Did you know that your donors can give more than money? Of course you do—many organizations strongest advocates are their major and monthly donors. Giving results out of a desire to make a difference to impact something you care about. Perhaps your non-profit has a small staff (maybe just you) and only a handful of development people and that makes it really hard to get your message out.An organization called the Mission Increase Foundation is trying some revolutionary ways to get the message out. One of these ways is to use your donors as advocates and development officers. What if you provided your donors with the tools that they needed to tell the story of your non-profit to their friends? Instead of sending out direct mail you sent out packages of 10 greeting cards for your donors to write a story about why they care about the non-profit and pass them along to friends and neighbors. Or when sending out your next e-newsletter you challenged your readers to forward the email on to a couple other friends with a quick note on the top of their email talking about why they support the organization.

What I’m talking about is not a change in degree in fund raising. It’s not about doing more of something, or doing something more systematically. It’s about a change in kind. It’s a bold leap that’s awaiting anyone who’s awakening to the value of seeing fund raising as a powerful communal experience. Eric Foley

What do you think of this idea? Would it work in your non-profit? Why or why not? I think that one of the keys to making this work is to create ideas that fit with the mission of your non-profit. Maybe instead of sending a letter to forward on you send a magnet, postcard, or miniature coffee table book. Any other ideas?

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Designing Your Event

by Brenda Tincher · 0 comments

You’ll be most successful if you’re always thinking of your main goal as you design your event. Are you trying to thank and recognize, educate and make a case for support or raise money? Again, clearly define your goal and design the event from there.

Let’s say you decide that your major donors should see the facility first hand and understand how their support made it possible. What are some creative ways to reach your audience? Individualized tours of the facility might an option because tours allow more personal interaction with staff and an in-depth look at the housing. Tours can be scheduled at the convenience of your major donors which is a plus when working with busy people. Additionally, you don’t have to rent a venue, order catering or set up chairs, tables or audio/visual equipment. However, you will likely want an opportunity to talk to specific donors and introduce key staff. In this scenario, the ideal solution might be an open house at the facility with tours starting every half hour.

But what if tours aren’t an option because of client confidentiality concerns? Maybe you will need to organize a reception that premiers a nicely done video of the facility and, ideally, a testimonial from someone your organization has helped. When designing your program, keep in mind that donors want to hear from the staff directly connected to the organization’s mission. Oftentimes, you are there to facilitate those conversations. Ask those in the organization that work directly with programs or clients to talk about what they see daily. Spend time working with program staff to help them understand a donor’s point of view and how best to talk about their work. Coaching your program staff on fundraising techniques can take a lot of time, but the dividends will be tremendous once you have allies in your organization.

Other event articles by Brenda:
Party for Party’s Sake


Ratios Versus Results

April 1, 2014

What does your non-profit stand for? How do you raise money? As donors ask more and more for outcomes and details about programs what sets your organization apart? What figures, stats and stories do you use to tell your story? Do you know if your programs are better than the programs of other organizations? Too […]

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Showing Off Your Non-Profit: A Word About Tours

March 25, 2014

A donor tour is possibly one of the most exciting parts of fundraising. Tours give you the opportunity to show off your organization and talk to your donors face to face. They provide you the chance to share all your organization’s wonderful stories and provide a context for the work that you do. In a […]

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The Art of Phone Follow Up

March 18, 2014

Follow up calls use to be the least favorite part of my job. It can be a lot of mental work to sit down with a list of phone numbers and make call after call after call. But, the more I started to make follow up calls the more I started to like them. How […]

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Broad and Transparent Giving

March 11, 2014

There seems to be a fear in the traditional non-profit world in telling donors too much, or in revealing too much about your organization. I think there was a time when donors asked fewer questions and demanded less accountability. Today more than ever before donors want to know that their money is going to make […]

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Engaging Board Members & Volunteers

March 4, 2014

Lets talk a little more about getting donors (and board members) involved in your nonprofit. I think that it is important that we do not take a too narrow view of fund development. Every nonprofit has a lot of different needs that vary from simple volunteer tasks like sorting or answering phones all the way […]

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Setting Sponsorship Levels

February 25, 2014

Reader Question: “We are looking at having a community wide 5K run to help raise funds for the sports programs at our elementary school. We are planning for about 1,000 people. We are charging $20 for adults and $15 for kids. It’s in Berryessa, San Jose, CA. We wanted to have 3 tiers of sponsorship. […]

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Event Sponsorship Levels

February 18, 2014

Do you struggle setting levels for your sponsorship events? Ever wonder what is too high or what is too low? I think those are questions everyone struggles with when you first start a sponsorship program. Before you set your levels make sure that you have some way to steward and work with these groups (see […]

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Party for a Party’s Sake

February 11, 2014

This post is part of a series on non-profit events. From time to time I will have guest authors write in on topics they have an expertise in. Thank you Brenda for taking the time to share some of your thoughts and advice on non-profit events.- Jason When staff members get together to talk about […]

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