Category Archives: Events and Activities

Training events, networking activities and other ways to connect

Educational Opportunity – Philanthropy’s New Faces

The Washington DC Metro Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP/DC) is hosting what promises to be an interesting panel discussion featuring up and coming leaders in Washington area philanthropy.

Hosted by AFP/DC’s Advanced Executives Committee, the panel will feature community members all under 50 who are now taking over their families’ philanthropic activities.  The intention is to explore how these individuals are viewing their evolving role as contributors and partners with nonprofit organizations.

The panel will be moderated by Mary MacPherson, President of M2Works, LLC.  Panelists will include Patrice Brickman, Scott and Patrice Brickman Foundation, Mark McIntosh, McIntosh Foundation, and Liz Norton, Bernstein Family Foundation and Director/Founder Stone Soup Films.

The discussion will be held next week on Wednesday May 4, 2011 from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. at the Merrill Lynch office on 15th Street, NW.

For more information, go to http://www.afpdc.afpnet.org./

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and Activities, Philanthropy and Fundraising

Don’t put ’em to sleep or tick ’em off – Make sure your event attendees get what they want

The October 7 edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports on a new study on how organizations are working hard to make sure their special events and galas measure up to donor expectations while still accomplishing their overall goal – raising needed funds.   Organizations are going out of their way to create a memorable and – hopefully – special experience that will set their event apart from the numerous events being held this time of year.  This is especially challenging here in Washington or in other large cities such as New York, Chicago, Houston or Los Angeles, where there are wall-to-wall events, galas and benefits.

The Chronicle article focused on a study conducted by CharityHappenings.org, an organization that sells tickets to charity events.  They asked 850 event attendees across the country about what they thought when it came to event logistics, format, ticket prices, venues, menus and invitations.  It gave gala-goers a chance to weigh in on how they view their own experiences with these types of events.  One lesson: Be careful not to try to do too much, or you will wear out all of those good feelings your guests might be having…even with those glasses of champagne.  This usually starts to happen when the presentations and speeches begin.  Your annual gala might be your first, best or only opportunity to get your organization’s message in front of so many people, but you’ve got to think about your audience and their experience.  To use the words of CharityHappenings chief Justin Baer says, “Like every great sales pitch, it should be fast, lean and targeted.”

You can get a free copy of the 2010 Charity Event Market Research report at the CharityHappenings website.

Some interesting – but in some cases not surprising  – findings:

  • The biggest complaint about events and galas – long speeches!
  • The amount of the ticket price that most respondents felt should be going to the organization – 75%
  • The time during which most people buy their tickets – 1 to 2 weeks in advance
  • One of the least motivating factors in why they attended an event – celebrity appearances
  • Percentage of event attendees who say they prefer galas to have some sort of “theme” – 66% (2 out of 3)
  • The most popular nosh – sushi (no more scallops wrapped in bacon…)

So take some time and think about your upcoming gala, auction or benefit.  Consider carefully the experience you’re providing to your attendees.  Use the CharityHappenings survey to fine tune your approach.  Yours might just be the event everyone said, “Were you there??  You should have been!!”

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and Activities, From the Field & In the Trenches

Podcast of June 9 Extra Credit Session available

The podcast from the June 9, 2010 Extra Credit session, “Just Tell Me What You Want – Answers to the Unexpected Things Prospects Say” is now available.  This was the first in a series of free teleconference training sessions offered by the firm and presented by Marshall H. Ginn, CFRE.

Click on the link below for the handout that was used during the 30-minute presentation.  For more information on the session and for additional resources, visit the Extra Credit page on the firm’s website.

PDF Handout – JuneExtraCreditHandout

MP3 Audio File – 060910ExtraCredit

Leave a comment

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

A note from Transition Guides

This morning I received the latest issue of Leadership Guide, the email newsletter from TransitionGuides in Silver Spring, MD.  Their areas of expertise are succession planning and leadership transitions for nonprofits.  The newsletter featured profiles of three nonprofit executives who had successfully navigated the complex and often emotion-laden process of moving on from a beloved organization…especially when they are the founder!

I was especially struck by a consistent point found in two of the stories – the concept of “getting out of the way.”  Both leaders suggested that founders must make a special and focused effort to move on and, in effect, step out of the way of the organization’s progress and evolution.  Whether they’re hampered by a sense of guilt imposed on them by board and other staff members, or by their own sense that the organization could simply never make it without them, founders can actually be doing harm to their nonprofit by staying too long and not moving on.  It’s a challenging process to be sure, but it is essential to keep the best needs of the organization at heart and to keep looking forward.

Among the many resources offered by TransitionGuides is their popular Next Steps Workshop.    Their next event Next Steps Workshop: Succession and Sustainability Planning will be held in Washington, DC September 13-14, 2010.

I have many times seen how critical it can be for an organization to have a solid succession plan in place.

As a member of the selection committee for the Washington Post Awards for Excellence in Nonprofit Management, I have many times seen how critical it can be for an organization to have a solid succession plan in place.  Organizations that have done well over the years with this award process have all exhibited an openness to explore the challenges and opportunities inherent in leadership transition.  They give their chief executives time and permission to take advantage of resources like the Next Steps workshop.  And from my viewpoint, it’s made them all much stronger and better able to sustain strong leadership across the entire organization.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and Activities, From the Field & In the Trenches

Be Ready with an “Emergency” Ask

Picture this.  Your prospect is a very busy business leader. You’ve arranged a pre-solicitation meeting and you were sure that everyone understood that this was just going to be an opportunity to talk about the project, the need and the campaign.  About 2/3 of the way through the meeting, the prospect says, “This sounds really terrific, but I am leaving town for several weeks to oversee the opening of a new office facility across the country, so there will be no way that I can do a site visit.” 

It’s dawning on you that you’re not going to be able to see this prospect face-to-face for a long time, and she was rated as one of your top prospects.  You don’t want to waste this opportunity.  What happens now?

Even when you thought it was just going to be a cultivation visit you might need to quickly formulate an “emergency” ask.

When it comes right down to it, getting some form of ask out there might be better than nothing.  If you think an encounter like this is turning into your only or best shot at getting something from this prospect, go for it.

Now I’m calling it an “emergency” ask, but it really is something that you should have prepared in advance.  Take the time to practice this ahead of time.  If you need to make your emergency ask, you should be able to do it with confidence and without apologies.  Further, if you are going on a solicitation call with another person as part of a team, make sure you discuss this ahead of time.  Agree in advance who will say what, especially if the prospect goes off on a tangent or just cuts to the chase and asks for an ask, or as in this case, makes it clear that she’s not going to be around.

Here are some other possible responses…remember, you should make up one that feels natural for you.  So when the prospects says, “Just tell me what you want.” You can say:

“This effort is going to require meaningful stretch gifts from us all, and I hope you will agree that this project is critical.  I’ve gone the extra mile already, which is why I’m taking the time to talk to folks like you.  What I would like is for you to consider joining me in making a sacrificial gift to this campaign.”

“Thanks for being open to an ask already, but this capital campaign is very big project, and there’s more I want you to see before we get to that.  However, we would really appreciate your getting involved now as a donor to our ongoing programs.  Can we count on you today for a major donor level gift to the Annual Fund?” Make sure you include a specific $$ amount.

“We would like you to join the other community leaders who’ve already shown their support by making a gift to this campaign.  I know you care deeply about this issue, and I want to make sure you have the opportunity to play a part.  Can we count on you today to do something special?” 

Additionally, depending on which of these you might have used, you could simply follow up by suggesting a clear course of action for the prospect.  “Tell me what works best with your schedule.  Here are the next steps I see…First, visit our facility; second, meet with our CEO and third, consider financial commitment. Do you agree?  Are there other steps you want to take?   How do I best set these things up and communicate with you?”  Assume that there are going to be future contacts of some sort, and go from there. But be sure to suggest some form of action.

So don’t be afraid and don’t freeze up when all of sudden the script has to be tossed and you just need to get something in front of the donor.  Practice ahead of time and have that emergency ask in your back pocket.

This topic is one that we explored in “Just Tell Me What You Want: Answers to the Unexpected Things Prospects Say,” which was part of Extra Credit, a teleconference I hosted earlier this month.  Many of the participants agreed that taking the time to think through how we can respond when prospects go off-script and surprise us is well worth it.

Leave a comment

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

Opportunity to Discuss the “Starvation Cycle”

The Stanford Social Innovation Review and Bridgespan are again teaming up to continue the important conversation regarding the funding of “overhead” and other infrastructure costs at nonprofit organizations.  (Remember my blog post from November, “Are You Starving?”)

The groups will be hosting a webinar discussion session featuring Bridgespan Group’s Don Howard and Ann Goggins Gregory, the original authors of the article back in August of 2009.  This is a critical topic and should be central to the ongoing conversation funders must foster with their grantees.

To webinar will take place on Wednesday May 12 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m EDT.  The cost is $49. To learn more or to register, follow this link: http://www.ssireview.org/events/

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and Activities, Philanthropy and Fundraising

Year-End Fundraising Tactics

AAFPDC_logo_2cFP/DC Hosts a Breakfast Forum on Bailing Out Your Year-End Fundraising in the Ongoing Recession

This informative panel discussion will address such topics as maximizing year-end giving, improving online and direct mail fundraising at year-end, and how to maximize major gifts activities during these next weeks.  Panelists will include nonprofit practitioners from the DC area who will share some of the steps they are taking to enhance their year-end plans.

Thursday, October 15, 2009
8:00 – 10:30 .m.
Charlie Palmer Steak – 101 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC
$45 for members/$60 for non-members
 
Call the Washington DC Metro Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals at 202-547-0155 to learn more.  Click on this link to go directly to the registration form.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and Activities