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!

 

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.

Seven tips for fundraising success

 

Raising funds for charitable organizations can be difficult; certainly time-consuming. It’s a patient process, requiring considerable research, planning, and organization. The word “development” is a perfect fit to the process an organization goes through to generate a meaningful contribution.

When it comes to raising funds for your organizations, here’s a handful of tips to consider adding to your overall fund development strategy. They have represented the centerpiece of our success. They’re not listed in any specific order, but you’ll quickly recognize where and how they fit in your strategy.
   
Identify strengths and weaknesses

Understand the organization – from operations to personnel to policies to financial management. Recognize the causes and implement solutions to each. Be sure to dot every “I” and cross every “t”.

Offer innovative giving

The one constant between most non-profit organizations is the ability to accept cash contributions. Every donor knows this. However, savvy donors (charitable investors) seek greater information, transparency, accountability, and results from their contributions. A strong percentage of them seek unique and innovative giving methods.

Create solicitation strategies

Know your constituents. An engaged leader is a gem and, as nonprofit leaders, it’s our obligation to strive for their full potential. One great way to really get to know supporters is to design solicitation (or engagement) strategies for each. Start by creating a Prospect/Donor Profile for each, used to document their interest, involvement, willingness, and capability. Mapping a solicitation strategy will force you to be strategic about cultivating each constituent’s involvement. This one act involves and is influenced by the other six tips offered here.

Engage constituents

From prospect identification to board leadership to donor stewardship, your benefactors are your organization’s greatest vehicles of success. Engage them through key steps of the fund development process. You’ll be amazed at their ideas, insight, and perseverance.

Generate active awareness

Tell your story to the world. Shout it regularly through local media and through your social media avenues. Be sure you focus on strengths and opportunities and that any weaknesses are addressed. Distribute clear messages and keep your messaging timely. Encourage staff, volunteers, and donors to share the messages through personal, personable, and electronic means.

Network

It’s a seven-letter word that, for many non-profit leaders, is more like a four-letter word – work. There’s no better way to prospect new supporters, whether they’re future volunteer or donor leaders. It involves stepping out of your routine, forces you to fine-tune your 30-second elevator speech, and smile even if you’re having a difficult day. Ask any business leader, networking produces results. Get out there and make friends and share your organization’s story, needs, and opportunities.

Steward donors

Perhaps the most detrimental cause of recent organizational failure might not have been solely the economic crash. Is your organization at fault for not properly recognizing donations and, more importantly, developing strong relationships with its donors? Stewarding donors strengthens the lifeblood of non-profit organizations. Pick up the phone, send an email, direct a tweet, say hello in the store, high-five at a ballgame, and send a card. These are the little ways that magnify the “engage constituents” tip into truly rewarding alliances. Make each donor feel as if he/she is in the middle of the game.

 

Perhaps one that should be listed is “have fun”…development and non-profit leadership should be exciting, rewarding, meaningful, challenging, and fun. Make the most of it!

 

Amazing community opportunities in the Old Pueblo

Summer has been extremely busy for the NPcatalyst team. Rather than spend the warm months surfing waves in the Pacific or backpacking along the Tahoe Rim Trail, we’ve been serving clients and connecting with corporate and charitable leaders across the country.

This past weekend was spent in Tucson, where we met with numerous non-profit officials, social entrepreneurs, and new strategic partners. Here’s a brief list of our new friends:

  • Beads of Courage – an incredible organization which distributes beads to children being treated for cancer throughout the world.
  • TreeHouse Farm – an organization which provides an unforgettable experience for children recovering from cancer treatment, serious burns, and congenital heart issues.
  • The Haven – extraordinary organization which provides substance abuse treatment and housing for men and women.
  • Arizona Oncology Foundation – a new organization which provides support programs for cancer patients and survivors.
  • One-on-One Mentoring – an organization which matchs caring adults with at-risk youth.
  • Pima Prevention Partnership – provides practical solutions to address both individual and community problems, particularly substance abuse related.

They were all introduced to our services, particularly our online gifting tool, GiftingWishes, and our BoardCheck assessment resource.

Saturday was spent in a retreat with one of our new strategic partners. This soon-to-be-launched company will provide job recruitment, leadership development, and career development opportunities to both college students and employers. Much more to follow soon.

It was just another amazing weekend. We hope it leads to many opportunities to continue helping enhance the philanthropic culture in the Old Pueblo. Plus, we may have even landed a new job for a Tucson resident!

Thank you, Tucson, for your hospitality, heat, and spectacular sunsets!

Executive leadership concerns and how to move forward

Rarely do I post a blog riddled with bullets and statistics. However, upon reading the recently printed “Daring to Lead 2011, A National Study of Nonprofit Leadership” report, I felt compelled to identify key findings within the report conducted through a Joint Project of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation. While none of these surprise me, as I’ve seen or felt them firsthand, it’s my belief that many leaders within our communities need to recognize these findings as critical. I invite you to read a few of the report’s highlights, including:

 

Executive transition

  • In the 2006 study, it was found that 9% of executives were in the process of leaving their jobs and that 75% anticipated leaving their jobs within 5 years. Just five years later (in 2011), 7% have given notice and 67% anticipate leaving within five years.
  • Several factors have delayed the rate of executive transitions. For starters, the recession forced older executives to reconsider their transition timing. Across all age groups, 12% reported that a shrinking job market contributed to delay. Another factor influencing turnover timing is the perceived lack of an appropriate successor.

 

Performance Evaluation

  • 45% of executives did not have a performance evaluation last year. It should be known that without consistent, meaningful engagement in what the job requires, many boards are under-prepared for their critical role in executive transition.

 

Job Satisfaction

  • Satisfaction with board performance was lowest among leaders on the job between one and three years. Rather than ending with the new hire, it’s recommended that boards provide intentional support and development of staff leadership as they build efficacy in their new executive roles.

 

Recession Impact

  • The majority of organizations were negatively impacted by the recession. Eighty-four (84%) of leaders reported negative organizational impact. 20% of executives described the negative impact as significant. In the fourth quarter of 2010 when these data were collected, 26% of organizations had downsized.

 

Fund Development

  • Forty-eight percent (48%) of executives reported that they had someone on their boards who participates in donor identification; 41% had someone who participates in donor cultivation; and 42% had someone who participates in asking for donations. In fact, nearly half of boards (44%) have not even achieved 100% giving, which is a standard expectation of board support.

 

Board Development

  • Sixteen percent (16%) of executives reported spending fewer than five hours per month on board-related activity, yet nearly half of these executives described themselves as spending the right amount of time. 39% spend between five and 10 hours per month—just 6% of their time overall—and half of these executives said this was the right amount of time. Other studies have found that executives who spend 20% of their time on board-related activity have high rates of satisfaction with board performance.
  • Overall executive satisfaction with board performance was quite low; just 20% of leaders described themselves as very satisfied.
  • Many executives still struggle to define the return on investment (ROI) of board-related activity.

 

Suggested Next Steps

  • Emergency succession and transition plans to ensure continuity in the event of an unexpected executive departure.
  • A meaningful annual performance review process.
  • Understanding on everyone’s part that financial stability is essential to effective executive transitions.
  • Clearer understanding on the part of executives and boards about the financial condition of their organization, its business model, and the meaning of sustainability.
  • Increased board engagement in fundraising.
  • Support from boards of directors and funders for practices and activities that promote healthy work-life balance as an essential element of professional development and support for executive directors.
  • Recognition by executives of their own important role in helping to improve the performance of the board—and the need to invest their time in identifying and cultivating board members and supporting the board in its work.
  • Development of improved systems for placing and training board members that can address the huge, ongoing demand for skilled and engaged board members.
  • Increased attention and higher expectations of boards and governance from funders, along with funds to help organizations strengthen their boards.

 

I personally believe we are facing a potentially serious leadership drought within our communities. Whether it’s due to our economic obstacles, transition of generational leadership, or authoritative burnout, it’s incumbent upon all of us to work together to manage or guide the many outstanding non-profit organizations in our communities.

 

If you’re interested to read the full report, be sure to download it at http://meyerfoundation.org/downloads/Daring-to-Lead-2011-Main-Report-online.pdf. Also, more information can be found at the report’s home website, located at http://daringtolead.org/.

 

Fundraising webinar for non-profit board members

     

At the root of effective fund development is the identification, cultivation, and solicitation of prospective contributors. This simple process affects all areas of each community-benefit (or non-profit) organization and, when properly managed, creates incredible effects on the organization’s growth, sustainability, and beneficiary impact.

In the hundreds of board meetings which NPcatalyst leaders have facilitated, participated, or simply visited as a guest, there’s been one overwhelming topic address – fundraising. In most cases, the question of “how do we (or where do we) raise more funds?” has been raised. Typical answers are special events, direct mail, and grantwriting. Very seldom do boards discuss relationship building and, more specifically, the board’s role in facilitating new donor relationships.

On Tuesday, September 27, we will be conducting a webinar on the role of board members in the donor solicitation process. The training session is designed for all board members, and will be great for executive directors, development staff, and marketing/public relations staff. The presentation will include tips related to:

  • How to identify prospective donors
  • How to address potential supporters
  • What to say when you have their attention
  • How to properly represent the organization
  • How to gather and record information
  • The interaction with staff members

We’ll even spend a moment on how to raise funds without “making the ask”.

But wait…there’s more. We’ll give each webinar participant copies of documents we regularly use to identify, cultivate, and solicit major gifts.

Here are the webinar details:

NPcatalyst – Board fundraising webinar training session

www.npcatalyst.com/webinars

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10:30am-11:30am (PST)

$70.00

 Register Now

     

The webinar is designed for all 501c3 organizations, whether they’re large or small;  weak or strong development programs; active or inactive board members; and, located in Nevada, the west coast or elsewhere – but all seeking growth and greater impact. 

Please note that the webinar will be taped and may be purchased for viewing immediately after the actual webinar date/time. For more information, contact NPcatayst at 775-333-9444 or info@NPcatalyst.com.