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5 Podcasts for Charity Fundraising Advice

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As a nonprofit professional (or professional volunteer), hosting a charity fundraiser is a lot of work. It requires organizing, marketing, event planning, sales, people management, and so much more. As fundraisers, we are always looking for improved methods for making our events more cost-effective and profitable. Here are 5 podcasts to help make the efforts of a nonprofit event planner a little easier, or more effective. These podcasts are in no particular order and range from 30 minutes to over an hour in length per episode. It can be great to fit in these helpful tips during a lunch break, long drive, or even during a daily workout routine.

1. The Classy Podcast

This weekly podcast has stories from leading founders and executives in the social sector who hope to inspire the next generation seeking to drive change. 

2. Events with Benefits

Hosted by three longtime event fundraising professionals with 50+ years of combined experience, this podcast seeks to help nonprofits achieve greater success in their fundraising events with less effort. The episodes feature special guests from all different sectors of the nonprofit industry who share their biggest lessons learned, including nonprofit attorneys, directors of events that raise over $1 million or more, benefit auctioneers, and technology companies.

3. CauseTalk Radio: The Cause Marketing Podcast

This weekly podcast, hosted by Joe Waters and Megan Strand, keeps you up to date on the world of cause marketing.  The podcast covers trends, tactics and news related to cause marketing and corporate-nonprofit partnerships.

4. Driving Participation Podcast

This podcast talks with marketers, fundraisers and consultants in order to explore what’s been successful for schools, nonprofits, and associations, in order to attract the right people, maintain their excitement, and encourage them to give back.  

5. Raise and Engage

This podcast if for nonprofit professionals and covers the latest trends and hot topics.  With people speaking from the social good community, it’s designed to help listeners in doing more for their cause.  

Events With Benefits® Podcast

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Experts in the fundraising arena, Renee Zau, Danny Hooper, and Ian Lauth, have pooled their nonprofit expertise to create an educational podcast called Events with Benefits®. Covering topics related to nonprofits and fundraising, the podcast steps inside the world of event fundraising, seeking to provide insights to event planners, nonprofit staff, and volunteers. The episodes are designed to assist nonprofit organizations in achieving success with fundraising events and raising money.

The Events with Benefits podcast episodes are each 30 to 40 minutes in length, allowing listeners to gain quick access to new ideas for future events. Episodes feature special guests from many backgrounds within the nonprofit industry, who share their personal experiences and lessons learned. Listeners can subscribe, stream or download the podcast episodes, which are available on iTunes and at EventswithBenefits.com

 
 

One of the most popular episodes is #6: Thinking Big with Noah McMahon, Founder and CEO of Anonymous.  McMahon, who specializes in holding multi-million dollar events, explains his 3 building blocks for having a lasting relationship with donors and event sponsors, in order to multiply the impact of funds raised.  He also shares many extremely helpful event planning tips.  

Meet the Podcast Hosts:

  • Renee Zau, CEO & Co-founder of DonationMatch.com, has personally worked on over 50 charity events and mentored over 100 business owners.  She personally has experienced and understands the frustrations and challenges that people face during the in-kind donation process.    

  • Benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper has had an award-winning career through thousands of on-stage performances and the creation of Danny Hooper Productions.  He has also had experience as a recording artist, motivational speaker, comic emcee, and celebrity benefits auctioneer.

  • Ian Lauth, VP of Marketing at Winspire, works for a company that provides unique experiences for charity auctions or fundraisers, allowing users to place exclusive travel packages into their charity auctions.  

Introducing Free Event Help in Bite-Size Pieces

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By Renee Zau, Co-founder & CEO, DonationMatch

Recently a new benefit was offered to nonprofits who opt for our DonationMatch Pro Event Page upgrade--a one-on-one coaching session with an expert fundraising event planner. We introduced this largely to assist volunteers who were newer to the world of fundraising events, often without help from former committees.

Over the years, however, I've gathered a trove of clever hacks and fixes from which I think most event committees could benefit. These are now being shared as our new series of "Event Organizer Pro Tips." Follow DonationMatch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to receive them. (Thanks to Nailah of social communications agency Donna + Nailah for inspiring this idea!)

Do you have your own list of "must do's"? I'd love to hear what they are in the comments below!

 

Event Organizer Pro Tip
Event Organizer Pro Tip

5 Minutes with Geraldine D'Silva, Executive Director of PAWS San Diego

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By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador, DonationMatch

For the past 20 years, PAWS San Diego has provided "essential pet services and support to low-income elderly, chronically ill and disabled individuals."  They currently run two programs - a PetCare/VetCare program which includes, among other things, in-home delivery of pet food, cat litter and flea medicine to their low-income senior, or chronically ill and disabled clients, and their PAWS Pantry Program, formally launched this year, in which PAWS sets up several distribution sites around the county to provide supplemental bags of pet food for families in need.

Here's what DonationMatch learned in 5 minutes with Geraldine D'Silva, Executive Director of PAWS San Diego!

What is the goal of PAWS San Diego?

"PAWS San Diego’s goal is keep pet families together. With our two programs we hope for the day when no more pets are relinquished to shelters due to lack of resources for pet care and pet food in San Diego County. Studies show that unfortunately low income is one of the main reasons for pet relinquishment."

You had different positions within the organization before you became Executive Director.  Do you think that experience has helped you become a more effective ED?

"I am so thankful that I started off with PAWS as Operations Manager two years ago. PAWS had just started moving from being a volunteer run organization to being staff driven. With the transition we were in need of a 'Manager,' especially when donors and others phoned to ask for one. When I was promoted to Operations Director after 6 months I had already learned so much, and after completing a Certificate course in Non Profit Management I was ready to take on bigger responsibilities. Now as the ED, I clearly feel the pulse of the organization and I feel privileged to work alongside our volunteers, amazing staff and an extremely supportive, talented and professional Board of Directors. Together we are effective."

Do you have a favorite story of how PAWS has helped someone?

"I have many, many wonderful stories to tell! The most recent one is a beautiful testimonial we received when we thanked a donor. They informed us that they were in fact a PAWS Pantry client a year ago. The family had suddenly become homeless and was living in their car with their dogs and cat. 'PAWS saved their lives' by giving them an emergency supply of pet food so they could keep their pets.

One of our PetCare & VetCare clients, Ray, takes almost 3 hours each morning just to get out of bed. Ray is a senior, chronically ill and disabled. He has been home-

bound for years and his only motivation to get up is his beloved dog and constant companion Ziggy. He talks to Ziggy all day and Ziggy is always right by his side. I personally deliver food to Ray and Ziggy and I always enjoy seeing the unique bond that they share. They clearly love and need each other."

What types of events do you hold?

"Fiesta is the major, annual event for PAWS San Diego. We also have an annual Volunteer Appreciation event and hope to hold a Donor Appreciation event regularly in the future. Apart from that, we participate in a few outreach events throughout the year, particularly PRIDE and PAWS in the Park and also the AIDS Walk where we run the water station."

What are your biggest fundraising event planning challenges?

"Our biggest challenge without a doubt is the need for an event planner. We are a team of four part-time staff with regular day-to-day responsibilities. Fiesta is our one major event each year, and in addition to it being time-consuming to plan, we are also heavily dependent on volunteers to make this event happen. Having the right event chair each year is of prime importance and fortunately this year we have a wonderful and very organized Chair. Coordinating and keeping volunteers committed through the whole process is a challenge in itself, apart from needing to market the event on a low budget."

Which events raise the most money, and which help you raise awareness the best?

"Fiesta forms approximately 15-17% of our budget. The outreach events help raise some brand awareness. We have small fundraisers throughout the year, hosted by restaurants, bars and stores that donate some of the proceeds to PAWS."

Where would you like to see PAWS in 5 years?

"In 5 years, I would like to see PAWS working more seamlessly with other human and animal welfare organizations and being more self-sustaining on a higher budget. I would definitely like to increase and diversify our funding base while growing and stabilizing our infrastructure and the number of people we serve."

If you were going to eat a brownie, would you choose a middle piece or a corner piece?

"If I were going to eat a brownie, I would choose the chewy center. But I would love a nibble of the crisp corner too, if I had that choice."

Thank you Geraldine and PAWS for all you do! Click here for more information on PAWS San Diego and their 20th Anniversary Fiesta Celebration on June 8th!

What Information Should You Collect Before Your Next Event - And Why?

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Constant Contact has developed a simple strategy for asking the right questions, and in a blog post they explain why obtaining the right information is so valuable in planning your next event. The key to collecting the right guest information before your next event is to start with an online registration form. This allows you to easily learn more about your guests as part of the ticket purchase process. Anyone can use a company like Eventbrite, TicketDerby, or Ticketleap to make it easier, and the best will suggest pertinent questions that will help in planning your event. Knowing what to ask and keeping the form streamlined is crucial.

According to Constant Contact's strategy, #1 is demographic information.  "A nonprofit can use demographic data when planning entertainment or auction items for their annual silent auction fundraiser." Here is their list of what to collect:

1. Demographics: Name, age, gender, even zip codes can matter to sponsors and event partners.

2. Number of guests: Plan seating, food, and amenities better with an accurate count.

3. Contact information: Don't forget about asking for email addresses for follow-up surveys or future communications.

4. Event-specific information:  Are there meal or seating choices to make?  Need t-shirt sizes for giveaways? Can you sell raffle tickets or add-ons in advance?

5. Payment method

At DonationMatch, we do our best to collect the right information on behalf of our users, too. To help companies and brands find their target markets (and nonprofits present themselves to the right opportunities), we ask event organizers for attendee demographics, ticket prices, estimated attendance, social media links, and more. And even before events can be listed on DonationMatch to be eligible to receive goods, a nonprofit's IRS status and account contact must be verified. Because we know nonprofits need to be mindful of the products and services they accept, we now use third-party resources like Yelp to check donor companies, too. We know having better information at your fingertips creates a better experience for both the giver and the receiver.

If your intent is to create a more successful event, asking for more of the right information, and understanding how to use it, is essential. Read Constant Contact's full articles for their strategy and explanations.

What information do YOU collect for a better event?

Using Social Media to Promote Your Event

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By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador, DonationMatch Spring fundraising time is among us.  How are you planning to promote your event?  According to Socialable, one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal should be social media.  Because of its wide audience reach, social media can be used to "increase registration, increase buzz, and ultimately increase attendance."  However, in considering your social media platform, it's important to keep in mind who your target audience is and how they interact online.  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are likely your best options.

Another boost is the new Pro Event page upgrade on DonationMatch. It has built-in extra help for your event to get found by search engines like Google and Bing and Facebook sharing widgets. What makes it super convenient is automatic donor promotion and the ability to export donation details.

For details on using social media to help promote your event, and for useful tools to help you manage it, read more on Socialable's post here.

How are you using social media to promote your event?

Don't Burn Out Your Volunteers

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By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch The inevitable happened. I suspected it was a possibility, but it still took me by surprise. "I just don't think I have it in me." Just like that, my son's elementary school's annual fundraiser was cancelled.

This isn't the first time I've seen a leading volunteer burn out, nor will it be the last. Imagine how much work it is to organize the equivalent of a wedding every year, then DOUBLE it. That's how many hours the average charitable fundraising event takes to plan (about 600 hours!) This will drain even the most experienced volunteers year after year, and we found some advice on alleviating pain:

Get Help. "Auctions are best enjoyed – and planned – with others.... Believe it or not, a good number of your best volunteers may not even have personal ties to the nonprofit, but instead have ties to the auction chair!" - Sherry Truhlar, Red Apple Auctions, from "Five Steps to a Great Fundraising Auction"

Stop the (PTO) Drama. Tim Sullivan of PTO Today addressed this in a blog post where he acknowledged the difficulties of authority or leadership in volunteer situations. He tackled this head-on with several suggestions.

Show Appreciation. While your committees are already securing prizes for auctions and raffles, why not add an ask for volunteer gifts, too? I love that the San Diego Zoo does a raffle at each of their Food & Wine Celebration planning meetings. Another idea? The same companies providing goodies for event swag bags will also often be happy to include extras for volunteers. After all, they are potential customers, too, and a little goodwill goes a long way.

Value Their Time. This has more to do with the tools you provide. It could be an app, software, or updated equipment that can save MANY hours of work or headaches. New products to help with event fundraising are being introduced constantly, including Planana for event sharing and DonationMatch for in-kind donation procurement. The best ones will reduce repetitive tasks, increase sales, and/or stay organized (i.e. prevent busy people from being overwhelmed.)

What helps you stay motivated? What have you done to successfully retain volunteers? We'd love to know in the comments below!

Fresh Ideas for Your School Spring Fundraiser

By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch If you have children, you've undoubted noticed that many schools have fundraisers in the Spring, now that parents and teachers have gotten settled and the Winter holidays are over. Packages from local businesses are wonderful, especially since for some parents this is the only fundraising event they will attend all year.  However, schools have opportunities to offer unique, priceless items in auctions that are personally meaningful to parent bidders, and we want to make sure you're all utilizing these ideas to your school's advantage.  (All images from RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elementary and Harper Shay Photography)

1) One-of-a-Kind Class Projects - Each classroom creates a unique, group piece that is not only attractive to any bidder, but memorializes the year, fellow students, and friends. Be sure these are signed and dated.

Class projects, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography
RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography
RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography
Courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography

2) VIPParking Spaces - Great parking is always a hot commodity at school functions, so why let parents "buy" their own parking spots for a year?

3) Time Out with the Principal/Teacher - Make getting sent to the principal's office or staying after school with a teacher a GOOD thing!  Quality time can be spent making fun decisions and/or taking local excursions.  Mani/pedi afternoons, trips to fun attractions, and even a meal at a favorite restaurant becomes a special occasion for children. This also typically raises much more than the allowance/cost allocated.

RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elementary and Harper Shay Photography

I hope these inspire new packages that delight parents, create a fun auction atmosphere, and result in more fundraising for your child's educational experience! What unique packages have YOU seen at school fundraisers?

Are You Ready for an Event?

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6 steps to determine if a fundraising event is what your organization really needs

Guest Post by Krista Berry, Owner & Principal Consultant at KB Consulting

I recently had the pleasure of working with a small, energetic non-profit organization that originally contacted me to plan their first fundraising event. Like any event management professional, my first step before diving into the planning elements was to conduct a needs assessment so I could better understand the job.

After my first conversation with the board of directors it was very clear to me that the organization wasn’t ready for a big fundraising event (yet). I discovered that, like many organizations, the event was their solution to raise funds to sustain programs and operations, but they had some critical planning that needed to be addressed first, so they were uncertain how to proceed. As a non-profit consultant, I quickly adjusted my role and recommended they take the time to organize a board planning session to prioritize what they should do and what they should NOT do this year.

While an event can be a great way for non-profits to fundraise, it’s imperative that younger organizations take the time to complete a needs assessment before they start planning a big event to avoid getting in over their head.

Now it’s your turn! Answer these 6 questions to determine if a fundraising event is feasible for your organization this year:

  • Why? The purpose of the event – this will be the foundation for any future planning.
  • What? The desired outcome of the event.
  • Who? The scope of audience and demographic info on attendees.
  • When?  The desired season, date, day and hour that event will take place.
  • Where? The desired physical location of event including destination/geographical area.
  • How?  The plan to accomplish all of the event elements above.

After I completed these steps with my client they realized that what the organization really needed was a few “friend-raiser” events to recruit more people to serve on their board of directors and to support the organization’s programming. This was a more realistic next step and is also more in line with their 2012 goals. The needs assessment combined with a board planning session helped them create clear objectives for the organization to achieve before they start planning their first fundraising event. And the ROI (return on investment) will be a successful, sustainable event that will continue to grow every year as the organization grows!

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Krista Berry, MS is the Owner & Principal Consultant at KB Consulting specializing in innovative events, workshops and capacity building solutions for non-profits and communities. She has over 10 years of non-profit experience in both San Diego and New York City.