JULY 29th, 2019
Fundraising for nonprofits on a shoestring budget with limited resources can be unpredictably challenging. Recurring donations aims to assist with that problem.
However, monthly giving programs have an aim all on their own. We set up a quick poll on Twitter to find out exactly which ones are the most difficult to overcome for nonprofit fundraisers. The results certainly surprised us:
That land of political arguments and memes of questionable factual backing, all shared from people you haven’t spoken to in 15 years.
Anytime a post ends with “Please share this with anyone you can,” it should usually set off alarm bells.
Every now and then, a variation of this gem will make the rounds:
Yikes. There’s a lot to break down here.
Arguing on Facebook can be a hopeless endeavour. Most of the time, you’re unlikely to change the person’s mind (after all, they wouldn’t have shared it if their mind wasn’t already made up). But stuff like this can be hard to ignore.
So how do you set people on the right track? The best thing you can do is share some basic information with them to help them understand.
Here’s some things to share to help educate your friends who don’t quite get how the nonprofit world works.
Hey 2016, it’s me, Andrew.
Listen, you’ve been looking pretty rough lately. Is everything okay? Why do you have to keep throwing all this craziness at us?
It seems like every week there’s another case of violence, hatred, or bigotry being splashed all over my Facebook newsfeed.
Minnesota, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Nice, Baghdad, and on and on and on.
Every terrible, awful story brings along a new wave of vitriolic anger and arguments in the comment sections. I’ve even been seeing arguments on LinkedIn lately! Really? LinkedIn?!
And we STILL have an entire election season to get through. Gross.
Enough already. I need a mood booster. Something to keep me pushing forward and looking at my fellow humans with a smile rather than a glare of suspicion.
After all, this is a blog for nonprofits! We have mountains of "feel-good" stories!
I want to share warm-fuzzies with you, because I’m sure you need it too. Read ‘em. Share ‘em. Smile at ‘em. Bookmark it and come back to it later when you need a boost.
Oh! And leave a comment sharing your own feel-good stories!
When you're looking for an employee, it's not a decision you undertake lightly – especially when it's someone who will have as much of an effect on your organization as a Major Gift Officer.
The MGO is a big deal, because it requires a unique skill set: a love for people and – ideally – an authentic dedication to your cause, a knack for storytelling and listening, and, of course, a flair for fundraising. Most of all, you want to make sure that a potential gift officer is compatible with your vision.
So while your personal preferences may vary, the top qualities of a major gift officer are pretty consistent. They really like people, are dedicated and enthusiastic about your cause, great storytellers and listeners, have a real gift for raising money (of course!) and possess long-term compatibility with you and your plans.
But not all of these may be immediately on display when you're interviewing someone – so you have to ask the right questions to find out! Here are the top five questions to ask a prospective major gift officer.
When you're thinking up questions to ask a prospective MGO, directness and simplicity is key, says Ayda Sanver, a Maryland-based fundraiser and consultant to nonprofits, with emphasis on smaller and emerging organizations.
The most important question, she says, is the simplest one:
1) “Do you like working directly with donors and prospects, and are you comfortable asking for gifts?”
That's way better than talking around the issue, unless you're just curious and trying to get a feel for who they are as a person. If working directly with people isn't someone's cup of tea, then you shouldn't hire them – at least not for this position.
2) “What kind of experience do you have with large-scale fundraising?”
Of course, experience is important, but how they answer this question is just as important as what they answer with. In fundraising, there's more than just practicing “the ask.” There's also enthusiasm – although which to value the most is up to you and the position. Sanver said sometimes you can just go with your gut about a less experienced hire, as long as they're demonstrating enthusiasm.
“This depends on the level of seniority [and] supervision required in the position,” she said. “For a junior major gift officer, the above characteristics mean the person has a foundation to learn and be molded into a great major gifts officer, given that they are willing to attend training, read books/online articles, and be mentored by someone more senior, or develop their own network of other major gift officers to bounce ideas off of.”
So what if you want to get hired as a major gifts officer, don't have a lot of experience, but think you'd be really good at fundraising? According to Sanver, one of the best markers of enthusiasm is teaching yourself the ropes: attend trainings, watch webinars, read websites. If you're an employer and have a great feeling about someone with not much experience, ask them what they have done to learn about raising funds for charities.
3) “Why would you like to work here?”
This question isn't just asking for affirmation. It's asking whether they did their due diligence about your organization and know what it's all about, rather than just firing off a one-size-fits-all resume to every opportunity out there. This question can also be answered in a really good cover letter, Sanver said.
“For me, a good cover letter shouldn't be very long, but demonstrate enthusiasm to be considered for the position, a good understanding of the nature of the nonprofit's work, and how the applicant would be a good fit for the existing team,” she explained. “In other words, demonstrate you did your homework and actually know what the nonprofit is all about.”
4) “What was the best gift you ever secured for an organization, and how did you get it?”
Why you would ask this question of a potential hire is self-explanatory, because it gives solid insights into their fundraising process, as well as showing you what they're capable of.
The next question, though, should be equally important, if a little more uncomfortable:
5) “What was your worst fundraising experience, and what did it teach you?”
Everybody makes mistakes. How you react to them and how you learn from them is a key part of the experience you gain, not just as an employee, but as a person. How do they answer this question and tell the story about their worst experience? Is it something they can laugh about now, if only ruefully? Do they get frustrated? This question can go a long way for showing you how experienced they are and how they will react when there's friction on the job.
When you get to the point in your nonprofit's life that you're looking into hiring an MGO, it's not something that should be undertaken lightly. Approach your hire like you might approach any other important interpersonal relationship. If you find someone with the right combination of smarts, curiosity, and friendliness, as well as fundraising drive and verve, you, your new major gift officer, your donors, and your causes will be well on your way to a beautiful friendship.
Editorial Note: We've got another wonderful podcast from Brooke this week! Too busy to read? Give this blog post a listen on your way to work!
We all know someone who crosses the line. You know, that line. They're all over social media: the oversharers. You think you're having an innocuous conversation about their dog, and suddenly you're hearing about their digestion. Or their marital problems. Or worse. It's as if there's no boundary between them and you. If they experienced it, you're going to know about it.
Nobody wants to be that person, right?
Well, most of the time, keeping some things to yourself is a good idea. But if you're a nonprofit, oversharing is where you want to be. Actually, if you're oversharing, it's probably not enough – the key is to get your organization to radical transparency, well beyond what the law requires. That's one of the most powerful ways to build professional trust and confidence in you. So go ahead and be like your weird auntie Matilda who Facebooks all her conversations with her dogs. It's good for your donors, and it's good for your nonprofit!
You won't find a bigger advocate of social media than me. But even I'll admit that it has a tendency to highlight some less than desirable traits in all of us.
Take for example the way we interact with causes and nonprofits on Facebook and Twitter.
All of us are guilty at times in participating in what I like to call "slacktivism." We change our profile picture, use a hashtag, or post a status supporting some cause or social justice campaign. Then when it comes time to make a donation or take a real action for that cause, well...
...I'll get to it later.
Agh! It's terrible! But those micro actions are so easy to take, and it feels so good doing it, we just can't help ourselves.
So how do you take someone from "slack" to "act"?
Friday’s Supreme Court decision sent a wave of celebration across the country, marking a monumental shift for gay rights in our country.
The decision happened to coincide with Pride celebrations all across the country, including here in New York City. I made my way to the parade on Sunday, fortunate enough to be able to watch from the second floor of my wife’s office on 5th Avenue.
From that perspective, from the street and from my view above, the excitement was palpable. The whole thing had the feeling of a victory parade after a long war, with millions of revelers celebrating along the Canyon of Heros.
I was also struck by the number of nonprofits serving the LGBT community specifically participating in the parade and the wide range of issues they fight for. Here are five LGBT nonprofits that caught my eye, and that you should keep your eyes on.
What’s one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of closing a major gift?
Shut your mouth and open your ears.
Fundraising and sales experts alike will tell you that we need to do far more listening and far less talking when working with prospects. Most of the time, if you get them talking, they’ll tell you exactly what their needs are and how you can fill them.
To get that conversation rolling, you need to fuel it up with some good questions.
But thinking up a handful of questions is the easy part. Where the real artists of conversation excel is in their ability to follow-up and build upon questions to really dig deep into a topic with someone and get them talking.
That takes a whole lot more planning.
Membership-based nonprofits face a unique set of fundraising and marketing challenges that other nonprofits don’t typically face.
Namely this: How do you convince someone to be both a member AND a donor?