Three kids from my old neighborhood were involved in unrelated, high-profile murders in the 80s and 90s. They were people I knew from school or from down at the corner store.  And they all had lived within a 3-block radius of each other.

Two, Michelle Kasperek and Kristen French, were murdered. And one, Lee Bates, became a murderer.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the proximity of the people involved in these horrific events. And, although the murders happened years apart, it seemed like an awful lot of tragedy for one orbit.

So, I decided to submit the stories of Michelle, Kristen, and Lee for a “Hometowns” segment on My Favorite Murder - my latest podcast obsession. If you’re not familiar, MFM is a true-crime/comedy podcast that hits all the right dopamine receptors. (Crime and comedy are an unlikely combination, I know, but it somehow works.)

In “Hometowns” episodes, called “Minisodes,” the hosts read stories from listeners about the crazy crimes (or simply bizarre happenings) that have taken place in their own hometowns. I'm hoping the show producers will find my story as uncanny as I do. 

It’s a long shot that anyone will even open my submission, but it doesn’t hurt to try. #optimism

Right about now you’re thinking, “But, Bern, what does this have to do with nonprofits?” And to that I say, “Not one single thing.”

Except, maybe, for the idea that when we zoom out and take a big-picture view of what’s happening or what has happened in the past, connections become clearer. It wasn’t until, while thinking about those old neighbors of mine, I’d pulled up a map and realized just how close we all had been.

It’s like that, too, with data for your organization. Until you pull back from the day-to-day and look at your constituents from a distance, you may not recognize common patterns or behaviors.

Now is a great time to take a macro view of your donors and prospective donors - while you’re writing and designing your year-end giving campaigns. Noticing trends - beyond giving history - will help you create messages that are more targeted and more relevant to your audiences. It will help you talk to people in ways that show you know who they are and you care if they participate.

I’ll be saying more about year-end campaigns (and less about true crime) over the next few weeks. If you’re starting to think about your year-end appeal strategy and want help crafting a campaign that speaks to all of your donor segments, drop me a line. Until then…

Keep Up the Good Work (and don’t get murdered),


P.S. Planning to check out My Favorite Murder? Be forewarned: it's very sweary. Those who are particularly sensitive, offended by F-bombs, or are allergic to sarcasm may want to take a hard pass. For the rest of you: you're welcome. I recommend starting with episodes 316, 336, or 341.  

P.P.S. Thanks to Susan Daniells for the reco.

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