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New Year’s To Do List

 

Photo by Wendy Scardino

Photo by Wendy Scardino

New Year’s is still new, but we’re already over the big New Year’s resolutions. Instead, use this month to check off some important yet simple items on your professional and personal to-do list.

  • Review your gift acceptance policies and update them as needed.
  • Review your strategic plan, or develop a strategic plan!
  • Make sure all your web links are in working order on your website.
  • Test your online donation capabilities and ensure they are working properly. . .or set up online giving!
  • Update the messaging in your thank you acknowledgements.
  • Call or visit your top donors to thank and report how their money was used.
  • Thank your board members for their support and leadership
  • Offer to speak to area service clubs about your organization when it fits their schedules
  • Celebrate your successes with your staff (or yourself if you’re a one-person shop)
  • Review your brochures to be sure they are up-to-date
  • Plan your grant application schedule
  • Review and renew any licenses required in your state for fundraising as well as gaming or raffle licenses
  • Make your continuing education plans for the year
  • Obtain your CFRE or recertify
  • Write down the books you meant to read last year and do so this year.
  • Resolve to exercise more, eat better and get more sleep!

The Campaign: What’s Your Vision?

Photo by Robbie Shade

Photo by Robbie Shade

It’s time to raise some money. It sounds easy enough. You just need the right list of donors and you’re off, right?

Sort of. You’ll also need a plan, unending passion, a huge helping of persistence and committed volunteers and staff to make it all happen. If you are contemplating starting a campaign, step back for a moment to map out a plan that will lead you to success.

You will need a clear vision, mission and plan before you raise a dime.

Before you begin any campaign, you must know who your organization is and understand your organization’s vision and mission. Only when your vision and mission are clear to those most intimately involved can you share this information with others in a way that will ensure their financial support. People will not give to you just because you ask them. They must know you to love you.

Happy Holidays!

AMPERAGE Fundraising Advisers hopes you and yours are having a happy holiday season. We are blessed to live in a generous country where people put their time, talent and treasure towards their passions each and every day.

Make a point this week to personally say thank you to five donors or volunteers each day. Their gifts throughout the year are invaluable.

We Predict Success

Stocks rallied in a big way last week, and that is good for American investors . . .and donors . . .and nonprofits. It seems our hopes and dreams for fundraising often hinge on the ups and downs of the stock market, and yet, time and time again, there are nonprofits that consistently and effectively raise funds no matter the economy. How do they do it?

As you look to close out 2014 and start anew in 2015, we predict success for your nonprofit by following Amperage’s top six rules for raising money in any economy.

  1. People give to people. (It’s as simple as that.)
  2. Are you out meeting people so when it’s time to ask, they’ll be ready? Are you thinking like a donor? What do they want to know about you? It’s always a great time for proof-of-performance communication.
  3. Value and foster existing donors above and beyond new ones. When was the last time you thanked those who have made living your mission possible?
  4. Focus on the organization and its needs. How recent is your strategic plan? When was the last time you objectively determined your strengths, problems, opportunities and threats?
  5. Be proud of the work you do and the cause it’s for. It’s a great time to build the skills of your staff and board.
  6. Keep asking. You must continue with your mission and there are donors who wish to give to you. Provide them the opportunity!

Seven Uses for a Case Statement

Photo by David Amsler

Photo by David Amsler

A case statement is be a very influential piece of your fund development program. When writing your case statement, keep in mind that a carefully conceived, well-developed statement of your vision and need will assure that your organization is moving in the right direction. A case statement can:

  • Secure agreement, understanding and commitment among your primary leaders and board members—building total dedication to the cause and a precise focus of the institution’s objectives and long-range goals
  • Provide direction and a defined strategy for how to most effectively present your vision and your case to your primary constituents
  • Inform leaders and workers of your program and your dreams—and demonstrate how the success of the endeavor will work to the immense benefit of those you serve
  • Enlist new leaders to your cause in sufficient numbers and at the proper level to win the effort
  • Develop an early working document and cultivation piece for prospective major donors
  • Create a document that helps others endorse and share your vision—and accept greater responsibility of identifying with your mission
  • Have a source book to guide the writing of subsequent publications, articles, foundation proposals and videotaped presentations

How to Use Your Case Statement

Photo Credit opensource.com

Photo Credit opensource.com

Creating a case statement is a way to educate, inspire and motivate your donors through the vital words and images that embody your campaign or cause.

“By living and sharing your mission and vision in your case, you will continue to attract donors and bring them closer to your organization.” says Sandra G. Ehrlich, director of fund development services at Zielinski Companies in St. Louis, MO.

Share your case statement in presentations, in stories, in direct mail appeals and newsletters and with major donors, says Ehrlich. “Share the case itself with some of your best donors and ask for their feedback,” she says. “You can also use the case to identify appropriate constituents for each need; to prepare marketing materials (e.g., letterhead, case cards, folders, etc.) and to track fundraising progress.”

Attracting Donors Through Your Case Statement

Photo by Dave Dugdale

Photo by Dave Dugdale

Knowing the keys to an effective fund development program—mission, vision and case—is important, but it is also important to remember that a gift to your organization is a gift to fill an unmet need in society. People are more willing to donate if they believe in the cause they are supporting. This is why you should design your case statement to focus on what will appeal to potential donors.

Donors will be attracted to your organization for these key reasons:

  • They believe in your organization’s mission, core values and vision
  • They believe in your organization’s unique qualifications to provide programs and services, both now and in the future
  • Their gift will change a life or save a life
  • They want to make a difference in their community through your organization
  • They believe your organization will use the funds effectively per their intent
  • They want to join others in a valuable cause
  • You asked them to make an investment in your organization and community

Craft Your Case Statement to Attract Donors

Photo by Ivan Walsh

Photo by Ivan Walsh

Creating a case statement is an effective way to inform others of the ideas and goals of your campaign. The keys to building an effective fund development program are your mission, vision and case statement. Development officers and potential donors need a clear picture of your organization’s true needs and the benefits generated by donors’ contributed funds. An effective way to communicate this is by crafting a case statement that is based on your organization’s mission and vision and serves as a well-planned development concept to attract donors.

The case is the “why” behind a fund development campaign. It clearly defines the essence of your organization’s needs. This is why creating a compelling case statement is one of the most important steps in initiating an effective fundraising program. It helps set the stage for the solicitations that will follow. To be effective, your case statement should engage the reader and capture their soul and spirit. It should outline your mission, vision, goals, objectives, programs and plans to meet your organization’s needs now and into the future.

If you’ve never taken the time to write your organizational case statement, get it done this December and start 2015 on the right foot!

Auditing the Development Function to Maximize Fundraising

Source: AMPERAGE

Source: AMPERAGE

Have you ever wondered how some nonprofits seem to be able to “kick it up a notch” in raising funds when they experience operating growth? It’s likely because they have a healthy development plan that grew out of a well done development audit.

Development audits assess sources of gifts, staffing, operations and communications of a development office. Once the data from the audit is analyzed, four main objectives often are presented:

  1. What gift levels should a nonprofit target and what is an appropriate mix of types of gifts?
  2. How large is the current donor base and how are donor information and records tracked? Are resources adequately allocated so goals and objectives can be achieved?
  3. How effective are current development and public relations programs? Who are the audiences and what are the best messages and tools to reach them?
  4. What should development office staffing look like for an organization at a certain size and what skills are important to maximize fundraising efforts?

Best practices and comparisons against national benchmarks should be used in the audit. As competition for charitable dollars increases, organizations cannot afford for development duties to slip in effectiveness or efficiency. Audits give insights and tools for future success.

Motivating Your Volunteer Leaders

Volunteer leaders are an important part of a successful volunteer effort. More importantly, motivating and inspiring passion in leaders is key to getting volunteers involved.

“Top leadership should be excited and exciting” wrote Ken E. Dove in “Conducting a Successful Capital Campaign.” If your top leaders aren’t excited about your campaign, you can’t expect them to get anyone else to be either.

Here are a few tips to motivate volunteer leaders, increase their productivity and reduce turnover:

Be organized, show appreciation and provide a positive experience

  • Make their experience meaningful and don’t take their commitment for granted
  • Remember they are volunteering their most valuable possession—time
  • Provide them with as much training as they need or request

Fundraising is all about relationships—people give to people, not just to causes. Before they give to your campaign, they have to know and trust you. That holds true for recruiting excellent leaders. Volunteers need to know you and your cause. Trust leads to commitment and committed leaders are the key to success. The more time you spend recruiting leaders and nurturing leadership, the more successful your campaign will be.