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Planning a Successful Gathering

July 1, 2022  |   4 min read

Planning a Successful Gathering

Welcome back to the Friday Five! 

*** Happy Fourth of July weekend! ***

It’s hard to believe this is already our 5th edition. To celebrate, and since this is a time of celebration, this week we decided to have some fun and cover something a little lighter: how to plan a great event. After all, holidays are all about relaxing with those you care about so why not do it with a little extra flare? 

Oh, and since fundraising is also about relationships, a lot of the tips below to host – or be a part of – a great party will carry over into your community building efforts and event planning. 

Here’s our 5 – enjoy the tips and have a great holiday party! 

1. Gather Friends and Family

Arguably the most important on the list. Regardless of the size – whether it is you and a friend, or the entire extended family – these are your people. Having time to enjoy their company and sharing some laughs makes the day-to-day work worth it. 

If no one has an area large enough, head to a beach or park to soak up some sun. Chances are you might find another group with the same idea! Just remember to bring lawn chairs, blankets and sunscreen.  

2. Prepare the entertainment

While just being with your friends is enough, bring some games and music to make even more memories. Some all time classics would be bags – or cornhole depending on where you-re from, flag football, frisbee, or even a game of catch. Make it fun, add a unique rule or switch up teams every few rounds.  

Too hot for such activities? No problem. A great way to beat the heat is to find a lake or pool. Can’t find some splashable water? Find a deck of cards or some dice and gather around inside. Some of our favorite games are Rumi, Farkle, Euchre, Left Right Center, Blackjack, and Solitaire. Don’t worry, though there are no wrong answers, only good memories.  

3. Don't Forget About the Food

One of our personal favorites. Food inherently brings us together. A grill, if you have one, is a great way to not only make and serve food, but to reinforce the event as a communal gathering.  

Just don’t forget the condiments, sides, and drinks!

4. Safety First

When we think of safety, it’s easy to jump to fireworks – because what is the 4th without fireworks? But, of course, you already know to stick with sparklers or leave it up to the pros. But the real threat: the sun. Being out and about all day, enjoying friends, food, and maybe a libation or two can easily lead to a crispy sunburn. Apply and reapply your (SPF 30+) sunscreen throughout the day to prevent some unpleasant leftovers. And don’t forget to stay hydrated! 

5. Most Importantly, Have Fun!!

Two exclamation points on this one. Whatever you do, have fun. Enjoy time away from work and the reward of being with friends and family. No matter what your plan is, so long as you and your gathering crew have a great time, you did a great job. 

From our team to yours, Happy Fourth of July! 

Check back next week for tips on building budgets, which is sure to be as fun as this one. 

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DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!

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Convincing Your Decision Makers

June 23, 2022  |   7 min read

Convincing Your Decision Makers

Hi and welcome back to the Friday Five, our ongoing series highlighting the benefits of CRMs. Building on last week’s indications that it’s time to adopt a CRM, this week will focus on convincing decision makers that it’s time to us a CRM. 

You’ve done the research, completed the analysis and are convinced a CRM is important to the growth and continued success for your organization. The next step is to get your executive director or relevant stakeholders to see the benefit. Showing benefits in story form helps grab attention and allows you to paint a full picture of what a CRM can offer. 

Here are 5 tips for proposing a CRM to your internal team: 

1. Provide Solutions Tied to Mission

Start by reminding everyone of your organization’s mission and all the great things you do. It’s a lot of work, right? Show your audience what your typical day involves with explicit focus on the routine and repetitive tasks. Emphasize the pain points, signaling there is a limit to the time in a day, but no end in sight for your – and their – ever growing to-do list. Now, provide a solution: a great way to free time through automation. Since most CRMs include automated features, adoption will translate to efficiency. 

Remember, setting up automations helps in a variety of ways. From emailing receipts and communication reminders, to notifications of when donors cross fundraising thresholds and campaign reports. Taking the time to set up a system where repetitive tasks are completed for you will save exponential amounts of time. Saving as little as 10 minutes each month translates to 2 hours in a year. Those 2 hours could mean securing another major donation! 

2. Tech Can be Intimidating and Confusing

Don’t get super detailed or bring up jargon. Confusing your audience is not he goal. Sure, you may mention possible APIs or bring up which KPIs are in the dashboard, but they should be explained simply and framed as easy to use and beneficial. At the end of the day, most of your audience is unlikely to be the ones who use the software daily. They don’t need minute detail, they need the full picture. 

Recommend a champion of the software, most likely you, who will learn the ins-and-outs of it. Speak to what the training would involve and if there is currently a plan in place already. Acknowledge that it will take some time to learn and build the system, but this will pay dividends in the long run.

Take the uneasiness out of both technology and change for your audience.  Embrace the work and emphasize the benefits!

3. Better Reporting

If you’ve read our previous posts, you already know how important we think solid data is. A key benefit of using a CRM is centralized, available and exportable data. Having organized information in one location removes possible data loss due to multiple excel files, software, even paper files.  PRO TIP: Further reduce your administrative burden and schedule a report for the end of a campaign or event so it is one less thing to do during the finishing stages. 

As we like to say at DonorNinja, do more with your data

4. Marry a CRM with Strategic Intents

You know where you are, but where are you going? As your organization builds or modifies strategic plans, highlight how a CRM will work in concert to deliver exceptional results. Include a “roadmap”, or plan describing how adoption of a CRM will accelerate or amplify plans for growth and fundraising. Remind your audience this is an investment for the continue success for your organization. 

5. Practice Your Pitch

We encourage you to practice beforehand. Consider reading some best practices on board presentations, giving a convincing pitch or even check out a video. This could be an eventful presentation / conversation. You will want to be sure to keep your audience engaged. You know them best. Interests, apprehensions and where the barriers to approval will be. Tailor your presentation to speak to the aspects which will resonate, practice and refine. 

Even if it’s a “no” this go’round, there may be beneficial information in these posts for future presentations. You can never be too skilled at the art of persuasion, especially when donations are needed to fuel your mission. 

We hope that you liked this week’s Friday Five. As always, like, share, and comment on your favorite tips!

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DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!

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Finally Time to Adopt a CRM

June 17, 2022  |   5 min read                   

Finally Time to Adopt a CRM

Hi and welcome back to Friday Five. This week is part-1 or a 2-part series on CRMs. Today we are starting with 5 indicators that it’s finally time to adopt a CRM, AkA Customer Relationship Management tool. 

As a growing organization, the daily tasks fighting for your attention leave room for information and time to slip through the cracks. The main objective of a CRM is to improve relationships by recording data and automating actions. By taking time to examine where repetitive and daily tasks can be automated can have immense rewards.

So, without further ado, 5 signs you are ready for a CRM:

1. How Much Software Do You Use?

In the ever increasing world of software, it can be so easy to jump from program to program. Marketing to data and donor management, external to internal communication, and don’t forget reporting. For this reason, it’s important to do a software audit to see which programs you are paying for, which you are using and most importantly, which are providing value. 

You could like one feature or element of a system, but a full audit should also identify any features that are not being used within your current tools. Finding the most used features in current software and consolidating them so data collection is both complete and in one place is the key to efficiency. This can beneficial for both your bottom line as well as streamlining your standard operating procedures for data storage and usage.

Oftentimes, work done in separate systems – systems you likely pay for – can be consolidated to one CRM.   

2. Is Your Information Organized?

Can you name your top 5 donors? What about where to find them and when was the last time someone from your organization contacted them? 

These people are important to your mission and should be treated as such. While this information may eventually be found, having a CRM like DonorNinja which can easily report on donation history, event attendance, email marketing, and more save both time and hassle. 

While these tools do not magically clean your data – we wish too – they do provide a building block to organize and record what is valuable to both you and your industry. Once organized in a CRM tool, these donors can be given statuses based on their activity level. Doubling down on your internal organization can be a helpful way to improve your donor community

 

3. Same Work, Different Day

Few things are more valuable than your time. How much would it be worth to have an extra hour every day to build and strengthen relationships with your donors, members and volunteers? How great would it be to get a notification when your donors break milestones? Or to get an alert when they were expected to cross a threshold and didn’t?

This is where reflecting on the daily, repetitive tasks can be rewarding: finding where to make templates, scheduling emails and reports, and building automated workflows. Your CRM system will do the work for you and you will get precious time back in your day. Having a built-in notification to trigger actions for you, or your team,  could yield immediate dividends. 

A CRM which allows you to “set it and forget it” does all the work to highlight donors and removes another thing from your to do list. And who doesn’t want that? 

4. Moving In Place...

Can’t get over that hump? 

Whether it be fundraising or donor retention, sometimes it is purely a matter of capacity. A relationship requires maintenance. Maintenance takes time and you probably don’t have enough of that. 

When all of your focus goes to acquiring new relationship, those old relationship usually suffer When you and your team can no longer keep up as your organization scales up, it is time to find a tool to help! Look for a CRM to alleviate routine tasks, giving you more time to connect with your donors, new and old. 

5. Real Life Feedback

How do you show all the amazing you do with both your board and the donors themselves? Dashboards are great for showing what your organization is doing and the impact of your work in a snapshot. This is perfect for a quick, high-level view, but this does not paint the full picture. 

To go deeper, a robust reporting feature is needed. Preferably one that can highlight donor retention, major donors, campaigns and key events. These can be compiled and used to determine which campaigns and fundraising cycles worked the best and which left room for improvement. Use all your resources, including your valuable donor data to give you every possible angle to be successful.  

We hope that you enjoyed our tips.  If you had a favorite or any others we would love to see your thoughts!

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DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!

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Improve Your Donor Community

June 10, 2022  |   6 min read          

 

Improving Your Donor Community

Welcome back to the Friday Five! This week is all about cultivating and sustaining donors. 

Have you ever wondered how to better understand your donors? Well, you’re in luck because today we’re discussing how to do just that with key data. By improving and better maintaining connections, your community will be stronger. This sense of community strength often results in more donations, too. But how do you create this community? We’ve go 5 ideas for you: 

1. Track Donation History and Trends

A great place to start is to see who is actually giving, and how much. Donations / Donor reports will give you a good idea of trends, and perhaps key donors to engage. But go a little deeper than just your major donors. Data like this can also be sorted into similar giving groups. Break your donors into categories based on donation values, dates, etc. to highlight similarities for more targeted fundraising. 

You can even go one step further and try to figure out what makes a donor give. It could be any combination of belief in mission, family or friend involvement, political giving, active volunteering, or some other degree of connection. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so this can be a starting point for engaging with your donors. 

2. Understand How Your Community Wants to Engage

Do your donors want more in person events? Do they want more communication? Less? How do they like to be contacted? 

The best way to find the answers to these questions is to just ask. Rather than including a survey buried in the monthly newsletter, send out a separate survey / questionnaire focusing on your donors and what they would like more of. In our digital age, another text or email can feel a bit distant – and easy to ignore – so build space for more in depth conversation. And don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.  

Events are another great way to increase communication and make your organization feel like a community. When hosting, be a social butterfly and spend time talking with current and prospective donors. You’ll be amazed at how much insight you can gain.

Then remember to track all the details because keeping this valuable data for future use is the key. We recommend an all in one tool like DonorNinja to keep everything organized and accessible. 

3. It's the Little Things

Always pay attention to your donors. They’re your lifeblood, so make sure they know they matter. If you’re hosting an event, pay attention to likes, dislikes, tastes, etc. Try to find out why people volunteer and if family members are indirectly involved in the mission. The details build your connections. 

But of course not every detail can be remembered on demand, and this is where tools are essential. We’re long past the rolodex, so an ideal place to manage relationships and record notes is a donor management database. Having an intelligent system makes the recording process simple. then, when it comes time for the next communication, notes can be easily referenced – and those details can be brought up – making people feel valued and special. 

4. Know Your Demographics

No different than any other industry, understanding your market demographics is important to building a foundation of sustainability. Sorting donors into groups by donation amount or date is a great start, but understanding them within these categories is what will launch your fundraising efforts into the next gear. 

This information can be gathered in numerous ways. When registering for an event, original signup, or even by reaching out and asking to complete their profile with you. If fully collected, this information can show where your donors are, most common professions, and familial involvements. Pro Tip: data trend tracking can be tedious, so use a system like DonorNinja with robust reporting tools which allows you to get access to what you need when you need it. 

5. Be Transparent and Say Thank You

Most people want to know what is being done, in general terms, with their donation. Whether it’s building a new facility, funding scholarships, or paying for groceries. When a donor understands the good causes that their contributions will support, it goes a long way in securing those funds. 

Once a donor has contributed, always remember to say thanks! This can be done in a multitude of ways, but we recommend – beyond the obviously thank you – sending both an email formalizing the donation and, to really cement their place in the mission, a follow-up highlighting the impact their donation made with pictures, stats, testimonials, or all of the above. 

Similar to understanding what their contribution will fund, understanding the impact is important to securing future donations.  

That’s it! 5 quick tips to improve your donor community. Our suggestions here are only the first step in sustainable fundraising. Recording this information is just as crucial and DonorNinja can help with that! Check us out to see how our system works in concert with these tips to create a dynamic ecosystem for donor management. 

Have a favorite tip or think we missed something? Come join the conversation with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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About Us

DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!

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Nonprofit Tips for Grant Management

June 3, 2022  |   4 min read                  

Grant Management Tips for Nonprofits

Welcome to the first edition of the Friday Five, a weekly post aimed at providing simple and impactful tips for non-profit management. Every Friday we will share 5 tips across a variety of topics: accounting, fundraising, operations, and some surprises along the way. Today we’re discussing grant management with a focus on accounting.

Grant Management is essential to nonprofits, and the paperwork associated with accounting can be overwhelming. The painstaking process of shuffling files, filtering and finding emails, and tracking down receipts to ensure proper documentation for the accounting to work is more than a handful.  It’s hard work, on top of all your other hard work.  

We spoke with our accounting team to find ideas to help mitigate all this administrative hassle and came up with five tips to help improve your grant accounting process.  

Comment and share which Friday 5 tip is your favorite! 

1. Understand. Your. Grant.

It’s important to really understand the type of grant(s) you have. Before you apply for any grant, check for restrictions. It’ll save you time and headaches in the long-term. Restrictions come in three forms: time, purpose, or both. For time, grants can either be temporarily or permanently restricted.  Knowing if there are specific functions needed will make sure you continue qualifying in the future. 

2. Standard Recording and Documentation

Set up a good recording and documentation process. We recommend virtual folders as they are easier to keep track of and share. A great way to start would be creating a folder for every month. Then, when it’s time to prepare your report / voucher packet, all the documents are organized and easy to take action against. 

3. Create Templates

Templates save time! When executing commonly repeated actions, templates will ease the repetition and speed up your process.  

Pro tip: This is not solely applicable to grants. Payroll and benefits are great for templates too. Creating templates for these helps speed up the process of allocating expenses. You’ll improve accuracy, gain efficiency and feel less bogged down. 

4. Use Your Documentation

Now that you have a great documentation process – use it! Sounds simple, but how many times do you work out a great system only to have noise take over and start abandoning the process? All it takes is an urgent email or unexpected request to let clutter collect on your desktop or allow for unorganized files – files you probably will need – to fill your downloads folder. 

Take a breath and a few minutes to stay organized saving time and avoiding headaches when it comes time to prepare the reports / vouchers.  The reality is adherence to the process and regular maintenance are needed to make this work. You put in the work to build it, so use it!

5. Use Software Wisely

Software is great, until it’s not.  Far too often we seek to have software solve a problem only to create a workaround here, there, and everywhere. Software tools have become so intertwined in our everyday life that it can be hard to remember a time without them, which is why we need to be smart about which ones we use.  Before spending the money and time implementing another system, take time to think through critical paths, the problems being solved and the administrative work associated with a deployment.  Try to find tools that work easily and reliably with one another, and don’t take a software engineer to configure or manage.  Software used wisely can save you time and energy, but the wrong tools, in any quantity, will have the reverse effect. 

We hope you found this helpful, and most of all enjoyed! Have a favorite tip or think we missed something? Come join the conversation with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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About Us

DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!

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