Should my organization participate in GivingTuesday? How can we do so on a limited budget?
GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity. Last year, 34.8 million people in 75 countries collectively contributed $2.47 billion. As #GivingTuesday continues to grow, don’t let your organization miss out. In other words: people will be giving, why not make sure they’re giving to you?
The countdown to this year’s biggest day of generosity, November 30, is on. Set aside time now to plan your campaign. Social media and human connection fuel this day— so think about how you can use your organization’s website, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to promote opportunities for support. Share donor and volunteer stories as part of your campaign. Ask your board members to commit to inviting 1-3 friends to support your cause either as a donor or volunteer (or both!) on GivingTuesday. Consider asking donors to set up recurring gifts rather than making a one-time contribution.
Above all, remember, people can show their generosity in a variety of ways on GivingTuesday—whether by helping a neighbor, advocating for an issue, sharing a skill, or making a financial contribution—everyone has something to offer. And every act of generosity counts.
Small budget? No need to worry. The GivingTuesday organization makes it easy for nonprofits of every size, with any size budget, to participate. With downloadable logos, graphics, Canva templates for social media use, and GivingTuesday key messages readily available, there’s no excuse to not join in this global movement of radical generosity. GivingTuesday resources are available here: https://www.givingtuesday.org/resources/.
What are some creative perks for virtual fundraising event sponsors?
When the pandemic became our new reality, many organizations had to think quickly about how to host a virtual event and recognize sponsors. While this was an unusual time that was often challenging to navigate, it also opened up new ways of thinking about how we recognize donors and event sponsors.
Below is a list of some fun and practical things to consider when recognizing and thanking event sponsors. Some of these ideas can work whether your event is in-person or virtually.
Today’s question came from a client who is hiring a new leader. They asked…should we include staff members in the interview process, and if so, what is the best way to do this?
After you’ve narrowed your search to the most qualified candidates, it is time to select the right person for the role.
Involving staff in the interview process can have benefits if it is done thoughtfully. This is especially beneficial for organizations that prioritize teamwork and comradery. Benefits include building consensus, seeking insight from different managers within the organization, and creating buy-in. It can also help identify red flags early on in the process and ensure you are making a good hiring decision.
Begin your search by creating a concise list of key characteristics you want the candidate to possess. For instance, the type of industry experience, leadership qualities, and personality type you want your ideal candidate to possess and write them down. Example: self-starter, effective multi tasker, effective working across all departmental teams, effective supervisory skills.
Then draft questions that will allow the candidate to describe their experiences and aptitude in these key areas. Their responses can be rated on a scale 1 to 5 (1 weakest to 5 strongest) after the interview process. Candidates with satisfactory ratings (say 3.5+ should proceed to the next level.)
Things to consider
Introducing our new column...Just Ask
After being in the professional fundraising business for over a quarter century, our HPS team has seen it all. Whether working with a prominent Church, large educational institution, multi-campus health care provider or a small social service organization, one thing remains true – If you want to raise more money, you must ASK!
Time again, a common theme surfaces when donors are asked why they made an investment in a non-profit organization. Donors most common answer? “I made a gift because I was asked”.
We decided to take this very simple concept and put it to use in our HPS Chicago blog, which will now be a Q&A posting titled – you guessed it – “Just Ask”!
This is your opportunity to ask us questions. Our HPS Team represents 100+ years of fundraising experience and have helped our clients raise nearly $1 BILLION. So, when a question comes up and you want to get our perspective, simply drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to answer your question directly. We will also hare it with our readers via the “Just Ask” column, as, undoubtedly, others are probably asking themselves the same exact same question.
So, to begin this segment, we got a question from a long-time client about the current climate regarding events.
“How are most organizations handling public events and specific “masking” policies?”
We recognize the stress and challenges every non-profit is facing as we continue to struggle with COVID-19 and its' variants. People are growing weary of virtual events, yet many are not yet ready to attend a 500-person sit down dinner. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
First and foremost, our recommendation is to follow the most current CDC guidelines, which can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html
Next, if you are planning to host your event at a venue, you will want to follow their guidelines. These may include having guests provide proof of vaccination and requiring all those in attendance to wear masks and maintain social distancing protocols. We also recommend you communicate with your guests clearly and often in advance of the event, which will help alleviate last-minute challenges and stressors.
Finally, when in doubt, consider "sitting it out". One of our clients decided to cancel their Annual Dinner and Dance, as it is a client-focused event. Despite the fact that all of the clients are vaccinated, the organization does not want to take any chances by hosting this large, indoor event, as many of the clients are immunocompromised.
Are there ways in which you can reach your audience without hosting an in-person event? While we noted previously, many constituents are tired of virtual events; however, is there a "feel good" story you can capture and share via video link? Are there ways in which you can inspire and motivate donors and prospective donors through a compelling story? While not ideal, these alternatives may be enough to keep donors engaged - and keep everyone safe at the same time.
“May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” – Peter Marshall
Celebrating America’s Independence for the Greater Good!
I hope you had a great holiday weekend! Much of the news has focused on celebrating being back together! Many of us spent the past weekend at BBQ’s, watching fireworks and enjoying parades. Thankfully, this year looks a lot different than it did last year. We can finally hug our family, friends and neighbors, gather safely, and enjoy each other’s company.
I recently read an opinion piece that shared that the best way to love our country is to fight to make it fairer, more equal and work for more opportunity for all. As I read this, I thought about the work that we all do as development professionals. Whether you work in education, the arts, animal welfare, human services, health care – you name it – we are all working in a space that strives for the greater good of our community, our city, our country, our world.
And while this is the fundamental basis and the mission for our work, I, for one, sometimes get busy and lost in the details and don’t stop to think too much about why we do this work. I’ve been busy thinking about and planning for the year ahead of us. What did I learn from the most unusual year we just left behind and what lies ahead? And yet, while we tweak our plans and map out our year ahead, today, let’s stop for just a moment and be in the present.
Let’s really think about why we do this work…why is it important to us? Yes, we aren’t the ones at the front lines…the counselors, the teachers, the artists, the doctors…but, what we do every day to connect with donors and friends to support our missions helps make this life-changing work possible. And, it makes our community, our city, our country, a better place.
Happy Birthday, America.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
No Means “Not Now, not Never”
As Development officers, we hear “NO”.
A lot actually.
Usually, the “NO” we hear has more to do with being denied the chance to have a conversation or meeting about an impending project or initiative. We call a prospect and hear nothing. We write a prospect, there is no response. A friendly email is sent, met with no return.
It can be deflating.
Remember though, the “NO” we have all experienced is really a way the donor says, either directly or indirectly, “I’m not ready for this discussion or request.” As Development officers, all we can do is continue to advance the mission of the organization we represent and that means respecting the position our donors represent.
So what do you do?
Continue to communicate. Eliminate (for the time being) any financial request and continue to advance information about how the mission is working. Continue to advocate for the clients, students, or audiences you represent through stories that show the mission working.
It’s a lesson we could all learn from Ms. Opal Lee.
Ms. Opal Lee was a driving force to getting the first National Holiday passed since 1983, Juneteenth. She heard NO far too many times to count. She was turned away at the door by legislators, donors, and countless others for well over five decades.
But she was persistent while being respectful. She knew her many audiences needed time. Time to digest what was being advocated for and time to see the impact of celebrating this newly voted upon National Holiday. She didn’t take the many NO’s personally, she just believed in what she was advocating for and never stopped.
As Development officers. Continue to advocate. Continue to communicate. Continue to be patient and yes, give your donors time but never give up on them. Over time, they won’t give up on your either.
- Mike Bruni, Managing Director, HPS Chicago
Are you thinking about DEI?
Is this a topic of conversation at your organization? Or have you shied away from this topic, because you are afraid of saying or doing the "wrong" thing?
Our team started the conversation some time ago, and it has recently become a more integral part of our team meetings. As is evident from our website, our team is comprised of middle-aged white consultants. Like many, we are trying to gain a better understanding of DEI and what it means to each of us, our team, our clients and our community.
We recently met with a DEI consultant, Khalilah Lyons, who is a dynamic and young - yet experienced - leader. We are seeking her guidance in several areas, which includes:
1. Gaining a better understanding of the DEI landscape
2. Finding ways in which we can learn and grow as individuals and as a team
3. Identifying opportunities to be more aware and thoughtful in our approach to the non-profit community and those we serve
Khalilah did not make us feel badly about who and where we are as a team. She simply noted that this is our starting point. This acknowledgement and our collective ability to speak honestly and without fear was a huge relief. With the ability to speak honestly and openly comes trust. And with trust comes progress.
We know this journey will not be easy and it will likely have no "end". But it will be thought-provoking and help us grow in new and interesting ways. I know I speak for each person on the team when I say that we are looking forward to challenging ourselves, expanding our thinking and perspective, and sharing our insights with you. We hope you will join us in this conversation!
Learning from Lockdown
Recently, I listened to an episode of Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast, this one with Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering. In this episode, Ms. Brown and Ms. Parker explore what it means to gather together in a post-lockdown world. The conversation is wide-ranging and surely pertinent to all aspects of post-pandemic life. Of the many thought-provoking questions asked, one has stuck with me: “What will we do with what we learned during lockdown?” Ms. Parker asserts that we must pause, think about all we’ve learned, and make appropriate changes.
I couldn’t agree more.
As I think about this from a fundraising perspective, I consider special events. Like all nonprofits, my client is grappling with future of its events. Truth be told, pre-pandemic, my client had said for several years “we really need to reimagine our events, breathe new life into them,” but there never seemed to be the time nor the needed appetite for risk-taking. Now, we’re forced to ask: should we simply bring back the in-person events exactly as they were? Will people want to come to crowded in-person events? Will it be safe? What, in this new reality, will people want?
During the pandemic, my client was fortunate. Thanks to a creative special events team and a generous community, its reinvented events were quite successful! Looking ahead, my client’s events team has made two decisions regarding future events:
1)Some of the future events will offer a virtual component. Going virtual opened us up to a large new audience. Our annual gala, for example, which usually drew 500 in-person attendees, brought thousands of participants, literally from around the country. Many of those newcomers attended additional virtual events and have become engaged in our community — albeit virtually — and as donors. We don’t want to lose them.
2)At least some of the future events will include a specific beneficiary. Prior to the pandemic, funds raised from special events typically supported a broad, somewhat vague purpose. During the pandemic, in recognition of the suffering of so many in our community, each event focused on a specific cause, e.g. the St. Patrick’s Day event featured a virtual cooking demonstration by Chicago chefs. Funds raised were used to purchase meals from local restaurants to be distributed to homeless shelters throughout Chicago, thus helping local businesses and feeding the hungry. Donors were moved by the mission focus of each event, and were incredibly generous.
Like Bene Brown and Priya Parker, I encourage you to take the time to think about all your organization learned by the forced lockdown and resultant shift. Like my client, I think you’ll find some change will be most welcome.
STOP. START. CONTINUE.
I recently had the privilege of working with a client that was preparing for a Board retreat. While the retreat focused on some heftier goals related to the organization’s newly minted strategic plan as well as creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, another important goal was to allow for some time for the Board to reconnect with one another. The Board retreat is usually an annual event, held in-person, for half a day on a Saturday. This year, because so many of us are zoomed out, it was a virtual retreat for a few hours on a Saturday morning. The planning committee did an excellent job ensuring that the agenda was tight, the content was important and relevant so that the Board felt it was a good use of their time, and yet, it didn’t tap into too much weekend time.
Across the pandemic, we’ve all learned to become much more adept at using technology to stay connected in our work and in our personal lives (Even my 87-year-old parents have become pros at Facetime and Zoom!). While it’s been crucial to have these tools to work and connect, we now find that the world is beginning to open up again and we can begin to get back to business as usual. But what is business as usual anymore? How has the pandemic changed the way we look at things and showed us how to operate differently?
At the retreat, the Board spent some time getting reacquainted in smaller groups in several virtual breakout rooms. We started the conversation with…
During the pandemic - what have you STOPPED, STARTED and WILL CONTINUE doing?
It was a really great conversation amongst the members and not only did they learn more about each other but there were many thought-provoking takeaways as well. In my opinion, this portion of the retreat was as important as the other meatier agenda items. It helped strengthen the cohesiveness of the Board and was a great reminder to each of them of who they are working alongside of to support such an important mission.
After this retreat, it also got me thinking…what do I want to START, STOP and CONTINUE doing in my personal life and in my work? I found this exercise to be very helpful in holding up the mirror and taking a good hard look at what is working, what hasn’t been so successful and what new things do I need to learn, introduce or be open to? I identified a few things…
Join me in this activity! I promise you will find it useful for both your work and personal journeys. So, I ask you…what do you want to STOP, START and CONTINUE?
OK, we held our virtual event. Now what?
Once we’ve played the role of writer, editor, producer and promoter….to get our virtual spring event accomplished, what comes next?
For my client, this year’s virtual event required five separate shoots in order to tell the story we wanted to convey. This compares to one or two photoshoots for our past in-person events. With all the expenses, time, and effort invested we looked for ways to leverage our work after the virtual event was held. Here are some things we did:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.