- The Impact of an Infographic
Prospective donors are bombarded with messages. To get through this deluge of information, we have to stand out in the crowd with . . . . .
- Tossing Your Cookies: Grassroots Fundraising at its Best
When asked, "What is your earliest recollection of making a charitable donation?" most Americans respond: "Buying Girl Scout Cookies." . . . . .
- Gen Y or Generation Why They Give
The members of Generation Y were born between 1977 and 1998. Three of them grew up in my house, so I have a fair sense of what makes . . . . .
Complimentary video series with Ruthellen Rubin
We offer the expertise, resources and personalized attention to help your nonprofit organization realize its full potential. Our team also works with philanthropies to help build strong partnerships.
FUNDRAISING STRATEGIES | BOARD DEVELOPMENT | COLLABORATION | TRANSITION
The Nonprofit Blog
Making Fundraising History – The IBC for ALS
Without a doubt, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge will join the March of Dimes campaign, Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign and the 2010 Haiti earthquake mobile giving campaign as game-changers in demonstrating the power of grassroots fundraising.
The March of Dimes was launched in 1938, by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to find a cure for polio. The medium was radio. The impetus was a number of Hollywood celebrities and a popular U.S. President who advocated for an end to this dreaded disease. The tools were collection boxes and cards where one inserted dimes. Soon 3,100 local chapters were formed to spearhead a tremendous grassroots effort to collect dimes (with FDR’s face) at movie theaters, at schools, in little cans that popped up everywhere. Ordinary people were asked to contribute, since polio affected everyone. The millions raised from “collecting dimes” not only purchased iron lungs and lab equipment but directly funded doctors and scientists who researched and found the cure to polio.
In 2008, 3 million people made 6.5 million donations online, totaling half a billion dollars, to the Obama Presidential campaign. The medium was email and early social networking. The impetus was the promise of “change” promoted via well-crafted emails. The tool was the recently streamlined online giving platform. Cutting edge, yet inexpensive online technology made it possible to not only collect donations, but also to respond back and carefully steward the donors, thereby building personal relationships with donors – at all levels.
In the week following the 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti, the Red Cross raised over $100 million, in large part via $10 donations. The medium was ads to “text to donate” on TV and numerous online websites. The impetus was broadcasts of unspeakable devastation on all news media. The tool was the cellphone and the widespread use of text messages. Cell phones gave people of all ages and socio-economic brackets the opportunity to “do something” and feel as though they were able to help. And indeed, they did.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a terminal disease that affects two in 100,000 people in the US. It is relatively rare and many Americans don’t know about it – unless you know someone who is stricken by this degenerative disease that comes with an average life expectancy of two to five years. Last month, Pete Frates, a 29 year-old athlete from Boston who has ALS, decided to “do something”, promise “change” and find a cure for his dreaded disease. Frates found a way to get everyone’s attention, as we all know, by asking ordinary people to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads OR make a $100 donation to ALS research AND challenge some friends to do the same. The result – as of today is that $15.6 million has been raised in the last three weeks as compared to $1.8 million during the same period last year. Yes – people are dumping the ice AND making donations.
The medium is Facebook, for the most part, where over 1.2 million video challenges have been made. The impetus is Facebook where we can demonstrate to our friends that we are willing to be part of this deluge. The tool is Facebook along with the availability of the online giving page at www.alsa.org where we can easily complete the second part of the challenge. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.
We have read a few words from critics who claim that the Ice Bucket Challenge is slacktivistic because people are spending more money on bags of ice than they are giving to ALS (not true) or the people making the videos don’t even know what ALS is (they do now). In fact, the Ice Bucket Challenge is fundraising at its best. My congratulations to Pete Frates who has created a campaign that meets five of the most basic rules of fundraising:
- Your solicitor should be someone to whom it is impossible to say no
- Give your donor choices
- The “ask” is framed as an opportunity for your donor to feel good
- Remember that fundraising is not about your organization, it’s about your donor
- Have a website that demonstrates the reliability of your cause - www.alsa.org
This blog is dedicated to my dear friend, Peter Klein, who died on March 20, 2014, after a valiant battle with ALS.
Add a Comment
Who's the boss?
A burning question that Executive Directors often ask me is: "Am I the boss or is our Board President the boss?"
The answers to this and other questions relating to board governance are pretty easy. I review them, step by step, in frequent workshops and trainings. I often blog about several of these topics. Here's a recent example on Greater Giving. The challenge, however, is putting these sensibilities into practice. Evolution at the nonprofit board level can only happen with strong board leadership.
For the purpose of this leadership discussion, I will focus on the Board President. The fact that (s)he has had many years serving on your board or other boards, or that (s)he is in a position of responsibility at work, does not necessarily mean (s)he will lead your board where it needs to go.
Strong board leaders spend an enormous amount of time and effort understanding the existing mission and prevailing strategic plan at your organization. The Board President should have total confidence in the Executive Director (ED) and view their mutual relationship as a fifty-fifty partnership. By modeling a respectful relationship with the ED, the President will set the tone for all of the board members. The ED and the entire organization benefit tremendously when this mutual trust exists.
Roles and responsibilities and the intricacies of the board/staff relationship should be clearly defined and agreed upon. Communication agreements as fundamental as specification of the ED's and the Board's annual goals are critical at the start of each year. And, although the ED is in charge of all elements of the program and the Board President oversees the planning and policies for the organization, it's important that each respects and invites the other's input in important considerations. Does it take a perfect world to achieve this partnership? Not really. Simply put, if you are considering taking an ED role and you question the potential for a partnership with the Board President, don't take the job. And, vice versa.
As to the original question - Who's the boss? The ED is the boss of the office and all matters pertaining to the program and services delivered by the organization. The Board President is the boss of long range planning, policy, compliance with legal requirements and ensuring that the organization has the resources it needs to carry out the mission. It's kind of like asking who is the boss at home - the husband or the wife?
Add a Comment
Learning from One Another
The topic of professional development comes up every day in my work with clients. Many of the fundraising staff for whom I consult work in small shops with two or three professionals who raise money for their organizations. Their daily schedule is jam-packed meeting deadlines, goals and donors. The opportunities to get to know other fundraisers, to share what tools and strategies are working, are few and far between.
When I meet with nonprofit clients, my first recommendation is usually for them to make time to interact with fundraising peers - whether it's their contemporaries at similar type organizarions or others who fundraise in their community. I advise them not to worry about these folks being competitors; fundraising is NOT a zero-sum game. In fact, the better our colleagues do at raising money, the better we all do.
On April 17th, I'll be facilitating a half-day discussion at The Support Center in NYC on Technology for Fundraising: Matching Today's Digital Resources with your Organization. Join me and a like-minded group of your colleagues for a discussion of how fundraisers are integrating technology in their development strategy and learning how to make informed decisions when it comes to the latest tools.
If in-person workshops like this are not available in your city, call up a few of your colleagues and go out for a beer. The more we collaborate and learn from one another the better it will be for our own work product, our organizations' ability to deliver programs and services and the community as a whole.
For other professional development opportunities for fundraisers in New York City, visit Support Center/Partnership in Philanthropy and New York University's Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising.
Add a Comment
Learn to Love your Donor Database
I have had lots of discussions lately with development professionals who are considering migrating to new donor databases. Often, because: they never learned to use the one they have, their data is a mess, someone else chose the software and they inherited it, they don't know how to generate the reports their board members are requesting or because they lost the phone number for tech support. What a can of worms!
Before you jump ship, do your homework to figure out exactly what functionality your organization needs and set real goals for the tasks you want to manage with your database. Next - get on the phone with tech support and find out if this can be achieved via your current database. Be prepared to spend time and money to get this right. It will be the best time and money you can spend from your development budget.
If you decide to investigate new software, read Idealware's latest consumer's guide to donor management systems. Idealware.org is a phenomenal resource for all things having to do with nonprofit software. Then, get on the phone and call colleagues who are using the software you are considering. You will only learn the nitty gritty from someone who is using the system.
A new database will not cure messy data -- you will just be importing that mess into your new software. Face up to it and create a plan to clean it manually or develop and commit to a style sheet that will build a database of high integrity going forward.
Nine times out of ten, the problem is not the current software but the lack of training to understand how the software can help build a sustainable fund development program. I'm looking forward to seeing what's new and what I can learn later this week at #14NTC.
Add a Comment
Making Our World Better
We fundraising professionals are always looking for ways to improve our work. With our success comes the direct result of increased resources to further the mission of our charitable organization. The more money we raise, the more people we can feed, the more students to whom we can provide scholarships, the more children we can vaccinate, and so on... With successful fundraising our programs improve, additional services become available in our community and our social sector grows stronger and more effective.
How can we continually improve and become the very best we can be at fundraising for our nonprofit? As is the case in most jobs, professional development will enhance our current competencies and help us develop new skills and knowledge. The sharing and brain-storming that occurs in a classroom of professional fundraisers further elevates the collective learning to develop even higher level competencies and fresh ideas. The majority of professional fundraisers have limited ability to advance their skill sets while on the job. I don't mean to undermine the priceless value of on the job experience and the continuous learning that goes along with the daily adventures of working with our donors. However, that is just one part of the equation. The application of new technologies, understanding current giving trends and advancing timely stewardship opportunities will help us keep pace with our donors in a way that will continue to nurture the partnerships between our donors and our mission, that are fundamental to a successful social sector.
Medals4Mettle (M4M) is an all-volunteer nonprofit, consisting almost entirely of endurance athletes. Our mission is a simple one - we collect earned race medals from marathoners and triathletes, and we then gift these medals to sick children who are running marathons of their own. To date, we have gifted medals to over 40,000 children.
When M4M first started in 2005, most of the fundraising was kept at the grassroots level. That seemed to work fine for a while. However, due to some media attention that we received in the last couple of years, M4M has expanded so rapidly that our previous fundraising methods have not been able to keep up with our growth.
As President of the organization, I have been trying hard to come up with a structured and sustainable development program. But due to our limited resources, I was at a complete loss as to where to even begin.
Then on January 6th and 7th, I took 2 courses that were life-changing. The courses, specifically, were The Annual Appeal (taught by Ruthellen Rubin), and Online & Mobile Fundraising (taught by Liz Ngonzi). Wow. I was amazed by how well laid-out and informative the courses were. The material presented was so useful in helping us take our nonprofit management to the next level! Never have I been in a class where I managed to stay alert during the entire day, from 9:00 - 5:00!
After class concluded on January 7th, I went through all my class notes and did some research of my own. I then prepared a plan, which I submitted to our Founder, Dr. Steve Isenberg, the same night. In my plan, I outlined some basic infrastructure that our organization needs to put in place immediately. Not only did Dr. Steve love the ideas, but he submitted them right away to a foundation, who has agreed to fund the implementation of these ideas! There is so much excitement amongst the leadership team at the moment. We are thrilled to finally have some direction with regard to national fundraising.
It is impressive how these 2 courses have had such a huge impact on our organization. To give you some perspective, M4M has 75 chapters within the US, Canada, Japan, and at the Air Force Base in Osan, Korea. So we are hardly a small organization.
I feel so grateful to have taken these courses. Ruthellen and Liz are amazing teachers. They educate AND inspire their students! Thank you Heyman Center for giving nonprofit professionals the opportunity to learn from the best!
Opportunities for professional development abound. In the month of March, I invite you to join me on the 7th in New York City for a brand new class on harnessing the power of the donor database. From March 13-15, I hope you can join the coolest people in the nonprofit sector at my favorite annual conference, the 2014 NTC in Washington, DC.
Add a Comment
Print this Page
Send To A Friend
Who's the boss?
Learning from One Another
Learn to Love your Donor Database
Making Our World Better
It Takes a Classroom to Change the World
It's mid December...do you know what your major donors are doing?
Is Your Annual Appeal Letter in the Mail?
The Story in the Annual Appeal
The Inside Buzz on #GivingTuesday
Archive By Date
- December (3)