Considering a funding campaign?

Are you thinking about, planning to, or already launching a major funding campaign for your non-profit organization? If so, undertaking a large-scale initiative can be a great deal of fun, which requires significant planning and execution.

strategic campaign planningWe continue to learn about non-profit organizations addressing the implementation of major giving campaigns to fund capital, endowment, and program initiatives. Whether they’re for specific projects or annual operating needs, organizing major funding campaigns can be complex, challenging, and time-consuming projects.

How do you know when your organization is ready for a major campaign?

Answer the following questions to help determine if your non-profit organization is ready for a major campaign.

  • Do you have strategic short and/or long-range plans for your organization?
  • Are your organization’s key stakeholders, such as the board, executive director, and key volunteers committed to investing energy, time and money?
  • What is your organization’s image in the community?
  • Does your organization have enough staff to handle campaign activities or will you need professional counsel?
  • Does your organization have a current fund development (fundraising) plan?
  • What have you done to test your case and campaign goal and recruit campaign leadership?
  • Do you know how to best utilize your volunteer and staff resources?
  • Does your organization have a strong public relations plan to complement your campaign?
  • Have you identified the current and potential donors who have the capacity to make significant contributions?
  • Are you prepared to create solicitation strategies for each donor?
  • Does your organization have a campaign gift policy?
  • Do you have a plan for collection and pledge redemption?

 

A common mistake made by non-profit organizations is lack of preparation when it comes to major fundraising campaigns. While the questions above should be answered before nearly every funding initiative, preparation of your organization’s most aggressive project will determine its success.

How board members can increase funding without asking for money

 

One of the biggest fears shared by charitable board members is the fear of asking for money. For most charities, raising funds through board members is a duty and, quite frankly, an obligation. But, when push comes to shove, few board members enjoy tapping their friends, co-workers, and fellow community leaders for financial support. Serving on several boards and directly working with many more, I can readily sense board members who dislike soliciting donations.

But why does there need to be such a fear about raising funds?

Board members are typically recruited to non-profit organizations because of their professional or community influence and affluence. They bring significant experience, knowledge, and connections…the ingredients necessary to represent, govern and generate support for the organizations they serve.

When asked about the sources of resistance, the responses I repeatedly receive include the fear of being asked to return the favor to support a different organization; or fear in receiving a negative response; or, fear of potentially impairing a relationship with a co-worker, client, or vendor. These are tough situations for a board member and, quite honestly, future board members.

Here’s my advice to board members who are hesitant or concerned about asking others for charitable donations.

Work with the charity’s staff leadership, specifically the executive and/or development director, to identify prospective donors with whom you have connections. These can be individuals, businesses, and foundations.

Take it a step further by helping them craft a solicitation strategy for each prospect. While each prospective donor may require a different approach, an appropriate amount of cultivation will advance the relationship-building process between the charity and the potential donor.

One very simple, yet effective action you can take is scheduling an initial meeting between the organization (represented by a lead staff or board member) and the prospect.

Creating the opportunity for the organization to identify and cultivate potential “investors” is what non-profit organizations would love to see from their board leaders. It’s quite possible that by taking these simple, yet effective, steps may influence the raising of more money than anticipated!

 

Engage children in family philanthropy

The future leadership of communities lies in the hands of children. In addition to quality education, philanthropy provides a great tool for childhood and community development.

Involving your children, no matter the age, in philanthropy is a great way to teach values of community, charity and helping your fellow man. In addition to learning from their idols (their parents/family leaders), children can practice goodwill by participating in their family’s giving plan.

A few ways children can serve as “young” philanthropists include:

  • Donating gently used toys, books and clothes to other children who may benefit
  • Redirecting birthday and holiday gifts to other children or organizations
  • Special occasions (such as birthdays, first communions, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations) which are promoted with invitations and recognized with gifts, can encourage giving contributions to local charities in lieu of gifts
  • Volunteering with family members at local missions, food distribution centers, and special events
  • Participating in youth giving funds or circles

Family volunteering engages children in philanthropy and creates a unique way of spending time together. Ideas and opportunities are limitless and family fun is just one benefit. Subject matter during family meals and on family trips could be around service and community giving. Another idea could even be a volunteer activity on the family’s next vacation.

Involving children in a family’s giving or philanthropic activity can do wonders toward greater family connectivity and communication. Plus, it’ll teach children about appreciation, values, and communal support.

  

 

A developed year-end strategy can result in new donations

Year-end giving is a rarely utilized tool used by charities to target new donors and raise new revenue. However, it can be an incredible strategy designed in a non-profit’s annual giving plan. Below are benefits associated with a well-developed and orchestrated year-end giving campaign.

Generate new revenue

  • Can be a little or a lot
  • Each non-profit is different – varying sizes, varying needs, varying degrees of public presence, varying depths of constituencies
  • Roughly 40% of all giving comes in during month of December

Expand wide exposure

  • Can be a lot of exposure
  • Local media can play a key role. In most communities, local newspapers, radio stations, and tv networks actively seek ‘feel good’ and ‘community inspiring’ stories
  • Social media creates increasing linkages, particularly through Facebook and Twitter
  • Email marketing is a great tool to engage your existing database of constituents

Add new supporters

  • In the form of new donors and volunteers, a public PR campaign can lure in new batch of supporters
  • Recruits people who were unfamiliar with the organization
  • Gives your development team a great source of new leads to prospect…and they’re not cold calls!
Developing a year-end giving campaign is a smart strategy used by charities seeking to raise new income from current and prospective donors.

 

Habits of highly effective giving

 

Like in business, charitable organizations require revenue to not only exist, but to provide support, growth, and opportunity to the beneficiaries they serve.

Billions of dollars are contributed to organizations each year. Some donors may question is this enough or is their contribution needed? However, the more appropriate questions might be “Am I giving to the right organization” and “How effective is my donation”? The answers lie within each donor’s personal path to philanthropy.

For the most part, when donors make a charitable donation, they want to know that they are giving to a good thing and that the money will be used the right way. But, how do donors know this? How can they be assured or satisfied that their donations will be well spent? In our opinion, effectiveness equals donor satisfaction combined with impact and utilization of each gift.

No matter the size of the donation or from whom it is being contributed (business, foundation or community resident), here are our habits of highly effective giving.

Identify the ideal organization

When looking for the right organization to support, start by taking a good look at your interests, connections, goals, and influences. These will help narrow the list of local, national, or global organizations from which to select the one(s) you’ll eventually support. If you need help, contact a nearby leader (such as NPcatalyst), who has access to multiple directories.

Understand the organization’s needs

When you have narrowed the search, take a good look at each organization’s reason for existence, mission, programs, and goals. As you do this, you’ll become more familiar with the organization and, more importantly, identify and understand their needs. If you’re having a difficult time identifying their need for donor and volunteer support, give them a phone call or send an email.

Assess the organization

A critical step of the process is analyzing each organization’s operations and performance. This is where you determine the soundness of their best practices. Be sure to assess the percentage of funds being allocated to programs or services; take a look at the strength of their leadership; and check to see if their policies, procedures, and management practices are up to par. If you would like assistance, contact companies like NPcatalyst, which analyze and rate charities on a regular basis.

Establish a relationship

There’s no finer way to understand an organization than by direct contact. This can be accomplished by sending an email or calling a staff or board member to ask questions, request a meeting, register for a special event, or offer to volunteer. As in business sales, the ideal “transactions” take place as a result of mutually-beneficial relationships. It is a great way to watch the effect of your donation.

Leverage the contribution

Once you have made the donation(s), the fun does not need to end there. No matter the size of the gift, sharing your goodwill should help compel others to duplicate your act of kindness, as well as create greater awareness of the organization. For businesses, it is a great way to illustrate a business’s role in community growth, not to mention its effect in generating new business. By simply updating your “status” via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or sending a press release to media or mailing a letter to friends, there is a good chance your gift will keep giving.

Measure the contribution

Similar to assessing the organization (Habit #3), be sure to confirm how the money was allocated within the organization. Whether the contribution was unrestricted or restricted (given for a specific purpose), it is vital that you recognize that the donation was distributed toward its intended purpose.

The significance of each charitable donation is escalated when a donor has a deep understanding of the cause, the organization, and the program(s) being supported. In a very similar approach to building personal relationships, the more familiar a donor is to the beneficiary of the contribution, the more significant and rewarding the gift.

If you have not applied these habits to past contributions, imagine how your giving could have been different. By applying these habits, your future donations will have far greater impact, making your community, country, and world a better place.

 

Organizational analysis could spur immediate opportunity

Have you ever conducted a third-party review of the non-profit organization you manage? If you’re a board member, have you ever seen an organizational review of the charitable organization?

You can find suitable ways to review your charity’s financial operations through internet searches. We recommend you take a look at those. We also suggest you consider a unique analytic system we created. It’s called HealthCheck. It closely resembles your own visit to your primary physician, who will conduct a review of your health and provide feedback and make suggestions.

 

HealthCheck is designed to provide research and organizational analysis to help organizations make strategic decisions…and help donors make wise charitable giving decisions.

Benefit to charity leaders…

Board and staff members of nearly every non-profit organization want organizational growth…all want money. Not every organization can hire new staff or add a consultant, but they want expertise and leverage to attract new supporters and help build confidence and relationships with existing donors and volunteers. We created HealthCheck to meet these needs in an affordable and hands-on manner. By doing so, we form an alliance with non-profit leaders, where we essentially work alongside, determining and implementing ways to strengthen the organization.

Benefit to donors…

When donors consider non-profit organizations for their contributions, a number of factors come into play, including the donor’s relationship, belief in the mission, and geographical location. Many times, this isn’t enough information for a prospective donor to render a decision. We created HealthCheck to deliver existing and prospective donors with a resource they can easily locate. Knowledge derived from our 40+ years of non-profit and corporate leadership experience were used to design a research and best practices tool, which gives donors all the information they need and in five key organizational strength indicators.
  

HealthCheck analyzes specific strength indicators, including:

Data & Efficiency – Analyzing IRS Forms 990 to evaluate a non-profit organization’s financial performance in key performance categories. Upon analyzing performance categories, we assign a score as it relates to the organization’s efficiency, capacity, and overall financial health.

Finance & Fund Development – Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. They must comply with all legal financial requirements and adhere to sound accounting principles that produce reliable financial information, ensure fiscal responsibility and build public trust. In addition, non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries and have an ethical obligation to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions.

Governance – A non-profit’s leadership, represented by its staff and board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. Each non-profit board should: ensure that the organization has adequate resources to carry out its mission and provide direction for the executive director and key staff; and evaluate its own effectiveness as a governing body and as representatives of the community in upholding the public interest served by the organization.

Human Resources – The ability of an organization to make effective use of the energy, time and talents of its employees and volunteers is essential to accomplish the organization’s mission. Non-profit organizations should place a high priority on exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment.

Public Information – Non-profits that provide information to prospective donors and other constituents promote informed and responsible philanthropy. Donors are better able to make decisions when they can learn a nonprofit’s purpose, who governs it, how it manages its financial resources, whom the nonprofit serves, and what progress it has made toward achieving its mission.

   

Here are the outcomes…

After a very small investment ($45), the process begins with executive staff (or a board exec) honestly responding to sets of specific questions. The process can be relatively short. It will take about 20 minutes to answer online-based questions, then 24 hours for NPcatalyst to conduct research and prepare its findings.

When completed, the organization will be presented with a charity rating score, much like a grade earned on a test. Scores will be earned in the various areas of analysis, accompanied by an overall score. Organizations which seek greater detail may purchase a “best practices guide” to received recommended action items to improve each area of operation. The guide is intended to help the organization raise the rating score to 100.

Donors and prospective contributors enjoy seeing rating scores to accompany the research their conducting on charitable organizations, but also recognize the organization’s desire to diagnose various areas of operation.

 

Click here to indicate your interest to learn more about the unique HealthCheck system or to order the analysis.
 

 

 

Simple, yet empowering charitable investment ideas

Millions of investments are made on a regular basis, mostly for personal or corporate gain. What if a million investments were made each day for the benefit of the community, country, and world? Just because there’s uncertainty with our economy doesn’t mean it needs to be that way with benevolence. Here are a few charitable investment ideas for you to consider.

  • Invest your time to advance an organization’s mission;
  • Invest in a future leader by mentoring;
  • Invest some money to meet a community need;
  • Invest a smile to brighten another’s day;
  • Invest your professional skills to complete a critical task;
  • Invest your voice to cheer and celebrate;
  • Invest a meal to help feed another;
  • Invest a little sweat to set up an event;
  • Invest an idea to create innovative change;
  • Invest compassion to help others;
  • Invest an invitation to encourage others to join you;
  • Invest your attention toward creative ways of giving;
  • Invest a jacket to warm another;
  • Invest hands to change the world;
  • Just Invest…the list can go on and on

Some of these investments can be measured, others provide intangible results. In all cases, the ROI generated is life changing…for the “investor” and each beneficiary.

If you’re interested or ready to make a charitable investment of any kind, give us a call at 775-333-9444 or email us. Our team at NPcatalyst can help you or your company create an empowering charitable investment strategy, find the ideal charitable organization(s), and embrace your own way of giving.

Board Retreats – Do they need advanced planning?

Strong organizations are governed by outstanding leaders. Fueled with passion, experience, and commitment, the board members of non-profit organizations play vital roles in the direction, management and impact of these groups.

The strength of this leadership…and engagement…isn’t always immediately felt upon creating the board or recruiting the new board member. As with many great things, the strength of the board is developed over time, through active involvement, and organizational understanding. One proven method to mature leadership and, at the same time, create organizational opportunity is by conducting annual board retreats.

Board retreats are integral to each non-profit organization’s success. They present opportunities to plan for the future by blending the vast amount of leadership, experience, skills, and ideas of the board’s members. As a result, organizations run more smoothly, where board members are more connected, and the interpersonal relationships of board and staff are strong.

Retreats serve as great “starts” or re-freshers for both organizations and their leaders. The most successful retreats…those which set the stage for future success…follow four key steps.
1. Planning – defining the purpose; planning meetings; self-assessment; presentation materials
2. Engagement – clear agenda; board “buy in”; interactive and fun
3. Strategy – creating goals and action steps; measurable results
4. Follow-Through – developed through committee meetings; presented/reviewed at board meetings

A successful retreat hinges on the work of a well-focused team (board and staff), an interested and skilled facilitator, and a proactive agenda. Its success relies on the “buy in” and active involvement of its board members. This enables the board to openly challenge assumptions, address issues, foster interpersonal relationships, improve productivity, understand and clearly represent the mission/message, and develop strategies.

Have you scheduled your next board retreat? Whether it’s to address your organization’s board development, mission/vision, messaging/public relations, fund development, and/or strategic planning, now is the time to invest in your non-profit’s future.

fans4causes raises funds in very unique and fun way

Our friends at fans4causes created a very engaging and fun way to raise funds for charitable and community organizations. The prediction-based platform brings sports aficionados to those who don’t know anything about sports together in a unique competition.

We’ve worked with fans4causes (aka Smackline) on contests to raise funds for alumni association student scholarships and veterans services organizations with great success.

Give them a test-drive…there’s no cost…with their Kentucky Derby contest.

Click here to test it out

Smackline-Derbysnap

If you’re interested in creating the same or a very similar contest…even for this weekend’s Derby, contact us right away. We’ll get you set up! It’s very quick and funds go to your charity or the charity of your choice. We’ll even train the host, design a “how to” guide, and promote to participants outside your network.

 

 

A little bit about fans4causes (aka Smackline):

Smackline is a new and innovative platform; with a patent-pending business method, that’s changing the way organizations fundraise. Our game plan is simple: to make fundraising easy, effective and fun. To do this, we took something that people enjoy—watching sports—and something people already do—predicting outcomes—and built a fundraising platform around it. Make a donation, predict the results of a matchup and win prizes, all from the comfort of your home. That’s it—no startup costs, no fuss and no car washes.

Anyone can participate, from anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection…and maybe some hot wings. There’s always new sporting events to watch, new prizes to win and a new opportunity to help nonprofits.

The fun is just starting. Rally with us and make a difference, one game at a time.

Smackline-webshot

Five Rs of Fundraising

While you’re raising funds for a charitable organization, there’s one approach to generating donations that’s sure to prove successful. Consider how much time and effort goes into planning small and major special events.  Now, imagine that same effort strategically targeted toward cultivating a lifetime donor…a fan who loves and supports your organization and its mission over the long term.  This single concept, so often ignored, can make the difference between surviving from event to event and having a steady stream of program-sustaining money coming into your nonprofit.  Nothing will net rewards with your donors like relationship building.

The “Five Rs of Fundraising” was created roughly 25 years ago, while on staff at Fraternity Management Group. Its application, however, can be used by all non-profit organizations. While many organizations believe that coordinating special events is an ideal method for raising funds, building relationships with current and prospective donors generates far greater sustainability. You may want to consider the following Five Rs of fundraising:

Research
This forms a solid basis of understanding of your organization’s fundraising endeavors, not to mention its individual constituent relations. From basic records management to in-depth interviews, information is key to success. With proper research, the interests, needs, charitable backgrounds, professional experiences, personal connections and links to your organization are identified and recorded.

Recruiting
This phase is going on constantly, but primarily during the same time frame as heavy research. Volunteer leaders, including development committee members, board members, and campaign steering chairpersons play integral roles in successful fundraising campaigns. The amount of work involved and the number of prospective contributors and volunteers connected with the organization, who must be contacted, requires proper recruitment and management.

Romance
Commonly called cultivation, this is perhaps the most important part of the process. All contact with prospective contributors is a form of cultivation. Every newsletter, email, phone call, tweet or Facebook message, event, and publicity item serves to inform and pique the interest your organization’s potential supporters. Romancing these prospective major donors, volunteers, and community leaders occurs on a regular basis leads to strategic and successful solicitations. The goal is to encourage prospects to become actively engaged and connected.

Request
This is the good part, where individual prospects are asked, or invited, to invest in the organization. It’s important to note that the levels of gift size and donor satisfaction are increased with proper romancing or cultivation. Actual soliciting of contributions is carried out by key organization leaders and volunteers who are personally engaged in the organization and connected to the person(s) being solicited.

Recognition
Early, frequent, and creative ways to thank volunteers and donors will insure that they stay involved and invested in your organization. It breeds proper stewardship of future donations of time and dollar. It also sets a pattern which other prospects will notice, which be a determining factor when they’re asked to contribute funds.

Every contact, with every individual prospect, involves one or more of the Five R’s. Planning ahead and maximizing the effectiveness of those contacts is what will drive your organizations closer to its fundraising goal.