Is There an App for That (Nonprofit)?

Group of business associates in a line text messaging on their cellphone

In today’s technology-based world, few people go anywhere without their smartphones. Think about it. How often do you not have your phone nearby? I’m betting your answer is, “Almost never.” So what does this have to do with nonprofits? The short answer: Everything.

If your nonprofit isn’t readily available on your smartphone, the truth is you’re losing money. Donors want to be able to find you quickly and be able to donate easily online. You also want your donors to be able to share their enthusiasm about your nonprofit with their friends via social media. And the greater your social media presence, the more likely your donors will be to share your posts, highlighting your successes and your value to the community, which will, in turn, generate more interest in your organization AND more donations. Win-win-win!

Keep in mind this sharing aspect of digital media is free publicity–FREE! So it’s critical your leadership understands the importance of establishing a strong web presence. While this social media sharing aspect is free, creating a digital media presence does require an investment in infrastructure.

In a recent blog post, we defined infrastructure as “systems, staff, and equipment,” and technology plays a role in each of these areas. Here are some questions to consider about the infrastructure required for your digital media presence:

  1. Does your nonprofit have staff dedicated to your web presence?
  2. Is this digital media staff well-trained?  Note: It’s critical that they’re not only tech-savvy but that they also have an understanding of public relations, fundraising, marketing and communications.
  3. Does your staff have the tools (i.e. computers and software) required for creating a strong web presence?
  4. Do you have a digital media plan in place that includes when you publish, what you publish, and how you reach your audience? For example, are you using Facebook or LinkedIn? Are you active on Twitter? Do you maintain a blog? Is your website up-to-date with the latest information? Is your donation button working properly, and are your online donors thanked promptly?

These are not small endeavors, and they do require a regular investment of time and money; however, you’d be hard-pressed today to find a successful nonprofit that isn’t utilizing the internet to its best advantage. I’m not arguing that your nonprofit needs an actual app (though this might be worth considering), but do you need a web presence? Absolutely–no matter the size of your nonprofit–and the bigger the web presence, the better!

In the long run, by investing in the infrastructure necessary to develop a strong web presence, your nonprofit will exponentially expand its impact and save money in the process. And that’s music to your donors’ ears!

created by Kathryn Clarke, Program Assistant, Eno River Consulting

Fundraising: NOT the Luck of the Irish

During the gold rush, some of the most successful miners were of Irish descent, which gradually gave way to the expression, “luck of the Irish.” Ironically, mining success is less a result of luck than it is a byproduct of skill, planning, and grit, much like fundraising. Sure, there’s a chance a total stranger could leave a gazillion dollars to your organization, but it’s certainly not the norm. Rather it is through hard work and a rock-solid plan that nonprofits reach philanthropic success.

While a well-developed and thoughtful fundraising plan is fundamental to success, many organizations operate in a reactive manner, regularly having to put out fiscal fires, as opposed to being proactive in their program development. A well-crafted fundraising plan allows a nonprofit to focus, be strategic and control workflow while moving toward its highest goals.

Here are five golden tips to help you create a dynamic fundraising plan for your organization:

  1. Engagement  While having a single manager for your plan development is wise, a variety of stakeholders should be engaged in the process. Board members, Executive Directors, Development professionals, staff and key volunteers all have valuable insight into goal setting, strategies, activities and needs for support.
  2. Goals  Be specific in setting goals and make sure your goals are measurable and can be realistically attained. That said, be sure to stretch yourself and your staff to work toward your highest goals, avoiding complacency. Don’t be afraid of hard work, and remember how good everyone will feel after meeting or exceeding the challenges!
  3. Strategies  Be specific with the strategies that you will employ to reach each goal. Consider all the techniques you will use to raise funds and cultivate donors. From special events to phonathons, direct mail and volunteer solicitors, utilize a variety of strategies and be sure to evaluate what is working best for your organization along the way.
  4. Timeline  Creating a manageable timeline ensures that you control the flow of work in your shop. A timeline can help you identify downtime for planning, evaluation or office retreats and visually demonstrate the progressive nature of your efforts toward meeting your annual goal.
  5. Flexibility  Creating a plan that is flexible and organic in nature provides space for innovation and for taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities. Evaluate periodically to see what is and isn’t working, and pivot if necessary.

Spring is here and NOW is the time for planning to begin. May the road rise to meet you!

Created by Amy FitzGerald, MSW, Senior Consultant, Eno River Consulting, www.enoriverconsulting.orgIf your organization wants to develop a robust fundraising plan, we can help. Call 919.234.7281 for a free consultation.Untitled design (2)

50 Ways to Love Your Donors

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In parts of Europe, keys are given to lovers and children alike to assist in unlocking the “giver’s heart.”  Strategically and authentically cultivating donors is vital to our everyday work toward building successful fundraising programs and sustainable organizations. Taking a cue from American musician extraordinaire, Paul Simon, here are Fifty Ways to Love Your Donors and support the opening of their giving hearts:

  1. Personalize thank you notes, phone calls and emails.
  2. Acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries.
  3. Recognize professional accomplishments, the addition of children and grandchildren, job changes and other personal events.
  4. Ask for their input and expertise.
  5. Be aware of their hobbies and interests.
  6. Know their business–what they do professionally, that is!
  7. Understand what it is about your organization that motivates them.
  8. Create appropriate connections–personal or written–between them and recipients of their generosity (e.g. scholarship recipients).
  9. Profile them and their gifts in your online or print newsletter.
  10. Recognize where and what they like to eat, including food restrictions.
  11. Respect their boundaries and sense of what is personal and private.
  12. Celebrate and recognize their support to other organizations.
  13. Remember where you left off from your last visit or conversation.
  14. Send appropriate holiday cards that celebrate their cultural heritage.
  15. Invite them to educational and festive events held by your organization.
  16. Cultivate them to serve in key volunteer roles for which they are uniquely qualified and interested.
  17. Ask them how and how often they would like you to communicate with them.
  18. Engage your CEO or Director in the relationship development process.
  19. Greet them with a warm smile, handshake or hug.
  20. Ask your Board Chair to thank them personally for their support.
  21. Acknowledge them and their gifts in local, statewide or national media outlets.
  22. Recognize them with a special award from your organization.
  23. Nominate them for local, statewide or national philanthropic awards.
  24. Provide transportation or other services if they have special needs.
  25. Know whether they like to be recognized or remain anonymous.
  26. Send a handwritten note.
  27. Give occasional and thoughtful gifts that remind them of your organization.
  28. Spell and pronounce their names correctly and know titles.
  29. Send photographs or newspaper clippings from a recent event.
  30. Share current updates and successes of the programs they fund.
  31. Be specific in telling them how your organization used their gifts.
  32. Send them a video thank you from staff and clients.
  33. Make their thank you public, such as with a named scholarship, fund or room.
  34. Give them a personal tour of your facility and programs in action.
  35. Say thank you or give a shout-out on Twitter.
  36. Thank them with handmade treats.
  37. Help them network with other people.
  38. Have a program staff person call them and provide updates on the agency’s work.
  39. Say thank you–again and again and again and again…
  40. Attach personal messages to direct mail.
  41. Invite donors to cultural, sporting or fun events in the area.
  42. Feature them in a story in your print or email newsletter, blog or FaceBook post.
  43. Ask for their advice.
  44. Include them in a feasibility study or organizational assessment.
  45. Invite them to private events or special opportunities.
  46. Appeal to them with an invitation to an intimate educational event.
  47. Listen to their concerns, interests and ideas.
  48. Prick up your ears and listen, listen, and listen some more.
  49. Be authentic.
  50. Thank you-bomb your donors–say thank you often and in multiple ways!

created by Amy FitzGerald, MSW, Senior Consultant, Eno River Consulting,

What are the Top Two Ways to Raise Money?

As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season reach a gale force and nonprofits are generating their life-sustaining year-end support, the most successful organizations are putting the finishing touches on fund development plans for the new year. As part of this process, they are once again asking:

What are the best ways to bring in more money?

The answers are clear:

The winners regarding donor retention, return on investment and sustainability are

  1. in-person meetings and
  2. telephone contact.

Though often overlooked, we know it is personal engagement with donors that drives connection and commitment. Therefore, the aware nonprofit must realize the value of its time, and it must create a plan that involves thoughtful individual contact with the most committed donors, (i.e. long-term, multi-gift and major gift donors).

To make the most of personal contact with donors, nonprofits must convey that while they are the facilitators of positive change, it is the donors, themselves, who are the change agents.  Online fundraising strategist, Matthew Sherrington, poignantly writes that a charity’s job is “to help people do their good work in the world. Not the other way around.” So how do nonprofits communicate this truth?

The answer lies in relating to donors authentically–asking them why they care about the organization and what they hope to see accomplished. Then they can be shown how they have made a difference through data points, which illustrate the nonprofit’s impact in the mission area that corresponds strongly to the interest of the donor, along with information that reflects how their individual giving has furthered that work.

In creating a strong fundraising plan that emphasizes personal contact, nonprofits should keep in mind the parable of the rocks and the pebbles, which Steven Covey so eloquently conveys in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Start by placing the large rocks, (i.e. strongest relationships and possible relationships) in the schedule as a priority, and everything else will follow.

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