Giving Tuesday, the Global Day of Philanthropy is on Tuesday, November 28. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with Facebook again this year to provide a match up to $2 million to donors who give during that day.
Here are the specifics of this match:
Donations made to participating nonprofit organizations through Facebook’s charitable giving tools beginning at 8:00 am EST on November 28 will be matched — up to $50,000 per nonprofit, or $1,000 per fundraiser or donate button — until the matching funds run out. Facebook and the Gates Foundation are contributing $1 million each for the campaign, and all matched funds will be paid out to nonprofits through Network for Good’s donor-advised fund.
So, what can your organization do to prepare?
Here are some simple steps that I have been recommending to nonprofits to take advantage of this match:
1 – Determine what your Giving Tuesday monetary and non-monetary goals are. How much do you want to raise? How many new donors do you want to attract?
2 – Ensure that you have activated your Facebook “Donate” button first and foremost. Ensure that you are using Facebook’s full scope of charitable giving tools. Otherwise, you will not be eligible for the match. You also want to ensure that your pages are branded so that folks can recognize the Giving Tuesday campaign.
3 – Ensure that your website and online donation portal are up-to-speed and ready to go. Make sure that you rigorously test them. Your website and donation portal should be easy for a donor to use and navigate. Donating should not be difficult.
4 – If you have work to do on your donor lists, now is the time. Make sure that they all get uploaded into your Donor Management System, particularly your email addresses.
5 – Draft your social media and email messaging now. You will want to announce this match opportunity in advance as well as send out reminders the day before, the day of, and an acknowledgement the day after. Use key days such as “Black Friday” as messaging points. Be sure to use photos, videos, and testimonials. Consider integrating into your current calendar year-end campaign.
6 – Be sure to recruit ambassadors as social media messengers for your cause during this campaign. You may want to enlist your Board, staff, and volunteers to help spread the word about your GIving Tuesday by sharing your social media messages with their family and friends. If you are using Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, then get your folks set-up and engaged in advance of the actual day.
7 – Develop a plan to steward these Giving Tuesday donors once Giving Tuesday is complete, and you begin marching into December.
These are some simple steps that you can take to begin to plan for your Giving Tuesday campaign.
Now, I want to hear from you. What steps is organization taking to prepare for this day of giving?
Each year, approximately 10% of your non-profit donor base will attrition naturally through death, moving, or just not giving any longer. Then you add lapsed donors on top of that natural attrition, and you are looking at an eroding donor list. Sound familiar?
In this article, I tackle the ever important question of “How to find new donors for your nonprofit?”
Here are some simple steps that you can take to combat this natural attrition and to begin adding new names to your donor list. These are the actual suggestions that I use with my very own clients.
1.) Conduct a fun exercise with your Board members such as a “Treasure Map” activity to help them to think of all those who they come into contact with in their networks i.e. people who they attend church with, volunteer on other Boards of Directors, friends, etc.
2.) Host a gathering or tour and have Board and staff bring those prospective donors to this event. This event should have a program that shares information about the organization and its mission, services, ways to get involved, and most importantly, a testimonial. Don’t forget to conduct follow-up with all those who attend these events to find out what they thought about the event and to determine further interest for engagement.
3.) Use social media as a way to find new donors. Consider having a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Don’t overwhelm yourself with having to manage and pay attention to too many networks at a time. Instead, be strategic, profile your ideal donor and then determine what networks that you are most likely to find them. Keep up to date on your competitor’s website and how they are managing their social media presence. Then promote, promote, promote and have your Board and staff act as “Social Media Ambassadors” sharing the page with friends, family, and other interested individuals. Keep content fresh, consider automating content with an automating app, and don’t forget to comment and interact with others. Keep content 80% of interest and 20% promotional.
4.) Take a look at similar organization’s annual reports, websites, and newsletters and compile a list of who is giving to them. Compile a prospective list of donors. Ask Board and staff if they happen to know anyone on these lists. If so, begin to cultivate them.
5.) Get the local voter or street records list, sometimes referred to as “Grand” lists and review this list with Board and staff based on property assessment, location, or other criteria that meet your ideal donor profile. From there pull together a prospective donor list and cultivate!
6.) Ask for referrals from your current donors. These donors already are giving to you and love you. So why not just ask them who else may they know who might be interested in becoming more involved in the organization.
7.) Be sure when you are doing outreach at events or speaking engagements to bring along a guest book so that interested attendees can sign up to receive more information. You have a captive, interested audience, so you want to be sure to get their names and contact information. Research them if possible, segment out those with greater interest and capacity for cultivation, and add all the other names to your mailing list.
8.) Identify new attendees to your organization’s fundraising events and create strategies that will take their transactional attendance to possible transformational engagement in your organization. One possible first step is to call those new attendees and find out what they thought about the event and if they see themselves getting more involved or interested in learning more.
9.) Capture interested website visitors with a website “pop-up” offering free information and resources. Send these folks a welcome and begin to send them relevant informational emails in cultivation. Ensure that your site is mobile-friendly as more and more folks are using their mobile devices to access content.
10.) And, of course, you can always rent and purchase mailing lists from a list broker.
So there you have ten steps that you can begin immediately taking to start to stem the tide of donor attrition by adding new names to your donor lists. These are the same steps that I use to help my clients build their donor lists. And, they work!
For a FREE half hour coaching session with me, email me now to schedule your complimentary time. Offer ends Friday, August 4.
So, maybe you have been operating without a plan up until now. And, that is ok, but it is not strategic, and to meet your goals, you need to have a plan that you follow, monitor, and correct if needed.
Here are some simple instructions on how you can quickly create a development plan if you have been operating without one.
Once you have your gift chart created, it will guide your strategies. Take that gift table and think about how you are going to raise your top gifts.
Then break out all the possible fundraising strategies into key categories. Those key categories may be major donors, individual donors, Board giving, special events, corporation and businesses, private grants, government grants, and earned revenue.
Plan on how many you are going to solicit from each category and how i.e. individual donors you may send out a lapsed donor appeal, an annual renewal appeal, and perhaps a prospective donors appeal using direct mail appeal and maybe phone follow-up. Your complete mail out will be close to 1,000. You can even go a step further and calculate the average gift amount if you are able.
From the numbers that you will be soliciting and the calculated average gift amount determine what your estimated income will be. Know or have any expenses, calculate those and subtract them from your expected income, and you have a net income number.
Then the last key element of this plan is to determine when you will complete each strategy by and who is responsible for the strategy i.e. development staff, executive direct, Board of Directors, etc.
Then implement your plan. But, most importantly use this plan as a monthly monitoring tool. Share it at your Management Staff meetings and with your Development Committee or the Board of Directors. If it appears as if you are “off” on projections, make mid-course corrections and adjust your budget.
But, don’t let this sit on a shelf. Get it in action.
You may want to consider putting all of the key plan information in a spreadsheet to have it all in one place. Or you can use a Word document table. Whatever format you use, start with the gift table, develop the plan, keep this plan in a prominent place, share it and monitor it, and make mid-course corrections.
You can’t operate successfully without a plan in place to drive and focus your effort
Then you will be on your way to reaching your yearly fundraising goals.
One may think that there are only a limited number of donors to go around, but think again.
In my work, I assist small to mid-sized organizations in running their first capital campaigns. Many do not have established donor bases to tap into for an already existing pool of major donors. So, I assist. And, I am here to say that yes, you too can, even in your small nonprofit, develop a list of 25 or more possible major donors to your organization.
I am going to take you step by step on how to begin establishing that prospect list for your nonprofit organization and then share with you some next steps on how to prioritize that list.
Here are the steps you can take to develop your prospect master list:
Use informal organizational networks including organizational friends and family members i.e. Board members, staff, volunteers, etc. to identify prospects within their respective networks who have both wealth and affinity for the cause.
Ask your current donors when meeting with them if they know of anyone else who may support the cause.
Research prominent donors to other similar organizations who may be making small gifts to your organizations. It is helpful to obtain copies of their annual reports, newsletters, and even event programs to see the giving levels of the prospective donors. Annual reports may be found online or hard copy by request.
Research who has been attending your events. There are folks here who already know of your mission and may be willing to deepen their relationship with you.
Research others who live in your community who might give to you using voter, property (Grand), the local chamber of commerce, houses of worship, and other lists.
So now what do you do when you have all this information?
Here is what I recommend:
Cull through all these lists to create a Master List of prospects whom you think “make the cut” regarding any possibility of capacity, affinity, or connection.r
Let me define these for you.
Capacity – ability to give
Affinity – philanthropic to a similar cause or interest
Connection – involvement in your organization
Once you have this Master List developed then work with the fundraising/development committee, Board of Directors, or other volunteers (they should know folks in the community) to rate and rank each donor during a rating session to determine potential giving capacity, interest, and affinity.
And, from there you have a Master List of the top 20-25 prospective donors to your organization. Even the smallest of non-profit organizations should be able to come up with a Master List of at least 25 potential donors after following these steps.
There are quite a number of groups seeking to test the feasibility of a possible capital campaign.
And, so naturally being a consulting firm catering to small fundraising shops, I tend to get asked to talk about these, and I am currently in the midst of one now.
What I find is that groups think that feasibility studies only test for one thing and that one thing is a financial goal.
I assert that there are many different types of things that a feasibility study tests for as a result. Financial goals being just one. In fact, more importantly, feasibility studies look at both internal and external perceptions and find areas of opportunities and challenges for an upcoming campaign. Things such as “what about that large endowment the organization has?” or “it doesn’t have strong fundraising leadership?” or “you need to ensure that so and so is on board and committed to launching a full-scale effort.”
Through a feasibility study, a group also finds out about potential campaign leadership, which by the way, can make or break a proposed capital campaign, other competing campaigns currently or just recently completed within the same community, and potential prospective donors to a capital campaign. Also, a capital campaign feasibility study will unearth the general economic outlook both nationally and locally and how will that impact the success of a capital campaign.
So, as you can see, a feasibility study done correctly will provide lots of data that can then be used to refine the case for support, determine if it is time for the organization to mount a significant campaign, and what is the recommend campaign plan based upon findings as part of the study. Oh, yes, and what fundraising goal will be feasible.
If you or your group is considering an upcoming capital campaign, I urge you NOT to skimp on the process of conducting a feasibility study. You will learn more than just – can this campaign make a go of it. You will find out exactly how much and how it can or cannot!
What? That seems like something so mundane. Well, it may be, but it is so critical to fundraising.
Throughout my professional career, I have been victim to bad databases, and I have been asked to work with bad databases.
One thing is for sure, without an initial thought out structure, problems are inevitable. I often come into organizations that have no rhyme or reason as to what they call their Campaigns, Funds, and Approaches. You know, one year it is called Spring Appeal 2016, and the next it is labeled the Mother’s Day Appeal.
Consistency is key. I see so much inconsistency that why bother having a database, to begin with at all. The way names are entered i.e. Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Bob and Laura or even Robin and Smitty or Robin & Smitty.
It drives me mad.
Having a database procedural manual developed with consistent data entry standards specified is critical. How do you pass this institutional information along when staff transition or do you? Do you let them sink or swim?
Hey, garbage in is only garbage out.
The most important thing is the question of who has access to this database? Who does the main gift entry? Moreover, I pray that your answer is a development staff person. Please, do not say that it is a member of the finance department, or even worse, a volunteer or an intern.
Provide those using the database with training in the software itself and budget for it every year. Moreover, don’t think that a cost saving is ignoring software updates and the resulting costs.
I cannot stress enough how important the database is to your fundraising efforts. It will allow you to be donor-centered in your work regarding recognizing donors and their giving the exact way that they want to be recognized. It lets you accurately report on giving and make comparisons that will affect the future of your fundraising efforts, and it will allow you to become more strategic in your endeavors through segmentation and greater personalization.In all of my career if I had to answer the question of “What impacts the success of fundraising THE most, besides the Board, of course,” I would have to answer, the database.
Moreover, folks EXCEL is not a database; it is a spreadsheet tool used by those in the finance department. Please don’t say that you cannot afford a database. Some great databases are available for a very fair and affordable price.
Pay close attention to your database – this is the brain behind your efforts.
A question that I am asked a bit. When can our capital campaign go public? When can we put a thermometer out on our lawn? When can we start to ask our constituents and the general community? When can we have a special event and invite everyone?
The all important question, “is it time?”
My answer? Not until you have a certain number of lead gifts in hand. And, not before you have your institutional family committed to the campaign – folks like your Board of Directors, staff members, Campaign Steering Committee members, and your leadership donors.
Only when you have the majority of lead and family gifts in, is it time to broaden the focus and extend the solicitation process to more prospects through a more public campaign. Some say that you should have at least 50-70% of the entire gifts needed for the campaign in hand. But, one thing is for sure, the “Quiet” Phase is that indeed – quiet. There is no general advertising of the campaign or overall campaign fanfare.
Once you have a significant number of advanced gifts in hand, it is at this juncture that you should plan a campaign kickoff celebration event to aid in your project going “public.” This “public” phase is when the work of soliciting the organization’s broader constituency begins.
Then and only then should you put that “Community Thermometer” in the ground and start having your special shindig events.
So, is it time to go public – maybe or maybe not. It all depends upon the science of campaigns and it is not something that you want to rush.
Best practices. We hear that phrase often. This week, I even read a question asking if “best practices were misleading?”
Are we throwing that phrase around to legitimize our field? Our do we have best practices and what are they?
Well, I contend that the only true best practice is one that is grounded in research. Those are harder to find that than the other so-called “best practices.”
While studying for my Masters Degree in Philanthropy and Fund Development, I learned that philanthropic research has many gaps. However, there are people now making a study of philanthropy and conducting research. Folks like Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang. More research is needed in our field to support our work.
I can tell you that when research is grounded in actual studies, it works. Eye motion studies, philanthropic psychology, etc., etc.
Recently, I have been working on many appeal letters. And, each time I craft one for the client, I get pushback. Why do you indent paragraphs? Why do you repeat yourself often? Why is there bold and underline? Do we need to include a P.S.? And, can’t the letter just fit on one page? Must we send more than one appeal?
Pushback that is unfounded. And, I push back with research. When the client allows me to use those best practices, the results speak for themselves.
When those results speak for themselves, it is magic. Campaigns get funded, new projects begin, and donors have the opportunity to make a greater impact.
We forget that the fact (and it is a fact) that we are not beggars. Donors want to give. And, to give, they must be asked. Asked in a way that moves them to feel connected to their core beliefs through your organization’s mission.
Know the difference between unfounded best practices and best practices backed by scientific research. Read blogs, stay current with trends, and keep furthering your informal and formal education. When you do, and you practice it, your results will show all the difference.
Fund development does have a researched body of knowledge. Don’t allow anyone to convince you that it does not.
This weekend I took a little vacation of sorts. I ran a marathon. The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. Running a marathon is exhausting, but also, reflective. For you see, you run for 26 miles. That is a long time on your feet – sometimes, three, four, five, six, or even more hours.
Over the course over the weekend, there were approximately 3,000 marines – some of our countries finest armed service men and women. And, as I reflected on my experience, I was reminded of how important it is to take care of our donors. You see, the Marines took care of me while I was running.
They were there to welcome me when I arrived – how often do we welcome donors for their first gifts to us or even their second or third?
They directed me through the maze of marathon logistics – how often do we try to make our experience of being a donor easy for our donors? Do we point them in the right direction? Do we connect them with aspects of the charity that they care deeply?
And, then when I was running, those Marines were out there cheering me on as if I were the hero – how often do we cheer on our donors in their act of giving? How often do we make them feel like the superheroes that they are?
When the going got tough, they were there for me, telling me that I could do – when things get tough for our donors, are we still behind them cheering for them? Perhaps they can’t give us as much, do we abandon them as people? Or do we still treat them the same, cultivating the relationship?
And, at the end of it all – they placed the medal on me and made me feel accomplished – “Congratulations, Maam” – do we treat our donors like they are the real heroes, even though we are doing the actual work?
Interesting questions. I was awed and inspired by this display of honor at the marathon. The Marine’s know how to put on a good race. And, they also know a lot more about how to treat people. There are lessons learned here on how we should go about treating our donors.
Giving is MORE like a marathon than a sprint. It is about cultivating relationships with our donors over weeks, months, years – just like a marathon is about training for days, weeks, months, and years.
So, go out and run the race. And, even though it is your organization that is doing the hard work, take some lessons from the Marines and treat your donors like the superheroes that they are. After all, the Marines are making this sacrifice for our country, just as our donors are making another kind of sacrifice for our organizations.
So, here it is. I am laying this question and answer right out on the line. Especially now that we are coming to the year-end giving season.
I am asked time and time again, “Didn’t we just mail to them, won’t we be bothering them?”
No, no, and no. You can never ask enough.
Yes, Virginia, you can ask multiple times
Let’s face it. The decision isn’t ours to make. It isn’t. It is the donor’s decision to make. Only they are going to tell you, how much is too much. In most cases, if you are only asking once or twice a year, aren’t you telling them that you don’t need the donations to make a go of it? Donors aren’t naive. They know that you are a non-profit, and they know that you need donations to run your organization. Why do we believe that we must lightly tread when it comes to asking?
Donors are busy people. Just because they didn’t respond to your initial mailing, doesn’t mean that they don’t want to give to support you. In major gift work, if we don’t get the gift right away during our meeting – and in most cases, we don’t – we explore with the donor the reason for hesitation. Was it the program we were asking for a contribution? Was it the ask amount itself? Was it the timing of the ask? Why do we think that this is any different for the number of times we should mail to a donor? Perhaps the reason that they didn’t respond to your initial mailing is that it wasn’t an ask for the right project or the right amount, or it wasn’t the right timing. Maybe they had a big bill just come in that they needed to tend to or perhaps they were on vacation when the letter arrived in your mailbox. But, we won’t know this if we only mail to them once and then assume the donor will never give again.
And, I often hear clients question whether or not they should include a reply envelope in their newsletter because they just sent out an “ask.” Of course, you put an envelope in your newsletter. This envelope is a “soft” ask. Donors may feel so inspired to give after reading about your good works in your newsletter that they may want to give to support your work. How else will you capture this? And, a “soft” ask is exactly that, “soft.” We are not commanding, directing, or cajoling a donor into giving. If they choose to give using this method, then it is their choice.
Case in point, I asked a client to send out a second direct mail ask to follow up on all those who did not give to the first. And, lo and behold, the response has been tremendous. So enormous, in fact, that the client wrote back and said, “The results have been pretty unbelievable for us, believe me!
I once had a phrase that I would use quite often, “You must A S K to G E T!” And, that is true.
As we move forward into the upcoming holiday giving season, think about your strategy. You will be competing with every other nonprofit group who is sending out their calendar year-end direct mail piece at the same time. The competition will be stiff. How are you going to stand out? How are you going to assure that your donors will read your letter among all of the other letters? And, what is your strategy for follow-up? Will you ask more than once? What forms will that “ask” take? How will you leverage the December 31 tax deadline as an incentive to give?
I know one thing is for sure, this calendar year-end, if you only ask once, you are doing your donors an injustice. They want to give, and they want to give to you. But, your ask must be heard and, that it is the right ask, for the right project, at the right time.
Now, craft a plan that includes multiple year-end asks!
Lately, I have been doing a lot of driving. And, as a result, a lot of thinking. I have clients all throughout the Northeast. And, sometimes, yes, the driving does get “old.” But, then I sit back and reflect.
You see, there are many different types of fundraising consultants. And, lately, I have been hearing a great deal about “remote,” “outsourced” development professionals as opposed to the strategic “tell me what to do” consultants that produce a plan and then move onto to the next client. I do consider myself one of these, in fact, all of these.
But, perhaps I am old-fashioned. Or maybe I just have been working in the field too long. I remember, long ago, when there were resident consultants who upped and moved to different parts of the country to live and work at a nonprofit and become immersed in their community.
And, while I don’t up and move, I do spend lots of time on the move. I think – no, wait, I believe it is critical to the success of my client’s efforts. Yes, many of the things that I do while sitting in their organization can be done quite easily from home. But, it is not the same.
Two weeks ago on my blog, I noted how “culture of place” is such an important part of our work. How can you get to know and understand that “culture of place” if you are working remotely? Or for that measure, how can you understand the mission and culture of the nonprofit that you are working for if you never sit at a desk and be a part of all that happens on a day to day basis. What does this have to do with fundraising? A lot!
It makes a big difference to the quality of work. When I am onsite, I am a strong reminder to the client that we need to focus and get work done. So, a lot of work gets done. When I am not directly onsite, and I work remotely, it seems like work moves at a snail’s pace. Emails are not answered with urgency, and meetings are postponed. I get it. I fall to the bottom of the list. Very different than having a living, breathing person taking up precious space/rent or whatever you call it in your office as a good reminder.
And, the kinds of things that I do go far beyond just providing advice. I do the work. I craft appeal letters; write newsletter content, solicit donors, write Case for Supports, write grants, work on board development, manage capital campaigns, conduct feasibility studies and audits, on and on and on.
So, when you are thinking about consultants – yes, personality is important – yes, credentials and experience are important, but, don’t overlook the consultant’s personal philosophy of service provision. Will they go the distance, sometimes hundreds of miles at a time, to live in hotels, to get your work done and to understand the context, both internally and externally, in which your work happens?
We don’t expect our staff development professionals to be in the office behind their desks, so why would you expect the same of a fund development consultant? They need to be building relationships with organizations to create impact – just as fundraising professionals must be with donors. It is just another extension of this donor-centered relationship – creating results and positive outcomes for a mission.
While the old models of “in-residence, uproot you and your family” are not so available today, I believe that my unique model of in-residence consulting of a set number of days per week/month onsite is an excellent compromise. And, hey while I toot my own horn, my model makes a huge difference to my clients and sets me apart from the rest of the bunch.
See you on I95 or maybe I89 or maybe Rt 66. But, you can be sure of one thing, you won’t see me sitting at my desk at home.
P.S. – Yes, these are photos from my travel. When I say I get immersed in a community that I am working in, I do. On a recent stay in a client’s town, I did go to the “Cow Barn” for milk for breakfast. And, that stretch of road is I91 heading into a client’s town in Vermont from another client located in the Stamford area of CT.
Interestingly enough, a group that I am currently working with is in the process of conducting an outside needs assessment. I think this is such a wise move.
Over the years, I have led strategic planning and board development for quite some time. For those groups who have engaged me in the past for strategic planning, I strongly advocate that we take the time to do a full stakeholder assessment component through a comprehensive market research plan. Many groups, move ahead without me and without doing that needs assessment.
Well, one of the primary objectives of strategic planning is to determine if an organization is still relevant to the community that it serves. And, if the community has changed, how will they choose to respond to the findings, if at all.
The pure fact of the matters is that we are here to serve our stakeholders. We have a mission to serve a community to meet a need. Do we ever stop and assess how well we have met that need? Or have we ever stopped to assess to determine if that need still exists? Or if it exists, is it still in the same form and shape?
Demographics and populations change quite naturally as society does. Technology, societal views, cultural shifts may impact a demographic and their life choices, etc.
Do we as organizations make the assumption that the demographic and social ill that we were founded to alleviate, in some cases twenty years or more is still the same?
Are we making decisions based on old paradigms or trends or social problems?
How do we ensure that our organizations are still relevant? And, that our mission is impactful?
Or are we ensuring that we don’t go out of business because failure to look at the community means that we don’t have a look at whether or not we are needed any longer and to what degree?
I applaud this group for taking this step and for assessing their community. The data is rich. And, it will inform future discussions around mission and direction, about fundraising and case for supports, about capital campaigns, etc., etc., etc.
I urge you to take the same steps, and then to ask the tough question – what does relevancy mean? And, are we still relevant to those that we serve?
And, folks, this is the realm of governance. Something that your board should be asking and looking at in-depth.