Praise for Nonprofit Fundraising 101
“Good stuff! A great, incredibly helpful tool for any cause looking to raise money, online or off.”
—Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple
“It’s not often you find such a distinctive twist on the world of fundraising. Professionals—and lead volunteers—will find this to be a practical, global, source of reference.”
—Andrew Watt, CEO, Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
“This must-have book provides a comprehensive breakdown of the strategies and tactics necessary to raise the financial resources essential to bring about the changes we seek.”
—Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1997); chair, Nobel Women’s Initiative
“Nonprofits and charities around the world struggle to secure the support needed to maximize impact, but that just got a bit easier thanks to the very practical lessons in Nonprofit Fundraising 101.”
—Dan Kammen, professor of energy, University of California, Berkeley; contributing lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“Nonprofit fundraising is really, really hard, and almost every nonprofit can use a lot of help with it. This book makes it easier by getting together a lot of useful, effective how-to information.”
—Craig Newmark, founder, craigslist and craigconnects
“This book is a gift to nonprofit leaders and fundraisers around the world!”
—Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children USA
“Billions of dollars of support flow to nonprofits around the world every year, and this book will help ensure your cause secures the resources it needs to thrive.”
—Bill Strathmann, CEO, Network for Good
“Nonprofits are fueled by two things: passion and money. Nonprofit Fundraising 101 helps show how the two come together and offers a quick intro for the beginner, or a deep dive for the experienced fundraiser.”
—Jacob Harold, president and CEO, GuideStar USA
“By providing a step-by-step framework for fundraising success across all disciplines, this book makes a much-needed contribution to those dedicating their lives to social change.”
—Charles Best, founder, DonorsChoose.org
“Whether you are a volunteer, board member, or executive director, Nonprofit Fundraising 101 is a complete guide to the do’s and don’ts of effective fundraising. I don’t just recommend it—I’m using it.”
—Greg Baldwin, president, VolunteerMatch.org
“This is an impressive collection of experts and practitioners, all with ideas and strategies proven by real experience. I’m thrilled to see this compendium of resources available to the nonprofit sector and know every fundraiser and executive director will soon have it on his or her desk!”
—Amy Sample Ward, CEO, NTEN
“When nonprofits consider launching social enterprises to supplement charitable income with earned revenue, Nonprofit Fundraising 101 provides an expert overview of the key factors for leaders and boards to think through at the outset.”
—Jim Schorr, CEO, Social Enterprise Alliance
“Nonprofit Fundraising 101 is a wonderful new tool as to ignite your Changemaker™ skills into action!”
—Nancy Welsh, executive director and CEO, Ashoka’s Youth Venture
“Social entrepreneurs at all levels of experience can benefit from this thorough text, which unlocks the secrets to earning more income and raising more capital for your cause.”
—Cheryl Dorsey, president, Echoing Green
“If you want to be a force for good in the world, fundraising is essential to furthering your cause. Nonprofit Fundraising 101 is an extraordinary resource, full of practical advice and wisdom gleaned from numerous sector experts. It has everything you need to succeed, all in one place.”
—Heather McLeod Grant, co-author, Forces for Good
“Beyond covering the traditional fundraising basics, Nonprofit Fundraising 101 does a great job clearly breaking down the secrets to success for groups interested moving into the digital age.”
—Wendy Harman, director, Information Management and Situational Awareness, Red Cross of America
“This book provides nonprofits and social entrepreneurs around the world with a new, powerful tool.”
—Will Kennedy, senior programme officer, United Nations Office for Partnerships
“An absolute must-read for anyone who is any way involved in fundraising.”
—Peter Brinckerhoff, author, Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits: Making the Right Decision in Good Times and Bad
“It’s not easy changing the world, but this book gives nonprofits and fundraisers a huge edge in the quest for impact.”
—Aaron Hurst, founder, Taproot Foundation; author, The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World
“If you’re looking to build the fundraising capacity of your organization, this book is a great starting point and offers a single point of entry for success.”
—Jeanne Bell, CEO, CompassPoint Nonprofit Services
“This book provides a helpful set of easy to understand and implement fundraising tips and tools. It is the perfect follow-up to Nonprofit Management 101.”
—Emmett D. Carson, CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation
“This book holds the key to catapult your mission forward. After working with social entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries, rarely have I come across a resource so useful and robust.”
—Ernesto Sirolli, founder, Sirolli Institute; TED Speakers
“Heyman offers a comprehensive approach to fundraising that is practical, helpful, and relevant to current issues. With many helpful tips, excellent examples, and relevant case studies, any reader will find this to be a valuable fundraising resource.”
—Nathan Medina, GPC, VP of the Board of Directors, Grant Professionals Association
N o N p r o f i t f u N d r a i s i N g 1 0 1
N o N p r o f i t f u N d r a i s i N g 1 0 1 a practical guide with easy to implemeNt ideas & tips from iNdustry experts
d a r i a N r o d r i g u e z h e y m a N w i t h l a i l a B r e N N e r
Cover design: Wiley
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Copyright © 2016 by Darian Rodriguez Heyman. All rights reserved.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey Published simultaneously in Canada
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Heyman, Darian Rodriguez Nonprofit Fundraising 101 / Darian Rodriguez Heyman. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-119-10046-1 (paperback); ISBN 978-1-119-10050-8 (pdf ); ISBN 978-1-119-10056-0 (epub) 1. Nonprofit organizations. 2. Fund raising. I. Title. II. Title: Nonprofit fundraising one hundred one. III. Title: Nonprofit fundraising one hundred and one. HD2769.15.H49 2016 658.15’224—dc23
978-1-119-10050-8 (ePDF) 978-1-119-10056-0 (ePub)
ISBN: 978-1-119-10046-1 (pbk)
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
I dedicate this book to my beloved grandmother, Martha Heyman. I love you, and I thank you for a
lifetime of service to our family and to the community. You taught us all the value of family, the love of
travel, and the joy of serving others.
To my mother, Lori Steele, for teaching me to believe in myself, and that I could do anything I put my mind to. I love you.
About the Book xvii
Foreword: Discovering What It Means to Be a Fundraiser xxvii Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources
Part 1: Planning for Success and Preparing Your team 1
Chapter 1 Creating a Fundraising Plan 3 Interviewee: Andrea McManus, president of The Development Group Insets: Dispelling the Overhead Myth; Sample Fundraising Plan
Chapter 2 Hiring and Training Development Staff 13 Interviewee: Missy Sherburne, cheif partnerships officer at DonorsChoose.org Inset: Get Your Executive Director to Love Fundraising with Brian Gougherty, director of major gifts at Worldreader
Chapter 3 Engaging Your Board 25 Interviewee: Lisa Hoffman, fundraising and board development consultant
Chapter 4 Volunteer Fundraising 37 Interviewee: Simon Tam, director of marketing at Oregon Environmental Council Case Study: APANO
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Part 2: Building Your toolkit and tracking Progress 45
Chapter 5 Prospecting and Donor Research 47 Interviewee: Helen Brown, co-author of Prospect Research for Fundraisers: The Essential Handbook and president of the Helen Brown Group
Chapter 6 Donor Databases and CRM 57 Interviewees: Suzanne DiBianca, president and co-founder of Salesforce.com Foundation, and Peggy Duvette, director of social impact at NetSuite
Chapter 7 Measuring Impact: Data, Stories, and Organizational Dashboards 65 Interviewee: Stever MacLaughlin, director of analytics at Blackbaud Inset: Outputs Versus Outcomes Case Study: charity: water with Kaitlyn Jankowski, supporter experience manager at charity: water
Part 3: Individual Donors 77
Chapter 8 Grassroots Fundraising: Building Your Donor Pyramid 79 Interviewee: Kim Klein, author of Fundraising for Social Change and principal of Klein & Roth Consulting Inset: Don’t Be Afraid to Dream Big
Chapter 9 Major Donors: Building Relationships, Making the Ask, and Stewardship 87 Interviewee: Kay Sprinkel Grace, author of Beyond Fundraising and fundraising consultant Inset: Tracking Major Donors in Databases
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Chapter 10 Direct Mail: The Ins and Outs 99 Interviewee: Mal Warwick, author of Revolution in the Mailbox and founder and chairman of Mal Warwick | Donordigital
Chapter 11 Year-End, Annual Appeals, and Membership Campaigns 107 Interviewee: Farra Trompeter, vice president at Big Duck and vice chair of the board at NTEN Inset: Sample Year-End Campaign Calendar
Chapter 12 Event-Based Fundraising 117 Interviewees: Tracy Kosolcharoen, marketing manager at Eventbrite, Daniel Lurie, CEO and founder of Tipping Point Community, and Jen Pitts, managing director of communications, events, and development at Tipping Point Community Inset: Van Jones’ Live Ask Recipe with Van Jones, CNN correspondent and president and co-founder of Dream Corps
Chapter 13 Runs, Walks, and Rides: Community-Based Fundraising 133 Interviewee: Jeff Shuck, founder and CEO of Plenty Case Study: Kyra Millich, volunteer fundraiser
Chapter 14 Fundraising Across the Generations: Millennials, Baby Boomers, and More 143 Interviewees: Alia McKee, principal of Sea Change Strategies, and Derrick Feldmann, president and founder of Achieve Inset: The Generations: What Fundraisers Need to Know
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Part 4: online Fundraising 153
Chapter 15 Maximizing Website Donations 155 Interviewee: Caryn Stein, vice president of communications and content at Network for Good, and editor of The Nonprofit Marketing blog Case Study: Mercy House, by CommitChange
Chapter 16 Fundraising with Email 165 Interviewee: Kivi Leroux Miller, author of The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause and president of NonprofitMarketingGuide.com Inset: Email Cheat Sheet, by CommitChange
Chapter 17 Social Media and Crowdfunding for Your Cause 175 Interviewees: Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit and blogger, and John Haydon, author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies and founder of Inbound Zombie Inset: P.O.S.T. to Social Media Social Media Case Study: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with Lance Slaughter, chief chapter relations and development officer at the ALS Association
appendix Practical Tips for Key Social Media Platforms 189 Crowdfunding Case Study: RE-volv, with Andreas Karelas, founder and executive director at REV-volv
Chapter 18 Mobile Fundraising 195 Interviewees: Heather Mansfield, author of Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits and principal blogger at Nonprofit Tech for Good, and Tanya Urschel, nonprofit vertical manager at PayPal Insets: Planning for Success: The Mobile Matrix™ by Sparrow: Mobile for All; Text-to-Give
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Part 5: Foundations 205
Chapter 19 Research, Getting in the Door, and Securing an Invitation to Apply 207 Interviewees: Tori O’Neal McElrath, author of Winning Grants Step by Step and founder of O’Neal Consulting Services, and Leeanne G-Bowley, manager of capacity and leadership development at Foundation Center and artistic and executive director at In-Sight Dance Company Insets: The Different Kinds of Foundations; Types of Grants
Chapter 20 Government Grants 221 Interviewee: Joshua Sheridan Fouts, executive director at Bioneers Inset: Where to Find Government Grants
Chapter 21 Writing a Winning LOI and Proposal 227 Interviewees: Susan Fox, co-author of Grant Proposal Makeover: Transform Your Request From No to Yes and fundraising consultant, and Jane C. Geever, author of The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing and founder of J.C. Geever
Chapter 22 Tracking Progress and Reporting Back 235 Interviewee: Beverly Browning, author of Grant Writing for Dummies and vice president of grant writing services at eCivis Inset: Logic Models
Part 6: Corporate Support 243
Chapter 23 Sponsorships 245 Interviewee: Maureen Carlson, president of GoodScout Inset: Sponsorship Proposal Template
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Chapter 24 Cause Marketing Partnerships 255 Interviewees: David Hessekiel, co-author of Good Works and president of Cause Marketing Forum, and Joe Waters, author of Cause Marketing for Dummies and founder of Selfish Giving Inset: Cause Marketing Proposal Tips
Chapter 25 In-Kind Fundraising and Media Sponsorship 265 Interviewee: Gayle Samuelson Carpentier, chief business development officer at TechSoup Global
Part 7: Unlocking Social enterprise 273
Chapter 26 Earned Income Strategies 275 Guest Contributor: Rick Aubry, professor of social enterprise at Tulane University and founder of Rubicon Programs Social Enterprise Case Study: Grow Dat
Afterword: Finding Your Path 287 Premal Shah, president and co-founder of Kiva.org
Closing Thoughts 291 Book Partners 295 About the Authors 317 Index 319
About the Book
“You don’t have to know all the answers, you just need to know where to find them.”
There’s a story I like to tell whenever I address an audience of nonprofit fundraisers. It speaks to what I think of as the single greatest obstacle standing in our way as a community, and especially as a sector—the mistaken notion that when we raise money for an important cause, somehow we’re begging for alms, holding out our tin cup.
The story is about a young college student in a philosophy class. One day, the professor greeted his audience of 100 master’s and doctoral students with a question. “Is this glass half full, or half empty?” he asked.
The students spent the entire 90-minute class debating and discussing, but as you might imagine, they never solved the age-old riddle. This especially frustrated one of the students, whose family had made great sacrifices to put him through school, even after he finished his undergraduate studies.
He huffed and puffed on his way home, where his grandmother, Gertrude, was there waiting for him.
“How was class today?” she asked as soon as he walked in the door, but the student was upset and didn’t want to talk about it. She pressed him, as grandmas are prone to do, and finally he told her about his experience.
“Well, if you really want to know, it was incredibly frustrating. We had a hundred master’s and doctoral students sitting around for an hour and a half, and all we did is debate if the glass were half full, or half empty.”
His grandmother, with only a second-grade education, didn’t miss a beat.
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“Well son, it depends on whether you’re pouring or drinking.”
Pouring . . . or drinking. Brilliant. And the reason I share this story with fundraisers every chance I get is that I believe the tin cup approach to fundraising is based on a failure of perception. We mistakenly think of ourselves as the drinkers, relying on the charitable contributions of others to conduct our work. And although it may feel like that at times, nothing is further from the truth.
We are the pourers. What we do as a sector, as a Movement with a capital “M,” is connect people with resources to the change they want to see in the world. Fundraising is holy work in my mind, and we’re privileged and honored to do it for causes we believe in. The world needs us—we are a conduit, a channel. And through us, the world finds the resources and support it needs to thrive, or at least to improve in some small way, one dollar, peso, or pound at a time.
Book Overview and Purpose
Our goal when writing this book was to offer a useful, unique resource to you, the reader. Laila and I may not know you, but we’ve been where you are. You’re passionate, creative, and committed to your cause. Maybe you have resources, expertise, and contacts at your disposal, as we have these past years, or maybe you’re like us years ago, starting nonprofits with no budget, no plan, and no experience. Either way, this book will serve you. After more than a decade in the sector, we’ve seen lots of fundraising books, but there’s nothing like what we’ve pulled together in these pages. This book is the first comprehensive, practical guide to all aspects of nonprofit fundraising around the globe.
Ultimately, this is a reference manual, and not every fundraiser needs to know about every tactic or strategy. It’s unlikely that you’ll read this book straight through, and that’s OK; Nonprofit Fundraising 101 is intended to be your yellow pages for social change. Apply it as needed. Keep it on your desk and when you decide to pursue your first government grant, or your executive director charges you with creating a fundraising plan for your nonprofit, it’ll be there. Break it out when you get ready to launch a new crowdfunding campaign or finally commit to taking your cause mobile. Or simply refer to the various Resource Reviews and the Book Partners if you’ve already mastered the basics and are looking for resources to advance your professional development.
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Use the book as you see fit and, please, share it with colleagues and peers. All of us can learn a lesson from Chapter 9 interviewee, Kay Sprinkel Grace, who once quipped, “We need to tilt our silos on their sides, and turn them into pipelines.”
Book Structure and Style
To make the book as readable as possible, we’ve crafted a consistent framework for all of the chapters, which is in line with the one used in Nonprofit Management 101:
• Introduction: Each entry starts with a short overview of why a busy nonprofit leader like you should take 20 to 30 minutes out of his or her schedule to learn more about this topic. Which kinds of nonprofits can benefit from this strategy, and what does this approach have to offer your cause?
• Critical Skills and Competencies: This portion typically contains 70 to 80 percent of the content for each chapter, and is where you’ll find the step-by-step framework for success in each respective arena. We’ve done our best to distill each interviewee’s comments and insights into a how-to formula for success, presented in a logical progression with several main headlines, each of which is followed by a few paragraphs to fill in the specifics.
• Conclusion: A paragraph at the end of each chapter helps to underscore key points and takeaways, reminding you of some of the highlights and crucial components of the formula for success.
• Do’s and Don’ts: These are bullet point lists of concrete, actionable tips from within the chapter and beyond, each of which is distilled down to a sentence or two to make it as easy as possible to digest.
• About the Experts: Brief bios for each chapter’s interviewees are included at the end of their respective chapters.
• Resource Review: The final component of each chapter is where you’ll find additional resources to learn more about that particular discipline. Many of these also offer helpful templates, resources, and reports to keep you updated as trends and technologies evolve. These resources are a treasure trove, so be sure to subscribe to the newsletters and blogs, read the annual reports and books, and rely
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on the links outlined here to keep abreast of industry trends and developments.
• Case Studies and Insets: Sprinkled throughout the chapters are a variety of case studies that showcase specific nonprofits’ experiences, with a focus on best practices and pitfalls to avoid. In addition, you’ll also find a range of insets that dive a bit deeper into a specific component mentioned in the chapter, or that provide templates, checklists, and more.
All the chapters are short and incredibly practical, and our goal with this book is not simply to leave you inspired, but inspired to action. Short and to the point, we share concrete, real-world insights, tips, and tools from globally recognized experts, and leave you with clear takeaways that you can put to work immediately, making you both more effective and efficient at serving your cause. As recovering executive directors and current fundraisers, we know you’re busy, and the last thing you need are pie-in-the-sky ideas and concepts that may make you think, but that fail to immediately help, and even transform, the way you go about your everyday work.
From a style standpoint, we strived to make the book easy to read and digest. Paragraphs are kept short to facilitate ideas sinking in, and we’ve used a conversational tone, since ultimately, we are talking directly to you. We’ve also formatted things in a way that aims to help you retain the most important ideas without you feeling like you have to bend every other page or break out that old, faded highlighter. To this end, important points and comments are italicized, while concrete takeaways and best practices are bolded and italicized throughout the book. You’ll see a wealth of the latter in each and every chapter, because for us, that’s what this publication is all about.
Admittedly, many of the interviewees and statistics are from the United States, but this book is intended for a global audience of experienced practitioners and emerging leaders, including university students and volunteers. To this end, we’ve done our best to ensure Nonprofit Fundraising 101 speaks to nonprofits, charities, and causes all around the world. So don’t worry if you’re just getting started, or if you’ve been in the sector for a decade. Similarly, there’s great content in here for organizations of all sizes. The tips and tools shared herein are relevant to organizations ranging from small, grassroots efforts with no paid staff, to well-established nonprofits with big budgets and a large team of paid professionals.
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This book covers a wide range of fundraising topics; in fact, our goal was to address a truly comprehensive range of disciplines, offering readers one single book that provides at least a basic sense of everything you need to know. As such, there are a huge diversity of perspectives and topics represented in these pages, but three important common themes and ideas appear throughout:
Plan for Success: Many of the frameworks and formulas for success shared in the chapters start with—or even revolve entirely around—creating a solid plan. Planning is the lynchpin of any nonprofit’s success, and in fact you’ll often hear us share one of the questions we find most helpful when driving this process, “What does success look like?” Ask this question at every meeting, every strategy session, and reverse engineer how to achieve your ideal outcome. Take a moment to step back and envision your path before you dive into any activity or project to ensure you’re as impactful as possible. As Peter Drucker once noted: “Efficiency is about doing things right; effectiveness is about doing the right things.” Good planning helps you be both efficient, and effective.
Meet People Where They’re at: Several chapters speak to the notion that you cannot expect donors to come to you; you need to court and steward them where—and how—they’re most comfortable. Whether we’re talking about the importance of ensuring your website is mobile-compatible, talking about Facebook and Twitter, or underscoring the huge, continued role of more proven approaches like direct mail, the point is that, to be successful, you must take a dispassionate look at which channels and media are most appropriate for achieving your goals. Along those lines, this book contains some surprises. For example, did you know that 2013 was the first year in U.S. history that Baby Boomers were just as likely to give online versus by direct mail? Or did you realize that odds are, at least 40 percent of your nonprofit’s website traffic today comes from people on mobile devices? Keep an open mind and be willing to experiment with some of the ideas and tactics shared in this book, always with an eye toward the old mantra, “fail fast, fail forward.”
It’s Not About You: As we shared in the story at the beginning of this section, nonprofits are a channel, a conduit, between donors and impact. The most successful nonprofits and fundraisers communicate not about their work, needs, or impact, but rather about the impact the donor or prospect makes
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possible. Talk with people about what drives them to act and contribute— about what their past support has enabled or their future contribution will make possible—and revenue will follow. Several chapters build on this idea by speaking to the power of peer testimonials and creating a movement instead of a campaign. And remember, people want to be part of a winning team, so framing your work as powerfully as possible is critical. Always the inspiring and inspired communicator, Kay Sprinkel Grace shares two great sound bites that bring both of these key points home in Chapter 9 when talking about major donors:
“People don’t give to you; they give through you.”
“People don’t give to you because you have needs. They give to you because you meet needs.”
Flow of the Book
Nonprofit Fundraising 101 is broken into seven parts. After a Foreword from fundraising guru Lynne Twist, we kick things off with Part 1, where you’ll learn about a few crucial aspects of planning and maximizing human resources. How can you create a killer fundraising plan without killing yourself? How can you hire and train fundraising personnel and engage your board and key volunteers in fund development?
From there, Part 2 will help round out your infrastructure with a range of tools to track donors and gauge progress. You’ll learn how to use tools and technology to identify donor prospects and research their interests, hear about how a constituent relationship management platform can serve as a powerful donor database and coordinate all your communication and contacts, and finally how to collect the right data and personal stories to be able to gauge your efforts and convey impact to donors. All of this rolls up into a powerful organizational dashboard that your staff and board can use to quickly tell whether your nonprofit or program is on track, or if there are red flags that need to be addressed.
Then you’ll dive into the meat of the book: actual fundraising strategies. Part 3 focuses on all aspects of individual donors, which represent the lion’s share of nonprofit support, at least in the United States. We interviewed some of the sector’s best and brightest to ensure this book shares concrete tips and tools for a wide range of disciplines related to cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding supporters at all levels
A b o u t t h e B o o k x x i i i
of your donor pyramid, ranging from grassroots supporters to major donors. Part 3 is also where you’ll find the specific channels for doing that, including direct mail, annual appeals, membership campaigns, and events, as well as learn about how to raise money from people both young and old.
Part 4 explores the exciting world of online giving, starting with tips for optimizing your website and email, which is where the majority of technology-based fundraising currently occurs, and then looking at social media and crowdfunding’s ability to turn your donors into fundraisers, and finally, what can be argued is the future of giving: mobile. Here our experts will share tips for doubling your online giving in just thirty days. And if you’re hoping to create the next ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, this is the section where you’ll hear from the folks who orchestrated that campaign via a detailed case study, as well as learning from a wide range of experts with decades of experience under their belts—and literally more than a billion dollars raised online between them. With their help, you can take your nonprofit into the future, today.
Parts 5 and 6 share a range of tips and tools for institutional giving. Learn how to identify the most likely prospects, secure the all-too-elusive call or meeting, and not only be invited to apply for foundation, corporate, or government support, but how to secure crucial pieces of information that will catapult your odds of success from 5 percent to 50 percent. The interviewees follow that with tips for writing a great proposal and how to monitor your progress and report back in a language that funders appreciate and expect. And beyond straight cash support, we’ve devoted a chapter to in-kind and media sponsors, as we’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact those partnerships can have on both a fledgling nonprofit and a well-established organization, even though they’re infinitely easier to secure.
Finally, the book ends with Part 7, where guest contributor Rick Aubry shares and explores the ins and outs of earned income for nonprofits. If you’re considering launching a social enterprise in an effort to diversity your revenue base, don’t miss this chapter. And as long as we’re in the world of social enterprise, what better way to wrap things up than with an inspiring Afterword by Kiva.org founder Premal Shah.
Again, this book is a reference guide, so feel free to skip around. Pick the chapters that you find most compelling and useful today, and don’t be surprised when other topics pop up on your radar as times goes by. After all, change is the very essence of life, and it’s ultimately the goal of all nonprofits, isn’t it?
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We’d be remiss if we neglected to introduce this book without a quick note on fundraising ethics and, most notably, commission-based fundraising. As you implement the best practices shared in the coming pages, always remember that the public expects you to be honest, accountable, and transparent. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Code of Ethical Standards (www.afpnet.org/files/ContentDocuments/CodeofEthics. pdf ) provides a comprehensive overview of ethical aspirations and boundaries for fundraisers. An ethical fundraiser applies the Code of Ethics and all relevant laws and regulation to their work.
In particular, unlike the corporate world, in the nonprofit sector, donors and funders can mandate exactly how their gifts are to be used. You are ethically and legally bound to use funds as directed by the donor. If someone states he wants his donation or grant to be used exclusively for a specific program, or even a particular line item in your budget, then you need to take all proper measures—especially bookkeeping, accounting, and measuring program expenditures—to ensure those funds are used as directed.
Whether you’re a consultant or a paid staff member, remember that in the nonprofit sector, commission-based fundraising is considered unethical. Standard 21 in the AFP Code of Ethical Standards addresses this principle. Deviating from this simple guideline can have devastating implications for your nonprofit and on donor relationships. Supporters want to know their gifts go to the mission-based work of your organization, not to a glorified salesperson. This, too, is very different from the corporate world, where performance-based compensation is common. In short, in the nonprofit or social sector, every fundraiser is expected to do his or her best to represent the organization or client, and to be paid fairly for work out of the organization’s budget.
As you begin, or continue, your journey doing your best to represent a cause you care deeply about, may this book serve as a useful guide—to you, to your cause, to the people whose lives you make better every day you go about your work, and ultimately to the public trust we serve as fundraisers.
First and foremost, I offer thanks and congratulations to Laila Brenner, without whose contribution this book never would have been possible. Laila, you are a joy to work with, and I admire your great writing and unwavering commitment, even while expecting your second child. I look forward to working with you again.
Thanks also to John Wiley & Sons for graciously offering to publish my second book and for being an understanding and flexible partner. I offer a deep bow of humble appreciation to the 121 interviewees and partners who shared their time, insights, and resources, ensuring this book offered truly useful tips and tools for nonprofits and fundraisers, and providing invaluable marketing support around its release. Thanks to my colleagues at Sparrow for their support of this project and for their work helping nonprofits employ the power of mobile technology to better serve the poor. I also want to thank the two other sponsors of this book, Eventbrite and CommitChange, for their invaluable support as well as the Association of Fundraising Professionals for their incredible endorsement, and Social Media for Nonprofits’ Ritu Sharma, for being the catalyst for this project.
I thank my family in Argentina for showing me firsthand how challenging yet rewarding philanthropy can be on a personal level. To the Heyman family, my mishpocheh, thanks for providing me with the support and love I needed to experiment and discover my path. In particular, I’d like to thank my brother for being the best thought partner I could ever ask for and for always being in my corner, even when things get hard. Paulo, you can never lose me. And most of all, I offer gratitude to my mother, Annette. Mom, you taught me how to love and helped me see that, no matter how much I work to change the world, ultimately what really matters is helping one person at a time.
Foreword Discovering What It
Means to Be a Fundraiser Lynne Twist
“You will find as you look back upon your life, that the moments you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”
I discovered my passion for fundraising when I was in kindergarten in Evanston, Illinois. My oldest sister had just gotten the lead role in the school play, but there wasn’t enough money to buy costumes or sets because of a budget crisis. I saw how heartbroken she was, so I went to my teacher and asked if there was anything our class could do to help. Turns out I wasn’t alone in wanting to support the cause, and I’ve often found since then that when you take a stand for something you believe in, it inspires others to follow your lead.
As Goethe once said, “Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” The entire kindergarten class ended up selling chocolate chip cookies and lemonade outside our school every afternoon, and on weekends, until we’d raised enough money to support the play. Our actions inspired the rest of the school, including the PTA and Board of Education, to step up and look at how they could solve the budget crisis. At just five years old, this was a life-altering experience for me; it ignited my passion and helped me realize that fundraising is an act of love. We were a bunch of children who couldn’t read or write, add or subtract, but we could fundraise with homemade cookies and lemonade! I remember thinking how amazing it was that, out of an act of love for my sister, we were able to solve a problem and help turn the tide for the whole school.
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This first experience with fundraising taught me that it took commitment and courage to raise money. Ever since, I’ve seen it as an act of love and affirmation. We all know that giving is an act of generosity, and often love, commitment, and vision; but I think that asking also taps into a very powerful part of the human heart. To me, fundraising is sacred—it’s holy work, and I’m privileged and honored to do it. Fundraising enables people to move their resources toward what they really believe in. It’s how we shift people’s relationships with money, showing them it can be used to empower and inspire us to be the best people we can be, while nourishing others around us.
At this time in history—the first decades of the 21st century—one of the greatest things we need to come to terms with as a species is our use of resources: the earth’s resources; human resources; and, of course, financial resources. We need to recognize that we’re at a critical juncture, where until we learn to live within our ecological means, we won’t learn to live within our economic means. We need to look at how to move away from overconsumption, destructive causes, and depletion of the natural world, and reallocate resources toward our highest commitments, allowing them to nourish our lives, and the health and well being of all humanity. Fundraising is how we can, and are, doing this. Every time you raise money for a cause you care about; every time you cultivate or steward a donor; and every time you make an ask, you’re taking a stand for the just, equitable, and sustainable world we all dream of.
As fundraisers, when we ask someone for money, whether it’s online, in person, or through a letter or phone call, what we’re actually doing is saying to that person: “I see you. I see your heart and your generosity. I see that you have a vision, and that you care about the world. That is why I am asking you to help.” You aren’t trying to manipulate people—you are affirming them. You’re inviting them to leave our planet in a better state than we found it. As fundraisers, our job is to listen to who people really are and then to reconnect them to their courage, and to their heart. Is your cause a match for what they really care about? It’s been my experience that if an ask is done with respect and love, regardless of that person’s capacity to give, the encounter ennobles both parties and inspires us to step into our best selves.
In my workshops, I talk about the three rules of fundraising. The first rule is ask for the money. You can’t be afraid to ask. It’s critical that you are willing, eager, and completely comfortable asking people for money. You need to ask
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clearly and unapologetically. Be proud to invite support for a cause both you and they care about.
Rule number two is ask people who are committed and want to make a difference. Find people who want to leave this planet better than they found it. In fact, they’re all around you, every day you go about your good work. People care, and they want to be part of the solution. Your cause or organization can represent that solution.
That leads us to rule number three, which is ask everyone, because everyone is committed at some level and wants to make a difference with their lives. Your role as a fundraiser is to help people see their commitment, and then to show them a way to make a difference.
One of the most important lessons to learn as a fundraiser, is that it’s OK to ask people and have them say no. If done with respect and love, and acknowledgment and the affirmation that people want to make a difference with their lives, every fundraising ask can open the heart and is a win for humanity. Fundraising encounters will not always create money for your cause, but regardless they can unlock something in people and help their generosity to flow in the direction that’s right for them. Often when people say no, you’ve helped them realize that they actually want to give to something else that they care more about. We’re all in this together, so it’s important you still see this as a win.
One of the other most important fundraising lessons I’ve learned is that coming from a place of need is not sustainable. In Chapter 9, Kay Sprinkel Grace shares that people don’t give to you because you have needs; they give to you because you meet needs. Crisis fundraising—especially in the aftermath of things like natural disasters—has its place, but it’s not a strategy that can lead to long-term success. Effective asks don’t come from a place of crisis or scarcity. To be successful, fundraising must be expressed as an opportunity to partner with a nonprofit to make a difference. Rather than “we can’t do this without you” or “our work depends on your support,” aim instead for the sentiment: “Who’s with us?” This way, there is dignity and respect in the relationship, and you create a partnership where everyone is pulling together to make a difference, whether it’s saving the rainforest or ending world hunger.
Another lesson I like to pass on to fundraisers is what I call the truth of sufficiency. We live in a very intense global consumer culture that
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constantly tells us that we don’t have enough; that we need more. Fundraising interrupts this toxic notion, allowing us to rest in the “enough-ness” of bounty and bear witness to the blessing of our lives. Fundraising helps people realize that they are sufficient, whole, and have what they need to live fulfilling lives. After all, generosity is a demonstration of abundance, both to the recipient and the donor.
Even those of us struggling to pay rent or get out of debt can have these realizations when we stop comparing ourselves to others who have more. By realizing the fullness of our lives, we can truly experience gratefulness—of the friends we have, the rich tapestry of love in which we dwell, the people who care about us, our families, the work we get to do, the health we enjoy, and more. And once we dwell in this realization, the fullness of our lives grows. I like to say, “What we appreciate, appreciates.” For me, fundraising is the opportunity to help people appreciate the bounty that they live in and share that with others. Of course, this saying also relates to stewarding relationships after the gift, since expressing gratitude and demonstrating the impact someone’s generosity enables is the surest way to secure additional support.
Notwithstanding the name of this book, thinking of yourself as a “nonprofit” fundraiser is actually a bit of a misnomer. The social sector actually generates an enormous profit—a long-term social profit for humanity, the environment, and all future life. Think about the great leaders of history: Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Nelson Mandela, and Susan B. Anthony, to name a few. The work they did is still yielding a profit today and will continue to do so for many future generations. And they were all fundraisers. Had they not been successful in raising the financial resources that were required to do their work, we would not know their names nor benefit from their movements. These leaders are your colleagues. You are following their example and working to change history. You are creating a permanent profit for society, not the kind of profit that can be spent, or wasted. This is the work you are here to do, and the world needs it.
As a fundraiser, you are not only creating profits, P-R-O-F-I-T-S, but in fact you are a social prophet, P-R-O-P-H-E-T. In other words, whatever your cause, your work aims to achieve a beautiful prophesy of the future, where things are better than they are today. This takes courage, grace, and heart. That is who you are as a fundraiser. You have the guts to garner the resources needed to shift the direction of history. And so I bow to you—and to all
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fundraisers—for using your courage and heart to make our world a better place in which to live. Thank you.
About Lynne Twist
For more than 40 years, Lynne Twist has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty and hunger, supporting social justice, and promoting environmental sustainability. From working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, to serving in the refugee camps in Ethiopia, and helping save the threatened rainforests of the Amazon, Twist’s on-the-ground work has brought her a deep understanding of the social tapestry of the world and the historical landscape of the times we live in. Her best-selling book, The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources (W.W. Norton & Co.), shows us that examining our attitudes toward money—earning it, spending it, and giving it away—can offer surprising insight into our lives, our values, and the essence of prosperity.
Planning for Success and Preparing
1Chapter Creating a
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Your organization has a mission, and to accomplish it you need to raise money. But where do you start? That’s simple: with a plan. You need a clear set of objectives, and a map of how you aim to get there. Your fundraising plan will be unique to your nonprofit. Every organization has different needs, goals, strengths, and priorities, and your fundraising plan will address and incorporate these in a written document.
Being strategic about fundraising in this way generates better results, creates efficiency, and ensures everyone involved is on the same page and accountable. It will also allow you to evaluate progress and assess the effectiveness of different fundraising channels, facilitating strategic shifts when necessary.
The rest of this book will help you understand each of the various fundraising channels and tactics, enabling you to make informed decisions when creating your fundraising plan. But before you dive in, remember to take stock of what you have going for you and your cause, and to look at what you’re
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already doing successfully if you’ve already launched the organization. Your plan is a living document wherein you’ll spell out your proposed recipe for success, and its goal is helping you focus on your strengths, while challenging you to identify new opportunities. Be mindful of the resources you have and don’t stretch them too thin, but also bring an open mind to considering assets you’ve underutilized or ignored and look at how you can put them to work.
To learn more about the basics of creating a nonprofit fundraising plan, I sat down with Andrea McManus, president of the nonprofit consultancy The Development Group, and she outlined the six things you need to know to succeed when creating an effective fundraising plan.
Critical Skills and Competencies
1. Understand the Big Picture
Creating a fundraising plan means answering two basic questions: How much money do you need to raise? and Who do you plan on raising it from? In your plan, you’ll create realistic program goals based on the expenses of running your programs and organization today—assuming you have some past experience with the work—as well as aspirational goals that inspire your team by clarifying exactly what kind of additional impact is possible if you secure even more resources and support.
Your plan will also be a vehicle for detailing your sources of revenue and how much income you expect from each, whether it’s individual donors, corporations, foundations, the government, or earned income. It is critical to have multiple, diverse sources of revenue, so that if you unexpectedly lose one, you still have others to rely on.
Once you’ve identified your revenue sources, perhaps benefiting from the rest of the book to determine which channels are most appropriate for you, you’ll articulate your strategies and tactics for each source. If you plan to raise money from individuals, will you be cultivating and asking major donors, running an annual fund, doing direct mail, online fundraising, or utilizing other approaches? Will you be soliciting businesses and corporations for gifts of cash or in-kind donations? While many of the remaining chapters of this book, especially those related to marketing and donor communication, propose a “less is more” style, when planning for success, the more detailed your vision, the more likely you are to succeed.
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2. Know Your Finances
Now that you have a sense of everything your fundraising plan is meant to accomplish, and some of the various sections it will include, let’s get into it. Knowing how much money you need to raise starts with good financial planning. You can’t create a fundraising plan without a budget. How much does the work you do cost? What are your programmatic, fundraising, and overhead expenses? Once you know your expenses, you need to figure out how you will pay for them; in other words, how will you raise the money to pay for them? And don’t forget that fundraising itself costs money. You can’t raise money without spending money.
Dispelling the Overhead Myth
At least in the United States, the IRS dictates that all nonprofit expenses be classified as either program, fundraising, or administrative. This adds not only an extra layer of bookkeeping, but also creates some difficulties with fundraising, since some donors and funders will ask for their contributions to be allocated only for programs. Others still will want to know whether more than 80 percent of the funds you raise go toward programs, a common industry benchmark.
Part of your job as a fundraiser will be using the tactics outlined in this book to convey the importance of not just some of your work, but all of it. Just as you cannot provide medical attention only to the lungs and expect someone to stay healthy, you’ll need to refine your ability to make the case for “general operating support” or “unrestricted gifts,” both of which are discussed in detail in the sections on individual donors and foundations.
For now, we’ll focus on dispelling the notion that staff payroll, rent, and utilities should all be categorized as overhead. Not true: the staff time spent implementing programs is a program-related—not an overhead—expense. The way to calculate overall payroll allocations, which are also used for rent and utilities, is as follows:
• Have staff members break down how they spend a typical week in a spreadsheet. No need to get too specific; simply create 8 to 12 “buckets” for their time, for example, client meetings, fundraising calls, answering email, etc.
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• Assign a time estimate for how many hours of each week is spent on each bucket; an average over time is sufficient.
• Allocate each bucket: What percentage of that activity relates to programs, versus fundraising, versus purely administrative details?
• Based on this, you can use a fairly simple spreadsheet formula to figure that employee’s overall allocation, that is, what percentage of his or her time is spent on programs versus fundraising versus administrative duties.
• After doing this for each paid staff member, you can factor in each person’s compensation to weight his or her personal allocation, and then combine everyone into an overall staff allocation.
• Use this same allocation for staff-related expenses, such as benefits, rent, utilities, and so forth.
3. Create a Process
Developing an effective fundraising plan cannot be done in a silo by the fundraiser alone. Involve your executive director, senior staff, and board members. Assemble your team and outline the process you’ll go through to create the plan, so everyone knows what to expect. Here are the steps McManus suggests:
1. Assess your environment, both internally and externally. Internally, look at things like organizational priorities, programs, and resources, including staff, technology, and capabilities. Capabilities should include expertise in fundraising, marketing, and other key areas. Externally, discuss things like fundraising trends, best practices, industry benchmarks, and how peer organizations (those doing similar work with similar budgets) are succeeding at fundraising.
2. Assess your donors, both current and aspirational. What kind of support can you conservatively expect from your current donors and prospects? What does your current donor base look like, and what do you want it to look like? Gaining a realistic sense of how much money you can raise from your base, combined with other potential strategies, will enable you to determine the feasibility of the financial goals you’ll tackle later in the discussion.
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3. Outline your goals. In order to achieve the impact your organization envisions, what kind of fundraising infrastructure and results are needed? A couple examples are included below to help kick-start your discussion, but don’t just think about financial targets from different channels, although those are certainly crucial. Consider also the kinds of capacity that you as an organization need to build to thrive, for example, increasing board participation in fundraising and contributions; launching your first successful crowdfunding campaign, etc.
4. Identify your objectives. What are the three or four (or more) things you need to accomplish in order to achieve the big-picture goals and strategies you’ve outlined? Break down the goal into the elements required to ensure it happens. Again, some examples to get you thinking are below.
5. Identify your tactics. This is where you get into the nitty-gritty details, breaking down each objective one more step. In other words, the who, what, when, where, and how. Who will you be raising money from, and how? What are the concrete actions that need to occur to achieve your objectives? Be very specific and include measurable goals, such as: We will apply for six grants from private foundations by the end of the second quarter.
6. Identify your budget and resources. How much will it cost to raise this money, and who will do it? Do you have the necessary tools in place, including a CRM platform, staff, subscriptions to foundation or donor prospecting databases, marketing and communications support, an online fundraising platform, etc.?
Once you’ve outlined your process, assign responsibilities and create deadlines. Keep people accountable by assigning them duties and clarifying who is personally charged with ensuring the fulfillment of each tactic, as well as deadlines for each.
4. Document the Plan
Once you’ve gone through the steps in this process and answered all the relevant questions, it’s time to document your plan. Without a written plan, you have no plan at all. This document should be specific, but also as short as possible and easy to read. Organize the plan by two to five goals and associate each goal with three to six objectives, and then associate each objective with tactics. Assign a lead person and deadline for each tactic.
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Here is an example:
ABC 2016–2018 Fundraising Plan
Goal 1: To build a strong and adequately resourced fundraising infrastructure that includes staff and volunteer resources, technology, policies and procedures, and professional development that provides a foundation for fundraising sustainability and growth as required.
Objective 1: Build fundraising personnel resources. Tactic 1: Hire a Development Associate. Lead: Development
Director. Deadline: 8/10/16. Tactic 2: Secure at least one skilled volunteer to help with
administrative fundraising tasks. Lead: Development Associate. Deadline: 1/12/17.
Objective 2: Build a strong board with reach and influence, as well as fundraising and giving capacity. Tactic 1: Create and implement a board member agreement
detailing board responsibilities, including financial and fundraising commitments. Lead: Development Director. Deadline: 11/10/16.
Tactic 2: Recruit at least three new board members able to contribute major gifts and facilitate introductions to major donors. Lead: Development Committee. Deadline: 6/15/17.
Objective 3: Build a strong annual fund program that will contribute sustainable revenue toward operating expenses. Tactic 1: Select and implement a CRM platform to serve as
our donor database. Lead: Development Director. Deadline: 3/15/17.
Tactic 2: Build prospect list with 15,000 mailing and 25,000 email addresses. Lead: Marketing Director. Deadline: 5/1/17.
Tactic 3: Select and implement an online fundraising platform. Lead: Development Director. Deadline: 6/15/17.
Tactic 4: Create an editorial calendar mapping out all 2018 mail and email solicitations, plus major marketing communications. Lead: Development Director. Deadline: 9/15/17.
Goal 2: To increase fundraising revenues by 25% and raise $1,000,000 in FY 2017/18.
Objective 1: Increase revenues from foundations by 30%. Tactic 1: Research, qualify, and prioritize 10 new foundation
sources each year. Lead: Development Associate. Deadline: 6/30/16-18.
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5. Gather Your Prospects
Donor prospecting is absolutely crucial to fundraising. So much so that we’ve dedicated all of Chapter 5 to it. Your prospect list will be critical to the development and implementation of your fundraising plan. You will need it to assess your current donors and determine where to focus your efforts, as well as to identify new opportunities. Ideally, this information should be stored in your CRM or database (see Chapter 6), but you should export it into a spreadsheet to visualize the full list and better prioritize and discuss it with your team.
Assign a lead fundraiser to each prospect, so you know who is accountable and can provide updates during regular reviews. Create separate tabs for each type of prospect, especially foundations, companies, and individual donors. Add to the list regularly and review it frequently with your team to measure progress and identify fundraising opportunities. As detailed in Chapter 5, it’s helpful to implement a ranking system, even a simple one, to help you prioritize prospects and determine where to focus your efforts. How connected to your cause and organization are they, and what’s their
Tactic 2: Prepare Letters of Intent and/or grant proposals according to foundation deadlines. Lead: Development Associate. Deadline: FY according to required deadlines.
Tactic 3: Maintain schedule for research, qualification, prioritization, grant preparation, and follow-up. Lead: Development Associate. Deadline: Ongoing.
Objective 2: Build a strong and compelling Case for Support for fundraising purposes. Tactic 1: Consult with staff, volunteers, donors, and clients
regarding why they give and key messages. Lead: Development Director. Deadline: 3/30/16.
Tactic 2: Draft key messages and circulate in small but representative group for feedback. Prepare final Case for Board Approval. Lead: Development Director. Deadline 6/30/16.
Tactic 3: Develop mini Cases of Support for each program. Lead: Development Director. Deadline: 9/30/16.
Tactic 4: Communicate Case messages through various formats, including print, proposals, social media, website, marketing, etc. Lead: Development Director. Deadline: 9/30/16.
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giving capacity? Focus first on people in your inner circle, such as your board and close connections. Then think beyond the usual suspects, like the wealthy donors in your town known for their philanthropy. Try to identify people off of the radar who are connected to your cause, and devise a strategy for your most important prospects.
6. Keep It Alive
Once you’ve spent precious time and resources creating a solid fundraising plan that secures board approval, the worst that can happen is for it to sit on a shelf. Your plan must be a living document that guides your activities, and it must be updated or at least reviewed annually. At each review, involve the board, key staff, and volunteers and evaluate whether you are on point or falling behind. This will allow you to hold people accountable, make strategic decisions, and shift tactics as needed. It will also enable you to recognize and celebrate your successes, something too few of us fundraisers take the time to do! Use your objectives to create key performance indicators and include them in your organizational dashboard, as outlined in Chapter 7, so that evaluation of your fundraising efforts is integrated into the evaluation of your overall organizational health.
Muhammad Ali once said, “The fight is won or lost before I even get in the ring.” To succeed in fundraising you need to know where you’re going and how you’ll get there. How much money are you trying to raise? and Who are you going to raise it from? You need to be strategic and think long-term, but also clarify the interim steps required for you to succeed. Prosperity for your cause typically doesn’t come quickly; it comes from hard work, a well-conceived strategy, diligent execution, and the investment of time and resources. You need to identify your revenue sources, your resources, and your prospects before you get started to ensure a more mindful approach. Be crystal clear on both your strategies and tactics, and hold yourself and your team accountable to concrete deadlines. Engage key leadership, like your board, and volunteers in your efforts, and revisit your strategy and progress regularly with everyone involved. Create the systems to measure progress, learn from shortcomings, and celebrate successes. When done right, a fundraising plan will do all of this for you; it’s simply a matter of creating it thoughtfully, keeping it alive, and holding yourself to it.
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Do’s and Don’ts
Do. . .
. . . include as many key staff, board members, and volunteers as possible in your fundraising planning process.
. . . review your prospect list in advance to ensure your goals are realistic and achievable.
. . . build a diversified fundraising plan that includes goals and objectives, plus tactics that are assigned to an owner with a deadline for each.
. . . review your tactics in the fundraising plan monthly.
Don’t. . .
. . . create a fundraising plan without the input of your communications and marketing team, or one that lacks a budget to ensure implementation.
. . . assume that all staff payroll, benefits, rent, and utilities are overhead or administrative expenses.
. . . believe you have a fundraising plan in place if you fail to take the time to document it in writing.
. . . create a fundraising plan without integrating your strategic plan into it.
About the Expert
Andrea McManus is president of The Development Group and a recognized leader in the nonprofit sector. With more than 29 years of experience in fund development, communications, media, public relations, and marketing, McManus has particular expertise in environments where major changes, restructuring, or transition require innovation, leadership, creativity, and an entrepreneurial attitude.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) (www.afpnet.org) AFP is a great resource for fundraisers. They have regional chapters all over the world that produce quality events, as well as a large international
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conference, and a storytelling conference. You can also find helpful resources on their website.
Future Fundraising Now (futurefundaisingnow.typepad.com) Jeff Brooks is a regular contributor to Fundraising Success Magazine, and his blog is full of great posts and resources. Check out his podcast, “Fundraising Is Beautiful.”
Ahern Donor Communications (www.aherncomm.com) Tom Ahern’s blog is a great source for case studies, sample critiques of fundraising materials, and links to useful resources.
The Fundraising Authority (www.thefundraisingauthority.com) Find helpful resources including articles, webinars, books, and podcasts. Check out their “Beginner’s Guide to Fundraising” and the article, “How to Write a Successful Fundraising Plan.”
Joyaux, Simone P. Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons, 2011. This book focuses on long-term strategic fundraising, rather than the typical transactional approach that fails to nurture your most important donor relationships.
Network for Good’s Fundraising 123 blog (www.fundraising123.org) Find a variety of posts and resources on all things fundraising, including the “Fundraising Planning Worksheet: A Tool for Creating Your Annual Fundraising Plan” by Mimi Ho and Priscilla Hung.
Nonprofit Quarterly (https://nonprofitquarterly.org) A print and online publication that provides articles on a variety of nonprofit topics. Check out their webinars, and sign up for their daily digest.
M+R Lab (www.mrss.com/lab) A free collection of articles and advice from a group of experienced nonprofit consultants; includes case studies and covers a wide variety of topics, including reports on industry benchmarks.
The Agitator (www.theagitator.net) A great online blog from industry experts Tom Belford and Roger Craver that provides information and advice on nonprofit fundraising and marketing strategies.
Idealist (www.Idealist.org) A very robust website that offers tons of links to useful resources and articles, plus it gives you access to a global community of volunteers and nonprofit peers.
2Chapter Hiring and Training Development Staff
“Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”
—Lester R. Bittel
I’ve gone to great lengths to document and articulate all the tips, tools, and tactics you need to succeed at fundraising in this book. But without the right team in place, none of them matter. The staff, board members, and volunteers charged with spearheading your development efforts are the single most important factor in your success. From interns to senior management, event volunteers to engaged board members, each and every person driving your fundraising machine is a critical part of building a successful, high-functioning development infrastructure. Surrounding yourself with the right people, properly training them, and fostering their professional growth will result directly in you raising more money. It will also keep employee morale high and provide stability for your organization and its donors. Fundraising is about building relationships, and each person on your team plays an important role in your interaction with supporters. From entering gifts into your database, to sending acknowledgment letters, to answering the phone, and making an ask, each team
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member represents a link in the chain and influences how contributors feel about your organization.
Building your fundraising dream team is only possible if you learn and follow best practices around hiring and training. Investing resources in the hiring process will help ensure you bring the right people on board and keep employee retention high, saving valuable time and resources in the future. And by dedicating resources to training and professional growth opportunities for employees, you can grow your team from within, expanding their expertise and capabilities, and helping you promote from within. Ultimately, a stable development staff leads to more knowledgeable and passionate fundraisers who can develop deeper relationships with donors.
To learn more about how to hire the right staff, efficiently and effectively bring them into the organization through training, and foster their growth, I sat down with Missy Sherburne, chief partnerships officer at DonorsChoose.org, who outlined the following seven tips.
Critical Skills and Competencies
1. Know Yourself and Your Needs
You can’t surround yourself with the right team unless you know who you are and who you need. Ask yourself: What is important to my organization, in terms of alignment with the mission, vision, and values standpoint? What skills and experiences are most important in your new hire as your organization grows? Do you need a relationship builder that can secure major gifts, or a more detail-oriented person who can build the infrastructure and systems you need to succeed? By looking at the opportunities and challenges facing your organization, you will often identify needed positions. Whether you’re a staff of one or 100, being crystal clear about what you’re looking for will help you recruit and retain the right people.
If you are hiring your first fundraising staff, and your executive director (E.D.) or founder is an effective fundraiser, hire a development associate or a development manager to provide support and help with administrative tasks. In this scenario, odds are your E.D. will continue to be your best fundraiser, so “backfill” him or her to free up additional capacity, instead of hiring a more senior person that you hope will take over this role. If your leader is not a natural fundraiser or you have huge fundraising goals, then you do want someone with experience and contacts, so you’ll likely want to hire a development director. Also, use fundraising consultants wisely. Do
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not hire them if you really need an employee. Bear in mind that consultants can help with strategy, but they rarely drive actual fundraising. Your organization typically needs to conduct its own fundraising efforts. As such, consultants are typically best utilized for specific campaigns, initiatives, and for strategic or development planning. In fact, DonorsChoose.org doesn’t use consultants at all, instead opting to hire yearlong fellows prior to making a full-time hire if they’re unsure of their needs.
2. Create a Job Description
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a new hire, write it down. See the Resource Review at the end of this chapter for some websites that provide great templates for, and examples of, nonprofit job descriptions. Sherburne also recommends looking to similar, respected organizations for ideas on building job descriptions that reflect the role and your organization’s style, values, and needs. Crafting a compelling, authentic job description is key to bringing the best candidates in the door. It should convey not only what you want this person to accomplish and the required skill set and experience base, but also the culture of your organization. If you have a fun and quirky office, make sure the job description relays that personality. Remember to frame your work in the most powerful way possible. Just like donors, potential employees want to be part of a winning team, so share your organization’s accolades and accomplishments. Describe the role as it relates to the rest of the organization, as well as the benefits of working there.
It’s common to list compensation as “based on experience,” but if you are a very small organization that needs to offer significantly less than the industry standard, be honest and explicit about your budget. It will save you a lot of time interviewing candidates who are unwilling to work at that compensation level. When laying out the qualifications for the role, write in the second person, for example: “You enjoy diligently following up with people to get them to yes.” Also, include specific information on what materials applicants should submit in order to apply, and where and how. Do you want a writing sample or references in addition to a résumé and cover letter? Should they email it to a specific person? Candidates’ attention to detail when submitting their materials is one of the first things you should assess.
3. Select the Right Candidates
Often, the best candidates come from within your organization, or from the personal and social networks of your employees, board members, and volunteers. Look within your own team first, and if you still need to look
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externally, ask your network to reach out to relevant candidates and spread the word more broadly through email and social media. Consider providing a referral bonus to team members who refer candidates whom you hire for a full-time position. Provide email templates and sample social media posts to make it easy for people to help you source candidates. If possible, give this process a week or two before posting the opportunity to more public outlets, including those outlined in the Resource Review.
If you anticipate being inundated with applicants or are making an entry-level hire, consider asking candidates to complete a simple assignment (e.g., crafting an email), along with submitting a résumé and cover letter. Only committed applicants will take the time to do a brief assignment, plus this will give you a good sense of their work ethic, follow through, and communication style. Once you review résumés and cover letters, your next step will be narrowing it down to the candidates you’d like to do phone interviews with. Create a rubric by which to evaluate applications based on what’s most important for the position, such as communication skills, experience, or strategic thinking. Typically you’ll only want to call 5 to 20 people, but be sure to honor the time each person put into applying by responding to every applicant with at least a brief and courteous email.
4. Conduct Interviews
Sherburne recommends a three-step interview process, which is directly in line with what I’ve found to be most effective for identifying and hiring the best candidates:
Before your phone interviews, prepare four or five basic questions for each of these 30-minute conversations, and communicate that time limit to applicants beforehand. Consider asking foundational questions, like why they’re interested in the role and what excites them about working for your organization. To unearth how they align with the personality traits and attributes you most desire, ask open-ended behavior-based questions. For example, if you want someone who’s not afraid to experiment, but who needs to learn quickly and fail forward, ask something like, “Tell me about a time you failed at something, and what you learned from it.” You’ll likely also want to ask candidates to walk you through their most recent fundraising positions, and share what they learned from each. Leave room for candidates to ask their own questions, as these can also give you insight into how they think and how they prepare for an important meeting. Based on their responses and your overall impressions
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of the phone interviews, narrow down the candidate pool to the three to five individuals you’ll interview in person.
During the first in-person interview, your mission is to learn as much as possible about each candidate and determine who will be the best fit. Keep the needs and qualifications detailed in your job description at the front of your mind, and ask behavior-based questions that help you ascertain how their interests and skills align with your needs. Before the interviews, create a question bank to guide you, and ask likeminded or allied organizations for suggestions.
A question bank organizes questions by skill set, so the interviewer can thoughtfully tailor the interview for each candidate. For example, if the phone interview left you with concerns that a candidate isn’t goal-driven or detail-oriented, the question bank will provide questions that help you get at these areas of concern. Examples of great questions and prompts include, “What’s the most useful piece constructive feedback you ever received, and how did you use it?” “How do you manage your time?” and “Tell me about the last time you were asked to do something you had no experience in.” You’re looking to see how they think on their feet, and how they’d handle some of the tasks and needs of the position.
Consider giving applicants a small, clearly defined assignment so that they can demonstrate their interest and excitement. Sherburne has asked candidates to draft an email to the CEO of a specific company overviewing their organization and asking for a meeting, which offers her insights into not only their writing skills and research acumen, but also how they think about the work of DonorsChoose.org. See http://www.managementcenter.org/article/ how-to-ask-job-candidates-for-work-samples-exercises-or-simulations/ for tips on how to conceive and request reasonable assignments, and work samples.
After the first round of in-person interviews, narrow it down to 2-3 final candidates. Have these finalists meet and interview with a variety of other people within the organization. Make it clear that this is a top priority, which merits taking time out of busy schedules. Invite other staff members, leadership, and key board members to meet with the candidate and give you feedback. Which of the candidates do they think is the best fit for the role and the organization? Be sure to check all the references of your final candidates, even though most large employers won’t say anything critical for legal and liability reasons. Even still, share a bit about the role that
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you’re hiring for and ask them if this person would be a good fit. If you’re not sure what questions to ask when you check references, check out The Management Center’s suggestions at http://www.managementcenter.org/ resources/suggested-reference-check-questions.
5. Make an Offer
Once you’ve interviewed all the candidates, narrowed it down to finalists, received feedback from your team, checked references, and made a decision regarding whom you want to hire, you are prepared to make an offer. Call the candidate with the good news and share your excitement about him or her joining your team. Do not press for a commitment on the phone; rather, let the applicant know that you will send an offer letter so he or she can formally accept. Your offer letter should include the proposed start date and all compensation and benefit information, including paid time off, healthcare, retirement, and other details. Both the organization and the candidate need to sign the letter, but send it to the candidate with your signature already in the document. If and when you receive the countersigned letter back, share the good news with your team, especially those who helped with interviews. Follow up with your new hire by emailing your employee policy handbook if you have one.
6. Onboard Over Time
Don’t throw your new employee in the deep end on his or her first day; space training and orientation out over one or two weeks to ensure everything has a chance to sink in. Give the new hire time to get to know your organization, the team, and the tools and resources on hand. Start with a presentation on the organization, its history, and its current work and goals, ideally led by your executive director. Set up meetings or lunches between the new team member and key colleagues. Provide time and orientation so he or she can get up to speed on your fundraising efforts, systems, and donors. Share all key fundraising and marketing materials, including everything you share with the public and your donors, to provide a sense of your communication points and style. Wait a few weeks before having new hires do larger tasks, like creating an individual fundraising plan or going on donor meetings.
7. Develop Your Team
Hiring is only the beginning of your effort to develop a successful fundraising team. Training and professional development are ongoing processes worthy of your time and resources. Create a professional
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development budget for your employees, even if it’s only $500 a year, and encourage them to bring you classes, trainings, and conferences they’d like to attend. Buy subscriptions to fundraising publications like The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Nonprofit Times, Fundraising Success Magazine, and others, including industry-specific publications that match your focus. Offer regular opportunities and suggestions for ongoing educational opportunities that will improve capabilities and skills. Consider suggestions in excess of your professional development budget if it’s in the organization’s best interest. These investments will show your team that you care about their personal and professional growth and success, and that you’re willing to support them as they work to make your nonprofit successful. This will keep employee morale and retention high, and most importantly, will lead to more successful fundraising efforts.
Get Your Executive Director to Love Fundraising
This chapter focused on hiring and training development staff, but what does it look like for these leaders to “manage up” and train your executive director or board chair? After starting his new role as director of major gifts at Worldreader, a nonprofit focused on bringing e-books to every child and family, Brian Gougherty was surprised when his E.D. told him that he didn’t like fundraising. The group had already raised millions, so Gougherty knew he had a lot to work with, and assumed that if he could change his manager’s perspective, the group could raise even more funds and educate more children. It worked, and here’s how he did it and what you can learn from his experience:
Focus on the cause. Fundraising is not about the money; it’s more about the cause and your personal connection to its impact. Constantly remind your E.D. of this, and invite him to share why he chose to devote a career and time to the organization when meeting with prospects. If your E.D. can let the passion flow, the dollars will follow. Gougherty did this and subsequently, his E.D. found conversations with donors to be surprisingly engaging. He now views questions they ask as a challenge that drive new ideas at the organization, some of which have even led to new programs. He’s grown to really love having donor meetings, not just because they bring in money, but because they bring forward new thoughts and ideas.
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Raising money for your cause depends directly upon the strength of your team. Hiring the right people, training them properly, and fostering their professional growth are critical to building a, efficient, cohesive, and successful fundraising team. Doing this requires an investment of time and resources that, too often, nonprofits aren’t willing to commit to. However, the investment is far outweighed by the tremendous benefits, most notably increased revenue, higher employee morale and retention, and deeper relationships with donors. Simply put, you will raise more money with the right people at your side. So invest what’s needed to find, keep, and empower them!
Establish credibility. Take the time to educate your E.D. on your donor cultivation and stewardship process. Make sure he or she knows exactly how you plan to follow up with donors, and what you’re doing to build and strengthen relationships with them. This will make your E.D. more comfortable and confident in engaging and soliciting major donors, as well as bringing their own personal prospects to the table.
Engage wisely. Value your E.D.’s time and utilize it in the best way possible. Don’t ask her or him to do cold calls, instead of cultivating major leads and closing big gift opportunities. You can write acknowledgment letters and proposals, but your E.D. should focus on making personal thank you calls to major donors, attending key donor events, and the other things that really benefit from your leader’s personal touch. Along these lines, draft sample correspondence, such as follow-up emails and thank you letters to facilitate fundraising. Think “low touch, high value,” as this process is very much akin to what’s detailed in chapter 3 for board engagement.
Point to success. When your E.D. secures a major gift that inspires other major donors to contribute, make sure he or she knows about this ripple effect. When you receive an unexpected gift from a key donor after your E.D. sent a note, made a phone call, or took a lunch meeting, share the good new! Success breeds success, and the more your E.D. sees the fruit of his or her labor, the more engaged he or she will be.
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Do’s and Don’ts
. . . send a very brief email to applicants you won’t interview to thank them for their interest but let them know they’re not a fit.
. . . create a bank of interview questions for each phase of the interview process.
. . . have key staff and board meet a final candidate before hiring.
. . . ask your network whether they know any viable candidates before utilizing public job posting resources.
. . . let the hiring process take longer than a few weeks.
. . . hire a consultant to act as your development director.
. . . forget to include a professional development budget for every staff member in your organization, however small.
About the Expert
Missy Sherburne is the chief partnerships officer at DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit that connects individuals, companies, and foundations with the needs of public schools. Previously, she served as the founding executive director of DonorsChoose.org North Carolina and South Carolina, and North Carolina Executive Director with Teach For America.
The BridgeSpan Group (http://www.bridgespan.org/Home.aspx) This group provides a great nonprofit job board, and their website is a great starting point to look for job description templates, plus it offers a wide range of reports and resources.
Both Sides of the Table (www.bothsidesofthetable.com) Mark Suster’s blog is a helpful resource for organizations looking to grow, and has a lot of tips for hiring the right people.
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Young Nonprofit Professionals Network/YNPN (www.ynpn.org) This is a great place to connect with younger nonprofit leaders, and you can post jobs for free on their regional listservs.
Great places to post (and find) fundraising jobs:
• Association of Fundraising Professionals (www.afpnet.org) • Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org) • Idealist (www.idealist.org) • The BridgeSpan Group (http://www.bridgespan.org/Home.aspx) • Glassdoor (www.glassdoor.com) • OpportunityKnocks (www.opportunityknocks.org) • Chronicle of Philanthropy (www.philanthropy.com/jobs) • Indeed (www.indeed.com) • craigslist (www.craigslist.org)
Blue Avocado (www.blueavocado.org) This online magazine writes about a variety of nonprofit management issues, including hiring and training staff.
GuideStar USA Nonprofit Compensation Report (www.guidestar.com). Every year, GuideStar conducts the most comprehensive analysis available on nonprofit executive compensation practices, the only large-scale examination based entirely on IRS data. Available for a fee, the report is based on observations from over 100,000 Forms 990 filed by 501(c) organizations with the IRS for the prior fiscal year.
Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap—and Others Don’t. HarperBusiness, 2001. Collins and his team outline the key determinants of greatness for companies—which are equally relevant to nonprofits—and speak to why hiring the right people and setting them up for success is critical to building a thriving organization.
The Management Center, DC (www.managementcenter.org) Find great resources on hiring and training on their website, plus a helpful monthly newsletter with a hiring section that shares useful tools, like sample interview questions and exercises.
Association of Fundraising Professionals/AFP (www.afpnet.org) This is a great place to connect with fundraising professionals. Check out their job board and annual conference.
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Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org) Find resources on their website, free events at local chapters, and check out their job board.
Cause Marketing Forum (www.causemarketingforum.com) This is a great place to find a nonprofit community that will provide referrals and sounding boards, as well as access to tips and resources.
3Chapter Engaging Your Board
“Change is inevitable, but progress is optional, and leadership makes all the difference.”
Board members are part of the core leadership team of your organization, and they’re in one of the best positions to serve as passionate advocates for your cause. When effectively engaged and utilized, boards will step up, and step in to fundraising. Board members have unique connections and relationships in the community that are valuable and even transformative when properly leveraged. The right board, successfully employed, can catapult both your impact and fundraising efforts to the next level. Board members should also be among your most dependable and generous donors. For most nonprofits, the sum of these contributions makes a big difference on their budget.
Unfortunately, this rosy picture isn’t as common as it should be. Many small nonprofits launch with a friends and family board that simply lends their names to the NGO application, and still others are grassroots organizations that leverage a “working board” to augment their staff, assuming they
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even have a payroll. Either way, transitioning your organization to one that effectively recruits and engages a powerful board that contributes on all levels to your fundraising efforts—donating, asking, prospecting, and more—is one of the most vexing challenges facing many nonprofits. But there’s hope: it doesn’t have to be that way.
In an effort to identify tips and tools that can help nonprofits successfully partner with their boards to drive fundraising results, I sat down with nonprofit executive coach and fundraising and board development consultant Lisa Hoffman. We discussed six tips to foster your board’s passion in your mission and increase their participation in your fundraising efforts.
Critical Skills and Competencies
1. Know What You’re Looking For
Building the right board is the first critical step in achieving fundraising success, but of course, transitioning to your ideal board is difficult. The key is gaining consensus on what you’re after. It’s a lot easier to recruit from your network when you know that you’re hoping to find a Latina lawyer with solid corporate connections who’s committed to our cause of combating homelessness, versus just telling folks you want more members. Your goal should be identify the top three things you’re looking for in new candidates, and share that with the world. A board matrix is a powerful yet simple tool that clarifies exactly what kind of characteristics, assets, and skillsets you want on your board: someone with business or foundation connections in a certain location; an issue area expert well-versed in your cause; a person who contributes geographic, racial, or gender diversity; someone who can make a large annual gift; an accounting, fundraising, or marketing maven, etc.
A simple spreadsheet does the trick nicely—use the rows to write down all the characteristics of your ideal board, including assets you may already have in place. Typically, it’s helpful to organize these into “buckets,” including leadership, expertise and connection to the mission, financial capability and connections, demographics, and so forth. The columns are for the names of your current and potential board members, as well as other prospects identified over time. Here’s a simple example:
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Nonprofit Board Matrix Template
Member 1 Current
Member 2 Current
Member 3 Prospect Prospect
Leadership and Expertise
Visionary X X X
Entrepreneur X X X X
Nonprofit Management X
Our Issue: Peace
Recognized Leader X X X X
Community Contacts X X X X
Media Contacts X X X
Music Contacts X X X X
Arts Education X X
Major Donor X X X
Donor Contacts X X X X
Foundation Contacts X X
Corporate Contacts X X X
Time/Availability X X X
International Relations X X X
South Africa X
India X X
African American X
Female X X
Although undoubtedly a powerful tool, the board matrix must be presented with finesse. Start by getting your board chair sold on the idea, even before you take a stab at a first draft, which you can create together. Ideally, the board chair then convinces the other members to create a
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blueprint to guide recruitment as the organization matures. Once they’re sold on the idea, there’s usually a discussion about what’s called for, using your draft matrix as a starting point. When this is in place, you’re ready for the real exercise. Everyone simply puts an “X” under his or her name for the characteristics he or she possesses. Finally, quickly tally the results and discuss what’s missing, and what you need more of.
Then it’s time to share this profile with your colleagues and contacts. Work your network, reaching out to the most connected, established people you know, and have staff and board members do the same. Consider creating a board development committee to drive recruitment and onboarding. Don’t compromise: you need people who are passionate about your mission, have the time to serve, and who will prioritize your organization. When a potential board member is identified, someone needs to meet or talk with the candidate to share your story and feel him or her out. If there’s a good fit, your ambassador should then clarify what’s involved, which leads us to our next tip.
2. Set Expectations
A board member agreement is one of the most powerful tools for engaging your board in fundraising, and beyond. This is a one- or two-page document, written plainly, that details the responsibilities of all board members. Simply put, it’s a checklist of expectations, written in clear terms that aren’t subject to interpretation. So instead of “I’ll make a good faith effort to attend all board meetings,” it should say something more like, “I will attend 75 percent of all quarterly board meetings.” This document serves as a perfect basis for onboarding new members, avoiding most surprises and miscommunication.
Of course, you can’t expect the new guy or gal to sign up something that the old guard isn’t subject to. Follow a process exactly like the one for the board matrix to ensure the current board buys in and agrees on the requirements, and then have every current board member sign an agreement, all co-signed by the board chair. This creates a helpful dose of accountability for both new and seasoned members, and your chair should use the board member agreement as the basis for annual board reviews. Simply go through the agreement point-by-point, ensuring each item was completed, and exploring any shortfalls by asking whether the trustee needs more training or support or, if it’s simply not possible for the person to deliver, invite him or her to consider transitioning to an advisory role. This approach can help make move inactive board members out much more gracefully than a subjective “I
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don’t think you’re doing a good job” chat, thereby increasing the chance of the person continuing to provide financial support.
Now let’s talk a bit more about the terms of the board member agreement. First, it must include an outline of required activities and their frequency: board meetings, committee participation, special events, fundraising and marketing campaigns, board recruitment drives, site visits, and so forth. Be honest about the time and level of commitment you expect, but remember the best way to engage your board is with a “low touch, high value” approach, where you focus their contribution on the things that only they can do. Leave the heavy lifting and the mundane tasks to staff and volunteers.
The agreement must also outline all fundraising responsibilities of board participation, starting first and foremost with a personal financial contribution. Rather than arbitrarily setting a minimum requirement, which is especially tough if you have a diverse board, require an annual capacity gift of every board member. A capacity gift is defined as the largest gift someone can comfortably make and one of his or her top three philanthropic investments of the year. It may be $20 for the student on your board, or $1,000 for the accountant who also gets her company to kick in $10,000 for your annual event, but having even one board member fail to contribute personal funds undermines your chances of securing other donations and grants from foundations requiring 100 percent board giving participation.
In addition to making a personal contribution, all board members must also be engaged in the fundraising process. As Kay Sprinkel Grace suggests in Chapter 9, it’s unlikely that every member of your board can be an asker, but every member should be identifying prospects, utilizing connections, and setting up meetings and calls, spreading awareness about your organization, and supporting fundraising campaigns via social media and email. Some organizations have a “give/get” requirement to encourage the board to donate and fundraise in meaningful ways, but again this can be problematic if your board is diverse. If one lowest common denominator “get” number is inappropriate for your organization, which is, in fact, the norm, there are two things you can and should do to still engage your board in fundraising. First, rather than setting a dollar limit in the board member agreement, require a minimum number of donor, funder, and sponsor prospect introductions annually, perhaps three or five so you don’t scare prospects away. Second, set an individual fundraising goal with each board member, as discussed more in Tip 4, below.
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3. Provide Training and Support
Most board members will come into your organization without any fundraising experience or training. It is your responsibility to transform their passion for your mission into successful fundraising activity. It is critical to give board members tools like talking points, personal stories and case statements, and fact sheets about the organization.
Don’t assume your board members know how to talk about your work, nor that they’re comfortable advocating on your behalf. Hold a board training session every year or two, conducted by your executive or development director or a professional consultant. Leverage these regular trainings to teach your board how to articulate your organization’s mission compellingly and passionately. They should learn how to incorporate their own personal stories of how they’re connected to the cause and why they care. Role playing is a great, fun way to practice this.
Finally, be sure to use the training to address any fears or discomfort your board has around fundraising. You need to make them feel proud to fundraise and help them see that an ask is simply presenting people with an opportunity to affect the change they want to see. Have them read the foreword of this book and Chapter 9, or at least the part where Kay shares her thoughts on transformative versus transactional giving. Whatever it takes, your board must be willing, and proud, to reach out to their networks and contribute to building your base of support. Some board members will be naturals at asking, and others will prefer to make introductions and let you or fellow trustees do the asking. In the latter case, always try to involve a board member in calls or meetings with prospects they’ve identified. This provides ongoing training, enabling those who are less comfortable to witness respectful and effective asks firsthand, and hopefully leading to them becoming askers over time.
4. Engage Each Board Member Individually
It’s important to foster relationships with each board member and meet with them individually on a regular basis. At the very least, meet with each board member annually to identify what support is needed in achieving their annual fundraising goal, which they set with you or, ideally, the board chair. If at all possible, connect more frequently to check in on their progress, but let each board member dictate how often he or she wants to talk or meet. Ensure that not only are they engaged and active in their role,
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but more importantly, that all members also feel satisfied and fulfilled with their participation. Remember, it’s actually the board chair’s job to manage the board, and you should only be focusing on getting them what they need to be fully engaged and equipped to participate—of course, that’s certainly not always the case. Either way, these meetings are a perfect forum to figure out whether you’re getting what you need out of them, and whether they’re getting what they want out of you. If they haven’t been attending meetings regularly or following through on their commitments, this is a good time to see whether there’s anything you can do about that. Is there any help, materials, stories, or training that’d be useful as they pursue their leads? These one-on-one check-ins also help to establish a personal connection between you and your board, helping each member feel comfortable reaching out with questions and concerns over time.
5. Let Your Board Lead
Generally speaking, your board chair needs to take charge of getting other board members involved in fundraising. For larger boards and well-established organizations, your development or governance committee chair can also take on this responsibility. Either way, just as with all fundraising, the most powerful form of ask is a peer ask, as in “I just gave to Save the Children—won’t you join me in supporting their good work?” The same holds true for board engagement, and it’s always better when a peer— the board chair—asks members to step up and actively contribute.
Your chair should regularly communicate that fundraising is a core responsibility and must hold each member accountable for his or her fundraising commitments and annual donations. Your executive or development director should be regularly meeting with the board chair about the board’s fundraising progress and needs, so that that he or she can properly support the board and unlock their full, active participation. Of course, this entails the board chair having a clear understanding of the organization’s fundraising goals and its strategic plan, as well as progress made to date. You can also create a development committee within the board to focus on fundraising, as long as the rest of the board understands that this doesn’t let them off the hook for fundraising. This can be a great platform to further engage people who want to contribute more to your fundraising efforts, as well as create an opportunity for potential board members to start helping out. A development committee is a tool to foster board and community involvement in fundraising and provides support and coordination for fundraising activities. In order to avoid confusion between the committee’s
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role and that of the chair and staff, the first order of business for any committee should be drafting a charter outlining its function and role.
One of your board chair’s most important responsibilities is making personal asks of each board member annually. Again, the exception to this is large organizations that task the development or governance committee chair with this responsibility, but either way, it’s crucial that it’s board-led. You can provide support and training to ensure these asks are made respectfully, and effectively, but again, peer asks simply work better. Your role is to support the chair in these asks, as it is with all the members. Providing your chair with information on each member’s giving capacity and any other major gifts they’ve made to other organizations is always helpful. You’ll also want to share their giving history to your organization, as well as the programs and impact they’re most connected to. This will help your chair customize each ask and maximize dollars raised.
6. Maximize Board Meetings
There should be time allocated at every board meeting to quickly look at fundraising results to date, and compare them to your overall plan and goals. The board should be familiar with your strategic fundraising plan and be able to ask focused questions about progress and results. You should also use board meetings to continue to inspire members to participate in fundraising efforts. Have one or two members share success stories about progress they’ve made with leads, or donations they’ve secured. It’s also helpful to have board members share how they’ve handled any “no’s” they received, hopefully showing the others that you don’t need to take a “no” personally. You can also share what Kay Sprinkel Grace calls “mission moments” by having a client or stakeholder come in and share how the organization has helped improve his or her life. These moments powerfully connect board members to your organization and its impact on those you serve.
Finally, one way to ensure board engagement at meetings—in fundraising and in general—is to ensure that there’s more dialogue than monologue. Board meetings should be a place for discussion, and reports and updates should be kept brief and focused. As covered in Chapter 7, organizational dashboards help streamline meetings by providing a quick, bird’s eye view of the health of the organization and progress toward goals. Another great tool is a docket agenda, also known as a consent calendar. Docket agendas are short documents that include minutes from your last board meeting, plus top-line updates of no
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more than two or three paragraphs each. Keeping your board up-to-date is important, but almost all reports and updates can be condensed down to a couple of paragraphs. Distribute the document in advance, but even still, start each board meeting with five or ten minutes of silence as everyone reviews the docket agenda, after which it’s voted on and approved. If there are items from the agenda that warrant further discussion, they can be removed and added to a proper meeting agenda.
Your success in fundraising depends largely on having an engaged and active board. The first step is recruiting effectively and making sure you build a board that has the traits and skill sets your organization needs. As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, it’s about getting the “right people on the bus.” But what’s enormous potential if it’s not tapped? Board members also need to be trained so that they can speak passionately and articulately about your mission and feel proud to invite others to support your cause. Not every board member will feel comfortable making direct asks, but everyone needs to help identify prospects, foster connections, and spread awareness. Cultivating leadership on your board and having a strong, engaged chair is key to securing personal board contributions and fundraising participation throughout. When effectively leveraged, your board can be your strongest asset, and each member deserves personal attention and regular updates on the impact his or her contribution has on your overall work. Follow this recipe and your board will catapult your fundraising efforts, enabling your organization to thrive.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do. . .
. . . be clear about fundraising and all other expectations when recruiting board members.
. . . provide fundraising training and materials to all board members annually.
. . . ensure each board member has an individual fundraising goal and plan for the year.
. . . have each member sign a board agreement when first recruited.
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Don’t. . .
. . . spend the majority of board meetings giving updates, instead of engaging in dialogue.
. . . recruit board members without first creating a board matrix.
. . . fail to communicate with board members who are not meeting expectations.
About the Expert
Lisa Hoffman is a nonprofit coach, consultant, and facilitator with more than 25 years of experience in helping nonprofits thrive by moving boards from good to great. Hoffman is also an ordained Zen priest, bringing the Buddhist practices of compassion, active engagement, and leaving the ego at the door to her nonprofit coaching and consulting.
Grace, Kay Sprinkel. The Ultimate Board Member’s Book: A 1-hour Guide to Understanding Your Role and Responsibilities. Emerson & Church, 2004. This quick and easy to read book explains what board members must do to help their organization succeed.
Grace, Kay Sprinkel. Beyond Fundraising: New Strategies for Nonprofit Innovation and Investment (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons, 2005. Fundraising expert Kay Sprinkel Grace presents her internationally field- tested core beliefs, principles, and strategies for developing long-term relationships with donor-investors and volunteers.
BoardSource (www.boardsource.org) This is the go-to source for board development resources. They do live and online trainings, have membership programs, and also provide a wealth of articles and publications on their website.
Blue Avocado (www.blueavocado.org) This is a great online magazine focused on all aspects of nonprofit management. Search for board fundraising and find a wealth of content.
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Masaoka, Jan. The Best of the Board Café: Hands-On Solutions for Nonprofit Boards. Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 2003. This book gives nonprofit board members just-in-time guidance to the issues at hand. Because board members’ time is scarce, articles are “short enough to read over a cup of coffee.”
CompassPoint Nonprofit Services (www.compasspoint.org) This is a great resource for in-person workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area and online trainings for nonprofits nationwide. You can also find publications and articles on their website.
Klein, Kim. Fundraising for Social Change (5th ed.). Jossey-Bass, 2007. This book provides a soup to nuts description of how to build, maintain, and expand an individual donor program, and is often called “the Bible of grassroots fundraising.”
Grassroots Fundraising Journal (www.grassrootsfundraising.org) Search for board fundraising to find a lot of great content and resources.
Andy Robinson’s blog (http://andyrobinsononline.com) Find links to articles, resources, and videos about fundraising.
Rosso, Henry A. Hank Rosso’s Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass, 2003. This book explains the fundraising profession’s major principles, concepts, and techniques, clearly defines each step in the fundraising cycle, and demonstrates why fundraising is a strategic management discipline.
Robinson, Maureen K. Nonprofit Boards That Work: The End of One-Size- Fits-All Governance. John Wiley & Sons, 2001. This book offers practical yet flexible strategies that can be tried by any nonprofit board, whatever its current effectiveness toward accomplishing the goals they seek.
Zimmerman, Robert M., and Ann W. Lehman. Boards That Love Fundraising: A How-to Guide for Your Board. Jossey-Bass, 2004. This workbook explains fundraising responsibility as a board member while providing information on board structure, its impact on raising money, and outlining the concepts that will empower a board to ask for money effectively and fearlessly.
4Chapter Volunteer Fundraising
“Until you ask, the answer is always ‘no’.” —Nora Roberts
If you don’t realize that your volunteer strategy and your fundraising efforts are linked at the hip, you’re missing the boat. In fact, according to Fidelity’s Charitable Gift Fund Volunteerism and Charitable Giving Report,1 two-thirds of volunteers donate to their nonprofits, and people who volunteer donate ten times more money. Volunteers are also a great source of capacity and connections, and they can bolster and expand your existing development efforts, especially if put to use in the right way. They can also serve as passionate advocates for your cause, connecting you to cash and in-kind supporters, strategic partners, and expanding what your staff and organization can achieve.
But how can you tap this immense potential, and what are the best practices for gracefully inviting these key supporters to also open up their wallets and support your organization financially? To answer these key questions, I sat down with volunteer engagement expert Simon Tam, who managed 2,500 volunteers at the American Cancer Society.
In our conversation, Tam outlined eight crucial tips for engaging volunteers.
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Critical Skills and Competencies
1. Dedicate Staff
Having a dedicated staff member who can manage your volunteers, provide guidance and training, answer questions, and serve as a main point of contact is critical. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a full-time position, but someone needs to manage these important relationships and potential donors. Volunteers need a person to turn to for questions and feedback; someone who can help them understand the workflow and politics of the organization, its style and values, and key talking points. This dedicated staffer should be responsible for onboarding new volunteers and thereafter tracking them, from simple contact information, to volunteering history and hours, to donor research—more on the latter in Tip 4, below.
2. Define Clear Roles
Volunteers need to be given clear direction so they know what’s expected of them; this is crucial to them feeling their time and work is valuable and maps to impact. This can be as simple as creating a job description or having them sign an agreement before they start—typically, less is more, and even a few simple bullet points can go a long way. The point is that you need to let volunteers know that, even though they aren’t being paid, they’re still going to be held accountable for their work, and it’s still crucial to your nonprofit’s work in the community. Creating an agreement or contract also helps document hours needed for school credits or résumés, and creates a paper trail that can help later with letters of recommendation and job references. Clarity of purpose, goals, and expectations is the key to successful volunteer engagement.
3. Create a Toolkit
Remember that scene in The Matrix where Neo instantly learns martial arts? Well, your nonprofit needs a program like that to quickly and effectively orient new volunteers. This kind of toolkit not only provides your volunteers with basic, yet important, organizational information and talking points, but it also gives them a sense of belonging and pride. It demonstrates that you’re investing in them, that they are a crucial part of your team, and that you want and expect them to represent you.
A toolkit can include things like basic talking points on the organization and its history, marketing brochures and communication materials like FAQs, simple training materials (e.g., database training manuals), contact
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information of your staff (especially their dedicated liaison), and perhaps a gift, such as a t-shirt with your logo on it. Over time, you can even consider adding in business cards for key performers, as these really help to develop a sense of commitment. Building volunteer toolkits is a small, smart investment when you consider how many hours volunteers contribute, not to mention potential fundraising revenue.
4. Track Everything
As outlined in Chapter 5, having a database or constituent relationship management (CRM) system is critical to not only tracking your donors, but info on volunteers as well. This lets you track each volunteer, including contact information, staff contacts, and hours donated; plus it allows you to track their fundraising leads. This will help you better manage volunteer relationships, stay in touch, and maximize volunteers’ fundraising potential. When appropriate, volunteers should be involved in using your CRM, so that they can track their own progress and see how they’re making a difference, not to mention saving your staff time. And when it comes to the donor prospects they share with you, be sure to document valuable connections, including contact info, giving interests, and capacity. This allows you to better manage and cultivate these relationships, particularly when you engage multiple volunteers.
5. Think Small, but Dream Big
Creating small workgroups, such as committees or teams dedicated to a particular task, can expand organizational capacity and enable you to more deeply engage key volunteers. So the next time you’re launching a new campaign, producing an event, or contemplating expanding into new geographic areas, create a team or committee to spearhead your efforts, thereby enabling you to stay focused on the big picture and other key areas. The big point here is that volunteers can do more than just execute on your orders; they can think for themselves and strategically contribute to the future and success of your nonprofit.
6. Communicate Regularly
Having weekly or monthly check-ins with volunteers allows you to review their work, ask whether they have questions or concerns, and provide guidance. This ensures both sides are satisfied with the relationship, increases accountability, and gives you an opportunity to show your gratitude. (Plus it minimizes the unlikely scenario that a volunteer goes off course and undermines your work.) It can be as short as 10 minutes, and a check-in
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can be something as simple as taking the volunteer out for coffee or lunch or scheduling a brief meeting or call. Either way, these regular forums are critical to optimizing the contributions of your pro bono support network.
7. Never Say Goodbye
Once volunteers are no longer actively working with you, it’s important to continue to engage them. They’ve already invested in your organization, and keeping them apprised of new accomplishments, activities, and even challenges allows them to feel connected and appreciated—a part of your inner circle. But this doesn’t have to be a lot of work, and you don’t need to reach out to each past volunteer individually with updates; instead, create a Listserv for alumni volunteers, and be sure to invite them to key events. All this goes a long way toward cultivating these relationships and can certainly lead to fundraising results—remember, volunteers are some of your best donor prospects and must be treated accordingly!
8. Invite Financial Support
Asking volunteers directly for donations is inherently sensitive. Many times, however, volunteers are waiting to be asked. The key is building a relationship with your volunteer first, just as you would with any donor. Just about all volunteers want to make a difference, but they don’t always know how, both in terms of their volunteer service and contributing financially.
We covered a lot of tips for effectively engaging their time in this chapter, but beyond that, if you make the ask properly (see Chapter 7) and the volunteer is not in a position to donate at the time, he or she should feel honored to have been invited. That’s the art of fundraising—inviting people to support work you’ve clearly established they believe in; and it’s your job to ensure they can reply gracefully no matter what their answer. Beyond the tips for doing this with all donors, when it comes to volunteers, before making an ask it’s especially critical that you make your volunteer feel appreciated and frame the invitation to donate as an additional or incremental opportunity, so that you in no way undermine the contribution of his or her time and energy.
Examples of Volunteer Activities
Depending on the fundraising strategy and needs of your organization, you’ll want to engage your volunteers in different ways. At the American Cancer Society (ACS), Tam managed volunteers who conceived and implemented
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their own fundraisers—bake sales, car washes, silent auctions, etc. To facilitate this, ACS volunteers dedicated staff members who provided branding and communication materials, plus best practices for throwing these kinds of self-directed fundraisers. Nonprofits like ACS with enough resources can even provide tools like Convio or StayClassy that allow volunteers to create their own fundraising pages, further strengthening their ability to raise big bucks for you. (See Chapter 15 for effective crowdfunding tips.)
Now that he’s at the Oregon Environment Council, a much smaller membership organization, Tam and his staff utilize volunteers to call lapsed donors and ask them to renew their memberships, as well as calling current monthly donors to ask them to increase their giving. To do this, they provide volunteers with a call script and guidelines and have them work from the office to ensure that staff is there to provide support. Tam is also a big fan of utilizing volunteers to help fundraising staff with administrative tasks, including processing donations, entering new donors into the database, and preparing donor acknowledgement letters. Again, volunteers can help with both the mundane tasks associated with raising money for your cause, but also the big picture, strategic opportunities that can really move your organization forward.
So don’t be afraid to get creative and engage your volunteers as thought partners—maybe you invite their input on a letter writing campaign and ask them to contribute ideas and language, or you talk with them about sharing fundraising and marketing materials with their personal networks via email and social media to see who might be interested in becoming a donor or attending an event, and then you solicit ideas for how to make the appeal more viral—the point is you don’t need to have all the answers and can make it a conversation instead of an assignment.
Case Study: APANO
Tam was impressed and learned something himself when he volunteered for APANO, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. They needed to raise $20,000 for a new community center. They looked through their database and identified their “superstar” volunteers, then narrowed down the list to folks who were also influential community leaders. They invited Tam and the others out to dinner, where they presented their vision, the impact it would have, the fundraising need, and their intended strategy
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In short, if you treat volunteers the way you do staff and potential donors, you’re on the right path. Volunteers are not only freely giving their time to advance your cause, but they are also statistically likely to be your best donors. Take the time to plan their contributions properly and make sure to provide them with the support and resources they need to maximize their engagement, including staff, materials, and most of all, access to your time, attention, and appreciation. Train and appreciate your volunte