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Tips and Tricks


Ask Other Nonprofits For Help

Many nonprofit organizations are willing to provide free or low-cost consulting to other nonprofits.  Ask around at organizations which are similar to yours or which have confronted similar problems.  Even if they don't routinely offer formal consultations, they may be happy to share their experiences with you.  Be sure to contact your local United Way, which may be able to direct you to peer-consulting services for nonprofits.  Also check with your national organization, if you are an affiliate.  Obtaining low-cost management advice may be the best investment you can make.


Don't Be Afraid To Ask

To solicit major gifts, use the four-step APOC Method:
1) Amenities: Get the prospect talking about personal interests.
2) Presentation: Give a concise, five-minute summary of your organization's accomplishments, aspirations, and funding goal.
3) Objections: Ask if your prospect has any questions.  Use facts to convince the prospect of your point of view.
4) Closing: Politely and directly ask for a commitment.


Matching Gifts

Look for opportunities for business to match gifts and grants made by their workers.  In one city, we know of over 100 businesses which match contributions by their employees by as much as three to one. There are many national companies that match funds, too.  This idea has a multiplier effect for individual giving.


Make It Easy With EFT

Make it as convenient as possible for people to donate money to your nonprofit organization.  Give them the chance to use their MasterCard, Visa, American Express, payroll deduction plans, automatic bank transfers, and so on.  Let them give at intervals throughout the year rather than asking them for one lump sum.  Accommodate yourself to what's most convenient for the donor.


Gift Catalog

Nonprofit organizations of all types could try something which has worked well for many municipal agencies.  The idea is to put together a catalog of listing things which donors may "buy".  For instance, a gift catalog put our by the Madison, Wisconsin Park Commission lists a sandbox for the playground at $200, a drinking fountain at $250, park bench at $100, and an oak tree at $80.  Or one can help buy a new elephant for the zoo or have an acre of prairie planted in a conservation area.  Such a catalog serves a double purpose.  Not only does it bring in money, but it increases the public's sensitivity to how much things really cost.


Interest on $1,000

A fundraising idea based on the psychological tenet that how you ask for money is often as important as how much you ask for.  Ask people who have major investments to give you organization the interest on a $1,000 investment.  At the end of the years, they'll still have their $1,000, and the interest will be transferred into your account.  Psychologically, somehow, they don't feel they're giving as much as if you asked for the same sum outright.  Another idea based on the same premise but more applicable to rural communities is An Acre of Income.  Here you ask landowners to give you a contribution of a year's income from an acre of land.


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