what we do
With a goal of empowering development professionals to feel confident in their work, satisfied with their career, and willing to stay for the long haul, we’ve developed six modules to cover the key components of every development strategy, no matter the particular industry. We’ll encourage learners to share successes and challenges openly, see other development staff members (inside and outside of their own organization) as colleagues not competitors, and talk candidly about the ups and downs of being committed to an organization that depends on public generosity to meet its mission.
Build better results into every aspect of the fundraising year with a relationship-focused calendar. Seeing the work not as a series of tasks to be accomplished, but a blueprint for deepening existing relationships and initiating new prospects into the power of your work. We’ll look at the necessary components to every development calendar and fine tune your calendar to the particulars of your organization. Are you an arts organization that fund raises around performances? Are you tied to the seasons, a tourist destination, a human service provider that experiences great fluctuation in need? Every organization has its own opportunities and challenges and your plan for raising resources throughout the year needs to consider all the angles. Together we’ll discuss each unique case study in our group and work together to design donor-centered plans. Participants will finish this session with a high-level plan and follow-up during the month will focus on filling in the spaces.
Research tells us that if we haven’t grabbed the attention of a listener in 10 seconds, we’ve lost them for good. How do we craft fact and feeling into captivating stories, respectful of those we serve, that compel our listeners to stay with us, dig deeper, and ultimately, choose to engage with our organizations? Learning to weave the stories of real people into our development materials, conversations, and “asks” lies at the heart of transformational giving and deepening relationships. Cohort members will write and tell their own narratives, forming the foundation of a storytelling toolbox. The role of technology, such as video, will be discussed and we’ll analyze a great bunch of nonprofit storytelling examples.
Who hasn’t had a board member, or staff member or well-meaning donor complain that you just aren’t posting to Facebook enough? There’s a fine line between not utilizing great social media tools and spending unproductive time with writing, posting, and checking all those social media accounts. We’ll develop social media plans that make sense for your organization and activities and figure out ways to maximize your efforts while keeping your postings engaging, informative and productive.
Small gifts add up when the transactional annual fund evolves so that every donor feels engaged. Too often our annual fund activities center around writing a letter then doing endless follow-ups, culminating in a panicked year-end flurry of activity to meet goal. How can we design annual fund strategies that truly make a donor feel privileged to participate in funding the organization’s operating needs? How do we appreciate and recognize even our smallest donors and encourage those with potential to increase their loyalty to us? And how do we better retain these donors so that when we’re successful in attracting new donors we aren’t just filling a vacancy but truly building our base? Building strong relationships, even with those who contribute at a low level, has long-lasting benefits.
When we talk with many organizations, particularly board members, one of the key concerns in that not enough time and attention is being spent on “major donors”. And those folks are, for most of us, who will provide the significant funding for our operations, special projects, capital campaigns, and endowments. Learning to see every donor as a potential major relationship changes priorities and produces results, but it does take special planning to steward our high level donors, and also board members, well. Gratitude, respect, recognition all have to be planned for and carried out with great care. When do we involve board members and senior level staff members? We’ll look at recognition programs, special donor events, personal visits and how these activities weave together. Cohort members will be challenged to move out of their comfort zone and engage significant contributors at an enhanced level.
When the annual operating budget is being stretched, we can count on someone suggesting that we add another event. And all the development people cringe. With the lowest return on investment of any of our fundraising activities, events seem like a necessary evil. How can we have more productive events that don’t bury staff members (and not just development staff) under tasks? How do we analyze events to see if we’re really making money and find sweet spots where revenue can be increased? How do we nurture relationships with people who only attend our events but don’t contribute? How do we make certain our events promote our mission, increase our visibility, and draw people more deeply into our work? We’ll analyze categories of events, discuss trends in event fundraising, and suggest ways of staying sane while eventing.
We offer these practical, thought-provoking modules in two ways, both designed to fully engage participants, encourage creativity, and provide opportunities for self-reflection (and humor). In addition to these two major offerings, we're happy to talk with you about private mentoring.