Tag Archives: year end giving

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday,  fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, #GivingTuesday, year-end giving, philanthropyThanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. What’s next? Giving Tuesday. That’s right. This December 2nd, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a new global holiday and it’s all about philanthropy. Established in 2012, by New York City’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, and a team of influencers and founding partners, Giving Tuesday now engages over 10,000 organizations worldwide.

As we wrote in our last column, “It’s always good to give.” Now you can give in concert with your family, co-workers, friends, and most importantly people around the world. There is no end to the diversity of causes that seek your time, money, influence and resources. You can “Like” a Facebook page, forward a tweet, or sign an online petition. You can engage your friends using social media, the phone, or a short meeting after church, synagogue, or prayers at your mosque. You can give money or time or both. Either way when you engage others you multiply and amplify your giving. If you are an employer you can match your employee’s giving. If you run a consumer business you can pledge of portion of Giving Tuesday’s proceeds. You make the choice.

If you are involved with a nonprofit you are – most likely – finalizing your Giving Tuesday plans. The University of Michigan is launching Giving BlueDay on December 2nd, seeking to raise $1 million from alumni and friends that day. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship encourages people to share their story of surviving cancer and give $10 to $20. Your local United Way welcomes your support. The Africa America Institute is raising funds on Giving Tuesday to train nurses at Tubman University’s Nursing Program in Liberia. Google an organization close to your heart and find a way to give.

This is also an important time to introduce or reinforce the value of giving to the next generation. Talk with your children at home. Integrate philanthropy into your classroom or afterschool program using Dr. Heidi Kasevich’s curriculum guide for grades K-12. There’s also the gratitude blog through which you, your family and friends can record your gratitude. Both of these resources are available at GivingTuesday.org where you can also find tools, tips and technology to help you give and receive.

At the end of the day Giving Tuesday is about philanthropy – a time for each of us to reflect on our abundance and share our resources with others. We can give on this one day, or we can take time to build giving into our everyday lives. We can reflect on how giving changes our relationship to ourselves and the world. We can diminish feelings of alienation and restore our feelings of connection. Giving has deep spiritual, emotional, social and religious impacts. We are changed as we give. Often for the better.

Photo credit: Giving Tuesday

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.


2 Fundraising Theories to stay away from

 fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, leadership, year-end giving,This week we heard two expressions we are compelled to share with you, our readers. They are “The Fooling Yourself Theory” and “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.” Both can be applied to fundraising throughout the year, and especially in the last quarter. They were shared by women from different parts of the country both of whom are very experienced with fundraising, board service, and nonprofit management. One is a nonprofit executive, the other heads a private business. Here are the details.

The Fooling Yourself Theory. When we heard this phrase we had to stop and write it down right away. Here’s what it means. You are an executive (or board member) and you observe that certain structures, systems or people do not support the organization and its goals. You make the observation and then you ignore your observation. Or you hope you’re wrong. Or you hope it will resolve itself on its own. We have seen this in play so many times. People in leadership know what is wrong, see it clear as day, and yet take no action.

Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. This error can be made by young and old alike. The young may confuse kindness with weakness because they don’t have a history of working within healthy organizations. They may assume that creating a climate of trust and letting people be responsible for outcomes is a sign of weakness. That the executive or board chair won’t notice if work isn’t produced. Older people may have been trained to respond to constant follow up, criticism and externally imposed deadlines. They may mistake a leader’s delegation of responsibility and respect for others’ expertise and autonomy as weakness.

The fourth quarter is a time many nonprofits focus on revenue, and The Fooling Yourself Theory can get in the way of successful fundraising. If last year’s fundraising strategy did not yield the required results, thinking it will work this year may be an example of the “theory” in action. If board members did not solicit those they agreed to solicit last year, you may want a different strategy – or different volunteers – this year.

Employees and board members who show up in body but not in mind and spirit, and those who quietly or boldly don’t fulfill their responsibilities may be surprised when they are asked to resign. It shouldn’t be a surprise: kindness is not weakness. Kind leaders work with their employees and board members and understand the ups and downs of life and the many commitments we all must fulfill. But leaders – mean and kind – know that responsibilities need to be fulfilled. Those who don’t practice the “theory” take action: they are not weak, they are kind and decisive.

Contemplate these expressions and let them inform your leadership and your ability to follow.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Five alternative ways to give back

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, alternative giving, in-kind giving, loaned personnel, year-end givingThe giving season is upon us. For many nonprofits, hospitals, schools, and colleges the next three months are all about fundraising. You will no doubt see an increase in direct mail and e-mail solicitations, Facebook campaigns, bill boards, print and TV commercials and personal asks made by of you by friends, family members and associates. Some of us have the ability to be most generous. For most, giving is more constrained, focused on a few organizations we believe in. Here’s something to think about: extend your gift by giving more than money. Consider these five ideas:

  1. Serve as an advocate. Volunteer to write an editorial or a letter to your elected representative. Speak at a public event. Advocate through social media. Talk to people you know.
  2. Become a fundraising solicitor. For those organizations you donate to, consider volunteering to host a fundraising event; solicit friends, family and associates; or accompany a staff person or board member when he or she visits with donors and funders.
  3. Recruit and/or train volunteers. Learn what types of volunteers are needed and then work with staff – or on your own – to recruit and train people who can make a difference.
  4. Donate products, services and property. So many organizations depend on product donations. These include food banks, medical clinics, and schools to name a few. Find out what types of products are needed and offer to donate and encourage others to join you in doing so. This is an ideal way for businesses to give back. You can donate your airline miles, or your professional expertise. Consider writing a grant, reviewing an organization’s finances, human resource policies or legal documents. You can donate property, lease an office for no charge or below market rent. You can design a social media campaign or redesign a website. You can donate event planning services, printing or postage. Consider serving on a committee, or being a mentor. If you want to give back to your alma mater consider identifying students who could benefit from attending and help them through the application and financial aid processes.
  5. Provide loaned personnel. If you run a company you can loan your personnel to an organization you believe in. Learn what their needs are and consider loaning an employee who can provide the expertise in need.

There’s to no limit to the ways you can give. Be sure to first talk with someone at the nonprofit to learn what their needs are. You don’t want to donate time, property or services in a way that makes work for the organization, or doesn’t meet their needs. Ask how you can be of service. Don’t be offended if your services or products are not a fit: keep looking to find that organization who needs you.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Get ready for the year end!

UNCFCampaignAre you and the nonprofits you are involved with ready for the year end? Many nonprofits seek to raise a meaningful percentage of their funds during the last two months of the year. Planning usually begins in August, but it is not too late to make a plan and implement it.

Here are our recommendations. Take time to consider what you know about your donors and their history with your nonprofit. Who has responded to direct mail appeals? Who gives because of an email or social media campaign? Who are friends of board members? Who regularly attends your special events? Knowing who your donors are can help you set an achievable year-end fundraising goal and develop strategies for different groups of donors.

Move beyond a “one size fits all” direct mail or email appeal. Instead, determine how you want to engage each donor. Do you want to encourage those who attend special events to make a gift to your annual fund? Are you looking to encourage online donors to increase their giving or make an additional gift? Do you want to encourage prior direct mail donors to give at a higher level? Do you want to reengage those who gave in 2011 but did not give in 2012?

Your database can help you define your strategies. Consider running the following reports: first time donors; donors who gave multiple times during 2013; those who purchase event tickets but have not yet made a gift; those who give major gifts; those who have given for each of the past five years; those who give by email only; donors who responded to prior direct mail appeals.

Review the reports. Identify those you want to communicate with via email or direct mail. Check to see which of your board members have relationships with your major donors: ask them to personally solicit those they know. Identify those special events supporters and develop a strategy to solicit a year end gift. Consider working with a consultant to find the right strategy.

Think about what your nonprofit has accomplished over the past year and what you want to accomplish in 2014. Craft your message for each medium using emotion and facts. Share how past gifts have made an impact, and how a gift today will increase or continue that impact. Ask for a specific amount. Email should be short, with links and images. Multi-page direct mail letters are most effective. A Facebook campaign will be distinctly different, and hopefully viral. Conversations that board members and volunteers have during personal meetings with major donors will be different still.

One size does not fit all. Each year-end ask should be appropriate to the donor. Take the time to figure out the right approach for each donor. Hone your message. Set a goal and track your activities and results.

Photo credit: UNCF – South Texas / New Mexico Area

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Avoid Yearend Fundraising Crisis

Part two of a two-part series on year-end fundraising. Missed Part One, read it here.

Christmas decorations display - a red & green ...Christmas decorations display - a red & green theme (Photo credit: IronRodArt - Royce Bair ("Star Shooter"))

Yearend giving is in full swing. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays nonprofits are busy soliciting. Email, direct mail, TV and in-person solicitations are on in full force. Competition for the philanthropic dollar is fierce as organizations seek to encourage our generosity. Our heartstrings are pulled at, and it is easy – and good! – to impulsively give. With just a “click” on a link we can make a difference in no time flat.

Keep that holiday giving and soliciting going. At the same time, if you are a nonprofit leader, we suggest taking a moment to think about your fundraising strategies for next year. Remember, yearend giving is both fun and dangerous.

For some organizations 40% of their annual budget comes from their yearend campaign. While it may be wonderful to know you can raise 40% during a short period of time, it is perilous if you don’t meet your goal. Here’s the danger: what if there was another disaster such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, September 11th, or the financial meltdown of October 2008. Those events redirected – and eliminated – discretionary giving by individuals, foundations and corporations. While giving to the Red Cross and other disaster organizations increased, many local nonprofits found themselves in financial jeopardy.

If possible, spread your fundraising across the year. If you are using direct mail or email as a driver for your campaign, consider doing two or three campaigns throughout the year. Consider increasing the number of events you host. Look at your one-on-one solicitations: are board members meeting with individuals and corporate or foundation representatives to ask for their financial support throughout the year?

Reduce your risk with well-organized, year-long fundraising. Reach as many people as you can before the yearend. In December you are literally competing with both nonprofits and consumer-based businesses for limited discretionary dollars. Get ahead of the crowd!

Think about doing things differently in the coming year. Set a fundraising goal for each of the first three quarters of the year, and allocate the fourth quarter to thanking and celebrating your donors and encouraging last minute, spontaneous gifts. These can take you over the top if you reach your goal in the first three quarters.

Take the stress off your staff and volunteers – let them focus on the joy of the holiday season without feeling the organization’s financial health rests on their shoulders during a very condensed period of time. Spread it out across the year.

Fundraising is really all about planning. Yes, you have to ask, but plan how and when and who you ask. Be creative. Get ahead of the pack – set quarterly goals and engage people at less stressful times of the year.