All posts by vmjones

How to Ask

Take Away: Learn how to ask for a job, a date, help from your loved ones, or even a seat on the bus.

Book your “How to Ask” talk and training now, at vmja.com, email me at email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 610-565-1352.
You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,  TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. 
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To event, or not to event?

Take Away: Fundraising galas demand resources, months of lead time, and hundreds of volunteer hours. Is it worth it?

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

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Only You Can Prevent Donor Loss

Take Away: Writing a properly structured thank you note can help reduce 33% of donor attrition

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute, the average U.S. nonprofit loses 55.5% of its donors every year! 

Why?  

There are many reasons. One survey found 19% of lapsed donors stopped giving because they didn’t feel thanked or acknowledged. An additional 14% said it was because they weren’t told how their money was used. By addressing these two problems, you can help your nonprofit retain as much as 33% of your lapsed donors.  

If your nonprofit raises $1 million a year, that’s $330,000 worth of new gifts you don’t have to find   

Besides, it’s easier and cheaper to hold onto the donors you have than to acquire new ones. Acquiring new donors is expensive, and the same Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report found that only about 26.6% of first-time donors returned to contribute again. 

You want to avoid what the Queen of Hearts describes to Alice in Through the Looking Glass, “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” 

How?  

You can retain more donors with a certain kind of thank you note. It’s simple, polite, and free.  

Ms. Jones’s Tips to Thanking:  

The Basics:  

  • As in PR, first you get their name, and preferred salutation(s) right.  
  • Who’s thanking? The note may come from the person who requested the gift, CEO, relevant program officer, or a combination of these.  
  • Mention the gift amount 

Personalizing tips:     

  • Include a fond memory or experience you shared with the donor  
  • Have several staff members sign the card, each in different ink: the equivalent of a group hug 
  • Have gift beneficiary share their story, the positive impact it’s made on their lives 

Engaging tips:   

  • Invite the donor to volunteer   
  • Invite the donor to call/email the signatory (or other named person)-include contact info 
  • Say you hope to see them at an upcoming event or meeting, giving specifics  

In personal ‘thank you’ notes, avoid the following:   

  • Do NOT use this as an opportunity to ask for more money.  
  • Do NOT use complicated words or jargonconnect via simple/emotional communication.  
  • Do NOT bore them! Let your genuine excitement and appreciation shine through.  

Be creative. Thank in ways that play to your strengths. If you’re social, try thank-a-thons, calls, and visits. If you’re more reserved, write heartfelt, handwritten notes, using some of the tips above 

Express your gratitude well, and your donors will feel acknowledged and validated. Well-thanked donors are twice as happy, once when they make a gift and again when thanked.  

Saying thank you is easy, it’s important, and, as your mother taught you, it’s the right thing to do. 

Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” Gertrude Stein 

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,  TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

 

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Be Different

Take Away: I can teach you how to fundraise in a different way.

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

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Activate Your “Love” Hormone

Take Away: Make your own gift first and increase fundraising success.  

Would you let your kids go hungry, expecting others to feed them? Of course not.  

Would you, as a board member, ask others to support your cause when you don’t? You wouldn’t.  

Making your own stretch gift, before you start fundraising is best practice. A “stretch” gift means giving at the upper level of your capacity, more than you would give if you were not on the board. Your nonprofit may have a minimum board contribution level$1,000 to $100,000 or more. Or your organizations might have “give or get” policy, allowing you to meet your commitment by giving that amount yourself, getting gifts from others or a combination of the two. 

Benefits of the board giving are obvious. Your nonprofit needs money and board giving may represent a substantial chunk of its operating budget. Foundations will be more likely to support your nonprofit if 100% of your board members give. As with children, why should they award grants to a cause its own board won’t support?  

Benefits of making your own gift before asking others. 

Here are five ways that making your own gift first can power up your ask and make you a more compelling and successful fundraiser. 

  1. EmpatheticIf you’ve struggled to make your own pledge, you’ll be more understanding, giving your donors space and time needed to consider their contributions. 
  2. FocusedYou’ll know who to ask. Focus on the donors who contribute within your dollar range. 
  3. CommittedYou’ll be braverconveying the courage of your convictions when asking. 
  4. Happy-You’ll feel good. Studies find true acts of generosity trigger the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone” in your brain…you may even live longer! * 
  5. CreativeYou’ll get creative, possibly using approaches that worked for you inspire others. Perhaps you set up automatic monthly deductions or donated highly appreciated stock. I once found myself short on cash but rich in beads, so I threw a jewelry-making party. For $25, my friends got all the beads and supplies they needed, had fun and left with fabulous jewelry. I donated the proceeds to my favorite charity. 

Nonprofit staff also benefit from making their own gifts before asking others.  

“Wait!” they say, “We make no money and work ridiculously long hours. That’s our contribution!” 

That’s true, but to create a culture of philanthropy, everyone should give, at whatever level they are able, even if it’s just $1 a month. No one expects the staff to match their board’s giving. But when every employee gives, it sends a powerful, even inspirational message to those with greater means. 

Give yourself. Give as much as you can. Give before you ask others to. Lead by example and you will find that you’re a better asker, and leader, than you ever imagined you could be.   

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

*Renter, Elizabeth. “What Generosity Does to Your Brain and Life Expectancy,” May 1, 2015.

 

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Expectations vs. Reality

Take Away: Fundraising consultants can coach you through the fundraising process and make you a better and more comfortable fundraiser. 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for weekly motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

 

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Turn Your Board into Fundraising Heroes

Take Away: Planning a board retreat? Val can teach them to fundraise authentically, comfortably and successfully in less than a day.

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

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Ace the Ask in 5 Easy Steps

Take-away: Practice to perfect your ask until it’s second-nature.

Practice Cuteness GIF by Cheezburger - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hit, bump, bounce. Hit, bump, bounce. Panting, swearing, my blistered hand swung the racquet again.
Sometimes fundraising feels like hitting tennis balls against a wall. Hour after hour. Mind-numbing. Discouraging. Getting the same results or worse as we tire.
But have you checked your fundraising form?

My tennis coach, Dennis Olenik, says practice does NOT make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Repeated actions create neural pathways that reinforce thoughts and behaviors. Practice badly, and that’s how you’ll perform…Your mind will resist change, even if it’s for the better.
Back to me hitting balls against the wall. Dennis sauntered over, watched, then tweaked my form. Each time I hit, he gave me feedback, improving my stance, my turn or my grip. Soon, I heard a satisfying thwack when I hit the ball. I returned it easily and accurately.

“Enough of the wall,” Dennis said, “Go hit with Sarah.” I went and Sarah’s varied shots tested my new form. Plus, she’s a much better conversationalist than the wall. Dennis coached from the sidelines. Each comment he made, each adjustment suggested, wired proper form into my muscle memory.

Fundraising Practice
Here are five steps many of my clients practice to improve their fundraising.
Thank current donors. You’re probably good at thanking and will gain confidence talking about your cause in this context. One study found almost 20% of donors lapsed because they weren’t thanked well. And the average nonprofit loses 55% of its donors each year! Thank 3-5 stalwart donors each year. The same ones. They’ll develop relationships and get perfect at thanking ‘their’ donors.

Engage current donors. If all you do is ask, thank, and ask again, your donors will feel you don’t care about them. Invite each of your 3-5 donors to an event or activity that might interest them. Preferably something free. They’ll learn more about the cause you both care about and you’ll get to know them and why they give better. Practice engaging well.

Research your donors. Even if you are friends with your assigned donors, or you’re provided with a well-researched bio, never assume that you are up to date or know what is in their heart. Asking them how they really are (see #2 Engage above) is the best research. Also, a quick google search may reveal they just sold their company or lost their spouse. Practice pre-visit research so you’re well-prepared.

Cultivate your prospects in a way that’s best for you. If you’re an extravert, go ahead and schmooze at a big event. If you’re an introvert, invite them to small group or private experiences. For example, if you’re a wetlands champion, invite them to go birding at dawn. Practice cultivating prospective donors in the ways in which you will shine.

Ask three donors before one non-donor. By asking those who give regularly you’ll almost certainly get a ‘yes.’ As you get gift after gift, you’ll gain eloquence, clarity and confidence. By the time you ask your first well-researched and cultivated donor, you will have great form and will ace your ask.
Of course, every human interaction is full of delightful imperfections. You don’t have to be perfect. Just work on achieving your best fundraising form until you ace your ask, engage a donor and begin to make the world a better place.

Who is your fundraising coach?
We have sports and life coaches, so why not a fundraising coach. They can help improve your form, your results, and make the whole process more enjoyable. I love coaching and have taught thousands of professionals and volunteers to ask more comfortably, authentically and successfully. You’ll find more helpful tips in my book Nonprofit Hero, available on Amazon or free from your local library. Perfect your fundraising form by following my blog, Twitter or Facebook .

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Anne Frank, (1929-1945) Diary of a Young Girl

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Always have a backup

Take-away: Be prepared for the unpredictable by having something else up your sleeve just in case.

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for weekly motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

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15 reasons why people give- hint tax deduction’s are not #1!

Discover what really motivates donors.

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for weekly motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

 

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