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Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year Traditions for Nonprofits

Welcome the Year of the Dragon, the most auspicious year of the Chinese zodiac! On January 23, 2012, Chinese communities throughout the world begin two weeks of celebrations to mark the lunar new year, the culmination of many preparations and traditions that have been in place for generations.

As we begin this new year, here are some of the traditions that can be productive to apply to your nonprofit life:

Conduct a thorough cleaning. Of your database, that is. Are you collecting useful information? Is it organized the way that is productive? Are there pledges that should be written off or past donors that can be archived?

Reconcile old debts and grudges. It's not just about money. Are there people to whom you owe follow up, or prospective donors that you should "bless and release?" In some cases, you're better to let a donor go than continue to pursue a gift that doesn't work for the contributor. Reassess the donors that are in cultivation and decide what you need to do to move them forward or to move them on to another cause.

Give "lucky money." The iconic red envelopes are given to children to insure that they have good luck for the coming year. In the same vein, think about your own philanthropy and consider a gift to a charitable cause that is not the one you work for. Was there an organization you missed in December? Is there a new cause you would like to support? Being a donor makes you a better, more aware fundraiser.

Look forward, not back. Earlier this month, you may have assessed how things went last calendar year. Now is the time to finalize the calendar year plan if you haven't already. If you've already set goals for the year, plan out milestones and action steps now.

Wear red. This has no translation to the nonprofit field. It's just good luck.

Celebrate abundance. The New Year's Eve dinner is traditionally a large celebration for the family to celebrate how much wealth they have, regardless of what actual physical wealth they hold, and carry over that optimism to the new year. Too often, with the bustle of the holidays and year end giving campaigns, and the stress of having to raise every dollar, development program staff do not have the time to celebrate the generosity of their donors and the successes of their efforts. Now that the year end gifts have been processed and thank you letters sent, take a moment to be thankful for the support you receive. Gather those close to your cause and say, "We have so much!"

Wishing you, and your nonprofit, prosperity in the new year! Gong Xi Fai Cai!

Other links:
Here's how GoalBusters celebrated Chinese New Year

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Alice Ferris, ACFRE LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype alice.ferris
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Monday, January 2, 2012

30 Days to a Better Fundraising Professional

This time of year there are all sorts of posts on fitness, health and diet sites touting 30-day plans to weigh less, be more fit, eat healthier, et cetera. So that got me thinking, why not 30-days for improving your fundraising program? So here's the plan for a "healthier" development professional.

Take an inventory
Stop for a moment, even if it's only ten minutes, and evaluate what went well with your fundraising strategies last year. Of the things that went well, can they be duplicated, or were they one-time successes? Then assess what didn't go as planned. What was under your control that you can correct, or should you just not try that again? Write down your observations and plans for replication or correction for this year.

Cultivate "Not-Yet-Donors" every day
Spend at least 10 minutes each day this month working on prospective donor relationships: sharing information with a prospective donor or learning more about them. This can be a personal note, a phone call, an email, a social media touch, or a real in-person, face to face meeting.

Thank a donor, volunteer or staff person every day
Remind people why they are involved with your organization by saying thank you. Take 5-10 minutes every day and reach out to someone who is important to your cause, whether it's a donor, volunteer or fellow staff person.

Research links with one new network
We all have those groups where we scratch our heads and say, "Why doesn't anyone from [fill-in-the-blank] donate to us?" Now's your chance to make the connection! Use tools like LinkedIn or local business directories to research who might be your "degree of separation" to a new donor. Bonus points if you actually make the connection this month!

Schedule Training
Just like you would sign up for an exercise class, sign up for at least one professional development activity to sharpen your fundraising skills. With the availability of webinars and other workshops, you can probably find several training opportunities. And/or, buy a new book on fundraising and commit to reading a little bit every day.

Set your milestones
Get a big calendar--I recommend a large wet-erase wall calendar with the full year visible--and mark major milestones for the year. When are your special events? When does that direct mail need to drop? What are your recurring grant deadlines? What are funding milestones, i.e., how much should you have raised by when? Giving yourself a visual of the year helps you plan where you are going to need to be protective of your time or need more help. Or it prepares you for when you'll be totally stressed out.

Schedule at least one ask
Akin to scheduling a race at the end of a training period, you need to give yourself a deadline! Take a look at your prospective donor list and pick at least one donor that you feel you can realistically ask for a gift by the end of the month. Then pick up the phone and schedule a time to meet. Really. Or, if you're more of a grant writer, select at least one foundation to which you will submit a proposal and block out the time to write it. (Notice, these are both written as "at least one." You are allowed and encouraged to do more than one.)

Results?
After 30 days, you should have established stronger relationships with some of your donors, cultivated a few prospective donors, know where you're going for the rest of the year, have at least one skill improved or new tool revealed, and have completed one ask. And, you may have established new habits for the coming months. But like all 30 day programs, the results are up to you! Good luck!

Inspirations:
Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days on Ted.com
Sparkpeople January Jumpstart on Sparkpeople.com

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Connect with GoalBusters Facebook Twitter Blogger YouTube pinterest
Alice Ferris, ACFRE LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype alice.ferris
Jim Anderson LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype GoalBustersJim

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