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.

Things to consider when making donations

Making donations to charitable organizations can be a very strategic, methodical, and evaluative process. For many, the donations are more than mere “gifts”, they’re actually investments in causes, organizations, needs, and beneficiaries. A key component of the donor-decision process is quality information. When working with our clients on their giving strategies, we advise an analysis of organizations in five functional areas of charitable operations.

Data & Efficiency

Be sure to look at the organization’s finances to determine such things as proper allocation of funds between administration, programs, fundraising, etc. We recommend using Guidestar to review the organization’s 990 provide sufficient data for an initial screening, enabling donors with a good look at financial performance.

Finance & Fund Development

Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. This includes compliance with financial requirements, sound accounting principles, and fiscal responsibilities. Since non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries, they 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. Strong boards strive to ensure that their organizations have adequate resources, provide direction for the executive director and key staff and, evaluate their own effectiveness as governing bodies.

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. Exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees is just one best practice. 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. This works to their advantage as 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.

Ideally, donors placing their “investments” with organizations are doing so through strong existing relationships. However, whether donors are already engaged with these organizations or have yet to meet their leaders, taking an in-depth look at these five areas will help solidify the receipt, usage, distribution, and recognition of financial contributions.

 

 

Things you should know about year-end giving

The final two months of the calendar year can provide a significant amount of support for charitable organizations, if leveraged properly. Through working with many non-profit organizations, coupled with extensive research, we strong believe in the power of the Season of Giving.

Let the following statistics state our case.

  • The average total amount holiday givers plan to donate is $281.
  • 22% of donors will contribute to just one organization
  • 55% of donors will spread their contributions across two to three organizations
  • 23% of donors will give to four or more nonprofit groups.
  • Two-thirds plan to donate the same amount as last year, and 12% plan to increase their contributions this holiday season.

If that’s not enough, enjoy these statistics:

  • Between 35%-42% of online giving happens in November and December.
  • About 40% of online gifts are made in December.
  • For many charities, giving in December brings in about 1/3 of the fundraising dollars.
  • Online giving happens largely between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Online giving (by dollars) on December 31 is concentrated between 10a.m. and 6 p.m. in each time zone.
  • For many organizations, more than 20% of all giving for the entire year occurs in the last 48 hours of the calendar year.

Have you implemented your year-end giving strategy? Do you have one?

Campaigns we help design can see benefits in three primary areas:
Revenue

  • You can raise a little or a lot – either way, it provides new funding
  • 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

Exposure

  • Solid year-end campaign can create 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 connections and relationships
  • Email marketing remains a strong tool to engage your existing database of constituents

New supporters

  • In the form of new donors and volunteers, a public relations 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

If you don’t have a year-end giving strategy, contact us right away. Though we’re just weeks away from the new year, it’s not too late to maximize the opportunity.

 

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!

 

Year-end giving statistics

It’s the time of year when non-profit organizations need to be conducting fundraising efforts to close the calendar year on positive notes. Year-end giving campaigns are an underutilized tool, which can be used to tap new donor bases and raise new dollars to meet goals, fulfill wish lists, or fund key initiatives.

Below are statistics illustrating the effectiveness and potential value of year-end giving campaigns.

  • More than 174 million adult Americans plan to give money to charity between Thanksgiving and year-end.
  • Between 35 percent to 42 percent of online giving happens in November and December.
  • About 40 percent of online gifts are made in December.
  • Giving in December brings in about 1/3 of the fundraising dollars.
  • More than 20% of all giving for the entire year occurs in the last 48 hours of the calendar year.
  • Online giving happens largely between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Online giving (by dollars) on December 31 is concentrated between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in each time zone.
  • Donors are projected to give through a variety of channels this holiday season.
 
Orchestrating year-end giving campaigns is a wise strategy used by charities seeking to generate new dollars from existing and prospective donors.
 
Click here for a complimentary guide to year-end giving campaigns.

Article in Generation Boomer magazine

Community volunteerism is a cornerstone of philanthropy. At NPcatalyst, we allocate a considerable amount of resources toward making volunteerism accessible, meaningful, and impactful. We create opportunities and connections for both non-profit organizations and the aspiring leaders who wish to donate their time.

Recently, we were asked to inspire the boomer generation to “give back” to their community. The end result was an article co-authored with Scott Trevithick, who is the executive director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at the University of Nevada’s Sanford Center on Aging. The article, entitled “Using your skills to enhance the community”, appears in Generation Boomer magazine.

Here is an excerpt describing the benefits of volunteerism…

There are countless benefits associated with volunteerism. From improving one’s health to helping organizations accomplish goals, the value of “giving back” or “making a difference” felt by the volunteer, as well as the charitable organization, can be significant.

For boomers, there’s one big question – how does someone start volunteering and where does he or she go for direction?

For many, taking the first step is very difficult. Determining which organization to select, how to approach it, how much time to offer and in what capacity, and when to make the initial contact can be stressful, uneasy, intimidating and, to a degree, frightening.

We also offered a little advice…

As you begin your search for the ideal volunteer situation, here are a few tips to consider or questions to ask yourself.

  • Is there an age group with which you’d particularly like to work, such as children, students, young professionals, or seniors?
  • Is there a cause which connects to you, perhaps animals, environment, arts, recreation, or education?
  • Do you have a special talent or skill? Is there a good place to teach or share that ability?
  • How often would you like to volunteer – one-time for a special event, now and then, or regularly? Is flexibility important to you?
  • Do you have neighbors or friends who volunteer or could you join others from work, a club or church or other group you’re a part of?

Tapping into the interest and expertise of boomers and seniors makes sense.

One thing is certain, nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers to grow and meet community needs. They’re continually looking for leaders, particularly boomers and seniors, who bring experience and skills which can be applied right away.

Click here to read the entire article.

Businesses and charities chipping in to create school garden

A little over a month ago, I was asked by an Education Alliance board member if I had any ideas to help a garden project move forward. It had been three years since the school had conceived the idea, but stalled due to various challenge. I told Jim to give me an hour and I’d have the solution. Weeks later and the project is in full force.

It has happened thanks to key community partners who didn’t think twice of helping. The first person I called was Leonard Guevara, executive director of Safe Harbors of Nevada, a transition program working with ex-offenders and rehabilitating drug addicts re-adjust to society by providing a home, meals, classes, and access to employment and transportation resources. Instead of thinking about it, he jumped and told me that he’d start right away. This guy is amazing! Check out the photo of him making magic happen as he and his crew install planters and prepare the area for a drip system.

Credit goes to the team we assembled. Now, the effort is not just a garden, it’s an “outdoor classroom”, where students will assemble to take care of their own gardens (at least one per grade class), conduct learning exercises a picnic benches, and use the gardens to expand their knowledge in math, science, reading, and writing.

The team includes Moana Nursery, WCSD Capital Projects, Western Nevada Supply, Garden Shop Nursery, and the Reno Lions Club. As a result, we’re receiving interest from others interested in the project. It’s ideal, because there’s one major item we need…well, the KIDS need.

The Moana Nursery family has created a “classroom kit”, containing several garden accessories for the students to use as they cultivate and harvest their gardens. The kit features rakes, gloves, seeds, soil, and other handy items, which will help the students learn in a hands-on manner. The kit can be purchased at the store on Moana Nursery or online at the school’s giving page on the GiftingWishes.com website for $110 until the end of May. Each purchase will be received as a donation, enabling donors to be properly recognized by the school.

More information can be obtained by clicking the following or contacting me at 775-333-9444 or info@npcatalyst.com.

Sierra Vista Elementary Garden webpage

Buy/donate a “classroom kit” on the Sierra Vista Garden giving page on GiftingWishes.com

Charity voting craze presents invaluable opportunities

Wherever you look…television, Facebook, Twitter, even at the local grocery store…you’re hearing about, reading, or invited to vote in campaigns designed to win charities large sums of money. In some, like The Home Depot Foundation’s campaign, charities collecting the most votes in one round qualify to another round, where even more prize money is awarded.

The voting craze is an innovative way to raise funds for deserving non-profit organizations. Who can argue with an initiative which raises funds for charities through communal participation? If I had a chance to help a local charity earn income through my active involvement, I’d jump at the chance…and I have, over and over again, with no regret.

In the entire voting craze, I have one simple question… are the participating charities doing anything other than promoting voting? Better yet, are the charities leveraging the enthusiasm and power for greater benefits?

These campaigns create more opportunity than the big prizes being dangled in front of them. Non-profit organizations which jump into these campaigns can leverage them for years and years of financial support and voluntary leadership. In fact, they can even use the voting sprees to raise funds while the voting is taking place.

Let’s look at just three opportunities…

  • Existing constituents – It’s an active and promising way for current supporters to voice their support by voting and publicly encouraging others to follow suit. As they’re promoting the votes, they can (and should) be describing why they care so much for the organizations and how these organizations meet community needs.
  • New prospects – The beauty of social media is that it lets an organization know who’s voicing their support. They may not all be voters but, in many of these voting campaigns, voters are sharing their support. Let’s not forget the possible “domino effect” created by friends-upon-friends of voters who get involved. Charities, which are on top of their game, should be in touch with all these potential supporters and beginning to develop strong relationships.
  • New donations – The quest of the voting campaigns is to “win” money by placing first or among the top vote-getters. That’s great. But, why couldn’t these campaigns, particularly the energy generated from these campaigns, stimulate donor giving? Since the majority of charities won’t win the top prizes, they could easily win by promoting giving. At the bare minimum, they could ask each voter to match their vote with a $1 donation. By connecting voters to giving, the charities generate new income and, most likely, engage new prospects as donors.

For as long as this voting craze continues, the charities may want to recognize all of the opportunities that they bring. These campaigns bring periods of heavy promotion, which enables charities to educate and spread awareness to larger numbers of people. As we’ve identified, they’re also prospective donor generators which, if properly leveraged, can result in years of outstanding financial and voluntary leadership.

The issue with our new project – GiftingWishes

We’re barely one month since the creation of GiftingWishes.com and we’re already addressing one major issue. While we suspected it could haunt us, we didn’t expect it to hit this soon.

Each non-profit leader who registers their wishes with GiftingWishes, represents an organization which we become instantly attached. Whether it’s the mission, their beneficiaries, their locations, or their future plans, we (the GiftingWishes team) become attracted as potential donors and voluntary leaders. It’s a “virus” that affects both John from YourVolunteers and Pete from NPcatalyst, but neither of us are looking for a remedy. Instead, we’re actively seeking to infect others with ways to support these organizations.

Here’s a brief sampling of the organizations registered on GiftingWishes and you may quickly recognize our “issue” or, really, opportunity!

  • I am Love Farms (San Diego, CA) – a Veteran Equine Assisted Therapy Charity that helps Armed Forces Veterans heal the visible & non-visible wounds of war through the practice of love, equine assisted therapy & good horsemanship.
  • Arbor Bay School (San Carlos, CA) – fosters academic and social success for children with learning differences through individualized instruction in a small classroom environment.
  • The First Tee of Northern Nevada (Reno, NV) – impacts the lives of young people in northern Nevada by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character-development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.

We encourage you to become familiar with these organizations and consider supporting them through your time and/or dollar. Even if you contribute an hour or a $10 donation, your leadership will go a long way toward fulfilling their wishes and helping pave the road to greater sustainability.

For more information about GiftingWishes, YourVolunteers, or NPcatalyst, click on those links or send a note to info@npcatalyst.com or call 775-333-9444.

Working with community leaders to build stronger communities!

Meeting the needs of local philanthropy

NPcatalyst was created and designed to meet the needs of philanthropy in local communities. The company spawned from a consulting firm, Parker Development Services, which worked with select non-profit organizations on their fund development models. To follow a strong desire to help many charities and, at the same time, help businesses and individuals become more strategic with their giving, we decided to re-brand ourselves.

A short ten months later, we’ve worked to address the needs of hundreds of non-profit organizations and community events. This occurred by managing projects like KOLOCares, which designs media partnerships to promote community and charitable events; Blue Moon Promotions’ One Community grant program, which awarded $20,000 to four organizations after analyzing the needs of many grant requests; and, Summer Of Service, which promoted volunteerism by linking community residents with volunteer opportunities at non-profit organizations.

Rather than fit a specific mold, the essence of the company was sculpted to offer innovative solutions to its clients so that, through these relationships, it could meet the ever-changing needs of local communities. “With relatively no direct competition, we’re seeing the greatest competition come from misunderstanding…where businesses don’t immediately recognize that they can generate business by effectively supporting local charities,” says Pete Parker, NPcatalyst’s managing partner. “We’re also hearing that we’re “ahead of our time” by thinking out of the box and offering innovative solutions in the charitable landscape, which has traditionally focused solely on the “check-writing” way of making donations.”

While the root of NPcatalyst’s operations and performance is earthed in strong relationships and communications, the firm recognizes that charitable support can be generated in other forms. In fact, the “success model” the firm designed five months ago has naturally morphed into a service model identifying the ways it’s working to meet the needs of today’s charitable organizations and local businesses.

The model illustrates the firm’s desire to service both non-profit organizations and local businesses, separately. The firm also found a niche in creating solutions which connects charitable organizations and potential supporters by designing mutually-beneficial partnerships or collaborations which, ultimately, benefit the larger communities.

Recently, NPcatalyst launched its Community Catalyst program, which features a charitable fund designed for small businesses. Through the Fund, businesses with annual revenues below $500,000 can pool their funds together to make significant, meaningful contributions to specific needs as identified by local charitable organizations. “Now that businesses which might only be able to donate $250 each quarter, can connect with other small business owners to contribute an amount exponentially greater,” according to Parker. “Not only are we creating opportunities for businesses to amplify their donation power, we’re creating new relationships between local businesses, potential customers, and the area’s charities.”

As the holiday season approaches, NPcatalyst is working on two new innovative projects aimed at generating funds for local charities. One project provides donors with specific information relating to their contributions, enabling them to know exactly how their donations will be used and what they’ll pay for. The other connects non-profits with local merchants to increase spending at the businesses and, in turn, drive income directly to specific charities.

“The heart of NPcatalyst is to drive dollars and leaders to charitable organizations…period,” says Parker.

Businesses and non-profit organizations seeking opportunities to ignite growth and financial impact are invited to contact NPcatalyst at 775-333-9444 and info@npcatalyst.com.