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Posted on in Fundraising

Board meeting scenario: List of known donors to other groups in the field is passed around.

Board Member A says, “Hey, I know Janet Big Giver.”

Development Director, eyes lighting up, asks: “Can you introduce us?

Board member A’s response? “Send them the newsletter. It can’t hurt!

But does an unsolicited newsletter really help? 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Special events, even modest ones, require lots of time and attention. And sometimes the return on that investment stalls.

Even a successful house party – for example, 75 attendees at $100 each – can feel like a mountain to produce, year after year, for only $7,500.

“Don’t mess with success,” the warning goes – but is there a way to increase the net with the same amount of effort?

The answer is yes.

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Posted on in Fundraising

It’s that time of year – when all good nonprofits get out their end-of-year appeal.

Carefully crafted, visually appealing, lift notes written on top (hopefully) by the person who knows the donor best.

Cajoling done, we’ve collected contact information from board members, made sure to mail-merge and personalize each letter.

Package complete with reply card, self-addressed envelope, perhaps a brochure or fact sheet.

And then… into the mail (with a first class stamp) it goes.

Holding our breath, we wait.

But maybe, this year, there’s more to be done.

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Posted on in Fundraising

We spend our nonprofit lives providing service, meeting challenges, pushing for change…and putting out fires.

We juggle, we track, we focus.

We solve what’s in front of us and, if we’re lucky, we get to look around the corner a quarter – or a year – ahead.

But when do we, as nonprofit leaders, get to move beyond the critical-now quadrant, to the key-but-not-pressing arenas?

If not in August – when? 

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Searching for a Savior – and Coming Up Short

When the Big Apple Circus announced an online campaign in June to stabilize its finances, it cited an 8-year decline in earned revenue as the cause of the crisis. Addressing their shortfall through several large one-time donations and support from “a core group of committed board members,” the Circus was unable to build a stable base of supporters large enough to finance its ongoing operations.

So it turned to the web.

Looking for unknown benefactors to bring in $2 million of new revenue, the organization failed to meet its goal, with a total raised of $900,000.

There are so many cautionary lessons to be drawn from this tale.

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