Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where in Colorado? January

Win CRC's toolkit, Fundraising: Essential Strategies for Fundraising Success During an Economic Downturn.

Each month, we feature a photo taken during our travels around Colorado. Last month, we featured this photograph of Plum Creek Cellars, Palisade. Congratulations to Louella, KB, Info, Michael, and Anne. All win a free copy of CRC's fundraising toolkit. Thanks for participating!

Take a guess for this month's "Where in Colorado?" photo.

Team Up With a Professional Coach To Gain a Real Advantage in 2010!

We've all had an experience some time in our lives with someone who could see more in us than we could see in ourselves at that moment. It might have been a teacher, the soccer coach, a friend, or a grandparent. They seemed to know just what to say or do at just the right time to spur us on. They helped us feel good about ourselves regardless of our own beliefs. They wanted a better experience or life for us. That is what coaching is all about. It is intentionally and systematically having someone to assist you in finding the way to a better more fulfilling life.

People hire a coach because they want more, they want to grow, and they want forward movement. Cheryl Richardson, author of the best-selling books, Life Makeovers and Stand Up for Your Life, says, "The goal is for people to improve their quality of life. Some coaches primarily help with one's personal life; others focus on one's professional life. Many do both. Coaches get to know the clients' needs. They support them to find what they want to do with their lives and help define how to make it happen. The primary goal is to keep people in action."

Coaches are trained to listen intently - what's being said and what's not being said, noticing, observing, and then customizing their approach to the individual client. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client. The client is the expert on their life. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already possesses.

In essence, coaching is forward focused and action oriented. You'll identify and acknowledge barriers that keep you from moving forward. A coach will help you identify the motivators and values for you to get into action to produce results, hold you accountable for what you do, and then celebrate your successes.

The Community Resource Center has taken all the guess work out of finding, vetting and negotiating just the right professional coach for you. The Colorado Capacity Coaching Initiative is offered to any non-profit executive, program director, staff or board member at rates below the market average from coaches who exceed industry expectation. Want more information? Please contact Carol Crawford at crawford@crcamerica.org or 303.623.1540 x13.

4 Fundraising Resolutions for the New Year

By Sarah Fischler, CRC Consultant

As part of the Weathering the Storm project, the Community Resource Center and the Colorado Nonprofit Association sponsored trainings on fundraising, financial management, and collaboration to help nonprofit organizations enhance their sustainability during these challenging economic times. As part of this project over the last nine months, I have taught 15 trainings on fundraising during difficult times for nonprofit organizations of all sizes and types across Colorado and have seen the same opportunities for growth come up again and again.

Because the ability to generate revenue is at the core of nonprofit sustainability, we are suggesting these four fundraising resolutions to improve your organization’s fundraising effectiveness for 2010. Check out CRC’s reading list for more information and some ideas to get started on each of these resolutions.

Commit to Greater Diversification

Unfortunately, 2009 was a difficult year for many nonprofit organizations. A lack of diversified revenue sources has continued to be the source of vulnerability for many organizations. If a major funder pulls out or a type of funding declines across the board, a nonprofit can be forced to make difficult decisions like cutting or reducing programs, or in the most extreme cases, closing the doors.

Help your organization improve its prospects for long-term sustainability by diversifying your fundraising base during 2010, both in terms of number and types of donors. Has your organization been planning to start an individual donor campaign or investigate foundation funding for the last five years, but has never found the time? Make it a priority for 2010, even if it is only starting with a small goal, like recruiting 25 new individual donors or submitting a small grant application to a local funder. Setting some small goals for increased diversification and then achieving them can help put your organization on the path to greater sustainability.

Devote Time to Data Management

I am consistently surprised when I encounter an organization with a mid-sized budget and a spreadsheet full of donor information. With donor management packages now accessible to even the smallest organizations, 2010 is the year to commit to getting your donor information into a database, especially if you rely on individual donors for revenue. Better data management can help you make better fundraising decisions and possibly increase the outcomes of your fundraising activities if used strategically. In a spreadsheet, you only see donors as single lines of information. Donor databases can instead help you see donors in terms of their level of engagement with your organization. This can help your organization in better targeting and customizing your donor solicitation activities, activities that will likely result in better outcomes over time. A good, intuitive, and affordable solution for small nonprofits is GiftWorks. (And, if you need some help in transitioning your information, CRC offers classes and consulting in GiftWorks.)

Learn to Love Strategy

Being more strategic and deliberate in fundraising can almost immediately improve fundraising outcomes for any organization. Scattered fundraising is ineffective, frustrating, and leads to burnout because it feels like an endless treadmill of marginally successful activities. If your organization’s fundraising is scattered, simply outlining a few key fundraising activities, setting measurable goals, and then assessing your organization’s progress can significantly help your organization in being more strategic in its fundraising. Even if it is very simple, creating a written plan of action for your 2010 fundraising can help you move from scattered to strategic, resulting in better fundraising outcomes for your organization.

Being more strategic also includes having a better sense of what works and what doesn’t work. Start 2010 by doing some analysis on your previous fundraising activities to get a sense of what is effective and what is not. For example, how much does it actually cost your organization, including staff and volunteer time, to run an event or raise money through your other fundraising campaigns? Through this kind of simple analysis, you can get a sense of whether or not you could be getting a bigger bang for your buck through other fundraising activities. With this sort of information available, you can make a plan that helps prioritize your organization’s activities and leads to more strategic fundraising.

Embrace and Leverage Technology

One of my favorite nonprofit organizations, Community Shares of Colorado, is building an exciting new program on the idea of incremental giving. Through their My Colorado Project (www.mycoloradoproject.org), Community Shares is enabling donors to quickly and easily donate to their member organizations on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis – all automatic once someone is signed up. Community Shares adds on the concept of giving circles, in which people use online tools to engage their networks to get others involved in supporting their favorite organizations. We should all learn something from this model, as converting people who send a $100 check each year to regular, monthly donors can result in increased revenues and greater engagement without having to dedicate resources to recruiting new donors. This kind of program would be a huge drain on resources for most nonprofits without technology to automate the process. Using a service like Acceptiva, your organization can implement a similar program to transition your occasional donors into incremental donors using technology and possibly reap the benefits of higher donations and engagement in your mission.

Incremental giving is one example of how using technology allows a nonprofit to leverage its resources like never before for increased fundraising effectiveness. Web-based technology, like WordPress, has made it possible for small nonprofits to develop professional informational websites for just the cost of a website domain and web hosting (as little as $10 per month) with very little technological expertise. Constant Contact, the popular e-newsletter service, makes sending out an e-newsletter easy and cost-effective. If your organization is not currently using these tools, we encourage you to learn more about how they could help your organization leverage its resources during 2010 for increased fundraising success.

While all of these solutions are not right for all organizations, we encourage you take at least one of these and implement it within your organization during 2010. Doing so will help, in at least a small way, increase your organization’s sustainability for 2010 and beyond.