Tag: consultant

An unforgettable thank you

Thinking about my experiences of how my organization has thanked donors, or how organizations I support have thanked me, there is an unforgettable experience that is at the top of the list.

I had made an ask of a donor who had not donated in three years. They hadn’t responded to anything I had sent. Add to this that they had donated before my time with the organization and didn’t know me.

One day I was making a call and the donor accidentally picked up the phone. They were in a rush to get out of the house with the kids, and could not speak. I asked if I could email them what I was going to speak about, and they said yes!

I emailed the ask. They had a couple of questions which I responded to quickly and soon they decided to give again. They doubled the size of their already large first gift. What a wonderful experience.

I asked my board chair to call them to thank them. This was a common occurence for me and them, so my board chair knew what to do and made the call.

The donor answered!

Immediately after the call, the donor called ME!

They said they had given hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past many years, to several organizations, and had never received a thank you call from a board chair. This of course made my heart swell, mainly because they were taking the time to thank me, and share how they felt about an action that was common place for our fundraising team.

I left that organization to create Altrui, and am ecstatic that that donor continues to generously give.

A simple thank you can catapult your relationships with your donor.

Thanks for reading!

Your fundraising plan – tips on donor retention

The basic idea around donor retention, and why I like it included in any fundraising plan, is that it is easier (and cheaper) to keep a current donor rather than try to find a new donor.

Of course we’re not talking about just one donor. We want to think about donor retention in a way of treating our donors that we have in a way that they will donate again. And again.

This post could go on and on about donor retention, and I’ll leave you with just a few ideas about what has worked for me.

First, I highly recommend a database for your donor data. There are many options, and I’m sure there is one to fit your capacity and budget. Having a database with your donor information allows you to track donations, notes, contacts, and anything involved with you and your organization building a relationship with your donors.

Next, thank your donors. When I first started in nonprofit fundraising, a phrase I heard often was “thank before you bank”. Super simple idea. These days, many nonprofits count their online auto-thank you letter as a thank you. I don’t. That’s an acknowledgement of a donation. Your donor knows you received their donation. You still want to take a step to thank them, either by letter, email, or phone call.

Find out why your donor gives. There are several types of donors, and there are also people who simply just make a donation, with no intent to really give again. An example of this is a neighbor you’ve asked to sponsor you ina 5K run for a cause. They are giving because of you, not the cause. If they give again, now you have a donor and perhaps it’s more than just you!

You also have the donor who just loves your mission. They think that what your nonprofit is doing is making the world a better place, or another way of putting it is that you’re creating a world that they envision. These are donors who are with you, and easy ones to build life-long relationships with, if you take the time to do that.

Another idea that works for donor retention is to be transparent with your donors. That means sharing the good, the not so good, and the difficult. Donors don’t always need to know how awesome you’re doing or that all you have are successes. They definitely want to know your challenges as well, along with what gets in the way of your organization being able to have the most impact. Share it all with them. Whether it’s in a newsletter, a personal email, or over lunch, keep your donors in the loop.

My last idea for now is to share your impact. As a donor, I want to know that my giving makes a difference. Your donors are the same. Let them know what you’re doing with the funds you raise and what impact that has. Even if you try something and fall short, share it. Your impact changes things, things your donors want to see changed.

There you go! Try these! I’d love to hear about how you implement them.

Thank you for reading!

Overwhelmed and exhausted

I recently spent time working with a client who described themselves as being overwhelmed and exhausted. There are other things they said, which aren’t really appropriate for a professional blog post!

I’m not surprised. Many nonprofit fundraising professionals reach out to me because they are feeling the exact same way, and like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

I know it’s easy for me to say this (keep in mind that I’ve been there), and I can tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it shouldn’t be this way.

Here are some ways to support your nonprofit’s fundraiser(s) and if you are the main fundraiser, some tips for you:

Don’t throw them off of the bus. If you as an organization’s leader have challenges with your head development person, speak with them about it. Don’t share about the challenges with others while not informing the person.

Don’t create unrealistic revenue budgets then expect your head fundraiser to be accountable for it.

If you’re on a nonprofit board, send a quick email asking what you can do to support their efforts. Ideas are great, if you want to take on the work to implement the idea.

For both leadership and fundraising professionals, create weekly or bi-weekly meetings to connect with your team. Just having the time set aside creates a more open, communicative environment, even if you only meet for ten minutes.

It’s OK to ask for help. Build relationships with your team, board, volunteers, and others and when the need arises, ask them for help.

Practice self care. You know what to do when it comes to self care. Make time for it.

I never really liked lists, but in the last few years I have begun using them. They have made a difference for me.

Hire right. Honor your expectations when hiring.

You have quite a list now. I hope it’s helpful. Please try some of these.

Thank you for reading!

Keep thanking

The photo is of a thank you card for donors.

It’s already mid-December. You’re watching donations come in supporting your appeals, attending holiday gatherings, and trying to get in front of as many donors as possible for that ever-valued year-end donation.

With everything that is going on, keep thanking your donors. Keep the calls up, keep the impact stories going, and keep making sure that your donors know what it means for them to donate.

That their donation changes the world. For someone. Or something.

As my family makes donations this month I’m unfortunately surprised by how many organizations, especially the ones we have donated to for many years, don’t take the time to just say thank you.

I get it. They are busy. There’s a lot going on. And at the same time the proof is in the pudding: when we thank donors right away, let them know how we spent their donation, and then how that donation impacted our mission, we have a huge chance that the donor will donate again.

And our life-long relationship begins (or continues!).

Some of my clients have a couple of people on staff who make calls, others engage their volunteers (Including board) to help with the expressions of gratitude. You don’t need to do this alone. Ask for help if needed.

The time you spend doing this is definitely worth it, and will make a difference.

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!

Don’t forget to ask

There’s a lot going on. Don’t forget to ask your donors to donate.

You thanked quickly. You share your impact often, along with personal notes to donors sharing how their donation impacted your work. You continually work with board and staff in building the relationship you have with your donors.

Is it time to ask them to donate again?

I bring this up because this has come up a couple of times with me in the past month. I see an organization going through an intense time in serving those they serve, hoping they will reach out to me as a donor for help.

Your donors are very interested in you and your mission. They see the world as you see it and embrace the change you are making. They have your back.

So when times are tough, or tougher, bring them in. Let them know what’s going on and how they can help. I don’t mean always going to them with “urgent” requests. I mean during those times where your team has encountered even more difficult circumstances and those you serve are in even darker circumstances, bring your donors in. They want to help. And because you are in relationship with them, they will.

Thank you for reading! I really appreciate it.

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 believes 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

Your donors still need you

I’ve written posts that engage people who donate to nonprofits, reminding them that their favorite nonprofits still need them. While writing these and seeing the conversations that rise from them, I realized that our donors need us just as much.

When my husband and I donate to organizations, we’re doing so because their mission is something we care about, typically something we care about deeply. It’s important work to us, work that in some way is making the world a better place. Their work strikes at what causes are important to us.

I think this is important to write about and discuss because I also have heard from nonprofits who sometimes believe that with everything going on in the world, their mission and work may not be as important to their donors.

They are.

And your donors will do everything in their power to be able to continue to support your work and ensure your impact. This is especially true (perhaps always?) when you are in good relationship with your donors.

Keep this in mind. Whether or not your own world is getting back to normal or not, your donors are there. Keep them posted, keep reminding them why they donate to you, and keep asking them to help you make the world a better place.

Thank you for reading.

Notes from our Nonprofit Jobs Summit

Thank you to everyone who joined us!

Here is a list of notes and links from our summit last week on Clubhouse. There were many in the room new to Clubhouse, and that was wonderful. If you’re not on Clubhouse yet and would like an invite, connect with Alex or I and we’ll send you one upon availability.

First, an audio link: https://anchor.fm/fundraising/episodes/Clubhouse-Episode–Nonprofit-Jobs-Summit-with-Dan-Hanley-and-Alex-Simon-e12k1bt

Connect with our presenters:

Heather Campbell https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-campbell-0880765a/

Erika Pinheiro is on Twitter at @eeerox. Vu Lee is also on Twitter at @nonprofitaf.

Hash tags mentioned: #fundraisingtwitter #ShowTheSalary #CrappyFundingPractices

If you are in the Los Angeles area and would like to subscribe to Dan’s List (not me!), a daily listing of nonprofit jobs, email Dan at dan@dans-list.org.

One of my favorite nonprofit job boards that I mentioned is the Colorado Nonprofit Association board: https://coloradononprofits.org/careers/nonprofit-jobs

Other job boards starting with Mac’s List which was brought up in the room:

Mac’s List (northwest US ): https://jobs.macslist.org/

Higher Ed Jobs: https://www.higheredjobs.com/

Inside Higher Ed Careers: https://careers.insidehighered.com/searchjobs/

Aspen Leadership Group: https://opportunities.aspenleadershipgroup.com/

Lindauer Group: https://www.lindauerglobal.com/

Annual Giving Network: https://agnresources.com/jobs/

On Twitter you can find Alex at @dalexsimon and myself at @fundraiserdan. We’re also both on LinkedIn!

Alex: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dalexsimon/

Dan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danhanleyaltrui/

Open positions brought up in the room:

Al Otro Lado – Staff Attorney and Development Manager – https://alotrolado.org/employment-opportunities

Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice – Family Law Attorney – https://www.laclj.org/employment/

OkaySo – Techinical Lead – https://okayso.homerun.co/technical-lead/en

That’s it from our notes! Thank you again for joining us!

Dealing with fear

Every week I begin conversations with clients with a question about urgencies. Regardless of whether my client is a head of fundraising, a nonprofit CEO, a small business owner or a family wanting to solidify their philanthropy, I find that talking about their biggest urgency is a great way to begin the thought process on how I can best serve them.

Most of the conversations around this question center around…..

Fear.

Fear of not enough funds, not enough time, not enough capacity, not enough skills. The list can go on and on.

I like this reference for fear: face everything and rise.

And this is what we end up talking about: rising through our fears. What can be done about this fear? Is it as simple as just letting it go? Or are there specific actions we can take to get rid of the fear. Typically both of these come into play.

There are definitely actions that can be taken when becoming consumed with fear. In my personal journey, I find that if I create a list of actions (even if they have nothing to do with my fear) and get started on them one by one, that my fear usually subsides. This is mainly when the fear is around work and things I am accountable for, and simply taking actions help a lot.

Another action that always helps is talking about the fear with a peer or colleague. Always helpful. For both parties. Talking about it and taking action seem to free us of the power of fear, and allows us to continue our work in making the world a better place.

Thank you for reading. I’d be thrilled to discuss fears with you, especially ones related to nonprofit fundraising and consulting. You can email me at dan@altrui.org

Small donations add up

Most of the work I do is with small, grassroots nonprofits. They all have some donors that give at the higher level, but where they really rock it is with continually receiving a large amount of smaller donations. These smaller donations add up, and allow the organizations to have even greater impact.

I know, a lot of what you hear about is major donors this and major donors that. I’m sure most of what you hear is true, at least for the nonprofit saying it. This post isn’t about major donors and isn’t saying anything negative about them. The point here is to open anyone’s mind around the value of all of your donors who are giving smaller amounts.

Most smaller donations come from e-appeals. They also come from people who have some level of interest in your mission. If you have the capacity to grow your smaller-donor base (and the desire!), the e-appeal is a great place to start. The organizations that have built their base of smaller donations begin here. Then they ensure quick thanking coupled with shared impact.

Once these have been done the next move can be to invite these same donors to become monthly donors. Share the impact of their moving to monthly giving. Keep in mind that growing your list of monthly donors takes time, both time to grow and time to work those relationships. Capacity is key to starting this.

Keep in mind that some of your appeals targeting smaller donations will be for the one-time donation and others will be to create donors from those who give. Regardless of where a specific donor lands, their donation can be the start of an ongoing relationship.

Relationship? With someone who donated $10.00?

Definitely. At first look remember that you know nothing of this donor, have no clue why they gave, and that it’s up to what the next step is. My idea is to start building the relationship as soon as you receive their first donation.

What can you do this week to connect with your donors giving at smaller amounts?

Thank you for reading!


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