Fired-Up Fundraising | Gail Perry Associates http://www.gailperry.com Nonprofit Fundraising Consultant | Board Development | Keynote Speaker Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:18:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How a Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan Will Bring You Sanity http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/ruthlessly-practical-fundraising-plan-will-bring-sanity/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/ruthlessly-practical-fundraising-plan-will-bring-sanity/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:03:29 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15254 July and August are your key time for planning, right? I sure hope that you are taking time to lay down some smart plans for the coming busy fiscal year. You probably already have your fundraising goals set in the budget that was passed earlier in the year. But are your goals really tied to […]

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July and August are your key time for planning, right?iStock_000016588175XSmall

I sure hope that you are taking time to lay down some smart plans for the coming busy fiscal year.

You probably already have your fundraising goals set in the budget that was passed earlier in the year.

But are your goals really tied to a thoughtful plan with a step by step strategy?

Are your fundraising revenue goals based on real numbers?

If you have a substantial increase projected for this year’s goal, how exactly are you going to make it happen?

What are your strategies? What are your tactics?

Do you have an action plan?

Ruthlessly practical planning.

I love the idea of “ruthlessly practical.”

I see way too much magical thinking in many nonprofits.

Never too late to PLAN!

Never too late to PLAN!

People keep setting these pie-in-the-sky goals without any real plans to back them up.

Or they wish for a dream board who will do the work for them.

But we have to raise money now! Can’t wait for a perfect situation!

And, when you have fundraising goals that are not based in reality, what KIND of situation does that put the poor fundraising staff in?

Ruthlessly practical is a DO IT NOW, “can do” approach.

The world needs us, my friends. The poor, the environment, the sick, the elderly, the arts, the kids – the world needs us to be at our best.

A smart fundraising plan will help you sort thru the maze of strategies so you can reach your goal.

A smart fundraising plan will help you sort thru the maze of strategies so you can reach your goal.

We gotta get going!

So let’s look at YOUR smart fundraising plan for the upcoming year.

And if you don’t have a plan, or if your plan is not as filled out as you’d like, PLEASE take the time now to get organized!

Because a smart plan is all about creating sanity. It’s about making choices on where you’ll focus in the coming year.

WHY do you need a smart, Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan?

First of all, let’s talk TEAM:

It’s  a chance to get everybody in the organization buying into what has to be done and who’s gonna do it.

And how about the latest, sexy BIG fundraising idea that your well-meaning but ignorant colleague or board member starts promoting?

Help!

Here’s what you do: First you develop a smart fundraising plan that everybody agrees on. And you use the words, “The  Fundraising Plan” often.

Drill into everyone’s head the fact that there is a PRE-SET, organized plan.

iStock_000018782205XSmall

What’s your action plan for the year?

So when the new sexy (perhaps outlandish) idea gets promoted, what do you say?

You say,

“Great idea, BUT it’s not in our plan. What shall we drop in our current plan in order to do this new project?

And what is the anticipated revenue from this new project? What kind of staffing and resources will it take?”

Don’t let your board go wild on you!

I can’t imagine a more useful tool to help you sleep at night.

Here’s how your Fundraising Plan will help you:

1.    Keep unwanted strategies and big ideas OFF the table.

2.    You can backward schedule everything you do this year and when you really see the lead time required for some efforts – do you really want to do them?

3. Gives you political cover to discuss costs vs Return on Investment.

4.  Gives you the chance to ditch your next event. (You know the ROI but do they?)

6.   Will help you have more sanity as the fiscal year goes on. (Yay!)

7.   It will prompt you to actually LOOK at your numbers and how your strategies are working or not working.  You need to evaluate your strategies annually!

8.    Prompts you to consider – yet again – a commitment to seeing more major donors.

9.   Gives you a tool for generating internal support for fundraising.

9.    Helps you make the case for strengthening the “insides” of your fundraising operation:

  • Your infrastructure
  • Data base
  • TY processes
  • Donor communication efforts

Many people have asked me for help with a fundraising plan. So here goes:

Gain Sanity with my 10-Step Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan

I’m organizing a 2-part Fundraising Plan Workshop series online to help you raise the most money possible this year. (If you’re one of my amazing INSIDERS these workshops are included in your membership.)

I’m giving you over 60 pages of templates, checklists, timeline formats – everything you need to create a Smart, Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan for 2014-15.

My 10-Step Fundraising Plan will help you raise MORE MONEY than ever in LESS TIME. (hurray!)

You can find out all about these 2 IMPORTANT workshops here. 

Even if your plan is ALREADY set, I bet it could use another look.

I want you to sleep at night in the coming fiscal year. AND I want you to know what’s ahead of you.

Please don’t let things get out of control and start running you ragged. (I know it will probably happen anyway, but planning WILL HELP!)

Your cause needs your smartest thinking.

Your cause needs you to be at your best. :)

So check out my two Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan Virtual Workshops  on July 29 and August 11, and see if they can help YOU be smarter and more effective!

 

 

 

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Plan Your Capital Campaign: 5 Things To Do Before Hiring a Consultant http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/capital-campaign-pre-planning-five-things-hiring-capital-campaign-consultant/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/capital-campaign-pre-planning-five-things-hiring-capital-campaign-consultant/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:10:40 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15105 Are you chomping at the bit to get moving on a capital campaign? My advice: Slooooowwww down. Make sure you have done your homework before you start interviewing capital campaign consultants.  Don’t rush to pick up the phone! Today’s post is written by two of us: Andrea Kihlstedt (who wrote the BOOK on capital campaigns) […]

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Are you chomping at the bit to get moving on a capital campaign?NOT YET SIGN

My advice: Slooooowwww down.

Make sure you have done your homework before you start interviewing capital campaign consultants.  Don’t rush to pick up the phone!

Today’s post is written by two of us: Andrea Kihlstedt (who wrote the BOOK on capital campaigns) and myself. You may know that we are collaborating on a new website to help people learn about capital campaigns. Yeah!

We’re having a free webinar next week on July 17: “9 Steps to Get Ready for your Capital Campaign.” You can find out more about it and register here.

Hiring your consultant too quickly can be a huge waste of your organization’s money.

Why?

Because your consultant needs something to work with when he or she walks in the door.

If the consultant finds a blank slate with no cultivated donors, no real plans laid, there won’t be a lot to work with.

Then you’ve just wasted a big chunk of money on a feasibility study.

It’s disappointing to consultants, too, when we have interviews with potential donors who are not familiar with the project and not close to the organization.  There is nothing to talk about!

 (Don’t get me wrong, I really DO believe in campaign consultants – just bring them in at the right time!)

Five Things You Need to Do Before Hiring a Capital Campaign Consultant

1.     Decide what you’re raising the money for.

This sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s not.

Just because your organization needs a new building, for example, doesn’t mean that that’s the only thing you’re going to raise money for:

Go ahead and develop a rough schematic well in advance!

Go ahead and develop a rough schematic well in advance!

  • Do you know where the building is going to be and how much the land will cost?
  • Do you have a simple schematic design?
  • Do you have an idea of what the actual construction (or renovation, if you’re buying an existing structure) will cost?
  • What about the cost of building permits, new furniture, and etc.?

And what other things might you want to include in your campaign objectives?

What about endowment? A special building maintenance fund or money for equipment? What about including start-up costs for the new programs you’ll have in your new building?

Identify all the different “funding objectives” or purposes that your campaign might include.

2.     Get a rough idea of your campaign dollar goal.

Once you have a sense of what you might want to raise money for, you can put some numbers next to each funding objective. Then you can come up with a nice, simple round number that’ll be a starting place for your campaign planning.

When you develop a tentative goal, be sure to consider how much money you’ve raised annually in the past. (It’s probably not wise for your campaign goal to be more than ten times your annual fundraising totals.)

Go ahead and set a preliminary dollar goal as soon as you can.

Go ahead and set a preliminary dollar goal as soon as you can.

Once you start talking numbers, you’ll find a sweet spot; a number that impresses people but doesn’t make them gasp at your foolishness.

(Now,  a little foolishness is not all that bad.  It’s much easier to come down later than it is to go up, so reach on the high side to start.)

3.     Break down the goal by gift amounts.

Create a Gift Range Chart. This little chart will be a remarkable planning tool for you.

Once you have decided on a preliminary capital campaign goal, start creating a chart that will show how many gifts you’ll need of what sizes to reach that goal.

  • How many gifts of $1 million will you need?
  • How many of $500,000? and $250,000?
  • How many in  smaller amounts will you need to cover what your major donors don’t?

Know that a gift range chart for the same goal will vary from organization to organization depending on the size of your prospect list and the potential of your largest donors.

4.     Get your board on board.

Before you start interviewing potential consultants, make sure your board is well-informed about the prospects and potential for your campaign.

That means that you will have to work with board members independently and together on your planning.

You should also find a way to educate board members about what a capital campaign entails, both for the organization and for them individually and as a group.

Get your board on board with the campaign early!

Get your board on board with the campaign early!

Remember, even after you’ve taken these five steps, hiring a consultant will still require a significant financial investment.

And if your board is paying attention — and they should be! — they’ll want to be well informed about your campaign prospects before committing to that investment.

5.    Involve your most important donors in your capital campaign planning.

During these beginning steps in your planning, make a list of your ten to twenty most important donors – the ones who are most likely to make the top ten gifts to your campaign.

Then develop a plan to involve each of these donors in the planning process.

This can range from taking a donor to lunch to let her know what you’re working on to asking one or more donors to serve on a pre-campaign planning committee.

Get your lead donors involved with your planning early.

Get your lead donors involved with your planning early.

If one of your top donors is involved in real estate, you might ask his advice on choosing a new location for your new building.

You get the idea. Don’t keep your most important donors at arm’s length through the planning process – instead, use your planning phase to draw them in. The pre-planning phase is a wonderfully exciting time to involve your donor prospects.

And there you have them – the five things you need to do before hiring a capital campaign consultant!

Take these steps first and you’ll not only save time and money, but you’ll also have your campaign on the early road to success!  And your consultant will be happy she has so much to work with when she walks in the door! YES!

FREE WEBINAR ON JULY 17!

Don’t forget to join Andrea and me next week for our FREE WEBINAR: “Planning a Capital Campaign? 9 Steps to Get Ready for YOUR Capital Campaign!”

Find out more and register here. (You’ll get the recordings if you can’t attend the live presentation.)

We’d love to help you!

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Top 10 Major Donor Fundraising Trends for 2014-15 http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/top-10-major-donor-trends-2014-15/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/top-10-major-donor-trends-2014-15/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 16:19:32 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15051 Fundraising is changing!  Everything is shifting these days. Donors are changing too. Post-recession donors really are different! Are you changing your own fundraising strategies to keep up with donors’ newest attitudes and preferences? Fundraising is recovering nicely now that the recession is over. And since 87% of all gifts come from individuals –either thru bequests, […]

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Fundraising is changing!  Everything is shifting these days.

Major donors are still not quite sure they trust you.

Major donors are still not quite sure they trust you.

Donors are changing too. Post-recession donors really are different!

Are you changing your own fundraising strategies to keep up with donors’ newest attitudes and preferences?

Fundraising is recovering nicely now that the recession is over.

And since 87% of all gifts come from individuals –either thru bequests, family foundations or outright gifts, let’s track the wants and needs of these donors today.

Charitable gifts were up 3% last year, and wealthy individuals led most of that increase. 

Here are my Top 10 Major Donor Trends for 2014-15. See if you can ride these fundraising trends to major fundraising success in the coming year or two!

#1. Donors are Starting to Trust Again

We saw donors’ trust plummet in the recession.  People lost trust in all larger institutions: government, the financial industry, Wall Street, and also nonprofits.

We saw this in donors’ questions to us: “How will you use my money? Where will my money go?” Will my money be wasted?

YOUR STRATEGY?

  • Foster personal relationships with your donors.

    Major donors are looking at their gifts as investments for the social good.

    Major donors are looking at their gifts as investments for the social good.

  • Be transparent. Be specific.

#2. Major Donors See Their Gifts as Investments to Achieve Good

We’ve all heard the drill: Donors want information on the specific results you are creating.

They want to know that you are both efficient and effective.

YOUR STRATEGY?

  • Go out of your way to demonstrate to your donors that their gifts actually create “good” in the world.
  • Sharpen up your donor communications and be sure you are talking the language they want to hear.
  • It’s easy to pay lip service to this goal. It’s much harder to get it right!

#3. Donors Want to See Your Financials Tied Directly to Your Impact

Here’s your chance to build more trust:  Show your donors the right financials.

You can assure them, calm them down and quiet their doubts – IF you communicate correctly.

You've got to tie their money DIRECTLY back to the impact they are creating.

You’ve got to tie their money DIRECTLY back to the impact they are creating.

YOUR STRATEGY

Talk to them in terms of the MPI formula:

  • Money – How much money you raised (or they gave)
  • Purpose/Project – What projects you spent the money on
  • Impact – What impact did you accomplish with the project?

When you LINK the money directly to the Project and the Impact, you quell your donors doubts about you.

And when you build up their trust, they will invest more in your nonprofit.

#4.  Rise of the Boomers as Donors

The Boomers are the major donors of today. They are 34% of all the donors, but they are giving 43% of all the money.

Remember the older generation of donors? They would give out of a sense of duty.

To Boomers, giving is a form of self expression.

To Boomers, giving is a form of self expression.

Boomers, on the other hand, see giving as a means of self-expression.

YOUR STRATEGY:

  • Let Boomers’ personal interests and passions guide their individual cultivation plans.
  • Help them connect to what is most meaningful to them.

#5. Women are the #1 Donor Demographic

OK, get ready. I’m gonna surprise you with some new data:

64% of all charitable gifts are made by women. (Huffington Post, last week)

Boomer and older women are more likely to GIVE and also GIVE MORE than their male counterparts.  (Indiana University)

52% of women came into their marriages with assets equal to or larger than their partners.  (US Trust)

YOUR STRATEGY:

  • Review your prospect lists.
  • Reevaluate the capacity of the ladies.
  • Get to work and go see them!

    Women make most of the charitable gifts and they are more generous than men.

    Women make most of the charitable gifts and they are more generous than men.

#6. The MEGA Donor

MEGA gifts are back!

Our most generous donors are finally letting go.

All that recession-based caution is loosening up and we are seeing multi-million dollar gifts all over the place.

10 largest new charitable gifts from individuals announced in 2013 came to a combined $3.45 billion. (Forbes and Chronicle of Philanthropy)

YOUR STRATEGY:

  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy says that most Mega-Gifts happen close to home.
  • So keep your eyes open locally! You may have more ways to access your friendly local billionaire (or multimillionaire) than you think.
  • Be opportunistic and never stop trying to get the door open!

#7. Major donors who volunteer give much much more

How about this: 89% of high net worth individuals volunteer with nonprofits.volunteer button

I’ll never forget about the time a mega-wealthy donor said to me, “We give our money where we give our time.”

I never, ever forgot that!

Clearly the wealthy only make big gifts to the causes that are near and dear to their hearts.

YOUR STRATEGY:

  • What are you going to do to get your mega donors more involved? How about a committee, or your board? How about a focus group?
  • It’s one thing to take them on site in the middle of your action. (that’s terrific and a must-do!)
  • It’s a next step to get them involved in decision-making, or policy roles. That’s when the bigger money may start to flow in.

#8. The Role of Financial Advisors

Holy komoly! Donor-advised funds grew from $38 billion in 2011 to $45 billion in 2012.

Financial advisors are more important than ever.

Financial advisors are more important than ever.

That is a pile of money. And much of it is under the management of financial wealth advisors, isn’t it?

YOUR STRATEGY:

  • Do what you can to befriend the financial planners, estate attorneys, CPA’s and wealth advisors in your community.
  • Why not put a financial advisor on your board, or on a special fundraising committee.

#9. Big Data

I am barely beginning to understand what big data can do for fundraisers. For example:

Big data can watch thousands of donors, and based on their activities, create customized experiences for them.

And you can use “predictive modeling” to ID “sleeper” major gift prospects.

This statistical technique compares your major donors to all other donors. It develops a “distinguishing formula” to describe your major donors.Screenshot 2014-06-27 11.03.45

Then it scores all other donors in your file by how much they look like their major donors.

Pretty mind-blowing!

YOUR STRATEGY:

  • Clean up your data base as much as possible!
  • Add as much data as you can about people’s interests and their activities – in addition to tracking their gifts.
  • And start exploring what Big Data can do for you.

Trend #10: Donors Want a Big Idea!

Remember last year when Stanford University announced that it had raised one billion in one year?

Well, I was pretty impressed!

How did Stanford raise all this? Well they had:

“Very big ideas, and they’re good at capturing people’s imagination, thinking about what they can do and what they could be.”

YOUR STRATEGY:

  • Pull out your very best Big Ideas
  • Use them to capture people’s imagination
  • Talk about what you can do and what you can be to the community and the world

And you just might raise the mega gifts too!

DON’T FORGET!

Memberships to my INSIDERS series are on sale through July 9.

If you want to learn the smartest fundraising strategies from the world’s top gurus, definitely check us out.

You’ll get all my special workshops, this year’s amazing line up of Master Classes, 4 important workbooks, a monthly conference call with me, plus all the trainings from all the masters in the INSIDERS archives.

We stand ready to help you raise tons more money this year – in the smartest and most effective way!

Find out about the INSIDERS here

 

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What You Need To Know about the New 2014 Giving USA Report http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/need-know-new-givingusa-report/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/need-know-new-givingusa-report/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:39:22 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14930 Hurray! Charitable giving in the US is almost back up to pre-recession levels! Mid-June is always an important time every year when the Giving USA Report comes out. Giving USA is researched and written by the widely respected Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The report gives us a good sense of how well charitable giving is […]

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Screenshot 2014-06-19 15.06.21

Infographic courtesy of The Benefactor Group
Download the full infographic here: http://ow.ly/yeN34

Hurray! Charitable giving in the US is almost back up to pre-recession levels!

Mid-June is always an important time every year when the Giving USA Report comes out. Giving USA is researched and written by the widely respected Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The report gives us a good sense of how well charitable giving is doing in the US and which sectors are faring well – or poorly.

Boy, has it been a long slow slog out of the Great Recession and the exodus of so many of our donors – and their dollars.

We are not quite all the way back, but the data folks are predicting that we will surpass our former pre-recession giving peak in a year or two if current trends continue. Yay!

By the way, some of your board members may have seen the NBC News report headline on Giving USA:  “Charitable Giving Hits a Record High.”

I’d like to respectfully disagree with that headline. The Giving USA Report says we have NOT yet reached our pre-recession high which was 349.5 billion. Total gifts last year, gifts tracked by this report were $335 billion – below the pre-recession peak. (So we are almost there!)

Infographic courtesy of The Benefactor Group Download the full infographic here: http://ow.ly/yeN34

Infographic courtesy of The Benefactor Group
Download the full infographic here: http://ow.ly/yeN34

The key facts that you need to know about the new Giving USA Report:

You may know that I really like question and answer formats – try this format and have your board do a guessing game – and give a prize to the person who gets closest to each answer!

How much did foundations, corporations and individuals give last year in the US?

$335 Billion = total giving in the US from foundations, corporations and individuals.

How much did charitable giving increase between 2012 and 2013?

4.4% – Overall giving from all sources increased by this amount.

How much did individuals give through gifts and bequests?

80% of all overall contributions came from individual gifts and bequests.
Screenshot 2014-06-19 22.16.02

in 2013, what % of gifts came from individual donors? Corporate donors? Foundation donors?

Individual gifts were 72% of the total.

Corporate gifts were 5%.

Foundation gifts were 15%.

Bequests were 8%.

How about corporate gifts? Were they up or down?

Corporate gifts were down 1.9%. But last year they were up over 19%.

Just remember that after the recession, many corporations shifted their giving to in-kind. According to a podcast I listened to yesterday, around 60% of corporate gifts these days are in-kind.

Source Giving USA and great NPEngage article http://ow.ly/yg27Y

Source Giving USA and great NPEngage article http://ow.ly/yg27Y

What’s the trend with foundation gifts?

Overall giving TO foundations was down significantly this year by 15.5%.

But gifts FROM foundations were up by 5.7%. (yes this is confusing!)

But remember foundation gifts still make up only 15% of all charitable giving.

Which sub sectors of the nonprofit arena fared well last year?

Health care and education were the big winners last year – seeing solid increases over 2012. Why? These nonprofits make heavy investments in their fundraising programs, and therefore they raise tons more money.

Giving to the arts, health care, the environment and education continues to rise consistently over the past few years. As a former ballet dancer, I’m happy to see that giving to the arts, culture and humanities grew by 7.8%.

Which sub sectors received less support in the past year?

Gifts to religious causes were flat. Also international giving decreased by 6.7%.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO YOU?

Be optimistic and ride the tide!

Where did all the money go last year? Source GivingUSA and AFP

Where did all the money go last year? Source GivingUSA and AFP

Giving is going nowhere but up. Are your fundraising strategies up to speed? Remember fundraising is well researched and professionalized these days.

Some strategies are not working as well as in the past. Be sure you are smart, efficient and that you know how to talk to your donor correctly.

How important is the role of individuals?

Yet again we see that – on the whole – most gifts come from individuals.  Corporate, government and foundation support just won’t cut it for your organization.

Do you have a major donor program? Do you have a great donor thank you program? Are you sending loving messages out to your donors telling them how wonderful they are?

How about the role of the economy and stock market?

All philanthropy is dependent on the overall economy.

As personal income rises, the unemployment rate goes down, personal disposable income and consumer confidence all go up – giving of course follows these positive trends. 

Charitable giving always tends to lag after the stock market. When the market goes down, it takes a while for giving to go down. And when the market turns around and goes up, giving will also go up but not as quickly.

Infographic showing where the money really goes (religious causes get a huge share!) http://ow.ly/ygd9u

Infographic showing where the money really goes (religious causes get a huge share!) http://ow.ly/ygd9u

What role do wealthy individuals play?

The increase in giving mostly came from very large multimillion dollar gifts and bequests from the very wealthy.  There were several mega gifts from wealthy donors of $80 million and more, helping to boost the overall numbers.

Don’t despair! Most mega gifts are given locally. Your potential transformational gift may be right under your nose.

As wealth in the US continues to be concentrated more and more in the top 1%, your major gift program needs to be targeted carefully on wealthy individuals. (This is not new news!)

How’s broad based giving doing?

What we call broad based giving has not recovered so robustly.  And mega gifts still tend to favor the huge prestigious institutions.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 15.06.48

Infographic courtesy of The Benefactor Group
Download the full infographic here: http://ow.ly/yeN34

All the more reason to focus on your OWN major gifts program. That is what will save your bottom line – and the people you serve.

Bequests are a huge sleeper for you!

Bequests are the sleeper fundraising strategy. Too many organizations overly complicate planned giving.

Just talk about bequests in all your materials. Just a little mention at the bottom of the page. Nudge your loyal donors in that directly.

Do you know who your most likely bequest donor is? It’s the person who is contributing consistently over a decade or two.

Their gifts may be as small as $20 a year – but you are in their heart and probably in their will.

BOTTOM LINE

Focus on the wealthy. Focus on individuals. Create a donor retention task force to “love on” your current donors.

Sharpen up your fundraising strategies and most importantly your language. Revitalize your major gifts program.

And you’ll ride the tide as the world economy continues to improve!

Leave me a comment!

 

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What Every Board Member Needs To Know About Fundraising http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/every-board-member-needs-know-fundraising/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/every-board-member-needs-know-fundraising/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:26:41 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14826 If you’re a board member for a nonprofit organization, I bet you are dealing with fundraising issues more often than not. As a board member, you are voting to support (or not support) various fundraising strategies. You are probably allocating resources and making investment decisions about fundraising, too. So why not know learn as much […]

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If you’re a board member for a nonprofit organization, I bet you are dealing with fundraising issues more often than not.dollars and money sign

As a board member, you are voting to support (or not support) various fundraising strategies. You are probably allocating resources and making investment decisions about fundraising, too.

So why not know learn as much as you can about fundraising?

Here’s what every board member needs to know:

1. How Fundraising Really Works Today.

You might be surprised to find that fundraising is pretty well researched and professionalized these days. There’s lots of data now about what works and what doesn’t work to raise money.

Fundraising is no longer a guessing game driven by people’s personal ideas and preferences.  It’s now based on data and planning.

Many board members think that fundraising is “asking people for money.”  That has all changed.

Now we’re much more sophisticated in how we build long term relationships with supporters . . . . so that the asking is really easy.

2. Where Sustainable Fundraising Comes From

Every smart board member wants to see reliable cash flow from fundraising.

Give your donors fabulous customer service and they will sustain you for the long run.

Give your donors fabulous customer service and they will sustain you for the long run.

  • Where does this magic manna from heaven come from?

From developing die-hard loyal supporters who will stick with you in the long run.

  • How do you develop these amazing long-term donors?

By giving them wonderful “customer service” after they make a gift. Why? So they will give again.

  • What’s customer service to donors?

Well it’s outreach. . . invitations . . . . happy newsletters . . . . fun events for them. It’s cheerful personal thank you’s that open their heart. It’s something I call “Donor Love.”

Tending to CURRENT DONORS after they give is often the last thing on anybody’s list. But all the numbers are showing that it should be the FIRST thing on everybody’s list.

3. Where the Easy Money Is in Fundraising Today.

Learn the new language of donor retention and donor attrition. This is the new language of fundraising 2.0 today.

The data show that most nonprofits are losing about 50% of of their donors each year. !!!! (that’s Donor Attrition)

But your nonprofit is probably also bringing in tons of new donors.  So your reports show that the number of donors is stable.

Nobody even sees the huge problem that is happening in your fundraising program!

Are you losing your current donors like a leaky bucket?

Are you losing your current donors like a leaky bucket? Number of donors is stable.  Nobody even sees the HUGE problem that is happening in your fundraising program.

Renewing current and lapsed donors is the easiest money you’ll ever raise. Busting your butt to bring in new donors is the hardest money to raise.

4. Profit from Different Fundraising Strategies

Your organization probably employs several different fundraising strategies. They are not all equally profitable!

Events, for example, are the least efficient way to raise money.  They’re least effective use of your volunteer and staff resources. Why? Because costs eat up about fifty cents out of every dollar you bring in.

Cost Per Dollar Raised of Various Fundraising Strategies

Cost Per Dollar Raised of Various Fundraising Strategies

Your mailing program is more profitable than your events. It will cost you about 20 cents of each dollar raised.

The most profitable fundraising strategy of all is face-to-face asks of individuals, corporations, foundations, or organizations. That’s where the big money is today.

Many organizations are more comfortable with events and less comfortable with the personal networking required by major gift fundraising. Where does your nonprofit stand?

5. Fundraising has a Significant Return on Investment

This means that your organization’s fundraising staff and programs are NOT a “cost center.” Instead they are a “revenue generating machine.”

What’s best, when you invest more dollars in your fundraising program – by hiring extra front line fundraising staff, and investing in the back office,  professional direct mail writers and designers, or an upgraded data base system – you can expect to see an increase in new revenue.

You can expect a measurable ROI from investing in your fundraising program.

You can expect a measurable ROI from investing in your fundraising program.

You should be able to predict what your ROI will be from new investments in fundraising.

6. Your Own Organization’s Fundraising Strategy

Every organization has its own unique fundraising program, based on its culture, its history, and its opportunities. One organization may be oriented towards corporate sponsorships, another towards grants.

What strategy does your nonprofit follow? It’s vital for you to understand which strategies your own nonprofit is employing to bring in the funds.

  • How does your fundraising program work?
  • What’s the ROI of each different fundraising strategy?
  • Where are your challenges?
  • Where are your fundraising opportunities?
  • How much money are you leaving on the table each year because you don’t have the infrastructure to go after it?

7. Why It’s Important for You to Make Your Own Annual Gift and Planned Gift

Board members need to put their money where their mouth is. If they don’t support fundraising for their organization, you have absolutely no credibility to ask others for gifts. Period.

Every board member needs to make their own proud, personal gift each year. And they need to include a bequest in their will – or make their nonprofit a partial beneficiary of their IRA. Right now.

8. Your Level of Responsibility.

As a board member, you are legally responsible for your organization (!).  You do need to educate yourself thoroughly.

As a board member, you are legally responsible for your organization.

As a board member, you are legally responsible for your organization.

Be willing to ask the tough questions – especially when it comes to finances.

9. Whether Your Organization Has a Culture That Supports Fundraising (or Not)

I’m always surprised to find pervasive attitudes against fundraising inside the organization.

Often these notions are held by long time staffers on the program or financial side. Or even board members.  And they are totally debilitating to your fundraising staff. These attitudes wipe out motivation and energy for fundraising.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your entire organization supports philanthropy joyfully?

What could you accomplish if every single person thought that your donors were the most wonderful people on earth and did everything they could to do love them?

What would it take to accomplish this?

 BOTTOM LINE

Fundraising is a fascinating subject.  There’s much to learn.

You can refer to research studies and data to make thoughtful decisions about how and where to invest in your fundraising program.  And you’ll see significant profit from those investments. Good luck!

COMMENTS PLEASE!

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Fundraising’s Not About Money (Shocker!) http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/fundraisings-not-about-money/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/06/fundraisings-not-about-money/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 15:06:53 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14788 Have I confused you already? Guess what – after almost 30 years in the business, I will stand before you today firmly and tell you that fundraising is emphatically NOT about money. In fact, if you make it all about money,  you probably have just shot yourself in the foot. You’re gonna get turned down […]

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begging

People who don’t understand fundraising think it is this!

Have I confused you already?

Guess what – after almost 30 years in the business, I will stand before you today firmly and tell you that fundraising is emphatically NOT about money.

In fact, if you make it all about money,  you probably have just shot yourself in the foot. You’re gonna get turned down more often than not.

The Dark Side of Fundraising

Yup, fundraising has a dark side.  A yucky dark side.

That’s when you are all about the money.

When you treat your donors like ATMs, you dirty your work.  When you are talking money, money, money,  you are on the wrong track.

Have you ever heard a donor say, “We feel like an ATM?” That means you are doing it WRONG!

The Magnificent Side of Fundraising

Fundraising has a magnificent side – where you are standing high up on the hill, white light shining all around you, taking a stand for your fellow human beings.

It’s so funny – one activity (fundraising) can be construed as totally demeaning (ever heard someone talk about “begging for money?” I can’t stand that!)

The magnificent side of fundraising is when you take a stand for a better world.

The magnificent side of fundraising is when you take a stand for a better world.

Or fundraising can be considered one of the most important and magnificent things a person can ever do.

Fundraisers are garnering resources to relieve suffering, help people, and give them opportunity, hope, and safety. To nurture our lovely planet.

Wow. Sign me up for that!

That’s where I want to spend my life’s energy! How about you?

So don’t let people get away with thinking that fundraising is begging. It’s emphatically NOT!

A Fundraising Lesson from my Yoga Teacher

I walked into my yoga class at the YMCA where I work out. And Julie, my ethereal yoga teacher, was just chatting with the class in her lilting voice.

Julie gushed to us, “Class! Guess what! The Y is having our ‘We Build People Campaign’ right now – and we are SENDING KIDS TO CAMP!”

She was sooooo excited about these kids going to camp. And it was genuine.

Make it about the people the donor is helping!

Make it about the people the donor is helping!

In fact, pretty soon she had us all excited about these kids as she shared what kids get to do at camp and how important it is for them.

Then she made a joyful, happy, hopeful ask. She said, “I want my class to send ONE KID to camp! – it’s only $90 and I bet we can do it!”

Julie was so joyful and so excited that her enthusiasm was infectious.

It’s hard to convey her happy tone of voice in writing – but I want you to just imagine. We were all rushing to make a contribution.

Did we feel like she wanted our money? NO!  We felt like we were helping someone and it felt sooooo good!

Take fundraising away from “money” and make it about something happy – the result.

Take the discussion AWAY from “How much money we are asking you for.”  INSTEAD create a NEW discussion called “How do we help send a kid to camp.”

You moved the fundraising talk away from “money” and put it in terms of “people.”

You can create magic with this approach – and you can galvanize the troops.

All the studies say that donors will give more then you ask for something specific.

Get over this "begging" mentality!

Get over this “begging” mentality!

Strengthen your ask by making it about the people you are helping. Use my MPI Fundraising Formula. 

Put it in terms of those people. IT MUST BE SPECIFIC.

Examples: how to take it away from money and make it instead about the purpose:

  • We need to raise $500 this fall so we can do xxx, yyy, or zzz in the community.
  • Please give to help run xxxx programs that help yyy people.
  • Please contribute xxx to help the ballet company stage its fall productions, which cost $150k each.
  • We are raising xxxx money to buy band instruments for yyyy kids. Each instrument costs an average of zzzzz.
  • It will cost $20k to help the rape victims who turn to us in August.
  • We are seeking a total of $40k for a new staff counselor so we won’t have to turn people away.
  • We need a new roof that costs xxxx so that we can offer kids a safe, sound school.
  • We want to give 100 more kids in the community a big brother or a big sister.  Will your church or organization sponsor 5 kids for $5,000?

These are all ways to frame an ask in a joyful, compelling way that connects the donor with a happy outcome or result.

This is the way to create a joyful donor – who understands that her money is going to an important, urgent purpose!

OK so what do you think?

Leave me a comment or a question!

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Gail’s Guide to Brilliant Donor Cultivation Events http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/gails-guide-brilliant-donor-cultivation-events/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/gails-guide-brilliant-donor-cultivation-events/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 15:02:53 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14736 You’re having events all the time – to open doors, make friends, cultivate potential supporters and thank your current donors. All of these gatherings are wonderful opportunities to bring people closer to your organization. I LOVE events as cultivation opportunities! Why? Because it’s easier to engage donors in a conversation when you are being social. […]

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You’re having events all the time – to open doors, make friends, cultivate potential supporters and thank your current donors.

Make sure your guests have a wonderful time!

Make sure your guests have a wonderful time!

All of these gatherings are wonderful opportunities to bring people closer to your organization.

I LOVE events as cultivation opportunities! Why? Because it’s easier to engage donors in a conversation when you are being social.

The setting is not as formal and intimidating as an office visit. The donor is more relaxed and so are you.

Here are just a few things you can find out from a simple conversation with a prospect at an event:

  • how enthusiastic they are about your cause
  • why they care
  • their personal experiences that tie them emotionally to your cause
  • their other interests, including philanthropic interests
  • their apparent level of wealth
  • their family situation

Here’s how to make the most out of these marvelous cultivation opportunities:

1. Turn your event into a party.

WHO wants to go to an “event,” anyway? Not me for sure. The word “event’ sounds so very boring!

But I’ll be the first one to attend a “party.”

So first of all, you need to turn your events into parties.

Having a fun, pleasant time is paramount to your donors. Why else would they bother to attend? Remember that this is a social occasion – you can’t be too serious or heavy.

Your most important goal is that they enjoy their experience with you. You need to be an excellent host and be all about your guests. Then they’ll be more likely to come back to another event.

2. Don’t skimp.

If you are entertaining wealthy people, or top corporate executives –  all these people are used to living nicely. They are used to good wine (no box wine allowed!) more sophisticated food (no hot dogs unless it’s a cookout), lovely flowers and nice venues.

Make sure your food is nice and fits with your organization's personality.

Make sure your food is nice and fits with your organization’s personality.

If you are staging a quality reception, then you need to make it quality. If it’s a barbecue, then have good quality BBQ food and trimmings.

Just don’t skimp. Whatever the style of your party – It’s worth it to entertain your guests nicely.

But be sure the type and mode of entertaining totally reflects your organization’s culture.

3. Triage your guest list.

Some attendees may be very important to your organization: they will be the ones with deep pockets, or people you are cultivating for an immediate gift, or they may be long term donors. So slather attention on them!

Take a look at the guest list, and divide it by thirds. Identify the top group of most important guests.

Make a plan for them. Know who is coming, why they are coming and how you might move your relationship forward with them at the end. Think of questions you might want to ask them.

Assign these prospects to your staff and board members! THAT’S how you make the most of these events!

4. Give your board members official roles as “hosts.”

Board members often welcome an official role. Here’s what a host does:

  • Greets people warmly at the door.
  • Introduces guests to each other and fosters conversation among them.
  • Seeks out wallflowers (you know those awkward folks standing next to the wall clutching their drink) and welcomes them.

Give them a special name tag that makes it easy to recognize them as board member.  This makes them feel special too!

Assign board members as official hosts!

Assign board members as official hosts!

AND, if board members are up to it – they can be assigned to a couple of guests for a cultivation conversation – “So glad you are here! What is your impression of our organization?”

5. Use a pre-event gathering to make people feel important.

Invite a small subset of the most important guests to arrive 45 minutes before the main event.

Then use that time to give people a preview and tell them why they are important to your organization.

I’ve found that the VIPs will come to a select, private, more exclusive event readily – and then they will stay on for most of the second event. Yay!

6. Offer transportation for older donors.

If you are inviting some older donors, arrange to have them picked up and brought to the event and then driven home afterwards.

You can have staff members do this or recruit board members or other donors who plan to attend the meeting.

Not only will they appreciate the ride, but that’ll increase the likelihood that they actually get there.

7. Manage the program with a charming iron hand.

Worried that your program is going to go on too long? Even when you tell people that they have 5 minutes to speak, they often go on much longer.

My strategy is to have a skilled Master of Ceremonies who knows just how to get people on and off the stage. Encourage your MC to stand right beside the speakers when their time is up.

And be sure to let every speaker know what the MC plans to do to keep the program running.

I usually walk right up to my speakers and say with a big smile, “Remember, you are going to be charming and brief, right?” They laugh but the message gets drilled into their heads.

8. Casual events are often more fun and also more productive.

I love having porch parties at my house. I have a big porch – and people like to come to something that has a more casual feel.

The more relaxed your guests are, the easier it is to have a meaningful conversation with them. So try cookouts, porch parties, and picnics. You might be surprised!

BOTTOM LINE

With a little planning, you can make your donor cultivation event your donors will never forget – AND you’ll go home with new information on where your donors stand!

What are YOUR tips for a fabulous donor event???

Leave a comment and tell me!

 

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9 Point Profitability Checklist for Your Next Fundraising Auction http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/10-point-profitability-checklist-next-fundraising-auction/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/10-point-profitability-checklist-next-fundraising-auction/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 15:32:12 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14655 There’s nothing like an experienced charity auctioneer’s coaching when it comes to a high-profit fundraising auction. And I was quite impressed with the tips that Sherry Trular of Red Apple Auctions shared with us this week in our  Highly Profitable Fundraising Events series. (It’s not too late to get all the materials, videos, and audios […]

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There’s nothing like an experienced charity auctioneer’s coaching when it comes to a high-profit fundraising auction.

Sherry Trular of Red Apple Auctions, our auctioneer expert!

Sherry Trular of Red Apple Auctions, our auctioneer expert!

And I was quite impressed with the tips that Sherry Trular of Red Apple Auctions shared with us this week in our  Highly Profitable Fundraising Events series.

(It’s not too late to get all the materials, videos, and audios of this amazing series on how to raise the most money possible out of your fundraising events. )

Here are Sherry’s top 9 Points to help you raise the most money possible out of your auction.

1. You need a great sound system.

Your sound system can totally make or break both your live and silent auction.

Your auctioneer has got to be able to command the crowd for the live auction. If your guests can’t hear her, then how are you going to be able to sell anything?

If your silent auction is not getting the attention it needs –  your auctioneer can do some selling for you. She can remind people of certain cool items that are not getting bids.

Sherry told us about some Disney World tickets that didn’t have bids, and after she announced it – people were fighting to put their names down to bid!

2. You need terrific lighting.

Great lighting on your silent items is essential.

Use can lights to emphasize silent items.

Use can lights to emphasize silent items.

Think about your local shopping mall –  when store lights are down, you think they are closed.

You can’t see silent auction items if there is no ligthing.

Candlelight creates atmosphere – but are you there to raise money or not? J

 3. Run your silent auction like a store.

Sherry says, think like Target or Macy’s. You need to display your items like a store with different departments.

This is pure business and marketing.  You are selling stuff.  Lay it out to romance the buyers.

Your average return on each item will probably be about 50-65% of its market value.

4.  Run your live auction like a high end boutique – (not everyone shops there).

This is where your wildly expensive items will go. Think Tiffany’s or Saks.

These items are not for everyone at your event – they are for only a few.

A nice display with good sound for a live and silent auction. Courtesy of Sherry Trular.

A nice display with good sound for a live and silent auction. Courtesy of Sherry Trular.

You have fewer items but your average return on each item is usually 100-130% of value.

The more expensive the item, the nicer the display should be.

5. Focus on the live auction – that’s where your big profit really is.

Live auctions are FAR less work, more profitable. They require less check out and less set up. YAY!

AND they are often the center of the evening’s entertainment.

If you are not convinced, here are some real numbers that Sherry shared from auctions she has worked. A reminder – these auctions did have an experienced benefit auctioneer running the show.

Live vs. Silent auctions

 

6. Seriously consider an auction consultant or an experienced charity auctioneer.

Well, if I am going to spend money staging an event, I’ll always look at the Return on my Investment.Screenshot 2014-05-23 08.47.16

So if I think I can make 50% more money from my live and silent auctions, then I think spending money on an auctioneer who knows his stuff is a smart move.

7. Plan to highlight your “Fund a Need” in the live auction.

This is where you simply ask for donations to fund a special need at your organization. Often this is where you raise the most money.

With rare exceptions, a high profit auction event should include a Fund a Need.

Sherry says that smart nonprofits line up their bigger donors ahead of time. (Find someone to start the bidding at $5k for example.)

8. Use props to entice people to buy.

For example, provide sample of deserts if you are selling restaurant gift cards.

Provide a hand mirror if you are selling jewelry.  Make the displays interactive and you’ll sell more!

9. Add a “buy now” feature at 150% of the purchase price.

Sherry says this is a huge new trend.  It’s offers the chance for an instant purchase guaranteed at a certain price.

How to set up a guaranteed purchase.

How to set up a guaranteed purchase.

And it makes it really easy for people to spend money.

-       guys like it

-       it has a far easier checkout process

-       it attracts bidders thru psychology

Now, you have some great coaching for your next event!  I bet you can make it fun AND make tons of money.

Want to make your events highly profitable?

If you’d like all the tips from all the event experts, then you can still get the complete Highly Profitable Fundraising Events series with complete audios, transcripts (available soon), videos and powerpoints:

  • How to sell out your event
  • How to get the most out of your volunteer committee
  • How to nail high $$ sponsorships
  • How to set your event up for max ROI
  • How to set up an auction for max profit

If you think these will help you raise more money, then you can purchase and download them all right now to have in your own toolbox on hand for your next event!

COMMENTS PLEASE!

What are YOUR favorite auction tips? What did we miss???

Please leave a comment and let me know!

 

 

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Do NOT Make These Mistakes at Your Next Fundraising Event! http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/make-mistakes-next-fundraising-event/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/make-mistakes-next-fundraising-event/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 23:36:01 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14623 Want to totally ruin your well-planned fundraising event? Avoid these mistakes! I had so much fun seeking out stories of event disasters. You’ll laugh when you read these, but remember, LEARN from them too. Don’t let these true disaster stories happen to you. (And add your own story at the bottom in a comment!) 1. […]

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Want to totally ruin your well-planned fundraising event? Avoid these mistakes!whoops-

I had so much fun seeking out stories of event disasters. You’ll laugh when you read these, but remember, LEARN from them too.

Don’t let these true disaster stories happen to you. (And add your own story at the bottom in a comment!)

1. When the honoree got totally out of control

Here’s one about the speaker gone wild:

The hospital was honoring a long-serving doctor at gala. We had set him up for his comments to be 2 minutes max.

But when he came to the podium, what did he do?  He pulled out three pages of a typed speech and proceeded to laboriously READ the entire thing.

We almost fainted when we saw him pull out the 3-page paper. You could have heard us gasp in the back!

 2. When the Emcee decided to give her own (unscripted) speech

Ok why do we have a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies? Or an Emcee? It is for one reason only – to keep the speakers in line and gently shepherd them off stage if they get long-winded.

We had a local TV anchor as our Emcee, thinking she would be perfect. But SHE decided to give a speech herself about the wonderful nonprofit. So the overly long program started off already behind schedule . . . and the program dragged on and on and on, and on and on.

A few days after the event, I ran into someone I had met there.  And she said, “Never again will I go to anything that organization puts on.” :((

Your emcee is supposed to keep speakers in line - not give her own speech.

Your emcee is supposed to keep speakers in line – not give her own speech.

3. When there was food poisoning

Shanon Doolittle, who’ll be speaking in our Highly Profitable Fundraising Events series next week (her webinar is How to Secure High-Dollar Sponsorships For Your Fundraising Event), shared this disaster:

It was a summer cocktail party with an ask. The young event planner tried to save money by picking an unknown catering company.

Bad decision.

Over two dozen people reported some type of foodborne related illness to the organization that week—and it was a crisis management nightmare.

Needless to say, that event did not come back the following year.

I should mention this was a healthcare organization too. How’s that for irony?

4. The auction organizer passed away (!),  and no one knew till way too late

Joe Garecht, also a speaker in our Highly Profitable Fundraising Events webinars next week, shared this TRUE story.  (Joe will be showing us How to Supercharge our Volunteer Committee and Sell-Out our Next Event)

Joe received a frantic phone call from the Executive Director 10 days for their big annual silent auction gala. They had always hired an outside consultant to handle the entire silent auction, which raised about $50k each year.

The ED was frantic because she had just found out that their consultant had died! (gasp). No one at the organization knew the consultant had been so very ill, and that she had not done anything to prepare for the event.

The staff only found out when they visited her family to pay their respects, and inquired about the silent auction items that the consultant normally kept in her basement. And, well . . .  there was nothing in the basement.

Whoops. And alas for everyone.

5. When the comedian makes fun of the wrong people!

john dawe

Fundraiser and social media expert John Dawe shares his event blooper!

This one is from smart consultant and social media expert John W. Dawe.

It was an event for the Domestic Violence Center put on for our local comedy club as a benefit. The comedian was not sensitive to abused women issues and the jokes were not appropriate! Whoops!

And this reminds me of my own fundraiser for the Women’s Political Caucus at the Raleigh Comedy Club.

I was co-chair of the event, and we had every important politician in Raleigh in that place.

The female comic was trash mouth with gross female anatomy jokes. People walked out.

I’m still living THAT one down!! Triple whoops!

6. When the auctioneer kept getting the name of the organization wrong

Shanon Doolittle shared this blooper too:

She said she’d never forget the time their auctioneer insisted on calling her organization by the wrong name. I can’t imagine anything more infuriating.

Shanon says he sure didn’t get full payment for that gig!

7.  When “Vegas Night” flopped

Fundraising expert Tammy L. Zonker shared her own disaster:

The addiction recovery organization decided to stage a huge fundraising event. But the theme they decided on was “Vegas Night.”

Ouch. How awkward it was when they realized their theme was not very “mission-centric!”

Highly Profitable Fundraising Events

So when you plan your next event, don’t make these mistakes. And DO try to make as much money as possible!

If you want to max out your profit – and your fun – from your next event, don’t miss our webinar series next week.

  • how to nail big money sponsorships,
  • how to sell out the room and all your tickets,
  • how to stage a high profit auction and
  • how to max out your ROI.

If you are having an event any time in 2014 or 15 – bring your volunteers and listen in. Even if you can’t attend live, you will get all the recordings plus a written transcript of each class.

If you think this will help you, click here and register now and be sure to join us!

*** IMPORTANT: If you’re a member of the INSIDERS club, these webinars are yours for no cost. (Info about INSIDERS membership here.)

What are YOUR biggest event bloopers?

Pleeeeze – leave a comment and share your “Whoops”!

Let’s have a laugh and have some fun. And let’s be sure NOT to do any of this stuff!

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Top 10 Tips to Make More Money, Have More Fun at Your Fundraising Event http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/more-money-more-fun-at-your-fundraising-event/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/more-money-more-fun-at-your-fundraising-event/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14512 May is Party Month at Fired-Up Fundraising!  Today we’ll give you tips to make more money and have more fun at YOUR own fundraising event! We all have events, so let’s make them fun and also highly profitable! First: what’s the difference between an “event” and a “party?” An “event” is when you throw a […]

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May is Party Month at Fired-Up Fundraising! 

Today we’ll give you tips to make more money and have more fun at YOUR own fundraising event!

We all have events, so let’s make them fun and also highly profitable!

First: what’s the difference between an “event” and a “party?”

An “event” is when you throw a bunch of people in the room, give them something to eat or drink, and hope they survive. Yikes!

“May I have this dance?”

A “party” is when you actually CARE about the experience your guests are having.  You try to make it fun for everyone.

Maybe we as fundraisers, just might want to pay more attention to the quality of the party experience for our guests.  Just like we’d do at home, right?

BEFORE THE PARTY

Here is where your plan can make or break you. Be sure you follow these tips:

1.    Put together a fun, diverse committee.

Your committee is your “social branding” for the party.  People will attend because they are close to your organization OR they know someone on the committee. Plaster your invitation with committee members’ names.

Be sure you have committee members from a wide-ranging demographic.

Enlist a terrific committee!

Get different professions, ages and types on your committee. Pull from different communities around your town, different religions and social networks.

And be sure committee meetings are FUN! Have parties for your committee and they will make sure your event is fun.

2.    Get your sponsorships.

Your #1 factor in making more money is your sponsorships.  That’s where the real profit will be for your event.

And it takes plenty of lead time to properly approach the right sponsors, and close the deal.  If you are not allowing enough lead time, then you won’t have time to close the sponsorships you need.

Organize a sponsorship committee, set a sponsorship goal, allocate out your sponsorship prospects and get those calls made. AND then followup those calls so you can close the sponsorships.

Start with former years’ sponsors first.  Then solicit the people and companies who are close to your organization.  These should be the easy calls. Only then should you branch out to new sponsor prospects.

3. Give VIP’s special encouragement to come.

You probably want certain VIP’s to attend your event, but they may be reluctant to attend.  Why? Maybe they don’t have have a date or escort.  Or maybe they don’t like driving at night. Or they are shy.

But you need to make sure they come!  How? Call them up and say:

  • “I have someone special I want you to meet at our party.
  • “I have a terrific table for you.
  • “Our “party van” will come pick you up.

I love the idea of a party van picking up important guests. The Museum of Art in North Carolina once used a corporate jet to travel around the state and pick up key guests.

You make not have access to a corporate jet but I bet you could get hold of a van, or even your own car.  Make it extra fun for your VIP’s and make them feel special!

AT THE EVENT

1.    Right sized venue.

Too big or too small?

Be sure your room is not too big!  Nothing is worse than a huge room that swallows your crowd.  All the energy in the room will go “poof!”

I’d rather have a room that’s too small than have one that’s too big.

When the room is crowded with people, it feels like something is really happening!

2.    Turn down the lights.

Nothing is worse that bright lights glaring above.  You can ruin the atmosphere of a party quickly with bright lighting.

Turn the darn lights down and create a sense of mood and atmosphere.  At our age we all look better in lower light anyway. : )

3.    Abundant food and drink.

Never, never, never be the event that ran out of food or booze.  Have the food tables look abundant. Your fare doesn’t have to be fancy at all, but it needs to be ample, and look attractive.

I always have terrific food at my parties, and lots of it!  At my annual Christmas party in Raleigh, we are frying oysters out on the back deck and bringing them into the house. People love it!

4.    Cute young people.

mix old and young together!

Don’t forget that the older folks love to be able to meet and chat with young folks. Its fun to have the young folks who can give the party extra glamour!

And the young people enjoy meeting older dignitaries a lot too.  Every guest has a lot to offer – bring it out of them!

5.    Welcoming attitude.

This might be the most important thing of all: how people are welcomed and treated when they are at the party.

Give your BOARD MEMBERS the job of being hosts. They are supposed to welcome people and talk to wallflowers. 

When people come in the door, greet them like you haven’t seen them in years and you are SO GLAD they are here.

6. Try a Raffle.

You can add significant money to the bottom line with a raffle. I am always surprised at how much cash turns up from a simple raffle – and it adds to the fun of the evening.

One year I was co-chair of an auction and we decided to have a raffle about a week before the event. Two volunteers took it on, got some David Yurman jewelry donated, and went off selling raffle tickets.

Boy was I surprised when that last-minute idea brought in $7k in cash without a whole lot of work!

7.    Next Year’s Chair.

A terrific committee makes a terrific event!

Enlist next year’s chair at this year’s event.

They will be feeling happy and will be in the middle of success and glitz.  It’s the best possible time to get a “yes!”  Give it a try!

AFTER THE EVENT

Call your sponsors, top purchasers of auction items, lead volunteers and major donors and THANK THEM.

Read what happened when someone from the Rape Crisis Center called my boyfriend after he bought lots of stuff at their auction.

He was so pleased with the call that now they have him for life. :)

Be sure to line up your thank you phone callers BEFORE the event, of course.

Want to make more money out of your next event?

Then come on and join my May webinar series: Creating Highly Profitable Fundraising Events.

We have 4 webinars all focusing on different ways to MAX OUT your fundraising bottom line:

  • how to nail big money sponsorships,
  • how to sell out the room and all your tickets,
  • how to stage a high profit auction and
  • how to max out your ROI.

If you are having an event any time in 2014 or 15 – bring your volunteers and listen in. Even if you can’t attend live, you will get all the recordings plus a written transcript of each class.

If you think this can help you raise TONS more money with your event, then click here now to find out more and register!

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR A FAB HIGH DOLLAR EVENT?

Share them with us here!

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Timeline for Planning a Profitable Fundraising Event http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/use-timeline-planning-profitable-fundraising-event/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/05/use-timeline-planning-profitable-fundraising-event/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 16:00:17 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14475 May is Party Month here at Fired-Up Fundraising! And we’re gonna help you create the most profitable – and most fun – events ever. Raising money from events is the hardest money you’ll ever raise. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, fundraising events are here to stay. They are part of the scene for many nonprofits.  […]

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May is Party Month here at Fired-Up Fundraising!

And we’re gonna help you create the most profitable – and most fun – events ever.

Can you throw the best party in town?

Can you throw the best party in town?

Raising money from events is the hardest money you’ll ever raise.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, fundraising events are here to stay. They are part of the scene for many nonprofits.  And there’s tons of internal political support to keep them, whether they are really making money or not.

Since you and your organization are committed to an event, let’s make sure it is the BEST event ever.

The Best Fundraising Event is a Profitable Event

That’s the only reason you do events – to make money. If you want PR and community visibility, there are other less painful ways to generate good press.

Here is your path to a sane, efficient PROFITABLE event: a timeline that lays out what needs to happen when in order for it to all come together and make the most money possible!

You can download your Profitability Planning Timeline here.

If you’d like to find out How to Create an Events Strategy with Real ROI that enhances your ENTIRE fundraising program, join my webinar with Ann Goldman and Leslie Allen’s  on Monday May 19 at 2pm.

Your Leadership

Who’s in charge of the event? What is the staff’s role and what is the role of your volunteers? Be sure you are absolutely clear on who has what responsibility!

Especially clear up who has what decision making authority – that will prevent conflict and hurt feelings down the road.

Nothing upsets a hard-working volunteer more than making a decision and then having it reversed by someone else. I know – it has happened to me!

Let's create this kind of excitement at your event!

Let’s create this kind of excitement at your event!

Your Volunteer Committee

I am all for a huge volunteer committee! Why?

Because they:

  • Bring their friends to the event! Your committee gives you reach into your community.
  • Are the “Social Stamp” of your event. Their names say whether the event will be full of fun people – or not.
  • Help bring in sponsors. Your committee’s connections open the door to many more sponsorship opportunities.

My tips: Have a big committee of folks who are well-known and well connected. (Well-liked  helps too!)

Bring in committee members of different ages, social and professional networks, regions of your community.

Don’t let your committee be a little social group – that will limit your organizaton’s reach via the event.

If you’d like to find out how to get the very MOST out of your committee, join Joe Garecht’s webinar May 21 at 2pm ET:  How to Supercharge Your Volunteer Committee and Sell-Out Your Next Event.

Your Budget

Early on, you need to set important financial parameters for your event:

Your financial goal – never hold an event without a goal. It helps everyone focus.

AND with the goal, it’s best to say “all proceeds from this event will go to a specific program.” For example:

  • All proceeds from this event will underwrite our programs for hungry kids on our community.
  • Or will help bring meals to lonely older people.
  • Or will help underwrite our fall performing season.

Be sure to put a limit on your event costs – invitations, postage, etc, or those may go out of control too!

Let's make it FUN for everyone - and highly profitable for YOU!

Let’s make it FUN for everyone – and highly profitable for YOU!

Your Sponsorship Committee

Getting those sponsorships is probably the most important thing you’ll do.

And securing bigger sponsorships requires tons of lead time:

  • You’ll need to enlist your committee members,
  • Draw up a prospect list and sponsorship benefits,
  • Decide who calls on whom,
  • Make your calls on the prospects,
  • Followup to close the “sale,” and
  • Get it all done in time to get on the invitation!

If you’d like to learn how to Secure High-Dollar Sponsorships For Your Fundraising Event, attend Shanon Doolittle’s webinar Monday, May 19 at 3:30 ET.

Your Venue, Food and Beverages

Your venue can make or break your event. Don’t let it be too large! Otherwise it will feel like there is no energy!

Be sure your food and beverages are ample, even if they are simple! You don’t want to be known as the party that ran out of food or booze.

Don’t forget to negotiate! You have more power than you think when securing a venue!

It's time to sit down for the auction!

It’s time to sit down for the auction!

Your Auction (Live and Silent)

If you are including an auction at your event – be careful – don’t go overboard with the silent auction stuff. Lots of tiny, cheap items are more trouble than they are worth.

I think the money is in the live auctions. But you need the crowd seated and pretty quiet and you need an auctioneer who understands nonprofit and charity appeals.

If you’d like to Create a High Profit Fundraising Auction, join Sherry Truhar, professional auctioneer from Red Apple Auctions’ webinar on Wed May 21 at 3:30 pm.

There are many, many decisions to make waaaaay ahead of time that can dramatically increase your event’s profitability!

What do YOU do to add extra money to YOUR events’ bottom lines? I’d love to know!  Leave me a comment and share your tip with us all!

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How to Ask Your Donors for Feedback So They’ll Love You Even More http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/try-asking-donors-feedback-theyll-love/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/try-asking-donors-feedback-theyll-love/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 14:03:22 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14434 Have you tried asking your donors for feedback? This is a huge new trend that smart fundraisers are spearheading. Why can this be so important?   How can you send communications to them if you don’t know if they like what you are sending? How can you offer “donor experiences” if you don’t know what […]

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Have you tried asking your donors for feedback?

This is a huge new trend that smart fundraisers are spearheading. Why can this be so important?  feedback icon 3-Facebook-Survey-Tools-You-Will-Love

  • How can you send communications to them if you don’t know if they like what you are sending?
  • How can you offer “donor experiences” if you don’t know what they want?
  • How can you make sure they are happy if you don’t try to have a 2-way conversation with them?

Donor Surveys Can Tell You So Much

Consultant Jonathon Grapsas offers several smart reasons why his firm Pareto relies on donor surveys so often. His post about surveys is a Must Read.

He says that surveys can fill in important demographic information about your donors. And you can use that to develop a profile or “persona” of your typical donor – which will help you target your writing much more directly.

Surveys can also give you amazingly useful info on why your donors are motivated to give to you. What about your organization appeals to them the most? I can’t think of more valuable feedback, can you?

Try Surveying Your Donors

Many organizations are sending their donors online surveys and asking for feedback.

Why don’t you send a Survey Monkey link to your donors asking them for their thoughts.  What they say might just surprise you! But be careful how you ask!

Nancy Schwartz of the Getting Attention! Blog

Nancy Schwartz of the Getting Attention! Blog

Don’t say “our organization needs your input.”

Wow, I can’t image a better way to turn people off. Why? Because it’s “narcissistic” says marketing guru Nancy Schwartz of the GettingAttention.com blog.

Nancy received an email with this as the subject line. And she said she was really turned off “because it’s all about the organization’s needs and not about what members like me need.”

Nancy said she wished the organization had used this subject line: “Pls take 5 minutes to tell us what you need.” 

Now THAT speaks a donor’s language, invites her in to participate and makes her feel valued. Right?

(Check out Nancy’s entire post about this email survey she received and her reaction to it!)

What should you ask donors in a survey?

Many of these ideas are from Jonathon Grapsas MUST READ his advice on donor surveys!  Just think of the thing you love to know about your wonderful donors:

Demographic data:

  • Ask how old they are by asking for their birth date. People are used to filling out birth date forms and not thinking about it.  How old they are is KEY!
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their sex?
  • What is their occupation?feedback
  • What is their income level (ask if you dare!)

Participation:

  • Have they volunteered?
  • Attended events? Which ones? What did they think of the events they attended?
  • Have they been involved in the past? If so how?

Why are they giving?

  • Or more graciously, you can ask them “how did they come to be a donor?”
  • Offer several reasons for them to check off,  for easier analysis.
  • And then offer a blank space for them to share other reasons why they give.

Personal experiences related to your cause:

  • This is info that donors hold dear.
  • When they share it with you – it is really important and meaningful to them.
  • And you need to acknowledge this in some way in future communications to them.

How do they like their experience as a donor?

  • Do they like and/or read your hard-copy newsletter?
  • Do they like and/or read your email newsletter?
  • Do they have an opinion about your overall fundraising communications?
  • Do they feel like they know the impact of their gifts?

Bequest information:

  • Is your organization in their will? (absolutely don’t forget this question!)survey1
  • Would they consider putting your organization in their will?
  • Would they like more information about bequest planning?

You’ve got the data, now what?

You’ve gotta plan your followup! Here’s how I’d approach it:

Major donors first -

Take your feedback data to your next major gifts team meeting. Discuss each major donor’s feedback with your team, and then strategically plan followup on an individual basis.

For example, you may find out something new and personal about one of your major donors. Or they have shared their dislike about something at your organization.

You MUST respond to this, correct? Sooner the better!

And when you do you will be deepening her connection to your cause.

Get the FOLLOWUP right.

Your entire fundraising/development team needs to come together to work out what actions are required in order to respond appropriately.

For example:

  • Some donors may send in contributions with their feedback and need to be thanked.
  • Some may request information or help from the staff (like bequest info!).
  • Some may want to volunteer.
  • Others may want to change their communications preferences.

You and your team better be ready to respond, or your donors will be disappointed.

 Here are Some More Resources on Donor Surveys: 

Mary Cahalane shares how she used the survey as an effective engagement tool. Pamela’s Grantwriting Blog.

How to develop an effective donor survey with  http://www.sofii.org/node/419.

Sample donor survey from Jonathon Grapsas  on Sofi http://www.sofii.org/node/420.

Pamela Grow writes about her experiences surveying donors: http://www.pamelagrow.com/1682/could-you-borrow-the-smartest-thing-i-ever-did/.

Simone Joyaux writes in the Nonprofit Quarterly about the donor survey questions in Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value by Sargeant and Jay. (Great article and the book is a fundraising classic too!)

QUESTION TO YOU:

Are YOU Surveying Your Donors?  What’s working for you?

Leave a comment and let me know!

 

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5 Tips for Making Your Donors Love You http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/5-tips-making-donors-love/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/5-tips-making-donors-love/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:21:23 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14417 Your donor has just sent in another gift! Hurray! So you reply with a wonderful, personal thank you note. And then you call her to say thanks. In addition to the paper letter that you send. Then what? You have to communicate with her . . .  so you can continue to build that warm, […]

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Your donor has just sent in another gift! Hurray!donor love Heart

So you reply with a wonderful, personal thank you note. And then you call her to say thanks. In addition to the paper letter that you send.

Then what?

You have to communicate with her . . .  so you can continue to build that warm, close relationship with her.

You’ll send your newsletter. And you’ll send email alerts and updates.

But will it matter? Will she pay attention? Will she care?

Here are 5 smart tips from my favorite communications expert Kivi Leroux Miller on how to make her pay attention and love you even more.

1. Ask donors to do something besides give money.

One of our great rules in fundraising is “Involvement breeds investment.”infographic people who volunteer

You and I both know that involving our donors is an important goal. But how many organizations really pull this off?

Try:

  • Inviting your donors to volunteer – then they’ll experience your work in action – and everything just may change.
  • Asking your donors for feedback about your organization. (try a survey)
  • Asking your donors to take some sort of action to help the cause.

 

2. Use a clear call to action.

When you are inviting your donors to get involved – don’t be vague.

Ask your donors to DO SOMETHING in a clear call to action!

Ask your donors to DO SOMETHING in a clear call to action!

Kivi says that these words are not clear enough: Participate, Engage, Believe, Understand, Support, Help, Promote, Share . . .

Instead, be extra specific about what your donors can do to help.

Try:

  • Making your call to action so specific that you could take a picture of someone doing this.
  • Giving your donor step by step instructions on what to do: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed in an Emergency.

 

3. Don’t bore them!

Want to know what bores your donors? Lengthy articles! Dense print. Kivi says that the days of 1000 word newsletter articles are over.

Will your donor even read your stuff?

Will your donor even read your stuff?

You and I both know that long, complex communications don’t really fly with donors. But how many people are tackling this seriously?

How many traditionally long newsletters am I seeing both in snail mail and email? Wayyyy too many!

Try:

  • Sharing short videos. (I’m really intrigued with this idea!)
  • Sending short, sweet and interesting news tidbits.
  • Breaking up your newsletter into 3 or 4 different pieces that go out at different times.
  • Sending a tiny infographic to your donor.

4. Send them snail mail in addition to emails.

Are you cutting back on your print mailings in order to save money? I’ve seen too many nonprofits who have eliminated their print newsletter so they can cut down on their expenses.

Many donors WILL read your snail mail - don't cut it out to save money!

Many donors WILL read your snail mail – don’t cut it out to save money!

We both know better – but the urge to save all those postage and printing costs is just too great! PLEASE don’t cut back too much on your print materials!

Why?

  • Many donors will read both types of communications – building up your wattage in their attention span.
  • Older donors tend to actually read print materials – and they are the ones who give the most.
  • Communicating via different media channels reinforces and amplifies your message.

5. Find the stories.

Kivi says that telling a story in a series of different communications is a wonderful way to draw your donors in and keep them interested.

We all know that humans are wired for stories – look at the success of People Magazine! I know whenever I’m giving a workshop and my audience looks tired – then I switch to telling a story and every eye in the room is riveted to me. Everyone just wants to know what happens next!

Try:

  • Finding the funny moments and sharing them with your donors.
  • Creating a “story arc” – that you spin out slowly over time. (Love love love this idea!)
  • Find clients and people you’ve helped to tell their own story.

BOTTOM LINE!

You as a fundraiser need to get much better at how you communicate – because it’s these happy touches that will prime the donor to be ready to give again.

Fundraisers these days can NOT rely just on a strong appeal letter!! Instead you have to give your donor an entire experience via your communications.

Then you can create your pool of consistent donors who provide ongoing sustainable funding to your nonprofit. Hurray!

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How to Nail Your Online Messaging to Your Donors http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/nail-online-messaging-donors/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/nail-online-messaging-donors/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:38:55 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14381 Kivi Leroux Miller of Nonprofitmarketingguide.com is one of the smartest communications gurus anywhere. What I like about Kivi’s approach is that she cuts to the chase – no fluff, no bull. It’s straightforward advice on how to shape your messages so donors – and the world – will listen up! Today Kivi’s giving us a […]

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Kivi Leroux Miller of Nonprofitmarketingguide.com is one of the smartest communications gurus anywhere.

What I like about Kivi’s approach is that she cuts to the chase – no fluff, no bull. It’s straightforward advice on how to shape your messages so donors – and the world – will listen up!

Kivi Leroux Miller is our Go-To Communications Guru!

Kivi Leroux Miller is our Go-To Communications Guru!

Today Kivi’s giving us a magic Bullet – how to break through ONLINE to our donors’ hearts and minds.

Online is where the action is, right?

Even though donors are still giving far more via the mail – you know as well as I do that it’s just a matter of time before we live and die online.

What’s worse: so many smart capable fundraisers are awful at messaging and communications in general.

Here’s how you can shape up your online communications so your donors will pay attention and stick with you.

Are you a Mini-Media Mogul?

Long gone are the days when a quarterly print newsletter was all you had to think about. Today, nonprofits are mini media moguls, publishing and broadcasting in multiple channels, from print and email to social media and the airwaves.

Sending your donors little morsels of information works!

Sending your donors little morsels of information works!

And our donors are on the receiving end of all this stuff. Do they listen to you? Do they read it all?

Try Sending “Marketing Morsels” to Your Donors

Here’s Kivi’s revolutionary tip that can get your donors’ attention online:

Send your donors out little pieces of information in small digestible bites.

Kivi calls them Marketing Morsels. Here’s how she describes this strategy:

One important step in getting control of your communications is to stop obsessing about long newsletter or website articles and spend more time creating Marketing Morsels.

The smart communicator breaks down all that stream of info to your donors into little bite-sized morsels.

The majority of people who see your communications will pay attention to only the tastiest little bits of it.

The tastier the little morsels, the better, because then they will continue to read or to click for more.

Marketing morsels come in all shapes and sizes.

When it’s text like subject lines and headlines, it’s called (in marketing jargon) microcontent.

But morsels are other things too! They are every single social media update you post – because of the small spaces you are working in and the fast pace at which those news feeds are reviewed by others.

Morsels are also

  • visuals and photos
  • short videos (think snippet sized, like Vine on Twitter or Instagram videos)
  • animated GIFs
  • infographics.

Morsels are also what we see on mobile devices, simply because of the smaller screens.

Here's how you can get your messages to stand out from the crowd!

Here’s how you can get your messages to stand out from the crowd!

Here’s why I think this concept is so important and even revolutionary:

We all labor to create lovely long magazines, newsletters, reports etc.  But our donors don’t read them! 

There’s that fancy 4-color annual report, your good-looking magazine, your expensive newsletter – all going into your donor’s recycle bin untouched.

It’s time to face the fact that this stuff is not working for us. What WILL work for us is to parcel out the information in small chunks, little by little.

What do you need to do to create more morsels?

Kivi says it’s possible for us all to create cool morsels of interesting bite-sized content.

Here are the skills we need to develop so we can produce good morsels – and if I can do it, then you can do it too!

  • Get good – really good – at headline and subject line writing. (You know I pull my best subject lines from the cover of Oprah magazine!)
  • Learn how to make graphics fast (e.g. overlay text on a photo and post it in under 20 minutes, tops. It’s really not that hard. Use these picture/text images in lots of places!)
  • Get comfortable with your phone camera and editing/filters. (Quickly snapped photos can be amazingly powerful – especially when you use them to connect your donors more deeply to your work.)
  •  As you write longer articles or stories, think about how you will break that longer content into morsels. (Always always keep stuff short and sweet. Break it up! Who wants to read long, long online newsletters or stories?)

If you want more help for your online marketing, consider joining Kivi’s webinar for us on Monday, April 14 at 2pm ET.  “Creating a Smart Online Marketing Plan That Works!” Kivi will share her 5-step process for improving our online communications.

I trust Kivi’s advice more than any other. Definitely join us if you think it can help you! If you can’t make it on on Monday you’ll still receive the powerpoint, audio, video, and transcription afterwards.

 

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An Appeal Letter Makeover: From “Organization-Centered” to “Donor-Centered” http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/appeal-letter-makeover-organization-centered-donor-centered/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/04/appeal-letter-makeover-organization-centered-donor-centered/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:59:24 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=14331 Here’s a great lesson on how to convert an appeal letter from organization-centered over to donor-centered. Sometimes writing from the donor’s point of view can be really difficult - because it’s just not intuitive.  It doesn’t come naturally. When we actually sit down to write a letter,  our natural inclination is to remind our donor how […]

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Here’s a great lesson on how to convert an appeal letter from organization-centered over to donor-centered.African-American businessman

Sometimes writing from the donor’s point of view can be really difficult - because it’s just not intuitive.  It doesn’t come naturally.

When we actually sit down to write a letter,  our natural inclination is to remind our donor how worthwhile and important our effort is.

We want to say nice things about our organization and our work. Right?

But all the pundits say that writing about ourselves and our organization just doesn’t cut it with donors.

Tom Ahern himself (if you are not subscribing to his newsletter do it now!) keeps reminding us to use the word “you” as much as possible.

So take a look at this letter makeover.  First we have the “Before” initial draft. Then we have my “After” suggestions.

I’m a volunteer for this wonderful organization and they were kind enough to let me use the Before and After as  a teaching tool for everyone!

Will your donor ready or ditch your letter?

Will your donor read or ditch your letter?

Also please know that it’s still a work in process.  But I thought that the contrast was so stark that you could learn a lot from our efforts – even in this preliminary stage.

The “Before” Letter:

Here at the xxx, we’ve been working to raise our game since my hiring as the new executive director in June 2013.  

This year, our Annual Auction will be held in xxxx, on date. This auction is going to be a very special one, as it will be held in our capital, and we expect 250 of the state’s leading xxx patrons to attend. We need your help to make it the biggest and best annual auction to date!

 Here is how we’ve been upping our game, how we want to continue improving, and why we need a truly exceptional work of art from you this year.

You know our mission – promoting public awareness and appreciation of the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of xxxx in our state. The better we fulfill our mission, the more we all, as a statewide community of xxxx, xxxx lovers and supporters, benefit. 

Since June 2013, we have been making a concerted effort to reconnect with xxxx artists across the state. There are a lot of you, so it is an ongoing process and dialogue, but I’m happy talk with, and listen to, anyone. Our collaboration with xxx  is in its second year. We will have two interns working on xxxx this summer, and we are actively working to increase our collaboration with their xxxx program, as well as with their sustainable tourism and marketing programs. We were recently awarded a $130,000 grant from xxxx Foundation to restart our Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program, upgrade a house on our property that will house the Artist-in-Residence, hire an Educational Program Manager, and enhance our technological capabilities. 

We’ve assembled a dynamic auction committee consisting of xxxx, xxxx person, a member of the xxx, xxxx, a member of the xxx Board, and Ms. xxxx, an influential lawyer with strong ties to our tradition, to name a few. This group has the ability to make great things happen, they are used to doing so, and they are interested in helping the xxxx make this year’s auction the best ever. These ladies do not think small.

This is why we need you, our xxxx, xxxx lovers and supporters, our core bases, to step up and help us by donating something exceptional to this year’s auction. We are on a roll. Help us keep that momentum and better fulfill our mission, one that benefits us all.  

 

Here’s my feedback to our organization on the first letter:

 

1. This letter is supposed to be an ASK – outright.

I worry that the ASK is buried way at the bottom of the letter.  We seem to have several objectives in the letter – lots of updates and then our ask. If the letter has more than one objective, it will be confusing to the reader.

Can you capture his attention?

Can you capture his attention?

 

2. Too much update information.

I’m confused by the fact that you are taking about yourself and hiring a new ED.

I know you are trying to make the case for the ask, but this letter talks too much about the xxxx organization.

Do the letter readers know this information already? Do they need a separate update?

We find over and over that an appeal letter should NOT be an update letter, because it seriously dilutes the ask.

 

3. Use of the word “Need.”

The idea of “we need this year” is a very weak ask. We typically don’t like to use the word “need.” It turns donors off.

Donors give to opportunities not needs. Try a vision statement like – “We have the opportunity to . . . ”

 

4. Are we using the word “you” enough?

How many uses of these words: “we” and “our” and “ours,” versus the use of the word “you?”  You need to use the word YOU in the letter far, far more than you use the word WE.

Letters like this are shown to drive donors away, because they don’t appeal to the donor.

 

5. What’s in it for the donor?

I would like to know what’s in it for the smart generous artist who provides this wonderful gift to our auction?

You need to talk about what’s in it for them (to have a fab successful center) – NOT what’s in it for the xxxx organization. How does the xxxx organization help the average artist?

 

6. Stronger opening.

Let’s draw our reader in. The opening needs to have the word “you” in it OR it needs to open with a wonderful short story. If you open with a story,  people are more likely to continue reading.

The opening talks about you as the new director in the very first sentence. It’s terrific that you are the new director but talking about yourself personally in the opening is not as strong as it could be.

 

7. Is the font too small? Is the letter readable?

The font seems awfully small. The letter needs to be extremely readable. Two page letters are just fine.

Don’t squeeze everything in just to get it on one page. If it’s hard to read, then no one will take the trouble to read it.

 

8. There’s a large unreadable block of copy in the letter.

It’s unreadable because it is too dense. Appeal letters need to have very short paragraphs because the reader is skimming.

I think all the “update” information is unnecessary; it deviates from the ask.

 

Here are my Donor-Centered suggestions for the letter:

Dear Mr Artist,

You’ve been wonderful to support the xxxx organization through our growth adventures! Thank you for your partnership!  (or involvement etc.) (Note: starts with the word You.)

Did you know the annual auction is coming up in September? For a change we’re having it in xxxx location, on xxxx date in the early evening so we can draw in more collectors and donors. The local collectors love to meet our artists, so please mark your calendar and be sure to attend!

There will be a special reception for our local artists – because this night is when we spotlight YOU and YOUR fabulous work. (Note: talks about what the donor will get out of this event.)

Our goal is to raise money – but also to introduce YOU to local collectors so you can expand your own market. (Note: this is something the donor wants!)

We’re writing today to ask you to donate a xxxx work to the auction. Your gift, and those of the other artists, will support the xxxx organization so we can do xxxx for you.  The center will have xxx impact etc etc etc.

Note: the ask is outright. It is in the first part of a paragraph so people will see it. Also note that the ask is connected to a benefit and an impact. Be sure you talk about the IMPACT that the xxxx organization makes in the world and what it does for donors.

Also, you don’t need to talk about the committee and who we are. You don’t need to talk about your grants and interns. Interns are generally not interesting.  Ditch the artist in residence update stuff.

Also get rid of every single word, phrase, or sentence that is not totally compelling!

Consider a bang-up closing along these lines:

Let’s make this year’s auction the best ever! We’ve got a great team of smart, connected volunteers working on sponsorships, a fabulous location, and all that is left is to have amazing works of art to auction.

Come on and join the fun! We’d love to showcase YOU to a whole new community of wealthy collectors!

Can you see the difference?

It’s all in the tone, the friendliness, the point of view, and the camaraderie you want to create with your donors.

It’s all in the point of view.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional fundraising copywriter.  I’m a pretty good writer but not a pro. These are my suggestions based on best practices. There are many pros (Harvey McKinnon,  Jeff Brooks, Mal Warwick, Tom Ahern, John Lepp to name a few) you should follow.

And if you’d like me to give you a quick 30 minute critique/makeover of your appeal letter, I’d love to help you.

Bottom line:

You can turn an organization-centered letter into a donor-centered letter. But you can see that the approach is as different as night and day.

I’d love to see some examples of your OWN before and after writings!

What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know!!

 

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