Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Friday, October 26, 2007

Donor communications and stewardship strategies workshop

Your year-end fundraising campaigns is working and the checks are beginning to coming in. Now what do you do? How do you find the time to effectively engage your donors to strengthen their relationship with your nonprofit? What communications strategies will increase their interest in your agency? What are effective stewardship activities that encourage gift renewal and increased support?

If you live in the Bay Area you can get answers to these and other questions Wednesday, November 14th from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Development Executive Roundtable FAB workshop I'll be facilitating at the San Francisco Foundation Center.

FAB ("Fundraisers Anxiety Busters") is a free, peer support network for intermediate and seasoned fundraisers, and nonprofit staff and volunteers with development responsibilities, to share fundraising strategies and tactics, meet challenges, and solve problems. I'm happy to announce our two November guest experts will be Dean Zaldue-Hilkene, Manager of Annual Giving at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Barbara Hirst, most recently the Associate Director of Development Major Gifts at California State University East Bay.

These events always fill up. So for more information or to register, please visit the DER website today.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Francisco Bay Area corporate philanthropy trends roundtable

Looking for an opportunity to meet some of San Francisco's leading corporate grantmakers? Then join me for lunch, Friday, November 9th, noon - 2:00 p.m., as DER, The Foundation Center and San Francisco Business Times co-host our annual Meet the Corporate Grantmakers roundtable. Last year's gathering inspired one of my favorite blog posts; I'm sure this one won't disappoint either.

In 2006, the San Francisco Business Times reports that the greater San Francisco Bay Area’s top corporate philanthropists increased their Bay Area giving to about $140 million. The panel plans to address current trends in how Bay Area corporations are selecting the organizations they support, showcase local corporations who were recently recognized at the San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Summit in July, and shine the spotlight on a new corporate donor in the region. Panelist include:

  • Randy Chun, Regional Vice President, Wells Fargo
  • Larry Goldzband, Manager, Charitable Contributions, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Rey Ocañas, SVP, Community Relations Executive, Wachovia Bank
  • Sylvia Samano, Vice President, External Affairs-Bay Area, AT&T California
Please visit the DER website for more information and to register online.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

What has 1 question and 13 answers? The November Giving Carnival!

Hey gang, the Giving Carnival is back in town. Let's go!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Where do you find your next fundraising superstar?

These days, there are few things more difficult than hiring a new fundraiser. There simply are not enough people to fill the ever growing number of development jobs. Recruiting more individuals into this field should be of critical importance for all of us.

The first step of creating a powerful job description is not only a helpful recruitment tool, but essential long-term planning guide and evaluation benchmark. Please take a some time to reflect on your goals and expectations for this position. Are you looking for a staff person, consultant or a volunteer? Full-time, part-time or temporary? What is the life stage of your organization? What gift markets do you want to develop? What is your hiring, as well as long-term support budget?

If you are having a hard time answering these and other questions, call up a similar nonprofit and ask to conduct an information interview with the head of their development efforts. I’ve found that fundraisers are, by and large, very generous with their expertise.

Ultimately, successful fundraising is a team effort, whether you are an all volunteer group or a large institution. The traditional model is a small, well-trained professional staff supporting a large group of volunteers, with occasional outside consulting assistance. The answers you get to the above questions, as well as which team member you are recruiting, will of course shape your recruitment strategy. However, you can’t go wrong with 1) looking to promote from within, 2) leveraging your personal and institutional network, 3) accessing professional trade associations or special interest groups, and 4) paid advertising.

Perhaps you have an intern who is ready to step into an associate position, or a manager who might be ready to take on a new director role with a little bit of coaching? Other options include forwarding your job announcement to contacts in your address book or asking your Board to do the same, attending a meeting of the your local fundraising association, or even advertising. If this is a high level position, you would be well served by putting together a staff/board search committee or even hiring outside professional experts.

With so many people making mid-career moves into the field, you may want to also try reaching out to local for-profit MarComm and Publicity groups for people with similar skills. There are a growing number of MBA graduates entering the nonprofit field. More colleges and universities have nonprofit management programs that you can approach. Many cities have nonprofit management support organizations or volunteer centers that act as information hubs.

Finally, don’t forget to ask your current funders. Experienced donors often already know the best fundraisers in your community.

These days -- and into the foreseeable future -- it is a job seeker’s market when it comes to fundraising. It is not uncommon for it to take six months or longer to fill an open position. Interim staff or consultants are temporarily filling many jobs. Because of these factors, do understand the salary scale for development jobs is higher than in any other nonprofit department. In fact, some Development Directors earn more than their Executive Directors.

One last piece of advice. When looking for your new superstar don’t just sell the position, sell your mission. That’s what’s going to attract someone to your organization with passion for the work, who can successfully raise funds for your good cause.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Humble lessons from an early morning blogger

When I started this blog, a little over a year ago, I thought of it originally as a marketing device. However, over time I have come to think of it more as a personal development tool. Writing forces me to think more clearly about my work and what I believe, while learning from other bloggers in order to stay relevant.

Today’s Thought Leaders are bloggers. Most of my fundraising peers, because of the daily demands of jobs and lives, are unaware of the fundamental changes happening in our industry. Without more intentional engagement and professional training, I fear in ten years the world will have passed many of us by. Posting on this blog, and more importantly, reading other blogs and commenting on them, is one way I keep current.

One side effect of viewing blogging as a personal development tool is that over time it has actually become an effective marketing device. Last week I used the Online Identity Calculator to see how I ranked. It gave me a 10 out of a 10 for effectiveness!

A Google search on my name brings up nearly 5,000 hits. Amazingly, the first 3 are actually about me, with 2 links to my website and 1 to my LinkedIn profile. Fifteen of the top thirty are also about me, and each listings is about my professional career as a fundraiser. Nearly all are blog posts, either one’s I wrote or one’s other bloggers wrote about me. This makes sense. Blogs are regularly updated and contain a lot of in- and out-links, so Google loves them. Clearly, writing a blog is one of the best things you can do to manage your online identity.

Not everyone needs a blog, just as not everyone needs a website. However, if you’re going to build a website, today there is no reason it shouldn’t include a blog, or better yet, be primarily a blog. There are many online services -- such as Blogger, WordPress or Weebly -- that are free and easy to use. If you haven’t started a blog, but are tempted, my best advice would be to first become a reader of other blogs. Google Reader is a good tool to use.

Having said that, I will humbly offer two caveats. First, blogging can become a black hole on your time. Set definite time limits and structure it into your activities like any other regular weekly task.

Second, this is still a secondary marketing strategy. Like advertising or public relations, it is hard to focus. Traditional off-line networking activities -- such as keeping in touch with past clients, cultivating relationships with other consultants and joining local associations -- is still the best marketing strategy for an independent consultant like myself.

Today my blog subscriber and readership base is still relatively small. Currently I have 141 subscribers, and daily visitors are measured in the dozens. However, I feel so lucky that each one of you has taken the time away from your busy schedule to read my words. Some of you are even from the other side of the world! For example, Francesco, Ioana and Daniele are three Italian fundraisers doing great work. Our recent connection may never result in a gig, but my life is much richer for it.

In fact, the presence of each of you reading this post today is a gift. Thank you so much for all you bring into the world.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Making your case in controversial situations

How should you respond to hostile or "challenging" questions when you’re representing your organization? How can you improve your “quotability” with the press? What’s the best way to take a stand when opinions differ?

For answers and other questions, please join me next Friday, October 12, noon - 1:30 p.m., for the Development Executive Roundtable (DER) monthly luncheon presentation. Our guest presenter, Melinda Henning, will offer two templates for organizing your thoughts as well as her best tips for managing stress in controversial settings. Note, this month we'll be meeting at Oakland's Preservation Park. Please visit the DER website for more information and to register online.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

56 more fundraising tips just for you

Following up on Friday's post, here are a few more blasts from the past for your perusal. Hope you enjoy.
6 steps for a revolution in nonprofit fundraising

10 top flaws that doom your grant request to the reject pile

10 reflections on giving and receiving

11 essential program evaluation resources

16 easy steps to implement a planned giving program