National Volunteer Month: Have You Thanked A Volunteer Lately

April is officially national volunteer month.  Volunteers are vital to every non-profit and they come in all shapes and sizes.   According to the Corporation for National Community Service, 25.3 percent of Americans volunteer and the average volunteer in America contributes 32.1 hours of service each year. Non-profits rely heavily on the service of volunteers which is why they need to be recognized for their contributions.

Being a volunteer can be a thankless job which is why there is an entire month dedicated to recognizing them.  Volunteer recognition can be a powerful tool to keep volunteers engaged and prevent burnout.  Most non-profits don’t have to have a big budget to recognize or appreciate volunteers. The good news is it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to thank a volunteer.

Hand Written Notes:
Never underestimate the power of a hand written note; getting something in the mail is a rarity.  It shows the volunteer that you appreciate their efforts so much that you took the time to write a note.   Thank you cards from clients, board members, or others who benefit from your programs can go a long way to appreciate a volunteers effort.

Recognize Anniversaries:
A volunteer’s anniversary is a big deal and deserves to be celebrated because it demonstrates their commitment to your organization.  The longer a volunteer has been involved, the bigger the celebration  should be.   You can even publicize volunteer anniversaries in your newsletter, website, or blog.

Host a recognition event:
Hosting a party is a great way to appreciate your volunteers.  Bringing volunteers together not only collectively celebrates their service, but volunteers get to interact with one another and build positive energy surrounding your organization.

Solicit Feedback:
Take time to get feedback from your volunteers on the effectiveness or your organization.  This can be done formally through surveys or informally through conversations.  Not only do they have a unique perspective on the organization, but taking time to solicit their feedback shows you value their opinions.  Most likely they will have great ideas on how to make your organization even better.

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Three Simple Strategies To Make 2018 An Amazing Fundraising Year For Your Organization

Congratulations, you survived another fundraising year.  If last year was stressful or felt disorganized, now is the time to make changes.  Before you dive into special events, annual appeals and campaigns take time with your team to put thought into the year ahead.  We recommend these three simple strategies to make 2018 an amazing fundraising year.  

  • Get your 2018 fundraising plan in place:
    January is the perfect time to do a SWOT (Strengths – weaknesses – opportunities – threats) analysis to your 2017 fundraising plan.  Brainstorm with your team what worked well, what needs to change, and what threats and opportunities face your organization.Many development teams find the best analysis happens off-site in a retreat type setting      because they are removed from the distractions of the office.   The feedback will be important in developing a 2018 fundraising plan which will serve as your team’s roadmap.   Remember success in fundraising is 20% skills and 80% strategy making your 2018 roadmap an important exercise.
  • Get your systems in place:
    Without strong systems in place, even strong fundraising plans can apart because your team is wasting unnecessary time and energy to fixing problems.  Think about the tools and technology you need to reach your fundraising goals.  Does your donor data base work for your organization?  Does your website make it easy to collect online donations? Are your systems for thanking donors effective and timely?Involve members of your marketing, finance, and technology teams in these discussions because they often bring creative ideas of ways to simplify systems on how to thank donors and
  • Get your strategies in place:
    Now that you have your plan and systems in place, what are the steps needed to achieve your fundraising goals. What can you do to enhance your existing efforts? What tools can you use to enhance your brand and increase visibility to your organization and the community.  What organizations are charitably minded that would be a great partner.This involves both organization and time management.  Break your goals into bite-sized action items such as calling a major donor each week to thank them for their gift or a couple hours each week to enter fundraising notes into your donor data base.  Stick to your strategies; it’s easy to get distracted and let the plans you have in place fall to the wayside.

Once you have your plan, systems, and strategies in place it’s time to implement.  Schedule monthly check-ins with your team to make sure everyone is on track with their goals.

We at Givily wish you a strong start to the new year.  Check back in our blog section for more articles on everything fundraising.

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Keep Your Employees Engaged For Good During The Holidays

Let’s face it, December is a really hard time to keep employees engaged. Between online shopping, endless parties, vacation planning, not to mention endless distractions, even the best managers can find it challenging to keep your team focused on work. Instead of resigning to another year of getting nothing done, channel your teams energy while doing good in the community by engaging your employees for good.

Employee engagement with non-profits is a win-win for both. Companies who are actively give back strengthen their public perception and reputation in the community. Co-workers who volunteer together report higher levels of morale and employee engagement. Employees working shoulder to shoulder with their co-workers provides a greater sense of purpose and stronger company pride. Plus this is an excellent opportunities for employees to develop new skills that they are able to use in their job.

For the non-profit, December is often their greatest month of need for both goods and volunteers. Whether its serving meals to the homeless or collecting toys for low income families there is high demand for services, while many non-profits are understaffed. Many non-profits welcome volunteer groups because they have availability during the work week and having groups fill volunteer shifts takes the pressure off non-profit staff to fill each slot by individuals.

If you’re team is new to non-profit involvement, here are strategies to keep your employees happily engaged over the holidays.

Find a cause that your team is passionate about:
Your charity of choice should be a cause that aligns with your companies values and is an issue that your employees are passionate about. Most companies find that a local organization is most rewarding because they are able to give back to the community they live in and serve.  If you are unaware of the non-profits in your area, connect with your local community foundation or for referrals. Once you have a couple non-profit candidates, further research how each organization uses their funds.  The majority (80% or higher) of their funds should be devoted to program support.

Determine How Your Company Can Best leverage non-profit needs:
Use your businesses existing resources to better serve the needs of the community. A great example of this took place over Thanksgiving when a youth center had to distribute 1,000 frozen turkeys to the families they were serving. The non-profit connected with their local teamsters union who used their manpower (literally) to offload the turkeys off the truck and into the hands of the community. Win/win!

Create A Festive & Fun Atmosphere:
This shouldn’t be another work day for your team – this is a chance for them to get out of the office and give back to the community.   Whether wearing crazy socks, playing a holiday playlist,  or catering the serve day with a favorite food can set the mood for employees.  This is also a great opportunity for management to get to know their team in a relaxed setting.  Don’t talk shop, ask questions and get to know the people you work alongside.

Celebrate Success:
Nothing is more meaningful for employees to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts, especially coming from management.  If a member of the team goes the extra mile, public recognition in front of their peers shows the team that their hard works are appreciated. It can be as simple as publicly highlighting key project leaders during a staff meeting or thanking them in an e-mail.  Of course, gift cards, a couple extra hours of vacation, or other tangible incentives are also appreciated.


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The Rule of 7’s: How to convert your donors into raving fans

Saying thank-you never goes out of style. Fundraising is simply good manners; donors want to know that their contributions are appreciated and will be used for the exact purpose that the donor intends. Thank-you’s are also an opportunity to build a relationship with the donor and have the potential to catapult into additional and hopefully larger gifts. With the large number of non-profits in the community, it is important to differentiate your organization from others and build donor loyalty.

Experts recommend connecting with your donor seven times during the year so that when you are ready to make an ask the following year, a donor is confident in your mission and leadership. This simple yet effective concept is known as the rule of 7’s. Start by creating a calendar and map out touch points where you can further educate and engage your donors.

Initial Thank-You:
The thank-you is the first step to building the relationship with the donor and is also the donor’s first impression of your fundraising team. If you are using a form letter, it never hurts to write a simple handwritten note on the letter with a personalized message.

Invitation to Program Events:
New donors may not a lot about your programs or services so inviting them to your program events is a great educational opportunity to further tell your organization’s story. Both large scale and intimate events can work well, the important thing is for the donor to see your programs in action.

The newsletter (or e-newsletter) is a great way to highlight all the good your organization is doing in your community. It is also an opportunity to highlight program success stories, donors, and donors.

In Person Meeting:
Meeting with a donor is a great listening opportunity to get to know the donor and intimately build your relationship with them. Find out what programs in your organization are important to the donor, how they came to your organization, plus information about their family, hobby, and interests. These details can be invaluable as you are cultivating a donor for bigger asks in the future.

Hand Written Notes:
Never underestimate the power of a hand-written note, especially if it is a thank-you from a client. Most people only get bills and junk mail in their mail box which will make your note stand out in their mind.

Program Tour:
Tours provide an insiders look into your organization but also educate and inform donors about all that happens at your facility. Schedule a client and/or volunteer to accompany you on the tour to provide a program because they are your biggest fans and can help tell the story of your organization.

Birthday Card:
A birthday card celebrates the donor and let them know that you care about them outside of the donor outside of their donation. They can be sent via mail or electronically, but if you send them electronically make sure they don’t get caught in a spam filter.

By following these simple steps, your donors will be more familiar with your mission and be more willing to give by the time you send your year-end appeal.

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How To Maximize Your #givingtuesday campaign

If your non-profit isn’t capitalizing on #givingtuesday, your organization is missing out. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. In 2017, #givingtuesday is scheduled for November 28th and because most of the donations are online, you can take advantage of 24 hours of giving.

Over the past six years over 177,000,000 have been raised online on #givingtuesday. Many local community foundations offer dollar matches that further leverage donations made to your organizations. Whether you are a small charity or a global non-profit, you can’t afford to miss out on these valuable dollars.

Create A Campaign Around #givingtuesday:
Meet with your team and brainstorm ideas that fit the unique culture of your organization. Volunteer projects, community events, and workshops can help draw attention to the great work your non-profit is doing and attract new donors to your cause.

Recruit A Champion (or two):
Recruiting a corporate partner to champion your message leverages your partnership, can save money, and exposes your cause to a whole new groups of fans. Let your corporate champions spread your Giving Tuesday campaign internally and externally. Businesses can offer opportunities for their customers to donate to your cause and their human resources departments can provide opportunities for their employees to increase their investment through payroll match. Recruit champions within each department of your organization for internal support.

Promote – Promote – Promote:
Your efforts around #givingtuesday are futile if you don’t create a promotional campaign that includes blogs, e-mail, and social media to reach your entire base. Stories are more effective than statistics alone because they illustrate your organizations effectiveness. Encourage board members, leadership volunteers, and corporate partners to spread your #givingtuesday activities to recruit new donors and raise larger dollars for your mission.

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