fundraiser

The Key to Maximizing Your Year-End Fundraising Efforts

Today's guest post comes from Cindy Wagman, President of The Good Partnership, which is on a mission to make great fundraising achievable for small nonprofits. Since we are entering prime fundraising season, I wanted Cindy's perspective on how to make the most of year-end efforts. And she's got some great advice for you!

The Key to Maximizing Your Year-End Fundraising Efforts

Oh, hi!

If you’re like most of my clients, you’re the Executive Director for a small nonprofit and you’re juggling a million balls, trying to keep up with the increased holiday workload. On top of that, you need to take advantage of year-end fundraising. You’ve probably seen the infographics on Pinterest that show how much money comes in through donations to charities at year-end. Feel like you’re missing out, or behind the 8-ball?

Take a deep breath and grab a coffee or tea, and I’ll give you a few pointers on how to focus your year-end fundraising to maximize results with the least amount of effort.

 

Campaign vs. Appeal

First thing’s first. You need to think of year-end fundraising as a campaign, or mini campaign. It’s not just one direct mail package or one email asking for support. It’s also not a bunch of random asks that don’t have anything to do with each other. A campaign is cohesive and multi-channel, multi-touch. But, that doesn’t mean overwhelm. In fact, a campaign can help eliminate some of the overwhelm because it gives you a clear plan with a lot of messages that can be repeated, over and over.

At minimum, I want you to do a three-part email series with an ask in EACH one, some social media posts and, if you do traditional direct mail, at least one letter. If someone makes a donation, you can remove them from the subsequent communications.

Your Theme

Now that you have an outline of what you’re sending, you need to know what messaging to include. Pick one theme for your campaign and then have that theme run throughout all of your materials. Build on the story through your emails and social media posts, and keep in mind that it takes someone 8-10 times of seeing the SAME message to really internalize it. Don’t worry about repetition. Seriously, don’t worry about repetition.

 

Your Writing

So, there are some best practices when it comes to fundraising writing. Effective fundraising writing is not necessarily “good writing” and usually isn’t what we personally “like." But it works. It should be casual and friendly, with a specific and personal call to action. I’ve actually written a whole blog about just that, which you can read here.

 

Your Thank You

Your thank you is as important (or more important) than your ask.

Your campaign doesn’t end with a gift. In fact, what you send after someone donates is as important or more important than what you send in asking for it.

Create a thank you letter that directly reflects the ask. It should build on the same story as the rest of your campaign and give donors a sense of meaning for their contribution.

Also write a thank you call “script” (something short, sweet, and informal) and have your staff or board call to thank donors when they give.

Somewhere between three and six months after your campaign, create a short but meaningful donor update building on the same messaging as your campaign, to let your donors know what progress you’ve made thanks to their support.

 

Focus

It may seem like this is a lot to do, but if you focus it on one campaign with consistent messaging (and understanding that people need to see repeat messages for it to sink in), you can actually minimize your work and maximize your impact.

Here’s a quick checklist for your year-end campaign:

  • One theme/story to use throughout your campaign

  • 1 letter (if you usually do letters), 3 emails, and a handful of social media to support the campaign

  • A thank you letter and phone call script

  • A 3-6 month update

You’ve got this! One final tip is to turn off your cell phone and notifications, sit down for a couple hours, and get this all written and drafted in one sitting. Batching work can often save many hours of switching back and forth.


Cindy Wagman of The Good Partnership

Cindy Wagman is President of The Good Partnership, which wants to make great fundraising achievable for small nonprofits. She loves fundraising because she gets to see the most generous side of people, and helps match their passions with real action.

After 15 years as an in-house fundraiser, she left her 9 to 5 and created The Good Partnership to help the organizations that were closest to her heart. These were organizations that were driving change, and aligned with her priorities for her community, our society, and the world. She wants to help you be your authentic fundraiser and lead the change you want to see in the world.



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Today's guest post comes from Cindy Wagman, President of  The Good Partnership , which is on a mission to make great fundraising achievable for small nonprofits.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Ask the Experts: Event Planning Trends and Strategies

Each month, I invite guest contributors to speak about timely, relevant, and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations like yours to be aware of as you grow. For June, I've invited my friend and former co-worker, Kristi Collins from Coco Red Events to share about event planning since many of you are starting to prep and plan for fall events.

Event Planning Trends and Strategies

Q. What are the latest trends in your industry? 

A. As a foodie, I think my favorite trend right now is casual food, especially a Mexican buffet with fajitas and tacos. I mean, who doesn’t love queso? For dessert, we’re seeing more donut installations, pie bars, and bite-sized treats. Most cakes (wedding, birthday, or anniversary) are smaller with a statement design, such as tiers in geometric shapes, a colored glaze dripping down the side and marbled fondant.

For design, we’re seeing a lot of clients interested in a woodlands theme. Think muted colors like a dusty rose, ivory, and sage green paired with lots of greenery and other natural elements like moss, river rocks, and tree slices. I think a big reason why people are choosing to go this route is because it’s gender neutral and everyone can enjoy the aesthetic. And people always enjoy a good vintage piece. Whether it’s a farm table used as a dessert table or an old library card catalog used to display escort cards, these pieces will create more dimensions to the design.

Our clients are also moving away from the traditional photo booth with props, and opting for a Polaroid camera setup instead. Guests love it because they can take the photos with them, and our clients love it because it’s engaging. At the end of the event, we’ll gather the left over photos and save them for our client, who can turn them into a photo album. The photo album is a great keepsake, whether it’s a coffee table book for a newlywed couple or something to keep in a company break room for employees to flip through.

Q. What is the biggest mistake that you’ve seen people make in regards to event planning?

A. I think everyone should have a day-of coordinator for any event. And I’m not just saying that because I am an event coordinator. Trust me, I had someone coordinate my own wedding! I think it’s so important for our clients to be able to relax and enjoy everything that they’ve envisioned and worked hard to create. If you’re running around, making sure that everything is perfect, you will not have a good time. You should be able to mingle with your guests and enjoy yourself. Even if you’re DIYing your whole event, hire someone to handle the details and make sure that everything runs smoothly on that day. It’s worth every penny!

This is especially important at a fundraiser. Your guests are there because they believe in you and what you’re doing. Think of yourself as the brand ambassador and make yourself available to answer any questions that your guests may have. If they can’t find you to get more information about your cause, they are less likely to support it. We are there to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch and that you are able to reach your fundraising goal.

Q. What is your best piece of advice?

A. I think that people are naïve when it comes to the budget for any event. Many clients don’t know how much it costs to hire a good photographer, caterer, etc. so, they’ll spend money on little things and before they know it, they’re way over budget. My advice, choose your top three Items and spend the bulk of your money there. My top three are always food, music, and alcohol. I like invitations, but they aren’t the most important item to me. Now, if you’re a graphic designer or your company sells paper, the invitations are probably really important to you and that’s ok. Make invitations one of your top three. The important thing is to focus on what’s most important to you, and then build the rest of your budget from there.

Another great thing about working with an event planner is that we get discounts, which we pass onto our clients. A good event planner will save you several hundred dollars in various areas, covering some of their fee.

Additionally, if you’re just diving into the event world, be sure to cultivate relationships with other vendors early on. Find out how you can work together and offer discounts for your clients. Meet other like-minded vendors that specialize in your area and be sure to send them leads for dates that you have already booked. They’ll return the favor and help grow your business. The wedding and event industry is a small one, where everyone knows everyone else. Networking is so very important. Go to as many networking events as you can and start making those connections early on!

Q. What is one thing readers can do this week to improve?

A. If you’re an event planner or getting ready to plan an event, do some research. If I’m planning a company event or fundraiser, I always ask myself the following 5 questions:

  1. What is this company’s daily mission?

  2. What is their goal for this specific event?

  3. What brand-specific elements can we incorporate into the event? (Awards, logo placement, etc.)

  4. What is something fun and memorable that we can do during the event to increase brand awareness?

  5. Is there something that guests can walk away with that will keep the brand or mission at the front of their mind?

Q. Anything else we should keep in mind?

A. No matter what type of event you’re planning, it’s important to remember the story your organization or client wants to tell. When guests walk into the event, they should be able to look around and know who or what this event is for. Everything should reflect the brand or personality. That’s what makes your event stand out from everyone else’s. And most importantly, make sure that your guests have fun!


Kristi Collins has been involved with events for over 15 years. She has her BA in Musical Theater from Samford University. After theater, she went into retail, then coordinated events in the non-profit sector and finally found her calling in the wedding and social event industry. Kristi has received her Certifications in Wedding and Event Planning, as well as Social Media Marketing. She lives in Decatur, GA, with her husband, J.R., and her insanely cute dog, Toby.

Learn more about Coco Red Events.



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Event planning for nonprofits and social enterprises

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.