Tuesday, April 15, 2014

This Might be the Most Important Tip to Turn Your Board into Fundraising Pros

You wouldn't build a house without the right tools,
why expect your board to fundraise without them?
image: Shutterstock
For most nonprofits, your board of directors is an essential part of your fundraising strategy.

Board members often need training and guidance to become fundraising champions for the cause. There are a lot of great things you can do to turn your board of directors into a fundraising powerhouse, but this tip might be the most important of all: give them the materials and tools with which to do it.

It's all well and good to tell your board members that they need to fundraise. It's vital to connect fundraising with the organization's work and mission. Teach your board members how to tell the story. Many organizations do all that, through special workshops and training seminars. But then board members get home and often don't know where to start. They don't feel like they have the tools they need to become strong fundraisers. Giving them the tools to get started gives them a way to begin.

For example, don't just ask them to hold fundraisers. Provide them with fundraiser planning guides that walk them through the process. Help them create online fundraisers and teach them how to use social media to connect their friends and family with the cause. For those who are nervous first-time fundraisers, holding a peer-to-peer fundraiser is a great way to learn the ropes and gain confidence. Development Directors can use online peer-to-peer fundraisers as an ice breaker at the beginning of the board year. Get everybody online and set a small goal to get them started. Offer an incentive to motivate them, like lunch with the Executive Director and Development Director (which would provide an additional touch-point with the winner to encourage them to continue fundraising). Point is: don't just train them and send them out into the world. Make sure they have the tools at their disposal to help them succeed.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why We Give: "The face of hunger is not what you think."

The Why We Give series highlights people who take the time to do good in our communities and the things that inspire them to do so. Whether volunteering or donating, visit us at www.facebook.com/HuTerra and tell us why you give. You might be our next highlighted hero!

This note came from NN:

"I'd like to tell you why I give. I can't always afford large donations or a lot of time, but every time I do volunteer, my eyes are opened to the need in my community. I always wish I could do more. 
Every Friday in Louisville, volunteers arrive at schools all over the city to fill backpacks with food for children in need. That food sustains them over the weekend, until the next school day. The program is through the organization Blessings in a Backpack. Without it, thousands of children in Louisville would be without nutrition every single weekend.  
This morning, I volunteered for the Blessings program at a school that is in an under-served area of our city. There we were, volunteers lined up at long tables, ready to fill bags with cereal, protein sticks, 100% juice boxes, canned ravioli. As the children came in, each was given a plastic grocery bag. They went down the line and we filled their bags. At each station, every child smiled and said "thank you" to the volunteer putting food in their bags.  
The school counselor explained to us that of 430 students in the school, only 22 pay for their lunches. That means that 408 students rely on free lunch in that one school alone. She told us that they are only able to provide the Blessings program to about 200 students, because the program costs $80 per student per year. That leaves 208 students who face hunger every day, who aren't benefiting from the Blessings in a Backpack program. In this one school, 208 children will go home today and not know if they will eat this weekend.  
The weekend must be very long for a young child who is starving.
So that's why I give. I give because the true face of hunger in my town isn't lazy people taking advantage of a system. The true face of hunger in Louisville is our most vulnerable population. Children rely on adults for everything from shoes, to shelter, to the food in their bellies. I give because looking in their faces, giving is all I can do to ease their situations. I can't look away. 
I hope you will join me in sponsoring a child. $80 provides food for a child for a full school year of weekends. I started a fundraiser for Blessings in a Backpack so we can work together to help Louisville's children. By giving up one meal eaten-out and donating that money instead to Blessings in a Backpack, you will provide food security to a child... a child who depends on us for one of life's most basic needs. Please don't look away." 

You can donate to the fundraiser here.

(Donations are processed by the HuTerra Foundation, which does not take from the donation stream. Learn more about donation processing here.) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Are You Putting Your Nonprofit Board on Your Cereal Box?

We all know that boards are vital to nonprofit sustainability. But what to do with board members who are shy about fundraising? As part of your organization's training program for these members, take a note from food marketers, and put them on your cereal box.

Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recently published a study explaining how cereal marketers use eye contact to compel purchases. Basically, they found that children and adults alike are more likely to choose a product in packaging that includes figures that make eye contact with the shopper. It works for Count Chocula and it can work for your nonprofit.

Start by considering how your potential donors 'shop' for a cause. In this case, they probably want (need) to hear personal stories of what the organization does, and why it's worth supporting. This is where the cereal box concept comes in. What's the packaging you use to convince those potential donors (PDs)?

The power of eye contact compels you... (Shutterstock.com)

In this case, it's possibly a combination of email and in-person contact. Nonprofit employees can use email to make introductions between PDs and board members (even the shyest). This provides a contact for the PD, should they have questions or want to talk to somebody who cares enough about the mission to volunteer a significant amount of time for it. Encourage your shy board member to connect with the PD on various social media sites. If possible, take the board member and PD to lunch together. This is social marketing at its best- building meaningful relationships between donors and organization advocates from the very beginning. The board member can even engage in a little light crowdfunding via their social networks- and the potential donors can try their hand at supporting the organization before committing to large amounts. Chances are good, now that they've looked your board member in the eye, they'll be ready to commit to supporting your cause.      


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stop Putting Your Development Team on the Sidelines

We've talked before about taking your social media managers out of their silos. After all, how are they supposed to tell the world what's going on in your organization if they don't know? Let's take a moment to consider the other outward-facing department in your organization: development. Turns out, Development Directors suffer the same silo problem as social media managers.

Ask yourself: "How is my Development Director supposed to illustrate our work to potential donors if he or she isn't kept up to date on the organization's activities?"


Put yourself in their shoes. There you are, having lunch with an individual who has the power to provide a major grant to support your organization's mission. Everything is going well, when suddenly they ask about the day-to-day activities inside the organization. This person understands the mission and the work you do; they are looking for evidence that the organization is powered by people passionate about the mission, dedicated to serving the organization. They want a look inside so they can get a feel for how the organization is run. If nobody communicates with you, how are you supposed to answer that in a positive light?

The great thing is that opening the lines of communication has benefits that run both ways. By opening the lines of communication between your development department and other areas, you give the Development Director an opportunity to turn all employees into major advocates (follow the link to learn how) for the organization. This will support your social media efforts as well. In fact, it will support all efforts in every department across the organization.

In a communication-based world, donors receive messages from many departments in your organization. Ensuring open communication and unified campaigns creates a cohesive voice that donors can understand.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

10 Must-Have Resources for Nonprofit Social Media +1 Bonus

Sometimes it's difficult to tell your organization's story in 140 characters or less. These resources will help you create engaging content that gets the job done.

Wordle: #ImpactInspired1. Nonprofit Tech for Good offers an unending stream of helpful information to keep you informed on the latest in the quickly changing field of social media.

2. The Wordle tool allows you to create word clouds that tell your organization's story.

3. Worldometers constantly tracks data about the world's population and what we're doing in real time. Need a quick statistic? Worldometers can help.

4. The Case Foundation offers free e-learning materials and videos to help nonprofits use social media effectively.

5. Buffer has a free version that allows you to schedule tweets and provides some data on your Twitter performance. Put this one on the must-have list.

6. TweetDeck is a free service that helps you watch Twitter for relevant content and people, so you can more easily connect with influencers and engage with people who are interested in what your organization does.

7. Use Social Mention to see who's interacting with your organization online, and how they feel about it.

8. TweetReach shows you how far your tweets are going, and how hard they're working for you.

9. Springpad is a web clip organizer that makes it super easy to create notebooks and collect content to share with your followers.

10. Social Media Examiner was founded by one of the greats of social media, and continues to provide accessible, helpful information on a daily basis. If you work in nonprofit social media at all, it's worth following.

11. HuTerra's free crowdfunding tools integrate with all major social media platforms and your own website, so you can provide a donation link wherever your fans meet you online.

What social media resource can you not live without? Please tell us in the comments.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Five Tips to Support Your Volunteer Fundraisers

Getting supporters to fundraise for your nonprofit is key to ongoing sustainability. It helps them feel like they are really helping the cause, and it helps your organization reach new supporters. Of course, the additional donation stream doesn't hurt!

In order for your volunteer fundraisers to be successful, they need resources from your organization. Here are a few tips to help you support your peer-to-peer fundraisers.

1. Provide them with digital assets like email templates, and fact sheets about your organization. Most people get writer's block when they try to write a fundraiser email. Have a couple that they can choose from, so all they have to do is personalize, and copy/paste it.

2. Think of them like mini-development directors. Teach them about your organization, so they are ready to answer tough questions like what's the organization's annual overhead. Just like your development director, volunteer fundraisers will have to answer questions, and need to be armed with information that shows how well your organization works to achieve its mission.

3. Touch base with them. Volunteer fundraisers often end up feeling like they are swimming alone in the fundraising ocean. Call them up and see how they're doing. This will give you the chance to support them emotionally and with resources. It will also give you an idea of who might be struggling to achieve their fundraising goals.

4. Follow up. If you want these folks to fundraise for you again, follow up with them a few weeks after the campaign ends. Ask for their input on what they liked and what could be done differently. Do they need more time to achieve their goals? More help with direct asks? More help with social media? Don't wait until their memory is fuzzy on the details to reach out and take advantage of this awesome feedback opportunity.

5. Thank them, and thank them again. Call them to thank them. Thank them publicly on your organization's Facebook page. Send them handwritten notes of gratitude. That's not an either/ or list- do all three to help them really feel appreciated. After all, you can't do it without them!  

Want help planning your next peer-to-peer fundraiser? Get your free planning guide now.