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Its time to say thank you!

Its time to say thank you!

It is so easy for THANK YOU to fall through the cracks. Yes, you are focusing on getting last minute gifts in the door, but don’t forget to say thank you and say it properly. It’s Thanksgiving season: time for reflections and actions rooted in gratitude. For those who are nonprofit leaders there’s a dual focus: saying thank you and meeting your fundraising goals. This is a lot to manage, but it’s something you have to do. In the fundraising “business” its called stewardship and it is critical to sustaining your organization. Here’s why: the competition for funding, talent, relationships, and wisdom is fierce. When we talk with people who give to nonprofits, we hear a consistent refrain: “I gave. I gave time and money. I gave to help them […]

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Hidden talent within your organization – a way to build capacity and infrastructure

You can spend your time looking for that “perfect” person to hire or you can look within your organization for hidden talent you can develop. Finding the right people to advance your fundraising can be challenging. It takes time to identify, recruit, and hire the right person. The competition for people with fundraising experience is fierce, and just because someone has experience doesn’t mean they have the right experience for your organization at this particular time in its history. While there are no easy answers to the talent acquisition conundrum, there is one suggestion that can make things easier: look within your own organization. Take time to learn who amongst your staff, management, board members, and even your donors can help grow your fundraising. Start by talking with everyone you […]

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How well do you know your donor base?

How well do you know your donor base?

This is the busy season for most nonprofits. Organizations are simultaneously “closing out” this year and planning for next year. Development directors and executive directors are keeping a close eye on the total of gifts received, and the extent to which the organization is on track to meet its fundraising goals. In the midst of it all we recommend keeping your individual donor in focus. Here’s what we mean: meeting a fundraising goal means that many people decided to give to your nonprofit. Each should be recorded in your donor database. Together – the person and the data associated with them – should be reviewed as you fundraise and plan. When you record information about your donors you have the information you need to make critical management decisions. Here are […]

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Who qualifies to be the face and voice of your organization?

Who qualifies to be the face and voice of your organization?

The debate is on: should the face and voice of your fundraising campaign be the executive director, CEO, or president? Should it be a major donor? What about the board chair? Volunteer leadership? Alumni? Perhaps it should be a recipient of services/advocacy. Maybe a national personality. In many organizations the top staff person – such as the executive director – is the face and voice by default. Is this the right decision? Should there be a series of faces and voices? Many colleges and universities will use the president or chancellor as the face and voice of their campaign. For decades comedian Jerry Lewis was the face and voice of the Muscular Dystrophy Association with his Labor Day weekend telethon. Lou Rawls and the United Negro College Fund are forever […]

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Power, wealth, and influence – what does it really mean?

Power, wealth, and influence – what does it really mean?

In the fundraising world there are things we are comfortable talking about, and things we tend to shy away from. One of these is the impact that people of power, wealth, and influence can make on the life of an organization or institution.   There can be a tendency to believe all people bring equal assets to the board of an organization. That belief can obscure the specific value that people of power, wealth, and/or influence can bring. Its not that these people are more important than other board members, but rather that their absence can have a negative impact. Let us be clear, leadership and vision need to be provided by people who have deep relationships with the people a nonprofit serves or advocates for. You have to have […]

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What to do if you have to do it all: guidance for the one person fundraising shop

What to do if you have to do it all: guidance for the one person fundraising shop

Sometimes you are the one person responsible for fundraising for your organization. When that’s the situation our guidance is this: start small and plan BIG. The most important thing to know – and act on – is that you must have a well-defined job description. You can contribute to creating it if you are already in the job. If you are considering such a position, be sure to ask for the job description and review it closely. It needs to define what you are being asked to take responsibility for and the resources available to you. One of those resources needs to be the executive director. He or she needs to dedicate time to cultivation and solicitation, and to meeting with you each week. Yes, every week. Look out for […]

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Creating a sense of urgency

Creating a sense of urgency

Have you ever wondered why your fundraising efforts seem to stall, not get off the ground, or never come to an end? We suspect your campaign isn’t working with a sense of urgency. There are so many things that need to go right in order for a fundraising campaign to be successful. One of them is creating a sense of urgency. This should be set during the planning phases: you cannot recover once you set another standard. If you want to increase momentum within your fundraising, we have 11 suggestions to help you get started. Establish a time duration for your anticipated fundraising campaign, and stay with it. Prior to launch, create an agreed upon list of campaign milestones. When recruiting volunteers and staff, let them know what you are […]

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What makes a good fundraising program?

What makes a good fundraising program?

Does meeting your organization’s financial goal define the success of your fundraising program? If you receive a windfall gift that takes you over the top, do you feel prepared to meet next year’s goal? How does meeting or exceeding an annual fundraising goal tie to sustainable fundraising success?  People ask us, “what do you look for in a successful fundraising program?” And then, they answer the question themselves! Some say, “If you don’t meet the goal, you’re not successful.” Others say “We can’t rely on a one-time homerun. There are things you have to do year-in and year-out no matter what.” We believe sustainable fundraising requires more than luck and chance. Windfall gifts are great, but not enough. We recommend using volunteers, systems, and science to build sustained success. Here […]

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Who calls the shots at your nonprofit?

Who calls the shots at your nonprofit?

Sometimes the multitude of decisions that need to be made can be overwhelming. If you are a nonprofit leader you know that the need to make decisions is never ending. But how do you make decisions? Better yet, how does the organization make decisions? Some organizations find they aren’t able to advance as they desire. If you are in this position, consider looking at how decisions are made, and who manages the decision making process. Things may not be as clear as they seem. Sometimes the executive is not really making the decisions, even though she is technically empowered to do so. Consider these  examples. By committee. A number of options and opinions are put on the table by various individuals within and outside the organization. These are collectively discussed. […]

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How to develop a world class fundraising volunteer

How to develop a world class fundraising volunteer

Are you struggling to develop and manage fundraising volunteers? Do you think it is “easier” for you to do the fundraising yourself? Do you secretly feel it is a waste of time to work with volunteers? We believe that a successful fundraising campaign should be volunteer driven with staff providing guidance and support. To accomplish this, nonprofit management and staff need to put the same energy into developing a volunteer pool that they invest in developing major donors. Here are 14 suggestions to help you develop your volunteer team into what we consider “world class volunteers.” “Make the case” to potential fundraising volunteers about the impact they can make through giving of their time, money, and connections. Tell your organization’s story with the same level of professionalism you apply when […]

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