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The thing I tell people in my Board Development, Fundraising, Budgeting, and Marketing and Social Media workshops,  all of them, is,
“If you think you are running this show, you may as shut your organization down now.”  What runs your nonprofit are market conditions, changing needs of your clientele, changing board dynamics, how well your organization is moving toward your long term vision, or not.

The Founder or Executive Director often thinks, they are running the show.  They are not.  If they maintain that course, they are going to make a lot of people, ie. staff, donors, community, clientele, board members, very unhappy over time.

Beth Kanter’s latest social media blog post speaks to how to use social media to stop doing it all yourself.   As she so astutely points out, if you don’t think you have time to explore social media, you may be creating quite a crisis for yourself down the road.   And, why would you think YOU have to create your social media structure and campaign structure yourself anyway?  You’re not even qualified.

Get resourceful.  Create a task force.  Create an entire committee and give them a goal.  A great goal to give them would be a “We want to raise $25,000 via social media in the next (whatever time frame).   Get on it.”  goal.   And of course, you’d want to enroll and enlist people to that task force that would love playing that game.   Not you, the founder, who thinks social media is something your grandchild does when he should be, well, whatever you think he should be doing.   I mean how long does it take to create a good committee.  Well if you go to your existing board and lazily expect them to reorganize themselves into a new function, well, you’ll never get a social media program going.  If you give the matter just half an ounce of thought, you’ll realize,  we can create this committee and recruit some spectacular local talent, they get to know us, we get to know them.  Our board is educated as well left unburdened.  We have fresh dynamic energy flowing the the top layer of our organization for the duration of the project, win, win, win, win, win!  Don’t burden your board with yet another task.  Bring them a present and don’t let them turn the present down.   Think for a minute on what you want social networking to do for your organization and assign a team of fresh people to get it done.

Beth’s articles are always on the leading edge, relevant, related and implementable.  http://www.bethkanter.org/simplicity-netnon/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bethblog+%28Beth%27s+Blog%29 Enjoy.

Using Social Media To Accomplish More With Less

I don’t have time for social media

Join me on Tuesday, July 14 at 1 PM EST/1o am PST for a webinar hosted by Networked for Good “Using Social Media to Accomplish More with Less.”    It’s free and three lucky participants will win a copy of the book.  I’ll be talking about some of themes in the book and sharing some tips for streamlining your social media use.

One of the most common questions I hear is when I do workshops is, “How much time does it take to do social media?”.  It is usually followed by an observation that the organization is so resourced and time strapped that they can’t invest time doing anything that doesn’t provide an immediate and maximized return.   So, they don’t go further with their social media.  A common mistake.

One of the thing that Networked Nonprofits have in common is simplicity.   It clarifies organizations and forces them to focus their energy on what they do best, while leveraging resources of their networks for the rest.   Simplicity powers more informal connections between people, blurs boundaries, and enables nonprofits to scale efforts better than a single organization could.

Embracing simplicity helps nonprofits move from scarcity lens to that of abundance and allows them to leverage their networks through social media.  Here’s a couple of examples:

The SFSPCA has connected with social media savvy volunteers that now create content and manage some of their social media channels such as the Litter Did You Know blog and YouTube Channel.

Los Angeles Universal Preschool Parent Ambassadors on Facebook

Los Angeles Universal Preschool mission is to make voluntary, high-quality preschool available to every 4-year-old in Los Angeles County, regardless of their family’s income.  They have a group of parent ambassadors who work on land to spread the word about high quality preschool.  This group also has a Facebook Fan Page where they provide the same role online.

Preschool California uses Twitter to connect with journalists.  They discovered that Tweets are more informal, less time consuming than email so journalists may be more likely to read.   Despite only having a few interactions with reporters, Preschool California still retweeted and commented on a number of articles, garnering responses from other advocates and interested Twitter users, which helped increase their issue exposure to a larger audience that focus on early childhood education and are using Twitter.

Using social media can help nonprofits find people and other organizations with good ideas an interest in working together.  This is the leverage that they need to stop doing everything alone while ensure that a lot is getting done in their networks.     These organizations and people are right there, in the network, on Facebook or Twitter, waiting to connect with and support your organization’s efforts.

How are you using social media to accomplish more with less?  Have a story?   Leave it in the comments below and win a free copy of the book or this nifty Networked Nonprofit t-shirt created by NTEN.

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Nonprofits, if you have not researched Benevon or explored the Benevon Model.  Please do.

The following are many examples of Benevon programs, trainings and resources.

July 12, 2010

Five Tips  for Cultivating Expiring Donors
Five Tips for Cultivating Expiring  Donors It happens. Five years ticks by quickly. Before you know it, those wonderful donors who made those generous five-year pledges (of $1,000 or more per year) to join your Multiple-Year Giving Society just made their third year’s pledge payments and no one from your organization has gotten to know them yet. In fact, they are still complete strangers to you.

Take this as a serious wake-up call and get to work. Set up your donor cultivation plan now, starting with the donors who are nearest to the end of their five-year pledge payoff cycle. If you don’t get to know them and cultivate them systematically now, you will lose most of them at the end of the five years, if not before.

I’m always surprised when people tell us they don’t want to “bother” these loyal Multiple-Year Giving Society Donors. They think they should invoice them dutifully each year, call them at the start of the sixth year, and ask them to re-up on their pledge. That is precisely the opposite of what is needed.

The whole purpose of having donors who make five-year pledges at this level is not for your organization’s financial security. After all, if a donor does not pay their annual pledge, you are not going to take legal action against them. Rather, the purpose of the giving society is to identify those donors who want to be closer to the organization. They don’t have to make a five-year pledge. They could give the same amount one year at a time. By opting into your giving society they are communicating something critical: they want to give to your organization, they want to stay connected to you over the next five years, and they expect you to give them updates, ask for their advice, and include them in major milestones that the organization is facing.

To read the rest of this article, please visit our Current Feature Web page. This article is available until July 25, 2010.

In This Issue
Message From Terry Axelrod
Get to know your expiring pledge donors.
Announcements
Join us for this special call on July 22.

Join us for this special call on August 24.

Join us for this special call on August 25.

Ask Terry
Recognizing donors who don’t wish to receive e-mails or phone calls.
Coaching for Sustainability
Table Captain Backfill.
Introductory Sessions
Announcements

Learn how to become more effective at inspiring others about the mission of your favorite nonprofit organization and to leave a legacy of sustainable funding. This conference call will introduce you to the Benevon Model—a systematic process for engaging and developing relationships with individual donors.

Listen and ask questions about how to customize this model to the unique needs of your nonprofit. You are encouraged to invite other staff, board members, and volunteers to engage them in this practical and effective new approach.

Join us for the Benevon Monthly Introductory Session Conference Call on July 22.


The two biggest challenges groups face once they decide they want to implement the model and come to Benevon 101 are putting together a team and finding funding. This call will give you practical tips and solutions for how to overcome both of these challenges. Current Benevon participants will talk about how they tackled these issues, got their team to Benevon 101, and are now on their way to sustainable funding.

Join us for the Getting to Benevon 101 call on August 24.


Join us for a special conference call to learn about how to implement the Benevon Model to build sustainable funding for your nonprofit during these challenging economic times. Learn how to engage your community in your organization’s mission and to inspire giving, even in a lagging economy. Listen and ask questions as our alumni guest speakers from other nonprofit organizations discuss their success with this no-pressure, mission-centered approach.

Join us for this Conference Call for Implementing the Benevon Model in These Challenging Economic Times on August 25.

Ask Terry
Terry Axelrod Q: How do we handle long-term, extremely generous donors who want absolutely no communication (i.e., letters, direct mail, newsletters, etc.)? Do we even attempt to call them and acknowledge their generosity, or just accept that they want no contact?

Michelle in Minnesota

A: Begin by asking more questions about this donor. How did you determine that they do not want any contact? How long ago was their most recent donation, and when were they last contacted by someone at your organization? Use the person at your organization that is closest to the donor to re-connect with them, using the medium they prefer (e.g., phone, e-mail, mail). It’s possible that this donor may be OK with an occasional one-on-one contact, but would just prefer to avoid more general communication, such as newsletters and direct mail.

Terry Axelrod

For information about submitting Ask Terry questions, read our guidelines for submission.
Coaching for  Sustainability
Sharon Ervine

Our fundraising coaches inspire and motivate nonprofit organizations of all sizes and types. This week, Benevon Curriculum Director Sharon Ervine discusses Table Captain Backfill Strategy.

I often stress to my groups the importance of the Table Captain Backfill Strategy, because it is such an excellent method for both filling your Point of Entry® Events and ensuring that you have enough “ripened fruit” at your Ask Event. This strategy involves having all of your Table Captains invite guests to Points of Entry prior to the Ask Event, so that the people at their tables have all been introduced to your organization and cultivated. Here are some important tips for successfully implementing this strategy: :

  • Work with each Table Captain to establish goals and specific deadlines for achieving these goals.
  • Give each Table Captain a deadline for having all of their guests attend a Point of Entry. Aim for having all guests attend by six to eight weeks prior to the Ask Event, so that you have time to follow up and cultivate each guest.
  • Give them cards with dates of your regularly scheduled Point of Entry Events for them to pass out to their guests.
  • Encourage them to host a private Point of Entry in a Box for their guests at their office, home, etc. They can partner with another Table Captain to co-host a Point of Entry.

Learn more about Sharon and our other coaches on our Meet the Coaches page.

Introductory  Sessions in your Area
We currently have live, in-person sessions and conference calls open for registration, including:

For information about in-person sessions in your area, go to our Introductory Session calendar.

For conference call listings in your area, go to our Conference Call Calendar.

Watch our free online video, Seventeen Minutes to Sustainable Funding.

Fundraisers don’t ask for money, we offer opportunities. – Doug Lawson

This is one thing heartfelt cause-driven nonprofits often leave out of their thinking.   Asking for money is really not about what you can get.  It’s about what you are offering your donor, in the way of a social engagement, an opportunity to make a tangible or direct difference for someone, an opportunity to engage in a community they would otherwise not have access to, all kinds of opportunities the list is endless.   Instead, amateur fundraisers still give out their need-based cry of  “HELP US!”  and the donors all say… “Again?”

We have now entered the Social Media era, which is experience driven, so, offering books, calendars, chachkis will only work on the over 60 crowd and I guess a couple of other people who like ‘stuff’.   But, for the rest of us we want to KNOW our dollars did SOMETHING.  So, include us in an experience, take us with you on a service run whether by video or by an authentic photo in our thank you letter.   Show us THE toothbrush you handed a homeless person and some smiles.   Let us choose the country we are going to provide assistance to.   This kind of donor care takes effort, but it can save you millions in postage in no response Direct Mail letters.

Your donors are worth attending to.  The average online gift is $83 dollars.   You can offer your donors a much higher level of participation by connecting to them online.   At the very least, establish a competent task force that begins to move your organization to creative, high level, on-line donor participation.  It will really provide a higher level of creative stewardship and donor appreciation in all of your fundraising programs.

In true social media form I’m stealing a post from Barbara Talisman, who borrowed her gems for her post from Author and Fundraising Veteran, Doug Lawson.  Enjoy and learn from two pinnacles of fundraising on The How of being a Great Fundraiser.  http://talismantol.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/great-fundraiser-2/

To Be a Great Fundraiser – Thanks Douglas Lawson

July 8, 2010 <!–Barbara Talisman–>

Continuing on my thoughts about being a great fundraiser, I have been inspired by a generous sharer Chris Brogan in the previous post and today by an icon in the nonprofit sector, Dr. Douglas M. Lawson, Founding Chairman of Lawson Associates, Inc.

I had the great, good fortune to hear Dr. Lawson speak about the art of being a great fundraiser. This is not the first time I heard Doug speak. I was fortunate to learn from him early in my fundraising career. I have a resource file and STILL have a copy of his article “The Artful Asker” published in Fund Raising Management, April 1996. It is one resource I have kept all these years because it stands the test of time. Doug writes about what makes a successful major gift fundraiser. And if you have not read his book, More Give to Live: How Giving Can Change Your Life, get it and read it now!

To follow up from my post on Nonprofit Fundraising = Confidence and Conviction – Doug shared his vast experience and inspired ideas about how and what it takes to be a great fundraiser. (Italics are my additions)

Doug shared what he thinks (and I agree!) are the skills needed to be a great fundraiser:

  • It’s helpful to have a humanities background
  • Some finance background is good – But can certainly be learned
  • Sales and marketing focus – We must be able to communicate our message effectively
  • Life of giving is necessary – This rule must start with us. How can we ask, train or empower others to give when we have not done so ourselves or can understand the power and feeling you get from making a gift that makes a difference?

Doug says GREAT fundraisers:

  • Listen more than they talk – It is ALL about donor interests and we need to find out what they are.
  • Participate in cultivation and solicitation process – As well as supporting, train and lead volunteers
  • Inspire and inform – Doug talks about offering opportunities – not about asking for a gift.
  • Experience the joy of giving – see above on a life of giving

Doug inspired and engaged me while he talked. He shared generously of his experiences, mistakes and successes. One of his many pearls of wisdom,

“Fundraisers don’t ask for money, we offer opportunities.”

It was like a lightning bolt – for many years I have said we (fundraisers) offer opportunities and education. NOW I remember, it was Doug Lawson who said the same thing at a session I attended when I was a new fundraiser many, many years ago. It stuck in my brain. At the time, I may not have fully comprehended what he was saying. Today, I know what it means, practice offering opportunity all the time and inspire volunteers, leaders and donors to do the same.

If you see Doug Lawson on a conference roster, hear about him speaking somewhere near you – run, do not walk, to learn from him! He is a great fundraiser and generous speaker. I have always been energized, excited and honored to be a fundraiser – Doug reminded me why.