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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.

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.

Event Sponsors Seek a Meaningful Connection

Section: Blog

As a representative of a nonprofit organization seeking corporate event sponsors, you are in the unique position to serve as a matchmaker. You have something corporations want — a loyal, engaged community with a passion for what you do. Corporations seek to engender goodwill by supporting organizations with relevant social missions. In doing so, they care about being seen by as many of the right people as possible. Your job is to entice these corporations your way.

This means you should only approach corporations that are truly a good fit for your event. You need to do your homework! Sending email blasts like shotgun pellets to large lists of companies not only doesn’t work, but it dilutes the sanctity of the trust that you need to foster with your supporters and constituents. In safeguarding that sanctity, you make selecting your organization for sponsorship all-the-more attractive.

As a result of your research, it is important to approach decision makers with a unique idea that was developed just for them. You should be familiar with the corporation’s goals and initiatives and be able to demonstrate how your concept will benefit them. Arm yourself with information (including past attendance and donor demographics) that draw a clear picture of your supporters. Remember, you are the gatekeeper to a community that is the ideal target market for this well-aligned corporate partner. Be ready, willing and able to clearly demonstrate that this is a win-win scenario.

It is said that “people give to people,” meaning the influence of board members and honorees is critical in securing sponsors. Your job is follow their “ask” with a compelling story and a proposed sponsorship package tweaked to the needs of each prospect. The right match will create a charge, and that positive energy that will shine through when you speak to corporate decision-makers.

In order to make the right “match,” you must always make sure the trust you have developed with supporters and constituents remains paramount throughout this process. For example, you have a responsibility to align only with those corporations that share your ideals.   By becoming a sponsor, a corporation is admitted into your organization’s “inner-circle” and you are the conduit of extending that trust to them.

At the end of the day, corporations are seeking to connect and to differentiate themselves from competitors. As a matchmaker, you hold the key to this golden opportunity that will lead to your ultimate goal: advancing your organization’s mission.

Tell Your Event Donors You LIKE Them

Section: Blog

Did you ever have a crush on someone that acted like you didn’t exist?  You’d see them in the hall, your eyes would light up, you’d pause, hoping they’d talk to you, compliment your outfit, ANYTHING. And then … nothing. They’d pass right by you and talk to someone else. Lauren McCarthy describes this scenario in an article on npENGAGE. Except it happened to her with a nonprofit.

After spending much time, money and effort on a peer-to-peer fundraising event, she was ignored by this nonprofit … no email. no mail. nothing. She believed in the mission of this organization and posted about them on social media. She wanted to read updates on their various programs and hear their success stories — but they just kept ignoring her.

After doing some digging, she found out that, as an event participant, her name was suppressed from direct response solicitations. If your organization isn’t soliciting its event donors, you’d better believe that another organization will. One health organization found that approximately 40% of its event sponsors were giving to other organizations, while being suppressed from it own solicitations. Talk about leaving money on the table!

Your donors tell you just how much they like you each time they donate or volunteer their time to your organization. Periodic analysis and data audits are a great way to ensure you’re telling these donors just how much you like them back. Just like in junior high school, if you don’t ask your crush to the school dance, someone else will!

Read this story in its entirety on npENGAGE.

 

Our Favorite Online Event Marketing Tips

Section: Blog

Online marketing has changed the event landscape. There are countless articles about how to market your event online, but most tips are generic and can’t be actioned. EventMB shares these event marketing tips — all actionable tasks designed to grow your guest list. Not all relate to nonprofit events, but here are several that do:

  • Promote your Speakers: Create images that combine event branding with your speaker’s name and photo. Send these images (in multiple sizes) to your speakers for use in their own social media posts or websites. Also create a quote image featuring their face and one of their best quotes, along with your event hashtag.
  • Create an Awesome Video: Make the video fun, rather than overly promotional. The goal here is to garner attention, to make people FEEL something that will pique interest. Upload the video directly to Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube to maximize reach.
  • Reach out to Influencers – Correctly: Quality over quantity. Send personalized requests to 20 best-fit influencers. Provide content relevant to their audience. If you want them to post a tweet, send a few unique, pre-written options. The less work they have to do, the better.
  • Run a Contest to Drum up Buzz: Encourage potential attendees to share a picture or comment on a status for a chance to win a prize. Or invite attendees to vote on a small event detail such as dinner theme by commenting on a status. Offer free tickets, VIP experiences, or anything else you imagine. Just remember the better the prize, the more interest you will generate.
  • Add Social Share “After Sale” Buttons: Turn excitement into referrals by incorporating social sharing into your sales funnel. Include pre-populated social media actions, requiring minimal work for optimal shares. With Event Journal, social media sharing is incorporated into every page of every website. Also, purchasers are prompted to share news of their attendance several times during the checkout process.
  • Host a “Pre-Event” Event on Social Media: The best way to give people a taste of your event is to host a pre-event event. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes Facebook Live broadcast or a Blab with some of your key speakers, be sure to advertise it across multiple platforms.
  • Offer a Private Facebook Group Exclusive to Attendees: Schedule periodic posts to the group to keep people engaged and share information that is relevant to attendees.

Online marketing is a great way to promote your events, and there are a million possibilities for how you can do it. Choose your favorites and start testing them with your audience! Or talk to us at Event Journal about best practices for promoting your nonprofit event online. Read this article in its entirety at EventMB.

 

 

 

 

Ten Steps toward Securing Event Donations

Section: Blog

Struggling to secure donations for your event? Kelli White of EventMB shares ten ways to boost at-event contributions toward your cause:

  • Step outside your comfort zone: Start out small by asking for in-kind or product donations. Become educated on why donors should be supporting your event. When you convey this confidence in your pitch to potential donors they’ll be more likely to contribute.
  • Pick up the phone: In today’s tech-driven world, it’s easy to overlook the power of a simple phone call. When it comes to financial support and finding people or companies to invest in your event you need to build a personal connection and the easiest way to do so is through real conversations.
  • Build Community Relationships: Find a way to build trust within your community, by being present and interactive in your area. Look for local networking opportunities, community events and opportunities to build relationships with other like-minded individuals.
  • Find Donors Who Connect with Your Mission or Event: Identify people who have a connection to your mission. Once you find these supporters, not only are they likely to become donors, but they will also encourage others to contribute. Ask them them to join your event committee or involve them through a volunteer opportunity.
  • Build Mutually Beneficial Relationships: Find ways to provide donors with proper recognition and value for their contribution. Find out what is important to your donors and look for ways to meet these needs. If supporters see the donation as mutually beneficial, they’ll be more likely to support you year after year.
  • Seek Out In-Kind Donations: In-kind or product donations can prove to be just as valuable as monetary donations, depending on the needs of your event. When you find a sponsor that wants to donate a product or service instead of donating money, think about the benefits that this will provide to your attendees. No matter what they would like to donate there is a good chance that the money you save through their donation can have a significant impact in your bottom line.
  • Outline Your Donation Levels and Opportunities: Define the value supporters will obtain with their donation. Create a web page or printed piece that helps you present opportunities and levels.
  • Share Stories That Make an Impact: Sharing stories that can reflect the impact your donors will have is one of the most influential ways to connect the donors to the cause. Utilize creative messaging with images, video, written stories and artwork. When donors have the chance to form a real picture why there is a need for donations, they’ll be more inclined to open their wallet for your cause.
  • Start Early: Most company budgets are created in the previous year, so target potential donors early on. If a company turns you down due to the timeline, find out what type of lead time they need and put them on your list to approach for next year.
  • Make “The Ask” and Make It Often: A donor will never know that your event needs money if you don’t take the time to ask them for a donation. Sometimes it is really just this simple. Once you have shown the need for their support ask them to contribute. Don’t be afraid to follow up. If you don’t follow up they may think you found the support in another way and you no longer have a need for their support.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

What is “aspect ratio” and why should you care?

Section: Blog

Aspect ratio refers to how wide an AV image is, compared to how tall. An improperly formatted event presentation can really diminish the impact of your gala content, making your organization appear less professional. It’s possible you could pay for a wide screen TV but then only show standard 4:3 material, leaving gaps on the left and right. Or you might order a large projection screen or iPad centerpieces, then not use the top and bottom due to widescreen content. Not only is there a question of unused sponsor recognition space but, aesthetically, it screams amateur.

What is aspect ratio and why should you care? The truth is, when you work with Event Journal, you don’t need to concern yourself with aspect ratio. That’s because AV coordination is one of the many details we handle to ensure that your event presentation is professional and on point. Event Journal ensures you’re getting the most bang for your buck, using the entire screen you paid for and presenting the very best version of your content.

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

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.

The Balance of Power between Boards and Executive Directors: How to Share Authority

Section: Blog

by Guest Blogger, Katherine DeFoyd, Growth for Good

What constitutes a healthy relationship between an executive director and a board of directors? How can organizations strike a healthy balance of power? 

Most successful executive directors are entrepreneurial self-starters. They are mavericks. These characteristics inspire them to provide services to the world that the free market cannot provide, e.g., arts education, youth development, senior services, affordable healthcare. They lead lean organizations, with fewer resources than their for-profit counterparts. And while their “get it done” attitude is what makes them successful — unchecked, it can be a barrier to healthy board relations and organizational growth.

Executive directors often feel they do not have time to seek input from board members, thus making decisions in a vacuum. Board members are left asking themselves, “Why are we here?” When board members have minimal opportunity for meaningful input beyond basic legal and fiduciary oversight and fundraising, they lose interest, pull away and stop contributing energy, ideas and money. This disinterest further drives the executive director to act alone. We call this downward spiral the “Lone Ranger Syndrome.”

Healthy board and executive director relations come down to a thoughtful and inclusive planning processes and honest, ongoing communication of progress toward goals. As one executive director said, “You can’t build an airplane while you are flying.” Good planning must include an organization’s executive director/staff and board leadership. This includes all planning categories: strategic planning, fundraising planning, and event planning. Plans should not be expressed in a few PowerPoint slides with broad sweeping statements and visions of grandeur. Instead, plans should include:

  • Agreed upon, clearly defined goals
  • Time-bound, measurable objectives
  • Realistic budgets
  • Specific tasks
  • Well-defined roles & responsibilities

An inclusive planning process is time-consuming and less efficient than some executives would like. But it is essential that it include board and staff members so there is real buy-in with their responsibilities. By helping to set the vision, board and staff members are eager to do their best work.

Both formal and informal communication is essential to board and executive director cooperation. Board meetings are the forum to report on program progress, budgets, and to make governance decisions. Another executive director said, “Too many nonprofits only present a rosy picture to their board and sweep challenges under the rug.” Informal communication between board meetings among staff and board members is also critical. This builds trust. Staff members feel safe and can be frank about progress (or lack thereof) toward an objective. It also allows board members to become advocates and help offer solutions, find extra resources and use their executive intellectual skills to move the agenda.

We hope this advice helps your organization build a better board!

 

Tap into New Donors via Special Events

Section: Blog

When planning a fundraising event, it is easy to get buried in the details, of which there are many. But remember that an event is more than “just” an event. It is an opportunity to tap into hundreds of new donors. If you hyper-focus only on the event details and think only about existing donors, you are missing out on a tremendous amount of potential and an opportunity to build new relationships.

Think about it … 500 people in a room … a captive audience … all there with open ears, willing to hear your organization’s compelling message. What percent of guests are people in your donor base and what percent are completely new to your organization? These guests, friends of friends, individuals from sponsoring companies may have a personal connection to your cause. But you won’t know unless you connect to them.

Here are some ideas to maximize their potential impact to your organization:

  • Pre-event, run attendee names through an online donor research tool to determine which guests you want to seek out
  • At the event, be certain to capture contact information for guests, especially email addresses. Make sure check in staff is aware that this is a priority. You can even enlist a few floaters with iPads to unobtrusively approach guests for this information, tableside.
  • You may also be able to obtain this information if holding an auction or availing yourself of event pledging. Remember, many of your attendees have not personally laid out a penny to attend your event and may want the opportunity to donate. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
  • Present giving opportunities that will appeal to people of every level. Often tickets get handed down the line and may end up in the hands of entry level or administrative employees of your sponsors. Not only will this yield more donations, it will allow your organization to capture guest information and begin to cultivate these young donors.
  • Do post-event research on event attendees. Cultivate obvious donors, but do not disregard the second tier prospects.
  • Have staff make a thank you call to designated guests to engage them, thank them for attending and to invite future involvement in your organization.
  • Events are vehicles to bring in new prospects. These are people you would otherwise not meet, so view this as an opportunity. Develop these donors beyond just the event.

Follow Up:

  • Thank You
  • Send Video
  • Offer Volunteer Opportunities
  • Offer peer to peer fundraising opportunities

Event Journal gives nonprofits a tool to engage event participants. More than just a registration page, our robust event websites allow users to explore your organization and gives you a vehicle with which to engage them for a full year plus.