Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg had millions of dollars at their disposal. Yet, their marketing dollars didn’t translate into voluntary support. What does that mean for nonprofit organizations that don’t have the wallets these men have but do, similarly, need to mobilize voluntary support?
Before #GivingTuesday, I challenge everyone to subscribe to one of the Presidential candidates’ email newsletters. It doesn’t matter which candidate you pick…You’ll immediately begin receiving multiple messages in a single day…And all of them will ask for money. Every single one.
A lot of money is given in the final 3 days of the year. What can you do to finish strong? Here are 5 things you can do to ensure your organization starts the New Year strong!
The Year We Almost Didn’t Get the Gift
For many years, I worked as an Executive Director for a counseling center in Northeast Georgia. Almost all of the staff were mental health professionals except for me and almost all the work other than therapy—fundraising, communications, IT, HR, maintenance, grant writing—fell to me (along with just one or two others).
If our donor newsletter was going to go out, I wrote it personally. It was challenging sometimes to get it done. One year, it just seemed like it didn’t get done and it didn’t get done and it didn’t get done. We sent out a few electronic newsletters, but the print one just never got written or sent.
We had an incredibly supportive major donor who annually made a very generous $10,000 gift. Looking back, I appreciate her even more now than I did then. She demanded very little attention. She just gave and gave and was incredibly supportive. With no effort on our part and no fanfare on her part, her generous gift would just appear on our administrative assistant’s desk one day each December.
Then, the year we were too busy to communicate with our donors, our Board President got a call from her. She asked to meet. When they got together, she said she wasn’t sure she was going to give that year. She just didn’t feel connected, she said. She couldn’t remember the last time she had received a newsletter from us and she felt like she didn’t know what was going on with the organization.
When I first went to work at the Children’s Center for Hope & Healing, a counseling center in Northeast Georgia, I longed for the staff I worked with to tell me clients stories. I knew I needed to be able to share our clients’ stories with donors and volunteers to inspire giving and volunteerism and, given that the organization was in dire financial straights when I began working for it, being able to motivate people to give was essential, but I just couldn’t—at least not initially—get the staff to share stories about the clients.
Reach Their Hearts, Not Their Heads
I love committees. I’m serious. I do. Those of you who know me personally know, I’m an extrovert. I’m energized by being in a room full of other people. I love brainstorming and discussions.
But there are somethings a committee shouldn’t do and writing your end of the year appeal letter is one of them.