Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Wish for You in 2014…….. Be Heretical for Equality, Peace and Love

Dear Friends,

I wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a blessed New Year. Once a year I have the same post at both of my blogs Marion Conway – Nonprofit Consultant and The Grandma Chronicles. This is that joint post.

Every year, I take some quiet time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and the one that is ahead.   This has been a good year for me personally and involved some planned change. I decided early in 2013 to slow down my business to have more time for family and retirement enjoyment and I am glad that I did.  Of course as soon as the world knows you have a little free time it is filled up quickly and mine did with a couple of major volunteer responsibilities that are still in progress.  I did more speaking, spent more time with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson and my son was married and so our family grew with a new daughter-in-law.  It was a busy year.
Cookie Baking Day with my daughter and grandson
My son and daughter-in-law on the altar at St. John's at their wedding
In 2014 my professional work will also change – it’s more of a fork in the road than a turn.  I don’t plan to actively pursue work with strategic planning any longer as it involves long term commitments on my part.  I will continue with board development and social media projects for nonprofits.  What will be new is that I plan to write and speak about philanthropy.  Philanthropy – not fundraising.  Stay tuned.

Each year this post usually includes my wish for you in the coming year.  This year will be different in that regard too.  I’d like to share some thoughts I heard in a recent sermon by the Reverend Barrington Bates, Interim Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Montclair, NJ  (my parish church).

Barrie started his sermon discussing our Confirmation class’ curriculum about heretics.  The curriculum defines a heretic as someone who holds unorthodox opinion or doctrine as in religion, politics, philosophy or science.  Heretics can be shunned or even killed for their beliefs and they may or may not be right.  Sometimes it takes years or even centuries before their ideas are shown to be wise. 

The confirmands identified and discussed some people who started out as heretics with this definition.  Their discussion included Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Joan of Arc, Steve Jobs, Nicholas Tesla, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Jesus.  The other person who came immediately to my mind was Galileo.

Barrie added John the Baptist to the core of his Advent 3 sermon and ended with these words:  “ Let us all be heretics for equality.  Heretics for peace.  Heretics for love.”

People couldn’t stop talking about this sermon after the service.  It was powerful and resonated with our current times and so I decided to share this with you in this season of peace and love. 
My thoughts for connecting this to nonprofits and grandparents for 2014….
Barrie added equality to the traditional Christmas themes of peace and love – I think this will be an important issue for nonprofits in 2014.  We should think outside the dots and perhaps be heretical in our approach sometimes if we really want change.  I think 2014 will provide lots of opportunity for this and taking the less safe road. 

Now Grandparents…. If you are like me you have some ideas that are quite different than your kids about your grandkids.  Are they right?  Perhaps.  But perhaps rather than the standard advice that a grandparent should keep their mouths shut if they want to have good relationships… just perhaps there are times to speak up.  You may seem heretical or you may seem wise, and definitely think this through first.  You don’t need to be confrontational but silence isn’t always golden.

For myself I am planning for 2014 to be a thoughtful, deliberate and action filled year.  I’ve always been somewhat unorthodox but I’ve never thought of myself as a heretic.   Maybe, I’ll give it some consideration.

Wishing You a Joyous and Blessed Holiday Season,


Sunday, December 01, 2013

#GivingTuesday - Are You In? It's Not Too Late

First we had Black Friday for serious in the physical store shoppers.  Then came Cyber Monday for the new breed of online shoppers.  Up next is Shop Small Saturday to encourage shopping at small businesses.  But alas, something important was still missing.  After all,  post Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas there should be some giving – right?  And now we have  #GivingTuesday.  If you work in the nonprofit sector you may have heard of it but don’t know much about it.  Well that’s because it is pretty new.  Tuesday, December 3rd will be only the second annual #GivingTuesday.  So what it is all about?

Mission Statement of #Giving Tuesday
#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.

Simple and straightforward.  And a great idea.  Started by the United Nations Foundation and the 92d Street Y, #GivingTuesday establishes a specific day to focus on giving and much like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become huge, #GivingTuesday is off to a great start.

Let’s just take a look at its inaugural year in 2012. There were more than 2,500 recognized #GivingTuesday™ partners from all 50 states. The collective efforts of partners, donors and advocates helped fuel a remarkable increase in charitable giving .  There are some clear measurements available to prove it.  Blackbaud processed over $10 million in online donations on 11/27/12 – a 53% increase when compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year.  DonorPerfect recorded a 46% increase in online donations and the average gift increased 25%. 

This year there are over 8300 partners registered to participate.  The #givingtuesday website is chockfull of information and ideas of how you can get involved.  And you can do a sort by state to see who’s involved in your state.  I was so happy to see so many NJ nonprofits – including those who’ve attended my social media workshops – listed as partners.

It is not surprising that another great resource I found for getting involved with #givingtuesday is at Beth Kanter’s blog: http://www.bethkanter.org/givingtueday-tips/
Here are some ideas of how you can become involved even at the last minute:

Update the home page of your website today with a #givingtuesday message and extra link to your donation page.  You can download an official logo for free at the #givingtuesday website.  If your friends decide to check out your website on Tuesday they will see that you are on board.

Post #givingtuesday messages on facebook and your other social media sites on Tuesday.

Set up a #givingtuesday special page on your website with lost of ideas on how people can participate.

Remind people to take advantage of corporate matching gifts.

It's a good time to highlights other ways people can help on your website - advocacy, food, clothing, volunteering.

There are lots of ideas and resources at the #givingtuesday website.  Many require that you have planning for this event.  Check out #GivingTuesday activities and start to plan your involvement for next year.