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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Donors Have Changed, Have You?

We read all the time about changes in giving. Although the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that total giving has diminished very little over the past 5-10 years, many nonprofits have seen their donations suffer a decline.

The recession began in 2008. We are in a recovery, slow but steady. Nonprofits cannot use the recession as the whipping boy for smaller and fewer contributions. Donors are more hesitant to give now. That is true. They are more careful with their money, they want value, they have less trust in nonprofits and they want to know what will happen and what difference it will make when they donate.

Change is inevitable. Are you being changed or part of the change? Smart fundraisers will lean forward.

Consider the following:
       Show donors the impact their money can make.
Try using numbers – real ones! “your gift of $500 will do WHAT?”, “ your investment of $1M will help raise $10M for WHAT?” You get the idea.

·      Similar to above: show how their gift is an investment in the future.
What can happen, continue and expand because of major donations. Nervous donors need to know that you will use their gifts widely.
    Show donors a clear return on their investment.
How much goes directly to programs. Don’t get caught in the myth of overhead, it’s a false diversion. Rather concentrate on mission, what these donations make happen; how do they create change in lives or the community. “I can make a difference” is important.

·      Don’t talk about process, talk about OUTCOMES.
It’s not how often you did something; it’s what happened because of your programs. Here is the place to how client or program success stories. The Salvation Army does a good job of this in that they talk about lives changed, hurt eased, children in a safe place etc.

·      Build credibility.
·          It’s okay to use charts and graphs to show where donations are used. Your Board names and positions should be on your website and letterhead. Show awards and recognitions you receive. Show your IRS 990 on your website. Add a “Your Gifts at Work “column to your newsletter and website.

·      Consider letting donors designate their gifts.
What are priority needs and what do they cost? Having a designation, maybe naming list of projects for donors to select if they so choose. Have a range of choices. I gave a road once that was subsequently named “Bonny Lane”. It was a big donation and a got a big smile from me, plus tears. I still make annual donations.
Make your annual appeal project focused.
Use numbers: Your donation of $x helps one person for how long?   Your donation of $x keeps us open longer after school for how long?

What ideas are you using to meet this challenge? Share with us what has worked for you. Do these ideas resonate at all?  Let’s talk.

Adapted from Gail Perry's “Fired Up Fundraising”.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

There’s Never Enough Time…. hints for being more productive.

Unless you are someone I have never met, and may not want to know, you never finish your “to do” list. The adage the faster I run, the behinder I get applies to most of us.
Here are some hints by Ilya Pozin, a columnist for Inc. and Forbes that I have found valuable and adapted for you.

·     1. Create a smaller to do list.
 Well, duh! Why didn’t I think of that?
      2. Take breaks.
Brain freezes occur when you concentrate too long. Take a break, talk to someone and walk around; make lunch plans with someone you need to see. Or check out the Food 52 blog.  Lots of yummy food for thought!

·     3. Use the 80/20 rule.
20% of what you do produces 80% of your results. Pare down your tasks to get to the 20%. Delegate or eliminate. Lots may be important but you don’t have to do it all; delegating builds team competencies. And some things just don’t matter.
      4. Start the day by focusing on yourself.
      Well, I like this one. But it really means don’t let your e-mails dictate your daily accomplishments. Eat a good breakfast, just like we tell children, it really matters. Read the news and catch up on your world. Then consult your to do list. I wish this included spa treatments but it doesn’t.
      5. Do harder tasks first.
Another common sense idea. Your brain is fresher and you are rested, I hope. Save busy work until the afternoon.
      6. Pick up the phone.
Multiple emails create noise when you use them just to clear your inbox. If your email chain goes beyond two replies, call, don’t write. Schedule the call if necessary. You’d be surprised how much more effective talking to someone is than emailing them. Personal contact is important, subtleties are revealed and confusions can be avoided.
      7. Create a system.
Try to have a daily schedule that gives you time for e-mails, meeting with staff, open door hours, research and writing and meeting with clients. During the week you should have a system that covers important functions. Be selective, everything doesn’t have to happen every day. Keep in mind there will always be fires that need putting out- you can’t plan for them but they don’t have to be flummoxed by them.
      8.  Don’t confuse productivity with laziness.
Are you majoring in minors? Does busy work look like hard work? Place your focus on things that matter most to your mission.

These ideas can all help us be more productive. We aren’t robots, yet. So pick and choose those that work best for you. Add a few at a time to your efforts to improve your own productivity.  

If you have better ideas, share them. What works best for you? 

Let’s learn from each other.