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.

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.

 

Charitable Giving…A Wise Investment

As business leaders, we’re often asked to donate to charity. Whether it’s in the form of personal contributions, direct corporate giving or corporate sponsorship, we receive requests on a regular basis.

Having served the non-profit sector for 25 years, I’m continually involved with corporate giving, either as a business owner or charitable volunteer. I’m frequently asked why businesses are called upon as often as they are. What I’ve grown to understand are two primary reasons:
1. Business leaders have direct access to marketing, advertising and charitable budget line items.
2. Business leaders understand non-profits and, in many cases, serve on non-profit boards.

There are many reasons why corporate leaders invest in charitable organizations. Businesses have an opportunity to make a difference and a dollar. Strong corporations invest in not-for-profit efforts to:

  • recognize and celebrate its corporate values
  • emphasize the importance of ethical business practices
  • provide positive public relations
  • build customer confidence
  • enhance employee morale
  • maintain philanthropic goodwill
  • increase sales leads and transactions
  • strengthen the community
  • And, of course, it’s the right thing to do.

All of this points to responsibility…a responsibility of businesses to increase revenues and a responsibility to help others.

Positioning corporate giving to be effective for both the business and the supported organizations is not a difficult process. It can be easily blended with existing marketing strategies or function separately from existing plans. Regardless of its official capacity within your business, here are suggestions to maximize your corporate giving.

  1. Assess current giving. Take a good, hard look at your past and current giving practices. What percentage of pre-tax profits is allocated for charitable pursuits? Review the organizations, purposes and methods of giving; then evaluate the benefits received. Can you identify a relationship to your corporate mission, marketing plan and staff connections?
  2. Design a strategy. As you plan your giving, consider your charitable budget. Identify the projects, organizations or sectors you wish to support. Determine the benefits, particularly outreach, sales leads, visibility and impact you wish to gain.
  3. Monitor contributions. Maintain relationships with the beneficiaries of your charitable investment to ensure proper delivery of benefits, use of funds and public awareness.
  4. Assess and plan. Evaluate the effectiveness of the giving strategy and its execution. Make changes, design a new strategy, identify new beneficiaries; all are actions you will likely address to strengthen your charitable giving plan.

Corporate leaders recognize the difficulty in giving away money, particularly marked by a lack of information, guidance and tools required to make wise decisions. Being able to identify the best for-profit investments is a hugely valuable talent and a massive industry has grown up around it. Solid nonprofit analysis is just as valuable.

No matter what strategy you use to make your charitable giving decisions, it makes good business sense to ensure effectiveness, both to the beneficiary and your corporation. A properly executed giving program will generate tremendous value through community impact and revenue generation.

Areas to consider when considering funding, community collaborations

As a company, NPcatalyst strives to enhance the impact and visibility of philanthropy. We work with donors (primarily businesses) to create greater connections with their communities, where they contribute time and voluntary leadership. We introduce them to opportunities and community-benefit organizations (and their leaders), thus guiding them to successful community giving initiatives. We also work with community organizations to help create greater awareness, donor relations, development (fundraising) strategies, and recruit new donors and leaders. It’s an innovative approach to building community leadership, pride, and growth.

In daily conversations with donor and non-profit organizations, we frequently receive two questions. First, donors ask how and where the should contribute their money. At the same time, charities ask how they can raise more money from existing and new donors. The answers to both questions have commonalities, such understanding community needs and how donors and charities work together to meet them.

The strategies NPcatalyst creates for both donors and charities involve transparency and greater knowledge of funding and the organizations which receive them. It’s important, for many reasons, to have a keen understanding of how the organization is meeting community needs, how the organization is managing and performing, and precisely how the funds are allocated.

Providing this type of information to donors and, at the same time, leveraging it for greater public awareness, is why NPcatalyst created its HealthCheck system. Through an review of the Form 990 and answers from a 60-question survey, organizations receive a ratings analysis and a best practices tool in five areas. Beyond its ability to promote an organization’s strength and raise funds by ensuring their proper usage, it’s a great way to build upon the weak areas by implementing the recommended best practices. Here’s a close look at the five areas being analyzed.

Data & Efficiency

HealthCheck utilizes the IRS Forms 990 to analyze 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. Questions include:

  • The percentage of board members who make personal contributions.
  • The organization complies with all federal, state and local laws concerning fundraising practices.
  • The percentage of $250+ donors who received a written acknowledgement in the previous calendar year.

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. Questions include:

  • The average percentage of board attendance at board meetings.
  • The organization pursues or is open to new strategic alliances (or collaborative partnerships) to achieve organizational goals.
  • The percentage of board members who have participated in an official board orientation process.

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. Questions include:

  • Employees receive formal performance evaluations.
  • The organization complies with all federal, state and local employment laws when hiring and employing personnel, including withholding and payment of payroll taxes.
  • The percentage of the organization’s employment positions which utilize a clear, current and written job description.

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. Questions include:

  • The organization conducts a financial audit.
  • The organization conducts a constituent satisfaction survey.
  • The organization provides board meeting minutes and financials to those who request them.

The more satisfaction donors feel about the contributions they make to community-benefit organizations, the more likely the community’s needs will be met. At the same time, the charities which address those needs will be strengthened, so that others may engage as donors and volunteers. NPcatalyst’s HealthCheck is an outstanding resource  used when building collaborative partnerships between donors and charities.

For more information about philanthropy, collaborative partnerships, and charity research, contact NPcatalyst at http://www.npcatalyst.com/, info@npcatalyst.com or 775-333-9444.

JD Benefit Services hires NPcatalyst

      

Reno, Nev.— JD Benefit Services, a Reno-based insurance agency, has hired NPcatalyst to provide community engagement solutions, highlighted by a strategic community and charitable giving model.

“We’ve proudly served many clients throughout all of Nevada for over 20 years and, in that time, made significant contributions to many charitable organizations which strengthen our communities”, says Steve Dalinis, president of JD Benefit Services. We feel that it’s now time to align our community leadership efforts with our business strategies.”

Recognizing the benefits associated with an improved giving plan, the JD Benefit Services executive seek to create strong connections in the communities where their clients live and work.

“The solutions tend to reduce staff time and costs on mundane activities, while enhancing relationships with community and charitable investments”, according to Pete Parker, managing partner of the Reno-based philanthropic solutions firm. “With Steve and his team, we expect to integrate “giving” as part of their overall corporate mission and, at the same time, implement procedures which streamline all community engagement activity.”

For more information about this project, contact NPcatalyst at www.NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.

Increase contributions through online and mobile giving

 

Every community organization approaching our company for assistance has the same issue – the need for funding support. While each organization’s situation is different, the common theme has been the search for revenue using new vehicles and/or from new target audiences. We’ve noticed, however, that very few utilize robust or even strategic online giving models.

“Studies have shown that online giving increased 35% in 2010”, says Pete Parker, managing partner of NPcatalyst. “Rather than allow non-profit organizations to stand on the sidelines hoping for new contributors to magically visit their websites to make donations, our strategies are tailored to proactively reach out to prospective donors.”

NPcatalyst works with non-profit organizations to design online giving campaigns directly aligned with their annual giving, major campaign, and special event goals. Using an infusion of e-communications capacities, social media tools and mobile giving, the online giving strategies increase public awareness and direct giving successes. The design of each strategy is rooted in a campaign model featuring measurable benchmarks, network connections, and appealing promotional messages.

For a minimal investment, a tailor-made online giving campaign can be designed and generating contributions within one week.

The NPcatalyst online giving solution works for all organizations, regardless of their online giving and social media readiness or that they’ve had a “donate now” button featured on their website for some time. The firm offers solutions for every non-profit organization seeking to generate online gifts and expand their internet-based presence and reach.

To learn more about the NPcatalyst online giving solution, call 775-333-9444 or email info@npcatalyst.com.

Corporate giving-a business can do well by doing good

 

As an executive of a small to large business, you likely receive many requests for charitable support, either seeking volunteer leadership, in-kind or product contributions, or financial donations. Whichever the case (or all), it is quite possible that a formal giving process or strategy is not in place…or underutilized (or not leveraged). As a result, charitable support from your business may represent more of a burden (or an after-thought) than an act of kindness or, for some, a cost of doing business. Without an effective strategy, your business will not earn near the benefits it deserves from its giving.

It’s well known that businesses give to their communities because it is simply the right thing to do. We found that many business leaders have discovered that a well-thought out and designed giving program can help support their corporate mission and, at the same time, improve the company’s bottom line.

A business can do well by doing good.

If it’s about increasing market share, hiring and retaining quality staff, creating strong business-to-business relationships, improving corporate culture, enhancing public image and, of course, providing outstanding community-beneficial resources and opportunities…you’re on the right path.

For some businesses, giving is based on the old model of “checkbook charity”, signified by simply writing checks for causes and organizations. That model has since morphed into giving programs tailored to align charitable contributions (time, money, in-kind donations) with business goals, core strategies and desired benefits.

Business leaders representing forward-thinking, strategically-motivated charitable giving programs recognize clear connections between corporate health and the health of the communities in which they do business. They understand that corporate giving is not just a matter of conscience: it is also a matter of understanding the congruence of business and community goals.

Learn more about best practices for corporate giving by visiting www.NPcatalyst.com and contacting its managing partner, Pete Parker, at pparker@npcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444. Ask him about his company’s free Corporate Giving Resource Guide.

What are you celebrating today? We’re celebrating our first 2 months of connecting our community.

 

We’re celebrating the two month anniversary of NPcatalyst’s public launching and excited to report that we’ve:

  • Developed a wildly popular media partnership resource
  • Delivered opportunities to 104 community organizations, businesses and business leaders
  • Generated dozens of new donors and thousands of dollars within a 24-hour period to a local non-profit organization
  • Reached thousands of connections, including current and aspiring philanthropists in 13 different countries, through our social media tools
  • Facilitated a long-term group volunteerism partnership between a local business and local non-profit
  • Created a unique ratings and best practices tool to inspire non-profit strength, performance and funding
  • Linked new volunteer leaders directly to local organizations
  • Distributed a charitable giving guide for businesses
  • Created online giving portals to three community organizations
  • Launched a “mapping” tool to help sales and marketing departments deliver results from new leads

 

Tremendous credit for our success is due to our forward-thinking and goals-driven partners, collaborators, and clients. You’re all amazing!

We’re very proud of our accomplishments during this very brief period and, as a result of the partnerships we’re currently creating, we expect to report even greater milestones two months from now.  If you’d like to be part of the next list of accomplishments, contact us today by emailing info@npcatalyst.com or calling 775-333-9444.

Your philanthropic partner, NPcatalyst!

NPcatalyst releases Corporate Giving Resource Guide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

NPcatalyst releases a Corporate Giving Resource Guide

Reno, Nev.— Giving back to charity, when coordinated in a strategic manner, generates positive and measured corporate growth. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of businesses in northern Nevada have adopted strategic giving plans. NPcatalyst, a Reno-based company specializing in the design and facilitation of philanthropic solutions, has released a ‘Corporate Giving Resource Guide’ to help local businesses generate growth through charity.

“We’ve noticed achievements such as increased revenue, wider reach, retained leadership, greater public image, and strengthened relationships in businesses which craft giving strategies” according to Pete Parker, Managing Partner of NPcatalyst. “Successful companies are aligning their community engagement of volunteerism and financial support with business strategies, customer and vendor relationships, and target markets.”

The resource guide took months to design, but it’s released during a period when northern Nevada business leaders are addressing the area’s economic future. “Last year, nonprofit organizations located in Washoe County generated $1.4 billion in revenue – providing a significant impact on the local economy. Imagine the impact when the philanthropic decisions of businesses and their leaders are strategic, measured and performance-driven?” asks Parker.

The resource guide is available at no cost and can be found on the NPcatalyst website, located at www.NPcatalyst.com. For additional information on how to implement the best practices found in the guide into your business, contact NPcatalyst at 775-333-9444.

Click here for a link to the Corporate Giving Resource Guide.

 

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NPcatalyst, LLC is a Reno-based company which provides philanthropic solutions to non-profit organizations and their supporters. Our charter is to set the standard of philanthropic excellence through effective and value-driven best practices. This is fostered by facilitating an ecosystem between non-profit organizations and their corporate and individual supporters, fueled by active community support and engagement.

      

MEDIA CONTACT

Pete Parker, NPcatalyst

775-333-9444 / pparker@npcatalyst.com

The role of community foundations

Community foundations are tax-exempt charitable organizations created by and for community members seeking philanthropic leadership and guidance.  These organizations provide a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving. They offer a variety of giving tools to help people achieve their charitable goals.

 

Compared to private foundations

Community foundations resemble private foundations, as both are grantmakers. They are unlike private foundations in that they enlist multiple donors, a constant influx of funds from new donors, and boards that, by law, must represent the community rather than the foundation ‘s primary donors.

Establishing a private foundation or trust takes time—something often in short supply for investors, especially when facing a December 31 deadline. Quite frankly, it only takes one day, sometimes less, to set up a fund at a community foundation.

  

Offer a variety of funds

Community foundations offer a number of funds which provide charitable giving solutions, including, but not limited to:

  • Donor Advised Funds: One of the most popular paths, these funds enable donors to take their time recommending charities to support.
  • Field of Interest Funds: These funds distribute money to charities focused on one specific area.
  • Designated Funds: Designed to distribute funds to one specific charity over time. This ensures that a small charity won’t be overwhelmed by a large donation it can’t handle.

 

Help create charitable giving strategies

Creating a charitable giving strategy involves experience, insight and an understanding of community needs. It also requires the ability to research and evaluate whether non-profit organizations can fulfill their missions effectively and efficiently. Community foundations assist donors with their financial contributions by:

  • Helping donors become more effective donors by providing education and networking with donor-peers.
  • Reducing administrative workloads by offering donor advised funds as an alternative to private foundations.
  • Providing insight about local issues and nonprofits to help maximize the impact of the donation.

 

Similar, but different than non-profit organizations

Community foundations are similar to non-profit organizations, as they seek funds from community members; but unlike non-profit organizations, as they deliver few direct services to the community. Instead, they grant support to non-profits to appropriately deliver community-beneficial services.

Non-profit organizations primarily have one field of interest, as compared to community foundations, which address the well-being of the total community. Non-profit organizations asks donor to support their missions; community foundations serve the interests of the donor, and also accepts unrestricted funds for the general good of the community.

  

Benefits of community foundations

  • Community foundations provide personalized service, helping individuals, families, businesses, and non-profit organizations achieve their charitable and financial goals by offering tools and resources that make giving easy, flexible, and effective.
  • Community foundations are local organizations staffed by people from local communities and led by local boards of trustees. These people have an in-depth knowledge of the issues, opportunities, and resources that shape your community, enabling them to play a key role in solving community problems, while helping donors learn more about local needs in order to make their giving as effective as possible.

 

Helping donors meet their philanthropic goals

Community foundations provide personalize attention to its donors. Some employ staff and most all access philanthropic leaders to help donors learn about community needs, assess giving opportunities, refine charitable goals, and/or create personal giving plans. These leaders can be placed in two primary categories.

  • Professional Advisors – represented by accountants, attorneys, estate planners, financial advisors, and insurance agents, they:
    • Address tax planning needs
    • help with personal investments, charitable goals and needs.
    • Facilitate complex forms of giving and execute technical giving instruments
  • Philanthropic Advisors – represented by leaders and consultants like NPcatalyst, they:
    • Address giving interests and motivations
    • help create charitable giving plans which are integrated into business and personal giving decisions
    • find nonprofits that meet your interests and charitable goals
    • provide in-depth information about non-profits

 

Donors seeking greater philanthropic impact should consider the role of community foundations. A “new” concept when the first was created in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, it’s now an opportunity found in hundreds of communities. In fact, there are more than 650 community foundations serving urban and rural communities throughout the United States. Collectively, they hold approximately $31 billion in combined assets and make local grants of approximately $2.6 billion annually.

Donors will be hard pressed to find more valuable community stewards, so focused on the improvement of quality of life in local communities.