Tag: blogging

Send your next e-appeal

As time flies when we’re having fun, today is a good day to consider your next e-appeal.

What the heck is an e-appeal some of you may ask? It’s simply a fundraising appeal sent via email.

If you can’t remember when you sent your last e-appeal, this tip is perfect for you. The main idea here is to make sure you are continually asking your supporters to donate.

I like short e-appeals. The perfect e-appeal for me is a quick greeting, a current need, and then an invitation to give.

A fundraising team doesn’t need to be big, and doesn’t need to have a lot of extra time to send consistent e-appeals. Quick messages letting your donors know what your need is and what the impact of their donation will be is all you really need. You can definitely take the time to send a longer e-appeal, I’m just letting you know that if you lack the capacity to do that don’t let it stop you from sending something out. It’s better to get an ask out rather than continue waiting until you have the perfect e-appeal ready to go. That day may never come.

Here’s an idea. Calendar an hour or two to leave the office. I recently rode my bike to a local coffee house and worked on an e-appeal (see photo above). Think about what you want to accomplish with this e-appeal, who you want to send it to, and what kind of impact you want to share. Finish a rock-star draft and then head back to the office and share with your team. Done.

Of course every team cannot finish an e-appeal this simply, but you get the idea.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding your next e-appeal!

Altrui Consultancy Fundraising

Implementing your fundraising plan

Your fundraising plan is finished and now it’s time to take on another perceived difficult task: implementing it! You can relax, because implementing your fundraising plan is a process, not an event.

You can start slow.

A great way to start is to send a quick note of thanks to all who participated in the plan, sharing your gratitude and excitement to begin.

Then go right into one of the first tasks. That could be one of a dozen or so action items, and I suggest taking on one that is continual throughout the year. Let’s say e-appeals.

Taking on e-appeals could mean taking a good look at your email list, checking your open rates and your click-thru rates. It could mean beginning a new process of writing e-appeals and creating a schedule of when you want to send them, and why.

The key here is to begin implementing your fundraising plan.

The only way a fundraising plan does not succeed is if you do nothing with it. You have it right in front of you know, you spent a lot of time creating it, and now it’s time to actually implement it.

Go easy on you and your team, but do proceed. For me this is one of the many highlights of being in nonprofit fundraising. Implementing your fundraising plan will not only support your organization in building relationships and raising money for your impact, it will be fun.

Thanks for reading!

Your 2022 development plan

This post shares ideas that can be used for both nonprofits and for-profit organizations. It focuses on development/fundraising, and many of the ideas can be incorporated to a business plan.

First things first. If you haven’t created a development plan yet for 2022, begin work on it today. It’s as simple as creating a document titled “2022 Development Plan”. The key in starting now is that you’ve started the process.

In my mind, a development plan, or fundraising plan, is a road map for how we will fundraise this year, who participates in it, what are our goals, what are our challenges, and what we need to accomplish the goals. I’ve seen plans that are dozens of pages long with small type and ones that are simple Power point documents that are specific ideas and goals. Choose which one best suits you and your organization.

Keep your plan positive. Keep in mind you want a plan that can be accomplished with your current capacity. Keep your plan realistic with the goals. For example, if you raised $50,000 from individuals in 2021 and your 2022 development plan is to raise $500,000 there is an issue, unless you already have committed donations close to that amount.

I like to break down my plan to revenue-generating categories: individual giving, corporate, civic/faith, and institutional (foundations) are some for a good start. Some organizations like to have specific line items for board giving and major gifts. Others may have some type of income, which I would keep out of a development plan. If you have special events, there are different ways to have that in the plan. The two most common are to have that revenue separated out completely, or (#2), have event revenue within the other categories based on the category that generates the revenue.

Be sure to have a part of your plan that includes who is participating in what. This can be super helpful, especially when presenting to groups, like your board.

Every revenue area comes with a fundraising goal. Like I mentioned earlier, keep it realistic. I’ve seen many nonprofits toss a ridiculous amount into individual giving because they had to add revenue, with no reality in that amount. If you know your annual fundraising event will be different because of , say COVID, keep that in mind when creating your goals. I fully encourage thought-out growth and positive thinking, just keep it realistic.

What are items, events, people, situations that can possibly keep you from reaching your goals? I usually create a one-pager listing these.

Lastly, consider all of your ideas you have, and others have offered, to reach the fundraising goal of each revenue category. This becomes your check-off list. For example, under individual giving you may have the following: expressions of gratitude, impact sharing, phone calls, one-on-one meetings, video calls with the director or a program manger, increased direct mail, increased e-appeals. This list can go on and on. I’m sure you get the idea.

I realize this all may seem over-simplified. For me, it’s not. A development plan does not have to difficult or complicated. After all, this document is your plan for the year, the plan you will use to be successful.

Thank you for reading!

Year-end fundraising begins now

I’ve been excitedly waiting to write and share this post.

Yes, I’m writing about year-end fundraising. Yes, I know you just finished your year-end fundraising efforts and you probably don’t want to read anything about year-end fundraising for at least a month or two.

The fun thing about this is that success with a year-end campaign really begins now. You can have the best, most strategic plan and appeals and e-appeals, written by the best people and supported by the best staff. All of this and you can still struggle.

That’s because if you lose your donors during the year, it’s difficult to get them back for a year-end gift. Not impossible, just difficult.

So let’s make it easier for us, and better for those who support us, (and those we serve!) by taking care of the donor part now, and all year!

Experience has proven that we cannot ignore our donors, volunteers, and other supporters all year and then expect a donation when we ask.

What works well for my clients is to add donor contacts into your development plan for the year. Contacts can be an email, a Thanks for Giving Day call, an impact update, a thank you note or call, etc.

Creating practices of gratitude expression and sharing impact strengthen relationships with those who support you.

If you haven’t created a development plan yet, see my next post!

Thank you for reading!

Start today

Everyone is busy. And many of us find it difficult to believe that it’s already November, let alone Thanksgiving time!

Meanwhile we read on social media about perfectly created plans for year-end fundraising, complete with actions and calendars and more. Then we look at our list of things to complete before hopefully having a holiday meal with family. Self-judgement begins as we realize we haven’t even sent our direct mail piece to the printer.

Don’t freak out. Set the self-judgement aside. Start today.

This isn’t a fluff piece. Next year you can have the awesome plan ready (you’ll begin in January – see upcoming post). For now, rather than consider all you haven’t done, start taking actions today.

Is it too late to send a direct mail piece? That depends on your printer. Give them a call. Meanwhile create your appeal knowing you can use it as an e-appeal if you can’t get one mailed.

Connect with your team and gather stories for your donors. Begin sharing them on social media in preparation for year-end donations. Add some posts about tax laws, bigger needs, and impact.

Take a deep breath. Then keep going.

Ask the board if they will chip in to create a matching fund for year-end donations. That can be used in your direct mail appeal and e-appeals.

You know what to do. Time catches up and mission work is overwhelming. It’s easy, and not uncommon, to get behind. Start today and you’ll see that you can still have successes with your year-end fundraising.

Thanks for reading!

Key to year-end fundraising

Final drafts of year-end appeals are being sent to printers. Heads of development are being asked for year-end projections. Statistics are continually being shared on how many donors give in December, and during the final week of the year.

And you’re ready to bring it these final weeks of the year.

Unfortunately for some, the key to success during year-end fundraising does not occur during the year-end campaign. It starts at the beginning of the year (or before). It’s all about building relationships with your donors.

If you’ve been doing that, if you and your organization are in relationship with your donors, then you have a great chance at a successful year-end campaign. If not, it could be difficult these next few weeks. It could also be a chance to learn and move forward in a different way.

It’s never too late to begin growing relationships with your donors. For some, it’s just starting that is the difficulty.

Thank more, ask less. Share impact more, ask less. Of course if you aren’t asking at all, the action plan is different. But many are only asking, which is problematic and is not helpful in building relationships.

Keep this in mind not only now but throughout the year. The more effort you put into building relationships throughout the year, the stronger your year-end fundraising campaign becomes.

Giving Tuesday

If you saw the title of this post and wanted to immediately move on, this post is for you!

I totally get if you want to pass on Giving Tuesday. You’re busy, it’s too big for you, and with as many times as you get asked to give that day, you don’t want to put your donors through that.

And since you’ve begun reading this, give me just another minute to share some ideas with you.

First, whether you decide to participate in Giving Tuesday or not, take some time to make sure your website is ready for new donors. How easy is it to donate? Is it clear what the impact of the donation is? Is there information on how a donor can connect with you directly?

Next, take a moment or two to review your social media. Is your most recent post on Twitter from last year? Are your Facebook photos up to date?

Now, consider peer-to-peer fundraising! This is a great way to engage with donors and their friends, and Giving Tuesday is a fantastic way to introduce this.

Now consider Giving Tuesday. It could be a great time to share your impact on social media. It could be a great day to just thank your donors. It could also be a good day to have an event that promotes your organization and mission. You can use Giving Tuesday to promote it among supporters and the press.

I love Giving Tuesday because it allows even the smallest of nonprofits a chance to ride on the coat tails of a huge event. Simply using the hashtag #GivingTuesday on that day and the days prior may get you in front of people who don’t know you. I’ve also had success in planning events that go along with the day.

Give it a try!

Thanks for reading. Any questions? dan (a) altrui.org

Social media tips for smaller nonprofits

If you are reading this blog post you’re on social media. Based on my Altrui website data, you’ve most likely found me because of my presence on social media platforms. My favorites for Altrui and for being part of the nonprofit world are Twitter and LinkedIn.

I’m one who believe social media can be a relevant tool for nonprofits, especially in marketing, fundraising, and communications. Like everything, some nonprofits work and hustle on social media and you can tell. Others, well they have a ways to go.

I’ve recently been looking at social media from smaller nonprofits, and have some ideas on how they may grow their presence and possibly their mission impact through social media. If you don’t know this yet, there are as many opinions to how or if social media can be beneficial to nonprofits as there are nonprofits. This is simply my opinion based on a good amount of time working in social media for causes that are super close to my heart.

This post is specifically for the smaller nonprofit, or the nonprofit that has very little capacity to take on social media.

First, you have to start somewhere, but not everywhere. Pick one platform and give it a go. Before deciding which one to start with, speak with people you trust, staff, supporters, donors and friends at other nonprofits. See what they think. Side note: Your donors will LOVE that you asked them!

For the purpose of this post, you’ve chosen Twitter. You create your account, add the two photos (put some thought into this), and post your first tweet.

Many nonprofits then post again in a month, follow a dozen orgs/people, and then decide that Twitter is not working for them. Like any social media, one has to give it some hustle, time, and careful consideration. The posts need to be posts that people can learn from or feel engaged with, and have to be consistent. One or two posts here and there, without any thought, will not grow an audience.

The biggest lesson I learned that I can share with you all is that growing social media takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight, or even in weeks. It’s definitely a growth process. Before starting in social media one has to have a commitment to see it through. That means time and effort.

Post about what you know. Become a resource. If you serve people seeking asylum at the border, become a resource on that. You serve survivors of domestic violence, well you know what to do. Become a resource.

Share from others. On Twitter it’s called retweeting. Find articles that you learn from or feel could educate others and share them.

Connect with others. Keep doing that. It’s rare that I find social media accounts that are that good, that don’t have anyone that they follow. Everyone has something to learn.

Put a link in your profile to your website. Get people there.

Share your fundraising campaigns.

Don’t use twitter to share your Instagram photos. I’ve seen amazing nonprofits whose missions I love post only their Instagram photos, which comes up as a link. Imagine what that feed looks like.

I use social media to get in front of more people and to share nonprofit missions and Altrui work. Sharing good content helps. Sharing crap content doesn’t do anything for nonprofits or my business. Share content that can help people learn, grow and take action.

Thanks for reading! Questions or comments? dan @ altrui.org

Lessons learned from Altrui

I’m in my 21st month of Altrui Consulting and while I’m having the time of my life, I still get surprised by how many lessons I learn each day. Some of these come from my amazing clients, others from my super supportive peers, and still others by those of you who are kind enough to share your experiences on social media and teach people like me.

This past week I was reminded once again by how much I have to learn as a consultant, and thought it was a good time to share some lessons learned so far.

First, I’ve learned to slow down. To take it easy. Take it day by day. Focusing on what I have in front of me right this moment is super helpful.

Another big thing for me to learn has been around business housekeeping. I talk about this often and it’s super important. I have been in nonprofit fundraising for a long time, and I have a comfort zone with sharing my experiences and knowledge when it comes to fundraising and relationship building. At the same time I had never been a consultant or run my own business. Lots of learning curves! Keeping up with business work is crucial, and I have learned to take a few hours one day a week to solely focus on Quickbooks, invoices, vendor check-ins and marketing.

Next has to be communication. Clear, continuous communication. In my nonprofit career, I spent a lot of time with my team and peers. Lots of meetings and many discussions on whatever we were working on. This type of work is different. Sometimes there is only one conversation to plan the work and contract and then another to kick it off. Expectations, concerns, end-game wishes have to be clear to everyone involved. There has to be trust that you are listening, understanding, and fully focused on not only the work but them. This is something that is on the top of my mind with every client interaction.

Lists. I wasn’t a big list person before creating Altrui. I know. How did I survive? That has all changed now. I plan my weeks in advance and each day have my list of what client work I need to accomplish that day. Lists are incredibly helpful and I’m not sure why I wasn’t on the list band wagon before Altrui.

Build relationships. I learn more about this every day, even though it’s a huge part of what I offer to clients. Keep engaging. Keep listening. Pay attention all of the time.

Lastly, for now, I’ve learned to express gratitude even more. Gratitude is a big deal when you work for yourself and you run your own business. It’s important to share all of the gratitude that begins to fill you up. Let clients, vendors, peers and everyone else you learn from know how grateful you are for them.

Thank you for reading! Questions? Email me at dan@altrui.org

Volunteers and volunteering

Volunteers play such an important role in the nonprofit world, and as I write this post about volunteers and volunteering, I’m taken back to my college days. I studied Spanish and Latin American Literature at the University of Colorado Denver, which meant I had a lot of reading. As a volunteer at one of our local animal shelters, the Max Fund, I typically spent my volunteer hours cleaning cages and walking dogs. As college progressed and I had more reading, I found myself volunteering in a different way, sitting in the FIV cat room reading my assignments while loving on all of the awesome cats. The photo above is of a FIV cat room, but the one at Indy Humane. I couldn’t find one from Max Fund.

I loved volunteering at the Max Fund, and always felt appreciated. I felt that way because I was thanked often.

These days I volunteer for other organizations in southern California and in Tijuana, and I receive the same amount of joy.

I got super excited during one volunteer time in Tijuana when one of the employees doing training for us actually made an ask for donations!

But, wait, you were volunteering and they asked you to donate?

YES! It made me so happy and of course that evening I went online and made a donation. Since then, about a year and a half, I have made four donations.

There are always discussions among fundraising staff and leadership about volunteers and whether or not it’s OK, or even appropriate, to ask them to donate. It is indeed. And in case you might be concerned of an ask to volunteers being off putting, I have asked hundreds of volunteers to donate and not once has someone been offended.

If you work hard on your relationships with your volunteers, not only will your volunteer force increase, you will see your donor base increase as well.

Thanks for reading!

Light at the end of the tunnel

Since the first days of Altrui, we have offered a “dollar a minute” call to ensure any nonprofit professional, no matter their nonprofit size or budget, could use our services. Since then we have met met nonprofit professionals from all of the country and even abroad.

The best thing about this call is that it’s sixty minutes of what the client needs. This could be me mostly listening or 60 minutes of pure strategy. By the end of the call the client feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

What possibly could happen in an hour? Well, most of the time the person on the other end has intense feeling happening around work, budget, giving, staff, mission and anything else you can think of. They are overwhelmed and are sharing urgencies sometimes for the first time. They feel alone.

In every call there is a feeling of relief. Just have an honest conversation about revenue and expenses, about donor giving (or not!), about board issues. Many of these challenges seem to go away by simply talking through them. The power of challenges definitely lessens.

There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. If your mission was important and your impact was clear before this pandemic, then all of that is still true.

You’re not alone. Sometimes just having an honest conversation about where we’re at, what is urgent, what we’re afraid of, and where we go from here can make us stronger and more focused.

Thank you for reading!

People are donating

As I read of more nonprofits laying off fundraising staff, I thought now was a good time for a reminder.

People are donating. People who have a lot are donating and people who are struggling are donating.

People are trying to figure out how they can make a difference during these trying times. They want to help. Many feel powerless.

That’s where we in the nonprofit fundraising world come in. It’s up to us to let people know what we’re doing, the impact we’re having, and most importantly, how our mission matches how people want to make a difference.

We have to keep building relationships and honor those who give.

We have to ask.

Nothing new with any of this.

Thank you for reading.

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