Susan Howlett leads off MVDP’s 2014 program lineup

A six-program lineup for professional development of nonprofit fundraisers in 2014 kicks off this month with a presentation by Susan Howlett, a Seattle consultant and author of Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leadership to Raise Money Joyfully.

The Howlett presentation Feb. 27 is the first program of the year for the Mid-Valley

Susan Howlett

Susan Howlett

Development Professionals (MVDP). Howlett will hold the afternoon workshop from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Center for Community Innovation, former home of the Salem YWCA at 1255 Broadway NE.

Bank of the Cascades is sponsoring wine and hors d’oeuvres for the event.

“Executive directors, development staff, board presidents, heads of fundraising committees on the board, or anyone who wants the board to be stronger will benefit from this session,” Howlett said. “Usually there’s someone in the organization who is eager for improvement, and whatever position they hold, they’ll hear practical options for ways they can shift people’s minds and hearts.

“Most board members have been trained on best practices in fundraising, but no one talks about the fact that we might be asking our leaders to engage in ill-advised strategies. Maybe we’re asking them to do the wrong things on our behalf (like asking their friends for money when their friends aren’t the best long-term prospects for sustainable support, or like inviting people to give at events, which are one of the least effective ways to raise money). When we talk about what really strategic fundraising looks like (appropriate prospects, appropriate activities) people embrace their assignments with gusto.”

Other programs on MVDP’s 2014 schedule include:

  • Jim Shapiro of The Edge Group in Seattle discussing the ask-thank-report-repeat formula for major-gift fundraising, 1 to 5 p.m. April 24
  • Kim Klein from Oakland, California, taking the mystery out of making the ask, 1 to 5 p.m. June 5
  • Jeff Comfort, vice president of gift planning at Oregon State University, describing ways to begin and develop bequest giving programs, 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 18
  • Jennifer Morrow, owner of The Creative Company in McMinnville, sharing marketing strategies that work for nonprofits, 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 4.
  • A sixth program Oct. 23 will feature a presenter on acquiring and keeping donors

Nonprofit leaders may attend any or all of these presentations. A season pass for admission is available on the MVDP website ( An individual season pass costs $120 with an early bird discount or $180 after Feb. 27. A group season pass for up to five persons from an organization costs $325 with the discount or $500 after Feb. 27. Single admission fee is $35 for two-hour programs or $60 for longer workshops with advance registration.

Since 1997 MVDP has been serving professionals in the Mid-Willamette Valley who raise funds for nonprofit organizations by linking them with others in the development community and providing affordable opportunities for their professional growth and education.

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Lean keys to fundraising success

Erica Charbonneau, center, with Darrel White of Corban University and Arminda Lathrop of Willamette University

Erica Charbonneau, center, with Darrel White of Corban University and Arminda Lathrop of Willamette University

Learning who the donors are and making it personal about them is “where the magic is” in lean fundraising, Erica Charbonneau told Mid-Valley Development Professionals Oct. 24.

“You are the conduit” for the nonprofit’s relationship with the donor, she told the fundraisers, and she urged them to “focus on what the donor is giving as signals of what they’re interested in.”

She outlined a step-by-step approach to methodically transform the fundraising process into five stages: identify, qualify, plan, engage and solicit. After the solicitation, the process returns to planning again.

She offered the slides she presented for those who want to follow along. Click here for those slides. She also sent a tool for tracking the progress of donors through the cultivation steps. Click here for that file.

Erica is associate vice president of development at Willamette University. She talked about the use of lean manufacturing ideas and their adaptation to the world of fundraising. She said Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle started using lean techniques in 2002 and more than doubled the amount of incoming gifts each year in the next 10 years, because lean fundraising makes gift officers more efficient.

Thirty-seven season pass holders and guests attended the program at the Chemeketa Winema Center. Next on the MVDP calendar is the organization’s annual meeting and holiday fest, featuring a panel discussion on grant prospects for 2014. On the panel will be program officers from Meyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Community Foundation and the PGE Foundation. The program will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry, 626 High St. NE, Salem.

Posted in donor cultivation, donor management, donors, fundraising, grant writing, major gifts, MVDP, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to engage your board in fundraising

Portland consultant Allison Handler offered several tips last Thursday on how nonprofit leaders can effectively motivate their board members to engage in fundraising activities.

She spoke for about 90 minutes at the April 25 meeting in Albany.

Allison, right, with MVDP's Nancy Duncan

Allison, right, with MVDP’s Nancy Duncan

If your board is dragging its feet, she said, “here are seven ways to reframe how they think about fundraising and how you think about their job in fund development.”

  • Change your attitude–and theirs
  • Set clear expectations
  • Find a job for everyone
  • Revise your board structure
  • Improve donor relationships
  • Make events work
  • Target outreach efforts

As part of the board structure discussion, she offered a matrix to help organizations fill different interest groups. That form is here. She explained in an email that the form can be filled in using your computer.

Her entire PowerPoint presentation is saved here.

Next for MVDP: Linda Lysakowski, a fundraising consultant from Nevada, visits here on June 13 to present “Fundraising for the GENIUS.” The meeting runs from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry, 626 High St. NE, Salem. Registration is available at

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Rotary raises money to help local nonprofits

The Rotary Club of Salem this week provided ample evidence of the philanthropic importance of service clubs to local nonprofit organizations.rotarty logo

Renee Campbell, 2011-2012 club president, and Holly Berry, club secretary, brought the 20th annual Gold Star Report to the club Wednesday. “We are the club that changes lives,” Holly told the members.

During the year that ended last summer, the club raised more than $246,000. Among the specific fundraisers:

  • Marion Polk Food Share received 88,246 pounds of food and $91,598 in cash through the Rotary Food Drive, run by all Rotary clubs in Salem-Keizer.
  • $7,278 went to the Salvation Army from gifts in kettles served by members of the club during the holidays 2011.
  • The Willamette Heritage Center received $12,000 to fund a new speaker system in the Spinning Room at Mission Mill.
  • Club members provided gifts valued at $8,802 and gave $1,020 to buy more gifts for patients at the Oregon State Hospital last December.
  • Salem Rotary Foundation awarded checks to Habitat for Humanity, Kroc Center, Salem Art Association, Youth Literacy Coalition, Start Making a Reader Today (SMART), South Salem High School, Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service, Salem Soap Box Derby, St. Francis Shelter, Girl Scouts, YWCA and Chemeketa Community College Foundation.
  • The GoodWorks Committee mounted a fundraising campaign and raised $60,018 for a Habitat for Humanity vocational program.

The club and other Rotary clubs in Salem-Keizer, Portland, Seaside, Lake Oswego, Tualatin and Beaverton also contributed to World Community Service projects in India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Costa Rica and Uganda.

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For 2013: Ask, Thank, Report and Repeat

Jim Shapiro and Steve Screen gave a spirited look at the key elements of a successful fundraising plan for 2013 at the MVDP meeting Dec. 6.

jim shapiro pic

Jim Shapiro

With 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. today, there is plenty of competition for donors’ dollars. Jim and Steve said the answer for nonprofits is to focus on four imperatives: Ask, Thank, Report and Repeat:

  • “Ask because donors want to help and because you believe in the cause.
  • “Thank because it acknowledges the gift.
  • “Report what their gift accomplished.
  • “Repeat the cycle and improve each time.”

For the Adobe Flash file containing the slides used in the presentation, go here. For a recording of the entire presentation click here.

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New for the holidays: Focus on giving, not receiving

After giving thanks on Thursday and shopping for deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we can turn our focus to giving to those in need on #GivingTuesday, Nov. 27.

A new concept looking to gain momentum as a holiday tradition, #GivingTuesday is “intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note and put heart back into the holidays,” said Sarah Renusch of World Vision. “It is about community not commercialism, giving not receiving.”

Here in the Mid-Willamette Valley local nonprofits have an opportunity to remind their patrons that the holidays have traditionally been a time “to work together for a greater good,” in the words of Morra Aarons-Mele, founder of Women Online.

Just as retailers rely on holiday shopping to pull their profit-and-loss statements out of the red and into the black, nonprofit organizations depend on generous donors to give of their time and resources to keep goods and services flowing to the needy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was as enthusiastic about giving for the greater good as they are about shopping in stores and online for the best gifts on sale?

From coast to coast, nonprofits are struggling. The Great Recession has hit them hard. Americans gave about $298 billion to nonprofits in 2011, but that is down from $310 billion in 2007 before the recession hit. Needs have increased while resources have decreased.

Mid-Valley Development Professionals joins hundreds of associations and nonprofits across the country that are cooperating in #GivingTuesday. That’s part of the beauty of this: We’re not just advocating for one cause. More information about this idea is at

There are lots of ways for donors participate in #GivingTuesday.

  • Volunteer. Call your favorite nonprofit and ask what you can do to help.
  • Give clothing and household items. Many nonprofits collect donations and sell them at retail to raise operating funds.
  • Write a check or donate online. Case Foundation and are matching gifts made at
  • Teach your children and grandchildren by example. Show them the importance of generosity, especially during this season of giving.

#GivingTuesday is a brand-new idea. It is the perfect antidote to the scrum of post-Thanksgiving shopping mania. Henry Timms, who imagined the idea, said, “We have two days that are good for the economy. Here is a new day that is good for the soul.”

Arminda Lathrop, president of Mid-Valley Development Professionals, encouraged each person to pause long enough during the mad dash for holiday gifts to either write a check to his or her favorite charity or log on to the charity’s website and make a contribution. The time is anytime but especially on #GivingTuesday, Nov. 27. Let’s make it a longstanding tradition in our communities.

To take advantage of this opportunity, include #GivingTuesday’s message in your emails, Facebook posts and tweets in the next few days. For more ideas, see the #GivingTuesday Facebook page or Twitter at #GivingTuesday.

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Tips for a winning year-end fundraising strategy

Whether or not you have completed your year-end giving plan, here are some tips that may help, courtesy of consultant Gail Perry.

Gail offers five must-dos for your message, four must-dos for your ask, three overall strategies (click here for more on the tips)  and 10 ways to ruin what otherwise may be a successful campaign.

First, the message:

  1. Use the word “you” frequently, including in the first sentence of your appeal. This will help get your reader’s attention.
  2. Make sure your message is easy to read. “Use short, concise sentences and paragraphs,” Gail wrote. She recommends no more than six or eight words per sentence and no more than three sentences per paragraph. Vary sentence and paragraph length for variety and interest. Use at least 12-point type for easy reading.
  3. Write conversationally, like you’re writing to a friend.
  4. Start with a story. Here’s a sample from the great Jerry Panas:

“Dear Mary,

“I only today realized how desperate the need is in our community for a center for the homeless. I was walking home the other night and it was bitterly cold.

“You know how desperate it can get in Minneapolis in February. There were dozen–yes dozens–of homeless curled up in cardboard boxes.

“I simply couldn’t believe it. I was all bundled up in a muffler and heavy coat and I was shivering with cold. I don’t know how these folks can survive. And it wasn’t only men. Mary, I saw women and children. It broke my heart.”

5.  Show numbers that explain how you are fulfilling your mission.

Now for tips about making your ask:

  1. Be clear that your letter is an appeal for support, not a newsletter or end-of-year report.
  2. Include a suggestion that the donor’s gift may be matched by his/her employer.
  3. Provide a link to your website. Even if the donor mails a check he/she probably will want to check your story on the web.
  4. Be specific about what your organization needs and what you will do with the gift.

A few overall strategies:

  1. Let your grandmother read your letter. See if she likes it.
  2. Gifts from previous donors are easier to get than gifts from new people, so go all-out for donor renewals.
  3. Follow-up your direct mail appeal with an appeal using a different channel, such as email.

Finally, here’s what not to do–Gail’s top 10 list of “ways to sabotage your year-end fundraising effort:”

  1. Your letter is hard to read (“ponderous sentences, long paragraphs, and no white space”).
  2. Your letter is all about the organization and not about the donor. Remember the magic of including “you” in the letter.
  3. You buried the ask inside a paragraph or at the end of a sentence.
  4. You didn’t include a reply envelope.
  5. You didn’t update your website.
  6. You only sent out one appeal.
  7. You didn’t follow up on the phone.
  8. You didn’t email non-donors the last two days of December.
  9. You didn’t send a prompt, personal and warm thank you.
  10. You didn’t have board members thank donors by phone.

For more about Gail’s “Top 10 Ways to Screw Up Your Year End Campaign” click here.

Posted in annual giving, direct mail appeal, donors, fundraising, thank yous, Uncategorized, website | Leave a comment