How to raise more money at year-end without breaking the bank

Year-end is fundraising prime time. Most nonprofits receive 1/3 of their annual donations just in the last few weeks of December!

It’s daunting — but it’s also the easiest time of the year to raise more money!

We gathered the most successful fundraising strategies we’ve ever used. Then we created year-end fundraising tools that will help you stay ahead of the game throughout the entire season.
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Your Fundraising Infrastructure Matters!

Gail Perry wisely encourages you to build up a strong and effective organization by investing wisely in your fundraising infrastructure. It’s a choice, but a very important one. In her blog she lists a few examples of how you can invest in your infrastructure. Here are the suggestions I’d like to highlight and I put my own twist on why I think these are important.

  • Hire and keep competent staff. Your people make your fundraising plan go. You need to be willing to spend money to hire and retain great people. It is worth the investment.
  • Now that you have great people on your team, you should invest in their professional development. Even a seasoned fundraiser will benefit from additional training and education.
  • Purchase, use and leverage cutting-edge technology to manage and deliver your fundraising content. I’m writing this very blog post using an online software program that helps my team draft, edit and post content! How up to date is your donor database, email delivery program, social media management platforms, internal communication tools? Investing in new resources and training can create great efficiencies.

The big takeaway for me after reading Gail’s blog is that if you want to grow your fundraising results year after year, you should invest heavily in your people, systems, programs and technology.

Click here to read Gail’s blog. It is worth it.

Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat – Trainings This Fall

We want to radically improve the fundraising capacity of small-to-medium-sized nonprofits. One of the ways we do that is by getting as much fundraising knowledge out into the nonprofit world as we can.

Jim is teaching Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat and the benefits of the Virtuous Circle a few times this fall. He’s hosting a 4-part webinar series (each session takes a deep dive into one part of the circle) and a live training in Walla Walla, WA.

Here are the details:

Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat with Washington Nonprofits

  • When: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Location: Walla Walla, WA
  • Presenter: Jim Shapiro
  • Cost: FREE!

Do you ever feel like your fundraising appeals are broken or falling short of their goal? Do you know how to honor your donor’s heart for giving while asking boldly and clearly for what you need? Now you can learn how to write, design, and deliver great fundraising appeals that raise more money while honoring donors who want to give you a gift to make the world a better place. The fundraising fundamentals you will learn during this session can be applied to direct mail, special events, and major donor gift acquisition. Learn more and register here.

Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat: 4-Part Webinar Series with Washington Nonprofits

  • When: October 4, 6, 18 & 20 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
  • Where: Online
  • Presenter: Jim Shapiro
  • Cost: $60 –  WA NP Members; $120 – Non-Members

Encore! This series was so popular in the spring, Jim is doing it again:

If you’d like an easy-to-follow fundraising plan for your year, and you want to build trust with your donors, the Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat system is the answer. Oh, and you’ll raise a lot more money!

Come learn the secrets behind this proven, powerful system for communicating with your donors. Each webinar in the series will “go deep” on one integral part of raising money, and you’ll receive specific, easy-to-follow advice. By the end of the series you will have built an annual fundraising plan that is successful and repeatable! Plus, you’ll be confident. You’ll know your plan is proven and going to raise more money! Learn more and register here.

We hope you’ll be able to join one of these. And, check out other conferences, trainings and webinars on our speaking calendar.

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.