The Problem with Special Events

page Opportunity Cost musique fin rencontre У wicker park , Transactional http://tzv-gredelj.hr/marionetka/5657 Displacement, & the ROI on Staff Time

A word on the origins of our dependence on events: in terms of fundraising tradition, this dependence arises  from a grassroots board and a lack of staff. I advocate that we talk about mission instead. When I hear of a strong dependence on special events, the warning flags go up. We have to look at the opportunity cost of events–of what I call transactional displacement.

Transactional displacement is the displacement of mission-based, purposeful cultivation by event-related fundraising transactions. This includes “selling tables,” “selling sponsorships,” and rounding up auction items. It can become similar to a retail transaction, unrelated to the mission-based story of changing and transforming lives.  And when event participants are done with the event, they are sometimes done with you until next year. They think they’ve done their part.

And we have to look at the ROI on staff time. It usually is lower with events than with other forms of direct cultivation. The higher your gross, the greater your dependence, the more difficult it will be to shift your paradigm. At a certain revenue point, change becomes nearly impossible; you are locked in.

So unless you are raising a lot of money on events, you might want to rethink your reliance on them, and instead think about raising money using the collegiate development model.

The CASE Interview: Advice for Building a Strong Advancement Program

Rereading this March 2012 interview recently reminded me that the more things change, the more we talk about the same confounding paradigm shift. I wrote awhile back in a grant analysis for a consortium of national corporate foundations that community college advancement programs tended to fall into two groups: those that “get it,” and those that sort of “get it” but don’t act. In that study, I found that 50% of colleges “got it,” with performance that correlated to that comprehension. Today, as I consider the sector as a whole, I think everyone could go farther faster, but I particularly worry about the colleges that fall into the lower 50%. It turns out that the dynamics I touched on in an interview that coincided with the publication of my book remain at the center of discussion in the current moment.

 

CASE: Given the uniqueness of community colleges and the diversity of individuals they serve, why do you think they should adopt techniques used by four-year institutions?

Klingaman: My nine-year experience as campaign director at a two-year technical college proved to me that the paradigm works.  That said, two-year colleges need to adapt techniques used by four-year institutions before they adopt them. My book covers these adaptations in detail.  But when you look at academic fundraising as a whole, the techniques of the private primary and secondary education sectors share much in common with collegiate fundraising.  The core is the academic fundraising model.  One big difference between two-year and four-year experiences is the degree to which people remain loyal to their alma maters.  I advise two-year colleges to help their alumni celebrate academic beginnings as well as graduations.

CASE: You note that you’re often shocked to hear about the state of many community college fundraising programs, which you say go through the motions without achieving defensible outcomes. Why do you think community colleges should pay more attention to metrics like return on investment? And, with this shift, what else about their fundraising culture should change?

Klingaman: Metrics begin with mission and stewardship. If we are going to devote precious resources to two-year college advancement, we should adhere to standards that exist throughout the nonprofit sector.  Fundraising costs should not exceed 25 percent to 30 percent of gross fundraising revenues, and it doesn’t matter if the college is paying the foundation program expenses. It’s not what shows up on the Form 990; it’s what we know to be the real ROI on development dollars spent. That’s stewardship. What gets measured gets done, and what gets done, gets noticed. Colleges that can show significant ROI on their advancement programs will thrive for the reasons that all well-resourced philanthropic missions do.

The degree of culture change required depends on baseline advancement performance. But if you want to create a high-performing advancement program raising a million or two million dollars a year, it will have to become a top five, or better, top three priority of the leadership culture.

CASE: You suggest that a community college designing a development program should avoid holding gala events and instead focus on establishing an annual fund. Why do you think this is a better investment? Also, when are events appropriate as a fundraising tool?

Klingaman: An annual fund is a better investment from an ROI standard. You have to take personnel costs into account when you evaluate development performance. If you are tying up three or four months around an event, the real net plummets. When you look at the performance of a major gifts program, you calculate the investment of staff time against the revenues. In addition, the opportunity cost of events is exceedingly high. You displace a range of other giving opportunities when you focus on events, including employee annual giving, giving clubs and major gifts.  It’s more productive to lead with the mission, cultivate personally and close gifts where you can put 100 percent of the gift toward the mission.  Then thank people at a recognition event.

Events are appropriate as a fundraising tool when they augment mature programs, serve niche needs and can be proven not to cannibalize other, more potentially productive programs. But if you are relying on events, the more successful they are, the more dependent on them you become.

CASE: You write that, ideally, a community college should make development “a top-three institutional priority” and that its president and foundation board should lend active support to the development initiative. Why is this kind of institutional and personal commitment important for development success?

Klingaman: Development must be a top priority of the institution to overcome the inertia that surrounds nascent, or stagnant, programs.  Fundraising—development—is hard work.  I always say you don’t do it unless you have to.  Without a significant leadership commitment on the part of the president, the leadership team and the foundation board, you end up, even under the best of circumstances, with a staff-driven program that raises perhaps 50 percent of your potential. Or you revert to special events. But the involvement and active interest of the president is key, absolutely key.  Any college that wants to raise a million dollars a year—and up—must have an escalating commitment from the president. Think 15 to 20 percent of the president’s time—and that’s for starters.

For many colleges, meaningful advancement is a challenging new world. But the proven effectiveness of leading with mission, creating personalized cultivation, building a diversified program, and closing gifts to support essential programs remains viable regardless of the intrinsic challenges experienced by the sector.  It’s a new frontier, but public secondary education is joining the fray, and it will be a more competitive universe in the future. The two-year sector needs to claim its rightful place in the philanthropic world because its mission as the gateway to the middle class is so essential.

Why Reinvent the Wheel?

One scenario I encounter in my interactions with community colleges is a tendency to want to invent advancement program activities from scratch. Why do so many community college development professionals figure that need to reinvent the wheel? I think it has something to do with the fact the many community college development professionals are relatively new to their roles. They may have a history in development, but they don’t have a history in the collegiate model of development, or in community college development shops.

The second reason they seem to lean toward going it alone is that they don’t consider how similar their institutions are to other community colleges. The gap between the highest performing community college advancement programs and those that have barely begun is astonishing. And those who are new to the game could save years of start-up time by systematically benchmarking with institutions that are relatively advanced in comparison.

It doesn’t do much good to benchmark with another institution that is new to the game. If you want to learn about alumni relations, find an institution that has a robust alumni relations program. How to find one or two? Check out their foundation websites. Talk to colleagues at conferences. Check in with the community college in your state system that is raising the most money. Sign up for CASE webinars.

The easiest way to get ahead is to imitate those who are ahead. The biggest obstacle to doing that is usually that the start-up institution has yet to commit the resources to achieving desired programmatic goals. There are no magic outcomes. Getting ahead in advancement requires investment in trained personnel and systems.

Many emerging advancement shops make piecemeal investments in desired outcomes and then wonder why achieving their goals comes so slowly.

If you want to see how the pros do it, benchmark against smaller or rural state college or university advancement programs. The assumption that holds community colleges back is that they think they have nothing in common with four-year college advancement. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not so much a difference in kind as it is a difference of degree and type.

Alumni are alumni everywhere. The same fundamental dynamics are in play. Yes, the specific applications and solutions you choose will vary from the four-college program, but only incrementally. And the manner in which you tailor your alumni engagement effort allows for a significant level of creativity to flow into the mix. And that can be fun—and easier than reinventing the wheel.

If nothing else, benchmark with a four-year college on how they track their alumni. I have seen scores of community colleges struggle with this aspect of development readiness. Four-year colleges had to wrestle with the same questions. And once upon a time they had to invest in tracking their alumni or suffer depressed outcomes for years at a time.

So when it comes to keeping the wheels rolling smoothly, consider the value of not trying to invent them from scratch!

 

“Five Ideas for Fifty Thousand”—for the Community College with the Tiniest Shop—or One That Doesn’t Even Have a Shop

mutual friend hook up Rudimentary as this is, it outperforms the net on many special events

site de rencontre pour ado forum Employee Leadership Giving:  Even without a complete employee annual giving program, you can launch a giving initiative that focuses on the top leadership team of the college. Because these gifts can be in the $200 – $1,000 range, this simple effort can yield $5,000 to $10,00o.

rencontre franco malgache Board Giving:  Every board should give at a rate of 100%. The board Ask should start at $1,000 and go up or down from there. Yield: $15,000

http://www.hbcacworth.org/kolodec/3190 Grants:  Most community colleges have grant programs in place, upon which we can leverage new proposals to private funders using a standard template for operating or scholarship support. Yield: $10,000

rencontre sexe pierre benite President’s Personal Asks:  Every president knows 5 to 10 community leaders who can be approached directly for gifts. When the president asks, the importance of the initiative is reinforced. Yield:  $7,500

muddy walks dating Board Asking Peers: Every board member knows one or two people who can be approached for a gift in the $100 to $1000 range. I call this an “Each One Ask One” campaign.   In my book, I discuss a more robust version of this approach in context of a board-initiated giving program. A single prospect, a single Ask, and a single follow-up on the part of the board member is all it takes. It is a way to build a volunteer culture and reinforce the importance of the mission to the board. Yield:  $7,500

http://bernardisantiques.com/?kosmodrom=yahoo-musique-gratuite&f31=be Total Yield: $50,000

These techniques will work for a college that has little in the way of a fundraising program in place. If you need help, a consultant can help tailor the initiative to the needs of a particular college via a phone conversation with the chief development officer or president of the college.

Sixteen Things to Look For in a College Foundation Form 990

One reason to review a college foundation Form 990 is to verify that the foundation actually does what it says it does—a useful thing to know for grantmakers, development audits, benchmarking, and prospective executives.

Here are 16 issues a Form 990 can help address:

  1. Do the numbers on the Form 990 support the amounts shown elsewhere?
  2. Personnel expenses paid for by the foundation (Usually the college pays for personnel expenses.)
  3. Outside fundraisers or fundraising consultants paid by the foundation
  4. College payments made to the foundation
  5. Endowment information, including decreases in endowment balances that may reveal the foundation is not properly managing endowments
  6. Event revenue and expenses paid by foundation, including grosses & nets (This can be tricky and requires reading the entire return.)
  7. Five-year history of fundraising revenue
  8. Diversification of revenue (you’ll get a partial picture)
  9. Two-year trend in grants amounts paid to college
  10. Program areas of grants to college
  11. Total foundation expenses
  12. Revenue less expenses
  13. Existence of uncommon organizational practices, revenue streams, and operations
  14. Number and names of board members
  15. Unrelated business income
  16. Investment management fees

On Colleges with Advancement Issues

When I talk to college presidents at colleges with dormant or underperforming advancement programs, they are quick to express their commitment to advancement and their good intentions for improved performance. Unless this stated interest is matched with institutional commitments to meet quantifiable metrics, however, the prognosis for improved performance is weak.

Fund raising is hard work. Most nonprofits excel at it only when their survival depends in some measure on their success in this arena. For those that don’t perceive fundraising to be an essential, core activity of the college, promoting culture change from the outside is extremely difficult. If a college tells you they are serious about fund raising but leaves the chief development officer position open for a year, the inertia speaks louder than words.

When a dysfunctional advancement program is an issue, what motivates a change in institutional behavior is real need, a commitment to change, the implementation of real metrics, and evaluation of outcomes. That, and the personal involvement of the president, who must invest time, cultivate prospects, and be prepared to make a few asks.

Visionary leadership on the part of the president can—and should—jump-start the whole process.

 

The Scholarship Recognition Event: an Essential Cultivation Tool

One thing I’ve learned in 25 years of raising funds is that a little recognition goes a long way.

Hundreds of two-year colleges have had success bringing scholarship recipients together with the donors who funded the scholarships through a scholarship recognition event.

But make sure that donors are connected with the students they have helped to support, and that students themselves are doing the talking from the podium. Just vet them and coach them in advance, and keep the remarks short. Three minutes will do. The goal, as one foundation board member put it to me: not a dry eye in the house.

Have some donors onstage to speak, too. Unless there is a strong narrative arc in the remarks five minutes can seem like an eternity (particularly true when administrators are doing the talking!).

One nice touch when you don’t have too many students in attendance: have them receive scholarship certificates, convocation style, where each is called in turn to the podium to shake the hand of the president and a donor and receive the certificate.

Don’t forget to pair scholarship recipients and donors at their tables.

And whatever you do, put the mission first.

Don’t Overlook Employee Annual Giving

One of the most reliable Annual Fund methods is employee annual giving. Who better to understand the critical importance of support to the college than those who are closest to your students? Employee annual giving can play a role in the fundraising plan of every college.

Consult Fundraising Strategies for Community Colleges for a thorough presentation of a proven employee campaign model. Many colleges have found they can raise $25,000 to $50,000 per year—and more—for the Annual Fund through employee annual giving.

The only caveat is, make sure to seek community support with the same intensity you use to win employee support. Employees are, after all, somewhat a captive market.

The Role of Grants in the Annual Fund

While grants are often not renewed on an annual basis, they are an important source of annual operating income and scholarship funds in college Annual Fund programs. When one funder cycles out the mix a new one is found. And some funders do support colleges with annual grants over long periods of time.

Some colleges raise as much as one-quarter of their Annual Fund goal through renewable annual or multi-year grants. Either way, multiple-year grant funding will provide you with a stable funding base from which to cultivate funders for future grant awards. And Annual Fund grants for operating or scholarship support can be based on a boilerplate grant proposal template.

But be sure to call the foundation program officer or corporate giving officer before you write. A few strategic questions can save both parties valuable time.

The Two Most Important Gift Levels for the Annual Fund

The two most important gift levels in a community college Annual Fund are the $1,000 and $5,000 levels. Why? A combination of fiscal impact and relative availability. For example, aggregated $500 gifts don’t have enough impact and $10,000 gifts are too rare in the two-year college prospect universe. Classify $1,000 and $5,000 gifts as special gifts and cultivate them as an Annual Fund priority.

The most efficient way to reach your Annual Fund goal may be through special gifts. You might think of special gifts simply as larger than average Annual Fund gifts and smaller than major gifts.

Although there are several methods by which to raise special gifts, personal asks usually work best. Who should ask? The president, the chief development officer, development staff, foundation board members, senior leadership, and volunteers.

Variations on this theme include strategies such as Board-Inspired Giving, which relies on personal letters from board members to their peers followed by face-to-face or telephone follow-up by board members.

Certain donors respond well to personal letters followed by a phone call, just as they do in scholarship program solicitations. This technique, a variation on the scholarship ask, or the giving club ask, can be an effective way to raise special gifts.

Time-tested advancement practice holds that organizational and community leaders who “tell the story” and “ask for the order” are the most successful fundraisers and this is most definitely true with special gifts.