Search Results for: email fundraising

6 Year-End Fundraising Tips


We’re now entering our most important time of the year. A time when all our financial dreams come true. Right? Right?

I’m sure all of this is true at your nonprofit:

  • Your hard copy solicitations are printed and stuffed, each with a gracious handwritten note from your Executive Director.
  • All of your fundraising emails are perfectly formatted and waiting patiently in the cloud for you to press send. Each email will land at the top of your donor’s inboxes who just happen to already have their credit cards out.
  • Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts are pre-loaded and have videos and hashtags that will surely go viral within 20 minutes of them going online.

To paraphrase Oprah, each of us dream that every November and December we will be living our best fundraising life.

However, let’s be honest. year-end fundraising never looks that perfect.

It reminds me of something that happened to one of our clients last year. Every year, this client sends out lovely holiday cards with personal notes written by their Executive Director. Donors and VIPs love them. It’s a great way to send a personal thank you and it makes a demonstrable difference in donations.

But last year, the cards were ordered on thick glossy paper. They looked beautiful. But there was a problem.

The cards were too glossy to write on! So much for personal notes.

Now, this client had planned a lot of their year-end fundraising strategy early enough to rebound. But what if you’re still trying to decide what to do?

Maybe you only started at your job recently.

Perhaps a staff member quit and now you are picking up the slack.

What are the best credit cards for travel?

Or it could be that you are the only fundraiser and it has been impossible to get ready for year-end while also handling all of your normal fundraising responsibilities.

Trust me, I get it. It happens.

As fundraisers, we are nothing if not flexible. We always rise to the challenge.

For you, I have a last minute plan to help you get it done.Continue Reading

An Easy Way to Build Your Email List

nonprofit list building

What could you do with a bigger email list?

More donations? Volunteers? Capacity? Impact? Probably all of the above.

After all, according to a recent M&R Benchmarks report:

  • In 2015, on average, nonprofits received $44 in donations for every 1,000 fundraising emails sent.
  • Nonprofit email revenue grew by 25%, faster than the overall rate of online revenue growth
  • Among the nonprofits with the largest year-over-year growth in total dollars raised online, 34% of all online revenue can be tracked directly to email campaigns.

So it’s clear that nonprofit list building is very important. It drives donations, scales communications, and provides real-time feedback about what constituents truly care about.

So how do you get more people onto your list?

Today I’m going to show you how some of the top nonprofits are doing it, the big mistake they’re making, and how you can do it better.Continue Reading

It’s Time For Your Annual Fundraising Checkup

fundraising checkup

When the clock struck midnight this past January 1st, I made three New Years resolutions, all health related.

… Run more.

… Give up (some) pizza.

… Lower my cholesterol.

That last one came because of a check-up I had with my doctor a few months ago. A blood test showed I needed to lower my cholesterol immediately.

So long, pizza. Sniff.

The thing was, I felt fine. Great, in fact. But this was one of those things where I could take care of it now when it wasn’t such a big deal or I could wait and watch it become a big problem.

Does this sound familiar? Does this pattern exist at your nonprofit?

Let me speak directly to the Development Directors out there. Do you wait to look under the hood and diagnose a problem only after there’s an obvious fundraising crisis that can no longer be ignored?

It’s time for some preventative care — your annual fundraising checkup — where you can catch problems while they are still small and easy to correct.

Here is my prescription for a painless fundraising checkup that will help you find any issues early on before a major course correction becomes necessary.Continue Reading

How to Forecast Fundraising Revenue

This is part 3 of our series on The Perfect Fundraising Plan. You can read the first two parts here:

fundraising dataA perfect fundraising plan has six elements.

Each is critical and the lack of any one of them can make your fundraising efforts tougher. Significantly.

I introduced the perfect fundraising plan in a recent post. But that was an overview. Now we dig into the details. Step-by-step, how to actually do it.

If you’re involved in fundraising and want to make sure not to miss this set of posts you should subscribe to get notified by email (if you haven’t already done so.) Just click here:

> I don’t want to miss these posts

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into the details of the first element…Continue Reading

The Five Fundraising Mistakes You Need To Stop Making Now!

Fundraising Mistakes

There are so many ways you can screw up an ask. You might be ready to make one. Read on my friends.

Fundraising is an art and a science. It’s hard work and easy to screw up. Right this minute you may be planning to make an “ask” and you may have already set yourself up to fail.

For every 10 asks you make you’ll get, on average, 7 no’s. And that’s if you are really good at it.

But so many amazing and smart fundraisers are sabotaging their own success. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Look, you’re going to make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to avoid them.

So let me walk you through the five biggest fundraising mistakes I see again and again, so you can stop making them starting right now.

Continue Reading

How to Make A Big Fat Fundraising Ask

you have a generous donor with extraordinary capacity. time to ask for more.

Your organization has a generous donor with extraordinary capacity. It’s time to ask for more.

Most nonprofits live or die with fundraising. But for many of us, the idea of asking somebody for thousands of dollars can make your stomach tie up in knots.

How about you? Do you avoid making an ask for as long as you can and only see it as a necessarily evil?  Relax. There’s a bit of a science to the art of fundraising.

Consider the following scenario. This isn’t a hypothetical – it’s a real life, real time situation from some folks that have asked me for help.

It’s time for you to play consultant. What would YOU do?

Here’s the set up:

  • You run a small, brand new organization
  • No development director
  • 4 board members
  • $400K budget
  • Last year, your biggest donor gave $20,000. But this guy could write a check with ease for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe even a million.

You have an urgent need – your organization’s work is tied to the school calendar and your plans call for increased staff by September. You estimate that you need $300,000 by July 1. Your board is engaged and has written checks. You have identified $100,000, but these are soft commitments.

You’re considering asking your big donor for $250,000. You’ve been thinking about it for some time but have no clear strategy.

Then you get an email that makes your heart skip a few beats.

He’s in town this Saturday and asks you to dinner. He says he wants to hear more about what’s going on with your organization. You have three days.

What would you do?

Take a moment now. Stop here and comment (if you like) before continuing to my answer. I would love that. Then, come back here and read on so we can compare notes.

Click here to enter your comments (scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

You could also discuss this scenario as an exercise at your next development retreat (hope you are having one soon!)Continue Reading

Dramatically Improve Your Fundraising

fundraising dogFundraising, or development, is a terribly misunderstood activity. It makes grown men and women, mature and successful board members break out in cold sweats.

Many people think of it like used car sales. Others feel it borders on inappropriate to talk to people about money. The anxiety can cause someone to promise and then not deliver (read: chicken out.)

But development is not “sales.” It’s about relationships. About creating them, building them, and sustaining them. It’s about meeting people and sharing your enthusiasm about your organization’s work and seeing if your enthusiasm ignites them. It either will or it won’t. But you won’t know until you ask.

Development is also necessary. So here are some tips and tricks.

The Perfect Fundraising Plan

Fundraising Recipes

Getting Over Your Development Anxiety

Online Fundraising

Development and Your Board

Your Career In Development

Joan’s Top 5 Nonprofit Leadership Blog Posts of 2021

nonprofit leadership

Each of you began this year bleary-eyed.

On January 1, 2021, you were just coming off the heels of one of the most disruptive years the nonprofit sector has ever seen. Every year puts nonprofit leaders to this test, and this was never more true than in the year 2020.

The onset of the (still ongoing) global pandemic shook up our worlds, and it probably took everything you had to stay afloat.

But 2021 was just supposed to be the next day on the calendar. The vaccine presented a glimmer of hope that somehow things would return to “normal” when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day.

But most of the world did not yet have access. So it was more of the same.

On top of that, with our global economy still reeling from the pandemic’s lasting effects, this year brought an unbelievable need for your services.

So you did what nonprofit leaders do — you summoned energy you didn’t even think you had and made the decision to focus on the fundamentals.

You kept close tabs on your budget. You sought new ways to engage your board. You searched for resources where you could find them and found creative ways to bring more dollars in.

And you did all this in the service of a mission that means everything to you.

I know from all the emails and comments that I have gotten over the past year, that so many of you turned to the resources here on my blog for help. And for that, I am so grateful.

It has been a privilege to offer you advice and suggestions to help fuel your ability to work towards your mission and do your very best as a nonprofit leader and manager.

There are 5 resources in particular that nonprofit leaders like you found most valuable. As you prepare to head into the year 2022 (can you believe we’re almost 2 years out from 2020?) I thought it might be helpful to do a recap.

Check out this list and give them a quick read. They just might inspire some new ideas or insights that you can take into the new year.

Drumroll please…
Continue Reading

Is Your To-Do List Mocking You?

to-do list

Cindy Pereira basically runs my business.

She also produces my podcast and entertains me all day long. And I’m really lucky. I know it.

To know Cindy is to know that she is ambitious, and she gets more done in a day than any human I know.

But there are still things she just doesn’t get to.

One day I’m at her desk and a reminder pops up on her screen. Just two words:

Write novel.

I was weak with laughter. She returns to the office and I can’t even talk, I’m laughing so hard. I point to the reminder. She says, “Oh yeah, I have had that daily reminder for like years.”

Today I am not going to talk about your big hairy audacious aspiration and how to get it done.

I want to talk about those things on your to-do list that just keep showing up. They have been there for what feels like years. They never make it to the top of the list. You’re not putting them off because they are super hard, like “Call angry donor”.

These are regular things you are supposed to do. Every time you look at the to-do list they are there. Right where you want them.

At the bottom of the list.

For me, it’s “Update Database Contacts”. I see it on the list and I swear it’s staring back at me, judging me. I try to ignore it.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

If I asked you if they were important, you’d say “Yes, BUT”. Yes, BUT I first need to focus on the IMPORTANT stuff higher up on the to-do list. And it happens again tomorrow. And the day after. The week after. The YEAR after.

Is there a way out? You can’t just take it off the list. You can’t really delegate it either. The task matters and you’re the one who has to do it.

Can you imagine how amazing it will feel to be able to cross one of these off?

I have some advice. I have conquered one of these beasts recently – cleaning up my contact database – and I believe my recipe could really help you.

Ready?Continue Reading

What If Your Board Just Disappeared?

board disappeared

I have always been a sporty person. As a kid, softball and basketball (yes, even though I stand at a towering 5 foot 2 inches tall).

In the last decade I have been more strategic. I picked up racquetball a while back – only needs two people, can play regardless of the weather and heavy cardio. Next up for me will be pickleball and platform tennis.

I do love a good sport. Great for socializing and not gonna lie. I have a competitive streak.

I’ve learned that nonprofit leaders love sports too.

And I’ve learned they have a favorite – Board Bashing!

Executive Directors consider it sport to blame the board for lots of things – not responding to emails, not reading board reports, focusing on the trees rather than the forest. And oh yes, then there is the sport of nagging board members to raise money and getting nowhere.

Executive Directors seem to really enjoy complaining about their boards. It’s like they would like the board to just go away and leave them alone.

So today, let’s play that game.

What if after a lengthy nagging session at a board meeting, your board members stood up and never returned.

Or if one day you sat at your desk and said, “I wish my board would disappear.”

And they did.

What would your E.D. life look like without a board?Continue Reading