Friday, October 21, 2011

Planning A Thank You Campaign

Cross-posted from our Squidoo page.

One of the most basic rules of etiquette is to say "thank you" when someone does something nice for you. The same rules apply for fundraising. Donors are more likely to give to your organization again if they sense that their contributions were noticed and appreciated. There are many ways to conduct a successful thank you campaign, including:

-Sending personalized e-mails or letters to donors after the gift is received. It's very important to avoid sending automatic responses to gifts. Donors will not appreciate this.

-Setting up a phone-a-thon. These can take a lot of work, but the effort is usually worth it. Some people consider phone calls more personal, so these can be very effective.

-Send shout-outs on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. Going online can combine the best of public praise and a personal contact.

-Create interactive thank you pages. These provide a more exciting and unique option than a traditional thank you note. Creativity is always appreciated!

-QR codes. These black-and-while graphics that look like bar codes can link people to a website using a smartphone.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NPT Jobs: For-Profit To Nonprofit: Making The Transition

Crossposted from NPT Jobs

It is common to see people from the for-profit world make jump to the nonprofit sector.  The ultimate goals of a nonprofit and a for-profit might be different, but their management styles have a lot in common.  That doesn't mean there aren't things that for-profit executives should keep in mind before switching their career paths.

Nonprofit hours aren't always the typical eight-hour workday.  "No big deal", you might be think, "I had to work overtime a lot at my last job."  We're talking about more than your normal overtime work here.  There are often special events like galas, telethons, or community service work that can extend to all hours of the day, including weekends.  Make sure to ask the kind of time commitment expected when you go in for an interview.

For-profit companies can have easy access to the things because of an abundance of money.  Nonprofits aren't the picture of poverty they are sometimes made out to be, but they do need to use the donor dollars they get effectively.  This can be a bit of an adjustment for employees who are used to having more resources at their disposal.  This might not be the case depending on the organization you choose to work for, but it's something to keep in mind.

There are other differences to consider when transitioning to the nonprofit sector, but these are the two biggest adaptations you will have to make.  Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments section below.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blackbaud Study: Giving Impacted By Summer Doldrums

A quick glance at the new Blackbaud Index shows what would appear to be promising news.  Overall charitable revenue grew 6.8 percent for the three months ending August 2011.  In addition, online giving increased 6.1 percent during the same period.  A closer look at the data reveals that the news isn't as pleasant as it seems. 

As Chuck Longfield, creator of The Blackbaud Index, explains in a new article on The NonProfit Times, giving slowed down considerably during the month of August.  This can be seen when the data is compared to what the Index showed in August 2010.  For example, the increase of 6.1 percent in online giving doesn't seem as impressive when it is compared to the 17.2 percent increase in 2010.

“Not surprisingly, it appears that our country’s continuing economic problems are once again weigh on donors’ checkbooks,” said Longfield. “Our data illustrates the challenges most nonprofits are likely facing as they try to achieve sustainable, consistent growth.”

For the full story on this topic, visit our website at

Senate Finance Committee Hearing To Focus On Charitable Giving Incentives

UPDATE: Please read our article about the hearing on our website.

Incentives for charitable giving will take center stage on Tuesday as the Senate Finance Committee continues hearings related to tax reform.

The hearing, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., will feature four speakers scheduled to testify: United Way Worldwide President and CEO Brian Gallagher; Eugene Steuerle of The Urban Institute; Elder Dallin Oaks of The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Frank Sammartino, assistant director for tax analysis at the Congressional Budget Office, and Roger Colinvaux, associate professor at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.

Senate Democrats last week replaced in the American Jobs Act (S. 1549) a cap on charitable deductions for the nation’s highest earners with a 5.6-percent surtax on millionaires. Coalitions of nonprofits have been lobbying lawmakers to preserve the cap on charitable deductions after it was introduced a fourth time by President Barack Obama as away to pay for his jobs bill.

Under the original proposal, put forward a fourth time by the Obama administration, tax deductions on charitable contributions – in addition to other deductions – would have been capped at 28 percent for taxpayers in the highest tax brackets, earning more than $250,000 annually. Currently, those deductions can be as high as 35 percent.

Maine Gov. Excludes Nonprofits From Jobs Workshop

Maine nonprofits want to know why Governor Paul LePage is excluding nonprofits from an upcoming jobs workshop.

According to an article in The Kennebec Journal, Brenda Peluso, executive director for the Maine Association of Nonprofits, sent a letter to the governor requesting to have a seat at one of his upcoming workshops.  She hoped it would give her an opportunity to talk about the obstacles nonprofits face when it comes to job creation.  What she got instead was a letter from LePage's secretary rejecting her request:

"Because the goal is to hear firsthand from businesses, first priority will be given to them with seating.  If the situation changes as the event nears, I would be happy to include you on an alternate list and contact you."
Nonprofits employ 82,000 people in Maine.  Only the retail industry employs more people, so Peluso thought it would have been appropriate for them to have a seat at the table.  In a statement given to The Journal, LePage's press secretary said the upcoming workshops were meant only for private enterprises, which he believes are the primary sources of job creation in Maine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How To Find New Donors Through Twitter

The rise of social media has given nonprofits another option to attract new donors.  Yet with so many of these websites out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is best to use.  Of all the options out there, Twitter presents an intriguing choice.  It's simple to set up and, if used properly, can quickly spread the word about your mission.

Our own Sam Fanburg attended the 2011 National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) back in September.  One of the many speakers he listened to was Eric Streiff, senior vice president at Douglas Shaw & Associates.  He explained how to best use Twitter to cultivate new donors:

* Engage -- Twitter can be great to gather information about what donors believe. Use the services to cultivate donors, prospects and friends.

* Pay Attention -- Spend time looking at what other people are talking about. Twitter is a place to create online buzz and tweets and re-tweets can help garner more supporters.

* Utilize Hashtags -- Use hashtags to try to get your cause to trend, or capitalize on other popular hashtags if they pertain to your organization. This is a very noisy, limited platform. Getting your organization noticed takes a lot of time and energy.

* SPAM -- Do not just send people endless tweets. As easy as it can be to cultivate and advocate, it is just as easy to turn someone off to your causes.

Wendy Spencer Appointed CEO Of Corporation For National And Community Service

When Patrick Corvington resigned as CEO of the Corporation For National And Community Service (CNCS) in April, the search was on for a replacement.  6 months later, that replacement has been found in Wendy Spencer.

Spencer, who was the CEO of the Governor's Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service in Florida, was nominated for the position yesterday by President Barack Obama.  She now must be approved by the U.S. Senate.  The CNCS engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.  The CNCS has been something of a punching bag for members of Congress, who have written legislation that appropriates $280 million for the agency, which has an overall budget of $1.09 million.

You can read the full story on Spencer's nomination, including reaction from key figures in the nonprofit sector, over on our website.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Milwaukee Nonprofits Cashed In On Brewers' Playoff Run

The Milwaukee Brewers' playoff run might be over--they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 12-6 in game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) on Sunday--but nonprofits were sure to cash in while the good times lasted.

According to an article in The Journal Sentinel, Sportservice, which runs the concession stands at Brewers home games, had a deal with local nonprofit groups that allowed their employees to work at the stands for a cut of the revenues.  The groups that sent employees to work there would earn 10 percent of the sales.  Sportservice has been working with Milwaukee nonprofits since the '90s, and groups have bought in a ton of money from it.  According to the article, one group raised $50,000 in a year.  Deals like this take place across the country, though it's usually in the minor leagues.

With the Brewers making their longest playoff run since 1982, when they reached the World Series, nonprofits were able to make more money than they might have during a normal year.  Unfortunately for nonprofits and Brewers fans, baseball in Wisconsin will be on hold until 2012.

Nonprofit Management Tip: Moving To The Next Stage Of Your Career

Turnover is a big part of jobs these days.  Whereas it was not uncommon for people to stick with their work for 20+ years in the past, these days the average stay at a job is much shorter.  With more people moving on from their careers, how can you distinguish yourself from the past?  The NonProfit Times just put up a new management tip about that very topic:

* Find Your Passion: Sit down and figure out your best attributes. Test your list with a trusted friend, along with a trusted co-worker.

* Create A List: Use the list to describe your accomplishments; challenges you’ve faced; and, experiences you want to have during your career.

* Elevator Speech: Prepare a short speech that encapsulates your experiences and advantages. These types of speeches should last 30 seconds.

* Where Will You Go?: Outline ins and outs to your work. Do you want to be involved in fundraising or do a little of everything? Do you want to work in a small shop or big shop? These are all questions you should be asking yourself.

Want to learn more about professional development?  Check out our devoted page on that topic for even more tips.