October 2008 Archives

October 29, 2008

Volunteer Help May Increase During Tough Times

As reported by MarketWatch, Schwab Charitable recently released eight tips for donors wanting to stretch their charitable dollars during this giving season. While many of the tips are more financially sophisticated than the average donor is likely to use, one of them is simple enough for anyone: "Give time and expertise."

In fact, people I know who've recently lost jobs have mentioned volunteer work as a way to fill the gap and make new contacts. As a nonprofit, now is a great time to reexamine how you're using volunteers, and what opportunities you can offer that will help both your organization and the volunteer.
For those of us still working full time -- and working harder than ever, to keep our companies productive during a down economy -- the right choice of volunteer work can offer a great balance to a busy day. I'm still enjoying the break from work that volunteer dogwalking gives me; here's on of my latest furry friends. His name is Capo, a Chihuahua mix available at the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society.

October 13, 2008

Fundraising Kudos to: People's Grocery

IMG_1027.JPGSometimes a simple "thank you" is the best way to forge connections between a nonprofit and its supporters -- and that's just what People's Grocery recently did, with its "Flavors of the Garden" party. People's Grocery is a relatively new organization, developing creative solutions to the health problems in West Oakland stemming from a lack of access to and knowledge about healthy, fresh foods. Their projects include operating community gardens to grow and distribute organic fruits and vegetables, youth training, nutrition and cooking classes, and more. You can also sign up for a regular "Grub Box" of organic seasonal produce, the cost of which helps sponsor similar boxes going to low-income residents of West Oakland.

The party was billed as "a special thank you celebration for all our Harvesting Justice Table Captains, volunteers, donors, & supporters with delicious appetizers and yummy beverages crafted by local Bay Area chefs from organic seasonal produce grown at People's Grocery's gardens and farm. See the new Grub Box, meet the people who are People's Grocery, listen to live music and taste the flavor of summer with People's Grocery."

It lived up to its billing -- great food and music, good company, all in a lovely urban garden setting. But, the cynic might ask, did it directly contribute to their bottom line? Well, from my limited one-person view, I'd say yes. For starters, I was there as the guest of a volunteer, but the entry person was prepared for folks like me, and put my name on their mailing list. I know I'll be hearing more from them, but that's good -- I encourage organizations to make sure everyone who shows the slightest interest has their name captured for future contact.
And I heard one volunteer, perhaps inspired by the good time she was having, say, "I want to give People's Grocery more money after I get my next disability pension check -- I hope it doesn't go down too much with the whole economic crisis, but I'll try to give anyway." I'll let that one speak for itself.

October 1, 2008

Fundraising Inspiration: Fire Up Your Board

Leyna Bernstein, of The CBO Center in California's San Francisco Bay Area, is passionate about getting board members to not only agree to but enjoy the money-raising part of their role.

But, as she notes, many board members shy away from anything to do with fundraising, perhaps picturing themselves sitting uncomfortably across the table from someone and asking them for a $25,000 check.

To hear Leyna's discussion about how to assuage board members' fears, find creative ways for them to support your fundraising efforts, and ultimately turn around an unwilling board, listen to my recent podcast.