Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

YOU, the Giving Tuesday fundraising marketer

In Donors, Fundraising on December 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Last week I talked about the way the office feels on Giving Tuesday. The “silent hum of happiness” from donors, co-workers and partners.

But that good feeling stuff aside, let’s admit: it didn’t just happen. YOU had to make it happen.

So how do YOU market a national campaign for your small shop?

1. Sign up to be a partner on the Giving Tuesday website.
-Online you can find so many resources – why invent the wheel they say! From perfectly fitted social media images, to tool kits, it is a one stop shop. Use these on your organizations sites.

This year I was pleased to have the Mayor’s toolkit which included an already written proclamation. I filled in the blanks and emailed it off! Thank you to Mayor Mike Savage and Halifax City Council for proclaiming Giving Tuesday for ALL charities in Halifax! And what did we do with the proclamation? Content of course! It was a new picture to post, a new tweet to send, a new newsworthiness piece to put in our media release.

2. Attend the webinars that are offered to YOU for free – from the Giving Tuesday team.
– Another online tool technically, but a more interactive one. From communications to storytelling, there were a few Google Hangout’s (that were recorded if you missed it and put on YouTube) that you could attend. Not only do you get to hear from people just like YOU (I participated and spoke on using video in your storytelling) but since it is a Google Hangout, you can ask questions to the speaker in real time.

3. Ask your donors for help.
– The great thing about 2015 Giving Tuesday? YOU will have past Giving Tuesday supporters to go back to and ask them to be part of your promotion team! Last year we had several social media ambassadors who helped us spread the word. This year we asked them back and past donors to join in!

3.1. Don’t forget about your Giving Tuesday donors.
-Don’t wait a full year to go back them! We make sure to thank donors rights away, but also to ask at the time of donation if we can connect with them again. And we make sure that we do with our annual report and invitations to events.

4. Don’t forget traditional communication streams.
– We at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia do not buy any media for Giving Tuesday. We have our social media ambassadors out spreading the word and we do one other thing: we attach a save the date business card to our newsletter that goes out in November. That’s it. And guess what? When I look at the data from Giving Tuesday donors, I can tell that many of the first time donors, came because of that business card!

If YOU are interested in participating in Giving Tuesday 2015 for the first time and need some advice, please connect with us. If YOU did something awesome this past year, tell us in the comments below – we love to hear it and learn about it!

YOU, the major gift fundraiser learning lessons everywhere

In Donors, Fundraising, Major Gifts, Relationship Building on October 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm
The writer with a golden ticket...to the next round

The writer with a golden ticket…to the next round

A few years ago, well, I guess about a decade ago now, I auditioned for a reality show. I don’t say that out loud very often, but there YOU have it. In 2004, my friends “challenged” me to put myself out there doing something I loved: singing.

I wasn’t a recording artist, or a Broadway show stopper. I was someone who just liked to sing with the radio, or in the shower, when my friends started asking me to sing in their weddings. Being on TV and hoping millions of Canadians voted for me was never my dream.

Auditioning for Canadian Idol (the process was three auditions over the course of one day) – in retrospect – has made me a better fundraiser. It was a cultivation process for the creators of the show; trying to figure out who they would put on stage and support.

There are several lessons to be learned from the experience. Here are my top three:

Overcoming insecurities: Just by stepping into the audition room, I went from amateur to professional. Many who were auditioning with me, were seasoned professionals. And even though I had a few registry signing singing performances under my belt, I felt I wasn’t good enough to be heard from.

It’s how I sometimes feel as I prep for meetings with major gift donors or senior volunteers. “Why,” I ask myself, “Would they want to hear from me?” YOU don’t have to be an extrovert (which I mostly am) to have these insecurities. Fundraisers just need to have passion, knowledge and the opportunity to earn a stakeholders support.

Listening to criticism: One of the saddest moments of trying out for a talent reality show is stepping into the bathroom after the first round of auditions. Every stall, every sink, every inch of floor either a crying contestant or a supportive friend.

There were hundreds of people auditioning that day, just like there are several organizations that appeal to the same major donors. It’s hard in the moment, but hearing criticism (or asking for feedback) about your organization, or the ask, or your project is tough. But actually listening to it, will only help YOU in the future.

My second audition of the day at Idol was brutal. Everything about my first performance was broken down and discussed. But I listened, and I made it to round three.

Now, when I hold a meeting with a potential major gift donor, I always ask the senior volunteer or my Executive Director (whoever came with me) to give me feedback once the meeting is over. Did I speak too quickly (a definite trait of mine)? Did I answer the questions asked of me, how was my body language, how was my language in general (not that I swear like a sailor in meetings, but did I use internal language too much?)

Relationship building/Friend-raising: My final audition of the day came almost 10 hours after the first. I no longer was shy or nervous, I was invested in succeeding. This was evident the moment I stepped in front of the producers, production crew and cameras. I had to make these people my friends. They had to believe in me and my (new found) goal of becoming the next great Canadian talent out of Nova Scotia (Sorry Ms. Anne Murray, excuse me Rita MacNeil, outta my way Rankin Family!)

Fundraising author Penelope Burke has said that when a fundraiser speaks to donors, “…it doesn’t matter your age or experience, YOU should just be interesting.” I went in to that last Idol audition prepared to let them see who Sarah really was: someone who was smart, liked to smile and could sing.

At the end of my audition I had everyone laughing, but my voice wasn’t Idol ready. No problem I said and thanked them for their time. As I was leaving I could hear them talk, “She’s funny.” “Great personality.” “Awesome girl.”

I left not with a title, but with people who supported me.

When I meet potential major gift donors, I really have to work hard on letting them see my personality, my expertise, my passion. It’s easy to be the staff person who seems to tag along and nods their head in agreement with everything that’s said in the meeting.

If YOU have gotten over your insecurity and listened to feedback, YOU know that YOU are not only prepared to be in that meeting, but YOU are the expert there, on how to help that donor change the trajectory of the cause your organization fights for.

As a fundraiser YOU have passion; there’s an argument for the fact that it is in our DNA, our need to make the world a better place. YOU also have passion for many other things. Maybe it’s cooking, running, reading or singing. What lessons can YOU learn from those to help YOU be the best fundraiser YOU can be?

You, fundraising through music

In Donors, Fundraising, Public Relations, Special Events, Third Party on September 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by an enthusiastic woman on an event planning mission. She did not beat around the bush, she was efficient and calculated, knowing exactly what she wanted. Would we (the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia) mind if her band raised money in support of Nova Scotians living with dementia? Well, of course we didn’t mind. We are always enthusiastic when someone wants to help us. The best part of my job is when someone becomes inspired, on their own, and feels so passionate about our cause that they take it upon themselves to raise money on our behalf. I find this to be extremely inspirational and it never ceases to impress me that people are this generous.

Claire Comeau is part of a collection of musicians from Meteghan who come together once or twice a year to put on a show for the community. Each year they pick a charity or two that resonates with them. This year, we were lucky enough to make the cut. When asked why they chose to support us, Comeau answered, “We chose you because some of our parents have had the disease. We are aware that you are there and provide precious help to persons and families afflicted with the disease.”

The band has been performing since approximately 2007. Gerald Theriault is the “mastermind” behind the concerts. Theriault contemplates what the public would like to hear, then makes a decision on what music the band will focus on, and then he recruits the musicians. It is important that the group perform something that is appealing to the public to make them want to buy a ticket and help the fundraiser. This year, the band did and homage to the Bee Gees but in past years they have done: The Beatles, a 60’s Tribute, a 70’s Tribute, The British Invasion I, and The British Invasion II. It will be very interesting to see what they choose to do next.

I want to take a moment to send a special thank you to the talented and generous musicians from the Acadian shore who planned a tremendously successful fundraising event. The following are the musicians who participated in the show:  Gerald Theriault, Brian Amirault, Lloyd Doucet, Don Saulnier, Avery d’Entremont, Simon LeBlanc, Rose Madden, Jennifer McIntosh, Justine Boulianne, Patrice Boulianne, and Claire Comeau.

If YOU are interested in hosting an event in support of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia please contact Dawn Boudrot at: dawn.boudrot@asns.ca or call 902-422-7961 ext. 258.

 

YOU the fundraiser supporting philanthropy

In Donors, Fundraising, Uncategorized on September 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm

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There has been much written about the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

I’ve read tweets of support, Facebook posts with negative reactions and have heard rumours of charities trying to “hijack” the fad and/or dismiss it totally.

So as a non-fundraiser for ALS, where do YOU stand?

At the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, we stand with all the participants who are dunking ice water over themselves and/or donating to support ALS. Why? Because we need to support each other in this industry.

As Dan Pallotta recently tweeted, “…non-profit organizations aren’t competing with each other, they are competing with large companies.”

And it’s true. We all have our missions to help those in need; whether that is feeding the hungry, medical supplies for the ill, or shelter for animals – all are worthy causes.

There is no need for us to compete. There is a need for us to cheer each other on when something good happens to the others. Such is the case with the #IceBucketChallenge. A passionate person, with the disease inspired the challenge. It wasn’t an event ALS put on, or a campaign. It truly was grassroots.

And guess what? It is no different than the peer-to-peer fundraising campaign YOU or I put on. So why are fundraisers upset about it? Because it wasn’t done for YOU? That’s a big mistake.

Here at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia we have started to notice that online donations are coming in with a donor message included: “I was challenged to do the ice bucket challenge and I am donating to ALS and to the Alzheimer Society.” What a lovely thing for a donor to do! The spirit of philanthropy alive and well.

My, yours, our job is not to condemn others, but to help them. Donors, or clients. Some may want to do the challenge for YOU and your organization! So tip of the day: don’t be jealous, check your donor’s messages and make sure YOU thank them for doing the #IceBucketChallenge!

(Want to see our #IceBucketChallenge? View it on our YouTube Channel!)

YOU, Saying Thank You

In Communications, Donors, Fundraising, national philanthropy day, Public Relations, Relationship Building, thank you, Third Party on August 27, 2014 at 12:46 pm

thank you

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We have blogged about this before. This is not a new concept. Saying thank you is one of the most basic concepts of fundraising. It should be innate to all of us. And while sending thank you cards and letters and including a thank you in every email response is a great habit, what about going further than that.

We have mastered the standard thank you. I worry that it gets lost sometimes. Are the standard thank yous in my emails getting noticed? Are people getting immune to them?

Our Philanthropy Department has been promoting the idea of an “outside the box” thank you for a long time, especially since we started participating in National Philanthropy Day. This is an amazing opportunity to explore if YOU are looking for a cool, new way to say thank you to your supporters. So now that the trend is set in our office and the bar is high. How do you thank someone in a memorable way?

I had an opportunity last night to do one of my most favourite thank yous of all. This thank you isn’t new for us, we have been doing it this way for a few years, but it is so well received and appreciated, that we just can’t mess with it now.

Every January we run a campaign called Forget Me Not Week. This campaign goes out to all universities and colleges in the province as a way to engage the younger generation. The schools compete against each other to raise money and whoever raises the most gets a prize. The prize is our way of saying thank you. For the past decade or so, the winner of the campaign has been the Acadia Axemen football team. They are extremely dedicated to our cause and have carved out a niche for themselves in their community. The team and coaches work extremely hard to win this challenge and it is important to us to do something meaningful for them, after all, we want them to stay engaged.

Working with the coaching staff we help develop a team bonding experience during their preseason training. This is an important time for them to gel as a team, and so giving them an experience that allows them to spend time together off the field is important. This is also a time where they are working extremely hard and don’t have a lot of extra energy to give. As a result we set something up that is relaxing; a private screening of a movie of their choosing.

It is amazing to see how appreciative and thankful the team is to have to this luxury. As students, they appreciate the free entertainment, and as a team they appreciate the opportunity to get to know each other and the coaches.

This also becomes an opportunity for us to say thank you directly to them while they are all together, and explain why what they do is so important to the people of the province.

We could send a hand written card to say thank you that gets tacked up on some bulletin board in the locker room (which we do). But this opportunity gives me face time with the team, gives the coaches a chance to accept a plaque in front of the team and helps me strengthen my relationship with the team. There is nothing like talking to someone in person to fortify a relationship.

It might not be the most outside the box thank you we could ever dream up, but here are some important things to remember: we did something that fit their schedule, we did something that fit their agenda, we did something they enjoy and we got that all-important face time. A true “thank you” success.

YOU, building meaningful professional relationships

In Fundraising, Relationship Building on August 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm

BuildingRelationships

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How many people do YOU connect with in the run of a day? I think that depends on what your profession is. If you’re a fundraiser, there’s a good chance that YOU will be connecting with staff, donors, sponsors and board members all in the same week.

It takes time to develop meaningful working relationships whether it’s inside the office or out.  YOU need to learn about the other person’s work ethic, how they react to situations, how much YOU can trust them and they need to learn all of these things about YOU.

Today’s topic seems like an easy thing and maybe YOU think that your professional relationships are just fine. However, there is always something  YOU can do to improve your professional relationships.

Here are a few things I have learned so far during my career as a professional fundraiser.

1. Be positive. If YOU go in with a positive attitude, YOU can’t lose. Even in difficult situations, having a positive attitude will help YOU identify opportunities and those around YOU will recognize that.

2. Stay true to your word. If YOU promise a donor that you’ll follow-up with them, YOU have to do just that. How else will they learn to trust YOU and your brand?

4. Connect.  It doesn’t always have to be about work! Get to know more about the people you work closely with. Take an interest in a hobby of theirs, ask about their family, send a sympathy card if it’s known they’re going through a difficult time. Tune in!

5. Do something special. In many of our blog posts, we have covered the importance of saying thank you, and saying it in a creative way. If you’re out and about, make a point to go and see some of your sponsors and bring them a coffee to brighten their day.

6. Show that you’re a team player. Take every opportunity YOU have to show that you’re a team player. Volunteer to take on an extra project in your department, or do a favor for a colleague. If those YOU work with know they can count on YOU, this will strengthen your relationship.

These are just a few suggestions but I’d love to hear from YOU! Leave a comment and tell us how YOU build meaningful professional relationships.

YOU, the donor wall producer

In Communications, Donors, Fundraising on July 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm
Our donor wall is a TV!

Our donor wall is a TV!

 

A little over two years ago, two big things happened at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia:
1. We moved into new office.
2. We received our first, multi-year, major gift for programming for people with early stage dementia.

The reason I mention the two together is because for the first time we thought, “We need a donor wall!” and then, “We can’t put one up yet, we’re moving!”

Over the past two years as we have settled into our new office space, we have played around with furniture, wall hangings, and the placement of all the things that a growing organization deals with.

At the same time, at staff meetings we have discussed what donor recognition is, why it is important, how we all can do it everyday. We also canvassed the staff asking what they would want as our donor recognition. Some answers back included a wall with brass name plaques, a quilt that travelled across the province embroidered with donor names to stained glass fish on the wall for each donor (since we are on the Atlantic Coast!)

In the end we decided to trial a donor recognition AND information scrolling presentation. This means that we can do more than just list a donors name, we can profile donors, we can offer information on dementia and we can inform those waiting in our lobby, who in the organization they might want to meet with. For example, “Want to learn more about fundraising? Ask to speak to Sarah!”

Here is how we did it, in case YOU are looking for a new idea!

We (the Department of Philanthropy) set the ground rules that this presentation couldn’t have audio (it’s in the lobby next to three desks with staff at them) and submissions had to come from all staff. The Department of Philanthropy would handle the set up of the tv and the creation of the presentation. Submissions were encouraged to be short on text and with pictures. They also only should include information that was relevant for the next three months. After that, a new presentation would be created.

In the end we have a looped slide slow of 150 slides. Each morning the tv is turned on and the presentation rolls. I have watched staff stop to read just as much as clients!

Here are some of the slides: a donor profile, an introduction to our President, information on an upcoming fundraising event, an introduction of a staff member (each department will be profiled at some point in the year), a listing of our Platinum supporters.

pic college

There are several companies out there that provide this type of service, we just wanted to see if we could pilot this first. We bought the tv and mounting system when it went on sale months ago, and created the presentation ourselves.

It has only been a week, but the feedback has been great! Next step will be putting a frame around it to make it stand out a little more. What donor wall do YOU do?

YOU, what it takes to be BOLD

In Communications, Fundraising, Public Relations on July 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Be_Bold_Be_Brave
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At the beginning of the year my Director assembled our department and announced that this year our guiding theme would be “Be Bold”. At first I assumed I knew what this meant, I can do that, piece of cake. I mean it was obvious, wasn’t it? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to think big, create waves and stir things up.

I soon came to realize that being BOLD was easier said than done. It seems that being BOLD in your personal/social life is achievable with little effort or fore-thought, but being BOLD at work requires a type of inhibition that seems unnatural.

We are conditioned to watch ourselves at work. To be politic. To be reserved and calculated. To make decisions based on fact and research, not feeling and emotion. For me, being BOLD would require me to switch gears and inject more vulnerability into my work. This makes me slightly uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I was called into a brainstorming session. This was my opportunity to step out of my shell; my opportunity to finally be BOLD. Here is what I learned:

  1. Dare to be criticized. It isn’t the end of the world for someone to challenge your idea or opinion. Criticism might have a bit more weight when that idea comes from an emotional place, but YOU have to learn how to detach.
  2. Dare to say that first thing that pops into your mind. It is the thought that immediately and instinctually comes to mind. It is also the thought we often don’t share because we have not had time to think it through and refine it. Share it anyway. Even if it isn’t the answer, it could lead to something productive.
  3. Dare to be cliché. YOU might not use the cliché, but then again, it could be the jumping off point for a bigger and better idea.
  4. Dare to be dramatic. Voice that crazy idea, then bring it down to something manageable. The idea might be way over budget; it might be totally unrealistic logistically, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t something useable.
  5. Dare to challenge. It is ok to take the opposing view from your colleague. If you do not like the idea, express that opinion (professionally) but also offer an opposing suggestion. The answer could be somewhere in the middle.

The bottom line is that being BOLD isn’t impossible, in fact it is easier for some people more than others. It might take YOU out of your comfort zone, but the rewards will be worth it. Challenge yourself.

If YOU want to start small, try this: next time YOU are in a meeting make the resolution to express one idea that YOU would normally filter.