Friday, May 1, 2009

Friendraising

Nonprofits can't afford to do business as usual, they have to get creative and try new strategies. When I came across Jenifer Daniel's website and I saw that she calls herself a "friendraiser" I was fascinated. What does that mean? Jenifer explains below that friendraising is all about cultivating relationships not just donations. Bunnie

In the past few years, nonprofits had experienced healthy growth in terms of dollars raised. The industry saw record years for fundraising across America with natural disasters and free flowing credit. However, the current recession is presenting challenges for all organizations.

Organizations must now deal with shrinking donations and reductions in services. Many arts and culture organizations are on the brink of collapse with some even closing their doors.

Now more than ever, nonprofits need friends. Unfortunately, most do not know or understand the strategic ways in which they could obtain them.

I have worked on developing strategies that help organizations transition their fundraising activities to friendraising activities such as: obtaining new friends, educating them on your mission, mobilizing them to act as advocates and acknowledging their efforts for doing so.

Obtaining New Friends

Easier said than done right? Not necessarily so. With the rise of social networks, it is easier than ever to find and cultivate new friends. The problem is that most groups don’t know how to use social networking effectively. Some groups believe that ‘virtual friends’ aren't friends at all. But they are incorrect. Virtual friends function in a world that is unfamiliar to nonprofit organizations. NPs are so used to doing the work of their surrounding community that they miss the virtual community.

Some of these new friends belong to multiple networks, have several email accounts and have lived in several states before the age of 35. These virtual friends are ripe for the picking and they are multi-taskers – the perfect new friend to have for the longevity of your organization.
You want these new friends in your fold. You will benefit from them today by cultivating new avenues of fundraising, developing a service minded volunteer core and as future potential leaders for your board.

Educating Your Friends

What good is it to obtain the friends if you don’t include them in your mission? You should be using this time to educate them. Host them in your location, tell them what you do and explain to them how vital it is in the community. They will see that their participation is needed and required and they will do what they need to make sure that your organization survives. Educating your friends expands your staff exponentially.

Mobilizing Current Friends

Now that you have obtained and educated these new friends, how will you use them? Hopefully for the betterment of your organization. You should use these new friends to help you promote your mission. For instance, if your group operates a museum, you should have a ‘young friends’ group to help introduce your museum to young people. This introduction begins a lifelong relationship and helps you bring others into the fold. Then they tell all of their ‘friends’ through Twitter and Facebook that they are hanging out at the local museum – this sparks interest among a group with whom you had no knowledge of before.

You should also mobilize your friends as advocates. When you know your funding is on the chopping block – use these educated friends to mobilize on your behalf. When your organization asks for continued support from the county or state – letters or emails from hundreds of your friends speaks volumes.

Acknowledging Your Friends

Now that you’ve obtained your friends and they’ve done some work on your organization’s behalf – it’s time to thank them. And I know that your budget is crunched so don’t think that you have to throw a big soiree –but you do have to honor their participation.

Offer your friends lifetime memberships at discounted rates, give them a special bumper sticker acknowledging that there are a ‘friend’ (see the AMIGO campaign from the Latin American Coalition in Charlotte, NC http://www.latinamericancoalition.org) and keep a printed running list of your ‘friends’ in the same way that you acknowledge your new donors. Show your friends that you value their time as much as you do their donation.

Remember, friendraising is a strategic process and much more involved than this blog article, but it is a necessity. And in hard times like this – it’s good to have friends.
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jenifer daniels – jenifer daniels is the "friendraiser" – a nonprofit management consultant based in Charlotte, NC. She specializes in community relations, grassroots advocacy, trainings and workshops and signature events. To find out more about her – visit her site http://www.jeniferdaniels.com/ or tweet with her at http://www.twitter.com/thefriendraiser

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