The latest iteration of our Fundraising Toolbox series is an oldie but a goodie from the Jason Dick:

Giving should be simple. How long was your last solicitation letter? Half a page, two pages? How many stories did you tell? How many statistics from your organization did you quote? If you are like many non-profits today you probably said, “my letter was a page and a half, I told the donor all about my administrative rate, why they should give, how it will help them, what the program they are giving to is, what the program does, where their money went, where there money will go, how many people we serve, etc.” I think you are getting the point.

Information should be transparent and easy to find. You cannot say everything in one solicitation or thank you letter. Your letters should be under a page and describe what you are asking your donor for and why. Yes, there are other things you need to include, but do not dilute the point (or ask) of the letter with too much information.

A solicitation letter should have three things in it:
1. What is it that you are asking for (ie. cash gift of $20,000, auction item)? Be specific donors will often give no more than you ask from them. But will often give more than they intend to if you ask for a reasonable and specific amount (make sure to have your contact information and a response envelope).
2. Why you are asking for it? This is a really good place to summarize your mission or tell a story about your organization (make sure that your organizations name is in the letter).
3. Where the money will be going? This should be very obvious but sometimes it isn’t see my post, Broad and Transparent Giving.

How are your appeal letters working?  New techniques that are adding value?  Join the conversation at @infosmallchange #ascblog

A Word on the Annual Report

by Edward Sumner

Ok.  It’s the end of the year.  Dollars have been raised.  Dollars have been spent.  Objectives have been established.  Objectives (hopefully) have been met.  Now, it’s time to shot it from the mountaintops!  Or, more likely, get it down on paper and into an electronic or printed format that looks just awesome.  After all, it’s the Annual Report for crying out loud!

We give a lot weight to this tool, and sometimes, perhaps too much weight.  Accurate, compelling, and transparent reporting on our finances and key metrics every year is a unique privilege and responsibility that we must execute.  However, if we feel like it’s our one and only shot to impress, encourage, and inform our community of support we have missed many opportunities for more frequent touches.

That said, the Annual Report is an important deliverable and naturally we want to really exceed expectations.  To increase the likelihood of doing that, here are some key questions that must be addressed regardless of formatting decisions:

  1. How much income was generated and how was it spent?
  2. What were our key metrics of operational results and were they met?
  3. What is on the mind of our executive leadership?
  4. What impact has giving had on the mission?
  5. What challenges have we faced?
  6. What are the priorities as we move into the next fiscal year?

Again, it is really important that we are clear, creative, and compelling.  It’s also important that we provide this electronically even if we decide to also print it.  There are some amazing examples out there and if you are seeking inspiration and additional insight.  Check out these winners.

What Annual Reports have gotten your attention?  Join the conversation at @infosmallchange #ascblog

Nothing like a good report

July 7, 2015

As we continue our series on the tools a fundraiser should have, needs to refine, or better pick up if they haven’t in a while, it would be a grand miss to not highlight how effective crisp, consistent, and compelling reporting can be. The agency that I have the privilege of serving with is relatively […]

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YOU are a valuable tool!

June 30, 2015

I had the privilege recently of participating in Jim Shapiro’s Better NonProfit Conference which was designed to help development professionals and other non-profit folks to grow, lead, and fund their organizations.  The speaker line up was solid, content really helpful, and the project reminded me of how valuable other development professionals are to me. I […]

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A tool for inspiration: Mobile Giving

June 26, 2015

There are now more than 1 billion smartphones on the planet.  And, in a recent study, researchers learned that 9.5% of donations came from mobile devices.  Clearly, this is a huge opportunity for fundraisers and a seamless and user friendly mobile giving interface can be an incredibly helpful tool to increase giving. I’ve done a […]

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A valuable tool from the archives: Handwritten Notes

June 24, 2015

When was the last time you received a handwritten note? I can count on one hand the number of handwritten notes that I’ve received in the last six months. If you eliminate holiday cards and birthday cards that just have a signature on it, then it’s even less. Another remarkable thing about the handwritten notes […]

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That Crowdfunding though….

June 18, 2015

This year I have received many requests to participate in Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe campaigns.  And I mean, like a LOT.  There seems to be an interesting shift taking place and folks feel inclined to raise funds for just about anything, and some of them are amazing causes and products.  Some of them, not so […]

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That ole donor database

June 16, 2015

Last week we queued up an intro to our next series of blogs that will highlight thoughts on the tools we need in our Toolbox as fundraisers.  Some of them are old and familiar and may need replacing.  Some of them may be new and we are getting to know how to use them well. […]

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I need my tools

June 10, 2015

My daughter is a little bit of a hobbit.  She’s 5 & 1/2 and loves collecting leaves, seeds, sticks, flower buds, acorns and the like and bundling them up together.  It’s weird and wonderful and recently she’s been taking it more seriously as a craft.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been pulling together a […]

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One from the Vault: Relationships

June 8, 2015

Excited to share this straightforward and thoughtful reminder from Jason Dick: Too often, we don’t ask the hard questions and share our real challenges, joys, and struggles. We do this because we are afraid of letting people into our worlds and of what they might think if they really knew who we are. What if […]

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