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Andrea Kihlstedt

Recent Posts by Andrea Kihlstedt:

Ask Andrea – Fresh Perspectives on Fundraising


Fundraising Training Exercise: Active Listening—What Did You Hear?

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money


Questions I'm Most Often Asked About Raising $1 Million

Does the mere thought of asking for a six- or seven-figure gift unnerve you?

Do you wish someone would level with you and help ease the gulp-inducing part of fundraising?

Allow me to try.

Here are answers to key questions I'm asked time and again by both board members and staff. You'll find fuller responses in my book, How to Raise $1 Million (or More!) in 10 Bite-Sized Steps.

Can we approach individuals like Bill Gates and Oprah to give big gifts? What we do is so important.

While it's easy to imagine such people would want to support your cause, I'm afraid that unless you know Gates or Winfrey—and your cause touches on something they're keenly interested in—it's magical thinking to imagine they'll be large donors to your campaign.

We've never received a gift of even $100,000. Is it really possible we can raise a million dollars?

While it may seem unlikely, it's not so unusual. Think about it this way. Most small or young groups don't ask for big gifts until they're ready to take a leap in their growth. An organization with an annual budget of $750,000, for example, wouldn't usually ask for a gift of $100,000 toward their operating budget. But they may well ask for that much and more for a special project—perhaps a new science center or launching a new program. In the context of a larger goal, requests for large gifts make more sense.

Which comes first, our plan or the money? It seems foolish to develop a big plan if there's no chance we can fund it.

As I make clear in my book, you have to work on your plans first! You'll be pleasantly surprised by the power of big, exciting ideas to inspire donors and leaders. And while it's possible you'll establish ambitious goals you can't fund, at least not yet, these plans will help shape a direction that could become a reality over a longer time.

Our organization is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Would this be a good time for us to have a campaign to raise $5 million?

People often ask me this question. While birthdays are worth celebrating—longevity is worth something—by itself a big birthday is NOT a good reason for a campaign. That said, you can use an upcoming anniversary to inspire a breathtaking plan for what your organization hopes to accomplish over the NEXT 50 years. And that may well be a good reason to have a campaign!

How do we calculate what percentage of our capital campaign goal our board should give?

Lots of people would like a simple, specific answer to this question—say 20 percent or 10 percent. But in reality the percentage of the goal your board should give has everything to do with who happens to be ON your board!

If you're a small organization without people of means on your board, it's unlikely you can raise 25 percent of your goal. But if yours is a "fundraising board" comprising people who serve specifically because of their ability to give and raise money, then 25 percent is probably way too low.

We don't have any donors who seem ready to make a big gift. What's the best way to get them involved?

The old saw "Ask for advice and you'll get money. Ask for money and you'll get advice" turns out to be true. The catch is that you can't ask for advice just to get money. That doesn't work. You've got to be genuinely interested in what people have to say.

Obviously every organization should bend over backwards to make their donors feel appreciated and valued. That's a hugely important part of the process. But there's no better way to draw people in than to actively involve them in the process of developing bold plans for your organization. In my experience, this is the best way to get your major donors ready to give sizable gifts.

How can we get our board members to actually go out and ask for gifts?

I've found that people will go out and ask for gifts if they feel confident they'll succeed. And that takes training. Which is why Andy Robinson and I wrote Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money, a book of 51 fundraising exercises for boards. All too often staff members assume board members know how to ask. But in reality they don't. Every nonprofit would be wise to have a board training program specifically on fundraising. I don't mean a one-time workshop. Board members should be trained in one way or another at every board meeting. You'll see a huge difference in their confidence and willingness to ask.

Andrea Kihlstedt
© 2014, Emerson & Church, Publishers

Andrea Kihlstedt is author of How to Raise $1 Million (or More!) in 10 Bite-Sized Steps and co-author with Andy Robinson of Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money.


Fundraising Training Exercise: Fundraising from the Inside Out

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money


Fundraising Training Exercise: Building a Board Fundraising Ladder

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money


Fundraising Training Exercise: What Drew You to This Work?

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money

Many boards and committees are all business and devote little time to discussing the personal and emotional aspects of an organization and its work. Nobody ever joined a board or volunteered for a nonprofit because they loved going to meetings, talking about policies and procedures, or looking at spreadsheets. They join because they want to make a difference in the world.

As a fundraiser, your greatest asset is your enthusiasm for the mission and work of your organization, so it's helpful to remind yourself why you care. This exercise can generate useful language for building your case and talking with donors.

Why Do This Exercise?
It reduces fundraising to its elemental level: two people talking about something they both care about

Use This Exercise When
You want your board members and volunteers to know one another better and understand their motivations for serving on the board

Time Required
10-15 minutes

Audience
Anyone involved with your fundraising campaign: some combination of board, staff, and volunteers

Setting
A quiet space large enough for people to pair up, talk, and hear each other

Materials

  • Flip chart paper and markers (optional)

Facilitating the Exercise

  1. Ask people to pair up, preferably with someone they don't know well.
  2. Instruct the partners to ask each other the following questions:
    • Why are you involved with this organization?
    • Why is our work important to you?
    • Tell me about a time when you saw our mission in action and what it meant to you.

    Encourage partners to add whatever follow-up questions are needed to flesh out the answers. Such a follow-up might be "Can you tell me a specific story or example about your involvement with our work?"

  3. Give the pairs five to seven minutes to complete this task. Part-way through, you might warn them, "You've got another two minutes, so if you haven't told your own story yet, please do so now."
  4. Reconvene the full group. Debrief the exercise with the following questions:
    • What was the most memorable thing you heard from your partner?
    • What did you learn about our organization?
    • As we’re discussing this, what common themes are you hearing?

    If you like, you can write key phrases on the flip chart.

  5. Conclude the exercise by summarizing the range of reasons why people choose to be involved. Skilled solicitors are always listening for the link between the work of the organization and each individual donor’s interests, passions, and experiences.

Training Tip

Writing ideas or comments from the participants lets them know that they've been heard and that they're doing valuable work. If you choose to paraphrase, check with the speaker first and ask permission before changing the words: "May I write that as ...?"

Other Excerpts from This Book

 

Andrea Kihlstedt and Andy Robinson
© 2014, Andrea Kihlsted and Andy Robinson. Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money: A Cookbook of Easy-to-Use Fundraising Exercises. Excerpted with permission of Emerson & Church, Publishers.

Visit the website for this book

Andrea Kihlstedt is author of How to Raise $1 Million (or More!) in 10 Bite-Sized Steps. She has served the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years as a fundraiser, trainer, consultant, teacher, writer, and speaker. She has trained nonprofit boards and staff throughout the United States on effective major gifts fundraising, capital campaigns, and how to ask for gifts. Kihlstedt is cofounder (with Gail Perry) of Capital Campaign Magic, providing online learning about capital campaign fundraising.

Andy Robinson provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, grantseeking, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation. Andy has worked with organizations in 47 U.S. states and Canada and is the author of six books. His latest include How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone, The Board Member's Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances, and Great Boards for Small Groups.


Is The Donor Pyramid Really Dead? An Open Letter to Claire Axelrad from Andrea Kihlstedt

Inspired by her recent posts on the death of the Donor Pyramid in Fundraising Success Magazine and Maximize Social Business Blog


Fundraising Training Exercise: Where's the Money?

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money

If you've ever discussed fundraising with your board—or any nonprofit board—you've probably heard the following phrases: "The economy's not good, people aren't giving," or "I don't know anyone with money." These are perhaps the two most pervasive and persistent misconceptions about fundraising. The data presented in this exercise help to debunk these and several other myths.

Why Do This Exercise?
To reduce resistance to fundraising based on inaccurate information

Use This Exercise When
Your board and volunteers lack a basic understanding of philanthropy

Time Required
20 minutes

Audience
Anyone involved with your fundraising campaign: some combination of board, staff, and volunteers

Setting
A space large enough to accommodate several small groups of three to five each

Materials

Facilitating the Exercise

This activity is structured as a quiz that participants discuss and complete in small groups. You'll need to photocopy the quiz in advance. The answers appear below.

  1. Ask your colleagues to gather in groups of three to five to work on the quiz together.
  2. Hand out copies of the quiz and give participants no more than ten minutes to discuss and complete it.
  3. Reconvene the entire group and review each question, giving the correct answers.
  4. Once you've reviewed all the answers, help the group draw conclusions. Use the following debriefing questions:
    • What surprised you?
    • What are the implications for our fundraising strategy? Do we need to think differently?

    Emphasize that in fundraising, like many areas of life, we have a tendency to project our feelings and experiences onto others, even though our assumptions may not be accurate. For example, "I give money to my church and two other organizations; therefore, everyone else focuses their giving on a small number of nonprofits." In fact, most donors support a range of organizations, as noted in the quiz.

    There are times when what we think we know is actually wrong. When it comes to fundraising, if the data trump personal experience, then we have to respect the data.

    For example, your colleagues may perceive fundraising as competitive. When you show them that a typical household contributes to five to ten nonprofits per year, they may see it as less competitive, since most people who donate tend to spread their money around pretty broadly.

Answers appear below.

  1. In a typical recent year, how much money did U.S. nonprofits raise from private philanthropy?
    1. $100 billion
    2. $200 billion
    3. $300 billionthe total varies somewhat year to year, but this is a good estimate
    4. $400 billion
  2. Here are the four sources of private philanthropy. What percentage of total giving comes from each category? The total adds up to 100%.
    1. Foundations 15%
    2. Corporations 6%
    3. Individuals 72%
    4. Bequests 7%
  3. Which nonprofit community raises the most money from private sources?
    1. Colleges and universities
    2. Health care
    3. Religious organizations receive about 32% of charitable giving
    4. Arts
    5. Social services/human services
  4. How much do U.S. nonprofits receive from all sources: private giving, government funding, and fees and other earned income?
    1. $800 million
    2. $1 trillion
    3. $1.2 trillion
    4. $1.5 trillionthis amout equals roughly 10% of the U.S. economy
  5. What percentage of American households donate to nonprofit organizations?
    1. 60%
    2. 70%some sources say 80%, so that would also be an acceptable answer
    3. 80%
    4. 90%
  6. The typical American household supports how many charitable organizations per year?
    1. 1-2
    2. 3-4
    3. 5-10
    4. More than 10
  7. How much is median household giving per year?
    1. Less than $500
    2. $500-$1,000
    3. $1,000-$2,000
    4. More than $2,000
  8. Which demographic group gives away the most money as a percentage of household income?
    1. The poor
    2. Middle income
    3. The wealthy

Getting Started as a Fundraising Trainer

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money


Fundraising Training Exercise: Where Do You Stand? Fundraising Continuums

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money

When you consider the ubiquitous raffles, benefit events, cookie and candy sales, most of us have far more fundraising experience than we realize. Many people have sales backgrounds and ask for money every day. Others have prepared grant proposals or solicited corporate gifts. The purpose of this activity is to assess the fundraising skill level of your team and to reinforce the idea that your colleagues know more than they think. It's also a fun, physical activity that gets people moving.

Why Do This Exercise?
To uncover useful information about how best to engage members of your fundraising team

Use This Exercise When
You want to address board assumptions about fundraising, or during an early meeting of your development committee, campaign committee, or other fundraising group

Time Required
10 to 20 minutes, depending on the number of questions you ask

Audience
Anyone involved with your fundraising campaign: some combination of board, staff, and volunteers

Setting
A space with enough room for people to move around. If the weather's nice and you have a reasonably quiet location, this activity works well outdoors, too.

Materials
A bell, whistle, or other noisemaker is useful but not essential

Facilitating the Exercise

  1. Ask everyone to stand in one line shoulder to shoulder in random order, facing you.
  2. Explain that you'll be asking a series of questions such as "How many years of experience do you have in fundraising?" and "What's the biggest amount you've ever asked for?" According to the answers they give, participants will then position themselves along the line, those with the most experience standing at one end and those with the least experience at the other. Emphasize that to create the correct sequence they need to talk to each other as they move around: "I have three years of fundraising experience—who has less than that? Who has more?"
  3. Sample questions; choose the ones that seem most interesting and relevant.

    • How many years in total have you been doing any sort of fundraising? For your organization, other groups, your church or school, as a staff member or volunteer. (For instance, selling Girl Scout cookies counts.) How many total years?
    • What's the largest amount you've ever asked for face to face? You can include a charitable solicitation, a grant proposal—if you met with the funder in person—or raising money for a business. You can even include asking your parents, but you can't include your mortgage. Notice that the verb is "ask," not "get." What's your largest face-to-face ask?
    • How would you rate your comfort in asking? This end (point to one end of the line) equals deeply uncomfortable. At the other end (point in that direction), asking is no big deal. Where would you stand on the spectrum?
    • In a typical year, how many different nonprofits do you support financially?
    • How would you rate the amount of planning you do as a donor? At one end (point to one end of the line), you tend to give money spontaneously. At the other end (point), you tend to plan—maybe you even have an estate plan so organizations will benefit when you pass away. Where do you stand?
    • How many hours per month—realistically—do you have available to help with fundraising for our organization?
  4. Once you've asked a question and participants settle into their positions along the line, you may need to ring a bell or blow a whistle to get their attention and quiet the conversations. Go down the line, asking each person to name their number: number of years, largest ask, level of comfort. You can also call on people as you see fit to provide more detail. "Joe, you say the largest amount you've asked for is $1,000? What was the circumstance?"

    Look for opportunities to draw useful conclusions. For example, "There are 10 of us in the room, and we've got more than 100 years of experience among us. I bet we know more about fundraising than we realize." Or try this: "Looks like we have a wide range of available time; some of us can offer only a few hours per month. Maybe we should choose at least a few fundraising strategies that don't require a big time commitment."

  5. Once you've commented on responses to one question, ask another. Feel free even to make up your own, but note that this exercise doesn't work with yes-or-no questions. Your questions must allow individuals to rate themselves along a continuum.
  6. Ask everyone to return to their seats, then debrief the exercise by asking the following questions:

    • What did you learn about our group?
    • What did you learn about your experience and expertise in relation to the other members of the group?

Training Tip

Pay attention to everyone's body language. Depending on the number of questions you ask and how talkative people are, this exercise can easily run too long. If you see people starting to sag—leaning against walls, moving away from the line to take a seat, or just physically slumping—look for an opportunity to end the exercise promptly and have everyone return to their seats.

Read more training tips

Other Excerpts from This Book

Andrea Kihlsted and Andy Robinson
© 2014, Andrea Kihlsted and Andy Robinson. Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money: A Cookbook of Easy-to-Use Fundraising Exercises. Excerpted with permission of Emerson & Church Publishers.

Andrea Kihlstedt is author of How to Raise $1 Million (or More!) in 10 Bite-Sized Steps. She has served the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years as a fundraiser, trainer, consultant, teacher, writer, and speaker. She has trained nonprofit boards and staff throughout the United States on effective major gifts fundraising, capital campaigns, and how to ask for gifts. Kihlstedt is cofounder (with Gail Perry) of Capital Campaign Magic, providing online learning about capital campaign fundraising.

Andy Robinson provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, grantseeking, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation. Andy has worked with organizations in 47 U.S. states and Canada and is the author of six books. His latest include How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone, The Board Member’s Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances, and Great Boards for Small Groups.


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