Engaging your Board in Fundraising

I’ve talked before about the importance of having those on the Board actively participating in all areas of the work of an organisation, including fundraising.

This post from the Sponsorship Collective covers it again, and is worth reading. In it, as I have said before, Board members usually have good business or friend contacts that can be tapped into to help an organisation raise funds and grow.

The post also talks about trust, ”Lack of trust has got to be one of the main reasons why Boards don’t donate and do not bring you their networks. 

Boards, understandably want to protect their friends, associates and other contacts from being treated badly. They may even have been burned before, having taken the chance to make an introduction to a contact and then find that the contact has not been treated well by the charity.  So help them to feel that they can trust you, but also in the charity, by demonstrating that you understand the process, that you won’t mistreat their friends and business associates and that you have impact in a cause that they care about.”

This is something I have had to deal with, I have introduced organisations to contacts, only to have the people call and tell me not to do it again as they felt pressured to support and also felt that the organisation wasn’t being upfront, they said in referring people I should know more about how they would present themselves. Since then I am more cautious, but I do use my connections where I feel there is a good fit.

Have a read of the full article and take on board some of the points it raises.

Are you ready to change?

To see organisations doing the same thing day in day out to gain funding can be frustrating. Especially when you know they could do better and more if they adapted their fundraising methods.

If you keep doing the same thing and getting the same results, why bother repeating the action, it’s pointless, a waste of time and resources.

Organisations need to adapt.

If your direct mail campaign isn’t working as well as expected, adapt it, hopefully you have done a “market test” before launching the campaign and have allowed for tweaks.

If your telephone campaign isn’t working, why? The people making the calls will have market intelligence that they should be encouraged to share. Is it that they’re calling the wrong area, has something happened that’s drawing donors away (a disaster, humanitarian crisis).

Has you email campaign not gained the hits you would have expected? Again, did you test the campaign with a sample of your database before hitting send to your entire database?

It’s important that all campaigns are tested, not just internally, but more so externally. It’s your market that matters, not only what you and your team think.

How much time and effort are you putting into campaigns that could go belly up if you’ve got it wrong?
Be ready to adapt, have something up your sleeve “just in case”.

Be ready to change the subject line of your email campaign if you’re not getting the hits you would expect.

Likewise, be prepared to send the email at different times/days. And, yes, keep records of what does and doesn’t work.

If your phone campaign isn’t hitting the mark, is it the time you’re calling, change your calling times. And, as much as people hate it, don’t forget Saturdays can be a great calling day.

Before you hit go on any campaign, have an alternative plan, be ready, be adaptable and monitor, monitor, monitor.

Be ready to change, to adapt to any situation, perhaps even end your campaign early if need be.

When someone supports give a quick call and ask them why they have supported – yes thank them too.

Perhaps you have a supporter who has donated previously, but not on this occasion; give them a call and ask why.

This type of intelligence gathering is important, and should be done every campaign, no matter what.

So, in the planning sessions you have for your next campaign, allow for people to call delinquent donors and ask why, and call new donors too (you should be doing this anyway), and thank them, but find out why they are supporting.

Good luck out there, remember there’s lots of competition for the charity dollar.

How do you assess the value of your sponsorship offer?

Have been reading quite of lot on Infinity Sponsorship lately, and this post caught my eye as something that that merits sharing …

How to assess the value of your sponsorship offering

Abby Clemence, Managing Director of Infinity Sponsorship addresses some questions from non-profit sponsorship seekers in an attempt to unravel some of the complexities involved in assessing the value of sponsorship.

    1. When a not-for-profit organisation is seeking to engage a sponsorship partner, what is the best way to go about valuing their service, program, event or organisation prior to approaching a company or brand?

Sponsorship is a people business, which means in order to give yourself the best chance of success; you need to create a relationship with a company before you ask them for their investment.

Working out the value of your offering is probably the trickiest part of the sponsorship seeking process.  There are no hard and fast rules, and no widely upheld benchmark or central repository of information where sponsorship seekers can go to draw comparisons and contrasts to gauge the value of what they have to offer a sponsor.

Fortunately, or unfortunately this is the intrinsic nature of ‘partnership’ – a fantastic opportunity to create bespoke offerings that create win-win-win situations.  You win because your organisation receives much-needed funds, your corporate partner wins because they gain access to a previously untapped market and your supporters win because they receive greater benefits and services as a result of their alliance with you.

Continue reading here

Business Support

It’s estimated that business donations account for six percent of the donations some non-profits receive.

If this is the case then the question must be asked “how much time and energy is being used to reach and nurture this group?”

Is the time you’re putting into gaining business support being used wisely?

If residential – general support if the main income source for non-profits, wouldn’t it pay to spend more time gaining and nurturing this sector?

There are non-profits who are spending at least one third of their time concentrating on gaining business support, time they would be better off spending maintaining and growing the other support they already have.

If a stationary store knew that they were spending too much time growing one section of their product range, with little or no tangible result; they would stop and instead grow the area/s that they know they are making a profit from.

Non-profits should be doing the same.

When was the last time you reviewed where your support was coming from and what adjustments did you make in your focus in maintaining and gaining support?

I’d be keen to hear your views on this … leave a comment below.

Business Partnerships

When looking at business support, sponsorship or any other form of “partnership” – remember it’s that, a partnership.

This article from Rob Wu on the The CauseVox Blog makes for interesting reading, and has some great pointers.
Working with Partners & Brands

There’s power in partnerships.

When you work together, you can create something bigger and more successful than if you just worked alone.

Let’s find out the two major types of partnerships that you should be leveraging.

Two types of partners

Resource partners

Resource partners are those who can provide the resources necessary for your fundraising campaign. Typically resource partners are companies, foundations, and major donors.

Common examples of resource partners can include…

Promotion partners

Promotion partners are those who can help you raise awareness. This helps you reach new networks of potential supporters and donors.  Typically promotion partners are companies and brands.

Common examples of promotion partners can include…

  • Point of sale donation
  • Website advertising
  • Google Adwords for nonprofits

Read full post here

Executive Success: Company oils wheels of charity

When the charity her business was supporting kept emailing to ask who she was, Sarah Townsend knew it was time to make some changes.

Townsend loved the ethos behind the environmental charity 1% for the Planet, which seemed to be a natural fit for The Aromatherapy Company, the home fragrance brand she co-founded 25 years ago.

But to the well-resourced New York organisation, The Aromatherapy Company was just a very small dot in a very big world, says Townsend.

“I think they do a fantastic job but they didn’t even know who we were or what we were doing so I just sort of felt that really we could manage the 1 per cent better within our own community.” She looked around for a local equivalent, but struggled to find a strong organisation with good infrastructure that wasn’t already well supported.

Read full article on NZHerald

Do You Know the Numbers

All fundraising is a numbers game, whether it’s tele-fundraising, email, direct mail, face-to-face; it’s all a matter of numbers.

When we look at tele-fundraising, it could be that one in fifty called may give; face-to-face maybe higher, and direct approaches through other means may differ again.

What is important is an understanding of how many, and what type, of approaches is working for you.

To know what your pipeline is, you need to have some knowledge of:

  • How much you’re needing to raise – a finite figure is better than “what ever we can get”
  • What your current “hit rate” is … approaches v donations = hit rate
  • How many approaches to reach hit rate

If you have no idea of what this is, how can you successfully plan a fundraising campaign?

In the business world if you ask most salespeople about the quality of contacts others make for them; you’d likely probably that they are only suspects, probables.

It’s no different when it comes to fundraising:

  • Suspect – anyone on your database
  • Prospect – people know to support
  • Lead – someone ready to consider giving
  • Opportunity – someone wanting give – here and now

It’s important to understand each “category” and to also understand and monitor what it is taking you to reach a favourable outcome, a commitment.

Success shouldn’t be measured solely on the level of funding received, measure it on all outcomes; how many approaches against level of support received.

Watch and observe that the more refined your approaches let lower the number of approaches needed.

This doesn’t mean you need to reduce the number of contacts you have, it’s all about the right approach to the right people at the right time.

How well can you define your contact list – if you don’t have the ability to segment to capture the right people at the right time; you could be missing out.

Is your Sponsor the Right Fit?

When seeking sponsors from the business community, do you simply target all and sundry, or do you ensure those you’re considering are the right fit and appropriate to your cause?

Appropriate, as in alcohol and youth – isn’t a right fit, or fast food, aka KFC and health may not be an appropriate fit.

Sure, not all companies that offer to sponsor and organisation will want, or expect, their name up in lights; but the majority will want some form of recognition for the support they have given.

It’s this group that we should look at to ensure that they are the right fit; that they aren’t going to detract from the good work of the organisation; or leave a bad taste in the mouths of other supporters and, potentially the people the charity is aiming to assist.

There is a potential risk that one sponsor could cause the loss of other sponsors who may not wish to be seen to beside the other.

This is where a sponsorship plan and “rule book” is needed, and it should outline the types of business (and individuals) that an organisation will approach for support; what the sponsor may receive in return for their contribution and other facets of how sponsorship with be governed.

We see almost every school term children and their parents with boxes of chocolates trying to raise funds for school or extra-curricular activities. There has been discussion around this for some time; there’s pros and cons to this type of fundraising. And, yes the money these types of activities bring are greatly needed. But surely there’s a healthier way.

For example; recently Valerie Adams and Malcolm Rands of the ecostore featured in articles with a soap alternative to chocolate being used as school fundraisers; it seems a great way for fundraising without any health risks etc.

Yes, it is accepted that there will be occasions when an organisation will have no other alternative but to accept support from a company that perhaps could be seen as “inappropriate” – e.g. petrol companies, seen as being environmentally “bad”; but necessary for an organisation to reduce costs  by receiving free or cheap fuel.

But, where possible it’s important that there are no real or perceived negative connotations when accepting sponsorships. It’s important for your brand and, the sponsors brand that everything fits properly with any sponsorship type relationship.

See also:

Business partnering is a two way affair

What Drives Business Sponsorship?

Sponsorship – Answering the questions

Business Giving

Don’t just answer the immediate question

How often do you get asked, or how often have you made an enquiry to an organisation or business about the services they provide and how you can help them or they help you – only to get a stock answer, nothing specific and nothing that actually invites you to want to ‘do business’.

By only answering the immediate query there’s a chance that an opportunity for more dialogue to be lost; there’s often something deeper to why people ask questions, it could be that they want to do business, that they need your help or that they want to help you.

Unless all communications include the opportunity for further discussion – the door is closed, don’t be the one closing the door.

If you have a potential supporter contact you about the work you do, don’t just answer that question – answer it, then add additional information that may not be immediately available, perhaps you’ve recently done something that you could share – if so do it.

You should also be giving the person more reason as to why their support is important – do you have a new project that you could tell them about?

Before hitting send and signing off the response – STOP – have you asked them if there’s anything you can do to help them make the decision, the commitment to support you?

Don’t leave it for them to have to do all the work, you have to put your thinking cap on and find a way to keep engaging with them, to build the environment for them to decide you’re the right fit for the support they would like to give an organisation.

Do you answer only the immediate questions, if so why – and will you look at changing how you handle all enquiries?

What Drives Business Sponsorship?

When approaching any business for support, it pays to know why business supports charity. Without this knowledge you don’t have the market intelligence to enable you to form the right “pitch”.

Businesses don’t always give because it’s the right thing to do, they have other motivators, often what fundraisers think is the reason isn’t.

Some reasons why business may sponsor:

  • Brand Image
  • Attract Business
  • Building connections/communities
  • Client Entertainment
  • Social Responsibility

We all hope that business support is because they want to make a difference, and yes, many do. But not all give because it’s right thing to do.

Knowing why a business may support you is important, if you know why you can pitch them in their language, their reason for why they should support you.

If you know a business is likely to support because they’ll have the opportunity to entertain clients, maybe you can weave this into your pitch. If they may give because of the types of others who will be at an event, then use this to your advantage.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are asking for charitable reasons and that you need their help – not the other way around.

Some companies may support solely for the PR standpoint, are these the types of business you want supporting you? Or, would you sooner have a business support you for what you stand for, for what you do?

Can business sponsorship be more than simply monetary?

What types of business do you prefer to have support you – those who write out a cheque, or those who will also roll up their sleeves and help out?

What’s some of the main reasons you’re finding businesses are supporting your cause?

What’s some of the strangest requests you’ve had from business sponsors?

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