10 Tips For Your Annual Appeal

Its that time of year again! Time to execute your Annual Appeal to get some last minute donations before the new year. We stumbled onto a great blog post from fundraising consultant Ruthellen Rubin. The post is 2 years old but the information is timeless! As she says, copy this list, print it out, and refer to it offen as you plan and execute your Annual Appeal.

Ruthellen’s Ten Step Plan:

  1. (The best) Letter (we are capable of constructing) is written, proofread and approved.
  2. Mailing Lists are segmented by groups.
  3. Targeted asks for loyal donors have been thoughtfully determined.
  4. Complete mailing package (traditionally: letter, donation return envelope and an informational insert) weighs under one ounce for postal mailing.
  5. Printer/Mail House has been notified of your schedule.
  6. Website has been updated to reflect the same information that is in your postal mailing.
  7. E-Appeal has been constructed in sync with your postal appeal and thoughtfully scheduled.
  8. Plan is in place to coordinate your social network voice to correspond to your Appeal.
  9. Gift processing strategy has been reviewed with your business office so that donors will be thanked accurately and promptly upon receipt of their donations.
  10. Your “case for support” this holiday season is reflected in all communications with supporters.

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How To Increase Your Likability

As we take some time this Thanksgiving week to reflect on what we’re thankful for, we also should examine what it is that makes us likable to other people. We love this infographic from silicon valley wiz Guy Kawasaki, an excerpt from his new book Enchantment.

Of course this kind of thinking could be used in a professional as well as personal situation, but more importantly we think this is terrific food for thought when it comes to fundraising. Knowing the basics of human interaction like this is of course one of the basic requirements of success for any major fundraiser, so take the time and review this a little bit. You might be surprised at what elements you’ve forgotten about or perhaps become a little lackadaisical with as you age.

How To Increase YOur Likability Infographic

Budgeting Your Non-profits Marketing & Fundraising

As the new year approaches, we cannot stress enough about the importance for making sure you have a proper budget figured out for your marketing and fundraising needs in the coming year. All too often we hear these budgets being thrown around and put together as guess-work, but the reality is that they need to be handled with some care and precision to ensure that your organization can make a significant impact with its followers moving forward.

One tool we suggest to clients is to put together a marketing plan and start pricing out some of the marketing tools that they are going to need in the coming year. Then whatever number they come up with, double it. Seriously. We’re not telling you all of this because we want your money. Quite on the contrary, we won’t see most of your money because it will actually go towards vendors and goods that will be used to execute your plans. Its very important that you take the time to plan this properly otherwise you’ll find your organization struggling all year to make any real progress in its marketing and fundraising efforts.

Feel free to download our example Marketing Plan and let us know what you think!

Image courtesy of Toban Black on Flickr.

How to Secure In-Kind Donations in a Tough Economy

Especially in this uncertain economic climate charitable non-profit organizations need to think outside the box for their donation request strategies. When it comes to in-kind donations (items or services donated to events or campaigns by companies or sponsors), a fundraising plan of action needs to happen before non-profits can expect donations to fall into their laps. When planning large-scale gala events or golf tournaments that involve auctions, these tips will put you way ahead of the fundraising game.

Strategy #1
Compile a database list of in-kind donations and prioritize items. Set deadlines for items and write effective (and short) donation request letters. Mail donation request letters eight months to one year in advance of events/campaigns. Do not expect in-kind donations overnight. Follow up with every contact on your master in-kind donation list. Divide companies and/or items between staff and/or volunteers (so it’s not as overwhelming).

Strategy #2
Target companies and sponsors that have the funding/resources to underwrite or donate items. Don’t lock companies into large versus small ticket items. Brainstorm and utilize resources from volunteers, staff and vendors.

Strategy #3
Ask for discounts from large vendors (such as rental or tent companies). Most vendors will give non-profit organizations partial discounts. Generous vendors will sometimes offer an in-kind donation of rental fees/tent usage. Create an in-kind sponsor level for vendors who waive fees and donate services.

Strategy #4
Take what you can get in this tough economy – don’t be picky. If a company can donate 200 flashlights (as opposed to 2,000), accept that amount. Approach other companies and ask them to match Company XYZ’s donation of “200 flashlights.” Company XYZ may be able to donate the rest of the items or similar items.

Strategy #5
Always follow up with phone calls and thank you letters after securing in-kind donations. Create a donor agreement letter and ask companies to sign (so they don’t forget that they agreed to donate and you have it in writing). If a company wants “acknowledgement,” offer a link to their website or a sponsor thank-you in the program. An in-kind donation is just as valuable, and should always be recognized along with monetary sponsors/donations.

Reply to Getting on The List

In reply to a great post over at Getting on The List | NetWitsThinkTank.com, I wanted to embellish on my thoughts. Go read that blog post first then come back here. Its ok, I’ll wait.

Ok, welcome back. It was a quick read right?! I always love insights into shifting our paradigm to really see what donors care about. One thing I’ve seen work to great success is less “selling” and more “empowering”. In other words, if we give supporters really amazing tools to support the cause along side an amazing story of what the cause is all about, then it empowers those supporters to become evangelists and bringe more supporters in from the fringe. Countless causes have had terrific success with this:
– 350.org with their rallies and marches around the world, produced by supporters.
– Toms shoes giving colleges materials to start their own Toms movement on their campus’
– Food, Inc. documentary with their home viewing parties
– and the list goes on.

Now the really interesting thing about any of these empowerment campaigns is that the communication does not come from the cause, it comes from the person you know. So since I know Chris Tuttle (albeit virtually), he might just open an email from me inviting him to my NYC studio for a documentary viewing party with good food and libations, but if it came from the cause it might not have the same possible influence on him.

For us at Mark & Phil, this is kind of the epicenter of what we believe to be the core strategic thinking in establishing the “new supporter”.