Mixing Personal and Professional

March 30, 2009

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told not to mix personal with professional. But that is exactly what we ask our volunteers and board members to do all of the time. How many of your top supporters ask their co-workers and business associates to partner with you?

Sometimes we get too caught up in segmenting and compartmentalizing our lives. If we have some good personal connections that make sense to help something you are doing take advantage of them. It is healthy for us to talk with each other about what is really happening in our lives personally and professionally, that’s is often what builds trust the very best.

Keep in mind that a healthy work and life balance is still vital. Just because you have friends that you work with doesn’t mean you should consistently overwork. Also, make sure that you continue to treat everyone with the same professional courtesy you always have used. You have to understand your personal and professional line for yourself and often you will know if you’ve crossed it.

Work is what you do more than anything else in your day so it’s important to find ways to be yourself while you’re on the job. What is your personal and professional line? How do you keep these areas of your life in check?


Getting the Word Out: Joint Post

March 25, 2009

This is a joint post on Sandy Rees blog, Get Fully Funded.  She asked me to say a few words about how to get the word out and I thought I’d share it here as well.  I’m always open to joint posting let me know if you’d like me to guest post for you.

Getting the message about your nonprofit out is one of the most important things you can do for your organization.  Here are a few things you can do to enhance what your nonprofit is doing.

Getting Started- Approach a local chamber of commerce and ask if you can present to them about your nonprofit.  Get to know the businesses in your community by co-hosting a networking event with the chamber at your building.  If you are a faith-based organization (or even if you’re not) talk to the pastor at a couple of local churches and ask if you can present to their congregation.

Growing the Relationship- Use the relationships you’ve built and keep track of them.  Ask new donors to come for a tour or a special event you are having.  Your volunteers are one of the best groups to advocate for your mission.  Ask your volunteers & board members to invite their friends to connect to your organization.

The Technological Advantage- There are countless ways to spread the message about your good work using the Internet.  Don’t try and do everything just do one or two things well.  Start a Facebook page or use the Causes application.  Go to Razoo.org and start a fundraising page.  Start a blog, this is a great way to regularly communicate and interact with those that want to remain close to your organization.

There are a lot of great causes.  Don’t be afraid to get creative be a little competitive.

Recession? What Recession?

March 18, 2009

A few weeks ago I was in a meeting of philanthropy professionals from all over Seattle, it was an encouraging coming together of minds. Everyone is trying new and creative ideas to be successful. Many of them talked about how important is it to keep the donor in mind and serve and do what you can to benefit your donor. Now is a great time to build up our cultivation programs and create a deeper connection with our donors.

As we talked about what is successful and what is not one strong theme was that as a nonprofit we should not use the “recession” as a reason to give money. Sure we are in financial hard times but do we need to remind our donors of that? Everyone knows the difficulties that our communities are in financially. Success was found in changing the message to talk about what difference we are making.

As nonprofits we are uniquely positioned to make an impact today. We need to remind our donors that we are still accomplishing our mission and how that mission is benefiting our community right now. Focus on a message of hope and change. This has been significantly more successful than reminding everyone about the gloom and doom of the present.

Terri Andrews: Featured Fundraiser

March 16, 2009

This month’s “Featured Fundraiser” is Terry Andrews. Feel free to refer someone that you think I should feature. Thank you Terry.

What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?

I am in the higher education field, raising money for a new pharmacy school at a public institution, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I have a background in higher education fundraising, as I started my career at a small liberal arts institution, though I did spend 6 years in the cause marketing trenches, for Special Olympics Illinois. It was at Special Olympics where I learned that “non-profit” and “higher education non-profit” have many similarities… and MANY differences.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?

I started in the development field because it seemed the perfect place for my skill set – writing, speaking, planning events, working with people, etc. Ultimately, during a stint in corporate America, I decided the cliché phrase “I want to make a difference” wasn’t cliché at all. Though I love my job most days, there are frustrations and road blocks that pop up along the way. I remind myself, frequently, that my actions will impact many, and that keeps me going.

What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?

Connections are crucial and stories reinforce that. Donors ensure the happy endings. When I can connect a student with a donor, it reinforces the commitment of both. The donor sees the impact he or she has, and the student realizes there are many outside of their immediate circle, who care about the success of our students, and the program as a whole.

What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?

Often times my enthusiasm is tempered by the bureaucratic realities of higher education. It takes time to get new programs off the ground. There are many layers of approval to go through and everything, from the political landscape to the weather, affects an ask. It’s daunting, and frustrating, but you keep moving forward because that’s how it works.

Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?

The best donor visits to the SIUE School of Pharmacy typically involve a “smart classroom” demonstration. Our students do not take notes with pens and paper. They download a faculty member’s presentation to their laptops and make notes right on the screen. The lectures are taped, and students can check them out later to listen and watch on their ipods, allowing them to go directly to specific sections of the lecture. There are clicker response systems so faculty can ask questions to determine comprehension and either go back and re-explain a concept or move on. We have faculty at various clinical sites throughout the state, and they can lecture from their site, to a classroom of 80 students, in real time.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

March 11, 2009

What is Twitter? I think of it as the electronic version of talking to your neighbors from your back porch. The difference is that your neighbors can be anywhere in the world. Twitter allows people to communicate with large audiences about big and little things important to them or to their nonprofit.

Twitter is one of those social marketing tools that everyone is always talking about but is it of much value? I started using Twitter a number of months ago but didn’t really understand it. Over the last few weeks I’ve started to find it to be really valuable. Here are a few things I’ve started to do.

  • Microblogging- if you don’t want to write a full post but want to regularly update people about your nonprofit.
  • Asking questions on topics you want wide variety answers from other people.
  • Growing a support base that can later be used to promote your organization or an idea.
  • Great way to keep a constituency informed of news articles, posts, and other information (connect to your RSS feeds).

How do you use Twitter? Have you found it to be a valuable resource to your nonprofit? Follow A Small Change on Twitter @infosmallchange. As a resource on how to use Twitter and maximize it’s effectiveness I recommend you check out the Corporate Dollar Blog.

Translating Tweets to Dollars

March 9, 2009

I was surprised to find how many fundraising campaigns have used or been enhanced by using Twitter. For those of you that do major gifts fundraising you are not going to see a huge amount of money come from Twitter (or other online or social networking sites). However, if you are an annual fund person this is a great way to acquire new supporters.

Twitter Enhanced Campaigns:
EpicChange had a successful campaign making over $10,000 in 24 hours.
Twestival was held in February made over $250,000 through connecting people in multiple cities via Twitter and having them meet up at a location to raise money for Charity: Water.
Social Actions encourage followers to pledge to give a monthly donation helping them raise $XX in just a few days.

Twitter Lessons Observed:

  • Set a fundraising goal that is tied to a specific project or item (i.e. a classroom or a homeless family).
  • Tweet everyone exactly where you are at with your campaign goal very regularly (hourly if you are doing a one day campaign).
  • Ask for and expect smaller donations (usually around the $10 to $20 level).
  • Set a reasonable goal. Until Twestival the most money I’ve seen successfully raised on Twitter was around $10,000.
  • Set a time limit regarding when the campaign will start and end. This should be around 24 to 48 hours.

Twitter does not allow you to give money directly through Twitter so you will need to create a URL to a page where you can receive donations. Razoo.com has the ability to do free fundraising pages with no transaction fee.

A Little Help: March Madness

March 3, 2009

This month Razoo.com is awarding $16,500 to nonprofits who raise money through their site. The nonprofit that raises the most supporters wins up to $10,000.

  • $10,000 to the nonprofit has the most supporters
  • $3,000 to the nonprofit with the second most supporters
  • $2,000 as part of a draw to an organization that have more than 50 supporters
  • $1,000 as part of a draw to an organization that have more than 10 supporters

For more information visit their website.

This month I could use your help! I am raising money to support an organization that I featured a number of months ago, The Wellspring Foundation. Money is being raised to help Ruhanga Primary School in Rwanda. For only $15 you can improve the education of a child in Rwanda.

Visit our fundraising page: http://tinyurl.com/Ruhanga

Will you help Wellspring win Razoo’s March Goodness? This is a great opportunity to participate in an online fundraising campaign and I would be greatful for your help.