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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top Ten Fundraising Tips

by Darian Rodriguez Heyman, former executive director of the Craigslist Foundation. He will speak at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work Inc. (NEW), Get Connected event in Detroit. 

1. How to get your board involved in fundraising:  Stage a board member thank-a-thon.Tons of nonprofits experience frustration with getting their boards to fundraise; in  fact, it’s the second biggest reasons why executive directors  leave their posts according to CompassPoint’s “Daring to Lead” study. Any easy way to give board members a chance to dip their toes in the waters of donor engagement is staging a thank-athon. The key is to make it easy for board members to participate, and to help them understand that fundraising is much more than making an ask. This will also help to improve relationships with your donors, who will be delighted to receive a thank you call without an attached ask.

2.  How to increase your chances of getting a grant: Never apply for a grant without contacting the foundation first
As much as you might want to believe that grants are awarded simply due to the fit of the program and the excellence of the application, it simply isn’t true. In fact in our experience the odds of getting a grant that you send in without contacting the foundation are about 5-10%. Just as in individual (and all!) fundraising, developing relationships is critical. Program officers care deeply about the work they are funding and consider it an advantage to be able to scope out potential grantees.

3. How to secure a donation: Make specific and direct asks for moneyPeople give because they are asked –- if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no.” It can be tough to look someone in the eyes and ask for money, but somewhere in your pitch, some variation of the words, “I’d like to invite you to invest $100 in our work” need to find their place, ideally followed by as long a pause as it takes to get an answer.  Ask with pride for the cause you are so committed to raising money for, and be honored to be the potential bridge for that donor from need to impact -- donation to solution.

4. How to build loyal, happy donors: Map donations to impactPeople don’t give to you because you have needs; they give to you because you meet needs. Donors and prospects don’t want to hear about the woes of the economy or your organizational struggles — no one wants to join a sinking ship. Instead, they want to know exactly where their donation will go, or has gone, and what impact your work is having on their community and the issues they care about. Use the power of personal stories to demonstrate how critical and important their support is to your work. Emphasize impact and stories in all your communications with donors, both in person and in your written materials.

AFP National Philanthropy Day Dinner is 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17 at Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center – Renaissance Ballroom 400 Renaissance Dr., Detroit.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 20th annual dinner to recognize award recipients for exceptional philanthropic contributions and commitment to enhancing Southeastern Michigan. 

Detroit4Detroit is a movement of Detroit citizens, each committed to leading a critical community project in Detroit. Every project is 100% Detroit and defined by the needs of Detroit. Over the next year, Detroit4Detroit will bring 150 passionate Detroit citizens together and give them the tools and support to mobilize their friends, family, and social networks to complete 150 high-impact community projects. Detroit4Detroit is currently looking for five non-profit partners to provide these projects.
Partners need to be registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits who have been working within the city limits of Detroit for at least three years. For information, visit

For more information, visit Nonprofit Enterprise at Work Inc.

(These tips are excerpts from handbook edited by Heyman:  Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals).

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