By Meredith Friedman, CFRE, Senior Consultant
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
It’s November…and that can only mean one things – Thanksgiving! I especially love the tradition of going around the table and asking family members to share what they are thankful for – it’s just wonderful. It causes me to think, though… shouldn’t we be showing appreciation for one another all year long?
At our organizations, development teams may be having a similar discussion right now: how do we thank our donors this year? How do we shower love on them and let them know we truly are grateful?
As we head into the holiday season, I would encourage you to ask your team these questions: how have we shown our gratitude this year? And have we done it throughout the year? Or is this a once a year “Thanksgiving thing”?
If your team finds itself feeling a little underwhelmed at how you’ve shown gratitude this year, then now is the time to have the discussion about thanking donors consistently and well as you move forward.
To do this? Create a new organizational Thanksgiving tradition. Take this time of thanks, when we all think about how grateful we are, to come up with your organization’s plan for showing gratitude to your donors throughout the year. Use this special time to make sure this new tradition includes a yearlong “Thanksgiving” calendar, spending dedicated time thinking about how and when you’ll thank your donors throughout the year.
One thing I can guarantee: next year at Thanksgiving, you will be thankful you did it!
Need some guidance creating a "Thanksgiving" calendar? Let’s Build Hope can help! Contact us today: (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #GiveThanks #GratefulHeart #Thanksgiving #LoveYourDonors
By Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE, Vice President—Annual Fund
Ahhhh, the autumn season! The crisp fall air, pumpkin everything, and toasty sweaters that have been hidden for months in the closet. Those are a few of my favorite October things. Ask my kids and they’ll say fire pits and s’mores – with a heavy accent on the s’mores.
I often wonder why we wait to pull out the s’mores until the fall season begins. Doesn’t everyone love a melted chocolate bar and burnt marshmallow smashed between graham crackers? So why wait until the cool air arrives to enjoy this tasty goodness?
Just like a s’more…why wait to enjoy all the goodness that life has to offer? There is no season we can’t love with all our hearts, live with all our being, and share all our joy with everyone we meet. And at Let’s Build Hope, we can’t wait to build s’more hope throughout our community!
We invite you to join us for a S’More Hope Happy Hour on Thursday, October 29 from 4:30-6:30pm at Shaw Park (Enterprise Pavilion). Gather for some delicious hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and great conversation with the Let’s Build Hope community. Colleagues from nonprofits, big and small, can network, learn from one another, and offer community support. We hope you’ll join us for s’mores and schmoozing. Please wear a mask and practice safe social distancing. Together, Let’s Build S’More Hope…while enjoying a s’more!
To RSVP to the S’More Hope Happy Hour, please contact us: (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #LetsBuildSmoreHope #HappyHour #PumpkinEverything #DontWaitToEnjoyGoodness
By Beth Krumm, MEd, Senior Consultant
Imagine you’re welcoming a new member to your family. You want them to feel at home right from the start, to come to family events, and maybe even bring their famous key lime pie to a party.
New donors to your organization are a new family member. You want them to know how thrilled you are to welcome them to your organizational family. What opportunities there are to get more involved? How they can utilize their skills to help further the mission?
A new donor welcome packet, if done well, is a great first step. It provides the building blocks to deepen the relationship between the organization and the donor.
So what makes a good welcome packet?
It’s Personal. Just as you wouldn’t want to address a family member as simply “Sister-In-Law” or “Uncle,” you don’t want to use the generic “Dear Friend” as the opening to the welcome letter from your Executive Director. Make sure you use the donor’s preferred salutation. Use pronouns like “you” and write in a conversational tone.
It’s Brief. Remember, this is just the beginning of the relationship. Remind them what impact your organization is having, and if you can show that through a story, all the better. Focus on the positive, but try not to overwhelm the donor with all the facts and figures you have about your organization.
It Provides Options. The more you can engage a donor at every level of your organization, the more likely they are to remain with you. Your welcome packet should include different ways that they can get involved with you – volunteer opportunities, upcoming events, giving clubs, and tours are just a few examples.
It Encourages Feedback. As you begin this relationship with your donor, you want to engage them in conversation. Ask them to share why they chose to invest in your organization, offer to talk with them about a program area they are interested in, or invite them to follow you on social media. And of course, make it easy for them to get in touch with you by providing your contact information.
Use your welcome packet to remind donors that they made the right choice when they chose to give to your nonprofit. Who knows, maybe your donor will bring a key lime pie to your next meeting!
Need more guidance on what to include in your new donor welcome packet? Let’s Build Hope is here to help. Contact us today: (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #WelcomePackets #WelcomeToTheFamily
By Sarah Melinger, Saint Louis Fashion Fund Lead Consultant
You know that feeling you get when you drop off a load of items at Goodwill? That feeling of weight being lifted while simultaneously doing something that may help someone else? I love that feeling, and it led me to wonder: What if there were a “goodwill” for those emotions that weigh you down in a business setting? What if before every professional encounter, you “dropped off” your insecurity, your need to be right, and your desire to prove your worth?
Well, I tried it. At first, it was hard. Just like the dress I couldn’t decide if I should hold onto (you know, that dress that may just fit or be back in style one day!) I struggled to decide if I could let these feelings go. What would happen? Would I risk shedding something I needed…or did I just think I needed them? Would I grip tightly to my need to be right or prove my worth? If I stopped constantly making sure everyone knew what I could contribute, what would happen?
Well, you know what happened? I was asked to contribute more. When I gave others the space to shine and to feel heard and respected, I received so much more than I could have achieved by holding tight to my insecurities. Letting go allowed others to trust me and want to partner with me. They knew that I was approaching our work together with goodwill…that my goal was to do the best work possible. Just like releasing items I no longer use at Goodwill – I helped others, but I also really helped myself.
So maybe, before that next meeting, consider making a “donation” of those emotions that are holding you back…and instead bring the goodwill.
As always, Let’s Build Hope is here for you, ready to offer more goodwill. Contact us today: (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #BringTheGoodwill
By Linda B. Haley, CFRE, President & CEO
Hello, Let’s Build Hope Family! It’s hard to believe that two months have passed since we were moved into quarantine mode and forced to be away from family, friends, colleagues, and work. It’s been quite the ride!
I’ve noted some interesting behaviors and concepts recently and thought I’d share a few insights that might help as you navigate our slow, steady, and careful return to whatever the new normal will be.
1. Fear – lots of people are afraid…very afraid. They’re afraid of getting the virus. Afraid of passing it to beloved friends, families, or strangers. They’re afraid we may not ever recover. Afraid to trust that things will be sane again any time soon. Afraid to die…and afraid to live. But we all know that making decisions based on fear rarely results in sound, healthy forward progress. I’d encourage you to take a “fear temperature reading” with yourself and your colleagues as you consider your reopening. Sharing together may help alleviate some of the fears that are likely unfounded or out of proportion.
2. Shame – boy, have I seen a TON of this! Shame for wearing masks. Shame for NOT wearing masks. Shame for even talking about reopening. Shame about NOT reopening. Shame about wanting to go out. Shame for missing friends. Shame for complaining, especially if you’re not on the front lines. Man. It. Is. Everywhere!
Let’s all agree together to a few basic tenets:
Let’s try not to shame others for their choices…and not to feel or receive shame from others for ours. We’re all in this together…and we will get through!
3. Making decisions for others – as nonprofit leaders, we MUST make global decisions for those we lead. At the same time, individuals will have varying levels of “risk tolerance” and may have personal situations that allow for more freedom than others. Making decisions for everyone globally – in every situation – may not be the best option. Create choices for individuals when you can – with all the necessary safeguards in place – so that together we can succeed in returning to life after COVID-19.
4. Risk tolerance vs. risk aversion – Each person is wired differently for risk. Think about it – some people like to base jump off bridges; some like to stay home and do crossword puzzles! 😊 Nothing wrong with either activity – just a difference in personality and chemistry.
The same is true when dealing with the COVID reopening. Some are healthy and risk tolerant and ready to “get back at it.” Others are more careful and cautious, thinking the inevitable “spike” in cases will come if we’re not careful…also, true. So how do we manage? Let each person decide based on the larger organizational guidelines you propose. It’s reasonable to assume that folks with lower risk tolerance will perform better from home, feel happier and safer, and be thrilled to be part of your team. Those with higher risk tolerance will be jazzed at the chance to get back to some sense of “normal” and will not be as bothered by the risk. A win-win for all!
If you’d like to discuss your nonprofit reopening after COVID-19, reach out at (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com. We’re here for you!
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #FundraisingHope #COVID19 #TakeCareOfYourself
Pioneering the New Frontier: Join Charidy Academy, Let's Build Hope, and Lamb Insurance on April 29 for a Special Panel on how Nonprofits can Step into a New Leadership Role During the COVID-10 Pandemic.
By Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE, Vice President—Annual Fund
As I watched the morning news today, I couldn’t help to notice the words the anchors kept repeating: devastating, doom and gloom, death toll, recession, depression, job loss, not going back to normal, scared people, out of an abundance of caution, lockdown…Blah!
What a way to get moving in the morning time! Rarely did I hear the words hope, light, inspiring, things are better, moving in the right direction, laughter, recovered and going home, more family time, etc. If “we’re all in this together” then we need some good news to share too.
Listen, I’m no Pollyanna. I know things aren’t always happy and going well, especially during a pandemic and quarantine. In some ways it appears folks are addicted to hearing all the COVID-19 horror stories. And we all know that listening to hours of the news can send anyone down the rabbit hole. So where are the positive, uplifting stories? Perhaps they are within you.
Today, try to be the good in the world. Banish the bad stuff and open your heart to the good stuff. Be a HOPER—a person who hopes and trusts that things will turn out for the best. Stop and smell the flowers. Laugh at all the Zoom meetings you attend, and someone is always muted. Make a homemade meal from your childhood. Use sidewalk chalk to share witty messages with your neighbors. Enjoy your all-day yoga pants while you can. Remember that coloring books aren’t just for kids. Pull out those old board games. Donate to your favorite nonprofit in honor of a healthcare worker. Make a list of things you are grateful for. Learn how to beatbox and entertain your family with clever mixes. Start a fairy garden so little children can play on their walks. Listen to music that soothes your soul.
If you need a reminder of the good in the world, listen to Andrea Bocelli singing Amazing Grace on Easter Sunday by invitation of the Duomo Cathedral of Milan. Bocelli’s performance represents a message of love, healing, and hope to Italy and the world. For this, I am happy to shed a joyous tear. At LBH, we are HOPERS! Are you?
As always, Let’s Build Hope is here for you and your nonprofit. Contact us if you need a bit of hope in your life today: (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com. And remember to believe and have courage--we can do this!
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #BeAHoper #MusicForHope
By Beth Krumm, MEd, Senior Consultant
A $2.3 trillion stimulus bill was rolled out last week with the goal of providing financial assistance for individuals and small businesses hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. By now, you’re likely aware of the provisions included in the CARES Act aimed to help. You might also be trying to figure out how to utilize it for your nonprofit’s benefit. A quick bill recap:
Charitable Contribution Incentive for Individuals
People who do not itemize charitable deductions can deduct up to $300 in cash gifts (no gifts of stock or gifts to donor advised funds allowed). This is considered an “above the line” deduction, meaning it will be subtracted from a person’s gross income, reducing their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). This is great for donors who make smaller gifts (think annual fund gifts via direct mail or email).
Your major donors can benefit as well. For people who do itemize their charitable deductions, the cap increases from 60% to 100% of a person’s AGI. This means that a donor could effectively eliminate their tax burden for 2020.
Charitable Contribution Incentive for Corporations
The cap on corporate annual charitable giving increases from 10% to 25% of their taxable income. And the cap on corporations who make a gift of food inventory increases from 15% to 25%. All good news for corporate partners who want to further support nonprofits.
Payroll Protection Program for Businesses
Organizations with less than 500 employees can apply for a loan to help retain their employees. The loan amount is tied to the payroll costs of the business and can be used for payroll, insurance premiums, rent, and utilities. If an organization keeps employees through June 30, 2020, they may have the loan forgiven, turning it instead into a grant.
There are other provisions included in the CARES Act, but those three key areas are most applicable to nonprofits. To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Also, you’ll want to be sure to speak with a finance professional about your specific organization to ensure the CARES Act is helping in the best way possible.
While the CARES Act shows positive intent, it is important to remember that the vast majority of donors do not make gifts to nonprofit organizations to receive a tax benefit. They give because they believe in - and CARE about - your mission. The tax benefits are just another tool to talk with your donors. Yes, you should be adding carefully crafted messages to all your fundraising communications, while remembering that it’s still about the relationship you have with your donors. They CARE!
As always, Let’s Build Hope is here for you. We can help you determine the best tools and strategies to use with your donors, so they know you truly CARE. Reach us at (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #CARESAct #CaringAboutTheCARESAct #DonorRelationships #FundraisingHope
Below you will find a brief list of articles about COVID-19 and how the crisis is it impacting the nonprofit sector. As always, please reach out to us with questions or to schedule a conversation with our LBH professionals.
-The Chronicle of Philanthropy (March 26, 2020): Stimulus Bill Provides Nonprofit Loans, Grants, and One-Year Universal Deduction
-Nonprofit Quarterly (March 26, 2020): How Nonprofits Can Utilize the New Federal Laws Dealing with COVID-19
-Smith Brown Wallace (March 24, 2020): Missouri & Illinois Businesses and Nonprofits Now Eligible for SBA Disaster Loans
-National Council of Nonprofits: Nonprofits and Coronavirus, COVID-19
-AFP (Association of Fund Raising Professionals) (March 19, 2020): Charitable Giving in Times of Fear and Uncertainty (Analysis of charitable giving during the Great Recession shows nonprofits can survive these unsettling times—and even prosper.)
-2-1-1 COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic: If you need assistance finding food, paying housing bills, accessing free childcare, or other essential services, click the link or dial 2-1-1 to speak to someone that can help. http://211.org/
By Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE, Vice President – Annual Fund
My kids are asking a lot of questions right now. When can they go back to school? See their friends? Go out to dinner again?
And the simple answer is…I don’t know.
Like you, I’ve never lived through a pandemic and certainly not experienced anything close to Covid-19. There’s no Pandemic 101 course I can easily access with a handy FAQ section outlining its impact on nonprofit fundraising. But I do know that this isn’t the first time that fundraising has been bumpy. And I also know we’ve survived other rough spots and learned a lot about ourselves and each other along the way. I would imagine we’re going to learn new fundraising lessons in the coming weeks as we journey through this pandemic.
So maybe that’s a bright spot…this pandemic may push us to think and work in new fundraising ways and with donors. It could usher in a new era of fundraising innovation. Now that’s exciting!
When I was a baby fundraiser, there was so much I didn’t know or understand about the nonprofit world. Then I learned. When this pandemic started, each nonprofit mission did not suddenly become obsolete. I know this is true. Your donors did not give up on your vital work overnight. I did not have to learn this either – it is true!
It’s ok not to know everything to do for your nonprofit right now. You’ll learn. I’ll learn. And we’ll be better together and strengthen the nonprofit sector. But we also can’t give up and let Covid-19 win while our nonprofits lose. This is non-negotiable.
At Let’s Build Hope, we might not have all the answers about fundraising in the day of Covid-19. But we know each nonprofit has a heart in the community and each mission matters. We know making quick decisions without considering the long-term impact can hurt nonprofits for years to come. We’ve learned that listening to our donors, Board, staff, and key stakeholders is critically important. We know we can’t let our personal unease influence others – especially when it comes to donors and their desire to give during this time. We know we have to stay the fundraising course and continue to raise money now, not months down the road. We know we have to be authentic and communicate with integrity. And we know we have to lean into the discomfort and know that this too shall pass.
We can still come together, even if we’re required to stay six feet apart. Sometime soon our kids will go back to school, and we’ll all go out to dinner again. Until then, let’s continue to learn together, work together, and continue to be a voice in our communities. As always, call us or send us an email if you need us – we’re here for you!
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #StayTheCourse #FundraisingHope #ComeTogetherWhileStayingApart
By Linda B. Haley, CFRE, President & CEO
We all handle trauma differently, don’t we? We get quieter…louder…calmer…fiercer.
Some of us control and process. Some must talk it through. Some get numb. Some go faster. Some go slower or don’t go at all.
Working through Covid-19, we as nonprofit leaders should remember two key tenants:
When talking about offering giving opportunities during this time, I’ve heard in the last few days the phrase “in poor taste” more than once from volunteers, board members, fundraisers. I believe those words come from fear. Fundraising is often done “in poor taste” – whether it’s in a time of crisis or not – but that doesn’t mean we have to do it that way today.
Our donors may want…even need…to give – time, energy, effort, and money. Although a few may pull back in fear, ignore your outreach, and hold on to their dollars, most will want to talk and listen and help and give.
So what can we do now that will help our nonprofits and our donors move forward?
Faithfully serving those for whom our donors care with integrity, strength, and our best intentions during this challenging time is something donors will honor…respect…and remember. Sharing that story and inviting donors to join us in the fight is a gift and NOT in poor taste. Everyone will appreciate your showing care and support. Your committed donors will want to know that you’re staying the course and serving those in your care. Many folks will still really want to give and help.
Try these steps:
If you’d like to chat about how to work with your donors and staff during this challenging time, call us at Let’s Build Hope at (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com. We still have 35 of the 40 free consulting hours we’ve committed to help the community through this crisis. Let’s get through this together!
By Beth Krumm, MEd, Senior Consultant
Everywhere we turn these days, we are getting bombarded with messages about what we can’t or shouldn’t do during this Covid-19 pandemic. It is no wonder we are hearing from clients asking about what they CAN do about fundraising during this time. It is natural to want to pull back on fundraising activities, but we here at Let’s Build Hope believe that through all this, there is reason to, well, HOPE.
The mission of your organization hasn’t changed. The clients you serve still have the same needs as they did before this crisis. Your donors still care about your organization and want to know what you are doing and how they can support your work.
It’s important not to make assumptions about what your donors will or will not do in this situation. The best way to find that out? Ask them!
Now is the time for more communication with your board and donors, not less. Reach out to them to see how they are doing/feeling. Ask how their family or business is doing. Share good news with them about a program that they’ve supported. Communicate the impact the crisis is having on your organization and how it’s affecting those you serve (you may be surprised at the number of donors who will step up with a gift in support). Make sure they know that you appreciate them in good times and in difficult times. If you can’t meet with them personally, pick up the phone or send them a handwritten note.
Many of you have had to make the difficult decision to cancel fundraising events. Instead of trying to find a date to reschedule later in the year, consider a virtual gala or a 24-hour fundraising event. “Social distancing” doesn’t mean that we should stop being social. Get creative. Consider asking would-be guests to join your giving club that will help sustain the organization year-round.
You should also be talking to your board about any event that you’re considering postponing or cancelling. Keep them apprised of your plans and ask their advice. Give them alternative solutions (instead of “We’re cancelling the gala,” try asking “We’re thinking of holding a virtual gala and here’s how it would work. What do you think?”)
For those of you whose fiscal year ends June 30th, have you started on next year’s annual plan? If not, now is a good time to really dig in, review and revise your case statement, and develop strategies to achieve your annual goals.
Last, but certainly not least, take care of yourself. Take a break from watching or listening to the news, take a walk around the block, do some yoga, make sure you’re eating well and getting plenty of sleep. Be kind to those around you. Stay calm and stay the course.
And if you need advice on the plan for your organization? Call us at Let’s Build Hope or send us an email – as always, we’re here for you!
By Theresa Fleck, CFRE
One of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of a successful fundraising program is the personal relationships you have with your donors. The more knowledge you have of a donor’s interests, capacity and passion, the more likely you are to ask for the right gift, of the right amount, at the right time.
So, how do you get to know your donors? Simple! Ask them to meet for coffee or lunch. But before you pick up the phone and start scheduling, review these quick tips to ensure your meetings are a success.
By Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE
Vice President -- Annual Fund
We know that the Board is the “engine” of fundraising. So why aren’t all Board members eager to be involved with funding an organization’s mission?
Could it be that the Board does not know how to support the staff and fundraising? A healthy, functional Board has two main roles: governance and fundraising. They should provide governance and oversight of ethical principles/practices, sound fiscal management, fiduciary responsibility (duties of care, loyalty, obedience), and the linkage with the Executive Director.
Where some Boards stumble is over the fundraising responsibilities. As fundraising professionals, we need to provide mission-related results and stories that can be easily shared to illustrate our community impact.
Other ways the Board can be involved with fundraising:
As fundraisers working with Board members, embrace the We, We, We Principle as your mantra:
We are all in this together…We, We, We!
Wondering where the dividing line is between the staff and Board responsibilities? Click here!
Let’s Build Hope can help to empower your Board and build upon their passion for your mission. Contact us today!
By Theresa Fleck, CFRE
We’ve all heard about a gala, auction or special event that raised thousands of dollars for an organization. Often, Board and volunteer leadership encourage the development staff to plan additional events to raise awareness and funds for the institution’s mission.
Special events can be a great way to raise money while building connection and community with your donors. But, they can also be very expensive and time-consuming to plan. How do you know if your special event is a good use of time and resources?
When considering adding a fundraising event to your development program, the first two questions you should ask yourself are:
By Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE
Vice President -- Annual Fund
Does anyone else get excited about drafting an Annual Plan and Master Calendar each fiscal year? You should!
These two components encompass the “how” of fundraising. How are we going to reach our revenue goals through solicitation initiatives? How are we going to talk with our donors? How are we going to keep our staff engaged with the mission?
An Annual Plan and Master Calendar include quantifiable plans, goals, and projections and focuses on the expansion of current annual fund initiatives, as well as the creation of new initiatives to drive donor revenue. Most Annual Plans focus on the movement of willing donors up the giving pyramid, from small or mid-level gifts to larger major gifts, and finally to legacy gifts like trusts or bequests.
Your Annual Plan may also include the following components:
Let’s Build Hope loves Annual Planning and drafting Master Calendars to provide a fundraising road map. Contact us today to get a jump start on your fiscal year!
Want to stay on target, hit your goals, invite your Board and CEO into the process, and stay employed? Use the Let's Build Hope KEEP YOUR JOB Worksheets!
This fabulous tool helps you provide a meaningful, monthly update to the Board and CEO. When you set specific monthly goals and meet them, you can:
1) Thank your team and PRAISE them for working hard to raise money for the mission…and
2) Improve your own credibility by showing leaders that you do, indeed, understand and practice your craft with precision.
If you need assistance, e-mail Let’s Build Hope with your questions. We are MORE than happy to share our tools with you. We ask that you give Let’s Build Hope credit so folks will come and find us to get even more help and greater revenue production. Onward!
At Let’s Build Hope, we suggest SEVEN STEPS to make “general” stewardship to the donor of small gifts feel specific. Think about these: