Eloquence in Equivalencies

September 30, 2014

An equivalency is an example of what a specific sum of money buys for your organization. I have been really surprised when these numbers are not strategically planned and thought through.

If you are going to create statistics please, please use them to upgrade donors. Say things like a gift of $10 will do this and a gift of $25 will do this bigger seemingly greater thing. And when you do this make sure the $25 thing is actually better. I have been a part of too many organizations that have created equivalencies that do a really sad job of this. They will try only to provide greater numbers with each higher equivalency but will not think about the perceived difference. For example do not say it will cost $25 dollars to shelter and feed a homeless man for one night and then say it will cost $100 to buy 5,000 apples for that homeless man to eat. The $25 dollar equivalency is way more appealing that the $100 equivalency.

I always like it when people make equivalencies speak directly to me. When they are written with the word “you.” That draws me in much more than when it is written in third person. How has your organization used equivalencies? Any examples that you can post that you use?


The Fundraising Advantage

September 23, 2014

What are some of the advantages of working in fundraising and in the nonprofit world? Below are a few of my ideas. Feel free to leave some of your own in a comment: Why are you in fundraising? What would be a few advantages that I missed?

You have a great opportunity to spend 8 hours a day working to make a difference in your community. This kind of work makes a difference to me in feeling like I am personally making an impact. One of the greatest benefits of this industry is that personal initiative makes a huge difference. If you want to make an impact or difference you can. Because personal initiative is so important there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit, even in many larger shops, that wants to do work in new and different ways.

As a fundraising professional you have the opportunity to meet really generous people that are using their resources and volunteer time to make a huge difference. It can be inspiring to see the level of influence that some of these people have and watch them use it to benefit your organization. It can also be really fun to meet influential and powerful people and get to work with them.

Fundraising is very relationship based and is a great environment to be involved in peoples lives. Because we talk to people about their money and issues that are important to them we have a great opportunity to potentially impact lives. I think this is the number one reason why I do what I do… it’s way more about people development than anything else.

Measuring the Un-measurable

September 16, 2014

Sometimes because of one situation or another your organization will not give you measurable statistics. Maybe you are working on a venture project that has not yet been created, maybe you’ve been told to raise money for something that is a good idea but has no staff support. Here are a few things I’ve done to survive in this measureless world.

Straight away I’ll make sure that I can measure my own fundraising success to help me in building a future case for measurable results. It is important that you keep trying to get these measurable results. Do not settle for doing a bad job at showing your organization and it’s projects are a success.

A great stepping stone I’ve used is to set-up equivalencies so you have example numbers of what a gift can purchase. This allows donors to trust in how you will be spending their money but can provide them with great tangible ways of understanding the difference their gift can make.

When facts and measurements are scarce, you have to make sure that you are selling the ideas or founding principles of your organization. You can do this through client stories of success or of opportunity. Even “generalized” client stories of what a life could be like can make a significant impact. Client stories are really great as they provide you a way to re-tell the success of your organization through someone else. People will often connect to a compelling story before a promising statistic or a measurable result.

What does your organization do? I think we should strive for measurable results but when those results are scares we need to do something. What do you do in your organization?

To Measure or Not to Measure

September 9, 2014

It is always good to make every attempt to have and provide measurable results to your donors. I have found, that sometimes we do not have the opportunity to do this to the degree we would like to or should. I have been frustrated many times with how little measurable and tangible things that I am raising money for.

If we do not have enough measurable tangible results in what you are fundraising for try talking with your. Explain to them how important it is that donors know you have a plan for donation. If you think that is impossible to connect every donor to a specific gift take World Vision, they raise around $2 billion dollars a year and their money goes all over the world. But they can tell every donor what goat they purchased or which child they are sponsoring.

It is hard to tell a donor that their gift has made a difference unless you are using their specific gift to make a difference. Sure this will be harder with a gift of $20 than with a gift of $2,000 but it is important to find creative ways to do this. Use one hundred $20 gifts to make the same difference that the $2,000 gift is making.

I should say that the reason why so many fundraisers do not do this is because they want to keep money unrestricted. But you can show measurable results and a strategic direction without raising only restricted money. I’ve found that donors don’t always care exactly where their money is going they just want to know that it is going to something specific. If you can show the donor specific things money is going to they will feel more comfortable.

Oh No! Not Another Good Idea

September 2, 2014

Do you ever feel like you have way to many ideas?  Or do you feel like you have a lot of great ideas and things you want to do but never end up with time to get them done?  How do you manage your good ideas?  Do you ever find yourself partway through a new book on fundraising and are overcome with the number of programs or techniques you want to change?

Every couple weeks there is something new that I want to try and almost every day there is a story or publication that I want to tweak to be more donor-centric.  I’ve found that if you don’t make new ideas a priority they will never happen; there are too many daily things in the life of a fundraising professional.  New ideas are also many times very scary for those around you to implement and support.

There are many techniques and things you can do to support new ideas in your office.  Set aside time every day to plan and think about the future.  Mark 15 minutes a day off your calendar or an hour a week with the intention of doing nothing but thinking and planning out the next step.  Many of you probably already do this as part of your normal schedule.  Make a list of every new idea you have good or bad.  If you start creating a list soon you will start to see patterns and many times it leads to implementing these ideas in some way.  After a few months of working with this list sometimes I will send a revised version to my boss or a colleague and say here is a list of ideas do any of these resonate with you?

New ideas are important especially in difficult financial times and as we prepare to fundraising with the next generation.  We need to be nimble and cutting edge as an industry or we will cease to be successful.  Foster a spirit of entrepreneurship in your office, encourage your staff to think outside of the box, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Have you tried something new in the last couple months?  Leave a comment and share it with us.