nonprofit special events

Top 3 Things Donating Can Do for You and Your Business

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How can donating help you in your business?

Large or small, businesses want give back to their communities. They want to find a way to get involved. Should they? Absolutely! Nonprofits are always looking for more donations to help them attain their charitable goals. Giving to these organizations can really benefit your business, too. You know that your company’s success isn’t related to just one thing. It includes a myriad of ideas and network of professional relationships. It also includes loyal customers who wear many hats and could easily be a part of local nonprofits and charities.

So, what are these Top 3 reasons?

Customer Loyalty

Giving back to your community will help you connect with your customers. It will help you gain traction and trust. A study done in 2014 revealed that 85 percent of consumers had a more positive outlook on businesses that gave back to a charity that they cared about. This means that giving to more than one charity is the most beneficial way to go. Participating in programs and giving back to more than one organization shows your customers that you really do care about your local community. After all, actions do speak louder than words.

Tax Deductions

We all know that you can claim volunteer hours and contributions on your income taxes. By itemizing your deductions you can write off any time your business spent volunteering and you can add monetary value to any donations given as well and claim them, too. The types of donations that are tax-deductible are cash donations, donations of inventory or services, volunteering, sponsorships of charities, and events. You will of course need to ensure that you are working with an organization that is approved by the IRS.

Earned Promotion and Publicity

Sponsoring one or more different nonprofits or volunteering your time is a great way to raise awareness about something you care about but it is also a fantastic way to promote your business! You can get the word out about the event by posting it on your social media platforms and on your website. Often, the nonprofit or charity you are working with will also be doing the same. Now, you have two media outlets and twice the attention, all because you care about giving back to your local community.

However, picking a charity or charities isn’t as easy as it seems. You need to set aside time to research them, make sure they fit your company’s culture and values. Then, you have to think about your customers and who they might support. Finally, you have to take time to think about your frequency of donation and how you will get your donation to the charity in a timely fashion. To that we say, “Don’t get discouraged!”

How do you begin?

www.donationmatch.com  We can handle it all. You tell us who, when, and what you want to donate and we do the rest. We even confirm applicants belong to a real nonprofit organization and get you all of the information you will need to get any deductions you deserve.

All you have to do is click, “Approve.” What is easier than that? Try it today! It’s FREE to sign up and start donating and building relationships!

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.

Planning Tools Loved by Organized Auction Chairs

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Guest blog post by Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions

I thought about writing on this topic a few months ago and decided, “Nope. I need to save this topic until January.”

The reason being is that January is the month that many stores -- Home Depot, Walmart, Kmart, Target, Staples, The Container Store (the annual Elfa® sale) -- advertise one particular theme.

Getting organized!

This is THE month that many stores promote organization.

Volunteer Auction Chairs need to be organized. They are often working with many volunteers to plan the fundraising auction. Keeping track of the big picture -- AND the details -- is part of the job.

Here are four organizational tools I’ve seen other Auction Chairs have success using:

  • Google Calendar and Google Docs: This combination is perhaps the most popular online method for staying organized and sharing information. The tools are free and enable your entire committee to keep up-to-date.
  • Standard paper calendar: Whether it’s an “At a Glance” or some other brand, paper calendars are still popular among auction chairs. It allows for the entire month’s activities to be seen on one page, which many people like.
  • Electronic calendars: With so many people using their phone to keep up-to-date, it’s no surprise that tech-savvy Chairs opt to use their mobile phone as their master auction calendar.
  • Subject-related notecards (see photo): Last month I had a meeting with two Auction Chairs. One had brought notecards labeled with auction topics, such as Setup/Decoration, A/V, Silent Auction, Food & Beverage and so forth. As we talked through different subjects, she’d list “to do’s” on each card related to that topic. She could then follow up later on those tasks, or hand it off to the appropriate volunteer managing that activity. Clever!

Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar publishes "Benefit Auction Ideas," a bi-monthly e-zine for auction chairs seeking to improve the financial results of their charity auctions. Get your own copy - and a F'REE gift! - at www.RedAppleAuctions.com.

What other tools have you successfully used to keep yourself organized in the planning process?  We'd love to know in the comments below!

Nonprofit Spotlight - Scleroderma Foundation, Greater San Diego Chapter

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Scleroderma Foundation

By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador at DonationMatch

This week we are excited to spotlight the Scleroderma Foundation, Greater San Diego Chapter!

Scleroderma is a group of rare, progressive diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for your body. The purpose of the Foundation's San Diego Chapter is to "support the National Foundation's mission of Support, Education and Research." They hold a variety of events, from support and education meetings to walks and social events.

Here's a peek at their planning process from Kelly Davidson, Executive Director, and Cyndy Martin, Treasurer and Walk Co-Chair:

What kinds of events does your organization hold each year? 

Cyndy: Walk-a-thon fundraiser, free Patient Education Day, Ice Cream Social, Holiday Party with raffle, monthly support group meetings, bi-monthly chapter meetings. This year we plan to add a Padres Day fundraiser and a golf tournament.

What are your biggest fundraising event planning challenges?

Cyndy: Publicity! Getting more people to attend.

What are your most highly attended events?

Kelly: The Walk is by far the most highly attended event. The 2nd most highly attended is an annual patient education day where we typically schedule 3 to 4 expert physicians who speak specifically about scleroderma related symptoms and treatments.

How do you make your Walk-a-thon unique?

Kelly: We try to make it a Family Fun Day, and not just a 5K Walk. The location is somewhat unique in that it's right by the water on beautiful Shelter Island. We try to have something for everyone -  massage chairs, music, classic car displays, and a kid zone with face painting, bounce house, obstacle course and craft booth. We try to make it educational, so we invite other autoimmune disease organizations. And, we entice folks to stay around for our raffle fundraiser by providing a food truck with healthy options.

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

Kelly: The Walk definitely helps raise the most money and also gives us the most awareness. Our core members reach out to their extended friends and family to request donations and attendance at the walk. In addition, posts about the walk get more attention than any others on Facebook. It generates excitement and is something folks like to share.

What ideas and support has the national organization given you?

Kelly: Our National organization provides our fundraising site which enables everyone to have one common focus for fundraising, yet allows for personal fundraising pages. They set up the basic structure and auto-responders which are then customized by us at the chapter level. They also conduct an Annual Patient Conference each year and hold a leadership day where chapter leaders can share and learn from each other.

Do you have a favorite story of how your organization helped someone?

Cyndy: My favorite story is my own! I was diagnosed with scleroderma in 2010. I quickly experienced the 'Sclero-What?' syndrome of no one, not even many doctors, kn[owing] what it was. It was through the Scleroderma Foundation that I learned all about my disease, treatment options my doctors were not offering me, and met others coping and living well with the disease. In 2012 my disease became very aggressive and life threatening. Again, it was through the Foundation's education day, patient conference, and my new friends that I learned about clinical trials for stem cell transplants for scleroderma. In November 2012 I underwent a stem cell transplant that I believe saved me from becoming terminal. I now enjoy helping others on this path.

What is your favorite dessert?

Cyndy: Lemon Meringue Pie!

Kelly: Chocolate creme brulee!

Thank you both for all the good work you do, and good luck at your Walkathon on June 23rd!

Click here to learn more about the Scleroderma Foundation, Greater San Diego Chapter.

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!

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?

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?

Three Steps to Turning New Guests into Big Bidders

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[Sherry's blog post from last year is just as worth sharing now. Here's to your fundraising success! - Renee, Co-founder, DonationMatch] Courtesy of Sherry Truhlar,  Red Apple Auctions

One of my clients held her school gala last month.  A few days prior, she asked how she could ensure that new parents would feel welcome attending the charity auction.

It's a good question.

The reception you give to new attendees can make a difference in whether they buy, and certainly makes an impression on whether they want to return.

At another auction meeting, one of the co-chairs -- a divorced single Mom -- said that when she drove to the auction the previous year, she sat for several minutes in the parking garage, mustering up the courage to enter.

"I was debating as to whether I really wanted to do this," she told me.  She knew everyone else would be attending with their spouse.  As a single person, she wasn't sure she'd fit in or to whom she'd talk.  "I didn't know anyone," she explained.

Once she made the decision to enter, she was so warmly received that she took a leadership role in the auction the following year.

Do you have guests new to the event coming?  Here are some ways to welcome them.

STEP 1:  Prior to the event, call them.

Point blank tell them you're looking forward to meeting them, perhaps mentioning something specific.

"I'm REALLY looking forward to meeting/visiting you," you'll say, "I'm seating you at my table." Say it with enthusiasm!  These are new people prepared to learn about your cause.  They deserve your energy, and it will help build the anticipation.

If you're not holding a sit-down dinner, offer to make introductions, "Find me at the raffle table because I have someone I'm eager for you to meet."

STEP 2:  At the event, assign people to meet and greet.  

At a recent hospice auction, staff were assigned in pairs to greet guests at the hotel door, right after they'd turned their car over to the valet.  Staff briefly chatted with them before pointing them in the direction of the registration table.

Another client asks three people (two Board members and an outgoing woman who has been involved in the organization for years) to mingle with new guests, being sure to introduce the newbies to others and spending time getting to know them.

You might consider identifying new guests in a specific way, such as a "new parent" ribbon or a subtle star on a name badge.

I've seen this done successfully, though some guests might not appreciate the gesture and instead feel like a target.  Decide what works for your group.

STEP 3: After the event, pick up the phone. Nothing says "Wow!" like a prompt thank you.

If you need a slam-dunk strategy for next year's donations, this is it.

The day after the auction, set aside receipts and written thank you's.  Instead, pick up the phone and start dialing.  Here's the proof.

Fundraising colleague Gail Perry introduced me to Penelope Burk's work.  Penelope, a well-respected fundraising expert, shared some statistics on board member thank you calls back in 2004 at an AFP International Conference.

Donors who received a thank you phone call from a board member within 24 hours of making the gift were 39% more likely than other donors to give the next time they were solicited.

39%!

And after 14 months, they were giving 42% more.

Talk about a super strategy for improving your auction donations for the following year....

Engage your Board members.  Anyone Board member who felt uncomfortable asking for an auction item or sponsorship money should be enlisted in this activity. Provide them a script.  They can start dialing to say, "Thank you so much for your donation last night!  We are so thrilled you attended."

Three simple steps and these new buyers can become lifelong auction supporters.

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Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar publishes "Benefit Auction Ideas," a bi-monthly e-zine for auction chairs seeking to improve the financial results of their charity auctions. Get your own copy -- and a F'REE gift! - at www.RedAppleAuctions.com.

Don't Burn Out Your Volunteers

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Help

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!