Role of the Board & Successful Fundraising Techniques

The rollercoaster ride that nonprofits have experienced since the beginning of the ‘great recession’ has been anything but fun!

Although the great recession began in 2007 according to the National Bureau of Economic Statics, the reality of its effects on nonprofits really hit home the day the venerable brokerage firm Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September ’08. Pretty soon nonprofit leaders and staff came to realize that how nonprofits managed their fundraising would be changed forever.

The Nonprofit Finance Fund provides financing, funding and advocacy services to nonprofits and funders nationwide. For the researchers among us, they are a fount of data. Their “Guide to Navigating Changing Times” provides answers and resources to help weather these difficult times.

An October 11 blog posting from David King, president Alexander Haas highlights “10 Lessons Learned from the Great Recession.”

  1. Relationships matter more than causes
  2. Serving on a board in not an honor, it is a real job with real responsibilities
  3. If you stop fund raising, you will stop raising funds
  4. Endowment is not an insurance policy against declines in earned and donated revenue
  5. Take donors for granted and they will take their donations elsewhere
  6. Financial acumen is, in fact, a requirement for nonprofit executives
  7. Your next campaign does not “have” to be larger than you last campaign
  8. We have a new definition for what we “need”
  9. The donor pyramid has been pinched in the middle (think hour glass)
  10. Fear of multi-year pledging has reshaped how capital campaigns are executed.

I have always been committed to a fundraising board. Last year I was asked to do a presentation on the “Role of the Board & Successful Fundraising Techniques.”

This presentation is a Call to Action for nonprofit boards to encourage ownership and enthusiasm for fundraising.

You are welcome to share with your nonprofit’s board of directors. I’d love to hear from you to learn of their response.

I know this is an extremely busy time for fundraising. We at Creative Solutions & Innovations wish you the very best in your quest.

Putting together the puzzle pieces for your end of the year fundraising

A very dear friend lost her husband unexpectedly. I wanted to make sure the nonprofit in which she had been very involved knew about the funeral. I also wanted to make a donation in his memory.

I hit the website knowing that I would easily find the needed contact information, since I had worked with the organization as a marketing communications consultant in 2008.

Imagine my surprise when I could not find any email addresses or phone numbers except to a central box.

What a wake-up call!

So, as you get ready for your end-of-the year push, I want to share my personal pet peeves that make me think twice before supporting a nonprofit:

  • No way to send an email and/or make a phone call to a specific staff member
  • Sending me a letter and/or an email addressed to ‘Dear Friend” – There’s just no excuse. You need to send personalized email and letters.
  • No one to answer the phone and/or respond to email the end of December – It boggles my mind when nonprofits completely close down during this most important fundraising period. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard from ‘almost’ donors who moved on to support organizations where they could reach a human being.
  • Making me hunt for a way to make a donation – A donate now link is not enough. Visitors to your website need to see a donate button regardless of where they land when they enter your site. Complement each page with a donate pitch with an easy to find donate button
  • Donate now buttons that don’t link directly to the donation page – For each extra click you are losing potential donors.
  • Donation pages without contact information and an address for regular mail – Personally I like to charge my donations. But, there are still people who like to send a check. Be sure to invite visitors to do so.
  • No way to make a tribute donation – I’ve developed deep relationships with nonprofits who provide a phone number and/or email address for tribute donation details. On the flip side I’ve crossed off nonprofits that don’t have some mechanism for making these gifts.
  • No personal thank you notes for online donations – Most online systems have an automated response system. Be sure and follow up with a personalized thank you.
  • A registration that promises an online newsletter that never comes

Don’t let these stumbling blocks keep you from reaping the end of the year fundraising benefits.

Do you have any suggestions ? We’d love to hear from you.

Have questions? Need more information?

Please contact me at deborah@creative-si.com.

Major Principles for Guiding Your Nonprofit Through a Marketing Lense

Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Recently I was speaking with a prospect and I mentioned the importance of nonprofit marketing. “Well, sure,” he said. “I know that ads and PR are important.”

That was not exactly what I meant! I soon realized we had verydifferent definitions of marketing.

What is Nonprofit Marketing?

“Marketing is so basic that it cannot be a separate function. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final results, that is, from the stakeholder’s point of view.” Marketing Guru Peter Drucker

I see nonprofit marketing as – the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with your donors, members, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders that result in value for both your organization and your stakeholders.

Below are 12 principles for guiding your nonprofit through a marketing lense:

  1. Always market your mission, not your current services. The ability to adjust its services to suit client need is key to ensuring the organization’s survival and its financial support.
  2. Carefully define whom your mission serves. You need to meet the needs of our corps stakeholders.
  3.  Measure your constituents’ needs. Research, research, research to ensure your programs & services resonate with your target audiences.
  4. Design programs that meet needs.
  5. Evaluate the success of programs & their relationship to your mission.
  6. Communicate regularly & consistently.
  7. Craft your messages to reflect how our mission affects your different audiences.
  8. Communicate in terms of your ROI even when it is not in monetary terms; quantify your economic impact.
  9. Celebrate your successes. Show how your ‘market diversification’ creates the funding to provide your services.
  10. Know your organizational elevator speech so you can articulate your vision & Competitive Advantage Statement.
  11. Keep a “face” on your marketing initiatives
  12. Evaluate often & be prepared to refocus your efforts.

Want a template for creating a nonprofit marketing plan? Please let me hear from you at deborah@creative-si.com