Why Giving Tuesday Works

by Jim Shapiro on December 2, 2016

I received an email from one of our clients mid-day on Giving Tuesday. Here is what it said: “As of noon today, Giving Tuesday has raised $6,555! We have already exceeded what we raised on Giving Tuesday the past 2 years.”

This was great news! We all could use an additional $6,555 for our missions. But it got me thinking about why Giving Tuesday worked so well for this organization and why it can work for yours too:

  1. A Deadline with Consequences: Giving Tuesday lasts for 24 hours. If donors don’t give a gift by the end of the day they miss the opportunity to help.
  2. A Clear, Affordable Offer: This organization has a fundraising offer that is easy to understand: help a homeless mom and her kids. This simple storyline combined with a low price point ($35 to provide a night of safety) makes it easy for donors to make a giving decision. You want the donor to think, “Giving this gift is a no-brainer. Of course I’ll help!”
  3. Create Opportunities for Matching Gifts: In this particular case the donors gift was doubled if they gave a gift during Giving Tuesday. Donors never tire of matching gift opportunities. It makes them feel like they got a deal for doing a good thing—a win-win situation.

In addition to what I mentioned above, I believe the greatest value Giving Tuesday brings to a nonprofit like yours is free marketing and promotion. Everyone is talking about it. It’s all over social media. It’s covered on the news. Other nonprofits are talking about it. Co-workers are talking about it. Your donors can’t but help hearing about Giving Tuesday!

My hope is next year you will take advantage of this special day. Even if you just raise a few thousand dollars, it is worth your time to ask your donors to give a gift during Giving Tuesday.


Raise More Money This Time of Year!

by Jim Shapiro on November 29, 2016

Now is the time to leverage the year-end fundraising season and get the most out of your fundraising!

This video shows you a simple plan that will help you maximize your fundraising efforts by the end of the year.  We show you the three main things you need to do, and we list them in order of importance.

This video is a little longer than most of our videos because the things we share with you are so essential to successful year-end fundraising.

By the end of the video you will know exactly what to do to take full advantage of this fundraising season and how to honor your donors in the process.

Watch the video now!


Raise More Money by Asking More Often!

by Jim Shapiro on November 28, 2016

I recently was asked to help a charity develop a plan to raise money to buy a 12-passenger van. They had secured a matching grant from a local foundation and had desperate need for the van to help increase the number of people they could serve.

By the last day of their campaign they had exceeded their goal by almost $4,000! Looking back over the fundraising strategy I see that a couple important ingredients were in play.

  1. A human-sized problem for the donor to solve was clearly articulated. The donor via their giving could solve the problem.
  2. We communicated to donors multiple times via multiple platforms including email, hard copy letter and website. The leadership team was anxious about the number of times we asked for a donation. But every time we sent out an email more money would come in. It’s fundraising magic. The more times you ask (typically) the more money you raise.
  3. We asked for more money than we thought we could receive. The campaign goal was lofty and the leadership team knew this, but they also knew they had to stretch their donors to give more and think bigger than their pervious giving.

You can learn from and apply these fundraising fundamentals to your next fundraising effort. Especially as you head into the last few weeks of the year. If you need to raise more money, one of the most effective things you can do is to simply Ask more often!


Fundraisers too often make it difficult for donors to make a giving decision.

They do it by asking donors to solve complex problems and by using jargon that donors don’t understand.

One of the most important things you can do when preparing a fundraising offer is to simplify and clarify what you are trying to say.  Do this by briefly describing the problem the donor can solve when they make a donation.  Wrap this up with some urgency and a deadline by which you need the gift.  Then your donors will have the ability to quickly make a charitable donation decision.

They key here is to make it simple for a donor to understand, and then provide the additional complexity if the donor is interested in knowing more.  But too often fundraisers provide the full complexity – which is overwhelming to many donors.

Part of your job as a fundraiser is to make it simple so that more people will understand!

The end result is your donors will feel good about sending you a donation.  And you will raise more money over time as donors begin to learn more about your mission and gain trust in you and the work you do.


Major Donor Fundraising: 3 Tips to Find New Major Donors

by Jim Shapiro on November 14, 2016

Finding new majors donors can seem like impossible work.  It doesn’t have to be.

Here are three proven tips to find new major donors for your organization;

Tip #1: Your future major donors are your former! major donors! Look through your past giving records to identify donors that used to give to your organization but no longer do. These lapsed donors, for one reason or another, stopped giving. With a little bit of work, many will give a gift again.

Tip #2: Your future major donors are currently giving to your organization — they just aren’t giving at the major donor level. These donors tend to give smaller gifts and more of them. But with a little bit of direct communication and an ask for more than they typically give, you can convert some of these donors to major donors.

Tip #3:  Your future major donors aren’t currently giving you a gift, but they have a heart for the work you do.  The best way to meet these potential donors is to host “non-ask” events like open houses, dinner parties, tours of your facility, etc. The more people you can introduce to your organization, the more potential major donors you will meet.

Pro Tip: This blog post is about finding new major donors, but I want to remind you to do all that you can to keep your current major donors actively giving. It costs you more money and time to find new donors than it does to keep your current donors.

The best way to keep your donors actively giving is to Thank them promptly and emotionally for their recent gift, then Report back to them the amazing things they did because they gave a gift. Thanking and Reporting are the powerful tools you can leverage to keep your current major donors giving to your organization – and loving it.


Three Pillars for Organizational Growth

by Jim Shapiro on November 7, 2016

Usually I blog about major donor fundraising, but the topic of organization growth keeps popping up so I thought I would talk about that today.

Over my two decades of helping Executive Directors and their Boards raise money I have found that organization growth happens when there is sound leadership in place, operating from a clear strategy, with enough financial resources in hand to fund their work.

When looking at how to grow your organization, look at these three things:

  1. Assess the strength of your leadership team and their ability to grow your organization by asking questions. Is your leadership team focused and committed to growing your mission? Does your Executive Director have experience growing programs? Is your Board actively involved in governing your organization and volunteering to support various activities like fundraising events?  The answers to these questions will help you know what to focus on next.
  2. Strategically, do you know where your organization is and where it wants to go or how it wants to grow? If you aren’t growing you then odds are your organization is dying a slow death. Growth happens when there is a clear strategy in place.
  3. In order to determine if your organization is positioned for growth you must know your financial condition and your funding. Your funding includes fundraising, revenue from services, government funding, cash reserves, borrowing and any other financial resource that can be used to fuel the mission and programs. Are you up to your ears in debt or are you sitting on a large cash-reserve? Assess your financial condition and plan for financial growth today, so you know what you can or can’t do tomorrow to fulfill your strategy

Take 10 minutes today to evaluate your leadership, strategy and funding. Once you have identified your areas of weakness you can create an action plan to strengthen those areas and ultimately grow your organization.


Video: Use Your Newsletter to Raise More Money

by Jim Shapiro on October 28, 2016

Your donors are waiting to hear from you. They want to know what their gift accomplished, so it is your responsibility to tell them.

In this video you will learn how to report back to your donors the amazing things they accomplished because they gave your organization a gift.  You will also learn specific design and copy elements that will make your newsletter great and ultimately raise more money.

By the end of the video you will know how to tell compelling human-sized stories by leveraging the power of pictures, headlines and picture captions.

Watch the video now. In just 5 minutes you will know how to improve your next newsletter.


Did you know that just a small percentage of your active donors give the majority of your fundraising revenue?  This simple principle confirms the need for you to know who your top donors are and why they like to give to your organization.

In order to help you strengthen your major donor development work, here are a few things you need to do today:

  1. Know who your top donors are. Know their name, the mailing address, where they work, who they know from your organization, and what motivates them to give.
  2. Make sure these donors have received prompt and emotional communications from you recently. Thanking your major donors for their most recent donation is key to developing real relationships with your donors. If by chance it has been a while since your donors have heard from you, then stop what you are doing right now and write them a thank you note.
  3. Determine when and for what you will ask these donors for their next gift. Assuming you have Thanked and Reported to your donors, then you should be ready to ask them for their next donation.


The big takeaway from this blog post is this: know who your major donors and make sure that they receive communication from you on an ongoing basis. The more communication you have with them, the more likely you are to receive a major gift from them later this year.


Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat goes to Twisp!

by Jim Shapiro on October 18, 2016

Recently Steven went to Twisp, Washington to teach Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat to the local nonprofits.  One of the attendees posted this post to his blog after Steven’s presentation.  It’s full of helpful hints to improve your fundraising and your organization’s relationship with your donors!


We’re really excited about this upcoming training and hope you take advantage of it! Time is running out to register and space is limited so REGISTER TODAY!

We’re going to be talking about how you, as a Board Member or Executive Director, can evaluate, support and guide your organization’s fundraising program while still allowing the fundraisers to do their jobs. Most training is geared toward the front line fundraisers, but your job is to understand what a great fundraising program looks like and what to do if your organization’s fundraising isn’t effective. So if you’d like easy-t0-understand and practical advice on how to oversee a fundraising program– this training is for you!

  • WHEN: Thursday, October 20th, 2016; 9:30am-12:00pm
  • WHERE: Fulcrum Capital, 1111 Third Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

You’ll learn:

  • The two performance metrics you should focus on: net revenue and retention rate
  • The three things your organization needs to be doing, especially with Major Donors
  • How Boards can govern their organization’s fundraising but still let the fundraisers do their jobs
  • What successful donor-focused fundraising looks and sounds like

Learn more here and register Today!