Taking your organization’s fundraising to the next level!

Posted by Alexis Nadin on April 4th, 2013

Earlier this week, we kicked off the Online Fundraising Academy! Forty-five organizations have been invited to participate in the 2-month online course.

To get things started, Kelly Voss, the Director of Development for Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project joined us for the first session to talk about the ways that her organization has taken fundraising to the next level over the past several years and the steps they are taking to continue to grow and improve their fundraising.

Session Recording: http://www.anymeeting.com/globalgiving/ED56DB898047

Session Notes:

Kelly sees passion, compelling photos, and compelling stories as the drivers of Nyaka’s success.

Know what motivates you.

  • For Kelly, it’s a photo of the pit latrine that one of the Nyaka grandmothers uses everyday. It’s a reminder of the importance and value of her work.

Know your mission and your story.

Personalize your donor asks.

  • Make sure that every email communication you send is customized to the individual donor.
  • Send donor thanks you’s within 48 hours. It will set you above the rest!
  • Whenever possible, have face-to-face meetings with your donors.
  • It can take 7 no’s to get a yes.

Establish a great team!

  • Take the time to establish a strong team!
  • Develop individual work plans for each member of the team using the strategic plan. It’s easier to understand who is doing what.
  • Come from a place of inquiry. Instead of being right, ask your team members how they would like to do something.

Your Champions! (Also known as your board)

  • Create passion on your board.
  • Help your board take fiscal responsibility for your organization. Your board should be involved in budgeting and financial decision making.
  • At Nyaka, Kelly and her team send board members email stories on Fridays, right before they head out to socialize on the weekend.
  • You need a good mix of board members–conservative members, visionaries, and individuals with deep pockets.
  • Nyaka’s board meets 6 times a year.
  • Additional resource: Sign up for Gail Perry’s newsletters! She has great, fresh new ideas on board fundraising and more. http://www.gailperry.com/

Development Committee – Goldmine of advice!

  • Cover Your Booty! This is a group of people who are on  your side. They understand your development strategy and they can help you make your case with your board, founder, and more.
  • The development committee may include board members but it is also made up of outside volunteers.
  • The development committee will help you come up with your fundraising plan and implement your plan.
  • The development committee meets about 6 times a year. They’re there to help brainstorm fundraising ideas.

Founder’s Syndrome

  • When you have a small organization started by an individual with a vision, you have a situation where the founder has invested his/her life and then suddenly people come in with new ideas. There can be some difficulties and tough conversations.
  • Be prepared to ask questions, listen, learn, and be patient.
  • Use the development committee to help you help the founder understand your ideas and where you’re coming from.
  • Practice making your idea someone else’s. Bring your ideas to your board, your supervisor, etc. and make them see the idea as their own.

Exercise - yes, really!

  • Take at least 15 minutes everyday to get outside and get some fresh air.  It will make a huge difference in your fundraising.

Major Donors, Corporations, Individuals, Monthly Donors, and More

  • 80% of your money will come from 20% of your donors. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the concept of the donor pyramid (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-donor-pyramid.htm). Your goal is to move donors up the pyramid to become generous, life-long supporters.
  • If you’re not yet at a place where you have a full-time development staff, you should be meeting with potential major donors and individual donors face-to-face.
  • Guidestar is hosting a free webinar next week on major donor fundraising on April 30th. Sign up here. 

Leverage relationships!

  • Use relationships to get free design work, free strategic planning.
  • Recruit interns. They’re free and eager to learn!
  • Tap into fellow development professionals.
  • Sign up for newsletters from other, similar organizations. See what they’re doing that works.

Questions &  Answer

Q: “You say it’s all about the story, which I agree with, but how does Nyaka get people to read the story in the first place.”

  • Starting early  on, the Founder has done a great job promoting the heck out of Nyaka. He has written books, been featured on CNN, Clinton Global Initiative, GlobalGiving, and much more.
  • Rely on your volunteers. At Nyaka, Kelly has a group called the “Friends of Nyaka,” which they engage around specific promotions like GlobalGiving Bonus Day.
  • It’s really thinking about how you can really leverage relationships. It’s all about relationships!

Q: You  had mentioned that there were some infrastructure improvements that you made to help you improve the way that you interact with donors. I wonder if you could talk about some of the infrastructure improvements you’ve made at Nyaka to help improve your interactions with donors.

  • Create a brief case statement written in the first person so that anytime someone asks to learn more about your organization, you can copy and paste content that’s already been prepared. This case statement should help you with your grant proposals, donor inquiries and more.
  • Nyaka also took their annual report, which used to be 20 pages, and trimmed it down to 4, in an effort to increase readership.
  • Update on GlobalGiving every month. Use updates to tell stories.
  • Nyaka uses Constant Contact to send regular donor newsletters and updates.
  • Make sure your donors know your donors and your team knows your donors.
  • Make sure you have a database of donors! Nyaka uses Sage Fundraising. Other organizations use Blackbaud. Kelly says that if she died today, someone else could easily come in and do her job. They have developed the necessary infrastructure to make that possible.
  • Kelly suggests reaching out to some of your biggest and brightest donors and asking for their help in investing in fundraising software and infrastructure. Go to the people who really truly support  your mission, and have for years, when you need additional infrastructure support.

Q:  What do you think was the step that Nyaka took right before they hired you? How did they get to the point where they were ready to hire a full-time staff person for fundraising?

  • Nyaka wasn’t planning to hire Kelly! She was originally hired as a part time grant writer. The board of directors realized that they needed to diversify their fundraising so they went to one of their major donors, who was savvy and recognized the need for the organization to develop some additional infrastructure, and asked to hire her. This is the same way that Jackson, the Founder, was hired as a full-time staff member.

Stay tuned for recordings and summaries from other Academy sessions! Next week, we are thrilled to welcome Peter Panepento, Assistant Managing Editor at The Chronicle of Philanthropy. He will share the Chronicle’s recent research on How America Gives, which examined giving data by ZIP code and by income level in every city and town in the United States. Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the research before the session next week! Visit the website here.

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