Veritus Group: Get Rid of the Word ‘Annual’

One of my most common recommendations to clients is to start a monthly giving program.

It’s hard to believe, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared a Veritus Group article with you all.  That’s a crying shame because they are awesome!

Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels deliver great content on a regular basis.  Much of their content is major gift related (and is sometimes a stretch for the tiny fundraising shops that most of you run), but there are also gems like the post I’m sharing today … “Get Rid of the Word Annual.”

I’m sure you see where this is going.  Why do we use this counterproductive term?  We’re essentially training our donors to only make one donation per year!  Richard has some other examples of ways that we do this and some alternative language that you can put into use immediately.

READ THE ARTICLE

How Do You Define “Major Donor” at Your Nonprofit?

How Do You Define “Major Donor” at Your Nonprofit?

It’s time to address one of the most common questions that I receive: “What is a major donor?” or “What level is a major donor?” You all want a number. You want me to say it’s $5,000 or it’s $10,000. I can’t do that because it’s arbitrary. In some organizations it’s $500 and I’ve seen it as $50,000 in some organizations.

But really it doesn’t matter because the next question is, “What are you going to do about it?” What are you going to do with that group of donors that is your major donors? What are you going to do that’s different, that’s special, that makes them feel like this is a personal relationship they have with your organization? Do you know what you’re going to do or you have some ideas? Now the question is, how many donors can you do that for?

For super small one person it might just be 10 or 25. For bigger shops, with a dedicated development director, maybe 50 or 100. Once you know the group that you can support at that level, then you’re ready to define what a major donor is for your organization. So print out the list of all past donors, sort it by the size of last gift and look for the break point.

Wherever that falls, that’s a major donor for you. It can change over time but that’s the level of major donor that you’re capable of supporting at this point in time. That’s what matters. The dollar amount doesn’t matter. It’s all about where you can provide the personal experience that’s going to grow their relationship and their support of the organization.

PTO Fundraising: Raise More Money at Your Next Event

Would like to raise $5,050 more at your PTO’s next fundraising event?

Are you tired of running all over town picking up donated gift cards for your silent auction which don’t even sell for face value?

Do your events seem to raise the same amount of money year after year no matter what you do?

Then try a wishboard at your next event and raise more money with less effort.

So, what’s a wishboard?

A wishboard is a stand alone donation board. It consists of 100 spaces where event attendees can make a donation to the organization in any amount from $1 to $100. Once a board is filled the organization has raised $5,050 in contributions.

Typically, wishboard supporters will also support other event fundraising opportunities (e.g. silent and live auction). The wishboard amounts are small. Because of this, wishboard support is often given in addition to other contributions.

Wishboards are an easy way to get more revenue from your event with minimal effort from volunteers.

Here’s a sample of what one looks like …

How does it work?

Adding a wishboard to your next event is quite simple. Here are the steps …

1) Select a specific project or program for which to fundraise (this works far better than unrestricted operating support as it’s something your organization is “wishing for” but does not currently have the funds to purchase). A new piece of playground equipment is a perfect example;

2) Have a wishboard designed (we can help with this);

3) Decide how the board will be displayed/featured;

4) Assign volunteers to the wishboard at the event and make sure they are trained on what to say (“Would you like to sponsor a few spots on our wishboard? It’s funding ______________.”);

5) Make the purchase process as seamless as possible (Are you using names or bidder numbers? Can they pay instantly via credit card?).

How do I make it happen?

You now know everything you need to know in order to add a wishboard to your next event.

Your designer and printer can easily create a wishboard for you.

But to make it even easier, we offer custom wishboards shipped to your door in 3 weeks (or less) for just $150 plus tax. If you fill the board that’s $4,900 for your organization after the expense of the board.

37 Facebook Groups Every Nonprofit Professional Needs to Join

Does it sometimes feel like you are all alone on your fundraising island? Do you work in a small shop and you’re the only fundraiser on staff? Does no one else get it?

I’ve found that private Facebook groups can be the answer for the isolation that we sometimes feel as fundraisers in small shops. It’s why I started the Fundraising Fish Fry but that isn’t the only option out there. Wild Apricot maintains this great list of nonprofit Facebook groups. There’s something for everyone … some very specialized, some very broad. Check it out and grow the peer support network that you need!

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.

#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!

How to Earn More Donor Referrals

How to Earn More Donor Referrals

The most frequent question I get from fundraisers is “Where do I find new donors?” or board members, or event volunteers, etc.

My answer is almost always the same:  “That’s easy, from the ones you already have.”  No matter what type of individual you are looking for the best new ones are the friends and contacts of your current ones.  People tend to associate with like minded people, so it only makes sense that your current donors and volunteers hang out with other folks that would make great donors and volunteers.

So, you’re essentially looking for referrals.  But referrals don’t come automatically, you have to earn them.  You earn them by making the process easy.  This starts by knowing exactly what you’re looking for.   Take a look at your top 25 donors and search for commonalities.  Are they around a certain age?  Predominantly one gender?  Have an interest in the same topic?  Work in related industries?  These commonalities will form a profile of the type of person you are looking for.

Next, you need a way to engage prospects in your charity’s work.  This is best accomplished through periodic introductory events (quarterly typically works well).  These are not lavish donor receptions.  These are simple events, typically hosted at your facility, which introduce people to your charity and show them the work that you do.  It can involve a tour, remarks from a beneficiary, a welcome from the CEO, etc. I find that 5 to 6:30pm on a weeknight works best as folks can squeeze you in right after work.  A few bottles of wine and some simple hors d’ oeuvres always make the event go smoother as well.  The biggest key with these events is that there is NO ASK at them … they are educational and the start of a relationship — they do not raise money (at least not that evening).

Once these two pieces are in place, you can begin to ask your current donors for referrals.  You don’t ask everyone, you ask donors that you have a strong relationship with and that are actively engaged in the life of your organization (e.g. current and former board members).  To begin the process, explain that your organization is looking to grow its support base and is in need of a few new donors.  Then ask, “do you know of anyone else that might have an interest in our cause?”  They will most likely say “no” or “no one immediately comes to mind” — that’s when you pull out the two tools that you’ve built.

First the donor profile … you can reply with “that’s understandable” and then say “let me paint you a picture of who we’re looking for.”  Then review the characteristics of your ideal donor.  They’ll  begin to review their network as you’re speaking and will most likely think of a few folks.  But they’re scared, they don’t know if they can trust you … they don’t know what will happen next.

That’s when the second tool comes out … the introductory event.  This is where you explain to your donors what happens next in the referral process.  You share how the organization has these periodic events where individuals can come and learn about the organization.  Stress that there is NO ASK made at these events.  They are simply educational.  The donor can bring the prospect with them as a guest or extend the invitation and not attend.

Knowing exactly who you’re looking for and what happens next makes your donors more likely to give you referrals.  It allows them to find matches for your charity in their network and conquers their fear that you’re instantly going to hit up all their friends as soon as they give you a list.  So take some time to develop these tools and begin earning your donor referrals.