A Happy New Year

December 31, 2008

I wanted to take a minute and wish everyone a happy New Year. This was my first full year of blogging and you have been tremendous. I have been overwhelmed with the brilliant comments and emails that I received from you. You have challenged me to think creatively and continue to find useful content.

A great big thank you to long time my readers! I also want to say thank you to a couple of bloggers that have been great encouragers throughout the process, it is great to be a part of the nonprofit/fundraising blogging community. Finally I’ll close with a few of my favorite posts from the year.

Supportive Bloggers:

Favorite Posts this Year:

Thanks for a great year, see you in 2009!


Matching Gifts

December 22, 2008

As we all know right now is a difficult time for fundraisers. Money is harder to come by and often comes as smaller gifts. I thought I’d say a few words about matching gifts as they are a great way to double your impact without asking more donors.

There are a lot of major companies around where I work that do matching gifts: Microsoft, Boeing, and Medtronic, just to mention a small few. If you do not know a lot about them traditionally larger businesses will match their employee gifts either dollar for dollar or 50 cents on the dollar.

Traditionally the business puts the responsibility on their employees to work out the details of requesting a matching gift. Employees are asked to provide a receipt from the nonprofit that they gave to along with some paperwork about their gift. Then the business cuts a matching check and sends it to the nonprofit.

I’ve worked for organizations that receive well over $100,000 in matching funds alone from Microsoft every year. Traditionally there is a minimum donation amount and a maximum donation amount. Make sure you know the major matching businesses in your area and that you know who your donor’s work for so you can remind them about matching their gifts.

Does your organization use matching? What are the major matching businesses in your area?

Monthly Giving

December 17, 2008

In an earlier post I mentioned a book, The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks, and want to highlight one additional thing, monthly giving. During these financial times, fundraising can be really hard and it can be increasingly difficult to grow your programs. Possibly the best area for long-term growth is monthly giving.

Monthly giving allows everyday middle class donors to give a large annual gift through small monthly payments. It would be really hard for me to give $1,000 right out of my pocket even to the organizations I believe in the very most, however, giving $75 a month is not nearly as hard.

This kind of thing should be the lifeblood of your organization and the foundation of your annual fund. Another great trick is to tie your monthly gifts into an equivalency. This is a great strategy to upgrade your monthly donors over time. Equivalencies can be used to increase their regular monthly payment or can be used to talk about the difference their combined gifts can make.

Make monthly giving easy and adjustable to your donor. Many people only want to hear from you at the end of the year with a summary thank you letter. Other people may want to hear from you after each gift. Connect with your monthly donors and ask them how they’d like to be recognized. If it is their first gift call them right away.

A Donor’s Heart

December 15, 2008

I recently read a really great book on how to answer donor’s questions. The book is called, The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave. The book is written by Harvey McKinnon and is a quick and very insightful read. Below I’ve quickly summarized the book with the focus question of each chapter and a brief quote explaining a component of the answer.

Why me? “Remember that me is everyone’s favorite subject.”

Why are you asking me? “If you have genuine passion for the cause, it’ll show through, lending comfort to the donor and credibility to your ask.”

Do I respect you? “When people trust you, they’re open to what you have to say.”

Why your organization? “What makes you unique and different.”

Will my gift make a difference? “How their financial support will change and improve the life of a fellow human being.”

Is there an urgent reason to give? “The faster the gift comes in, the sooner you can aid the people needing help.”

Is it easy to give? “Look for ways to make it easy for donors to give”

How will I be treated? “Show kindness at all giving levels.”

Will I have a say over how you use my gift? “While some donors want control, most will trust your organization to spend their gift wisely”

How will you measure results? “These serve to reassure the donor that she’s made a wise investment in you.”

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Holiday Fundraising Top 10

December 10, 2008

We are all in the midst of holiday fundraising and I created this Top 10 list of things that you might find yourself doing this holiday season. I’ve intentionally left off number 1 because I want to hear from you.

Things You Might Do this Holiday Season:

10. While writing a thank you letter try to find as many ways as you can to say Happy Holidays without saying Merry Christmas.
9. Frantically work with other departments to put the finishing touches on your holiday cards before it’s too late.
8. Take a deep breath on the week of Christmas because after three weeks of utter chaos your phone doesn’t ring at all.
7. Call donors to try and get them to attend a last minute holiday party.
6. Call those same donors back to cancel your holiday party due to lack of attendance and rescheduling to January for a “winter celebration.”
5. Talk with lapsed donors in droves who seem to appear out of the woodworks for only a few days around the holidays.
4. Gorge yourself on cookies and brownies that everyone seems to put in the kitchen.
3. Discover just how tacky a cubical can be as co-workers decorate trying to make three metal walls into a livable festive space.
2. Consider buying a Santa outfit, a red bucket, and a bell as one more major donor’s gift comes in smaller than the year before.
Lets hear your number 1 leave a comment below.

Limited Time Award

December 6, 2008

I just recently heard about a blogger that will donate $500 to a randomly selected charity who comments on his post (Thank you Anthony at Old School SEO). The blog is called My Super-Charged Life and the post is Giveaway: Nominate your Favorite Charity For Cash Donation.

All you have to do is write a comment on his blog post about your favorite charity and from those who have commented he will make a random selection. In the very least is a great way to get the word out about what your charity is doing. Other rules and details can be seen on his post.

Hurry up the deadline is Tuesday, December 9, at 5:00 pm Central time.

The Major Gifts Fundraising Myth

December 1, 2008

When I first starting fundraising I thought I would spend almost all my time talking to donors and out of the office asking them for money. Regardless of your size or position you should have opportunities to talk with donors, hear about their lives & interests, and thank them for their gifts. But you will probably not get to be the one that asks for the big gifts.

I was talking with a friend of mine about her fundraising experiences as a Major Gifts Officer and we started to lament that very thing. The most senior leaders of an organization traditionally do all of the asking. I imagine that some of this has to do with how important asking for a major gift really is. As my friend and I talked we both laughed as we realized that we had held in secret how many “real” asks we had been on. Both of us had cultivated, prospected, and stewarded lots and lots of donors but when it came time to ask them for something specific we did not have that chance.

Have you had this experience? If this is frustrating to you, I encourage you to talk with your boss. Let your boss know that you’d like to have and area that you can build. Come with a couple of suggestions as to what area makes sense to you. I often try and find an area that is relatively new and the organization has not invested a lot of time. This allows me to grow an underserved area and continue to refine my skills as a development professional.

Have you found this myth to be true? If so what have you done to respond to it? Maybe you are that executive leader; do you make a strong effort to provide opportunities for your staff to lead?