Practical Advice for Modern Fundraisers

Thoughtfully Getting The Most Out Of Fundraising Day New York

I will be blogging through the day as I attend #FRDNY - looking for The Thoughtful Approach To...

Each year I struggle to figure out how to get this best out of my #frdny experience. Do I just hang out with vendors and eat, should I try a track that is my least favorite stuff to do. This year, I actually spent some time with the schedule and tried to figure out which sessions had instructors or presenters who seemed most likely to have a thoughtful approach to their material. Now I am not even assuming they have read my blog or are even aware of being thoughtful. And isn't that really the goal that we just do our jobs in a thoughtful way.

But first I am heading the free breakfast.


At the Successful Strategies for Social Media session. Danielle Brigida from US Fish and Wildlife is amazing in the session. So nice to hear someone who thoughtfully understands how Social Media ought to work for your organization and more importanly for hoe it works for your preferred audience. I so hope she provides a handout! If so I will see if I can share it.

Her main thrust is to be Creative and be understand how people consume content. Try a crazy thing. It won't hurt you it might even drive a lot of great folks to your site. They could learn something and then who knows what they might do next.

Some brief notes:


Owned, Paid, Earned

PUSH OUT, BLAST why so aggressive.

Understanding What Metrics Matter

LISTEN to your social media audience

Final Notes:

Be Inclusive

Asking for stuff can STOP engagement in its track

Know your analytics.

Create things you want to read

Don't just pat yourself on the back

FACEBOOK may be declining for the regular folks. Creating a community on FACEBOOK can be hard.

Consistency is very important.

If you are doing this well and your LIKES and FOLLOWS will increase.


Communicating Across the Generations: Is Everybody Getting Your Message

One great idea after another. So much good stuff.

Do you know what years really define your supporters - depression era, baby boomers, X, Y and Z. Some Xs are turning 50!

Sandwich Generation? Hmmm.. What age do you think they are? And what is sandwiching them?

Do we ask our audience if they want what we are sending them in the way we are sending it to them.

Generation X Z want a response now. N

Cultural norms have changed. Have you?

Being sensitive to age and cultural mores

Older generations attend lectures. Younger Gen want instant feedback

What is the message? Knowing what generation

Boomers are not going anywhere! Darn right! @cdarrison #frdny


The Keynote was amazing as they always are at #FRDNY.  It is inspiring to hear from those at the peak of the fundraising world in New York. This is especially true when they are able to take their experiences and  succinctly relate them to those of us not quite on the precipice -yet. 

The last two sessions were really good. But I am still reflecting on session one. Who knew I would become a dedicated follower of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 

To tweet or not to tweet that is the question.


Unfortunately, the answer to this conundrum is the same as it is for FACEBOOK - you just have to do it. But you can do it in a thoughtful manner.


First you have to create a TWITTER account.

Twitter allows you to create an account in your organization’s name, but you still need to attach a person to the account. This is where you can use your official email and persona.

Before creating a twitter a count, you should know the difference between @ and #. These are the most important symbols on TWITTER. The @ symbol defines the user i.e. @thoughfulappro is my twitter handle. Handles have a 15 character limit. Your handle should be reminiscent of your organization's name. The Greatest Art Center might use @TGAC or the North Country Jack Russell Rescue Society could @rescueajackNC.



The #hashtag is used to categorize your message. It is used in searches in Twitter - more on that later. 


Your goal is to create a @handle as clearly associated with your organization as possible.TWITTER helps by telling you if your preferred handle is available. If you need signoff from a supervisor, I recommend getting permission to use any of three or four handles. That way, if you cannot get your first choice, you already have an approved backup. You can also just search TWITTER to see if the handle you want is taken. The name that appears under the small photo can be your official persona or your organization's name.

twitter4 5 1

The name that appears under the small photo can be your organization's name or a person's name. It all depends on the type of Twitter feed you are looking to promote. If you are creating a personal blog, then I recommend using your name. On the other hand, if you are creating one for an organization you should use the organization's name. But this is twitter so there are character limits. You can only use 20 characters. So using the organization names above, you might use GreatestArtsCenter or JRRescueNorthCountry.

 Here is an image of my Thoughtful Appro TWITTER account from a few weeks ago.

Note how your information is presented Since this is my blog the username is my name. On the previous example the username was the organization's name.

 This is how Wikipedia describes # or hashtagUntitled


The # symbol called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. Twitter users created it as a way to categorize messages. Now the #hashtag symbol has become ubiquitous throughout social media. You can even do a google search on a #hashtag. 

A #hashtag comes before a phrase or name like #givingtuesday, #thebieberforever, or #lovemylife. When you hear that something is "TRENDING" it usually means that a ton of people are using a specific #hashtag in their Tweets.

There must be millions of hashtags in use. Your goal should be to create one or two that represent your organization and or a specific event at your organization.

Our art center might be #TGACShowsOff. You would use that hashtag in all of your twitter post and even Facebook Page post. You should encourage your followers and friends to use the #hashtag when tweeting about your organization. You can also use it on all of your printed material, as well.  

Here is an example of what #givingtuesday - a popular #hashtag looked like a few weeks ago.

Some # hashtags rules of thumb
Remember, if you Tweet with a #hashtag, anyone who does a search for that #hashtag may find your Tweet.

Don't #use #more #hashtags than you need. It is rather spammy and very unthoughtful. As a rule of thumb, I never use more than two #Hashtags in a tweet.  Make sure the #hashtag is relevant to your tweet. Never use a trending #hashtag just because it is trending.

You can also use your TWITTER account to follow news events without following anything by creating a search using a # hashtag.  #nepal   #brucejenner


Twitter being a micro-blogging site you have a very limited number of characters for your message - 140 to be exact. To give you an idea of how short that really is this famous sentence –


The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

That sentence is made up of 26 characters but 34 Twitter characters because spaces count. In fact, everything counts. Which brings me to @handle and #hashtag.  

If you want to refer to or reference a specific person or organization, you can use their @Handle. That way not only will the @person see your tweet in their stream, their followers will see it as well.  But the thoughtful when you use this approach it is a bit rude and unthoughtful to force your tweet onto someone else's followers. Be sure your tweet is relevant.

Now it is time to start Tweeting and following people and organizations that you are interested in knowing more about.

Why not start by tweeting about this blog? Something like  - 


Have you read @thouhgtfulAppro blog. No better time than now? Just remember #thoughtfulFYI

Let's see if we can make it trend!



I have been asked numerous times since my last post what I meant when I recommended that you create an "official email and persona" to use for social media. Almost all social media platforms require that there be a real live human connected to the account. Or at least an individual persona connected to the account.  In fact, most are designed with the idea that the blog, post or tweet is from a specific person. Below is a chart showing the requirement of some social media platforms.


Social Media Platform

Requires Personal Account

Unique Username or Handle

Tied to






























The industry average for a fundraiser staying at a single organization is 18 to 24 months. So I recommend that the highest-ranking person at the organization be the official persona.

Also, it is a good idea to create a single email to use for all your social media platforms. Something like This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Mike’s normal email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) are good choices for your social media email. I do not recommend info@, socialmedia@, or website@. Remember you will need to create the email first and make sure you have access to it before you begin setting up your social media platforms. 


NOTE: Be sure to keep a written record of your usernames, email and password using a grid like the one above. I keep this in a document file on a shared drive one that other staff can access. 

While preparing to teach an intro class at NYU on social media by non-profits.  I realized the myriad of ways pundits recommend using social media.  So I decided to peel back all the layers of “Best Practices” and focus on the simple mechanical acts that are required to have a social media presence. 

Let us start by looking at suggestion number four from my last post.

SUGGESTION 4. Do not start something you cannot finish. Be realistic about which social media platforms you can keep updated. You should post a new Facebook page post at least once a week!  Timely posting is integral to a successful social media presence. (Read the full post here)

That is why I recommend that every organization have a FACEBOOK PAGE - one that they control.  Remember an individual does not have to work for or even be associated with your organization to create a FACEBOOK PAGE in your organization’s name. So if you don’t already have a page, search FACEBOOK to see if someone has already created one in your organization’s name. If they have, your best bet is to contact them and ask –beg- them to deactivate it.  They can do this on the settings tab on the front of the page. Then create a new page that you control.



A resource page filled with your personal information, pictures of kittens, and invitations to play odd games.






An assortment of “Friends” who have something in common like schools, pottery making, and kitten videos. These are all connected to your organization through a Personal Page.






These pages promote an organization, a person or an interest.  As previously noted, only a person with a FACEBOOK PERSONAL PROFILE can create a FACEBOOK PAGE.





•    Choose carefully the person who sets up the page. They will be tied forever to the page so not the summer intern, the temporary receptionist or anyone who you are considering letting go.

•    Choose a senior staff person as the main administrator and then add the people who will do the work as additional administrators.

•    Remember each administrator’s friends will be the first ones to see your page and the administrator will be encouraged to send LIKE request to their FRIENDS. Facebook is a bit sneaky about getting you to do this so read everything carefully before agreeing to anything.

•    Consider having your CEO or Founder create an “official” personal profile that they (you) only use for the organization.

•    DO NOT try to make a FACEBOOK PERSONAL PROFILE do the job of a FACEBOOK PAGE!

                         THE CITY ARTS CENTER is not a person and Facebook will close down your page.

The goal is to generate content for your FACEBOOK PAGE that drives traffic back to your site.  If you write about it on FACEBOOK it should be on your website! Suggestion # 3 from my last post covers how to do this.

Here is an example of a FACEBOOK PAGE post I might use to promote my blog.

 While preparing to teach an intro class at NYU on social media by non-profits.  I realized the myriad of ways pundits (myself included) recommend using social media.  So I decided to peel back all the layers of “Best Practices” and focus on the simple mechanical acts that are required to have a social media presence. To read the full post click here.

See how I used the text of the blog post as a FACEBOOK PAGE post but mainly as a tease for the full blog entry.

What it all boils down to is what I said in the beginning only start what you can keep up and the best way to do that is to cross purpose as much of your text as possible. Like I did above. FACEBOOK is not your end game – your main website is.  So focus on driving traffic where you really want it. 

This video walk you through how to set-up a FACEBOOK PROFILE PAGE.

Next time we will be looking at setting up Twitter.


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