What’s Your Non Profit Board’s “Thank You” Strategy?
“Never delay gratitude” — Skip Prosser
It’s that time of year again. It is time to be thankful for what we have as well as enjoying the fun of gift giving during the holiday season. And for many a non profit, it’s also that time to plan for or conduct annual-giving campaigns.
Your FUNdraising game plan should focus on two major phases. The first phase focuses on the marketing strategy for the actual fundraising campaign. This phase implements all of the hoopla and marketing materials that your team will be using as they ask for donations and pledges. The second phase, and just as important as the first, must focus on the marketing strategy for saying “Thanks.”
Remember: “never delay gratitude.” Every day in delaying a thank you is a strike against your organization and the beginning of negative community relations for your organization. Too many statistics support the domino effect of poor community/people relations.
Face-to-face thank you’s is an excellent step, but that is just one component of the thank you strategy. Email thank you’s are chilly. The form letter ‘thank you” is frigid. The delay in sending out any kind of thank-you is down right COLD.
Your non profit board must be held accountable to ensuring a constant flow of thank you’s to donors and, by the way, to the staff members of your organization. Thank you’s can not be delegated. Those that ask must be those that thank!
It’s important to make thank you’s personal and that means getting back to writing a thank you note. Yes, you remember those notes, don’t you? (a pen and a note card) And guess who should write those notes — your non profit board members. If they were responsible for leading the fundraising campaign, then they should be leading the thank you campaign.
It takes only a few moments to write a few sentences of gratitude by applying ink to paper. Then suddenly you have created a lasting and indelible mark on a donor who will be very appreciative of the personal thank you. And don’t forget that a gesture of that nature will also generate goodwill and REFERRALS, the lifeblood of any organization.
Here are some things to consider for your personal note:
1. Make sure the address on the envelope is hand-written. Don’t use the cold and impersonal label.
2. Don’t use a white envelope. Colored envelopes will get opened first.
3. Use a real stamp rather than the organization’s meter machine. There are so many unique stamps at the Post Office that you can purchase. Plus, you can even get creative and go to many websites where you can personalize your own postage stamp.
4. On the back of the envelope, write “thank you” or some other message that will generate a reason for the donor to open the envelope as well as creating a reinforcement to the message inside the note card.
5. Reinforce the vision and mission of your organization as you’re thanking the person for the donation.
6. And don’t forget the “implied consent” that you’ll be chatting with this donor again next year seeking his/her support for this great organization.
Placing as much emphasis on phase two, the Thank You phase in fundraising, will essentially lead to Friend Raising. We all know that when you place Friend Raising first, Fund Raising becomes much easier.
The pay back for one little hand-written thank you note is enormous.
by Joseph R. John
Growing Donors is critical for any arts organizations. Go beyond!
It has long been the practice of arts organizations to create strata for donors based upon the dollar amount given to the organization. While the name given the level of donation might provide a certain social status, I purport that that is just not enough to fully engage, and keep fully engaged, the individuals and businesses that have generously given.
While it is fundamentally important to nurture all internal and external publics, nurturing the donors is essential. Corporate sponsorships help defray the costs of a specific production. Subscribers guarantee a portion of ticket sales for individual productions and “puts butts in seats”. Fundraising is, more often than not, a fluctuating revenue stream.
Most art organization administrators and managers will quickly acknowledge that it is the monies given by donors that ultimately keep their bottom line in the black. Donors are frequently the backbone of the financial revenues that keep doors open and artists working.
Two statements utilized within the corporate world ring very true when dealing with donors:
1) There is no substitute for personal contact.
2) Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Events and perks designed specifically for donors and awarded at different levels of contribution greatly assist in keeping donors not only as valued patrons but as trusted friends within the inner circle.
Keeping in mind personal contact and letting the donor know how much he/she is valued, a few perks to employ can include:
- Lapel pins
- Special receptions for donors to meet the artists and staff
- CDs/DVD of presentations
- Pre-show receptions with artists
- Special seating sections within the venue
- Special parking spaces during presentations
- Back stage or behind the scenes privileges
- Adopt-an-artist participation (Dinners together, pre-show interaction with the artist, sending personal notes of congratulations, etc.)
Each perk should be awarded as the level of donation increases. These perks not only serve as an incentive to increase the level of contribution, they encourage attendance to the artistic venue.
By Peg McRoy Glover
Next: Growing the Arts Audience: Volunteers
Non Profit Boards Must Focus on Friend Raising FIRST — Fund Raising SECOND
Recently, an associate of mine was discussing non-profits, and he used the term “Friend Raising before Fund Raising” for non profit organizations. That statement is so much on the mark! FIRST — the organization must build the friends; THEN —the organization can begin fund raising. Bear in mind that we’re focusing on the friend that Webster defines as one that favors or promotes something as a charity.
Think of Friend Raising as FACE TIME. I’m sure most of you know that “Face Time” is a great computer program, similar to “Skype” and other programs that enable users to video chat through their computer. But the FACE TIME I’m referring to is that period of time board members move into the community and spread the word about their organization. They come face-to-face with PEOPLE. The same people who they hope will become friends of your organization AND ultimately donors.
You’re a people organization and that means your board members need to meet people. It requires leaving the “comfort” of the boardroom and visiting the community, embarking on an enjoyable experience to find and befriend people for the organization.
An “outstretched hand”, initially, must be one of “welcome” and embracing people, not a gesture of asking for money. All non profit organizations need to raise friends before they can even begin to ask for donations and memberships. Think about it. Would YOU contribute to an organization when a complete stranger asks you for money? You would probably ask yourself the following questions: Was a belief statement delivered? Was there a lift speech? Was there a general warming period to open the door of the organization to you illustrating why funding is necessary?
And just how do you create FACE TIME? Don’t wait around for invitations to speak in front of civic groups and associations. Pick up the local newspapers to see the numerous events and activities that are going on in the community. Look for events where you can set up a display table and begin “FACE TIME — FRIENDSHIP RAISING” with people. These events should be an opportunity where you can deliver your belief statement or lift speech effortlessly and in a non-threatening manner.
Think of all the local newspapers in your area that publish a calendar of events for the community. Check out the events targeting families. You can put up a booth at the zoo, a local museum, flea markets, schools, day care centers, church functions, civic associations, little league venues, soccer events, as well as all other local and community fairs. Well, the lists are endless. The people are there.
Friends by the hundreds and thousands are there at so many community events — in YOUR community. Oh, yes. We can call it FACE TIME or FRIENDSHIP RAISING. Whatever you call it, follow the rules: Establish friendships by creating Face Time; then build trust and belief in your non profit organization; afterward, you’ll be ready for the next step — fund raising.
Are you ready for some FACE TIME?!
by Joseph R. John
See also: Growing the Arts Organization: The Board
Many Non-Profit Board Members Fear and Loathe Fundraising
It begins with sweaty palms. It continues with “call reluctance” — phonophobia! It moves on to procrastination. And so goes the “IT”, the annual ritual of fundraising with the accompanying jitters and absolute loathing of annual campaigns by countless boards throughout this country.
At some point in the year most non-profits will plan for and conduct their annual fund raising campaign, involving the entire board of directors — from planning to execution. Board members will be asked to become very active and “ask” the community for money to support the organization they represent.
“ME!? You mean I have to ask people for money? What will my friends think? I’ve never sold a thing in my life and I just can’t approach people seeking their donation to my organization.” Well, fundraising doesn’t have to be a loathsome task for your board members.
An organization can ease the sweaty palms of board members who are petrified to ask for money by creating a solid, well-defined marketing campaign. The campaign must include strong supporting collateral materials for the board members to use as talking points and “leave-behinds”. Collateral materials will help open doors, close sales, and gain that donor’s money AND support — no different than “point-of-sale” materials for professional salespeople. But PLEASE, don’t stop there.
There must be “practice sessions” on how to use the materials. Practice, practice, practice. Planning, coaching, reinforcement and repetition will help to ease a number of the sales fears.
Ask any successful salesperson and they will tell you that “belief in my product, belief in my company, belief in what I’m doing” will help qualm so many sales fears. Well, that axiom also applies to board members who are embarking on a fundraising campaign. Rule #1 of Fundraising — RELAX! Enjoy the Experience.
Recruit some professional salespeople in the community who can lend their expertise in coaching your board on non-threatening approach language and “ice-breakers”. Follow Rule #2 — Eliminate Unnecessary Fundraising Competition. Make the fundraising an individual effort without the pressure of charts and graphs and that ugly thermometer that charts the progress of members. Focus on the individual doing his/her best because of their commitment to the organization.
The biggest “ice breaker” in the fundraising cycle I believe is the organization’s Vision, Mission, and Values. When it comes to fundraising for the organization, it is critical to focus on those three crucial elements that define an organization. Coupled with the board member’s belief statement. The door opener and “ice breaker” becomes a lot easier when the fundraiser believes in the VMM of the organization.
Remember that the majority of your volunteers on the board are not sales professionals. Take the time to develop training and coaching sessions on fundraising approach techniques before your organization takes the “front-end loader” approach of dumping materials on a board member’s lap and saying “now go out and raise funds!”
You’re in the people business. Focus on approaching people and “selling the VMV” of the organization and the dollars will follow. And remember Rule #3 — “A ‘no’ is not personal!
Eliminate the fear factor and put FUN and training into fundraising.
by Joseph R. John
Charitable giving is NOT what it used to be!
Social media has changed the landscape of communication and relationships with non-profit donors, benefactors and patrons and will for decades to come. It’s one of the most important tools for non-profits to voice their mission statements and nurture its support base.
It allows the non-profit world to connect with their supporters more often and in a much more personal way than through traditional methods such as a direct mail piece or large event. It is also a two-way communication platform that provides opportunities for immediate feedback.
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I’ll write more about this later, but one of the most time consuming and time challenging problems many people face is procrastination. Procrastination is putting things off instead of doing them right away. It’s waiting until the → continue reading
Before you quiz your candidate about the tax code related to charitable deductions
or the definition of “moves management,” you may wish to ask about the basic skill
set that all successful development officers possess.
1. Personality that generates enthusiasm and optimism.
Great development officers are enthusiastic, happy people. They should not be an emotional drain on others, but leave those with whom they interact with a feeling of possibility and optimism. They actually believe that people will give them money to help fulfill their mission.
2. Highest ethical standards.
Day after day a development officer invites investors to “trust them.” They are in the unique position of being a conduit between investor and mission and thus they are to be about engendering trust in others. → continue reading