6 Nonprofit Strategies to Raise Money Like "Mr. Wonderful"

I could just say (1) prepare, (2) prepare, (3) prepare, (4) prepare, (5) prepare, and (6) prepare.

Did I mention that you really need to prepare?

Essentially, this is the meta-message of Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful,” Kevin O’Leary, to would-be entrepreneurs seeking to get spots – and funding – on the television show. And the same advice holds true for nonprofiteers seeking investments from major donors.

Clairity Click-it: Basket of Delightful Nonprofit Resources

Here are some goodies to help you raise as much money as possible during the last quarter of the calendar year! Keep your focus on inspiring storytelling that sets you apart from everyone else, yet don’t forget that who you tell your story to matters as much as how you tell it.  As does where you disseminate it (hopefully not just by snail mail, but also online and face to face). Click on these links to helpful articles I hope will delight you.

Clairity Click-it: Fall Extravaganza of Free Nonprofit Resources

It’s mid-September and we’re well on the way towards the year-end rush of “giving season!” Now it’s time to get serious about end-of-calendar-year fundraising.  It’s when folks are most generous, and you don’t want to miss out.  So while I’ll continue to offer links to articles and resources aligned with my top Dive the Fivefundraising fundamentals for 2016, and beyond, I’ll also include some practical, basic stuff that falls a bit outside these categories.

It’s all good stuff and, as usual, plenty of free resources too. I count seven freebies, and 17 great articles! I dare you not to find something you can use right now.

Clairity Click-it Long Week-End: Bounty of Free Nonprofit Resources

Welcome back from summer – at least for my North of the Equator friends.  I hope you had the opportunity to read through some of the resources I offered up in my Summer Click-it Extravaganza.  If not, there’s still time over this long week-end.

Now it’s time to get serious about end-of-calendar-year fundraising.  It’s when folks are most generous, and you don’t want to miss out.  So while I’ve continued to offer links to articles and resources aligned with my top Dive the Fivefundraising fundamentals for 2016, and beyond, I’ve also included practical, basic stuff that falls a bit outside these categories.  It’s all good stuff and, as usual, plenty of free resources too.

Clairity Click-it Summer Reading: Extravaganza of Free Nonprofit Resources

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesI’ve got a cornucopia of useful practical tools to help you here – enough to last the entire rest of the summer – and then some! If you don’t have time to click through to all these great resources now, this is a “Click-it” edition you’ll seriously want to tuck away for when you’re ready. If you use these tools, you’ll be a lot more effective. Why just work hard when you can work smart?

NOTE: As I’ve done throughout the year, I’ve organized these articles into categories aligned with my top Dive the Fivefundraising fundamentals for 2016, and beyond. Plus I’ve added a few articles with some great basics and specific tips. And plenty of free resources too.  And now… let’s dig in!

Nonprofit Overhead Worth: When is More not Less?

In A dollar more (vs. a dollar less) Seth Godin provocatively suggests you consider a race to the top.

This made me immediately think of the nonprofit overhead conundrum.  Too many nonprofits feel stuck with trying to justify the amount of money they spend on staff and infrastructure in a race to lure more donors to their cause.

The common wisdom (really nonsense) is that “a dollar less” is good. That the less you spend, the more effective you are.  “Lean and mean” is supposed to be a good thing.

Clairity Click-it: Culture of Philanthropy; Content Marketing; Newsletters + Opportunities

Clairity Click-it includes links to fundraising and nonprofit marketing resources from around the web.Hope you enjoyed/are enjoying the week-end! Please also enjoy these links. There’s all sorts of interesting stuff for you on boards and fundraising, storytelling, newsletters that make money, how to get better results from snail mail and more.  You’ll find some great training opportunities and five (count ’em!) free resources.

Culture of Philanthropy

Click-it: Turning Board Members into Fundraisers: Q&A with Claire Axelrad. Emily Wang of Network for Good recently interviewed me on this subject. If you missed it, here’s your chance to check it out.

Making the Most of Matching Gifts: 6 Easy Steps

Imagine you’re baking a cake. You put in the flour, eggs, milk, and sugar, whip it all together, and put it in the oven for an hour. But, when the timer dings and you open the oven door, you find that instead of one perfect cake, you have two!

This situation is physically impossible (unless you’re a wizard or a magician), but it’s a good illustration for how matching gift programs can benefit your nonprofit.

When donors take advantage of their employers’ matching gift programs, they essentially double the amount of money that they give to your organization. Two cakes (I mean, donations!) for the price of one!

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Successful Storytelling: 5 Foolproof Ways to Raise Money

Content is the heart of your successful fundraising strategy.

If you don’t sell it, you won’t connect with your audience.

And if you don’t connect with your audience, you haven’t got a snowball’s chance in you know where to persuade folks to give to you to further your mission.

This is where learning to become a master storyteller comes in.

I know you’ve heard this before. Storytelling is the meme du jour.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay real attention.

We’re in a content marketing zeitgeist.

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Clairity Click-it: Nonprofit Communication, Tools, Branding, Design, Metrics + Free Resources

Catch this Special Nonprofit Communications (includes year-end fundraising messaging) Edition!
Catch this Special Nonprofit Communications Edition (includes year-end fundraising messaging)!

This week’s Click-it is dedicated to the best ways to communicate your message as well as best ways to measure your success.

All of this is super important as we approach the year-end fundraising season.

  • Make sure your message is clear, catchy and relevant.
  • Use tools that make your life easier and assure that you get the biggest bang from your efforts.
  • And measure what works/what doesn’t; you’ll never improve if you don’t know to what to attribute your success or failure. That’s just sad.

If you’re not the person who might benefit most from some of these articles, please pass them along to those who might find them useful. Be good to your team!

Clairity Click-it: Major Gifts Edition

Catch this Special Edition!
Catch this Special Edition!

It’s October! We’re entering prime fundraising season, and there’s no better time to sharpen your major gift skills. So this week’s edition is dedicated to exactly that. From prospect identification to cultivation to asking to follow-up. At the bottom you’ll find some new free resources, a chance to participate in a crowd-sourced major gifts blog and a last chance to actively prepare for your major gifts solicitations with some dynamic webinars and a practice clinic. Ready?

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October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

Scream Pumpkin
H E L P! I need major donors!

I’m majorly S C R E A M I N G with delight to be hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival!

So majorly, in fact, that the subject this month is TRICKS or TREATS How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

Tell us your tricks – the ones that work! Do you HAUNT prospects through a series of managed ‘moves’?  Do you fly in on a BROOMSTICK and just drop in spontaneously? How do you put them under your SPELL?

Tell us some treats – ways you wow your donors! Smile like a JACK-O-LANTERN every time you think of them; then figure out a way to let them know? Give them lots of virtual CANDY (seriously, do you use social media for any part of your major gifts strategy)?

Clairity Click-it: Fundraiser’s Job; Year-End Tips; Social Media; Crowdfunding; Major Gifts

Mouse with computer mousee
Click it!

The end of the year continues to approach, and prime fundraising season is upon us! So today we have a couple of articles to remind you what your real job is as you prepare your year-end campaigns and strategies. Plus, some tips to help you amplify your fundraising team. And a bunch of social media tools, exercises and good advice; in 2015 social media should be an integral part of your end-of-year work plan. At the bottom you’ll find some new free resources and a last chance to prepare for your major gifts solicitations. Ready?

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Your Essential 16-Point Annual Appeal Checklist

Your 16-Point Fundraising Appeal Checklist
Get Your 16-Point Checklist Here and Take Your Fundraising Appeal to New Heights

Are you starting to worry about whether you’ll raise enough money this year to meet your goals? Are you concerned because last year’s appeal didn’t raise as much as you had hoped? Are you fresh out of ideas for what to put into an appeal to generate the giving response you need to sustain vital programs?  Fear not!  Help is on the way!  Just use this 16-point checklist before you send anything to your printer.

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Why are Good Nonprofit Fundraisers Hard to Keep? RESPECT

Can't get no...
I can’t get no…

Fundraisers report that money is the number one reason they leave their jobs [See Part I of this two-part series here]. While I do believe too many fundraisers are underpaid relative to their skill sets and performance, I’ve a hunch it’s not the real chief culprit for fundraiser dissatisfaction. What is?

Guess what? The reason is very similar to why donors leave you. If you read through this article, you’ll learn both (1) how to keep more fundraisers, and (2) how to satisfy, inspire and retain more donors.

Ready?

I gave you a hint in the title. Yup. It’s what Aretha Franklin famously sang about:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

It’s not just respect for fundraisers as individuals that’s lacking. It’s respect for their profession. For what it takes to succeed with development in a nonprofit organization. For what it means to be a part of a team — all working together towards the same goal — and why it’s impossible to succeed without a supportive infrastructure and culture.

And by the way, donors won’t thrive absent a supportive culture and infrastructure either. They’re looking to be a part of your community, your family, your way of life. If you won’t give them this warm, fuzzy, connected feeling — they’ll find someone else who will.

So what pre-conditions must be in place for fundraising staff, and donors, to want to stay?

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Why are Good Nonprofit Fundraisers Hard to Keep? MONEY

If you’re a fundraiser, does this sound like you?

Show me my money!!!

According to five years of research by Penelope Burk (culminating in her book, Donor-Centered Leadership) as well as a much-talked-about study by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, half of chief development officers plan to leave their jobs in two years or less and 40% plan to leave fundraising entirely. 

The number one reason fundraisers give for leaving is to earn more money.

What’s going on, and how can you fix it?

Is it about money, or something else?

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Still Time to Get 7 Perfect Holiday Email Subject Lines

Still stuck for subject lines for your year-end emails?

The subject line is like the outer envelope for direct mail. It’s the window into your message. Make sure it’s wide open and gives a glimpse of something that grabs folks’ attention. Make it intriguing, urgent, exciting, compelling, emotional, shocking or funny. The more useful and specific it is the better.

And by the way, if you’re not planning a series of year-end emails — get on it NOW! Did you know that a full third (33%) of December gifts occur on the 31st of the month? If you’re not putting forward your most compelling fundraising offer at a timed when folks are primed to give the most, you’re really missing your best opportunity.

In 15 Subject Line Examples for Your Holiday Email Marketing Ryan Pinkham provides inspiration that applies as well to nonprofits as to retail businesses.  Here are examples I particularly like, with thoughts about how you can use them to boost your year-end fundraising:

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Check Your Next Appeal Letter Against This 16-Point List Before Sending

Are you starting to worry about whether you’ll raise enough money this year to meet your goals?

Are you concerned because last year’s appeal didn’t raise as much as you had hoped?

Are you fresh out of ideas for what to put into an appeal to generate the giving response you need to sustain vital programs?

Fear not!  Help is on the way!  Just use this 16-point checklist before you send anything to your printer.

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How to Hire a Fundraiser: Practice and Psychology

I happen to currently be working with a number of nonprofits who are seeking to hire the perfect development officer. It’s got me thinking about what to look for in a candidate, and how to best assess someone’s likely ability to perform the job as you need them to perform it.

Of course, this will vary from organization to organization. But if you’re seeking someone to fill a one-person or two-person development shop, there is remarkable similarity in the performance habits (practice) and innate qualities (psychology) that will spell success.

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ONE BIG THING Your Nonprofit Must Do TODAY to Succeed in 2014

Adopt an integrated inbound marketing and fundraising strategy.

If you don’t know what that means, you’re in trouble. Read on.

If you do know, are you really doing it?

It’s time to stop pussy footing around this.

Here’s why:

(1) Nonprofit marketing and fundraising have changed more in the past five years than the preceding 50. I’m not kidding!  The digital revolution ended business as usual.

(2) Fundraising and marketing must be seamlessly integrated. They cannot be separate silos any longer.

Have you caught up with reality?

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Why We Stopped Building Pyramids: What Nonprofits Can Learn

 

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

The pyramids were built in Egypt. On the backs of slaves.  It took a very, very long time. The cost, in human terms, was untenable and unsustainable.

That’s why you don’t see many pyramids being built these days.

Except in nonprofits.

Where building the donor pyramid is still the holy grail.  Get ‘em in. Move ‘em up. Acquire through direct mail. Convert to monthly donor or sustainer. Acquire through events. Convert to mail. Up, up, up…. to the pinnacle of major and planned gifts!

Except for one tiny thing.

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How the ‘Diva of Dollars’ became the ‘Engagement Journey Guide’

 

Two equestiran riders on a journey
It’s about the journey, not the money.

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

Here’s a true story.  Some years ago, while working for a family service agency, we became involved in a discussion about job titles.  Should folks stay as directors or become v.p’s? Should my title remain ‘Director of Development’ or switch to ‘Advancement’ or ‘External Relations’? I researched titles elsewhere. Yada, yada, yada.  I finally said I really didn’t care.  Just call me ‘Maven of Money’ or ‘Diva of Dollars.’

I didn’t get it.

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Old MacDonald’s Theory of Outstanding Fundraiser Qualities: E-I-E-I-O

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

I’m about to reveal my Old MacDonald’s Theory of the qualities of outstanding fundraisers (you know how they say “the farmer is *out standing* in his field”)? Ahem.  Well… the outstanding farmer is surrounded by a chorus of E-I-E-I-Os.  The outstanding fundraiser is similar in many ways. S/he sings a similar tune and also works in a nurturing, productive space that enables cultivation and growth.

And that’s why I developed my E-I-E-I-O paradigm. Forget about all the nasty business of “it’s a jungle out there.” No, YOU (the fundraiser) work on a farm.

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6 Things Matchmakers Can Teach Fundraisers in an Era of Digital Darwinism

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

In many ways, what’s new is old and what’s old is new.  I read a lot of Brian Solis who speaks persuasively about The End of Business as Usual in an era where technology is advancing more rapidly than our ability to adapt. Yet we must adapt, or die. How do we do this, and what does this mean for fundraisers? I found food for thought in Solis’ recent article, The 9 Laws of Affinity in an Era of Digital Darwinism.

Rapid change can be dizzying. Ground yourself by remembering that though technology has changed, people have not. We have the same drives… needs… yearnings as prehistoric tribes.  It’s not just about survival. Darwin wrote about survival of the most empathic. We long for connection and meaning. In other words, it’s not just about the “fittest” but about the “fitting.”  Philanthropy provides that “fit opportunity” in spades (or, more aptly, in hearts).

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Why a Good Nonprofit Fundraiser is hard to Keep: Money – Part I

What’s love got to do with it? Show me the money.  I recently read Chronicle of Philanthropy contributor Holly Hall’s article about the need to Shake Up Development Offices and Curb Turnover. She cites Penelope Burk’s five years of research which have culminated in a new book, Donor-Centered Leadership as well as a much-talked-about study by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund that found half of chief development officers plan to leave their jobs in two years or less. And 40% plan to leave fundraising entirely.

What’s going on, and how can you fix it? Is it about money, or something else?

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4 Ways to Turn Your Nonprofit Blog Into Action – RCA Series Part III

Call to Action SignR.C.A. is about getting folks walking; not just talking.  It’s about good content and conversation that leads to your desired action. It refers to Relatable, Part I, Conversational, Part II, and Actionable. You remember this acronym by thinking about an RCA Victrola – that old-fashioned phonograph contraption that helped transport your grandparents and great-grandparents — and fire their imaginations — through the music that inspired them.

You want to transport your constituents with inspiring values and stories in the same way.  The reason you want to transport them?  So their inspiration will lead to engagement — action that helps to further your mission. So, today that’s what we’re going to talk about!  Ready for action?