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Archive for October, 2011

Gearing Up for the Annual Appeal

It’s that time of year. November is the month most community benefit (nonprofit) organizations get their annual appeal out the door, asking donors to once again step up and help make the mission they care about come to fruition.  Some tips to consider when crafting and organizing your 2011 pitch:

  • Snail-mail your appeal to donors you know prefer to get mail in their traditional mailbox.
  • E-mail your younger donors. Particularly the ones who open, read and sometimes respond to your e-mail.
  • Give donors the option to use their credit card. Yes, the gift costs you a couple of points. But you should get a few multi-month gifts that make it more than worthwhile.
  • The snail-mail package should not come in a #10 envelope. It can be a two-page appeal with reply envelope and response card to indicate amount of gift, and credit card info.
  • And above all: there’s a story. A story that humanizes your mission in a simple by emotional way that helps seal a bond with your donor.

If you do these things in 2011 and you do them better than you did in 2010, you should generate more net revenue this year.

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Board Essentials: Donor Stewardship

Nonprofit organizations are well-advised to involve members of the Board of Directors in thanking donors. And otherwise letting donors know that they are appreciated for the part they play in bringing the mission to those who can most benefit.

The thanking process should be integrated into the Board member’s job description. Activities include acknowledging and communicating with donors, and making these activities part of a routine.  And not in a rote kind of way. But in a thoughtful, well-integrated way that helps strengthen relationships between members of the Board and the donor base.

The simple thank you is first on this list of activities. And the annual appeal which usually occurs in November-December, is the best place to begin. Within a week (or maybe two) of receipt of the gift (by mail or online) a thank you note should be on its way. Board members each agree to thank an agreed-to number of donors during the appeal. They can use personal stationery (for snail mail) or e-mail (for online). And members need to become familiar with IRS requirements on notification that serves as appropriate receipt for tax purposes. I don’t insist (although some do) that there be two separate communications: one official (for Uncle Sam), one  unofficial, more personal “thank you.” Donors prefer that this be handled in one document.  For major donors (gifts upwards of $500 or $1,000) you may prefer to handle these gift acknowledgements differently.

The important thing is, that there is a system to this and that Board members and other thanking volunteers recognize the importance of the task and commit to follow through.

You make want to host a donor reception for certain special supporters who should get some special handling. You and members of your development committee can determine who these people are. And hopefully, a small team of Board members will agree to underwrite and host  this event.  It can be held at the nonprofit site, if you feel there is benefit in having your donors see the physical place they are supporting. I like to find a nice spot, perhaps a restaurant or event center that can be engaged for a fair price; and, importantly, that it doesn’t cost your nonprofit a cent.

Taking care of your donors: practicing good stewardship is an art.

It helps form a bond with you donors that will pay dividends.

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