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

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

5 Steps the Best Boards Are Taking Right Now

best boards

True story. Amy Graves picks up the phone and calls one of the many friends of her organization, BCT Brooklyn Children’s Theatre in Brooklyn.

Her goal is simple – to check in and see how he and his family are doing.

That’s it. Good ol’ fashioned connection. Something we are all pretty damned hungry for these days.

They chat – he’s doing OK under the circumstances. He asks how she’s holding up.

Amy shares her own family update and then lets him know they have decided to engage kids in making movie musicals in lieu of the cancelled live performances. Rehearsals by Zoom are working out surprisingly well and families are excited about the new concept and maintaining an end of year accomplishment.

He thanks her and Amy thanks him. They end the call the way I‘m ending every call now – please stay safe and healthy. He says that he knows nonprofits are struggling and he was going to talk to his wife – he wants to help. He asked if Amy would call him the next day.

You can imagine that it was one of the first calls Amy made. : ) And this is what she heard.

“I spoke with my wife yesterday and we really want to help. We’d like to donate $50,000 and we’ll be sure to get you the donation quickly.”

I’d like to tease out the lessons in this story and show you five ways your board can be helpful to your organization right now. This is what the best boards are doing right now.

Because how you navigate this crisis will also define how you emerge.

Continue Reading

The Dirtiest Word in Nonprofits


It was somewhere around day 60 of my tenure as the Executive Director of GLAAD when I figured out the dirtiest word in nonprofits.

Want a hint? I’ll give you two.

  1. It’s not usually a dirty word outside of the nonprofit sector.
  2. And no, it’s not “fundraise” or “committee” or “grant application” or anything like that.

And yes, I realize that last one was two words anyway.

No, it’s something much more problematic for many many nonprofit leaders. In fact, most people I know who are drawn to be an Executive Director don’t handle this word very well. They kind of suck at it.

Want to guess what it is…?

I ask this question when folks sign up for my free online mini-series that premieres this week called High Impact, No Burnout. The idea behind the mini-series is to show you the 3 keys to building a thriving nonprofit without burning out. Which isn’t so easy.

Interested? It starts on Thursday, April 23rd. It’s free. And it very much focuses on how to overcome this dirtiest of words.

You can sign up here, and I encourage you to do so.

I guess I’m about to give away the answer, so keep reading… 🙂Continue Reading