nonprofits

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?

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?

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.

Out of Date Donor Information Can Prove Costly

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By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador, DonationMatch As Kim Kupferman of Heller Consulting admits in this Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) blog post, this isn’t the most exciting topic, but maintaining accurate donor data is actually quite important. How frustrating is it when we receive mail with our names spelled incorrectly, or which contains outdated or inaccurate information? What does this say about the company who sent the mailing? Knowing who your donors are, what they donate, and why they donate are vital information. Even though you may use some type of CRM to track this data, inaccuracies can be a major issue.

At DonationMatch, we are constantly striving to achieve the highest level of accuracy with our data. When it comes to donors, we understand that it’s important not only to know WHO to contact, but HOW to contact them. A bonus is that the WHO and WHAT of donor information is updated by companies themselves on DonationMatch, eliminating guesswork and streamlining the donation request process for both parties. As companies are learning to be more efficient, many both on and off our system are no longer accepting mailed requests (this preference can usually be found on their websites). When an organization fails to recognize this, it wastes paper and postage and risks offending potential or current donors.

Are you getting ready to mass-mail in-kind donation request letters for your fundraising event? Hop on over to DonationMatch first. Post your events and find out which products you can get in just clicks, then only send letters to donors who are not on our system. (You can even invite them to DonationMatch if you have their emails and think they may want to go paperless).

It shows respect and care to your donors when you are able to identify and acknowledge who they are, what they have recently done for you, and their preferences. This communicates the right message that can lead to better relationships and success.

What have you done lately to ensure data accuracy?

Coming Soon: A Fresh Look and Features for DonationMatch

By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch You've told us how easy DonationMatch makes getting more customers and event donors, how much time we've saved you, and how great it feels to both give and receive.  We've taken your feedback and are excited to announce that added features and a new look are COMING SOON! Why are we letting you know BEFORE we do the upgrade?  Our site will be unavailable during this transition, and we want you to be able to plan any important DonationMatch account activity around it.  The exact date/time isn't set yet, but it could happen as early as this Friday evening, May 11th, and we'll announce it as soon as we know with an email, on Facebook, on Twitter, AND here on our blog.

Thanks for all your support, and we look forward to seeing you online at DonationMatch!

Sneak peek of new DonationMatch site

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.

In-Kind Partnerships with Nonprofits, Part 2

By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch My last post on this topic focused on opportunities tied to nonprofit events. Although these typically offer the most immediate exposure, they are often seasonal. Here are some ideas for in-kind charitable partnerships year-round:

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  1. Be a venue for gatherings. You don't have to be a hotel or restaurant to have a desirable place. Spa Gregorie's Del Mar offers a board room for small get-togethers and meetings. Curves women's fitness centers often host meetings for Chambers of Commerce, Zumba fundraisers, and members' clubs. The Microsoft Store has raised the retail bar for community outreach with store space and free group trainings. Invite a nonprofit over and show them you're friendly!
  2. Give tools and support. PopChips started snacking habits in offices all over town with case giveaways. Microsoft Store free trainings make sure their software is used well. DonationMatch co-hosted a fundraising auction workshop with Red Apple Auctions to help nonprofits run better fundraising events. Though not "flashy," free assistance can put you at the top of a nonprofit's go-to list.
  3. Offer services or samples for a donation. By cross-promoting with nonprofits, Aveda sets up their store, complete with signage, to give mini treatments in exchange for a 100% charitable donation.
  4. A portion of sales helps, too.Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes advertises FunRaisers that donate 15% of related receipts on given nights to nonprofit groups. Macy's gives $1 for every stamped letter to Santa deposited in special letter boxes in their stores to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Even if you can't give something outright, a percentage can be enough.
  5. Offer your expertise. Nonprofits small and large are always looking for specific professional talent in their volunteers. It's become so popular that websites like CatchaFire and VolunteerMatch (not affiliated with DonationMatch) were created to make better volunteer connections.
  6. Not a lot of time? Even simply recognizing synergy within your own circles of friends and making introductions can lead to phenomenal results.

What are your success stories?  Please share about the positive impact that charitable partnering has made on your business!

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