Planning for Effective Fundraising

Planning for Effective FundraisingThe reason fundraising campaigns fail is they are not planned well.  Let’s plan for a successful annual fundraising campaign. (At another time, we will plan for successful special events.)

Spend time gathering names, mailing addresses and e-mail addresses of potential donors

  • Volunteers for the agency
  • Board members
  • Attendees at agency functions
  • Families of clients, former clients, as appropriate
  • Individuals who have given to other groups (arts, universities, United Way)
  • Representatives of businesses which have given to other groups.

Divide the names you have gathered in three groups:

  • Potentially large donors- These are individuals you will visit
  • Potentially medium donors-These are individuals you will call
  • Potentially small donors- These are individuals you will send a mailing to

Factors in deciding who should be in which pile are the time available to make visits, phone calls and mailings.  Another factor is how much these individuals have previously given to your campaign and that of other agencies.

Make sure to involve potentially large donors in your agency before you visit them:

  • Invite them to an open house
  • Send them materials about your program
  • Include them on an advisory committee
  • Invite them at no cost to any programs you offer

Learn as much as you can about businesses before you visit:

  • Services
  • Profitability
  • Past giving
  • Procedures for making requests

Once you begin an Annual Campaign with careful planning, you are on your way to success.

Visit as many potential donors as you can.  Call them to set up appointments in their office or home.  Begin by asking them to discuss any contacts they have had with the agency such as visits to an open house or an agency special event.  Describe briefly the programs that could be undertaken if the agency raised the funds included in the budget.

Ask for a specific gift as an “investment in the community.”  This number would be the largest amount you think they might contribute.

Thank the donor for any amount they pledge.  When you return to the office, confirm the amount of the pledge and thank them again.

If the prospective donor does not make a pledge, do not get discouraged. Perhaps they will give next year.

Meet with the planning committee again to share what you learned at each visit.

By spending quality time planning for fundraising, you will avoid the major reason why fundraising campaigns fail.

Tips to Retain Quality Volunteers

nonprofit tipsEvery nonprofit organization should have volunteer development plan. It begins with a “job description” for every volunteer opportunity. The job description should begin by outlining the specific tasks the volunteer would be expected to perform. It would also include such items as the average number of hours required in a week. Must the work be done in the office or can it be done in he volunteer’s home?

Have potential volunteers fill out an application form.  The form would include previous volunteer efforts.  It would also include a question about the volunteer’s skills and interests.

Make sure to conduct an in-person interview with every potential volunteer.  By asking good questions, you can get a sense of the applicant’s  attitude as well as their skills. Do not accept any volunteer who has a negative attitude.

Develop an orientation program for each new group of volunteers. One part would be information about the agency.  Another would be specific information on the tasks assigned to each volunteer.

Let each volunteer know what steps to take if they can not undertake an assignment.

Make sure each volunteer has a supervisor.  The supervisor would give each volunteer assignments and would give them the tools to help perform their tasks.

Contact each volunteer on a regular basis, perhaps monthly or quarterly, to obtain any recommendations from them.  Try to implement any recommendations they make.

Encourage volunteers to attend training programs to improve their skills.

Thank volunteers on a regular basis for their work, Thanks might take a form of a note to an individual volunteer or a recognition dinner for all volunteers.

Keep careful records of the time spent by each volunteer and the assignments they have undertaken.  This information will prove invaluable in giving the volunteers new assignments.

Nonprofits Need to Have an Excellent Board

Every nonprofit organization should start with an excellent board.

First, gather a group of individuals who share the same passion in the mission of the agency.  It does not make a difference whether the group feeds the hungry, shares investment strategies or produces plays.  Every single board member must believe in the importance of the mission.

nonprofit tipsEach board member must be committed to the mission.  At a minimum, that means attending board meetings.  Individuals who can not attend board meetings should not serve on boards. An individual who misses several consecutive meetings should be removed from the board.

Each board member should be required to make a financial contribution to the agency.  The size of the contribution may vary, but 100% board participation is required.

Every board should have a diverse membership.  Diversity might include age, gender, religion, income and race.

Every excellent board has a written plan.  At a minimum, it would include a description of the programs of the agency for the previous year and a list of potential programs for the next year. It would include a detailed listing of receipts and expenditures for the past year and a proposed budget for the next year.

Board meeting should be well-run. A proposed board meeting agenda should be sent to all board members before the meeting.  Individuals who have additional agenda items should notify the board chair before the meeting.

Board members who meet all the qualifications of board membership should be reelected for unlimited terms. Board members who do not meet the requirements for board membership should not be renominated.

(Michael Sand heads Sand Associates, a nationwide comprehensive management firm based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Send him a e-mail at

A Free Offer Nonprofits Shouldn’t Refuse

nonprofit advice and tips

In celebration of his forty-five years of service to the nonprofit community, Mike Sand, the founder of, SAND ASSOCIATES is offering complimentary consulting to every nonprofit in United States.

Just send Mike an e-mail at to give him some background about your nonprofit. Let him know if you prefer the consulting by e-mail or phone. Please limit your request for help to an hour so that Mike can assist every agency.

Another popular service of SAND ASSOCIATES is Consulting Unlimited.  For a small monthly fee,

Mike Sand will provide consulting by phone and e-mail to every one of your staff and board members. Of course, SAND ASSOCIATES offers traditional consulting and training in areas such as grant writing, fundraising, strategic planning and board development.

If you want to know Mike’s areas of expertise,  click on to the Sand Associates website  You can also check the chapters in Mike’s three books

Start the process by sending Mike Sand an e-mail at

Improving Programs of Nonprofit Organizations

improving a nonprofits performanceOne essential technique to assure that your nonprofit agency is excellent is to take numerous steps to make certain every program is excellent.

Here are some steps:

I. Budgeting

Make sure every program has a current and accurate budget.  All agency receipts and expenditures would be allocated to each program. For example, if a secretary spent one third of that individual’s time working for each of three programs, one-third of their salary would be allocated to each of the three programs. Each program would have its own budget.

Every special event would have its own budget.  The total receipts for each event less the total expenditures would be listed separately.

 II. Measurable Objectives

Every program would have meaningful and measurable objectives.  Some objectives would be output objectives, such as program attendance. Some would be outcome objectives such as the reduction in drug use, teen pregnancy or recidivism as a result of program participation.

Reports would be given to the board on a regular basis on the progress of each program in meeting each objective.

III. Advisory Board

One important way to improve the programs of your nonprofit agency is to create an advisory board for each program.

Many nonprofits run several programs.  In many programs, the top staff members are responsible for running each program.  Often times, staff members who participate in the program daily—cooks, counselors, bus drivers, secretaries, have no input into the program.  Participants in many programs have no way to make suggestions to improve the program.

These problems can be solved by establishing an advisory board for every program.

The membership may include representation from:

  • Clients
  • Staff
  • Board members
  • Volunteers
  • Community

At the beginning of each year, the program advisory board develops a plan for the program.  This would include a schedule of activities for the year. The plan should also include estimated attendance for each event.

At meetings during the year, the estimates in the annual plan would be compared to the actual accomplishments.

Nonprofit agencies will find that if they have an accurate budget, measurable objectives, and an advisory committee for each individual program, they are on their way to having an excellent agency.

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