Tag: consultant

Shared nonprofit concerns

I am back home after my second Altrui road trip this year. This one was to Denver, where I spent most of my nonprofit fundraising time and where I am fortunate to call many nonprofit leaders friend. I ended the trip in Las Vegas where I am slowly building new relationships.

After dozens of conversations within the past couple of weeks with those directly involved in nonprofit fundraising, I can tell you that there are many shared concerns.

First on the list of concerns is fundraising. Most I spoke with had already been in solid communication with donors and funders and were relying on years of “donor love” practices that meant they were in solid relationship with their donors. Nonetheless they were still concerned about fundraising efforts and future funding.

Each person I met with had canceled a fundraising event. Half had created a new virtual event and all had created a fundraising campaign to make up some of the lost revenue of canceled events. I had several conversations on the success of virtual events and the success of asking corporate supporters to continue sponsorship with or without an in-person event. More and more are getting comfortable with the thought of creating successful virtual events.

Some of those I met with had furloughed or laid off staff, or were about to starting in July. My hope is with donor-centered approaches to fundraising along with virtual events that this does not become the norm for nonprofits.

Board support was half positive and half negative, so if you’re struggling with some on your board, which by the way may not be new, you are definitely not alone. Some board members have transitioned well to this tougher world and others have not. Consistent communication and one and ones can help, along with being as clear as ever in explaining what you need from each board member and the impact of their support.

If you have felt overwhelmed you are not alone. If you have felt sad you are not alone. If you have felt hopeless, again, not alone. You are also not alone if you have felt excitement with the successes you are having and large doses of hope as donor after donor continues to show up in support. Every person I met with has embraced their own personal creativity and that of their teams in focusing on solutions that enable them to continue their life-changing programs.

Interested in my thoughts around actions one can take based on all of my conversations? Sure! Here you go!

Connect with other nonprofit leaders and fundraisers.

Don’t give up on special events. Look into a virtual one.

Keep communicating with donors and funders. How are they?

Keep your website current. This includes current contact information.

Share your impact.

Lastly, whether this is our new normal or not, keep pivoting to meet the needs of your organization and your staff. Keep your programs strong and impactful. More than ever, our worlds needs strong nonprofits making the world a better place.

If you would like to talk about how Altrui might be able to support your fundraising and relationship-building efforts, please send an email to dan@altrui.org

Thank you for reading!

Create a development plan

I’m currently working on a development plan for a client and realized this would make a great blog post topic! There are several reasons why I think a development plan is important, the two biggest that a development plan gives you, your staff, supporters, and board good direction, and I continue to see “create a development plan” in so many job ads for fundraisers.

A development plan can include a communications plan and a marketing plan, it all depends on the size of your team, the size of your nonprofit, and your capacity. For this post, let’s stick with just development.

My development plans include a calendar of items, how to track work along with what success looks like, and what parts others can play in the overall development strategy (and the success of the plan). The calendar makes it easier to show how your plan breaks down in regards to all types of fundraising, and it allows you to incorporate events and special days into your plan. For example, if you’re a domestic violence group, you may add October in as part of your plan as it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Do you want to do a special appeal? Is that a good time to send an impact report to donors?

I include tracking in my plan as well. For example, connecting with 10 donors a week. Or getting to a certain level of giving based on the revenue budget by a specific date. It’s also good to include what success with your plan looks like. It can be as simple as connecting to the revenue budget, decreasing lapsed donors and increasing amount of gift from a specific amount of donors. Tracking donor contacts and meetings helps in determining how that type of work supports the success of the plan.

A development plan does not have to be pages and pages of information. I like to use a power point template for it as that makes it easy to follow and keeps me from adding in too much information per slide.

If you don’t have a development plan, I highly recommend creating one. It can benefit your, your agency, your mission and your impact in ways you might not even expect!

Thanks for reading!

Starting your own business

I’m in month eight of running Altrui Consulting full time, and even though that seems like a long time, it really isn’t. I continue to learn something each day about not only how to run a consultancy, but learning about something I hadn’t even considered the day prior!

Like most things in life there are pros and cons to starting your own business. I seem to have mostly pros so far. I also have a spouse that is bringing in a paycheck and I have other sources of income in other work. That’s important to consider. It’s great to go off and start creating the job and business of your dreams. Just remember that you need some type of revenue at all times.

I chose to go the Sole Proprietorship route. It’s just me and it’s always going to be just me. When I send some work out to a colleague, it’s due to the fact that colleague can do the job better, and they just take on the client. This has helped me build trust with my clients, saying when I don’t know or when there is someone I know who could do the work better than I could. Nothing like building a deeper trust with your client.

I set up a business account at my local credit union and got the smallest QuickBooks account. I learned quickly that as much time as I spend trying to grow my business and secure new clients, I also had to spend time with business housekeeping. For example, if I’m not sending invoices, I’m less likely to get paid!

I spend time in my social media accounts every day. I was fortunate to have had Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts when I began. After learning more I added a business Facebook account an a business Instagram account. Both are slowly growing and get me in front of different people.

A note about social media. I don’t need my Instagram account to have several thousand followers, unless I know the majority of them. I am carefully and strategically growing my Instagram account because I want it to be relevant and I want to be in relationship with those I am connected with. That takes time. I’m patient with the growth.

My last experience that I’d like to share is how important it is to have an accountant. One who will talk through next steps with you and can be a great resource on all things taxes. Yes, taxes!

More to come. Thanks for reading!

Altrui Consulting is here for you!

We’re open and ready to serve. Altrui is here for you!

The nonprofit world, as the rest of the world, is changing every day. As the need for nonprofit services rises, many struggle with making ends meet, fundraising, and keeping in touch with their stakeholders and donors. Increased workload and decreased resources.

Some nonprofits have decided not to fundraise during this time. Indeed, many have furloughed or laid off their fundraising teams. Meanwhile, we at Altrui have been encouraging the opposite. Support your fundraising team as much as possible. Support their efforts in engaging with your donors and keeping your donors up to date with how you are continuing your amazing work during these times.

Don’t stop fundraising.

And if you need help with any part of your fundraising or marketing, we’re here for you. We 100% believe in the power of nonprofits, and know that nonprofits will be OK through this especially if they stay in communication with their donors and let them know how they can help. Right now with current clients we are working on email appeals, social media campaigns, a planned giving campaign, a spring appeal an online fundraising event.

We know this will pass. We’re with you now and will be with you then. Thank you for continuing to do all you can to make the world a better place. Your impact is life changing.

Thank you for reading!

With deep gratitude

This post is all about gratitude. A huge thank you to so many who have supported me and the growth of Altrui. March is my sixth month in business and a good time to say thank you.

Thank you for being by my side. For continually reminding me that I got this, and that I can rock this.

Thank you to all of my peers in consulting who have taking time out of your busy schedules to answer my questions and give me direction.

Thank you to all of those accountants on social media who have gently educated me on what I need to be doing in regards to my accounting. Because of you I have an accountant and a QuickBooks account!

Thank you to all of my fellow nonprofit fundraising professionals who have so much experience in the consulting side of this and have constantly reached out to offer support.

Huge thanks to all of you who have recommended me and Altrui! Because of you I am working with more clients that I expected I would be with such a short time in the business.

Thank you to all of my clients! You have entrusted your fundraising to me and I will never forget that. I am forever grateful.

And thank you to everyone who has connected with my on social media. Altrui is new on Instagram and Facebook, and having support on these platforms as I grow is super helpful.

Sending big love and gratitude.

Thanks for reading!

Overwhelmed?

If you are in the arena of nonprofit fundraising, chances are you may be a little overwhelmed. If you’re not, I am super happy for you and my gift to you is that you can skip this blog post or save it for a time that you are.

My experience with clients and peers in nonprofit fundraising is that come 5pm or 6pm, it really is time to go home yet there seems so much more to do. Many stay longer, which negatively affects their family and their life, and others go ahead and head home but feel guilty for leaving and get down on themselves for not getting enough done.

We all experience feeling overwhelmed at times and I’d like to offer actions one can take to chip away when feeling like this. Some of these ideas are repeated from past blog posts. Here’s my list:

Create a list of must-dos for the morning once you arrive. I mean it, only must-dos.

Check and respond to email upon starting your day and then don’t check email again until lunch time.

Use an auto-response to communicate with those emailing you.

For future projects or work you are doing for others, be super clear in expectations, time line and boundaries in regards to what is possible for you to accomplish and what is not. If we can all have super honest conversations about what we are working on, the end result and how everyone feels when it is done is a much more positive space.

Ask for help. It’s OK. If you lead fundraising efforts and you simply do not have staff to help, go to your board. Then volunteers. My experience tells me that there is always someone who can help, even by taking the simplest thing off of your plate.

Get comfortable with saying “no”. Not no, I’m not going to do this. More like, no, this will take days not hours so I cannot get it back to you by this afternoon. Realistic work load scheduling helps a lot.

Go for a walk. I know, that makes no sense when you are swamped and feeling overwhelmed. It doesn’t make sense, until you are actually walking and begin to feel a bit better.

Don’t multi-task. That may look good on job descriptions (it doesn’t to me) and it will decrease your being overwhelmed if you focus on something and finish it, then the next something.

If even just one of these helps, I am super happy. Thank you for reading!

Altrui is born – starting a new business

Altrui Consulting is born!

I’m very excited. Altrui began as a way to invite people who wanted to “pick my brain” to pay for my time and experience. As I decided to leave my career in nonprofit fundraising I became excited about being able to support all types of causes and organizations making the world a better place. So in October of last year I introduced Altrui to the world.

Every day I learn something more about owning a small business. So this post is about that. I’ll get back to fundraising and relationship building in the next post I promise!

You start with an EIN. That’s your social security number for your business. In a google search make sure you end up on the IRS page so you don’t pay a company a ridiculous fee to create something that is free. Yes free. And it takes less than five minutes.

In California I had to publish my new business in a newspaper for four weeks. That process was pretty easy. There are other things you will need to do that might be specific to your field. In mine, nonprofit consulting, I had to also pay a fee to the state of California. And apparently that’s the case in 38 states!

You’ll want a separate business bank account. For easier tracking of expenses, get a business debit card too. Then get some type of online system for your taxes. This was all new to me, and I learned as I went. Some days I’d be at my desk and sit in awe as I realized another thing I had to or should do. As a sole proprietor, I have to make sure taxes, social security and medicare are all paid. Having always been an employee, I had never even considered that.

Connect with other people in your field. Ask questions. Join a local chamber of commerce. Ask more questions. Meet for coffee with other small business owners.

As important as all of the legal items you need to consider are, what I have learned in the first few months of Altrui is that having had a website and social media presence when I started allowed me a chance to get in front of so many people right away. From a business perspective having a website potential clients or customers can go to makes them a little more comfortable in thinking about doing business with you. When I introduced Altrui back in October, I had Altrui on Twitter and LinkedIn. As I continued learning and growing I decided to create Altrui space on Facebook and Instagram as well. It takes time to grow these and to create good content, and that time has been worth my while.

While working on social media I had business cards made and a name tag made with my Altrui logo. I worked with a company I had met at my local chamber of commerce and soon realized that having someone who could help me with promotional items was important. Next up is a new business card and table-top banners.

If you’re new to all of this, I think the best advice is to really figure out the tax and legal part (find a great accountant), while remembering why you are doing this and tapping into your passion for what you’re doing. Don’t let anything get in your way. Don’t be afraid of asking for help or saying you don’t know.

For those of you just starting like me, I wish you the very best. Let me know how you’re doing!

Thank you for reading!

A simple thank you

I spend a lot of time on social media and with clients talking about thanking donors. Not a nonprofit? This blog post still might bring you value as I’m sure you have customers, guests or someone to thank.

Last week while working on blog posts I began to think on whether or not this whole thanking donors business is really that important.

That didn’t last long. I immediately remembered receiving a thank you letter in January for a donation we had made in early December. We have been donating to this organization for seven years. A month is a long time to take to send a thank you letter, and that wasn’t the only issue I had. For whatever reason I was negatively affected by what was missing from the letter: a signature from the CEO. Sure, their name was there at the end of the letter, it was stamped, as in part of the printed letter. The signature was not signed by the CEO.

Not a big deal? For some, perhaps. For me it definitely is a big deal. I don’t even know if the CEO knows that we donated. And if all I am getting is a printed letter that no one has to write on, what the heck took so long? In my nonprofit career I spent dozens of hours personally signing thank you letters, and in most cases adding a personal note. I always looked at it as part of my job, like this is how we do things in thanking donors and letting them know how personally grateful we are for their support.

I also believe that we only have so many opportunities to build relationships with our donors and how we thank them can make a difference in that relationship.

I’d love to hear what you think. I’d also love to hear stories about being thanked, or not thanked!

Thank you for reading!

Welcome to Altrui consulting!

For several years, while leading fundraising efforts at various nonprofits, I thought of what it would look like to create my own consultancy with the purpose of supporting nonprofit fundraising professionals and helping fundraising teams and efforts become stronger. Welcome to Altrui!

I have taken my time in creating Altrui. Some of those who have been by my side since the beginning think I have been in business for years! I put a lot of thought into what the business would look like and offer. I found a web designer. I bought a website. Well the name at least, as I don’t know all of the legalities of how one owns a website. I spoke with friends, peers, donors, and leaders of super-small nonprofits changing the world. I decided there was room for me.

I wanted an agency that could help people changing the world get unstuck. To remind them that their mission matters and that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. That we have tough moments but don’t have to have tough days. An agency that could talk someone through an idea, a fear, a campaign, an urgency or take on a project that has stalled because of time. I wanted to take all I have learned and experienced in nonprofit fundraising and put it to a different use.

So I give you Altrui. My little idea that I am beyond excited about. I’m new to the world consulting and look forward to being as much support as I can to those who need a breath or are at their wits end. Or those who want to try something new and want a little guidance. I’ve worked with several clients so far and am ecstatic how everything is going!

As I state on my website, I’m a fundraising geek. A fundraising nerd. Nonprofit fundraisers change the world. Welcome to Altrui! I’d be super grateful for your support, guidance, love and of course introductions!

Thank you!


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