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Customer Success Manager at Blackbaud Canada

Fundraisers are the GLUE that holds our departments together. We are the facilitators, we are the opportunity providers, we are the people connectors.

Our positive attitude is quite possibly our single greatest asset (besides our keen ability to listen!)

But when you're starting to feel like you're the lone wolf in your department, when leadership starts to treat the fundraising department like their own personal ATM machine, when you're struggling to explain to your boss(es) that you can't just ask for a gift on the first visit with a new contact, you've got to push back - gently - and lean into your role as Chief Visionary Officer at your organization.

“I know I am supposed to connect with people, but I just don’t know how.” 49 Ways to Engage your communityI hear that from my clients a LOT. How do you build an authentic relationship with someone so you can “bring them closer” to the organization….when you’ve just met them? Fundraising gets a bad rap (in my opinion) when we try to “jump” over logical relationship steps. That’s the scenario where you’ve just been introduced to someone, and then in the next breath you’re asking them for a 5 figure gift to the organization. Nope. You can’t fall in love on a first date. So here it is! A list of 49 Ways to Bring People Closer to your organization.

julie beckettAh, the life of a jet-setting Major gifts officer.  Calgary one week, Cornwall the next! Working with donors from across the country has its perks, but it certainly also has its challenges. I reached out to Julie Beckett, CFRE, who is Manager, Fundraising at Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada to ask her what her top 5 pieces of advice would be to Major Gifts Officers with national portfolios.  She’s been at the Co-operative Foundation for over 5 years, and many of these tips have become second nature to her. For context, Julie manages approximately 1500 donors across Canada, and she’s travelling approximately once a month. And boy, does she pack in a lot of things on those visits! 1 Know the issues going on at the local level

  1. Happiness w iPodBuild a fundraising plan – review your plan weekly and quarterly.
  2. Use Monday as your launch day for the week – build a weekly to-do list and block off time to complete your tasks.
  3. Drink more water – you’ll have to go to the bathroom and take a break from your computer.
  4. Leave 20% of your weekly calendar free. You’ll have time to fight the fires when they happen.
  5. Talk to your boss – meeting formally or informally once a week will make sure you’re on the same page with priorities.
  6. Focus your time on activities that are directly related to bringing money in – donors, grant applications, major gift conversations, appeal letters are great examples.
  7. Break large tasks (like build communications plan for appeal letters) into smaller, achievable tasks.
  8. Job shadow a programming staff person each quarter – You’ll not only build trust with your team, you’ll also be able to gather your own stories to share with donors.
  9. Book holidays. And take them.

Case for SupportIt’s the cornerstone of any (and I mean ANY) Fundraising Campaign. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Dictionary defines a case for support as:

 “The reasons why an organization both needs and merits philanthropic support, usually by outlining the organization’s programs, current needs, and plans.”

What does a case for support do? It collects in one place all the materials you will need to raise money for your organization:
  • Why your organization exists and how you make a unique difference in this world;
  • Your mission and vision statements;
  • Challenges identified by the community that you serve, and how your programs/solutions solve this problem;
  • Areas of greatest need and their associated fundraising goals;
  • The people on your Fundraising Team;
  • What will be different when your fundraising goals are met;
  • Different ways that a donor can support your organization;

ticketsTales of a Not-for-profit Gala You know the drill: rule number one of the “big annual fundraiser” is to SELL SELL SELL. Tickets, that is. And that sure is what it feels like: your volunteers are selling tickets to get bums in seats, to make sure the room is full, to get those tickets out to the “general public” who will definitely be interested in your gala – I mean they’ve never heard of you before, but hey: now’s as good a time as any to get to know your organization, right? Wrong. Are you selling tickets, or engaging people to BUY tickets? If selling tickets feels like a chore have you really thought about who you are selling tickets to? It’s time to switch gears. 

vanessa chase picGuest Post by Vanessa Chase - The Storytelling Nonprofit Storytelling is becoming a regular part of fundraising programs and for good reasons. It is a powerful tool that helps organizations emotionally connect donors to their impact. According to a recent NPR story, anecdotally telling someone how they can help one person means they are more likely to make after. But sometimes storytelling can be easier said than done. If you work in fundraising or communications, you may not have direct access to your organization’s amazing stories or worse, there may be a silo in your way. I’ve talked to countless nonprofit professionals in the last few years who have faced these problems and I can certainly relate from my own experiences. Another common barrier to storytelling is interviewing, which can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. You may feel nervous. The interviewee may be nervous. It can be a recipe for an awkward interview.

soar like an eagleOne of my most frustrating moments as a consultant came when I was working with programming staff, trying to collect some stories – stories that I needed in order to fundraise. I was working with excellent programming people:  they were good at their jobs and dedicated to the mission of the organization. Wow – was it ever challenging to get stories “from the field!” To understand people’s actions, you need to understand their perspectives.
  • Programming staff: rewarded for executing programming, project focused, well connected with their volunteers and their community, action-oriented (at least the good ones!)
  • Development staff: rewarded for getting personal, spending time with donors, telling compelling stories, and raising money by connecting emotionally with individuals.