Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

efundraisingIt’s that time of year again — when you kick yourself for not starting to plan your organization’s year-end fund raising appeal earlier. But there is still time to whip together a guerrilla campaign using email and online donation tools, even if you’ve never done it before. 

If you have a list of supporters’ email addresses and can put in about 24 hours’ worth of time, in about two weeks you can salvage this year’s online appeal and learn some valuable lessons to help you in the future. Let’s break it down into seven steps.

1. Figure out if you have enough email addresses to make the effort worthwhile. 
In two weeks you can craft a strategy and get started with the tools, but you’re not likely to be able to build a useful list of email addresses from scratch. How many reasonably up-to-date email addresses do you have? As a rule of thumb you can expect a donation from about 1 percent of your list. If you send an email to 1,000 people, expect about 10 of them to donate. However, online donors typically give slightly larger average gifts than other donors. If your email list is substantial enough to make your appeal worth the time, move on to step two.

2. Set up a broadcast emailing package. 
If you’ve never emailed in bulk before, you’ll need a software tool to help. Check to see if your donor or constituent database offers blast emailing. If not, don’t resort to everyday email tools like Outlook or Apple Mail. Online broadcast email services let you more effectively format and track emails, and help ensure they reach your supporters’ inboxes.

There’s no shortage of affordable online options for blast emailing. VerticalResponse provides sophisticated functionality, and up to 10,000 free emails per month for nonprofits. ConstantContact is a little less powerful, but a little easier to use, and starts at $5 per month. Most of these tools are quick and easy to purchase online, but plan to dedicate a few hours to learning them and importing your email addresses before you’re good to go.

3. Get set up to take online donations. 
There’s a number of ways to accept online donations by credit card. You could simply point potential donors to your organization’s page on Network for Good (www.networkforgood.org), which is automatically created if you’re in Guidestar. Network for Good takes 4.75 percent off the top of any donations you receive, and will send you a check for the rest. Click and Pledge (www.clickandpledge.com) provides another straightforward option that integrates more with your Web site. The firm also takes 4.75 percent off the top.

If you receive a lot of donations, you might want to take a broader look at software after the year end because you can likely find less expensive options , but these are great for the fundraiser in a hurry.

4. Think through your story and strategy. 
As with all fund raising techniques, compelling pitches are more successful. Why should people donate to your organization? What specific change w ill their donations support? Consider providing stories or images of specific people you’ve helped, or examples of past projects that were successful. Think very carefully about what’s likely to be most compelling to your supporters.

5. Write the emails. 
With your story in mind, plan and write the actual emails you’ll send to potential donors. Email appeals work best as part of a campaign rather than standalone. For example, a first email could describe your request and why it’s important. A second email could serve as a reminder, and provide a story or two to back up your claims. A nd then, a final email on the last day of the year could offer a “Last Chance to Donate in 2008!”

Try to keep emails short and concise, and provide prominent, specifically worded donation links as calls to action. Writing good fund raising emails is more art than science. For a terrific primer, read “The Mercifully Brief, Real World Guide to Raising Thousands (If Not Tens of Thousands) of Dollars with Email,” by Madeline Stanionis.

6. Plan how you’ll track and manage the campaign. 
When those donations start pouring in, how will you manage them? For this guerilla campaign, you’ll likely have to manually enter them into your donor management system, or upload them via spreadsheet from the online donation tool. Both are manageable under the circumstances, but you might want to consider other options for a longer-term program. Manual processes tend to be error-prone. 

Also, assign the campaign to someone on staff who can troubleshoot problems, answer questions, track progress and make a final call on whether it was all worthwhile.

7. Send out the emails. 
With your strategy, tools, copy and tracking system in place, you’re ready to send out the campaign’s first email. Fire away, and see how it goes — and don’t be afraid to tweak your plan or emails if the response suggests revisions are in order.

A campaign put together in two weeks probably won’t compare to one carefully crafted with months of planning and strategizing, but simple campaigns can be surprisingly effective.

If nothing else, you’ve learned a few things, and you can apply that experience and knowledge to next year’s campaign. Because next year, you’re going to start early — right?


This article was provided by Idealware, which provides candid information to help nonprofits choose effective software. For more articles and reviews, go towww.idealware.org.

Read Full Post »

training1According to an article in the Jan. 14th issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, nonprofit experts often complain that they can’t get members of their boards to effectively raise money.

But the problem is usually more about the nonprofit organization’s leadership than it is about the motivations of its volunteer board members, writes the anonymous author of The Nonprofiteer. “You’re not really authorized to critique the fund-raising incompetence of your doctor and lawyer board members until you can remove an appendix or argue a Supreme Court case without their assistance,” the author writes. “It’s their volunteer gig, but it’s your job, so the responsibility rests with you.

”To get board members to raise more money, the author says development officials and executives need to show them how it’s done — and set reasonable goals. The author urges nonprofit leaders to ask board members to: Look at a list of current donors and identify those they know. After they do that, ask them to come along when you solicit in person.

Come to the next board meeting with the names of at least two people to be added to the list of the potential donors. Help plan a benefit event. What has your organization done to get its board members more involved in its fund-raising efforts? Do most board volunteers have what it takes to solicit donors?

Read Full Post »

Greatness lives among us. Nick Anderson, a teenage from Conway, Mass. approached Oxfam about going to Darfur after co-founding a successful national high school challenge to raise awareness and funds for Darfur by using the social networking site, Facebook.  

As the co-founder of a highly successful fundraising initiative, Nick helped to raise more than $300,000 for the people of Darfur. But not content to stop there, he approached Oxfam with an idea: If he could visit Darfur he could help create a vital link between a growing group of youth activists here in the United States and Darfur teens forced to spend years in the camps.  

As premier international organization committed to creating lasting solutions to global poverty, hunger, and social injustice, Oxfam readily agreed. Before Nick left, Oxfam, asked him what the single most important thing was that he wanted to accomplish on this mission. 

He said he hoped to bring back an experience that would touch the hearts of American teenagers. He wanted to find a way for his friends—and teenagers like them—to identify with the youth of Darfur and feel moved to help them as peers. 

In late July, Nick Anderson left for a one-month mission to Dafur as Oxfam Humanitarian Youth Ambassadoron. What Nick found was sobering. More than four years of fighting in that remote western region of Sudan has forced 2.5 million people from their homes.  

Many of them have flocked to overcrowded camps for safety. Others have squeezed into towns bursting with displaced people. Yanked from their homes and villages—and the social and civic framework those places provided—Darfur’s youth are now growing up in an environment riddled with fear and boredom.  

Nick heard about their hunger for places to gather, for simple pleasures like balls with which to play sports, for basic improvements to health standards, for books, for safe ways to get to school—and the list goes on. Returning with first hand accounts on what it’s like to live in Darfur, Nick says more Americans—particularly young Americans—must learn about the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis in Darfur and help support those who will be struggling to rebuild their lives and their homes.  

 “Wherever I went you could hear the sound of gun shots. There were armed men around every corner,” said Anderson. “I couldn’t understand how violence like that could be so routine.” 

Commenting on conversations he had with a local he was traveling with, Anderson noted, “to me it’s a disaster, to him, it’s life.” In Kebkabiya, a small town that has seen its population swell to over 60,000 people after thousands settled there to escape attacks on their own villages, he spoke with young people, ranging in age from 14 to 20, who had been displaced from their homes and are living in temporary shelters.  

He asked them all the same question: “If there was one thing you could ask Americans to help you with, what would it be?” Anderson found that the responses varied little regardless of whom he asked. 

He heard two things consistently —the need for health care and technical training for jobs. The health care Anderson heard about is not what immediately comes to mind in the U.S. “They need shovels to fill in holes and ditches in their schoolyards because during the rainy season, stagnant pools of water form and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry infectious diseases like malaria.  

In addition, many of the young people in Darfur are looking for training in technical skills—things like carpentry and metalwork so they can get jobs and help to rebuild their communities,” said Anderson.  

Also, he observed that young people did not have any way to become active participants and leaders in their communities, to have a voice in what was happening around them. Now back in the U.S., his personal goal is “To define us as a generation that takes action and one that cares about such important causes as the one in Darfur.”  

Check out Nick’s You Tube video here. Now, get into action, and consider supporting this important cause.  

Greatest lives among us. 

Read Full Post »

no-moneyThe Indiana University Center on Philanthropy recently revealed the tops reasons why lapsed donors quit donating.

What is particularly important is to notice that 50 percent of these reasons are within your control. Therefore, manage these potential pitfalls. It’s much easier to keep a donor, than to find a new one:

  1. Feeling other causes were more deserving (27%)
  2. No long able to afford support (22%)
  3. No memory of supporting the charity (11%)
  4. Donor supporting charity by other means (7%)
  5. Donor relocated (7%)
  6. Death of donor (5%)
  7. Charity’s communications were inappropriate (4%)
  8. Charity didn’t remind donors to give again (3%)
  9. Charity asked for an inappropriate amount (3%)
  10. Charity didn’t inform donor how contribution was used (2%)

Are you doing all you can to keep your donors aware of what you are doing with their donations?

Read Full Post »

dollar1The Foundation Center is one the nation’s best resources for grant seekers. It’s a great place to start your search for potential funders, because the Center has profiles on some 80,000 grant makers, detailing their areas of interest, grant history, and other pertinent information.

Grant seekers can visit one of the libraries (located in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Cleveland) and use the substantial resources. The Foundation Center also makes print, CD-ROM, and online editions of its resources available for purchase, with prices beginning at $19.95 a month for an online subscription.

But, the Foundation Center can do much more than help you identify funding sources. A wide variety of basic, intermediate, and advanced online and classroom trainings are available year-round. In addition, an array of informational resources can be accessed via the organization’s Web site. To learn more or to start finding potential funders, visit http://foundationcenter.org.

Read Full Post »

A new online database makes it easy for a nonprofit organization to get information about federal spending and local statistics that might influence their work.

The National Priorities Project Database provides data from 1983 to the present in the categories of basic demographic information, education, health, housing, hunger, income and provider, labor and military, which can be searched by county or by state.

For example, people can search the database to find out that median household income in Illinois in 2002 ranged from $25,058 in Alexander County to $69,760 in Kendall County.

They can also learn that residents in Imperial County, CA – which has the highest percentage of children living in poverty of any county in the state – received almost one-third less money for low-cost housing, through a program known as Section 8, in 2003 than they did in 1993, when adjusted for inflation.

A service of the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit group in Northampton, Mass., the free Web site also offers tools that allow people to make graphs with the results of their searches, adjust the data for inflation, and save their searches to view again.

To get there: Go to: http://database.nationalpriorities.org

Read Full Post »

puzzle1A good case statement must be one that grabs a prospective donor’s attention, and then offers a solid reason for investing in a program.

According to Jerold Panas in his book Born to Raise: What Makes a Great Fundraiser; What Makes a Fundraiser Great, a case statement must have eight essential elements. Panas cautions that these elements will not necessarily show up as separate items and that they may overlap or even be repeated. Nevertheless, they must be present.

The elements are:

  1. The title. It develops the theme and the tone for the case statement. Its job is to get the reader to turn to page one and begin reading.
  2. Grabbing the reader. This happens in the first few paragraphs. Often, a compelling quote in the early part of the case works wonders.
  3. The irrefutable case. Here is the need and the urgency.
  4. Your unique position. This describes how the organization is positioned to meet the need head on. It must burn itself into the minds and hearts of the readers.
  5. Waving the flag. Here you describe the history of the organization, its mission and its history.
  6. Reinforcing the urgency. This reminds the reader of how pressing the need is and how it must be dealt with immediately.
  7. Making it happen.
    This describes what will be required financially to relieve the need.
  8. The benediction. This provides the closing and final blessing to the program. The theme is employed again for emphasis.

Source: The Nonprofit Times.

Read Full Post »

Mistakes in fundraising can be very costly – particularly for smaller organizations pressed by tight budgets and ever-increasing needs. Here are 12 pitfalls to avoid.

  1. Being reluctant to ask for donations. If you are not asking for gifts, you are probably receiving far less than your potential.
  2. Failing to do your homework. Many charitable organizations fail to adequately research their potential donors; for example, income levels, past giving history, and personal interests.
  3. Failing to inform, educate, and motivate donors. An uninformed, uneducated, and unmotivated donor is one who will probably not make future gifts.
  4. Failing to seek fundraising assistance. Fundraising information is available through the library, workshops, seminars, and competent consultants.
  5. Having board members in name only. All board members must be involved in the fundraising process, whether it is asking for gifts, opening doors, or identifying potential donors.
  6. Having board members who do not give. All board members should be asked to make a monetary contribution in accordance with their abilities to give.
  7. Having no written fundraising goals. To achieve success in fundraising, written goals that can be accomplished, changed, or modified are imperative to success.
  8. Keeping inadequate records. Not-for-profits must keep accurate records on income and expenses as well as pledges, donor files, prospect lists, and in-kind gifts.
  9. Not giving top priority to individual donors. Individuals are responsible for more than 80 percent of all gifts, while foundations and corporations combined give less than 20 percent of all gifts in the U.S.; although more time and overhead are spent in asking individuals for donations, it often pays off in the end.
  10. Not holding people to the commitment they made. Follow up with people on what they said they would do. Chances are this will remind people of their commitments and assure that they will honor them.
  11. Planning insufficiently. Don’t wait until there is a problem with your fundraising program, but instead, conduct periodic reviews of your fundraising needs, programs, and capabilities.
  12. Thinking you can conduct major funding efforts or a capital fund drive without experienced help. If you don’t have fundraising experience, attend fundraising training, hire experienced development staff, or search for a consultant.

Source: Adapted From: 18 Common Fundraising Mistakes.and How to Avoid Them, by Nora McClintock

Read Full Post »

Fundraising is a process that has many components, and investments must be made to complete the process. Individual components of the fundraising process should be evaluated as part of a total development program, and boards of directors of nonprofit organizations should determine a reasonable rate of return on investment for their own organization based on prior results.

If only three to five percent of the donations from a particular campaign actually go to the cause, donors may want to look elsewhere. On the other hand, it may not be reasonable to expect that 90 percent of the contributions go directly to the cause. Just like for-profit entities, charities have operating expenses. Consider the following factors when evaluating an organization’s fundraising costs and returns.

  • Age of the organization. A well-established organization will likely have a greater return on investment than a newly established nonprofit.
  • Age of the fundraising department. A mature, professionally run development program will be expected to produce a higher return on investment than a newly formed department.
  • Source of funds. Nonprofits that rely heavily on small gifts from individual donors will have higher fundraising costs. In contrast, organizations that receive support from the federal government, corporations, foundations, or large gifts from wealthy donors, tend to have lower costs.
  • Different methods used in the fundraising process will produce different returns. For example:
    • A donor acquisition mailing will have a much lower return on investment than a donor renewal mailing.
    • A capital campaign will produce a much higher return on investment than an annual fundraising program.
    • A new planned giving program may have zero return on investment for the first few years.
  • The return on investment for a special event will be lower than that for a major gifts program.
  • Size of an organization. The return on investment may be affected by the size of the organization.
  • Profile of the constituency. The economic and geographic profile of the constituency being solicited will affect fundraising costs and return on investment.
  • Location of the organization. An organization located in an affluent region should expect a higher return on investment than one located in a less affluent area.
  • Popularity of the cause. The cause and its level of community acceptance will affect the return on investment.
  • Competition for funds. Within the community or constituency that the organization is appealing to for support, competition by other organizations may lower the return on investment.

Sometimes, a fundraising campaign may lose money in the short term, but generate significant returns in the long run. The cost of direct mail acquisition (mail solicitations sent to potential new donors) may range from $1.00 to $1.25 per dollar raised. However, once new donors have been identified, a second mailing to that group may cost only $0.20 per dollar raised.

Thus, while the first mailing may not bring in much money, the second mailing should bring in a substantial number of contributions. These newly identified donors may ultimately donate even larger gifts to the nonprofit (e.g., land, stocks, charitable bequests.).

Source: Association of Fundraising Professionals

Read Full Post »

  1. Develop an income and expense budget.
  2. Determine the total amount of money to be raised.
  3. Set income goals for government, foundations, corporations, and individuals.
  4. Decide how many donors you need to meet your goals and select the best strategies.
  5. Develop action steps, put the plan onto a timeline, and implement.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »