Friday, July 12, 2013

5 Ways to Improve Your Fundraising Now.

Excellent fundraisers, as well as average ones often find themselves reaching a plateau when it comes to their fundraising abilities and the dollar amounts that they raise.  On a plateau, it is just as easy to move upward as it is to slip backwards; losing progress. Fundraisers are only interested in moving in one direction; upward.

pla•teau (plæˈtoʊ; esp. Brit. ˈplæt oʊ) 
n., pl. -teaus, -teaux (-ˈtoʊz, -toʊz) 
v. -teaued, -teau•ing. n.1. a land area having a relatively level surface considerably raised above adjoining land on at least one side.
2. a period or state of little or no growth or decline, esp. one in which increase or progress ceases: to reach a plateau in one's career.v.i.3. to reach a state or level of little or no growth or decline; stabilize

Definitions #2 and #3 have the most significance in fundraising, but definition #1 can be a useful visualization tool.

So how do we get beyond the fundraising plateau?

  1. Go back to basics. Find something in your fundraising routine that can be improved and work on it. Can your greeting be made more friendly? Can your donation requests be tightened up? What ever it is, work on it. Working on any one issue has the added benefit of providing new perspectives on other issues.
  2. Ask the donor. Ask donors, whether, they give or not, what they thought of your performance. Most will provide at least one useful bit of information. Some donors will provide so much valuable criticism that you may find yourself reexamining your entire fundraising strategy.
  3. Ask another fundraiser. Sometimes we let shyness, pride or professional competition get in the way of improving our skills. Every fundraiser, at every stage, goes through the plateau problem. Reach out to your fellow fundraisers and get their advice.
  4. Become an expert. Often after fundraising for a certain cause for a long time, fundraisers began to feel like experts on the issue. There is always more to learn. Find books magazine articles and any other materials that you can. The more you know about your issue, the better you can fund raise for it.
  5. Remember, Plateaus aren't permanent. Keep slugging away, doing the best job that you possibly can. Eventually, you will begin to see some progress.
These are just a few of the ways to overcome getting into a rut. Actually the only limitations to becoming a better fundraiser are your imagination and the amount of effort that you are willing to put into improving. Remember, plateau or not, there is always room for improvement.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Future of Fundraising is Local.

With the economy finally starting to gain some traction, few people are thinking about those whom society is le aving behind. These are the working poor, the sick and the elderly. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, we will see more soldiers and their families in need.

Sometimes fundraising calls for a national effort. The only way to gather money and resources quickly is by calling or mailing into every state for support. This is a proven method of soliciting money. This isn't the case for every fundraising effort however.

There are some issues that could just as well be taken care of locally. Additionally, some causes are actually better served by using local fundraisers. Local has a number of benefits; we'll name a few below.

More of the money goes to the cause.
Some national fundraising companies can take as much as 80% of what they raise for an organization. Millions of dollars are wasted in this way. Local groups just can't afford to pay these prices. A local campaign, whether staffed by volunteers or local professionals, ensures that more of the donated dollars go to work immediately.

No one knows local issues like local people.
Using locals to fund raise means having a team that understands the issue and is passionate about it. The more knowledgeable and interested in an issue a fundraiser is, the more likely they are to secure donations.

As a nation, a number of important issues are affecting Americans;
children going to bed hungry, seniors and veterans not getting the care that they deserve and homelessness are just a few of these issues. What all of these issues all have in common is that they begin and end locally.

We can choose to wait for a solution from Washington, but President Obama's job forces him to look at the big issues, not the small ones. National organizations face similar problems; they have the money and resources, but not the organization to implement relief locally. Local fundraisers raising and spending money locally have an immediate effect on communities.

Bringing the idea of raising money in the community and solving problems locally is one whose time has come. More local groups are starting to see the power of collecting donations at home. As the idea spreads, the benefits will only become greater.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Is it still possible to make money in online fundraising?

The short answer to this question is, yes. While the rules have changed a bit since the early days of raising money online, the necessary elements all still exist in great supply. These are; a large and motivated donor pool, innovative organizations and fundraisers and the technology that brings it all together. This post will cover this complex topic with updates to come. In the mean time, voice your opinion on the relevancy of online fundraising in the comments section below.

The first step to success in online fundraising is the cause. While its possible to raise money for just about anything, what really promotes success is having a well defined mission statement. This is something that resonates with donors quickly. The shorter it takes to express your mission statement, the more likely it is that donors will stick around to learn more about your organization and its needs. This does not necessarily mean that they'll make a contribution, but donors who leave your site out of boredom, frustration or confusion certainly wont be making any.

After a well defined cause, presentation is the next most important element of online fundraising. Donors are quick to leave sites that are'nt easy to navigate. Ideally donors should be able to make an online gift in just one or two steps, the more complicated a donation system is, the less likely donations are to be made. Simple. modern interfaces are the key to increasing online donations.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quick Rapport Technique.

As most fundraisers know, building rapport with donors keeps them on the phone and listening to your request. Rapport isn't a clever trick; it is a means of showing donors that you are interested in them and that you have at least some small things in common. We build rapport in almost every conversation we have whether on or off of the phone. Building rapport with someone you've just called for the first time can be a little harder, but it is certainly possible.

One simple technique for rapport building is knowing the state nicknames or motto's of the states that you're dialing into. Asking a donor how things are going in the Equality State rather than simply how things are going, makes your question more intimate. Donors really do open up when you take a personal interest in them. Listed below are the state nicknames.

(No official nickname)[1]
  • El Dorado State
  • The Golden State[12][13] (previously used on license plates)
  • The Land of Sunshine and Opportunity
  • Golden West
  • Grape State
  • Land of Milk and Honey
  • Land of Fruits and Nuts
  • Where Stars Are Buried
  • The Cereal Bowl of the Nation
  • The Eureka State [14]
  • The Bear State (or Republic)
  • The Sunshine State (in disuse) (c.f. FL)
  • Constitution State
  • Nutmeg State
  • Charter Oak State
 District of Columbia
  • Peach State[26] (previously used on license plates)
  • Cracker State — Along with Florida, Georgia had been called "The Cracker State" in earlier times, perhaps a derogatory term that referred to immigrants, called "crackers," from the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina.[26] See also Atlanta Crackers: Origin of the name
  • Empire State of the South — Refers to economic leadership[26]
  • Yankee-land of the South: Similarly to the above nickname, "Yankee-land of the South" speaks to industrial and economic development in the south. This nickname may be used in a derogatory sense.[26]
  • Goober State — Refers to peanuts, the official state crop.[26]
  • Hawkeye State[35]
  • Land of the Rolling Prairie
  • Tall Corn State
  • Bayou State (previously used on license plates)
  • Child of the Mississippi
  • Creole State
  • Fisherman's Paradise
  • Holland of America
  • Pelican State
  • Sportsman's Paradise (currently used on license plates)
  • Sugar State
  • The Great Lakes State
  • Mitten State
  • Winter Water Wonderland (previously used on license plates)
  • Wolverine State[23]
  • The World's Motor Capital (previously used on licese plates)
  • America's High Five
  • Butter Country
  • Gopher State
  • Land of 10,000 Lakes ("10,000 Lakes" currently used on license plates)
  • Land of Lakes
  • Land of Sky-Blue Waters
  • North Star State
  • State of Hockey[50]
  • Vikings State
  • Big Sky Country (currently used on license plates)
  • The Last Best Place[51]
  • Treasure State (previously used on license plates)
  • Beef State (previously used on license plates)
  • Cornhusker State (previously used on license plates)
  • Tree Planter's State
 New Hampshire
 New Jersey
 New Mexico
  • Cactus State[53]
  • The Colorful State
  • Land of Enchantment[53] (currently used on license plates)
  • Land of Sunshine (predates "Land of Enchantment"; this earlier nickname highlighted the large percentage of sunshine received statewide)[53]
  • New Andalusia[53]
  • The Outer Space State
  • The Tex-Mex State
  • The Spanish State[citation needed]
 New York
 North Carolina
 North Dakota
 Puerto Rico
  • Isla del Encanto ("Island of Enchantment")
  • Borinquen (name given by indigenous people, the Tainos) [61]
  • The Shining Star of the Caribbean
  • Progress Island [62]
 Rhode Island
 South Carolina
 South Dakota
  • Beehive State
  • Mormon State[67]
  • Friendly State (in disuse) (formerly used on license plates)[68]
  • Greatest Snow on Earth (formerly used on all license plates; now an alternate slogan on license plates alongside the state's current tourism slogan, "Life Elevated")
  • Mother of Presidents
  • The Old Dominion[23]
  • The Commonwealth
 West Virginia
  • Mountain State (previously used on license plates)
  • Panhandle State
  • Cowboy State
  • Equality State
  • Park State
  • Forever West (On highway welcome signs)

The same technique can be used with sports teams political officials or virtually and personifying information. Of course the choice of which subject to bring up depends on the donor; people who don't like sports will be unlikely to want to talk about last nights basketball game with you.

This is just one of many rapport building methods. Try to come up with some of your own and leave them in the comments below. Thanks.