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Is a business venture right for your organization?

Section: Blog

Event Journal client, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE) of Long Island, NY is a nonprofit organization supporting more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual / developmental disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury. When FREE was seeking better career opportunities for its constituents, administration decided to look within and develop its own opportunities through affirmative business ventures. FREE now operates Terry’s Cafe, a full service catering outfit, made up of individuals with special needs who are interested in food service careers. The same organization also operates a commercial cleaning service called Swept FREE and a retail store called Fancy FREE, which sells gifts and handmade crafts, many created by program participants.

“In addition to providing useful services to the community, our Affirmative Businesses provide a sense of independence and freedom to the men and woman we serve,” said Greg Varro, Affirmative Business Development Manager for FREE. “On top of the income they earn, these individuals obtain valuable training and experience, enabling them to seek employment anywhere else they may choose to live.”

Geri Stengel of Ventureneer is a seasoned consultant to nonprofits in the area of business ventures. She shares some helpful information for organizations considering embarking on such ventures:

Nonprofit business ventures are not a fad or a new idea. Many organizations — from literacy efforts to senior service providers — are creating ventures. Whether large or small, nonprofits run thrift shops, food service companies and even manufacturing companies to fund their programs and motivate program participants.

Benefits of such ventures include producing unrestricted income, enhancing organization’s mission, building an entrepreneurial culture, improving the organization’s recognition and attracting donors, volunteers and staff. Business ventures can increase organization revenue, while reducing vulnerability from changes in donor trends. These diversified revenues can help your organization become less reliant on donations, grants and corporate money, and more self-sustainable.

Here are ten tips Geri provides to ensure your nonprofit’s commercial venture is a success:

  1. Spend Time Planning: Start by identifying an evangelist within the organization who will champion the creation of your business venture, take ownership of the planning process and invest the time necessary to work on the plan. Creating a business plan will clarify your direction, gain buy-in from stakeholders, confirm the venture’s feasibility and identify risks. Define the features and benefits of the product/service. Describe the strategies you’ll use to reach the target market, such as positioning, pricing, distribution channels, sales, advertising and publicity. Budget expenses, project revenue, develop milestones and determine how much money is needed and when.
  2. Stay True to Your Mission: Evaluate the appropriateness of the venture to the nonprofit’s mission. Does the business venture further the mission of the organization? Ventures that are compatible with the nonprofit’s mission are more likely to succeed and have the support of the nonprofit’s key stakeholders.
  3. Practice Good Governance: Get board support early on. If you have to fight the culture of the board or the parent organization, the venture will fail. Managing expectations is important. Keep your board and parent organization informed.
  4. Get Connected: Leaders of commercial ventures need connections to sources of business expertise, industry connections and money. Broaden your existing network by attending conferences, joining organizations and using your Board’s connections. Professionals—such as lawyers, accountants or bankers—can open doors for you.
  5. Ensure Adequate Financing: Money available through grants is limited, and it may be difficult to get donations and corporate money for the creation of business ventures. Therefore, it will be in your interest to learn about new sources of capital, including debt, equity and alternative financing.
  6. Assemble a Strong Management Team: Your top person should be entrepreneurial and have a track record in the industry you’re targeting. Ideally, teams should have, not only industry experience but, functional expertise and industry connections in sales, marketing, technology and finance. Equally important, the people you hire must have a passion for your mission and share the values of your organization. Establish clear lines of authority and responsibility to ensure decision making isn’t slowed by the needs of the nonprofit. Be prepared to pay according to market scale, not nonprofit wages, even though you may be paying your venture employees more than your nonprofit staff.
  7. Benefit by Forming Strategic Alliances: Collaborations are a way to leverage resources, share expertise and spread costs to tackle complex challenges. Partnerships foster mutual benefits, but the alliances exist only as long as they are advantageous to both parties.
  8. Measure Financial, Operational and Social Performance: Healthy revenue and profit margins are crucial to any commercial venture. You must maintain adequate financial information systems to determine the health of the business and hold the management team accountable for making a profit.
  9. Focus on the Customer: Every business seeks satisfied customers who return because they trust the company’s product or service. Repeat customers come at a much lower cost than attracting new customers. Build loyalty by instilling a helpful attitude, delivering on advertised promises, developing a favorable return policy and providing accurate product information.
  10. Adapt Quickly, Thoughtfully and Strategically: Problems may arise for a variety of reasons, usually due to overly optimistic sales projections. Stakeholders will want to know what strategies you have in place to cope with this slippage. Remember, even the most promising start-up may need a greater investment to reach break-even.

Read Geri Stengel’s article in its entirety here. For more information on FREE, click here.

Think Customer Service Isn’t Important? Think Again!

Section: Blog

Although we created the first web-based digital ad journal for fundraising events, the “e-journal” is now widely embraced in the fundraising sector. At Event Journal, we believe good client service is what separates us from the other “me too” options. However rather than touting our superior customer service, we thought we would let our clients speak for themselves:

St. John’s University President’s Dinner
“Reflecting our commitment to environmental sustainability, this was our first experience in moving from a print to an online journal. Our interactions with Event Journal made for a seamless transition and their knowledgeable and professional staff was responsive to our every need. It was quickly apparent that we chose the perfect partner for the University’s premier fundraising event.”

The Lighthouse Guild International
“Your staff is to be commended both for their responsiveness and professionalism. As first time users of your service, many of our requests were last minute and required immediate action, your team was always willing to help in any way.”

We think the success story of Uber’s amazing growth fueled by their commitment to client service is worth a look. Founded in 2009 as a niche ride share service in San Francisco, Uber is now a global company worth billions and billions of dollars. On their web site they credit word of mouth for their explosive growth. Uber riders are raving fans and the founders’ vision to create a business model focused on connecting drivers and riders seamlessly through an app has changed the game – every where.

We had a similar vision of how to serve nonprofits more efficiently and effectively when we launched Event Journal. Uber is a game changer that Mark Cuban believes will dramatically reduce car ownership. The digital event journal is a game changer that allows nonprofits to Raise More and Stress Less. We were the first and our clients believe we are the best. That’s what a culture built around client service does.

Celebrating Amazing Women

Section: Blog

As a certified W.B.E., Event Journal enjoys celebrating amazing women. That’s why we want to tell you about Amelia Earhart.

She is best known for setting a record for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. Not surprisingly, she was an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment and a member of the National Woman’s Party. In other words, she was a feminist, back in the day. Although Amelia reportedly faced harsh weather conditions and mechanical problems during her 14-hour flight, but she never gave up. In fact, she was famously quoted as saying, “The most effective way to do it is to just do it.” That’s our philosophy at Event Journal where we help clients “Raise More and Stress Less”.

Meet the Event Journal Team: Bill

Section: Blog

The second in a continuing series of team member profiles:

NAME: William Frank
TITLE: Director of Client Services

Faster than a search engine! Cooler than a cucumber! Able to leap over tight deadlines in a single bound! Yes, it’s Bill Frank, who came to Event Journal with powers and abilities far beyond those of mere mortal men. Bill Frank, who can positively change the course of any project, manage complex details with his bare hands, and who, disguised as our mild-mannered Director of Client Services, fights a never-ending battle to help nonprofits raise more and stress less. While he may not flaunt his cape around the office, anyone who has worked with Bill knows he is most definitely a super hero.

In his own words:

WHAT MAKES EVENT JOURNAL UNIQUE: Because fundraising is so important and challenging, we make at least one part of it easier … running a successful fundraiser. Event Journal is more than a solutions provider. We are an invested partner in client success. We cultivate strong partnerships — from discovery meetings to day-to-day support and post-event evaluation. We uncover opportunities that broaden the ways nonprofit organizations meet their objectives. Our unique blend of proven technology and industry expertise helps our clients to streamline work processes and raise more money.

WHAT IS A CHARITY YOU PERSONALLY STAND BEHIND AND WHY? Homelessness is a particular focus because the road back to self-sufficiency is particularly hard and its impact on children is both long-ranging and especially traumatic. I support organizations like NYC Rescue Mission, which offers both spiritual and emotional support, job guidance and recovery, maximizing every dollar they bring in to feed those who seek their care. Working for Event Journal, I am glad that my job allows me to be part of a team that provides support for organizations such as Covenant House who do so much for homeless teens.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PET: I have a cat named Scrambles, a feral cat I rescued one winter out of a polar vortex. She has since up-ended my life and home — and we’re inseparable friends.

50 Fascinating Philanthropy Statistics

Section: Blog

Blackbaud launched a new website compiling 50 of the most up-to-date statistics from the nonprofit sector, including data on giving, fundraising tactics, donor characteristics, platform and device information.

Here are a few salient facts:

• 72% of charitable giving comes from individuals
• 15% of charitable giving comes from foundations
• 5% of charitable giving comes from corporations
• 31% of charitable giving is faith-based
• 68% of nonprofit appeals require three or more clicks to make a donaton
• 73% of nonprofit appeals do not offer a “share” option after an online donation

Click here to view 50 Fascinating Philanthropy Statistics.

Digital Journals a Major Breakthrough for Nonprofits

Section: Blog

Laura Wertkin, a branding and marketing consultant to nonprofit organizations recently shared a blog in praise of the digital ad journal. The blog was a result of an extensive interview with Event Journal founder and president Karen Perry-Weinstat. In her blog, Laura outlines the many benefits the e-journal has over the traditional printed journal, which gets “strewn about on the floor after the event.” Here are some of the benefits she outlines:

1) A digital event journal can stay online for year-round presence, not just during the event. Compare this to the short shelf life of the printed journal.

2) A typical online journal receives 5-10 times more unique viewers than number of guests at the event.

3) Sponsors easily submit ads directly to the digital platform, eliminating the need for someone to receive ads by email and then place them manually by level.

4) The virtual journal can be turned into a presentation to run on the big screen at events, giving sponsors visibility before, during and after the event.

5) The event journal can become the go-to place to find all event information. Online event journals also have the capability for registration and event photo galleries.

6) Sponsors can submit ads right up until the day of the event, which means potentially more money raised.

7) Extensive back-end reports detail information on registered guests, donations and ad submissions.

Event Journal provides fundraising event websites, e-journals and digital marketing solutions to help nonprofits raise more money. Read this article in its entirety on LinkedIn.

Email Subject Lines from Year-End Appeals

Section: Blog

Steve MacLaughlin of NP Engage shared his informal annual review of year-end fundraising subject lines. The list is diverse! Steve reviewed 445 email messages sent from 75 different nonprofits during the month of December. Of the 445 emails, 28% were sent during the last five days of the month.

Words like “gift” and “holiday” were very popular. “GivingTuesday” was referenced in 22 of the email subject lines. #GivingTuesday campaigns continue to grow in email volume each year. In 2014, there were 51 emails sent by 41 different nonprofit organizations on #GivingTuesday. That was a significant increase from 2013. Only 2% of fundraising email subject lines promoted a tax deduction.

A good subject line is just one part of the success equation. Getting the right message to the right people at the right time is still critical. And with more than 50% of all emails now opened on a mobile device it’s vital to be mobile friendly. But, at the end of the day, the main barometer of success is whether or not the email resulted in a donation.

Read the subject lines and learn Steve’s favorites and why on his NP Engage Blog.

Manage Social Media At Your Next Event

Section: Blog

While most non-profits have a presence on social media, are you managing your social media in real time during an event? This is a great opportunity attract attention for your event. According to Martha C. White at, here are eight steps to create a foolproof social media response strategy:

1. Designate and Empower Monitors
Don’t get so busy with event planning that you forget to delegate this task to someone on the team. If your event is big, consider drafting volunteers for live blogging and tweeting, blow-by-blow, akin to a reporter covering the event.

2. Create a Command Center
Your social media hub should be in the middle of the action, with an adequate power supply, the best seats and a vantage point in the house and stage.

3. Define Your Voice
Create a tone, character and persona for monitors to use. This is most important if you plan to have multiple people, especially volunteers, communicating on the group’s behalf.

4. Make it Personal
Communicate as if you are speaking to a friend or family member to avoid sounding like an institution. Be authentic! Respond to people that tweet or comment by name.

5. Expect the Unexpected
Even with the best planning, the unexpected can happen. Imagine possible scenarios—a power outage, bad weather, a shortage of some key item—and craft responses ahead of time.

6. Put Twitter First
Twitter is the best medium for live reporting. This doesn’t mean you should neglect Facebook and Instagram, but tweets are the language of real-time social media conversation.

7. Woo Influencers
A celebrity with a huge following on Twitter or an entrepreneur whose LinkedIn posts are devoured by the business community can add exponentially to your event’s reach.

8. Go Beyond Your Platform
Attendees will talk on their platforms about your event. Monitor social media for mentions. Since some people might mention the event without using its proper name or Twitter handle, run searches on Twitter for your group’s name, the event name, and other similar terms.

Read this article in its entirety at

7 Friends Every Successful Event Planner Needs

Section: Blog

Bethany Smith of Event Manager Blog shares a list: 7 Friends Every Successful Event Planner Needs, which includes a copywriter, a graphic designer and a destination management company. We’d like to add an 8th entry to her list: a digital marketing partner. Working with a team of dedicated, experienced professionals to manage the intricacies of marketing your event, attracting attendees, promoting the event to potential donors can make you look like a rock star.

Event Journal, Inc. provides this marketing guidance to nonprofit organizations for their major fundraising events. Our 13 years’ experience working exclusively with nonprofits has given us the insight and experience to affect a difference in promoting your organization’s events. Our microsites help build excitement months in advance of the event date, serving as a portal for all event information, online purchases, donations and ad reservations.

Our flagship product is the digital e-journal (seen both online and at the event), a perfect vehicle to promote your event to a nationwide contingent of supporters. An e-journal has the potential to greatly expand the scope of your donor base – reaching 5-10 times the audience than the number of actual guests at your event. It adds significant value to your sponsorship packages to ultimately help you raise more funds. At the event, the journal comes to life digitally on presentation screens, giving each sponsor the limelight throughout the night.
See the Event MB website to read this article in its entirety.

Meet the Event Journal Team: Courtney

Section: Blog

The first in a continuing series of team member profiles:

NAME: Courtney Randall, aka Kirby
TITLE: Graphic Artist/Production Specialist
YEARS AT EVENT JOURNAL: 3 years and, 8 months

Kirby is our resident fashion plate and a die-hard Giants fan. As one of our key designers, he remains unflappable in the face of heavy-volume and tight deadlines.

In his own words:

WHAT MAKES EVENT JOURNAL UNIQUE: What I find so unique is how close-knit we are as a group. If someone in the company needs help, we personally extend ourselves. When our Production Manager had major flood damage from Hurricane Sandy, several of us volunteered our free time to help remove damaged items. We also do after work events together like supporting charity events or playing volleyball and billiards.

FUNNY OR INTERESTING STORY ABOUT A CLIENT PROJECT: When I first started working at Event Journal, one of the first projects I worked on was the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – LI Man and Woman of the Year event. Coincidentally, my friend was a candidate to be honored as Man of the Year that very same year. It was just one of those moments in which worlds collide!

TELL US ABOUT A CHARITY OR CAUSE YOU STAND BEHIND AND WHY? For the last 5 years my friend and I have hosted a charity bar crawl in NYC. We raise money from the event t-shirts I design to donate to charity. In the past we have donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, Movember and the American Cancer Society. Our 10th annual “Brody & Kirby Bar Crawl” will take place on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 2pm-1am. We are slated to visit ten bars on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and expect anywhere from 35-45 people. It is free to join us, we just ask that you purchase a t-shirt.

This year we are donating proceeds to the American Brain Tumor Association in memory of our friend Jack Christensen who, at 35, lost his life to complications of a brain tumor. The mission of the American Brain Tumor Association is to advance the understanding and treatment of brain tumors to improve, extend and save the lives of those impacted.

For those who wish to join our efforts, view our Bar Crawl Map or email me directly.

To learn about the company please visit