Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

Posts Tagged ‘Sarah L.’

YOU, being a BOLD fundraiser

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm


Recently I started studying for my Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) exam. The first book I chose to read from the reading list was from Tom Ahern, a fundraising consultant and speaker that I admire. Immediately the following passage stood out to me:

“Being bold is better than being bland. Bland doesn’t get attention.”

I thought, what a great way to start 2014.

Each year the fund development department at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia starts January by picking what we want to focus on/improve on over the next 12 months (not sure why we go calendar year not fiscal). YOU can read about our past declarations here.

This year I am challenging us (even the new co-op student) to be BOLD. I am emphasizing the bold wherever I can. I even created the above sheets for them when I presented it. I am happy to say that I have seen it up on their bulletin boards ever since, a daily reminder of what we as a team aspire to.

So how do I think we and YOU can be Bold in 2014?

– Not settling. Too often I have heard people say, “It’s the same thank you letter as last year, just changed the date.” No. If nothing has changed in a year, YOU need to focus on more than just that letter.

– Respect that your charity has a brand and that it needs to be respected. YOU do great work in the community, be proud to tell others about how your community is being positively affected – it’s not bragging, I promise!

– Try new things. Some may say “think outside the box” and others may say “there is no box!” Which ever your philosophical leanings, try new things in 2014. Something I saw that I liked, was from Children’s Wish, who asked workplaces to hold an office “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party” to raise funds. I am sure when a fundraiser first brought it up, co-workers may not have been on board right away, but look at what they have been able to achieve with that one new thing.

Boldness. It’s what we’re doing in 2014. What about YOU?

YOU, the fundraiser with a Giving Tuesday “Sugar Rush”

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm


The Giving Tuesday hangover. I had seen it referenced by charities that had participated in Giving Tuesday in the States, but wasn’t quite sure what people meant. And then December 3 happened and December 4 came. I am not a fan of using “hangover” to describe our first Giving Tuesday Canada; it’s too negative a term. Instead I think of Giving Tuesday as a Sugar Rush, because of the sweetness of our supporters.

I am the Director of Fund Development for the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia and we signed up to participate in Canada’s first Giving Tuesday, right away. Also right away the planning began. With our team’s background in Public Relations, we used the R.A.C.E formula to plan our campaign.

R = Research.  Between the two years of strategy and data from the United States and the resources and ideas that Giving Tuesday Canada made available online, it was easy to find tactics that we could implement. For any campaign that YOU want to run, whether it be Giving Tuesday 2014 or a capital campaign, reach out online through Twitter or LinkedIn, or “Google” it, chances are someone has done something in the past and has posted resources YOU can use.

Two big items from my research really spoke to me and to the culture of our organization: a matching donor and social media ambassadors.

A = Action Planning. With these great ideas, I had to analyze what was possible, make goals and action those ideas. Giving Tuesday was a new date in our calendar which meant little time to prepare and no budget to execute.

We made three goals:

  1. Financial: Raise $5,000 (we felt this is a good price point for a matching donor).
  2. Volunteers: Recruit new volunteers to the Society for 2014.
  3. Media: Be seen as the organization mobilizing and leading philanthropy in Nova Scotia.

The idea of being a matching donor and celebrating this new day in Canada was attractive to Deloitte in Atlantic Canada, who has a history of corporate giving. With them on board to match the $5,000 we needed to figure out how to communicate this campaign.

C = Communication. Donors, supporters and volunteers hear from the Society all year round. For this campaign we recruited Society supporters to be Social Media Ambassadors. Recruited in advance we made quick iPhone videos with some of them to be posted later in the campaign. Because yes, our Giving Tuesday was actually a week and a half long campaign.

Our Social Media Ambassadors were given the same plan that our Fund Development team had, with goals, research and a timeline. In the timeline was a social media calendar: each day had a different message, every couple of days had profile/cover photo changes and links to things like our videos or website.

Key in this communication (beyond the fact that it was coming from supporters and not staff) was that each message wasn’t an ask to donate. Some days we talked about why people volunteer. Other days we released videos, or even some days were simply numbers to indicate that the supporter was counting down. (Click here to view our volunteer video. Here to see our mobile giving video).

This definitely helped us reach a lot of people who weren’t already on the social media sites for the organization. We were lucky to have these ambassadors around the province and even one in British Columbia!

We also contacted our media contacts and sent out a news release a week in advance. This highlighted Giving Tuesday the movement, and the partnership between the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia and Deloitte.

We also created business sized “Save the Date” cards that were attached to our newsletter which was mailed out a few weeks before December 3. So as to not lose the interest of any potential donor, we set up a sign up form on our website to capture their information. A reminder email was sent on December 3 to that group.

E = Evaluation. At the end of the day we met our goals (over $11,000 raised with matching donation, two new volunteer inquiries, and four media spots). But what I don’t know is why our supporters donated to us. Was it the matching donation? Was it the media? I didn’t ask when they donated, a lesson I won’t repeat in 2014. I have gone through the data and my results were interesting around re-activation of donors (YOU can read those results here).

All in all, our first Giving Tuesday was a success! The office was buzzing and donors were able to double their impact! Our Board of Directors were also part of the fun, thanking our donors in a special video.


YOU, the Campaign Evaluator – #GivingTuesdayCA edition

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm



(Yes, this is another post about Giving Tuesday Canada – more of a results update. Click to read what we did pre-December 3 and day of)

Woah. I don’t know about YOU, but December 3, 2013 in our office, was a very special day.  The overwhelming support we received from donors in Nova Scotia and in fact – across the country – was truly touching. We raised over $11,000 to help support education about dementia. We couldn’t have done it without the support of so many – a blog post just about that support will come soon in coordination with Giving, because YOU the supporters deserve your own space.

What I want to talk to YOU about today, is numbers.

Still with me?

Good! The Giving Tuesday Canada movement has already released some numbers: there were over 1,300 organizations that partnered to be a part of this special day (Us and our matching donor Deloitte included!) And 169% increase in donations on over the first Tuesday after Black Friday in 2012.

Here at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia we had three goals, only one of which was financial: to raise $5,000. This was the amount we set, because our matching donor Deloitte could match donations up to that amount.

In less than seven hours, our donors met that goal!

While YOU have goals laid out before the special day, it is important to follow up with evaluation and goals for after. This is my Giving Tuesday lesson, because I didn’t make goals for after. I needed to work with donors to raise money to support dementia education and then move on to the next area that needed funding.

Because December 3 was so overwhelming I decided quickly to rectify that.

One of the fun parts about being a fundraiser is pouring over data after an event and campaign. We didn’t do a mass email to promote our involvement. We kept this campaign online via social media ambassadors, and asked people to sign up to receive a reminder to donate on December 3. The only mail out we did, was including a business sized card save the date with our Society newsletter in November. Everything else was word of mouth leading up to the day, and on the day, we received two media mentions on morning breakfast shows (another goal for the campaign was met: be seen as mobilizing philanthropy in Nova Scotia on Canada’s First Giving Tuesday).

Our Giving Tuesday success was built by 72 donors (plus Deloitte).  Of that:

–          12 were mobile donors (which means I can technically say that we had an increase of 120% in mobile giving on December 3….because we had never done a mobile campaign before)

–          14 were over the phone/walk-in donors – two of whom were new!

–          46 were made online, of which 23 were new donors!

Now, the really interesting part: because we are both a small organization, and held a small Giving Tuesday campaign, I can identify more than just the above, to help me get to know our donors better. For instance of the returning donors on December 3, most hadn’t made a donation in several years and most, had only made In Memorial donations.

Why did they donate on Giving Tuesday? Was it the matching donation, the media, did they see it on Facebook? I might never know, because I didn’t ask at the time they made the donation.

What we did, was thank the donors in a timely manner with a personalized message from our Board of Directors, a video YOU can watch here.

I hope to go back to them in January and ask why they gave for a spotlight article. This campaign is a gateway to a conversation with new and returning donors, a special relationship that could last longer than a December day.

YOU, the excited #GivingTuesday fundraiser

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm


I had to write YOU in the title to maintain the brand we are building on this blog, but really the title could be “ME, the excited #GivingTuesday fundraiser!” We at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia are planning to raise $10,000 in one day – December 3.

YOU’ve seen the ads for “Black Friday sales” and “Cyber Monday online sales” both are days this week and next that focus on your holiday shopping. Originally these were big commerce days just in the United States following their Thanksgiving. Stores in Canada have jumped on board too.

With so many days highly advertised and talked about around shopping, why not have a day for Giving?

Enter Giving Tuesday. On December 3, 2013, Canadian charities will have their first “Giving Tuesday.” And the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia is proud to not only be on board, but to be introducing our supporters to new ways to give.

Matched donation
All individual donations received on December 3 through the Society website, will be matched up to $5,000 by Deloitte in Atlantic Canada. Thank YOU to Deloitte for coming on board as the matching donor. This means that a donor’s $25 donation will turn into $50. That’s twice the impact!

Mobile Giving
For the first time ever, we are launching a mobile giving campaign. Donations can be texted to the Society on a donors cell phone. The donation ($10) is then added to the donors cell phone bill at the end of the month.

The $10,000 raised that day will help to continue the free public education sessions that individuals and families living the dementia journey, are able to attend across the province.

So how are we raising awareness of this day and funds?

-We have enlisted the help of supporters outside of the organization to be Social Media Ambassadors (S.M.A.). Each day, the S.M.A’s receive an email with a picture, logo or video, and a statement, which they then upload to their own personal accounts.

-We also have all the ASNS social media profiles (events/personas) as S.M.A’s.

-Members of a local sports team (and millennial’s at that!) have created a video about text messaging!

– On our website we have created a “Remind me about Giving Tuesday” form. Supporters who hear about Giving Tuesday in advance of December 3, can sign up to receive a reminder on the big day!

How are YOU planning on raising awareness about Giving Tuesday? Are YOU interested in being a S.M.A for the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia? Leave us a comment (and don’t forget to sign up to be reminded about Giving Tuesday!)

YOU, the fundraiser with a cute support team behind YOU

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm
Nick, Nick, Kenny & Devin the boys of Fund Development

Nick, Nick, Kenny & Devin the boys of Fund Development

A big part of fundraising is surrounding yourself with wonderful supporters; from volunteers to donors, Board members to co-workers, working together in a respectful, collaborative environment can mean the world of difference to YOU and your job.

But what about when one of those volunteers is your significant other? Are they treated differently?

Today, I would like to tell you about four men who didn’t realize when they started dating their significant others, that fundraising would play such a big role in their lives.

From selling ducks, to dressing like a duck; packing and unpacking events to folding annual mailings in front of the TV at home, these men are truly special volunteers.

Nick (known around the office as “New Nick” because his fiance just joined our department), Nick (now called “Old Nick”), Devin and Kenny make up the better half’s of the Coordinators of Community Giving Dawn and Beth, Director of Fund Development Sarah (me) and Director of Finance Carla.

Since the moment that we were all hired, they have been Society volunteers. And while yes, YOU could say in some cases they have been “Voluntold” I notice each time I see them at events, they are enjoying themselves, they are enjoying connecting with the people we serve and they always give advice on what they think they could do differently next time.

Which considering that they are the volunteers (who unfortunately) get snapped at, directed in hundred different ways and are supposed to be able to read our minds – it is pretty impressive that they come back each year.

“People see the support they give at Society events, but they may not know about the support we get at home,” says Beth. “They make sure during the stressful event times that we have supper and are kept calm.”

Both Dawn and Carla echo Beth’s statement with the fact that they feel they receive “Un-conditional support, without question,” when it comes to volunteering for the Society and our Fundraising initiatives.

And we are lucky to have them, as they give a lot of hours, but also in specialized ways. “Kenny is always our go to A/V volunteer, my Nick builds us event infrastructure as a carpenter,” says Beth. “New Nick” spent the summer in parades and won us an award when he danced throughout one dressed like a duck and Devin has really taken on ownership as a Duck seller and Walk A-Team recruiter at his work.

So if YOU are just entering fundraising, prepare those close around YOU. If YOU are as lucky as us, YOU won’t have a problem.

YOU, the long term fundraiser

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm


                                                                                                                             Image Source

Dawn has written about it before: the average time a fundraiser spends at a job is less than two years. That’s barely enough time to plan and execute a campaign. That means you just get to start to know your volunteers and committees – before your mind is somewhere else (i.e. the Want Ads, or on the phone with a head-hunter).

It’s sad. It’s not helpful to an organization nor to YOU the fundraiser (Disclaimer: I am sure that many of the fundraisers in the study had reasons they just couldn’t stay past two years in their jobs).

For me, as of August 27, 2013, I have worked in the Fund Development Department at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia for six years. Yes, three times as long as many in our field. With no previous experience in Fund Development, the learning curve was steep. Sure I could plan an event, but could I plan an event that raised money? And writing? My forte! But writing for fundraising? Eep.

If YOU are a new fundraiser who is weary; who may be relocating; or has read the report before and may be thinking, “Well, it’s almost two years, what’s wrong with me….I should go”. Here are some of my musings as a “seasoned” vet:

  1. I am not a seasoned vet. Sure, I’ve worked here and progressively made my way up the department ranks, but I still have a lot to learn. Never think you know it all.
  2. Meet your stakeholders. In my first two years here, I truly never had a long conversation with a person or family who used our services. Work was too busy, I couldn’t find time, etc. BIG MISTAKE. I recommend YOU meet your donors and the people who use your organizations services as soon as possible after you are hired. Their words, their stories have invigorated me, making ma a better and creative fundraiser. Meet the people YOU raise money for and with.
  3. Give it time. As the famous saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes awhile in any new job to learn the roles and responsibilities of colleagues; to figure out office culture; to understand the database YOU have to use. Grow into the fundraiser YOU want to be.

These three things have helped me enjoy my job immensely. I hope it helps YOU too. Because the world needs more fundraisers with passion for their job.

YOU, the Gala attending fundraiser

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm


Ever have a moment when something is over and you can’t believe it ever took place, even though you are driving away from it? Ever attended an event and yet during the car ride home, you can’t even find the words to talk about it? Now picture all this and then add the extra knowledge that it was a fundraiser held for YOU.

This happens every year at an annual event held in our honour. You leave it speechless; in awe of the philanthropic spirit of supporters who want to better the lives of others.

On Friday night, I attended an event called Evening to Remember, a third party like gala, held in support of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. In fact it was the seventh Evening to Remember held.

There are many reasons that this “Gala” is different from most fundraising galas. We have been very fortunate to have hosts of each event, which makes each year very unique. From grand floral arrangements to stunning ocean views, a 100 year old barn venue and surprise musical guests, Evening to Remember is an event that the Society could not hold if it were not for the prominent Nova Scotians who support us.

This year was no different. Our host, Rob Steele, invited people to his property in Halifax for a “whimsical and epic night, full of surprises.” In fact, we the fundraising staff didn’t even know what was in store for guests that night. Guests were given a clue based on this quote in the invitation:

     “Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” Lewis Carroll, Alice  in Wonderland.

From actors dressed like the characters, to tables set with alarm clocks all set to go off at different times during the night; a tasty meal of treats from the land and sea and musical performances from surprise artists Tom Cochrane, Mary Walsh and the Court Yard Hounds the event was phenomenal.

Tom Cochrane

Tom Cochrane

Mary Walsh

Mary Walsh

Court Yard Hounds

Court Yard Hounds

In the crowd were three previous hosts of Evening to Remember whose continued support we truly appreciate.There are several reasons that this event is one of our extremely popular third party activities:

  1. The host – as they open the doors to their homes, they bring a unique flavour each year, which changes the event each year.
  2. The event committee – a group of volunteers who come together to make all the calls to past attendees and potential attendees. This group is responsible for most of the ticket sales each year.
  3. The details – from our beautifully designed “Save the Dates” and invitations, to the wonderful caterers, to the option for guests to take private pre-arranged transportation. With an event like this, no stone in unturned.

As we try to reflect back on an awesome fundraiser this past Friday, we can’t thank enough our host Rob Steele. We also want to thank so many who support us each year: The team at Revolve who helps with our branding of the event, Jim Spatz and Bishop’s Cellar who ensures fine wines are served, Ambassatours who makes sure people are brought to the event in style, our volunteer ticket selling committee and of course, the guests.

Together you made the evening that is much more to remember; you have ensured that we will be able to reach even more families in our province, who are living the dementia journey and need support.

YOU, the Family & Business, Fundraiser

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm


The winning team's prize trophy!

The winning team’s prize trophy!

Coordinating an event isn’t the easiest thing to do. YOU have to organize people, scout locations, send invitations and a whole bunch of other pre-event tasks. During the event YOU play host/ess while still being on top of every little detail.

But if YOU are lucky, all of that work results in an event with an air of excitement; with a crowd full of smiles and an opportunity to connect with new and existing clients, donors, and friends, in an atmosphere of fun.

This, happened yesterday when Wilsons, held their fourth annual Golf Classic.



The Wilson family has been one of Nova Scotia’s leading business and philanthropic families since the 19th century. Recently the Wilson-Merriam Family Foundation made a gift to increase the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia’s capacity in the place of their roots, Cumberland-Colchester. The family business Wilsons, also made the Society the recipient of their annual golf tournament.

Yesterday, under the guidance of both family members and staff, they held a wonderful fundraiser to support the families in our province who need access to community supports.

With the weather playing along, over 140 golfers took to the links to play 18 holes. On the course they treated to snacks and on hole three, a brain quiz! Everyone finished the day with another summer tradition, a BBQ supper.

The crowd learned about dementia from Executive Director Lloyd Brown & Board President, Chris Wilson

The crowd learned about dementia from Executive Director Lloyd Brown & Board President, Chris Wilson

Thank YOU to Rose, Ian, Chris and the Wilson Family for their commitment to supporting people with dementia and their families. Thank YOU to the Wilson’s Staff who organized and made sure everyone had a great day yesterday!

YOU, the creative Impact Reporter

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2013 at 11:13 am
The staff says "Thank YOU"

The staff says “Thank YOU”

Donor love can come in all shapes and sizes. Here at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia we’ve shown our donors the love via post it notes, Vine videos and even homemade baked cookies.

This week, I produced yet another donor love item and I am super excited to share it with YOU, in the hopes it inspires YOU to be a fundraiser that shares the donor love (my inspiration as been hash tagged and reported on by @johnlepp).

Three years ago we received our first, five-year, Major Gift in a few (many) years. This was gift was for Programs and Services as we launched new programs for individuals with early stage dementia.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this gift, this donor, changed the life of many Nova Scotians and the course our organization was on.

So how do you thank any donor, let alone one whose original gift has spun off to make a difference in areas that they don’t even know they helped?!?!

Each year we give the donor a letter, thanking them and updating them. This year they won’t hear from us, they will hear from the people they helped. In fact, they will have something so that family and friends can also see the difference they made!

This year their Impact Report is a Coffee Table book. Pictures and stories, some statistics and quotes fill the pages! I am so excited to give this to the donor….I keep checking my order status every hour to see if it is ready for pick up!

So, what was the process we took – that YOU can take – when it comes to being the creative Impact Reporter? Here’s how we did it:

Template leads to outline leads to the "meat" of the project!

Template leads to outline leads to the “meat” of the project!

1. We created a template with step by step instructions for the coordinator working on the report. The template has a check list and recommendations for what kind of impact report should be created. The template helps the creator do everything from creating an outline, to entering the final information into our donor database.

The final version is much, much more professional - I promise YOU!

The final version is much, much more professional – I promise YOU!

2. Knowing that I was going to be creating a coffee table book, I sketched it out by hand. This helped keep me on track and helped give others a sense of what I was working on. It was a handy place to write notes as well, as the editing tool online I was using for the book, did not.

3. I started interviewing. From my outline I knew who I wanted to speak to and about what. Participants in our Programs were so wonderful – eager! – to thank the donor for helping make a program they attended, possible.

4. After researching the various online tools YOU can use, we did settle on the Costco Print Centre to make the book. I have used them plenty of times for vacation photos, so I knew that it was a timely and cost saving measure. YOU can order your book online from many different websites or stores.

Our Executive Director did let the “cat out of the bag” the last time he met with the donor, so this won’t be a surprise. But guess what? The donor is excited to receive this book! Yea!

What creative ways do YOU show your donors impact?

YOU, the always learning fundraiser

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm
*Not the real NPBookClub participants or books

*Not the real NPBookClub participants or books

This past Sunday I participated in a book club. It was unlike any other book club I have been involved in. We didn’t drink wine; we didn’t meet in person and the books it we read aren’t designed with “questions for your book club” at the end.

This book club is a few women (so far) who are not-for-profit professionals who want to learn more in the fields of fundraising, marketing and communications. Thanks to technology our Book Club came together over three different time zones, on a Google Hangout.

That night we talked briefly about the book, but found the book we chose about living a philanthropic life, wasn’t written for non-profit professionals. We definitely weren’t the target audience. We already live and breathe that lifestyle.

Soon the conversation turned to jobs and careers and fundraising superstars we admire. We started sharing links and recommending other books to help each other out. It was a great social learning environment.

This is just one example of a way YOU can be a constantly learning fundraiser – social activity with other fundraisers. Here are a few more that I do:

  • E-newsletters straight to my inbox from leading fundraisers like Tom Ahern, Gail Perry and Pamela Grow.
  • #Fundchat a Twitter chat that takes place each Wednesday on Twitter. Using that hashtag for an hour long Q & A discussion has led to me building relationships with strangers. I have been able to send them quick questions on Twitter and through email, to help me through some tough/new situations.
  • A meet up! Yes, IN person! While we don’t have any planned here in Halifax, I know that one is happening in Toronto (organized by Maeve Strathy, @fundraisermaeve for more information) for July 15. Why not put out the call to other fundraisers in your area to have a social meeting?

There are several more ways that YOU can be a constant learner. How do YOU keep learning in our very busy industry? What would YOU add to the list to help new fundraisers?

I for one also recommend attending a conference like the AFP Toronto Congress held each winter. Over three days and two nights (fundraisers don’t just turn off when the endnote speaker leaves the stage) I have learned between workshops, case studies and meeting fellow fundraisers, more than any one book, e-newsletter or meeting could teach me.

In the meantime, YOU can find me on #fundchat and sitting here in the corner reading my next book club pick.

(Many thanks to @fundraiserbeth and @Amysept for welcoming me into their #NPBookClub!)