Welcome to the final installment in the 2015 Ask Andrea series. In the new year, instead of answering your questions, I will publish my most in-demand blog posts on capital campaign fundraising.
I've never really kept track.
In my years of consulting, I suppose I've worked with 30,000 volunteer and professional fundraisers. Perhaps as many as 50,000. They come in all sizes and shapes and ethnic backgrounds. Tall, short. Heavy, thin. I've seen it all.
From this wealth of experience, I've identified 15 precepts that I believe board members should use as their guide. In my book, The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards, I spell them out in more detail.
As a board member, you are among the chosen few. Lives are being changed and saved because of you. You're the noble souls raising funds to provide the scholarships, heal the sick, feed the hungry, build the buildings, furnish the equipment, and find the cures.
You dream the unthinkable. Attempt the impossible. It is the magic of your involvement that leads your organization to success.
You will forever be, to use Ernest Hemingway's salute: "The winner and undisputed champion."
The proceding is a guest post by Jerold Panas the author of The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards, Making a Case Your Donors Will Love, Asking, and Mega Gifts: Who Gives Them, Who Gets Them.
GuideStar Guest Blogger, on 12/23/15 3:36 AM
Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016 is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit.
Sharon Liebowitz, on 12/22/15 3:42 AM
Mr. Zuckerberg’s pledge to give away 99% of his wealth - $45 billion – over his lifetime is getting lots of attention as a game-changer for nonprofits. What if I told you that nonprofits can also change the game? That by making one simple shift, they could generate up to $80 billion more each year without increasing their donations!
Jay Love, on 12/21/15 3:53 AM
Dr. Adrian Sargeant and Dr. Rita Kottasz of The Center For Sustainable Philanthropy at the University of Plymouth recently teamed up with Amy Eisenstein MPA, ACFRE and released a breakthrough research study last month. It focused on major gift fundraising for nonprofit organizations of $10 million and less of reported annual income, which comprises 95% of the registered charities in the United States. However, the research report findings can help any size organization with their major gift efforts.
This study was one of the only instances of analyzing nonprofits where the majority of the respondents were below one million in annual revenue. In fact, more than 50% of the participants fit into that grouping.
Therefore, these recommendations can work for vast majority of nonprofits engaged in fundraising. Without further ado, here are the ten suggestions named in the research brief and a few comments helping to clarify how to improve major gift fundraising results:
1) Donor Retention – Placing a focus on retaining donors via stronger cultivation yields markedly higher levels of return. A specific game plan for donor retention should be discussed, outlined and in place for daily usage.
2) Prospect Research – The study revealed a negative impact of focusing too much on new donor acquisition. Any pipeline or donor prospect portfolio should be evaluated with some aspect of prospect research tools. Those tools used should not only reveal the ability to give, but more importantly a past tradition of charitable giving.
3) Tenure – The individuals who stay longer at any nonprofit perform better raising greater sums of revenue. It is wise to develop a plan for retaining members of the fundraising team. The plan should foster higher levels of commitment to the fundraising profession and to your organization.
4) Training – The professionals who participate in proper training are simply put, much more successful. Every organization with fundraisers should invest in such training. The fear of investing in an individual then that person leaving is a truly shortsighted vision. The fear should actually be that individuals without proper training would stay and underperform!
5) Education – Formal education and certification opportunities appear to have the strongest relationship with fundraising success! Even though attendance at local conferences or viewing appropriate webinars can help a more rigorous and planned program of study or certification such as the CFRE should be utilized for greater fundraising results.
6) Donor-Centered Culture – Developing a donor centered culture and more importantly maintaining it long term are keys to major gift success. This may well be one of the harder recommendations to achieve because the study found low levels of donor centricity in most organizations. Building meaningful giving opportunities at all levels will increase donor-centricity for all sizes and types of organizations.
7) IT Systems – Having appropriate systems in place, particular those that the entire staff felt comfortable in using, contributes to a larger number of major gifts being secured. Proper database technology can enable better stewardship, a significant part of a few of the previous recommendations above. Such systems also protect against “institutional memory” regarding major donors being lost when any portion of the fundraising staff departs.
8) Volunteer Engagement – The study revealed low levels of volunteer engagement in relation to fundraising. Every size of nonprofit should search for ways to properly engage volunteers in this vital process. The research revealed how much of a factor volunteer participation plays in raising the trust and comfort levels of donors. Seeing and hearing their peers explain their commitment and passion for the organization raises trust for everyone involved.
9) Board Engagement – It is probably no surprise that the study revealed fairly low levels of board involvement. Seeing the success coming to the organizations in fundraising who maintain higher levels of board engagement should prove as testament enough for this to rise in importance. Educating boards on this direct relationship would seem to be quite worthwhile and well worth the effort!
10) Metrics – The focus on fundraising metrics of nearly any type was quite low in the respondent organizations. The major gift fundraising endeavor is longer term. This requires knowing other metrics besides just dollars raised to insure long term success in this game changing activity. Such metrics should also be part of the appraisal of the fundraising team members.
The above top ten recommendations are sound and proven to statistically lead to better major gift fundraising results. They will take time for some organizations to fully implement all ten. However, the process of moving to achieving all ten can be a wonderful journey of transformation for every nonprofit engaged in fundraising.
May your journey be exciting and transformational as you strive to achieve major gift funding success!
The preceding is a guest post by Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage, and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world. A veteran of the nonprofit technology sector, Jay is a founding member of the AFP Business Member Council and chair of the AFP Ethics Committee.
RelSci, on 12/16/15 10:27 AM
In 2013, nonprofit services firm CompassPoint released the results of aof 2,700 nonprofit development staff members and executive directors. The results were dismal enough that the survey has remained a at conferences through 2015.
As long-time students of the nonprofit sector and our civil society, we regularly feel adrift in a sea of anecdotes, stories, and received wisdom. This is a sector in which opaque institutions call for transparency and measurement, while supposedly mission-driven organizations seek to operate with flaccid and oftentimes unmeasurable missions. As alumni of the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) and McKinsey & Company, we are trained to be hypothesis-driven and fact-based: "My kingdom for a few facts!"
David Lansdowne, on 12/14/15 2:11 PM
It’s not quite like sneezing with your eyes open—which I understand is impossible—but still it’s difficult to single out the top challenges board members need to grapple with when it comes to raising money.
Philanthropy comes from the Greek term meaning “love of humanity,” but when you take a realistic look at the way we view charity today, much of it stems from Puritan ideas about penance and making up for wrongdoing or selfishness in other aspects of one’s life. A more forward-thinking philanthropist, instead would take a practical look at how they can integrate philanthropy into all aspects of their life, and achieve the greatest good overall, not just enough that they break even. Today, I’m going to take some time to explore what forward thinking philanthropists are doing, compared against old-school styles of philanthropy.
Classy, on 12/10/15 8:00 AM
Reprinted from Classy
Properly thanking supporters is a fundamental part of great donor stewardship. Sending a sincere thank you letter shows donors that their gift has been noticed and appreciated. Not only that, your thank you message is a chance to deliver the warm feelings of goodwill that drive people to give.
Gail Perry, on 12/10/15 8:00 AM
Reprinted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog
Gabe Cohen, on 12/10/15 3:23 AM
Last week while I was on my way to grab lunch here in Washington, D.C, a nice gentleman in a blue polo approached me. He identified himself with Charity X and started to methodically solicit a donation from me for his organization. “Without your support, our [beneficiaries] won’t be able to [benefit.] Won’t you help?”
On the nonprofit side, many nonprofits worry that starting or managing a junior board will require too much staff time and/or money for the results a junior board will generate. While that may be the case for some nonprofits, other nonprofits find their junior boards to be great investments. We believe the best way to ensure having a junior board is truly worth your nonprofit’s effort is to both maximize what your junior board accomplishes, while at the same time minimizing the staff time required to manage them.
Foundation Center, on 12/7/15 4:00 AM
In our first installment of the Women in the Nonprofit Sector blog series, GuideStar’s VP of Strategy Mizmun Kusairi shared her SOS model for success in Women in Nonprofit Leadership. Last week, Peggy Outon, Executive Director of Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, contributed her story in Women in Nonprofits: Then & Now. Today, we welcome Anisha Singh White as she joins us for the third and final post.
Excerpted from How to Turn Your Words Into Money
Sometimes being a writer is like starring in a bad episode of The Twilight Zone. You're about to enter a dark forest to do something heroic. An old man appears from nowhere. He fixes you with bloodshot eyes and warns you the forest is full of traps. Traps, everywhere!
You would think, with this being the age of "all information available" via the Internet, that it would be so much easier to develop a compelling statement of need when you are writing a grant proposal. But in truth, it has become much harder.
With so much information available, how do you know which reports, statistics, or quotes to use to build a compelling case for support? Where do you look for the best data you can find? Where do you even begin to build a strong statement of need?
All need statements answer these four very basic questions:
It will focus your research if you keep all four of these questions in mind as you dive into the task of writing a strong statement of need.
Tip! I actually write these four questions out and keep them on the wall of my office when I am writing a proposal. This keeps me on track.
Evidence and data are essential tools if you want to develop a strong case for support. The data you present must be relatively objective, however. While most people would say the evidence they present to support their need is objective, it's very easy to skew data—even if it is not intentional.
Consider this scenario:
Your nonprofit runs an afterschool program that is a bit stagnant. The program is maintaining its funding, but the outcomes, the results, are just so-so. The board of directors is beginning to question whether or not the program is having any appreciable impact, and you are sure it won't be long until the funders start to question this as well.
The program needs a makeover, and the director of the afterschool program proposes changes based on her experience.
A funding opportunity comes along, and there is a scramble to collect the data to support a proposed program makeover. Finding the data to support your statement of need isn't all that hard, because the solution to the problem (weak outcomes) has already been determined. You decide to develop a survey of your stakeholders to gather the information you need to generate the statement of need. In fact, the questions you develop are, at this point, actually biased to support your new plan of action.
So, what is wrong with this approach?
The problem with this approach is that, despite the best intentions, your statement of need will now be based almost entirely on the observations and experiences of a few people. It is in-built, a natural progression from an existing program, not truly data-driven!
The potential pitfalls in using a planning process like the one described above is that many individuals who review proposals on a regular basis look for this kind of documentation.
They know it is an easy pitfall for many an organization, not to mention the grantwriter, so you want to stay far away from this kind of reasoning. Instead, go after the documentation that will build a powerful, objective case for support that results in a plan of action that truly attacks the basic premise of your problem or need.
When you develop a need statement, you have to be aware that you are not only documenting the problem or need that is facing society but you are also demonstrating that the approach you propose is built on a solid understanding of that problem.
The need you are presenting, the need you are documenting and sharing with the grantmaker, is what I call a "true" need.
Remember, your overall goal is to convince the grantmaker that the information you are presenting in your statement of need is both accurate and credible, and that the resulting program or project you are asking them to fund is the best way to address this need.
If this topic interests you, I am offering a 90-minute webinar called The Golden Key to Grantwriting as a free gift if you join GrantStation over the holidays! You can learn more about this offer by going to GrantStation.
The preceding is a guest post by Cynthia Adams, CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online funding resource for organizations seeking grants throughout the world. Providing access to a comprehensive online database of grantmakers, GrantStation helps nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies make smarter, better-informed grantseeking decisions. GrantStation is dedicated to creating a civil society by assisting the nonprofit sector in its quest to build healthy and effective communities.
Abila, on 12/3/15 3:42 AM
Because you’re reading this blog, you’ve likely stepped away from your mountain of work for a little brain break. You probably needed the breather. It was on your terms. Your choice. And, you’ll soon return to your work feeling refreshed and focused.
As corporate citizenship continues to grow in popularity, an increasing number of employee volunteer programs (EVPs) are appearing. In an attempt to better understand this volunteer demographic, VolunteerHub recently surveyed a group of nonprofits on the subject. Among the many findings, we found that a majority of nonprofits (70%) report partnering with corporations to gain volunteers.
Courtney Cherico, on 12/1/15 7:34 AM
Happy #GivingTuesday, nonprofits and donors of America! On this global day dedicated to giving back, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.