Mailbag: Donors at Parties (part 1)

Q: I’m about to go through the annual December holiday party marathon.  13 of them this year, and I already feel unlucky.  I’m a development officer for an organization in a pretty small town, and there are only so many major donors, so I’m going to run into a lot of folks that I have urgent donor business with…what’s the etiquette here?  I don’t want to upset my hosts or my prospects, but I don’t want to pretend that I don’t need to talk to these people about giving my organization money.  I don’t know how to talk to MY donors at someone else’s party, and it’s sort of a separate question, but I don’t really know how to balance the party we’re throwing between a nice thank you celebration for the folks who support us year round and reminding some donors that we want their money before the end of the month.

A: Two good questions.  Let’s take them separately…First, Other People’s Parties.

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Quick tips: Don’t make this twitter mistake

@devshrink – I’ve been doing it wrong.

Syntax is really important, always, but most of us are learning twitter syntax on the fly, and for those of us for whom twitter is foreign enough to qualify as a third or fourth language, it’s trickier than we’d like to admit!  I’m grateful for tips like this from Hubspot and Jay Acunzo!  Check out their original post – it’s more detailed than mine – but here’s the quick and dirty version.

If you start a tweet with @username, it WILL NOT BE SEEN BY ALL YOUR FOLLOWERS.  Only the folks who follow BOTH you and the person your reference will see that tweet.

If you want all your followers to see your tweet, but you want to reference @username, you need to start your tweet with a character – any character (except those with syntactical relevance).  You can throw in a period, you can throw in an apostrophe…or you can switch up your sentence so you start with a word or two.

Back to School Week – How Much is Your Fundraiser Costing You?

I touched on this yesterday, but one of my pet peeves in fundraising is watching people work so hard to raise funds that they’re losing money.  And the biggest reason people fall into this trap is forgetting to value volunteer labor.  I’ve seen people put in hundreds – no exaggeration – of collective man-hours on a gala event that raises so little net cash that they’d wind up losing money if you docked minimum wage for every volunteer hour spent running the thing.

Forget extremes like that.  Any fundraiser you run should aim to do better than passing a plate on day one.  That’s the benchmark you should be measuring against.  If you’ve got volunteers putting in hundreds of hours on a fundraiser, that’s a serious investment.  Here’s how to make that investment count. Read more

Back to School Week – Who’s Your Target?

Here’s a challenge that many organizations have when it comes to choosing fundraising techniques: not spending enough time identifying their target donors for a given strategy.  For any initiative, you MUST be able to answer the question: who do you expect to give you money?

It matters, and when you don’t ask that question, you’re setting yourself up to damage morale, leave a bad taste in the mouth of community members without kids, and fall short of your goals.  Here’s a handy guide to help you figure out WHO you should be asking for money, and HOW you should do it.  These tips guaranteed* to make you sound super smart at the next PTO meeting.

*Development Shrink cannot be held responsible for your getting elected fundraising chair or given other leadership roles as the result of the wisdom contained in this post.

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Mailbag: Recipe for Alienating Your Donors

Q: I just got a “thank you” note from my kid’s school that is such a ridiculous form letter that I don’t think I’ll ever donate to them again.

Dear : Thank you so much for supporting with your generous gift to the Annual Giving Campaign. Your tax-deductible gift of $20 will have a tremendous impact on and her classmates.

In fact, when my 10 year old saw it, she asked “Is that sarcastic?  It’s kind of mean.”

I get that there’s an absurdity to fundraising etiquette, but…are they being sarcastic?   Read more