Tagged: resources

How Much Do You Care About Your Donors?

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I’m not challenging your goodness or integrity.

As a fundraiser, you work hard to support a cause that means a lot to you. You strive to connect your donors’ passions to the needs of people your organization cares for.

And you are successful by staying true and focused on your organization’s mission and vision. This is exactly what you should be doing. Good for you!

But what happens when others are finding solutions to the cause that is important to you in different ways or through other organizations?

Do you feel tempted to create a new program in order to win their support?

Do you try to convince your donor to change her mind on the type of program she supports by trying to convince her that your organization’s methods or goals are better? Or reach more people?

Or do you recognize that other organizations may be filling much-needed gaps in the bigger picture of the cause you care deeply about and choose to honour the passion of each individual making a difference in ways that are meaningful to them?

Maybe it’s not about who is better at what. Maybe it’s about each person doing their part and in doing so, achieving better results than anyone of us could have, alone.

What do you think?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Making A Difference Where It Matters To You

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Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you ~ Oprah Winfrey

Fundraising is FUN!

You get to meet and be inspired by so many wonderful people who want to make this world a better place. You get to match great need with needed resources.

You get to be part of something that is transformational.

You get to build community.

So make sure you’re aligned with an organization that answers a need you’re passionate about. One that mirrors your vision and values.

Making a difference where it matters to you, is just as important to a fundraiser as it is to a donor.

Are you making a difference where it matters to you?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

 

Do You Feel Stuck?

images3We’ve all been there.

Maybe you’re not feeling it right now, but each one of us, at one time or another, feels stuck.

That’s why when I came across this brilliant post on my Twitter feed this morning, I knew I had to share it with you!

Dan Waldschmidt shares his surprising secret to getting unstuck by following these 5 steps:

  1. Be brutally honest about your current situation.
  2. Reach out to people who can give you a different perspective.
  3. Take a step back from the chaos.
  4. Challenge yourself in another area of your life.
  5. Get busy doing something.

I strongly recommend you Click Here for the complete easy-to-read article. I know you will find it as helpful as I did!

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Building a Case for Direct Mail

untitled2When a direct mail piece doesn’t yield the results your organization expects, they may be tempted to never do it again.

Or if your organization has never sent a fundraising letter, it may be hard to convince them to even try it.

And even if your organization is willing to send one, they may insist on sending an ineffective fundraising letter.

It’s very tempting for executive directors to scrap the idea when a letter flops. It can also be difficult to convince well-meaning leadership staff that asking is not a bad thing, or that fundraising copy is different from program descriptions and marketing copy.

As a fundraising professional you already know that direct mail is one stream of revenue in a diversified fund development strategy that will help you meet your organization’s fundraising goal. So how do you convince your organization to be on board with it?

You can gather industry data that shows proven results. You can speak to other organizations who have had success with direct mail. But what if your organization still seems unconvinced?

Proposing a test may be the answer.

In the case where an organization insists on sending their usual type of letter written by someone who is not a fundraising professional, propose a portion of the list receive a professional fundraising letter. Let the results speak for you.

In the case that the organization has never sent a fundraising letter, sending one to a portion of your constituents as a test may be an option. Asking does result in giving.

Once you have a robust direct mail program, testing key variables on portions of your mailing list continues to ensure that you are sending the most effective direct mail package.

Asking people to donate through your direct mail program is an important part of your organization’s diversified fund development plan.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Spending Your Energy Wisely, Compassionately and Encouragingly

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There’s a lot of work to do in fundraising, especially at this time of year!

So you will want to spend your energy wisely.

Not just wisely though; compassionately and encouragingly as well.

  • DO ask your faithful donors for yearend gifts
  • DO make it easy for donors to give in a way that is convenient for them.
  • DON’T make your donors jump through hoops because it makes your job easier
  • DO thank all your donors in a timely manner
  • DO let your donors know how they are changing the world through their giving
  • DO honour your donors’ mailing preferences
  • DON’T try to convince those who are not interested in your cause to support you. DO encourage them to pursue and give to the causes they are passionate about.
  • DON’T ask again, if you haven’t said thank you
  • DON’T bully or use guilt to keep a donor who has indicated they can no longer support you. DO thank them for all they’ve done in the past and wish them well.

In a nutshell, treat donors as you would loved ones. Remember that not everyone likes your cause and that there are many worthy causes out there for donors to support. There’s enough to go around.

I would love to hear your tips for healthy donor relationships. Please leave them in the comment section below.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

5 Steps to Planning an Event

“If you don’t know where you are going,untitled
you’ll end up someplace else.”
― Yogi Berra

When planning an event, it is vital to understand the time and resources needed leading up to the event.

There are a number of tools you can use to plan for, and manage, your event. But what if you don’t have the resources to purchase them?

Outlook Calendar can give you an overview of your event and all its components at a glance. Outlook Task allows you to assign tasks to the appropriate people, along with setting completion dates.

You can also create an excel sheet that can be sorted by categories, projects, tasks, persons responsible, project status and due dates.

5 Steps to implementing a project/event

  1. Set the date for the event.
  2. Determine components leading up to that date; booking the venue, creating invites, advertising, media relations, social media for example, and set completion dates for each one.
  3. Work backwards from there and set dates that allow enough time to complete tasks leading up to each component of the event. For example say you have set dates to run advertisements, tasks leading up to when the ads run (in reverse order) may include: final copy written, draft of copy submitted for editing, write first draft of the copy, develop storyboard for copy, etc.
  4. Assign the appropriate person to each task.
  5. Follow your timeline and modify it as needed.

Once completed, not only do you have a plan for your current event, as an added bonus you have created a template for future events as well!

What’s your favourite project management tool? Do you have a system or style of project management that has worked well for you? Please share it below.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Why You Don’t Tell Your Story

You don’t say how you feel in case you’re pushed away. You could move mountains with the words you never say. ~ Mark Reeves, Leon’s Lounge from the album Takes a While to Get Like This

images3Last week I dusted off a CD I haven’t listened to in 20 years and was struck by the above line from the song Leon’s Lounge.

Essentially, the song is about people who have been hurt by love and are afraid to try again.

What if the person they care about doesn’t feel the same way about them?

What if they’re not good enough? Attractive enough? Witty enough to sustain a relationship?

What if they get hurt again?

Although the song is about personal relationships, it got me thinking about how non-profits are sometimes reluctant to tell their stories.

Just as with personal relationships, non-profits have their excuses for staying quiet.

  • They fear that no one will want to support the work they do
  • They feel pressure to drift from their mission to please funders
  • They have a sense that they are not the flavor of the month
  • They fear that if they don’t get their message out the right way, it will backfire and hurt them
  • The last time they tried, no one seemed to care or understand why they do what they do

The truth is your organization will never be attractive to everyone. But for those who believe in you and the work that you do, you are amazing.

Your success in fulfilling your organization’s mission depends on you getting your story out and stirring up a passionate response from those who believe in you.

You could move mountains with the words you never say.

What is your story. What prevents you from telling it?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Your Data Tells You Where To Go

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“If you do not know where you come from… then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.” ~ Terry Pratchett 

I recently had the privilege of working with a small non-profit organization that has doubled its operations in the last year. They acquired a facility that provides transitional housing for women exiting sexual exploitation. Along with housing, they offer a full-day program to help women take their next steps.

It was clear that they needed to develop fundraising strategies to ensure sustainability for the organization.

In my first meeting with the Executive Director I proposed that we take a look at the organization’s fundraising history by examining their data. Knowing their history and segmenting their data would a) Give them a clear understanding of their fund development history and their current status, and b) Reveal opportunities to maximize their fundraising efforts.

This is what they learned from their data:

  • They got a clear picture of their monthly cash flow showing them their high and low revenue months throughout the year.
  • The number of the organization’s constituents in each of 5 categories (individuals, businesses, churches, foundations and other)
  • The number of active (donating) constituents. 
  • What each category of constituents revealed about number of donors, average gift and giving frequency.
  • How many individuals are major donors, what their average gift and giving frequency is.
  • How many monthly donors there are and what their average monthly and accumulated yearly gifts add up to.
  • Percentage of revenue in each of the organization’s appeals; online donations, events, monthly donor program, etc.
  • Areas of vulnerability

Further examination of their data in the individual category revealed potential prospects for various fundraising programs and a donor moves strategy began to emerge.

From the information gleaned through the examination of their data, I was able to build a multi-year fundraising plan, highlighting the organization’s priorities for the next 12 months.

When you understand your history, you can build upon it to create strategies for the future. Do you have a clear understanding of your fund development history? Please contact me to talk about how we can work together to strengthen your relationships with your donors.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

The Value of Team

Empowering individual team members who have a variety of abilities with varying ways to get where they’re going is not the easiest thing to do. It’s much easier when everyone agrees with your way of doing things, isn’t it? But is that the most effective way to do business?

I hate to admit it, but there was a time when as the fundraiser in an organization, I resented what I perceived to be unnecessary barriers from the finance department and they resented my supposed disrespect for processes.

When we decided to understand what each individual’s role was and why they did things the way they did them, an environment of working against each other became one of working together. Each team member was now thinking about how their area could retain its integrity while supporting other areas.

These types of tensions exist throughout an organization, whether it’s program delivery, finance, administration, fundraising, IT, strategy or HR – seemingly on extreme ends of the spectrum, all are needed.

ST_TOS_CastOne of my favourite teams, and one most of us are familiar with, is the crew of the original Star Trek series. Although they are a fictional team, they have a lot to teach us.

Talk about different personalities and ways of doing things leading to some very intense situations! Let’s take a look at their leadership team, shall we?

First you have the captain. He’s the visionary and operates from gut instinct. He’s quick on his feet and makes decisions quickly.  He’s passionate about their mission and that same passion lands him in a bit of hot water every now and then.

Then you have the cool-headed and scientific first officer. He’s about 3 feet above everyone’s emotions, including his own. He clearly sees the best outcome based on facts and looks for a logical path, regardless of how it affects anyone on a personal level. He’s the proverbial ‘sacrifice the one for the benefit of the 1000’ guy even if he’s the sacrifice.

Then there’s the specialist. The good doctor is an excellent doctor. He knows the ins and outs of anything medical and anything he doesn’t know, he makes a point of learning. He is an expert in his field. He operates within his competency. If you want to push him over the edge, put him in charge of something outside of his training, and you’re sure to hear something like, “Damn it Jim, I’m a doctor, not a magician!”

This team also has an engineer. He keeps all the systems running. Just tell him what you need and he’ll do his darndest to adapt the system to give you what you need, albeit at the expense of other systems at times.

In spite of their differences, each team member is committed to the mission. Each one brings their unique gifts to the table. Because they have different perspectives it is easy to see how they might disagree with each other at times. But imagine how their missions might have turned out if they had all thought like Kirk? Or Spock? Or McCoy? Not a pretty picture, is it?

Just as it is with the Enterprise crew, your diverse team members all play a role to keep your organization on course.

Understanding that each member is critical to the team, what are some ways that you can take steps to better understand your peers and support them in their work?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

What Are Monthly Donor Programs and Why Should You Have One?

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Monthly giving is a way to create a dependable and predictable source of monthly revenue for your organization. Through regular contact (mail outs, thank you calls, events, etc., you can develop a pool of monthly donor prospects.

The benefits for your organization include:

  • The predictability of monthly cash flows
  • Lower administration costs (process one receipt per year, send less mail, etc.)
  • A monthly donor program softens the impact of donor attrition
  • Smaller, manageable monthly gifts may enable your donors to give more. For example, if Mr. Smith has been giving you a $1,000 per year and he joins the monthly donor program at $100 per month, his yearly giving is now $1,200.
  • Individuals who give every month, for years believe in what you do. They are among your best advocates. (Hint: This group of people are also good prospects for your planned giving program)

The benefits for your donors include:

  • More affordable giving and easier to manage within their monthly budget
  • Less mail
  • They don’t have to think about it because it’s an automatic process
  • (Staff) can give through an automatic payroll deduction process and their yearly donation can be noted on their T4 slips
  • Perks (to be determined by your organization) examples include: VIP treatment at your events, or specific events for monthly givers, access to insider information such as future plans or focus groups, etc.

7 Steps to building a Monthly Donor Program

  1. Give your monthly donor program a meaningful name
  2. Launch it internally first.  Ask your board and staff to consider participating. (This doesn’t need to be a huge commitment – even $5 a month works. It’s good for internal morale and external communications to show that all, or a high percentage of, your closest stakeholders are participating)
  3. Decide on the criteria that determines which of your donors are prospects
  4. Send a letter introducing your new program; highlighting the benefits of monthly giving and invite your donors to join up
  5. Repeat process with new prospects each year
  6. Consider including a monthly giving option on all your response devices
  7. Make sure to thank your monthly donors often

Can you think of other benefits associated with a monthly giving program? Do you have strategies to share that have worked well for your organization?

The purpose of The Other Bottom Line is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.