How long does it typically take to set up a monthly donor program?

By Erica Waasdorp

How long does it typically take to set up a monthly donor program? From soup to nuts.

At a recent webinar, I was asked the above question.

The answer is: if you focus on it, you should be able to be up and running within a week.

I realize that development people in small to mid-size organizations especially are always pulled in multiple directions and distractions are easy.

That’s why I recommend you don’t launch the program until you have thought through and put in place the basics. But with a little bit of focus that can be done in a few days.

You most likely have the systems already in place. Brainstorming about a name for a program can be done in an hour or so. Creating a monthly donor donation page can literally be done in a few minutes. Adding the auto-responder and thank you email might take a few more minutes. Creating the hard copy thank you letter should be pretty straightforward based upon your thank you for one time donations.

I have one important recommendation: always TEST the process. Have someone make a first monthly donation and make sure that everything works and looks exactly as you’d like it to look before you go live to the masses.

Once you have these basics in place, you can start thinking about promoting the program. Instead of asking for a one time donation you’ll be able to start asking donors to consider a monthly gift. Start with people who are already caring about your organization. Your staff. Your volunteers. Your board. Then expand from there.

Don’t over-think it. Keep it simple and based upon what you’re already doing in your other areas of fundraising. Except that you’re now focused on generating sustainable revenue for your organization for many years to come. Your clients, children, animals, people you serve will benefit.

And, depending where you are on your monthly donor program, if you’d like to get some tips and pointers and handy materials to help you get started or growing, consider a Charity How To Webinar on monthly giving. You’ll not be disappointed.

About The Author

Erica Waasdorp is President of A Direct Solution, located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Erica lives and breathes direct response and fundraising and can be considered a Philanthropyholic. She has published one of the very few books on monthly giving, called Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant. She co-authored the DonorPerfect Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing  Kits and she regularly blogs and presents in person and via webinars on anything direct mail, appeals and monthly giving.

Marketing Your Fundraising Event – 5 Creative Strategies

By John Haydon, Originally Posted Here.

Marketing your fundraising event is arguably one of the most important aspects of holding a fundraiser.

If you don’t promote your event, how will people know about it? And if no one knows about it, how will you receive donations?

Your focus must be on properly marketing your fundraising event to avoid empty seats and empty donation boxes.

Here are 5 marketing tips you can follow to promote your fundraising event:

  1. Secure sponsors
  2. Use merchandise to promote the event
  3. Pick your best features
  4. Focus on your cause
  5. Plan a fantastic follow-up strategy

Your plan to act will include measuring success through product sales, appropriate implementation of technology, and promotion of your cause. All the while, you’ll be building lifelong relationships with sponsors and supporters, creating the perfect strategy to guide you through your fundraising event.

Read on to create your marketing plan for your next event. And if you need some ideas before you start marketing, check out Double the Donation’s 61 Awesome Fundraising Ideas for inspiration.

1. Secure sponsors

Sponsors provide key funding and a great opportunity to attract a broader range of attendees.

Once you have your sponsors, you’ll want to take steps to make sure they have a good experience so they’ll partner with you in the future.

  • Be upfront about what their involvement will be. Is this a small time commitment or a large one?
  • Keep them in the loop where necessary. Your sponsors will most likely want updates on your progress, with details including the number of attendees your event expects to bring in.
  • Demonstrate your gratitude for each of your sponsors. Remember these are the people who are directly supporting you. Make sure they know you’re not taking them for granted.

Keep in mind, sponsors are a crucial component when it comes to the success of your event and nonprofit, so make sure they’re happy!

2. Use merchandise to promote the event

You can design and sell custom merchandise to create buzz for your event.

Product fundraising will kill 4 birds with one stone:

  • Raise brand awareness: Putting your logo and information on a t-shirt, water bottle, or draw-string bag will provide amazing advertising opportunities for your cause.
  • Demonstrate appreciation: Merchandise can serve as thank yous to donors!
  • Generate revenue: Selling merchandise will create more revenue, adding to your funding.
  • Advertise sponsors: Discuss with your sponsors where you’ll advertise their brand. Your most supportive sponsor should have the most advertising material. For example, their logo might be on all the signs, tents, and t-shirts whereas a lower-tier sponsor may have their logo on a water fountain.

Using merchandise is a quick and easy way to raise money and advertise your upcoming event all at once so plan to order some t-shirts!

3. Pick your best features

The interesting and attracting aspects of your fundraising idea are your best features. Be sure to focus your marketing around these points in order to attract the most attendees. But keep your cause in mind as well!

You can do all this by:

  • Write an event mission statement. You’ll want to assess what’s really important to your nonprofit and why you’re holding the event. Think about how this event is going to impact your cause. How will your event matter?
  • Marketing your big ticket item. Advertise the most exciting aspect of your event, whatever it may be. For example, if the event is a concert, advertise the most well-known band performing. Show off what will bring the most people to your event.
  • Give participants next steps to get involved. While the event approaches, you can suggest supporters join your email list, which can give them a countdown to the event and other updates to keep them interested in your nonprofit’s work. Find a way to get them involved in your nonprofit’s community.
  • Picking out your best features will draw more attendees to your event, giving both your nonprofit and your cause more exposure. This can lead to more donations and overall support, so it’s important to understand your intent and market your best-selling aspects to involve potential attendees.

4. Focus on your cause

If you focus your passion on your cause, you have the potential to attract others with similar passions, which can build lasting relationships.

Ways to display your cause and your accomplishments are as follows:

  • Slideshow: A slideshow is an easy way to show off your cause. Throw some pictures of your board from previous activities and project the slideshow onto a screen at your event.
  • Video: A step up from a slideshow, a video will be a little more engaging because it’ll require more attention at your event. You can display it similarly to a slideshow.
  • Guest speaker: Have an executive director or service recipient speak to your past support for the community and for your cause. Stay away from self-congratulatory speeches and focus on the impact in a heartfelt and genuine way.
  • Brochure: At your event, you can hand out a packet with information on your nonprofit, its history, and your cause. This way, your attendees can take the information home with them, too.

The idea behind your event is to raise awareness about your cause, so be sure to display your efforts so attendees know your organization’s mind and heart are in the right place. This will gain authority for your nonprofit as well.

5. Plan a fantastic follow-up strategy

Thank everyone within 3 days of your event. This includes attendees, donors, fundraisers, and anyone that contributed to your cause. Follow this advice on how to Make Your Donor Feel Like a Hero. You can send thank you emails or letters, or to be even more personal with a phone call.

Your donors will want to know how they’ve positively impacted your nonprofit. You can easily do this through your emailed newsletter. Let them know how much you raised and update them on your cause.

Your follow-up strategy is key for donor retention. You should look into sending out surveys to further gauge the results of your event. With the feedback from these surveys, you can learn what you should do to improve when planning your next event.

Now that you know how to perfectly market your next event through these 5 steps, it’s up to you to take action and hold a successful fundraiser.

About The Author

John Haydon is one of the most sought-after nonprofit digital marketing experts, with a sincere passion for changing the world. He has spoken at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, New England Federation of Human Societies, New Media Expo, BBCon, Social Media 4 Nonprofits, AFP New Jersey, and several others. John is also the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies and Facebook Marketing All-In-One (Wiley) and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Social Media Examiner, and Social Media Today.

Major Gift Fundraising is Like Dating – 4 Steps to Success

By Kathie Kramer Ryan – Arroyo Fundraising

Would you ask someone to marry you on your first date? Chances are, no way! It’s just as unlikely that you—as a development professional—would ask a prospect to make a major gift to your organization during your first meeting.

If you are planning or implementing a major gifts program, it’s a great time to review these 4 Steps to Fundraising Success.

Step #1: Identify

First, you’ll want to identify prospects who have the potential to become donors to your organization. Prospects may include friends and colleagues of your current donors, board members, committee members and other stakeholders. Consider former board members, event attendees and (if applicable) site-visit participants.

If you work for a school, consider your students’ families, or your alumni. If your organization is a hospital, consider your patients’ families or former patients.

Step #2: Cultivate

You want to cultivate interest in your organization and its mission while building relationships with individual prospects. In our dating/marriage proposal analogy, Cultivation is the dating phase. Cultivation – or relationship-building – occurs anytime you “touch” or communicate with a prospect.

The most effective relationship-building consists of touches that are tailored to your prospect’s interests.

Step #3: Solicit

Next you will solicit a gift. While there are no set rules about how long Cultivation should last before Solicitation begins, you’ll generally spend more time cultivating for a larger ask and less time for a smaller ask.

There are many ways to ask for support, including by email, letter, phone call, or a face-to-face meeting. As a general rule, the larger the gift you are asking for, the more personal your approach should be. In other words, when you ask for a major gift, do it in person. Just like asking someone to marry you!

Step #4: Steward

Finally, steward your donors. Stewardship is thanking your donors and showing them the impact of their gifts, and it’s critical to ensuring this first gift is not the last gift. Effective Stewardship continues to build the relationship between your donor and your organization.

Be sure to join us for our next free webinar “ 7 Steps for Getting Started in Major Gifts (Even in Small Shops).” See you then!

About the Author

Kathie Kramer Ryan, founder of Arroyo Fundraising, has excelled in development and leadership positions in the nonprofit sector for 17 years. Kathie raised over $40 million as a frontline fundraiser and has helped raise millions more as a fundraising coach and consultant. A national expert on donor cultivation and major gift fundraising, Kathie serves thousands of nonprofit professionals annually as a fundraising blogger, speaker and trainer.

Improve the Odds – Ask Face to Face

Most fundraisers would prefer do just about anything than ask someone for money face-to-face. Even for those, experienced or not, who find it somewhat “easy,” it can be awkward and anxiety-inducing. Yet we do it – or we aim to do it – because deep down we know it will end up making a huge impact… and the facts back that up.

face-to-face

Asking in-person is proven to have the highest rate of success among all methods.

Kent Dove of the Indiana University Foundation analyzed different ways of giving. Unsurprisingly, direct mail has the lowest success rate of the traditional fundraising methods –just 1-2%. Phone calls – not cold calls but calls from one’s Alma mater or place of worship – have a 25% success rate.

Face-to-face asks however – 75%! That means three out of four face-to-face meetings result in a charitable gift of some kind. Those are great odds.

The largest gifts from donors always come from asking in-person.

How many of the big donations you read about came from direct mail, special events, or a phonathon? Next to none! Large gifts come about by cultivating donors over time and getting to know them in person, and then finally asking them face-to-face to make a gift.

But why is face-to-face soliciting so successful?

Well, first of all, if someone agrees to even meet with you, that shows a very high interest in donating of some sort. Generally your donors won’t want to meet if they aren’t inclined to give you a gift.

Second, meeting in-person is proven to build the relationship. It causes a deeper level of empathy to develop between you and your donor, which would not be reached otherwise. Being with each other physically and being eye-to-eye creates an immediate bond – a direct desire to come through and be seen as good in the other’s eyes. This solicitation is much more powerful than connecting over the phone or through email.

Brian Saber is President of Asking Matters – a online learning platform that trains people how to ask for money and motivates them to do it! Combining the best low-expense and high quality resources in the field, he promises that Asking Matters will help countless organizations continue to do incredible work for their causes.

View & register for Brian’s upcoming webinars.

A Consumers Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems

reportIdealware and NTEN, with the support of NPower,  announced the publication of their new excellent Consumers Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems in May 2009. This report — which I highly recommend — looks at 33 different donor management systems that cost less than $4,250 in the first year.  The research is broken up into two different actual reports.  The first, the Consumers Guide, outlines the functionality that donor management systems provide, summarizes each of the 33 systems, recommends useful systems for each of a set of specific scenarios, a high level comparison of 10 systems, and lists consultants who can help you select or implement software.  The second, Detailed Reviews, provides six-to-eight-page reviews of each of twelve different systems. This is one of the most useful reports I’ve seen in years.

Download a copy

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