A Fundraiser’s Journey – Worth It

A Fundraiser’s Journey – Kelly Updike for PCNRC

 What does a 2004 movie entitled The Girl Next Door have to do with fundraising?

While the movie did not do well at the box office, it did generate a notable and usable quote.

I learned about it while having coffee with Ashley Stoneburner, director of advancement and events for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. When I asked her for some fundraising advice to share, she immediately replied:

“Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

These words of advice were often said to Ashley by her former boss at the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Ashley says she recalls this phrase whenever she starts up a new task or is embroiled in a particularly difficult situation.

So, two things to take away:

  1. Take the long view and decide if the reward is worth the punishment.
  2. Brilliant advice is everywhere.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

A Fundraiser’s Journey – Get out of your comfort zone

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

As a person who prefers a book to a party, I am drawn to those who exude confidence and poise in public situations.

So it was a surprise to learn from the calm and composed Carolyn Bean, development manager at Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, that she once suffered from stage fright.

Carolyn, who also has worked at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, regularly has to speak in small groups and to large crowds. But holding a microphone and giving a presentation did not make her happy; Carolyn said she had to overcome some mental fears in order to appreciate this important part of her work.

“I enjoy getting out in front of people now because I realized they’re not judging,” she said.

When we have a natural inclination, such as shyness, or we set up barriers, such as a too-busy work week, it’s easy to avoid public-speaking opportunities. Yet our jobs regularly call on us to step up to the podium and share our passion about our work. Take control of these opportunities when they appear before you, and, as Carolyn said, know you are among friends.

With so much happening in our fair city, Carolyn says it’s easy to get involved. “Don’t be afraid to be part of it,” she encouraged. “You gotta get out there.”

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Program June 15th: Knowing Your Audience…

Road Warrior Tips for Successful Fundraising

It is widely known that 75% of income for nonprofits comes from individuals, but how many organizations have staff experienced in donor cultivation?

Louise Jackson1Colchin-Eve (002)Join Louise Jackson and Eve Colchin on Thursday, June 15, 2017 from 9:15-11:15 a.m. in Meeting Room C at the Main Library,  as they share a combined 36 years of development experience in understanding the importance of getting to know your audience before you ever make your first donor contact.

Relationship building requires specific skills and this program, by two experienced professionals, will share what they have learned over the years.  You’ll hear examples of their experiences about how etiquette, attire, generational issues, listening to the donor, and working with CEOs affected their success.  At the end of the presentation they will answer audience questions.

Success in fundraising requires knowing who you are cultivating. It requires a strong belief in the cause you are hired to address. A clear strategic direction helps pave the way for success for the organization as well as the fundraiser. It is that same success which in return strengthens the confidence in the fundraiser and organization. Understanding who your donor is, what their interests are, and how they align with the organization, leads to a successful approach in fundraising.

The following six items will lead the first part of the workshop presentation:

A Focus on the Cause vs the Money – Building the relationship, focus on the cause and the donor’s interests:

  • Understanding your donor and building a strong relationship raises more dollars
  • LISTEN to Donor

You Have Something to Offer Donors – Clearly defined mission:

  • Focus on the mission and building a donor pool that strongly believes in what you are working to accomplish
  • You have to believe before you can make the ask

Are Your Goals Realistic? – Are they attainable?

  • Research your donors
    • History of giving
    • Projects funded

Changing Expectations – Difficult to build and retain donors if vision is blurry or constantly changes. Donors sense this uncertainty:

  • TRUST must be built in order for money to follow

MGOs Seek Competent Leadership -Team approach to meet goals. Every aspect of organization plays a role in fundraising.

  • Is the right person making the ask (know your donor)

MGOs Leave When the Job Doesn’t Fit

  • You have to experience success to build success
  • Knowing when to make a switch & when to stay and make a different

REGISTRATION OPEN

Mid-level Donor Cultivation

“donors at the $1,000 to $10,000 levels represented roughly one percent of the donor population, but were giving more than a third of the dollars”

“new donor acquisition has fallen every year since 2005”

So what should you know about mid-level donors?

  1. Mission is important: Mid-level donors seem to care more about the issues in the community that your organization addresses and less about your financial situation. Spend less time explaining why you need donations and include more information about how your programs directly impact the community.
  2. Consistency: When an organization is taking a different approach when asking for donations depending on the method like calling on the telephone, sending an email, or mailing a letter, donors notice that there is an inconsistent message. Make sure that there is a “single, comprehensive view” in every method of reaching out to donors.
  3. Information in the news: Cathy Finney of The Wilderness Society included a New York Times article in their scheduled mailings that discussed the issues the organization cares about without mentioning the organization. Donors responded in a big way because it was focused on why that organization’s work is important.
  4. Name giving levels: Successful funding programs give their mid-level donors a special name like calling that group a “club” so people are more likely to donate. The Nature Conservancy calls theirs “The Last Great Places Society”.
  5. How to contact: Without listing any staff members in an appeal to donors, people feel like the organization is too big or is not relatable. Include at least one staff member’s name as well as a way to contact that person so donors feel more connected and know there is someone willing to answer questions who cares about their individual donation.
  6. Ask less: Mid-level donors were most likely to give when they received fewer asks from an organization. Don’t annoy potential donors with an abundance of calls, emails, or letters. Instead spend more time on asking a few times a year.
  7. Feedback: Donor want to be able to contribute to an organization in ways that often feel more meaningful than simply giving money. Ask mid-level donors what they want to see in the organization or what would make things better for them. Consider sending out a survey or call to do a short interview.

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Beth Raps. “The Middle Way”. Grassroots Fundraising Journal.

Be on the lookout – A Fundraiser’s Journey

A Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

 “Don’t ignore any opportunity, no matter how weird.”

That’s the fundraising advice from Mark Becker, currently a director with the city’s Parks Department (Riverfront project) and former Greater Fort Wayne CEO and deputy mayor of Fort Wayne.

Mark works with all kinds of people and organizations, from health care to manufacturing to nonprofits. He’s been part of the rebirth of downtown Fort Wayne and worked on the Harrison Square projects. So Mark and I will always be connected by a really strange phone call about 10 years ago.

I had not been long in my job at the Embassy when the city called to ask if we would discuss ramming a sky bridge into the side of the Embassy and creating a pedestrian passage through its third floor so that a new hotel could be built. If I had pooh-poohed that first phone call, which was pretty hilarious, and not called my board chair to take a meeting that we both thought was probably a waste of time, then floors of the former Indiana Hotel would still be standing empty. You see, the sky bridge was the catalyst for further and massive Embassy renovations.

As Mark says, you never know where it will go, long term.

Mark also says to look for opportunities, not just react to them. That means when a couple of prominent community leaders asked me “what’s next?” at a social gathering (not a business meeting), I rallied and rattled off four projects that seemed a bit pie-in-the-sky. But, wow, those folks really connected to two ideas and asked for meetings and proposals. Less than a year later we are juggling a funded feasibility study and a new renovation project backed by significant donors.

Moral of this story? It’s okay to be a weirdo. Phew, thank goodness.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Mission Focused Fundraising Events

We’ve been talking a lot about mission lately on the PCNRC blog. In the latest issue of Grassroots Fundraising Journal Lindsey Harris and Karla Vazquez have some great tips for planning an event that’s fun for attendees, raises money, and aligns with the mission of your organization.

  1. Focus on yeventour mission: One difficulty of fundraising is motivating your entire staff to participate. When fundraising does not seem directly related to your mission even if you know the money will be going toward that mission, staff members may have trouble being as enthusiastic about a fundraising event compared with a service-minded event. Harris and Vazquez suggest organizing a fundraising event that also includes service to the community. For example, the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) organizes an InterNASHional food crawl with local restaurants that are run or employed by immigrants and refugees. Attendees buy tickets that raise money for the TIRRC and they also get to interact with and support local communities while enjoying some delicious food. The TIRRC found it was much easier to get their staff involved with the event because it was much more entertaining and meaningful than a simple banquet for networking with donors and funders.
  2. Reach out to a different audience: Another issue with fundraising is getting stuck asking the some people or groups for donations every year. By making a fundraising event open to the community where participation is necessary and exciting people who have never heard of your organization are more likely to attend and become interested in your work. TIRRC’s food crawl helped attract college students in the area and created a new demographic to support their organization.
  3. Find in-kind donations: During the planning stages of the event create a list of all the separate expenses. Then brainstorm your organization’s connection with local businesses or individuals with specific skill sets. By contacting people to donate things like water bottles, office supplies, or ad space in a publication many of the costs of making the event happen can be covered and it is sometimes easier to have someone commit to a certain item or service instead of a writing a check for an unknown reason.
  4. Take risks: It can be hard to determine when an extra cost will pay off and add to the success of your event in a big way. The TIRRC wanted to try to meet their goal by trying a new idea when the organized the food crawl and they decided to hire a professional festival manager. This cost the TIRRC a lot of money but it increased the quality of the event and set them up to contact higher-level sponsors for the next year. The success of this decision reminded the organizers that it is important to push themselves so their event continues to grow each year and they gain momentum.

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Lindsey Harris and Karla Vazquez. “Throwing a Fun, Profitable and Mission-Aligned Event”. Grassroots Fundraising Journal.

Keep at it – A Fundraiser’s Journey

A Fundraiser’s JourneyKelly pic

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

Two separate instances have converged in my head. Ouch!

The first is from a meeting with Dan Swartz, he of Wunderkammer Company. Dan is planning his second annual Design Week, for which he has obtained a sizeable grant to pay for speakers and marketing. This has given him the freedom to obtain great speakers to participate. People who are significant to their field in a national and even world-class way. Some have local ties to this region.

Dan says he just asks. He figures out how to contact the person, by email or through an assistant, and he asks. He says the person will usually reply and is gracious. Sometimes the person says yes, which means Design Week will again have some phenomenal speakers.

The second is from the My City Summit organized by Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI). This year’s theme was diversity. At this event, too, the speakers were local and national, all terrific.

I left this event thinking about our roles in these changing times. We are cranky, according to the keynote speaker, Rich Benjamin. Another speaker, Fort Wayne’s own Courtney Tritch, pointed out that diversity is a needed economic driver. People move to areas where there is freedom and respect for all. Each speaker asked us what we were doing about it.

On the surface these two meetings were very different. But they both ended up in the same place in my mind:

It does not matter where you are politically, uppercase R or D. What matters is that we work every day to make a difference. Our organizations in particular directly impact others.

What are we going to do to help others continue through these times?

We ask and then we ask again. Simply, purely, clearly. As fundraisers. As advocates. As caregivers. As artists. As one human being to another.

Ask. Don’t stop asking.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.