Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Volunteer!

Volunteerism is one of the pillars of the nonprofit world. Period.

The PinoyFundraiser should not only seek monetary gifts, the PF should be soliciting manpower also. Manpower that could give a substantial savings to the non-profit. And savings means more funds to allocate to projects. Plus, you give people a sense of purpose. You give them a very good alternative from their day-to-day living.

People volunteering for even just a couple of days in a week--or even a year--is so much to be thankful for. Volunteers are also advocates. When you convince them that your non-profit is worth his time and effort, soon enough, that person will be mentioning you to his family, then to friends. They'll mention you on blogs, websites, in social networks, etc.

So not only did you gain an additional hand, you also get goodwill. That volunteer may even be giving your non-profit money (you may not even know about it). There's a lot to do in your office. In your mission site. They can type your reports. Hey, they can even do your fundraising!

They may also be the future of your organization. I read somewhere that volunteers are more passionate than your paid staff because they joined your organization without expecting anything. They mean only to do one thing, to make a difference through your non-profit.

See you next time!

Friday, June 26, 2009

You need to be on top of your game!

This means you should always be on the lookout for what is new, what is effective, what your "competition is doing." You do this not for the sake of imitating what they are doing and if they are doing it right. You need to be aware so that you can strategize accordingly.

The PinoyFundraiser should be always learning, observing, and taking down notes. You should always on the internet. Look at your "competitors'" website. Buy their products. Experience their service. Does it change your perception? Then they are doing something right.

You should be alert for things that can improve your creativity, your knowledge on development and fundraising. You also need to learn something new that is totally unrelated to your field. A lot of breakthroughs happen because you found that you can apply fundraising something you learned in agriculture for example. Who knows right?

There so many free resources on the internet, your neighborhood, your library or park. Learn to observe. Learn to take it in and stock it in your brain so that you can pull it out when you need it. It also exercises your brain so that you don't get Alzheimers. 8-)

The PF cannot rest easy and rest on his triumphs. You can be obsolete in quickly! See you on Monday!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Writing a Fundraising Letter

As I write this, I am in the finishing stage of writing a new fundraising letter for our humanitarian arm. As all writers experience, it is very hard to write a letter, let alone a two-pager.

Starting the letter is the first hurdle. When I write, I need to have all the information at hand. If I ever need additional information that can only be given to me by somebody else, I usually ask another person to get it for me. Sometimes I do it myself. One of the tenets of writing these things are that you have to have your facts accurate. One cannot assume anything.

That is why it usually takes me the better part of the whole day to finish the letter. I take a lot of breaks, not only to clear my mind, but because it helps. When I take a break, I usually take a walk, sometimes not even a few meters away from my workstation and then I have to hurry back because something came to my mind.

You need to seize these opportunities when it comes. If you let if get away, who knows, it may have been something that could have gotten your response up. Who knows, right?

Writing is also something of an art. It is also part science. Part psychology. You need to know your audience well. You need to have a balance tone when you write. You need to convey excitement, fear, sadness, hapiness and ultimately, joy.

You should also have a clear goal when writing. Is it to inform? To provide updates? To ask for money? You need to provide specific action points to the reader. You cannot allow your reader to feel that they were not able to do anything.

You can't make them feel useless or that you have done all the work and they should send money so you can be compensated. No! Whatever your project is, its a collaborative project. You need to make them feel involved. Make them feel that they made a contribution

God bless you and see you again tomorrow!

P.S. I just read that if ever you make typo errors, they sometimes increase response rates. Its not a guarantee but it shows that the letter was done by a person and not by a professional computer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Are you a Boy (or Girl) Scout?

As they say, the Boy Scout is "Always Ready!"

The Pinoy Fundraiser should be the best opportunistic person in the organization. Why do I say that? The PF should always be ready to grab an opportunity when it comes.

Is your resource development (this is another term for the person that handles the fundraising) person always updated with what is happening in the non-profit? Does she have a brochure of the organization on the ready when a potential supporter asks? Does that person even have a business card? Does she look professional and credible?

These and a lot more others are the issues facing the PF. Can she even take a potential supporter to a coffee shop so they can talk more comfortably and be able to present the cause? Or do they stand in the local "Jollijeep" munching on turon (fried banana roll) and sipping sago't gulaman (i'm vexed! i don't kow the english for this)?

As they say, "first impressions last,". So are YOU prepared? You can't tell people that you don't have a brochure because you have channeled all your support to helping make this world a better place--one person at a time. It does not work like that. Oftentimes, you need to sow seeds in fundraising. And when you sow seeds, you need, get ready for this, seeds! If you don't sow, you don't harvest. If you can't sow becuase you were'nt prepared then maybe you are in the wrong job.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


A lot of PFs use events such as benefit concerts, advance movie screenings, raffles (do i hear bingo?) to raise funds. They are fine to some extent but I'd like to pose some issues that I hope will help you weigh things when thinking of doing another event.

1. Would the profit be worthwhile? I ask this because, in an event, a lot of things will be spent. Its not just money but your time, skills and most especially your sanity. If you will not be earning at least 300% over your expenses (this includes your time and salary) or making serious networking, then seriously consider against it. Physical exhaustion is one thing, but mental? It may not be worth it.

2. Would you be doing an excellent job? It does not have to be perfect, because nothing will come out perfect. There will always be something that will come up that everything may not come to your expectation. If the event will show your non-profit's weaknesses in terms of organizing an event then don't do it. Your credibility and reputation is much more important.

3. Can you afford it? Some events require that you shell out an initial investment. Do you have what it takes? Some will give an eager "Yes!" but fail at the home stretch. Your integrity goes down the drain if this happens.

There are lot more questions that one can think but the above items are very critical to your decision making. So, be wise!

God bless you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Exchange deals--a transaction where one product is exchange, traded or bartered. Usually, there is no cash involved, mainly products or services.

Now that we have some sort of definition, how can the Pinoy Fundraiser use it? Let's say you have a project for an orphanage. You will need food, furnitures, fixtures. clothes, and a whole lot of other stuff.

Some of these you will eventually buy yourself but some of them can be had for x-deals. As the term implies, there should be something traded or exchanged. In our orphanage's case, the PF can partner with companies that manufacture or distribute food stuff so that the orphanage will not have to buy them. In return, the orphanage can drum up the "deal" via banners, press releases or newsletter articles. Getting a company to deal with you is a whole lot of a different matter that I will not be discussing today.

When things like these happen, the orphanage will save on the cost, in whole or in part, of purchasing food stuff. This goes the same for furnitures, equipment, computers. Everything can basically be had for x-deals.

Now, there are companies that will just give you a donation instead of going through an x-deal. And those companies or individuals that are truly admirable.

God bless you and see you tomorrow!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good and Great Testimonials

With the work that each of our non-profits are doing to make this world a better place, we will surely encounter good words coming from our beneficiaries and supporters. It is important that we are able to capture these words that we call "testimonials."

These words are very important for the Pinoy Fundraiser. It means that the non-profit is doing a good job of fulfilling its mission. It is also an affirmation for the people behind the work. If these words come from important people such as the heads of government agencies or from the local government units, they are all the more special because it gives you credibility. And credibility is very improtant in the non-profit world.

Credibility makes it easier for you to ask for money. You can use these words in your fundraising letters, in your press releases, newsletter, websites or blogs. You can use these as conversation pieces. That is why it is so important.

People who support your non-profit will appreciate these testimonies because they will know that their donations are going to a good cause. This will give you a better chance of getting long-term donors.

More to come tomorrow!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

News for the Pinoy Fundraiser

Hello again from Siquijor!

I'm posting an announcement from the Christian Stewardship Association's Zenet Maramara about a seminar that they will be holding at ATS.


Resource Speaker: Ms. Chill Fortunado, Resource Development Manager, Food for the Hungry

Raising money for non profit organization discusses the essentials of resource development, the infrastructures of resource mobilization, relationship building with donors, leadership team, fund raising planning, sources of funds for NGOs. Other topics that will be discussed includes fundraising events, solicitation and GIK (gifts in kind) partnership, facilitating a volunteer program and grants opportunities. The importance of monitoring and evaluating the RD initiatives will also be tackled to determine its effectiveness. It will also be a time to share some of the best practices of resource development staff of other NGOs. We hope that the participants of the workshop will leave with a gladness in their hearts that they are instruments of bridging the gap of the needs and the resource sharing where the giver and receiver are reciprocally benefiting.

WHEN: June 20, 2009, Saturday, 9:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.

WHERE: Asian Theological Seminary, 2nd flr. Stewardship Center
54 Scout Mardinan St., Quezon City

Fee: P350.00 (includes snacks and handouts)

Contact for details: Luz Ellen Mendoza: 9297806, 0917-8459709


Zenet Maramara
Chairman, Christian Stewardship Association

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hands on or Hands Off?

Greetings from Siquijor!

As non-profits, we are expected to be leading the charge that will further our cause. That is why, the head is the best spokesperson for the organization. If you are reading this and you lead a non-profit, are you the one I just described?

The head should always be in the best position to communicate the non-profit's work and should be very intimate with it. Whatever question that you encounter that is related to your non-profit, it should always have a definite answer. Generalities should be avoided. The answer should always be to the point. This shows that you are in touch with what you do and makes you very credible and trustworthy of one's support. Anyone other than you is the most credible to communicate what your non-proft does.

The head should not avoid, at any cost, the role of making your cause known. We cannot be too shy about it because that is our role. ANo one can replace you and until such time when someone who is thoroughly conversant with what the non-profit does, then that is your sole role.

God bless from Siquijor!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

You Broke My Heart

Yes, I know! I was not able to post something yesterday. I have a good excuse. I had to bring my wife for an emergency check-up with her doctor, so I know you will forgive me.

Which brings me to my topic for today--what to do when you break your promise to your supporter. The promise I am referring to is one that you make when you ask for funding from your partners. For example, you have a direct mail piece and you promised a premium. Your supplier made a product whose quality is suspect. Would you give them something of inferior quality because you want to be able to meet your promise? Or would you rather wait for the better quality product and apologize?

The question above is very delicate and it is nightmarish. But the example above happens in real life. If you are a small non-profit and you work alone, you'll be having a tough time. This even happens to the well organized. You are not alone. So, what does one have to do?

Well, the best thing to do is apologize, simple right? And you need to do it early. If possible, before your promised date of delivery. Write them or call them and tell them (honestly, okay?) that an unfortunate incident happened that will not allow you to make it on time. Your partners will appreciate it.

But then there are times when you are in a complicated mess that it is so hard to find way how to apologize. Please bear in mind that people understand that we all make mistakes. Some non-profits take making a mistake to the extreme that it seems like you will go to hell the instant you make a mistake. Let's be honest here, have you ever found a non-profit that does not make mistakes?

In the organization I work for, we made a lot of mistakes. Our partners are still with us! Yes, there may be a few who may have been upset, but donors help you because they believe in your cause.

So, when you make a promise make sure that you make all the necessary steps to deliver as promised. When you hit a snag, don't wait until its today to apologize. Tell them earlier.

God bless you!

P.S. Tomorow I will be blogging from Siquijor, an island in the Visayas area of the Philippines.

Friday, June 05, 2009

So, what database do we use?

That's another good question!

Depending on the size of your non-profit, it would probably a safe answer-hehehe. If you are starting from scratch you may do well if you go with off-the-shelf fundraising software such as those from DonorPerfect. You can also consider the Intuit's Quickbooks Premier 2009 edition. With this software you'll also get an accounting software! Why is that? Because you can still adapt your needs to the software that you will purchase. If you already have an existing workflow and its not automated yet, then and off-the-shelf can work.

You can also consider Giftworks made by Mission Research (www.missionreasearch.com). You can download a trial version of this software that you can evaluate if it would fit your needs. Giftworks' cost start at $399 or roughly 20,000 pesos.

Admittedly, much of the better fundraising software are not available here in the Philippines. But careful searching on the Internet may yield you good results and great deal. As a last recourse, you can contract with a computer company that can program what you want. That is, IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.

So, what do we want in a fundraising software? Here's my take:

1. Contact management. If you read yesterday's post, you would want a streamlined contact management module from your software.

2. Transaction Processing. Somebody gives you money, you give a receipt. It should be simple right? Well, I hate to burst your bubble but its a bit messy. With transaction processing, you can keep a record of your partners' giving history. This should also include receipt processing and printing. Optionally, posting to your accounting software would be a great advantage.

3. Reporting. You need information to make decisions. A good fundraising software should give you a decent number of pre-made reports that will help in your decision making. You should be able to monitor and assess trends.

4. Mail merging. A good fundraising software will help you communicate better with your constituents. It should help you print letters and envelopes and automate the placement of names and addressess. Its should also help you send bulk email.

These four things should be the bare minimum. But then, it can also cost you. So do your homework before you commit.

Thanks and God bless! See you back on Monday!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Da Database Thing

Ok, here is a follow-up from yesterday's post on databases. I asked the question, "how should one structure a database?" so that it can effectively serve its purpose.

To start with, a database is structured as records inside a table. Records are composed of fields. Records and fields can be rows and columns in a spreadsheet such as Excel or Quattro (the one being distributed in Corel WordPerfect's office suite)

Let's assume that we are using a spreadsheet for our purposes. Here is what we should do:

1. Create a new spreadsheet.

2. Draft a title for your list that will be located in the first row of the spreadsheet. This could be something like: "Partner Information" or "Donor Contact List. Use whatever works for you.

3. On the next line, define your fields or columns. I usually breakdown a person's full name into three: first name, middle name, last name. By doing this, you can sort your database among these fields.

4. Next stop would be the address. You can choose to put a residential address, a business address, and a mailing (or shipping) address (something like a post office box). You can use just one or all of them. Using all of them provides you with flexibility

5. Next are the contact numbers. Again, you can choose to maintain a home landline, office landline, personal mobile, business mobile, fax, etc.

6. Now comes the email address. Personal email (gmail, yahoo, msn), Business email.

7. Websites. This could be the personal website and the website where they work for.

8. Make sure you include their spouse's name (if applicable), birth dates and anniversaries. You wouldn't want to miss that do you? 8-)

9. You can put a field containing what part of your organization these people are interested in.

You will do fine with a basic list like this. Obviously, you can add more. The complexity grows when you add giving information and histories in this same spreadsheet. A full time database program will help you solve this, but this would be for another post.

See you tomorrow and God bless!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

To Database or Not

Where do you keep the names and contact info of your partners, supporters, suppliers and everything in between?

Are they written on 5 x 7 index cards? Are they in a worksheet? A database software perhaps? Hmmm. Where ever nook and cranny its located, someone in your organization should be maintaining the information and keep it accurate and up-to-date.

By today's standards, a computer is standard fare in every office, these information should be in a worksheet, at least. One would argue that we should still keep index cards in the event of a power outage or something like that. Oh well.

If you don't have a legal copy of Microsoft Access (a database program that comes with versions of MS Office) or MS Excel, you can try using the free office suite called OpenOffice. You can download a copy at www.openoffice.org. Its worksheet software can do almost everything that you would need. Its database software is not as formidable as MS's offering but it can still hold its own. Best of all, its FREE and LEGAL.

You may also consider online databases like the ones offered at www.grubba.net. Its a free service but you should back-up your databases very often. I just found out that a web service provider, Coghead Software, was bought by a bigger company and its offerings are not anymore available. Too bad, I found it easy to use and I can have a database free.

There is always the case to have a database software customized to your needs. You will need someone who is well-versed in database programming and who USES legal software so that the software that they will turn-over to you will no be made from pirated products. You don't want that don't you? If you need get someone, I can recommend someone to you, email me at edwin.arceo@gmail.com

I'll follow this up tomorrow on how to structure your database. Thanks and God bless!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Do you have money today?

When is the best time to ask? For the Pinoy Fundraiser, it's usually something like, NOW! 8-)

Admit it or not, a non-profit always needs money. For a humanitarian organization, for example, one of their primary mandate would probably be disaster relief. And we all know that disaster strikes at the most inopportune time. A non-profit like this always needs to be ready. It cannot ask money when a disaster strikes. They need to be ready everytime. They need to stockpile food stuffs, medicines, clothing, drinking water, etc. They cannot have it tomorrow, they need it today.

This is one reason why asking for support needs to be an on-going effort. You do not want to be caught flat-footed when a disaster strikes. Appealing for support needs to go out when an opportunity happens. This can also be done intentionally, on a schedule.

Some non-profits, ask for money annually. These non-profits embark on a campaign that will allow them to raise funding to support their work for a year. This is called an "annual campaign." For others, it could be quarterly or monthly.

But then, a good non-profit should be able to have a reasonable surplus that would get them through in emergencies. There are extreme cases when you ask your supporters to stop giving money specially when you set a goal for the amount that will be raised. I read of a humanitarian organization that responded to the tsunami in Indonesia, and when they reached their target amount, they asked people to stop giving and instead redirect their donations to other causes that are helping the tsunami victims. That was a risky thing to do for a non-profit but they wanted to be transparent. they wanted to let people know that this is what they will be doing, no more, no less.

More to come tomorrow.

Monday, June 01, 2009

"Ask and it shall be given..."

How well do you ask money from your supporters?

Is it a hard question for you to answer? Do you fidget around and hope that they get the message? Do yo beat around the bush and hope that they catch what you mean? And by the way, what do YOU actually say?

The problem with us as Filipinos is that some times, its hard for us to ask for help. It's very difficult for us to say, "Can you please help me out?" On the other hand, there are those who make a living on asking people for money. It's not hard for them to ask but they can get annoying and irritating so easily.

The Pinoy Fundraiser (PF) needs to overcome this hurdle. The PF needs to know when to ask and when not. Asking for money or support should be second nature for the PF, especially if they work in a small non-profit. The PF should not say something like this, "Hey, please pray for our project. We don't have any money and a lot of supporters but we know that God wants us to do this. You will pray, right?"

Why can't we just simply say, "Hey, we have this project and we don't have enough funds, can you help? You can start by sending us 500 pesos today." Now, was that hard? For some, it is. The Bible tells us this in Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." What does this say to the PF? You need to ask directly! Don't go around in circles.

The bible also says in James 4:2, "You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God."

You need to let others know that there is a need. You need to let people know how they can help. How they can be part of the solution. And people are just waiting to be asked. If you ask for prayer, what you will get is prayer, because that is what you asked. Why don't you ask for prayer AND MONEY?

I hope this enlightens you. PEACE!