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raise more in your first
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Help! My Colleague Rants on Facebook

I’m in a higher-up development position at a nonprofit that doesn’t have a social media policy. I’ve noticed the head of our marketing/communications engaging in some non-professional Facebook activity. For example, arguing over political posts and sharing problematic rants. So far this is only taking place on their personal page. 

We clearly need a social media policy to at least have something written down, but the person who would be responsible for this is the person causing problems.  

It’s not really my place to bring this up. I’m not sure our ED has even seen or has a problem with the Facebook activity. But it really makes me cringe knowing that potential sponsors and donors might associate this behavior with my organization (and me!). 

Any advice is welcome! 

You are absolutely right, these types of posts reflect poorly on your organization. You need a social media policy yesterday. This is typically HR matter, but if your growing organization outsources these types of essentials – you can make significant strides to have a policy in place in about one day.

To be as thorough as possible, visit Charity Navigator to determine if your organization has all donor privacy policies in place to secure top star rating. Customize one of many free templates available online and forward to your ED and/or Board Chair for review/approval at their next meeting. This is a non-negotiable for every organization with employees.

And to avoid singling out your colleague as the “problem causer,” I wouldn’t mention the upsetting Facebook posts (at least until your policy is firmly in place). Just say, “I noticed we don’t have a social media policy in place – this is really important! I’m happy to help write one!”

Great catch, superstar. Prepare for a promotion!

Have a question to ask? Get in touch at [email protected].

I recently heard that sponsorship letters never went out after our gala in August. I think they should still go out (better late than never, right?) so I’m taking it on. But what do I say? Acknowledge the lateness? It’s a weird time also because we really need to be focusing on end-of-year fundraising, and I’d rather be sending them appeals than an apology.

You can turn this around, but you must act fast. It is never too late to say thank you. PLEASE don’t waste your sponsors’ limited time with excuses – at this point it’s irrelevant. Frankly, I can’t think of a single delay explanation that would encourage me to give more next year. Stop worrying and start writing to send tomorrow.

What will make this sticky situation better is making your sponsorship letter really useful/awesome. I recommend framing it as a “Return on Investment Report” with updates on three initiatives or programs made possible with event proceeds/sponsor support since the Gala. This is too important to postpone one more day and I have every confidence you can make it happen!

I need to write an AMAZING year-end appeal. We just completed a back-to-school campaign and I am completely out of ideas for something unique for year-end. Any ideas? I’ve been looking online for inspiration and it’s the same thing over and over. I want to completely rock year-end for my career and for my nonprofit. 

Have you considered that fundraisers do the same thing over and over because it generally works? Here’s a hint – keep it short, personal and direct. We are all inundated with asks and ads from Halloween forward. Stand out from the crowd with more focus and less noise. Explain how gifts have made an impact and share your vision for the year ahead. Ask prospective donors to help advance your mission.

Above all else – start early. This will triple your chances of success and give you plenty of time to try something unique after you’ve hit your goal.

I’ve wasted days (read: weeks) searching for the next Ice Bucket Challenge or a similarly brilliant example for inspiration. If you pull off a genius viral moment for your organization between now and the end of the year, kudos. If not, you’ll find success with this 4-part system:

1) Re-read your mission and identify up to 5 recent examples of how individual contributions help to deliver or advance it.

2) Review open and response rates from recent winning appeals to determine the best send day and time.

3) Set a timer for 20 minutes, disconnect from WiFi (no Facebook/distractions!), and start writing an appeal for top donors. Aim your energy at the audiences most likely to give.

4) Segment your recipient list by giving history, amount and/or designation and personalize the message accordingly. The following two sentences have raised millions more than a match, compelling image, OR catchy tag line – “Thank you very much for your past support. Last year your commitment to (organization name) delivered…”

Still looking for something more?

Identify up to 2 new ideas or best practices to test and learn – perhaps text messaging on Giving Tuesday or video thank you messages to top donors.  Remember, you’ll need time to figure out new tools, so make sure you give yourself a week or more to work on it or recruit extra help.  If you are short-staffed or already feeling overwhelmed, save these new ideas for spring.

Ask a Fundraising Coach is Network for Good’s weekly advice column, where Personal Fundraising Coach Andrea Holthouser tackles your toughest challenges in the world of fundraising, nonprofit management, donor relations, and more.

Submit your questions to [email protected].
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