Nonprofits

10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Donation Drive

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Guest post by Nicole George, CEO & Founder of The Parent Quest

Our last donation drive took us almost three months until completion. We all felt so much more pressure this time because we were going to be on LIVE TV…yikes! When rallying the troops to find donations we weren’t allowed to tell the companies we were going to be on TV, which is usually a huge draw for companies to donate. So we had to get creative. We told them it would be at a surprise location no one would expect. What surprised me the most was how many companies are willing to give, just by our following their donation request process. Some took longer than others, but all in all most companies we asked gave.

A donation drive can be very daunting. The process takes months of coordinating, organizing, and “begging” for donations. This list should help you spend less time and energy on your donation drive, yet yield higher returns. The stress a donation drive potentially can have on an organization and your staff is intimidating, but with these tips you can focus on your goal.

My Tips and Tricks to a Successful Donation Drive

  1. Never be afraid to ask for a donation. The worst they could say is no. Most companies love to donate, especially if you are a nonprofit.

  2. Be quick to reply with thanks and gratitude if a company or person donates. Always follow through. You never know when you might need them to donate again in the future. Never burn a bridge.

  3. Keep a donor registry. You don’t want to keep asking the same donors to donate to your cause every time you have a new event. Try to mix it up and tap into different donor pools. This will keep your donors happy.

  4. Tell your story. The more a donor can connect with your cause the more likely they are to donate and donate generous amounts. Adding a video is always best, but adding at least pictures with a description is a must whenever marketing your event.

  5. Don’t send updates too frequently. People are easily annoyed by multiple updates, especially on Facebook. Limit postings to once per day or every other day. (Don’t be discouraged if you lose Facebook likes during these times. It is normal.)

  6. Don’t have multiple events at the same time. Focus all of your efforts and marketing for donations to one event.  This will make sure your donors aren’t confused as to which event they donated to.

  7. Use different avenues to market your event. Social media is a big money maker now, but Facebook and Twitter aren’t your only opportunities to get your story out there. Call your local radio stations or even post your event on their Facebook page. They usually don’t mind and welcome hearing about community events. Call your local news stations as well, they may want to cover your story live. Reach out to your community as much as you can.

  8. Don’t be afraid to use a crowdfunding website such as GoFundMe, GoGetFundingIndiegogo, or Kickstarter. There are upsides and downsides to each so do your research. They all take a percentage of your donations, but all have different rules on deadlines and meeting your goal. Do your research and do it well. You don’t want to learn the rules after the fact.

  9. Offer incentives. Some people won’t donate unless they get something out of it. It is a shame, but there are people who just can’t give because it makes them feel good. Offer a small token of your appreciation, a gift bag, or even a raffle with all monetary donors who give at least a certain amount. People love games and winning.

  10. Don’t be afraid to pay a little money to get help. Websites like DonationMatch.com that help you find donations are worth more than you could ever imagine. Their connections and consulting expertise can bring far more donations and happiness to your event than you could ever tap into yourself.

Hopefully these tips will help you be successful in your fundraising endeavors. Keep your eye on the prize and shoot for the stars!

 

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Nicole George is the CEO/Founder of The Parent Quest, a nonprofit online parent-to-parent mentoring program which runs 100% off donations and fundraising.

5 Minutes with DonationMatch Co-Founder Renee Zau

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DonationMatch Co-founders Darryl and Renee

By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador at DonationMatch

When was the last time you experienced a pain and decided to devote your full-time effort to solving it? Co-founder Renee Zau became an accidental web entrepreneur when she wished for a product like DonationMatch and waited several years for "someone else to build it so I could be a customer." When that didn't happen, she and boyfriend Darryl took what they learned working for a VC-backed startup where they met, their savings, and advice from smart friends to get accepted into and graduate from the Founder Institute (a tech startup accelerator), which propelled DonationMatch into the premiere platform for reaching consumers through charitable events.

Here's what we learned in 5 minutes with Renee!

How did you come up with the idea for DonationMatch?

Inefficiency bothers me. I hated seeing myself and other wasting time typing the same information from the same donors over and over again for fundraising auctions. I also experienced the pain of not having an easy way to collect and track the requests my business was receiving. All the paperwork being mailed back and forth seemed wasteful, and I wanted a centralized place for both donors (companies) and receivers (nonprofits) to not just manage donation records, but make requests and seamlessly transfer necessary information easily. I waited four years before Darryl caught on to how frustrated I was and realized I wasn't alone in needing a solution.

What do you think charities can learn from the private sector?

I know that the ultimate goal of a charity isn’t to make money, but I think many fail to invest in practices early on that will help them become financially self-sustainable. When a charity can’t focus on its mission because it needs money and has to constantly fundraise, it ultimately hurts its ability to do good work. Just like a startup for-profit, I’d like to see nonprofits:

  • Strive for long-term financial viability with an aligned business model,
  • Identify whether their mission is unique and necessary (as opposed to initiating a project within an existing organization), and
  • Plan for a bootstrapped success model based on partnerships and leveraging the help of others, in case funding doesn’t come easily.

Where would you like to be in 5 years?

In five years I’d like to be able to sign on to DonationMatch as a fundraising event chair in the U.S. or Canada, input my event details, and be able to fill my silent auction, opportunity drawings, and gift bags in an hour while having fun. This would be possible because of smart tools we're building into DonationMatch that help companies and brands want to donate goods because it's easy, cost-effective, and profitable. I can't wait for this day!

What is your weakness?

There’s always room for dessert. Even for breakfast.

What is another question you would like to ask Renee?

Capitalizing on Social Media to Expand Marketing Reach and Return

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Social Media Directions

In a survey of nonprofits conducted by VerticalResponse, 80% of respondents post updates to their Facebook page multiple times a week, compared to 66% for businesses.  The survey also found that for nonprofits, social media marketing has become a “preferred marketing channel because it offers free content distribution.”  And according to a Brafton blog post, because of the potential to successfully maximize their reach and return using social media, even on a tight budget, businesses will invest more in updating their websites and social media presence. Did you know that DonationMatch is another excellent way for businesses and nonprofits to maximize reach and return?  Through our free service, a business can get products in front of hundreds of potential customers through just one charitable event.  For nonprofits we deliver companies interested in doing well by doing good, increasing the fundraising potential for your events.

According to Edelman's 2012 goodpurpose study, 72% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that are charitable.  For nonprofits and businesses, using both social media and DonationMatch are ways to gain the exposure you both seek in less time.

What tips do you have for maximizing your marketing reach and results?

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?

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.

We Need More Efficient and Effective Nonprofits, Not More

By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch Why compete when you can work together? "At a time when nonprofit organizations are being pushed to greater program efficiencies, mergers, and other administrative economies, why do boomer entrepreneurs seem to think that starting millions of brand-new entities is the most effective way to make a societal contribution? Why can’t they work through existing organizations to start their creative new programs, improve existing ones, or concentrate resources instead of multiplying administrative and overhead costs?"

Read the article on Philanthropy.com