Peter Wrinch


The sign-up sheet is dead

Imagine you are the Executive Director of an amazing non-profit. You are standing on stage at your annual gala, staring out into a warm and excited crowd of your supporters. You smile as you begin your speech.

I was at a great gala last week. There were over 800 people in the room, there was great food, great speakers, a wonderful auction, and craft beer.

Could you imagine the potential of filling a room with 800 of your strongest supporters? People who are coming out to support your organization and all the wonderful things you are doing. Many of whom come year after year. These people are your core supporters. Your champions. Your peeps.

This group of 800 people could sustain your organization (and many others!) for years. They will volunteer, take action, and donate. Imagine if each of them gave your organization $100 a year; $200 a year; $500 a year.

Your challenge is to activate them. What if, within 5 minutes, you now have the mobile cell numbers, names, and email addresses of everyone in the audience? They are already excited about your work and now you can connect with them directly.

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One year on Bowen

I moved to Bowen exactly one year ago. I had been living in Gastown with my partner and our son for four years and in December 2013, we decided it was too urban so we packed up and moved to Bowen. When we arrived on the island, we knew all of two people. When we told people we were moving to Bowen, there were generally two reactions:

1. That is amazing, but won’t you feel lonely?
2. That is amazing, but what about the commute?

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Writing killer year-end fundraising emails

I’ve written tons of emails in the last few years, and my favourite email appeals always go out at the end of the year. It’s the perfect time to connect with your supporters, reflect on the past, and ask them to invest in the year that will come.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve helped different organizations with their year-end fundraising appeals. I wanted to share a few best practices you can use to build better relationships and increase donations.

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The power of text blasts for year end fundraising

Inspired by the use of text blasts in the BC municipal election campaigns, I started to think about ways that nonprofit organizations could incorporate this tactic into their holiday fundraising appeals.

I have to admit, before I began training at NationBuilder I didn’t have much knowledge or experience with text blasts. I knew the technology existed in the NationBuilder toolkit, but never used it when I was organizing at Pivot Legal Society. During the successful David Eby campaign, we sent text blasts for the GOTV effort – and we won over the Premier of the province by 1000 votes. But, despite our success, I hadn’t thought about the myriad of ways different organizations could use text blasts to achieve their goals. 

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Why I left a dream job to work at NationBuilder

Friday, September 19th was my last day as Pivot Legal Society’s Executive Director.

I turned off my email, canceled my voicemail, and said goodbye to the team of amazing lawyers, storytellers, and organizers that I had been working with for the past nine years. I love Pivot. During my time there, I loved the organization more than almost anything else in my life. It is one of the most powerful non-profit organizations in Canada, complete with a compelling vision, fierce tactics, and a real community connection. The people who come into the organization – staff, volunteers, donors, and clients – are brave, compassionate, wise, and lovely.

The day after my goodbye party, I was at another event chatting with a very well respected non-profit leader about my decision to leave Pivot. He said, “So, NationBuilder. Databases…really? Why would you leave Pivot to go work there?”

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Making the job the interview: hiring great people

Late last year we decided to hire a new staff lawyer. This is a big deal for Pivot - it is exciting and terrifying. We are an intentionally small shop that puts a real emphasis on our internal culture and our ability to deliver on our mission. Tight timelines and tighter budgets increase the stakes. In my experience the financial cost of a bad hire is immediately $20,000 (at least!) and this doesn’t even factor in the cultural and emotional costs to the organization.

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Comms to win

December had been a long month. In fact, it was a long month tacked on to the end of a long year. To be honest, by mid-December I was already starting to ease into the holiday mode and was prepared to let the year drift into history. The Supreme Court of Canada, however, had different plans.

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Adding sparkle - your work deserves it

A couple weeks ago, I went to an event for a local community non-profit. As the evening got underway, the MC realized that they had put the speakers too close to the podium. Every time someone got up to speak – a shrill feedback pitch would pierce the room until they got far enough away from the podium. For most people speaking this meant standing on the stairs off to the side of the stage.

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The Anatomy of a retreat

Last year I opened our Pivot staff retreat by telling a personal story about Lenin, Trotsky and leadership. I projected a picture on the wall that featured Lenin enthusiastically addressing a crowd during the Russian Revolution with Trotsky standing at his side. I told the staff that for the decade I studied Soviet history, this photo represented my concept of leadership - a charismatic, visionary, who addressed large numbers of people and moved them to action. I then shared a key insight I had at the Art of Leadership at Hollyhock in 2008: Lenin was just one of the leaders in this photo. Trotsky was also a leader and there were countless other leaders - the people who organized the masses, the people who set up the stage, to name just a few - that made this moment in history happen.

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NationBuilder changed everything

Pivot made the switch to NationBuilder in August of 2012 and since that time it has changed almost every aspect of the way we work. For a decade, we ran Pivot with numerous different "solutions" all doing different parts of our work. We had a donor database tracking donations, a system for setting up and running events, a volunteer database, an email service, the list goes on and on and on. Most of these pieces did not talk to each other and only a handful of them were integrated with our website. The task of bringing all of this information together in a coherent way that provided any sense of meaning was overwhelming. More often than not, data (donor information, volunteer signups, supporter endorsements) was left in stacks of paper (or spreadsheets!) condemned to sit uselessly forever.


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