Tag Archives: fund raising

Have You Forgotten Something?

Sea Cloud

Sea Cloud

The evening for the gala had arrived and the charity and its staff were enthusiastic about the event and the potential it offered for further financial support. The room was beautifully decorated; the guests were dressed for an evening out. It was festive and colourful.

The evening concluded with a live auction and the items offered held a high ticket price. Guests participated actively through the bidding process. Each person who attended knew the money being raised was for a good cause and they wanted to be part of the solution. By the end of the night, the charity had exceeded their goal and everyone, guests and staff included left feeling that the gala had been a success.

The following day, charity staff gathered to ensure they finished the job by entering all details of the event. They entered everything including the  total number of dollars for cash purchases at the event. Those colourful glass beads had been a hit.

This is where we would like to add commentary and make a suggestion. Some charities enter the dollars raised for the silent and live auction as one accumulated amount. If this is entered as a total amount, information is lost about which guests opened their wallet in support. Keeping track of how much a guest spends in support of an auction gives the charity a chance to do something a little special for these guests in the following year … maybe first choice at the front tables or an invitation to a special reception. This would constitute a loyalty opportunity offered by the charity to a valued supporter.  Good idea?! You bet it is!

Here’s an even better idea. Send a thank you note to show the charity’s appreciation for the guest’s support shown by purchasing auction items. Yes, they did receive something but every good business person understands how priceless a simple thank you can be.

We have spoken to guests who have purchased items and in some cases for considerable value. Their contribution was not entered into the Donor Management System so they had become invisible as supporters of the charity. Not only that, a thank you or expression of appreciation would have shown the charity to be a grateful recipient for the additional funds. But none was sent!

Large donations receive some form of thank you, then why not for the purchase of auction items? This does not mean the charity needs to mention everything bought unless of course it is one high ticket item and they choose to do so.

Imagine the chagrin of an executive director or fund raiser who chances on a conversation with a guest who has offered valued support in the past only to be blindsided by their lack of information.

And please don’t suggest this all takes too much time as that is one of the most ineffective excuses of all. Basic civility, something which appears to have been lost in the last few years, can be regained by taking one little extra step  which will set a charity far above the not for profit crowd. A High Performance Fund Development Team never misses an opportunity to do it better!

The Webster Dictionary defines civility as ‘a polite act or expression’. Remember “gimme gimme” will not get forever. A thank you will be remembered as will the lack of one.

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Are you Struggling with a Mining Disaster?

Hanoi

You can’t Mine what you don’t have!

Successful fund raising is based on the relationships you build with your donors.  Some of those relationships may be more distant than others but still effective as you work to reduce the distance and engage long term support.  The use of a database to record gifts and information concerning donors is essential to a formal fund development program. There are no secrets and no short cuts to managing this high value resource which gives financial support to your organization. The donations received and knowledge gained, need to be managed as an entrepreneurial asset that requires well thought out policies supported by procedures and standards.

When you sit down to prepare your fund development plan for the next year and you want to include some projections, your success rate will be directly related to the quality and quantity of the data / information you have to work with.

The misfortune for many organizations is they have not managed their donor information with an eye on the present nor the future.  Spreadsheets used to record events, no profile data on high value donors, information kept in notes are a few examples of information found in a less than useful form.

What makes data mine-able?

Think of a bank. You are creating a bank account of information about how your donors have invested in your charity. Determining first and last gift, as well as accumulated donations, requires accuracy. One of the biggest perils is duplicate donor records where multiple entries for a given donor makes this information unattainable. Imagine contact with the donor only to have them point out inaccuracies. It’s not only a personal embarrassment but it exposes poor methods inherent in how the charity manages its business.

Complete information is essential. Surprising as it may be, poor data management is more prevalent than one would think. A basic tenet of successful fund raising is knowing what and how a donor has interacted with a charity. This only occurs through good recording methods and definitely not through staff memory.

A well run charity wants to know what donations have been gifted; which events donors have attended; if they have volunteered; did they spent money on auction items at an event; whether they donated an auction item; have they been an event sponsor; or a participant in a walk or a run.  The answer to all of these questions should and needs to reside in the donor database making data mine-able.

All members of the fund development team should participate so that transactions are recorded accurately and in a timely manner. Gift information, when well recorded provides further depth about a donor’s interest in a charity. For example, recording a donation as a “designated” gift, does not provide the same impact as using a fund account that establishes a specific interest. Knowing that a donor supports a particular program, service, facility or equipment purchase enables the fund development department to engage the donor with further support or interaction with the charity.  These activities build commitment and commitment is what we are looking for.

The Other Information that makes data mine-able will address donor characteristics. For example, type of business, special interests, family and friend relationships. These are just a few ideas that would benefit the charity. The possibilities are endless but they must be relevant to the charity. How this is collected can be part of an annual review of major donors. We have prepared forms that help to establish the basic information that is required when entering donors. Using a template to help fill in information is helpful.

Something as simple as a correctly formed address, phone number (s) and email give access to donors based on special criteria that a charity has captured. When we discuss capture for essential pieces of information we are not suggesting notes as a primary method. Notes are useful as a secondary resource but they DO NOT provide accurate access. Spelling errors, typing errors, different methods of saying basically the same thing are a real waste of time and make data unsearchable and results unreliable.

A system can be developed that is in the best interest of the charity.  This system supports data capture and management where staff members become accountable for the completeness and quality of what they record.

Staff, who are non-compliant, are a risk to an organization and marginalize one the charity’s most valuable assets.  Training is a further issue. Would you give a multi-million dollar asset to someone who thought they could figure things out or someone completely untrained or would you prefer competence as the preferred option? It’s always interesting to find out that training has been all but eliminated from an annual budget. By guess and by golly, does not make for a successful outcome! Boards and senior management need to support training and skill sharing, if a charity staff are to work effectively.

If you choose to have mine-able data, it will be up to you and your organization. Poor donor data management provides low quality data and yeilds poor or mediocre results. It erodes staff time and diminishes morale as the same problems crop up again and again.  Hands-off managers, procrastinators, and those who are too busy, should never be given the responsibility for managing a charity’s financial future.

If you want mine-able data start by looking at how you are managing what you learn about your donors and how you record their interactions with your charity. It’s the responsibility of the charity and its staff to manage; the database used is just the tool!

If you would like sample profile forms, please email your request to ease@batschgroup.com.

Knowledge-based Fund Development

Opportunity and Delivery … Let’s OD!

Fundraising is all about opportunity.  Whether it is raising more money or promoting a charity, successful fund development involves identifying an opportunity and marrying it with cost effective delivery.

Knowledge-based fund development looks at how to build opportunity and record the findings so you can act when the time is right.  Knowledge-based fund development facilitates delivery, using methods and tools you’ve created to achieve a cost effective result.

We will examine fund development as a knowledge-based activity.   In particular, we will look at how it impacts on populating a fund development database.

Making Things Happen!

Anyone who has worked in sales knows the zing you get when one of those many calls translates into a potential opportunity.  We think fund development is much the same.  There is an old adage that says

“People who are successful will do the things that unsuccessful people won’t do”.

It is not just the zing of finding good potential opportunities, but more importantly, asking the right questions and recording what was collected in an useful form.

Knowledge-based data collection supports organizational continuity.  Too often, we see situations where a development manager starts a new position and wonders what their predecessor did.  Information is scant, or stored in many different tools or not stored at all.  This represents a significant loss of intellectual capital to an organization.  Another way of looking at this … is simply the need to start over.   How many times can an organization afford to start again?

Building a Delivery Structure

Chaos costs time and money.  Intellectual knowledge and intellectual tools are of great value to an organization.  When we go to work, we expect to end our day, confident, that we have not simply engaged in busy work, but have moved our annual fund development plan forward.

An organized work environment offers staff members a place that supports efficiency.  A Knowledge-based environment supports effectiveness and efficiency.  Having a toolkit that everyone can access reduces both costs and protects organizational assets.

Opportunity & Delivery working for You!

Knowledge-based Fund Development looks at your data: foundations, corporations, businesses, private donors, service clubs, associations, prospects, contacts, and your sphere of influence so that you can interact with them successfully.  Knowledge-based Fund Development collects your tools: forms, letters, procedures, and policies so that you can manage from a set of best practices saving time and money.

Knowledge-based Fund Development addresses both sides of the coin … the idea and the implementation!