Tag: fundraiser

Do you want to increase your fundraising by 270% next month ?

Last year the hashtag #GivingTuesday had over 180 million impressions and was trending on Twitter for 11 hours. What is Giving Tuesday and why do you need to be involved in it. Find out on the video below:


The best fundraisers start by accident


         Okay maybe they don’t start by accident but they are usually initiated by a motive other than raising money. Often they are started by someone with profound love for someone who has benefited from your organizations service or support. If you read the blog post below you know what a big fan of third party fundraisers I am:


         One of our mom’s, Sherri was in town a few weeks ago visiting us, and it made me think of a fundraiser she started a few years back. Only it didn’t really start as a fundraiser.  One night Sherri was shaving her daughter Leeza’s scalp as her hair had begun to unevenly fall out. Leeza was a six year old girl fighting cancer. There are many things about childhood cancer that really suck-but losing your hair seems to be nature’s version of adding insult to injury. Leeza was telling her mother how she was embarrassed and afraid to lose her hair, she asked Sherri if she would shave her head as well. Sherri –likely without a lot of second thought agreed. When mother and daughter arrived downstairs for breakfast at Ronald McDonald House the next morning the other mothers were moved by the story and before long 5 other mothers whose children were fighting cancer or other serious illness were on board to shave their heads as well. One of our donor walls in the Calgary has bricks to recognize donors who donate at least $5000. The mom’s quickly decided if we are going to do this we might as well raise some money for the House and they set their target of raising enough to have a brick on the donor wall. Go Bald or Go Home was born to raise money for RMH.  Our board secretary and longtime volunteer had just been diagnosed with cancer at the time. She was moved by the mothers stories and she and her son decided that they too would shave their head and raise funds for the House. In the end the six mothers and a few volunteers ended up raising over $22,000 over a few days. We do have a brick on our donor wall –Go Bald or Go Home.

Canada trusts it’s Charitable Sector



          Having the trust of your community, your donors and your supporters is of critical importance to a charity and the charitable sector as whole.  The good news is in Canada we do have a lot of trust from the public in general. A research review published on the Nonprofit MarCommunity reports the level of trust Canadians have in the sector. Bob Wyatt (E.D for the Muttart Foundation) is quoted as saying: There’s some very good news in Talking about Charities. People trust us, they know that we improve the quality-of-life of the people we serve and they recognize the importance of charities to Canadians and those outside Canada who we serve.”

          It is interesting that the report also suggests that the nonprofit sector is one of the most trusted sectors in Canada. It goes on to state that 79% of Canadians have some or a lot of trust in charities. This is higher than the trust afforded to the federal government (45%), provincial governments (44%) local governments (57%) the media (53%) and major corporations (41%)

            Within the charitable sector itself there are varying levels of trust. Working for a children’s charity in the healthcare area, I was happy to read that hospitals and children’s charities were rate highest in the public’s level of trust (86% and 82%).  Having the public’s trust ensures that we have legislative, financial/ donor and volunteer support to carry out our mission. However the report does also provide some cautions which charities and the sector as a whole should attend to. The report indicates that a significant number of Canadians who:” don’t believe we spend money wisely” and that we don’t:” do a very good job telling them about ourselves.

            If you are a leader who volunteers or is employed by a charity or a MarComm professional you should be using every opportunity to tell your community and stakeholders how you are spending their money and what difference it is making. Specifically you should be talking about the impact of your program and services. Typically we talk about these things in our annual report, but charities should use every vehicle available to them. Social media, your website, letters of thanks to volunteers and donors are all tools to spread your message about how funds are being utilized and the impact you are having.

          Bob Wyatt summarizes:” We have to demonstrate that we continue to deserve their trust. And we have to point out to them that charities are probably more transparent and accountable than any other segment of our society. We can’t do this only as a group of individual agencies we have to do that of course, but we also have to start learning to speak as a sector. And we had better start learning to do that soon. “



NonProfit MarComm Community (2014) Perception and trust: can marketing communications help with   

          public trust in charities?: Non Profit MarComm Community; Your guide to marketing   

          communications for a cause website as retrieved from :


Chasing New Donors?

       It can be pretty tempting for a small charity to invest a lot of resources and staff time chasing new donors.  For our own charity I know it often feels like we are on that treadmill to always find and attract new donors. For the last 8 or 9 years we have been pretty successful at doing that, however there appears to be a lot of evidence that making sure your current donors are engaged and impressed with what you are doing makes a lot more sense economically and in terms of fundraising success.  Burk( 2003,p 96) suggests:” Successful fundraising is not the process of accruing an ever-increasing volume of donors; it is recognizing the ones with the potential for contributing progressively generous gifts, then making it as easy as possible for them to do just that. Retained donors are increasingly cost effective over time because they tend to give more while requiring less investment based on cost per dollar raised.”

            For a small charity that has some level of success in finding new donors- this success can often be the factor which stands in the way of objectively considering what you need to be doing to retain your current donors. Burnett (2002) describes;”  As new donors cost around five times more to recruit than lapsed donors cost to reactivate, why is it nonprofits usually persist in spending the vast bulk of their promotional resources on finding new resources.”

How does a small nonprofit reactivate lapsed donors or make sure that donors continue to support them? Burnett has some pretty practical advice for a charity he suggests:” First remove anything that might make them want to leave you in the first place- discover through research every conceivable reason there could be why anyone might leave you, and work to eliminate those factors (Burnett, 2002, p.157).”

            For our own charity whether we are trying to engage a new donor or re-involve a past donor we often offer to give a tour of one of our Houses. This gives the opportunity to talk about what our team is doing with donations and how people can support what we are doing. Talking about these things is pretty important, but our Director of Development is pretty good at engaging donors in a conversation that is fairly similar to what Burnett is suggesting.” How did you hear about us?” “What originally made you interested in RMH?” Do you support other similar charities” What do you like about your support to their cause? Do you like the way they recognize your donation? Do you like the way they communicate with you about how your donation is being used?”  Not that Marla peppers people during a tour with all of these questions –she is pretty good at weaving some of them through the tour and the conversation. Also she is fairly likely to ask a few questions about our own efforts to avoid losing them as a donor. “Are you receiving our newsletter?” Is there anything about it that you particularly like or dislike?” Is there anything we could be doing to inform you better on what we are doing with your support?” “Did you receive your thank you letter and receipt in a timely manner.”

There are likely a few thousand other questions a fundraising or nonprofit executive could be asking but the point is to keep creating opportunities for your donors to give you feedback about their satisfaction with their donor experience with your organization. Otherwise they will tell you in our least favorite way, they will stop giving to you and start giving to another charity.


Burk, P (2003) Donor Centered Fundraising: How to Hold on to your donors and raise much more    

          money: Hamilton: Cygnus Applied Research, Inc.

Burnett,K (2002) Relationship Fundraising: A donor –based approach to the business of raising money:

          San Francisco: Jossey –Bass.

How two ten year olds raised $20,000 selling $2 hot dogs

         I had been working in the nonprofit sector for about 2 decades when I started working for Ronald McDonald House. My first month on the job a fellow called and he told me he was going to do Ironman and he was going to collect pledges from his friends to raise money for RMH. I think during the first phone call I almost fell off my chair, I couldn’t believe that someone wanted to do a fundraiser for us. None of the other charities I had worked for in the past had groups or individuals do what I later learned was called third party fundraising. What a great concept this was- a fundraising event held on our behalf, raising our profile and visibility and it didn’t cost us a thing. What could be better? We needed to figure out how to increase the likelihood that more people would do third party events for us. Over the next few years we did figure out ways to have more people do events for us, but here is one of my favorite stories of a third party event:

          In 2008 our society was considering building a new Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer. At the time it was to be the first new Ronald McDonald House built in a new Canadian city in over twenty years (all of the existing RMHs had been built in the 80’s). One of the mom’s whose family had used the Calgary House stopped in for a visit one day and had asked to see me with her 10 year old daughter Jenaya. I came out to the living room to meet with Lisa and her daughter. They lived near Red Deer and had heard we were thinking of building an RMH there. Lisa told me that their family had been appreciative of the support the House had provided their family and that they wanted to help other families to be able to experience the same support. Jenaya and her friend Caitlyn has come up with the idea of selling hot dogs at their school one Friday afternoon to raise money for the new House. Ultimately the capital campaign target was $12 million dollars so it was not like I was going to say no, however I did think the girls would be lucky to raise $100. None the less we loved this family and the idea was really cute. Who wouldn’t love the idea of kids helping sick kids in their community? I thanked Lisa and Jenaya and told them we would be thrilled if they would sell hot dogs for us. The girls planned to sell the hot dogs for $2 each, a local grocery store was going to donate the buns and they might have a lead on someone to donate the hot dogs. A week or two before the Friday the girls were going to sell the hot dogs, Lisa called me and said some of their friends were not able to make it to the school the day of the hot dog sale, could they write us a cheque? “Sure” I responded, this hot dog sale seemed to be getting bigger. I told Lisa we had a “donate now” button on our website, they could tell some of their adult friends they could donate using their credit card. We suggested that their friends just type “hot dog sale” into the memo line on the on-line donation page. We didn’t have a lot of experience with peer to peer fundraising at the time and we certainly didn’t have our own software to allow people to set up pledge pages for us at this time.  Well the girls managed to get themselves in the newspaper and on the radio. A local business man made a pledge on the radio and challenged local businesses to match his pledge. I don’t remember how many actual $2 hot dogs were physically sold but the girls ended up raising over $20,000 by the end of the day on Friday. I would have been thrilled if they raised $100 but the final total of about $24,000 made us pretty confident that we would ultimately be able to raise the funds we needed to in Red Deer to build a new RMH.