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The Plan

By Peggy Vinson

When it’s time to launch a fundraising campaign, nonprofits take time to recruit leaders, identify prospects and craft their case, but often they don’t take the time to craft an actual campaign plan. Perhaps determining leaders, prospects and case feels like a campaign plan, but if you take a moment to think about how you “plan” for programs and services, you can draw parallels to planning for a campaign.iStock_000007098160Small

In a program, you develop:

  • The staff (often volunteers)
  • The curriculum
  • The participants

The curriculum serves as the plan to implement the program. It gives all the staff or volunteers the information they need to order materials, schedule space, and to be consistent in delivering the program. A campaign plan serves as the curriculum for your campaign.

By using key indicator targets, you can create a campaign plan that will support your volunteers, communicate with prospects and bring your case to life.

  • Renewals show how well you are thanking and communicating with past donors. What’s your renewal rate? A 70%+ rate tells me that you are doing a great job at connecting with those who have given the year before.
  • Upgrades indicate how well you understand and train your volunteers on your case. Your case should be compelling enough to send the message that more is needed. A 50%+ upgrade rate is a strong indicator that you and your volunteers are doing a great job at showing the need for increased support. This is the most underrated target, but this is no different than measuring if your programs are growing and if participants are bettering their skills through your programs.
  • $1,000+ gifts show how much you and your board focus on major gifts. Upgrading previous donors to this level or engaging well-resourced donors at this level will radically impact your ability to expand your mission work.
  • % of Board Giving demonstrates the level of interest from your board. Frankly, if all board members aren’t giving (and giving at a personally generous level), you have work to do.
  • Board Productivity (“Give AND Get”) is an indicator of how engaged your board is in expanding what you do in and for your the community. Fundraising is part of the job description of a nonprofit board member. Make sure you’re clear with that as you recruit new board members.
  • Number of Volunteers shows your skill at engaging others in deeper involvement with your organization. The staff’s role should not be to do all the campaigning themselves, but to engage others in understanding your mission and helping with your campaign.

A focus on improving these simple targets will give you the direction you need to create a strong plan that will support volunteers, engage prospects and make the most of your strong case for support – helping both your organization and your community win!



Caring is Sharing

By Jon Simons

woman - gratefulUnlocking the mystery of donor prospect identification comes down to one simple question: WHO REALLY CARES?

For too long, donor prospect identification has focused on people’s capacity to give rather than their capacity to care. It’s no wonder that our volunteers squirm at the idea of opening up their list of personal contacts and sharing the names of their “rich” friends. When the best reason you can provide for asking someone to give is because they can afford to, you are in real trouble!

You need look no further than your own tax returns (due April 15th by the way) to prove that people give based on how much they care rather than how much they have. Assuming you did not divide you charitable giving evenly, you gave more to some and less to others. Based on what? Your level of trust, personal connection, understanding of the mission and passion for the cause. In short, you gave more to those you cared more about.

The next time you ask your volunteers to identify potential donors for your campaign, ask them to write a list of people they know who care about the great work that your charity does. Interest trumps capacity every time.

To find the best prospective donors, simply answer the question, “Who Really Cares?”


Cases That Stick

By Bruce Berglund

One of Donor By Design’s training axioms is “Put a Face to the Case.”  In practical terms, this means expanding beyond statistics and giving context to impact. Recently I saw a great example of this concept in action.

This past Sunday, Willow Creek Church kicked off their 9th annual Celebration of Hope (COH). This is a three-week series where the plight of the poor, both locally and internationally, is explored, challenging the congregation to be aware, care, contribute and make a difference.

In the lobby were displays of vegetables, explaining how the congregation’s seed packing makes a difference. (This year’s goal is one million seed packets packed by volunteers.) There was model refugee camp set up outside where you could walk through and see the utter squalor in which the less advantaged on the other side of the world live. There was a water tower which educated us about the importance of fresh water and wells.

seedpackdisplay      water tower

During last week’s service, they told the moving story via video about women weavers and gave everyone attending an oven mitt made by these women.  The $5 Willow spent on each mitt drove home the economic development and impact of micro-financing in the third world.

COH creates a powerful case. They put a face to the case in a way that offers a lesson for all of us.  A few take aways for me:

  1. Don’t just tell me … show me!
  2. Don’t just tell me … let me experience it!
  3. Don’t just tell me … give me context!
  4. Video and powerful images move me far more than a brochure.
  5. Invite me to do something. Packing seeds as a congregation is as important for those packing as those receiving the seed packets. Some of our clients have thousands of members whose hearts could grow larger for their organizations if they could mobilize their members. I think Willow would agree that engaging their 20,000+ weekly attenders in COH brings them closer together as a church family.

Do you serve up a “sticky case” to your constituents?

watercansI’ve told this story before, but the fact that it has stuck with me tells a story in and of itself. A few years ago during COH, Willow shared moving stories of young girls in Africa who must walk several miles a day to retrieve clean water for their families. Transporting these five gallon jugs of water each day meant the girls weren’t getting educated. Plus, the walk was dangerous.

At the end of the service, volunteers handed five gallon jugs of water to each family member and asked us to carry them across the lobby.  They were so heavy.  I’ve never looked at a five gallon gas can the same way! And I haven’t forgotten about the plight of those girls either.


cases that stick

Strong cases matter. We are considering putting together a “tribe” to learn, be inspired, share ideas etc.* Would you find this interesting and/or helpful? Please let me know if you are interested by sending a quick email with your contact information to info@donorbydesign.com — please put “Cases that Stick” in the subject line.

OR – for our YMCA friends, look for us at NAYDO next week and give us your contact info there. We’d love to talk!


* If you haven’t read Seth Godin’s Tribes, it’s well worth the read!