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.

 

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.

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.

 

100 most influential leaders recognized this Friday

We’re excited to attend an event this Friday at the Atlantis Resort Casino, where 100 of the most influential people in Reno/Sparks will be recognized by Plum Influence Magazine.

Celebrate the courage and character of Reno with the 100 most influential people of our region.

The event recognizes leaders in the following categories:

  • Super Heroes
  • Business Owners & Industry Experts
  • Community Leaders
  • Foodies
  • Extraordinary neighbors
  • Charity Drivers
  • Artists and Icons
  • Scientists
  • Savvy Techs
  • Risk Takers and Visionaries

There are ten people within the ten different categories which make up the full list of 100 and only one of them will be awarded as the top influencer within their category.

We’ll be there to support our own Pete Parker and network with his fellow “most influential” leaders in our area. We encourage other to also buy a table and attend what expects to be an incredible networking opportunity, but also a showcase of everything positive in northern Nevada.
 

Here’s a link to see the Full Plum100 Listhttp://issuu.com/pluminfluencemagazine_reno/docs/plum100

Nevada Matters featured Plum 100 and their event on a recent radio show. Click here to listen to the 30-minute show.
 
 
Event Details
  • Plum100, The100 Most Influential People of Reno/Tahoe
  • Plum Influence Magazine
  • Friday, September 28, 2012 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (PDT)
  • Atlantis Resort Casino, Reno, NV

See you there!

 

NPcatalyst designing year-end giving campaign

NPcatalyst has designed a campaign to raise funds for interested organizations through a unique year-end giving initiative. The campaign will remind and drive support from community residents, private foundations, and business leaders as they make contributions to organizations before the close of the calendar year.

Non-profit organizations (regardless of size, scope, sector, or location) are invited to participate in the innovative campaign, but need to enlist with NPcatalyst prior to November 1st. Through a small participation fee, each organization will receive:

  • an organizational assessment (charity rating) and best practices solutions guide;
  • invitation to participate in up to three fundraising-driven webinar training sessions;
  • inclusion in NPcatalyst’s social media and traditional media messaging;
  • direct positioning with NPcatalyst’s expanding roster of corporate, foundation, and philanthropic influencers;
  • an online profile, featured on the NPcatalyst website; and,
  • a special contributions-tailored profile on a soon-to-be-announced Campaign website.

Signing up well in advance enables the participating organizations to address areas deemed as weak or needing improvement, based on the charity rating score determined by NPcatalyst’s HealthCheck tool. It’s an organization assessment (or charity rating) tool, which analyzes each organization in five different categories, then provides a best practices solutions guide for improvement in each area. Click the following link – www.npcatalyst.com/healthcheck/ – and learn more about the HealthCheck tool which the NPcatalyst team created. Best of all, it’s a great revenue-generating tool. In fact, here’s a testimonial:
“What I’m coming to understand about the value of this HealthCheck process is not necessarily the rating itself (though that’s important), but the best-practices it ends up prompting. To that end NPcatalyst is doing great work ensuring that we’re adhering to those best practices.” – Jonathan Mueller, executive director of Sierra Nevada Journeys

NPcatalyst was founded to provide philanthropic solutions to both donors and the charitable organizations they support. Pete Parker, managing partner of the firm, has helped non-profit organizations raise over $30,000,000 through appealing and innovative annual, major, capital, and online giving campaigns. Most recently, the firm create a corporate engagement campaign which connected community residents in throughout northern Nevada with over 15,000 volunteer opportunities.

The year-end giving campaign is an opportunity non-profit organizations should seriously consider. To sweeten the invitation, NPcatalyst is offering the charity rating, best practices guide, public relations messaging, and year-end fundraising campaign at $375, a heavily-discounted rate from the $450 base price. With a targeted fundraising goal of $5,000 per organization, it’s an incredible opportunity. Taking advantage of this two-week offer, which ends on August 31st, requires each organization to send an email to info@npcatalyst.com or call 775-333-9444.

      

Creating an employee volunteer program

 

Businesses, large and small, have made financial contributions to non-profit, or community-benefit organizations, for many years. It wasn’t until recently that they began to increase their engagement…through volunteerism. Employee volunteer programs are becoming increasingly popular not just with large corporations, but small-to-mid-sized businesses seeking to enhance local communities and embark upon innovative business development initiatives.

Recognizing the trend, particularly through the number of inquiries we’re receiving to facilitate employee volunteer programs, here are simple suggestions to consider when developing a volunteer program at your business.

  • Have a sincere interest in creating change and making a difference as a company;
  • Solicit buy-in and support from executive leaders;
  • Hire an employee and/or select a consultant to create community connections as well as design and manage the program;
  • Set goals and objectives;
  • Consider offering special incentives, such as financial compensation, internal and public recognition, gift-for-hour donations;
  • Map existing employee connections, involvement, and interests;
  • Qualify organizations to ensure appropriate connections and validate purposes;
  • Track volunteer involvement;
  • Promote corporate to community engagement;
  • Evaluate employee volunteer program.

 

One task that’s not included, but is quite important, is to determine your expectations. Businesses which have identified and, more importantly, endorsed key expectations, such as those listed below, have developed successful employee volunteer programs.

  • Incorporate with core business and  corporate giving strategies
  • Create a healthier workforce
  • Deep understanding of employees;  strong relationships
  • Improve employee and job satisfaction; improved employee communication
  • Network by interfacing with community leaders
  • Show company and community pride
  • Enhance employee recruitment and retention
  • Recognize and address community needs; improve quality of life
  • Positively impact profitability – 81% of corporations focus their employee volunteer programs on core business functions

 

Community leadership goes far beyond simply making financial contributions. When businesses become actively engaged with community needs, causes, and organizations, incredible synergy is created and becomes contagious. End results include stronger workforces, community connections, and business-to-business alliances.

Think again if you find it strange that NPcatalyst, as a corporate giving consultant, is giving away the “secret sauce” to volunteer programming. It’s possible, but successful programs possess commitment, attention, and organization. This is precisely what volunteer program consultants, like NPcatalyst, provide to its corporate clients.

To learn more about creating a strong employee volunteer program at your business, contact NPcatalyst at info@NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.

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.

How to protect your charitable donation

 

Whether it boldly hits national news or barely hits the local press, stories of improper use of donated funds is never good. Non-profit or “community-benefit” organizations exist to meet community needs while, at the same time, enhance quality of life.  Unfortunately, these situations continue to occur and these stories circulate throughout the media.

So, how can donors prevent their funds from being improperly used or allocated?

It’s simple…thorough knowledge of the organization you’re supporting should do the trick. This can be done through different avenues of organization understanding. The best possible way is by creating a direct relationship with the organization by calling, volunteering, and/or attending events.

If developing a personal relationship isn’t an option, then check to see if the organization has been rated on its finances, management, or performance. A non-profit organization named Charity Navigator is a good resource as they rate select organizations (those with $500,000+ budgets) based on financial efficiencies.

NPcatalyst, also rates charities; but, scoring is taken steps further. The belief is that management and leadership are just as important as financial oversight. Through their HealthCheck tool, the company scores charitable organizations of all budget sizes, locations, and service areas on five areas:

  • Data & Efficiency
  • Finance & Fund Development
  • Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Public Information

Transparency is key. Scoring in multiple areas is to paint a clear picture of each organization’s best practices.

Regardless of which resource you use, your best bet is to have a strong understanding of the charity you’re about to support to ensure that your hard-earned donation will be put to the best possible, or your pre-determined, use.

For more information or to learn more about a particular organization contact NPcatalyst at 775-333-9444 or info@npcatalyst.com.