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.
I have written many blog posts about building relationships with donors and using donor-centered principles with donors. For me, this is the right thing to do, to treat donors as people, people who care about your impact, and not like an ATM machine.
It always pays off. It especially pays off in times like this. Your big fundraising dinner has been canceled. The revenue attached to the dinner impact all of your programs. In some cases, it’s your biggest fundraiser of the year and your entire program relies on it being a success. And now it’s not happening.
But wait. This is not a great position to be in and at the same time you are not alone. Your donors are with you. Many of them not only understand the impact you will have with the revenue from the canceled event, they are in fact in a position to still support you. Ask them to let you keep the sponsorship donation of the price of the tickets they purchased. You have nothing to lose, and my experience so far last week has been that many people are saying yes.
Some nonprofits have an online auction attached with their event. No need to cancel that. Get the word out through an email blast and your social media platforms. Consider keeping the auction up longer than you had planned. The difficult times we’re having will pass, and people like me will be excited to take the weekend getaway to a super sweet resort they won.
Phone calls to your supporters are always a great idea. Personal notes. A video from a program person showing the impact of the continued giving. Take the time. Time with and for donors is not only the way to go, it always pays off. Remember to check in with your donors about how they are as well.
I have weekly video tips I post on my YouTube channel as well as on the AltruiConsulting Instagram page.
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!
A requirement is that you are an excellent multitasker.
Being able to multitask in a chaotic environment is necessary.
Whew! There sure is a lot of pressure to be a multitasker!
I have been saying good bye to multitasking, and I think this is a good time of year to consider doing the same. The thing is, we all have so much to do. Just ask anyone in our field and they will let you know how busy they are. I have found that what works well for me is to focus on particular actions, take them, them move on to the next.
Of course no one wants to hear this. In our field, the very basic of requirements is that one is an incredible multitasker. You see it in almost every job description. I think our donors, our peers, our staff, and us ourselves deserve a lot better. The more we put focus on one task and one area, the more brilliant that turns out. And that works out well for all everyone.
I’m not saying to cease all multitasking this very instance. I’m saying that for me multitasking is not the best way. More to come on this.
Colorado Gives Day is an annual day of giving that was created to increase philanthropic giving in the state. I am super-biased towards this day, and those at the Community First Foundation who created it and continue to rock it. Since 2010 Colorado Gives Day has raised more than $217 million for Colorado nonprofits.
In 2010 I was the Director of Development at Boulder County AIDS Project. I decided I wanted to do something big for Colorado Gives Day, and with my team and the staff we created a 24 hours of giving campaign. For 24 hours I would be out and about in the community asking people to give to BCAP.
There was no precedent for this and Colorado Gives Day was brand new. I had no idea how this would work. I jumped in with all of the excitement that is typical for me when it comes to fundraising and by one minute past midnight of the first Colorado Gives Day I was all set.
It started at a small gay bar in Denver, JR’s. I had used social media to let people know I would be kicking off our efforts there, and was grateful to see friends show up on a work night. Friends like Drew Wilson with Mile High Gay Guy who had also spread the word. I had my laptop and started taking donations. At closing time I headed to a well-known 24-hour diner in Denver , The Denver Diner, and during orders of hash browns and a lot of coffee talked to dozens of people about BCAP and Colorado Gives Day. The after-bar crowd and then super early morning crowd were so kind and receptive to what I was doing. I left with more donations and all of my food and coffee paid for.
I then headed up to Boulder to catch the early coffee crowd in North Boulder. By 8am I was settled in a Pearl Street coffee house, The Cup, which was going to be my base for the day. The owners welcomed me with open arms and totally supported our efforts that day. Meanwhile we had hung a huge (and I mean huge) banner on the BCAP house letting folks know about our goal to raise $30,000 in one day.
The support was mind-blowing. And heartwarming. Everywhere I went I ran into people who loved BCAP, who didn’t know about BCAP, who thought I was crazy for wanting to be up for 24 hours, but mostly who wanted to support in a way that worked for them. That usually meant making a donation or buying me a coffee.
As is the case for exciting moments, the day went by fast. We ended the day with two live bands playing for us at the Boulder Draft House in downtown Boulder and celebrated with staff, clients, and other supporters. I’ll never forget being approached by a BCAP client with a group of their friends and sitting next to me while we entered a donation for a $1,000. That was a huge donation for us.
By midnight I was wiped out, and ecstatic that in 24 hours our small HIV/AIDS org had raised $23,000! It took a community, a crazy idea, and people will to work towards a crazy idea even if they thought there was no way it would work. I’ll forever be grateful for everyone who supported us that day. And just in case you were wondering, I stopped counting at 15 cups of coffee!
I continue to be grateful for all of those who create fun events around Colorado Gives Day. My ideas continued as I moved on, and another 24 – hour event was created while I was Director of Development and Public Relations at Urban Peak in Denver, when we “Walked the Block” for 24 hours to signify all of the walking youth experiencing homelessness do. At midnight of the start of Colorado Gives Day my CEO met me at St. John’s Cathedral where we were holding the walk and we started the 24 hours! By the end of that day, five years ago, hundreds had joined us to walk and had donated. A group of elementary kids brought us pizza for lunch and Denver’s mayor swung by with some staff members to walk the block a few times.
Happy Colorado Gives Day! This year it’s December 10th. You can donate to hundreds of Colorado organizations like Boulder County AIDS Project and Urban Peak here: https://www.coloradogives.org/COGIVESDAY
I’ve been fortunate to have had several meetings in the last couple of weeks with clients talking about and planning individual giving strategies. In every conversation, someone brings up their annual event, usually with dread. Everyone around the table seems a bit stunned when my response is one of joy, embracing the special event fundraiser.
I have been thinking of an annual fundraising event from a nonprofit I used to work at, an event that was the largest financial fundraiser of the year. It was a dinner.
I hope I didn’t already lose you. I know. All of the time and personalities and volunteers and endless meetings. It doesn’t have to be like that. And you can create an event that takes your mission to new heights.
was also a time when we honored an individual, a business and a
civic/faith group for all they have done for us as an agency and the
youth experiencing homelessness we serve.
I can imagine what you might be thinking: another fundraising chicken dinner.
This particular one was my first time planning the event. With a little over a year there and the experience of being at the dinner the previous year, I wanted to make some changes and take some risks.
Taking risks with an event, especially your biggest event, is not always a feel-good task.
of the risks we took were focused on making the event more about our
agency and the youth we serve as well as trying to reduce the expense
Instead of hiring one of those amazing
companies that does check-in and check-out and gets all of your guest
information, we asked staff to do that.
Big, famous emcee? We asked staff to do that.
Expensive video company? You guessed it. We asked staff to do that.
our live ask we had staff and volunteers greet each guest as they
committed to a donation. The guest was handed an envelope with the
amount they had just raised their number for. Over 90% of those who made
donations filled out the enclosed information for the donation and
handed it back to us.
Our check-in and check-out processes worked. No lines. Just amazing staff greeting those who allow us to do our vital work.
In the end we beat budget while cutting our expenses by 43%. We then could tell our supporters and future sponsors of this event that for every dollar that we spend on this event we raise five.
risks. Make your special event about you and your mission. Every single
detail goes back to your mission. You might be pleasantly surprised.
In nonprofit fundraising, we hear it all of the time: talk with your donors about their personal information. How do they want to be thanked? Is this the correct spelling of their name? Are they married? Who is the main donor?
Are we thanking the right person(s)? I’m sure we have all heard the horror stories.
We recently received an appeal sent to Mr. and Mrs. Dan Hanley. It came from an organization we have donated to for 10+ years. That means we are donors. It would appear to any data search that we are life-long donors.
When I say we, I mean me and my husband. There is no Mrs. here, never has been. I have no clue how they decided there was a Mrs. We love their mission and their impact. I emailed and cleared up the mistake.
Note: this is no way to treat donors. This is how organizations lose donors. And yes, I know. I know they could be busy or I made a mistake with the email address or maybe there is another donor who is a Dan and Mrs. I also think they can do better.
So can all of us. It’s simple really. We need to take the time to make sure our data is correct. That ensures we’re working towards real donor love.
This will be quick. For many of us in nonprofit fundraising, making sure we personally sign our thank you letters is just part of our process. I should say making sure someone signs our thank you letters, as for some it’s not us.
There are many reasons for this. For me, the main one is that I want the donor to know that I actually know they donated. A close second is that I want them to know that it’s worth my time to sign the letter, and in most cases, write something as well, even if it’s just a redundant “thank you SO much!”.
Imagine my dismay when I receive a thank you letter from the CEO of an organization that we have been donating to for years, and their signature is printed as part of the letter! I was disappointed to say the least. Are they doing this for all of their donors? Do they even know that I donated? Does it matter to them?
Yes, we’re all busy. The way some speak they are busier than you and me, even thought we know that all of us are equally busy. Nonetheless, actions like this, simply signing your name, make a big difference.
In non profit fundraising sometimes the focus is to ask, ask, ask. Increase the revenue, get donors to give more, continued growth, continued expectations of donors.
This being the case, you the reader will either love what this post is about or you will roll your eyes and get back to your list of cold calls.
Keep in mind that donors are people. I know, this brings a chuckle to many. As a donor and as one who is in relationship with many donors, nonprofit fundraising professionals are still missing the point, and missing out on the relationship.
Today consider what you can do to build your relationships with donors. Set the ask aside. Set the pressure of more revenue aside. Simply take a few minutes and think about what you can do to strengthen the relationship between your organization and the donor.
I’ll offer some ideas in the next post, and to get you going, consider picking up the phone and calling them. See how they’re doing, tell them of some great news you heard from program staff, tell them you were just thinking of them.