Tag: philanthropy

3 actions for fundraisers if having a rough day

I recently had a phone call with a friend who is in the nonprofit fundraising world and that conversation inspired me to write this post.

They were having a rough day. We talked it through and we both felt better afterwards. My point in writing that is whenever I support or help someone, I always feel better.

Here are three ideas I suggested to change the course of their day:

One: Call a longtime donor. Have a nice check in with them. How are they? Share a recent story you heard from someone in programs.

Two: Call a board member you have been meaning to set up lunch with. To ensure this adds positivity to your day, pick one that you are in good relationship with and who fully supports you.

Three: Pull a list from your data base of all donors who gave in the same month you’re in from last year during that month and create a plan to connect with them about a repeat donation. Or to just connect with them.

I love nonprofit fundraising, and I haven’t loved every moment of all of my work. Most of the times when I focus on my work, especially the parts that add value to my day and to my agency’s mission, I get centered and feel peaceful again. I hope these three, simple suggestions work for you.

Thanks for reading!

I love networking

It’s on your calendar. Another networking event that you dread going to. Business is good, you have enough contacts, and the need to attend events like this seems to no longer serve you.

I have a chamber of commerce business after hours on my calendar and couldn’t be more excited. Business is good, I have a family to go home to, I have a good amount of contacts, and I’m not going to miss this.

When I go to a networking event with the right mindset, it is never a waste of time. I always leave having had met people I hadn’t known before and a little more pumped up about my business after being able to introduce it to more people.

Give it a try, and consider these suggestions:

Bring plenty of business cards.

Have a name tag with your name and company name/logo.

Don’t spend the entire time you’re there with one person, or even two. Work the room.

When other attendees walk by and make eye contact, introduce yourself.

Make introductions.

Regardless of your field, offer to be a resource to those you meet.

Go for it! Thanks for reading.

Good bye multitasking

I am an awesome multitasker.

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.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

My first Colorado Gives Day

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

Thank you for reading!

Boulder County AIDS Project: https://www.bcap.org/

Urban Peak: https://www.urbanpeak.org/

Boulder Daily Camera article about BCAP and first CO Gives Day: https://www.dailycamera.com/2010/12/03/first-ever-colorado-gives-day-24-hours-to-make-a-difference/

The special event fundraiser is not dead

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.

It 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.

Yes, risks.

Taking risks with an event, especially your biggest event, is not always a feel-good task.

All 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 budget.

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.

During 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.

Take risks. Make your special event about you and your mission. Every single detail goes back to your mission. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for reading!

Mr & MRS? – how is your donor data?

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.

No response.

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.

Thanks 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!

SIgn your thank you letter!

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.

Thanks for reading!

Asking less

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.

No ask.

Thanks for reading.

5 steps to take to rock Thanks for Giving Day

Thanks for Giving Day will be here before you know it. Although some nonprofits do this type of thanking day earlier in the year, I have done Thanks for Giving Day the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day (in the US) and this year it’s November 21st.

That means you have a little time to plan. Remember, if you need help, we’re here! And for those of you new to TFGD, here are five steps to take to ensure your event is meaningful:

  1. Send a save the date to all of your board members asking them to take a shift for calls. I have done 4pm – 8pm and asked board members to sign up for a two-hour shift. Let them know how important this day is and what it will mean for donors, and let them know that all you are doing is thanking people.
  2. Have lists of all donors who have given this year, with their phone number. Do not list their donation amount.
  3. Plan a dinner buffet. I have used Chipotle. Also, if you are ok with having alcoholic beverages, ask board members to bring wine and beer.
  4. Make sure you have work spaces for the board members, complete with a phone. This could be desks throughout your agency or one table with several phones. I like board members to call from the agency as then your agency name pops up for caller ID.
  5. Create a social media plan to promote TFGD the week of and to do some live posts while board members are calling donors.

There is more to do, and this list covers the basics. Any questions, email us at helloaltrui@gmail.com.

If you let us know you are doing Thanks for Giving Day, we will share that information on social media.

Thanks for reading!

Your favorite nonprofit still needs you!

Before I begin, I’d like to be transparent and let you the reader know that I have lead fundraising efforts for nonprofits for 12+ years. I love the world of nonprofit fundraising and value the impact of donors like you.

Now that you know this, you won’t be surprised that I am writing about nonprofits, and in particular, to share the idea with you that your favorite nonprofit still needs you. Remember them? They caught your attention several years ago. It might have been at an event you were invited to, a fundraising run, or simply from your other half or a close friend who had gotten involved and couldn’t stop talking about them. Regardless of how it happened, you made a decision that you wanted to support this nonprofit. You wanted to be a part of making the world a better place with them.

Fast forward to today. Life is busier than ever. There are many more issues you are involved with, and it seems to be an endless task keeping up with what you can do to make the world a better place. Then you remember them. That wonderful group you trusted with your hard-earned cash, knowing they were making an incredible impact. You remember the kind staff, the quick thank you letter, the social media post about some wonderful success, and so on. The letters asking for continued support arrive at your business and they end up in the trash. There’s just too much going on.

In December of 2017 the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 became law. In short, what this meant for you who donate to non-profits was that unless you donated much more money, you would no longer be able to itemize your donations. A year and a half later we know that donors are giving less in one conservative estimate, the number was $54,000,000 less in 2018. Those who itemize their taxes for non-profit giving purposes have dropped from 30% of taxpayers to just 10%. Meanwhile, in reality, your favorite non-profit is busier than ever and their mission, most likely, has become even more important in making the world a better place.

This scenario can be an even bigger challenge for small nonprofits and for local, non-nationally supported, nonprofits. Many of them do not have a large marketing budget or even the financial capacity to hire a development/fundraising team. Small and large donations are the lifeblood of their organization and they rely on you, the donor. These organizations make up the majority of nonprofits working to make the world a better place, and their mission, work and impact is seen all over.

Know that your favorite nonprofit still needs you. In fact, we need you now more than ever before. Check them out online.

See what they are up to. Consider donating or volunteering. Together we will continue to make our world, a better place.

give Donors a human touch

Today I want to share something that is important in donor-centered fundraising; treating your donors and supporters as human beings.

Thank them.

Call them.

Ask them how they are doing.

Ask them for their opinion on something.

Ask them to pre-read a direct mail piece that you want to send, getting their opinion.

Call them. Yes, I am writing this again.

Invite them for a tour of your facilities.

I could go on and on.

There is a reason why people donate to our causes. We need to know why. And we need to ensure that our donors know how grateful we are and that we don’t just see them as a human ATM.

Short but sweet. What will you do today to treat your donor as a human being?

Thanks for reading!


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