Archive for November, 2009

How to Boost Year-End Giving For Your Non Profit

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Charitable Giving on Volunteer Screening BlogLast week we reported on the year-end picture for charitable giving: traditional holiday gifts to non profits are likely to be way down in 2009 over 2008. But the study revealed some other interesting statistics, too. Using the data wisely to change your non profit’s year end strategy could be an effective way to boost income.

This year, successful non profits are using the recession as a starting point to re-establish relationships and appeal to new and existing donors. The difference is in the message: avoiding the same, stale, year-end letter is essential. Donors and potential supporters are weary and wary this time of year. Everyone knows that non profits need help more than ever—but most people cannot give to every one of the dozens of appeals they receive this time of year.

So here’s some statistics you can use in your year-end holiday appeal: the same charitable giving study reveals that fully three-quarters of Americans surveyed would prefer to receive gifts that help others, rather than traditional holiday clothing, and electronics. And, an overwhelming majority—95%—want the nation’s holiday focus to be on helping children. A message that speaks to the heart of the recipient could go a long way to standing out from the crowd—and being more effective. The fact is that your donors might not know that most of the folks on their holiday gift list would rather see them give a needy organization a donation than give them a present.

So don’t send out the same message this year to your supporters and donors. You can help make gift-giving much easier—and maybe even increase your donations—simply by pointing out that giving gifts of charity and helping children in need is what everyone on their list really wants this year.

Report Says Year-End Giving Will Be Down

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

dollar-sign12009 has been a tough year for non profits and charities all over the United States. And unfortunately, the traditional year-end bump that most receive will not likely happen this year.

As the economy sputters back to life, unemployment is higher than ever—and wallets are snapping shut. Doing without is the new trend, and giving to charities is just not possible for countless Americans.  For those whose incomes have been slashed and are out of work, the incentive of a tax deduction for charitable giving is not at all important.

Giving to a charity as an alternative to buying a gift is not as widespread as last year. A new report commissioned by World Vision says that only 38% of Americans are more likely to give to charity as a gift to another this year—in 2008, that figure was 49%.

Practicality has replaced philanthropy, as holiday gift-givers focus on providing treats to those who have done without them all year, or on giving basic necessities to friends and family who have not been able to afford them.

The good news is that most of those surveyed  for the report plan to increase giving when they can—a full 74% said “yes” when asked if they would increase charitable contributions when the economy improves.

In this economic downturn, non profits have experienced a double-whammy: the need for their services has increased while donors’ ability to give has been significantly cut. The same number of people are donating to charity, but they are giving fewer dollars. Even the nation’s most successful charities expect a 9% decline in income for 2009.  The American Heart Association ended its fiscal year on June 30 with donations down by almost 12%.

Luckily, the AHA saw an increase in both  the number of individual donors and the number of volunteers—a sign that folks still want to help, even if they can only give small amounts of cash or their time.

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Getting Creative with Donors

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Donor writing a check on volunteer screening blogAs non profits climb out of the deep hole created by the recession, volunteer managers and fundraisers are more than a little weary. But some have used the recession to get creative when asking donors for help.

In Virginia, an art museum asked its top donors to give even more so it could eliminate its entry fee and open the museum to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Believing that the economic situation was exactly the time when folks needed access to art, four donors gave $150,000—and the fee was eliminated.

But free admission created another issue: how to appease the members whose annual fees give them the important perk of unlimited entry? The museum approached the problem with a creative solution: they changed their marketing message to help members understand all the other benefits they receive, such as invitations to special exhibits and events, and to point out that it is their membership fees that are helping others enjoy the museum.  The museum also instituted an entry fee for four special exhibitions per year, which members could still attend for free.

How is it working? The first week of September, when free admission began, saw three times the usual attendance and double the voluntary donations at the museum’s door.

Other non profit organizations are polishing up their donor and volunteer relationships. The head of a youth services foundation in Washington decided that the economic slump was not the time to do just an annual report or stage the same tired annual fundraising event. Personal cards and more frequent updates kept the charity’s name top of mind throughout the year. And when it was time for the annual fundraising event, she took a bold step by ramping it up into an elegant affair—a big change from the simple thank-you dinner of years past.

Instead of charging nothing to attend and hoping for donations at the event, the organization hired an exclusive caterer and held the function in the nicest ballroom in town. They charged $75 per ticket, and quickly sold out. Additional fundraisers at the event brought in even more cash. And, she had more volunteers than ever before, because the event was more fun than ever before!

The lesson as we come through the end (hopefully) of the recession is to be bold, come up with new ideas, and go big! Put your non profit ahead by giving people something to talk about.

End of Year Newsletter Ideas

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

man-writing-laptop on volunteer screening blogIt’s November, which means you have just a couple of months to wrap up your 2009 non profit marketing plan (if you even had one!). If you’ve been sending and/or emailing a newsletter out regularly—great! If not, a year-end wrap up is a great way to get in the habit. Newsletters don’t have to be long to be effective. In fact, most folks prefer shorter bits of easy-to-read news. Four short paragraphs are sufficient. Choose from these ideas:

Accomplishments, or Goals Set and Achieved: Here’s where you list all the good things your non profit organization did in 2009. Pull data from board reports and meeting minutes. If you submit a monthly or quarterly report to your Board of Directors, then you probably have all the information you need to compile your list of accomplishments.

Thanks to our Volunteers: Include the number of hours your volunteers donated to your organization, the number of events they helped organize, or actual jobs they performed. Statistics are compelling and impacting, so use numbers like “3,782 meals served,” or “62,000 dollars worth of time donated.”

Event Highlights: Add ohotos and description of the fundraisers thrown, programs given, trade shows attended, schools visited, or races run. Any group photos with your charity’s t-shirt or logo prominently displayed are effective ways to communicate involvement and support in your community

Volunteer of the Year: Choose a volunteer to honor. Include a photo and bio, including why they chose your organization when offering their volunteer services. Volunteers love to see their names and photos, and to know they are appreciated. Plus, showing them a little love will help you recruit more volunteers.

Board Members: Introduce all the members of your board, especially new members. Be sure to mention any board members who left or rotated off in 2009, and thank them for their service.

Goals for 2010: Let your supporters and community know what you plan to accomplish next year. Then at the end of 2010, you’ll know exactly what goals were met, and where you need to keep working.

Lives We’ve Impacted: Make a personal connection with your organization’s work by telling clients’ real stories. Include a photo if privacy is not an issue. Telling stories is the best way to make your organization’s mission resonate with your supporters and community.

Marketing communications are a vital link to your supporters, volunteers, and community. Keep yours consistent and interesting, and you will see a return for your efforts!