Displaying items by tag: development

Commentary with Kirk: Don't settle for second best at year end

By Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistYearEnd5small

Our Year-End Appeal is not simply a fundraising letter; it is our opportunity to impart our vision to the hundreds of people (thousands?) on our mailing list. This is why it is so important that we paint a large vision in this letter.

So consider, what do you want to accomplish in 2015? What is the big picture for your organization? What initiatives are new? Which initiatives are due for a major upgrade? 

If there is nothing new or there are no major changes, consider emphasizing several key areas that are most effective in changing and saving lives. 

When we ask, let’s think big

The simple truth is that our response rate on our Year-End Appeal is not going to be 20% or something like that. We all know many of our letters go in the trash. That’s certainly okay, and not a reason to fail to send out a letter.

What this means however, is that we need to think big.

This is not our “diapers and wipes” letter. In fact, let’s stop for a moment here and make it clear: We never need to use our newsletter, e-blast or any other communication to ask for layette items. When we do this, we are proclaiming to the world that we are a small organization, doing small things. Major donors see these asks and quickly decide, “They have no need for the gifts I am considering.”

Therefore, our asks need to be significant, with one exception. Sometimes when we are asking for a first or second gift in a specialized appeal letter, we might ask for a small amount ($15-$30) to gauge interest in our work. 

In this letter it is certainly fine to let people know we would be thankful for any gift, but overall let’s be looking to help fund initiatives that require larger gifts. 

Takeaway Thoughts…

  • Stratify the mailing list for this letter. Those who have given only one gift might be asked for a gift 1 1/2 times the size of that gift. A person who gave $25 during the past year might be asked for $40 at Year End.
  • Those who give monthly gifts might be asked for a “Special Gift” at this time of year; you can specify an amount higher than the regular gift, or, because these friends of the ministry are already committed, provide several ideas and leave the decision entirely in their hands.

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

Launching a Successful Year End Appeal

By Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistYearEnd1

The Year End Appeal can be one of our most successful development initiatives of the year. This is our opportunity to tell our story, unveil new plans, and invite those who are in a giving frame of mind to join us in launching a successful 2015.

Ministries and organizations that forgo this opportunity miss out not only on gifts that can make a major difference in the bottom line, but also lose a great chance to begin building relationships with those who receive our other mailings.

There are reasons some ministries decide not to send a Year-End Appeal, but any objections to this endeavor are easily answered.

With mailing expenses, the Year-End Appeal costs too much
Let’s say we send 1000 letters, a $490 investment in postage. With envelopes, paper and ink, let’s say we spend as much as 50 cents per package on color printing. That’s about $1.00 per mailing. That’s $1,000. If ten out of 1,000 recipients send us $100, we’ve already broken even. A well-written year-end appeal will not lose money.

No one reads appeal letters
We can’t expect 50% response rates, because it is true that many people throw away appeal letters. Yet, every major non-profit sends appeal letters; they do so because they know this is a great way to reach new, and existing financial partners. In addition, many—especially the home-bound—only give to appeal letters.

We do appeal letters at other times of year. We do not want to overwhelm our donors with junk mail.
Take it from someone who signs up for newsletters from pregnancy help organizations all over: While you keep close track of your appeals, your recipients do not.

Occasionally someone will send a ministry a note saying, “You send too much mail,” but we absolutely cannot base our mailings on one or two complaints. People are busy—they don’t have time to worry about our number of mailings.

Most ministries do not send enough appeal letters. The Year End Appeal is at the top of the list. This month, let’s make it happen.

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

Boards of Excellence: An Active Board Makes Year End Soar

By Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistYearEnd2

The Year-End Appeal Letter can be one of the most effective fundraising initiatives we have in our development plan.

A successful Year-End Appeal can bring us through a difficult year, launch the coming year on a positive note and perhaps most important, draw new supporters into the ministry.

And the Board of Directors can have a tremendous influence on the success of this endeavor. Here are some ways the board can assist:

Signatures matter
Each board member should have a copy of the ministry’s mailing list. From there a board member can highlight names of those with whom he or she has a personal relationship. The board member’s name can be added to the CEO as a signatory on the letter, making the letter more personal. The more personal the letter, the higher the probability of a positive response.

Bring new names to the table
Each board member can bring a list of 10, 20 or more names of friends who need to be added to the mailing list. As in the suggestion above, the board member should be a signatory on letters to these friends. In addition, the letter can include a brief statement from the board member such as, “As a board member, I wanted friends like you to receive this special correspondence. Your gift would mean so much to those who come in our door, and to me personally. Thank you for reading!”

Let’s remember to . . . Respond
Board members are leaders and as such, special appeals—like that of the Year-End Letter—call for action by those who lead. By sending in a generous gift we provide encouragement to staff, and we have the joy of knowing that we are fully involved in our ministry just as we are asking others at this special time of year.

Takeaway Thought:
In a ministry’s development plan, often it is the “little” items that get overlooked; yet those seemingly small things can make quite a difference over the long term. Board member participation in the Year-End Appeal is oft overlooked; participate in the three items above and your ministry will be well ahead of the curve.

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

Thank you letter - November 2014

ThankYou1Thank you letters keep you connected to your partners

Each month, Advancement TLC brings you a sample “Thank you note” to send to your supporters. November’s letter is below:

 

Dear Barney & Thelma Lou,

When I think about where this ministry has been and where we are going, I can’t help but be excited.

I’ve shared our vision in newsletters, letters like this one and in churches and around the area. And as you probably know, I’m nothing but optimistic about the future.

But there is something else I’m excited about: The fact that this ministry never was, and never will be, about one person’s ideas or even the thoughts of some select group.

While our board of directors is entrusted with major decisions, the simple truth is that this ministry is about all of us. It is a shared ideal that we can impact our culture toward life and we can do so right here in (name of city or area).

And best of all, we all have the honor of playing a role. Your support—through this and so many other gifts—creates a powerful partnership that says “We are in this together.”

So, thank you—again. Together, we are changing our world here, one life at a time.

Sincerely,

CEO


 By Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

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

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

Want to raise more funds?

Boards of Excellence: Want to raise more funds? 2 Decisions

by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistDecisions1

The Board of Directors plays a key role in fundraising; many of its decisions have a direct impact on the overall development plan—and on the amount of funds raised.

Here are two decisions a board must consider if it wants to build a strong financial foundation for the ministry.

Director of Development (or Advancement)

Many boards are reticent to hire this person, wondering whether this position is needed or a good investment. If we are looking long-term, this person is a great investment.

A quick note: This person is not simply an events planner. If we utilize our Director of Advancement as only a banquet planner or to work on other events, we are missing the big picture. This person builds relationships with our donors; getting out of the office to spend time with them, get to know them and create long-term connections with the organization. A good Director of Advancement understands that our donors are actually volunteers who give their time at work (and the funds they earn) to our organization to save lives.

Looking to outside experts

The ability to raise funds is not innate. It is part craft, part science. Unless a board is blessed to be full of those who are professionals in this area, batting fundraising ideas around at a board meeting takes a lot of time and rarely yields fruit.

Investing in those who can come in to the organization, assess its needs and assist in crafting a plan for development is a wise decision. My heart breaks for those organizations that try idea after idea, thinking fundraising is about finding the next gimmick or hot idea.

Fundraising is a ministry that connects God's people to God's work. There are gifted Christians who understand this principle and make it their life's work to assist ministries in fulfilling their missions by teaching ways to create these connections. A wise board seeks out the help of these leaders in stewardship practices, who can transform events, design capital campaigns, and show ministries how to implement effective, long-term development plans that are God-honoring, faith-building and effective in laying a strong financial foundation for the ministry.

Two decisions

A board that is committed to making these two decisions will, over time, oversee an organization that is always on an upward trajectory.

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The REAL reason behind giving?

CEO Commentary

The REAL reason behind giving?

 

The 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."

In our communication with you we often mention new projects and the need for funding. This is nothing new; we can find this concept as far back as the Bible. In the Old Testament, God gave the charge to Solomon to build a temple (I Kings 5:1-6) and in the New Testament, Paul uses a large portion of II Corinthians (Chapters 8 & 9, for starters) to ask for funding.

What is most important in funding any project however, is not the need for funds. After all, God can fund any project He wishes, without our help. Yet, He chooses to use ordinary people to accomplish His purposes.

None other than Paul touches on what is most important, in Philippians 4:16-17: "for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."

This is a perspective so often missed. Good-hearted organizations can get so caught up in a current need that the priority purpose for giving is to increase the spiritual account of those who give.

In God's economy (according to Paul, an expert!), we have accounts that grow as we give. How this works is not totally clear, but what we do know is something fruitful is taking place that we cannot see with our own eyes.

As we move forward in this mighty endeavor to turn our culture toward life—and to do our part here in (name of city, county or area)—we have financial needs, certainly.

Yet we never want to lose our perspective as we seek to raise the funds necessary to impart positive change. This perspective is a simple one; an understanding that when one gives, it is a spiritual transaction that builds faith and builds a relationship with God.

This concept mattered to Paul, and it matters to us. As we grow as a ministry, we want to always keep in mind that those who contribute grow as well. And we are all stronger because of that growth.

Click here for more of this month's TLC.

Thank you letter - October 2014

Thank you letters keep you connected to your partners

Each month, The LifeTrends Connection brings you a sample "Thank you note" to send to your supporters. October's letter is below:

Dear George and Laura,

The Apostle Paul, closing his letter to the Philippians, noted that while no other church assisted him with a financial gift, his friends in Philippi had.

Paul noted that they sent "a gift more than once for my needs," then makes an interesting statement: "Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."

This is a statement we can "bank on," a reminder that all of our gifts bring profit to an account we cannot see our touch. It is an eternal account, one that will always grow.

Your gift brings profit to your account, and we are ever mindful of this. And yet, here on Earth, we are thankful because your gift is being invested in changing lives, and saving lives—another way your gift is bringing profit every day.

Thank you. We appreciate your investment in this work. Every day, we are seeing the fruits of your investment. And I believe one day, we will see even more.

Sincerely,

 

CEO

 Click here for more of this month's TLC.

Gifts or Incentives? The Conundrum with our Donors

 

To gift or not to gift? That is the question we face with our donors.

 

Do we send a gift when a financial supporter reaches a certain "tier" in their giving? Do we offer gifts for an amount given? To get the answer, let's first define what a Gift actually is.

The Gift

A gift is given freely, either as a way of saying "thank you" or simply because. There are no strings, no expectations.

An Incentive

This is where we get mixed up. When a ministry offers a free book for a gift of $100 or more, it is not a gift. Because there is a prerequisite involved (giving the ministry financial support of a certain value) this is no longer a gift but an incentive.

Let's stop here, because it is important to note that incentives are not bad or wrong. I remember giving a gift to a major ministry, and I raised my amount because I could receive a print of a painting in return for that gift. Instead of buying the print, I gave the gift. So this clarification is not to say that incentives are somehow unchristian.

But they are what they are: Incentives. This is a different discussion for another article, certainly. But a gift is freely given.

Should we give gifts?

Answering a question with a question, "Do we give gifts to our friends? To our family members? To those who have helped us in some way?" I would think the answer is . . . Yes.

Our financial supporters should be our friends. We should always be in process of building relationships (friendships!) with them. It might naturally follow that gifts could be a part of this. Not in every case, but at times a well thought-out gift may be extremely appropriate.

Some supporters will eschew gifts ("Don't spend the ministry's money on a gift for me") so it may be important for the board to set up a separate fund, perhaps funded by ministry board and staff, for these gifts. When a donor, concerned that ministry funds be designated for clients, raises an objection, we can answer with, "You can be assured that we did not use ministry-designated funds for this; this is simply a gift, nothing more and nothing less."

Quick take . . .

A gift is welcome, when it is heartfelt. And a gift is quite different from an incentive, in that incentives are designed to draw in certain donations; gifts are designed to build donor relationships. We can invest in both; but must know the difference.

Click here for more of this month's TLC.

 

A Director of Advancement matters, a lot

by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistadvancementDirector1


When we think of a Director of Development or a Director of Advancement, we often think of someone whose sole job it is to build the ministry's funding base.

There is truth in this, but let's add a caution which may blow our socks off: It's not about the money.

In a sense, it is about money and we may grade job performance partially on funds raised. And, we can make the point that adding this position should result in more funds raised. So partially at least, money is an issue.

But, the Director of Advancement is primarily a person who should be involved in creating relationships with those who give to the ministry. As an off-shoot of these relationships more funds may certainly come in; but at its foundation, the Director of Advancement is not . . . About the money.

For those ministries trying to make a case for this position, let's offer this: In most pregnancy help organizations there is a Director of Client Services, or perhaps a Center Director. This person may work closely with volunteers; setting up trainings, recruiting and building relationships with volunteers. She is often the go-to person for volunteers.

If we truly believe that our financial supporters volunteer for us, we now have a great reason to employ a Director of Advancement. We need someone who will not only work on our events, but who will make it a year-round endeavor to build relationships with all who support the ministry.

Usually, the CEO forms close relationships with those who give major gifts; but what about those who give $25 per month? $50 per month? How much time does the CEO have if the number of people giving monthly swells to 100, 200 or 500?

Let's keep in mind that those giving monthly today may be the very people who can fund a capital campaign tomorrow. By building these relationships now—and making these true relationships—asking these friends to help with major gifts tomorrow becomes much more natural, and easier.

But we need a person who has the time to make building these relationships a priority. That person is not the CEO, who is working with the board, personnel issues, making presentations and more (oh, and who should be building relationships with many donors already). No, we need someone else, whose job is solely to connect our friends to the ministry.

The primary job of our Director of Advancement is not money, not at all. It is relationships. When our Director of Advancement is actively building relationships in the community, that's building love and camaraderie. And yes, our funding will grow as well.

 Click here for more of this month's TLC.

Paul gives us a clear perspective (on raising funds!)

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

Paul1

Raising funds is a challenge, certainly. Yet sometimes it is our perspective that creates its own challenges.

When funds are tight, it is easy for us to focus on what we don't have, and how to make our case known so we can get back to a financially-sound situation. It's natural for us, when things are tight, to be thinking of ways to try harder, to create new opportunities for gifts, etc.

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to tight situations, whether it be persecution, church turmoil, or finances. He also asked for gifts; making him—in our vernacular—a development director for the work of the fledgling church. If we don't believe this, all we have to do is read II Corinthians 8 and 9, two chapters where Paul lays out a plan for specific giving.

We can learn from Paul, primarily through his perspective. Read with me Philippians 4:16-17: "for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."

Read that again. What does Paul actually want? "The profit which increases to your account." If we want a reason to look to Paul as our expert in fundraising, this is it. Paul is not interested in his own comfort, and while he knows his mission is to advance the power of the Gospel message, he sees another priority: Giving opportunity to build the faith and the resulting growth in the spiritual account of those who give.

If we are involved in development, these two verses should sit on our desk and be a focal point of our thinking, every single day. For if our perspective is to see our financial partners' "accounts" grow (instead of first focusing on our financial accounts), everything changes.

We will be:
• More attuned to our donors' spiritual needs
• More interested in seeing their spiritual growth through giving
• More willing to listen to their desires for our ministries
• Less worried about our ministry's financial situation
• Less likely to give in to gimmicks in order to raise funds

Paul had it right, didn't he? That's why Phil. 4:16-17 is not simply a couple of nice verses to chat about during a workshop. It is instead a state of mind that zeroes in on the real reason for giving. Giving will fund our ministries, yes. But God is not simply interested in getting people to give to us so that our organization can do more.

No, God wants to build the faith and the spiritual "accounts" of those who love him. We are being used by God to bring this to fruition. This was Paul's perspective. It can be ours, too.

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