Posts Tagged ‘Non Profit Fundraising’

Increasing Donations by Increasing Attention

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Nonprofits have had a rough few years, as most of their donors have struggled in the down economy. Volunteer managers and fundraisers have been beating the bushes for help and money, and may feel at the end of their respective ropes. But there are always new methods of attracting attention to your cause, which can help improve funding and the flow of volunteers, as well.

If you’re ready for some fresh tips on how to stay in front of your local and regional media, read on.

Sponsor a contest: Drum up support by holding a fun contest. The prizes can be donated by local businesses, or you could offer a scholarship to a graduating high school senior.

Honor someone: Recognize a community leader, a member of your board of directors, a longtime volunteer or local philanthropist. Schedule a ceremony, luncheon or banquet. You’ll not only garner a lot of press, but you’ll also have an opportunity to ask for donations.

Piggyback on supporters’ efforts: Make a deal with businesses that support your efforts, no matter how large or small. List their logos in your marketing efforts, mention them on Facebook and Twitter postings, and promote them whenever you can—and then ask them to do the same. It’s a win-win.

Work with a like-minded charity: Pairing up with another nonprofit on a project or event makes it bigger in the eyes of the press. Not only will the event draw attention, but the collaboration will, too. You’ll have the advantage of a larger pool of potential donors, and the opportunity to educate a new audience on your mission.

These ideas may not be revolutionary, but when added to your daily efforts of promoting your cause by building community, they may be just what your organization has needed.

Remember how important it is for you to remain in charge. If one volunteer starts undermining your authority or treating others unfairly,  or you could see a decline in morale and increased turnover.

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

Tips For a Memorable Fundraising Event

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

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.

Nonprofits: Using Twitter Effectively

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Twitter, the 140-character-limit social networking and messaging service, has been in the news quite a bit lately, especially with the political events in Egypt. When in our history have so many people been connected so quickly and easily in support of a common goal?

That’s the beauty of Twitter—nonprofit groups can use this popular tool to not only communicate quickly with their supporters, they can also raise visibility for their cause, for an event or to raise funds.

Here are 5 tips for nonprofits to use Twitter effectively:

  1. Connecting through online social media tools is a great first step to creating a long-term supporter. Don’t neglect the follow up, by inviting the person to visit your website or sign up for newsletters. They might not donate right away, but you can lay the foundation for future support.
  2. Be real. People want to know that there is a person behind the tweets, so don’t be afraid to engage in a real conversation or reveal your personality. And use your name or the name of your organization so people feel a connection.
  3. Make it easy for donors to donate! If you don’t already have one, add a “donate now” button to your website. When you send out a tweet asking for money, be sure to link to the page that includes this link. Don’t make your supporters click through more than one page to give you money—or you risk losing them.
  4. Tell people what the money is for. Share a quick story—in as few characters as possible—of how donations will make a real difference in someone’s life, in the community or for the environment. Make that emotional connection.
  5. Make it a two-way conversation: Don’t forget to listen as much as you talk. If you have people asking questions, that’s a sign of success—be sure to respond to what people are saying about your organization. Address concerns and nip in the bud any misconceptions that are floating around.

Tips That Can Make Anyone A Fundraising Event Guru

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

volunteer screening, background check volunteersFundraising 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. Start making spreadsheets. Simple Excel spreadsheets serve as checklists and planning documents. They can save your life!
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with background checks.

Quick Fundraising Communications Tips

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

volunteer screening, background check volunteerToday we’re sharing a potpourri of easy-to-remember tips to keep in mind when creating nonprofit fundraising communications pieces: emails, newsletters, direct mail or blog posts.

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.

Build Relationships for Successful Fundraising

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

volunteerscreeningblog.comMost salespeople know that it’s easier to sell more to an existing customer than to get a new customer. The same goes with fundraising for nonprofits. It’s easier to ask established supporters to give more than to sell a completely new individual on your organization—and get them to give.

Establishing long-term relationships with donors and supporters is one of the keys to successful fundraising. And like anything worth keeping, they take time to build. Each interaction with a potential donor is a chance to grow that relationship.

Potential Donors

  • Event attendees
  • Volunteers
  • Friends of volunteers
  • Community members
  • Co-workers
  • Board member friends and families

How to Grow the Relationship:
Ask questions. Ask volunteers why they’re there; what drew them to the organization. At events, ask attendees why it was important to them. You may hear that the cause wasn’t important, but they were there for the silent auction; or the food; or because they were coerced. Whatever the reason, you can build upon it. The idea is to get to know your donor base better—what they like; what’s important to them. And asking questions makes people feel valued, too.

Tell your story. At every opportunity, repeat the story of your organization, its mission and its accomplishments. And find new ways to do it. Keep the story short, and make sure it is meaningful. Give examples of real people that have been helped by your organization.

Make the ask—it’s as simple as that. If you don’t ask for donations, it’s not likely that donors will just send you money—but they will respond if they believe in the cause and know that you need support. And make it easy for donors to give. Include self-addressed envelopes with fundraising letters. Add a “donate now” widget to your website or blog.

Building real relationships with donors isn’t difficult—it takes time, but it’s vitally important to your fundraising efforts. And, it can be one investment of your time that really pays off!

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with background checks.

Corporate Giving: Are the Purse Strings Loosening?

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

A recent survey of U.S. companies showed that planning for community involvement, including contributions, has “moved out of crisis mode and into a recovery mindset.” In other words, drastic budget cuts in charitable giving have slowed among these companies, and they are again thinking about helping their communities.

What does this mean for non profit organization (NPO) executives and volunteer boards? Perhaps some breathing room. If your NPO made it through 2009 intact, you may see increased corporate support in the rest of 2010.

Still, according to the report, 20% of the 114 companies surveyed in December 2009 and January 2010 are planning on reducing their budgets for charitable giving. But that’s a significant drop from 53% in the same survey taken in 2008-2009.

The good news on the volunteer side is that most of the surveyed companies plan to increase the resources devoted to volunteer programs. Event sponsorship, however, will continue to take a hit. Corporations will want to help with personnel hours instead of dollars. Continue developing relationships with corporate leaders and let them know how their employees can help your organization.

Capital campaigns and arts and culture organizations will continue to be hard hit, since more companies plan to focus resources on education and environmental causes.

But the positive news is that the companies surveyed overwhelmingly say they are less likely to reduce their contributions-related administrative budgets (down from 34% last year), and less likely to cut grant size (8% this year, 21% last year). Another bright spot: only 11% of surveyed companies plan to make fewer grants in 2010, compared to nearly 34% in 2009.

So, while non profits will continue to work hard for contributions, there could be pleasant surprises along the way in 2010!

America’s Giving Challenge Makes Social Marketing Pay Off for Non Profits

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

agc-logo on volunteer screening blogDeveloping a strong presence on social media outlets is a proven marketing tool for businesses and non profit organizations. Increasing awareness for your cause, making it easier for supporters to donate time and money, and promoting events are just a few ways that Facebook and Twitter are used successfully by non profits every day.

And now, social media savvy non profits have an advantage—by spreading the word quickly, they can compete for cash through America’s Giving Challenge, a daily giveaway that rewards causes with the highest number of donations each day through November 6, 2009.

Non profits that connect with supporters through a regularly-updated website, blog, email newsletters, and on social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have already built the infrastructure that allows them to take advantage of a contest like this. Causes was built on Facebook, with the sole purpose of putting power, in the form of dollars, in the hands of the people. Every 24 hours, whichever charity gets the most donations—of any amount—gets $1,000. Second highest number gets $500 each day.

The grand prize for the contest awards $50,000 to the non profit that gets the highest number of individual donations. Second prize is $25,000, and $10,000 goes to each of the next five causes.

It’s easy to sign up your cause, donate to a cause, and see how the contest is going. (Today’s leader is Overseas China Education Foundation, with 101 donations.) Set a goal for your organization to gather 100, 150, or 200 small donations, and you could be in the running for the $1,000 daily prize. And the way social marketing works, you could soon see thousands of donations for your cause, along with increased awareness, more volunteers, and engaged supporters!

Run for the Money: How to Start a Fundraising Race for Your Non Profit

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

runners-at-the-start-of-race on volunteer screening blogSponsored running events can be a great way to raise funds for your non profit organization. Runners and walkers are a close-knit group in most communities, and enjoy entering 5K, 10K, 15K, half marathon, and marathon races for charity. In return for their entrance fee, participants get a chance to post a good race time, reach a personal goal, and receive a goodie bag, a shirt, and free food. Your non profit organization receives free publicity, increased exposure, and a portion of the entrance fees!

Your first step should be to form a race committee. Dedicated volunteers who are committed to putting in the time necessary to pull off a race are a necessity. Plan on at least six months for your volunteers to plan the race.

Next, talk to a local running or sporting goods store. You may find that they sponsor or help produce a number of charity runs, and have great experience to share.

Establish a budget. There will be plenty of out-of-pocket expenses, from fencing to timing chips, numbered bibs to advertising. Entrance and liability waiver forms will need to be printed, and you’ll need insurance, too.

Set up plenty of spreadsheets and checklists—you’ll need them!

Solicit sponsors. You’ll want to approach local businesses to give goods, services, or cash in return for publicity. Bakeries can donate bread, muffins, or bagels for runners. If asked, many grocery stores will donate fruit or water. Graphic designers might offer poster and ad layout services. Sign companies can give banners for the start/finish line, as well as directional signs for runners. Retailers can offer gift certificates for raffle prizes or goodie bags.

You’ll need loads of volunteers; from pre-race publicity, distributing flyers, and charting the course, to race-day check-in, logistics, handling runners, putting out food, staffing water and first aid stations, traffic flaggers, and an emcee for announcements. Solicit volunteers early and often!

Get the word out! Face-to-face networking at Rotary meetings and Chamber of Commerce events, along with social networking on Facebook and Twitter, blogging, and press releases are all going to be necessary. Get ready to start talking about your non profit fundraising race, stay within your budget and on schedule, and cross your fingers for fair weather on race day!

Online Fundraising Contests

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

pile-of-money on volunteer screening blog

A quick trip around the internet reveals that online fundraising contests are more popular than ever. It’s easy now for even smaller non profits to have a big presence on the web, spreading their message to more interested people and increasing their support base.

Mega-retailer Target is currently holding a contest where Facebook members get to help decide how the Minnesota-based retailer splits $3 million among ten charities. Target has long advertised that it gives away $3 million every week, but this is the first time it has created an interactive method of distributing the money, which will be according to the percentage of votes received by these then charities: National Parks Foundation, Feeding America, the Salvation Army, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, HandsOn Network/Points of Light Institute, Kids in Need, the PTA, Operation Gratitude, and the American Red Cross.

The Bullseye Gives contest, which runs through May 25, is a great way for these organizations to mobilize their supporters to vote for them and affect the amount of money they will receive. It stands to reason that the charities with good social networks and channels in place to quickly and easily communicate with their base will lead in voting.

By almost forcing organizations to utilize digital communications and social marketing, a contest like Target’s can help even smaller non profit organizations (NPOs) put tools in place that will ultimately improve their fundraising efforts for the long term.

GlobalGiving is an online clearing house that connects donors with community-based projects that need support. Their current offering is a contest called the American Open, which gives U.S. nonprofits the chance to be featured on the GlobalGiving website, increasing their fundraising opportunities. In addition, the site offers these NPOs connections to a network of donors, corporate giving programs, and foundations.

Two celebrities recently announced online fund raising campaigns using Twitter, the popular online message service. In April, actor and Oscar ceremony host Hugh Jackman created a Twitter contest asking his followers to convince him (in Twitter’s signature 140-character messages) why their favorite charity should receive a $100,000 donation from him. He ended up splitting it between Operation of Hope and Charity Water. And Bob Woodruff, the TV news reporter seriously injured while covering the Iraq War, hopes to raise over 1.5 million dollars over Memorial Day Weekend using Twitter. The money will go to his foundation, which aids injured veterans and armed service personnel.

Smart non profit executives keep their eyes open for contests like these, which pop up on both the local and the national scene. Online contests and initiatives can be an easy way to add funds to charity coffers—even in tough economic times like these.

Remember that thorough volunteer screening will help you recruit and retain the best volunteers for your organization.