Successful fundraising occurs when you establish a connection with the potential donor, build your relationship beyond just an “ask,” show appreciation for all gifts, and effectively explain the impact. Too often relationships are lost because an organization spends too much time looking for where the next dollar will come from. In an economy where many people are struggling and competition for donor dollars is fierce, establishing relationships with your investors and volunteers is “smart business” for your organization.
My favorite quote, from Scott Stratten, “If you believe business is built on relationships, then make building relationships your business.” If that is not your philosophy how can you make the genuine connections your organization needs to survive.
There are several strategies you can introduce into your marketing, social media, and stewardship programs immediately that will effectively engage and recognize your organization’s stakeholders. Being authentic in your praise and genuine in your appreciation is the only way to build the lasting relationships your organization needs to be financially viable. By consistently letting stakeholders know how they are making an impact on the populations you serve, you create the environment where they feel their time, money, and resources are truly making a difference (what every donor needs to hear). Stewardship needs to be more than just a thank you letter or random phone call. Effective stewardship can be a relationship development model created to, not only recognize donors, but to recruit potential new stakeholders to your organization.
10 Engagement Ideas you can start today:
- Recognize donors on website/social media (with company profile)
- Recognize volunteers on website/social media (with personal profile)
- Use Twitter for a thank you or special recognition
- List exceptional volunteers on your annual report (not just donor levels)
- Recognize volunteers at special events, not just sponsors
- Top funders & volunteers are always worth doing something extra for (comp tickets to special events)
- Invite stakeholders to join event committees
- Invite funders/volunteers to have meetings at your facility so they can introduce their charitable focus to others (my favorite)
- Ask funders/volunteers to contribute to your newsletter or blog
- Use special event pictures of stakeholders in your press releases (no stock photos)
Bottom line: When it comes to your donors, volunteers, or business partners how are you making them feel for their efforts? This question is very important, why? Because supporting nonprofits today has become more about “feeling” and not about check writing for tax purposes. Businesses today want to be personally involved in philanthropy, but are looking for a hand across the table from an organization and not a hand out.
Volunteers are the life blood of most nonprofits and schools. As administrators and executives we sometimes forget to appreciate and value our volunteers like we should. To understand the importance of volunteers all you have to do is imagine running a program or event ALONE…if the realization has just set in that they are probably the most valuable entity in your organization; then now, it is time to continuing reading this post.
Every time I plan a large event I know eventually I will need folks there to help in some way. There are many types of volunteers: planning committee folks who help with all the logistics, vendors to promote products or services, people for set-up and tearing down, and those there just to help make sure the event runs smoothly. When things get stacked up against you, volunteers are usually the ones who help make it happen for your organization. Volunteers do not work for reward or recognition, but as a volunteer nothing feels better than being recognized in front of your peers or mentioned as a critical component of an event.
Volunteers are needed to make almost any event run the way you would like it. Which in the minds of many development directors and teachers is something like the Academy Awards (I’m assuming minus the seat fillers and orchestra). No matter what your budget (or resources) there is always a way to appreciate the good people who helped make it happen for your organization.
My four favorite ways to thank volunteers:
- Recognition in the media
- Something to eat for giving up their time
- Recognition on website and social media outlets
- Chance to promote themselves or business at the event
If you want to partner with a popular business or company to attract a large audience offer to give them a title sponsorship (naming the event after them) in return for using their facility or staff as your volunteer base. This will add legitimacy and name recognition to your event (which could help with getting press there). This also has the potential to raise some money for your event, title sponsorships usually lead to a nice donation and great public awareness for your organization.
Never let a lack of budget get in the way of having something to offer outstanding volunteers in appreciation. The very least you can provide is a press release thanking those who helped make the event a success (make sure to include some pictures) to your local media community reporter. Always understand, that even though you may be boot strapping an event, you can always find a way to thank those who helped make your vision a reality!