Thursday, April 10, 2008

Planning a Concert for a fundraiser

Things you need to do in order to have a successful concert as a fundraising event. For simplicity purposes I will discuss this as a Church group but it could be for any type of organization, just adjust your contacts to reflect your audience.

If you are a non-profit you can PSA's on the radio as well as television.

If you have a church youth group that you want to have a fundraising concert for you could also check with a Christian radio station and see if they would like to co-sponsor the event with you. Or perhaps the Interfaith Council would like to join in on the fun & funds!

Don't forget to contact your Interfaith Council and get their mailing lists and have them put it in their bulletins and to have them mention it at church. Also ask to set up ticket sales at the churches after services--get a volunteer for each service.

Got posters? Get them up places where the kids hang out. Make sure you ask the musical group to send you a promo kit. If they don't have one see what you can print off the net.

See if your local radio station would like to do a pair of ticket give away once a day for the last week, or the week before. It will get you plenty of advertising for 14 tickets.

See if one of the musicians (or all of them) will do a phone interview with the radio station. Have the station play some things from their CD.

Are you going to have a program? Sell advertising space in it. See if you can get a printer to donate it. Make sure the band sends you jpeg files so you can upload pictures.

Got the hotel booked for the musicians? Get your confirmation number. Who will be picking them up? Meals? Arrange for a nice gift at the hotel for them.

Know their lighting needs. Do they come with a lighting guy? Sound guy? What special requests do they have for the stage? Do they use pyrotechnics? What permits are needed? Is there a place for them to change? A place to take a break? Plenty of water? Or soda? Snacks or sandwiches? What happens on stage during their break?

You need ushers--and flashlights. And chairs if you don't have a standard auditorium. Arrnge for the musicians to have an opportunity to sell their CDs. Usually there would be a table at the back where after people have heard them they can make a purchase. You'll need a volunteer there too. And, everywhere you sell tickets, and their CD's, you'll need to have plenty of change.

Don't forget to get volunteers for clean up after--and remember to do something special for all those who volunteered. (Maybe all volunteers get a CD?) One of the cheaper things for volunteers is to buy them all t-shirts that match and that they will wear to identify themselves as a volunteer. You could have them printed up quickly to say 'YOU'VE GOT TO LOVE A VOLUNTEER'.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Filing a 501 (c) (3) status for Non-Profits

You need to make sure you've filed all the proper paperwork for your non-profit status. This will allow you to have a 501 (c)(3) status makin you tax exempt. Hopefully, you've found a lawyer to be a member of your Board. I strongly recommend that you have this lawyer review all the paperwork and file on behalf of the organization.

You will need to get the form 1023 and get the application and publication 557, which you wil find through the IRS. You can get these forms through a download at .

Do make certain that you've filed within 15 months of establishing your organization or filing your Articles of Incorporation. If you have not done this within this time you will not be able to claim your tax excempt status.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Add A Blog!

You can add a blog to your website and talk about your cause and keep it in front of your donor audience.

You can set up a blog at or both of these are free services. Or if you're a bit more advanced and want more of a professional blog you may want to try where you will have a monthly fee of up to $15.

Once you've done this you may want to learn more about blogging if you're a novice. There are two easy to follow books 'Blogging for Dummies' and 'Start Your Own Blogging Business'.

Write a Press Release about your blog and submit it to your local newspapers. I'll teach you how to do this later, but establish a number of entries on your blog first.

Make sure you use 'tags' or 'labels' that will make it easy for those to find you when they do a search. These 'tags' will be words that tie into your blog post for that day.

One of the things you want to do in your blog, that may be different than your website, is update how you are doing in reaching your goal. Perhaps you want to highlight a new member who has spent volunteer time helping your cause. (Everyone likes to see their name in print as long as you're writing something nice!) Remember to give them lots of public accolades! List any new events that may be coming up and write up a review of any past events. Adding photos will get prospective donors to continue to look at your site. There are many people who want to keep up with the Joneses!

As an example, one of my favorite types of non-profits are those that support our environment and wildlife. So, if that were your cause you could write about a different bird each week--include its migratory pattern, how it nests, what its nests are made of, how many are thought to exist, how long their eggs need to hatch, who are their natural predators, their habitat, what they need in order to survive, things that endanger their habitat, etc. Each week bird enthusiasts would return to your blog to educate themselves about a new bird. So do try to educate in your blog.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Develop Your Mission Statement

Your Mission Statement is your reason--it's the reason you started this non-profit. It's why you work long hours for little pay. It's your calling. It's what keeps you awake at night and eats away at your soul until you do something about it.

It's best if you can keep it simple enough for you, and others, to remember. It should fit nicely on the top or bottom of your stationery and on your newsletter. You want to keep this in front of the public.

Can you recite your mission statement? Can you list the key factors? If you already have a board, sit down with them and ask them to write one sentence that best describes the main reason your organization exists. You may find variety of answers depending on their own view point. Some people will look at it as providers, others may be from consumers, some from the legal aspects, and others may be from the management end of the business.

Find the common denominators among the statements. Now look at those statements that encompass every aspect of your organization. This may a very broad statement, but it's a place to begin. As you bring on your staff and board of directors (if you are a start up) you want to include them in on your vision for the organization. Don't expect people to share your exact vision. Have a group discussion and remember YOU are not the organization. In order to have everyone 'buy into' the organization they must have a piece of the vision.

Every few years staff and board should sit down and review this mission statement. Make certain that it really is reflecting what the organization is doing, and WANTS to do in the future. If it is, great. If it's not, then make the changes.

Remember every time you change your mission statement that you need to file it with the IRS along with your 501 (c)(3) application.

So You Want to Start A Non-Profit....

As I would speak to various groups about fundraising I'd often be asked the question, "How do I go about getting 501 (c)(3) status?" Perhaps you want to apply for some grants that are specifically set up for no-profits; or maybe you want your donors to be able to have a tax deduction from supporting your organization. Whatever the reason there are guidelines you must follow. Let's take a look at how you begin this process.

Your organization must be recognized by filing articles of incorporation. If you do not know the agency in your state that would be responsible for this contact your Secretary of State. Their number will be listed under your state government listings or your can find them through the Governor's office.

You also have the responsibility to apply to the IRS for application for Federal Income Tax Exemption. This is publication number 557, Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization. This can also be downloaded from the IRS website. If you're really a novice at this I would recommend you find a mentor--perhaps someone from the SCORE program (check with your local Chamber of Commerce). They will likely be able to provide you with any technical assistance you may need. Also contact your local bar association for a referral to someone who has worked with non-profits in the past. Do not be afraid to ask them if they do 'pro-bono' work or if they will discount their typical fees.

And now you wait. Consider yourself lucky if this is done within six months. :-) So have lots of patience, and definitely be working on acquiring board members who share in your vision AND CAN OFFER YOUR NON-PROFIT ASSISTANCE! More on this later.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Short-Term Fundraising Goals

If you're doing a fundraiser with a short term goal there are an infinite number of products that can help get you profits in a hurry. Some of the most popular are:

Cookie dough---lots of different companies
Flower bulbs
Scratch tickets

Some products you will be asked to pay for upfront and others you can collect all the funds and then pay. Companies vary so do shop around.

These items are best sold in a two week period. Anything longer and the group may lose their sense of 'urgency' and anything less and they may fall short of their $$$$ goal amount.

So what types of groups benefit the most from this type of fundraising?

Church groups
Youth groups
Little league
Scout groups

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fundraising Opportunities

Fundraising jobs for the week of January 14th, 2008

Direct Marketing Specialist
Forrester Research Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Executive Director
Congregation Etz Chaim Marietta, Georgia, United States

Associate Director, Major Gifts, Chicago Reg Ofc
University of Chicago Chicago

Executive Director/Head of School
East Baltimore Development Inc Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Senior Editor
Council for Advancement and Support of Education Washington, Dist. Columbia, United States

Web Writer/Editor
Save the Children Westport, Connecticut

Web Content Manager
Save the Children Westport, Connecticut

Executive Director
Foundation for Physical Therapy Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Development Manager
Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy San Francisco, California, United States

Event Planner
Ontario Non-profit Housing Assoication Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dean, College of Education
Armstrong Atlantic State University Savannah, Georgia, United States

Assistant Director of Advancement Services
Clark University Worcester, Massachusetts, United States

Alaska Coalition Coordinator
Alaska Wilderness League Washington, Dist. Columbia, United States
Washington, United States

Database Coordinator
Alaska Wilderness League Washington, Dist. Columbia, United States

Part-time Sesquicentennial Celebration Chairperson
North Central College Naperville
Media Relations Manager, Marketing Resource Center (MRC) - South

The Nature Conservancy Altamonte Springs, Florida, United States

Executive Director
Children's Museum of Bozeman Bozeman, Montana, United States

Research Associate
Helen Brown Group New England area, United States

Sr. Major Gifts Officer
Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago

Assistant Director - The Leadership Center
Fort Lewis College Durango, Colorado, United States

Friday, January 18, 2008

Click & Pledge for Web Site Donations

'Click & Pledge' has been in existence since 2000 and it gives non-profits a great way to collect donations from their web site. It was created with fundraisers in mind and provides you with a 'Click It' button that will connect your potential donors to some advanced fundraising techniques. does not charge a recurring fee but rather a fee per transaction. The fee does vary depending on the credit card utilized. MasterCard, Discover and Visa are at 4.75 percent, while American Express is at 8.75 percent.

Under 'Advanced Fundraising Techniques' you'll find the Empower program. This allows you to offer a product giveaway on behalf of your organization. Donors are entered into the contest and a winner is drawn at the conclusion of the event. Click and Pledge then sends the winner the gift--a nice thank you for their donation. Their site also allows for recurring donations, making it easier for you and your donors.

They offer you three different programs: Payment System, Donor Management and Web Content Management. Each program is offered at $50 but you can get all three programs for $135. I have found this to be a wise investment and one that will bring you many additional donations. Do keep in mind that it is specifically designed for fundraising.

There are two other sources that you may wish to explore: PayPal allows you to create 'Donate Now' button. They have no set up fees, no monthly fees, no termination fees. You pay per transaction. To check their fees go to . PayPal notifies you of your donations, sends a receipt to your donor, and keeps track of payments the organization has received.

Another possibility is the Amazon Honor System. Here you can also get a 'Donate' button and a 'Pay Box'. They charge no recurring fees but they do charge a higher fee per transaction than PayPal, 15 % of your total donations! So this one is not my first choice.

Another great option is to add a banner. This is one that I use that allows Non-Profits an ongoing stream of income. It takes awhile before the money builds up but once it does it's a steady revenue stream and allows everyone to participate just by doing their regular shopping. Go to and sign up for their free program. You will then get a choice of banners to display on your web site. There is no fee involved.

Start A Web Site for Your Fundraiser

I know all the medium to large non-profit organizations have active web sites, but I'm surprised at how many small non-profits still have not taken advantage of this means to reach people. So, for those of you who are stymied about where to begin let me walk you through the process.

First you need to register a name for the web site. Since no two sites can share the same name you will need to check on availability. I think one of the most popular, services is and go to the 'register domain' site. Your domain name is one that you will have to live with so make certain that your Board has approved it. At this site you can check for availability of the name you prefer. It will indicate whether it's available with .org or another ending. If you've found a name that you like and it is available then you may want to buy the other domains as well. This will assure that people don't get the wrong organization when they are looking for you.

If your chosen name is not available, scroll down that page it will give you options close to what you've selected that are available. This makes the selection easier.

GoDaddy will also offer you a selection of templates which makes building your web page a simple process. A smaller, more personal company, that I have loved working with is They will help you with your selection and help you build your site. And, they truly live up to their name, Zero Grief. The owner is an SEO expert will also help you become SEO--Search Engine Optimized. This makes it easy for web browsers to find you. There are many other hosting companies available and you will pay them a small monthly hosting fee.

You want to start your web page with your MISSION STATEMENT. You probably already have your mission statement but do make certain it's one that people can remember readily. Don't make it so long and verbose that it's like reading a legal document. On the left hand side it is good to list your Board of Directors. List their name and the organization where they are employed. Under your Mission Statement you should have a description of your organization--who you are as an organization, what you do, what you have accomplished and what your goals are now. I always suggest following that up with a story or two--think of 'testimonials', i.e.:

"I have no idea what my family would have done without the help of XYZ organization! Our home had burned down a month before Christmas and we had 3 small children. XYZ found us a temporary place to live and through donations purchased us some of the essentials that we needed. We received clothing, furniture, pans, towels, and then, they brought our children Christmas presents! We thought we were going to have our most difficult Christmas ever, but in many ways we had our best--we were able to witness first hand the true meaning of this holiday. We'll never be able to repay you for your loving generosity!"

Or something that shows your potential donors the difference you have made in people's lives. You must make certain that your testimonials are true however! But there's nothing wrong about asking past recipients if they would like to contribute. You'll find that most will be very eager to do so.

Next you want to restate your goal--exactly why you need their help. Make it as specific as possible. "We need to raise $600,000 to purchase an additional house for a women's shelter, staff, furnishings, and food." Make certain you give enough information about WHY you need whatever it is you need.

"This year, in x county, 487 women were battered. Statistics have shown us that the battering behavior is likely to continue and that these women, and their children, are in imminent danger. This home will provide a safe respite for them and provide them with job & financial training so that they will be able to support themselves and their family."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Learning From Other Successful Fundraisers

Fundraising gives kids a sense of empowerment. It teaches them the value of helping others when they are not in a position to financially do so themselves. The act of fundraising shows them that they are capable of making a difference. What an important lesson for them to learn! I also suggest that you make sure that the kids get plenty of publicity (as is true for all fundraisers). But establish a reporter who will interview the children for the local papers before they begin their event. If it's a short term fundraiser then make certain that the children are interviewed again at the end with photos and recognition to the top fund raiser. If it's a long campaign media updates are important. Do remember the importance of developing children's self-esteem. This memory will last with them a lifetime and help form their sense of self.

One of the oldest, perhaps it is the oldest, is the ongoing fundraiser done annually by the Girl Scouts of America. Since 1917 girls have been selling cookies--although for many years the cookies were ones they made themselves from one recipe. This fundraiser brings in money to support camps, volunteer training, activities, etc. And who among us doesn't look forward to those chocolate mint cookies?

This was always a door to door activity but it has also evolved to locations where people gather--at the grocery store, the mall, we even have a troop that sets up at the transfer and recycling station. Take a lesson from this organization! There is more than one way to skin a cat!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kids Need to Learn to Sell

Perhaps you don't see the children in your program (or your daughters and sons) as being future salespeople. You aren't ever likely to hear a child respond to "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The answers may be varied--but seldom will include "a salesperson". But, the reality is that those people who learn sales skills tend to be more successful in life than those who don't, no matter what field they enter. Life is, afterall, all about sales. You need to be able to sell yourself to future employers, sell yourself in a college entrance essay, sell an idea, sell a potential mate that you're the one.

So helping a child believe in themselves is an important first step, and should be an intricate part of developing their self-esteem whether it's at home or in any youth program. The kids have bought into the product that they will be selling because you allowed them to be part of the decision process. Then ask for their ideas--put each idea (even silly ones) up on a big flip chart. Let the kids yell out their ideas on how to sell! Get them excited about it! Once the list has been exhausted highlight those that you think have the best opportunity of working IN THIS INSTANCE. That way, those with different ideas do not feel as though their ideas were rejected.

Next you want to focus on safety. Safety has to be paramount in any sales that would require going door to door. If this is how you will market your product my recommendation is that teams are formed and that the kids go as a team of 3 or 4. Remind them (often) that they are never to go inside someone's home. If there is cash involved in the transaction make certain that the children are in a safe neighborhood. Work on a sales presentation TOGETHER-- "Hi my name is s0 & so and I go to Baker's Elementary School. We're trying to raise money for some new books for our library because the town cut the school's budget. I'm sure that you remember how important books were to your education and I'm hoping you will support us. Can I count on you today for a small donation?"

Let the kids practice the presentation you come up with in class with a partner, and then they switch partners. They will grow more confident with each presentation and this will add to their own self-esteem---another great benefit of this program!

Perhaps you will set up a booth at the grocery store or at the mall in order to sell your 'product'. Or have them sell to people in the family email address book--(no strangers online!) Whatever the venue the kids will still need to sell. A good idea is to find a motivator--sometimes you only need a visual motivational tool such as an exaggerated yard stick with the dollar amount you want to raise. A coach's locker room speech is needed before they head out the door and praise, praise, praise no matter how small the amount raised. Sometimes you can get local merchants to donate prizes to the kids if they reach certain goals.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fundraising For Non-Profit Organizations

Here we are once again, the beginning of a new year. People have taken their tax deductions by the end of December and most non-profits view this time of year as their financial windfall. But, you need to plan accordingly for the rest of the year. I'd like to help you capitalize on those financial gifts by giving you some tips that you'll be able to use in your organizations that if implemented should increase your donations.

And what exactly are my credentials to be giving you this information? Well, I have been a non-profit Director most of my career; children's programs, women's programs, senior programs, and hospice. I was instrumental in the fundraising for a 2.3 million dollar building. In addition, I also supervised 'Gift Planning' for a national corporation. I've also sat on the Board of Directors of several non-profits and raised funds for a symphony orchestra, children's programs, and parades. I've organized a variety of different fundraising events. As a consultant, I've taught others how to do the same. As a copywriter I write Fundraising letters that have donors emptying out their piggy banks. And as a trainer I've brought my 'How to Write a Fundraising Letter that Gets Results!' to many non-profits.

I will focus throughout this blog on a variety of different non-profits but I'm going to begin with schools. Every year schools are faced with the problem of supplementing funding for some of the every day programming, staff, or activities, that go on within the school. So today I’d like to talk about establishing fundraising needs for school organizations. This information also will work for youth groups.

First thing that your group must do is determine what your funding will be used for this year. It is much more effective if it is for a specific need rather than for blanket funding for any program. For example, let’s say you were the Band Director and you thought you’d like to raise $5,000 for the band this year. That might include a variety of things such as uniforms, music, some instruments, visiting musicians, etc. That type of fundraiser could be ongoing throughout the course of the year but wouldn’t glean the same attention as a fundraiser focused on a specific project. You also want your fundraising goals to be 'measurable'. That will make your Board (or Principal & Superintendent) very happy!

An example of this could be the band needs new uniforms because they’ve been selected to march in the New Year’s Rose Bowl Parade! So, not only do they need new uniforms but they also need transportation and lodging costs covered. This is something that your community can be very excited about and want to support! Imagine the pride of their town school band playing in the Rose Bowl Parade?

So my first recommendation is do something that establishes pride in the community. Second, have a focus so that the window to raise the funds is limited to a certain time—say Nov. 30th, for this hypothetical New Year’s Day Parade. That gives the Band Director an opportunity to then book hotel and transportation a full month prior to the event. And, if you’re short $500 then you still have time to do a ‘Special Community Appeal’.

Where do you begin? OK. you’ve established your goal of $5,000, spoken to the kids involved, perhaps met with the parents, what’s next?
Do you need to meet with the school committee for approval before you begin? Find out from your Principal or School Superintendent any rules governing the school doing fundraising. Is there someone in your group who has organized fundraisers previously? Are they willing to help you out on this project? Next, establish a committee of members of the band to make a decision as to what they choose to use for their fundraiser. You may also have a committee of adults who are able to help guide the children through this process. There are many organizations that supply products that the kids can take door to door—there’s candy, popcorn, cookie dough, ( ) and a whole lot of other door to door products. Can you afford the upfront costs of some products? You’ll have to determine what your group feels has the best profit margin and meets their own needs.

One of the most popular events for kids is to have them involved in a car wash. Besides school events, this is also successful for church groups, and scouts. Wal-mart has been known to lend not only the space but also provide the water and add their own donation to the cause. Another 'service' that kids can provide is 'Kids for Hire'. Perhaps they mow lawns, rake, weed gardens, shovel, get groceries, clean cellars, hook up computers, and even teach computers. If the non-profit is for a school orchestra or band they might want to make themselves available for weddings or parties for a set fee that goes directly to the non-profit.

There are organizations that can offer you a unique array of educational products that does not require the child to go from door to door. All of the products can be safely downloaded over the Internet. So there’s no fear of having the children in unfamiliar neighborhoods, walking on roads without sidewalks, or having to purchase products upfront and hope for profits. is one company that supplies educational material appropriate for various ages as well as gift cards. So if Mrs. Jones doesn’t know what to buy her nephew she can purchase a gift card for him to then download the software that he would like to own. This may offer your group an alternative over calorie-laden sugar products, your profit margin is much higher, and neither does it put the child in any jeopardy from going door to door.

A nice addition to a long term and ongoing fundraising is here the non-profit organization signs up to be a free Business Mall owner of over 1200 stores. They in turn also give their members a mall and encourage them to shop online through their own mall. A comprehensive web site movie does a good job at explaining the concept. Every member of the 9 tiers receives a residual amount on each purchase. That residual amount goes directly to the non-profit. It takes a while to build up but this is ideal for a school, church, or any organization with some long range plans. Every month the $ amount increases as you bring in more buyers. It is easy to do, and one of my favorites, because you can use the mall debit card and use it for your gas, groceries and other every day expenditures. And every purchase brings money to your non-profit. This makes it very easy for every family, no matter what income level, to participate.

OK. Your committee is in place, you have established the dollar amount needed, and you’ve selected the product (s) that you would like to sell or services you want to provide. What do you do next? You’ll need a Press Release to send to all of the local newspapers, as well as a PSA to all the local radio stations. { As a professional copywriter, I can write those for you for a nominal fee.} You then distribute those to the appropriate media and ask for a reporter who will cover the story as a feature article in the beginning of your campaign and again at the end. Remember we are assuming this will be a short campaign for a specific target.

So how do the children sell? If you’ve bought a product that needs to be brought door to door make certain that the parents are in agreement with this. The children can set up a table at any local events, malls, or major stores, and sell products there describing the campaign and what one must do to help out. With educational products or the mall, I would recommend an email and phone campaign to family, neighbors, and friends in your address book. Again, I can supply you with the basic email template for your organization. It will bring them to the website, explain to them the secure purchase site, and how to actually download the software to their computer or to sign up for the program. If they do not want the software for themselves, they can also purchase a gift certificate to give to someone or, they may just click on the ‘donate button’ and make a donation to your organization.

Next blog will discuss how to motivate the kids and educate them on the fine art of selling!

Best Wishes for a successful campaign!