Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Brooke Burmeister

This high school senior shines with inner beauty

Last week, we honored an entire high school for their charitable efforts. One student in particular stands out. Brooke Burmeister is a senior at Green Bay West High School. In addition to raising over $300 for the Breast Cancer Family Foundation, Brooke donated her hair to Locks of Love. According to Brooke, the hardest part was seeing her long hair fall to the floor. But, she says, it was totally worth it:
"I wanted to give somebody else a chance to have a wig… to feel more like themselves even though they are battling important things in life. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, its how you feel on the inside. I don’t care that I don’t have hair, because I know that I’m helping people who lose their hair to cancer treatments.”
What a great way to double your charitable impact and create good in the world!

If you know somebody who donates, volunteers, or otherwise supports charitable causes, nominate them for Charitable Superhero of the Week. If they're chosen, they'll receive a free t-shirt and certificate of recognition.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Raffle Tickets to Holiday Flowers: Sell more when you take your charity fundraiser sale online (for free!)

Raffle tickets, holiday flowers, and fruit are still popular ways to fundraise and engage communities in charity organizations. Going door to door, or hanging up sale flyers spreads awareness of your organization and its events. But access is a common problem for this type of fundraiser. It's hard to sell raffle tickets if buyers have to stop by the office to pay for them, and grandma can't order flowers easily if she has to have cash on hand when the doorbell rings.

Taking your nonprofit or club fundraising sale online provides credit card processing (bank processing fees apply) and an easy way to spread the word about the fundraiser through social media and email channels. For clubs, it reduces the pressure on members to collect and manage money. And, the online sales system allows coaches, nonprofit admins, and club leaders to set sales goals for the sale as a whole and for participants. The donor list tells you who ordered how many, so order fulfillment is a snap. Plus, it's fast and easy to setup, so fundraisers can start taking orders immediately without even logging in.

Learn more about how HuTerra makes fundraising sales easier and more efficient without charging subscription fees or percentages of sales on our website

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nurture the Younger Generations Now to Create Sustainability Later

Jeff Brooks recently suggested that nonprofits should focus on building relationships with supporters in their 50's when deciding how to replace aging donors. He makes good points that Gen Y lacks disposable income, and their giving habits aren't yet developed enough to turn them into repeat donors. Sure, but that doesn't mean you should ignore them entirely.

Create a plan that focuses primarily on the Boomer generation, if that's what is best for your organization, but keep in mind that much of the outreach you do targeting Boomers also has potential to connect with both Gen X and Gen Y. In fact, your social media outreach has a better chance of connecting with the younger generations (see infographic below) because they use social media more than their parents.

Online fundraising platforms offer a great way to engage with younger supporters because they can be used to gamify giving (by holding fundraising contests), and they provide a way for those with little disposable income to bring in donations and grow the support base. Gen X and Gen Y know how to use social media. Put the request in front of them, and they'll share your message.

As these generations age, their giving habits will develop. It's worth putting the time in now to help them grow their cause-awareness. Sure, it's an investment, but it's an investment in your organization's future. Being the organization that nurtured their giving habits and moved them up the giving pyramid puts you at the top of their lists at giving time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Training to Become a Charitable Superhero! (queue superhero music)

Al Zeise goes into training with his new "life coaches". Can he win the coveted golden hard hat and become Mr Habitat 2013? Vote Now, Vote Al!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Jody Vanwassenhoven and Green Bay West High School

This Charitable Superhero wants students to learn the importance of giving.

For eight years running, students at Green Bay West High School have learned about the importance of

cancer prevention from the Breast Cancer Family Foundation (BCFF). Last year, the students and faculty decided to find a unique way to thank BCFF and show support for a faculty member who was battling cancer, and the annual fundraiser/ head shaving event began.

It’s a competition. Two students are selected from each grade. Participants collect donations from friends, family, and anybody who will put a few dollars in their donation jars. A few faculty members also participate, and the competition culminates in a group head-shaving. For those outside Wisconsin, shaving your head is a pretty brave thing to do at the beginning of winter, and most everybody will agree that shaving your head when you are in or teach high school is a brave act in itself.

Jody Vanwassenhoven teaches at Green Bay West, and heads up the annual BCFF event. She’s proud of her students
“West high school has 70% of students on free/reduced lunch, but the kids who don’t have a lot to give, always give much whenever we hold a fundraiser for any cause. Our kids and staff are just so generous.”

It’s true. Students annually participate in fundraisers for many organizations, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an art supply drive for child oncology patients at a local hospital, the student council volunteers at an annual telethon for cerebral palsy; there is an annual clothing drive, and a Christmas Giving Tree.   

Jody wasn’t alone in the event- there are several other Charitable Superheroes who donated, raised money, and shaved their heads. All in all, it seems that this week’s Charitable Superhero isn’t one person… it’s an entire school of students, staff, and faculty who make giving party of their daily lives. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is it really your job to help board members stay engaged?

This is a really fantastic post about helping board members be engaged. It offers simple ideas like providing lunch so members will attend meetings and giving them a ride if you want them to attend an event with your development director. I would add that respecting their time and running meetings accordingly goes a long way. After all, they are taking time out of their work day to volunteer for the organization. But providing lunch, picking them up, helping keep their meetings on task... who is responsible for these things? Aren't board members there to help YOU do your job? Shouldn't they be responsible for their own activity and engagement?

Well, really, no. Like organization staff, board members are there to help the organization succeed in its mission. They are responsible for helping staff achieve that goal, but so are staff responsible for helping board members achieve that goal. The difference is, board members don't get paid, meaning they volunteer their time, treasure, and talent to support the organization. Way too often, we treat board members as if they rank higher than staff, and we treat staff as if they rank higher than volunteers. The problem with this way of thinking is that board members are volunteers and everybody has the same goal: to further the organization's mission.

When staff members become discouraged and disengaged from the mission, it is up to the board to help
them problem solve and reconnect. This goes both ways. The fact that they are volunteers often makes it easier for them to disengage, especially if they feel that other board members and staff don't value their contributions. Being an active board member can be tough work, especially in small organizations that need all hands on deck to meet their goals. While the board is busy keeping staff morale up, it helps if the staff reciprocates. Making it easier for board members to lend an extra hand means more support for staff, and a better chance the organization will meet its goals.

In short, it is your job to help board members stay engaged, because that relationship works both ways.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Keep It Personal-- A word about this guy

So much of running a nonprofit is about relationships, and you can't build relationships without keeping it a little personal. 

The HuTerra Foundation was started by Al Zeise, a businessman who wanted a way to do more good in the world beyond donating money. He figured out that he can use his technical knowledge and business skills to help nonprofits do more by cutting technology costs, raising more funds, and reaching more supporters. As one HuTerrian put it,
"We don't build houses. We help Habitat for Humanity build more houses. We help them reduce the crime rate in more low-income areas. We help them shelter more families. Our impact isn't just what we do for the organization; it's the lives of the additional people they are able to help because we helped them." 
Al believes that everybody has it in his or her heart to help others, and that, by making giving fun, more people will open their hearts. That's why he agreed to run for Mr. Habitat 2013 and, if he should win, to accept his award while wearing high heels, just for fun. 

Join Al in proving that giving can be fun by supporting Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity and voting for Al to be crowned Mr. Habitat 2013! Donations go to Greater Green Habitat for Humanity and are tax deductible.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Post, Like, Share your way to a larger donor audience

Asking for what you need (beyond donations) is a great way to engage supporters. In your nonprofit's
social media communications, remember to ask followers to Like, Share, and Retweet important information and calls to action. It gives them a way to support the cause beyond taking out their wallets.
Social media engagement is measured in Likes, Shares, Retweets, and comments. The more your followers engage, the higher your content ranks and the larger your audience becomes. Plus, it helps supporters feel that they are important to the organization, which is key to recurring donations.

Was this helpful? Please Share this article to help more nonprofits!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's not too late to implement peer-to-peer fundraising in your end-of-year fundraising strategy

Most year-end fundraisers consist primarily of mailing out letters with a holiday plea for donations during the most charitable time of year. Most of those letters go to existing donors and do little to introduce your organization to new donors at a time when peoples’ awareness of need and urge to help makes them prime candidates for becoming new supporters of your organization. You likely already have your year-end campaign planned out, but it’s not too late to turn your year-end fundraising campaign into an opportunity to introduce new donors to your organization.

Adding a peer-to-peer fundraiser to your strategy is simple and leads to a great start to the new year. Begin by deciding how you’re going to incentivize your supporters to participate. Contact existing supporters through social media and email and encourage them to participate. Share these tips for quickly creating an online fundraiser and get the giving started. Run your campaign through December and remind supporters that asking for donations in lieu of gifts is a great way for people who “don’t need anything” to participate in holiday giving and receiving.

A couple weeks into the new year, sit down with the compiled donor list and start making phone calls and writing thank-you notes. There’s a good chance that most of the donors will barely remember that they gave, or what the organization does. Reaching out after the holidays will let them know that their donation is meaningful and has positive impact long after the holiday season. You’ll start your year off with a long list of new supporters for your organization!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week, Wade Yeoman

This week’s Charitable Superhero wants his industry to give


Wade Yeoman became a Champion for Best Buddies Kentucky as a way to give back to his community. He learned about the organization from Wes Auberry, founder of Beauty for a Benefit, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and funds for charities. Wade had been looking for a cause that his law firm could support, and Best Buddies fit the bill:

“I have worked with multiple children that have sustained mental and physical injuries and disabilities. I quickly learned that one of the main services I was providing was simply being a friend. Not only listening about the client's case, but also spending time with them to truly understand what they are going through. It doesn't take long to understand that children that are different are ostracized. As an attorney representing these individuals we can help them pay for much needed healthcare, but we cannot provide the companionship that an organization like Best Buddies can.”
He was hooked, so he asked Auberry to put him in touch with the organization. As it turned out, it was perfect timing, as BBKY was getting ready for their annual Champion of the Year campaign. As part of his campaign, Wade is asking members of the personal injury law community to step up and support Best Buddies.

“I’m asking personal injury attorneys to donate money, raise awareness, and champion the cause. Have the brochures and literature available in your offices, and tell people about the program. It’s a way for us to give back and to offer emotional support to some of our clients.”
Wade also feels that giving back to the community has personal benefits:

“It’s very fulfilling. The old phrase is true, it’s better to give than receive.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Morning-After Call, or How to Connect with Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser Donors

In an article for Huff Post Impact, Gary Laermer offers "5 Ways to Land-- and Stay-- on a Donor's Top-5 List." Each point provides sound advice, it's worth a read. In the introduction, Laermer asks a critical question:
"if an individual donates in a passive manner -- like a friend's online personal giving page to support involvement -- can you really count on that gift being renewed next year?"
 Herein lies the problem with the new ways people give. Text-to-give programs offer little in the way of donor data for nonprofits (NPOs) to capture. When individuals give to a peer-to-peer fundraiser, they are basically supporting their friend more than the organization. Laermer offers five ways to help get on their annual giving list. Here's one more:

#6 Reach out individually.   

Think of peer-to-peer fundraisers as a great networking tool. It's like a professional networking event, where you are introduced to a lot of people, but it's up to you to follow up with them the next day. You don't send an auto-generated email to those people. You thoughtfully reach out to each on an individual basis. Your organization should do the same when casually introduced to new donors. 

Go beyond the printed "thank-you for your donation, this letter is your tax receipt" mailer. Hand-write thank-you notes and mail them separately. Even better, call these new donors! It's a great opportunity to thank them personally and it offers a chance to share with them the ways their generosity is helping the mission. Plus, it makes a great impression that they'll remember when they get a fundraiser ask in their mailboxes in six months. 

Relationships take time and resources, and many organizations (both nonprofit and for-profit) tend to want to cut down on relationship building efforts. But it's one area where every organization should be adding resources. In today's market, the competition is fierce and building good relationships with donors, supporters, and customers is the key to growth.   

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Combine automation and personalization when receipting donors

Jeff Brooks recently made the argument that donor receipts should go out within 48 hours. Most online
fundraising platforms automatically send receipts to donors as soon as the donation is processed. Many nonprofits assume that the electronic receipt buys them time for acknowledging donors personally. Not so.

An electronic receipt tells the donor that you received their gift. But a letter with a hand written note tells the donor that they are a priority for the organization. Think of it like your nephew's birthday gift... you smile when that crayon-drawing thank-you comes in the mail a week after his birthday, but you question whether your brother is a quality parent if the note doesn't show up for three months. Timeliness makes a difference.

Brooks suggests getting the entire organization on board with the fast thank-you turnaround, but just getting people to agree doesn't make things happen. Consider setting up a dedicated station for thank-you note writing. Assign one or two people the task of printing out thank-you receipts every morning before the day gets hectic. From there, it takes just a couple minutes to personalize the letters with a hand-written note in the margin or at the bottom, sign it, seal it, and put it in the outgoing mail.

Creating a designated work space for thank-you writing will streamline the process, and it will take just minutes a day to strengthen relationships with your best supporters. It's a key ingredient to keeping your organization sustainable. Whatever you do, don't use automated receipts as an excuse to ignore even the smallest online donations.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Get Gutsy with Your Next Fundraising Theme

Fundraising event theme created by The Karma Group

We all know that creating a good fundraiser theme takes creativity, but don't leave your sense of humor out of the process. People like to laugh and often go online just to find a good chuckle (see Pinterest's Humor category for proof of concept). Plus, people love to share humorous content, so using your sense of humor to create a fundraiser theme increases your chance of the message going viral. The question is, why are so many nonprofits afraid to be gutsy with fundraiser themes?

The obvious answer is that they are afraid to lose donors to what some may see as offensive. Underlying this fear is the challenge of reaching a new generation of donors while maintaining quality relationships with existing long-time supporters. And, small nonprofits may have a single person charged with creating fundraiser themes. Siloing work in that way can cut creativity, or worse, the individual may have a sense of humor not shared by society at large. For example:

Not a fundraiser, but it fits the example. This photo was snapped by a Reddit user. The offending employee has since been fired, and the establishment has made formal apologies. 
You can imagine the backlash over that sign. The point is, you can be gutsy in your fundraiser theming without being offensive. Start by relying on mainstream jokes, like the first example. It works because really... who among us hasn't blamed it on the dog? Still at creative loss? Never forget that you have a built-in resource for ideas and feedback-- your supporters! Try asking your Facebook followers to come up with themes for your next fundraiser. You might be surprised at how appropriately creative people can be. Not sure if a concept goes too far? Why not ask that volunteer who is in the office every week for her opinion? She's likely to give you an honest answer because she's invested in the organization's success. Plus, she's exactly the audience you're aiming your campaign at so her perspective is particularly valuable.

Sure, being gutsy and staying on topic is challenging. Taking a little time to test a concept on existing supporters can save headaches down the road. But if you do it well, gutsy theming can make your message go viral in a good way, and be lots of fun in the process.

What's the gutsiest fundraiser you've created or seen? Share your gutsy ideas in the Comments!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week, Marlena Docter

This Charitable Superhero had no idea what her neighbor is up to. 

When Marlena Docter was introduced to Best Buddies Kentucky (BBKY) Director Chris Head, she was surprised to recognize him as her neighbor from down the street. When he described the organization to her, Marlena decided that becoming a Best Buddies Champion was the perfect way to increase her community involvement and put her sales skills to great use, spreading awareness for the organization.

Marlena is enjoying being a Champion and plans to continue her support of the organization long after the Champion program ends.
“It’s not about the prizes; it’s about raising awareness and support for BBKY. I’m really enjoying meeting new people and spreading the word. It’s such a great program and more people need to be aware of it.”

Her neighborhood connection to the organization wasn’t the only surprising thing. Marlena says,
“Something that surprised me, is how generous everybody in Louisville has been toward BBKY, donating funds and auction items. It’s been amazing to hear of so many people who are excited to give back to such a great organization.”

Marlena looks forward to the Murder Mystery Dinner, and has collected some really great items for the silent auction. Her auction list includes: a University of Louisville basket with a t-shirt, coffee mugs, a voucher for 4 football tickets, 4 basketball tickets, and an autographed football by coach Charlie Strong; a family package for Christmas at the Galt House and a one-night stay in a deluxe suite; a Brown-Forman basket with  a selection of products; and a framed picture of the Louisville Legends, complete with autographed matte featuring Legends Denny Crumb, Pat Day, and Joe B Hall, among others.  
Those are auction items any Louisville native would be excited to win. But the real winners here are the children and young adults whose friendships those auction items will support, and two neighbors who've joined forces for a great cause.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

A gift for World Habitat Day

Today is World Habitat Day, a day to celebrate the work of volunteers, donors, and employees who make Habitat for Humanity one of the most relied on, most critical nonprofits worldwide. Safe, affordable housing has far-reaching effects in every community. When Habitat for Humanity moves into a neighborhood, the area is on its way to sustainability.

To celebrate World Habitat Day, the HuTerra Foundation is extending our custom-designed Habitat for Humanity website application. This project is growing quickly. Habitat affiliates across the nation are adopting it and experiencing increased support and interest. Check out the Habitat for Humanity website here. Or, you can help a Habitat affiliate get a new website by donating to the HuTerra Foundation and joining our mission to make nonprofits more sustainable through technology.

Friday, October 4, 2013

This fundraising idea cuts down on sugared-up students while raising money for your school

There seem to be two truths to every Halloween:

  1. Many people over-spend on candy
  2. It's difficult to stay focused on learning the day after a candy binge

Rather than dreading November 1 this year, turn Halloween into an opportunity for your school community to support eating healthy and to support the school! The concept is really simple and this fundraiser is fast and easy to pull off. Here’s how:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Brian Coxon

A lifetime of friendship led this Charitable Superhero to become a Champion

Brian Coxon is no stranger to the importance of friendship for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). As a child, Brian had a good friend who was diagnosed with autism. In fact, he still does. The two are lifelong pals, but Brian was surprised to learn of a resource that could have provided more support for his friend at a young age.

“As important as he is to me, I’d never heard of Best Buddies before I was approached to become a Champion. I found out that my friend’s family hadn’t heard of Best Buddies before, either. This isn’t a particularly young organization. The point that drives home is just how important it is to spread awareness for what Best Buddies Kentucky is doing, what an asset it is to our community.”

In addition to raising funds and awareness, Brian wants people to understand that becoming a Buddy positively affects both members of the match.

“Friendship is so important for everybody. Best Buddies matches aren’t just about being nice right now. It’s about making a friend for life.”

Brian has a special event planned to raise awareness and funding for the Best Buddies Kentucky program. He’s teamed up with Louisville local favorite, Gerstle’s, for a day of great food, great drinks, great music, and cornhole-tournament fun. Join Brian and Best Buddies starting at 3p.m. on Saturday October 19 to support a great cause!

Brian is seeking donations of food, paper plates, plastic forks, etc. for the event. Contact if you can help with the event.