Supporter Communications

Before you send something to your supporters do you categorize who will receive what, or do you simply send the same communications to everyone on your database.

All too often supporters receive communications which are irrelevant, such as a thank you for previous supports etc.; but often the recipient may not have supported in a number of years.

For example, I received an email from an organisation thanking me for my support last year and asking if I would continue my support this year and take part in a volunteer event as well.

I hadn’t supported the organisation in over five years, as I was disillusioned in the manner in which they operate and the fact they didn’t offer updates on work they had undertaken, all they did was ask for more support.

So, receiving their email made me think even less of them, to me it showed they had little regard for the people who do support them.

Before you start your next email campaign, take time to check your supporter status and remove those who have said they don’t want to support anymore, including them will only alienate them further.

Your supporter database should have the ability to add filters so as to ensure the right people receiving the right communications at the right time.

Send the right information to the right people at the right time and you will have a better chance of favourable responses and ongoing support.

Sponsorship – Answering the questions

The way the economy has been for the last few years (although it is seen to be improving) has seen many nonprofits missing out on sponsorship dollars; now is the time to look at how to work toward re-gaining sponsorship for your nonprofit.

As we know sponsors look for value for their sponsorship spend; as we know all sponsors are being more cautious, and are looking for ways to garner more return from their participation.

The old days of simply approaching a business and asking for sponsorship has gone; there’s a real need now to be able to fully demonstrate where the sponsors money will go, how it will be managed, who will benefit and what the medium to long term results of their giving will be.

Before you embark on seeking sponsorship it’s a good idea do a stock take; check that you have everything in order and can answer the questions potential sponsors are likely to ask of you.

Setup a check list, ask yourselves these questions:

  • What are your organization’s demographics?
  • Who participates with your organization and why?
  • Where are the people you help? Where do they live, work and play?
  • Are the people you work with single, married, young, old, families?
  • What corporate sponsors have you worked with, had before?
  •  What income generating ideas have you used in the past, how were these realised and what were the benefits to your organisation? Can any of these be used to help promote your sponsors?
  • Do you have testimonials from corporate sponsors attesting to the value of your organization?
  • What is your marketing/communication process like; do you have methods to keep in touch with those your organisation works with as well as with supporters? If so what do you use? (e.g. newsletters, emails etc)
  • Are you monitoring what other organisations offering the same or similar services as you getting in the way of sponsorship?
  • Do you promote, talk about your sponsors? If so how? If not how will you change this to ensure your sponsors are acknowledging them for their support?
  • What marketing materials do you use, and will you make an effort to feature your sponsors in all marketing and communications processes?
  • Do you talk to the media about your sponsors?
  • Are there opportunities for you to help current and prospective sponsors to work together, to help them do business with each other?

By answering these questions you will have be better prepared to be able to approach and answer the ‘hard’ questions today’s sponsors want answered. There will be other questions, they will want answered, you will need to be ready for any that you may not have thought of.

If you approach sponsors having the answers to their questions before you even get started you will be on a better footing to gain their support.

Remember, most sponsors will want to know ‘what’s in it for them’.

Business Giving

Do organisations focus too much on cash donations from businesses, event though many businesses, large and small, give mostly in other ways?

Many large businesses have formal giving plans and structures, they quite likely have various ways they give, giving staff time off to volunteer, legal or accounting consulting, HR services; and many more.

If we asked around, the majority of businesses who support community organisations, would say they do it because they see it as the right thing to do.

Most business giving, small to medium, could be seen as ad-hoc, given we see larger firms as organised in their giving; with the smaller businesses there appears to be no system, strategy, rationale, or strategic way in their giving.

Often I hear stories about how an organisation has approached a business and asked for X dollars; and what it would mean to the organisation, and then who go onto explain how they can help the business in return.

What these organisations may not realise is that some businesses, not all, don’t always want to be seen as “giving” – seeing any use of their giving as a PR or Marketing ruse as boasting, something they don’t want to be seen doing. They want to do it for the “right” reason.

Perhaps it’s time for organisations to realise that they need to have some understanding about the business they are approaching, and what they may or may not want in return for support. Maybe waiting until the business says, “what’s in it for us?”

When looking at business support, it’s best to do your research, and also understand that many businesses don’t have a charitable giving strategy; make it easy and have a strategy, other than “PR” focussed that will help them make the decision to support you.

What has your experience been in securing business support recently?

As a business what drives you to support?

See also:

Why do business support events?

Business partnering is a two way affair

Increase Your Revenue From Your Donors

Public Perception of Charities

Often we hear (still) about people having concerns about charities, especially around whether an organisation is genuine, that it’s being managed appropriately and that funds are being used for what they’re intended.

Even if a single person has concerns about an organisation and raises this in a public way, either just with friends or on their social media pages it can have an impact on the sector as a whole, but more importantly on that one individual charity they are “speaking” about.

One of the often cited issues people have is the level of remuneration of those running an organisation, as well as the costs associated with running the organisation in general.

People don’t always appreciate that having the right people at the helm can require a higher than expected remuneration package; with people thinking why should I give to an organisation where the CEO etc. are earning more than them.

Organisations are constantly looking for ways to keep their costs down, using volunteers and networks to source resources and funds that can be used to help generate additional income at little or no cost to the organisation.

Listen to what donors and potential supporters ask when being approached for donations; often they’ll ask “how much of my donation will get to where it’s needed?” or, “what percentage of my donation is absorbed in operational costs?”

We all know it takes money to run an organisation, what needs to happen is for organisations to simply show how money is being used, this could be included in updates to supporters and, on organisations websites.

Supporters (in New Zealand) are able to readily access financial information about any registered charity through the Charity Services website. The information available shows (in most cases) the cost of fundraising, total salaries and a myriad of other information. Organisations need to not expect supporters to go searching, they need to be more open and make this information readily available, either in its entirety or in graph form to demonstrate that funds are being used appropriately and in doing so make it easier for people to make the decision to support.

Supporters in New Zealand have a wide choice of organisations they can support, with in excess of 27,000 registered charities, that’s about one registered charity for every 162 per person. By making information more readily available your organisation could see new supporters coming on board with little effort needed on your part; all you need to do is be transparent.

With reports such as Public trust and confidence in charities being published it’s time for organisations to spend time to look at themselves and see if they are meeting the expectations of the public.

So, before you start your next fundraising drive, make information your supporters (current and potential) need to make the decision to support easily accessible, demonstrate that you are using funds prudently.

Are you sharing the information people want, or just showing them what you want them to see?

As a supporter, do you want to know your money is being used appropriately before supporting or continuing support?

See also
Fundraising Costs

Being an Open Book

Increase Your Revenue from Your Donors

To Incentivise or Not

When is a charity a charity

Money isn’t Everything

Public trust and Confidence in Charities (Survey Results)