- Crowdsourcing: Sites like Crowdrise have made it easy to get the word out about your cause and connect with people who might want to support it. Create a project and Crowdrise will put it out there for a vote. Firstgiving helps organizations fundraise online.
- Storytelling: Help donors make a good decision. People want to connect to their causes, and there’s no better way to do that than to tell your story well. Create vignettes of the people you serve and how your organization improved their lives. Feature a board member, to describe how important members of your community are involved in volunteering at the management level. Elicit an emotion from a reader, and you’re more likely to elicit a donation as well.
- Get reviewed: Just as on Travel Advisor or Yelp, people want to check out charities before they give. So make sure you seek reviews from community leaders, supporters and volunteers. Then, share them through GuideStar, Philanthropedia and GreatNonprofits. Watch your credibility soar!
- Follow up: You’ll leave donors with a great impression if you follow up with them after they give. Let them know how you used the funds, and they’ll be more likely to give in the future, and tell their friends about how great your organization is.
- Give the opportunity to get involved: Donors, especially younger ones, want to be part of something bigger. They don’t want to just write a check. They want experiences, even if it’s just signing a petition or sharing your Facebook page with friends.
Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category
The results of a survey conducted by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative found that 60% of groups that spent more money on email and other internet fundraising efforts in the first half of 2011 saw a greater return in donations. But overall, only about a third of charities reporting actually increased spending on online efforts. The lesson: if you can increase your online efforts, you have a good chance of increasing your fundraising success.
Other results from the study were that participating charities were successful with a variety of fundraising methods, from seeking support from corporations and foundations, to events, direct mail and asking board members for donations. About 45% used social media and planned giving. Donors responded to every form of fundraising, with event donations up for two-thirds of the charities that produced them, and direct mail and major gifts up for 54% of the charities that invested in these methods. The lesson: Keep up the effort, no matter which form it takes.
Overall, giving was better in the first half of 2011 for nearly half (44%) of the responding groups; worse for others (30%), and unchanged for a large percentage (25%). Charities with large budgets—over $3 million—saw greater increases in giving.
Charitable giving will probably remain flat in 2011, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of 180 businesses. After 2010’s 13% increase in cash donations, businesses are not expected to maintain the increases. Some see a possible increase in product donations, which when added to 2010’s total, increased giving by nearly 20%.
Out of the 107 Fortune 500 companies surveyed, 74 said they expected 2011’s giving to remain about the same as 2010’s, while 27 expected an increase and six expect a decrease.
The head of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals, a group that represents company grant makers, said that companies are just holding steady and it will take until at least 2013 before companies give like they did prior to the recession’s start at the end of 2007.
Other findings in the survey include:
- Cash donations totaled $4.9 billion in 2010.
- Wal-Mart gave the most cash of any company in the survey, at $319.5 million. Wal-Mart also pledges food and other gifts, with a $1.75 billion commitment to food banks and other organizations that provide the poor with groceries.
- Goldman Sachs and Citigroup posted increases as their corporate profits soared. Goldman Sachs giving increased 353% to $315.4 million, and Citigroup gave more than $100 million in cash.
- When combining cash and products, Pfizer topped the list with $3 billion, followed by Oracle at $2.3 billion and Merck at $1.2 billion.
- Businesses are receiving more requests for basic help, as with utility bills, from non-profits. The president of the Wells Fargo Foundation called this “a very big shift.” Prior to the recession, he said, charities sought strategic, long-term grants. Keeping up with requests will be a stretch in 2011, he suggested, after Wells Fargo’s giving increased by 8.5% in 2010.
Many corporate grant makers say the economy is changing how and what they give, and causing them to focus their charitable dollars more, by focusing on non profits that better match their business objectives, and offering more skills and products as cash becomes tighter.
For non profit organizations, every fundraising event needs to pay off. The amount of time, money and volunteer effort invested in a fundraiser can’t be wasted on a mediocre turnout and less-than-stellar take.
If you’re in charge of gathering ideas, volunteers and resources to put on a fundraising event, here are a few tips that can make it memorable and moneymaking!
Make it special: People attend events in search of something a little different. They can walk into any number of restaurants and find something good to eat. At an event, they’re after a different feel. The objective isn’t just to feed attendees; it’s to promote the culture and work of your organization. Personalize it, make it special, and make an emotional connection to your audience, and they’ll remember your event—and your organization—for months or years to come.
Make sure you have enough food: There are few worse things than a food event that runs out of food. You can avoid this disaster with proper planning. Make sure that your caterer or food vendors are absolutely clear on the number of attendees you’re expecting. Keep checking on the RSVPs and ask for caterers to be flexible enough to accommodate extras on the day of the event.
Make sure you have enough servers or serving stations: Nobody likes to see or stand in endless food and beverage lines, even if it’s for a good cause! If your lines are too long, or if folks are not served promptly, that’s what your event will be remembered for.
Make sure you have enough volunteers: For planning, ticket selling and help on the day of the event, you’ll need plenty of volunteer help. If you’re new to recruiting volunteers, keep in mind that putting the right folks in place can take time. If your volunteers will have any access to your clients, will drive your organization’s vehicles, or otherwise put your non profit at any risk, they’ll need to undergo be properly background screening—so be sure to plan ahead for that important step.
Give everyone a job, and train them to do it: Connect with your volunteers well before the event to assign duties. Encourage them to ask questions and if you don’t have the answers, get back to them ASAP. Show them how they can be of the greatest help to you, and what a successful event will look like. Paint a picture of smoothly flowing lines, fast ticket sales, answers to every guest’s question and every problem solved.
Auctions—either live or online—are a popular way for nonprofits to raise money. They can be a lot of hard work, but auctions can be fun, too. There is a right way to run an auction: you’ll know you did when you see a big audience, they have a great time and you hit your fundraising goal.
If your organization has an auction coming up or is considering one, here are 7 tips to consider that could make it more successful!
- Remember, it’s supposed to be fun! Create an atmosphere of excitement that will keep your volunteer committee inspired to continue through the planning process. It’s a big job to do an auction successfully, so make it fun and energetic.
- Give people a reason to attend. Is it a celebrity guest? Amazing auction items? An intriguing theme? If you become known for surprises, trips or fabulous wine, people will look forward to coming every year.
- Don’t try to run the auction alone. It takes many hands to gather the auction items, solicit donations and support, advertise the event, prepare the space, hire the auctioneer and the other thousand pieces that go into fundraising auctions.
- Rushing won’t help. Allow plenty of time: six to nine months is considered the minimum.
- Choose quality over quantity for auction items. An items that goes for $50 will take as much time to merchandise and sell as an time that goes for $500.
- Find the right volunteers. Approach it like a business. Figure out the jobs that need to be done, write job descriptions and match volunteers to the jobs they’re most suited to. For example, retailers can design the displays, graphic designers can do the invitations and programmers can help with the database operations.
- Keep great records so next year’s fundraising auction is just as successful—and easier.
If you decide to host a fundraising auction, do your homework and do more preparation, planning, and promoting than you think you’ll need.
A recent survey of nonprofit executive directors revealed that half had seen their revenues increase last year. The report, released by the Bridgespan Group, also said that out of 102 EDs surveyed, 60% are actively seeking talent to hire, compared to 31% the previous year.
This is good news for nonprofits everywhere. While the survey sample is not a huge number, it does indicate that things are starting to look up for nonprofits after a few very tough years.
The survey reports:
- 32% of respondents said their organization faced funding cuts in 2010, compared to 80% in 2009
- Of these, only half experienced cuts greater than 10%; in 2009, 77% of funding cuts exceeded 10%
- Half of nonprofits responding said they had seen an increase in revenues over the past year
- Most of those experiencing growth saw increases of 10% of more (63%), while 29% experienced 20% increases or more
Nonprofits Try New Strategies in Challenging Economic Times
The nonprofits that experienced growth often implemented new strategies, including:
- 84% of higher-revenue nonprofits developed contingency plans
- 94% of increasing-revenue nonprofits increased efforts to accurately measure outcomes
- 59% of nonprofits with increased revenues nonprofits created a communications plan that addressed recession-related issues, compared to only 43% of declining-revenue organizations
- 22% of nonprofits that saw revenues increase participated in some form of collaboration with other nonprofits
It’s certainly good to report some positive news about nonprofit revenues. Not only has the rate of declining revenue slowed, the size of cuts have also decreased.
Fundraising events for non-profits are seldom hassle-free. But they are almost always extremely important to the bottom line. With so much riding on a successful fundraiser, it makes sense to be as organized and thorough in planning as possible. Not only does it make the event easier on everyone involved, it can help bring in more much-needed funds right away, and set the stage for increasing support for your non-profit in the future.
Tips That Can Make Anyone A Fundraising Event Guru
- Set your objectives: know exactly what you hope to accomplish, the minimum fundraising goal that must be met and any other expectations that your board of directors or management might have.
- Set a budget: This can be the sink-or-swim item on your planning list. You must know what the spending limit is before you purchase a single postage stamp. Base it on previous events, and add or cut to individual line items as necessary.
- Start recruiting volunteers and sponsors early. This goes along with the budget—when you look at each budget item, ask yourself if there is a volunteer that can provide the service or a sponsor that can provide the product. Ask early and often. It’s a great feeling to cross a line off a budget because you managed to secure it free of charge!
- Start making spreadsheets. Simple Excel spreadsheets serve as checklists and planning documents. They can save your life!
- Select the right venue: Consider number of attendees, easy access, parking and accessibility for all. Make sure the main room won’t be too crowded, or you could see your attendees leaving long before the event is over. Get references from previous events and check up on service, food, comfort level (not too hot, not too cold) and accommodations.
- Reach out: Not only do you want to contact your entire list of supporters, but you want to let the general community know about your event, too. Get signs and banners made and hung around the venue and in other high-volume spots. Send press releases to the local newspaper and community blogs. Set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and make sure you update them weekly, then daily when the event draws nearer. And ask your friends and family to spread the word through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, too. It works!
- Get it in writing: Make sure you have the venue, caterer, speaker, auctioneer and anyone else involved in your event under signed contract. Don’t promote the event without them!
Be Interesting: People will read your communications piece—if it interests them. Make it easily scannable, with bold headlines and pull quotes to draw the reader in.
Don’t Focus on Features: Focus on benefits. It’s an old sales technique that really works. You can say “we distributed 500 pounds of food last week,” but it’s more effective to relate a fact with a benefit: “we helped 35 elementary school kids stay alert and improve their test scores by providing a good breakfast.”
Aim for Variety: Mix up your message with some facts and figures, some from-the-heart stories, and some straight-up appeals.
Tell Them What You Want: Don’t send out a communication without a call to action. You don’t want people to say “So what?” after reviewing your message.
Get to the Point: Journalists know that the most recent, most important stuff needs to go first. Don’t fall into a trap of leading up to your important points—put them front and center to grab the reader before your piece ends up in the recycle bin.
Keep your Audience in Mind: Try to narrow down to whom you’re really speaking. A broadly-written piece will appeal to exactly nobody.
Don’t Ignore the Envelope: Adding a headline or appeal to the outer envelope gives the recipient a reason to open it.
Update Your Website: This may seem to have nothing to do with a communications appeal, but think about this: if you’ve done your job and grabbed the reader, they will likely head to your website. If it’s out of date or doesn’t “match” the appeal they just received, you’ll have a disconnect that could end what might have been a beautiful relationship.
Each year since 1985, the United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day. This year, that means October 4. The purpose of the day is to increase awareness about the great need for adequate housing for all.
A focus on grassroots action and uniting people toward a single goal—to eradicate poverty housing—makes World Habitat Day an important day of learning and doing. Habitat for Humanity helps organizations and individuals plan events focused on education, advocacy and fundraising.
World Habitat Day events will be held in six cities in the U.S. during the week of October 3 – 8. Volunteers, including former President Carter and Mrs. Carter and other celebrities, will join Habitat for Humanity families in building and rehabilitating homes in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis, MD, Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, and Birmingham, AL.
How many people live in unacceptable conditions?
Worldwide, one billion people live in slums and shantytowns. By 2030, that number is expected to double to two billion.
What can we do?
Anyone can participate in local events to bring hope to the 1.6 billion people worldwide who lack adequate shelter.
Plan your own event: Hold a concert, a dance, a yard sale or a home rehab project in your town.
Publicize the issue: Talk about ways to raise awareness and increase involvement in this issue. Write a letter, speak to a group, or just tell a friend about the need for housing in the world today.
Post a photo: The World Habitat Day Photo Wall features pictures of people holding signs that answer the question: “What would you build?”
Ask our elected officials to help: Send an email or make a phone call to voice support for increasing the focus of foreign aid on expanding access to basic shelter and affordable housing at home and around the world.
Good housing for all is good for everyone. It improves the health of children, decreases the crime rate, lengthens the average life span and helps kids stay in school—which improves their chances for full employment as adults. And homeowners are more likely to work toward improving their communities by volunteering and voting.
It’s easy to make a difference in the world on World Habitat Day. Small efforts add up to big changes for impoverished people everywhere.
When budgets are still cut to the bone, and donor dollars are more precious than ever, how can non profit managers produce a good return for their marketing efforts? Whether you use social marketing, email marketing or direct mail marketing, the first thing to remember is that your mission and message must be relevant to your audience.
Don’t assume that the same message delivered the same way will always work for your audience. For one thing, it is changing: supporters will shed their loyalty to a non profit organization (NPO) quickly under the influence of others. Consumers today want to know they’re part of something bigger before committing to parting with their money. That can mean checking the online reviews of a hotel before making a reservation, or supporting a charity because all their Facebook friends are. If other people approve of something, they’re more likely to make a commitment.
Relevance is providing consistent messaging that strikes a chord with the reader. It’s about delivering a message in a pre-approved manner. It’s about being where your supporters are.
Relevance means knowing what your supporters need and developing a message that addresses those needs:
- Supporter #1 needs to feel like they’re making a difference in their community. Your job is to provide the true stories of how your organization is doing it.
- Supporter # 2 needs to know that when they donating money to your nonprofit, most of the dollars go to programs, not overhead. A simple statement on your website, mailer or email message will fill the need.
- Supporter #3 is unable to give money, but would love to volunteer—you should meet that need with information that welcomes them to give their time to your NPO.
- Supporter #4 needs to be able to trust your organization. Provide facts that communicate longevity, program success, awards and honors won, and real accomplishments.
- Supporter #5 needs authenticity. If times are dire at your NPO, say so. Don’t make things sound rosy one month, and horrible the next. Consistent, honest communication will go a long way to building trust.
When your supporters are taking more time than ever to decide how to spend their charity dollars, remember that remaining relevant is one of the most important things you can do.