Saying Thank You to Donors

PhotoAs a fundraiser, you are only as good as your relationships with your donors. Maintaining a strong relationship requires a great deal of communication and personal attention. This could entail anything from holding donor events to sending personalized emails. However, many fundraisers run into the problem of how to keep fundraising personal when the donor list continues to grow. Keeping donors engaged is key and, as it turns out, videos are a great, engaging way to say thank you for donating.  

Videos have the potential to not only communicate a message, but also get people to feel emotional about your cause. The music, imagery, and theme can make people invested in the same thing in which you are invested, and therefore make them want to be long term donors. Do not be mistaken, however, these videos require a lot of forethought and work. Below are some tips to get you started on making your very own thank you video for donors.

Decide on a Theme

The theme of your video should line up with your cause, and can affect how the video is made. For example, fundraising for more personal causes may require just a phone camera while raising money for a larger cause requires higher tech gear. Once you decide on a theme, you can get to work on forming your video.

Sketch Out your Scenes

It may be tempting to grab a camera, shoot a bunch of film, and go through the footage to decide what fits best where afterwards. However, this will end up being a huge waste of time. Instead, write out a script or a storyboard, detailing what you will say and do in each scene of the video. This will allow you to see if you’re missing any vital information before filming gets started.

Tell Viewers What Happened

Thank you videos cannot just be videos saying thank you. They must detail how the contributions were used and why they were necessary. Donors are more likely to give recurring donations if they are confident their contributions are making a real difference.

For more tips on making a thank you video, check out this article from Razoo.

Creating Effective Fundraising Campaign Goals

pexels-photo-40120-large

“What are your fundraising goals?” While it may sound like a simple question, especially for a nonprofit corporation, many NGO firms and charity organizations tend to struggle with the answer. In many ways, their goals go beyond the financial funding competencies where their work is simply meant to drive an overarching impact on the under-resources and under-privileged communities all around the world. As great as it is to have that longer-lasting vision, it is still incredibly broad and unhelpful within the overall operations of an organization. Like it or not, money will always play a role. Because of this, you need to have strong, well established, and well-defined tangible goals in order to see success within your fundraising campaign. Without them, the workplace can feel a bit suffocating and worrisome, especially if there is a lack of direction to help navigate your efforts in the right direction. Having a clear vision of the end-state will allow you to take the necessary steps in order to achieve success. For this to be beneficial, you need to be crystal clear idea on what you are looking to achieve at the end of every quarter.

Setting a fundraising goal is vital because it helps you establish a more collaborative mindset. While easy as it may sound, creating these fundraising goals are incredibly tough. Yes, we can all throw the goal that we want to hit a million dollars. While I will never criticize your professional ambition of hitting that top level, I will question whether or not it is plausible, especially if you’re running a small level fundraiser. When creating your fundraising goal, you want to make sure of two things. The first thing your goals should do is that it should challenge your team each and every day. Many people need that level of challenge and motivation to get them through the mundane task of the office. They need to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that their work is steering the train. Now, as much as you want to shoot for the stars, you also want to be tangible about your goals. This brings us to the second requirement when establishing your fundraiser goals. While it is always fun to think about hitting those fundraising makers, you have to live in the realm of reality. Not doing so can be incredibly detrimental to the overall success and growth of the campaign. As much as your goals are meant to push you, they will not be able to be reach if they are clearly unattainable.

Now, as you create these goals, you want to start evaluating the situation holistically. Many organizations make the mistake of being too broad and vague with their targets. To prevent that, you need to analyze and internalize every factor of your fundraiser. To start, analyze the data. Look at the previous success and flaws of last years campaign and evaluate the strengths and positives. From there, you and your team should meticulously breakdown the information in every which way possible. This can be from the number of donors you have to the number of financial gifts you received in that year. The more information you know, the better. Once you have consolidated that information, look at the targeted goals of the overall organization. Ask yourself what the financial cost are for said-charitable resources and implement that into your thinking. This will allow you to truly understand the figure should realistically be looking at moving forward in the future.

In addition to this, try asking yourself specific overarching questions such as: What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to understand about your campaign? These questions will provide a strong overview so that you can establish efficient and effective steps that can lead you to your goals. Think of these as mini-goals. These particular objectives are meant to help you conceptualize your path for success. To help improve this, try and make sure these steps are able to measure progress. This will allow you to analyze whether or not you are on or off track when it comes to your campaign’s achievement.

Providing Constructive Feedback for your Fundraiser

man-people-space-desk-large

When it comes to the growth and overall development for any campaign, the success of any fundraiser falls primarily on your ability to internalize the strengths and weaknesses of your fundraising strategy in a strong and holistic manner. By finding various beneficial ways for improvement, you will be able to refine and perfect any mishaps or mistakes that are preventing you from reaching your quarterly and annual fundraising goals.

To start, we have to, of course, understand the concept of constructive feedback. When it comes to constructive feedback, there has always been a negative connotation attached to its name. While difficult as it may be to highlight specific weaknesses within a project or an employee, constructive feedback can provide various positives for growth and development. Think of it like this. In life, settling will always be the biggest hurdle preventing you from success. Settling for anything less than you deserve will only force you to move two steps back than ten steps forward. Similar to this concept, settling on a ‘winning idea’ or ‘the traditional standards’ will only hurt your process for potential development. In order for you to achieve your intrinsic fundraising goals, you need to challenge the overall status quo by reflecting and evaluating what you can do in the future. By assuming that type of ‘do not settle’ mentality, you will be able to take particular negative conversations to positive professional discussions that can essentially improve and mend the skills, capabilities, attitudes, and strategy for your fundraising campaign.

Now, to do this effectively, you have to make sure you start by analyzing your previous campaigns. Go even as far as five years ago to truly gain a holistic understanding of the changes and trends within the data. By having that knowledge, primarily data, in mind, you will be able to uncover specific trends that can help you in the future. Once you have analyzed the campaign to its fullest, begin by cultivating a set of constructive questions that can elude you a more strategic plan.

When it comes to questions, focus on the data. Ask yourself, as well as the rest of the board, what internal and external factors could have led to those positive and negative trends. Analyze specific year-to-year approaches and ask which strategies worked and which ones did not. By thinking critically and asking these overarching questions, you will be able to discover the meaning behind the numbers. For many nonprofits, understand the data beyond the numbers will always lead to something greater. It gives you specific opportunities where you can question the overall facilities and operations of your organization so that group can culminate a strong and impactful attack plan.

Last but not least, you want to make sure you are evaluating the operational side of your organization. This means providing that much needed constructive criticism to your employees and workers. As stated above, constructive feedback is very similar to an overall evaluation for growth. While this can build tension, or even anxiety, for your employees, you want to make sure that every person, at the end of the day, leaves the workplace with a goal in mind.

In the grand scheme of things, there will always be opportunities for improvement. In order to hit your fundraising markers year after year, you want to make sure that you, as well as the rest of your organization, is progressing each and every day. By assimilating that concept of change, you will be able to a variety of growth such as strong leadership, refined operations, and impactful strategies. Remember, strength and growth only come through continuous understanding and change.  Do not let if hinder your abilities. Instead, embrace the new world order.

Three Performance Mistakes to Avoid within the Nonprofit Sector

pexels-photo-large (1)

Tracking metrics is about making the seemingly intangible tangible and getting better results. No matter what nonprofit you are working for, there will always be room for improvement within the operations of even the most establish organizations. But as much as we want to continue our growth and impact on the world, it is imperative that we avoid some of the most overarching mistakes that can derail a nonprofit organization.

Below, I have highlighted three of the biggest performance mistakes that can overwhelm and falter your mission in an unproductive way. By identifying these areas, you will be able to improve the logistics and operations of your organization and move forward. Let’s face it, most nonprofit organizations generate a ton of donor data. The most challenging part of it is to analyze it in the most efficient and effective way in order for you and your team to improve upon it year after year.

Over Analyzing and Measuring the Data

Far too often, many organizations and businesses have utilized data as their tactical tool in improving the day-to-day operations to help reach their intended goal. While data does play a necessary part within our lives, collecting, aggregating, and analyzing this information again and again can oftentimes overwhelm your staff and eventually compromise the productivity of change. At a glance, data provides any organization with a holistic view on the performance of a company and of an individual. As much as we can focus specifically on the presented data, we want to make sure that information is utilized in the best possible way. For some people, they may just look at this information as a large amount of meaningless numbers. That right there is a huge red flag. To make sure that your staff understands the data, make sure you provide meaning on what this data stands for. In addition, make sure the data is presented in a way that can be easily translated into goal-oriented objectives. That type of streamline communication of numbers to professional development and goals is something that will help improve analyzing the overall strengths and weaknesses of a group than just having the numbers as a whole. Remember, the more meaningful these numbers are to you, the more important they will be to the rest of the group.

Underutilizing your Data

As stated above, your data can provide a holistic view of where you are in reaching your intended goals. For many organizations, the data can be so much that the information can, in itself, seem useless. In the grand scheme of things, you want to make sure you are utilizing all of the information possible. Similar to measuring the data section above, you want to make sure you are able to break the information down in more meaningful sessions. This will allow you to infuse new energy to unknown numbers and create meaningful tactics in how to best improve the operations within the day.

Do Not Over Think the Data

One of the biggest problems you can do for your employees is to overthink the data. Whether you are trying to create a system or over establishing goals, you want to make sure the data in itself can be tangible and realistic for your staff. That being said, the approach in tracking and analyzing the information needs to be done in a meaningful way. Various steps need to outline the importance of your goals and your individual goals for your staff while also translating that information in how they can impact and improve their own personal performance. If there is no intended meaning for the data, this can lead to uncertainty about the numbers. If the numbers however represent a multitude of concepts, this can lead to overthinking the meaning behind the information. To prevent this, make sure there is some type of clear and precise understanding behind the numbers and the following steps it can do in the future.

Switching from For-Profit to Non-Profit

pexels-photo-85040-large

Switching sectors from for-profit businesses to nonprofit organizations has become increasingly common throughout the past five years. Many of these for-business professionals consider this career switch into the nonprofit world because of their emphasis on charitable missions. The idea to make a meaningful and transitive impact is not alluring, but a possible personal goal as well.

While you would think that the transition into this type of work would be easy, the move can, at times, be difficult to adjust in. Many candidates often struggle to frame their own professional experience in a way that makes sense to nonprofit work. In fact, the overall story and transitive skills can be difficult to translate beyond the operational objectives within their for-profit sector. If you are looking to be successful within the non-profit industry, it is imperative that you reflect, analyze, research and prepare any necessary changes within your mentality. To help you with this transition, I have provided some vital tips to get you on your way to do something bigger than yourself.

To start, begin by doing your homework. Make sure you research every organization and program that you are interested in so that you know what you are getting yourself into. Not every nonprofit is going to value and leverage the private sector skills that you bring to the table. Spend some time learning the mission and values that each nonprofit is working towards and how you can become an asset and a key leader when you get the job. In addition, make sure you learn the background of some of their key leaders. Understanding their own personal success stories can help you gain a holistic view of the type of leaders they are looking for within their organization.

In addition to researching the background and history of the nonprofit organization that you are interested in, make sure you analyze your own personal and professional skills. Similar to any job, every organization is looking for something that can help push it to the next level. While handling millions of dollars of accounts or raising an X-amount of cash within one business quarter may seem like a huge accomplishment at other private sector firms, this may not be the same case for nonprofits. For many nonprofits, they are looking for leadership, management, and communication skills. Make sure you analyze your professional resume and highlight particular professional achievements and skills that can be translated to your sought out position. For example, if you are looking to work within their fundraising marketing department, try and highlight any grant writing or fundraising skills that can showcase your talents.

Once you have analyzed your professional experience, make sure you have a strong holistic reason for switching into the nonprofit sector. As much as you can reference how you would like to do good, you have to understand these organizations have heard this answer countless times. If you are looking to be an active leader within the nonprofit sector, especially for director and managerial positions, you need to create a story of self that directs your professional path to theirs. Ask yourself various overarching questions like: Why do you want to leave your current position? What interested you about nonprofit? What interested you about this organization? How can you relate to their mission? Go even as far and network with various members within the organization and ask them their thoughts and reasons for what got them there. Having a strong grasp of these questions will allow you to better internalize the move. This in turn should allow you to translate that to your prospective employers.

Once that is all done and said, the last thing you need to do is to be realistic about the compensation packages these nonprofit organizations are offering. Now, it is a myth that nonprofit organizations do not pay well. For some, you can be looking at six-or-seven-figure positions. But, unlike the for-profit businesses, salary compensation can be significantly lower that what you were making before. Remember, their main goal is not necessary selling their product. Instead, they are trying to enact a change that can eventually impact and shape the world. If you feel like your finances will be unstable taking this type of position, ask yourself if this is the right move. If you are still adamant about the position, go forward and make your change.

The True Leadership within an Organization

pexels-photo-large

Being a business leader can be a rewarding experience. But it can also be filled with various challenges. At times, people have this false assumption that these individuals can fulfill the ‘hero’ role in any situation. As much as we can believe that, we need to be tangible and understand that a true leader is someone who can not only inspire motivation and action during the best times, but also admit fault and accept responsibilities during the most difficult stints. It is that sacrifice that truly represents a strong business leader. Without it, the success, the goals, and the overall vision of a company are nothing but a fade dream.

So what characterizes leadership within an organization? How can leadership take your business and company to the next level?

Let’s start off by examining the arduous decisions business leaders need to make on the day-to-day basis. For many people, they are unable to conceptualize the risk of putting thousands, maybe millions, of dollars solely on a simple deal. While it maybe difficult to imagine this situation, in reality, this particular event happens all the time. For business leaders, decisions like these are not just asked, but decided upon almost each and every day. In fact, they spend an excessive amount of time and a tremendous amount of energy making these overarching decisions for the betterment of the company. The main problem of course is the tradeoff, or ‘catch’ if you will. It is like that childhood saying: “No matter what, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.” Like this slogan, business leaders need to be well aware of the ramifications their decisions make on their company and their employees. One simple mistake could impact the livelihood of hundred and thousands of people.

Outside of decisions making, business leaders need to be reflective. For many people, they go to their jobs each and every day without a care in their minds. In comparison, true business leaders within the work place are constantly thinking of the world around them. For them, their mission is to go into their companies with the intention to resell their visions to their employees, their investors, and their clients, especially if the company is going through big and drastic changes. The one thing to note is that with any type of changes, there will always be some type of negative reception from the general public. The worst thing you can do is to ignore these cries and complaints. Instead you need to address them. True business leaders acknowledge and reflect on the weaknesses and problems of their business. They try to understand the negative perspective so that they can arrive at the most viable solution. While of course it is easier said than done, the task to inspire and reinvigorate your company’s values with new and innovative solutions is something that takes a strong amount of effort.

Now a business leader isn’t a true leader if there is no balance within authority. While you may be the boss, you want to make sure that you are respected and open-minded to your workers. At times, many directors or supervisors have been criticized to be too authoritative with their workers. This leads to low work morale and a low retention rate. To benefit your company, try and find that balance. True business leaders make sure to listen and respect their employees. Just because you have a higher title does not mean you cannot learn from those under you. Remember, a true leader is one who is humble enough to admit their flaws. To inspire action and success, you need to become more than just the authority. You need to be the voice that echoes their future.