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Do your journal ads tell a story?

Section: Blog

Ad journal … obligatory collection of typed out messages or unique opportunity to tell your story? If your organization is like many, you are thinking of the ad journal in the former sense and thereby doing a disservice — both to your organization and your supporters — by not aligning journal ads to your mission.

When you hear the word “journal” (or program book), do you think of a tired, old print book … black Times-Roman font on a white background? We don’t blame you for feeling uninspired. We wanted more for the journal. And with all the buzz on the importance of storytelling, we were certain that many organizations were missing a valuable opportunity. That is why Event Journal developed a digital platform, which allows organizations to communicate their story through impactful visuals. In creating a journal, we ask organizations to share images that exemplify their mission. Then we integrate those images into the journal ads themselves. When presented at the event on large screens or iPad centerpieces, the journal engages your guests, instead of putting them to sleep. We create these custom ads as part of our standard service.

What about camera-ready ads? These ads are submitted by corporations, ready to go. You have two choices: 1) Say nothing, and most organizations will submit a generic “journal ad.” 2) Suggest organizations connect their ad to your mission, something they already have a desire to do. After all, that is why they have chosen to support your organization! Reach out personally to your sponsors and let them know what you are trying to achieve via your journal. Offer up images that can be incorporated into sponsors’ camera-ready ads. View this as an opportunity to engage with your sponsors and deepen your relationship. In turn, they will appreciate you trying to make their support more relevant and impactful.

Here are a few examples of journal ads, both Event Journal created and camera-ready ads, that truly tell a story. If you like what you see, call us to find out how we can do this for you! Click HERE to view examples of journal ads that tell a story.

iPads Bring e-Journal Back to the Table

Section: Blog

Have you contemplated taking your ad journal digital, but faced push-back from stakeholders who insist the journal belongs ON the table? Well, here is the solution. Your e-journal can be showcased in elegant tabletop iPad displays for easy viewing from every seat!

iPads can be synced to play in unison for a dramatic “wow” factor — guests simply watch the e-journal “pages” turn. For a more casual event, iPads can be set to interactive mode, allowing guests to flip through ads, make monetary pledges and take selfies to post to social media, complete with your event hashtag. The display frames can be customized with thematic artwork or with the logo of a major underwriter for an extra level of recognition.

iPads can be used in conjunction with or in lieu of large presentation screens. Now, with Event Journal, the choice is yours. If you would like to learn more about this elegant event technology, give us a call!

Be empowered. Be a “Samantha.”

Section: Blog

When it comes to fundraising, who wouldn’t like to have a few secret powers? The power of absolute persuasion, the power of duplicating money, to name a few.

Some of you may have grown up watching the TV show, Bewitched, or its reruns. Others may be familiar with the 2005 movie of the same name. Bewitched arrived on TV sets back in 1964 and ran for eight seasons. It starred Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, a witch who falls in love with and marries a mere mortal, named Darrin. Samantha’s “power” poses a problem for Darrin and seems to cause him emotional discomfort. He makes Samantha vow not to use her powers. But, of course, she can’t quite help herself.

It’s no surprise that the strength of Samantha Stephens struck a chord with many people, especially women. Samantha always accomplished her goals, no matter how ridiculous her methods may have been. Bewitched enjoyed high ratings and sitcom longevity with its zany, yet resonating message.

How does this possibly connect to our mission as fundraisers?

Recognize and tap into what makes you unique. Samantha played down her natural abilities to appease her husband, but always managed to assert her power and individuality in the end. As a fundraiser, don’t lose touch with what makes your mission unique.

We all have “secret powers” – things that come easier to us than others. Uncover these talents in yourself and your team members, and then figure out how to monetize them.

Be bold like Samantha! Engage donors with novel approaches deploying the best team asset for the particular challenge of each ask.

Make it look effortless – like Samantha’s cute little twitch of the nose. When you employ your special talents with the challenge at hand, getting to the “yes” can be magical!

Be proud of what you bring to the development team at your organization. No one does or sees exactly what you do or works it quite like you. Own it! See the special talent in each teammate, as well, and let them put it to work. Achieving “power”ful fundraising results may be just a nose twitch away!

Summer Reading (& Writing) for Nonprofit Professionals

Section: Blog

Writing and publishing a book has never been easier, thanks to the upswing in self-publishing, e-books and on-demand printing. Nonprofit organizations are among those reaping the benefits of publishing their own books. Writing a book can help promote your mission in several ways, such as creating shareable content, bringing in new supporters and positioning your organization as a thought leader. To learn more about what a self-published book can do for your organization, review this article on the topic posted by Jay Wilkinson at Firespring.

In the meantime, check out these “summer reading” titles of note:

The Blue Sweater is the story of a woman who left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. It all started back home in Virginia, with the blue sweater, a gift that quickly became her prized possession — until the day she outgrew it and gave it away to Goodwill. Eleven years later in Africa, she spotted a young boy wearing that very sweater, with her name still on the tag inside. That the sweater had made its trek all the way to Rwanda was ample evidence, she thought, of how we are all connected, how our action — and inaction — touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know or meet.

The Promise of a Pencil chronicles Adam Braun’s journey to find his calling, as each chapter explains one clear step that every person can take to turn their biggest ambitions into reality. Braun began working summers at hedge funds when he was just sixteen years old, sprinting down the path to a successful Wall Street career. But while traveling he met a young boy begging on the streets of India, who after being asked what he wanted most in the world, simply answered, “A pencil.” This small request led to a staggering series of events that took Braun backpacking through dozens of countries before eventually leaving a prestigious job to found Pencils of Promise.

Almost Home tells the stories of six remarkable young people from across the United States and Canada as they confront life alone on the streets. Each eventually finds his or her way to Covenant House, the largest charity serving homeless and runaway youth in North America. From the son of a crack addict who fights his own descent into drug addiction to a teen mother reaching for a new life, their stories veer between devastating and inspiring as they each struggle to find a place called home. This book includes a foreword by Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

The House on Henry Street is part of the history of New York City, as well as a key moment in the growth of social work in the United States. It is integrally related to the story of progressivism and social reform. Although the book’s style is simple, it tells a complex story, both of one woman’s indomitable nature, and of a special institution in a particular neighborhood of New York City. “The House on Henry Street “reflects the spirit of an optimistic era in which actors were part of larger social and political changes. It is also a history that moves easily from the personal, through the community, and finally to the national levels of American government. Professionals in the fields of volunteerism and philanthropy, women’s studies & social welfare will find this absorbing.

It Takes a Dream is the story of Hadassah, beginning in the early days of the twentieth century, when the Jewish population of Jerusalem was enduring very difficult living conditions, and suffering disease and hardship. It was in this setting that the renowned and beloved founder of Hadassah, Henrietta Szold, became inspired to help improve the lives and health of Jerusalem’s citizens. Spanning two centuries, reaching virtually every corner of the globe, the epic story of the Hadassah organization is the inspiring and fascinating history of generations of determined women who worked to heal, enlighten, educate and save lives.

Take event presentations to the next level…

Section: Blog

Want something to really wow and inspire guests at your next event? Consider using Event Journal for a  digital sponsor presentation. Event Journal’s presentations are custom-designed to highlight your event graphics and your organization’s mission. Supporter ads are beautifully produced to tell your story, and are replicated  to display at a frequency in line with sponsor level. We also highlight your honorees, board lists and other key event information.

Ads or ad copy can be submitted via a customized ad submission dashboard, which can be linked to from purchase receipts. Presentations can be displayed on large screens or on iPad centerpieces. After the event, we provide a digital flipbook that can be easily embedded into your website or shared via email.

When you outsource the journal ads and presentation to Event Journal, you free yourself up for other more critical pre-event responsibilities. So breathe easy and let Event Journal handle your next presentation.

Introducing ejRemote

Section: Blog

An Online Ad Gallery, Embedded on Your Organization’s Event Page

It’s here and we couldn’t be any prouder! ejRemote appears directly on clients’ event pages … on their own websites or third-party platforms. Participants learn about the event and register online using the nonprofit organization’s existing shopping cart and database. Then, they leave the journal ads to us. Event Journal manages the entire process, freeing our clients up to raise more funds!

Behind the scenes, Event Journal creates, proofs and posts the ads, and hosts the entire ad gallery on our secure server. Event sponsors & supporters receive added recognition via an easy-to-navigate “e-journal” platform. This is not a static pdf or flipbook. This is a dynamic, responsive gallery. Journal ads can be seen in slide view, list view or via a search feature — and ads link to sponsors’ websites.

Event Journal provides a link for organizations to include in their purchase confirmation emails. When clicked on, it directs users to a customized ad submission portal. Users can attach a camera-ready ad or can submit copy for a personalized message and Event Journal creates the ad for them. All ads are posted to the ejRemote gallery in real time and the client is copied on all ad submissions.

At the event, the ad journal comes to life as an elegant presentation, showcased on large screens or table-top iPad displays.

ejRemote is a great addition to the digital Event Journal family. It adds a flexible alternative to our flagship service, EVENTjournal, which provides expanded benefits and opportunities. For more information on ejRemote or call us to discuss which option is best for your fundraising event!  Click here to view examples.

What is “aspect ratio” and why should it matter to you?

Section: Blog

Aspect ratio refers to the “fixed” relationship between the width and the height of a display screen. It is always written in a ratio format with the width listed first and the height listed second.

An improperly formatted event presentation can really diminish the impact of your gala content, minimizing its impact and appearing unprofessional. It’s possible you could pay for wide screen displays, such as on LED TV’s, but if the presentation shows in the standard, 4:3 ratio, it will only fill part of the screen. It will leave gaps on the left and right. Or you might order a large projection screen or even iPad centerpieces, requiring a 16:9 ratio. Again, it only fills part of the screen, leaving gaps on the top and bottom. Not only does this waste space that is intended for sponsor recognition or to tell your story, but, aesthetically, it gives an amateur appearance.

What is aspect ratio and why should it matter to you? The truth is, when you work with Event Journal, you don’t need to concern yourself with this technicality. That’s because AV coordination is one of the many details we handle. We ensure that your event presentation is professional and on point. Working with the Event Journal team, ensures you’re getting the most bang for your buck. You will definitely use the entire screen you paid for and present the very best version of your content.

Additionally, if you are using multiple of screen sizes, Event Journal formats your presentation for each. This is not as simple as just hitting a “reformat” button. Often times your presentation content needs to be redesigned to fit the additional format without stretch distortions.

For more information on aspect ratio, see IMS Technology Services’ newsletter.

Strategize your Fundraising Event

Section: Blog

In the frenzied world of event fundraising, development staff is often pulled from project to project and from event to event with little time to focus on strategic planning. So, often, they enlist the comfortable triad of pre-event communications: the save-the-date card, sponsor solicitation letter and the printed invitation/reply card. But this one-size-fits-all, tactical approach to event promotion is facing obsolescence because it hasn’t changed with the times. Without first identifying event goals and strategy, it’s like throwing something against the wall and hoping it will stick.

We all know the adage that those who “fail to plan,” in fact, “plan to fail.” Only after formulating a strong strategy can we begin to determine and enlist effective tactics, both traditional and innovative. Begin with key questions about your event objectives and think big picture:

What are the primary and secondary goals of the event? To raise money? To demonstrate impact? To inspire participation? To strengthen relationships? As you plan your event, it is important you keep these goals in mind.

What is the takeaway? What is the most important piece of information about your organization you want to impart? Make sure that message is being communicated before, during and after the event.

Whittle down your audience…

Whom do you wish to engage with this event? This includes both past attendees plus first time participants. Are past supporters vendors / acquaintances of your honoree? What about age, sex, income, geography and connection to your mission? How might the above strategies differ for each of these audiences?

When is the best time to reach your supporters? How early should you start marketing the event? If your event is in the fall, are your supporters accessible over the summer – or do you need to begin marketing in the spring?

How do you want the event to make people feel? Inspired? Empowered? Like a team member?

Based on your event strategy, determine which tactics to employ to help achieve your goals. While some organizations hold onto the status quo with all their might, others push the envelope each year, deploying new ideas. It is important to add new tactics each year because your donor base is evolving. Tactics should be analyzed post-event to determine which to keep and which to abandon. Determine a return-on-investment for each tactic, wherever possible.

Mass print media has been eclipsed by the advent of targeted, digital media. Email marketing, online ad journals, a/v presentations, social media and mobile technology all contribute to opportunity for greater engagement and better returns. Segment your list and target different messages to different audiences. For example, try sending different appeals to corporate sponsors, emerging donors, honoree supporters, etc. Each of these groups has a different reason for their involvement in your event, so it is important to craft a message that will resonate with them.

Because the digital landscape is changing rapidly, organizations need to keep pace with technology. While larger, sophisticated, nonprofit organizations are able to embrace best practices with the latest technologies, smaller agencies can benefit too. They just need to understand their limitations and know when to outsource to seasoned event professionals.

Progress doesn’t move in reverse, so don’t be afraid to step back and ask the hard questions, such as “Why are we doing this?” Organizations and board members who bury their heads in the sand risk alienating the next generation of supporters. More strategic and  progressive nonprofits will be quick to scoop them up.

Top 10 Secrets of a Nonprofit Event Specialist

Section: Blog

Chris Lipari, is founder and owner of Lipari Production Group, event specialists providing production and consultation services to nonprofit organizations. LPG has produced events ranging from large star-studded benefits to “K9K” walks across the Brooklyn Bridge. Chris shares his top 10 “insider secrets” for successful fundraising events. These tips resonate with Event Journal, because they are many of the same suggestions we give our clients:

  • Think strategically about your event. What is your organization hoping to gain from the event? What do you want the event to achieve and communicate? Set goals — and not just financial goals!
  • Determine how you want your event to make people feel. How do you envision the complete event experience, from start to finish?
  • Build an infrastructure into your development team to anticipate, plan and manage your annual major special event. Your other development activities should not come to a screeching halt each year when the event is being planned. If this is the case, consider outsourcing more responsibilities to seasoned event professionals.
  • Engage all departments in your organization: development, communications, finance, and programing to work as a team – you all have the same goal!
  • Be smart about budget – both revenue and expenses. Dinner Galas are costly to produce and are not the right fit for every organization. Consider other possibilities, such as a cocktail party or tasting event.
  • The planned flow of an event is always likely to change. Who is the one person who knows the objective of the event, what should happen and (most importantly) is empowered to make real-time decisions to create a positive outcome?
  • What are you spending money and time on?  Do you really need a printed journal?  Make use of video projection to recognize supporters and sponsors at the event.  Consider a digital event journal. It lives online year-round, saves paper and is one less thing for guests to carry home (and throw away!)
  • At the event, you have a captive audience. How are you going to communicate with them? Attendees should walk away with new knowledge about your organization and its mission, and why you need their support. There must be a compelling call to action.
  • Who are your guests? Often, tickets get passed down the line and may end up in the hands of a table sponsor’s guests who have no connection with your organization and its mission. Find a way to engage these people too. Make sure there are giving opportunities for guests at every financial level. Not only will this yield more revenue, it will allow your organization to capture guest information and begin to cultivate these new donors.
  • Make sure to hold a post-event debriefing: the good, the bad and the not-so-good! Consider sending a short survey to board and committee members and a selection of guests.  Take specific notes, so you can start to build a year-to-year dossier of the event and build on your success.

Treating Event Sponsors as Major Gifts Prospects

Section: Blog

Do you treat event sponsors like one night stands? Many organizations are guilty of this practice and it can make an individual or business feel used, undervalued and less than invested in your organization’s success. Icema Gibbs, Director or Corporate Social Responsibility at JetBlue, said at a recent AFP event, “I gave a large donation to an organization for its event and I thought we were dating.  But when the phone call never came, I realized I was just one of many.”

Instead of taking an event-centric approach, focus on cultivating long-term relationships with event sponsors. Give them the same level of respect and the same mindset you bring to prospects for major gifts.

Kristin Steele of Swaim Strategies said in a recent webcast, “If we can create emotional resonance between our organizations and our donors, we’re going to evolve out of the transactional relationship that we have with them. When people feel they’re treated like a checkbook, eventually they’re going to move on to someplace they’re seen as people taking action to change the world.” Steele continues, “The event is an opportunity. When people walk into a room and the event wraps its arms around them and brings them into the organization, they feel like they’re a part of something.”

Here are some tips to help you change up your event approach:

1) Research and Target Prospects
Too often, event sponsorships are solicited via a onetime letter and a follow up call. Instead of using this “shotgun” method of reaching out to a large number of unsubstantiated prospects, selectively target a “Top 10” list of prospects and dig in.

Find these prospects by talking to people who already support your mission: board members, community supporters and even existing sponsors. Who else do they know for you to approach? Remember, you’re just asking for recommendations. By offering to do the heavy lifting, aka “the ask,” you make it more likely they’ll participate with suggestions.

Do your research of that person’s or company’s past community giving and see if you can identify any patterns. Utilize a Donor Search firm to help your organization pinpoint your most likely prospects for long-term engagement. Look for “signs”, such as previous donations to your organization or a similar nonprofit and review personal information, such volunteering history and membership on boards. (Learn more about prospect screening.)

Add these prospects to your newsletter lists, mailings and holiday appeal letters and then communicate with them regularly. This will foster familiarity and will ensure they’ll have some awareness of the work you do by the time you reach out and ask for a substantive contribution.

2) Talk to Potential Sponsors
In Major Gifts, “asks” are personalized and done in person. To acquire major corporate sponsors for your event, follow suit by asking for an appointment. Remember, your contact at the sponsor is a “real person” and people give to people, most often for emotional versus logical reasons. Be prepared to illustrate what your organization is doing and invite your prospective sponsors, as individuals, to participate. Getting prospects personally involved will directly affect their company’s involvement.

Build a compelling case as to why this potential sponsor should be invested in your organization’s mission. When you meet, know your statistics and the impact of your mission’s work on their own employee base. For example, if you work in a mental health agency, you might cite the statistic that up to one third of Americans report they’ve struggled with mental health issues. Then, break this down to the number of people in the company who may be affected and possibly helped by your agency. Make the case that your agency helps their company be more stable by providing a valuable service to the community.

Ask questions to determine their “sweet spots” and motivations:

  • Do they have any direct connections to your work?
  • What do they look to gain from supporting your organization?
  • What can you offer to make supporting you more appealing?
  • Is it in their interest to engage their employees to volunteer for your agency?
  • Can you plan a day on site to discuss your work and rally employees behind the mission?
  • Would they be interested in spending time getting to know your nonprofit personally?

3) Propose a Multi-Year Commitment
Let the company know that the problems you tackle are not a “quick fix.” Ask for a 3-5 year commitment of annual sponsorship dollars or donations. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And any good business person should understand that successful ventures are not realized without a multi-year investment. This is good business and a “major gifts” strategy that has been proven to work.

Your long term donors are people and organizations that you are able to move along your cultivation cycle because they’re known donors. They feel valued and validated in their generosity and in supporting your organization.