Ban Window Envelopes from Your Fundraising

Ban Window Envelopes from Your Fundraising

Window envelopes and fundraising just don’t mix.  Period.

The key to fundraising is to build relationships.  Window envelopes don’t build relationships.  Window envelopes tell people that they have a bill to pay or someone is trying to sell them something that they probably don’t want.

No place is this more true than with gift acknowledgments and thank you letters.  If we had the time, we’d hand address these and make them as personal as possible.  Window envelopes take them in the exact opposite direction.  Even if you are seeking payment on a pledge or sending an acquisition appeal, window envelopes are not a good option.

Because of the philanthropic community’s focus on nonprofit efficiency and low expense ratios, the temptation to use window envelopes is always there.  They are a less expensive option since they save the cost of printing addresses on the envelope and any hand matching that would need to be done between the letter and the envelope.  Most print reps will suggest this to you as a way of cutting costs.  However, you need to say “NO” — the connotation is not worth the cost savings.

While this is all backed up by research and window envelopes do decrease donor response, that’s really not the key factor here.  What’s important is how you make your donors feel.  Window envelopes should come from your donor’s water company, not from a cause that they are passionate about.  And if they are giving despite your behavior/treatment, it certainly won’t inspire them to give more.

So, isn’t it time to remove window envelopes from your office?  That’s actually a fun Friday afternoon activity … go find all of the window envelopes and hide/pitch/burn them!  I don’t even like nonprofit accounting departments using them … it’s an organizational culture kind of thing.  It’s one time where the efficiency gained is not worth the price you end up paying.


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!

Put Fundraising Expectations in Your Board Job Description

Put Fundraising Expectations in Your Board Job Description

Perhaps the most common complaint that I hear from fundraisers and executive directors is “my board won’t fundraise.”

On closer examination it almost always comes down to unclear expectations or lack of knowledge — not an outright avoidance of all fundraising activity.  The vast majority of nonprofit board members understand that they need to be a part of the resource development process.  Most just don’t know how to do that unless you, the fundraiser,  tell them, teach them and guide them.

So what’s the easy fix here?  Spell out your organization’s board fundraising expectations from the very beginning of the relationship.  The easiest way to do this is to put your fundraising expectations in your board job description (there’s a sample one in @fundraiserchad’s Free Resource Library).

Obviously not every item on the board job description will be fundraising related, but a few of the listed responsibilities should be.  They should also be specific.  Something like “in collaboration with other directors, assist in the resource development process” is not going to get it done — they know that they need to do something, but they still don’t know exactly what or how.

Here are a few concrete examples of potential fundraising expectations to include in a board job description:

  • Approve fund development goals and plans;
  • Participate in fundraising activities (especially in regard to identification and cultivation of prospective donors);
  • Make introductions to prospective donors (some organizations set a yearly quota on this one, e.g. a minimum of three);
  • Secure their businesses’ contribution to the annual campaign;
  • Attend all organizational sponsored events (include a list of what & when these are);
  • Make a personally significant contribution to the Fund’s annual campaign (some organizations have a minimum that they list in the job description).

Having a board job description, which includes key fundraising expectations, will make a huge difference in finding the right board members for your organization who are motivated and willing to help you take it 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!

How to Write 3 Minute Thank You Notes

How to Write 3 Minute Thank You Notes

We all know the importance of a prompt, genuine, hand-written thank you note after a donor visit or other key interaction.  However, getting that thank you note written and in the mail can be a challenge given the other demands on our time.  Here’s a key tip and a simple process to make it easier …

First of all, make sure you always have a stack of thank you notes with you.  Keep a stack in your office, keep a stack in your briefcase, keep a stack in your car, etc.  Also, pre-stuff them in their envelopes with a business card (but don’t seal them), and pre-stamp the envelope.  One of my favorite hacks is to pre-address the envelope before going into my meeting and then leave it on the passenger seat of my car.  It’s the first thing I see after my meeting and it takes just two more minutes to finish the note.

But what do you write in that note?  You want something that’s efficient, but doesn’t make you sound like an insincere robot?  Here’s a simple three sentence formula for foolproof thank you notes:

sentence 1 = what you saw / what happened
sentence 2 = the impact of what you saw on you or your organization
sentence 3 = what you appreciate about the person’s role in what you saw

Let’s take a look at an example that I actually wrote last week:

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Putting these steps into practice will turn writing a thank you note into a three minute process for you.  One minute of prep (pre-stuffing, pre-stamping, pre-addressing) and two minutes of efficient writing.  And those will be three minutes well spent that make quite the impression with your donors and key contacts.  Just think, when was the last time you actually received a hand-written thank you note?

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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!

How to Avoid Meetings & Maximize Those You Can’t

How to Avoid Meetings & Maximize Those You Can’t

Meetings are one of the greatest barriers to productivity in the modern workplace. They are designed to be set periods of communication, collective brainstorming and decision making; however, they frequently end up just being a giant waste of time. This is especially problematic in the charity world where staff capacity is already typically stretched quite thin.

Thankfully, there are several strategies that you can embrace in order to make meetings more effective for both you and your organization. Each of these strategies seeks to deal with meetings by either avoiding them or maximizing them.

Avoiding Meetings

Avoiding meetings sounds great in theory, but not everyone is able to do it. This strategy is typically easier for executive directors and development department heads to adopt but even they have trouble avoiding meetings all together. The big key here is simply to make sure that the meeting is truly necessary.

Ask yourself, “Could this meeting be avoided by sending an email or having a ten minute phone conversation with someone?”

Also, meetings should never be scheduled simply for purpose of relaying information. Meetings aren’t for reports — they are for discussion and decision making. If you aren’t looking for feedback, ideas or a decision, then you don’t need to schedule a meeting.

One last way to avoid meetings is to block one full day on your schedule each week as “meeting free.” This will ensure that you have a least one day a week where you can tackle major projects and not spend your day bouncing from meeting to meeting. If you can’t do a full day, try a half day. You will begin to covet that time and will become extremely efficient in using it.

Maximizing Meetings

If you can’t avoid attending a meeting (e.g. your boss called it) or you truly need to hold one, there are a few strategies that you can use to make sure that it is effective as possible.

First, you need to make sure the right people are in the room. Meetings should be as lean as possible. This means that only decision makers should be in the room — no observers. More people means the meeting will take longer and if a person has no real say, or nothing to add to the discussion, then they will be more productive at their desk.  A great rule of thumb here is the “2 Pizza Rule” – it should be possible to feed all of the attendees of any meeting with two pizzas.  So, the average pizza has 8 slices and the average person eats two slices … you do the math (hint: it’s 8, try to keep meeting attendees to 8 or less).

Next, make the default length for any meeting 45 minutes (instead of 60). If you schedule a meeting for 60 minutes, it will take 60 minutes. If you schedule it for 45, it will take 45. This change tends to cut down on the 5 to 10 minutes of small talk at the beginning of most meetings and gets attendees down to business sooner. Most calendars have a default setting that can be changed to make this happen automatically. If you have a meeting that truly requires it they can go longer (e.g. strategic planning retreats), but no routine meeting should go longer than 90 minutes as most people cannot focus any longer than that. If you need more time split it into two meetings.

Finally, if you have to attend a meeting or you call a meeting that is truly necessary, make sure something comes out of it. The easiest way to do this is to be the action points guy or girl. To do this you simply say “So who is going to do what, by when, to make this happen?” as you see the meeting winding down. This ensures that someone takes accountability for making sure the attendees didn’t all just waste 45 minutes of their day.

Putting these hacks into action should get you out of meeting room sooner (or avoid it all together) and back to cultivating prospects and moving your organization’s mission forward.

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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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