How board members can increase funding without asking for money

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Engage children in family philanthropy

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

 

A developed year-end strategy can result in new donations

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

Generate new revenue

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

Expand wide exposure

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

Add new supporters

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

 

Organizational analysis could spur immediate opportunity

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

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

 

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

Benefit to charity leaders…

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

Benefit to donors…

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

HealthCheck analyzes specific strength indicators, including:

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

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

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

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

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

   

Here are the outcomes…

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

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!

 

Donors have much to consider when supporting charities

As the calendar year nears its close, well-organized charities will be orchestrating year-end fundraising campaigns. These initiatives are used to fulfill wish lists, meet annual goals, and fund special projects. As these organizations launch these campaigns, it’s important that they understand donor thinking and strategies during this time of year.

During the holidays, typical donors…

  • Respond to public, promotional, emotional appeals
  • Prefer easy access to make a contribution
  • Make donation amounts of their choice
  • Seek well-managed organizations
  • Wish to not be the only donor
  • Want to know how the money will be used
  • Choose to support a well-regarded and/or well-managed organization
  • Expect proper acknowledgement

Saavy donors make informed donation decisions.

Appropriately stated by Charity Navigator, “Smart givers generally don’t give reactively in a knee-jerk fashion. They don’t respond to the first organization that appeals for help. They take the time to identify which causes are most important to their families and they are specific about the change they want to affect.”

Nearly two years ago, NPcatalyst launched a program called HealthCheck, which analyzes charities in five distinct areas of non-profit management and effectiveness. The five areas are:

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

As the holidays are upon us, non-profit directors should consider what drives donors.

Donors say appeals that put a face to the donation (either human or animal) and remind them to help those who are less fortunate at this time of year, are most persuasive. A few thoughts to consider…

  • Holiday giving is emotional.
  • Donors are thankful for what they have and give to those who need it.
  • Donors tend to give more when the online experience is intimate and emotionally coherent.

Stats to consider about major donors…

  • One-third of donors with $100,000 or more in annual income, indicate all or most of their charitable giving for this year has not  been planned ahead of time.
  • 42 percent of households with over $100,000 in income, said receiving a tax deduction was a significant influence on their giving.

Year-end fundraising campaigns are smart strategies used by well-organized charitable organizations.

 

Click here for a guide designed to help charities orchestrate year-end giving campaigns.

Donors – if you’re looking to create a strategy for giving, contact us.
Charities – if you’re looking to make strong connections with donors, contact us.