Consent Agenda Template

free resource board meeting consent agenda

Does it seem like you spend your entire board meetings going through reports?  Do you spend all your time talking about what has already happened and very little on the future?  You need to get those reports out of your meeting discussion, read in advance and just accepted at the meeting.  What’s the tool here?  A consent agenda.  Give @fundraiserchad‘s free template a download, tweak it for your organization, and reclaim your board meetings in the name of strategic discussion!

@fundraiserchad’s Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Databases

@fundraiserchad’s Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Databases

So, you think your organization is ready for its first fundraising database/CRM?  Or maybe you hate your current one and you’re thinking about making a change.  Where do you even begin?

How to Select the Best Fundraising Database

The key is not to select THE BEST fundraising database.  Chances are you don’t need the one with every single bell and whistle.  You need the one that is right for your organization and your staff.  You have budget constraints, staff skills, time constraints and conversion issues to take into consideration.

My top recommendation is the take a step back and figure out what you actually want and need before you start looking at specific products.  There are a ton out there and it quickly gets overwhelming.  Knowing your requirements before you start will allow you to quickly eliminate options and move others to the top of the list.

Here are a few other articles and resources to help you with this process:

Current Fundraising Database / CRM Options

Okay, okay, I made you wait long enough.  Here are all the fundraising databases that I’m currently aware of that are being offered by credible and ethical companies.  Many of these companies also share anonymous data for research purposes and do their part to increase the body of research in the field.  A win for everyone!  The first few are my favorite (based on actual experience with the product) and then it switches to alphabetical order by company name.  I’ve included a quick demo/spotlight video if I could find one for each product and any notes on my personal experience with it.  Do you know of a product that’s not on the list?  Please let me know.  Happy shopping …

Bloomerang

Bloomerang is @fundraiserchad’s database of choice.  He’s been around many of the leading products and by far Bloomerang has been the easiest to use on all fronts.  Many databases excel at ease of data entry, a few are good at reports and queries and very few make setup and changes a breeze.  Bloomerang makes all of these steps easy, even for non-techies.  They also have a completely free offering for very small shops (under 500 donors & less than $100,000 in revenue annually).  Please shop around and see what else is out there, but be sure to add Bloomerang to your list if you’re in the market for a new donor database.   Click here to schedule a demo with their expert staff.

But just because it’s my favorite, doesn’t mean Bloomerang is the right fit for your organization.  You have to check it out.  If it isn’t, here’s a comprehensive list of other options (and please contact me if I missed one and I’ll be sure to add it).

NeonCRM

I’ve seen NeonCRM in action at a few organizations and it’s a pretty good tool.  I find it a little clunky on the back end (difficult to setup / make changes) but for some organizations it can be good value for the investment.

Wild Apricot

Wild Apricot is focused more on membership type organizations but can be adapted for use at any nonprofit.  I have not seen the tool in action; however, I’ve had some great interactions with their staff over the years and they provide a lot of good service to the industry.

Fronstream Panorama / GiftWorks Cloud

Many moons ago I was a GiftWorks subscriber.  The company was founded in Lancaster, PA which was the next city over for me for many years.  My organization got in during the startup years and watched it evolve.  Unfortunately that evolution and the customer support seemed to slow down when they got bought out, but I have not had interaction with them in recent years.  I have always liked this product.

Abila Millennium

Aplos

Arreva Exceed Beyond

(formerly Telosa Software)

Blackbaud eTapestry

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What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today!

Have a Fundraising Plan. Period.

Have a Fundraising Plan. Period.

You really need a fundraising plan. You can’t just fly by the seat of your pants and take opportunities as they come along. That’s reactive fundraising. You need to be proactive.

A structured fundraising plan is the key to success. It’s actually been proven to be the number one indicator of fundraising success. Fundraising shops that simply have a plan, regardless of what is in it, perform a lot better than organizations without a fundraising plan.

It goes back to the old Ben Franklin quote, “If you fail to plan, then you’re really planning to fail.” So please, invest the time to put together a simple fundraising plan which will take your fundraising operation to the next level.


What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today! 

Wow Your Donors with Personalized Video

Wow Your Donors with Personalized Video

Wow Your Donors with Personalized Video

Video is incredibly powerful.  It can be an amazing tool for fundraising — especially for donor stewardship.

Everybody has a video camera these days … it’s built right into our smartphones.  You don’t need fancy equipment.  You already have it.  Just turn it on and say “thank you.”

Please watch the video above if you’d like to see a sample of what this looks like.

You can do this.  All you need is a smartphone, a message to share and email — that’s it!

Imagine sending personalized video emails to your donors simply saying “thank you” and showing your program in action.  Remember to use phrases like “you made the possible” and “we couldn’t do this without you” to make the donor the hero of your video.  Have you ever received one of these?  I bet your donors haven’t either.

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What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today!

Top 5 Fundraising Horrors to Avoid

Top 5 Fundraising Horrors to Avoid

To help celebrate Halloween, here are my top five fundraising horrors to avoid …

#1 – Window Envelopes

Window envelopes have no place in fundraising.  What normally comes in window envelopes?  That’s right, bills!  Do you want your fundraising appeal or even worse your thank you letter to arrive looking like a bill?  Get them out of your office ASAP.

(see also: Ban Window Envelopes from Your Fundraising)

#2 – Thasking

Never ask for anything when you say thank you.  It cheapens it.   When you say thank you, speak genuinely and say what you appreciate about donors.  Don’t ask them for anything else. Don’t ask them to come in your event, don’t ask them to volunteer, and certainly don’t ask them for additional donation.  Don’t even do it subtly by doing things like slipping an extra envelope in with your letter (just in case they want to send it back with a donation).  There’s a term for that … it’s called a THASK (credit: Lynne Wester).  A thank you ask.  Don’t do it.

#3 – “If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It”

Or another way it often comes up … “we’ve always done it this way.”  It’s often said by a long time volunteer or founder.  But you have to innovate.  If you don’t the law of diminishing returns will eventually kick in and your fundraising will start heading in the wrong direction.  You need a constant supply of fresh ideas and a boss/board that’s willing to support you as you implement them.

(see also: Disrupting the If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It Mindset)

#4 – Monthly Fundraising Events

I’ve seen so organizations that can’t get ahead because they are constantly stuck in fundraising event planning.  Some organizations even have events every single month!  They think they need to do that to raise money.  In truth, they are actually limiting the amount of money that they can raise because they don’t have the time to focus on building relationships with donors.  I like to recommend that most nonprofits have no more than two big fundraising events in a year (unless they have a full time events coordinator).  This gives you the space to make them unique events, have them highly sponsored (that’s where you make the money) and still have time to build donor relationships the rest of the year.

#5 – #GivingTuesday

I’ve talked about it before. I have a love hate relationship with #GivingTuesday.  My primary issue with it is why would you want to solicit your donor on the same day that every single other organization that they support is soliciting them as well?  You’re just bombarding them.  So, what I like to do that day instead is to simply give thanks.  Don’t ask for anything.  Just reach out and thank them personally.  You’ll really stand out from the crowd and they will remember it.

Those are my “Top 5 Fundraising Horrors.”  I hope you can avoid them all this year (and every year).  Happy Haloweeen!

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What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today!

6 Sweet Ways to Show Donor Love

6 Sweet Ways to Show Donor Love

Jen Love and John Lepp of Agents of Good share 6 Sweet Ways to Show Donor Love …

#1 Remember that Your Donors Want to Feel Good

The part of the brain that lights up when you give to charity is the same part of the brain that lights up when you have sex and when you eat chocolate — it’s the pleasure center of your brain.  Giving feels good.  So always remember when you’re talking to your donors that they want to feel good and they want to help and fix something.  So, think of sex and chocolate and write your donors!

#2 Apply the 80/20 Rule to Your Mail File

If you take 20% of your file, they’re most likely giving 80% of your revenue.  With this group, mail them something special like a bigger envelope with lots of handwriting all over it.  If you follow the 80/20 rule and you produce this mail pack in house, it will do a lot better than mailing the whole file exactly the same thing.

#3 Use Fundraising Delighters

“Fundraising delighters” are things that you don’t expect to receive from the charities that you love but change your perspective on the experience.  This can be things like photographs, postcards and quick video updates.

#4 Create Paper Clip Moments

The power of the paper clip is that computers and machines cannot paper clip.  So, when a donor sees a paper clip they feel like there was a human involved with the creation of the mail piece.  It’s a very small touch, but it’s very meaningful.

#5 Always Maintain an Abundance Mindset

This one is more for you as a fundraiser, and it’s to always maintain an abundance mindset.  There is so much information out there and so much we can look at.  So, always keep your mind open to learning new things and surround yourself with people who will challenge you and keep you open to new things.

#6 Thank & Report Back With Double the Effort

When you ask your donors to give and then do so, you must thank them with double the amount of effort that you put into asking them.  And you have to report back on what you did with their giving.  Only then can you ask them again and repeat this cycle.  Make sure you ask them, make sure you thank them and make sure you report back to them on what you did with those funds.

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What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today!

Don’t Sweat Your Stewardship Events, Think Simple & Unique

Don’t Sweat Your Stewardship Events, Think Simple & Unique

Today’s focus is on donor receptions.  You need to say thank you to your donors.  And one of the best ways to do that is to invite them to something, like for a tour or to an event.

But a lot of fundraisers get too complicated with this.  My advice is to go simple.  Something like bagels in the morning in your conference room with the executive director is perfect.  It’s that simple invitation to come out your facility hear an update and be appreciated that donors are after — they don’t need a fancy reception with a big dinner.  A lot of them would rather have you spend those dollars on the mission that them.  So think simple and mission-based.

What’s my favorite way my favorite way to do a donor reception?  My favorite way is to invite your donors to your parking lot on a summer Friday afternoon for a hot dog or a burger or some barbecue. You put your executive director in an apron and a chef’s hat, have them flip burgers and just talk to the donors and say thank you as they come through the line.   It’s cheap and easy.  You throw your grill in your truck and you pick up some burgers and rolls over lunch.  It’s easy but it’s greatly appreciated and it’s different.  Everything is better in fundraising if it’s different.  If you can stand out from the crowd, it’s so much better.  So take that into consideration fundraisers, how can you be different and simple with your donor receptions?

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What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today!

@fundraiserchad’s Ultimate Guide to Stewardship & Donor Retention

@fundraiserchad’s Ultimate Guide to Stewardship & Donor Retention

How to Build a Simple Stewardship System that Boosts Donor Retention

What is Stewardship?

So what do we mean when we say “stewardship” in the context of fundraising?  Stewardship is defined as “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (Merriam-Webster). It’s the second part of this definition that we as fundraisers should focus on:  “careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

The bottom line: we need to take care of a supporter’s donation by 1) doing what we said we were going to do with it, AND 2) telling them that we did 3) WHILE expressing gratitude.

A new term has emerged on the fundraising landscape in recent years to express this.  That term is #donorlove (note the hash tag, look it up on any social media platform when you need some inspiration).  According to fundraising guru Jen Love, #donorlove is putting “the donors at the heart of everything you do, at the heart of every interaction you have with them. Expressing what your donors make possible by giving to you, and making them heroes for the amazing things they achieve for your cause.”[1]

We must show our donors that they matter.  We must show them that we can’t change the world without them.  We can’t take them for granted.  We can’t view them as transactions or dollar signs.  We must constantly work to build deeper relationships with them.  We must convince everyone in our organization, regardless of their job title, to do the same.  We must build a culture of philanthropy at our organization.  Stewardship must be everyone’s first priority.

But why?

Why Donor Stewardship Must Come First

Donor stewardship must come first because it is the key to donor retention.  What is donor retention?  Donor retention simply means keeping your donors from year to year.  It is typically given as a rate or percentage.  Your donor retention rate is the percentage of donors you keep from year to year.

And now the bad news … the average donor retention for US charities was only 45% in 2017.[2]  That means that if the average US nonprofit had 100 donors at the end of 2016, they only had 45 of those same donors at the end of 2017!  Donors are leaving faster than the average charity can bring them on board.  You can do better.  You must do better.

Why are donor retention rates so poor?  It’s hard to pinpoint an exact answer, but here’s my theory … While most established charities know the importance of stewardship, it’s hard to find the time to do it well.  And guess what?  No one ever gets in trouble for not doing stewardship.  “You never found the time to write those thank you notes? No big deal.”  Or … “Impact letters are three months behind schedule?  That’s okay.”  For most bosses, as long as asks are going out and goals are being met, it doesn’t seem to matter.  But what you’re really doing is sabotaging your future fundraising efforts.  A lack of stewardship will prevent your donors from reaching their full lifetime value for your organization.  It will also put you on a constant search for more donors, as your current ones move on to other causes.

So what’s the solution?  You need to build a simple stewardship system that puts #donorlove on autopilot and shows your donors that they are more than dollar signs to your organization.  Stewardship activities need to be routine weekly standard business practices, not something that you do when you “have the time.”  Later on in this guide we’ll outline a simple system that will do just that for your organization.

But first, let’s make sure we’re stewarding the right donors.

WHICH DONORS SHOULD WE FOCUS ON?

Contrary to what some nonprofit executives and boards believe, not all donors are actually retainable.  Specifically, transactional donors are often extremely difficult to retain from year to year.  Transactional donors are your event attendees, raffle ticket purchasers, auction item buyers and peer to peer campaign donors.  The common thread with them is that they donated to purchase something or to support someone else, not necessarily because they care deeply about your organization’s mission.  While we should certainly attempt to retain transactional donors and educate them about our mission, they don’t warrant the same amount of effort as our relational mission-based donors.  These are the folks that care deeply about our mission and  would welcome a closer relationship with us.

You may also want to set a minimum donation amount (perhaps $50 or $100 and above) for donors to go into your enhanced stewardship system.  Below that they would still receive a standard gift acknowledgment letter and organizational correspondence – just not the personalized stewardship efforts that we’ll soon discuss.  This is a bit controversial as there is always the classic story of the $20 annual donor that leaves a $1 million bequest because they were treated well by the nonprofit organization.  The key here is to figure out your stewardship capacity.  What percentage of your relational donors can you steward and steward well?  Especially in small shops, it’s probably not everyone.

THE RULE OF 7

There’s one last research-based factor we need to consider before building our simple stewardship system. Research has shown that donors need to be contacted at least seven times between asks, or they feel over-solicited.[3]  This means that you need to reach out at least seven times between your solicitations with something that is not asking for money, or else donors are going to say, “You only ever contact me when you want money.”

So, we need to develop a schedule of creative donor touch points. What’s a touch point? A touch point is a positive non-ask communication with a donor. Seven may seem like a lot, but the beauty of this is that everything counts. Your immediate thank you counts. Your gift acknowledgment counts. An invitation to a free event counts. Your donor newsletter counts (if they read it).  The key here is to develop a system of touches, and schedule them so that you ensure that at least seven happen.

So now that we know what we need to do to make donors feel appreciated and not over-solicited, let’s build a simple stewardship system designed to ensure that systematic, regular stewardship and #donorlove takes place in our nonprofit organization.

A SIMPLE STEWARDSHIP SYSTEM

So, where do we begin? Our goal is to create a donor stewardship system that is triggered as soon as a donation is received and works to make sure a donor feels properly thanked and appreciated the whole way up until the time of their next donation. It should have mostly standard touch points but leave some flexibility so we can be creative and not come across as inhuman.  But the key will be making sure we reach that magic number of at least seven touch points before our next solicitation.

The other side of this is how are we going to do all of this if we work in a small shop?  What if your fundraising operation consists of just one person?  Or maybe it’s a volunteer that completes these tasks for your organization.  We need to organize our system in a way that there are scheduled daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that anyone can complete. This will allow us to put the system on autopilot so we can ensure that donor stewardship is always happening.  We’ll also know that we’re doing everything we can to boost our donor retention rate while we focus on finding new support for our organization.

So, let’s get started. Let’s say we receive a $100 donation from a new donor. What do we do next?

——————————————————————————————————————–What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today!

How to Find Time to Read as a Busy Fundraiser

How to Find Time to Read as a Busy Fundraiser

I’m often asked by nonprofit board members, “What’s the most important skill to look for in a fundraiser?”  My answer is always the same … a relentless passion for learning.  A successful fundraiser always needs to be seeking new ideas and improving their fundraising knowledge base.  One of the best ways to acquire this knowledge is through reading.  There are so many great books, magazines, and blogs dedicated to nonprofit fundraising.  But many fundraisers state that finding the time to actually read is quite difficult.

So, here are my six hacks for fitting more reading into your daily schedule

1) Keep a list of what you want to read

When you hear about a great book or article, make note of it.  I add books I hear about to my online wishlist (at either amazon.com or paperbackswap.com).  When it comes time to look for new reading material, I have a list and don’t have to waste time browsing.  I can use that time for actual reading.  [Here are @fundraiserchad’s top book recommendations]

2) Save posts & articles to read later

When I’m spending time on social media, I do my best to get in and get out.  I don’t read articles or follow link trails.  But fellow fundraisers post lots of great content that I do want to read at some point.  That’s where Pocket comes in.  Pocket is a service that lets me save articles for later (in my pocket).  Then when I have a few minutes (e.g. waiting for an appointment, standing in line, before a donor meeting, etc.), I can read these articles — on ANY of my devices at ANY time.  It’s like having your TO READ pile with you at all times, but without the clutter or the weight.

3) Stop reading if you aren’t getting value

If you start reading something and it’s not what you thought it would be, STOP.  There is no rule that says you have to finish what you start reading.  We aren’t in grade school anymore.  We choose what we read.  This is especially important with books.  Reading an entire book is a big commitment – make sure it’s worth your time.  I will admit that I only finish about half the books that I start reading.  Once I can tell that I’m not going to get enough value out of it to justify the time, I’m done.  It’s that simple.

4) Read during all the little moments of extra time

Surround yourself with things to read.  Fill your Pocket with articles.  Keep books and magazines that you want to read on your coffee table, desk, night stand.  Keep reading material in your briefcase and in your suitcase.  Make sure you are never in a situation where you have time to read, but nothing to read.

Then instead of hopping on Facebook on your phone when you have a spare minute or two, pull up something to read.  Even if you only read a page, you are making progress and being inspired.  Don’t let these little moments go to waste, they add up.

5) Schedule a lunch with yourself

When I have something that I really want to read, like a book written by my favorite speaker at a conference or the latest edition of AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy, I schedule lunch with it.  I literally go to my calendar, find an open lunch slot, and plug in “Meeting | Advancing Philanthropy.”  It’s a lunch date, with reading material.  The key is that it is blocked from any other commitments (and it looks like a real meeting to the folks that help manage my calendar).  It’s a great way to make progress on beefier items which really require time to digest (puns intended).

6) Try audiobooks or podcasts (especially in the car) 

Driving is one of the least productive uses of time, but you can change this.  Listening to audiobooks or podcasts is a great option.  Almost any book is available in audiobook format these days and there are countless podcast options — even a few about fundraising.  You can also turn up the speed on audiobook or podcast apps to have them play at 1.5x or 2x speed.  This can allow you to finish things in half the time, and it is often times still very easy to understand.

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What are your thoughts?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  @fundraiserchad and the other 200+ fundraisers in the community would love to hear from you!

Want to keep on reading?  Here are most posts related to …

@fundraiserchad sends out great fundraising tips a few times each week.  Email subscribers also receive a FREE downloadable template, sample, checklist, etc. which is related to the tip and helps to fast track implementation. Want in?  Subscribe today!

Once or twice a week Chad sends out quick video tips, free fundraising templates/samples, links to articles by industry gurus and top notch recommendations.  Want in?

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