Tag: consultant

Thanks for Giving Day!

Time flies, and here we are already in mid-November!

That means that Thanks for Giving Day is here! Thursday, November 19th, nonprofit board members and staff members will call donors to say one simple thing:

Thank you!

That’s it. It’s all about thanking the donor.

If you haven’t done a Thanks for Giving Day before, here is a quick list to help:

Ask board members to sign up to make calls/send emails.

Create a list of donors who have donated in the last year.

Create a quick script for board members.

Send each board member a list of donor names and contact information, along with the script.

And go!

Something that has helped me in the past is asking board members to send anything they learned about the donor during the call. Had they moved? Do they have a new email address?

Give it a try. Thanks for Giving Day is a great way to support you in building life-long relationships with your donors. It also a great way to get board members engaged with fundraising in a fun way.

Thank you for reading!

Action 3: Share stories

Part III of a four-part blog series on building relationships with donors and customers.

A few months into COVID, one of the small, local businesses we support posted on their Facebook page that thanks to all of their customers, they had been able to keep 80% of their staff on payroll. We gave them more business the next day.

Share important and impactful stories with your customers and donors. It will make differences beyond your wildest dreams.

For nonprofits, many of us already have an email list we use to communicate with donors. Whether it’s an email blast or newsletter, share current successes and struggles with your donors. We are well into COVID now, so how has that affected your programs and mission? Or has it? How have the recent elections around the country affected your work? Are you in a field or geographical area where winter makes it more difficult?

Donors want to hear about this. I have found that especially these days people are very much interested in taking action to support others. They want to know how their donation or volunteering has made a difference. You hold that key. Share the stories.

In the world of small business it may be difficult to do this. Pre-COVID many businesses we support didn’t have a Facebook page, website or email list. Figure out how you can best communicate with your customers and start sharing what is going on. Many smaller communities have a Facebook page where businesses can share items on a certain day (or any day). Take advantage of that. If you have the capacity to do so, start gathering emails of your customers and send a monthly note about how things are going, offers to support your customers, and any news that might remind them you’re there.

Stories add a lot to building relationship with your donors and customers. Keep them going and those relationships can only grow.

Thanks for reading!

Action 2: Express gratitude

Make sure everyone who supports you, in whatever way, knows how grateful you are for that support. This is our second action to take in building stronger relationships with donors or customers.

Gratitude can be expressed in many ways. An instant email after a donation or sale does not count. A quick check in upon leaving your restaurant or their volunteering at your nonprofit do count. Knowledge of your gratitude goes a long way.

In the world of nonprofit fundraising some of my best practices include a thank you call as quickly as possible after the donation has been received. This delights the donor, and instantly strengthens the relationship between donor and nonprofit.

Another way to express gratitude is to let the donor know how their donation was spent. Donors love to know their impact, and a quick note from someone at the nonprofit letting them know of their impact goes a long way. Remember that we are talking about building a lifelong relationship with the donor.

An example of gratitude expressed I love sharing was an experience at a restaurant when a manager swung by our table to thank us for supporting them. This is a place we have continued to order from since the start of the pandemic, and the manager thanked us for all of that and let us know what that meant to them.

You don’t need a budget line item to express gratitude. It doesn’t have to cost you financially. And it definitely pays off.

Thanks for reading.

Action 1: Strengthen your social media

Last week I wrote about celebrating one year of Altrui and shared four actions I am working with clients on that are turning out to be successful. Now I’m going to break each one down.

First is to strengthen your social media. The first thing to do is to write out all of your platforms on social media to include platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn along with others like email blasts and your website. Once you have that, take a long, honest look and rate them, most used on the top and least used on the bottom. This is important because I like thinking about where we invest time, and on the flip of that, if we might be better off investing time elsewhere.

Regardless of where this lands on your list, having a website that is always kept up to date is vital. There are books written about this and so many other consultants thrive in the world of what a fantastic website looks like, so I’ll just add a small bit here. As a fundraiser, it’s important to me to have a clear option to donate. And to be able to donate in a click or two, without any complications or silly questions. Some people just want to donate. Make it easy for them.

One other point about websites is in regards to a blog. If you have a blog on your website keep it up to date. There’s nothing like being excited about a nonprofit blog just to see the last post was written two years ago. Only have a blog if you have the capacity to keep it current.

Share your impact. Share your ups and downs. How can I help? What do you need? What are you doing that stokes the passion of why I support you? Keep these things in mind. And remember to respond to questions and comments.

Capacity is key. If you can excel on every platform, go for it. If you have time for just one or two, keep it there.

On Twitter I am @fundraiserdan. You have my website, and I try to post a new blog post every week. These are my top two social media platforms. I have a presence on others, and these are the two that are on the top of my capacity list.

Thanks for reading!

Building relationships

As I celebrate one year of Altrui Consulting, I have had many reminders about the work we do and why I believe it’s so important. Our biggest successes in the last year have been working with nonprofits to support them in building stronger, lifelong relationships with donors and stakeholders, and working with small businesses to do the same with customers and clients.

The common denominator with nonprofits and small businesses is that in many cases leadership/the leader are overwhelmed, feeling like they do not have the time, capacity or funds to grow or sustain their mission or business.

Even in the midst of a changing world and difficult times for many, there have been ways for nonprofits and small businesses to survive and thrive. I’m excited to have been part of that for many, and as one who is “always learning” am grateful to be working with so many passionate people that are making a difference in this world.

As I look back through the first year, here are some actions I have suggested organizations taking that are working for them:

Strengthen your social media. Make it so you can communicate quickly and effectively with donors, stakeholders, customers and/or clients. If you have five platforms but are honestly only working one, get rid of the rest and focus solely on that one. Communication with those who support you is critical.

Make sure everyone who supports you, in whatever way, knows how grateful you are for that support. An instant email after a donation or sale does not count. A quick check in upon leaving your restaurant or their volunteering at your nonprofit do count. Knowledge of your gratitude goes a long way.

A few months into COVID, one of the small, local businesses we support posted on their Facebook page that thanks to all of their customers, they had been able to keep 80% of their staff on payroll. We gave them more business the next day. Share important and impactful stories with your customers and donors. It will make differences beyond your wildest dreams.

Lastly, and equally important as the other three, take a breathe. Breathe. Relax. Trust those you hired. Confide in your closest confidants. If you are not fine when someone you trust asks you, don’t tell them you’re fine. We can’t do all of this by ourselves. And we don’t have to.

Thank you for reading.

Altrui Consulting turns 1!!!

I’m not sure what I thought my life or my business would look like after one year of working Altrui full time. September 30th is that one year mark for me. One year since I left a great nonprofit development position to create a consulting company that could perhaps make the world a better place by working with nonprofits to strengthen their relationship building and fundraising.

Just like that, one year has passed. It’s been quite the year. I have worked with some of the most amazing people, people who are as committed as I am to make the world a better place, to creating positive change for all living beings. Every conversation with a potential client has been an awakening for me into yet another world in which a committed person and team work passionately toward their mission for the biggest impact possible.

I am forever grateful. I’m grateful for all of the great things that have happened along with all of the learning lessons I have experienced. And my goodness there have been learning experiences, almost every day! I had no idea how to be a great consultant or how to run a small business. All I knew was that if I could match my passion for strengthening nonprofit fundraising and impact with others who had that same passion, then nothing could stop us.

Just like that I was sending out contracts. I was paying taxes. I was telling people about this far-fetched idea called Altrui, my vision and my hope of being better, doing better and taking my experience in the world of nonprofit fundraising to small and large nonprofits all over the country. I was making sure that I showed up fully ready to rock it for my business and my clients, always giving it my all.

I had and continue to have a huge amount of support from those who are in the arena of nonprofit fundraising, past and present peers and co-workers, friends and family and people I have met along my nonprofit journey who see our work as I do.

My consistent hashtag is #alwayslearning. Indeed I am. Every day is certainly an adventure and even someone as positive as me has wondered out loud if this is really for me and if I can be successful in this world of consulting. And then I brush that off, check in with someone on my personal board of directors, and get to work. I just keep hustling, regardless of what might be in my way (hello COVID).

Big thanks to all of you who have supported Altrui in any way.

Thanks for reading!

Volunteering and volunteers

I am writing this post from Tijuana, Mexico, where I am spending the week volunteering. This is the first time I have been back to Tijuana since March, when it became more difficult to border cross due to COVID.

My volunteer days are long here. Plus it’s hot, and most spaces I’m in I’m lucky to have a fan. And yet each morning I walk to work or am on my way home I am filled with this intense gratitude for being able to be here in this moment and serve others.

While down here I’ve had time to think about volunteers, and how we as nonprofits treat them. Or look at them. For example, as one who focuses on fundraising and relationship building, is it wrong to consider volunteers as potential donors?

No way!

Do it. Ask them. Ask us. I donate to every nonprofit where I volunteer. In many cases I ask my friends and family to donate as well. I honor those who volunteer and view their time volunteering as how they give, and my experience tells me that most volunteers want to give when offered the opportunity to support at another level. Many volunteers are never even asked to give.

It’s also important to keep in good communication with your volunteers. Share the impact of their work. Thank them. Make sure they know how grateful you are for their time and work. Kind of like how you treat, say, donors! Yes, that’s exactly right!

The importance of volunteers is talked about a lot in our circles. It’s important to walk the walk with volunteers and ensure they are treated like the rock stars they are.

Thanks for volunteering. I mean for reading!

Being of service

Altrui is now in our twelfth month! Time flies when having fun, and aside from being one of the biggest learning experiences of my life, creating and growing Altrui has been a lot of fun. Part of what has been fun for me is the opportunity to be of service to a variety of nonprofits making the world a better place.

Nonprofits exist to serve others. As one whose business depends on working with nonprofits, and as one who fundamentally believes in serving others, being of service is very important to the mission of Altrui.

Being of service can take many forms. It can be an act that takes a moment or continual actions. Here’s a quick list of ideas:

Support a colleague in need.

Offer time to someone in need.

Go to one of your favorite restaurants that is struggling.

Post kind notes on social media.

Walk a dog at your local animal shelter.

Check in with a friend.

Donate to a nonprofit making change in the world.

Mail a card to someone.

The list can go on and on, and I look forward to hearing about the actions all of you take to be of service.

Thank you for reading.

Donating and tax savings for 2020

In my time of working with people who donate to make the world a better place, I have never met someone who donates simply to save money on taxes. And, I have worked with many donors who are able to be more philanthropic because their tax bill is less due to their giving.

For those new to my blog, remember that I am not a financial consultant, I’m a nonprofit fundraising consultant. Be sure to speak with your family’s financial or wealth manager! A simple email asking how the CARES Act might positively affect your giving this year would be a good start.

Regardless of how much you will donate this year, or if you itemize or not, here are are few items that could support your tax savings and perhaps allow you to donate more (and be more impactful with your giving) based on the CARES Act that was signed into law this past spring.

As most people no longer itemize, I’ll start there. You can now deduct up to $300.00 in cash donations, meaning if you donate $300.00 this year you can take an “above the line” deduction for that same amount. This is an increase from $0.00.

For those who do itemize, there are reasons to donate more if you’re in the position to do so. First, let’s look at your AGI, your adjusted gross income. Before CARES Act you could deduct up to 60% for cash contributions of your AGI and now that number is 100%. If you are considering a bigger donation this year, this change could benefit you.

If you’re between the ages of 59 1/2 and 70 1/2 this increase in deduction from 60% of your AGI to 100% could also benefit you because due to the increase a donation from someone who typically would not have to make a qualified charitable distribution because they’re not yet 70 1/2 could get the same tax relief as if they were. You make a charitable donation from your IRA and the tax owed could be offset due to the increase of deduction for your AGI.

It’s a lot to consider, and remember I am not a wealth manager. Speak with your person.

Regardless of how much you want to donate this year, the CARES Act means you can get some tax relief for the donation. If you’re in a position to give, speak with your financial person or accountant.

Thank you for reading. Remember that I work with many nonprofits so if you need an idea for a nonprofit that is changing the world to donate to let me know! My email is dan@altrui.org

Relationships

For many in nonprofits and in business, the focus is on the money. Raising money and making money. I hear it all of the time. In my world of nonprofit fundraising, too much focus is put on how much someone can raise or how much a donor is going to give.

I’m not surprised anymore when someone in the nonprofit world, even a client, looks at me like I have lost my mind when I tell them that fundraising is not about money. It’s not.

Fundraising is not about money.

It’s about relationships.

Imagine putting more focus into the relationships you and your organization have with your donors and less focus on their actual giving. How is your donor? Why do they give to you? What program or part of your mission speaks to their heart the most? How did they feel getting a call on Thanks for Giving Day?

Build the relationship between you and your donor. Build the relationship between your organization and your donor. Put time and energy into the relationship. This of course is applicable with clients and customers if you are a business. Build and nurture the relationship.

A few actions I have found to be helpful in building a relationship with a donor:

Thank them quickly when they give. To be more specific, thank them within 24 hours. The generic email thank you does not count. Call them. Or better yet ask your executive director or a member of your board to call and thank them.

Give your donor a ring out of the blue. No reason. Just to say hello. Perhaps an update on their favorite program. How are they?

A personal note. Use a card you’ve created specifically for donors, like the one pictured above.

Ask your donor their opinion on something you are working on.

There are a dozen more ways to build that relationship. It’s that simple.

Give this a try. It will pay off for you, your organization, your mission, and the impact your organization has on our world.

Thank you for reading! Please share this post if you found it helpful!

Keep hustling

This is something I tell myself every day. As a small business owner and a nonprofit fundraising consultant, every day brings me new opportunities to serve others, support clients, build community and find new clients to work with.

And none of that happens if I don’t keep hustling.

Just like everyone else, my world changed back in March. All of my opportunities to meet with people in person, talk about Altrui, shake someone’s hand and go to public events where I could share my passion for fundraising were all of a sudden gone.

I had to re-calibrate. I had to re-think parts of my business plan.

That took about a day.

First, I had to make sure I showed up every day. To me that meant continuing with my video tips of the week, writing blog posts, communicating with clients, and reaching out to potential clients.

It meant figuring out how to stay involved with groups I used to physically engage with. Before I knew it I was hopping on Zoom calls.

It meant ramping up my social media presence and content.

It meant being at my desk showered and shaved, ready to rock it. OK, the shaved part wasn’t every day!

I kept engaging with other nonprofit fundraising consultants and we learned from each other. It was great, and still is, to be in community with all of these rock stars. This was a huge help.

I practiced self care. I reached out for help when I needed it and let those in my inner professional circle know when I was struggling or challenged.

I still struggle with keeping my work space neat!

Today all of these are second nature. People continue to hear about Altrui and I continue to be able to share what we at Altrui can do for them, their nonprofit, and their mission.

Thanks for reading!

Share your struggles

“You want us to share that with donors?!” my stunned client said after I suggested we add what they had just told me to the current fundraising appeal we were working on. It was about a struggle they were having, not unlike almost every other nonprofit.

Simply said, I want you to share your struggles. This came to mind when another person I work with said to me in an email “the struggle continues”. I was curious so asked. They didn’t mean in the general, worldwide sense of struggle. They meant the struggle for the nonprofit. They work in programs and are inundated with more tasks, more expectations and more requests for services. They have to say “no” a lot.

This is where we come in as nonprofit fundraisers, as story tellers. We tell their story. It connects with the overall story, and it’s important for donors to know about the struggles. After all, donors want to help. They want to be part of ensuring the mission and impact continue.

This is true for businesses as well. Keep your customers in the loop on how business is going, how it might be changing, and ask them for their support. An example is my local gym. Gyms have just been closed (again) and our gym moved all of their equipment outside so people can still work out and they can remain open. They had this news all over social media.

Your donors want to know your struggles. It does not come across as desperate to share them.

Thank you for reading! My email address is dan@altrui.org


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