Barometer or Board Member

June 24, 2014

I’ve mentioned this on some level before (More About Using Board Members) but I thought I’d speak here in a little more depth. I have found board members and advisory level volunteers to be great barometers for how my organization is viewed publicly. Often these people will tell you what they really think when someone else will not. They will also do so in such a way that includes advice as to what you can do to improve.

Beyond simply invaluable feedback your board is often your best connection to the community. Your largest donations often come from a board member’s connections and your board member’s solicitations. If you are a small or large organization using your board members to help you engage and raise money from the community is one of the best things you can do. Because board members are volunteers their opinions to the public lend a great deal to your reputation. If they as a non-staff community leader say you are a great organization many will believe you are.

What ways are you using board members to advance your mission? Have you found them to be significant assets to your organization? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

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Prospecting and Asking the Right Questions

June 17, 2014

Good prospect research can be invaluable but needs to be paired with good question asking. It is great to learn house values & business ownerships, etc. but if you do not talk with your donor and learn about their family, interests, current situations your research is useless. I wanted to talk today a little bit about what are some good probing questions that I ask and that I have found useful.

Each time I attend a donor event or go on a donor visit I find that they are looking for some kind of relationship. They want to know you care about them and want to know how best to plug them into the organization. When I talk with donors I am doing two things: trying to learn things about them (interests, capacity, family, etc.) and trying to create a two-way relationship. Here are a few questions that I often use to get the conversation started.

  • How did you find out about the organization?
  • What first connected you to us?
  • Why have you stayed connected?
  • Are there things you’d like to see us doing that we are not?
  • What are your favorite programs?

Make sure to check out other posts I’ve done regarding prospect research.  What questions do you use? Leave them in a comment below.


Pick Up the Phone

June 10, 2014

I want to start by saying I have this problem as well. It is easy to get comfortable with our processes and our email lists. But I’d like to advocate for the use of an old tool in fundraising, the telephone. How often do you email or send a letter instead of make a phone call? I find that email can be a great way to contact a large number of people at one time. There are some amazing things you can do to personalize email lists… I digress (I told you I’m part of the problem).

I’d like to offer that there are many things we miss by sending out an email. Talking with a donor on the phone allows us to learn a lot that we can’t learn over email. Email conversations are very scripted and short whereas on the phone you can ask questions and respond quicker. You can read verbal cues, things like hesitation or tone that we miss when we only use email. What are a few things you can learn from making a phone call:

  • Donors will often volunteer personal information about themselves or their family.
  • Many times in the small talk you will learn what is going on and important in their lives now (these are great things to follow up on later).
  • Donors will often talk about their giving interests or why they give to your organization.
  • You can learn more about the age and personality of your donor.
  • Often you can tell by the tone of their voice and their response how you rank in their giving priorities.

Do you have any additions to this list? Leave a comment below.


Credit Card Processing for a Fundraising Campaign

June 3, 2014

If your nonprofit is doing any kind of fundraising, there’s a good chance you may be considering processing donations and payments with credit and debit cards.  Since so many people prefer to pay with plastic these days, it’s absolutely essential for your organization to integrate a credit card processing solution for your fundraising campaign. This will allow you to: accept online donations, process registrations and ticket sales on your fundraising website, and sell more products, auction items, or raffle tickets at your fundraising event.

Let’s review a few different types of payments nonprofits would likely process with credit cards:

  • Online donations: One of a nonprofit’s biggest goals is bringing in donations to help support your cause. With online credit card processing, you simplify the process for donors by allowing them to easily make online donations using a credit card vs. sending in a check. You can even get setup to take recurring donations on a monthly basis from your core supporters.
  • Online registrations & ticket sales: If your nonprofit is hosting a fundraising event, a merchant account would allow participants to easily register and make payments online. This frees up a lot of extra paperwork and bookkeeping from participants having to mail in checks. Add a point of sale system (POS system) making it possible for your organization to take credit card payments on-site at the event – allowing for last-minute ticket sales.
  • Auction Bidding & Payments: If a charity auction is part of your fundraising campaign, credit card processing will make the whole process easier for bidders by allowing them to store credit card data for quick check-out at your event or pay for items won or purchased via “buy now” pricing online. This is much easier than sending an invoice and collecting payments after the auction closes.
  • Sponsorships: If you intend to reach out to local businesses to sponsor your fundraising event, online payment processing can help streamline the process. Sponsors can review benefits of packages online, select a sponsor level that suits their needs, safely make payments, upload logos, etc.
  • Fundraising Merchandise: Do you intend to offer any fundraising merchandise for purchase as part of your fundraising campaign? Perhaps participants may be interested in purchasing visors or golf shirts in advance of your charity golf tournament. With a merchant services account, you can offer product sales on your fundraising website allowing participants to select products, sizes, make payments and receive items prior to the event.
  • On-site payments: If your nonprofit is hosting a conference or fundraising event such as a gala dinner, having a POS or mobile credit card processing system on site is a great way to easily collect credit card payments for last-minute ticket sales, fundraising merchandise, raffle tickets, food and drinks, etc. (by accepting credit cards, you don’t limit attendee spending by only accepting the cash they have on hand.)

Summary: Merchant services is an important part of fundraising as it opens up more opportunities for your nonprofit to raise more money by safely and securely processing credit card payments for online donations, ticket and product sales, sponsorship packages, and more!

DoJiggy Merchant Services (DMS) offers payment processing services for nonprofit organizations. With DMS, you’ll see lower rates, better customer service, POS terminals included at no cost, seamless integration with your organization’s fundraising website, and they even include a Free Donation Website when you sign up.