Tag Archives: Lisa Hoffman

Keys to unlocking board involvement

Part three of a three-part series

The vitality of a nonprofit lies with its board members. Their individual and collective action, engagement and clarity of mission make all the difference in the world. In this final installment of our interview with Lisa Hoffman we share her thoughts regarding the important work of a nonprofit board.

Lisa Hoffman

Lisa Hoffman

“Board members are critical to successful fundraising. They are in a unique position as volunteers to invite investment, to express their passion and say ‘join me’ in strengthening communities, cleaning up the environment and other essential causes. Fundraising enthusiasm, transcending anxieties and fears about asking, and board engagement in general are all strongly rooted in effective board development,” Hoffman shares.

“And that development begins with how board members are recruited – figuring out what kinds of people are needed, clearly conveying expectations ranging from board meeting attendance to fundraising, and new board member orientation that continuing board members facilitate. It also includes creating an intentional culture, one that focuses on relationships, commitment and accountability, and board governance policies that cover nuts and bolts like board terms and term limits – which are stewarded by board leadership.”

Part One: 3 Tips to Achieving Fundraising Success

Speaking from her experience, Hoffman continued, “most people live up or down to expectations – and that includes board members. Members of high-performing boards want clarity about the commitments they are being asked to make, and they respond to high expectations. Sometimes that response is to articulate limits – which I feel is optimal because it is honest and opens up the possibility for discussion and authentic commitment that grows from a mutual understanding of expectations.”

We also asked Hoffman about the future for nonprofits in the areas of management, messaging, infrastructure and fundraising. “I think the nonprofits that will thrive in the future will do so because of a combination of classic strengths: staff and board leadership; relationship-based fundraising combined with smart, strategic and tactical use of new and emerging communication tools,” Hoffman shared. “And they’ll remember that remembering that these tools are simply ways of connecting and engaging with people – they aren’t magical solutions. They are just additional, certainly powerful, tools in the toolbox.”

Finally, because she lives and works in San Francisco, California we asked Hoffman about engaging technology firms. Her guidance: “I think that most people, technology firms or otherwise, support nonprofits with which they share mission, values and passion. I would add that more than most donor-investors, the tech community seeks impact that can be proven, and has a deep interest in innovative and effective approaches to solving problems.”

Part 2: Resources and mindfulness in the life of nonprofits

Lisa is the real deal. She knows there are no simple “solutions” to fundraising. Rather, it’s a process. Bring your best and join with others in an ongoing process of change.

You can reach Lisa at www.lisahoffman.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.


Resources and mindfulness in the life of nonprofits

Part two of a three-part series

Lisa Hoffman

Lisa Hoffman

Fundraising is fundraising, or is it? We asked Lisa Hoffman about her observations related to the similarities and differences between large, established nonprofits and emerging, or grassroots, organizations as it relates to fundraising.

“All nonprofits share a passion and commitment to create positive change in their community – local, regional, national, beyond. The vast majority of nonprofits are founded by a person or a group so driven by a cause that they decide to start an organization. I would say that even the largest nonprofit institutions started literally or figuratively around someone’s kitchen table,” Hoffman began.

“Beyond that, the differences lie in resources and what resources can create. Large, established nonprofits usually are adequately or well resourced. Emerging nonprofits need to figure out their business models and make them work. Some grassroots organizations have accomplished this, and many struggle, for a variety of reasons.

“Any size nonprofit can have strong and engaged leadership, a clear and compelling vision, and a board and organizational culture of positive relationships, commitment and accountability, which combined yield an effective team and organization.

“Similarly, any size nonprofit can build an effective and vibrant fund development effort – it comes back to leadership, culture, and putting fundraising success factors into place. I’ve worked with a number of groups over the years that started with no money or a few hundred dollars and are today established groups with budgets ranging from $1 million-$5 million or more.”

Read Part One: 3 Tips to Achieving Fundraising Sucess

We believe that “mindfulness” impacts much of life, including fundraising. As an ordained Zen priest Hoffman has wisdom to share in this area as well. “Mindfulness – awareness of what is happening in this moment – can have a powerful impact because it encourages organizations and their leadership to look beyond their nonprofits needs and situation to the larger community, and especially donors,” she began. “Many organizations are too internally focused and don’t look at the bigger picture beyond their mission. As our colleague Kay Sprinkel Grace says, ‘People give because you meet needs, not because you have needs.’ Mindfulness can help nonprofits keep this in mind in inviting people to partner with financial support.

“Mindfulness is also a wonderful skill for board and staff to develop in cultivating and asking people to invest in their organizations. It’s easy to be so concerned or so anxious about asking for the gift that we don’t take in signals that a person isn’t ready, or that the initiative we are pushing is not what speaks to their heart and mind.”

“And, on an individual level, mindfulness can help us notice how we’re feeling and what we need for personal sustainability – so that we can keep doing the work that is so important for many years.”

You can reach Lisa at www.lisahoffman.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

3 Tips to Achieving Fundraising Success

Part one of a three-part series

Lisa Hoffman

Lisa Hoffman

If you are lucky, you are fortunate to know people who are “the real deal.” That is Lisa Hoffman. She is an experienced and talented fundraiser and coach. A woman who is both gentle and firm in her guidance, her goal is to help you reach your fundraising goals.

We recently reached out to Lisa and asked her to share some of what she has learned during her 30 years in fundraising. We began by asking about what exactly leads to fundraising success.

“Board leadership really is essential,” Hoffman began.The Board Chair needs to give generously and raise money, as well as understand their role in modeling, guiding and supporting the rest of the board to do the same. The Board Chair has tremendous influence on creating a culture of philanthropy, generosity and giving. And if there are issues with board members, it is usually the chair who needs to step up and address them.

And, the executive director or CEO needs to be one of the organization’s lead fundraisers and partner with the Board Chair on keeping fund development high on the board’s agenda and radar. Another critical part of the executive’s role is to create a culture of generosity and appreciation of the individuals and groups that support the organization. Every staff member can be a leader in raising money, recruiting volunteers and garnering in-kind contributions. The executive sets the tone and process for this kind of engagement.

Passion is critical to successful fund development. Most people don’t like fundraising, and passion for their organization’s mission is the best motivator I know of to provide the drive and fearlessness needed to raise game-changing amounts of money over the long haul.

A Plan. Our colleague Jude Kaye says that, ‘A vision without a plan is hallucination.’ I agree with her perspective – fund development, without a plan that includes mission, vision, goals and a roadmap for success, flounders.”

Related to leadership, we asked Hoffman to share what she has identified as the qualities to look for in a board chair.

“Clarity about the chair role and what leadership means: to support and drive the board in stewarding the organization’s mission and vision. That means making sure every board member understands and fulfills their role in ensuring that every aspect of the organization – how people are treated, strategic direction, finances, fundraising – reflect sound values and respect the time and resources given to the organization,” she shared.

Hoffman added, “[and] Courage to deal with issues that typically range from financial challenges to founder executive director succession to troublesome board members with integrity and skill.”

Finally, “A good sense of humor – which I think is self-explanatory!”

You can reach Lisa at www.lisahoffman.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.