WHAT THE FUNDRAISING

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59: What the Fundraising Season 2 Recap with Dana Snyder

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“We live on opposite sides of the country and work on different topics in the nonprofit space, but we still very much complement and provide really great feedback to each other. Everyone should have a Mallory!”

– Dana Snyder
Episode #59

Overview

In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

It’s dizzying to look back on this past season of What the Fundraising and try to encapsulate all the brilliant advice, life lessons, and wisdom that my guests have shared – which is why I was fortunate to have my good friend Dana Snyder, CEO of Positive Equation, on deck to help out! Together we’re deconstructing some of the big themes impacting nonprofits today as well as the many innovative new ways organizations are approaching donor partnerships. 

A lot of our conversations in this space seem to be trending towards pausing – whether for self-reflection, celebration, or recalibration in the face of fast-paced, relentless technological and social change. With things as fluid as they are – and with so many stressors on our planet, political systems, and personal space – it’s more important than ever to have the support of the community. Dana and I have been essential sounding boards for each other this past year and we wish the same for everyone. If you don’t have a mentor, group of colleagues, or friend to offer you safety (and positive reinforcement!), please consider reaching out. There’s so much work to be done and no one needs to go it alone!

This episode provides highlights (and links) for some of our most compelling What the Fundraising conversations. But really they have ALL been thought-provoking, lively, and information-packed. Don’t miss out! Our entire audio archive can be found here.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Support for this show is brought to you by Bloomerang. Our friends at Bloomerang really understand fundraisers, which is how they make donor management software that nonprofits like to use. To learn more about them, head on over to bloomerang.com/mallory.

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Support for this show is brought to you by Bloomerang. Our friends at Bloomerang really understand fundraisers, which is how they make donor management software that nonprofits like to use. To learn more about them, head on over to bloomerang.com/mallory.

PODCASTS HIGHLIGHTED IN THIS EPISODE:

Get to know Dana:

Dana’s mission is to be a resource and partner in helping nonprofits amplify their vision through innovative digital marketing and technology. Her Missions to Movements Mastermind class teaches nonprofits how to raise consistent revenue to free up more resources for stewardship and spend less time on fundraising. As a social media coach, she pushes clients to think outside the box!

Follow Dana and Positive Equation:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Podcast | Blog | LinkedIn

About Our Host:

Mallory helps nonprofits raise more from the right funders so they can stop hounding people for money. Through her groundbreaking course, the Power Partners Formula™️, she provides unique tools to help nonprofits fundraise more from foundations, corporate partners, and individuals. She has coached more than 10,000 fundraisers using her unique win-win framework, which combines the best science-backed practices in fundraising strategy, executive coaching, habit and behavior change, and design thinking. Mallory’s clients raise an average of 25% more using this framework for campaigns, events, corporate sponsorships, grants, and major donors.

Follow Mallory and What the Fundraising:

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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.

MALLORY ERICKSON

episode transcript

Mallory Erickson: Welcome Everyone. I am so excited to be here today with my friend, Dana Snyder. Dana, welcome to What the Fundraising. 

Dana Snyder: Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I’m here. 

Mallory Erickson: You’re doing one of my favorite episodes, which is a recap of a season. So we get to talk about all the best thoughts and topics that have come up throughout the season. And then we just get to digest them together and get your insight because you also have such an amazing podcast Mission to Movements that everyone should go and check out. And so this is going to be unique because I think it’s going to give you an opportunity to talk about some different stuff than you usually get to talk about on a podcast.

Dana Snyder: This is basically just like an inside to what a conversation we would have talking about, oh my gosh, I listened to this episode. So basically welcome everyone to Mallory and I talking. 

Mallory Erickson: Yes. Okay. So this is a day in the life of both of us and the types of conversations that we have because we are always trying to process new and exciting content and innovation together and seeing what the other person thinks or what comes up for them. And I feel like we are really good at pushing each other to think about things differently and we have different lenses but we have a lot of the same core values and beliefs, which allow us to create a lot of synergy around the work that we do. 

Dana Snyder:Yeah. If you don’t have, Mallory’s my text buddy, for ideas and back and forth. If there’s something that I’m pondering or if I’m launching something, can you check out this page? So if you don’t have somebody like that in your contacts, definitely start either with an individual or a group. Because I would say I think that’s honestly been one of the best things about us being colleagues and we live on opposite sides of the country and work on different topics within the nonprofit space but we very much compliment and provide really great feedback to each other. So everyone should have a Mallory.

Mallory Erickson: And a Dana, it makes such a difference. It makes me think about just how much I wish I’d had that when I was an executive director or a managing director because both roles, being an entrepreneur is isolating, being a managing director, executive director, development director. Those can all be really isolating roles. And so having someone who can be a reflection back to you and support and cheer you on and celebrate successes. Like we’re getting more comfortable bragging with each other because it can be so uncomfortable for women to do that. And just creating spaces to be proud of each other and listen to each other it’s such a special relationship. I just love you so much. 

Dana Snyder: It’s the best, love you back!

Mallory Erickson: Okay. All right. So now we will actually talk about some content instead of an all day love Fest. So basically what I want to do is, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the topics that came up throughout season two on the podcast and I want to chat with you about them. So I’ll share a little bit about what I heard on one of the episodes with one of our guests. And then we’ll talk about it a little bit and they’ll bring up something else. 

Dana Snyder: Cool, let’s do it.

Mallory Erickson: So at the very beginning of season two, I met with this woman, Vanessa Bohns and she talked about the science of influence and it was super interesting. We actually separated it into two parts. We talked about the influence of a fundraiser. So she wrote this book, You Have More Influence than You Think. And so we broke it up into the influence of a fundraiser and then we broke it up into the influence of a donor. And one of the things that I thought was so interesting about the research that she did, is how much we underestimate our influence as fundraisers because of this sort of believed power dynamic between the donor and between the fundraiser.

And so one of the things that happens is the donor says something like, oh, it would be great to buy a new truck for the organization. And because of the science of influence, the fundraiser, oh, my gosh, that donor definitely wants to buy a truck for the organization. Now we have to restrict the funding and does the thing, taking that comment as a strong recommendation or restriction from the funder. Whereas the funder was just throwing it out there. The funder believes because the funder has a lot of agency in their own life, they expect the fundraiser would push back if it wasn’t the right fit for the organization, but the fundraiser doesn’t have that agency that doesn’t feel like they have that agency. And so they actually don’t get curious with the donor and they don’t talk about the real reason that donor might want that truck, for example. 

And so I’m curious, when you think about the dynamics between donors and fundraisers, where do you feel there’s the most untapped potential for fundraisers to lean into their influence and recognize that they have more influence than they think?

Dana Snyder: Such a good point. I think this happens with all of us whenever we’re making any type of ask, honestly. I think there’s this, I was actually reading Julie Solomon, who was my business coach last year. And she has this book Get What You Want. And she talks a lot about the perception that we create internally that is not actually the truth or the reality. We are creating this false reality in our minds of what we think a donor or what we think as the fundraiser can either receive or what they might think about us making that ask. When on the other side, it’s no, I’d love to do that for you. No, that’s actually, let’s explore that. Nope, let’s go ahead. And how else can I help you? What other things are you working on? You’re like, wow. We play in our minds, I think oftentimes I don’t know why we do this as humans but this negative narrative of the way a conversation is going to go instead of the, oh, this is going to exceed my expectations of this ask.

And I just think the perception we need to shift our thinking and go into those conversations like, no, I’m presenting an opportunity. And then the opportunity on the other side is a gift to help. For example, I shared this on LinkedIn yesterday, Julie, who has a top 25 podcast on US marketing. I’ve been  listening to it for five years and she has been my idol in the business world. When she asked me to be on my podcast and I was like, what? And she’s going to be on yours, I was floored. And to her, she said it was a little bit of an awkward feeling asking as if it’s an inconvenience, which to me, it was an honor. And how inconvenience and honor, like how opposite can those words be? And I think with influence, you have an influence for good in what you’re doing. It can just lead to a more dynamic, hopefully conversation. 

Mallory Erickson: I love that. And actually a lot of what you talk about with the discomfort with asking and how actually our discomfort in anticipating meeting to ask. It’s more uncomfortable a lot of the time. And Vanessa talks about this in the episode too, how actually people say yes much more than we predict them to say yes. And I think sometimes with fundraising in addition to that focus on the negative, we also feel so desperate for the win and we feel like they want to buy the truck and I can take that back to my board. And I can say, I got this funding and I can be done. Versus opening up a more curious conversation around what do you believe that the truck is actually going to do for our organization? And how do we explore what else is possible there? Because that opens up the possibility of them saying no, I do want to do the truck which then would actually put you in the exact same situation as you were. 

Dana Snyder: Yeah. Or it might be like, what is the real purpose of this need? Oh, let’s talk about it. Actually, you need two vans and you need gas cards for those. And you’re going to need, let’s say it’s a kid organization and you are going to need new car seats for the vans. And then it becomes this much larger conversation than if you’re just going through it. 

Mallory Erickson: Yes. But we want to be done, we want to have that win, and we don’t trust I think sometimes ourselves and sometimes the donors to be able to have that more curious conversation. And so I really want to encourage folks to go back, listen to those episodes. They are amazing. And there’s so much in there about how to lean into your own influence in ways that feel really good. 

I think the other thing in that episode that I love, and I’d be curious how you coach or think around this is around, I hear from fundraisers all the time, I don’t want to be manipulating. And that they feel like sometimes in fundraising they’re like manipulating the donor. And she talks about in the episode how the biggest way to flex our influence is in person. The next would be on zoom, on a video meeting. The next would be the phone. The next would be email, then texts, or I think it’s texts and email videos in there too. 

And she talks about how if you really want to help somebody make a conscious choice, you don’t want to put them on the spot or manipulate their decision-making, then give them space to make a decision and let them respond by email because that lets them step away from that influential moment. Is that something that comes up in your work a lot of people being afraid to be too salesy?

Dana Snyder: Yeah, I think that being too salesy, it comes up all the time. I would say not so much on the manipulation side because a lot with digital marketing, if you’re giving the option to do something. And digital in my role, it’s more I am providing you with this content and you are loving what I’m showing you, and you’re going to a website and you’re going through this funnel, hopefully getting emails and you’re more immersed in the story. And then you decide to make the decision. 

So the decision is always on the donor to make that happen. But I would say in a phone call situation, or even being in person, I still think you’re presenting options and you’re allowing them to, in the end, choose what they want to do and what they don’t want to do. And if the answer is not right now or not at this time, okay then come back later on that. That’s okay and the answer to give that’s going to happen. That happens to all of us, nos are okay and nos are great places for learning. 

And then the question should be instead of no phone call, what are you passionate about? Even for me personally, with just things going on my interests are changing in the ways that I want to give. And that just be a natural point of things happening. And let’s just say somebody says, it’s not your organization, but you have a friend or you have a partner organization that’s right up that person’s alley. You know what, I’d love to make an introduction to you. And that’s still a win. 

I think we just need to rethink in our minds, hey, you’re not manipulate. You’re not manipulating, like that needs to be X out of the conversation. You’re always giving people an option and I would hope unless you’re coming on the phone call and you’re like, you must.

Mallory Erickson: Yeah. It’s an interesting word to hear. They feel like they’re putting them on the spot.

Dana Snyder: But look, the thing is right if you’re scheduling a zoom call with someone, it’s scheduled. It’s a premeditated thing. If you’re going to an event, they probably bought a ticket to be at the seat. You know what you’re expecting. I was actually just talking to my parents about this. They went to a gala there in Sarasota, Florida, and they were invited by their friends who bought a table. And my parents went knowing the expectation is we are going to sit down and we’re going to learn about the organization and we’re going to give in whatever amount. Whether that’s a silent auction item or we’re going to become a monthly donor, whatever we feel called to do the expectation. We know that and we are saying yes to go to this event because yes, we are willing to do that. So I think no matter the exchange that is happening, there is always a yes happening from the donor side. So yeah. 

Mallory Erickson: Yes, totally. And there are these gates of permission, that’s what I say to folks. If they’re sitting down at that meeting with you, they’ve invited this conversation. Unless you’ve really misled them about why you’re talking to them and then you throw an ask at them. If you’re like, oh I just wanted to meet with you to get your feedback on this thing, and then you throw an ask their way. Okay, then they’re caught off guard that they didn’t give you permission for that. And you can learn more about that in that episode too. 

But yeah, I love everything that you’re saying. 

Dana Snyder: One last thing I will rap just on the social digital side. I think the word influence has a big confusion in definition. And the fact that when the influencer space started, it was in order to have influence I must be of a certain clout and that’s not true. And I think that’s part of an old way of thinking. Whereas now in the marketing world, the nano and micro influencers, which can be us with less than 10,000 followers, technically are less than a thousand, are the ones that actually make the impact because we have the real relationships with the people that are engaging with us.

So it’s so funny. I think I shared a bathing suit that I had ordered and I loved it and I had five friends order it like the next day. So you have an influence and you do not have to be this huge Kim Kardashians, millions of followers type of individual. And so I think to be a thought leader too, in the same vein.

Mallory Erickson: Yeah. I love that it actually hits on a topic I talked about early in the season as well with Domonique James, who does PR really for impact driven businesses and nonprofits. And she talks a lot about the everyday expert and how you hone your own story to share your lived experience or the expertise you’re working on the ground in your nonprofit.

And that’s a super important type of influence and narrative to be amplified. And that more and more folks are looking for and turning to, because those are actually the narratives that ultimately change the conversation. 

Dana Snyder: Yeah because they’re real stories. It’s relevant to us. Oh my gosh, I just had the best conversation. I recorded a podcast episode yesterday with the major gifts officer for the Preemptive Love and she’s 24. And just her real, relentless, grit determination stories of the things that she has changed within that organization and pitched. And I was just in awe. 

Those are the stories to create a LinkedIn post about that, pitch Forbes about that, talk about. I did a podcast episode on breaking down how I marketed my podcast for launch week and how you can replicate that to a campaign. It’s these every day, real campaigns and experiences that we just all want to learn from each other on.

Mallory Erickson: Totally. And I think sometimes and historically in the nonprofit sector, this paternalistic attitude when we think about grant funding and the way that foundations have overseen nonprofits work. Or one of the things that came up actually in an earlier episode with the executive director of reading partners in Washington, DC was actually really similar to what we’re talking about right now with how sometimes in human work. What she was calling human work, everyone can feel like they’re an expert or that they can talk over the nonprofits expertise. And sometimes that makes nonprofit leaders shrink in their influence a little bit. And I think it’s important to remember exactly what we’re talking about. You have influence, you have really important expertise, really important stories to be sharing and to sit in that knowing and present yourself in that way. You don’t need to have 400 million followers to have your voice matter or be important. And that is a really limiting belief that a lot of nonprofits are holding. 

Dana Snyder: I think it’s a lot all of us are holding. I think imposter syndrome is real. It’s super real. I’m doing keynotes now, like we both are and I still am, is this good enough? Am I actually sharing anything that’s new? Are there going to be good takeaways here? And then you get the reactions and you’re like, okay, this is good. But every time I’m like is someone gonna call it out that oh, she’s not as far excelled in this area or I’m still yesterday. 

I’m trying to work on LinkedIn ads. And so I’m taking their certification, always learning, always growing. Friends of ours call my husband and we love techie stuff. They’re always like you’re our tech friends that are 10 steps ahead and educating us on things that are going on. So we have conversations, we go into these conversations feeling so educated because we’ve talked to you guys at dinner, like the week before. And I was like, really I would never think about that because it’s just naturally what I know and what I do, and it’s the same for you and it’s the same for the listener, whoever you are an expert in what you do because you’re living and breathing it every day. But we just don’t take the step back to actually write down. 

Okay, this is a challenge for the listener, grab your notebook or a pen or paper, and just start to write a list of all the topics that you could talk about for 10 to 20 minutes. That you could just riff on, that you have an interest in, and they don’t have to be necessarily all professional things. And then you’re like, oh, okay. I do know some stuff. And then put asterisks next to the ones that you’re super passionate about, the top three to five. And those are the things that you can rinse and rotate and repeat on speaking. 

Mallory Erickson: Yeah, I love that. And I’m really glad that you brought up the imposter syndrome piece because I think there’s this misconception that being confident and taking action around your influence or your expertise means that you don’t have that imposter syndrome. And for me, I actually have all the same narratives that everybody does. And I know you do too. It’s about whether you let those narratives define whether or not you take the action that you’re trying to take.

So I have all those same thoughts and sometimes what you need is a sounding board to say, hey does this make sense? I’m so inside my head here, is this going to resonate with the audience, when you’re speaking or something like that. 

But sometimes what it is just recognizing for me, Okay, of course that voice is there. This is a scary thing for me to be doing right now. I’m leaving my comfort zone. I’m venturing into new territory. It makes total sense that the narrative around me not having enough experience around X, Y, and Z is going to show up. But I think that narrative is so linked to perfectionism that’s why it’s never quieted. Because no one is going to have all the information on all the things, especially when we talk about what you and I do, your field is changing rapidly, daily, right? There is no such thing as perfectionism, mine is too. Human psychology, human behavior, we’re learning more and more about that every single day. We can get more curious. We can refine, we can have more layered lived experience every single day. So if I search for the moment that I’m going to have all the information, I’m going to feel like an imposter forever.

Dana Snyder: Yeah. And part of it is fear of showing up to think you’re going to get called out. In a totally different sector, my friend Brittany is a photographer and she’s an amazing photographer. She did all my photo shoots for the podcast and she’s, I don’t know how you put yourself out in front, I don’t know if I could ever do that. I’m always behind the lens. And I said, you just have to do it. And it’s going to feel uncomfortable. It’s not that it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. It’s like you just have to start to get into the groove and then it becomes a habit. 

And so she started to do Instagram reels and oh everybody has to look her up. It’s Brittany Morgan photography on Instagram. She’s hilarious.  Where have you been hiding this person who’s super funny. I know she’s brilliantly creative because of what she does, but yeah, go check out Brittany Morgan photography and you will just die laughing at her reels. And you gave me the idea and the courage to just start. And that’s sometimes what you gotta do is just start, figuring out your zone and maybe the platform that you want to start on. 

Mallory Erickson: I love that. And that coincides with episode 36, I interviewed this woman Dethra Giles. She’s an executive coach and she talks a lot about confidence. And she talks about how whenever we’re learning something new for the first time, we should be ignorant on that subject. And that’s ok. We think about that as such a negative word, but it’s not, we should be and that’s where we get to be curious and we get to learn. And I think sometimes I’m curious what you think about this. I feel like sometimes when we’re doing something brand new, we have an expectation that we should be more uncomfortable and so we’re a little bit more okay with it. Or we can get over the imposter syndrome a little bit easier, the perfectionism a little bit easier because we’re like yeah, I shouldn’t be confident about this because I’ve never spoken in front of 10,000 people live, for example. So we can rationalize the imposter syndrome and then when we can’t, there are things that we expect ourselves to be able to do more easily. 

So I had a client who was in a really uncomfortable scenario with their staff member and she was uncomfortable sending a particular email. And she could not stop beating herself up about her discomfort sending that email. She was like, I should have been more comfortable sending it. I should have been more confident in this. So then her imposter syndrome around her leadership came up and she didn’t know how to soothe that because of this like expectation she was holding for yourself. How does that show up in your work? What do you think about it? 

Dana Snyder: Oh, gosh. I think that shows up in so many ways. With digital marketing, I think like you mentioned, it changes all the time. So you’re constantly learning and staying curious and a little bit naive. And when I think I’ve wrapped my head around something that, oh my gosh let’s just say for instance, I spend a lot of time in social ads, right? So if an ad isn’t working properly, then I’m frustrated about what have I done wrong, or this is not working right. On the other hand, launching my podcast, never done that before. No clue really about what to expect. Didn’t really feel any certain way about it. Just going to give it a shot and see what happens. 

So yeah, I think that’s only natural for us to be able to have that kind of self questioning. And I don’t know. I think it’s just giving ourselves permission. I think the word of the last two years has been grace. And I think it’s just giving yourself grace in those areas that we’re human. And we’re not going to have all the answers and figure things out. But I think even if a situation or something doesn’t work perfectly. Okay. What happened? Let’s just take a step back and let’s think about in the big world of things, like how serious is this? And then that kind of allows you to take a beat and just maybe go take a walk and then come back to it and then realize this isn’t as big of a deal. I am personally making this out to be such a big deal, but it’s not. 

Mallory Erickson: Okay. There’s so many things about what you just said that I think are so important. I do want to double click on the sort of expectations that we have on ourselves and the way that that plays into us like upholding perfectionism and imposter syndrome and pieces like that.

Because I think one of the things I said to my client, when that whole thing was happening, I was like, okay, if I asked you to go into a gym right now and lift 200 pounds, what would you say? And she was like, I could never lift 200 pounds. I was like, okay. So if you walked up and you tried to lift the bar and you couldn’t lift it up, what would you say to yourself at that moment? And she was like, I don’t know, probably not a whole lot. It would be like, oh no. And then I walk away. Okay. But if you believed that you should be able to lift 200 pounds, the narrative in your head would be totally different at that moment. 

And that’s what’s happening. We’re not recognizing that these are muscles. We need to build whether it’s your digital marketing muscle, your fundraising muscle, all these different things. And we try to lift some 200 pound weights. We can’t lift it right away. We don’t know exactly how to do it right away. And we start to impose all these expectations on ourselves.

Dana Snyder: Yeah. These false expectations. Again that we were just setting for ourselves. Yes. A lot of the time, no one is placing those on you.  

Mallory Erickson: Yeah totally. And then I think that piece around getting really clear about one, where can you play and where can you test things and where can you try things out and just have a little bit more lightness and levity and not take every single tweet or every single social post or every single thing. But in my opinion, a lot of what causes that is our desire to prevent discomfort. And one of the things I’ve been really exploring recently, and I talk about this a little bit on the episode with Megan Seamens, is how much energy we spend trying to prevent discomfort in a way that makes us very uncomfortable in the present moment. I’m curious what you think when I say that?

Dana Snyder: A) that’s just super ironic and very true. I think, gosh, and this has been a through line of my life recently, but there are so many factors where we’re not in control. You can be, as in the world of social media, like we’re not in control if Instagram decides to shut down. We are not in control about how an ad is shown with the algorithm on the backend. We are not in control if our emails accidentally hit somebody’s spam folder, we are not in control. There are so many things and we get frustrated, maybe just looking at the numbers and the data of things sometime to realize that we are, there are so many different factors just in life in general, that we are just a tiny portion of what can make a decision happen or what can make somebody see something. 

And if we only think about our role and like I send out an email so everybody should see it, why are my open rates so low? Why are the click rates so low? And not thinking about the tool that I’m using to do it, and what’s happening on the backend of their emails and somebody could be on vacation. And if I’m only looking at my numbers and only thinking about what’s happening in my world, then that’s false. That’s a delusion. And I guess that would then cause me discomfort because then I think I’m failing. When there’s so many other circumstances at play to consider. Just the nature of how we are and how we operate, it’s what’s going on in my world, what’s happening right now for me. And it takes effort to think about all those other things. And it takes again, you take a beat and be like, okay, there’s a bunch of other things at play. Instead of just focusing on tunnel vision of what’s happening in Dana’s world. 

Mallory Erickson: Yeah. And we are so geared towards being self-critical in that way that we start to get really hard on ourselves about whatever that sort of piece of the puzzle is. It’s interesting another thing Dethra Giles set on her episode. I’m not going to quote this perfectly, but with something to the effect of, people say that you are the culmination of your life experiences, she was like but that’s not true, you’re the culmination of what you’ve made those life experiences mean.

Dana Snyder: That’s good. 

Mallory Erickson: I know. It might be the quote of the season, but it’s something I think about a lot. And this goes to data too. It goes to those impression metrics. It goes to things that are so, I don’t talk about this a lot in the podcast, but my body image and weight, right?

The other day I was thinking about how much I avoid the scale. And I was like, why do I avoid the scale? It’s just a number and I was like, no, it’s not just a number it’s what do I say to myself once I see that number. If I could just see that number, it wouldn’t. So how do I work on how I have my own back, no matter, how do I get curious about that number? And I think that gives us a ton of power. 

And when we think about the data you were talking about, even about impressions and all these things. The reason we get scared about looking at our donor data or looking at our ads data or looking at things like that, is because we don’t feel like we can trust ourselves, to speak nicely to ourselves when we see that number or when we see that thing. But if we can work on that, then all of that information just becomes empowering instead of something we need to avoid. 

Dana Snyder: Yeah. And I think it’s also when there’s good things, like that dopamine hit of oh, I was awesome. This is amazing. And we don’t do enough. We don’t spend enough time in that space.

I have an episode coming up about how I’m planning my quarterly goals for Q3. And I talk about, there’s a section, we both use the full focus planner. There’s the section where it asks you to write a reward for yourself. And so often I will achieve a goal. And then it’s okay, that was cool, moving on. You don’t even take the time, like you worked so hard to achieve that thing that you purposely wrote down and thought about, and then it just bypassed. And there’s not a moment to actually take it in and appreciate that moment. And what was the meaning of that moment and making that goal happen? What was the purpose behind it in the first place and setting the reward or some sort of acknowledgement for yourself. 

And then on the flip side, if you’re not seeing something that looks great, it’s okay. Instead of thinking about it in a negative way, is there a positive spin that you can tell yourself? Or how you can learn. Yeah, it’s just being more internally kind to ourselves.

Mallory Erickson: Yeah. And BJ Fogg, this is actually a season one episode, but he is a scientist around behavior change and habit building. And he talks a lot about this idea of shine. If we want to cement good habits, we have to show ourselves shine and we need to show it to ourselves around the action that we took, not just the results of the action. So celebrate yourself internally when you press post on the Facebook ad, celebrate and work in those celebrations.

I talk about this with folks I work with around fundraising a lot. We say, oh, we care about our fundraisers, we wanna improve the mental health and burnout issues that are going on with our fundraisers. But from a tracking perspective, they’re still only tracking money. And so if they want to build healthier habits for their fundraisers inside them, they need to be celebrating, showing shine for fundraisers taking scary actions for being brave, for being courageous, for saying the hard thing, for having that donor meeting, no matter what happens because that’s actually what cements are habit.

Dana Snyder: Yeah. There’s a lot of metrics I think that need to change in the nonprofit industry that dictate what quote unquote I’m using my quote, air bubbles, what success is and means, a million percent. That’s a whole other podcast conversation. 

Mallory Erickson: Okay. Actually, I want to talk about this for a second because I’m curious how it might relate to this topic. I’ve never thought about this before, but I knew I had wanted to ask you about this interview that I did with this woman, Ayelet Fishbach. She’s a motivational scientist and she wrote this book called The Motivational Scientist

Dana Snyder: A motivational scientist, wow!

Mallory Erickson: Yeah. And so really understanding the psychology of motivation. And so we talk on the episode around donor motivation, what motivates different types of donors to give how much and when and all these things. But we also talk about the motivation of the fundraiser. And we talk about this concept of the middle problem. She has this book, Get It Done. She talks about this concept of the middle problem, which we’ve heard about in the science of motivation before around how motivation wanes in the middle of anything. When we start a project, we have initial motivation, then motivation really decreases in the middle. And then we see a lot of motivation at the end of something like a campaign, for example. 

And her recommendation for that, in particular to fundraising for campaigns, are setting more incremental milestones, incremental celebration points that exist in that middle period to help keep you motivated throughout. But I have this other thing that I’m wondering about, because I feel in fundraising in particular, when I think about the shiny object syndrome that we have in this sector. I’ve been thinking a lot about donor stewardship and really cultivation in a lot of ways, a middle problem? Is it not an exciting burst of energy for us, like biologically, because it’s not a new relationship or it’s not right before a gift. And because we don’t exactly know how to track what’s happening in those moments, we just as a sector, are not doing a great job continuing to cultivate and build those relationships when we don’t have very clear metrics associated with it. What do you think about that? 

Dana Snyder: I think that’s fascinating. So I haven’t fundraised in the nonprofit space in a long time since my first job out of college. I did fundraising in the business world for, I randomly launched a desk company. I think we’ve basically briefly talked about this in our friendship, but launched a desk company at the beginning of COVID, a really brilliant idea.  I did some crowdfunding for it. So I was fundraising and I was asking people for money to support this business to get it off the ground. 

Which to your point about the middle and the stewardship, I think when I got feedback from someone and had conversations after the fact about how excited they were about what I was doing. And about how they were so excited to support what I was doing. And then they would ask questions about the product and ask questions about my process that would refuel, to be like, oh, they’re really interested in what I’m trying to do. And they’re going deeper with me on it. So therefore,  I’m more pumped to ask the next person to keep fundraising. 

So I don’t know. I think it could end up being this constant. Even with our podcast, I’m sure you feel the same way. Whenever I get a new testimonial or a review, I get really excited because we’re oftentimes speaking to a screen, into a microphone, hoping in return for some feedback. And whenever you get that feedback back from a donor in sharing, maybe the impact of why it’s so important that they’re giving, or why they’re giving in the first place, and you’re able to make that outreach and then get those responses back. Those to me, fuel the continuous ask and continous fundraise.

Mallory Erickson: Okay. You can tell me if I’m wrong here, but I feel like actually what you’re doing in that situation is you’re being so present in the experience that you’re having, that you’re feeling that sort of refuel when you see that review or when you’ve got that testimonial about the desk. And so it was activating that shine around the behaviors that you were taking and it was continuing to motivate you to the next piece. And I love that because I think that’s also a real tip for dealing with the middle problem.

Dana Snyder: And to click on that is if in your organization, if you use a Slack channel or if you don’t use Slack, if you just use email communication, whatever your comms is. And if somebody receives that note, everyone should see that note. Cause that’s going to lift up everyone in the organization, no matter what their role is. There should be, if you use slack, which I love slack for instant comms, there should be a channel that’s nothing but our impact. Like feedback from donors and just have this like feed that goes off and gets pings.

One of my favorite things actually was when I was working with Movember, they had a gong in their office. And so when they reached a certain, and it was level of fundraising during the campaign but just to hype everybody up. Because a month long of really hardcore fundraising like you’re saying the beginning of the month was like super exciting, can’t wait. And then it’s the middle of the month, you’re feeling a little bit of a lull. But every time that gong would go off, everyone would cheer and everyone would clap and there would be the celebratory moment and the person who found it would shout, we just got this amazing gift from and it was this just contagious energy.

Mallory Erickson: I love that. And that’s like a great example too of a pattern interrupter. So with Slack, I love the idea of Slack. As somebody with ADHD, Slack is harder for me because when I see so many things happening there all the time, I get a little bit numb to it. And then I miss messages because it’s just always going off. And so the gong is maybe for somebody like me. And obviously that’s an in-person thing. Although I had a buzzer on my phone, a ding on my phone that I would use when I was trying to build a habit around something, because it was that jolt of a pattern interrupter.

And what you’re saying about making sure that everyone is getting those messages on a team is so important. And making sure that they’re also said in a team meeting because the thing I was going to say about you, that I think you’re really good at in your business, is creating enough spaciousness in your work to really process what’s happening in real time. And this is an area where I have struggled, booking back to back meetings. You’re always like Mallory, stop for two minutes. And I know. 

Dana Snyder: I saw her calendar the other week and I was like, whoa. If she doesn’t get back to you, I know why. 

Mallory Erickson: I know that’s why I have that out of office forever, I’ll be here in 72 hours. I know it’s out of control. I’m working on it. I’m really working on, it’s one of my growth edges. But one of the things I’ve realized recently is the biggest challenge that is created for me in not having spaciousness in my calendar is these pieces, is actually feeling that celebration, is sitting with the win and taking those moments.

And I think in fundraising, I know fundraisers’ schedules look like mine. I know executive directors look like mine. And we’re missing the opportunity then to feel those things and actually get them to cement into us and change our brain and all those things. And so I know spaciousness can feel scary, but you could join me in the 50 minute meeting. Like I just changed all my Calendly links to no more than 60 minutes, 50 minute meetings. It’s fine. And having and creating some rituals, transitioning between meetings, that’s such an important thing. And that’s also if you share positive feedback in a team meeting, say it, sit with it, be quiet. Just let everyone hear it. Let everyone feel it. Don’t just run right to the next thing. Because when we think about the integration of mindset work, behavior change work, all of these things, it can’t happen without some spaciousness. 

Dana Snyder: And for listeners, if you can set some really hard boundaries with your calendar too.  I think it’s great to allow for these times of recognition. I think it’s also great for learning. I try to set time on my calendar just to learn and just to explore, like what I’m doing with taking this LinkedIn certification, is like booking out the time.

Yeah I set a really hard boundary for myself at the beginning of the year to not take meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays and Mondays actually. Mondays are just podcast recording days so Tuesdays and Thursdays might be really full, but the rest of the days are wide open and it hasn’t been a problem for nearly six months. Nobody’s been mad at it. So just go ahead with your bad self and set some boundaries. 

Mallory Erickson: I love it and have friends who hold you accountable for setting your boundaries and don’t let your calendar look like mine used to look a few months ago. Okay. I wanna, before we wrap up, I want to ask you one other thing that I am super curious for your input on. 

So I did the podcast interview with Lynne Wester right when the war in Ukraine was starting. And the thing that we ended up talking about on the episode that I had not planned for at all, was what was happening around expressions of generosity in that moment. And so this was a moment where we were watching a lot of people give through Airbnb.org. We were watching a lot of people buy digital art on Etsy. And I’ve been thinking about it so much since that conversation around all of the different ways that we can today express generosity and build that identity part of ourselves that doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to a nonprofit the same way that it used to be.

And I don’t like using the word competition in general because I think that is not a motivating word to use, particularly for folks in the nonprofit sector. And I do believe we know that people give for example to five to seven nonprofits a year, that it’s not like, a this or that type of thing. But we did see in this Ukraine crisis, for example, people turning to other forms of generosity because it felt like the nonprofit sector wasn’t meeting their needs around how they primarily wanted to express their generosity in that moment. 

So I’m just thinking about, especially given what you do with digital ads and marketing now that it feels like maybe the nonprofit sector is being held up next to these other ways for people to express generosity. How does that change the game and what does that mean for what nonprofits need to be thinking about? 

Dana Snyder: I honestly think it lends into creating really innovative partnerships is what should be happening. How can you partner with not only brands? How can you partner with people of influence? How can you think outside the box when you are making that ask. In your storytelling, which is really important. 

And it’s not only the areas of generosity, but I think it’s just overall how we are being shown as consumers and just how we’re interacting with other businesses and in e-commerce. But I would say, yeah, I think it’s, be willing to take some risks and have conversations with partners that you can never think would come together. There are so many great examples in the for-profit space of this. 

And there’s really great examples with the charity space too. Charity Water for World Water Day did a great integration with Pantone. And I interviewed their head of digital and he’s yo, that came together two weeks before the campaign went live. We just had a random idea to partner with them. They weren’t even part of our original vision. And I was like, what? Never would’ve thought that but it came to them and they made the ask. 

You never know, there was the show with Ezra, it’s on HBO. And in an episode, she gets into a lift and she talks about, I wish I had a Capri Sun in here. And it blew up on Twitter. And so lo and behold Insecure and Capri Sun did like a whole partnership and Lyft where like with your Lyft rides, there would be little Capri Sun icons moving all around the city and if you clicked on one of those cars, there would be Capri suns in a cooler or whatever. So that was so random. 

In these moments, how can you really think about thoughtful, meaningful partnerships that at the end of the day, what happened with Ukraine? We all felt tied to what was happening there, whether we knew somebody or not. And we all have this calling to be generous and to help in whatever way that happens. And how can your organization really think about with your audience, what’s their interest? What are they consuming? Where are they going to watch things? What media outlets are they going to? Where are they shopping? And then think about those partners. And then is there like a really creative way that you can just explode generosity with the two of you. And you’re the queen bee in that space. 

Mallory Erickson: I love that. And yeah, I would say if you want to learn more about really unique creative partnerships, episode 41 with Kate Williams from 1% for The Planet is a great episode. Episode 54 with Julie Solomon, who we both know and got to interview with that Dana was mentioning earlier, we talked specifically about brand partnerships and why nonprofit partnerships with brands or mixed into what you’re talking about like a three way partnership almost makes that type of brand partnership so much more powerful.

 

And I love that your answer to that was around partnerships because I’ve been thinking about it a lot through the lens of like nonprofits and donor relations. But I think what you’re pushing, which I really actually appreciate, is how can in moments like that we’d be creative to expand our sort of reach and access to us and our footprint on the issue area, which I think is super important.

Dana Snyder: We are stronger together. And I think it’s always better to collaborate than trying to go at it. 

Mallory Erickson: Yes. Okay. We could talk for the rest of the day on here. And apparently there were too many episodes in season two because I have 45 more questions but I’m gonna cut myself off. Thank you so much for chatting with me today about all this stuff. I always just value your opinion and your perspective on all of these things. And so I’m so glad that everyone got to hear it today.

Dana Snyder: You’re so welcome. Yeah guys, let us know what you think. DM Mallory on all the places on Instagram. I don’t know where you want them to DM you, but wherever, let us know what you thought.

Mallory Erickson: Yeah, we can’t wait to hear from you. And thanks for spending this time with us today. 

Dana Snyder: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

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