. They want us to help develop them.

The insanity then got baked in as we were assigned to different projects to be completed over the next few years. Each project had vendors from various companies and staff. And the brilliance of it all was that each of us gave three days of our time, mostly for free, to help break down silos and become more successful overall.

This whole thing inspires lots of questions about potential issues that might arise. I am sure there will be some, but not enough to offset the magnificence of having the entire team working in one direction, knowing who is playing which base. That, my friends, is LEADERSHIP.



Four Deliverables You Should Expect from Your Recognition Program

Turnkey Promotions' CEO, Katrina VanHussA recognition gift program is a marketing program, regardless of its name.

Most marketing programs motivate someone to action by desire for a product or service. Turnkey’s marketing program capitalizes on the human desire for recognition to move a person to action, because that desire is more powerful than money, fear, or competition. Like any good marketing program, it has a goal, is planned, executed to plan, and measured.

So why not just say, “You did a great job,” which you can do for free, and be done with it?  Poor compliance and execution, that’s why. We systematize our recognition gift program to be sure that every participant gets the same treatment. If the participant’s experience isn’t consistent, you can’t measure the impact of the effort you put toward recognition. Without a systematized recognition system, your recognition is only as good as the staff person in charge, and that face changes often.

A well-planned marketing program using recognition as a motivator accomplishes these four very important things:

  1. Increases fundraising
  2. Gives your nonprofit a year round presence within the community by way of branded gifts
  3. Increases the fundraiser’s tie to your nonprofit and the likelihood they will fundraise for you again
  4. Offers the fundraiser the chance to tell your story, to start a conversation about your organization

Do you hold your own recognition program to these standards? Remember, regardless what you call it– recognition program, incentive program, thank you program– it’s a marketing program.  How does your program measure up?



Are Your Clients Riding the New York Subway or The Tube?

At the Intersection of Real Life & Business

Katrina VanHuss To preserve my budget, butt, and the planet, I typically walk or use the subway while traveling around a big city. I’ve come to notice a distinct difference between New York, Chicago, and London subway systems.

I’m not sure where to go when I use the New York subway system. The signage is bad. Everything is loud and there are lots of distractions. Ticketing is kind of confusing. Once I’m finally on the right train, there is nothing to tell me how far along I am or what the next stop will be. I am anxious the entire time I ride.

When I travel the Chicago “L”, I notice lots of signage as I look for the right train. It all seems easy. Ticketing is integrated between trains and subways. Once on my train, I get frequent reminders of where I am and what the next stop will be. I’m…

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How to Keep “Gonna Do” Fundraisers Committed in the Present

Katrina VanHuss, CEO, Turnkey PromotionsRecently I wrote about Future Self and Present Self in my post “Which Fundraiser is Doing The Talking and Which is Doing the Walking.”

In summary, each of us has two selves inside us all the time. Future Self is all about “what I’m gonna do” and Present Self gets stuck with whatever Future Self signed us up for… like fundraising. (Often Present Self rebels and refuses to go along with it. Sound like a team captain you know?)

So, how do you get Present Self to buy into fundraising?  In situations other than of fundraising, a commitment strategy can help get everyone on board. Examples of commitment strategies:

  • (Avoid drinking) Don’t drive past the liquor store
  • (Avoid eating) Lock up ice cream
  • (Avoid spending) Cut up credit card

My grand plan was to have a handy bulleted list of commitment devices for Future Self Fundraisers to help their Present selves keep their promise, but it turned out to be harder than I thought.  Ideas?

My best shot at commitment devices for volunteer fundraisers:

  • Keep the mission front and center to remind Present Self of the warm and fuzzy feeling Future Self had when she signed up for this gig.
  • Apply personal leverage through relationships — like making sure Present Self gets a personal thank you from someone positively affected by some action of our sweet Future Self.
  • Inject public humiliation – OK, that might not be great for retention, but fun to think about. Present Self doesn’t want to look like a schmuck.
  • Put the potential for rewards and recognition in front of the fundraiser again and again. Everyone likes goodies and recognition.
  • Get Future Self to recruit someone else upon signup – peer pressure.

What ideas do you have to more closely connect the fundraiser’s Future Self with his/her Present Self? I would love to know!


Note to Self: Which Fundraiser Is Doing the Talking, and Which is Doing the Walking?

Katrina VanHuss, CEO, Turnkey PromotionsI struggle with some of my nonprofit clients who want to survey fundraisers and other volunteers to find out what they think about a variety of issues. Often, they make decisions based on the answers, and then are surprised when the surveyed group does not behave as expected.

Here’s the problem:  The fundraiser/volunteer is responding as “future self.” The action later is taken by “present self.”  All of us have two selves inside us all the time.

Future Self is noble, looking forward to losing weight, curing cancer, feeding the hungry. Future Self is all about “what I’m gonna do” and responds that way – typically “yes, yes, yes.”   

Present Self gets stuck with the bill. Present Self is the one that Future Self signed up for the walk, run, or ride of choice. Present Self has a work project due, is suffering irritable bowel syndrome, has a hangover, and was just recently victimized on another front by Future Self. Present Self is angry, resentful, and tired. Present Self says, “I’m bagging it.”

You survey Future Self; Present Self shows up at your event. Another takeaway: Don’t rely on surveys a year before your event.

Do you agree? Even if you don’t, I would love to hear about the participant survey results you’ve witnessed!


Ignore What They Say, Measure What They Do

Katrina VanHuss, CEO, Turnkey PromotionsI talked about surveys today with a client of mine, Randi Corey of the Hydrocephalus Association. Her nonprofit experience includes working with/for:

  • Academic fundraising
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
  • JDRF March of Dimes
  • Hydrocephalus Association

Needless to say, I was qualified to do more listening than talking in this conversation. It was fascinating to speak at length with someone with such a breadth of experience.

She related this story:

“I had an upscale golf event while with JDRF at the Governor’s Club, an upscale venue.  Someone in our group had the idea that we could save lots of money by moving to a less expensive, and less prestigious, venue.  I was uncomfortable with the idea, thinking it would hurt participation.

To make me comfortable the group said, ‘let’s survey the participants from this past year and ask if it matters to them.’ We did that. The participants said, ‘we really don’t care. Move it if it will save money. We’ll be there for you regardless.’  Well, needless to say, they didn’t show up and our fundraising dropped like a rock. The next year we returned to the prestigious venue and our fundraising went back up.”

Randi’s point wasn’t that people sign up more when events are held at prestigious venues.  Her point was that people don’t survey well and often don’t act as they say they will.

Participants sometimes say one thing, but do another.
We find the same thing in our work with incentive/recognition programs. Participants say in our surveys, “I wouldn’t want the gift I would earn for fundraising.” But, when presented with a gift opportunity after earning one, they redeem hand over fist. And, higher fundraisers redeem at higher percentages than lower fundraisers, though the high fundraisers most often say, “I wouldn’t take the gift.”

LESSON LEARNED: Ignore what they say, measure what they do.

(If you are interested in learning more about the psyche of fundraisers, I encourage you to read, “Branded Versus Non-Branded Fundraising Gifts. Which is Better?”

Marketing Brilliance in the Shape of Bowl

Our Master of Marketing Award for today goes to DogFest Walk ‘n Roll – an event in support of the Canine Companions for Independence® organization.

Canine Companions for Independence provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities, free of charge. The Canine Companions DogFest is a new income stream with 17 events out of the gate.

Today we received a product proof from our manufacturing facility for Canine Companions DogFest. When we opened the box, the ooh’s and aah’s began immediately. The piece traveled the office, delighting all who saw it. In short, this piece is brilliant.

Wish it had been my idea.

Cannine Companion DogFest bowl

Photo modified to be entirely misleading and more fun. The bowl fits most size six derrieres.

It is the biggest, yellowest dog bowl I have ever seen. It’s over a FOOT WIDE and deep enough to hold more than a gallon of water. Small children can sit in the dog bowl and watch TV. You could serve a meal for eight in it. Five very friendly dogs could drink at one time. It is impossible to hold this bowl in one’s hands and not put it on as a hat.

But the coolest thing about this bowl is that it is a HUGE visual reminder and educator about the organization. Recall that Susan G. Komen and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and many others rely heavily on the media visual – that huge swath of color representing a particular cause. This product, – this Dog Bowl – yes, it’s that good, will accomplish the same thing street by street and not on event day.

This piece will become coveted by hip, dog-friendly retailers. It will sit on every door step for thirsty dogs, screaming “I’m big, I’m yellow, I’m Canine Companions for Independence!”

The people who raise puppies for the organization will raise ANY amount of money to get this bowl so that they can put their own puppy in the bowl and take pictures. Parents, observing the utter coolness, will knock each other down to get a bowl so they can put human babies in the bowls and take pictures. CAT PEOPLE may want one they are so cool!

I had to ship the piece to the client for final approval today and it makes me terribly sad. I don’t even own a dog. You want one already don’t you? You can’t buy it. Just raise $250 for Canine Companions DogFest and it is yours.