MacGyver Masterpieces

Nov 16, 2022

I’m crafty. But no one would ever mistake me for Martha Stewart. I’m not that kind of crafty. I’m more of a MacGyver kind of crafty. So, for many years instead of bringing the cups and ice to Thanksgiving, like I mentioned in last week’s blog, I’d bring the Thanksgiving craft.

It started out small. Just a cute little Olaf made from a tube sock. The kids enjoyed it and the adults helped. But then it kind of grew each year as the adults started partaking in the action as well.

So, I’d begin researching holiday craft ideas months in advance. I planned my Hobby Lobby shopping based on the weekly sales, and I always kept the craft a super-big secret. Then, the big reveal would happen after dinner when we’d clear off all the tables and turn my brother’s home into a maker’s space.

I typically would have a model completed so everyone could view the finished project. Then, I’d run around helping everyone, as needed. By the end of the day, we’d take a big family photo of all the completed masterpieces. MacGyver Masterpieces, mind you. But fun was had by all.

Check out this art gallery: As always, there are some left brain and right brain lessons learned through the Thanksgiving Craft years that I apply to my life and work today.

Left Brain Marketing Methods:  Even with something as simple as a Thanksgiving art project for 10-15 people, you need a plan. It’s November and there is still plenty of time to develop your Marketing Plan for 2023.

Right Brain Marketing Moxie:  While I do purport creating a plan, I also support a Not-To-Do List. This is where your creative right brain enters the picture, saves you a lot of time, and helps you fall in love with your job all over again.

Let’s do this with a thankful heart, shall we?

Happy I Love You GIF by Warner Bros. Deutschland

Left Brain Marketing Methods:  I’m excited about the next two weeks. Next week, of course, is a short week because of Thanksgiving, so things slow down at the office a bit. It gives us a bit of time to thank some donors with the ideas I wrote about last week and to catch up on anything that has fallen through the cracks. But the week after that I love, love, love! November is a month that has 5 weeks in it. Did you know that?

In fact, 2022 had 4 months with a 5th week—March, June, August, and November. I know this because we use a calendar to plan out our Marketing Blueprint for the year. What’s magical about those 5th weeks is that you don’t normally have standing meetings during 5th weeks or monthly tasks that must be done that ‘extra’ week. It’s like found time. And that found time can be used for planning.I challenge you today to think about using your 5th week of November to do some planning for next year. Perhaps you’ll use a Marketing Blueprint like ours; maybe you have a version of your own that you like better. Either way, you need to plan your work so you can work your plan.

What I want to encourage you do to first in your plan is to map out how often you plan to communicate with you donors. One-and-done communication simply doesn’t do the trick. It might work for that best friend you have wherein you can pick up the phone twice a year and pick up right where you left off like it was yesterday. That’s not how it works with donors. If you don’t layer your communications throughout the year, they’ll forget about you. Worse yet, they’ll remember the other nonprofits that do keep them posted about impact, stories, and how they can be a part of improving the quality of life in your community. Don't ghost your donors.

Love You Couple GIF by The Valentines

Both budgets and teams are small, I know. That means you must be strategic with who you’ll communicate with and when. At the very least, communicating quarterly is necessary to ensure your donors feel like part of your nonprofit family. Better yet, communicating every other month, so you’re not bombarding them, will readily keep them apprised of your progress and how they were a part of the solution.

Asking, Thanking, and Reporting is the name of the game with a heapin’ helping of education integrated throughout. That 5th week of November is a great time to create your calendar and determine which months will be Thanking and Reporting months—at least one each year—and assigning the remaining months to the perfect Asks.

Trust me on this, even a Thanksgiving craft, or meal for that matter, takes a lot of preparation and planning to be successful. If it’s worth it one big day a year, it’s worth it for an entire year of marketing to your donors.  Plan your work now and thank me later.t

Pic below:  With a plan (left); without a plan (right).

Right Brain Marketing Moxie:  Well, some of you might have noticed that I showed you the Thanksgiving crafts for 2014 through 2019. There’s a reason for that. I retired as the Thanksgiving craft lady in 2020. Even though our entire family participated and even looked forward to it, I stopped enjoying it.

As the family got bigger and the crafts got more complicated, it also got more expensive. Not only that, but as the kids got older, the complexity deepened and it became a bit stressful for me to be able to teach everyone at varied skill levels. It became a much bigger project than I ever anticipated and I just didn’t want to do it anymore. So, I stopped.

And guess what? The world kept spinning.

Outer Space Animation GIF by Cat Chmaj

So, today, I want to give you permission to stop doing what doesn’t bring you joy or maybe what isn’t working. Just stop it. But we’ve always done it that way’ isn’t a good reason to keep doing anything—even a Thanksgiving craft.

Unless you are raising more money than you need—give yourself the opportunity to stop doing whatever it is that isn’t working or isn’t working well and give yourself the permission to try something new.

For example:

  • If you’re only communicating with donors 2 times a year, make a plan to double that.
  • If you’ve always written donor letters that were a wall of words with no personality, add some creativity.
  • If your direct mail looks like a bill in the mailbox, change it up to look like a card.
  • If you’ve never adopted a theme that allows you to use metaphors to describe your work, try it.
  • If you’ve never surprised your donors with gratitude, try it out and track your results.
  • If you don’t like the communications you’re producing, stop producing them and do something that sparks your interest.
  • If you just fit in donor communications randomly when you have time, stop creating the stress that a lack of planning causes and create a yearlong strategy.

hey arnold nickelodeon GIF

No matter what you’re doing now, you can always do better. And you don’t have to change up everything in 2023! Adopt one or two new practices that amp up your game. Rome wasn’t built in a day. But small changes can be made year after year. Who knows? Five years from now, your Donor Communication’s Strategy might be markedly different than it is today—if you are intentional about doing new things that ignite the passion you have for your job and your mission all over again and equally intentional about quitting those things that make your dread Monday mornings.

I love a good To-Do List, but I also gotta give some props to the Not-To-Do List. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving once again because I stopped doing something that was originally my idea—and a good idea at that! It’s a form of self-care, something we could use a bit more of in the nonprofit community.

Make a plan. Work that plan. Change the plan, when needed. You deserve to look forward to each Monday just like you look forward to the holidays. And your donors deserve to look forward to the direct mail you send just as much as that tryptophan turkey nap they’ll be taking on Thanksgiving Day.

Don't worry about being the Martha Stewart of marketing when MacGyver will do the trick.

All My Best,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc. 

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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