Posts Tagged ‘Laurence Pagnoni’

Does your nonprofit board give fundraising a warm reception or cold shoulder?

“Your fundraising program reflects the effectiveness of your overall organization. It’s a litmus test of your viability,” explains author Laurence Pagnoni.

He laments that too often fundraising programs exist in a silo, meaning the fundraiser works in isolation and the fundraising programs are not embedded into the fabric of other organizational operations and initiatives.

Over-reliance on rudimentary fundraising and lack of teamwork among board, staff and CEO

Most nonprofits that are envious of high-performing organizations with robust fundraising programs are usually reliant on one dominant funding source for too many years, renew rudimentary or sleepy grant programs, operate planned giving on a “self-serve” basis, and have a board that doesn’t work efficiently as a team with the CEO and staff.

What to do when your board is hot or cold with fundraising

While a chief concern is a cohesive board, CEO and staff, another primary focus Pagnoni emphasizes is, of course, fundraising. In his book, The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution, Pagnoni discusses what to do when your board’s core strength is fundraising and what to do when the core strength is not fundraising.

First, do a little detective work

To take an organization to the next level, a board and CEO must align themselves around the strategic plan, where both parties have a deep understanding of the vision. Then, Pagnoni emphasizes finding your board’s core strength (e.g., fundraising, compliance, etc.) through conversations, a perusal of board minutes, attendance at meetings, and possibly a self-assessment.

The cold shoulder

If a board’s core strength is not fundraising, Pagnoni suggests these steps “in their ideal order of execution”:

1)      Recruit a fundraising professional for the board.

2)      Implement a development or fundraising plan.

3)      Establish gift acceptance policies and use them (i.e., which kind of gifts you’ll accept).

4)      Develop the necessary committee structure (at least a development committee and possibly an events committee or planned giving committee).

5)      Prepare an annual ROI report.

6)      Direct volunteers to fundraising activities they feel lie within their strengths (e.g., good writers write appeal letters; good talkers solicit donations verbally).

A warm reception

If your board’s core strength is fundraising, follow these methods:

1)      Campaign more.

2)      Explore comprehensive giving with top donors (e.g., annual, stretch and planned gifts).

3)      Review your development plan and address a longer period of growth over 10 to 25 years.

4)      Execute more detailed business planning.

5)      Go deeper into one dominant and minor source of revenue, instead of diversifying, since going deeper may prove more lucrative with a good fundraising board.

6)      Develop subcommittees to report to the development committee.

7)      Ensure that strong connections are created between all your various fundraising tactics (e.g., events program connects with the individualized giving program).

8)      Make routine use of external consultants to infuse talent.

Let your relaxed confidence emerge, be nimble and keep an eye on ethics

When it comes to fundraising in harmony with your board whether they embrace or sidestep fundraising, Pagnoni emphasizes identifying solutions that fit your own challenges. He says, “Each person must find his own fundraising path and use his own experience, infused with best practices. What I’ve offered [in my book] are my own experiences based on best practices. Many people ‘want to do it right,’ and I’d rather see a more relaxed confidence emerge where you try a few things, evaluate, change course as may be required. So the challenge here is to be nimble with applying the strategies that I outline and always head toward the most ethical ways to raise the most revenue.”

See also:

The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project or Business Venture

The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving

Fundraising the SMART Way™: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website

Image credits: ca.citizenrelations.com, discoverindulgence.com, sharpologist.com

 

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The year-end ask: Has your nonprofit scheduled all 6 steps?

Last week we introduced Laurence Pagnoni’s notion that “Fundraising is a practitioner’s craft. It requires the intuition of the artist and inquisitiveness of the scientist.” The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution author adds there is no one-size-fits-all method of fundraising; every organization has a unique mission and strategy for supporting its mission.

Don’t ignore what you can’t see

While each fundraising program is different, what remains consistent among celebrated revenue results is the connection to a strong organizational culture. You might be asking, “Why are we talking about culture when this is a post about Pagnoni’s book on fundraising? He says, “Ignore organizational culture at your own peril because you won’t get depth in the fundraising program unless the culture is aligned with the fundraising goals.”

Pagnoni asserts, “Your organization will do better by seeing itself as a multifaceted entity with fundraising entrenched firmly at its center. Why? Because the barriers to better fundraising performance are, so often, the same obstacles to organizational growth.”

After giving you some essential guidance on the conversation you should be having with leadership about fundraising’s role in the organization, Pagnoni focuses on the organizational connection with tactical strategies for improving your advanced fundraising efforts in constituency building, face-to-face cultivation, challenge gifts and other tools, year-end giving, social media, leadership councils, corporate giving and major gift campaigns. In short, the book leads with the importance of organizational strength for optimal fundraising and closes with a punch on fundraising strategies.

This week, I wanted to highlight year-end appeals because it’s never too early to think about when we raise the most funds: December.

Year-end giving

One of every three dollars is donated to nonprofits in the month of December due to income taxes, financial planning and the holiday season. Hopefully, says Pagnoni, you have contacted your donors eight times that year to prepare for the year-end ask.

Here are the steps in a successful year-end drive in chronological order:

Thanksgiving Thank-A-Thon: Board members, staff and volunteers call to thank donors, personally connect and answer any questions a week before Thanksgiving either on a weekend afternoon or weekday early evening.

First year-end appeal letter mailed out the week of your Thank-A-Thon: Customize to include the giving history of each donor. Include emotional stories about beneficiaries as well as numbers served and numbers of those who will be served in the future. Ask for a 50 percent increase from the last donation and include a reply envelope and pledge. You can use a mailing house to organize all these items. You can also target lapsed donors. Make sure you have updated your donor database. The author provides a list of resources that can help gauge your donor’s giving potential, such as Blackbaud for prospect research. In addition, post your appeal letter on your website so donors can contribute online as well. Tell your donors how much you appreciate them and how they can make a specific difference and be transparent about how you spend the money.

Second year-end appeal letter mailed between the first and third week of December: Add new highlights and do not send to donors who responded to your first letter. After 30 days, send a “Haven’t Heard from You…” postcard. Let them know what you’ve accomplished but also how much more needs to be done and the cost.

Last four days of the year online: Email your donors every day for the last four days telling stories about your organization. Remind them of the December 31 tax-exemption deadline.

January follow-up: Thank the top 20 percent of your donors and send out tax receipts. You can survey donors, too, on how they would like to be contacted.

Donor meetings to discuss major gifts: 80 percent of your funding typically comes from 20 percent of your donors. Segment your donors to set up personal meetings with the top 20 percent.

We asked Laurence Pagnoni about the most common objection to linking culture and fundraising:

CausePlanet: What is your most common objection to the prerequisite of great culture for effective fundraising? What has been your response in the past?

Pagnoni: So many objections, it’s hard to say which is the most common! One could easily say, “People don’t want change.” Maybe. I often hear, “We don’t have the funds for that,” but even when they do, many clients have stayed stuck. If I had to pick one objection, I’d say it’s not understanding that the vision of where we want to be really does start with me, whoever I happen to be in the organization, whether the janitor or the CEO. Without a vision the people perish, so says the Proverb.

Choose a vision for your year-end appeals and consider one or more of Pagnoni’s six-step process. Better yet, have the conversation about culture and create a climate for your appeals to succeed.

See also:

The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project or Business Venture

The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving

Fundraising the SMART Way™: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website

The Essential Guide to End-of-Year Fundraising

Image credits: Amacom books, ccsfundraising.com, fundraising123.org

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Put fundraising where it belongs: Firmly entrenched at the center of your nonprofit

“Fundraising is a practitioner’s craft. It requires the intuition of the artist and inquisitiveness of the scientist,” says The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution author Laurence Pagnoni. He adds there is no one-size-fits-all method of fundraising; every organization has a unique mission and strategy for supporting its mission.

What’s the common denominator among successful fundraising programs?

While every revenue-generating program is unique, Pagnoni firmly establishes the common denominator between every thriving fundraising effort: Organizational development and successful fundraising are inextricably linked. He asserts, “Your organization will do better by seeing itself as a multifaceted entity with fundraising entrenched firmly at its center. Why? Because the barriers to better fundraising performance are, so often, the same obstacles to organizational growth.”

Pagnoni’s book focuses on this premise and strengthens the organizational connection with tactical strategies for improving your advanced fundraising efforts in constituency building, face-to-face cultivation, challenge gifts and other tools, year-end giving, social media, leadership councils, corporate giving and major gift campaigns.

Pagnoni defines three aspects of organizational culture that directly affect fundraising:

Dominant source of revenue vs. multiple revenue streams: If a culture is not open to diversifying its revenue streams, it cannot possibly get to the next level.

Inward or outward focus: Inwardly focused organizations manage their programs with little concern for the surrounding community. Outwardly focused organizations concentrate on marketing, advertising, branding and other types of community outreach. Either extreme can become dangerous, in that the organization either if inwardly focused, loses touch with the community and other fundraising opportunities or if outwardly focused, loses touch with the social problem it is addressing as it works solely on its image.

Capacity of an organization to revisit its fundamental assumptions: These assumptions can relate to streams of revenue, inward/outward focus or anything that relates to moving forward.

We asked Pagnoni in our author interview about how to begin the culture conversation with leadership in order to facilitate better fundraising:

CausePlanet: What’s the best way for a fundraiser to motivate her organizational leadership to consider overhauling culture as a precursor to meeting revenue goals?

Pagnoni: At the end of the day, there is nothing anyone can do to motivate someone else. The people in question must choose to motivate themselves. Recently a trustee told me, “I don’t think the board wants the organizational transformation you’re describing. They are fine with it the way it is.” “So be it,” I said, “but please realize the unintentional consequences of that position.” In this case, it was predictable that only modest fundraising increases would occur, nothing near their potential. It was my job as their fundraising counsel to show them the bar, but it was their job to be motivated to achieve it.

CausePlanet: Which organizational circumstances present the best opportunities for fundraisers to prompt a discussion about changing the culture?

Pagnoni: When a CEO leaves, that’s an opportunity for a self-reflection assessment. Or, perhaps when a new development committee chairperson comes on. Most healthy organizations have some sort of annual planning process within which this conversation can occur. Peter Drucker once cautioned that company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you’ve got. So as you can see, there’s a spectrum to live on—from changing culture, to modifying it, to accepting it as it is, to shaking the dust and leaving it behind.

Pagnoni’s discussion about the importance of culture for successful fundraising is a refreshing and helpful section in part one of this book. Part two carries its own weight with numerous proven strategies and tactics to upgrade your new or existing plan. I found this book to be an innovative balance of big picture organizational matters like the connection between culture and fundraising and prescriptive guidance on how to implement a variety of revenue-generating programs.

Join us next week when I’ll share Pagnoni’s year-end giving appeal ideas. It’s not too early (or late) to work these concepts into your plan.

See also:

The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project or Business Venture

The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving

Fundraising the SMART Way™: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website

Image credits: Amacom books, therainmaker.blog.com, nonprofitchangeagents.com

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