Pitch it and Zip It!

When asking for a donation know what you want, why it’s wanted and the positive impact the donation will be to those receiving it.

A while ago I wrote ‘How much is needed’ in it I said:

‘When asking for money, it’s generally accepted that if you ask for specific amounts, offer suggestions on giving levels organisations can have a better ‘return’ than those who simply ask for ‘support’. 

$20             will give a child school lunches for x
$50             will allow a child to attend school activities for x
$100           will give a child school books for x

When people can see that their donation is “earmarked” for a specific purpose they’re more inclined to give – they can “see” a result, a benefit.

In reality it’s only part of it – knowing when to ‘shut up’ is important too.

Using the ‘pitch it and zip it’ approach will help ‘close’ the donation request.

Asking for a donation is no different to someone in sales asking for the sale – options are given, price is given, then any salesperson with experience will zip their lips and wait for the customer to make comment.

The first person who speaks after the ‘offer’ is given generally loses the ‘sale’.

It’s no different when requesting a donation, ask for the amount you want and ‘zip it’, wait for the person you’re talking to speak, they’ll either say that’s too much, or I can’t afford that, both signals that they could give but the amount asked for is too high for them, they’re not saying they won’t give. You still have the opportunity to ask for a lesser amount.

When asking for a donation it often pays to start high and come down, you can’t ask for $20 then when the person says yes increase the amount asked for. But if you ask for $100.00 and they say it’s too much you can come down – but don’t come down too quickly, they’ll tell you what they can give.

So next time you ask for a donation, paint a picture, tell the person you’re talking to how important their donation is, then ask for an amount – then ZIP IT.

Shockvertising gets attention, but you need to get the right attention

It’s all very well using shock tactics to get attention for your cause, but some shock tactics miss the mark, can cause insult and end up doing your cause more harm than good.

This is a good post from Future Fundraising Now which looks at some outlandish (stupid) campaigns …

Stupid nonprofit ads deserve to die

Some causes are harder to raise funds for than others. One of the toughest assignments is raising funds to help people who are perceived to have got themselves into their problem in the first place.

Lung cancer is in that category. Because of decades of successful anti-smoking marketing, everyone knows about the correlation between smoking and lung cancer. Some people have the attitude that those who have lung cancer “brought it on themselves” by smoking. Which is ridiculous.

I’m giving you what I assume was the brief for a campaign by the Lung Cancer Alliance andnoonedeservestodie.org. The goal, I guess, was to encourage a more compassionate and sensible response toward lung cancer, which should lead to more financial support.

Let’s see how well it succeeds:

Click here for more on this story


Not-for-profit Fraud Survey

Having been around the non-profit sector for a number of years, I have seen some activity that has made my hair turn grey, and it’s good to see that BDO have released survey results on fraud in the sector.

Some interesting findings from the BDO Not-For-Profit Fraud Survey 2012 are summarised below:


• 12% of organisations suffered fraud in the past two years

• Specifically, 75 organisations suffered 330 frauds in the past two years

• Fraud totalling $2,916,616 was reported, with the average fraud being $8,838

• Of the respondents who experienced fraud, 49% had suffered fraud previously

• Almost one in three organisations with turnover exceeding $10 million suffered a fraud

• 25% of respondents who experienced fraud believe the full value of the fraud was not discovered

• Main factors contributing to fraud occurring were breaches of trust and overriding of internal controls

• The most common type of fraud reported was cash theft (40%)

• The average online payment fraud was $370,000

• The average duration of each fraud was 14.5 months.


Who commits fraud and why?

The typical fraudster was a female aged in her forties and was a paid employee in a non-accounting role

• Only 9% of frauds were committed by volunteers

• Collusion was present in 20% of frauds reported, with a typical colluder being a female aged in her thirties or over fifty and a paid employee

• Respondents indicated that financial pressure and maintaining a lifestyle were the most common motivators for fraud.

Click here access the full survey results visit


BDO have also produced a policy and procedure toolkit, which has been receiving positive feedback to from those who attended the Fraud Workshops they did with the Charities Commission.  

You’re invited

No I’m not having a party, I’m not planning an event – what you’re invited to is to let me know what you’d like to see from this blog.

I’ve blogged on supporter acquisitionpayroll givingsocial media and much more, but there’s more I can do. 

The ideas haven’t dried up, far from it, I just think it’s fair to ask you – the reader – what you’d like to read.

Leave a a suggestion in the comments and I’ll start clicking the keys and write (where possible) what you ask for.

Don’t be shy – put your suggestions forward.

Don’t ignore the power of women

If you’re looking for support, looking for a group to help you grow, help you raise awareness and funds you can’t ignore the power of women.

This article from Reuters shows the power, the influence that women philanthropists have .. you can’t afford not to grow these connections.

(Reuters) – When feminist writer Courtney Martin wanted to raise money to fund research into the future of online feminism, it made sense to turn to other women for funding.

She called in Jacquelyn Zehner, chief executive of Women Moving Millions, a philanthropic organization made up primarily of women who have donated at least $1 million each to women’s causes. Zehner arranged for a conference call with a small group of wealthy women and Martin this spring.

“They responded immediately and enthusiastically,” said Martin. In a month, this audience raised $24,000 to fund the research. For Martin, it was a satisfying and natural extension of some of her earlier activities. In 2006, she created The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy, an annual gathering that began with a gift of $100 each to 10 friends, with instructions to give it away and then tell how.

Welcome to the world of female philanthropy – it’s not your father’s United Way. “Women are taking ownership,” said Andrea Pactor, associate director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, which has found that female-headed households are more likely to give to charity than male-headed households; and that in nearly all income groups women give more than men.

Read the full story here – then think about your organization and how you might be able to connect with women to improve your needs.

Are you taping into the right people, how are you doing it – please share your thoughts/comments.



Should you be blogging?

In short – yes, your organization should be blogging.

But before you rush off and get started, lets look at when, how, why and what to blog.

First it’s a good idea to check blogs in the same field, sector, area of interest you have.

You’ll also want to spend some time thinking about who your audience is, there’s no point writing for the wrong audience. What can you offer that will be of interest to your reader?

Make yourself a promise before you read this –  planning will go a long way towards making your blog the success you want, but don’t over plan – it will only slow you down. 


OK. Here we go, here’s a few pointers.

1. Listen and research. What are others blogging, saying about you, your sector, then think about where what you want to blog about fits. There’s a range of tools you can use to help you work this out – start with  Google Blog Search and Google Reader  will help make it easier for you to keep tabs on what’s happening and it will also enable you to read and comment regularly. Don’t forget that Twitter Search will also help you find content that ‘talk’ about your field.

2. Do you know who you want to talk to with your blog? Not everyone you want to talk to, who you want to share stories, information with is interested in what blogs can offer – research who your audience could be, do this the same as you would with any facet of your organization’s communication strategy. It’s not a one size fits all. 

3. Do you know who your ideal reader is?

Why would they want to read you’re sharing?

Are you offering anything they can’t, don’t get somewhere else?

4. Why are you blogging? There will be a range of reasons, and maybe you need need to convey your reasons by having different people, different ‘departments’ involved in your bog to cover they “whys” 

Are you blogging to tell your story?

What do you want to achieve – understanding, support, supporters, money?

5. Can you write it all yourself, or are there other who can do it too – or better

Some people can do it all – but in reality, most can’t. You need people who are good at research, building a readership base, and who know when is the ideal time to blog – using outsider can help, but the time it take you to talk to them about your goals, the purpose of your blog is taking away time that you, or someone else in your organization could be doing some fabulous blogs.

If you can’t do it all yourself, and most likely you can’t – think about the qualities you want from someone who can do it. Do they like to write, do they know what your ‘story’ is, do they know who to write that conveys your message, your story? You need to ‘hire’ someone who might do blogs for you the same as you would for any other position in your organization. 

6. Don’t do it all yourself, you want others to offer suggestion on what makes good content for you

Grab some people together, brainstorm ideas on what could make good content. Are you wanting to only use your blog posts to gain help, support, is it to gain comment on issues your organization is involved in, is it to share stories from the battle lines? A group will help you and take ‘content pressure’ off you.

7. When will you blog? It’s true that the more you you post blog content, the more you’ll be read.

But do your supporters, your subscribers want to hear from your everyday? Do you have the resources, the content to do it daily?

Post on a regular, once a week is good, 2 – 3 times a week is even better. But, weekly is better than nothing.

When thinking about your blog, your content and frequency – bare in mind that blogging isn’t only about the writing, it’s much more than that. You will also need to read, research and write. Maybe blogging is the new 3 Rs.

Whatever, whenever and how you blog, have a purpose, a team (at least to discuss content) and have a calendar.

So should you blog – HELL YES.

If you have other pointers on blogging please share them, what’s worked, what hasn’t – when is a good time to blog, when isn’t? What should or shouldn’t you blog about?

Money isn’t everything

Nonprofits need money there’s no denying that – but there’s more than money some of your supporters might be able to give, don’t discount offers of other assistance.

If your fundraising team is only focussing on the bank account, they’ve got it wrong, or maybe they’ve been given the wrong message. Support can and does come in all shapes and sizes. 

When looking for support it is important to look beyond the money.

When approaching a business for support, whether they’ve supported you before or not, and they can’t offer financial support, think about other ways they maybe able to assist you.

Accountants might be able to offer you services you need, so too Lawyers.

What about that business organization you’ve contacted – can they use their networks to help raise your profile?

Cold approaches are good and important, but you need to think on your feet – if you’ve called a shop and asked for support and they are unable to offer financial support but have shown interest in the work you do, why not ask if they can put something in their shop to ask others to support you, perhaps ask them if they would be willing to donate an item you could auction. Products are important too.

What about that household you’ve approached – they’re not only a household, they have interests and connections beyond the walls of the house. Everyone in that house has connections, can you ask them to talk to their friends, family, colleagues about the work you’re doing to raise awareness and potential support? Hell yes you can, and you should.

If you’re not thinking of other ways people can support you, you’re doing you and your organization a disservice, you are most definitely missing out on opportunities.

It’s time to change your thinking – you have nothing to lose – you have more to lose if you don’t!

Make it easy for people to see you’re registered

Potential supporters have many organizations to choose from, and when researching who to support people will visit your website, is the information you have on it easy to follow; are your contact details easily accessible (and up to date)? 

Chances are your contact information is clear and easy to find – but what about your charity status, can people see that you’re a registered charity? 

In looking at a number of charity websites recently, many of which have only recently been update, there’s no reference to charitable status. 

A potential supporter wants to know that you are registered, that you’re a bona fide charity; if you are – show it. 

Supporters have enough to ‘research’ when it comes to their charitable giving, don’t make searching whether you’re registered another thing they have to do.

Show your charitable status with your other contact information, and in your FAQs too. 

Don’t forget to include it on your letterhead and in your email signature too. 

Wear your registration number with pride.


Make $$$ and embrace philanthropy

Always good to see how business can connect and assist in the community – this article that featured in the February (2012) issue of NZ Management – has some insights that need further exploring by both business and the those working in the non-profit/charity sectors.

How can you use what this article covers to help you in your work?

NZ Management has great articles on business and other topics that have value for those working in the nonprofit/charity sector; if you haven’t seen a recent copy – check out some of the articles on NZ Management.

Reproduced with permission of NZ Management