Danosky and Associates Attend Land Trust Alliance’s Rally 2014!

The Philanthropy Therapists of Danosky & Associates are away from the office this week because we’re in Rhode Island for Rally 2014, the Land Trust Alliance’s annual land conservation conference.

Rally is a 3-day conference made up of 1,800 conservation leaders, government officials, land trust consultants (that’s us!), and grassroots advocates. More than 100 workshops and a dozen seminars on conservation leadership and training will be taking place.

Yesterday, we presented a seminar called “How to Build Your Organization’s Dashboards.”

We were thrilled with the attendance and enthusiasm for the use of dashboards!
Pictures from our seminar:


Attendees were asked to create mock dashboards for a nonprofit organization.  Here’s what one group designed:

Land Trust Alliance Rally_Attendee

A mock dashboard created by an attendee.  Well done!

Land Trust Alliance Rally_Dashboard

So, What’s Your Story?

So, what’s your story?

If I ask that question of a non-profit organization, most will tell me what they do. They will go into some detail with information that is difficult for most lay people to understand. In the process, they will totally miss the point of my question.

What is your story?

Since we were children and since the beginning of time, we have been hearing and telling stories. It is the most effective means of communicating information in a way we can understand, assimilate and even act upon. A story can touch our heart, our intellect, even our spirit. But it must be communicated well and not just with facts and figures that describe what you do.

We are often asked to help organizations tell their story. Sometimes we work with groups to distill their key messages, and then help Boards relate to that key message in a personal and meaningful way. (In fact, we will be presenting just such a workshop at the Board Source conference in Washington, DC on October 9 and 10th. Click here to learn more).

Other times, we work with groups who are planning a capital campaign to develop their Case for Support. In these instances, we try to move away from ‘what you do’ to ‘what you dream’ and invite the donor to help make that dream come true.

In other instances, it is numbers that tell the story, whether helping organizational leaders to see their programs more clearly or telling a powerful story by describing and measuring current or potential impact.

So, what’s your story? Well, we have a few different perspectives to help you look at it a bit differently. And whatever you do, be sure to avoid telling me what you do. Inspire me with what can be.

Making Your Case For Support


Guest post
by Peter Roche,
The Community Engagement Therapist

As Sharon says, we are often asked to help organizations tell their story. Sometimes we work with groups who are planning a capital campaign to develop their Case for Support. Overall, we always try to move away from “what you do” stories to “what you dream” and invite the donor to help make that dream come true.

Years ago I was a newspaper reporter and editor. My newspaper would often do what we called “roundup” stories based on reports filed by our reporters from across the nation and around the world. As a news editor I would receive dozens of these reports throughout the day. At some point I had to decide the theme of the story. We knew the subject — since we had told the reporters what we wanted — but not the angle that would make it interesting and relevant to readers. It was my job to stitch together a compelling, coherent narrative from all the differing voices and themes arriving on my desk. I also had to decide what reporting did not make it into the story.

Often it was difficult to do that when it was obvious the reporter had put a great deal of time and effort into the reporting! When I help an organization tell a story designed to attract financial support I am reminded of putting together those “roundup” stories. Like the roundups there are often conflicting narratives and themes put forward within organizations by different powerful voices wanting to be heard. Some offer more motivation to take action than others, but all of them are interesting and worthy of consideration.

As in news editing much of the decision-making involved in making a case for support involves putting aside one compelling theme in favor of another even more compelling theme. It is also important to be able to discard interesting, but less crucial, details. Then what emerges is a consistent, clear narrative leading to the conclusion that the organization is going somewhere worth going and deserving of financial support.

Looking at the World Through New Eyes

By Sharon Danosky, The Philanthropy Therapist

bird cage

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Excerpt from the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

For so many of you working in the non-profit sector, this stanza stands as a mantra. Because the work you do rages against those areas in our society where injustice reigns: poverty, abuse, the welfare of animals, protecting our environment, the free proliferation of art and the inspiration of creativity. Maya Angelou, through her voice, touched those things in our soul which define our humanity.

In Spring, we look at our world through new eyes.

The snow has melted, the skies are no longer a perennial gray and the brown earth has turned lusciously green. For many non-profit organizations it marks a time when the year is coming to a close and plans are coming forward for the next year. This you do in the midst of budget crisis, reduced funding, increased costs and the frustration of daily battles — all to make a difference in someone’s life.

But for all the annoying aspects of running a non-profit organization: the battles, lack of capacity, and budgets that won’t balance – there is help, support and relief. Sometimes it comes from a willing donor, or a strong Board or an unexpected break-through. However it comes, the relationships that go with that support must be nourished and utilized. Because that is the framework upon which we can reach out and set the caged bird free.

So seek the help you need, and look at the world through renewed eyes every year — every day.

Renewal Advice

By Peter Roche, The Community Engagement Therapist


Renewal means reinvention. Spring is a time to consider reinventing how others perceive you and your organization. Forge a new path. Here are five steps others have used to facilitate change.

1. Create a vision for your future.
Imagine the future that you want, whether it’s simply a feeling, a group of people, or a situation. Imagine how it will feel to be in that new place.

2. Write about your reinvention.
Imagine a scene from it or write about how you’d like it to play out. What do you spend your days doing? Make the future come alive. Write about how it will feel to be there. Keep your writing somewhere where you will look at it occasionally. Feel free to add to it.

3. Surround yourself with visual reminders of the life you’d like to create.
It can be anything that reminds you of what you’re moving toward.

4. Now that you have a vision of your future, break it up into workable tasks.
What do you need to do—every day—to create that vision? Make it specific. Make a list of everything you need to do and a schedule for when you’ll do it. Then do it and commit to keep doing it, one day at a time.

5. Every day, go back to that vision of you walking towards your future.
Reinvention is neither easy nor always smooth. Often we encounter resistance. We don’t want to let go, even of things that are obviously already out of our grasp. But there is one way to keep your compass pointed towards renewal, even in the midst of any resistance or struggles you may encounter on your path.

Each time you find yourself procrastinating just ask yourself this: “What can I do in this moment to keep moving forward?”

Then, no matter what you feel in the moment— tired, lazy, or disappointed—do something to maintain momentum, even if it’s one small thing. There’s an old adage that says that true courage isn’t about not feeling fear; it’s about feeling fear and acting anyway.