Peeling the Onion

Katrina VanHuss has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Otis joined in the fun in 2013 as Turnkey’s resident human behavior expert. One thing led to another, and now as a married couple, they almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism and human decision-making, much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.

Through their work at Turnkey, the pair works with the likes of the American Lung Association, Best Buddies, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, using human behavioral tendencies and recognition to create attachment and high fundraising in volunteers.

Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P and Peer to Peer Forum, and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, Dollar Dash. They live in Richmond, Va.

How do we get donors and volunteers to take the actions we need them to take? It turns out the nudge may be the best way. Last October, University of Chicago economist Richard H. Thaler was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Thaler’s work has persuaded many economists to pay more attention to human behavior and many governments to pay more attention to economics...

In a recent blog, we wrote about the new tax bill that doubles the standard deduction, effectively reducing the number of taxpayers who itemize deductions from 30 percent to 5 percent, according to experts. That’s a decrease in roughly 30 million households...

We’ve all heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Nonprofits routinely use pictures to communicate their messages to their constituents. Usually, the photos are selected to represent the people who will be helped by supporting the mission of the nonprofit...

Recently, we met with a major health care nonprofit that was reviewing its fundraising portfolio. Their peer-to-peer campaign had become an unholy mix of walks and runs, often holding runs and walks on the same day, mixing constituents who showed great affinity to their cause with others who showed great affinity to running 5K races...

I recently did a webinar for a major nonprofit preparing to roll out next year’s walk campaign to its local chapters. There were about 200 chapter directors on the call. In the last year, the nonprofit has gone away from providing incentives of consumer products and has opted for more modest gifts with its brand to recognize fundraisers and donors, per our recommendation...

Around the first of each month, I go through my bank’s drive-through and get some cash in $5 and $10 bills. I keep the money in the console of my car to give away to people on street corners asking for assistance when I’m driving around...

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