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What is your brand? An interview with Christopher E. Lee

What is your brand? An interview with Christopher E. Lee

We hear a lot about “brand” – it is the secret sauce of marketing. It’s what differentiates your nonprofit from another. But what exactly is a brand? How does a nonprofit create a brand, and how does it live into the promise of its brand? For answers to these questions and more we reached out to  Christopher Lee, CEO of Think Inspired. In answering the question, What exactly is a “brand?” Lee turned to Google, an obviously well-established brand. “According to the Google definition, branding is the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. Therefore, any nonprofit organization needs to be able to effectively tout its core objectives in a way that appeals to their various stakeholders.” Most of us can recognize brands […]

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I can do it

What have you done for your campaign solicitors lately?

Successful fundraising is about people giving to your organization. In almost all cases giving is preceded by an “ask.” Someone asks someone to make a gift. Someone says yes. That’s it. The person who makes the ask is referred to as a solicitor. The solicitor’s responsibility is to ask specific people to make a donation. These are usually people the solicitor knows or has a relationship with. Our favorite story is of a man who has a list of 10 people who he solicits each year. In the fall he schedules lunch with each person. He closes each lunch asking for a gift, each person says “yes,” and he has done his good deed. The nonprofit is grateful, and he is a prized solicitor. The key to this process is […]

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Are you a proud donor?

Are you a proud donor?

What would it mean if you and your family were to take pride in giving to nonprofits? Yes, there are some negative associations with taking pride in one’s giving. Some think it’s about lauding your giving over others; of being a showoff. But that doesn’t have to be you. We encourage you to apply modesty to your pride for the purpose of encouraging philanthropy in others. Modesty can facilitate harmony, encourage promotion of shared experience, and create an environment in which the strengths of all within a group, family or organization are valued and uplifted. Combining modesty and pride can help increase resources for the nonprofits you are committed to.  Here is our suggestion for becoming a proud donor. Bring your family together and talk about the organizations that you […]

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Prepare for #fundraising success. Clean up your data base, run test reports, learn what reports you haven’t been running, but should

Clean data can lead you to fundraising success

The beginning of summer can fill our minds with dreams of vacation, perhaps time on the beach with both the hot sun and a cool breeze. And yet, this is also the time to get ready for the fall fundraising push. Yes, we know this may not be something people want to think about. Know that we want you to enjoy your summer – and most especially your vacation. But you can also take a few actions now that will yield results in a few months. We’re talking about your data, and how you use it. Our recommendation: look closely at your fundraising data management system to see what supports your work and what is getting in the way. You want your data management system to provide you with reports […]

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Courtesy of 123RF.com

A Black community solution to student loan debt

Thank you, Robert Smith and family, for committing to pay off the student loans for the Morehouse College class of 2019. What an extraordinary gift that will make an incredible impact on the lives of graduates, their families, and the African American community for years to come. Like so many others, our jaws dropped in amazement when we heard the news! What a wonderful way to place Black philanthropy front and center. African Americans are not only the recipients of philanthropy – we are philanthropists. Tell ‘em Robert Smith proved the point. But he’s not alone. Generations of Black individuals, families, churches, sororities and fraternities, and civic organizations are philanthropists. Hundred dollar gifts and million dollar gifts are part of our legacy. Black giving circles, donor advised funds, and foundations […]

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Man walking on road searching for job or career.

So you want to be a fundraiser?

Graduation is a time for inspirational speeches, dreams of what can be, and a look into the future. Even if we ourselves are not the ones graduating, the optimism can be contagious. “Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama. We know that the next generation of fundraising professionals is amongst the class of 2019. Some of you may have your fundraising career plan already marked out. You may be brimming with wonderful ideas, dreams and visions you want to bring to life working for a nonprofit, especially as a front line fundraiser. This column is for you – and for those who are considering a career transition, or a return to the paid workforce. Many a graduate […]

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Three steps to creating an RFP

Three steps to creating an RFP

Part two of a two part series Building a fundraising program – or preparing for a campaign – often requires contracting for services. These can include campaign counsel in general, or more specific services such as a feasibility study, major gifts strategy, marketing services, proposal writing, strategic planning, campaign planning, and/or social media management. Contracting is often the right way to secure the services you need for a specific project, but which you don’t need to retain on staff. When preparing to contract for services, issuing an RFP can be a fair and equitable way to identify the right vendor or consultant. As noted in part one of this series, it also takes time. When you are ready to craft an RFP, here are three things to consider. First, do […]

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RFP exposure: good or bad?

RFP exposure: good or bad?

Part one of a two part series When it’s time to contract for services, design a new building, or make technology upgrades it’s time to issue an RFP – short for “Request for Proposal.” You might want to go with someone you know, but that may not be in your best interest. In fact, you might be locking out the best qualified. And, as too many of us know, failing to issue an RFP means small, local and minority businesses lose a chance to compete. But, issuing an RFP is work. It takes time and knowledge to craft an RFP that is concise and clearly communicates the goods or services you are seeking to purchase. When you don’t know or aren’t clear you create more work for your organization (staff […]

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Fundraising professional development: a must for everyone

Fundraising today is about more than being fearless in asking for money. Yes, you need relationships, creativity, and intuition.  But today you need even more. Part of fundraising today is the added levels of: sophistication and professionalism data management and segmentation marketing and advertising donor research and wealth screenings market research (including a feasibility study) strategic planning business modeling working from a fundraising plan social media projecting giving trends These – along with your people and their skills – are your capacity and infrastructure. They are also your assets, strengths, and your future. If reading the above leaves you feeling overwhelmed or intimidated, take a deep breath. You don’t need to know everything and do everything to be successful. What you need is exposure to trends, emerging technology, and best […]

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Three actions to take as a nonprofit executive director or CEO

Three actions to take as a nonprofit executive director or CEO

Part two of a two part series Whether you are a new or experienced nonprofit executive director there is always more to learn in the area of fundraising. Sometimes the responsibilities can feel overwhelming. In order to help keep you focused and engaged we suggest three actions: raise money, develop and use a fundraising plan, and build a circle of advisors. These will help you grow as a leader and will increase your confidence and ability as a fundraiser. Three actions to take as a nonprofit executive director or CEO Raise money. Your most important job as the CEO of your organization is to raise money for the sustainability and growth of your organization. One important way that you do this is by identifying, cultivating and soliciting major gifts and […]

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