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The Accidental Fundraiser™ Podcast

Female entrepreneur preparing new orders for online customers.

You are here to create an impact. To make a difference. To change the world.

That’s why we created Accidental Fundraiser™, a show for you – the nonprofit leader, the Chief Everything Officer. Join host Kimberly O’Donnell as she sets out to answer the often unspoken questions rattling around in your mind. Letting you know that no matter what’s ahead, you’re not alone.

Please Note: These podcast episodes were originally produced by Network for Good, now a Bonterra solution. As a result, it features outdated branding, and you may hear references to products that have been renamed.

Season 2

BONUS: Aligning Your Board Members and the Mission with Bret Heinrich

Bret Heinrich, president and CEO of Wings of Hope, shares how they’ve been able to get their board deeply and actively involved and why paying attention to the little things really goes a long way. You’ll also hear how Wings of Hope is leveraging technology to reach parts of the world too dangerous to enter.

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BONUS: How Walmart Giving’s Grantmaking Lifts Communities Up

Erin Hogue, senior director of strategic initiatives with Walmart Giving, shares how Walmart and Sam’s Club engage their customers, members, and associates to support causes that are meaningful to them and their communities. You’ll learn how they work with public and private sector partners to solve, support, and address societal needs and what executive directors and fundraisers should think about when working with grantmaking organizations like Walmart.

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BONUS: Giving Tuesday 2022: The Data and Stories Behind the Global Day of Giving

GivingTuesday paves a path to more donations and supporters, but it takes creativity and time to get there. In this episode, we’re talking about the success of GivingTuesday 2022 and sharing the trends we’re seeing this year. Listen to Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer of Giving Tuesday, and Pete Karns, senior vice president of Corporate Strategy at Bonterra, share their advice and more.

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BONUS: Fundraisers, Keep This in Mind for 2023

As we approach the end of 2022, we want to dive into the state of the sector with two of our personal fundraising coaches Chany Ockert and Cherian Koshy. In this episode of Accidental Fundraiser we’ll discuss nonprofit trends, what to think about for 2023, and advice for avoiding burnout through the holidays and beyond.

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Season 2 Finale: Powerful Fundraising Wisdom

Stories foster connection, whether it’s helping someone understand the work that you do or making a very high-level concept concrete for others.

Communicating with a story is powerful, and it works. This is why we’re so excited to wrap up season 2 of Accidental Fundraiser by sharing mini moments of wisdom from our guests’ stories.

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Season 2 Episode 10: How Storytelling Fueled This Nonprofit to Raise Over a Million Dollars in Six Weeks

As Accidental Fundraisers, we can get bogged down in the day-to-day of our work and lose sight of the incredible impact we’re making. While it might feel selfish, taking care of yourself is critical to your ultimate mission. Mark Davis, Founder and Director of Abundance International, joins the Accidental Fundraiser podcast to share how he stays inspired and energized to do the work in front of him.

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Season 2 Episode 9: Overcoming Rejection: Messages from a Frontline Fundraiser

Frontline fundraisers face a difficult reality of low donation rate, especially when cold calling. How can you increase your success? In this episode of Accidental Fundraiser, Morgan Martell, self-described Zillennial and assistant director of development at Texas Tech University, shares her advice.

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Season 2 Episode 8: How Funder & Community Relationships Propelled This Nonprofit

Break out the pie chart. How much time, energy, and resources do you devote to ensuring your funders and recipients are happy? 20%? Maybe 30%? In her journey to founding South Carolina’s Freedom Readers and serving as executive director, Tracy Bailey has learned it’s a two-way street. In this episode of Accidental Fundraiser, Tracy shares how to use your potential lack of access as a tool for motivation.

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Season 2 Episode 7: Data & Stories: Why This Grantmaker Prioritizes Numbers *AND* Anecdotal Evidence

From getting no’s to a severe lack of feedback, the fundraising process can be frustrating. Who better to give advice than the grantmakers themselves? Donna Waites and Meredith Mathews from the Sisters of Charity Foundation break down all the successful tactics you need to apply for, receive, and deploy funding from grantmakers. Hint: It’s not only about proving your outcomes – stories are also critical!

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Season 2 Episode 6: Aligning Purpose and Profit

Erin Mulligan Nelson, Bonterra’s CEO, joined us to talk about the future of fundraising and how nonprofits can align purpose and profit – not choose between them. If you’re properly doing what you set out to do, Erin says your donors will “stay with you, grow with you and advocate for you,” and your nonprofit will thrive.

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Season 2 Episode 5: How to Inspire Donors with Your “Why”

Christina McGovern, Director of Development & Marketing at the Youth Service Bureau of St. Joseph County, Indiana, was able to increase individual gifts by more than 6x. How? By honing in on the organization’s “why?” and evolving their brand and messaging.

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Season 2 Episode 4: Back to Roots: How to Launch & Grow a Nonprofit

Despite a troubling childhood, Nahmias started and runs the Zimbabwe Farm Project, soon to be Africa Vertical, a sustainable farming complex in Zimbabwe that employs women from the local community to tend organic crops. She’s overcome countless obstacles and benefited from some fortunate opportunities.

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Season 2 Episode 3: Pride Gone Global: How This LGBTQ Nonprofit’s Fundraising Surged During the Pandemic

The issues facing the LGBTQ community have improved. Yet, they still encounter uphill battles every day. Elizabeth Schedl, executive director at the Hudson Pride Center in New Jersey, knows this first hand. She joins to share how they’ve expanded their donor base, and streamlined their acquisition and retention strategies.

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BONUS: A First Look at Giving USA’s Report

We’ve got a special update for you—a sneak peek from Giving USA’s 2021 report. Each year Giving USA (a public service initiative of The Giving Institute) conducts research on the nonprofit sector in the U.S. The full report will be released on July 12th, but they published a preview featuring some of their top-level findings from last year.

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Season 2 Episode 2: Mission Clarity & Self-Care: 2 Critical Elements to Nonprofit Success According to this Accidental Fundraiser

The pandemic hit the economy hard. Perhaps none harder than the nonprofit world. Camille Nitschky and the Children’s Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region pivoted during the pandemic and increased fundraising by 27% despite the odds. Camille joins Accidental Fundraiser to discuss how her video strategy (and other creative fundraising ideas) led to the Grief Center’s best year yet.

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Season 2 Episode 1: Tragedy to Change: A Mother’s Mission to Make Schools Safer with Lori Alhadeff

Lori Alhadeff joined Accidental Fundraiser to share her journey in founding Make Our Schools Safe and lobbying for change at a national level. Listen to this episode to learn from Lori’s unwavering dedication to her mission. Whether you are a parent or not, her passion for her daughter’s legacy and school safety will strike a chord. And may even inspire action.

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BONUS: Balancing Your Fundraising Goals with Your Board’s Mission

Figuring out what makes people give to a cause is a challenge for every fundraiser. Alyson Landers, Project Manager of Major Gifts for the Hudson River Museum in New York, joined Accidental Fundraiser to discuss her journey to becoming a fundraising professional.

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BONUS: Fundraising Through and Post-Covid—What’s Next?

In this episode, Chany Ockert and Janet Cobb join to discuss what it takes to not just survive as a fundraiser, but thrive. Chany and Janet have worked in the nonprofit world for decades, giving them unique perspectives on the current state of fundraising, and what it means to build relationships in a continually changing environment.

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Season 1

Episode 12: From Trenches to Triumph

Fundraising is hard, but in the end, it’s worth it. In this episode of Accidental Fundraiser, we’re celebrating the conclusion of season one by revisiting some of the highlights and pulling out key learnings from our guests. Listen in to hear why experience isn’t everything and why you should stay true to your mission at all costs.

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BONUS: Meta’s Take on Creating Social Impact

Michelle Zelaya, Strategic Partner Manager of Social Impact at Meta, joins us on Accidental Fundraiser to share everything we need to know about how to effectively use Facebook and Instagram for fundraising.

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Episode 10: $1.1 Million Raised 20 Days into the Year

Darius Baxter is the CEO and Co-founder of GOODProjects, an organization that walks alongside families on the path out of poverty. In this episode, Darius shares his journey from raising $3,000 and feeling like it was a million, to now raising over a million just a few weeks into a new year. Listen to the latest episode to learn not only how to reach the people you serve but potential donors as well.

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Episode 9: Galas and Pledge Events and Cookbooks, Oh My!

When an initiative brings in $90,000 for two consecutive years with low overhead and supports the mission – someone’s clearly done their job right. Hannah Hausman, Executive Director for the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, achieved that fundraising trifecta with a pledge challenge. In the latest episode, you’ll hear how Hannah adapts her tactics to the market she’s in and why asking the right question can put everything into perspective.

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Episode 8: Be Fearless, Try New Things, Make Mistakes

By the end of Nycky Miller’s first year at Gospel Rescue Mission as Director of Development, donations had almost tripled. On the latest episode of Accidental Fundraiser she shares her social media strategies and discusses why she doesn’t let mistakes made hold her back. Check out the full episode to learn how to be bold and use your missteps to grow.

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Episode 7: Money Will Follow the Mission with Monkey’s House

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the ask, but sometimes all you need is to share a story and show some gratitude. That’s the philosophy of Jeff Allen of Monkey’s House, where he’s learned to leverage the power of social media to grow their donor base. Check out this episode of Accidental Fundraiser to hear his tips and tricks for expressing gratitude for every contribution, big or small.

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Episode 6: Raising $750,000 without Fundraising Experience

In the nonprofit world, it’s important to care about those you serve, but when it comes to fundraising, is that enough?

I Can Do That Performing Arts Center is a nonprofit children’s theatre company dedicated to creating professional, full-scale musicals by combining quality training with imagination, freedom, and fun. And Shayna Ronen, Co-Founder and Executive Director, believes in fostering empowered, flourishing youth through sustained community, wellness, and the power of the performing arts.

In this episode, Shayna shares the story of their first capital campaign where she needed to raise $750,000 with no prior fundraising experience. Listen to hear how she reached out to their community and found the confidence she needed to fully commit to the process.

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Episode 5: Turning $1,000 into $10,000 With a Personal Message

In a world where it seems like our whole lives are online, a personal touch can make all the difference. After a simple “Happy Birthday” message to a donor led to an increase in his annual contribution, Bonnie Sawyer realized how impactful those small details can be.

But that doesn’t mean she shies away from using the internet. Through her work at Herren Project, an organization dedicated to the treatment, recovery, and prevention of addiction, she relies heavily on social media but all with adding a personal touch. Tune in to this episode of Accidental Fundraiser to hear how she crafts posts to match her audiences.

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Episode 4: How to Build a Donor Base from Scratch

You know a nonprofit is on the right path when the majority of their volunteers are people who once benefitted from the organization’s support.

Dorothy Day House provides housing and support services for those who find themselves in need. Brit Hotaling, Director of Development and Marketing, says “we’re a community for the people that we serve, by the people that we serve.”

In this episode, listen to hear about the initiatives Brit has introduced to help empower those supported by the Dorothy Day House and also spread the mission.

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Episode 3: Mastering (and Crisis-Proofing) Long-Distance Fundraising

What do you do when a terrorist organization takes over your country and your nonprofit still needs to function?

Fereshteh Forough knows this better than most. Fundraising requires an endless amount of time and energy. Not to mention the added stress of knowing people rely on your ability to reach your donation goals. Her nonprofit, Code to Inspire, provides girls and women in Afghanistan the ability to learn to code. Of course, since the Taliban took over again their mission has become a much more dangerous and difficult task.

In this episode of Accidental Fundraiser, you’ll hear how Fereshteh managed to raise funds faster than she thought possible during a time of crisis. Listen to find out how being precise with her asks and connecting to donors through video played a key role.

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Episode 2: How Icing Smiles Built a Network of 12,000 Volunteers

Tracy Quisenberry is the mother of two premature babies and saw firsthand the hardships families face in similar situations. While on medical leave with her son, she fell in love with the craft of cake decorating—little did she know where that would lead.

Over a decade and thousands of cakes later, Tracy’s nonprofit, Icing Smiles, continues to grow as it finds volunteers to donate their time and skills, using something as simple as a cake to bring positivity to the lives of sick children and their families.

In this episode of Accidental Fundraiser, you’ll hear about Tracy’s journey from being an accountant to founding a nonprofit. Listen as she breaks down her tips and tricks for peer-to-peer fundraising and why an organization’s vision is so vital to its mission.

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Episode 1: Growing from 0 to 10,000 Contacts with Massachusetts Review

When the economic crash of 2008 threatened the financial stability of the Massachusetts Review, Emily Wojcik, now Managing Editor, knew their success depended on fundraising. The problem? In 50 years as a nonprofit, they had never done any fundraising. Massachusetts Review is a literary magazine founded by UMass professors in 1959 intended to encompass great art and share timely public affairs.

In this episode, Emily joins to share insights into the inner workings of Massachusetts Review and the unique challenges she faces as an editor, journalist, and of course, fundraiser. Listen in to hear a donor story that blew her away.

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