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: