News

  • Resources for Fundraising Professionals

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2As the fundraising profession continues to grow, so does the quantity and quality of resources available to assist the fundraisers and their organization. Become familiar with many different types of resources listed below and use the best ones to access the level of information you are looking for:

    Subscribe
    The Chronicle of Philanthropy is the newspaper (print and online) of the nonprofit world for charity leaders, fundraisers, grant makers, and other people involved in the philanthropic enterprise.

    Join and Network
    Consider joining the following organizations for networking with other fundraising professionals:
    www.cfre.org – Certified Fundraising Executive International
    www.afpnet.org – Association of Fundraising Professionals

    Consider CFRE™ Certification
    There are significant benefits to receiving CFRE™ Certification. When making hiring decisions, many development offices will favor those candidates with certification over those without. You may find that some people who have been in the field for a long time do not have this certification, but for those people without extensive experience in the field, certification is recommended. Through Boston University’s Professional Fundraising Program, you can earn all 84 education credits required to sit for the CFRE™ exam and gain the knowledge you need for success in today’s growing philanthropic environment.

  • Finding the Right Platform to Reach Your Donors

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2Have you been thinking about crowd funding, tweeting, using LinkedIn to track down potential donors, posting your events on FourSquare, or some other technology to enhance your organization’s fundraising strategy? There are so many tools and platforms out there that it can be overwhelming (not to mention the “new hip thing” is regularly changing), but how do you determine what to use?

    Before choosing a new technology think of these two questions:

    Do you know your audience?
    Be sure to understand your audience (current or potential donor base) before you choose a new technology or communications platform. Different groups based on age, industry, and region interact with technology differently. Understanding what segment you are trying to reach is critical.

    Have you thought about staff time needed to implement this new technology?
    The biggest misstep I see in taking on new technology is the underestimation of the amount of staff time (and opportunity cost of that time) it takes to learn the technology, come up with a strategy to use it, and to keep it fresh. For a small organization, this time can sometimes be more effectively used elsewhere so it is important to thoroughly think it through before taking on a new fundraising activity.

  • What Does it Take to Be a Successful Fundraiser?

    BU PFR Faculty - Frank WhiteWhat does it take to be a successful fundraiser? Lou Lataif, former Dean of Questrom School of Business (previously the School of Management) at Boston University, has shared a few tips—which we have expanded upon relative to the field of fundraising.

    Be passionate!
    If you believe in a cause, it is easy to talk about it. Your prospects will be unlikely to give to a cause that does not excite the fundraiser.

    Promise to improve the quality of life.
    It is better to give than to receive, if you are making the world a better place.

    Cultivate relationships.
    Learn as much as you can about your prospects, both through research and talking with them. Establish a bond with your donors and you establish a relationship for life.

    Develop a thick skin.
    Be prepared to be turned down more often than having your proposals accepted.

    Be positive.
    People want to support winners. They want their philanthropic investments to “pay off.”

    Be sensitive to different cultures.
    Do your research and realize that different cultures have different norms. Prospects will expect you to understand how they approach philanthropy.

    Be an optimist and a realist.
    Be optimistic and, at the same time, realistic. There are rarely any shortcuts to securing a gift.

    Frank White, Instructor, Boston University Professional Fundraising Program

  • Tips on Creating a Fundraiser’s Prospect Portfolio

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2Recently I have been working on building a prospect portfolio for a new fundraiser; going through this process has encouraged me to take a pause and consider how we assign prospects to our fundraisers.

    I work in higher education, so the general pool of prospects are already assigned for us (alumni, parents, faculty), but however you define your prospect pool here are some things to consider when creating a prospect portfolio.

    1. Have these prospects been tried by others over time? If so think long and hard about whether they are worth re-assigning. There are some cases when it is the personality of the fundraiser or time of life for the prospect that kept them from giving, but in most cases it is better to leave them unassigned.

    2. Are there connections within the portfolio? Look for ways to make the prospect pool feel coherent. Some connections to consider: geography, company, interest area, known friendships. This will allow the new fundraiser to leverage these relationships more easily.

    3. Are they set-up for success? Be sure to include some warm prospects so that your new fundraiser can experience some fundraising successes. They do not need to be the wealthiest prospects, but they should be good donors; not everyone should be a cold call.

    Spending time carefully defining your prospect pool will help lead you to greater success with your fundraising efforts.

  • Helpful Hints on Building Relationships in Fundraising

    BU PFR Faculty - Frank WhiteExperienced fundraisers will consistently tell you, “This is a relationship business.” Their point is that giving to a cause represents an intensely personal decision on the part of the prospect/donor, and it is a choice that must be nurtured and cultivated, not rushed or forced.

    In the first meeting with a prospect, the watchword is, “listen.” Rather than conducting extensive research on your cause so that you can present compelling information to the person with whom you are conversing, try to learn as much about him or her as possible before and during the meeting. Ask questions and see if you can find out what they care about, both philanthropically and in other areas of life.

    Motivation is the key to a person’s giving. What moves them to give their hard-earned money to a cause? Why do they have a passion for a college, an art museum, or an animal shelter? Important though it may be, motivation cannot be seen or touched, since it takes place within a prospect’s mind. While you cannot read someone’s mind and know what motivates them, you can find out a lot about the topic simply by asking them, or by doing research on the nonprofits who have received gifts from them in the past.

    “Cultivating” a prospect until they become a donor is an appropriate metaphor, because the process is very much like planting seeds and then helping them to grow. Just as a seed, having received water and nutrients becomes a growing plant, a prospect becomes a donor at the right moment.

    Remember, too, that an existing donor is your most valuable prospect for a future gift. If someone has already given to your cause, it means that they believe in your mission and want to help you succeed. This means that your relationship with them, carefully cultivated until you make the “ask,” does not end with a gift, but should continue for years afterward. Through careful stewardship, you will reinforce their good feelings about becoming a donor, and they will be far more likely to give again.

    The experienced fundraisers are right: it is a relationship business!

    Frank White, Instructor, Boston University Professional Fundraising Program

  • Tip Of The Month: Giving Tuesday Trends to Consider for 2016

    Trends from 2015
    As we start off a new year of giving, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from #GivingTuesday 2015.

    • Giving Tuesday, was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in association with the United Nations Foundation. Donations rose from $19M in 2013, to $46.68M in 2014 and are estimated at $55.6M for 2015.
    • Mobile giving rose 45% from 2014 to 2015, according to Blackbaud; and 1 in 7 online donors used their cellphones to give in 2015, compared to 1 in 10 in 2014. On Giving Tuesday, 17% of donors gave by mobile devices, compared to 13% in 2014.
    • PayPal users set a one-day Guinness World Record®, raising $45.8M in 24 hours on Giving Tuesday. Over the holiday season, from November 27 to December 31, $857M was raised on the platform in 183 countries globally by 7.24M people supporting 258,759 charities.

    Tips for 2016
    Consider the above trends as you begin planning for the 2016 as well as the following tips:

    • Use donation pages that are branded specifically for a Giving Tuesday campaign.
    • Make donating convenient across mobile, social and online.
    • Send a text message to all supporters with a call to action and link to your Giving Tuesday donation page.

    Knowing that people donate 38% more on branded donation pages can help not only for Giving Tuesday but for all your specific campaigns. Make it easy for people to donate across devices, but understand that text messages have 99% open rates.

  • Tip Of The Month: Jon’s Approaches to Ending the Fiscal Year Successfully

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2Is your fiscal year ending this month? Whether you are on a June 30 fiscal year-end or just want to think about this for your next end-of-year deadline there are some strategies I have developed over my years in fundraising that you might find helpful.

    The one-two punch:
    I have found, especially for those with outstanding pledges, that sending a formal letter either asking for a pledge payment by June 30th or asking for a gift the same or slight increase from the last year about a month before the deadline, followed up by a personal call two weeks later, is an effective outreach cadence.

    The staff phone-athon:
    We often rely on our volunteers to help us out with our annual phone-athons. These can be effective, but as the days in the fiscal year wind down I suggest ordering some pizza, writing a script, and asking staff to stay late and “dial for dollars”. Target those who have given the year before or recently and share why it is important to get that gift in by the end of the fiscal year.

    Silver platter approach:
    One of the most effective uses of volunteers (board members or others specifically focused on fundraising) at the end of the fiscal year that I have found is to use them for personal outreach. It is hard to motivate busy people. So what to do? Assign groups of no more than five non-donors at a time to your volunteers with a short script, their most recent gift, and their phone/e-mail. Follow up a few days later for a status report and once they have reached out send them five more. Remember to give your volunteers a little breathing room so that they do not feel overwhelmed.

  • Tip Of The Month: Finding the Right Platform to Reach Your Donors

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2Have you been thinking about crowd funding, tweeting, using LinkedIn to track down potential donors, posting your events on FourSquare, or some other technology to enhance your organization’s fundraising strategy? There are so many tools and platforms out there that it can be overwhelming (not to mention the “new hip thing” is regularly changing), but how do you determine what to use?

    Before choosing a new technology think of these two questions:

    Do you know your audience?
    Be sure to understand your audience (current or potential donor base) before you choose a new technology or communications platform. Different groups based on age, industry, and region interact with technology differently. Understanding what segment you are trying to reach is critical.

    Have you thought about staff time needed to implement this new technology?
    The biggest misstep I see in taking on new technology is the underestimation of the amount of staff time (and opportunity cost of that time) it takes to learn the technology, come up with a strategy to use it, and to keep it fresh. For a small organization, this time can sometimes be more effectively used elsewhere so it is important to thoroughly think it through before taking on a new fundraising activity.

  • Tip Of The Month: Designing Proposals That Fit the Donor

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2What do you think of when you hear the term “proposal”? Historically, when a fundraiser was ready to make a significant ask of a well cultivated donor they would call up someone in their donor relations group and begin to work on a long complex document called a proposal. A proposal lays out a specific gift opportunity that a donor may be interested in supporting with detail about how the gift will be used, how the donor will be recognized, and potentially how they will be involved.

    I would suggest that the formal proposal is rarely necessary in today’s fundraising world, but the key concepts of the proposal should be kept front of mind: What is the impact of the gift opportunity, and how will the donor be recognized? Let’s consider a few ways you might consider sending a proposal today.

    The homemade:
    Keep it simple, but impactful. Begin with a basic folder (maybe with your organizations brand). On one side of the folder provide information on the gift opportunity: a brochure about a program, an example of your organization’s impact, etc. On the other side put the draft terms of the gift, a list of recognition opportunities, and what they might expect in terms of reporting/stewardship. Don’t forget a thoughtful cover note (typed or handwritten from yourself or leadership of their organization – especially if they know them!)

    The digital:
    There is nothing wrong with sending a proposal by e-mail and sometimes it can even be better. The key to using this approach is to know your donor. Will they be turned off by e-mail or appreciate that you are communicating with them using their preferred platform. The best use is if you are proposing support for a dynamic program that is best communicated on the website, or to read a recent article. Treat the body of the e-mail like your cover note and attach documents or paste in links that are appropriate to show the impact and share the donor recognition.

  • Tip Of The Month: Tracking Records

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2If you live in Boston these days you are becoming quite familiar with records. Earlier this month we set a seven day snow fall record and at the Super Bowl Tom Brady tied or extended nine records. Both of these events received a lot of national and regional coverage.

    This begs the question: Why are we so obsessed with records and talking about them? I would say because there is an innate motivation within each of us to strive to set new records (or reach new milestones). So how can we take advantage of this basic instinct in fundraising?

    Know what you track.
    For a high school, college, or graduate school this is actually pretty easy. If you track fundraising totals by class years and years out of School you can easily see what class holds the record at each milestone reunion. Many nonprofits do not have that built in cohort structure, so think about what other records you might be able to track: most fundraising in a fiscal year, most fundraising in a single day, volunteer giving participation, most raised for a specific event. The list could go on…

    Make them known.
    Once you figure out what you can track and what the records are, you need to communicate them. You should target your active volunteers, as they are the most likely to hear about a record and want to break it. Think about what you might offer to your donors if they do break a record (maybe a special lunch or dinner, a plaque or special listing, trigger an additional gift to a priority at your organization). Consider sending information out by mail or e-mail to build awareness.

  • Tip Of The Month: Stay in the Loop with Jon’s 2015 Fundraising Predictions

    mindmax-8678e05e-a17a-41be-833f-2a617ad8a008-v2Network for Good reported a 13% increase in online donations in this past year, this is a trend that is gathering steam for 2015. One way for your organization to take advantage of this trend to is to maximize your stewardship of these online gifts. Big or small, a timely and relevant gesture can make a significant impact on retaining these donors from one year to the next.

    Take the Stewardship Offline
    It is wonderful to be receiving so many gifts online these days and it is definitely cutting down on the time and cost or processing them for your organization (with automatic deposits and computer generated tax receipts). However, if you want to have a real impact on your top donors, think about sending them a handwritten note of thanks. Maybe have your Executive Director sign it or maybe just send it yourself. This added touch will cut through the e-mail noise and make your donor feel that they are important to you and your organization. My Tip: take a half hour each morning for a week (before you check e-mail!) and write these notes – having stationary, stamps, and pre-printed envelopes on hand will make you more likely to follow through.

    Be Broad with Your Impact
    Often times online gifts are designated to your organizations general fund and showing the impact of those specific dollars can be challenging, don’t let this stop you in your tracks. Take a subset of your online donors (preferably those you know and are likely to read your message) and send them an e-mail with a brief update on a couple of new programs from the past six months and a couple of initiatives on the horizon. Let them know that their annual support made these happen and that you can only be successful next year because of their recent support. Let them know that you will follow up in another six months to share another update or offer to stop by and provide them an update in person (a great way to get in the door!)

  • Tip Of The Month: Prep Your Nonprofit for December Donations

    heart-hands

    The holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for nonprofits. According to the 2014 Charitable Giving Report, more than one-third of charitable giving happens during the last three months of the year, most of which occurs in December.

    So what can you do to get the most out of this time of year?

    Make the process fast and easy with click to give donation options.
    When you have a “donate” button on your site, you allow your audience to donate quickly and efficiently. This saves them the time of writing a check, and saves you the time of processing it. It also brings your donors through the giving process very quickly by allowing them to click on a link from your email or a social media posting and donate instantly. Per our previous Tip Of The Month, it is important to understand all of the steps required before fundraising online.

    Make your emails stand out.
    This time of year, people are receiving a higher than average number of emails. Whether they are about Black Friday sales or donating to other causes, it is easy to get lost in the mix. To get your emails to the forefront of someone’s inbox, have a subject line that is concise and direct about the content. Make sure that the email is visually clean, and is clear about the mission/organization and what the recipient can do to help. After you have made your case, link to your donate page.

    With these quick implementations, you will have the ability to capitalize on the biggest giving month of the year.

  • Tip Of The Month: Understand All the Steps Required Before Fundraising Online

    In our current digital age, nonprofits of all sizes typically have some online function for their fundraising efforts. Whether it is as simple as a “Donate” button on your website, or more along the lines of a full social media and email campaign, there are a number of rules and regulations that must be followed before you take your fundraising campaign online.

    Currently, 43 states and DC have charitable solicitation laws, most of which require some type of registration. Failure to do so can result in penalties for your organization. Additionally, you will need proof of this registration when filing your annual 990 with the IRS. Additionally, many potential donors want to research organizations before donating, so depending on your state, this will get you on the proper lists.

    So what steps can you take to ensure that you are properly registered?

    1. Read up on state requirements, then decide what steps your organization should take.
    2. Register in every state. For larger campaigns, this is often required as your donors can come from anywhere in the US.
    3. Accept donations from certain states only. For smaller organizations, it may make sense to register in a few states at a time to save time and money. However, your solicitation activities would have to be confined to those states.

    Read full article from Business 2 Community here.

  • Tip Of The Month: How to Avoid Getting Hacked

    mindmax-c6d85b40-76b4-4017-8190-ca52baf8a764-v2Being “hacked” is something that we are constantly hearing about in the news. Whether it’s leaked celebrity photos or credit card information being compromised from a large chain, this phenomenon continues to be on the rise. What we don’t hear as much about on the news, however, is small businesses or individual’s information being hacked.

    So how can you protect your, and just as importantly your database’s, information? Here are some tips:

    1. Better passwords. It is important to make sure that everything used for the business is encrypted, from laptops to cell phones to iPads. These passwords should be complex to be most effective.
    2. Safe Emailing. Be very careful about what attachments you open, and make sure that you know the sender.
    3. Phone Wipeout. In the event that your phone, tablet, laptop, or other device with sensitive data is stolen, make sure that you know how to wipe it so that the information on it is kept secure.

    See more about protecting yourself from hackers here.

  • Tip Of The Month: Use Viral Marketing to Make a Difference

    mindmax-e37119c0-99bc-45cd-8e03-aff84c8752e4-v2The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a fundraiser that has been sweeping the nation which was started by Pete Frates who is currently suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    For those who have not been checking their Facebook feed: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge invites someone to pour a bucket of ice over their head or donate $100 towards the ALS charity of their choice (many do both). Upon completion of the challenge, the invitee is welcome to nominate their friends to participate within 24 hours. This is all done within a video that is posted to social media.

    The Ice Bucket Challenge has already raised $13.3 million for the ALS association with 260,000 new donors, and even more awareness: having been mentioned 2.2 million times on Twitter in the past few weeks alone. “Did we ever imagine the level of awareness or the money that is coming in? In our dreams we did,” said Mr. Frates’s mother, Nancy Frates. (NY Times).

    So what can we learn from this? While it is difficult to predict what will and will not “go viral,” we can still draw inspiration from the format of this campaign. It’s a perfect blend of something fun and something serious, and challenges people by name to participate.

    Next time you are working on a creative campaign to raise money and awareness, try this format. It may not go viral, but the results could surprise you.

    To see the full article from NY Times, click here.

  • BU Honored for Excellence in Online Education

    At its sixteenth annual international conference in November, the Sloan Consortium honored Boston University for excellence in institution-wide online education. The Sloan Consortium is the leading professional organization for online teaching and learning, with the stated mission of leading efforts to integrate online education into the mainstream of higher education—and in so doing, improving the quality, scale, and breadth of education. – Read article