Monthly Archives: October 2009

Everyone on Your Staff Can Be a Part of Your Fundraising Success (Part 2)

Engaging The Whole Team

Your coworkers need your help if they are going to be part of the fundraising process. Here’s a quick tip that will get everyone prepared:

 EVERYONE on your organization’s staff should be able to do the following three things:MCj04413120000[1]

  1. Relate 2 or 3 important facts about their program or area of work.
  2. Relate a compelling story about work they have done with a client, member, volunteer, co-worker, patient, etc.
  3. Demonstrate how funding makes their work possible.

 These three bits of information will help your colleagues during a site visit, when they’re out in the community, or when their interacting with friends or family members.  These three things are easy to remember and work for any staff person, whether it’s the IT manager, the office receptionist, the CFO or the program staff.  Take the time now and help them to explore how they would respond.

 They can write them down on a card and keep it with them all the time, so they’ll never be at a loss when someone asks, “Tell me what you do.”


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Year-End Fundraising Tip – Highlight Your Button!

 (I just got this tip from my colleagues at AFP/DC at our breakfast seminar this morning, so I’m passing it along.)

 Here’s a quick tip for enhancing your year-end fundraising: 

 MCj04414240000[1]Starting November 1st, move your “Donate Now” button to a very prominent place on your organization’s home page. 

 Don’t make potential donors waste any time trying to figure out how to make a gift.  

If your “Donate” option is on the navigation bar, create a special button on your home page.  If you’ve already got a button, increase its size, change its color, etc. – whatever it takes to get it noticed.

 This may take a couple of conversations with your IT folks or with the Communications Department, but it will be worth it.  This will be especially true if your year-end appeals are driving traffic to your website.  Your donors will appreciate it.

 If you want, you can put your home page back to the way it was on January 1st.

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Filed under From the Field & In the Trenches, Philanthropy and Fundraising

I’m in BisNow

BisNow Washington included a great blurb about my presentation in their posting today.  Check out their site for lots of news and tidbits about what’s going on in nonprofits and associations around DC.

(I’m down at the bottom of the posting…look for my picture!)

Association BisNow

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Everyone on Your Staff Can Play a Part of Your Fundraising Success (Part 1 – Site Visits)

Yesterday I gave a presentation in Arlington County on this topic.  We had a great mixture of development professionals and program staff from organizations in DC and Virginia.  The goal of the program was to address how all staff members should embrace the roles they play in a successful fundraising effort.

Site visits are a great way to get the whole staff involved.  Lots of people play a part, from the receptionist to the program staff to management.  It’s important to take the time to carefully plan out the various elements of an upcoming site visit.  Staff members need to be briefed and understand what’s at stake.

Key preparation items include being clear about the visit’s schedule, the message you hope to get across to the visitor and what follow-up tactics you plan to employ.  It’s also a great time to clean up the office – nothing makes a visitor feel more welcome than when you’ve taken the time to show pride in your organization.

As part of our session yesterday, I had participants design a “Brown Bag Luncheon” on development.  The set-up was the executive director had asked each department to lead a presentation so that everyone could better understand the work of their colleagues.  One of the suggested topics was preparing for a site visit, and the group came up with some excellent ideas.  Here’s their outline for a 30-minute lunch-time presentation:

  1. Explain why you’re having the site visit; discuss who is coming (donor, media, government representatives, etc.).  Explain what the visitors are going to want to see.
  2. Talk about why the staff is so important to the site visit – Staff members are the ones who do the work; they are the closest to the organization’s programs.
  3. Discuss how to handle the site visit – Be friendly; think in advance about what you’re going to say; involve the visitor in a conversation, thank them for coming, etc.  Reinforce that staff members will get some help in doing this, such as training or scripts.
  4. Address the follow-up steps – How will you thank the visitor for coming.  Thank you correspondence can refer back to a meaningful exchange they might have had with a member of the staff.

Other ideas raised by program participants when I presented this session back in the summer included:

  • Talk about the “spiel” or “elevator speech” that staff members can use, it’s part of helping them to be prepared.
  • Try some role-playing exercises.  What will you say when the visitor stops by your cubicle?
    • Talk about the “Don’ts” not just the “Dos” for example, they don’t have to ask for a gift, and they don’t need to overdo it.
    • Discuss how you might involve volunteers and past program participants in the visit.
    • At the end, describe how this discussion of site visit preparation is in fact a “microcosm” of the way that staff members can support all of fundraising throughout the year. 

Do you have a story of a good site visit?  If your organization addresses a particularly sensitive subject or if client confidentiality is a big issue for you, how have you creatively approached this topic?

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Follow-up thought on using the term “campaign”

Here’s another reason why we need to be cautious when using the term “campaign.”  (See the blog post from September 24th.)

I was having lunch with a colleague last week.  She works for a large, national organization that structures most of its fundraising around “campaigns.”  She said that over the years, donors have actually begun to identify more with those campaigns than with the organization itself.  Their association with the cause has become so linked with the “Campaign for This” or the “Campaign for That” that it’s now challenging to raise these donors’ sights, broaden their perspective or enhance their relationships with regard to the institution at large.

The more I thought about it, I was reminded of organizations that have a program that’s better known or more broadly branded than its parent organization.  Donors, sponsors, patrons, etc. start building relationships and connections with these programs and not with the organization as a whole.

So again, be careful.  Campaigns can take on a life of their own.  Don’t accidently lose your organization in the process.  Remind your donors, partners, sponsors, clients, patrons and others what they are part of; keep them connected to your organization and its mission.

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Filed under From the Field & In the Trenches, Philanthropy and Fundraising