Thursday, September 4, 2014

Use Community Resources to Improve Your Nonprofit

There are so many valuable resources available for nonprofits and small businesses, but they are
often under-utilized. Being aware of and using community resources can not only offer needed solutions to existing concerns, but can also broaden the organization’s reach and build their network. When your nonprofit collaborates with these programs, the consulting organization may give you a shout-out or share your posts on social media. These mentions can easily grow your following or educate people about your cause. To learn what resources are available to you, try searching “Main Street Communities” in your area, or “small business resources” in your city. This may take some digging, but will be worth the effort. Another good place to start is to look through your city or county’s official website. The following organizations offer a glimpse of what is available in the Green Bay area.
Collaborations offer many benefits to small nonprofits
  • Definitely De Pere offers several committees, which focus on economic development and business services, community beautification, design review and enhancement projects and community events, among others. 
  • On Broadway, Inc. brings together businesses in the Broadway District through events and promotions. 
  • Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce caters to both individuals and small businesses. Current for Young Professionals connects young professionals to the business world through education, leadership programs and networking events. Their business programs offer consulting services and assistance in addition to finding ideal locations for businesses. 
  • Green Bay SCORE offers Northeastern Wisconsin entrepreneurs guidance and mentoring and provides workshops and tools for entrepreneurs to succeed.

What community resources have you utilized to improve your small business or nonprofit? Share your experiences below in the comments!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to use social media for your school fundraiser

We all know that social media is easiest and quickest way to access information. But have you considered using social media to support your school’s fundraiser? Using social media for a fundraiser is beneficial to both the organizers and the supporters. By using these tips, you are sure to get the most out of your fundraiser.

Greater Reach

Sharing the fundraiser page on various social media platforms allows both students and the school to expand their reach. When the students share the fundraising page on their social media accounts, they are reaching far more people than they would going door to door or calling extended family members. Anyone who follows their page will have the opportunity to see what the student is selling. Likewise, by the school sharing the fundraiser on its accounts, the school is able to reach and involve more of the community. People often purchase from fundraisers in their school district, even if they don’t have children enrolled, because they want to support the students in their community. Seeing a social media post on their own time also allows supporters flexibility. If they see the fundraiser when they are busy, they can always come back to it, instead of needing to order immediately when a student calls or is at the door.
Using social media allows your fundraiser to reach more people
with far less effort.


Sharing a fundraiser on social media is easy, especially for students who are constantly on their accounts anyway. As long as they have a Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus account, they are able to share the information. It only takes a quick share of a link and a brief description written for all of their followers to see the information they need. As long as the supporters have an account on these sites, it doesn't take them any extra effort to purchase from a fundraiser while they are already scrolling through their newsfeeds.

Higher Engagement

Using social media to promote a school fundraiser allows for much more personalization. Students can make the posts be as fun and creative as they want. If they choose, they can add relevant hashtags or upload pictures to get the post more visibility. This is a chance for them to have a lot of fun with the selling. The more interesting and unique a fundraiser appears to be, the more supporters will interact with them, and ultimately, the more they are likely to purchase.

What success have you had using social media for your school fundraiser? Share your experience in the comments below!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Importance of Writing Donor Thank Yous

It’s no secret how much nonprofits rely on donors. Nonprofits appreciate both the donor and the
donation, but often forget the importance of letting them know. It is easy to get bogged down by deadlines and reaching goals, however, thanking your donors is just as crucial as acquiring funds. Writing a thank you will leave your donors with a strong and lasting impression. If their efforts go unacknowledged, why would they consider future donations?

Appreciation and gratitude

You know what a donation means to your cause, so make sure your supporters know it too. Writing a thank you is an excellent opportunity to show the donor the organization’s appreciation and gratitude. However, simply stating that you appreciate the donation isn’t enough. You need to truly show them the importance. Explain what the funds will be used for and how that impacts the organization. This shows the donor that their contribution, no matter the size, made a difference to the cause. When a supporter feels appreciated and knows what kind of impact their donation made, you are more likely to build a lasting relationship. These relationships can lead to future gifts in addition to volunteer support. Considering how costly and time-consuming acquiring new donors can be, you don’t want to hurt yourself doubly by losing any current donors.

Maintain legitimacy

The importance of thank yous goes even beyond expressing gratitude. It proves your nonprofit is legitimate and organized. Putting forth the effort of a thank you shows supporters the same amount of effort will be exhibited throughout other aspects of running the organization. Not only does it show that you are organized, it keeps you accountable to actually be organized. Thank yous help keep your records clean and up-to-date. This is an easy and effiecient way for your nonprofit to always know who has recently donated.

Content and Details

Taking the time to thank a donor can go a long way.
While half the battle is completing the thank yous, the second half is backing up what you say. Your letters must be sincere and personalized. The very first to-do of your letter is to address the person individually. There is nothing worse than hearing how much of a difference you made when the letter-writers can’t even bother to include your first and last name instead of “Dear Friend.” This shows your donors that he or she, as a person, matters just as much as they money. It is also just as important to send the letters in a timely manner. Within days of receiving the donation, a thank you should be sent. Going too long without acknowledgement shows that you don’t care about the funds received. Donors may also wonder if the donation was received, or even forget
they donated if too long has passed.

What tips do you have for writing donor thank yous? Share your comments below!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Amp Up Your Membership Program

Many nonprofits heavily depend on donations. The easiest way to increase donor loyalty and to keep donations recurring is to implement a membership program. However, creating enough incentive for supporters to pay for a membership may be daunting. The following tips will help you
Offering small gifts with memberships
will keep your donors loyal.
amp up your membership program to be more attractive to your supporters. 

Start with the basics and build up

Before you can create an extravagant membership program with plenty of perks, you need to first create the basics of what a membership to your organization entails. The most important aspects to consider are how long the membership will last, whether it is meant for individual or family use and how much the membership will cost the supporter. Once the basics have been decided, more exciting details can be planned. However, the actual memberships also need to start with the basics and build up. The membership program should have multiple options available, with the benefits growing with the donation amount.

Minimum package level must-haves

This package should start with free admission if your organization (such as a zoo, park or museum) charges guest visits. This will be the best way to get a supporter to continually frequent your organization. The more they interact with what they are supporting, the more important they will view the cause. Chances are, their visits will bring in other guests as well. Since you are encouraging them to visit more often, the membership should also include discounts towards anything else that the venue charges. For example, a percentage off at the gift shop and/or classes or programs offered by the venue. For the minimum membership level, this discount should be around 10-15%.

If your supporter cares enough about your organization or cause to become a member, chances are they will want to be kept up-to-date. Add them to your mail or email newsletter list. It is important that your members are kept in the loop so they know exactly what their support is doing for their cause. If they don’t know what happens with their money, what is the point of their donation? This communication is also a great way for your members to feel connected and truly a part of the organization. When they can tell they are making a difference, they are more likely to stay involved.

Mid-level packages

Mid-level packages should contain everything the minimum-level package does, but with additional benefits. Start by raising any discount prices another 5-10% and include extra communication from the organization. Sending a different picture each month from your venue with a statistic or piece of trivia could go a long way. For example, a zoo could send a picture or postcard of a different exhibit with a fact about the animals living in it. Another option to include in mid-level packages is member-only invites. This could be as formal or casual as fits your organization, from a formal dinner to an outdoor concert to private walking tours. An animal activist may want to get a “meet and greet” to see the animals that their money helped rescue, while a nature enthusiast may appreciate an outdoor concert at the community garden that their donations helped flourish.

Top-level packages

Like the mid-level membership packages, the top-level packages should offer everything the previous packages do, with even more benefits. Discount levels should be raised to a significant amount and extra “freebies” should be offered. At this point, their membership offers should really leave an impression on them. For interactive venues such as museums or zoos, free admission to similar or partner venues around the country could be offered. This is also a good opportunity to send gifts that will really resonate with the member. For example, venue stickers and coloring books could be sent to family memberships. Millennials often appreciate t-shirts and printed or embossed silicone bracelets from their cause. A nature enthusiast may also appreciate seeds or seedlings to plant from an arbor society or botanical garden, while animal supporters may enjoy the chance to name new animals in zoos or shelters.

What special perks do your membership programs offer? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Charitable Champion: Alyssa Thomas

Alyssa Thomas is a college intern working to make positive changes in Kenyan communities through Kenya Works.

Kenya Works is a US-based nonprofit that develops educational workshops for communities throughout Kenya. Since its inception in 2004, the organization has worked towards decreasing gender-based violence, increasing the amount of school attendance in girls and building floors and desks in schools to minimize the health risks that come from children sitting solely on dirt floors.

Alyssa’s role with Kenya Works is to promote what the organization is doing through videos and written articles. By converting and condensing pre-written articles, she is able to keep everything on the website looking uniform. Alyssa has also written four articles herself, as well as the summer 2014 newsletter for Kenya Works. On the visual end of her work, she clipped and edited pre-recorded material into a video about a workshop Kenya Works facilitated on positive parenting and gender-based violence. She also matched the film with music and slides to bring the project to completion.

The most rewarding part of the internship to Alyssa is hearing success stories and how people have been impacted by Kenya Works. Alyssa says she enjoys hearing about Executive Director Julie Schaller-Schmdit’s visits to Kenya and looks forward to continuing working with her throughout the school year.

If you know someone who donates, volunteers or otherwise supports charitable causes, nominate them as a Charitable Champion.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Organize Fun Team-Building Activities

A big role in every team leader’s responsibilities is to develop relationships among his or her team. Relationships among team members or employees need to be built beyond assignments or projects, and separate from the daily work environment. By using the following three tips, you can ensure that your team has a positive, enjoyable experience.

Partner with another organization

By partnering with a similar organization in your community, your team will be able to get the most out of the experience. Not only will they be interacting with their own team, but will be able to meet other like-minded individuals who are working towards a similar goal. This creates a sense of community and is also a good networking opportunity.
Image Credit: My Team Triumph 

For example, HuTerra recently partnered with My Team Triumph – Wisconsin Chapter for the Packers 5K. My Team Triumph is a national organization that pairs handicapped adults and children (Captains) with adults (Angels) in the community to accomplish a physical goal, such as a race. My Team Triumph approached HuTerra through the re:find program, which partners area businesses to run as Angels with the Captains to promote team-building. One of our participants said that meeting people from other businesses was one of her favorite aspects of the activity. 

How do I find the right kind of activities for my team?

The first and most important thing to look for when planning team-building activities is to make sure it will be something your employees will actually take interest in. Partnering with My Team Triumph for this race was a natural fit for our employees, as many of them are Packers fans who also appreciate physical activities such as distance running. This race was also an activity that our team could truly get something out of and left our participants feeling very appreciative. One team member said “You don’t recognize what you have until you work with people who can’t do the same things you can physically and/or mentally.”

If you are partnering with another organization, it is crucial to pick an organization that will be both professional and easy to work with. Look for companies that are well-known in your community, well organized, and can effectively communicate with you. The better the communication lines are, the easier it will be for you.

Get Feedback from your team

To gauge the effectiveness of your activities, it is important for you to find out how your team felt about them. Reach out to your employees for their honest opinions. The only way to get accurate feedback is to openly engage with them. Really listen to what they say and encourage them to be honest, whether their experience was favorable or not. Using this feedback, you will be able to determine what direction to take for further team-building.

After the Packers 5K, one of the participants said he enjoyed working with My Team Triumph and would again in the future because it was well-organized, information was easily accessible, it helped him get into shape and pushed him outside his comfort zone.

What experiences have you had organizing team-building efforts? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Charitable Champion: Abby Habeck

This college student is making a big impact in her community. 

Abby Habeck is a summer intern with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin who is working towards some positive changes within the organization.

Feeding America is a national food bank that also raises money, all of which goes to pantries across the country. Feeding America also consists of regional branches, including the Eastern Wisconsin chapter. Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin distributes more than 20 million pounds of food to 330,000 people in 27 counties.

Abby’s role with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is fundraising for their campaign to get a new food distribution center in the town of Little Chute. This distribution center will provide Northeastern Wisconsin residents in need access to more food and resources. Most of Abby’s fundraising work is in the form of grant writing, but she has also participated in two fundraising events: the Packers Softball Game Homerun Derby and Street Music Week. These two events raised more than $5,500 towards Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin’s ultimate goal of $5,000,000. Abby says that while this amount may seem small in comparison to the end-goal, “it is great to see the community taking action and spreading awareness of the work Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin does.”

Abby’s favorite part of her internship is when she sees her work pay off in the form of donations or mobile food pantries. “Not only does it show the work I have done, but the end result is something that benefits a good cause, which is a very rewarding experience.”

If you know someone who donates, volunteers or otherwise supports charitable causes, nominate them as a Charitable Champion.