Dan’s Top Five Reason to Hire a Consultant, NOW July 2009

For some organizations, July 1 signals mid-year, the beginning of the dog days of summer, vacation days for you and other members of staff, a time when its hard to get things done. Yet, before you know it, another fundraising event is just around the corner. The year-end direct mail campaign has to be planned. And, by the way, how are you going to pull out from the current deficit?

For other organizations, July 1 signals a fresh start. It’s a new fiscal year, you’ve
closed the books on a difficult year and now your Board is expecting a complete turn around. The lump in your throat begins to bulge. How are you going to increase revenue in this fundraising environment?
Do you need some help?

Reason Number One…

Your Board of Directors seem to be dissatisfied with the fundraisng results, yet,
they fail to recognize their fundamental responsibilities.

Why don’t they read the by-laws and do what Boards are supposed to do? Why are they not responding as you expect them to?

What can you do to “light the fire” moving members from passive to engaged, from complacent to committed?

Reason Number Two…
Your annual fundraising revenue is off 10% (or more) and your development department has offered no viable plans to improve results.

Come on now, this is an easy one. The answer is probably found by studying your database. A quick fundraising audit will discover where problems exist, why they exist, and how to fix it fast.

So, for a “fix-it-fast” audit assessment, you may need a consultant.

Reason Number Three…

Your organization is not growing your major gift program year after year. The number of new donors is not growing, the number of lost donors is growing, and net revenue is disappointing.

This is a significant problem of great concern. A healthy non-profit organization is growing their major gift donor numbers year after year, regardless of economic conditions. If you are not, you have symptoms of an organizational illness.

Perhaps, a fundraisng consultant could help you out.

Reason Number Four…

Your organization has inconsistent planned giving results. In fact, bequest revenue is something you seldom see. Your organization has never really been much good at planned gifts. You can’t afford the expertise. Plus, are these delayed annuity gifts really worth the effort?

If this scenario sounds like your organization you are negligent-way behind where you need to be. If your organization is ten years or older and you do not have an effective planned giving program you are definitely leaving money on the table.

I can say for sure, you definitely need a consultant.

Reason Number Five…

Your organization is the best kept secret in town You have no brand image awareness.When it comes to marketing, communications, public relations you are not among the top players in the non-profit world. And, to top it off, you don’t have a budget for such things. Never had one, never will.

One of the myths that circles through non-profit organizations is that you can’t
build your brand awareness without a big budget.

Have you ever shared your problem with a consultant?

Is Your Board Committed To Fundraising?

Are your frustrated?

Do you have members of your Board that do not donate to your organization annually? Do you find yourself “walking on eggs,” constantly defending yourself and your staff to Board members who seem to be unhappy with your performance?

Do you find yourself mumbling under your breath, “they just don’t get it.” If so, you are not alone.

Why is it that many Boards view fundraising, advocacy, public relations, marketing as something the “staff” does. The Board seems to disconnect itself, totally, from these shared responsibilities.

If these Board member symtoms are all too apparent maybe it’s time to review Board responsibilities?

It’s all about the Mission…

As a non-profit professional you already know that you have to get Board members and potential donors involved in the Mission. They have to be become aware of what your are doing. Then, they have to be engaged on the front lines, where people served in some extra-ordinary way.

After awareness and engagement, they have to motivated to act. Then, and only then, do these Board member potential donors, become committed “investors” in your Mission of service.

So, what can you do to help Board members gain greater awareness for the extraordinary work that takes place daily through service to your clients? What can you do to “light the fire” moving members from passive to engaged, from complacent to committed?

Your Boards number one responsibility…

Every non-profit Board members number one responsibility is to ensure the long term viability of your organization.

With that thought in mind, Board members should believe in the your mission and act prudently as its steward. They should be willing to become fully informed, coming to know and understand your programs, your values, and how you serve others in our community.

They should be willing to act as an advocate/ spokesperson for your cause. They should make a personal financial contribution at some meaningful level. They should actively participate in your activities fundraising or otherwise. They should be willing to provide names of, or write personal letters to, friends and associates in support at least one fundraising event per year.

And, get this one, they should be willing to carefully consider including your organization with a bequest gift through their will, or consider another planned gift, i.e., annuity, insurance beneficiary, retirement plan beneficiary, etc.

Your responsibility to your Board…

As Board liaison, you must keep your Board members fully informed. At minimum you must, without request, send timely financial reports and an update of organizational activities.

Access must be available to Board members so they can discuss with the CEO and/or the Board Chair the programs, goals and, activities of your organization and the status of same.

The CEO must help Board members to perform their duties by keeping them informed about issues in the pursuit of your mission and areas in which you are working.

Staff members should work with Board members in good faith towards achievement of your goals. Therefore, they must seek interaction and engagement with Board members through appropriate committees.

The more engaged and involved the Board member becomes the more likely he/she will be to offering financial support.

Does Your Planned Giving Program Have a Plan?

Annual giving has always been the primary focus for nonprofit fundraisng efforts.
And, it’s no wonder-a 2008 national study by the Stelter Company revealed that 90%
of U.S. adults age 40 and over, donated to at least one non-profit organization
in the past year or so. Yet, only 7% reported to include a charitable bequest in
their wills.

This disparity offers an enormous opportunity for planned giving fundraisers. And
yet, a quick peak at most non-profit organizations will discover little to no strategy
for cultivating planned gifts, including bequests.

Why?

Show me the money, NOW…
Most development departments we work with are
under pressure from their Board of Directors to increase contributions to cover
the annual operation budget. Or, they may be planning some capital campaign project
that is sure to absorb the staff.
Bequest revenue, or gifts from various kinds of annuities, are sometimes viewed
as surprise gifts that can’t be counted on and seldom happen. Why should we be surprised
by this attitude? Look around the table at your Board of Directors and at your organizations
leadership. How many planned giving experts do you see?

Let’s review your development plan this year….you have four special events including
the annual gala and auction, you have two big mailings planned, you have to make
50 major gift prospect calls by December your boss wants you to improve the newsletter,
your web-site hasn’t been updated and it’s beginning to embarrass you, the database
software needs to upgraded and, so on. Is it any wonder that planned gifts, in most
organizations, seem to happen (if it happens at all) by accident.

Why your Planned Giving Program is Important…
Research findings conclude “giving” is ingrained in the American culture. Data indicates
that 7% of Americans age 40 and older have named a nonprofit organization in their
will. In addition, another 10% are a good prospect.

The Stelter study further reveals that 64% of U.S. residents age 40 and over already
have wills. The planning decisions, for the most part, take place before they reach
age 50. Once a nonprofit is included in the will it is rarely changed. Therefore,
bequest made at these younger ages are likely to stick benefiting the nonprofit
for decades to come. So, how much money are you leaving on the table year after
year, because of an ineffective planned giving program?

Several clients I have worked with have effective planned giving programs
in place with annual initiatives that get positive results. These organizations
report consistent annual planned gift bequest revenues that represent 25% or more
of their total revenue from all sources.

Your largely untapped bequest prospect group is the same man or woman who will attend
your next golf event or will donate a small gift from your next mailing. Yet, most
of these people will never be asked for a planned gift.

Our experience indicates, most Development Directors, in small to mid-size nonprofit
organizations, will never find the time to create an effective planned giving program.
Why is that so?

How to Start a Planned Giving Program…
Many of our clients have started new Planned Giving
programs this past year, and, at the same time they have upgraded their annual fundraising
efforts during these difficult economic conditions. How did they do it?

Let us make these recommendations.

One: Review your donor records to discover likely planned gift prospects (they will
be over the age of 40; they will have donated something to you every year for ten
years are more, they have a high net worth).

Two: Consider an investment to improve your website, especially offering interactive
donor communication in regards to your planned giving options.

Three: Consider partnering with experts to offer at least one Planned Giving Seminar
this year.

Four: Use a multichannel marketing approach to send consistent, relevant planned
giving information to your donor prospects. Use your newsletter, email newsletters,
website, direct mail inserts to targeted prospects. In every communication to donor
prospects provide useful information and an opportunity to make a planned gift.

Are you ready to accept a planned gift?
Are you prepared for the donor who wants to give you a Charitable Remainder Unit
Trusts gift? There are more than 100 instruments a donor could use to make a planned
gift to your organization. Most development directors are not planned giving experts,
but they can surround themselves with expert services for just such an occasion.
We suggest that you surround yourself with experts.

We also suggest that you take a very close look at your case for support. How long
has it been since it has been upgraded? Is it compelling? Are donors attracted to
your organization when they read it? How do you know?

Do your donors know what you are doing with their money? Have you been good stewards,
using donor money for maximum impact. Do you communicate with donors as if they
are investors? Do you report positive outcomes to your investor donor? Are you
strengthening relationships with your donors?

Now is the time to create new opportunities to educate and engage your donors. Let
them know how your organization is making a difference. Make sure they know how
much you appreciate their financial support. Make sure they know what you did with
their money!

Are You Eligible for the Grant?
The Missouri Foundation for Health Capacity Building – Technical Assistance Grant
Program is accepting applications. This grant program provides health-related organizations (budget cap of $10 mil)
with up to $20,000 for capacity-building projects in strategic planning, fund development,
strategic communications, business & financial planning, management systems
development and program evaluation.