Hugg’s Monthly Tip: Running ahead to stay in place

Hugg's Monthly Tip

Even in our relatively price-stable times, it’s important to remember that to stay the same as last year, you need to raise more money next year than you did this year. The math is simple… you need to keep up with whatever inflation occurred last year.

Let’s take what you needed to raise in 2013 to keep from falling behind.

In 2012 the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.7 percent. That’s a handy number to use, but it could be that in your industry, costs went up more (or less).

Taking CPI as our guide, that means that for every hundred dollars you raised in 2012, you needed to raise 1.7 percent more, or a $17 increase for every $1000 you raised, to be “even” in 2013. Not much? If you raise $150,000 in annual fund gifts, that means you need $2,250 more in 2103.

Remember, that’s just from 2012 to 2013. From 2013 to 2014, you need to use $152,250 as your base.  Yes, like bank savings, just to stay even in buying power, your annual fund goal must “compound.” Any less and you suffer “compound erosion” of your ability to carry out your mission.

This can be a pretty depressing thought, especially when your donors aren’t getting wage increases and your staff wants them!

Do you need more dollars? Yes. But how?

For the answer, stay tuned for “How many donors to a dollar?”

Hugg’s Monthly Tip: A new tool for your virtual toolbox

Hugg's Monthly Tip

I hope you don’t think that I “shill” for a particular product in my monthly missives, but this time I need to tell you about Evernote. (And don’t worry that I’m getting any commission for this… I’m not 🙁 )

In the last year I have become an Evernote convert. It’s meant a lot of scanning, but it also means finding things much more easily, too… all for about $5 per month.

As I’ve done this, I’ve been thinking about how if my clients had this tool, they’d be saving time in their proposals and other work. For example, Evernote is the perfect place for material like scanned copies of IRS letters, budget documents, marketing material and more that your funders want every time you submit for a grant.

Not only can you keep each document there, but you can easily share them between users on your staff – and (this is the real power of Evernote) tag each document for its potential uses. That budget could be tagged “budget,” “proposals,” “foundations,” and more.

With as much as is on your plate, a time-saving tool like Evernote could mean you get just a little more done – and raise a lot more – each year.

So try it out… and when you do, say “Matt sent me,” and listen for the response: “who?” 🙂 

Hugg’s Monthly Tip: Are your donors on vacation… or is fundraising?

Hugg's Monthly TipIn our business – the business of soliciting funds – there seems to be an unwritten “truth” that soliciting in the summer produces poor results. We might be able to do a survey of 1000 nonprofits and find that yes, this is the case. But why?

It’s obvious, right? People go on vacations, their thoughts are on “summer” things and they only do the essentials, right? As a result, you make less solicitations in the summer.
Hmmmm… I’m not so sure. Are you getting less because they’re doing more, or is it simply that you’re asking less?

As Americans, we probably take the least amount of vacation than any other industrialized society… less than two weeks a year. I found when I did a lot of travel, that in the Northeast US where grade school traditionally starts after Labor Day, a lot of that summer vacation was in the last week or two of August. With those two weeks out, that leaves 12 of the 14 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day when most folks are leading a relatively “normal” life.

I say mail! Don’t let your fundraising take a summer vacation. You could be surprised. But even if you’re not, you’re there when everyone else isn’t… and being top of mind is the most valuable place to be, for gifts today, and when they do give, tomorrow.

Hugg’s Monthly Tip: Is it your fiscal year end? Do your donors care?

Hugg's Monthly TipIs it your fiscal year end? Do your donors care? No.

‘Nough said, right? ‘Fraid not…. At least by all of the direct mail I get.

If it’s your fiscal year end and you’re pleading for money to make your budget, what’s your donor thinking?

A: “I need to come to their rescue!”?

B: “Why can’t they manage their money better?”

Think “B.”

Regardless of the time of the year, your donors want mission! They want to know that they’re helping the people you serve. If you can tie that to the time of the year that your budget is due, great, because your budget is your problem, not theirs.

Hugg’s Monthly Tip: Any competitors? Yes.

Hugg's Monthly TipWho is the competitor that takes more charitable dollars from your organization than anyone else, year after year? Is it that nonprofit across town that does something like you do? Is it that big national organization that sucks up money like a vacuum after every disaster? Is it the tiny start-up that’s gaining traction because they got some great news coverage?

No. No. No.

It’s the “big box” store about a mile or two away.

Unless you’re on the trail of major gifts, most philanthropy comes from someone’s checkbook, not their savings account. When your prospect gets your letter and is inclined to give, does she see enough money in that checkbook to do everything she wants? No. She needs to make a decision… a decision like this… “hmmmm… new pair of shoes, or a gift to this charity….hmmmm.”

I don’t have a silver-bullet solution to helping you point that decision in your favor. But what I do know, is that most fundraisers, if they think about competition at all, aren’t thinking about the latest fashion trends.

So your tip this month? Start thinking about your prospects and donors and where they spend their money. Is it the flat screen TV, or you?