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Archive for the ‘ Fundraising ’ Category

The Making of a Nonprofit: Business Planning

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
Create your own .org

Create your own .org

Failing to write a comprehensive business plan is perhaps the most common mistake made by those in the beginning stages of forming a nonprofit. While you are not in the business to make a personal profit; you are in the business of making a profit. Most potential board members, donors, and community partners want to see just how you intend to do that.

Your business planning process will also be the very best guide for you to satisfy the questions you must answer when applying to the IRS for tax exempt status. Adequately filling out IRS Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption, requires you to think through and prepare a few of the following items: Organization Name, Organization Website, Organizational Structure, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Charitable Purpose, Narrative Description of Organization Activities, List of Officers/Directors/Trustees and Five Highest Paid Employee’s with Proposed Compensation, Titles and Mailing Addresses, Financial Compensation and Conflict of Interest Policy, Narrative and Strategy of Fundraising Activities, and Three Year Financial Projection.

Prepare for your Form 1023

Prepare for your Form 1023

If your IRS application for exemption is approved, you are now open for public inspection. Your business planning materials and your business plan provides you with the audit trail required.

A typical nonprofit business planning process will address all of the critical questions asked by interested parties. The table of contents should include these seven sections:

Executive Summary: This is a synopsis of your business plan and financial snap shot.

Organizational Structure: Describe how your nonprofit is organized, including the staff and board of directors.

Products, Programs or Services: What programs or products are you offering? Include processes, the benefits of your services, future growth plans, and list anything new, on trend, or answering to a community need.

Marketing Plan: In this section describe who you are trying to reach and how you intend to reach them. List the constituencies you serve. Explain your competition and your potential partners. How will you promote your services and through what materials?

Operational Plan: Where will you be located and how will you deliver services? Explain in detail how you will evaluate your program and its services.

Spend 30 - 40 hours on your Business Plan

Spend 30 – 40 hours on your Business Plan

Management and Organizational Team: Who is on your management team? Provide information about key management staff and their expertise. List the members of your board. Detail their expertise. List financial sponsors. Include an organizational chart. Explain lines of responsibility. Provide an assessment of current and future staffing needs, including how you will use volunteers.

Financial Plan: Determine your current and/or projected financial status, thoroughly explaining sources of income. You will include an income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, and a minimum three-year financial projection.

Smart planning ensures your success

Smart planning ensures your success

If done well, your business plan will not only guide you to answer the IRS Form 1023 questions, it will also act as a document to present to potential major donors and grant-makers. It will help you to recruit board members and community collaborators. If you will need a bridge loan or line of credit, this document will prepare you to meet with a financial institution.

Starting and sustaining a nonprofit is in many ways much more difficult than starting a new business. Dedicate yourself to the business planning stage first, and you’ll find your journey will be a bit lighter.

Why Fundraising Consultants Should Commune Not Compete

Friday, July 10th, 2015

By Marcie L. Wagner, CFRE

Recently a fundraising consultant reached out to me for a face-to-face meeting. I gratefully accepted and the outcome of the meeting exceeded my expectations. We shared stories, offered one another affirmation regarding what we have accomplished over our years of working with non profits, and discovered ways in which we could work together to strengthen the services we provide to clients.

social network of African American businesswomanFundraising consultants understand they need to carve out time to market their firm and ensure it can be easily found by those seeking professional fundraising services. But do we spend enough time making sincere and long-term relationships with other fundraising consulting firms? If one makes this a priority, and it is done well, one will have access to a large and diverse portfolio of contacts to help us routinely stay connected to a network which not only offers new business opportunities, enhance the services your offer, but also will be available should you need counsel on any number of areas where another’s professional opinion would be of great benefit.

Social media combined with traditional networking makes it both convenient and cost-free to build a network with other fundraising consultants who are credible, trusting, and have a solid relationship of mutual sharing of information.

Here are four areas to be mindful of when creating strategies for successful relationship-building with your consulting colleagues:

1. Taking But Not Giving

As you connect with peers in consulting, learn about their experience, skills, values, business model, and what types of projects they’re working on and looking for. If you see an opportunity to help someone by making a connection or setting that person up with a project that doesn’t suit you, partner with them or pass the potential client on to them. Your help and thoughtfulness are not likely to be forgotten, and your peers will be more likely to return the favor in the future.

2. Meet Casually, Face-to-Face

fundraising_consultants2Traditionally consultants consider meeting face-to-face at events and an exchange of business cards as successful networking. More recently, connecting and communicating through online social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter are considered time well spent. These are great ways to find your colleagues and make that first connection. But you need to take that next step. A solid relationship is born when you both find the time to get together casually, shake hands and engage in a meaningful conversation.

3. Look Outside Your Traditional Network

Most consultants build their networks around others within their industry. While you’ll certainly want these connections, not expanding your network into other relevant industries could lead to missing out on big opportunities.

fundraising_consultantsTry this: Attend conferences, workshops and networking events focused on broader business topics or on industries related to or similar to yours. For example, reach out to creative agency or social media/IT consultants; you will net several valuable contacts who can expand your consulting network related to services your clients will most likely require.

4. Expecting Immediate Results

One meeting with a consulting colleague requires follow up and brainstorming on how you might work together now or in the future. Similar to building a relationship with a donor, you can’t neglect the relationship-building part of the networking process. Don’t wait until you need something to attempt to forge a relationship. Work on developing your consulting network regularly.

A consulting network is always a work in progress. By following these guidelines, you’ll likely cultivate meaningful connections more quickly and keep them for the long term.

The End is Near for Your Fiscal Year: Fundraising Tips, Tactics and Messaging to Implement Today

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

By Marcie L. Wagner, CFRE

You may be relaxed and comfortably reaching your fundraising goal OR today you’re feeling the heat and realize you need to hustle a bit more in order to get to your goal. the_end_is_near1_newWhatever the scenario, it is always just good business to be as strategic today, as you approach June 30, as you are in racing towards December 31st. So let’s begin some fiscal year-end fundraising chatter.

While it will always be a challenge to grab your donor’s attention in May and June in the same measure as November and December – it is documented that the positive payoff will be well worth your time and perhaps a bit of investment. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, you can expect at least a 20% increase in donations in May and June combined if you implement a fiscal year-end fundraising strategy.

What follows is a tactic and messaging example. When messaging, pay attention to your tone, it should be urgent, timely and specific, not desperate or needy. Be clear that the solicitation is coming to them due to the approaching fiscal year-end and that it is essential to reach out to ensure that your organizations much needed services continue to thrive.

When drafting your message be confident and clear with regard to what you want, why you want it, and when you want it.

Here is an example of an e-appeal used by public radio. You will notice the following:the_end_is_near2

  1. Begins with a bold, but brief case pitch
  2. Clearly states the situation
  3. Asks strongly and directly for the contribution
  4. Builds credibility by pointing out that others have already done their part
  5. Briefly and specifically re-states it all in the P.S. (along with gift amount suggestions.)

E-APPEAL EXAMPLE

Subject: Just one weekDear friend,

What a difference WXYZ can make to your week… with news that keeps you connected… ideas that keep you interested… and conversation that brings you into the heart of the matter.

One week can mean a lot to WXYZ too – particularly this week!

That’s because just one week from today, WXYZ’s budget year ends and our goal right now is to raise $## through this email to finish strong.

If WXYZ has ever made your week, then please stand with our ## amazing supporters as we raise the critical final dollars it will take to help the programs you rely on thrive in the year to come.

(CONTRIBUTE BUTTON HERE)

You do have the power to make all the difference! Thank you!

Name
Title and proud supporter

P.S. WXYZ’s budget year ends in just one week. Your $50, $100, or $200 contribution will go far in helping to raise the final $## to support the exceptional news that you count on every day. Thank you!

the_end_is_near3_newWhether you’re writing a series of emails, an on-air spot, a fundraising pitch, or a lengthier direct mail letter, these same principles will apply to helping you maximize your fundraising response at fiscal year-end, while also maintaining strong and healthy communications with your donors.

It is worth mentioning again, never, ever use a message or tone that would convey an organizational financial crisis. If you are really sweating it to reach your goal, it is easy to come across as desperate – while it may make you feel better, and it may inspire a handful of “saviors” to take action, the largest result will be questions regarding leadership’s ability to be fiscally responsible and why did they allow the organization to get into such a negative situation. You can see how this message can easily take a donor’s mind to a place you don’t want it to go.

In closing, you all are responsible for organizations that are unique – use fundraising tactics and strategies that make sense for you. Perhaps your donors won’t respond to an e-appeal, but you know from your December year-end that they respond to direct mail with a follow up phone call. The timing of your fundraising appeals may also need to be unique. Perhaps you begin your fiscal year-end solicitations on May 1 in order to be strategic and successful.

Four Ways to Turn Volunteers into Donors

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

By Marcie Wagner, CFRE

ten ways to volunteers img1First some quick stats and facts on volunteer giving. According to The Corporation for National & Community Service, volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers. Nearly eight in 10 (79.2 percent) volunteers donated to charity, compared to four in 10 (40.4 percent) of non-volunteers. Overall, half of all citizens (50.7 percent) donated at least $25 to charity in 2013.
Here are four tips to move your volunteers to donors.

  1. 1. Train Your Volunteers
  2. Treat them as if they are a new staff member. Ensure they are prepared with a training manual and job description. Provide them with a tour and use that time to introduce them to the staff. They should have a place and the tools to conduct their work and it should be clean, even if small. Make certain they are aware of who they report to, that they meet that person and review the job description, set dates and times of volunteering and cover any questions the volunteer may have. It is important that the volunteer supervisor is accessible to them while they are volunteering. Include a backup person in the event the supervisor is not available. Give them the logistics of when to arrive, where to park, check in, track their hours, get coffee, how long their shift is, what to do if they haven’t finished the job at the end of their shift. Be organized and available to them so they feel welcome, competent and impressed with the time you have taken to ensure their experience is a good one.
  3. ten ways to volunteers img2
  4. 2.Recognize Your Volunteers
  5. Volunteers should have a name tag so it is easy for staff to identify them and acknowledge them as they pass by. During staff meetings make a point of impressing upon staff the importance of saying “hi” to volunteers, perhaps chat with them and ask how they are doing, invite them for coffee or lunch with them. As they leave their shift they should be thank for their time. For volunteers who have made a long-term commitment; acknowledge them in your newsletter, Facebook, website or annual report.
  6. ten ways to volunteers img3
  7. 3. Write a note of Thanks to Your Volunteers
  8. Similar to donors, send your volunteers a short thank you note. Thank them this way early and more than once as appropriate.
  9.  

  10. 4. Ask for a donation
  11. ten ways to volunteers img4
  12. Throughout their volunteer experience, they should be educated on the organizations broader work, not just the work they may be focused on. As you approach the ask, acknowledge the value of their volunteer work and how it is fiscally valuable, yet make a clear case for the need of individual donations in order to fulfill your mission. Focus the ask on programs and services, not general operating. Make the ask personal, face to face and come prepared with a donor packet and gift envelope, allowing them time to think over the level of their financial contribution.

Four Fundraising Resolutions for 2015

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

By Marcie Wagner, CFRE

  • Donation Optimization

fundraising_newimage1

Eliminate any links on your landing page that visitors can use to leave your website. Instead offer a clear and SECURE call to action which conveys a sense of urgency and an incentive if they give online. Offer donation giving levels, a link to your privacy policy and again include 3rd party secure giving validation. Finally, make certain your landing page is optimized for mobile. Infographic by johnhayden.com

  • Incorporate Mobile Giving

fundraising_image2Mobile donations are the best way to give to charity because of convenience, security and cost savings. Since so many people use their smartphones and tablets to surf the Web, you can no longer think of online giving as something that people do from a desktop computer. If you have mobile fundraising systems in place, this awareness can translate to an immediate gift. Not only is mobile the most convenient and secure way to give to charity, but it’s also the most affordable for organizations. Mobile giving typically has lower processing costs compared to others. It’s very effective as well, text message marketing campaigns are effective because it has a high open rate, often within a few minutes of receiving a message.

  • Ask Donors to “Give Up” Something for 30-40 days

Create a campaign around asking your donors to give up something for thirty or forty days. It could be coffee, soda, chocolate… and instead make a gift to your organization equal to what they have saved.
fundimg3
Infographic from classy.org

  • Create a Crowdfunding Campaign

Pick your most compelling program or a program that could do so much more (serve so many more people) given the funds were available and create a crowdfunding campaign. Kickstarter isn’t just for new projects anymore.
fundraising_newimage4

Board Member Tips to Managing Staffing Issues

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

By Marcie Wagner, CFRE
With information cited from Jan Masaoka

img1

The role of the board of directors in personnel administration should be clearly defined for nonprofits in order to limit potential conflict with your Executive Director. Some questions to ask of your board include: should the board approve all salaries, or just the executive director’s? If a staff member has a grievance, at what point can they come to the board? How can the board’s finance committee members, for example, be helpful in hiring accounting staff, but not undermine the hiring role of staff? How can a board member appropriately give feedback to the executive director on the behavior of a staff person given the assumption the board feels swift action must be taken?

Board teams tend to be hands on or hands off. For example, it’s common that some desire to be in the loop with regard to staff compensation, while others would be upset if they were involved in any administrative staffing issue – even compensation. This blog will present to you targeted guidelines specific to board roles without stepping on the toes of the ED’s authority.
img 2

Guidelines for the Board’s Role in Non Profit Human Resource’s

1. Committee(s): The board establishes a board-staff sub-committee that works with matters related to human resources. This committee makes recommendations to the board for approval (rather than bringing matters to the board).
2. Personnel Policies: The executive director is responsible for ensuring that personnel policies and procedures are disseminated and implemented, and that the policies are reviewed as appropriate by the board. Individual members of the human resources committee may be able to bring their human resources expertise to make suggestions; every two years, the human resources committee reviews the policies with staff and, if appropriate, drafts changes.
3. Salary scales: The board Finance sub-committee working with the HR sub-committee should draft salary ranges for each position. This ensures that the board has considered the strategic matters related to salaries as they relate to organizations budget capacity. The salary schedule is sent by Finance committee to the whole board for approval. In this way, the executive staff are still responsible for salaries, but the range of salaries is one approved by the board.
4. Hiring: In some cases, at the request of the executive director, one or two board members may help during the interview process, particularly if you have an HR executive on the board. However, it should be clear to all involved that the final decision is made by the staff person to whom the new hire would report. In these situations individual board members are acting as advisors to staff.
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5. Layoffs: A management decision to lay off staff usually reflects a financial situation that should already have been shared with the board. In this context, the steps that management is taking to deal with that financial situation — whether layoffs, paycuts, new income strategies, or others — should be discussed with the board and the board should bless or put a hold on management actions. Although in most staffed organizations the decision of who to laid off and when and how are management decisions, it’s critical for the board and management to be in sync about how the organization is responding to financial problems.
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6. Grievances: Grievances on the part of employees must first go through the written procedures outlined in the employee policies manual. If an individual has exhausted the grievance process and that process has been documented, individual employees may be permitted (if it is so written in the policies) to raise a grievance to either the board chair or the board’s human resources committee, which then acts as the final arbiter. This may be especially appropriate where the complaining employee reports to the executive director and has an unresolved complaint about the executive director.
7. Serious charges about the organization’s management: Sometimes a staff member has a serious charge against management, such as the illegal or improper use of funds, sexual harassment, discriminatory behavior, or improper accounting methods that cannot be taken up in the grievance process. To provide an outlet for such matters (other than a complaint to the state attorney general), some organizations allow staff members to raise such concerns with the board chair. When other board members hear such complaints, they have a responsibility to direct the staff person to the board chair. By making the board chair the sole recipient of such charges, the board can prevent a disgruntled staff member from trying to develop allies on the board against the executive staff, and can provide a way to bring an organizational matter to the attention of the board as a whole.
Delegating Personnel Work
The board can choose how to delegate personnel-related work. The most common choices are:
• a standing (permanent) human resources committee,
• a human resources task force (that is, a temporary committee),
• a board-staff standing committee, or a
• board-staff task force.
Committee members might include the staff human resources director (if there is one) or executive director, and/or non-board volunteers such as a human resources attorney. (Note that if non-board individuals are members of the committee, either they should be as non-voting advisory members of the committee, or the committee’s recommendations should come back to the board for approval.) In some cases, the human resources committee is also responsible for developing plans and strategies for appropriate recruitment and utilization of volunteers, while in other organizations the human resources committee looks only at paid personnel.
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Each organization will want to choose its own guidelines on these sensitive and important issues. Striking the right balance between board and ED authority may initially be challenging, but it’s far from impossible. In the end, sorting this out will strengthen your organization while making life easier for board members and staff.

Why Your Year-End Ask Should Last 12 Months

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

by Lincoln Arneal

Don’t let the name fool you, the end-of-year ask fundraiser for nonprofits is not about the end of the year.

For an end-of-year campaign to be successful, it cannot be done during the final few months of the year. Instead, an effective end-of-year ask extends beyond one letter and incorporates multiple touch points with potential donors.

image1We talked to multiple nonprofit professionals, and they all agreed that the year-end ask was about relationship building and connecting with existing and potential donors on a personal level.

Jerry Krueger is the vice president of branding/operations for Alpha Dog Marketing, a firm that coordinates fundraising campaigns, newsletters and mailing for nonprofits across the country. He said they also work the end-of-year campaign into traditional advertising, which will curtail into the entire year.

Krueger said the year-end ask should be just one part of a nonprofit’s fundraising plan.

“The year-end is critical, but it’s really about the whole year. You need to have a comprehensive plan and multiple asks,” Krueger said. “If all you have is the end-of-year ask, then you will struggle.”

Heather Stulken, the donor relations manager at Great Plains Food Bank, which serves North Dakota, said the end of the year was important because they conducted 60% of the mailings during the last four months of the year.

image2Their direct mail campaigns are divided into three seasons. They send out four mail pieces during the spring, two during the summer and nine in the fall. Stulken said direct mail might seem inefficient for fundraising because of how easily recipients could discard letters, but they’ve added two more mailings in the past few years based on the success they’ve had.

Stulken said they work with a California-based vendor,Russ Reid, to send out their mailings. Even though she doesn’t directly oversee the production of the mailers, Stulken watches the results and looks for trends from previous years.

image3According to their financial reports for 2012, the methods have been quite successful, as two-thirds of Great Plains Food Bank’s overall revenue came from donations.

“Because of where our time and energy is allocated, the best use of my time is not writing letters,” Stulken said. “The best use of my time is visiting donors. So we let this company do the mailings and they seem to be working great. It’s work that we are not capable of doing in-house to the extent that they are doing and be very smart about it.”

Both Stulken and Krueger said they heavily segmented their databases to send different mailings to new potential donors, and then to current donors based on giving levels and number of gifts. Each receives a different mailing, with slightly different content and a different layout and feel.

Stulken and Krueger said one of the most successful mailings were cards that have the appearance of being handwritten, but in fact, are not. Stulken said they updated their lists frequently. She image4said, for example, if someone made a donation by November 15, in the next mailing, they would receive a request asking for a second donation.

When the outside company completes the mailings, Stulken’s work really begins. After the initial donation, she follows up with every donor who gives at least $250 with a phone call or an in-person visit, depending on the amount and availability of the donor. Her goal is to convert these people from one-time givers into monthly donors.

“The personal touches, like phone calls and visits, are extremely impactful,” Stulken said. “I’ve seen quickly how they turn into major donors very quickly after we stop by their house.”

Must Haves for a Winning Grant Proposal

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Contributed by Simon Peyton Jones, Alan Bundy and Marcie Wagner

grant_proposalWriting a winning grant proposal doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, most on-line grant applications are straight forward and allow an open dialogue with the funding organization if you have questions regarding the proposal.

  1. The most substantial part of any grant application is your “Case for Support” or “Statement of Need”. It is this case which will persuade the funder of the value of your proposal. You can improve your “Statement of Need” enormously simply by ruthlessly writing and rewriting, and getting a third parties opinion and feedback. Further, remember that funders and panel members see tens or hundreds of cases for support, so you have one minute or less to grab your reader’s attention.
  2. Ask others to help you improve your proposal. grant_proposal2Give it to your colleagues, your friends, your spouse and listen to what they say. If they misunderstand what you were trying to say, don’t say “you misunderstood me”; instead rewrite it so it can’t be misunderstood. If they don’t immediately see the value of what you want to achieve, rewrite it until they do.This isn’t a big demand to make on someone. Ask them to read your proposal for 10 minutes. Remember, most panel members will give it less time than that.
  3. Make sure that the first page acts as a stand-alone summary of the entire proposal. Assume that most readers will get no further than the first page. So don’t fill it up with boilerplate about the technical background. Instead, present your whole case: what you want to do, why it’s important, why you will succeed, how much it will cost, and so on.
  4. Along with the “Case for Support”, here are the major criteria against which your proposal will be judged. Read through your case for support repeatedly, and ask whether the answers to the questions below are clear, even to a non-expert.
    • Does the proposal address a well-formulated problem?
    • Is it an important problem, whose solution will have useful effects?
    • Is special funding necessary to solve the problem, or to solve it quickly enough, or could it be solved using the normal resource.
    • Do the proposers have a good idea on which to base their work? The proposal must explain the idea in sufficient detail to convince the reader that the idea has some substance, and should explain why there is reason to believe that it is indeed a good idea. It is absolutely not enough merely to identify a wish-list of desirable goals (a very common fault). There must be significant technical substance to the proposal.
    • Does the proposal explain clearly what work will be done? Does it explain what results are expected and how they will be evaluated? How would it be possible to judge whether the work was successful?
    • Is there evidence that the proposers know about the work that others have done on the problem? This evidence may take the form of a short review as well as representative references.
    • Do the proposers have a good track record, both of doing good research and of publishing it? A representative selection of relevant publications by the proposers should be cited. Absence of a track record is clearly not a disqualifying characteristic, especially in the case of young researchers, but a consistent failure to publish raises question marks.
  5. The grant writer must ensure that his or her budget is to be used in a cost-effective manner. grant_proposal3Each proposal which has some chance of being funded is examined, and the panel may lop costs off an apparently over-expensive project. Such cost reduction is likely to happen if the major costs of staff and equipment are not given clear, individual justification.
  6.  

  7. Here are some of the ways in which proposals often fail to meet these criteria.
  • It is not clear what question is being addressed by the proposal. In particular, it is not clear what the outcome of the project might be,grant_proposal4 or what would constitute success or failure. It is vital to discuss what contribution would be made by the project.
  • The question being addressed is woolly or ill-formed. The committee are looking for evidence of clear thinking both in the formulation of the problem and in the planned attack on it.
  • There is no evidence that the proposers will succeed where others have failed. It is easy enough to write a proposal with an exciting-sounding wish-list of hoped-for achievements, but you must substantiate your goals with solid evidence of why you have a good chance of achieving them.

This evidence generally takes two main forms:

  • “We have an idea”. In this case, you should sketch the idea, and describe preliminary work you have done which shows that it is indeed a good idea. You are unlikely to get funding without such evidence. It is not good saying “give us the money and we will start thinking about this problem”.
  • “We have a good track record”. Include a selective list of publications, and perhaps include a short paper (preferably a published one) which gives more background, as an appendix. If you make it clear that it is an appendix, you won’t usually fall foul of any length limits.
  • The writer seems unaware of related research. Related work must be mentioned, if only to be dismissed. The case for support should have a list of references like any paper, and you should look at it to check it has a balanced feel – your panel will do so. Do not make the mistake of giving references only to your own work.
  • The proposed project has already been done – or appears to have been done. Rival solutions must be discussed and their inadequacies revealed.
  • The proposal is badly presented, or incomprehensible to all but an expert in the field. grant_proposal5Remember that your proposal will be read by non-experts as well as (hopefully) experts. A good proposal is simultaneously comprehensible to non-experts, while also convincing experts that you know your subject. Keep highly-technical material in well-signposted section(s); avoid it in the introduction.
  • The writer seems to be attempting too much for the funding requested and time-scale envisaged. Such lack of realism may reflect a poor understanding of the problem or poor research methodology.
  • The proposal is too expensive for the probable gain. If it is easy to see how to cut the request for people/equipment/travel, etc. to something more reasonable then it might be awarded in reduced form. More likely, it will be rejected.

We hope that this blog will help you to write better grant proposals, and hence to be more successful in obtaining funds through grants. This is not just about writing better grant proposals to obtain more money. It compels grant writers to regularly review and re-justify the direction of the work. Behind poorly presented grant proposals often lie poorly-reasoned project plans.

Twenty Ways to Increase Website Traffic Via Your Blog

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Contributed by Jayson DeMers
Blog_Image
This blog pulls from an article written by Jayson DeMers which neatly offers non profits 20 ways to attract website traffic through your blog. Some of the below listed tactics shouldn’t be considered an immediate fix, yet you will be surprised at how swiftly they just may begin to increase your website visitor numbers. Block off a couple of hours and give it a go!

  1. Submit your blog posts to StumbleUpon.
  2. Promote your blog posts to your email list – Placing a link to your blog on your signature can considerably increase website traffic.
  3. Work on your headlines – Your headlines are what will get people in the door, particularly when you share your blog posts via social media; make sure they pique interest and clearly articulate the benefit to your readers. For help with that, see “The Online Marketer’s Guide to Writing High-Converting Headlines.”
  4. Join a blogging community like ProBlogger or CopyBlogger – This is a great way to network with other bloggers, and to cross-promote each other’s content.
  5. Include links to other relevant posts on your blog – When you write a post, always be sure to mention other posts your readers may find helpful; this is great for SEO as well as for increasing time-on-site, conversion rates, and referral traffic.
  6. Guest post on relevant blogs – There’s not much point guest blogging on a site in an unrelated niche; make sure you only contribute to highly-relevant, high-quality sites in your niche. See “The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging.”
  7. Post more frequently – Neil Patel of QuickSprout found that by posting high-quality posts 6x per week (as opposed to 5), blog traffic increased by 18.6%. Find your magic number and commit to seeing it through. Remember that in many cases, the traffic increases you see from blogging are scalable.
  8. Submit your posts to Reddit.
  9. Build connections with others in your niche – I know this sounds cliche, but building personal relationships with other bloggers in your niche will often result in organic inbound links and referral traffic to your site.
  10. Select the top 10 blogs in your niche – write a post about them.
  11. Add text to your blog post images – Try including your post title and URL in your blog post images for optimal effect when pinned or shared.
  12. Connect with bloggers who are already sending you traffic – If someone has already linked to your site, they obviously like what you have to say. Contact them to see if there are other ways they could help promote your content (and vice versa).
  13. Ask a well-known blogger to guest post on your site – They’ll likely share the post with their audience, driving traffic to your site.
  14. Respond to blog comments – Respond thoughtfully to all comments on your blog. This is great for building relationships, as well as for driving commenters back to your site.
  15. Add your blog to Alltop – As an aggregate for all kinds of web content, submitting your blog increases your chances of getting found by people looking for content in your niche.
  16. Comment on industry blogs – Become a regular commenter on a popular blog in your niche to help drive referral traffic and to establish relationships with other bloggers.
  17. Share your blog posts regularly on Facebook – Post a short excerpt from your posts to entice readers to click through.
  18. Share your posts on Triberr – Meet other bloggers and share each other’s content.
  19. Add your blog to Technorati – As the world’s largest blog directory, claiming your blog should be standard procedure for all bloggers.
  20. Join We on Tech for free – if you blog once a month or less, if you blog more, join for a reasonable monthly fee. We on Tech is the newest alternative to Only Wire, which will submit your blog to multiple social bookmarking sites with the click of a button. These sites include the above listed Stumble Upon, Reddit, Alltop, Technorati and of course Facebook, Twitter and the like.

How to find, charm, and keep corporate sponsors

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

by Rebeca MojicaJob-Summit-2013-Sponsor-Graphic-356x400

Corporate sponsors seem to be everywhere in today’s world. Take the Olympics, for example. Hard to imagine what the skating rink would look like without those ubiquitous banners touting fast-food restaurants and telephone companies. It’s not just the big events that draw sponsors, either. Small, local events—10K runs, award dinners, neighborhood festivals—usually have a slew of corporate logos in the accompanying literature.

Why is corporate sponsorship so prevalent? Quite simply, it makes money. Done correctly, it can make a lot of money and build important relationships. Done poorly, it can cost money and waste many people’s time.

I’ve put together a 9-step guide that offers tips on soliciting, acquiring and retaining corporate sponsors. It is by no means a “definitive” guide, but it is a good starting point. The guide was written with small- to mid-size events in mind, however most of the suggestions offered apply to larger groups as well.

Note: This article will NOT tell you what type of event you should do. That’s another subject. There are many things to choose from, from dinners to auctions to golf tournaments to walk-a-thons. Before you proceed with the nine steps, though, make sure you have a good event. You should not be soliciting sponsors until you’ve planned the event. Once you’ve figured out what your event is going to be, where it’s going to take place, etc., then you’re ready to move to Step One…

The Steps

1. Determine who your audience is
2. Set sponsorship levels
3. Make lots of phone calls
4. Send proposal letters
5. Follow up
6. Cultivate your relationships with sponsors
7. Cultivate your relationships with non-sponsors
8. Give your sponsors plenty of publicity
9. Cultivate relationships with sponsors, Part II