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Making the ‘Ask’ Easier

Section: Blog

Asking: sometimes one of the most nerve-racking things for a fundraiser to do, ironically. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you but My mouth goes dry, my lungs collapse and I feel faint.” Gail Perry over at Fired Up Fundraising have touched on an important underlying fear of some fundraisers. Sometimes simply asking can be the most daunting talk in fundraising. Luck for us, Perry has put together 5 insights into how you can be “far more effective, more strategic, and happier when you are asking”.

Five Insightful Ideas That Make the ‘Ask’ So Much Easier (and less scary!)

1. Asking is a process, not a one-time transaction – There are a lot of steps that go into asking. Don’t view it as a one-time thing. Instead, think of it as a multi-step process that focusing on building a solid relationship with the potential donor.

2. People will give you money to change or save lives – To be successful, you must understand why people donate. People donate to make a change, so be transparent in how their support will in fact make a change in someone’s life or in the community.

3. It’s NEVER about money – Don’t get trapped in the idea that money=success. Focusing on building long-lasting relationships will engage your supporters for much longer than a one time donation. Instead, think about who you are helping and focus on accomplishing these goals. The money will come in due time.

4. It’s not about you – It’s all about the donor. Listen to them and let them lead the way to a successful partnership. Find out what means the most to them and then capitalize on how you can assist each other. How can you accomplish their needs and yours, all at the same time.

5. People give to an exciting opportunity and BIG IDEAS – When you solicit donations, you much “talk in the largest possible terms”. Focus on the highest potential and the big picture. People want to feel like their making a big difference, explain to them how this is a possibility with their help.

For detailed information on these 5 insights, visit Gail Perry’s full blog posting here: Five Ideas That Will Make Asking Much Easier and More Successful

To find out how Event Journal can help you make a BIG impact with your next event, visit our solutions page: Event Journal Solutions

14 Conversations to Have With Your Donors

Section: Blog

As fundraisers, it is important to keep donors, and get potentials donors, engaged. By doing so, you increase the odds of an everlasting relationship and continued support for the organization. Donor engagement is sustained by daily conversations and reaching out. We talk to our donors in person and on the phone, but in this new word of technology, they are not the only ways to converse with donors.

The people over at Fundraising Authority point out that everything we do now is a conversation, “[from] the events we hold, the newsletters we send out, the items we post on our website… each of these tells a story and engages our donors in conversation. Starting a conversation can be daunting for those of us that aren’t exactly sure what to say. Luckily the Fundraising Authority has come up with 14 easy talking points to get the conversations started.

14 Conversations to Have With Your Donors

  1. Outcomes
  2. Clients
  3. Founding
  4. Donors
  5. Communities
  6. Volunteers
  7. Case for Support
  8. Fiscal Stewardship
  9. Staff
  10. Programs
  11. The Problem
  12. Events
  13. Thought Leadership
  14. Ask for Advice

Need more information on how to get the conversation flowing? Check out the entire article: 14 Conversations to Have With Your Donors

How to: Build Your Nonprofit Brand’s Buzzability

Section: Blog

As the people over at Nonprofit Hub like to say: “People like to talk. Give them something to talk about.” To increase the exposure of your nonprofit’s organization, you must increase the ‘buzz’ around your organization. One of the best, and cheapest, ways to increase the buzz is to get people talking about your organization. Word of mouth marketing is a highly effective way of getting the awareness level up, and there is no better marketing than the words of a dedicated supporter. The big question Nonprofit Hub looks to answer is: How do you get people chatting? Answer: You must give people something that’s worth talking about.

Here are five ways to get people talking and increase the ‘buzzability’ of your nonprofit organization:

1. Create and Promote Stories that Your Donors Want to Share – People like to talk about other people and nothing generates more buzz than stories, especially the life-changing, awe-inspiring, or heart-wrenching. Keep your stories focused on the people or things you’re helping and less on your organization to make sure they don’t come off as ‘marketing pitches’.

2. Recruit a Group of Volunteers Who Are Willing to Share via Social Media – Post your organization’s engaging material and then make sure it’s shareable content. Use calls-to-action to drive traffic to your website and ask for people to share. Sometimes just a little asking and/or nudging can be all it takes to get someone to click ‘share’.

3. Take Ten Minutes a Day to Build Your Own Brand – Be a presence on social media. Share your favorite blog posts and be active in discussions. Tweet articles, share photos, and setup your Google Authorship so Google can recognize you as a credible author.

4. Build Your Street Cred – Create a group of your top supporters and volunteers and give them a swag bag. Include the do’s and don’ts for speaking about the organization, a little background on the organization, a directory, a list of all the services your offer, calender of events, etc. Set them up for success and give them the tools to generate buzz around the organization.

5. Get Your Board on Board – Board in engagement is a must. Keep your board members in ‘know’, empower them to make connections, and get them talking about why they’re involved in the organization. Board members have power and influence over a great range of people, so ignite that power and let them do the rest.

Want to know all the details on increasing the ‘buzzability’ of your nonprofit organization? Check out the full article here: Five Ways to Build Your Nonprofit Brand’s Buzzability

10 Tips to Secure the Gift

Section: Blog

One of the biggest questions and issues on every fundraiser’s mind is “How do I secure the gift?” Fundraising is all about making the connections and “asks” stick to produce beneficial numbers. However, that is easier said than done. Securing the gift can be tough in this economy but Gail Perry has some insider knowledge from of the industry’s greats, Jerry Panas. Panas sat down with Gail for an interview and gave his 10 tips on how to secure the gift.

How to Secure the Gift: 10 Priceless Tips from Jerry Panas

  1. Getting the visit is the toughest part – Jerry thinks that “if you get the visit, you’re 85% of the way to getting the gift” Send a letter before you call. Give people details and don’t blindside them with new information. Give them enough to intrigue then allow them time to do some reading and researching on their own.
  2. Be willing to fail – You win some, you lose some. You won’t win 100% of the time in everything, especially fundraising. Knowing this, give it your best anyway and make the asks. If you don’t play, you’ll never get the chance to win.
  3. Enthusiasm is contagious – Jerry believes in the Three E’s: Empathy, Energy, and Enthusiasm.
  4. Keep your antenna alert – Be aware of your donor’s reactions. Body language and facial expressions can tell you a lot about what people are thinking.
  5. Talk only 25% of the time – Listen more than you talk. Find out what your donor needs first, then figure out a way to connect the dots to what your organization needs.
  6. Donors give to the magic of an idea – Focus on the vision and the mission. Donors give to help ideas, not to fill a financial quota.
  7. You never know until you ask – Don’t be afraid to ask. Try not to sell, simply just ask.
  8. Your materials are not important in an ask – Emotion and storytelling sell a donor, not printed materials. Focus on making your donor feel your mission not see your cause on paper.
  9. Take only 11 minutes to present your case – Don’t spend too long presenting all your information. Use 11 minutes or less to build drama and importance. A little urgency will only help.
  10. I would like you to consider a gift of… – Say exactly what you want and then say nothing. Wait until the donor is done having their own conversation in their head. Don’t interrupt them.

Want to know more about what Jerry Panas has to say and Gail Perry’s take on his 10 tips? Check out her full blog post here: How to Secure the Gift: 10 Priceless Tips from Jerry Panas

5 Fundraising Event Tips

Section: Blog

After months of planning you’re event is finally here. Now what? In this economy it can be difficult to fundraise and ask for donations but Cassie Brown of TCG Events has 5 tips on how you can raise more money than ever before.

5 Fundraising Event Tips

  1. Make the “ask” early and make it really count – Don’t wait til the end to make your “ask”, some people may have left by then. Asking in the middle of the event is unexpected and ensures most guests are still attentive, present, and having fun.
  2. Talking Heads: We love our sponsors but no one loves to hear them speak for 20 minutes – Don’t let your speakers and sponsors take up too much time. As Brown points out: “Do the math – 5 sponsors x 5 minutes each = 25 minutes of “I’m here, I support this cause, here’s how…”” Think of different ways to feature your sponsors that might have a even bigger impact.
  3. Hungry people are not attentive people. Feed your audience early – Feeding your guests early keeps them happy, satisfied, and more pleasant. Too often events serve food after their speakers and presentations have finished and by that time, people are only looking for food.
  4. Center stage is important not centerpieces – Placing your stage in the center of the room let’s everyone feel close to the action. Audience engagement will be up all-around and the people in the back of the room aren’t getting lost in the baron spaces of your venue.
  5. Change it up and be unique – Don’t be a part of Groundhog’s Day the movie and change things up. Consider new and unexpected elements to entice donors to keep coming back year after year.

Read all about Cassie Brown’s tips in her article found here: 5 tips to make your fundraising event a hit by Cassie Brown of TCG Events. For more tips and her helpful ideas, head over to

Balancing the Traditional and the Innovative

Section: Blog

Never before have nonprofit fundraising professionals had to battle to balance the old versus the new. The traditional vs the innovative. With new fundraising tactics emerging daily and online fundraising becoming more and more lucrative, it’s hard not to feel like you’re not doing enough to stay current. Most fundraiser have numerous people they have to answer to, and the majority of stakeholders still believe that “the old ways are always the best ways”. As a fundraiser you understand that you have to adapt to the times and you need your organization to stay relevant. So, how do you move beyond your current fundraising strategies but still make your stakeholders happy? Categorize and explain.

Derrick Feldmann, president of Achieve, has come up with an idea of separating your tactics into three categories and placing them in buckets to help you organize your strategies. By categorizing your fundraising tactics into three different “buckets” you can then easily educate  your stakeholders as to how you’re working each strategy type and the outcomes of each.

The Three “Buckets”

1. Traditional Fundraising Methods – This is where you’ll find your direct mail, gala events, and other methods that appeal towards the baby boomers and their parents. Feldmann notes that “according to Blackbaud’s 2013 Charitable Giving Report, 52 percent of so-called “matures” and 40 percent of boomers say they gave in response to a direct mail solicitation. In other words, as long as they raise money for your organization, traditional fundraising tools and tactics are worth your time and money.” If traditional tactics are still pulling in good numbers, prove to them with numbers and don’t pull the plug.

2. Newer fundraising methods – Younger donors are responsible for most of the success from digital fundraising. Online giving is increasing at double-digit rates and Millennials are a growing force in fundraising. Show your stakeholders the importance of cultivating this new donor group through online fundraising and explain that email and online fundraising event websites are the future.

3. Experimentation – Pay close attention to this one and be creative. Play around with social media, which is a low-cost option with a high ROI. Experiment with online and tech channels to bring in in new donors and see if you can cultivate through more traditional methods from “bucket” number 1. Research your competitors and see what new kind of risk they are taking. Take your own risks and see what kind of numbers you can produce. Keep track of these experiments and bring these new ideas to the table, with numbers to back them up. You never know what may strike a cord with your donors.

Want to read Derrick Feldmann’s entire article over at Philanthropy News Digest?

Keep the Old, Try the New – A Bucket-Balancing Act for Fundraising Pros

Infographic : Charitable Giving in 2013

Section: Blog

Online giving has been a huge asset for nonprofits in the last few years and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down in 2014 (and beyond). The numbers have increased at an astounding rate and nonprofits would be wise to make the leap towards going digital. As society continues to move towards a technology-driven community, nonprofits must make sure they stay up-to-date and on trend to solidify their staying power. For an interesting look at charitable giving in 2013, check out this infographic from the creative folks over at Blackbaud.

2013 Charitable Giving Report by Blackbaud

Infographic attribution:


The Importance of Using Content to Show Your Nonprofit’s Impact

Section: Blog

Using content to show your impact isn’t just for SEO but is becoming a more important aspect of why people support, and might support, your organization. Storytelling has become the #1 trend in 2014 for nonprofit fundraising and it’s important to really understand why. The great people over at Hubspot have come up with 4 simple benefits of using content to show impact and “help increase awareness, support, and funds”.

Benefit #1: Content answers the questions of curious strangers.

  • When people visit your site they are looking for information about what your organization does, what your mission is, and how successful you are at moving towards that mission. They also want to know “what their contribution will mean and who or what they will impact”. Make sure your content answers these initial questions for your visitors so you don’t lose them.

Benefit #2: Content highlights the achievements of you and your constituents.

  • Show how individuals make a difference and how volunteers can connect outsiders to the cause. Supporters want to feel like they, themselves, are making a difference. Let them know how they have in the past and how they can continue in the future.

Benefit #3: Content allows you to build trust.

  • Be transparent. By being clear and open with your supporters, it builds a level of trust that is incredibly important. People want to know exactly how their money is being spent and how things get done. Don’t hide; share your solutions, your process, and your results.

Benefit #4: Content connects your readers to actual people that are impacted by your mission.

  • Allow your supporters to feel emotionally connected to your cause through the communities you’re helping. Share follow-ups stories, statistics, or images to show how you have benefited these communities. Hubspot says ” Personal connection is the number one reason why people give, fundraise, join an organization, or volunteer”. Give them an opportunity to make a personal connection.

Want to see a great example of how charity: water uses content to connect? Read the whole article on Hubspot: The Benefits of Using Content to Show Your Nonprofit’s Impact

Meet Them: 15 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy

Section: Blog

International Women’s Day was this past Saturday March 8th. In honor of women, the Huffington Post Impact blog has posted a list of 15 most powerful women in U.S. philanthropy, as compiled by Inside Philanthropy. Women have now become a substantial force in the realm of philanthropy. They are becoming a leadership force and building connections to help make a difference. The list of the top 15 women in U.S. philanthropy are listed below:

The 15 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy

  1. Melinda Gates
  2. Susan Buffett
  3. Patricia Harris
  4. Marilyn Simons
  5. Susan Dell
  6. Pam Omidyar
  7. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
  8. Jennifer Buffett
  9. Carol Larson
  10. Laurene Powell Jobs
  11. Laura Arrillaga-Andressen
  12. Laura Arnold
  13. Priscilla Chan
  14. Margaret Cargill
  15. Cathy Catalyst

Do you recognize any of these women? Does anyone inspire you? Let us know!

The full version of Huffington Post’s article can be found here: Meet the 15 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy

The complete article by Inside Philanthropy, and why they chose the women on this list, can be found here: Meet the 15 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy

How to: Build the Strongest Committee for a Successful Event

Section: Blog

At the upcoming 2014 AFP International Conference on Fundraising in San Antonio, Shiree Skinner, the director of special events with Easter Seals Serving Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., will host a session that will “leave participants with a check-list to guide them through their next special event, including ten specific strategies covering planning, day-of execution and post-event tasks.” Here she shares a tip on her list that will help you on your way to a successful fundraising special event.

Strategy #3 – How to Build the Strongest Committee Possible for a Successful Event – As brought to you by Shiree Skinner

Skinner mentions that without a strong committee to help plan and produce the event, your event is vulnerable to a lack of organization and undirected efforts. By beginning with a strong committee, much of the rest of the planning will evolve much more seamlessly.

So where to start? Skinner has come up with a few key tasks to accomplish that will set you on the right path for a triumphant event.

  • Recruit from you network
  • Don’t be afraid to create a wish-list of your dream committee
  • Set specific goals for your new recruits
  • Create lists for your new committee – duties, attendance expectations, fundraising goals, etc

Then… keep you committee “On Board”. Keeping your committee focused, engaged, and motivated will increase the accountability of you committee. Want to find out how the best steps to Keeping Your Committee “On Board”? Read the entire post over at The Association of Fundraising Professionals national site: ICON Teaser: Successful Special Events Strategies