Thursday, July 30, 2009

Clean up Your Database

When we say clean up, it means our database should be squeeky clean. Your database could be the lifeblood of your fundraising efforts. An unmaintained database can cost a non-profit money if not taken cared of. So when you clean it up, whayt do you clean?

1. Make sure all spellings are correct.

2. Make sure there are no duplicates. If you have only a few hundred names that will not take a lot of time but if it is already in the thousands then its going to be a headache.

3. Make sure the history is accurate. The history of transactions. The activity history. Who edited what and how. All these are important.

4. Make frequent backups of your database. And make backups of backups. Redundancy wont hurt.

God bless!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's next after the handshake?

Oftentimes, the Pinoyfundraiser meets potential partners, a meeting is adjourned, they shake hands and go on their separate ways. What do you after? Do you wait for the check to arrive in your mailbox?

The Filipino culture is sometimes a deterrent to follow-up, the point of this post. Follow-up is critical to getting a deal through. Without follow-up your potential partner will forget you in a few days. They have their own challenges and difficulties and as much as they want to help your non-profit, you will just fall by the wayside if you do not follow-up.

Here are some suggestions how to do it:

1. Call them the next day! Make sure to let them know how you appreciate their time.

2. When you end a meeting it is important that you agree on an action point. It can be as small as asking their permission to call them up in a few days to, you guessed it, follow-up

3. Mail a thank you note. In your own handwriting. Provide additional info that you think may help make decision faster

4. Do this again after a week. Its like courtship. Don't lose heart, this is a persistence game.

5. Remember them on important dates.

Obsiously, there are a lot of things that I have not mentioned that you can probably think off, that's good! Make sure you do that five things above first.

God bless!

Friday, July 24, 2009


The task having somebody else do the dirty job for you so you can do more. Is that an acceptable definition?

But it is just as it says. For a small non-profit, the Pinoy Fundraiser may well-off to be outsourcing menial tasks that distract you from doing fundraising.

For example, lettershopping. If you are not as control freaks as others, you can definitely outsource your lettershopping. It means having another company fold, insert and glue you mailer. IT can probably go as much as having them mail it straight to the post office. This is one very good reason to outsource. There are pros and cons though.

My personal experience with outsourcing lettershopping is that the suppliers I met cannot always do what I want. Either it is too expensive or they do not have the facility.

You can also outsource your accounting, your payroll, your events management and organization, photography, facilities, etc.

Outsourcing does not always you have to pay though. You may want to outsource to home-based volunteers. So you may want to keep this in mind when you pay your bills the next time. Can I outsource this expense that I should not be doing.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is Fundraising Getting Hard?

Yes it is...

But as in all endevours, fundraising can be getting harder specially if you are not enjoying what you do, or if you are in a rut. So what do you do when you feel "fundraising is getting hard"?

I tend to say to do what creative people do ... do something different. Let go of fundraising for a little while (this is where an able assistant is important). Smell the flowers, watch the birds. Remember when you would just stare at the clouds and you're mind would show different shapes? Do anything that is totally off from what you are used to do!

For me, I returned to the age-old tradition of writing on paper with a pencil. I now bring a journal that I hope I can write on to when I need it. Writing, for some, is meditative. You can bring into fruition things that are only happening in your mind. For one thing writing on paper may also sharpen you correspondence skills. But I write letters all the time, what makes writing on paper with a pencil be anything different.

True, true. But what I am saying here is, write something off-beat that you are not used to writing. A murder mystery perhaps. I've been wanting to write a chapter a day of a great mystery novel. Just thinking about it makes my creative juices flowing. And fundraising is much about creativity, if you know what I mean.

Why not take a vacation? Stroll around the park? Play with your dog (who btw is getting neglected after months of hectic fundraising.) Meet-up with a long-time friend. These activities will sometime surprise when the solution to what makes your fundraising hard is just a conversation away.

Anyway, get away from fundraising for at least a week and make sure that in that one week, you are doing something totally diffent. Then you will discover a totally different perspective.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Direct Mail Piece Components

Are you familiar with the elements of a direct mail piece? Here is a list to help you out.

1. The outer envelope: This is a critical piece of the direct mail package. The way it looks will determine if your recipient will open your envelop or not. Remember you only have 8 seconds to engage your recipient. You can put a teaser at the front, an offer at the back, information, a private message. Make sure that what you put there counts!

2. The letter: Here is where you can convince people to give. This is where good storytelling is important. It does not matter if the letter is short or long, two or three pages, it does not matter. I've had letter written in four pages and it did not bore me a bit. You can put highlights, margin notes, underlines. There so many options but you need to use the tool which is appropriate.

3. The reply device: You need clealy tell people how to give. The reply device should spell out pertinent terms and condition and how it will benefit the non-profit. IT should show there where to send money. If you offer a premium, they need to know how and when they will get it. Make the reply device sound exclusive. You also have the option to put deadlines. Someone also send that we should design the reply device first before we write the letter so that it will be clear to us what the goal of the direct mail piece is.

I hope that this has been of help. God bless!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Make your partners feel like a winner

Nobody wants to be in losing team right?

It is very important that we as Pinoy Fundraisers make our partners know and experience that we are the right non-profit for them. Of course, every organization has its ups and downs, and we should not neglect people from knowing of our challenges, but we need to let our partners know that can have full confidence in us.

Our communications plan should always be able to address the non-profit's triumphs more than the failures (who wants to hear them anyway). Partners will be more trusting with their hard-earned money to an organization they know that will make sure that a project succeeds. I believe its called attitude.

An organization's attitudes is distilled from the prevailing culture in the office. If there is a culture of so much chaos, anarchy and misdirection, then it won't be hard for people to put their money with other "worthy" organizations. If their is a never-say-die culture then people will put their money behind you. they know that you will do whatever it takes for your efforts to succeed.

Now that's a winner!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What does your newsletter look like? Part 2

Here are a few more insight on making newsletters:

1. Be creative in naming your newsletter. Something unique to your non-profit would surely boost appeal.

2. Use a generous amount of white space. For a definition on what a white space is, check out:

3. Size your body text to something like a 10pt. Times New Roman that can be found in almost all computers. Also, use a serif font, e.a. Times New Roman, so that it will be easier to read. Let me remind you, my dear reader, that readability is of utmost importance in a newsletter.

4. If you caption your photos, make captions as if it is a story in itself. This one I learned from my mentor, Gordon Robertson.

5. Use subheads. There are readers that scan your page. Making subheads helps them understand your article.

6. Use multiple columns for your story. A lot of people use only one column for the whole story. Its very hard to read a story in just one column. The readers' eye will get lost going through a loooong, column. They'll just give up reading altogether.

7. Infographics helps. They are also nice eye candy. But use them sparingly.

See you tomorrow! I may have a part 3.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What does your newsletter look like? Part 1

Are you even making one?

I believe all non-profits should have a newsletter. Even if it is contained inside a letter, if it is providing information about the organization, then it is still a "news"letter. So, do you have one?

Here are some suggestions at how your newsletter should look like:

1. If you are a small non-profit, with a small operational budget and a small staff, restrain yourself from going full color. Not only is it expensive, it also does not represent well with partners. Most of them will think that you should instead channel your expenses to whatever project you are doing.

2. A well laid-out newsletter looks good even if it is in black and white. A person's creativity is more evident in how that person cope up with constraints.

3. One color does not necesarily mean it should be black. You can use your corporate color as long as it it pleasing to the eye. Tell your printer that your publication will not use black ink. you will have to specify this color clearly with your supplier.

4. If your printer has a two-color press then, consider making your newsletter a two-color publication. There are a lot of choices for this color scheme if you a very knowledgeable designer. the cost difference is not substantial.

5. I've read this a long time ago and i will say it again. Use only a maximum of three fonts. Two is ideal. There are instances when multiple fonts will work but that is not the majority. Avoid making your newsletter look like a ransom note.

6. Photos and some colors like yellow do not reproduce well on photocopiers so beware.

7. Don't cram as much text as possible. My first rule when making newsletters is to make readability a priority. A clear and concise story will win hands-down in readership.

I'll post part 2 tomorrow. God bless!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Visiting Your Partners

One of the greatest things that the Pinoy Fundraiser can do with her time is to visit partners. There is nothing like getting the real score, for the partner in this case, to hear personally the accomplishments of their non-profit.

The PF should visit at least one major partner every week and meet four or five others for the balance of the week. Visiting is cherished in the Filipino home. We are well-known for hospitality and how take care of our visitors, the PF will be treated same, a perk of the job. But that is not the issue here. The critical point is that partners should be visited.

And when you do visit, make sure that you can handle all the queries the partner may have. It may be about the status of the organization, to how much that partner has already given to the organization, or complaints about partner or donor care. You may also learn a thing or two about the state of your fundraising from your partners' point of view.

You also need to provide solutions to your donors' problem with your organization. Some may think that you are not doing enough. A few may praise you for even the smallest thing. All of these should be important to you, the PF! This is the time to have all your senses working. You need to see if they read the materials you send their way. You need to read between the lines of what your partner may be saying about you.

You also need to build rapport and trust withyour partner. You are representing your non-profit and your partner should be able to see the best of the organization through you. You are a mirror of how your organization works.

More on this next time. God bless you!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Capitalizing on Holidays

Its a day before the 4th of July weekend in the US. What is your non-profit doing about it? Oh, this is supposed to be Pinoy Fundraising. I apologize. Let me repeat. Its a few days before the Philippine-American Friendship Day (is it still being celebrated??). What is your non-profit doing about it?

Sad to say, maybe a lot of haven't even thought about it. Maybe it does not relate to your organization. But if you thought hard, would you have thought of something. Probably some lame, old excuse to do fundraising. But wait, isn't that what you are supposed to do?

Mother's and Father's Day went by. What did you about it? Did you thank, congratulate, call, write or even SMS the mothers and fathers in your database? (I don't have database, some of you groaned). Oh well...

Events are hyped in this highly commercial world we live in. The Pinoy Fundraiser can use these holidays to grab a share of the fundraising pie. You can write a direct mail package themed from whatever holiday is coming. You can organize special events revolving around a holiday. You give out freemiums (stickers, note cards, pens, etc.) based on a holiday. You can make a holiday a lot more special to people. What you do can make it meaningful to a lot of people.

Now that you read this, do you have something in mind of Christmas?

See you next time!

Thursday, July 02, 2009


In a tech-savvy world, it seems that there is no place for errors in what you do. Not when you do direct mail fundraising!

My favorite techniques that I haven't personally done for my direct mail packages but I've seen un other people's work are the following:

1. Hand-written margin notes on the letter.
2. Red-colored underlines using markers
3. Scribbled arrows to point you to something
4. Hand-written PSs
5. "Copy only" stamped watermarked on the letter
6. Un-even text line heights reminiscent of typewriters
7. Intentional typo errors meant to catch the reader's attention

In a way, all of the above is trying to humanize the letter in a world of email, blogs, tweets and SMS. As I've mentioned in one of my first posts, letter writing is being pushed into obscurity. A lot of direct mail fundraisers are trying (in vain?) to maintain such air. Why do that some of you might say? We do that to personalize the letter. To not let the reader realize that this letter is printed via mail-merge or some other automated method.

See you next time!