Letter from the Editor

Hello again, Blue Avocado readers! We're excited to have you all back for the second issue under my new tenure and can't wait to share some great, practical tips and tools with all you incredible community leaders!

In this issue, aside from one of the gems from our archive, profiled in our "Best of Blue Avocado" column, you'll find some great insights around impact investing and collaborative fundraising. These innovative practices may take a bit of re-education, but both represent exciting opportunities for fund development. Since fundraising is always one of the biggest challenges facing small- and mid-sized nonprofits, we're also featuring a great article on how to improve your budget by leveraging in-kind support, one of the most effective ways to ensure the success of events, and more. We'll also dive into what your organization can do to ensure you're on the right side of the #MeToo movement and avoid issues around sexual harassment, and finally there's a piece on how to effectively unlock the potential of volunteers and the staffer(s) you have directing them.

Scarcity or Abundance? An Experiment in Collaborative Fundraising

As a recovering lawyer, I wasn't professionally trained in development when I became an executive director three years ago, yet my Board expected me to get to work fundraising...fast.

When I began exploring the field, I quickly learned there are a lot of recognized best practices. One of the most tried and true ground rules to successful fundraising is that resources are limited and nonprofits are plentiful, so keep your strategies and funder contacts close to your chest.

But I soon began to wonder: what if embracing abundance instead of scarcity yields both better fundraising results and impact?

Ask Rita: How Do I Prevent Sexual Harassment at My Nonprofit?

To Rita in HR:

We're a relatively new nonprofit that has taken note of the #metoo movement. This has increased our awareness, but has also led us to ask ourselves, "How do we prevent sexual harassment and assault from happening at our nonprofit, and how should we handle it if it does occur?" Our Human Resources staff is knowledgeable but not very experienced in handling these issues.

Sincerely,
Aware but Concerned

Volunteer Management: How to Get it Right

How essential are volunteers to achieving your nonprofit's mission? In our recent study, we learned that the lack of understanding about the essential nature of volunteers and the staff who lead them (called Volunteer Engagement Professionals--VEPs) undermines the effectiveness of many nonprofits. Don't fall into the same trap--with a few simple changes, your organization can ensure that your cause thrives with the support of your volunteers and team. But first, let's explore the most common misconceptions that trip up so many worthy causes:

In-Kind Fundraising: A Great Way to Expand Your Budget

You're desperate. You're planning a fundraising event but don't have the funds to book a venue or a caterer. So what do you do?

First, breathe! Then, start thinking about options for support in a new way. The truth is, often your problem is actually an opportunity since you'd be amazed at how much easier it is to score in-kind support instead of cash contributions. Yet whether you secure a gift or eliminate an expense from your budget, both benefit your work equally.

Success with in-kind fundraising is all about how you ask. So how do you go about enlisting this support?

The New Fundraising Frontier: Impact Investing

Capital campaigns can be a slog! Most organizations face similar challenges: donor fatigue, the time it takes to raise funds, rising development costs, and concerns about falling short of your fundraising goals. But what if there were another way to raise funds for your cause?

Enter the world of impact investing! You may have read about this idea as it's starting to gain popularity, but it's been around since early 1970's. Ford Foundation started investing in nonprofits as a way of expanding capacity. In fact, the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, the publisher of Blue Avocado, was an early recipient of a $500,000 loan at 2% interest in the 1980s as part of the Ford Foundation's foray into impact investing. NIAC paid that loan back with interest and 30 years later provides insurance protection to 18,000 other nonprofits and has grown to nearly $500 million in assets.

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