Tag Archives: acknowledements

Feeling Frantic About Fundraising? 5 Suggestions to Help

Feeling Frantic About Fundraising? Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

You are not alone. As we begin to see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, we have to consider what we need to accomplish in 2021.

And 2021 is a ¼ over.

  • Am I doing enough?
  • Will I be able to retain my new donors?
  • Will my 2020 LYBUNTS return?
  • Will I go back on the road to talk to donors?
  • Will other organizations be doing it if I am not?
  • Should I feel relieved or guilty about the strength of my nonprofit right now?
  • Do we need to hire staff to help us handle our new donor base?
  • Will these donors continue to support us so that we can afford new staff?
  • Is everyone feeling frantic about fundraising?

We know we have so much to do, and it feels like it all must be done today. Because it didn’t get done last week when it really should have been done.

Breathe. Or meditate. Or do whatever has calmed you down over the past year. And consider:

Where do we go from here? 5 Suggestions to stop feeling frantic about fundraising in 2021

  1. Assess your donors. Look at your donor retention levels for First Time Donors vs. Multi-year Donors vs. Monthly Donors. How do you match up to benchmark statistics? (email me if you want our benchmarks.)          
  2. Assess your donor pool without events. Many nonprofit events are smaller or not happening again this year. Now is the time to use those event hours towards your relationships with individual donors. And see if you can raise more money. In other words, events are often very costly and time consuming to produce so think of the resources you can dedicate to another initiative. (Please note: Events can be great community builders and friend-raisers but rarely offer the ROI of individual donors).
  3. Assess your staff. Do you have the right staff for the future? Do they have the bandwidth to handle your new donors in addition to the job they already do? Is it time to invest in your organization’s human resources?
  4. Assess your systems. Do you have a CRM that works for your nonprofit? Do you have recent prospect research? Do you send acknowledgements out within 24-48 hours?
  5. Assess your strategic plan. A strategic plan in 2018 might not look the same in 2021. Does the work look the same for your nonprofit? Are your board, volunteer, and staff priorities different? Would your SWOT analysis remain true?

Yes, we are big into assessments. We see it as taking a breath and looking internally before you charge forward into this post-pandemic world. Of course, if you would like us to help with your assessments email me.

And, hopefully, you can stop feeling frantic about fundraising and start feeling confident about moving forward.

Did You See My Thank You Video?

It was also an example of how easy it is to do a quick thank you video for donors. And I am hoping YOU will make one of your own today.

Film a thank you video

It is midway through January. Your formal acknowledgments have, hopefully, all been sent and received. Now is the time to start stewardship.

According to a recent report from Kindful and the NextAfter Institute, the first 45 days after a donation is when you are most likely to have the highest open, read and click rates. And, donors are most likely to give a 2nd gift or upgrade to become a recurring donor.  If you want to be remembered, here is an easy way to be grateful, stand out from other nonprofits, and maybe even get a 2nd gift.

How do you film a video to thank donors?

Just do it. You can decide if you want to do one for all new donors welcoming them with a new fact. One for major donors reminding them of some of the things you have been able to accomplish thanks to their donations. Or, one for your whole organization.

Decide, and then:

  1. find the best cell phone in the office/house
  2. find a decent background that does not distract (the viewer should not be able to read book titles)
  3. figure out how to prop up the phone (you can DIY it or buy something on Amazon)
  4. make the space as light as possible by adding warm lights (table lamps can help)
  5. start “filming”
  6. Macs have software to edit clips but try not to spend too much time doing it – it is an easy way to delay getting it out.  
  7. send it out

Here is what I learned when I did my video:

  1. I bought a ring light for $35 on Amazon. I like that it makes propping up the phone easy and has a remote to turn on and off the camera, but the ring light doesn’t work well if you wear glasses. I think my glasses-free kids will use it in the future for fun things. 
  2. It will not be perfect – so don’t try for that. I can pick out 6 things that I would have liked to be different in my video. I am guessing you didn’t notice most of them. And if you did, I am betting that it didn’t change the impact.
  3. I gave myself one hour to film. I did do it a bunch of times because it takes me awhile to get comfortable and not flub what I want to say
  4. I had a script that I turned into bullet points and put it up right next to the phone so that I could glance at that. (One of the things that bothers me is that I am looking in a strange direction but I think that is because of how I placed the camera and will change it next time). Keep it simple. This is a thank you with maybe one fact.
  5. I spent less than 10 minutes editing it.
  6. I felt really good when I hit send on the blog with it! You will too!

If you create a thank you video, please send me a copy at abigail@merskyjaffe.com or tag me on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook). I love seeing them and learning from all of you. I promise not to notice any flaws.

What Would You Do With 1,000 New Donors?

1000 New DonorsImagine if an article about your nonprofit started getting forwarded on Facebook. By a lot of people. Suddenly, you receive 1,000 new donations from 1,000 new donors. Seems like it would be a good problem, wouldn’t it? But, it would still be a problem.  In all likelihood, you could not accept, acknowledge, and begin stewardship on 1,000 new donors with your current structure. In fact, many organizations can’t handle 50 new donors at a time.  Or 10 if they come at a busy time of year.

That is because most nonprofits don’t have a solid organizational structure for stewardship and development.

Whether you have a one-person development shop or fifty people working the task, there have to be formal processes in place to make sure you keep your donors happy. And retain those donors next year, and for many years into the future.

What should you consider when assessing your current structure? Do you have:

  • Goals for your fundraising efforts?
    • Are they realistic?
    • Is there data to back up your goals (vs. wishful thinking)?
  • Prospect and donor research?
  • An updated case for giving?
  • An understanding of the steps you take after someone gives you a gift? Including:
    • How many acknowledgements go out and from whom?
    • Who enters the gift into the system and how is it tagged so you can gather data at a later time?
    • Do you do something different if it is an oral pledge vs a written pledge vs a check or online donation?
  • Written gift acceptance policies?
  • Board involvement in fundraising (and expectations for involvement)?
  • 100% board giving to your annual fund (money, not just time and talent)
  • An effective development committee?
  • A stewardship plan?
  • Processes to update the different thank you letters on at least an annual basis?
  • A planned giving gift acceptance policy?

This is not an all-inclusive list for what to do with 1000 new donors.

In fact, it’s just an overview of considerations to create long-term financial stability and growth.  But, just as it will take additional funds to secure your nonprofit’s future, it will take additional work – from everyone – to be able to accept those funds with confidence.

If you are planning to go viral with a story to help you find 1,000 new donors, or you want to  have the kind of donors who will help your nonprofit succeed for the long-term, email me to today to talk about MJA’s Organization and Development Assessment. A full assessment will help you in untold ways.  To learn more about what we can do for you, click here.