The Power of YOU at Shoreline Rotary

football coach

Since your job as a fundraising professional is often hectic and overwhelming, I thought you would be encouraged by a recent talk I gave to the Shoreline Rotary Club about how to move yourself to positive action and outcomes.

My work at Better Fundraising has allowed me to be a high school football coach for the past 24 years. The members of this particular Rotary Club know me as “Coach Shap.”

The group brought me in to talk since they were looking for a little “team motivation” before they set out to fulfill summer work projects in the community. I organized my talk around the three different kinds of power each of us has in our lives that can motivate positive action and produce great personal and professional results.

Here is a summary of what I shared.

The power of choice

We make choices every day that impact the outcomes and results of our day. We can choose to get out of bed on time or to be early to the next scheduled business meeting. We can choose to be kind to our spouse after a mistake has been made around the house, or give grace to our kids after a poor choice was made. The power of choice truly can drive results, actions, and our ultimately shape our perspective on life. Let’s choose to be positive and encouraging to the people we care about the most.

The power of people

I believe we become whom we surround ourselves with. If we choose to hang out with people that are positive and make good choices, they will have a positive influence on us. If we choose to hang out with negative people or friends that make poor choices, we eventually will get caught up in their way of thinking or in negative circumstances. My hope for you is that you can surround yourself with people that build you up and encourage you to be the best you that you can be.

The power of self-talk

The last area that I believe can truly make a difference in your attitude and performance is the power of self-talk. We tend to be our hardest critic. Most of us walk though our daily lives replaying in our mind self-talk that is negative and hurtful: “I’m not smart enough, strong enough, sharp enough, professional enough,” and the list goes on. The best thing you can do today to turn your day around is to fill your self-talk with positive comments. Be like the childhood story of the little engine that could. If you think you, can you will. If you think you can’t, you wont. It is that simple.

I hope these thoughts encourage you to take on the day with fervor and energy. You truly can make it a great day; it just comes down to how you choose to live your life.

Now go out into the world and choose to make it a great day!

$3 Million fundraising success. Learn how they did it!

Have you ever dreamed of raising $3 Million at one fundraising event? This happened last month for a nonprofit that follows our Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat fundraising system. Here’s how they did it . . .

  1. They identified their top donors and top potential donors and sent them an invitation to attend a weekend getaway. The organization paid for the hotel room while the donor was responsible for paying for airfare.
  2. The goal of the event was to get donations. Current donors were asked to give more than they had historically, while new donors were asked to give a first time gift.
  3. The organization planned the entire weekend from start to finish to present problems for the donor to solve with their giving.  Not to tell the donors how great the organization was, but to present donors with the ‘problems’ that the organization solved.  Then invite the donor to solve those problems with a gift.
  4. They asked the donors to give generously.  They talked about the power each person had — and the power they had collectively in the room when their gifts were pooled.

The result was amazing. The donors gave and they gave generously. The $3m goal was met. The largest gift was $1m while the smallest gift was $1,000.

This event proved that the simple act of asking donors with clarity and purpose can create amazing financial results.

Now, I realize that not every organization can raise $3 million in one weekend.  But I am confident that if you are able to identify your top donors, create a plan to ask them to give more than they are currently giving, and ask them with clarity and purpose, you can raise more money than ever before. You can do it!

5 Key Elements for Special Event Fundraising Success

It has been a busy time of year for fundraising events and the fun doesn’t slow down until late June. So, I thought I’d go a little deeper into the 5 key elements you need to have in place to have special event fundraising success.

Here they are:

  1. Have one goal for the event. Is it a friend-raiser or a fundraiser? You can’t do two things well at once, so pick one goal and make a plan to achieve it.
  2. Keep your special event short. There is nothing worse than a long special event, especially if it goes beyond the communicated end time. Your goal is to have your guests feeling fresh and energized – not checking their watches.
  3. Your event should be structured so that the “business” portion of the event is before the “fundraising” portion of the event. What I mean is you should schedule your announcements, board acknowledgment, comments about the organization, etc., BEFORE you state the need and ask event guests to make a donation.
  4. This leads to the most important point: your event should have a fundraising offer. Put simply, what problem will the donor solve by making a donation? Make your offer as measurable, simple and clear as possible. Then weave it in throughout the entire event; it should be mentioned when the ED speaks, it should be mentioned during the beneficiary story, and should be in the Ask.
  5. Successful fundraising events ask the donors to do something very specific with their money — and donors are challenged to give more than they originally thought they would. When making the ask, tell the potential donors in the room exactly what you want them to do and how best to make their gift. Be bold. Keep it simple. Make it easy for the donor to make a gift!

Assuming you have the right people in the room and you follow these 5-steps, you will increase your likelihood of fundraising success!

If you track your Donor Retention you will improve your Donor Retention!

Our friends at Bloomerang recently surveyed several hundred nonprofits about donor retention.  Then they created this great infographic to summarize their findings.

First, I’d encourage you to take a minute to view the infographic.  The more time you spend thinking about donor retention, the better.  We think retention is the single biggest indicator of whether your organization is communicating well you’re your donors.

Next, look at the third pie chart.  This basically shows that if you measure your retention rate, you’re more likely to improve it.  That’s incredible.  But it proves the old quote right; “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Be sure to measure your organization’s retention rate at least once a year.  You’ll know whether your donors are finding value in their gifts to you – and you’ll likely improve your retention just by measuring it!

Your Major Donors Are Waiting to Hear From You

Many of your major donors made a significant donation at the end of 2016.  If your organization is like most, some of your major donors feel like you haven’t Thanked or Reported back to them what happened because of their generous gift.

If you find yourself in this situation, and you feel bad for not being as proactive and appreciative as you should have been, don’t worry.  It’s not too late!

Now is the time to make sure you ‘close the giving loop’ with your major donors.  If you do this, they will be far more willing to make a significant gift in 2017!

Here’s what I suggest you do:

  1. If you don’t know who your top 30 donors are, then make a list right now!
  2. Identify when their last gift was and then see if you promptly Thanked them and ever Reported back to them.
  3. For your donors who were not properly Thanked or Reported to, create a plan to do so in the next 7 days.
  4. Pick up the phone, write a thank you note, send a picture of a completed project, etc. The work you do now to close the loop with your donors will pay big dividends later this year when you need to ask them again for a significant gift.

Don’t wait to work this plan.  Your donors deserve your proactive attention and communication.

Does Your Fundraising Event Need a Facelift?

Does your fundraising event feel tired, old and in need of a facelift?  If so, then here are a few pro tips to help you bring life back to your fundraising event — and raise more money!

Pro Tips:

  1. Keep your event short and to the point.  Most fundraising events leave their guests feeling tired and worn out.  You don’t want that.  You want them to leave feeling refreshed and feeling good after they make their charitable gift.  For banquet style events try to keep the entire event to less than 90 minutes.
  2. If the main goal of your event is to raise money, it is very important to put all of the typical business items at the beginning.  Then get to the storytelling and fundraising portion of your event.  The “typical business items” I’m talking about include announcements, introducing board members, having a program staff member talk, etc.  Put another way, anything that has little to do with the problem you are asking the donor to solve with their gift should be done quickly and right way.
  3. Create a great fundraising offer for your event, then weave your offer throughout the event from start to finish.  You fundraising offer should clearly communicate the problem you are asking the donor to solve and how much it will cost to solve it.  For example, “$60 provides a night of safety to a homeless Mom and her kids.”  Mention your offer throughout the night, building a case for it, so that when you come to the Ask it all makes sense to the people in the room.
  4. Ask!  I have attended way too many fundraising events where the organizers are afraid to ask the donors in the room to make a donation.  Be specific.  Tell the people in the room exactly what you want them to do and how to do it.

Use these pro tips to improve your next fundraiser.  If you can make your Ask simple, clear and bold, your donors will leave feeling great about you, the event and the donation they made to make the world a better place.

 

Raise More Money with Your Appeals

Here are five quick tips that will help your next appeal letters and e-appeals raise more money.   Print this out and set it next to your keyboard the next to you write an appeal.  Because if you do these things I guarantee you’ll raise more money!

  1. You have to ask for help. If you don’t ask boldly, fewer donors will give!
  2. Remind your donors of the need. Most donors need to be reminded multiple times of the need your organization meets or the problem your organization solves.
  3. Have an Offer. Put another way, your Offer should describe a specific thing that the donor’s gift will do or accomplish.  ask donors to help in specific ways. Your donors want to help, but can only help if they know how
  4. Tell a real-life story to illustrate the need. Don’t use big numbers or statistics, tell an emotional story.
  5. Remember that most donors won’t read the whole letter – but they will scan So use underlining or bolding to highlight the two or three most important things you want them to read.  Here’s what we underline in the letters we work on:
    • The need or problem.
    • The solution and it’s cost.
    • A bold request for the donor to give a gift today.

Those are the ‘big ideas’ that will help you be successful if you’d like to know even more, click here to watch a short video we made to help you.

Major Donor Fundraising: The Lonely Major Donor Rep – Is That You?

Major Donor Fundraising

Major donor fundraising work can be lonely work.

Unless you work for a large charity, odds are you have to manage a major donor portfolio AND are also tasked with other fundraising or administrative tasks.

Here are a few tips to help you improve your major donor productivity while improving your work life.

  • There is no need to feel lonely. Your major donors want to meet with you, talk with you about your work and help people in need.  Think of them as your friends.  Every day you have time in your calendar for coffee or lunch meetings.  Ask your major donors to meet with you for these normal, every day activities.
  • Reach out to other fundraising and major donor reps from organizations in your area. Meet once a month to talk about the work you are doing.  This is a great way to learn from others — and to share in the ups and downs of your work.
  • Ask a co-worker to hold you accountable to productivity goals. This can be anyone from your organization that you trust.  They don’t have to have any fundraising experience.  They just need to understand what you are trying to achieve and be willing to hold you accountable to that work.
  • Join a local fundraising association. Attend their classes, webinars, and conferences.  There is a community of fundraising professionals out there that love to share ideas.  Connect with them!
  • Ask your boss for clear productivity goals. This is true for your non-fundraising tasks as well.  If you are wearing multiple hats at your organization it is important for you to know what success looks like for each “hat.”  The more you know, the more you can grow!

I hope these ideas help you find ways to connect with others and encourage you to give your best effort each day.

Create a Donor-Centered Newsletter That Raises Money!

Repeat

Over the past few weeks we have blogged about how to Report back to your donors using donor-centered newsletters.

As you set out to do the important job of Reporting, here’s a short list of the most powerful tips to make your next newsletter a blockbuster:

  • It’s not about you!  Try to connect your donor directly with the beneficiary and limit (or preferably eliminate entirely) any organizational or institutional news.
  • Make it easy to scan and still get the message. Most donors have limited time to engage with your material. If they open your mailings, most are just scanning your newsletter for the highlights.  Really make sure your main message is in your headlines and picture captions – the things most likely to get red.  Don’t hide the good news at the end of an article!
  • While the newsletter is primarily a reporting vehicle, you should still ask for money.  Good newsletters raise lots of money! Balance the reporting and fundraising to give the donor great information about the impact of their giving and the chance to continue participating with your mission.  On a 4-page newsletter I do 3 pages of Reporting and use 1 page to present a need that donor can meet with a gift today.

Keep this list in front of you as you build your next newsletter. It will help you “keep the main thing the main thing” – and build a newsletter that Reports and raises money!