Charity Events, Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The pitfalls I hear you say. It’s true not all charity events run smoothly, there can be numerous hiccups on the way to staging an event.

Getting passed these can be a struggle, but you can get passed them.

When it comes to an event, an organisation can spend months planning what they will do, why they will do it and promote, then stage the event. It’s something that can create a lot of stress and frustration.

Making sure you have a strong event planner is a must, don’t start anything until you have sat and brainstormed the event, what will be needed, possible partners and the outcomes you want from the event. If you don’t do this you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

I’ve seen organisations plan an event, when I say plan, I mean they dream up the idea of an event, contact a few supporters then send out emails inviting people to come along. There’s been little or no planning, then after the event (or maybe days before) the organisation panics, it hasn’t met the ”goals” of the event, income has been lower than expected and costs have soared. All of this could have been avoided, if proper planning had been undertaken.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of planning, but more about some areas that should be taken into consideration:

Venue, is this easily accesible, have you considered where guests will be able to park?

Catering, know your supplier and don’t just accept the first price they quote, can the sharpen the pencil and offer you a better deal if ”billed” as a sponsor?

Invitees, who are you going to invite, when was the last time these people supported your work? Don’t forget to get your Board involved in the invitation process, they may be able to tap into their business networks to help with sales to the event.

Auction, will you be holding one, will it be a live or silent auction? Gaining items to sell can be a massive task in itself, have someone dedicated to doing this; don’t dump this onto someone who already has a lot to do.

Pull the Plug, have something in your plan to monitor ticket sales and know when you will be to pull the plug. There’s nothing worse than having too few people attend and have the even run at a loss.

Timing, when will you hold the event, weekends don’t always work, nor do times leading up to holidays or other major activities in the community. As part of your planning do some research into what is already being planned in your area before setting your date.

So, before you mark on the calendar when your event will be, before you name your event; sit down with your colleagues, and perhaps a supporter or two and brainstorm your event. You need to plan the planning of any event if you want it to be a success.

Happy planning.

What Are You Expecting?

I’ve been hearing from some organisations that they are expecting a lower level of donations from the public this year.

A scarey thought considering many organisations rely on the kindness and generosity of Mr & Mrs Public to ensure they’re able to deliver the services their organisation is established for.

Sure, organisations do have the ability to apply for funding through lottery, other charity organisations and of course their current support base. But, if there’s a downturn in support from the general public this can have a big impact on the organisations ability to carry out what it is there for.

More often than not when income falls below expectation it means cuts have to be made, sure there are overheads that could possibly be trimmed back, but when it comes to cutting back on service delivery this has a wider reaching impact.

How many organisations have a contingency plan should something go haywire with annual funding projections? I’ve worked with a number that at one point looked as though they were flying by the seat of their pants and had no contingency plans in place. They’d just do what they could with what they had, and didn’t seem at all concerned about the clients they were they for missing out. Now they know the importance of a backup plan.

When you are doing your annual planning, do you look at what you would do should you find yourself with a drop off in regular giving? Any drop in regular giving can make a huge difference, so organisations should be factorying this into their annual budget planning – do you?

Will You be Around in Five Years?

Now’s a good time to be thinking about the year in review, and as part of that, think about if you will be still be here in five years. Some won’t but that is possibly because they have done what they set out to do, others will be struggling.

Although almost a year old, “3 REASONS WHY YOUR NONPROFIT WON’T EXIST IN FIVE YEARS & WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT” from Strategy Lab is well worth a read.

As you read it, think about you and your organisation.

See also:

Are You Stale – Have you Stagnated?

Do you feel your organisation is struggling to grow support as a result of stagnation?

You’re still striving to grow your supporter base, you’re segmenting your database to make the most of what you have already; yet nothing changes, no growth in support either by the number of supporters or amounts able to be raised?  … continue reading

Spray and Walk Away – Wrong

Much of the giving done by businesses isn’t planned, it is in the main part just giving as approached with no clear direction, no commitment for the long haul.

Businesses seem to use the “Spray and Walk Away” approach; quite possibly as a quick way to give back but with little thought about how they could be doing more with the same amount of support.

Business giving can build stronger communities, and it’s in this vane of thinking that business should give strategically – but before any business gives it would make sense to encourage input from internal stakeholders – employees should be part of the decision making process.

With strategic giving, a business could do more with their charitable contributions. Instead of $50 here and there, a business could combine their annual giving “budget” to make one or several larger contributions that could well do more for the organisation/s.

When a business gives lots of smaller amounts, they are doing good, but could be doing more (and do it better) if they sat down and spent some time to evaluate where their charitable passions lie.

Any business needs to be strategic with their business giving, and we need to all remember that not all business giving is truly just because it is the right thing to do, a lot of business giving is strategic in that it’s aimed to also satisfy business needs – it’s planned.

Some, not all businesses, give as a way to promote the business, to gain new business opportunities and to be seen as being philanthropic.

No matter why a business gives, it is important to think how it can give in a better, more targeted way.

Make a decision where you want to give

Do you wan to give locally, nationally or internationally

What age group, younger customers and staff could mean a youth based organisation

Staff, have you had staff affected by something

Ask, ask, ask – your staff and customers should all be part of the decision making process. Think Z with their “token campaigns

Shortlist

Create a list of organisations that best match your criteria

Talk with your shortlisted organisations about what you can best do for them

Again, talk with your staff about the shortlisted organisations – are your staff still onboard?

Be part of it

Want to make in impact – show it

Don’t just make staff attend – get involved yourself

Think that t-shirt is too much for you – think again – lead from the outset.

 

If you’re still unsure about how you are best to give – talk to others in your industry, talk to more clients – you will find the right match, often it’s staring people in the face.

Tele-Fundraising isn’t Dead

Tele-Fundraising isn’t Dead

Recently I’ve heard people say “fundraising on the phone is irrelevant” “tele-fundraising isn’t needed today.”

Tele-fundraising is still relevant and is needed today, it should be part of your fundraising plan, it is also, or should be seen as a way to measure what people think about your organisation.

This article 3 Ways Fundraisers Can Leverage Telemarketing is a good read, if you are doubting the effectiveness, relevance of fundraising it will help you see that it still has a place in your fundraising arsenal.

If you only read the 3 ways the tele-fundraising can be used – do it …

  1. Message matters. Telemarketing is made for urgency. Nothing says “this is really important right now” quite like calling someone and saying those very words. Be specific, be timely and update the script as many times as it takes to keep the pitch as urgent as possible.
  2. Listen to the donors. A phone call can be a mini-focus group, giving an organization the opportunity to make the message work in the most compelling way possible. Take what you learn on the phone and apply it to other channels.
  3. No channel is an island. The value of telemarketing goes beyond the revenue raised on the phone. Receiving a phone call increases a donor’s likelihood to give a gift via mail or online by 20 percent over the next 30 days, even if the call results in a refusal. Bolster a call’s performance by integrating a pre-call email or a post-call pledge follow-up, making the approach truly multichannel.

 

Are there other ways you see tele-fundraising as beneficial to your organisation – please share in comments below.

See also:

ASKphobia – A Great Term

It’s not you they’re turning down

Tele-fundraising Tips

Fundraisng – Planning is Needed

Why you suck at fundraising

 

What are your plans for 2014

What are your plans for 2014

I originally wrote this in 2011 after writing What are your plans for 2011 for Socialize Your Cause which was more about what plans charities and non-profits could be doing to help them plan for 2011.

I’ve updated this as the New Year fast approaches. Let’s look at what we as individuals are planning, or could do this year to help others in the community.

There’s many options for us when it comes to charity giving, in New Zealand alone we close on 27,000 registered charities looking for support; this doesn’t count the number of community organisations not registered with Charities Services that are also looking for support. But, being Kiwis we are generous and support many activities, people and organisations in the community.

So, where do we begin when looking at who, what and when to support? I guess one of the things we could do is look at why we support

Perhaps we should look at Not-for-profit – Giving Survey Results and how we handle charity requests both of which give an insight into what and why we support.

If you’re working with/for a non-profit, it’s important to have your plans laid out – spend the time, see it as an investment.

For those in the community that support non-profits, it’s not a bad idea to spend time thinking about your contributions, who and what you give to, the frequency, the amount of money or time given; are there things you want to do differently?

There have been stories over the years of families who sit down, and as a group decide what non-profit/s they will support, how they will do it. Some opt to give any money they would spend as a family on a holiday to a cause in their local community; others will put any money normally spent on children’s birthday parties to causes that benefit children.

No matter what or how you’re able to give – as part of your planning for the year ahead, grab a pad and pen and note what you’re wanting to achieve through your charitable giving.

We plan almost everything in our lives, so why not our giving?

Who or what will you support in 2014?

How will you support organizations in your community?

What if anything are your expectations in return for the support you give?

As a company will you involve your staff in the decision making of what causes/s the company will support?

Can you introduce the cause/s you support to others in your family, circle of friends, business or community associations?

All these and more questions will help you with your charity giving plans for the coming year … so, pick up that pen and paper and start your planning now!

What are your plans for 2014

What are your plans for 2014

I originally wrote this in 2011 after writing What are your plans for 2011 for Socialize Your Cause which was more about what plans charities and non-profits could be doing to help them plan for 2011.

I’ve updated this as the New Year fast approaches. Let’s look at what we as individuals are planning, or could do this year to help others in the community.

There’s many options for us when it comes to charity giving, in New Zealand alone we close on 27,000 registered charities looking for support; this doesn’t count the number of community organisations not registered with Charities Services that are also looking for support. But, being Kiwis we are generous and support many activities, people and organisations in the community.

So, where do we begin when looking at who, what and when to support? I guess one of the things we could do is look at why we support

Perhaps we should look at Not-for-profit – Giving Survey Results and how we handle charity requests both of which give an insight into what and why we support.

If you’re working with/for a non-profit, it’s important to have your plans laid out – spend the time, see it as an investment.

For those in the community that support non-profits, it’s not a bad idea to spend time thinking about your contributions, who and what you give to, the frequency, the amount of money or time given; are there things you want to do differently?

There have been stories over the years of families who sit down, and as a group decide what non-profit/s they will support, how they will do it. Some opt to give any money they would spend as a family on a holiday to a cause in their local community; others will put any money normally spent on children’s birthday parties to causes that benefit children.

No matter what or how you’re able to give – as part of your planning for the year ahead, grab a pad and pen and note what you’re wanting to achieve through your charitable giving.

We plan almost everything in our lives, so why not our giving?

Who or what will you support in 2014?

How will you support organizations in your community?

What if anything are your expectations in return for the support you give?

As a company will you involve your staff in the decision making of what causes/s the company will support?

Can you introduce the cause/s you support to others in your family, circle of friends, business or community associations?

All these and more questions will help you with your charity giving plans for the coming year … so, pick up that pen and paper and start your planning now!

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.

Take your planning offsite

Having worked with a number of organizations on their annual planning, something I’ve noticed is those who take their planning offsite are more productive – the simple reason, no distraction which equals focus on the task at hand.

If you’re thinking of setting time aside for your future planning, looking at where you’re going, what you need to get there – then get away from your office; you’ll thank yourself for doing it.
When we’re working on plans in our normal work environment the chances are the phone will ring, we get distracted by emails and of course by “interruptions” from staff. How can this be any good for the task at hand, it surely can’t be.
Not only are we faced with distractions (caused by others) but we can also find our minds wandering away from the task at hand. Because we’re in our usual work environment we are aware of other things around us that need doing and our mind can easily slip away to thoughts about how these can be achieved.
Stop the opportunity of being distracted dead in it’s tracks by simply getting away from the office, find a neutral place you can work from; your home isn’t likely to be that – there’s distractions there too. 
If there’s a team of you, and hopefully there’s more than just yourself, look at hiring a small meeting or conference room – forget that this might cost you a hundred dollars or so, see it as an investment rather than a cost.  The added productivity that you’ll gain from being away from the office will soon outweigh any costs of a meeting room. 
Something that’s also important is to let all staff know that you are away from the office and not contactable, there’s always someone else who can handle those “urgent calls”, “urgent emails” – you don’t have to, and should there be any need for you to be contacted have one person in your office who will gather any information and call you, you don’t want everyone calling.
If at all possible phones and other internet capable devices should be switched off and only activated when you’re having a break, the only exception to this is for “those” calls from that one person in your office – so if at all possible suggest that they can only contact you when you know you will be having a break from planning. 
It’s a no brainer really, we call know that in our personal lives when we want to get something done we need to switch off from external distractions, and the same goes for your work life, to get to the end of your daily “to do list” you need focus and as minimal distraction as possible. 
So next time you’re planning to set time aside to plan – look for a venue, advise staff that you’re not to be disturbed and should they need you they’re to let your ‘contact person’ know – maybe that person can handle any queries/requests without you having to be disturbed.
Whatelse can you do to make sure your day is productive? If you have Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions drop a them in the comments below.

 

Disconnect and Get Stuck In

The last couple of days has seen me hunkered down with the Board of a community organization working on their end-of-year appeal campaign, what’s been different about this planning period is that we’ve been disconnected from the outside world.

I got called in at the 11th hour to assist as the Board had been running round in circles trying to get the planning done, but were constantly getting interrupted, or more accurately were allowing themselves to become distracted.

Sometimes it pays to disconnect, to turn off the mobile phone, shut the internet down and focus on the task at hand.

On day one of the planning session I suggested we work away from the office, that staff were instructed not to interrupt us unless it was critical – one mobile phone was allocated for any such call.

All mobiles were put aside, the wireless internet shut down and out came to the whiteboard.

After only a few hours we had the core of the campaign sorted, we had established the “Wish List” – what was needed, why it was needed, from this we worked on who we could approach immediately to help tick items off the “Wish List”. Soon, a shortlist of potential donors, new and current, was drawn up along with a task list – who would do what, who would be responsible for keeping the ball rolling.

Day Two and we had all email promotion content sorted, a series of media releases were prepared and content update to the organizations website was ‘signed off’.

All this took about 20 hours, whereas prior to the planning days more than 60 hours had been spent on the planning for the campaign, with little movement made on the path to take – interruptions were the main reasons cited for the lack of progress.

Not only were we able to complete the end-of-year campaign planning, but we also managed to start the planning for a supporter get together, something that hadn’t been held in more than 5 years.

Getting away from it all – disconnecting and getting stuck into to tasks with little or no interruptions really works; if you’re struggling to get traction – disconnect and get stuck in, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how much you can achieve.

Do you shut yourself away to get tasks done- if not what’s holding you back from doing it?