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Helping Organizations Thrive 

September 2010 Edition
Welcome to my September 2010 email newsletter. The mission of Jonathan Poisner Strategic Consulting is to help progressive organizations thrive.  I do that by assisting my clients with strategic planning, coalition building, fundraising, communications, and other organizational development challenges.

To keep people informed about my work, I set up this monthly e-newsletter.  If you want to unsubscribe, just look for the link at the bottom.  My August edition can be read in my archive.

For a complete lists of the consulting services I offer, check out my website.
What Works

Each edition of this newsletter contains a section I call "What Works." 

Currently, I'm focused on a series of 15 lessons that I learned while growing the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, buttressed by my observations of dozens of other groups both in Oregon and across the country. 

June's lesson:  Become the best at something.
July's lesson: Relentlessly focus on relationships.
August's lesson:  Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. 

This month's lesson is:  Know and tell your stories. 

In my first year at the Oregon League of Conservation Voters I remember going to our fundraisers and telling people about OLCV in a very direct and logical manner - our mission, our challenges, and the environmental issues in front of the legislature.  This was how I was trained to present information in grad school. 

People found me interesting, and we raised money, but the room felt devoid of energy. 

I wish I could remember who suggested it, but somebody suggested that I instead tell a story. Give people a lot less about what was going on, but capture the heart of OLCV by going all the way back to our founding. 

I took their advice and started telling a story about why OLCV existed.  The story began in Eugene with a small set of individuals who came together around a kitchen table.  It wove in some history, several heroes and villains, reversals in fortune, and success over time. 

The change in how people responded to my pitch was palpable.  We raised more money and, perhaps as importantly for my own ability to lead OLCV, I came away from these events jazzed instead of drained.

Why does telling stories matter to nonprofit organizations?  And how can an organization consciously know and use its stories?

(Read the full article)
What I Read

Instead of a book review, I thought I'd share a quick list of the people/organizations out there on the web who I find myself turning to when I'm looking to get my creative juices flowing. 

These websites are opinionated, sometimes provocative, useful compendiums of do's and do not's for different aspects of running a nonprofit organization - mostly focused on fundraising and marketing.

I definitely don't agree with every thing I read on them.

But it's rare that I don't find something on them thought provoking.

In no particular order . . .
Future Fundraising Now, a blog by Jeff Brooks.

As the title suggests, this blog is on the subject of fundraising.  Yet, contrary to what the title might suggest, it's not a pitch for social media or "new" fundraising techniques, but rather a suggestion that the basics of fundraising remain what they've always been - building relationships with donors.  And you can do it now. 

Donor Power Blog, by Greg Fox

Really good ideas and analysis of fundraising methods that work.

Beth's Blog, by Beth Kanter

This blog is about how networked nonprofits are using social media to power change.  She also has a book out, but I haven't read it.  It's on my to-read list, though, based on the insights I gather from her blog., by Care2

The online marketing blog of  While at various points promoting, this blog provides a variety of interesting posts about trends in online marketing and advocacy - both for fundraising and beyond.
Getting to the Point, by Katya Anderson of Network for Good

This is a blog about nonprofit marketing.  Chock full of both big-picture thinking and practical tips.
Blue avocado, an independent blog for the nonprofit sector

Wide ranging blog, with a good topic- list for accessing past posts (e.g. the Board café, Finance & Strategy, Volunteerism, etc.).
TheNonProfitConsultant, a blog by Ken Goldstein.

Interesting thoughts about a wide range of issues that confront nonprofits.
After creating this, it makes me wonder: should I start a blog?  Do people take the time to read them or has Facebook and other social networking sites made blogs "last decade."   Would any of you like me to post my thoughts more regularly on a blog?  (Email me back either way). 
Recent Success Stories and New Clients

I wrapped up my work with Fences for Fido, which adopted its first strategic plan. 

I wrapped up work with Conservation Leaders Network on their major donor fundraising program.

I'm continuing my work with Sauvie Island Center, whose board is about to launch their first-ever fall fundraising campaign.  Be sure and give if a board member asks you!

Later this week I'll be working with Friends of Family Farmers on priority-setting for a coalition they are helping launch.       

The State Environment Leadership Program has asked me to present at their annual conference in November.  I'll be leading a workshop on effective evaluation tools for advocacy.  Let me know if I'll see you there. 
Contact Information
Jonathan Poisner Strategic Consulting
phone: 503-490-1234

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