Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Friday, March 25, 2011

From HIV and AIDS to the Opera

I have fallen behind in my goal to post one blog a week.

This blog is pretty much only about me moving from one fundraising position to another. Oh, and a brief note about donors!

Since my last blog I have accepted a position with Opera Colorado as their new Associate Director of Development. Completely different world than where I am at now, and I am super excited.

I don't know who actually said this or studied the data, but I have heard that the average length of time at an agency for Development Directors is 1 1/2 years. I have been at Boulder County AIDS Project for 2 1/2. I am definitely preparing to leave with hardcore emotion. I have been privileged to fundraise for an agency that supports those living with HIV or AIDS and to support amazing HIV prevention work.

Now I'll be in the arts. Many new adventures to come. Many new experiences to come. And I will share it all here.

While I prepare to leave BCAP, I am grateful to have formed so many wonderful relationships with donors. I realize that I write about donors a lot, and will most likely continue doing that as I am one who believes that your agency's donors are your agency's lifeblood.

Get to know them. Thank them. Tell them how you are spending their money. Have a board member drop them a note.

Off to meet with a donor! Until next time!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The all-important donor

An old remit envelope arrived the other day. I’m always excited to receive these. Not only do we mail them out with our two annual mailings and our Annual Report, but I also pass them out everywhere I go. At our Dining Out Days (see previous posts) every table gets one. So when one arrives back it brings a smile to my face knowing that yet another person wants to invest in our vital mission.

Donors are not cash cows, are not some unknown person far, far away, nor someone who wishes to support your organization and not be informed. Informed as to whether or not you received their donation and how your organization plans on spending their money. An active donor is (or can be) the lifeblood of your organization. In most cases, they want to invest in the work you do.

Before I proceed, my definition of a donor is one who has made two or more gifts to your organization. The first gift is a donation by someone who, for some reason, has decided to support your work. It is our job as a fundraiser to make sure that person goes from someone who has made a donation to a donor.

I open the remit envelope and it is a generous gift of $100 from a current donor. I know that once the check is entered into our database the kind person will receive our official thank you letter including tax information. Yet it is still important to me that I personally thank them. So I pick up the phone and give them a ring. Thanking a donor is key. And a timely thank you is equally important. I’m sure you here this all the time. That’s great, as long as you and your organization take action on thanking people.

In the future: A few months down the road I will make another connection with this donor. For this particular donor it will be a phone call but it doesn’t really matter how. I’ll call them to let them know how we spent their money. Imagine not only being thanked for your gift but being told how the organization spent your money!

Whew! So much more to write about regarding donors. This is a good start.

The next donation you receive pick up the phone and call them. Thank them. You will not only make their day but you will build (or reinforce) a great relationship.

One last thing. At our monthly board meeting my ED passes out recent donation information so that board members can make a call or send a note to make a thank you for the gift. This not only engages the board, it also adds a special touch for the person who made the donation.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Have a Book Sale

I love books. Love them. I have always had more books than I know what to do with. At any given time I am reading two or three, and then looking at buying another one!

This past February we decided to help donors and supporters who have too many books by asking them to donate their books to us for our first ever Humongous Book Sale. What a success!

The whole idea started when one of our local business partners, Joyful Furniture, asked us if we would like to do a fundraising event during the winter. The great folks at Joyful host our annual Humongous Yard Sale, and we decided to try something new with a book sale.

The basic premise is to gather books, CDs, DVDs and vinyls and plan a sale. We called ours the Humongous Book & Media Sale. This is a great way to engage your donors and supporters as well as raise a little cash.

Before you begin to ask people for donations for the sale, find a location for the sale and try to find a location where books and other items can be dropped off. If you can collect all of the sale items at the same place where the sale will be, you will save a lot of time.

Through an email blast, Facebook, Twitter, and a simple postcard announcing the sale, we invited people to donate books and media items. Our donor and supporter base is incredibly diverse, and you could see that in the selection of items donated. We were thrilled as boxes and boxes of books were brought in. As the items began to take over space, it was time to start organizing books into categories, an organization that continued while new books arrived and made the setup for the sale much simpler.

This type of sale can be labor intensive. The less you move around the books the better.

Our volunteers were crucial to the success of this event.

The day of the sale I was blown away by the roughly 3,000 books that had been donated. In hind sight, I realize that a book sale is a bit different in a yard sale in that people take much more time looking at books. In the future I would plan an event that was longer and that stretched over two days.

I'll create a check list for your book sale in the next post.

Start thinking about whether or not this idea would work for you and your organization or cause!