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Meet the Event Journal Team: Laura

Section: Blog

The third in a continuing series of team member profiles:

NAME: Laura M. Miller
TITLE: Account Manager

Laura is a recent addition to the Event Journal team and already wears many hats. When she’s not reaching out to nonprofit organizations to uncover new opportunities, she is working internally managing existing accounts, and is instrumental in planning our marketing, including email blasts and social media.

In her own words:

WHAT MAKES EVENT JOURNAL UNIQUE: The most unique thing about Event Journal is that we develop strong, long lasting relationships with the people and nonprofit organizations we serve. We truly become an extension of their development teams during the busy pre-event months. We are fortunate to become so personally involved … their mission becomes our mission!

INTERESTING STORY ABOUT A CLIENT OR PROJECT: While I am new to Event Journal, I was thrilled to see a familiar name on our roster of clients — Tourette Association of America. One of my family members has Tourette Syndrome, so I know firsthand about the amazing work this organization does, especially their innovative Youth Ambassador program. I am proud to be in a position to help with their fundraising efforts.

WHAT IS A CHARITY OR CAUSE YOU PERSONALLY STAND BEHIND AND WHY? I am a sustaining member of National Public Radio affiliate WNYC, which is playing whenever I’m in the car. I learn so much from their programming — how could I not support them!? I also support several Jewish organizations. I visited Israel for the second time last year and feel a strong connection to my Jewish homeland. And, finally, I support any cause my friends are willing to walk for, run for — or even climb stairs for! If it’s important to them, it is important to me.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PET(S): I am a brand new pet owner, having recently adopted a kitten we named Herschel. He is a precocious striped tabby cat and is the perfect antidote to empty nest syndrome. We also have a tropical fish tank, which Herschel is fascinated by. As you can see, he is definitely plotting a surprise attack!

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Complement Offline Fundraising with Online Marketing

Section: Blog

Most non-profits have dipped their toes into the worlds of email marketing, crowdfunding and website solicitation. But digital marketing platforms can also maximize the effectiveness of your offline efforts, such as fundraising events. In his article “How to Add an Online Component to Your Offline Fundraising Activities,” Joe Garecht of The Fundraising Authority shares the following keys for successfully adding an online component to your mix:

Don’t Make Online Marketing an Afterthought
Don’t simply copy and paste text from your printed materials. Make your message unique and targeted to help you nurture a strong community which rallies around your non-profit.

Encourage Supporters to Take Your Efforts Viral

Supporters can spread the word about your campaign through their own network of friends and colleagues.

Online Efforts Should Mirror Offline Tactics
If your organization requires three levels of approvals before you send an event invitation to the printer, but your intern sends out an e-mail invitation without anyone else looking at it, you are not giving equal weight to your online activities.

We at Event Journal would like to add one more suggestion to this already comprehensive list: Elevate your event marketing with the introduction of an event “micro-site.” The classic triad of pre-event communications, (save-the-date postcard, sponsor solicitation letter and printed event invitation) is facing obsolescence. The printed journal distributed at the event has been eclipsed by the advent of better and broader use vehicles, delivered by a mix of both printed and digital media.

Rethink and reinvent your event marketing and communications strategy using all the technology available to you. Digital mediums, such as email marketing, social media and online ad journals provide an opportunity for even greater engagement and better fundraising returns for your event. As “millennials” become an increasingly larger percentage of your target market, non-profits will no longer be able to rely solely on older methods of communications. Organizations and Board Members who bury heads in the sand will be passed over by more progressive nonprofits.

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.