Friday, October 12, 2012

4 Ways To Integrate Fundraising With Marketing

Fundraising and marketing: Are they the same thing or are they worlds apart? The answer you get to this question varies depending on who you ask, but one thing's for sure: The two work really well together if they are integrated properly.

During a recent Bridge Conference in National Harbor, Md., Dave Perrett of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and Kerri Kerr of Avalon Consulting Group held the opinion that fundraising and marketing are separate entities, but can be combined to heap benefits upon nonprofits.

Using Wolf Trap as a case study, they laid out a four-step process on the path to integration:

  • Meet with your marketing department. It sounds simple, but this type of meeting almost never occurs. Membership and marketing are often siloed departments, but it doesn't have to be that way.
  • Create an integrated schedule to take advantage of key dates.
  • Test to determine the best strategy. Tests can include performance photo on carrier vs. plain envelope, timing (for performing arts, post-performance excitement or pre-performance anticipation), types of ticket buyers, telemarketing, email, Website and (for performing arts) box office sales.
  • Meet with the marketing department to discuss results. The numbers might speak for themselves, but it’s important to schedule a meeting and discuss the results so everyone can see and understand the impact of integration.

Portland Set To Develop PILOT Program

Nonprofits in Portland, ME could be contacted by officials in the future, as the city begins to develop a proposal that would seek payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) from tax-exempt properties.

Portland's City Council Finance Committee directed staff Thursday to create a proposal for contacting the owners of the city's nearly 1,300 tax-exempt properties, according to a report in The Portland Press Herald. That proposal would need to be approved by the City Council, and officials said that it could take years to develop a successful PILOT program for the city.

Although Portland does not have a formal policy regarding payments in lieu of taxes, there are currently 14 nonprofits that contribute money to the city, with those groups paying about $623,000 in fiscal year 2010-11. The largest contributor of those organizations is Ecomaine, a nonprofit waste management company owned and operated by 21 municipalities in southern Maine. Ecomaine makes annual payments of $357,000.

Councilor John Anton, chairman of the Finance Committee, indicated to The Herald that the program they eventually adopt could be modeled after the one that exists in Boston. The Massachusetts city doesn't require nonprofits to participate in their PILOT program, but guidelines and payments formulas were set up for those that do.

Should a PILOT program be adopted, it would be used to support public services in Portland. You can read the full story in The Portland Press Herald.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Testimony: Kilpatrick Used Nonprofit Funds For Personal Gains

Testimony emerged during former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption trial that indicated that he used funds from his nonprofit to pay for yoga lessons, tuition for his relatives, and a weekend vacation with his ex-mistress.

The information came after 12 days of testimony in Kilpatrick's trial, according to a report in The Detroit Free Press. The former mayor, along with his father, Bernard, his longtime contractor friend Bobby Ferguson, and ex-city water chief Victor Mercado are accused of running a criminal enterprise through the mayor's office to make money for themselves.

Part of the government's evidence against Kilpatrick stems from his alleged misuse of funds from his nonprofit, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. Jurors were shown checks from the organization for various personal expenses, including:

  • $2,500 to New York University to pay for Kilpatrick's sister's tuition;
  • $1,000 to pay for his cousin's tuition at Tennessee State University;
  • $8,605 to the La Costa Resort and Spa in California, where the Kilpatricks stayed for a week-long vacation;
  • Almost $4,000 for yoga lessons for Kilpatrick; and,
  • $1,009 to the Sonnenalp Resort in Vail, Colo., where Kilpatrick and his then-mistress Christine Beatty allegedly spent a weekend in 2002.
The government attempted to prove that Colorado trip took place by showing jurors text message exchanges between Kilpatrick and Beatty.

Kilpatrick's defense lawyer, James Thomas, said that the nonprofit's funds were not misused, and were spent on legitimate items such as education and fundraising. He also argued the vacations that the prosecution highlighted involved legitimate business purposes. For instance, on cross examination of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officer who investigated the mayor's vacation in Vail, Thomas indicated Kirkpatrick was in Colorado because of a mayors' conference in Denver.

The IRS officer, Ron Sauer, said that the trip appeared to be personal in nature, citing receipts for manicures, pedicures, and a man's facial.

Testimony in the case resumes today. You can read the full story in The Detroit Free Press.

6 Steps To A Brand Identity

What do you think of when someone utters the words "only you can prevent forest fires?" Smokey the Bear, right? This little exercise is a great example of the power of brand identity.

Every nonprofit and business dreams of creating an identity that is so powerful that people can't help but associate their brand with it. Yet, as Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee wrote in their book “Marketing in the Public Sector,” organizations need to dial down their ambition when beginning the branding process. The two marketing experts instead urged organizations to follow some key steps to create your brand’s identity:

  • Establish Brand Purpose: Make sure the marketing objectives of your brand are related to influencing people to support your organization, participate in your programs, utilize your services, and/or comply with guidelines and laws.
  • Identify Target Audiences for the Brand: Although many people in the general public will be exposed to your brand, it should be designed with specific groups of people in mind.
  • Articulate Your Desired Brand Identity: This is your chance to envision how you hope target audiences will respond. Try filling in the following sentence to help determine your answer: “I want my target audience to see my brand as ______.”
  • Craft the Brand Promise: Focus on benefits for your target audience, not your agency, ones they are likely to experience if they engage in the desired behavior.
  • Determine the Brand’s Position Relative to the Competition: Challenge yourself to first identify competition, direct as well as indirect.
  • Select Brand Elements: What name, slogan, logo, and colors will be associated with the brand?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

15 Questions About Your Volunteer Program

It's hard to imagine a nonprofit's volunteer program succeeding without a strong infrastructure in place behind it. This is rarely a problem for most organizations but just because there are policies in place doesn't mean they are the right ones.

In his book "The Idiot's Guide to Managing and Recruiting Volunteers," John L. Lipp wrote that organizations should undergo a routine assessment of their volunteer programs. This involves taking inventory of what you have and what you need. He presented the following checklist that you should go over when determining how you can approve things:
  • Does our volunteer program have its own mission statement that explains why volunteers are an integral part of our organization?
  • Do we maintain appropriate insurance coverage for volunteers?
  • Do we have set goals for what volunteers will try to accomplish each year?
  • Do we have a volunteer recruitment plan?
  • Is information on how to volunteer featured prominently on our web page?
  • Do we have handouts for prospective volunteers?
  • Do we have an application for prospective volunteers to complete?
  • Do all of our new volunteers attend an orientation to learn more about the organization and the role of volunteers?
  • Is planning for volunteer engagement included in all agency strategy meetings and new project development?
  • Do we have written position descriptions for each volunteer function?
  • Have we prepared employees to work effectively with volunteers?
  • Is each volunteer assigned a supervisor to ensure accountability?
  • Do we have written policy on confidentiality?
  • Are all of our policies for volunteers written down in one place?
  • Do volunteers have time sheets so they can track their hours?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

5 Ways To Improve Your AdWords

There's a lot that goes into improving traffic to your nonprofit's website. One of the techniques that is most effective is the use of Google Grants AdWords, a program that allows you to purchase cost-per-click (CPC) advertising that will appear based on popular keywords.

According to Kristie Ferketich, Google Grants senior strategist, there are ways to optimize your AdWords to get the most out of them. Speaking at Nonprofit Technology Network's (NTEN) recent Nonprofit Technology Conference, she explained that organizations should keep the following things in mind when working with AdWords:

  • Think like a user. See what ads catch your attention the next time you do a Google search.
  • Use variations and common misspellings. Google will usually correct someone – but the AdWord will show for the search anyway.
  • Include negative keywords. This eliminates your ads from popping up for certain searches, cutting down on unwanted impressions.
  • Look at the stats. Analyze the cost and impressions for each AdWord you use. Are you hitting your goals? Is it costing too much to run some words?
  • Optimize keyword-matching options. Certain punctuation around search terms will bring up different options. For example, your search results for [animal adoption] would bring up results only for that exact term. A search with “animal adoption” would bring up for that phrase, even if other terms were included in the search. Learn how the search punctuation can help, or hinder, your goals.
  • Test, test, test. And for good measure -- test again. Search terms for your AdWords may work one month and sag the next.

Monday, October 8, 2012

9 Accounting Principles For Nonprofit Executives

Nonprofit executives, generally, are not the best at accounting, but they still need to know the basics in order to get their organizations on the right fiscal track. Even the basics can take a while to learn, however, and an executive’s time is precious.

In his book "The Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Executive," Thomas A. McLaughlin comes to the rescue of executives that are struggling with basic accounting practices. He listed nine principle they must memorize if they are to have the knowledge necessary to keep organizational finances stable. The principle are:

  • The principle of the entity: Accounting records are kept for a single, definable entity. Accounting energy should focus ultimately on the corporation as whole, not just individual projects.
  • Money measurement: Accounting deals only with things that can be measured in terms of money.
  • The dual aspect nature of accounting: An organization’s assets, or things of value, must always equal the organization’s liabilities plus its equities, or claims of ownership.
  • The going concern concept: Always assume that the entity will continue to exist indefinitely unless there is some evidence to the contrary.
  • The cost concept: Whenever an organization buys something substantial, that asset is listed at its cost.
  • Conservatism: Deliberately take the most cautious approach possible by accepting as real any decreases in equity as soon as they are reasonably possible, while accepting increases only when they are certain.
  • Materiality: Good accounting deals only with matters having some significance in the overall scheme of things.
  • Realization concept: Whenever an organization delivers a service, it is entitled to say that it is owed some money of that service.
  • Matching concept: The idea that costs associated with the revenues in any given accounting period are expenses of that period.