Recently in Gifts from Businesses Category

May 26, 2011

Volunteers' Guide to Fundraising Newly in Print!

If you could only know the process that goes into creating a book like The Volunteers' Guide to Fundraising -- a bit like sausage-making, but in a good way.

FLIB.gifThis latest addition to the Nolo nonprofit series is meant for PTA parents, team and band booster volunteers, librarians who never realized their job was to include fundraising, church, synagogue, and other religious group members, and so on.

It's a guide to the most likely types of fundraising when your group is short on time, paid staff, and other stuff that an established nonprofit might have, such as a database of donors and a five-year plan.

 These include special events, selling candy (and many alternatives to candy), auctions (online and off), walkathons, home & garden tours, benefit concerts, and more.

Now, back to the writing process: To make sure the book didn't just recite tired instructions that you've heard before, I talked to dozens of people in the same categories just described. They generously shared their stories, favorite tips, nightmare mistakes, and so on. The book includes direct quotes from many of them, along with sample materials, checklists, and other advice. Here's a quick sampling:

  • Regarding scheduling an event, Emily Shem-Tov, a volunteer fundraiser with the Morgan Hill Library Foundation, warns: "One year we held our Silicon Valley Puzzle Fest on the same afternoon as the Super Bowl. That was a mistake. We thought that crossword puzzle people and Super Bowl people would be mutually exclusive, but no, attendance was definitely down."
  • Regarding planning house tours, Michael Crowe, of the Oakland Heritage Alliance, says, "Tourgoers do like to see big, grand houses. No matter how much you talk up the virtues of more modest homes on your tour, they may stay away entirely if you don't present at least some grand ones."
  • Regarding hiring a professional auctioneer, Jackie T., a parent volunteer, says, "Our hired auctioneer suggested clever ways to us to have the kids help out -- like having a little girl carry the quilt onstage that all the kindergarteners had helped make, with cutout patterns of their hands -- it sold for several thousand dollars, our top revenue -producer for the live auction -- or having the Cub Scouts get on stage in their uniforms to model the leaf raking that they'd do for the highest bidder."
That's just the beginning! Read and enjoy.
May 9, 2011

Nonprofit Auction Item: A Vasectomy for You and Your Cat!?

The humble school bake sale is dead, according to NPR's recent story, "Forget Bake Sales: Schools Turn to Luxe Auctions," by Lauren Silverman. The story describes how (as every parent knows), trying to fill the gaps left by reduced government funding is forcing parents to put in as much effort at special events such as auctions (live or online) as they did for their own weddings.

Even if to you, this is old news, the story is worth a listen for:

  • its ideas on the latest items to attract bids (though not every school has access to an unwashed Lance Armstrong T-shirt, I assume) and
  • the professional auctioneer demonstrating how she slows down her normally rapid-fire patter when dealing with a benefit auction audience (who isn't used to live auctions).
cat.jpgUnfortunately, you won't find anything in the story about what type of doctor is able to offer a vasectomy to both the top bidder and his cat!

Whichever of your volunteers can line this one up probably deserves a prize. 




February 4, 2011

Pepsi Chooses Nonprofits Over Super Bowl Advertisers!?

Even I, who never comes within 25 yards of a television that's showing a football game,Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for superbowl2.jpg knows what a big deal the Super Bowl ads are. Heck, I think I've even visited websites that compile the best ads after the game, just for the fun of watching what America's most creative marketers can do with a big budget (or whatever budget is left over after actually paying for the air time).

So, it's clearly Big News when Pepsi announces that it's pulling its ads from this year's Big Game -- and bigger news still, for anyone interested in charitable fundraising, when the reason turns out to be a shift in focus to its program of giving grants to nonprofits that muster up the most online support via social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It's called the PepsiRefresh Project.

Get the details in The New York Times article, "Pepsi Bets on Local Grants, Not the Super Bowl," by Jennifer Preston. And if you're with a small group that's thinking, "We'll never win one of those grants," read right to the end of the article, where it describes how a high school marching band got a $25,000 grant from Pepsi for its uniforms. Yay team! (By the way, who's playing this year?) 
January 30, 2011

Business and Corporate Donors Deserve Followup Too!

I spoke recently to the owner of a small business who says that, despite the down economy, he has actually increased his contributions (cash and in-kind) to certain nonprofit groups in his community -- but dropped others off his list. The nonprofits in the latter category were those that never followed up to him to tell him, for example, whether his item sold at their silent auction (much less at what price), or how they'd used his contribution.

This isn't retribution. Like any donor, he explained, he'd like to build a relationship with the groups he supports, not feel like they only run to him as the guy with the checkbook. Worse yet, he sometimes feels like a second-class donor. For example, he described his dismay when attending a nonprofit event and reading through the program, which listed everyone's cash donations -- but made no mention of the in-kind donations from himself and others. Oops.

Is the problem partly that the word "corporate giving" has made its way into common usage, leading people to confuse the local business owner with some faceless multinational conglomerate for which charitable giving is merely a drop in its promotional budget-bucket? I hope not, and I wish every nonprofit fundraising staffer could have heard this man speak. But I'll simply have to assure you that he wasn't faceless, and he probably represents the views of a number of other frustrated business donors. So keep in touch, and build those relationships!