Missed opportunites when donors move

After reading Knock knock! Who’s there? Opportunity! I got to thinking that New Zealand charities could be missing out when people move – I haven’t changed addresses in over eight years so haven’t completed a NZPost change of address form, but last time I saw one there was nothing like the form mentioned in Knock! Knock! Who’s there? Opportunity!; and would find it hard to see that there has been any change made, or that NZPost or any other entity has set up something to allow donors to automatically let organizations know of their change of address, other than the little card that people can fill in and post to people to advise of a change of address. 

The lack of a central way to let organizations know of a change of contact details, reinforces the need for organizations to ensure that when people support them that they ask for the best way to communicate with them – is it, letter, email, txt – not only can this help reduce cost, but also helps to stay in touch with people when they move.

If organizations have an email address for supporters, it is more likely that they will be able to stay in touch, that support will be ongoing.

Living in an apartment where there’s about 10 apartments changing hands each month, the pile of mail for previous residents grows; often I’ll flick through it just to check there’s nothing among it for me, In the last month or so I’ve seen mail from several organizations – and yes, I do return it to the sender. 

Among some of the mail I know there will be appeal letters, urgent requests for funding – unless the recipient gets these the organization is missing out on potential support. And, possibly more importantly, the recipient may forget about the organization.

It’s hard enough for organizations to gain and, maintain support, so making some changes to how they can communicate with current supporters is important.

When an organization gains a supporter, whether it’s through a street sign up, a mail drop, or other, it would make sense to have a box for the ‘preferred’ method of contact, my guess is those who opt for email communications would remain supporters even when they move.

A suggestion I’d like to make is, if your organization hasn’t heard from a supporter in say three months and you have their email address on file (and the supporter has agreed) send them a friendly reminder, perhaps something on the lines of a housekeeping email to verify contact details.

Something as simple as: 

To ensure you’re receiving our updates, please verify we have your current contact information correct.

Current Address                 
Phone Number
Alternative email

While you’re at it, remind them about your online presence – FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest etc.

Don’t miss opportunities for support, ensure you can stay in contact with supporters. 

Quick guide to better funding applications

After hearing from organizations about their failed funding applications, I had a look through some, talked to those who had put them together and quickly saw want went wrong. Lack of research and planning.

To save time and the heartache of receiving “sorry not this time” letters avoid these mistakes:

Poorly researched and written applications

Before putting the time into completing the application spend some time reading what the funders criteria is, do some research (if possible) into what other projects they have funded.

Simply pulling out an application you’ve submitted before and copying the information into a new one won’t cut it; more so if you missed out last time.

Ensure your have clear objectives, and ideally everyone involved in the project should be asked for their input.

Perhaps more important is to ensure you have fully planned out the project/programme you are applying for funding for; if you haven’t done this step, put the application away and spend the time planning.

Have you got the budgets sorted? If you haven’t done this – stop what you’re doing and get it sorted, you can’t expect a funder to guess what you’re trying to say with figures if you haven’t worked them out yourself.

And, avoid all jargon, you might know what certain acronyms are but you can almost guarantee that those reading your application won’t – do you want your application filed under “too hard”?

The scattergun approach

If you’re sending the same application out to a multitude of funders – stop it!

You will have more success with well planned and targeted applications, the right application for the right funder will win hands down over a poorly targeted one.

Yes, you might get a nibble or two with a mass mail out of applications, but you’ll gain more with targeted applications.

The right application, to the right funder will do you more good.

Not meeting funder’s criteria

This ties back to research and planning, if you don’t know what the funder’s criteria is, you won’t meet it.

When you’ve got your team together to work on funding applications, the first thing you should be doing is working through the funder’s criteria and ticking off each point – if you don’t meet the criteria save yourself and the funder time, don’t proceed with the application.

Most funders won’t mind if you’re unsure and make contact to clarify anything you’re unsure about. If in doubt, make contact and have the criteria clarified.

Meet and Greet

Some funders have open days, which are an opportunity for organizations to meet and learn more about the funder, their work, their criteria and what projects/programmes they are looking to fund. Make it your job to find out if funders you’re likely to approach hold these, if they do make sure you attend.

Some funders like it when an organization asks for the opportunity to meet – check, and if they are open to it, make the effort to arrange a face-to-face meeting.

You’ve got the funding – that’s the end of it

If you think that once you’ve received the funding that all you have to do is get down and do the work, you’re sadly wrong.

Funders want, expect – and deserve updates.

Your board expect updates – so you should already have something available, make sure you fully meet funders criteria and give them the reports, updates that they require.

If you don’t update funders your chances of winning their support in the future will at best diminish – or worse, you won’t even get a foot in the door.


These tips apply not only to traditional funding bodies, but also when applying for funding from companies and others in the community.

Write a check list of what you need to do with all funding applications – print it and pin it up on your wall and refer to it when applying for funding.




Pick up the phone and say Thank You

Don’t lose donors, respect them, acknowledge them.

An organization recently lost a major donor because they felt their support wasn’t really being appreciated.

Why, simple after sending in a substantial cheque on a regular basis all they’d hear back from the organization would be in the form a standard receipt, no acknowledgment of the impact the donation would have on the work that the organization carries out.

Result – support withdrawn. All the organization had to do was pick up the phone and call the donor, thank them and tell them how important they were to the work being carried out. 

Don’t make the same mistake. Acknowledge your donors.

How you acknowledge your donors is up to you, but make the point to acknowledge them. 

When was the last time you invited donors in to see your organization in action – you haven’t, then it’s time to change that, make this the year your do it. People who offer you help and support don’t necessarily want their names up in lights, many are happy to help and don’t want fame and glory – but they all deserve acknowledgment.

It doesn’t take much to pick up the phone and give a quick call. 

What’s more you don’t have to do it all yourself, you have Trustees, you have Board Members, get them to do help out. 

At what level of support you chose to call donor is the only ‘hard’ part – will you call donors who give $500, $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000. Depending on the size of your organization, the work frequency of support your gaining will determine this.

The donors you call may be the same ones you invite for a cuppa, you’ve got nothing to lose calling, thanking and inviting donors to see you at work – in-fact, truth be known you’ve got more to lose.

What are you waiting for, pick up the phone and start dialing.

Even if you’re only sending thank you letters, you need to do these right. This article from SOFII is a must read. 


Fundraisers need to learn the basics

All too often I hear about an organisation taking on fundraisers, throwing them in the deep end and expecting miracles; alas, that’s a rarity.

Fundraisers need to learn the basics, they need to start from the ground up – this article on 101Fundraising nails it perfectly.

A reminder about making rice and similar fundamentalsA reminder about making rice and similar fundamentals

Why once a year at least we should all revisit the basics of our trade

I remember being told, a while ago, that you don’t get to be a martial arts black belt by practicing 14,000 different moves, you get to be a black belt by practising just 14 moves, 1,000 times each. It’s nice advice. The secret to attaining the highest level of proficiency is that you don’t progress to mastering the next move until you’ve truly perfected the last. It’s an agreeable story that contains an important truth: to excel at any trade, craft or activity, you first must master the basics.

There are few things more tedious in any profession than a seasoned old codger banging on about how youngsters coming into the business nowadays don’t bother to learn the basics. So I won’t. What’s more, I’ll leave you to decide for yourself whether that’s a problem you should be worrying about on behalf of our profession, or not. But it might be timely and supportive as we enter a new year to refer some of those new to our profession to sources that might help them to master their chosen path. And to remind some of the others, the more experienced hands, that a refreshing visit to the old foundations is well worth undertaking, once each year at least.

Read the full article here


Maintaining End-of Year Giving

After reading 2 Ideas for Capitalizing on Year-End Fundraising Momentum, and the comment about being sent information or added to a calling list, it’s timely to remind organizations that permission should always be sought.

If donors, or those attending events get contacted when they only intended to assist on the one occasion, more harm than good can come of further contacting them.

The easy solution is to ask people for permission to add them to any ‘list’.

Simply add a line or two with a tick box asking:

1. Would you like to hear about future events
2. Would you like to be contacted by
     – Phone
     – Email
     – Mail 

If contact is initiated by phone, and donors/supporters details are taken for receipting purposes then you can still (and should) include these questions and their response.

Don’t take it for granted, ask, you’ll be more likely to gain further support than if you just include people.

Remember, if anything turns one person off supporting your organization they’ll tell others; the negative impact this could have can’t easily be undone.

Always err on the side of caution.

Remember, countries have different laws on solicitation, collection of personal data. Check where you stand.


Planning your Year – 2013

Last year I put together “Planning the Year“, and was going to do an update for 2013 – but after reading Gail Perry’s Your Fundraising Calendar 2013” I thought there was no need as her calendar is superb and covers everything I would have put in a post.

Before you do anything after reading “Your Fundraising Year 2013” – sit for a few minutes and mark out some time to put these ideas down in your annual planner.

Now you’ve done your plan, it’s time to implement it – get to it and have a great year.

Business partnering is a two way affair

Nonprofits are always on the hunt for businesses to connect with and gain as supporters; but it’s not as easy as picking up the phone or doing some online searches – some planning is needed.

Some questions need to be asked first –

  • What type of business is best suited to your needs
  • What type of business is least suited to your needs
  • Are your expectations for a short, medium or long term connection/commitment
  • Is it financial support or other support – if other, what other support could a business offer you

You MUST also think about what you can do in return for any support you gain from the business community. 

Connecting with, partnering with business must be seen as a two way street, you can’t simply expect to put your hand out and not give something in return.

The ways you can give in return could be as simple as profiling business supporters on your website and in newsletters.

But these are just the basics, what about hosting supporting business at an event, giving them an opportunity to talk about why they have connected with you, and to also talk about their business – give them the floor for five minutes, it’s the least you could do.

I’ve just finished reading a great blog from someone in the wine trade – Give in order to receive” and have to agree with the sentiment. 

Charities have to give in order to receive – it doesn’t have to take a lot, nor does it have to be a lot – but giving back is necessary.

Next time when you’re looking to partner with a business, think about how you can give back. 

Receiving is a two way street – a two way affair.



Have a cuppa with your sponsors

You work hard to get sponsors / funders on board, you shout from rooftops how great it is to have them supporting your work – but it shouldn’t, or more to the point it mustn’t end there.

Sponsors and donors are not ATMs – they support organizations because they believe in the work that they do, organizations need to understand and acknowledge this.

When a sponsor comes onboard there’s normally a big shout out about how wonderful it is to have them on board, that their commitment will help in so many ways – you add their details to your website and maybe some other collateral. All done.

No. It’s not all done, sponsors need to – actually, no they must be kept informed of what your organization is doing, how their support is helping you make a difference in the work you do. When was the last time you invited sponsors into your organization to have a look at your project – if you haven’t invited people who would be covered, you must invite them; they have a need and right to know.

Remember too that sponsors have connections that can help help your organization go further, by nurturing your sponsors they can become ambassadors for your organization, they are more likely to talk to like-minded people about the work you do, your needs and as a result you could find yourself with more people wanting to help.

If you don’t acknowledge sponsors, if you don’t invite them to see your work, if you don’t keep them updated on your work; the chances that they will stay with you and speak favourably about your work becomes less likely.

Pick up the phone and call a sponsor today and ask them to come for morning tea and see your work firsthand – remember, it is them that are helping you make a difference.

Your Team – Remember there’s no “I” in Team

Having just read likeable business (Dave Kerpen – MC Graw-Hill) and specifically the chapter Team Player, I got to thinking about the culture in nonprofit organizations, having seen, been in and generally observed many nonprofits I got to thinking about how many are lead from the top down, with very little, if any input being sought from the team as to how things are done.

Some organizations have paid money for staff satisfaction surveys to find out what staff feel about the organization, why they work there, and general views about the way the organization is operated – only for the ‘findings’ to sit in a folder either on someones desk or computer. These surveys have been a waste of time and money, and quite likely they’ve negatively affected staff morale – with staff likely to have thought that their input would have been taken seriously and where possible changes made.

Organizations need to not only listen to the people they’re supporting, the wider community – but they must also listen to those working in the organization, those on the ground. Gone are the days when CEOs could operate an organization wielding a stick – this doesn’t work, CEOs need all the help, support and input they can get.

The culture of any organization is one of the most important jobs of any leader, however that culture has to come from throughout – it’s not something that can be forced on people from the top down. The culture of any organization is what those working in it make it to be.

As Lance Walker CEO of Loyalty New Zealand said in a recent article in Idealog “Leaders need to take a nurturing role to establish an environment where great cultures can develop from within the community of the people.”

People need to feel they are part of the organization, that their voice is heard – that they are part of the TEAM, not that they are merely carrying out the ‘orders’ of those higher up.

Any organization that doesn’t listen to, that doesn’t empower staff risk missing out on the potential for staff development and personal growth – this in time, will likely negatively impact on the organization.

When staff feel that what the have to say is being heard, morale of the organization will be higher than in an organization lead from the top down, can you organization afford not to listen to what staff have to say? Do you want to be part of an organization with low morale – and likely high staff turnover, no you don’t. Now is the time to work on the culture of your team/s, why not take some time out to hear what staff have to say, to listen to their suggestion and guide them into building and open team – don’t be afraid to invite staff to management meetings, their voice is important.

What will you do to empower staff, to help build an open supportive culture where staff feel they’re valued?

Any change will be change for the good. Don’t be afraid to try different things, leaders need to step outside their comfort zone sometimes.


Workshops – Social Media for Social Causes


Want to know how to connect, engage and encourage support for your organisation with social media, then this workshop is for you.

Everyone raves about the power of social media, but unless you know what you are doing it can seem like a challenge and too much work, this workshop will help you see that with the right tools and strategy you can make social media work for your cause.


Learn the best platforms to use for your organisation – is it, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+

  1. How to put together your social media strategy
  2. Get tips on how to ensure effectiveness of online activity
  3. Setting goals and measuring outcomes
  4. Come away with practical, instantly implementable tips on putting social media to work for your organisation

Places for the workshops will be limited, early registration is essential. 


Tauranga 12th Feb

Hotel Armitage

Wellington 21st Feb – Postponed


Hamilton 26th Feb

Bill Gallagher Centre – WINTEC

Christchurch 28th Feb


Auckland 5th March

Jubilee Centre, Parnell


9:00am to 12:30pm

Registration from 8:30am


$150 pp (incl GST)

Morning Tea is included

To register your interest in attending please email charitymattersnz@gmail.com

To register your place, email your details along with event you wish to attend. An invoice will be sent along with confirmation. Payment is due 7 days following the invoice.