10 Brain-Tickling Nonprofit Articles (and Thinkers) You Might’ve Missed This Year

If you thought you’d make it out of the year’s end with only one top 10 of 2013 list post from us, well… you totally underestimated us.

But this time, instead of a list of this year’s most popular Nonprofit Hub posts, I’d like to share with you 10 of my favorite posts from around the web.

Posts that surprised me, that you might have missed in the hustle. Posts from thinkers who challenge us to have a better 2014.

Here’s the quick list (and estimated reading times):

  1. 21 Stupid Things Nonprofit Marketers Should Stop Doing (Slideshow) (~7 min) – Kivi Leroux Miller
  2. Go Ahead, Take a Failure Bow (~5 min) – Beth Kanter
  3. A Nonprofit Marketing Fail: “Our Org Needs Your Input!” (~2 min) – Nancy Schwartz
  4. Why Asking for Advice = Great Fundraising (~4 min) – Marc A. Pitman
  5. 7 Proven Ways to Grow Your Email List Using Facebook (Slideshow) (~15 min) – John Haydon
  6. Which is Better: Major Gifts… or More Gifts? You May Be Surprised (~6 min) – Tom Ahern
  7. 7 Ways to Make Your Storytelling Shine (~2 min) – Lori Jacobwith
  8. What Social Media Metrics Actually Matter for Your Nonprofit? (~4 min) – Steven Shattuck
  9. Ruthlessly Practical Advice for Asking for Major Gifts (~6 min) – Gail Perry
  10. 15 Techniques to Boost Your Donor Acquisition and Online Fundraising (~11 min) – Frank Barry

I hope you enjoy – and are stretched by – these awesome resources.

Feel free to jump to any of the articles above, or read more below for a quick synopsis of each link and a few extra tidbits for any superstar readers.

How Nonprofit Marketers Sabotage Themselves Every Day

This amazing slideshow brings together the big marketing mistakes I see so many professionals (nonprofit or otherwise) making every day in their organizations. This counterintuitive digest will get you to question the common wisdom that passes as marketing best practices. Once you’ve perused the slideshow, make sure to check out Kivi Leroux Miller’s free 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, too.

21 Stupid Things Nonprofit Marketers Should Stop Doing (Slideshow) (~7 min) – Kivi Leroux Miller

Fail, Loudly. Then, Share It.

Too many of us are afraid of failing. We don’t want to be seen as untrustworthy, vulnerable or uncertain. So we hide our failures – and then end up risking less and less, and our mission stagnates. Instead, Beth Kanter suggests we need to take a long failure bow when our little bets don’t work out. The whole sector benefits when we’re brave enough to share our mistakes. For more advice from Beth on continuously improving your nonprofit, also check out her Q&A with startup legend Eric Ries.

Go Ahead, Take a Failure Bow (~5 min) – Beth Kanter

The Request That Seems Reasonable to You, But Is Actually A Huge Faux Pas

Want to ask donors what you should focus on next? What they want to hear more of from you? For vital information for your latest effort? Nancy Schwartz has some news for you: too bad. It’s not about you. Stop being selfish. You’ve got to make your efforts and requests about your donors, not about you. Another great article from Nancy has a similar message: always honor your promise to your newsletter/email list by making every message a privilege to receive.

A Nonprofit Marketing Fail: “Our Org Needs Your Input!” (~2 min) – Nancy Schwartz

Tired of Asking for Money and Getting Shot Down? Try This Instead

Great nonprofit work means learning to care more about your audience than you do about yourself. It’s kind of a paradox that it’s only once you focus on what THEY want that donors start to care about YOU. Read the article below by Marc A. Pitman to learn how to best ask for advice, then check out these other two standout articles – on why fundraisers shouldn’t talk about overhead ratios and how sometimes a shoe shine guy can drum up 6-figures in donations.

Why Asking for Advice is the Best Fundraising (~4 min) – Marc A. Pitman

Make Use of Those Facebook Fans. Get Them on Your Email List

Social media’s awesome. But the point of social media isn’t just getting more followers, tweets or whatever other cute branded metric is specific to that medium. John Haydon wants you to know it’s about deepening the relationships between you and your constituents, and email is one of the best ways to get really close. Want to take things to the next level? John’s recommendations: ask new donors why they gave, and craft kick-butt blog headlines that demand attention.

7 Proven Ways to Grow Your Email List Using Facebook (Slideshow) (~15 min) – John Haydon

Why Perpetually Chasing the Rich Leads to Broke Nonprofits

It won’t happen overnight, but want one inevitable way keep your nonprofit from achieving lasting impact? Chase short term profit relentlessly. Tom Ahern points out one of the favorite methods for this kind of short-term thinking is to relentlessly focus on the wealthy and then end up neglecting to build a healthy donor base. At the end of the day, please don’t treat your donor like a cash cow. Instead, show them some “unbridled, passionate, hot, steamy donor love.

Which is Better: Major Gifts… or More Gifts? You May Be Surprised (~6 min) – Tom Ahern

Let’s Face It: Your Storytelling Could Be Better. Here’s How.

Telling a story isn’t about the facts, the details and the minutiae. It’s about getting us to feel something. Lori L. Jacobwith shares how to put the pieces of your storytelling together in a way that gets people eager to hear more – even if you only have 6 words. The only way to help your donors feel like superheroes through telling them compelling stories.

7 Ways to Make Your Storytelling Shine (~2 min) – Lori Jacobwith

Here’s What ACTUALLY Matters When It Comes to Tracking Your Social Media

Here’s an unfortunate human propensity: if we can put a number to something, we’ll get obsessed with making that number increase (whether or not it means anything significant). Steven Shattuck speaks some sense into the issue of social media metrics: don’t focus on what doesn’t help you long term. It’s all about the conversions, whether we’re talking about your social media, optimizing your nonprofit blog or improving your website.

What Social Media Metrics Actually Matter for Your Nonprofit? (~4 min) – Steven Shattuck

The Answers to All the Major Gift Fundraising Questions You Were Afraid to Ask

More than anything, what separates successful nonprofit professionals from those that are just trying to fit in is an attitude. Of curiosity, pushing the envelope and just trying to have fun. Gail Perry embodies all of these traits, and is ruthless about calling your excuses and getting you to just CARE more. Check out the article below on engaging major donors – and if you’re eager to take it up a notch, learn how to engage online donors this coming year.

Ruthlessly Practical Advice for Asking for Major Gifts (~6 min) – Gail Perry

In 11 Minutes, You’ll Know Everything You Need to Get More Donors Online

If anyone ever told you it was easy to get donors online, this is your opportunity to laugh in their faces. Building an online presence that works for you can take years of work, but it’s one of the biggest wins for your organization. Thankfully, Frank Barry is one of the folks making the complexities of online fundraising simpler. Read below for an amazing breakdown of what it takes to succeed online – and then check out the Next Generation of American Giving infographic on his stomping grounds over at npENGAGE.

15 Techniques to Boost Your Donor Acquisition and Online Fundraising (~11 min) – Frank Barry

Thanks to all these nonprofit luminaries for their great work this year – and here’s to your next!