Friday, September 21, 2012

Are You Ready For A Capital Campaign?

Pop quiz: What do you think is the most common error nonprofits make during capital campaigns? If you answered "not being prepared enough" then, congratulations, you are absolutely correct.

The fact of the matter is, as M. Jane Williams wrote in her book "Big Gifts," too many nonprofit managers view capital campaigns not as a compliment to their fundraising, but as the answer to all of their problems. As a result, they tend to rush into them before they have a clear idea of what they want to do. Capital campaigns can be a big boost to an organization, but only when they are done correctly.

Williams went on to explain that only nonprofits that already have well-run development programs and a successful track record of major gifts should attempt capital campaigns; but that's only one aspect that will test an organization's readiness. Williams listed these 10 other questions that you must answer “yes” to before beginning:

  • Does your organization really know itself and its aims?
  • Is there a history of philanthropic support for the organization?
  • Is your organization seen as a positive and necessary asset to its community or constituency?
  • Is there agreement among board members and staff that the cause is worthwhile? 
  • Will they give time and funds to the effort?
  • Is your case for support valid and salable?
  • Do you have the leadership to make the campaign work?
  • Do you have an active prospect cultivation program?
  • Can you identify at least 50 to 100 prospects in a substantial gift range and a loyal giving constituency below that level?
  • Can you obtain one gift that is at least one-tenth of the total campaign goal?
  • Do you know who the campaign chairman should be? Will he or she accept this role?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Boosting The Effectiveness Of Your Nonprofit's Annual Funds

There is no question that annual giving from donors is the lifeblood of a nonprofit's fiscal health, so it would seem to make no sense to try and improve on it. But according to Aileen Meyer, there are plenty of ways you can boost the effectiveness of an organization's annual funds.

Speaking at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference in Chicago, Meyer, director of development at Lourdes College, recommended three tips that will take your annual funds to the next level:

  • Using data and analytics, nonprofits can help you tangibly understand where to focus the efforts of your annual fund program. Some key areas to focus in are, your return on investment (ROI), donor segment trends, retention trends, gifting levels, gift source and stewardship.
  • Increasing the size of your annual fund would not be possible without acquisition efforts. Costly as it might be, doing acquisition is a surefire way to take your annual fund to the next level. When locating acquisition donors, Meyer said that your organization should pinpoint who to ask, locate the correct solicitation method, estimate an appropriate entry-level ask amount and use giving likelihood scores to indentify the best prospects for donor acquisition. 
  • Finally, to convert these donors to repeat donors nonprofits should steward creatively by reporting the use of their gift immediately and enrolling them in a First Time Donor Program. By building on these interests and connections, nonprofits can form a relationship with these donors and fold them into their annual funding file. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Linking An Event To Your Mission

Special events are very popular among nonprofit leaders as they allow them to raise money without actually talking about raising money. That's exactly the wrong approach, according to Jeff Shuck, president and CEO of Event 360, Inc.

Shuck said at a recent DMA Nonprofit Federation New York Nonprofit Conference that organizations need to use events not as a way to avoid fundraising conversations, but as a way to spark them. Following are the areas emphasized by Shuck, and then the key metrics for each:

  • Event: Number of events, participant satisfaction, repeat attendance.
  • Participants: number of participants, registration time, team participation.
  • Donors: Number of donors, donors per participant, percentage of participants with zero donors, percentage of self-donations and goal, number of emails sent per participant.
  • Gifts: Number of gifts, amount per gift.
  • Revenue: Return on investment (ROI), compound annual growth rate, growth against the national benchmark.
Shuck also suggested the following action steps: Drive team participation (possibly through team captains), consider registration fee incentives, be careful not to undermine the fundraising culture, segment and focus on getting participants with goals off the dime.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

5 Ideas For Financial Growth

Finding ways to achieve financial growth in this tough economy sometimes seems futile. While there has been significant progress since the height of the Great Recession, some nonprofits are still struggling to find their way. The temptation to curl up in a corner until things get better can be very strong, but organizations must resist if this urge if they are to succeed.

During a recent DMA Nonprofit Federation conference, Neoma Harris of St. Joseph's Indian School spoke about steps her organization has taken to strive for growth in the aftermath of the Great Recession. She offered the following advice:
  • Bond with your new donor. Use thank you packages and second-gift mailings. Go back with a premium or theme similar to what grabbed them first.
  • Add an outsider's voice. The school tested a “mock” newspaper article insert in its Matching Gift house special and got a 40 percent lift and $9.64 higher average gift.
  • Coordinate mail and online. The school's May "Graduation" house appeal received a 3.65 percent response and $20.12 per gift with mail only and 5.7 percent and $29.25 per gift through mail and email. Email brought in $4,000.
  • Remember new markets and programs. The school has found fundraising success in Europe, and it launched a stand-alone mail program for Cheyenne River Indian Outreach.
  • Test, test, test. The school had success with coupons and “super sized” coupons.

Charity Distances Itself From Anti-Muslim Film

The head of a California-based charity tried to distance his organization from an anti-Muslim film that has sparked protests around the globe, saying he was duped into participating in the movie.

The Los Angeles Times reported today that Joseph Nassralla, president of Media for Christ, wrote in a statement on the blog of anti-Muslim advocate Pamela Geller that he first became involved with the film known as "Innocence of Muslims" when its filmmaker, a fellow Egyptian immigrant named Nakoula B. Nakoula, approached him for help. He allegedly told Nassralla that he was working on a film about Christian persecution, and wanted to use Media for Christ's broadcast studio for filming.

Nassralla insisted in his statement that was all he had to do with the film, and that the final product of the movie was completely different than the movie that was described to him. He accused Nakoula of altering the film "without anyone's knowledge, changing its entire focus and dubbing in new dialogue." He also said he was unaware that Nakoula listed Media for Christ on the government documents for the movie.

Despite distancing himself from the movie, Nassralla placed the blame on the violent reaction against "Innocence of Muslims" not on the filmmakers, but on "those who are murdering and rioting." The film has angered many Muslims by depicting the prophet Muhammad as clumsy and a sexual deviant. Those images and other rhetoric in the movie are being blamed for violent protests across the Middle East, including last week's breach of the American embassy in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, which resulted in the death of U.S. ambassador Chris Stephens and three others.

Media for Christ, which was established in 2005, runs a satellite television network called The Way TV, which airs sermons and hymns as well as anti-Islamic sentiments. The host of one of its shows, Steve Klein, worked as a script consultant for "Innocence of Muslims."

You can read the full story in The Los Angeles Times.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The September 15 Issue Of The NonProfit Times

Want to know all about donor management software? What about the status of workplace giving in the top 10 towns in the United States? The Septmeber 15 issue of The NonProfit Times has that and a lot more within its pages.

Here are the details of the top stories in this newest issue of NPT:

Special Focus
  • Donor Management Software: A look at how major gifts officers are increasingly using mobile devices to keep in touch with prospects.
  • Top 10 Towns: Workplace giving, typically a staple of American philanthropy, is in flux. This is especially true in some of the top cities in the U.S., including Austin, TX.
  • The YWCA USA Reorganizes Starting With A New CEO, PlanThe YWCA USA will usher in a new era by the end of the year, not only with its first permanent CEO in more than two years, but also a new governance structure for the 250-affiliate organization for women.
  • Blackbaud Folding Convio's Common Ground Product: Blackbaud's merger with Convio has bought many changes to the company, including the departure of CEO Gene Austin. Now comes word that Blackbaud will be discontinuing CRM system Common Ground. In addition, the nonprofit software company announced a restructuring plan that would eliminate 51 positions.
  • The Social Media MythHere’s a question for you and anyone who slaves away in the dungeons of fundraising: Are social media, as they convert to commercial purposes, competitive with email and direct mail?
  • Time Vs. MoneyMembers of corporate volunteer councils (CVCs), groups of businesses that come together to discuss and share best practices on employee volunteer programs, need to have a shared vision and open lines of communication between the various entities or risk ineffectuality, according to members of HandsOn Network’s Corporate Volunteer Council Advisory Council (CVCAC).
Head over to our website to read these article in their entirety. If you want to view the full version of the issue online, subscribe to our digital edition.