Our Blog.

Different people have different ways of maximizing their performance before the big moment: Beyonce says a prayer with her band; Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers meditates; Wade Boggs was known to eat a chicken before each of his games. These rituals may seem quirky, but there is hard science backing the efficacy of pre-performance behavior patterns. In 2007, Chris Lonsdale discovered that if professional basketball players deviated from their behavior patterns before taking a shot, they had a 12 percent less chance of putting it in the net. Now that’s worth taking a look at.

Does this mean that you should be like Wade Boggs and eat a chicken every time you have your next big sponsorship call? Well, no. Does this mean that you should consider adding pre-performance routines into your schedule before you have your big moments? Yes!

The truth is that you may already have pre-performance rituals you aren’t even aware of. In social psychology, these rituals would be called “norms.” Norms are essentially social rules that are often unspoken. Here are some great examples of norms when it comes to performance-related rituals:

“When we make a big sale, we celebrate with champagne”

“Before the big game, we say a prayer”

“When we are in agreement, we high five”

Here’s the thing: when it comes to your next big sales call, the team at ACG has some ideas on how to maximize your pre-performance rituals, and they are backed by science and years of experience.

Mindfulness exercises

Thanks to apps like Headspace and Calm, mindful meditation is now more popular than ever. However, many people do not understand the difference between mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness can be simply defined as “present-centered, non-judgemental awareness,” while meditation is the act or process of sitting quietly with one’s thoughts—meaning a quick mindfulness exercise for you and your team can be cultivated in a variety of ways.

Here are some mindfulness practices we recommend:

  • Mindful breathing: This is the most basic and common mindfulness practice, and it can be done in just a minute or two. Learn more.
  • Mindful observation: As mindfulness becomes more popular each day, the access to mindfulness tools. The application “breathe” that comes with the apple watch is a great start, and it is largely focused on mindful observation. However, you don’t need an expensive watch to practice mindful observation. Just simply draw your full attention to something in nature, such as a tree blowing in the wind, if your office happens to have fish, just spend a couple minutes observing them with your undivided, non-judgemental attention. Learn more.  

Mindfulness takes practice, but when done correctly has been scientifically proven to increase sense of responsibility, authenticity, compassion, self-acceptance, self-regulation, current science is even suggesting that that regular mindful meditation practice can change the physical structure of the brain, as well as develop new neural pathways that can change how you think and observe everyday life. Curious in learning about how mindfulness can improve workplace performance at your organization? Shoot us an email.

“Checking in”

Mindset is an extremely important building block for positive personal and professional outcomes, as it affects both behavior and performance. Ask yourself this question: How often is your team working to check the mindset of its members before a big meeting? Getting context on the why and how of your team’s mindset can help alleviate stress by getting what needs to be said out there in the room; it can also increase performance and build trust.

How to check in:

This can be as simple as asking everyone how they are doing or having each member spend a minute thinking about what mindset they would like to create in order to maximize their performance during your next big meeting. This can be written in a journal later to be shared with the room, or simply vocalized at the end of a quick two-minute silent break.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals you would like to share with us? Are you looking to learn more about how mindfulness can cultivate an optimal mindset? Leave a comment or shoot us an email at!


 About the Author: 

Taylor Pile is a graduate student at Pepperdine University, working to earn his MS in Organizational Development. He is currently writing his thesis on the benefits of mindful interventions in organizations and has worked with ACG, Inc. since 2015 as a marketing and business development consultant.

Shoot him an email:




Never before have there been as many peer-to-peer fundraising software platforms as there are today. But, with so many choices, how do you find the right one for your nonprofit?

Here are two ways to get started:

  1. Read the guide for nonprofits, The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Technology Landscape. Cathexis Partners published this guide to help nonprofits understand more about some of the leading peer-to-peer fundraising software platforms available today. Whether you’re just getting started with peer-to-peer fundraising, or you’re looking to take your campaigns and events to a new level, this guide is aimed at helping you sort through some of the many tools available today to find the peer-to-peer software that best supports your team, your participants, your donors, and most importantly, your mission.

  2. Watch the recorded session, Selecting the Peer to Peer Fundraising Technology That’s Right for Your Organization. This session was part of the virtual conference, It’s a Peer-to-Peer World. The session included an overview of today’s peer-to-peer fundraising technology landscape and a moderated panel discussion with three nonprofits — Sierra Club, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, and Heifer International — that have evaluated, selected, and implemented a peer-to-peer fundraising technology platform. In the session, you’ll learn:
    • What types of peer-to-peer fundraising platforms are available today
    • What process some nonprofits have used to find the peer-to-peer fundraising tool that’s right for their organization
    • What’s worked and what hasn’t for some nonprofits in the world of peer-to-peer fundraising technology

These two resources will help get you on your way to finding the peer-to-peer fundraising software that’s right for your nonprofit. But, remember: The world of peer-to-peer fundraising technology is continually evolving, so be sure to understand your organization’s specific requirements, request software demos, and ask questions before making a purchase.

About guest author Mark Becker

Mark Becker is Founding Partner at Cathexis Partners, a firm that helps nonprofits set up and use technology to raise funds and engage supporters. For more than a decade, Mark has used his deep experience with CRM, CMS, and peer-to-peer fundraising software to help nonprofits get the most from their existing technology tools, implement new technology to address gaps, and find the best overall approach to using technology to support their missions.



Bob and Barbara the board members walk into the walk manager’s office and declare they achieved their $10,000 team goal for the upcoming event and they also had luck recruiting 3 new corporate teams each. They are also interested in signing up some volunteers but they don’t need anyone’s help… They are happy to use the online system on the website.



Walk Manager attends the Board meeting and presents all of the details for the upcoming peer to peer event, the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. The board seems disengaged. They aren’t sure how to have an impact on the net results and they begin asking questions about why we have to have an event, why can’t we just do more major gifts or a golf tournament.

Sadly, it seems we typically see the second scenario more often. Many boards do appreciate the potential of peer to peer fundraising and they actively participate, but that didn’t happen on its own. That is the result of a peer to peer leader educating and informing and supporting the board.

Every board member joined with the goal of having an impact on the cause and the organization. Peer to peer events provide a very tangible way to leave a legacy.

In nonprofit boards we often look to our boards to be fundraising boards. The peer to peer piece just fits into this idea. But, after recently attending a breakfast hosted by the Tricities chapter of NACD I realized that might be a flawed approach. Corporate boards don’t look to recruit board members that can boost sales. They recruit individuals that can provide meaningful advise and expertise. Great corporate board members provide strategic direction, hold the management team accountable and they typically are the investors so they have a vested interest in the group’s success. But again that success is determined by building a strong and sustainable company that stands on its own – not one that depends on the strength and connections of the board.

Instead of being disappointed about our boards and trying to convert them to fundraising boards, we may need to take a step back and reassess their true impact and potential.

Alternatives can be advisory groups for specific fundraising initiatives so you still have the potential for peer to peer involvement at the C-level but that doesn’t need to be the board. These alternatives can also serve as recruiting opportunities for the actual board.

What are your expectations of the board?
Do you struggle to engage and motivate board members for your peer to peer program?
Is there another group you could leverage or rely on?
How are you educating your board and other advisors on the true potential for your program and how/where you fit in the leer to peer landscape?
Do you need a secondary approach?
Have you asked them these questions before?
Do you have a specific communications plan for your volunteer leadership?

Being a great peer to peer leader means you need to effectively and efficiently prioritize where you spend your time because there are an unlimited number of options: recruitment, corporate teams, retention, volunteers and organization leadership, event logistics, reporting, fundraising and more! Knowing which drivers are the right ones for your program will allow you to filter and prioritize this never ending list of options and determine you are spending the right amount of time based on the ROI.

Take a few minutes to think about your approach and see if there are 1-3 things you could keep, lose or change.

It will definitely save you frustration and could end up positively impacting the bottom line if it saves you time, allows you to focus on the right things, and moves the organization forward.

Let me know what you think! Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it! Thanks for reading!

– Rachel Kubicki

A goal without a plan is just a wish

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Developed by Rachel Armbruster, the same person who helped create the partnership between Livestrong and Nike that sold 80 million yellow bracelets and raised over $250 million for cancer research, this fundraising plan notebook was designed to help you blow your fundraising goals out of the water.

Using the strategies we have provided, you will be able to refine the vision, mission, and goal of your organization's fundraising initiatives. If you have any questions about creating a robust strategy to maximize the impact of your nonprofit, please contact Rachel and the ACG team today!

    • Direct questions guide you step by step through the process of creating a fundraising plan.
      • Identify resource gaps before they get in the way of success
        • Walk away knowing exactly how you will meet your fundraising goals

I would like to say every sponsorship partnership I’ve sold has been executed flawlessly, but that would not be the truth!

I could tell you about the time I left the McDonald’s logo off the promotion cup we were selling in their stores (just a mere 30,000 printed). 

Image: flickr, modified with permission

​Or the time a group of sponsor VIPs showed up to the sold out event and it became apparent we forgot to make their hotel reservations.

One memory particularly stands out related to benefits and the importance of agreements. When I was at Livestrong- back when it was The Lance Armstrong Foundation-we always had a VIP tent for a select group of cyclists. A long-time sponsor decided this particular year to reduce their support. This also included a loss of benefits- like the access to the VIP tent. Apparently, this was not communicated to their CEO. He valiantly rode his 100 miles and had invited a few fellow CEO’s to join him in the VIP celebration. Our check-in volunteer scanned the guest list and saw they weren’t on it.

Image: flickr, GPS

As the volunteer started to explain this to Jim (the CEO), I started to make my way to the gate as fast as I could to mollify the situation. I said hello, greeted his friends, and ushered them into the tent. I spent the next 20 minutes asking about the highlights of the century ride and their overall experience. Jim mentioned dreaming about the VIP tent during the most difficult climbs of the ride. Before we departed, I put my hand on Jim’s shoulder, thanked him and said ‘I’ll see you next year at the tent!’ He smiled, nodded and went on with his celebration.

My first call Monday was to the Marketing Director. I politely informed her of the situation and that I accommodated the wishes of Jim and his guests, even though the VIP tent area wasn’t included in their sponsorship. She thanked me and promptly sent her renewal agreement- back to the original level.

My key takeaways from that experience were:

1. Thoroughly document the list of benefits with each partnership (Borrow our tested Sponsorship Agreement Template to save yourself precious time).

2. Understand what your partner values and leverage your key assets.

3. Look for moments to over deliver.

4. Always make your sponsor contact look like an all-star.

5. Make yourself available to be in the right place at the right time to prevent embarrassing sponsor missteps.

When dealing with corporate sponsors, you’re bound to experience some mishaps aligning the priorities and desires of two separate entities. It’s up to you to find those opportunities that truly bring value to everyone and clearly define their execution.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Last week was a busy week for ACG, Inc. with Rachel speaking at two conferences in one day! Thanks to the AFP Chapter in Williamson County and the Texas Association of Charitable Clinics for giving her the opportunity to speak on the topic of creating a functional fundraising plan. As promised, you can now download our fundraising plan workbook. If you want some help creating a robust fundraising plan complete with all of the tools you need to be successful, please contact us today!

    • Direct questions guide you step by step through the process of creating a fundraising plan.
      • Identify resource gaps before they get in the way of success
        • Walk away knowing exactly how you will meet your fundraising goals


Over 500 people participated in the first It’s A Peer to Peer World Virtual Conference.  Thanks to everyone who tuned in for Beyond the Logo: Building a Brand With Value.  Make the most of the time you invested today by taking 30 minutes to interview some trusted supporters about the value of your brand.  This information will help you make educated decisions about how to move the needle on brand awareness moving forward.  Download our free list of tested questions now.

If you don’t like what you hear, give us call – we would love to work with you on Building a Brand With Value.



Peer-to-peer fundraising has been a powerful fundraising tool for years — mostly through large races, walk-a-thons, and cycling events. But today, nonprofits are finding new ways to use peer-to-peer tools and approaches to raise money and engage supporters.

While traditional walk-a-thons aren’t going anywhere, tools that were originally intended for such events are now being used for everything from virtual food drives, mission trips, fraternity events, and blood drives, to the increasingly popular do-it-yourself (DIY) events. Organizations also are leveraging social media, online communities, online donations, mobile technologies, and data analytics to take their peer-to-peer fundraising results to new heights.

On April 28, 2016, five companies that serve nonprofits are sponsoring a free virtual conference for the sector, with a focus on peer-to-peer fundraising.  The event, It’s a Peer-to-Peer World: Virtual Conference, offers webinars on topics including:

  • Using data and analytics to grow your peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
  • Branding and marketing your P2P campaigns
  • Unique uses of P2P campaigns beyond run, walk, ride events
  • Using data and mobile together for your P2P events
  • Real-world examples of online communities used for P2P events

Nonprofits can register to attend any or all of the sessions.

The conference hosts — Analytical Ones, Armbruster Consulting Group, Cathexis Partners, RaiseMore, and Small World Labs, will join nonprofits — Alzheimer’s Association National Organization, Carry The Load, Project Hope, and Parkinson Canada, to show attendees how nonprofits are using peer-to-peer techniques to raise funds in the real world. Attendees will learn how organizations are taking campaigns and events to new heights, and will leave with fresh ideas they can start using right away.

For more information and to register for FREE, visit:

To follow and share on social media, use the hashtag: #P2PWORLD

Are you weary of explaining a sponsorship revenue gap to your board?
Are you sending the same worn-out old proposal to every sponsor?
You know… that proposal that’s been patched together from sections out of the last seven proposals that didn’t get funded.
If so, you’re in trouble again this year.
The choice is yours.
You can start to warm up your leftover 2015 excuses, or…

TRANSFORM your sponsorship proposal!
And start a revenue generating machine that replaces the scramble to cut and paste a proposal to meet a looming deadline.
Join us for a FREE training webinar on how to transform your sponsorship proposal into a shooting star that makes you memorable, fascinating, and, most importantly, funded. 


In this LIVE ONLINE TRAINING, you’ll learn:

The kind of story that will capture your sponsor’s imagination and charm them into funding you over the competition
How to come off like a polished pro in a room full of intimidating executives
Words you MUST avoid using in your proposal 
We’ve created a handy SPONSORSHIP TRANSFORMATION BLUEPRINT to use during this training.
You must attend LIVE — there will be no replays!
I’m offering two different times.

Tuesday, February 16th at 2pm ET

Thursday, February 18th at 10am ET

Picture yourself proud and confident to hit the “send” button on your next proposal instead of “hoping for the best,” and sign up for one of the two FREE LIVE TRAININGS.

– Rachel Armbruster


Twelve years ago, I helped create the partnership between LIVESTRONG and Nike that sold 80 million yellow bracelets, raised $250 million for cancer services and research, and branded LIVESTRONG as a global leader in the fight against cancer.

I think it’s fair to say that I aced that sponsorship. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to share what I learned with you.


On Tuesday, Feb 16th at 2:00pm ET, and Thursday, Feb 18th at 10:00am ET, I’m hosting a free, LIVE training where I’ll share the exact formula I used to help Mitch and Lance—and hundreds of other nonprofit executives—win the big sponsorships and look like heroes at the next revenue and budget meeting.

The training is the same on both days, so you choose the date and time that works best for YOU.

If you didn’t get the results you wanted from your last sponsorship proposal, please join me >>

You have nothing to lose—and so much to gain.

Grab your seat now for this free, live training >>

– Rachel Armbruster


Stacey Bowers
Senior Nonprofit Consultant
Armbruster Consulting Group

The Skimm

Staying informed doesn’t have to take hours. The Skimm delivers news to your inbox every morning in small, digestible pieces. Need to know more – no problem – click through to the more in depth story. Somehow, the writers even manage to make it fun.


Radiolab Podcast

Podcasts are so hot right now (thank you, Serial), and I am absolutely on the bandwagon. Check out RadioLab. The show focuses on topics of a scientific and philosophical nature. The hosts attempt (quite successfully) to approach broad difficult topics in an accessible, storytelling manner. As a nonprofit professional, I found the episode titled “Rhino Hunter” especially interesting as it takes a look at how hunters are influencing the conservation movement.


Code Academy

In this day and age it is hard to get away from the need to have some very basic computer coding skills and Code Academy is helping me get in the swing of things. Learn through a variety of self-paced, interactive (FREE!) training classes.


Ellen’s Heads Up App

It shouldn’t be that funny, but it is. Don’t forget to watch the playback video that is automatically recorded and download some of the extra play packs for loads of fun.

Copyright ©


I Heart . . .


Rachel Armbruster
President of Armbruster Consulting Group

The Cathedral Within: Transforming Your Life by Giving Something Back
Bill Shore does an excellent job of explaining our place in the larger transformation that needs to take place in our communities and the organizations we represent. I highly recommend this for board members and anyone that wants to understand how their small, day-to-day actions can lead to real change. 
Whether it is a new workout routine, recipe, charity campaign, family photo, or just a beautiful photograph, Instagram is a tremendous source of inspiration for the work we do. It is also an amazingly powerful tool for connecting with donors, clients, and friends. Be sure to search for new accounts to follow on a regular basis and inspire others with your posts!
Turboscan App
Expense reports? Whiteboard notes that need to be transcribed? Agreements to be emailed? Convert multiple documents into a single PDF file? No problem! With TurboScan I can do all this and more right from my iPhone. Give it a try!
What can I say… I love to laugh! These quick screen shots can give me a boost of energy in the middle of the day and make me smile! Whether it is this website, music, or exercise, find something that makes you happy. Happiness leads to success!

Copyright ©


Last year, Armbruster Consulting Group had the pleasure of working alongside the fabulous team at African American Youth Harvest Foundation (AAYHF). Their mission is to advocate, to strengthen, and to provide culturally relevant, family centered educational, health and human services, and economic development opportunities to African American youth, their families, and other at-risk populations that reside in the Greater Austin area.

The AAYHF youth short film project, “The Perfect Stranger” has been accepted for representation at the Cannes Film Festival. This project represents a collaboration between Midiam Films and Krew12, a long-standing AAYHF Program. Krew12 serves high school youth by providing weekly hands-on training in difital and traditional media including photography, film making, radio, graphic design, music, poetry and more. According to AAYHF, 99% of the youth enrolled in their weekly programs like Krew12 were promoted to the next grade level or graduated.

Congratulations to African American Youth Harvest Foundation and the kids involved with Krew12 on this extraordinary honor!

More and more communities across the country are participating in 24-hour Giving Days to recognize and energize your city’s nonprofit organizations. These Giving Days are great opportunities for to raise funds and awareness for your organization. Check out these ideas to maximize your impact:

  • Plan Ahead

How are you going to communicate to your supporters the purpose of the day and how they can get involved?

Determine where your supporters “live” and how can you best reach them. For some organizations, this may mean a direct mail piece, for others online communications might be the best way to promote the day.

  • Ask a board member for a matching donation.

If donors know that their gift will have double or triple the impact, they will be more likely to donate!

  • Create SMART Goals

We encourage all organizations to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable , Realistic and Timely, especially for something like Giving Day.


Specific—What are your goals? Don’t think only about fundraising, consider “friendraising”, too. How specific can you be?

Measureable.-“We want to raise a lot of money” is not measurable (or specific). Put a dollar amount on how much you want to raise. It can be an increase over last year’s Giving Day donations and/or the number of new supporters you gain.

Achievable—If your organization hasn’t raised $1M in one day the past, you are probably not going to raise $1M on a Giving Day. Here’s the hard part-your goal should be something that you strive for, and also something that is in reach.

Relevant—How will the gifts from your giving day affect your organization? Use this as a starting point for communications.

Timely—This piece is done for you! You know when the Giving Day is and that there are 24 hours to raise the money.

  • Communicate with your supporters. Let them know what is going on, your goals for the Giving Day and how they can support you. If supporters can’t donate money, create other ways for them to be involved like volunteering or sharing the day with their friends and family. Make sure that your Facebook posts and tweets are easily shareable.
  • Thank your donors and the community

How are you going to thank your donors? Make sure you have thank you notes set up to be emailed automatically with donation receipts. Consider giving public thank yous on your social media or website or have staff make short videos (think Vines) to show your gratitude.

  • Review and Evaluate

Did you meet your goals? Determine what worked for your organization and what didn’t. There may be many variables here, so answers may not be crystal clear. These answers (or estimates) may help you to plan not only for next year’s Giving Day, but also for future fundraising campaigns.

Even though these Giving Days come around once a year, make sure to take full advantage of it!

Do you have any tips to add? What has worked for your organization? Let us know in the comments.


Interested in developing a plan for your next Giving Day? Let us help! Contact to get started.

Author: Molly Heinsler




There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. ~Celia Thaxter

Summertime is the perfect time for creative fundraising that encourages community building and fostering a love of the outdoors. This summer our families are participating in a variety of programs that we believe will inspire us, raise funds and awareness for causes we care about, and give us a reason to surround ourselves with people we love. Take a look at what’s happening this summer for Team Armbruster:

1. Great American Backyard Campout benefiting National Wildlife Federation – ( – Families in the Steiner Ranch neighborhood in Austin spent the night in our backyard. We played games, searched for bugs, took a hike in the greenbelt, and made s’mores. The kids enjoyed their time outside and the parents were glad to be only a few steps away from the A/C and running water.

Great American Backyard Campout

2. Annual 4th of July Family Olympics – My husband’s birthday is on the 4th of July so I always struggled to find a way to celebrate that would be fun for the whole family. The answer came after reading about a 4th of July picnic with a field day. The competitor in me couldn’t wait! I sent out the first official call for teams a few years ago. We usually have about 20-30 people participate and games range from the three-legged race to a pool kid-toss. The crowd favorite is always the eating contest – last year was ice cream! After trophies and medals are awarded we relax by the pool, talk about highlights from the day, and laugh. This year, in addition to being awarded a trophy, we made a donation to Armbruster Consulting client, No Marine Alone in their honor. Check out Buck and his amazing journey at

Annual 4th of July Family Olympics

3. Children’s Birthday Party with a Twist – This summer, Angie’s daughter was invited to a jungle-themed scavenger hunt birthday party. The 8-year-old birthday girl asked guests to bring donations for Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, in lieu of gifts. It was a fantastic way to teach young children the importance of giving back while also having lots of fun. The money raised supported the nonprofit’s adopt-a-cat program, as well as provided enrichment items for the cats.

4. Mobile Loaves and Fishes Kids Camp – Mixed in with the football, swimming, and soccer camps, my boys attended Camp Mobile Loaves and Fishes. The camp is focused on serving others and teaching empathy. The kids collected food for the food pantry, learned about poverty here in our community, and most importantly discovered ways that they can help those in need. It was a great week and I look forward to nurturing their sense of mission and community involvement as they grow. Learn more about Mobile Loaves and Fishes at

5. Party with a Purpose – Just before school starts, Angie and her 8-year-old daughter are hosting a fund-raising children’s clothing swap. They are inviting friends to bring gently used clothing items and accessories to trade with guests, along with a $25 cash donation. The cash donations and leftover clothing and accessories will be donated to Children’s Home Society of Missouri. Learn more about the Children’s Home Society by visiting

While these activities are not your traditional event fundraisers, they do have the potential to produce much needed revenue and awareness for a variety of organizations. You still have a few weeks left before school starts and the weather starts to change. Schedule something TODAY that will make an impact on your life, your community, and the causes you care about. Encourage your volunteers, donors, and community to support your organization in their own unique ways. Good luck and stay cool!

In the News
Armbruster Consulting, Inc. has been blessed with the opportunity to partner with two new clients; The Toby Keith Foundation and EMDR Research Foundation. We are excited to help both organizations make a difference.

The Toby Keith Foundation recently announced their newest project, The OK Kids Korral – a home away from home for pediatric cancer patients and their families to stay while they are undergoing treatments for cancer.”

The EMDR Research Foundation is a charitable foundation dedicated to the promotion of quality, unbiased research in EMDR. Their mission is to promote the health and growth of human beings through the support of quality research, evidence-based practice and compassionate, well-informed clinicians.

Connecting the Dots

The object is to keep busy being something…as opposed to doing something. We are all sent here to bring more gratitude, more kindness, more forgiveness and more love into this world. That is too big a job to be accomplished by just a few. ~Richard Nelson Bolles

Does anyone remember that scene from Working Girl in the elevator where she quickly explains how she got from a newspaper article to the idea to buy a company? She connected the dots and saw an opportunity. When I read this month’s post from my friend and client, Charlotte Benson from Beyond Batten Disease Foundation, I immediately saw an opportunity – the potential to get organizations to stop focusing on DOING and think about BEING. Charlotte’s story is focused on children and encouraging them to BE instead of DO. I was inspired and humbled by the words. I started to think about our organizations as children. We all spend so much time DOING work that sometimes I think we forget to BE the kind of companies and nonprofits we envisioned from the beginning.

Charlotte wrote, “I went to the poetry recital expecting to see and be proud of what Garland can DO, but instead left with a beautiful picture of who Garland can BE.

What if our donors and clients left meetings with us and felt the same way? Excited to see what we do but more motivated and inspired by what we can BE. And more exciting than that, how they might be able to become part of who we are and who we become.

To read Charlotte’s full post, click on the link provided below. Enjoy!

In the News

Armbruster Consulting Group, Inc. has been blessed with the opportunity to work with three new clients; Fara Foundation, Safari Club International Foundation, and ACTIVE Life.

The Fara Foundation is an American non-profit based in Austin, TX that provides resources to support the needs of Matagalpan families and aids in four areas: medical care, food assistance, educational opportunities, and elderly care. To learn more about their mission, visit

Safari Club International Foundation funds and directs worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor education.  To learn more about the work they do,

ACTIVE Life’s mission is to make healthy the new norm by generating a persistent demand for healthy living among all sectors of society. They envision and are committed to creating an American culture which values, demands and supports healthy for all. To learn more about their vision, visit

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” ~Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! 

Presentations 101

Having an opportunity to share your ideas and thoughts with people is a tremendous gift. The idea that your words can impact people in so many different ways is so energizing for me. Whether it’s about branding, personal development, how to presentations or just reviewing a case study…I LOVE IT. I also love hearing other people present and always walk away with pages of notes that influence my personal and professional life.
Whenever I am invited to speak, I ask a series of questions to help me determine what to focus on.

  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • How can I help them?
  • Who is their audience?
  • Where are they coming from (backgrounds, experiences, knowledge of the topics, etc.)?
  • What presentations have they enjoyed the most in the past?

Then I start asking about the goals of having me there.

  • Is it simply to motivate and rally people?
  • Is it to help provide a sense of direction and set priorities?
  • Is it to tell my stories so they can learn and do it bigger and better?
  • Is it to provide actionable directions for a specific project?
  • Is it to create a stronger sense of team?

The next round of questions usually involves the format and time available.

  • Will we have several days or just minutes together?
  • What is the agenda?
  • Where will this presentation fit, and what comes before and after?

Will I be presenting with someone else or going solo?

Once I have these answers, I can start to determine the main points that should be covered and the level of interaction with the audience (team building activities, small group discussions, etc.). My brain automatically starts thinking in PowerPoint even if I won’t be using it during the actual presentation. It is an easy way to outline the presentation and focus on key points. Once I have the PowerPoint constructed, I create the intro and summary notes and add notes to every slide. I think back to books I have read that might be helpful to this audience or quotes that might trigger a new thought or inspire someone. I try to provide a new tool they might not be aware of that can help make them more efficient (Google alerts, VideoStar, etc.)

After the presentation is complete, I rehearse it and adjust the number of slides, flow of material, and speed. My rehearsals tend to be very content based and straight-forward. The part I enjoy most is bringing the presentation to life with the audience. It really isn’t complete until you are with the people who you are working with. They are the missing piece, and when you are all gathered in the room it just feels right. This is where I take liberties to add a funny story or tell a personal challenge and how I learned from that mistake. It is a great feeling when people ask questions, take notes, and get involved – when they don’t think of it as me presenting but more of ‘let’s learn together’.
Receiving emails and feedback after my sessions is very rewarding. It’s wonderful to hear from people to hear how and if they were impacted.

“Thank you for all that you did to make the Leadership Empowerment Institute a success. You were the star of the conference. I really appreciate your wisdom, energy, and your magnetic smile, and I hope to work with you in the future.” ~ Greg Gibson, National Black MBA Association-Austin Chapter, Conference Chair

To me, the most important thing is to think back to the presentations you have enjoyed most. Ask yourself…

  • What did you like about them?
  • What presentations did you not like and why?

Always assessing the value of what I am presenting is important. If I were sitting in the audience, would I walk away feeling like my investment of time and resources was used wisely or wasted? Were there a few ah-ha moments that I can point to and learn from?
Having the opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with others is truly a gift and not one to be taken lightly. Whether you are presenting this week’s status report or ideas to change the world, do not take the opportunity to stand in front of a captive audience lightly. Be clear, concise and passionate. One of my new favorite words is ‘enthusiastic‘. It means having or showing intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval.

Speak ENTHUSIATICALLY and you will be great!


In The News

Armbruster Consulting Group is excited to be partnering with two new clients, Project Open Hand and Run Just For Today, and look forward to helping them achieve their missions.  To learn more about them, visit their websites. and

Rachel was recently interviewed by Lipstick Unplugged where she talked about, “How to Build a Respected Brand.” To listen to the interview, visit

To check out Rachel’s key take-a-ways from RWR 2013, visit

Resource Links

Below is a list of resources we hope you will find helpful.  Each month, we will provide links to resources that we have come across and enjoyed. If there is a link you want to share, post it in the comments section.

  • – Inspiring videos from people who have ideas worth spreading through events in their communities.
  • Join Toastmasters – A non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.

Take a PowerPoint class – Lessons to help do the things you typically do to create and prepare a presentation. Have a designer make your presentation beautiful.

“The best businesses are those that have figured out how to combine profits, passion, and purpose.” ~Tony Hsieh

It is always exciting to see when a company, of any size, decides to make a positive impact in their community – for their customers and their employees. One barrier to using cause marketing for many companies has been truly understanding how to implement a campaign and having the technology resources to make that campaign efficient. When I met Sandra Morris from CafeGive I was excited to see that the technology previously reserved for large corporations is now affordable and available for small and medium sized businesses. CafeGive is providing some ideas and recommendations for cause marketing in this e-newsletter. No matter what your passion is, how small or large your organization is, or your company goals, cause marketing can help! Learn how to get started or enhance an existing program.

Whether we call it community involvement, strategic philanthropy, cause marketing or purpose based branding – when businesses and nonprofits successfully partner — change happens. It’s good for the community, the business and its employees, and the mission of the nonprofit. Businesses are increasingly seeking nonprofits that have the ability to raise their own brands by association, as well as foster loyalty and turn stakeholders and customers into advocates.

As the nonprofit, if you are seeking funding, think about what you can do for your business partners versus what they can give you. A well-executed cause campaign that reaches your highly educated and caring clients, donors, and event participants is a new frontier for your business partner. You should leverage this asset to establish a more significant, long-term and sustainable partnership.

As a business, you give back to the community. Your unique giving story is part of what sets your brand apart. And your customers want to hear that story: At least 53 persent of consumers choose to do business with companies they believe are focused on giving to the greater good. Beyond encouraging employees to get involved in the community – or writing a check – what if you could implement a giving strategy that would directly engage your customers with your cause?

Adding social media to giving programs turns a good program into a great one by creating strong relationships and trust. If done well, social media marketing can rally employees, consumers, customers, and others around key issues they are passionate about. It can be a very effective and efficient way to increase the positive impact on a community.

Here are 6 recommendations to make your cause-related campaign impactful:

1. Keep it simple – Define a simple goal to start. Are you trying to build awareness, get people involved with an action or commitment, build your audience, or raise funds? All of these activities are valid, and each may require a slightly different approach.

2. Play to your strengths — A brand, its partners and causes all have resources, ideas, and assets. Maybe one of your partners has a great email list, or an event coming up that is a perfect place to launch a program. Use these opportunities, and the creative energy of the teams to heighten the impact of your campaign.

3. Tell a story — Storytelling connects in an authentic meaningful way. Find the story that powers the campaign and resonates with your audience.

4. Create opportunities for engagement — Consumers want to engage. Social cause marketing campaigns use voting, contests, or online donations to engage an audience. With a strong call to action, the social nature of the campaign can multiply the impact of cause campaigns.

5. Know your audience — Who are you trying to reach? What do you want from them, and what do they want from you? In a social media campaign, our messaging can engage across the business and the cause while informing you of what your audience’s expectations are and what excites them.

6. Have a plan and well-defined metrics — Campaigns succeed or fail based on your marketing plan, your goals, and your measurements. Have a plan and goals that are realistic and fit with your abilities. Track the day-to-day feedback on how your cause marketing campaign is working and make adjustments when warranted. Don’t wait until the campaign is over to reassess. Make revisions as you go!

Social media is fast becoming a marketer’s most powerful tool. So why not harness all that power for good and lift a brand by lifting your cause? Below are a few examples of current cause-related marketing programs and partnerships. Share your cause-marketing tips and insights on the Armbruster Consulting Facebook page or at

Mobile Donate App

10×10: A Campaign to Educate Girls in Developing Countries: The campaign is designed to raise money every time the trailer is shared and collect donations on mobile and the Web.

* View Mobile Donate App (view on a smartphone) (

Like Us Give Back App

Using the Like Us Give Back app, Credit Union 1 Alaska is giving Alaska’s Poultry in Motion food bank $1 for every Facebook like. This campaign combined with other branch efforts build brand awareness for Credit Union 1 while at the same time provides critical financial support and awareness for the food bank.

* View Credit Union 1’s Like Us Give Back Campaign

Photo Contest

Using the Photo Contest app, CafeGive is driving community involvement and giving at the same time! To help Hurricane Sandy pet victims, CafeGive is running a pet contest and the owner of the winning pet will direct a donation to an east coast animal shelter. Please Vote!

* View #Petelect Photo Contest Campaign

Make the Match

Using the Make the Match app, Patelco Credit Union is engaging support from their community to support disaster relief and help hurricane relief efforts.

View Patelco Make the Match Campaign

About CafeGive

CafeGive combines social media apps with online fundraising apps to increase the impact of cause-related campaigns. Our set of apps and platform, CafeGive Social, helps businesses, nonprofits and marketing agencies quickly execute and measure branded social campaigns. Examples include Like Us Give Back, Contests, Social Impact Map, Giving Apps, Custom Apps and more. Visit to learn more about how we can help your cause initiative!

In the News

Armbruster Consulting Group, Inc. has been blessed with the opportunity to work with three new clients; The Andy Roddick Foundation, Make-A-Wish® Foundation, and The Reach Foundation.

The Andy Roddick Foundation works to develop and inspire underserved youth through education and sports-based mentoring, and preparing youth to succeed in the game of life. They are committed to the growth and development of tomorrow’s generation. To learn more about their mission, visit

Make-A-Wish® Foundation has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish granting work since 1980. World Wish Day is a celebration of the first wish, the first act of kindness that has inspired the world for over 30 years. To learn more about World Wish Day, visit

The REACH Foundation has partnered with Martial Artist Leif Becker, “The Fastest Board Breaker” in the world, for the Breaking Barriers project. Leif will attempt to break 100,000 boards in 24 hours, each board representing barriers which face children today. Organizations, famlies, and individuals can “adopt” a board and will be given a personal “Breaking Barriers” pledge page where they can address the barrier which faces them or others in their life. The purpose of the program is to raise awareness of the barriers young people face on a daily basis and to raise money to fund programs which will assist children in breaking these barriers. To learn more about the Breaking Barriers project, visit

“Show ’em you’re a Kubicki!” ~Jerry Kubicki

Anytime my brothers and I left the house, performed in a play, sang with the choir or played sports, my father would always say “Show ’em you’re a Kubicki!” He always expected the very best from us. He let us know that we represented not only ourselves but our family and that we needed to be an example to those around us. Great leaders can be born and they can be made. One important aspect of every great leader I know is that they are constantly seeking to improve themselves in order to serve others more effectively. Recently a long-time friend and colleague, Doug Hauth, provided an assessment of my leadership abilities.

The results were revealing and extremely helpful. As I continue to grow the company, serve clients and be a leader for my own family and community, I need this type of on-going guidance and insight to keep improving. While my last name has changed, the motto is still as relevant as ever and I hear my father’s words every time I start a new project, speak with a client or begin a presentation on stage – Show ’em you’re an Armbruster!

Special thanks to Doug for providing the following inspiring thoughts on leadership and making a true impact on those you lead! Enjoy!

Me and my father, Jerry Kubicki

You’re a Leader
(But where are you leading your followers?)

There is no denying it. Everyone is a leader whether they know it or not. Everyone understands that the CEO or President is the leader of the organization and that good leadership is critical to the success of any team. But that kind of position title is bestowed by the organization and says nothing about the leadership abilities of the person in that position. We tend to forget that leadership is not a position but rather a quality and that we’re all leading, all the time. If we’re not in a leadership position, we’re peers, parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and yes, even a stranger to someone who is watching how we’re interacting with the clerk at the register. Even if we never leave the house and interact with anyone, we’re still leading our own lives. We’re all leaders, but the question really is – what kind of leaders are you? Do you inspire others to be more than they ever thought they could be? Do people seek you out to be a part of what we’re doing? Do others share honestly their successes and failures with you as a learning experience without fear? Do others feel good in your presence? Are you changing people’s lives for the better? Are people happy when they’re in your presence? Are you happy in their presence? Do others trust you? If you’re a positional leader in your organization, is your organization aligned with your vision? Are you achieving your goals? If your answer to each of these questions wasn’t an emphatic “YES!” then perhaps you’re leading yourself and your followers down the wrong path.

John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. So very true! I would add that President Adams was describing what we now call transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is not what is taught in business school, in the military or in any school I know of for that matter. James MacGregor Burns first used the phrase “transformational leader” in contrast to a “transactional leader”. A transactional leader uses reward and punishment to motivate – if you do this, I’ll reward you by giving you this bonus, promotion, etc. A transformational leader motivates by example, by their personality and by allowing their natural gifts to emerge which inspires others to “dream more, learn more, do more and become more” as so eloquently spoken by Adams. Unfortunately, our world is dominated by transactional leaders, but you don’t have to follow their lead!

Just imagine how becoming a transformational leader might impact your event, your volunteers, your donors, your employees and yes, even your bosses! The June 19, 2012 issue of this newsletter highlighted some “lessons” from clients:

Lesson: A major roadblock to local event management success is allowing yourself to get focused on the production details and not focusing on the relationships. Whether it’s recruitment of new participants, stewardship of sponsors or working with volunteers, by creating a day-by-day action plan for relationship development, a group can see tremendous results.

Lesson: Be sure your event’s success does not rely on one single individual. By diversifying the management of the event production, the relationship management, and the volunteer support, you can ensure that the event will continue to be strong when turnover occurs with staff and/or volunteers.

Lesson: Be sure you and your board of directors have a clear vision for your programs.

Can you see that these could all be considered leadership issues? Whether it is the need to build relationships so you don’t have to do it all yourself, or defining and communicating your vision, you have people waiting to follow your lead. Will you choose transactional or transformational leadership? I hope the answer is transformational, because those are the leaders we all want to follow.

The good news is that there is a transformational leader inside of you just waiting to be. You can facilitate greatness that will achieve your vision. You can be the inspiration that makes the difference. It may take practice, and sometimes the help of a coach who can help you become aware of blind spots and other blocks preventing your leadership from emerging, but it is worth the effort. Imagine what you and your followers will achieve!

About Doug Hauth

Doug Hauth is an experienced corporate and non-profit leader, fundraising expert, leadership coach, and former sales executive. He is the founder of INPowered Coaching Group and is a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Index – Master Practitioner.

In the News

Mark your calendars for upcoming speaking engagements:

BrandCauses Podcast with Rachel Armbruster. Join me on September 12, 2:00-2:30p.m. when Brian L. Martin, BrandCauses host; and I discuss cause marketing topics such as “How Your Charity Partnerships reflect on Your Brand.” To listen to the podcast, visit

Texas Nonprofit Summit Conference in Austin, Texas. I will be speaking about “Harnessing the Power of Corporate/NPO Relationships to Raise Revenue and Awareness” on September 20. To register today, visit

PPAI Professional Development Webinar. On September 26, join me while we discuss, “Cause Marketing: How to integrate Cause Marketing for your Business and Your Clients. To register for the webinar today, visit


Resolution is defined as a resolving to do something. My guess is that many of us have plenty of things to do. There never seems to be a shortage of action items, to do lists, next steps, and plans to be completed. I encourage you to take a few minutes today and make an anti-resolution list.

The list should consist of things you are NOT going to do anymore. I think going through this process will free up some time for all those resolutions you made January 1st and will more importantly, free up time for meaningful relationships. Whether those relationships are with donors, clients, friends, or family or if you just use the time to be alone and think, use the time wisely!

There was a challenge on Facebook this week that said you should start acting as though everyone in your life was going to pass away before the end of the day. What would you do differently? How would you prioritize your time? What would you decide to skip that day?

A while back I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. One of the most profound exercises in that book for me was making of list of how I want to spend my time and how I spend my time currently. Then I was able to cross-reference the lists and see where there were major contradictions. Spending time with my kids was on the ‘want’ list and shopping was on the ‘doing’ list. Now, each time I decide to hit the stores I ask myself if this is really how I want to spend the next few hours. Sometimes the answer is YES! But, it does give me pause and allows me to be purposeful in my actions.

What should you stop doing in 2014? Making this list and sticking to it are much easier than a new diet or fitness plan and great results have been shown!

Share your anti-resolutions with me on LinkedIn at or post them on Twitter using #antiresolutions and tag me @rarmbruster.

Here’s to a happy and purposeful new year!


Run Walk Ride had over 300 participants this year. Lots of familiar faces but some new ones in the crowd too! As I reflect on the past couple of days here are the things that are sticking with me as I board my flight home…

1. People love networking and having a chance to talk to each other, learn, and problem solve together. Attendees were most engaged when they were just chatting in the hallways or grabbing a cocktail after hours. Makes me wonder how much time we budget for our fundraisers to just get to know each other and share ideas? If we like it so much they probably do too! How can events and programs help facilitate that networking time?

2. Content needs to be applicable to all groups. At the conference there is such a huge range of attendees (national staff, chapters, local groups, vendors, etc) so before jumping into the content it is good to talk about how this might apply or be relevant to those different segments. As a speaker it is our job to help people connect the dots, and we can’t just hope it is clear after 25 slides.

3. The gift shop in the lobby was awesome. Baby gifts, new pair of shoes and some jewelry all in one quick stop. Finding a place for it in my carry on is another question.

4. For a bunch of event people I felt the event lacked that special ‘on event feeling’ we all strive to create. What can we do to spice things up next year? Do we each bring event t-shirts and hang them on a display wall in the main session? Do we need more balloons? More music? I feel like there is a sponsorship opportunity for the right company to blow us all away.

5. I love my clients! I got to see Hannah from Project Open Hand, Christie Madsen at Make-A-Wish®, the whole team from National Marfan Foundation, and my friends at ALS Association including my fabulous co-presenter Natalia McNeil. These are amazing, passionate, and smart people; and I am blessed to know them!

6. Travel highs and lows… I love that ATL airport only serves Coke but not happy that people like to take their shoes off in the airport/on the plane.

7. It would be great to have a panel focused on the biggest failures and flops from the year. What did we try that didn’t work? What never got off the ground because of staffing, budgets, or leadership? What will we NEVER do again? I know we would all have something to add. If we don’t, you need to ask if you are trying hard enough!

I am sure there were more ah-has that will come to me as I settle back into my work. I know I will be there again in 2014 and am thankful that David brings us all together once a year.

Be sure to comment on this post, share your key take-a-ways, and tweet them too using #runwalkride. Good luck implementing the new ideas, and pat yourself on the back for things you realize you are doing that are spot on!

See you in 2014!

“Social marketing eliminates the middlemen, providing brands the unique opportunity to have a direct relationship with their customers.” ~Bryan Weiner, CEO at Digital Agency 360i

This e-newsletter was written by Mandy O’Neill.

In our second e-newsletter of this three part series, we talked about social media campaigns, virtual campaigns and chaperoned emails and how to best utilize them to grow your donor list. In this last part of our series, we will talk about ways to use Lightbox, Search Engine Optimization and Advertising. Our hope is that we are helping you create the right plan for your next acquisition campaign.

Lightbox Captures
Lightbox captures are the transparent box that pops up on your website with a specific call-to-action that you’re encouraged to click-through or you opt to click an “x” out of the Lightbox. Lightbox captures are especially profitable at year end, with special campaigns, and major announcements. Many year-end lightboxes embed the donation form right in the light box, so you don’t even have to click through to the donation page. This box captures more than donations, it captures new donors. If you’re not running one for year end, reconsider doing so. If major news event happens in your field, take advantage of the increased traffic coming to your site with a lightbox. The development costs are well worth the new names captured. A word of caution: running an advertisement versus a mission-related call to action is not an effective use of a lightbox and will have a negative effect on your conversion rates.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Marketing consists of four strategies: Optimized Organic Search, Paid Search, and Grants. All three of these search marketing strategies can yield high quality prospects and are cost-effective because they are highly targeted.

• SEO of Donation Pages and Top Acquisition Pages. Studies are showing that between 50% – 70% of traffic is still coming from organic search. You can maximize your organic SEO rankings through new website architecture, page naming conventions, and key words in your page content. Using the right keywords on your website, blogs, microsites and social media can actually yield a 6 to 8% lift in organic search sourced conversion rates for target acquisition pages. Yep, it’s better to have your whole site optimized, but start with your donation pages and best content pages first.

• Paid Search. After you’ve done all you can for free – remember that most of your traffic will come from organic search, you might consider paid search for a couple of your keywords that drive the most qualified traffic to your site. Look at your top three (3) online competitors for targeted keywords, including brand keywords (nature, safety, international relief, arthritis–any of the top words used in your mission), and issue-based search terms (e.g. phrases associated with your cause, e.g. pain relief for arthritis, open space, after-school programs), to ensure you’re capturing traffic that is critical in generating leads for donations—which is how you will measure effectiveness. If the leads become donors the program works. If they don’t revise or stop the program. While paid search isn’t as effective as organic search, it’s still pretty effective—and you only pay for the people who click-through.

• Google Grants. If you already use Google Grants, this is an easy transition. If you haven’t yet leveraged Google Grants, you may want to consider it, but please remember running a “free” Google Grant program is “free” like a puppy is free. The cost of administering is something to consider before jumping in. It works similar to paid search in that you first identify which keywords you can use with your Google Grant (Google often puts restrictions on high bid keywords), creating ad groups or groups of keywords with customized landing pages that might result in lower volume, but much higher conversion rates, and then test your offer via Google Grants advertising. Often we find the offer that works via Google Grants is different than your offer in other channels.

Let’s start by saying that PPC advertising isn’t for everyone or every campaign. While PPC advertising is a pay-per-click model, there is quite a bit of upfront investment in creative, strategy, targeting, landing page development, and placement. You’ll want to use your best polished visual and video content with pay-for-performance or impression in-stream, in-slate, in–search and in-display video ad placements, targeted by both keyword and video topic. In order to maximize the ROI of your search campaigns, you really should plan on developing dedicated landing pages featuring design and content that’s highly focused on donor acquisition. Very few, if any, nonprofits run PPC campaigns internally. You’ll almost always want to retain a strong reputable firm to help you with this kind of acquisition campaign.

As we wrap up, here in Colorado in January, we say that if you didn’t fall at least three times skiing, you didn’t have a good day. The same is true with acquisition. Do some testing and skin your knees finding out what works best for your supporters. The upside is that testing online acquisition is quick and low-cost, so you cap your risk. Some channels work better with your mission than others, so we encourage you to test. And always remember …
if plan a didn't work -- photo

About Mandy O’Neill
Mandy O’Neill is the Chief Strategist and Founder of ConnectedNonprofit, a boutique online marketing agency that helps nonprofits with online growth initiatives, new channels of fundraising, and refreshing current online programs. You can reach her directly at

“People share, read and generally engage more with any type of content when it’s surfaced through friends and people they know and trust.” ~Malorie Lucich, Facebook Spokesperson

This e-newsletter was written by Mandy O’Neill.

In last week’s e-newsletter, we discussed Welcome Series and Petitions. Again not all tips will work for you, but many will and are inexpensive to try. Here’s our second of three newsletters. We look forward to helping you grow your house file.

Social Media Campaigns
We generally advise focusing on no more than two social media channels, especially, if, like most nonprofits, you are looking to drive revenue or awareness with your social media presence. Two social media acquisition examples illustrate short-term, mission-driven ways to drive lead generation via social media:

Safe Kids used Facebook to run a downloadable-kit promotion for pool safety and acquired 3,000 highly qualified email addresses. They simply offered a single click on a Facebook tab to download your kit for free using your email address. The campaign was so successful; Safe Kids has gone on to run additional safety campaigns including helmet safety and Halloween safety. The goals of the Pool Safety campaign were to:
o Educate constituents about pool safety practices
o Provide pool safety kits directly to parents
o Increase Safe Kids Facebook audience reach
o Grow the fan base (“likes”) on Facebook
o Grow the housefile with qualified names

You’ll notice that, in addition to the 3,000 new email addresses acquired, their Facebook Fan base has grew from 54,000 to 177,000 today. used Twitter to run a “Power Hour” fundraising campaign to acquire 30 new donors. They hit their goal and then some. Grist started out by offering a pool of $5,000 to match any donation 1:1 with a goal of attaining 30 new donors within their designated “Power Hour”. They had a branded landing page and thanked donors immediately on Twitter to increase the traffic stream and enthusiasm. They lined up “celebrity” journalists to tweet that they had given to the campaign to inspire “giving” and create excitement. When Grist hit their goal of 30 gifts within the first 30 minutes, they increased the campaign goal with another $5,000 match that ultimately fell short of another 30 gifts in the time remaining—but they did get more donors. Grist didn’t use a hashtag, so we can’t do a quick search to pull up all the tweets, but you can scroll back on Twitter to May 10, 2012 (requires patience) to see the campaign in full played out.

Historically Blogs drive highly qualified leads because you are getting exposure through content, shared content (when someone forwards your blog to a like-minded friend), and visibility on search engines tied back to keywords in your blog post. Don’t shy away from creating a blog if you think you have to post every day. You don’t. You can drive plenty of leads by posting as few as one to two high-quality, shareable posts per month.

Viral Campaigns
A recent study from Pew Internet found that 75% of people who find news online get it either forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites, and half of them (52%) forward the news through those means. You don’t have to have a Gangnam Style hit song and video to benefit from a viral campaign. If you have touching, funny, or breaking news, turn it into a low-cost viral campaign by:
• Overtly asking your email subscribers to forward the email (people will do this if you ask)
• Asking Facebook fans to “share” a photo with a poignant phrase, data, quote, and a link to your landing page written on the photo in contrasting color and capital letters
• Asking Twitter followers to “retweets”
• Create an Infographic
• Create a video and again, directly ask people to share, post on your website, social media, and include in emails

Chaperoned Emails
Chaperoned emails are highly effective in the nonprofit arena for recruiting “like-minded” supporters. List sharing is a tactic you’re probably already using in your direct mail program. Instead of “renting a list” and mailing to it, each organization sends an email message to its own list promoting an acquisition activity from the other organization (excluding any subscribers the organizations share in common). Subscribers who affirmatively opt-in join the list of the partner organization. All data shows that this kind of list sharing does not result in cannibalization of donors from the partners. It’s a no-brainer to ask your corporate partners and sponsors to send chaperoned emails to their employees and segmented audiences with a specific call to action.

We hope you are collecting lots of great information and developing a plan of action to increase your house file.

Stay tuned. In next week’s e-newsletter, we will wrap up this series with our last two tops; Lightbox Captures and Search Engine Optimization. We hope you are collecting lots of great information and developing a plan of action to increase your house file.


About Mandy O’Neill

Mandy O’Neill is the Chief Strategist and Founder of ConnectedNonprofit, a boutique online marketing agency that helps nonprofits with online growth initiatives, new channels of fundraising, and refreshing current online programs. You can reach her directly at

“Every choice you make has an end result.” ~Zig Ziglar

This e-newsletter was written by Mandy O’Neill.

If you want your 2013 end-of-year fundraising higher than what you just achieved in 2012, you’ve got to grow your donor base. Now’s the time to get started! Direct mail acquisition is flat and major donor acquisition takes time, and online acquisition is fast, low-cost and hot right now. So hot, we are highlighting the best tips for online acquisition in a three part series all this month. In the first e-newsletter of our three part series, we will start with the lowest cost tips for the highest return.

Is your acquisition flat? Looking for a shot in arm? Online acquisition might be the boost you need. We already know you need a professional online program because:

• About 10% of the average nonprofit’s revenue comes in online
• Over 64% of major donors check out your website before investing in your nonprofit—and 80% of those big dollar donors have actually donated online
• 95% of grant reviewers look at your website when reviewing your grant application; and
• The annual gross revenue from multichannel donors is typically four times that of offline-only donors and three times that of online-only donors

What you may not know: is how valuable the online channel is to growing your donor file.

Online acquisition is faster, cheaper, and more successful than other channels
Most nonprofit revenue comes in via direct mail, major donors, peer-to-peer fundraising, grants, and services revenue. But new donor acquisition has been flat since 2008 in direct mail, at the same time online acquisition has grown in size and sophistication. Why? Mostly because it’s easier to target qualified leads online. And, while we’re about to share some tips and examples for effective online acquisition please note that we have learned that your newly acquired donors from online channels need to be put immediately into your direct mail stream in order to retain them and to get the ever-valuable second gift.

Tips and Examples

Welcome Series
We found the first 30 days are critical to converting a new lead into a donor. Yep, acquiring the lead is only half the battle. Before you even start an acquisition campaign, make sure you have an effective Welcome Series or your investment in generating new leads will be wasted. We generally recommend a three-email series that starts with a welcome and impact statement describing what donors accomplish with their donations through your organization, but no hard ask. The second email should be an interest survey; two or three questions that identity the topic of interest your subscriber values most. The third email is a hard-ask appeal based on the interest segment of your subscriber and needs to drop before your 30 day window expires.

You don’t have to be an advocacy organization, or heavily into public affairs to effectively use petitions. Nonprofits utilize Care2 and to generate new leads. The National Parks Conservation Association (follow this link for an example of a petition) runs several petition campaigns right from their website a year to grow their housefile. Before jumping into a “petition-to-grow” program, though, we’d recommend testing some low-cost targeted Facebook or Google Ads that lead to an engagement mechanism like a survey, quiz, petition, or simply a sign-up for more information. Adding an ad campaign allows you to reach new targeted “qualified” audiences that care about your issue.

Stay tuned for #2 of our three part series next week; we’ll talk about social media campaigns and other ways of growing your donor base online.

Mandy O’Neill is our Guest Writer for Tips and Examples of What’s Working in Online Acquisition (3 part series). She is the Chief Strategist and Founder of ConnectedNonprofit, a boutique online marketing agency that helps nonprofits with online growth initiatives, new channels of fundraising, and refreshing current online programs. You can reach her directly at

If you are a national brand that is seeking a cause marketing partnership or a non-profit looking to strengthen your corporate partnerships, you will want to listen to Brand Fast-Trackers podcast. In this podcast, Rachel shares her expertise on how to evolve your brand or nonprofit and develop a successful cause partnership by helping each other to hit goals, grow market reach and inspire the community to create real, measurable change.

To hear Rachel’s insights and advice on how to create a successful partnership, click on the link below to listen to the podcast.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!” ~Dr. Seuss “Oh the Place You’ll Go”

We’re 3! What an amazing journey so far. As we reflect on the last 36 months, we are so proud of the work we have done. But, more importantly, the people we have been blessed to work with and the people who have benefited from the ideas, programs, and fundraising that has taken place. What started out as one person working from Austin has quickly blossomed into a first-rate team of experts from all over the United States. I find myself inspired, thankful, and motivated as we head into the next year of Armbruster Consulting Group.

3 Thank You’s
1. Our clients – There is always something so special about that first phone call where we get to learn about a new cause, a new mission, a new group of wonderful passionate people trying to make a difference. Whether it’s sharing a great concept, discussing team dynamics, finding new opportunities…anything – it is always meaningful and very interesting. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your communities, teams, and visions.

2. Team Armbruster – Over the past two decades I have been able to work with some of the smartest and hardest working people on the planet. NOW…I get the pleasure of tapping into their expertise and ideas for our clients. Thank you for being a part of the company and for always being good stewards of our clients’ resources and making me laugh along the way. Special thanks to Angie Schlanger who has helped keep me focused, organized, and is always a great thought partner.

3. My family – When I decided to open Armbruster Consulting Group in 2009 the initial conversation with my husband took less than 2 minutes and went something like this:

Me: ‘I think it’s time to open my company.’
Brandon: ‘Great. Let’s go open a bank account and register at the Secretary of State over lunch.’

Over the past three years, my husband, kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, and my ‘sisters by another mother’ have been so uplifting, encouraging, and supportive of this company. Whether it’s brainstorming ideas, serving on committees, running overnight relays, or just listening to me talk through ideas – they are always there and none of this would be possible without their love and support.

3 Highlights
1. Running in the Run to the Sun Relay – There was something so cathartic about running in the dark and then seeing the sun rise over the horizon. This event symbolizes everything I love about my work. One person with a huge heart felt a need to help his friends who had a daughter with a devastating disease. He came up with an idea. A former colleague working for the nonprofit organization the family had started hired me to take that idea and make it a reality. Fast forward eight months and we had raised $250,000 and had 200 people running 100 miles, through the night all for that little girl and other kids dealing with Batten disease. It was made even more special by the fact that the run in the dark symbolized the first symptom of the disease which was blindness around age seven. The concept of celebrating at sunrise was to show people there is hope. As we head into year three of the relay, I know it will be just as inspiring and meaningful as that first run, and I can’t wait to get on the road.

2. Being an author and speaking at conferences and events – I love public speaking. I like sharing the knowledge that I have gained over the years. I like asking questions that make people think. There is something so exciting to think about how people might be inspired or what might come from the idea exchange. Publishing Banding Together For A Cause in 2011 has given me an opportunity to speak at more events recently, and I am addicted. Love it.

3. Receiving a donation from my son – Sometimes it is hard to explain exactly what I do to my children (ages 8 and 6). But, I knew I was onto something when I told Evan (6) about a new project. We were working on an international fundraising program for children’s charities and had created a three minute video to describe the campaign. After showing it to him, he went to his room, gathered up all of his money, put it in a baggie, and brought it to me. He said the kids in the video needed it more than he did. It is always hard to be away from your kids, and everyone second guesses themselves, but that moment filled me with such joy and pride. I get to do work that will make the world a better place for my kids and inspire them to take action and serve others. I think that is awesome.

3 Goals
1. Feedback – During our business planning meeting this past summer, Angie and I decided to make client feedback a priority. We have started conducting post-project feedback calls, and our clients have provided such great comments and thoughts. We are looking forward to more input and ideas in the coming months and years.

2. Research/Thought Leadership – I have a few questions and ideas swirling around in my head that I would love to dedicate time and energy to this coming year. They are not related to any specific client but have the potential to benefit segments of the NPO community.

3. Do great work – I want to keep doing work I am proud of and that will have an impact. There is no time for mediocrity – only excellence.

3 Lessons
1. Surround myself with people I love – I am detecting a theme here. Relationships are what this work and really life is all about. Our relationships with our clients, vendors and partners, and their relationships with their sponsors, donors, teams, and those they serve. Any time I have waivered on the idea of ‘loving’ the person I am dealing with, it has gone poorly. There is no room for error here. I need to follow Jim Collins Good to Great advice and make sure the people on the Armbruster Consulting Group bus are right and ready for the ride of their life!

2. Importance of setting boundaries – This is a work in progress but something I think we could all work on and benefit from.

3. Schedule your life and then work around it. Take time to make vacation plans, dedicate time with family, carve out time for yourself, and then work life instead of always doing it the other way around.

3 Recommendations
1. Be challenged, not overwhelmed. You feel overwhelmed when you feel threatened. Realize when you are being challenged and rise to the occasion. Take charge.

2. Learn how to tell your story. If Steven Spielberg were going to make a movie trailer of your life, what would he include? That’s your story. Do the same for the organization you represent.

3. Work Hard. Play Hard.

3 Books
1. Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

2. Nonprofit Sustainability by Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka, and Steve Zimmerman

3. Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

3 Predictions
1. I will still be doing this in three years and LOVING IT.

2. God will continue to point me in the right direction if I let Him.

3. I will have accomplished my goal of visiting all 50 states by the end of 2015. I have 10 states to go!

THANK YOU! Looking forward to the next three years with each of you!

In the News

I recently joined Megan Strand and Joe Waters on Cause Talk Radio to chat about my book, Banding Together for a Cause. We discussed the progression of a corporate partner from minor donor to major partner, common nonprofit missteps, and how nonprofits can create a celebrity brand – minus the celebrity. Click on the link below to check it out!

Jim Toscano from reviews Banding Together for a Cause and gives it 5-stars! Thanks, Jim!

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Armbruster Consulting continues to serve its mission and the missions of its clients. Since 2009, our vision has been to do great things and make an impact. We continue to consult with a variety of nonprofit organizations looking for guidance in actualizing their goals. In the beginning it was a one-person office but over the past few years, Armbruster Consulting has expanded to include an amazing and talented group of professional consultants, freelancers and agencies. Whether working individually or as a team, we provide the expertise needed by our clients for a variety of projects and goals.

The diverse group of nonprofit organizations that we are proud to assist every day includes the ALS Association, National Marfan Foundation, Cure Duchenne, Beyond Batten Disease Foundation, Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation and Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer.

Below we have shared some of the recent highlights of our work. Our hope is that you are inspired by the ideas and that you find some useful suggestions for your own projects and plans.

Beyond Batten Disease Foundation – The Run to the Sun Relay was launched last year and in just two short years has raised over $500,000 for Beyond Batten. The event is a 95 mile overnight relay hosted in Austin. (Project Management and Concept Development: Rachel Armbruster; E-Communications: Lindsey von Weller)

Lesson: By creating an once-in-a-lifetime experience and having a strong list of potential runners with a passion for the cause, we are able to have a high fundraising minimum while keeping the event simple and focused on the mission.

Cure Duchenne – In partnership with Sally and Mack Brown, Cure Duchenne hosts Champions to Cure Duchenne, an event at the UT Golf Club which features Austin’s top chefs, former football players from the University of Texas and live and silent auctions. The event has raised over $650,000 in 3 years and continues to attract new sponsors and attendees. The goal is to expand the event model to more cities in partnership with other collegiate coaches. (Strategic Consulting: Rachel Armbruster; Event Management: Kristen Deweese)

Lesson: In year three, we analyzed the silent auction results from the two previous years and found that items with a value of under $200 were almost 50% of the items but only raising 5% of the funds. By removing those items this year, the auction was easier to manage, attendees had easier access to the items being offered, and we raised more money this year than ever before from the silent auction. It was hard to fight the ‘we need more items’ feeling but the commitment to the strategy paid off.

ALS Association National Events Team – Armbruster Consulting provides ongoing support for a variety of programs including One Dollar Difference, national walk program marketing, corporate partnerships and chapter event management staffing support. (Consultant: Rachel Armbruster; Project Manager: Angie Schlanger)

Lesson: A major roadblock to local event management success is allowing yourself to get focused on the production details and not focusing on the relationships. Whether it’s recruitment of new participants, stewardship of sponsors or working with volunteers, by creating a day-by-day action plan for relationship development, a group can see tremendous results.

ALS Massachusetts Chapter – After launching the Ride to Defeat ALS, the Massachusetts Chapter decided it would be best to outsource the management of the project including rider recruitment, fundraising support and e-communications, and volunteer management. The ride continues to grow and is becoming a new source of revenue for the chapter. (Consultant/Project Manager: Jodie Dolgner)

Lesson: Recruitment of a working volunteer committee is essential to the success of an event but may take more than one year to build. Understanding the strengths of the current volunteers and where help is needed is wise so that you can clearly communicate what you need and who you are looking for. It is much easier to gather volunteer recommendations when you say ‘I need someone who has accounting experience and a passion for cycling that may have been impacted by ALSA’ than ‘I need more steering committee members’. Be as specific as possible.

ALS Golden West Chapter – ALSA Golden West is hosting the 8th Annual Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS. This year has been dedicated to revitalizing their volunteer force, sponsorship outreach, and creating new event management processes and plans. (Project Manager: Jason Glassner)

Lesson: Be sure your event’s success does not rely on one single individual. By diversifying the management of the event production, the relationship management, and the volunteer support, you can ensure that the event will continue to be strong when turnover occurs with staff and/or volunteers.

The National Marfan Foundation – Over the past 6 months, we have worked with The National Marfan Foundation to create a new independent fundraising program including branding and messaging, and provided recommendations for their national volunteer program including chapter management. The next phase of work includes collateral development, systems implementation, and more. (Strategic Consultant: Rachel Armbruster; Project Management: Jodie Dolgner)

Lesson: To review the case study for the National Marfan Foundation, please click on the link provided.

Texas Premier Football Camp Foundation (TPFCF) – Over 200 children will gather for 2 days of football instruction from former University of Texas players and current NFL athletes. We are assisting with event coordination, marketing, and sponsorship, for the 6th annual football camp and the corresponding golf tournament. (Project Manager: Angie Schlanger)

Lesson: Be sure you and your board of directors have a clear vision for your programs. For TPFC, Phase One of the camps is to host paid participants with the long-term goal of hosting underprivileged youth and adding an elite camp for high school students.

No Marine Alone – Organize a cross country bicycle ride for the Marine Graduation Foundation. Tasks include fundraising strategies, underwriting/sponsorship packet development, volunteer organization and web enhancement. (Project Manager: Angie Schlanger)

Lesson: Create a solid logistics plan to eliminate any difficulties along the way. Course selection and execution timeline is very important with weather always being a factor. Implement solid online fundraising opportunities and promote them along the way at a variety of mini events.

Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation – Event planning and logistics execution. In addition to event management, we provide ongoing marketing and development support, web support and grant writing. (Strategic Consultant: Rachel Armbruster; Project Management: Catherine Albertson; Grant Writer: Lindsey von Weller)

Lesson: When managing ongoing projects for any nonprofit, establish and work through a solid long-term plan. This will keep you and staff focused on an end goal.

We are proud to be assisting these fantastic organizations and feel blessed to be working with such passionate, smart, and inspiring clients. To learn more about how we might be able to help your organization achieve its fundraising goals, please contact us at or visit us online at

In the News

The Aglaia website recently published a story on Pi Mu authors, Rachel’s story can be found here,

“Manners are one of the greatest engines of influence ever given to man.” ~Richard Whately

I recently read this article about manners in a parenting magazine and after a while I realized that these reminders were good for everyone – not just kids. As representatives of a cause, it is important that we take our role seriously and be on our best behavior.  Taking time to read the list of 25 manners and think about how it relates to your daily job can make a big difference in your career.

The full article can be found by clicking on this link:

Manner #1: When asking for something, say “Please.”

Manner #2: When receiving something, say “Thank you.”

Manner #3:
Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

Manner #4: If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

Manner #5: When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

Manner #6: The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

Manner #7: Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.

Manner #8: When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

Manner #9: When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

Manner #10: Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering.

Manner #11: When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

Manner #12: Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

Manner #13: Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.

Manner #14: Don’t call people mean names.

Manner #15: Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

Manner #16: Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.

Manner #17: If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”

Manner #18: Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.

Manner #19: As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

Manner #20: If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new.

Manner #21: When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

Manner #22: When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

Manner #23: Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

Manner #24: Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

Manner #25: Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.


In the News

PPAI Publications recently interviewed Rachel about her book, Banding Together for a Cause.  The cover story, “Cause Marketing – Bridging Commerce with a Cause” can be found here,



This case study was written by Jodie Dolgner, Project ManagerThe National Marfan Foundation (NMF) is the only non-profit organization in the United States solely dedicated to saving lives and improving the quality of life for patients and families affected by Marfan syndrome and related disorders.Challenge: 

The National Marfan Foundation partnered with Armbruster Consulting to help generate revenue and engagement opportunities while increasing awareness of Marfan syndrome.

Project Goals:

Multi-phase project

  • Develop a pro-active community events program structure through endurance programs and third party fundraising resources while increasing fundraising potential and  participation levels
  • Build a database of constituents including donors, volunteers, and patients through local and national branded initiatives
  • Provide recommendations for volunteer network reorganization to improve effectiveness , engagement and retention

Services Provided

  • Reviewed existing program assets and completed a non-profit comparison analysis as well as conducted interviews with key Board Members and constituents
  • Developed National Brand
  • Implemented turnkey event structure
  • Customized communication plans with e-mail templates
  • Provided website content and wireframe design
  • Created effective training tools
  • Strategic organization restructure


After completing extensive research on both the community events and the volunteer program, the brand “Team Heart and Soul” was developed and will be implemented throughout the NMF.  This umbrella approach is designed to embrace all constituents to make a difference by organizing and participating in events or volunteering within the volunteer network to support the mission.  There are exclusive benefits for Team Heart and Soul members including online resources such as fundraising tools, turn key events, letter templates and Team Heart and Soul University training program.  Furthermore, Armbruster Consulting provided a comprehensive plan to restructure the chapters into six Regional Leadership Councils to further build the organization across the US.  These enhancements will allow NMF to improve and increase community leaders and participation, improve ROI, increase collaboration, and increase fundraising opportunities and total dollars.


Team Heart and Soul to be launched in phases during 2012


“Rachel and her team are enthusiastic leaders who have walked us through each and every step along the way of our first steps toward building a new endurance and community events program. They listen to your organization’s needs, become a true partner, and offer well thought out and strategic guidance. Unlike some consulting relationships, Rachel sees her self as a true extension of our staff and the work she generates is easy to implement. We are thrilled with our partnership and have signed on for additional help with our national volunteer program.”

Jennifer Grignoli, Director of Development, National Marfan Foundation 



“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.” – Dennis Waitley

This year’s Run Walk Ride fundraising conference was held on March 6-7 in Atlanta. Every year I look forward to attending the conference. It is a great time for learning, sharing, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Everyone is there with a shared goal: more effectively and efficiently raise funds for their cause. At the conference, industry leaders shared success strategies to help you:

• Raise more money
• Cut costs while maintaining quality
• Manage people and technology better

Last year I provided three separate e-newsletters with notes. This year, I decided to focus on the couple of items that stuck with me post-conference and make them very actionable for you. Here are my recommended follow-up or action items from the conference:

 Explain your mission in 140 characters (read

 Know your story (read

 Get comfortable making the ask and then be quiet and listen (read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People)

 A great ask is tactical and practical (ask should include specific instructions on what to do next and be something that is within the donor’s ability to deliver)

 During the hire process, ask the interviewee to make an ask (can be related to job they are applying for or something they are personally raising money for currently)

 Focus on largest teams to make biggest impact (pretty clear!)


For more information including slides and presentations from this year’s conference, visit and be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter and other highlights.

Don’t be scared…help is on the way!

Does your organization have an e-newsletter? Is it sent sporadically? Is the process to generate content, write, edit and send the newsletter cumbersome and a drain on already limited resources? Are results hard to determine and reporting non-existent?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you are considering launching an e-newsletter but have hesitations because of similar concerns, consider outsourcing your e-newsletter. Outsourcing provides a third party group accountable for on-time delivery of the newsletter, a strategic plan for content, community mobilization and implementation of e-newsletter best practices.

Armbruster Consulting identifies ways to help nonprofit organizations in every aspect of their business. In order to help make the e-newsletter process more efficient and effective, Armbruster Consulting is pleased to offer a turn-key e-newsletter package including set-up, design, writing and management. Our goal is to create an annual communication plan for the newsletter, uncover meaningful and motivating content and provide the implementation to ensure consistent and effective delivery of your newsletter.

Before deciding to outsource your organization’s newsletter, please consider the following impacts:


  1. Is the newsletter published in a timely manner?
  2. Is the newsletter integrated into the larger organization strategy and mission?
  3. Does it require staff time that could be spent on more productive revenue generation or mission related activities? 
  4. Do you know the true impact of the newsletter? Is it increasing gifts, average gift amounts, engagement with the organization, event participation and more?
  5. Is your organization looking to convert its direct mail newsletter to an e-newsletter or do you need to get your database in order before an email can be sent?

E-Newsletter Packages start at just $5,950 and can be customized to your organization’s goals and objectives. In addition to e-newsletters, Armbruster Consulting can help with all of your fundraising and communication needs. Contact me at 512-944-3417 or to learn more about how we can transform your e-newsletter into a true marketing and development tool for your organization.

Do you manage someone remotely or find yourself trying to lead from a distance? I have asked a close friend, Jen Mullen to provide some insights into this leadership challenge. Jen is a Regional Manager with Aeropostale, a FORTUNE 100 Best Company to Work For in 2011. She manages a large group of district managers and store managers that covers half the country. I have been constantly impressed with her connection with her team and her management style. I think you will gain a lot from her tips below. Enjoy and thank you Jen!

Have you ever played the “telephone game” and found out that what you said at the beginning of the chain is drastically different at the end? When you were a child, the results were amusing to hear. In a business, the impact of miscommunication can cost a tremendous amount of time, money and potentially clients and future business. So, how do you ensure that your message is being translated correctly from one location to the next and from one person to another?


Communicating with a team that is geographically challenged can add complexity, but is not impossible to master. “Communication” itself is the challenge, not the geography. What some people need and want varies from person to person, so as a manager and leader, you have to adapt. No system is perfect and nothing will ensure that you will get 100% consistency, but there are some things that you can do to ensure the message does not get lost.


1. Trust but verify. A very wise CEO and mentor of mine once told me that you are only as good as your weakest link. Very true in life and in business. The impression of your business when you are not there leaves the same impact as if you were in the room. Mistakes and errors can cost you business, but you cannot be in every location for all communication with every client. So you have to trust the team that you have, BUT verify what you want to see.

Ø  Be involved, but know your audience. Lead your team situationally-it sounds basic, but it is the most common mistake made by a team leader-treating everyone on your team the same. If you have someone who is very detail oriented, you can get a higher level overview than someone who is not as diligent about details. Over-managing someone is almost worse than not following up. Know who you can delegate to and know who you need to follow up with on a consistent basis.

Ø  Manage the situation, not the person. Your top person is most likely talented overall, but there are probably areas they haven’t mastered, so they need more follow up if put in that situation. Don’t assume that they will perform at a high level on every task.

2. When sending launch or follow up information, keep emails simple and concise. Emails should be bullet-pointed with what your objectives are. Too many people write emails as they speak, so the “fluff” is added in. You lose your message with too much information and will lose consistent execution. If you want to capture someone’s attention, make your subject line the topic of your message (i.e. “A question about our meeting today” or “Items to follow up on-please read and respond”). A strong subject line will ensure that they are reading what you are sending.

Ø  Keep your bullets brief. No need for emotion. It gets lost in an email and people can misinterpret what you are saying. Only provide action items or things that you need to draw attention to.

Ø  The email is not THE ONLY message. If something is that important for you to send a bulleted list, then it deserves follow up. Do that in person if possible. Email strands dilute importance.

3. Keep voicemails to a minimum. You have 30-45 seconds to hold a person’s attention. Don’t leave someone a lengthy voicemail about what you expect or what you want to see. Leave a message about why you are calling and what urgency your message has

Ø  “Sue-hi, it’s Jen. I am calling to follow up on the updates to the conference next week. Can you call me back today to provide an update on where we are and what support you may need prior to the event?”

Ø  You have provided the recipient with what you are calling for (gives them time to get prepared to call you back), when you expect to have a call back (give them a realistic timeframe) and the next steps (support needed, etc)

Ø  If you do choose to leave a message, be specific. The worst thing for your team member to hear is “Hi, it’s your boss. Call me back.” They have no idea what the context is or what the urgency of the message is. This causes anxiety in people-in the absence of information, people make stuff up.

4. Make phone time, “face time.” I make it a point of talking with every member of my team at least twice a week, once at the beginning to set the expectation and once at the end of the week to recap. When you have a team of up to 15 people in different places, ensuring that they are all on the same page is key. As the manager, have a set of points that you want to talk about with each person-open issues or projects that you may need an update on, developmental objectives etc. Get document updates sent over ahead of time, so you can look at the document together.

Ø  Ask a lot of questions and ask them in the “right” way. I call this a “virtual tour”-getting a snapshot of what is happening without actually being there. Instead of saying “How is your project going?” , which can get you a vague response that is not detail oriented, say “Walk me through the updates of your project,” which forces the person to give you specifics on what is happening. Evolve any close ended questions into leading statements and question-“Tell me about”, “What changes did you make,” “What progress have you seen,” to gain more information and details. This will lead to more open dialogue and consistency from market to market

Ø  If you are following up on an initiative, the focus is the same. “Tell me how you implemented my suggestions this week,” or “What was the client’s feedback to our recent updates.”

5. Are you “Giving” time or “Taking” time? This is most important with conference call communication. Some managers believe that the conference call is the most effective form of communication because you are impacting more people. If you have a large team, a conference call can be a “Time Taker,” especially if you are using it to get updates on projects or follow up on issues that do not apply to all. Conference calls should be used to recap results, discuss future initiatives or changes to projects as a group. When you talk to a team who has sat through a non-productive call, they will tell you how much they dislike conference calls. The opposite is true for a structured, time controlled conference call.

Ø  If it is a group project and you need team updates, set parameters for each team lead, and ensure that you set the expectation of what you are looking for as well as a timeframe for their update (1-3 minutes usually works best, pending complexity).

Ø  Focus on communication that will “Give” people time-best practices of highly productive teams, more efficient processes or short cuts that don’t diminish the outcome. Time is the most precious asset your people have, so anything you can do to provide them with more will be motivating to them.

Managing a team in a productive manner is critical to the success of your organization-having a productive team is achieved through great management. Great managers are great communicators who understand how to inspire a high level of productivity in their team, even when managing from afar. In a technology driven world, we can take productivity to new levels with follow up and accountability. But know that the most effective multi-unit managers use every resource available to them AND understand that nothing is more impactful than a good old phone call!


spacer (1K)Connect with Jen Mullen on LinkedIn here.

Recent training sessions boost productivity and morale at Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer and the Lone Star Chapter of the National MS Society.
Wouldn’t it be great to send each of your team members to a one-day seminar to talk about strategy, systems, communication tools, professionalism and goals? The cost, time away from the office and inability to send the WHOLE team make it unreasonable and don’t provide the return on investment. Many teams have dediced that instead of sending the team to training, it is best to bring the trainer to the team.

Whether you have 8 hours or 3 days allocated for training, a lot can be accomplished by utilizing a third party training facilitator. Also, by contracting someone with a specific NPO executive background with a focus on fundraising, your team also gains the benefit of receiving consulting advice along the way with the meeting facilitation. This expertise also allows for a more strategic meeting agenda and the skill to quickly understand the specific challenges in a charity development office.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask when considering in-office training:

  1. Do we know the goals and objectives of the training? This can range from creating or fostering a sense of team, learning to communicate more effectively, discovering process and systems tools, outlining a fundraising strategy or tactical plan to practicing problem solving in small and large groups.
  2. Who should attend? Trainings can be beneficial for one-on-one coaching or for large groups. Understanding the goals and objectives first will provide insight into the right people to have attend the meeting. If you aren’t sure, work with the facilitator to determine the best approach. It might be that a hybrid or a multi-meeting option would provide the best outcomes.
  3. When should we host the meeting? It is wise to consider any upcoming changes to the team: is anyone new starting next month? Is someone going on leave in the next few weeks? Determining a date that allows for maximum participation is critical. While event dates, registration ‘go live’ dates, mail drop deadlines and other deadlines are on the calendar, the primary goal is to have everyone together. Rarely do you hear that a person is sad they stepped away from the office for a day of reflection, training and development.

To learn more about recent training and development sessions, visit or to schedule meeting facilitation or training for your organization, contact me at 512-944-3417 or On Linkedin I have added a list of recommended reading so let’s connect at

This month I invited David Neff of Lights Camera Help and author of the newly released The Future of Nonprofits to share insights about internal innovation and social media. Enjoy and thank you David! 

So you want to be an innovator at your nonprofit?
There are 4 things you need to create an internal
innovation engine in your nonprofit!

To be competitive in the future, organizations have to create a culture of innovation that will drive a continuous flow of new, relevant and successful business projects and programs. This works for nonprofits and for-profits.

If you have the desire to become innovative, you probably recognize that the way to win in the future is to reshape your culture and fire up the internal innovation engine. Simply put NPO’s can Innovate and Thrive, or Stagnate and Die.

Regardless of size, every organization can create an internal innovation engine. The key to success is getting your corporate culture right and then tapping into the new found potential with an efficient and effective structure designed to harness and act on the newly uncovered ideas.

1. Get Aware!
Stop having all your employees focusing on working and start thinking outside of their explicit job role. You can transform your culture just by mandating that your employees attend conferences that are tangent to their job responsibilities, read articles by authors outside of your field, and engage in communities they are passionate about. Find inspiration and ideas outside of your field and bring them into your work. In today’s digital world if every employee is not actively thinking about how they can incorporate new technology into their job function you are falling behind! Do not be afraid to re-purpose brilliant concepts to fit your organization.
2. Staff Right!
You can also transform your culture by adding eager, creative thinkers and empowering them to contribute beyond their job duties. Innovation by addition only works if you are willing to screen and hire new employees for skill sets beyond the typical job description. Hire people who can fulfill the job description but can bring additional expertise and experience in areas like social media, film and video production, and gaming. The future is online, and getting people excited about the challenge of leading the NPO field into the digital age are a critical step in creating that culture of innovation.
3. Set Your Structure!
The most critical component of an innovation transformation is the structure that takes ‘ideas’ and transforms them into ‘innovations’. By our definition, an innovation is a new idea that drives tangible value. Having a structure that can bring in hundreds of new ideas and filter them to find the next great innovation is the most critical element of building an innovation engine in your organization. A great structure is more than a set of filters, a great structure provides an entire organization with a way to engage their staff, volunteers, and constituents in finding solutions to the most challenging problems. A great Structure rewards new ideas and provides growth opportunities for those who are courageous enough to submit their ideas for consideration. A great structure can evaluate hundreds of new ideas each year and identify the 2% that will drive real meaningful value to the organization, the constituent, donors, and volunteers.

4. Execute!
Take the first steps! Engage your entire staff, constituency, and volunteer network in becoming active contributors to your innovation effort. Make innovative thinking a metric of success in staff reviews and get serious about the evaluation of new ideas. Don’t just talk about being innovative, seek out a great idea, evaluate it, test it, and celebrate the success across your organization.

So how do I do all this in a 40 hour work week? You don’t! You spread it out over time and months. Want to see how it works? Take a look at our book The Future of Nonprofits and order your copy to learn more:

Corporate support for event programs can provide meaningful funds and awareness but can also be difficult to manage. Many of the groups that shared their stories talked about logistics of sponsorships, how to increase corporate involvement and integration with other programs. Hopefully the information below will provide some insights.

·         A few of the programs revealed that over 70% of their revenue is coming from corporate partners and sponsors. This massive support is divided among sponsorship (cash and in-kind), employee involvement, cause marketing, in-kind media and grant support. One program’s title sponsor went so far with their commitment to the cause that employee fundraising success is tied to their annual work performance reviews.


·         When talking with potential partners, be sure to share all major budget expense categories and determine if there are ways for them to impact your bottom-line aside from just cash. One example was a title sponsor that engaged their in-house marketing department to design and print all event marketing collateral.


·         Be sure that your existing corporate partners are mission-focused and that they are not deterring other companies from getting involved. Engage sponsors in conversations about reaching out to their industry network including vendors and network. In one case, the entire event series benefited when the title sponsor removed their name from the event and it acknowledged a need for other companies to step up and help.


·         Provide a corporate partner kit. Items to include are: campaign coordinator contact information, a team captain guide, a recommended communication plan and messages for their communication schedule, fundraising ideas, planning suggestions and templates for wallet-sized cards with event information. Some organizations offer co-branded landing pages for companies that have made a $50,000+ commitment. The responsibility for content and creation is distributed between the two organizations.


·         Host a corporate round table AND an executive round table. Ask your most motivated sponsors to serve as meeting hosts.


·         Provide tools including confidence builders to chapters to increase local sponsorship sales.


·         Evaluating in-kind benefits can be a difficult task. In many cases a sponsor will report an in-kind value as extremely high when you know that the value is truly a small percentage of their estimate. If an item is not budget relieving (does not impact your net or bottom line revenue number), but is considered part of the larger sponsor commitment, consider requesting triple or quadruple the value for in-kind partners. As an example, you can require in-kind supporters provide $30,000 worth of value to receive recognition and benefits of a $10,000 cash sponsor.


·         When trying to improve sponsor retention, one group shared that they host a post-event golf tournament as a thank you to sponsors. They use the event to solicit verbal commitments for the next year and follow-up with contracts within 4 weeks.


·         Be creative with post-event reports. Put thank you videos on your YouTube channel or create photo books on Shutterfly or similar sites.



I also encourage you to take some time to think about your vision for corporate involvement. What do you hope to achieve? How would you react today if your dream company contacted you for a first meeting? Have you identified the internal resources to adequately pursue, steward and champion corporate partners? I hope that this email series from the RunWalkRide conference has been helpful! Good luck with your sponsorship sales and, as always, I am here to help!










There were plenty of insights at the RunWalkRide Conference in March. In Part 2 of ‘Rachel’s Notes’ from the conference, you will find information about events — recruitment, production, staffing and more.

·         Most management models for large events either work National direct to Chapters OR National to Regional offices to Chapters. In some cases, National directly managed the event series and relies more heavily on vendors for support. When reviewing the RWR Top 30, most of the organizations are National direct to Chapters.


·         There is an issue of high turnover of local Chapter staff. Many organizations host annual and/or semi-annual in person training and find the results to be worth the investment. Others are offering online training available year-round as new staff join the team at various times during the year. When struggling with how to pay for training, I recommended organizations look at sponsorships and engaging national event series sponsors both financially and in-person to be a part of the series team, including training.


·         I was impressed with the amount of training provided to many of the volunteers who dedicate themselves to these events. If you provide fantastic training for staff and/or volunteers, are you promoting that during recruitment? With the job market in its current state, quality volunteers are looking for opportunities to learn new skills and expand their networks — use these selling points, but only if you can deliver!


·         One organization clearly identified their ‘pilot market’ and using this market to test new program concepts. If they experience a positive return in the pilot market they can move forward with replicating the program throughout the series. Do you know your pilot markets and are you effectively testing new concepts?


·         Organizations that staff national event positions with people from the field foster a greater sense of trust and respect than people with no direct on-the-ground event experience. It seems that the experience didn’t have to be directly with the same organization but a recognizable program or event.


·         National Event Series staff talked about engaging consultants for a variety of efforts including training, template creation and strategy discussions. Staff needs to determine where they add value to identify opportunities for outside support.


·         Many programs have made the ‘percent of participants fundraising’ a priority. To get started, the organization must understand what percentage is currently raising money. Additional data points include ranking the events within your own series to see who is doing the best with this metric and to help establish meaningful targets. There was quite a bit of discussion about where the percentage should be, but the information shared ranged from 5-65% and did not provide a true benchmarking option so begin internally and work to increase the percentage of fundraisers versus non-fundraisers over time.


·         An interesting volunteer recruitment tool was recommended by one attendee. They offer free registration to event day volunteers that are engaged in local running clubs. It helps with promotion of the event and early morning volunteer recruitment.


·         Event programs are very dependent on volunteer support. Family team recruitment and stewardship is often handled by volunteers while corporate teams are handled by staff.  Getting volunteers proficient at operations, recruitment and fundraising support is usually a 2 year process. Charities can benefit from using videos to help volunteers understand the event vision.


·         National offices are providing more resources to local chapters including in-house consulting, PR templates and pre-packaged advertising.


·         I heard a few people say, “It doesn’t cost anything to have them [free walkers] there so why not?” Please know that participants that enjoy the event for free DO cost the organization. In some cases, their participation may lead to strong advocates, increased sponsorship revenue due to event size or may serve as an acquisition tool for other fundraising efforts. If you are open to non-paying participants, be clear about your per participant costs, the return on that participant (tangible and intangible) and make a conscience decision to include them in your planning. What is your per participant cost? Do you currently have non-paying participants? If yes, how are you engaging them in the mission of the organization and what fundraising opportunities exist with this segment of your event participants?



Events continue to play a critical role in raising money for causes. Often events are not adequately evaluated on their return for the charity and opportunities to increase revenue and decrease costs are overlooked. Be sure to question every part of your event year after year and work with the assumption that your organization’s event program will be very different in the future and that change is the norm. I can provide assistance to get you started and am happy to review any plans or ideas you might be considering. Best of luck!













If you have ever been in a meeting with me, you know that I love to take notes. The RunWalkRide Conference March 2-3 was no exception. With over 150 attendees, it was two full days of friends (old and new), learning from our peers, and ah-ha moments for a variety of projects. I hope some of you are able to use ‘Rachel’s Notes’ for your projects and to spur some thinking of your own! Our first topic is the Endurance Summit:

·         Endurance programs have expanded to include running, cycling, climbing, triathlon events and more. Most programs have been branded and are working to establish a community that supports each others’ efforts and shares lessons learned, training tips and celebrates fundraising success.


·         There were a few options discussed for endurance program coaching: E-coaching, virtual coaching, live coaching and partnering with existing training programs. What type of coaching are you using and is it the right one? When does it make sense to change? What research has been done to demonstrate the importance of the physical training program in addition to fundraising support?


·         It is recommended that training programs for ‘packs’ or groups be encouraged because it provides more motivation to stay with the program and fosters a greater sense of community.


·         Encourage volunteers to lead pilots of new events for the endurance program. Once these volunteers achieve critical mass, begin investing in the event and add it to the official calendar of activities. When does your organization decide to include a new event on the schedule and how is that decision made? What tools are available to these pilot volunteers to help them succeed?


·         The endurance program of the Children’s Tumor Foundation, NF Endurance, has a team motto: “Active volunteers and big donors make the rules.” During their presentation at RWR, they also stressed the importance of the pasta dinner because of it provides a platform to focus on the mission and network with fellow participants, volunteers and staff. What is your team motto and are you using a pasta dinner to highlight your mission and create a sense of community?


·         There is a risk for endurance programs that not every event will be a sell out so when purchasing entries be sure to have a plan ready in case the event doesn’t sell out and entries aren’t in demand. One organization had to deal with this issue and they immediately returned to their internal database and encouraged participation from that group of passionate supporters. Would your organization be ready with a Plan B and are you aware of the risks for the events you have chosen to participate in?


·         It was recommended that every program examine their messaging and make sure they are not using the “kids are suffering” message but rather focusing on the participants with positive and encouraging messages (ex: It’s in you!). What is your message and is it participant-focused and inspirational?


·         Many endurance programs are outsourcing the travel and logistics components of the program. How are you managing your resources and is there an opportunity to outsource work that is not directly generating revenue?


·         Be very clear about when a participant’s credit card will be charged if they have not met their fundraising minimum prior to the event. Some organization’s allow for fundraising up to 30 days post-event and others do not allow a participant to repeat the event if they do not fulfill their fundraising obligations. Do you follow through on your promise to charge their card if they are short of their fundraising goal? If not, is there another way for you to communicate the necessity of their participation? Are your participants given advance warning of when the card will be charged and have their received ample fundraising support?


·         Very important to introduce endurance program participants to other opportunities to get involved with the charity because for many, the endurance program can be a ‘bucket list item’ and is not always repeated. How are you introducing other engagement opportunities and are you offering new challenges for your participants?


·         ‘Endurance programs are harder to budget for than walks or other traditional events.” If budgeting is difficult, it might be because the program is currently too reactionary and you might benefit from looking for new opportunities to be proactive with the program including marketing and recruitment, calendar expansion and more. If this is true, what method is your organization using currently and is it the best option?


·         A few groups mentioned that it was important to capture the first donation within 30 days of registering for the program AND individuals who gave to their own fundraising efforts raised twice as much as other participants. How are you soliciting funds within the first 30 days? Are you encouraging self-donations?


Several national endurance programs were represented this year at the Endurance Summit. It was a dramatic growth over last year’s attendance. I wonder if more programs have launched or if more established programs are becoming more sophisticated and interested in industry standards and best practices. Overall it was nice to see the enthusiasm and willingness to share among the attendees and I am positive that everyone left with a list of action items that will improve the net result of their program AND the experience of their participants for the better.














I recently attended the Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. It was a great two days filled with seeing old friends and making new ones. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear what others are doing to promote and raise funds for their causes and what companies are doing to leverage their assets for the greater good. Below are a few notes from the sessions, panels, and small discussion groups. Enjoy and hope to see you there next year!

1. During the Walmart presentation, the speaker mentioned the fact that retailers feel a pressure from their customers to promote their giving around holidays. Charities sometimes shy away from holidays but should possibly be rethinking that strategy in regards to CM.

2. A&E started to generate interest in a cause through their Intervention show. Then, they needed to find experts that could help educate their marketing team about the issue. They turned to non-profits for their expertise. What expertise does your organization offer that you could include in benefits for partners?

3. Before launching their hunger initiative, Walmart made a 5 year commitment to the campaign. This allowed them to respond to first year comments with a ‘come get involved and help shape the campaign for the next 4 years’ message. It engaged them in the long-term instead of missing the opportunity. How long have you committed to your cause and when you receive comments (and you will!), how will you respond?

4. Cause Marketing is no longer about the CEO or Executive ‘wish’ and really needs to connect with employee engagement and customer interests. Non-profits should be building their CM prospect lists around where your clients shop and work and spend time getting to know the company’s employees and customers. But, be sure that once you have identified your ideal partners, try to connect at every level (customer, employee, marketing department, executive, board, etc.).

5. The CEO of spoke about identifying a celebrity for your cause that might not be on the ‘A’ List but rather someone that is passionate and that can be a quarterback or coach. You want someone that can rally a team of other friends and celebs for your cause.

6. Throughout the conference, I heard several people talking about the importance of data. The metrics used varied from the number of jeans collected by Aeropostale and or the amount of votes cast or applications received. The data was not always monetary so be sure you are thinking in broad terms about how to measure the success of your campaign. This requires conversation with your partner to determine the goals for each organization early on so they can be measured.

7. Create your own channels so you don’t have to wait for media to cover your program. The days of submitting a press release and praying for the media to pick up the story and share it with the masses is over. Every organization, regardless of size, has an opportunity through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, organization-hosted websites, retail outlets, and more to communicate with the public and more specifically – the audience you are trying to reach. Don’t wait – start sharing your message now!

8. If you are considering a crowdsourcing campaign, take a look at Americas Giving Challenge Survival Guide for Charities as a resource and overview of tools.

9.  There was a push by non-profits and companies to find third-party groups to regulate and monitor online contests such as crowdsourcing. I think there might be an opporutnity for technology-focused non-profits to provide this service as a social venture which could provide sustainable revenue.

10. Cause marketing partnerships are investing in documentary filmmaking to capture the excitement and real change happening because of these partnerships. One example is the Tide Loads of Hope documentary detailing their journey to Haiti. How is your organization using video for cause marketing and other partnerships?


To learn more about the Cause Marketing Forum, visit and search for Cause Marketing Forum on Twitter for tons of great updates and session recaps.

2010 was a busy year and as I reflect on the people I have worked with, the places I have traveled and the projects completed, I am both thankful and humbled. So many of you are doing such amazing work and with a passion that is motivating and inspiring! One of my recent lunch meetings brought up the concept that most of our time can be divided into four categories: play, learn, eat and shop. So, here are my recommendations for 2011….enjoy!


  • Day-cation in your city
  • Do a Pajama Run – after bedtime, go out and get ice cream in your pajamas…invite friends to meet you there!
  • Find your old stuffed animal, baseball or some other childhood toy and put it on your desk to remind you to dream and have fun!


  • Read Season of Life, Living a Life That Matters and The Giving Tree
  • Use Google Reader to organize all those blogs, e-newsletters and websites you know you should be reading but can’t seem to find the time for… (watch a video on youtube to learn more about Google Reader)
  • Build or expand your network…who do you call when you need advice or want to talk through an idea, how many new people have you added to your contact list in the last 30 days? Read Referral of a Lifetime if you need a jumpstart.


  • Coconut Cookie Drops — 5 cups of coconut, 1 can of Pet Milk, 1/2cup of flour, 1 cup of mini-chocolate chips (optional)…mix all ingredients together, place 2 tbsp sized scoops on a cookie tray, bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes
  • Feta Appetizer — mix feta and cream cheese together, line a bowl or serving dish with plastic wrap, sprinkle pine nuts in the bottom, put a layer of the cheese mixture, spread pesto, add another layer of cheese mixture, spread a layer of diced sun-dried tomatoes, put in final layer of cheese mixture…place in fridge for 2-3 hours…when ready to serve, turn the dish upside down on a platter and remove the plastic wrap, surround with crackers and serve
  • Tortilla Soup — cook 4 chicken breasts and shred, sauté 1 onion, 2 jalapenos, and 2 tsp of garlic…add the chicken, 1 can each of dark red kidney beans, corn, tomato soup,  chicken broth, beef broth, diced tomatoes (28.5 oz), 2 sliced carrots, and 1 cup of water. Stir in ¾ cup of fresh chopped cilantro, ½ cup of picante sauce, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and ½ tsp red pepper…Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer approx. 30 minutes. Garnish with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, and avocado cubes.


  • — All original works and selling everything from clothing to artwork
  • — Amazing Austin-based store that sells fun and unique jewelry
  • — Just great to look around, especially when you need a laugh!
  • — Fantastic gifts for co-workers, volunteers,  and always sparks creativity

I hope these suggestions get you thinking about what you want your 2011 to be about and how you plan to spend it. I have definitely been reminded by every client this year that life is precious and every moment is to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. Thank you for your support and I look forward to a fulfilling, meaningful, and FUN 2011! Happy New Year!

E-newsletter Tips

  1. Determine your agenda. Are you trying to motivate people, provide relevant information, seeking donations? What need is your e-newsletter filling for its readers?
  2. Who is the audience and should they be segmented? Are you using the house list or are you interested in an acquisition strategy?
  3. Encourage e-newsletter sign-ups by offering additional resources, stories or articles.
  4. People open emails because of (1) who it’s from and (2) the subject line. For subject lines, consider highlighting how you plan to educate or enlighten the reader. For example, you can use How to, Review of, Top 10 Tips, Resource List, Answers to Common Questions, Interviews with Associates, or Review of a Book or Resource.
  5. Depending on the amount of content, consider adding an approximate reading time to the beginning so people can decide if they want to read now or wait when they can devote more time.
  6. Consider reading the e-newsletter out loud before you send it. Imagine all of your subscribers in a room. Can you picture yourself using those words? Talking about this topic? Would they stick around or wander out looking for a Diet Coke or Starbucks?
  7. Ask for feedback. Include questions like ‘What topic would you like to see us devote an issue to?” to encourage communication and to learn more about your audience.

Many of us subscribe to so many Twitter accounts, RSS feeds, blogs, newsletters, etc. that the reading can become overwhelming. I know I have a stack of magazines and newspapers waiting for me and calling my name in the middle of the night. In order to manage all of this reading, I use a few tools that you might want to check out:

I hope this information is helpful. I would love to hear from you about other resources, tips or suggestions you have for future issues. Thanks!