Tag: fundraising

Just laid off?

It’s been several years. Our nonprofit was in financial trouble and for leadership lay offs were the answer. I was on the list. My boss was kind, honored my time there, and offered me the day to gather my things.

I wasn’t surprised. I had seen the writing on the wall and had begun to prepare.

I had a lot going for me. I am married so there was still an income. I had vacation time and with a little severance pay I left the office that day with enough to get me by for a month or so.

The biggest thing I had, which is really what made the whole process of being laid off and being unemployed so much easier, was my community. An example of this is that on the same day I was laid off I posted on Facebook that I had been laid off, that I now had free time, and that I would love to have coffee, breakfast or lunch with people. The caveat was that whoever invited me would have to pay.

By the end of the day, just hours after I posted, I had 68 invitations. Soon, people began leaving gifts of coffee and coffee house gift cards on our porch (I’m a big coffee guy and the gift cards helped me work from local coffee houses and get out of the house).

By day two the reality had set in. I forgot to mention that the first day I applied for unemployment. By the second day I had my resume ready to go. I had a couple of friends look at it and made edits based on their feedback. I sent an email to close friends in the nonprofit world and began checking employment websites. I updated my LinkedIn account and switched the recruiter option to let recruiters know I was now looking. By the end of day two I had spent ten hours beginning my search. I began day three by being dressed and ready for the day just as if I were going to work.

I had to look at money and see where I could save and what I could cut.

Honest conversations with close friends and those in my professional circle helped. I highly recommend that. Communicating your job search to your entire network is important.

I was laid off on a Thursday and began phone interviews on Monday. I fortunately was offered a job three weeks later and after five weeks of being unemployed began my new position.

It’s not easy. There are a lot of feelings that hit someone when being laid off. The biggest action for me was to reach out for support. I had this amazing community of friends and peers who were right there for me. Reaching out made a big difference, and I highly recommend it. Let everyone know what you’re looking for and for those close to you let them know how they can help.

I hope this is helpful. If I can help let me know. My email is dan@altrui.org I’m happy to be one of those who supports you while you find your next adventure. I can be especially helpful if you’re in the nonprofit world as that’s my world.

You definitely do not have to be on this journey alone.

Thanks for reading.

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

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!

Keep fundraising

I read that individual/family giving to nonprofits was down 6% in the first quarter.

Many of you (most?) won’t be surprised to read this. What I’d like you to consider is that this does not have to be the narrative for your nonprofit.

Keep fundraising and relationship building. It’s what you do best, right?

You may be thinking that I have no idea how difficult it is. That no one is returning calls, no one responds to direct mail appeals, no one opens your email blasts. Constant pressure from your ED. Some of you have had hours or even positions on your team cut. I assure you I know all about that. I encourage you to keep doing it. Keep connecting with donors. Keep letting them know how the staff is working your mission in these tougher times. Share the impact and challenges. They want to know.

Ask them how they are doing.

They will be there for you.

Keep in touch with your board and committees. Let them know your challenges and how they can help. They want to help.

Your fundraising and relationship building are vital. Keep going.

Thank you for reading!

You’re not alone

We’re in tougher times. And we’re all in different situations. Some are working harder than ever and some aren’t working. In our world, the world of nonprofit fundraising, everyone is experiencing so many different things. The main thing I keep thinking of is that regardless of the situation you’re in, you’re not alone.

Of course if you are staying at home and have a house full, you may wish you were alone, but that’s not the type of alone I’m thinking about.

In the nonprofit world, you are definitely not alone. Everyone is having new challenges and having to look at their mission and their world differently. Feeling overwhelmed is typical in our world, yet can be even more intense these days. You’re not alone.

Now in the fourth month of a different world, we’ve seen actions that are really working. The biggest success we’ve seen is with nonprofits that are reaching out to their donors to continue building that relationship and to keep donors in the loop on what is going on and the continued impact of the mission. It’s so important. It’s important to ask how your donors are doing along with letting them know what your current needs are. If you have concerns around fundraising, remember you are not alone! Many nonprofit leaders are feeling the same.

Many of you are presenting budgets to your board for the next fiscal year (starting July 1st). Holy cow. It’s not easy. Budget time can always be a bit stressful and how in the heck to you budget the next year? Like with everything else, you give it your best shot, present it, and move on.

From special events to the next direct mail piece, everything is different. And if I know one thing about nonprofit fundraising professionals, it’s that we thrive in many situations and we just don’t stop.

Grab your coffee or tea, check in with those who inspire you, and keep doing what you do best.

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!

Don’t stop communicating

Communication isn’t always so easy these days.

Many nonprofits are rocking it. They have made adjustments, figured out how to fundraise without their big events that they’ve had to cancel, and most importantly, their communications keep going and going.

When I bring up communications I am referring mainly to communications from you to your donors. Although it’s also important to maintain communication with your staff, your supervisor, and stakeholders, it’s vital to keep the communications going with your donors. I believe in a time like now that we cannot over-communicate with our donors, especially if we keep the importance of our relationship with them in mind.

There are some simple ways to keep communication flowing with your donors. Simple meaning simple, not necessarily quick!

First, pick up the phone. Call your donors. I know, you spoke with them just before the holidays. Call them anyway. Remember to make the conversation about them. How are they?

Let donors know how your organization has had to change. Give them some examples of success.

Share your challenges, both from the head of fundraising perspective and from what your heads of programs would say.

Send email blasts that include all of this. Invite donors to call you.

Make sure your website is current in regards to giving. Make sure the correct contact information is there.

Do not over-communicate your ask when using your social media platforms. It’s easy to do and many are doing it. Temper your ask with lots of program updates. successes and challenges.

When looking back at this time you’ll be super grateful that you continually took time to communicate with your donors.

Thank you for reading!

Online art auction – supporting artists

Artists mean a lot to me. My mom was an artist (the photo is of one of her paintings). And artists have constantly been there for me as I have fundraised for nonprofits. Always. Because of the generosity of artists I have been able to be part of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofits I have worked for.

Now it’s time to support them. It can’t be easy for artists right now. And I want to help.

Here’s my idea. An artist will send me an email with a photo of the piece of art they want to sell along with the medium, size, title, and price. They will have what they need to ship the piece.

Then I will take all of that information and spread it far and wide, sharing it all over social media, while asking everyone I know to do the same. I will also create a Facebook album of pieces for sale.

Then someone who is interested in the piece will connect directly with artist. The purchaser will also cover the cost of shipping.

My hope is to help create relationships between artists and lovers of art, while helping artists sell their art. It’s the least I can do for a community that has always been there for the nonprofit world.

What can you do, you ask? You can let artists you know in on this idea. They can email me at helloaltrui(a)gmail.com. You can also share the posts of art for sale as you see them. If you’re not already connected with me on social media, you can do so at the bottom of the Altrui website, which has connections to all of our social media platforms. The art will be posted in an album on our Altrui Facebook page.

Piece #2:

“Rainforest”

Joanne Chew
Acrylic Pour on Canvas with gloss varnish, ready to hang
24” x 36”
$300 (includes cost of shipping)

joannejchew@gmail.com

Piece #1:

“Amaya”
Carrie Lynn Barker
Charcoal and pastel
12″ X 16″
$75.00
carrielynnbarkerphotography@gmail.com

I am so excited! Thank you for your support!

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!


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