Displaying items by tag: development

Why We Should Reconsider Event #3

Commentary with Kirkwoman-with-too-much-work

We're told that less is sometimes more and when it comes to a third fundraising event (or 4th or 5th), we need to think critically about its benefits and possible consequences to our long-term funding success.

So why not have a discussion? Let's look at questions and answers, and see if we can find some ground to stand on when we are questioned about whether a third event is always needed or necessary:

If we are going to build our budget, our third event is necessary. Look what we would lose if we eliminated this fundraiser!
Generally this third event means we have either two events in the spring (January through May) or two in the fall (September through mid-November). Because events rarely occur in the summer or in the Christmas season, having two events in either spring or fall means that we are going to have a season where we are constantly in "event" mode.

This is not to say that we always eliminate a third event. We do however, need to look at this event in light of whether it is actually advancing our overall fundraising plan. Keep in mind: Every minute spent on a third event is time not spent on other revenue enhancing projects.

We already have a third event. If we are going to drop one of our events, how do we choose which one goes?
To answer this question, let's throw out a principle. Unless an event is raising a significant percentage of your overall revenue, we must improve it or remove it. The word "significant" will have different meanings for different organizations. Here is a rough idea:

Less than $100,000 An event must raise at least 15% of your budget.
$100,000—$200,000 Events must raise at least 10-15% of your budget. Minimum: $15,000
$200,000—$500,000 Events must raise at least 10% of your budget. Minimum: $25,000
$500,000+ Events must raise at least 10% of your budget. Minimum: $25,000

If we are not reaching these rough benchmarks, we either need to fix these events, or get rid of them as they are eating up one of our most vital resources: Time.

My guess is that if we look at each of our three events, we will find one that falls close to these numbers and needs a good look.

One caveat: If your banquet is falling below our suggested numbers, choose this one to fix. A fundraising dinner should be your strongest overall event; if it is not, there is great room to grow.

How do we replace the lost revenue?
Most of our ministries miss opportunities in two areas: Monthly Support and Major Gifts. By shifting our focus toward building these two revenue streams, we might find a long-term, foundational increase in funding.

For instance, adding 25 monthly supporters over the course of a year (at about $40 per monthly gift) adds $1000 per month or $12,000 each year . . . And this will only increase in years to come as we add more supporters.

Consider major gifts, too. If we create a strong strategic plan (For the coming 3-5 years) and show a major supporter specific ways a major gift will be utilized, we will see these friends of the ministry respond.

What if we took the time we spend on that third event and met with one major supporter each month and asked for a gift of say, $5,000, what might happen? We are told that when we get to know someone who can make a major gift and truly build a relationship, when we make a reasonable, well-thought-out ask, the odds of a gift are more than 80%. At an average major gift of $5,000 then, twelve meetings would, in one year, likely mean some $50,000 in funding.

Different centers will see varying results, certainly. But perhaps we need to shift our thinking from "event" to "let's simply lay out a major vision and ask."

Should we always seek to eliminate a third event?
No, we're not giving a hard and fast rule here. We do however, want to help us consider whether a third event is necessary to move toward a higher income figure.

On the other side of this, many centers have a third event that is totally unrelated to other events and in fact, reaches a different group of people. A golf event is a good example here. Some ministries are raising $50,000, $75,000 and more through golf events—completely separately from banquets, walks, baby bottle campaigns and other events.

The point? A third event is not automatically "bad," but we do need to make sure it is a significant fundraising avenue. And as we look at three events, let's make sure we do not lose focus on our other revenue streams.

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

 Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.

The Art of Research Brings Major Results

by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistResearch

While time is always at a premium in our work, thinking long-term will not only save time over the space of a year; it will also bring powerful results that can begin even now.

As we look at 2015, let's consider some ideas that will benefit our advancement plan for a long time to come.

Scour that database!
Regularly searching for information in our donor software isn't just for the nerds and statisticians. It's vital for anyone who wants to see relationships and our bottom line improve.

Placing time in our regular schedule for research should be an integral part of our day in advancement. So what are we looking for?

Forgotten monthly donors—Check back a few years and find those who were giving monthly, but are no longer doing so. Some drop off because of moves or financial issues, but many either forget or lose interest because they feel forgotten. Our job is to remember!

Make a list of these friends, and if you know, jot down reasons why they stopped their monthly giving ("The Jones family moved"). Then, find those who might be motivated to give again, prioritize and plan ways to reconnect with these families, either by an appeal letter, a face to face visit—or whatever we need to do in order to begin rebuilding a relationship. Rebuilding doesn't need to start with an ask; it can be as simple as saying hello on the phone and telling our friend that we simply want to reconnect. Work on relationship, then the time to ask will be clearer.

One check and that's it—Go back 1-2 years and find those who wrote a check for $50 or more from an appeal letter or out of the blue. Consider an appeal letter to these friends, giving them a specific need and asking for a gift at least equal to, and perhaps 1.5 times the amount of this person's most recent gift.

A Google A Day—Might be the answer for getting to know those who give to us. I once Googled a major donor and found out that he split his time between the public sector (working for a University) and the private sector (researching energy issues). Gifts soared as he worked in the private sector, then flattened as he moved back into the university setting. We found that the best time to ask for major gifts was when he was working with major corporations—a valuable piece of information.

Many of those who can give major gifts can be found on Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search engines. This isn't stalking; it is vital research that can help us understand occupations, interests and more as we build good relationships. I even found one to be an author and we had the opportunity to talk publishing, information I never would have known without research. Knowing our people well builds relationships. The stronger the relationship, the more likely our friends will think of us when they give.

 Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.

Got 10 Minutes? Build Long-Term Support!

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist10min

Okay, so you've got just 10 minutes. Perhaps it's almost time for lunch. Or the day is almost over. Or you are between appointments. Maybe you are at an appointment in the waiting room. And there are those 10 minutes.

What are a few ways to use those few ticks of the clock to build a long-term development plan?

Run a report
If you are in the office, use your donor software to run a quick report. Here are some ideas:

  • A list of those who have given just one gift of $50 or more in the past year. This may lead to an effective appeal letter in the near future.
  • A list of those who have given three times or more in the last year. Perhaps these are future friends you can ask to consider becoming monthly supporters.
  • A list of the Top 100 ministry donors. If you send a short, handwritten note to two of these families or individuals each week, you can reach every person in a year—and take two weeks of vacation, too!
  • A list of those who gave gifts last year, but not this year. Ask, "How should I effectively connect with these people in 2015?"

Jot a note
If you have your Top 100 list, pull out a note card and write that quick note. In 10 minutes you might be able to write two!

Google, Bing . . .
Yep, think of a financial partner you don't truly know. Find out more by Googling this person. You might find employment (Linked In), relationships (Facebook), where they live, interests and more. You may even find out why your ministry is important to them, who knows? As in any strong relationship, the more we know about a person, the stronger the relationship can be. Google is only a starting point, because relationships grow through conversations. But it is a 10-Minute Start.

Break down a major project
What is that major initiative the ministry is working toward? If there is one on the drawing table, write down the cost figures and break them down into bite-sized pieces. You might be creating an effective ask for a future appeal letter.

Ten minutes is not a lot of time, but if we use these increments of time to be more effective in our work we will not only free up space in our calendar, we will also build our long-term funding in the process.

Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.

Thank you letter - December 2014

Each month, Advancement Trends in the Life Community brings you a sample "Thank you note" to send to your supporters. December's letter is below:


Dear Brad & Angelina,

Whenever one aspires to a great work, there are naysayers. These are the people who can always find a reason why an idea will not work.

They pride themselves on being the first to have discovered the down side of a great endeavor. And if the idea by chance does not succeed, those golden words, "I told you so!" are first out of their mouths.

We have big dreams here. We want to see our community free from abortion. We want a city where every woman or couple facing an unplanned pregnancy chooses . . . Life.

There are naysayers out there, I'm sure. Some will think this goal is too audacious. Others will use words like "not feasible," or "unrealistic."

Your gift however, reminds me that many of us still believe the unthinkable can become reality and that the impossible is only impossible until someone accomplishes the task. And that with God, all things are possible.

Thank you for being a part of our team. Together, let's keep focusing on the impossible—until it is proven . . . Possible.


by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist


Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.

Click here to download this thank you letter as a word document.


Let’s Remember to Celebrate!

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialistcelebrate

Our donors have earned our thanks. They are partners in the ministry in every sense of the word and we can't say this enough: Our donors sacrifice their hard-earned resources so that babies will experience life and moms and dads might experience abundant life.

These friends not only deserve our thanks, but our regular appreciation and celebration, too. So what might we celebrate?

If someone has been faithful to our ministry every month throughout an entire year, let's let them know. Whether through a special card or a small gift—they need to know that we know they are faithful.

Many ministries have donors who have stood the test of time for five, ten, even twenty or more years. Think of creative, cost-effective ways to let them know. Try to think of something thoughtful they will remember, and keep.

By the way, "cost effective" is important. Let's not turn our appreciation into, "If you give for 12 straight months we offer a gold-plated . . ."
After all, our supporters usually shy away from recognition—this isn't to be commercialized.

Keep a database of the most faithful; those who have stayed with the ministry over time in different ways. Many will be monthly supporters; others will be those who give regularly in other ways, or who can always be counted on to major gifts.

This is a subjective list; you will know best as you begin to put the list together.

When our ministry reaches a milestone (1,000th client, 500th baby born—you get the picture), let's make sure our most faithful friends know.

We can create a little card with our announcement, send it to these friends and say, "Dear John and Jane . . . Just thought you would want to know—you've played such a major role in this milestone!"

The bottom line? Stay in touch with those who mean so much to us—building relationships that last.

Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.

The Crucial Role of "Ambassador"

Boards of Excellence: Assisting Pregnancy Center boards in fulfilling their missionambassador

The board of directors plays many roles in a ministry, from visionaries to decision-makers to guardians of the ministry's public trust.

At board meetings we might be evaluating the chief executive or creating competitive benefits packages, making sure our staff is compensated justly. But outside of the board room we have a role just as vital: Ambassador.

Many of our constituents will judge our ministry by more than the newsletter, the events or even what they perceive to be going on inside our doors on a regular business day: They will evaluate our ministry based on the board members and the way we represent the organization.

So what are a few ideas on how we can be effective Ambassadors?

Name Tags
Really? Is that all there is to this? No, but this is a beginning: Every board member should have his or her own permanent name badge (not one of those cheap, plastic badges—let's go for metal) telling constituents at events: Mary Jones—Board of Directors. This is a seemingly small touch, but a first impression like this makes a difference. At any ministry function where the public is involved, we ought to wear these in order to send a message of credibility.

Tweet this: At any ministry function where the public is involved, we ought to wear these in order to send a message of credibility.

As an Ambassador, why not write a note to those friends who support the ministry financially, once a year? Each board member should have a list of donors (some ministries will include amounts for board members, others may choose not to do so). Pick out a number of friends who we can thank, and jot a note to each. Most Christians give to seven ministries but in times of economic uncertainty, this number drops to three. These notes will likely make our ministry one of the three.

Invite others
An Ambassador makes introductions. Pick three friends in 2015 who are not currently giving to the ministry, but whom you believe could, if they knew more. Invite them to lunch (or perhaps have an evening of dessert at your home for all of them) and include your executive director. Make the introduction, allow them to begin a relationship with your ministry's leader. This could lead to long-term ministry funding.

Three short ideas, none of which are time consuming. An Ambassador does all three and the ministry is stronger for years to come.

 Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.

CEO Commentary: Check your mailbox . . . It's coming

Writing1The following is a commentary for the CEO or Director of Advancement to include in an E-Blast, Newsletter or other communication. Use as you wish—no credit is due to LifeTrends or Heartbeat International. This is for you to spark ideas, or use “as is.”

It is the time of year when charities and ministries all over send us letters, asking us for year-end gifts. And why not? This is the giving season and it only makes sense that non-profit organizations would see this as the perfect time for much-needed gifts.

And, no surprise; you will receive a letter from us as well.

But why? Are we simply wanting to be a part of the giving season? Is this just a time to pad our giving as we move toward 2015? Is this letter just another portion of a fundraising plan? No. Not at all.

While Year-End is a time when we normally ask friends to consider a gift, this is not a normal time in the life of this ministry.

In truth, this is a watershed moment for this ministry, which includes all of us: Prayer Partners, Volunteer Staff, Board Members, Compensated Staff, Financial Partners . . . All of us. This ministry has always been about all of us, working together to create a massive cultural shift in our area—toward life.

Let me share something with you: We are closer now than we have ever been to this cultural shift.

This year’s “Year End Letter” then, is not just another letter for any of us who consider ourselves a part of the First Choice Family. Not at all.

In this letter we will outline where we are going, show us just how close we are to making an incredible new impact on our community, and what it will take in order for this change to take place.

So when you open your mail a few days after Thanksgiving, amidst many other letters you will find one from me.

I trust you will open it. We have a lot to share, and a lot of dreams ready to come true. Give this letter a first look, and a second.

Big things are about to take place—and we are going to be a part of all of them . . . Together.

 By Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

Click here for more of this month's Advancement TLC.

Click here to download this CEO Commentary as a word document.

#Giving Tuesday: An Online Opportunity

By Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistGivingTuesday

We all know Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. And yes, how can we forget Cyber Monday, when all of the online retailers rally for our attention?

The newest of them all is Giving Tuesday (represented online as #GivingTuesday), begun in 2012 and now catching on across America and in many nations around the world.

Launched by groups from Google to the United Nations, #GivingTuesday is a day to remember charitable giving—and we don’t need to miss out. Here are several ideas to place your ministry at the forefront:

Make sure your online site is ready

Update your giving site to remind readers of #GivingTuesday. The actual date is December 2; this should be prominent as this day approaches.

Set a Goal

If your center has not emphasized #Giving Tuesday in its first two years, a modest goal would be sufficient. In the goal, show exactly where funds would be directed and connect the goal to client outcomes. This is not the time to ask for a computer or materials: “On Giving Tuesday, help us raise $2500. Every dollar given online on Giving Tuesday goes directly toward our Operation Ultrasound Initiative, paying for 25 ultrasounds that will bond women and men with their children, saving lives and changing the lives of moms and dads.”

Remind, remind, remind

In the weeks leading up to #GivingTuesday, remind your constituency through E-Blasts, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Make sure it is announced wherever you can. 

One Takeaway . . .

#GivingTuesday does not replace your Year End Appeal. There is room for both in your development plan.

Click here for more of this month's Advancement TLC.

So what do we ask for at Year End?

By Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistYearEnd3

For many ministries, Year End also means the end of the budget year. If we are trying to catch up on the budget at this time, we need to be careful in our appeal.

Our friends do not want to hear—every year—that we are behind. If we stay on this road year after year, our readers are going to question our stewardship.

Instead, let’s look at some items—which are likely in our budget—that might make for good Year-End Appeals.


Catching up on the budget

Didn’t we just say to be careful about this? We did, so here is how to be careful. Take the ministry that needs $15,000 in new funds in order to finish the year in the black.

Instead of talking about how behind we are in the budget, why not say something like this: “$25,000 for First Choice at Year End will not only finish our 2014 on a strong note, these funds will also launch us into a successful 2015, when we plan to . . .”

See the difference? The budget shortfall may be $15,000, but our letter is looking beyond ‘14 and into ‘15, with a positive outlook

Fatherhood Initiatives

Thinking of hiring a person to run your Fatherhood initiative? Factor in not only salary, but all materials, the cost of heating and cooling office space, etc. Roll it into one number and ask—not for simply a new person, but for a fully staffed Fatherhood Initiative.


Advertising and marketing is expensive; and some of our constituents don’t understand our need to advertise, making this ask more difficult. Phrasing matters. How about, “In order to best connect with those who need us, we must have a powerful online presence, and we need to be wherever they go. To make this connection through television, radio, the web and social media, we plan to invest $22,500 in 2015. The result, we believe, will be as many as 175 saved lives.”

Brick and mortar

No doubt, renovations and any building projects are effective asks. If we connect our renovations to reaching clients more effectively and saving more lives (and changing lives!), our odds of success grow.

Medical conversion

If we are considering a conversion in the next year, there is every reason to be asking now. There is no reason to wait—year end is a great time to start the process.

Click here for more of this month's Advancement TLC.

Four Quick Tips to Connect at Year-End

By Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistQuickTips1

Sometimes it is the small touches that make a big difference with our Year-End Appeal. As we prepare to connect with our constituents at this crucial time, let’s consider these ideas:

1. Get rid of “Friends”
We never want to start a letter with “Dear Pro-Life Friend” or simply, “Dear Friend.” Mail merge is simple; we need to make sure our recipients see a salutation addressed to them.

2. Consider a teaser on the outside of the envelope
“200 more lives saved in 2015?” might catch the eye of a reader, and inside we can promote any of a number of initiatives: marketing, a fatherhood initiative, ultrasound. Give readers a reason to look inside, starting on the outside.

3. Stratify, stratify, stratify
We can’t say it enough; we must be sending different letters to different people. While the main content of the letter will likely be the same, our ask should be different based on the person reading.

For instance, those who have never given might see a phrase such as, If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to give to First Choice, now would be a perfect time. The monthly supporter might read, Thank you for your continued support of First Choice. If you are considering a special gift to First Choice, now would be a perfect time. The difference is small, but someone giving each month wants to know you know that fact when they read your letter.

Stratifying our list, breaking down our mailing list based on support given, is vital in a letter like this. It can make the difference between an average return on our Appeal Letter, and a great return.

4. Something extra with your signature
In appeal letters, the “P.S.” has gone the way of the Dodo. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t write a quick note at the bottom of our letter, just below our signature. Without writing the actual “PS,” we can jot down a short phrase such as “Thank you for reading” or, “I look forward to hearing from you.”

The better you know a recipient, the more personal the note can be. Anything at the bottom of the letter—in ink—tells the reader that you took a little extra time for them.

When they see your note, they may take a little extra time for you, too; the time to write a check.

Click here for more of this month's Advancement TLC.

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