Tag: fundraiser

The great resignation

I read about this every day. Whether this is affecting you and your organization or not, it gives us a chance to talk about fundraising staffing and making sure your organization can be seamless in fundraising and relationship building during team transition. Any steps taken now to ensure a great process will certainly pay off.

I’ve seen many development teams go through transition and have some thoughts, that if acted upon, could make the whole process a lot smoother for you, your supporters, your team, and your mission.

Keep in mind that this post is not about how to keep an employee. This is about when that ship has sailed.

There’s a lot written about hiring right. We of course want to do that, and I’ve seen many organizations do it. And then the brand new person is not what had been imagined, or there is just not a fit. This means a few months (or less) after the hire, everyone is back to the drawing board after having spent time and money on a placement that did not work.

I’ve been there. I highly recommended a candidate. I did everything right, so I thought. There can always be a situation where one does everything right and the outcome is still negative, however what I have learned from my own personal experience is that there were things I could have done better, and different.

If I want a major gifts officer, I need to spend a lot of time talking about that in the interviews. Talking about their personal experiences, how they feel about this kind of work, and setbacks and successes they have had. I talk about expectations, not only mine but theirs. If during the conversation something tweaks me, I need to pay attention to that and talk about it.

Experience also tells me to keep job descriptions up to date. Many nonprofits are still using job descriptions from way back when, with very little in common with what the position actually looks like today. While we’re on job descriptions, three pages of what they need to do is too much. Shorten it.

Benefits matter. For people like me, a fair salary is important, and time off, real vacation time, is equally important. Why on earth would I apply for a job that offers one week of paid vacation after one year of work. No thank you. Four weeks of paid time off, with accrual beginning on day one, is a good place to start. Time off is important for many reasons and acknowledging that at the start sends a great message.

While in the process of hiring, keep in mind that the fundraising and relationship building cannot cease. Ensure donors are being thanked, communications with everyone around fundraising are continuing, and any appeals that were being planned are happening. It’s not uncommon that all of this doesn’t happen while a new person is sought, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Take your time. I know, you need someone now. Rushing this process doesn’t help.

Follow through with all candidates. I know, this can be time consuming. Even if right now you’re saying out loud “you have no idea!”, try it. No one else is doing it and you never know if a future position may be the perfect fit for someone who applied for this one.

Lastly (for now, this may become a series of posts!), be working in a fundraising plan. I see many job requirements that list creating a fundraising plan. One needs to be in place already. Relying on a brand new person to do this doesn’t make sense.

More to come. 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!

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!

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!

Thanks for Giving Day is November 18th

Time flies, and here we are already in the end of October!

That means that Thanks for Giving Day is coming up! Thursday, November 18th, 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!

Thank you for two years of Altrui!

Today I am celebrating two years of Altrui Consulting and am filled with gratitude!

Two years ago I left the job I thought I would retire from, created a website that included a few thoughts on how I might be able to help nonprofits with relationship building and fundraising, and Altrui was born.

Although I had been in the nonprofit fundraising world for many years, the worlds of consulting and running my own business were all new to me. There is a long list of lessons over the past two years, and every day I learn something.

It’s been a magical road. I have loved every minute of it. While Altrui I have grown, we’ve been honored to work with nonprofits that are making the world a better, safer place. Their impact inspires me every day, and I am lucky to be a part of their work.

My thank-you list is extensive. If you have supported me in any way, thank you. That means a kind word, a warm welcome, sharing your experience, listening, a retweet, a kind comment on LinkedIn, or if you are one of hundreds whom I have learned from. I am forever grateful for that and happy to have you in my life.

I am ecstatic to see what year three brings!

Thank you all!

Time off and self care

Whatever you call it (vacation, PTO, time off), take it.

Plan it. Create an awesome out of office auto-reply. Let staff/clients know you’ll be out. And go!

Go somewhere or do something that takes you to another world, one that doesn’t include work. Everything will be OK.

We all hear about self care. Many may even highly recommend it to staff or clients.

We have to practice it. I won’t go into all of the reasons why because we all know them. We know the benefits of self care and of actually taking time off. Of completely unplugging. It’s necessary, and possible.

Off to the beach. I’m officially on vacation!

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

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.


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