How to not bore your donors to tears

Do you fear your donors are bored with you? Here's some good news: with all the holiday parties at this time of year, you have virtual laboratory for learning to be interesting! How to be interesting to your donors In his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie gives you a secret

[Guest Post] Special events: Make them worth the effort

From time-to-time, I get to introduce you to a rock star in my universe, a colleague I trust implicitly. Today I'm thrilled to introduce you to Clover Frederick, a fundraising and marketing expert from Lincoln, Nebraska. I love her idea of fundraising events being a "22-hour piƱata"! You can follow her on twitter @cloverfrederick. Special

6 tips to help board members work a room at a fundraising event

Last night, I was asked for some tips to help my fellow board members with a fundraising dinner on Thursday. Fundraising events so often devolve into board members huddling together in tight groups of people they all ready know. But money is raised when board members act as ambassadors and hosts. Here's what I wrote.

How to make more money with your next silent auction

This week, I'm pleased to introduce Sherry Truhlar. Sherry is an auction expert so I've asked her to come and share with us how to make our nonprofit's next silent auction better. Be sure to check out her free guide of auction items -- listing the 100 best-selling items to sell in your benefit auction

[Guest Post] 10 Ways to Successfully Chair an Event

This week, I'm honored to introduce Vivanista. Vivanista is a member-based, lifestyle community for charitable volunteers. I really like their practical tips as well as their emphasis in women in philanthropy. Check out their tools at This top 10 list was put together by Vivanista's founder, Layne Gray, a Bay Area entrepreneur and experienced

QR Codes: The Future of Fundraising?

Earlier this fall, I was at the National Catholic Development Conference in Chicago. Wandering through the exhibit hall, I came across this flyer. If you're like me, you don't really know what that box is in the upper righthand corner. It's called a "QR Code." Apparently, years ago Toyota created them as a way of

Fundraising for your next walkathon

Lately I've been getting lots of questions about how individuals can fundraise for walkathon events and many other -athons: bike, bowl, etc. Here are some of the ideas I've been offering:

First of all, good for you! Thank you for caring enough about the cause to put yourself out there and raise money for it. Our world is a much better place because of people like you. Thank you!

    The first step in any fundraising effort is to research. By doing research up front, you--or you and your team--will lay a terrific foundation for achieving your goals. Here are some suggestions on what to do:

    1. Determine how much are you are going to raise
    2. Specifically. Not the "more-is-better" answer but how much? $1,000? $2,500?

      This will often come from the minimum amount you need to raise to be part of the event. But what if you raised more? Figure out a specific dollar amount.

    3. Find out if the nonprofit has different giving levels to recognize donors
      Often nonprofits will recognize donors by assigning them to a donor level "Founders" or "Contributors" or "Patron." Find out if the group you're supporting uses these and if gifts given by your friends will be recognized in this way. It'll help later on.

    4. Develop a plan to reaching that goal
      If you're trying to raise $2500, it's easy to fall prey to thinking you "only" need to find 100 people to give $25.

      This just doesn't happen.

      We've been studying fundraising for decades. Although this sounds wonderfully egalitarian, experience shows that people give varying amounts.

      Plus, if you only ask $25 from someone who'd gladly have given $100, you're leaving money on the table.

      To do the research of creating a plan, go to a tool like Plug in the amount you want to raise and the calculator tells you what size gifts you need to ask for and how many prospects you need.

      If you do it for $2500, you'll get something like this:
      Gift Range Calculator for a Walkathon

      You'll see that it recommends your top gift be $625--the equivalent of 25 people giving $25! A tool like this is based on decades of fundraising experience and can really help you develop a map to raising the amount of money you need.

      You'll also see that if you get all the gifts recommended, you'll actually raise $3200. I did this intentionally. I wanted this calculation to be conservative so that even if you miss some of the 49 gifts, you'll still reach your goal.

      I also did this because if your cause is worth fundraising for, it's worth raising more than the minimum!