Just Say No


A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” – Gandhi

In the charity universe, we all spend a lot of time trying to convince people to say yes. Yes to donations, yes to partnering, yes to programs and policies. And when opportunities come our way, our instinct is to always say yes, even if those opportunities are not the most strategic. We must all do a better job at saying NO. Here’s a few tips to help:

1. Have Conviction
Have conviction of your strategy and theory of change. Make sure you nail this down. Flexibility is fine, but in the words of George Harrison “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

2. Use Extreme Criteria
Separate a good from a great opportunity. As Greg McKeon notes in his HBR article, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less “Think of what happens to our closets when we use the broad criteria: “Is there a chance that I will wear this someday in the future?” The closet becomes cluttered with clothes we rarely wear. If we ask, “Do I absolutely love this?” then we will be able to eliminate the clutter and have space for something better.”

3. Prioritize Like Warren Buffet
Warren Buffet has a great strategy for prioritization. (1) List the top 25 things you want / need to do, (2) Pick your top 5, (3) Make a plan around your top 5 (4) Marry your opportunities, and (5) Avoid everything else at all costs.

4. Stay Disciplined
Buffet’s point on avoiding everything else that is not a top-5 priority at all costs is for good reason. In How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins notes that one of the key reasons that some of the greatest companies fail is due to “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”

So go out there in the world and just say no.


Inspiration Roundup to Kickstart The Week


It may be cold and wet outside, but things are heating up hive. Here’s your weekly roundup of inspiring and useful reads.

Do what you love, than put a culture around it. Great video talk by Ben Chestnut of Mailchimp via Creative Mornings.

Why CEOs and leaders must embrace HR via Inc.

2014 will be the year of the internet of things via Quartz. How will you apply this to your nonprofit work?

#GivingTuesday doubled donation with more than 10,000 nonprofits participating via Chronicle of Philanthropy. Is this good or bad?

Do you have a charity rival? Here is why a little friendly competition can mean big returns via Explore Create Repeat.

After a year at the New York Times, here is what one data scientists learned about content and engagement via Contently.

Upworthy hits 87M monthly uniques via Pando Daily. Proving that people care and a good headline can go a long way.

Meet Jessica Walsh. The young gun who has taken the design world by storm via Like Knows Like.


Thinking Beyond Holiday Giving

Around Beespace, our Incubees are deep in the excitement and chaos of holiday and end-of-year giving. They’re juggling donation appeals, product sales, fundraising galas and major gifts (oh, and also doing the real work of making an impact in the world).

It’s all a bit crazy. In no other industry is so much revenue dependent on one point in time (unless of course you happen to sell Christmas trees). And while efforts like #GivingTuesday are seeing major success to support nonprofits in the holiday season, we’ve also got to look at better ways to engage donors throughout the year as well as new ways to finance the social good. So as you work on your 2014 strategic plans, a few bits of inspiration from our friends.

Always be campaigning.
Over the past year, charity:water has launched a number of major public engagement campaigns. In March, they asked supporters to donate their birthdays, in September, they ran a successfulcampaign for India, and in November, launched an holiday themed initiative for Bio Sand filters. This kind of continual campaigning keeps the organization fresh and funds (and water) flowing.

Get out of the way.
Through their e-bay style platform, DonorsChoose.org connects teachers with an innovative project with directly with donors who want to fund their project. Last year, they raised over $48.5M. By getting out of the way and enabling direct connections between funders and recipients, DonorsChoose.org has built a model for viral growth and impact.

Merchandising, merchandising.
During their campaign, KONY 2012, Invisible Children raised over $20 million (two-thirds of their revenue), not through cash donations but through the sale of their viral action-kits (t-shirts, buttons, a bracelet and posters). Not only does this merchandise help support the organization and its work, but also is a major source of awareness raising and audience growth.

Have a model you’d like to share? Tell us more.

The Beespace Manifesto

Our turn, now.

To work for the wealth of good.

To spark and stoke the audacious.

To profit the world.

The challenge is great. But the challengers are greater still. For excellence, guided by empathy and creatively transformed into enterprise, ensures that positive social action becomes lasting global impact.

So at this moment, it’s our turn to give flight to the next generation of change makers.

In our creative hive, collective wisdom is shared, iterated and newly improvised. Our incubees, a new generation of non profits and social entrepreneurs, are guided and supported by the greatest thinkers and innovators in new media, creativity, technology, philanthropy and business.

A cross pollination that helps build strong and enduring organizations; bold new models of how to practice charity, advance social change, mobilize relief and accelerate recovery, empower economic independence, protect the environment, or advocate for justice.

An organization that can move from concept to concrete outcome — a wish for water becomes a well — in months rather than years.

Evolution happens daily. So with every new media and communications tool, the speed, scale and success of positive change can be enhanced. And further multiplied.

Thus, an act of generosity can travel the world, and minutes later, the proof of its power is made evident.

The story of this simple act — all it meant and all it made possible— is shared and reshared, in local communities and across distant borders, creating a common bond of compassion and humanity. Elevating all of us, inspiring us

To espouse giving as a way of living.

To understand that genuine commitment produces the greatest impact.

To profit the world.

Your turn, now.


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