Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Ezra Nash

This boy has heart. 

When the American Heart Association's annual fundraiser launched at Ezra Nash's school last spring, he sprung into action. According to Ezra,
"It's important to help this organization because some kids don't have healthy hearts and people need to help fix their hearts so they can grow up strong." 
Help indeed. Ezra worked tirelessly on his fundraiser and raised over $450 in just three days! He was the top fundraiser in his school, and enjoyed the experience so much, he's set his sights on helping raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As Ezra puts it
"Some kids get cancer, and that just sucks. They can't go to school, and they can't go out and play. We have to help end cancer so those kids don't have to be in the hospital any more."
Ezra's goal is to raise $500 to help find a cure for cancer. You can support this young Charitable Superhero's efforts by making a donation and sharing his story with your friends and family. Way to go, Ezra! You're a true Charitable Superhero!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

5 Ideas for encouraging supporters to fundraise for you

There’s a rule of thirds in fundraising that says your fundraising campaign will receive one-third of donations from the top 10 donors; one-third of donations from the middle 100 donors; and one-third of donations from a lot of little micro-donations. For small organizations struggling to restore giving to pre-recession levels, attracting enough micro-donors to the cause can be time consuming, and left until the end of the campaign after the big donors are secured. The problem with putting off getting the micro-donations is that the last third of your fundraising goal often takes the longest to obtain.

Instead, create a fundraising strategy that starts with a firm plan for communicating the need for the smaller donations and mobilizing existing supporters to bring in the micro-donations while organization staff focuses on the upper two-thirds of the fundraising goal. HuTerra’s online fundraising platform makes it easy to create a fundraiser then have supporters create their own supporting fundraisers under it. Consider creating rolling campaigns that each last a month and have different themes. That way you’ll appeal to more people and keep the campaign going.

Thing is, even the most dedicated supporters need a little incentive to fundraiser for your organization. You can do this by offering incentives for the biggest fundraisers. This works well if you create a three month strategy where each month has a different fundraiser theme for supporters to fundraise under. Three months means you’ll need three prizes for the three top fundraisers. During the campaign, use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to cheer on your fundraising team. A little recognition goes a long way with supporters, and they’ll respond by working harder to spread your mission message and bring in more donors.

Here are five ideas for prizes that will get your supporters energized to fundraise for your cause:
  1. Ask local businesses to donate gift certificates. Lots of people will share Facebook posts to get donations if they might get a free massage out of it.
  2. Find out who in the organization, including regular volunteers and donors, is crafty and ask them to each donate an item.
  3. Use what you have around the office. The Fund for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky ran a fundraising campaign where donors were entered into drawings to win random items out of the President and CEO’s office. Like many nonprofit leaders, Barbara Sexton Smith had accumulated a lot of mugs, shirts, and desk toys. People gave daily for chances to win random stuff, and her office got a good cleaning out. Win-win.
  4. Hold a luncheon for the top fundraisers. This doesn’t have to be expensive, just take the top three fundraisers to lunch along with some employees and people your organization helps. It will help your top fundraisers feel part of the organization and they’ll want to help again in the future.
  5. Crown them as your organization’s fundraising champions and feature them on your website and social media communities.
Finding incentives really can be as easy as getting into the old storage closet where your organization’s vintage event t-shirts have been long forgotten. Offer them up and ask supporters to help you fundraise. You’ll make progress on the one-third of your fundraising campaign that comes from micro-donations, while spreading the mission message and freeing staff up to bring in the top tier donors.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Patti Ciak of The Einstein Project

This Charitable Superhero is a hands-on advocate for hands-on science. 

When the phone rang six years ago, Patti Ciak wasn't thinking about Alexander Graham Bell, or sound waves, or even electricity. She was finishing a term on the Board of Directors at a local nonprofit, and was wondering what her next adventure would be. The phone call was for Mr. Ciak, asking if he would consider joining the volunteer Board of Directors for The Einstein Project, an organization that provides hands-on science experiences for teachers and students. Mr. Ciak’s schedule didn't allow him to sign on, but he suggested they ask Patti.

Patti was familiar with The Einstein Project and knew that her daughter, a teacher, used their materials in her classroom and was a big advocate for the organization’s work. It was the perfect timing to try something new, so Patti agreed to join The Einstein Project.

That was six years ago. Now Patti is The Einstein Project’s volunteer, volunteer coordinator, among other roles. She says the organization has a small staff, and she doesn't mind helping out in any way possible because "I just think it's vital that hands-on science stay part of the curriculum. I think The Einstein Project’s strong commitment to their mission to hands-on science, and their customer service focus to their end users is unique. They are a constant resource for the teachers and the students. They offer training sessions for teachers who use their kits, to ensure quality of experience and education, and they are always working to incorporate technology resources to support the teachers and students."

Executive Director Kelly Ellis says, “Patti is one of those volunteers that every nonprofit needs. She is on our Board of Directors, four committees and countless ad hoc groups. The Einstein Project is not just a place for Patti to stop in and give her two cents. She gives us her time, talent, and treasure, but more than that, she brings a ray of sunshine when she visits our office or shows up at an event. Patti is a great champion for our cause.”

Patti is currently helping The Einstein Project prepare for one of their largest annual fundraising events, Wild about Science (previously Butterflies on Parade). Learn more about how The Einstein Project is keeping hands-on science in classrooms at

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The best idea in school fundraising? Stop sending kids door-to-door.

Memes Help Little Girls School Fundraising
This girl's parents got creative when it was time for school fundraising. 

Happy August! As the hottest days of summer set in, the new school year is just around the corner. In preparation, parents are getting hit with long, expensive school supply lists; teachers are organizing materials; and parent groups are planning fundraisers to supplement this year's education spending cuts. It's a resources grab on many levels that leaves educators and parents alike frazzled and fretting before the first starting bell rings. 

There is a host of school fundraising ideas out there, and most of them are pretty good. Parents and teachers can be a really creative bunch, especially when education is on the line. Recent years have seen a change in willingness, though. Parents are weary of buying stuff they don't need and doesn't hold up, and are leery of sending their kids out as a door-to-door sales force to hawk company wares. Teachers and parent volunteers are weary of trying to keep up with orders that may or may not have been placed, and payments that may or may not have been sent. The effort involved in many school fundraisers is a strain on already tapped out resources, and parents and teachers still end up supplementing classroom supplies from their pockets anyway. 

The girl in the photo is onto something. Rather than using the same old school fundraising sales, why not tap into social media and hold fundraisers that 1. have higher earning potential, 2. keep kids off the sales-streets, and 3. minimize confusion over orders and payments? Free fundraising platforms simplify school fundraising, take less time to create and manage, and tap into a larger donor audience. Plus, it allows for creativity and illustrates to the students how they can make a positive impact. 

Here's a super-simple school fundraiser plan:

First, make your free HuTerra member account. It takes mere seconds. If you are a school administrator or a parent group administrator, search for your organization and "Claim your Community." HuTerra does have a verification process that takes a couple days. We're hands-on like that, and we want to be certain that nonprofit organizations are properly represented. 

If you're not an administrator, but would like to create a fundraiser, you can do that too. Create your member account then find your school or parent group General Fundraiser, then "Create a Supporting Fundraiser."
Fundraiser tips:
The general idea here is to get school families to fundraise and spread the word for you. Encourage families to get involved by creating a fundraiser with a fun theme that students can get creative and build upon. Here's an easy one for early in the school year: Why We Love Our School. Then families can create their own supporting fundraisers off the main one. Students can create images, write poetry and stories, and do all kinds of wacky things to share the many reasons they love school. It's fun, and it reinforces a sense of Community.
Provide a couple prize incentives. Perhaps the student who raises the most money can shadow the Principal for a day. The student with the most creative fundraiser can earn a coloring set. Prizes can be donated by parents, or even by local businesses. It never hurts to ask if a great restaurant will donate a gift card so the top-fundraising family can enjoy an evening out. 
Once the fundraiser is setup, you need to use the school's website, email, Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, even old fashioned notes home to let families know about it. Share the link to the main fundraiser you created and tell them about the plan (go make your own supporting fundraiser), and the incentives. Point out that if you raise enough money, you won't have to send their kids door-to-door with wrapping paper in the fall. Many parents will spend a few minutes just to avoid fundraising sales. 

Remind families daily through electronic communication means, and weekly by backpack messages to keep fundraising and to have fun with it. A good school fundraiser length is two weeks. They'll need to share their fundraiser links with all of their friends, family, and colleagues. Many coworkers will gladly make a secure online donation if they know they won't have to buy wrapping paper from you later. Remind families that they can share their links on Facebook, Twitter, and through email as well. By doing so, your fundraiser will reach way more people than door-to-door sales can possibly reach. Now, your fundraiser has more earning potential than just how much wrapping paper Grandma can stuff in her closet. 

Once the two week period is over, let everybody know what a great job they did, and how proud you are of your students for creating a positive impact on your school. Follow through with promised incentives in a timely manner. Enjoy that you just fundraised a bunch of money, everybody had fun doing it, and nobody had to keep up with cash and check donations. HuTerra will send a secure check for the donations to your school or parent organization. 

Want a little help? We love to hear from you and we love to lend a hand! Visit, and use the Contact Us link at the bottom of every page. Good luck fundraising, and let us know how it's going! We love to share ideas.