Tuesday, April 12, 2011

16 Provocative Ideas That Will Raise More Money

Raising money is a 24-7 job for the nonprofit community.  Just as business must always be selling, we too cannot rest on our laurels, we have to cinch the deal.  Gail Perry (Gail Perry Associates, Fired-Up Fundraising) shares what she learned at the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Very provacative ideas.  I really like the monthly donations.  For little more than one pizza delivery per month you can offer donors the ability to easily support your nonprofit.  Bunnie

16 Provocative Ideas That Will Raise More Money

by Gail Perry, Fired-Up Fundraising (March 2011)

I am just back from an intense 4 days at the AFP International Fundraising Conference.
And I listened to some of fundraising’s most brilliant – and provocative -  leaders.  Here’s what’s on the mind of some of our smartest thinkers.

Do consider these ideas NOW. They may go against your typical practices.  But I promise, absolutely, that you will raise more money if you implement them.

 1. Go All Out for Monthly Donors On Your Home Page.
Monthly donors are worth gold to you. On average, they will stay for 10 YEARS. Put the ask right on your home page.  The ideal monthly appeal ties a monthly ask to something specific. “$31 a month will do xxxx.”  Harvey McKinnon

 2. Focus on Fewer – Not More Donors.
You don’t make more money by having more donors. The more donors you accumulate – the less profitable your fundraising program. (Penelope Burk)

 3. Encourage Restricted Giving.
Restricted asks raise more money. Period.  We are holding our philanthropy back, because we are asking for unrestricted rather than restricted. (Penelope Burk)

4.  Get Rid of the Words.
Put your whole message in the first 150 words. The rest of your copy just backs it up.  (Tom Ahern)

5.  Get Rid of “Unmet Needs,” “Programs,” “Services.”
Write like you are an outsider to your organization. Get rid of the boring, obtuse jargon. Jargon is a flame retardant! (Tom Ahern)

6.  Make Your Case Like a Series of Ads.
Add photos while you get rid of words. Create your case or your fundraising materials with the fewest words and the best photos. (Tom Ahern)

 7.  Hire More Fundraisers.
Saying, “We can’t hire any more staff.” is stupid. Each additional fundraising staffer upticks gross fundraising revenue. Period. (Penelope Burk)

 8.  Give Your Fundraising Staff Raises.
Money is the #1 reason fundraising staff leaves. Investing in retention of staff will make you money. Retention boosts profit.  Extend young staff from 18 months to 30 months saves you money. (Burk)

 9. Get Rid of the Raise Money Now Mindset.
31% of fundraisers who are planning to leave their jobs will leave because of  an unrealistic “old school” culture of fundraising: ie, “you HAVE to bring in the $ NOW.”  How much more money could you raise if you took a long term, strategic approach? (Burk)

10. You Must Give Your Staff Management Training.
Success in business is 95% in the management of other people. But we cut staff training first whenever there is a shortfall. Training is essential. There’s not enough management training in nonprofits.(Burk)

 11. Get Rid of Lousy Board Members Now.
Allowing a lousy, nonperforming board member to serve out their term is, two words: “Chicken S***”  (Simone Joyaux)

 12. Be Blatant.
Try this: “With your help, all these amazing things happened. And without your help, they won’t.”  You‘re selling the impact of the donor’s gift. (Tom Ahern)

 13. Stop Talking About The Money You Need.
You choose:
 A case is about the opportunity you‘re putting in front of the donor.
A case is about your organization‘s need for cash. (Ahern)

14. Become a Shrink.
When dealing with volunteers, you are a psychologist not a fundraiser!  (Laura Fredricks)

15. Don’t Believe Your Prospect, When. . .
If he says, “I’m just a plain ole country boy,” it really means he is a wealthy prospect! (Eli Jordfald)

16. Close Down Some Programs.
Leaders will close or giveaway a program or activity that is no longer profitable and has little impact.
So were these ideas provocative? Would they challenge your status quo?

 Remember fundraising is changing. Donors are changing.  Doing what you’ve always done the same old way will get you yesterday’s results.  Go for it! Change is good.

Contact Gail at Gail Perry Associates

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Policy vs. Paper Clips

There's a lot of advice out there about governance structure.  Particularly when a board has always operated in a certain way, sorting through all the advice and finding the governance structure that fits your nonprofit can be difficult.  And it is more difficult when the board has acted as staff and now must transition to policy makers.  Dr. Eugene Fram sent me a copy of his book Policy vs. Paper Clips and I found it to be an interesting read.  One of the reasons it is actually a fun book to read is Dr. Fram tells the story of how to transition to a corporate model of governance through the fictional exchange of emails between friends.  Here are some of the things you can expect from the book:

From Dr. Fram...

Policy vs. Paper Clips is an unusual how-to book. It is a serious subject – improving nonprofit board governance while enhancing a management focus – but it is written in a highly user friendly way. Two old friends with ties to vastly different nonprofit organizations discuss via email what it takes to adopt the Corporate Model, an approach that can position your nonprofit to meet the demanding realities of the 21st century world.

Given today’s difficult times for nonprofits, hardly any can continue to operate as they have in the past. For most, it is no longer possible for a volunteer group of directors to be involved in day-to-day operations of the organization. The Corporate Model establishes a framework for separating policy development from operational activities. When customized appropriately to your own nonprofit, the Model promotes growth. This book shows you how to tap the creative energies of the board of directors to address critical issues about vision, direction, assessment of outcomes; how to adapt to new challenges and how to capture emerging opportunities – while turning over day-to-day operational matters to management.

The Corporate Model works best for nonprofits that have an annual budget of about $1 million or more and staffs of about 15 or more. However, anyone associated with a nonprofit group can benefit from reading this book. It provides an essential self-examination that can serve as a catalyst for becoming a more dynamic organization.

Your Board Members & Chief Executive Working Together Can More Effectively:

• Focus an organization on strategic issues over operational minutiae
• Encourage directors to bring their special expertise & cultural values to board discussions
• Understand the need for – and implement – rigorous assessment of operational outcomes
• Pinpoint management’s responsibility & clarify its responsibility
• Establish a system of organizational checks & balances


• Allow for more management flexibility to develop a more entrepreneurial culture
• Increase focus on productivity at the expense of bureaucratic processes
• Improve the CEO’s fund raising capacity to drive development productivity
• Obtain greater efficiencies through lower costs
• Keep board involvement high when developing policies & strategies
• Create a partnership between board and staff that builds trust

Your Board Members Can More Effectively:
•  Provide an appropriate mission-focused board structure for growth
• Operate effectively with only three standing board committees
• Make major board structural changes with minimum disruption
• Evaluate the chief executive fairly despite only having imperfect metrics

• Reduce or increase board size
• Develop effective audit committee & fraud protection procedures

You can contact Dr. Fram at