Fundraising and Technology

Can your organization use a Social Media Expert?  I mean really use.


So you plan on hiring a Social Media Specialist for your organization. Well, you have an important question to answer mainly do you have 40 hours of work for this person?

This new person will need to be someone dedicated to your organization who has the flexibility to get posts into your social media streams on a regular and systematic way. They also need to be able to respond when things happen. But, for most non-profits, the answer to is still no. So what might you combine with the positions social media task to create a full-time position?

Is there a person dedicated to keeping your website up-to-date? What do I mean by "up-to-date?" Well, as I am sure you know websites are never actually finished they require constant tweaking and new material. If you are not doing this, then you have a whole different problem, and we will cover that in an upcoming post.

The person in this position can write beyond 140 characters or the few paragraphs in a Facebook Page post. Also keep in mind that being able to curate material derived from other sources like your annual report or program materials can also be the basis of new material for the website. Then this person only needs the technical skill to add articles to the site - and the forethought to think about what to add or the guidance by you to know what to add.

Who knows they may even understand things like meta tags and keywords? Both of which are important if anyone is going to find your website. Understanding this functions opens what might be wholly new and important area of analytics. If you use the Google analysis products, it would be great to have a person dedicated to this work. If you have a Google Ad Words, Grant you know how much time is necessary to manage that asset. If you don’t have a Google Ad Words Grant then maybe this new person can help you get one.

Another distinct area is desktop publishing and graphic design. Would it be helpful to have an in-house design guru, probably? The very nature of creating engaging well-constructed post requires a good design sense and the technical skill to create images and videos. These same skills may well translate into the skills needed to create a newsletter or simple brochure.

And don't forget your social media campaign should be working hand in hand with your events and individual giving programs. Ads and promoted post are assets to the rest of your donor program.

So is there 40 hours of work for a Social Media/Webmaster/Marketing position at your organization. My instinct says yes. And though you might not be able to draw a solid line between the position and income I think you can certainly draw a dotted line.

What could be better than a thoughtful program of social media post, website updates, meaningful analytics and, possibly even design skills?

Catch up on your reading!

August is the ideal time to catch up on your reading. Here are some examples from our shared articles section.



Some thoughtful videos for your viewing pleasure.

Take a few moments to check out videos like this one. Click here.fundraising one on one



Blogging during Fundraising Day New York is both as pleasure and a challenge. The depth of the information and the pace at which it is delivered makes it hard to do each session justice. But I like getting my ideas and thoughts to you as soon as possible. So we will do our best.

Thought I'll be live blogging during the day I promise to go back through the-the blogs over the weekend. At that point, I'll be able to clarify ideas and clean up any pesky typos. Typos are inevitable when live blogging so I do hope you will understand. I feel it is better to get the idea out to you while it is fresh than to worry about you grabbing your red pen.

So I am off to breakfast and then my first session -


Building an Annual Development Plan that Really Works


With John Hicks

The session is really filling up which is a great sign for the first session of the day!

The three word summary KEEP IT REAL!

Keep fundraising organic. It should be natural to your organization not just the hottest new technique.

You have to Plan, Plan, Plan.

Set you in the right directions.

The Macintosh Way

Figuring out not just the right way to do things but the right way to do things. We sometimes know exactly what to do but we don't always know the way to do it. Combining the way is the key. In order to figure out the right way or the right thing we have to have realistic goals.

We have to have realistic goals based on 4 things - operating, program, investment and sustaining. Not just the amount of money you raise but how will it be used? How will it change the organization.

Sustaining money keeps the lights on.

Investment money is about enhancing or growing the organization.

Funding Mix- Where does it come from now and where might it come from. Every organization will look different. Figuring out how to expand where you are strong and push out where you don't presently have the most reach.

What Donor Markets make the Most Sense to us?

Setting goals and keeping it real.

Buildout on what you are strongest at. And then set a realistic goal for each of your funding pots.

He has a great chart that shows the Constituency, Last Year, This Year's Goal, Budget and Rationale. The goal is what you are striving for the Budget is what your finance dept. is looking for you to raise.

Then choose the right campaign activities. Figure out what will speak to your donors and do that first. Work least to most time consuming, and least to most expensive, most to least touch.


Personal Ask

Proposals to proper Founations

Special events

Social media

Direct response



Social Media


Direct Response





Direct Response


-Use your talent well.


When you bring someone in they should be creating system that you, the organization's fundraiser can maintain. Is there knowledge transfer.


Without and action plan know knows what you are doing. Measure of success is not just money but what you are doing.

Once you have the plan- you need to monitor it and create metrics. If your sole metric is how much money you raised then you probably not doing your job. We need to measure by money and the relationships you have built and sustained.

We have to look at the intangibles.

Willingness to risk

Monitoring the progress

Celebrating Success

Embracing Failures

Make Adjustments

Seize opportunities

Be bold, view asking for money as an invitation to be part of something bigger, invite volunteers to be a part of your fundraising journey.

There were a lot of great questions. But you really needed to be here for those.

This was a great session I am still trying to choose between two different sessions.


Feeding the Major Gifts Pipeline: A framework for effective prospect development.

Matthew Perrin and Joseph Gonzales

Definition of Prospect someone with a propensity to give to a certain cause. Remember that a prospect isn't just a new donor but a present donor who could afford to do more.

A Major Gift prospect is a subjective title given to a donors at certain levels.

Take Aways

1. Do not be distracted by wealth. Forbes Magazine may have a list of all of the wealthiest people but they are not really prospects. Chasing the money is a distraction. You have to

2.Rate their potential. Not just wealth but from 4 areas - Wealth, Propensity, Affinity and Connection. Remember all wealthy people do not give away their money. Do they have a genuine interest in your cause. Do they have a true connection to your organization or cause. These are Dynamic Variables.

3.Rating Giving Potential. Who are the best prospects - someone who has the right amount of wealth, and affinity for your cause and a connection to you in some way.


Prospects are people

Keep the variables dynamic - always check giving potential. If they have the other three but not the wealth then you are out of luck. You need to have a balanced between the variables. Also, you need to categorize your prospects by these variables then label them so that you can know potential and propensity for giving. But don't go over board on the number categories. You will confuse yourself. Connection is the hardest to measure - it is an art.

Never forget giving is an emotional thing. The connection has to stay in tack.

The Road to Finding Prospects.

Tools and resources and out of the Box Solutions when WPAC doesn't quite work.

Look Internal First. Your own CRM is your best starting place. If you have data modeling scores get them into the database. Has someone already created a prospect list - if so use it.

Internal Networks and Concentric Circles.

Event participants can be key. Also setting up News Alerts on people can be helpful to learn more about people.

Check out Charitable Giving Databases including peer organization annual reports. And don't forget political databases. They tell you a good deal about a person.

It is about collecting as much information then cataloging it. Be intuitive. Don't fall down the rabbit hole. be sure to take a moment and step back. It is all about keeping focus and only finding information that will be useful. You probably don't need their dogs name - unless you are an animal charity.

Once you have your research you can compile a prospect profile that only has information that will help you create a and ask. An ask at the right time to the right person in the right way.

Ok, so now it is time to head back to the Exhibit hall and then to lunch. I can't wait to see what the afternoon holds for us.


Rev. Butts was amazing as speaker. Hopefully they recorded it. It would be worth the listening to again. Such wonderful words of inspiration. He truly seemed to understand the importance of fundraising and of Fundraisers.

10 Steps to Making Your Donor the Hero With Your Year-end Appeal.

Farra Tropeter

Why it matters making the donor a hero?

1. Get to know your Hero's origin story.

Why do they give to you. What is their connection? Is their a connection? Can you play up that connection in your Appeal?

2.Use the right theme to draw your donor into the quest.

Creating a urgency. Look for something that plays up "WHY NOW." Look at the world and at your organization's "world" for theme. Don't exploit - explore.

3.Map your hero's journey

What is the journey we will go on and celebrate together. What is the action that the prospect can take. Are there action before the ask.

4.Select the right channels to engage your hero

Where are your donors now. Figure that out and then concentrate on those. Pick the biggest ones for you and make sure they really work. If you did a few last year then add one. Don't forget about the phone.

5. Maximize the superpowers of each channel

Use each channel to its utmost. Mail and email are most likely the biggest.

6. Make the most of opportunities

Do you have a newsletter that can play up the campaign. Do you have an important person in your community who can represent you.

7.Give your hero the right suite - a consistent look

All the campaign pieces have the same look and feel. No matter the channel.

8. Build dramatic tension, craft your calendar around deadlines

Make a strong timeline. Then build your campaigns to build upon each other.

9.Set it up for a sequel w/ a report back in all channels

Ask, Thank - REPEAT! Report back to your donors in Januaury how things went. make it donor centric. THEY DID IT not the staff. make the donor feel like they accomplished something.

10. Plan to capture and analyze the results of your quest

Really spend sometime really looking at when your gifts come in and which ones work for you. The Metrics are important. It also helps you plan for next year. Or later that year.

Bonus Ideas!

Handwritten notes, phone calls from organization principals, get donors to fundraise, advertise on social media and invite small groups of donors give feedback on your campaign.


That was a great session! And the end of a great AFP for me. I'll be spending the last session working the NYU Heyman Center booth. I teach at NYU and they were kind enough to allow me to come to today on one of their passes. I do hope you got a taste of what Fundraising Day New York has to offer. I understand that next year it will be on June 23rd. I can't wait.

Thoughtful Stewardship

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Short Thoughtful Post

It Occurs To Me

September 1, 2016

So you made it to September. I know it seems like August is the longest month in the year. It precedes what is the for all practical purposes the shortest two months - November and December. So much of our fundraising year depends on the out come of those two months. So Sepetember and October are all about prep work. In fact, I would say that September is the most important month because by the time October gets here all your year-end work needs to be complete. If those "Giving Tuesday", Year-End Appeals and follow-ups are going out on time your September is going to be quite busy. What do you think?

June 17, 2016

I'll be live blogging from FRDNY so tune in. As always, this is a great day.

May 16, 2016

The next blog is will be posted on 5/23 don't miss it.

March 9, 2016

We will be blogging from the AFP International Conference in Boston starting on March 20. The Thoughtfull Approach to... blog will be updated daily after the last session but we will be tweeting during the conference. Be sure to follow us at @thoughtfulappro and to check the main blog each day.

Just 11 days and counting until the fun begins.


December 2, 2015

So you survived GIVING TUESDAY, now what? Well, it is not the time to start planning for next year. Nope, it is time to take a page from retail and follow up with people.

Let us assume you sent and email to all of your prospects, constituents and donors. If you used any of the primary email systems like Mail Chimp, Raiser’s Edge, Patron Mail et. al. you can pull a list of people who opened your email but did not click on the donate link.

I’d recommend emailing all of those people today to thoughtfully remind them that they can still make a gift to your organization. Rather like the "Your Carts Not Empty" emails some retailers send when you pick out times but do not complete a sale on their sites.

Try it you have nothing to loose. Just don’t be obvious about how you know they visited your site. Treat the email as a reminder ask. Sell the "why" of your organization.

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.


October 2015

Well, the feed back on my two part series on videos has been great. I know that a lot of people were interested in the subject but I had no idea just how many. I look forward to hearing more from people who decided to add videos to there annual appeal and those who changed their mind.

But what about those annual appeals? Are you ready and where are you putting your emphasis on acquisition, renewal, lapsed or what exactly? I have decided that renewal should get the bulk of your time as for money acquisition always eats that up.


September 2015

So in a little more than two months your annual appeal will drop- right? We'll have you thought about how to use videos as a part of the overall appeal. The right video can be embedded in your website and tied to a Google ad, posted to your Facebook Page and on Twitter. You should even be able to add it right to your email appeal. Just about the only thing you can not do with it is mail it. Unless you create a QR code for the video and include that in your mailing. Just a thought.

But what qualifies as a successful video. I would say like many things in fundraising you won't know know if you have gotten right until the appeal is over and you look at the analytics and crunch some numbers. But you can see what like agencies are doing and take a chance pick up the phone and call a colleague. In fact, my thoughtful tip isn't really about videos it is when in doubt call a colleague. That and read my September post about best practices concerning videos.


August 2015

-How ready is your Annual Appeal? Yes, I know it is August but if you want them to drop before Thanksgiving you should have already gotten started. Remember acquisition, renewal, lapsed donor, major gift and e-solicitations need to all work seamlessly - don't you think?

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

-The shared articles section has gotten the second largest number of hits of any area on the site. Thank you. If you have article suggestions please leave it in a comment.

July 2015

I have gotten a lot of great feedback on the TedTalk video on pecking order. What were your thoughts?

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.





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