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As the world changes rapidly around us, we are reaching out today to provide another update and encourage you to keep moving forward. In our last communication, we likened this time to an uphill bike ride – it’s important to keep pedaling, even if at a slower pace!
At Kennari Consulting, we continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and follow Kent County Health Department and Ottawa County Health Department guidelines (visit accesskent.com for more information). They are working with the State of Michigan and the CDC and are updating the local guidelines as state and national guidelines change. We are following the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers. As such, we moved all client and internal team meetings to video or phone. While some of us are learning how to use it, we are thankful for the technology that allows us to continue supporting our nonprofit clients in their important work.
As we work together to adjust to rapidly changing conditions, we offer you a few pieces of practical advice to make sure you keep pedaling up that hill.
TIP #1: Working remote can be daunting. Create a “work from home” plan.
A few ways to help you stay productive while working remotely include creating a dedicated work space in your home, with all your supplies; creating as much of a structured schedule as possible, making sure to include breaks for yourself; and getting creative with communication and going beyond email – chat apps and videoconferencing can help you feel more connected. Remember to communicate regularly with staff on priorities and expectations, so they have direction on how to handle this unusual situation – and provide supports and resources when needed to help staff manage this unique work environment.
TIP #2: It seems counter-intuitive right now but stay in touch with your donors.
In this time of great uncertainty, your donors do want to hear from you. They want to know what you are doing to address this crisis and how your constituents will continue to receive services– and they will also be thankful for the connection. While we are all doing the right thing by keeping to ourselves to contain this outbreak, there is no doubt that many individuals will be alone and will welcome the opportunity to hear from one of their favorite organizations. We suggest you create a list of your donors or major donors (whichever number is more manageable) and personally call each one to 1.) ask how they are doing during this difficult time, and 2.) provide a brief update on how your organization is handling the outbreak. This may not be the right time to make an ask – but also do not be surprised if donors ask how they can help.
TIP #3: Figure out how to maintain the impact of your upcoming events so you don’t lose ground.
We know that, for the near future, events cannot be conducted in person. However, there is likely a better option than simply canceling your event. There are many ways to mobilize supporters virtually, and it’s likely your major donors and sponsors are looking for ways to help organizations provide the services needed by so many in our community during this time. Put together a plan that can continue to move your mission forward.
TIP #4: Pursue those grant opportunities, even if it feels hard to plan for the future right now.
In times of need, funders step up to the plate, and we know grant opportunities are still there, though priorities will likely shift. Funders may be interested in supporting your organization’s efforts to respond to this complex situation, and these resources may be enormously helpful to you as you adapt to these new circumstances.
And finally, take a moment during the chaos of our current reality to reflect on the value of your work. Each and every one of you makes an impact, and this community needs you. We are here to help you continue your incredibly important services and programs. While no one is sure how long we will have to pedal uphill, what we do know is that, at some point, there will certainly be an end.
We take the health and safety of our clients and the people they serve very seriously. As such, we are closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and taking necessary precautions. We are following the advice of the Kent County Health Department and the Ottawa County Health Departments, both of whom are working closely with the CDC and the MDHHS and we are following their advisories for businesses and their employees. Visit accesskent.com for more.
Keep calm, but keep moving
That said, it is understandable that nonprofit leaders may feel especially uneasy during this time of uncertainty with regard to fundraising. Should we keep meetings with volunteers? Should we make asks? Should we hold our events? We know that you have put a lot of time and energy into planning your fundraising strategies to ensure your organization has the financial resources to deliver on your mission. We can all remember previous times of uncertainty and how those same feelings surfaced and impacted our decisions. It is a normal reaction because we are all passionate about our organizations, our staff, and those we serve.
What we know from previous national emergencies (such as 9/11) and economic downturns is that, while giving detracted, it certainly did not go away. Organizations that remain present through these times, maintain communication with their donors, and are thoughtful in how they engage donors will come out of this period stronger and more resilient. That was certainly the case for our clients that endured through the 2008 recession. So, what can you as nonprofit leaders do to ensure continued fundraising success? We have some practical advice for you as you contemplate your fundraising work over the next few months.
First, as much as possible, maintain business discipline, even if your work becomes remote. Look to your local health department for recommendations and advice. If your local conditions call for social distancing, come up with alternatives for meetings and activities currently on your calendar. For example, don’t cancel your board meetings. Instead, use a conference or video service. Share information with your clients/patrons about alternative ways to reach you if needed. To the extent it is possible, keep your organization moving forward.
Second, keep communicating. Your supporters and volunteers want to know that you have a plan. You can’t reassure them if you go dark. The first thing you should address in your virtual meetings or communications is, “how are we preparing for or responding to the challenges caused by this health issue?” The worst thing you could do is pretend it’s not happening. This issue matters to your stakeholders. Make sure you respect and help allay their fears.
Third, keep fundraising! People don’t stop giving during times of crisis, though they may shift their priorities. Your supporters need to know that their gifts are more important than ever. Keep cultivating donors, even if you do it through one-on-one phone calls instead of face-to-face meetings. Keep planning your events but develop a Plan B to take into account potential complications caused by the inability to continue your event “in person.” Start getting pieces in place now (e.g. recording videos of your Executive Director, CEO or planned keynote speakers, drafting communications, aligning other digital assets) so they are ready if you need them. If you are unable to hold an event, consider options like postponing, hosting it virtually, or sending a communication via mail instead.
And fourth, create an ROI from this gift of time, as much as we may not wish for this gift of time. You might not be as busy with day-to-day activities in the next months. This is a perfect time to do those things that get pushed aside during the craziness of everyday life:
- Write that newsletter that’s overdue.
- Update your thank you letters.
- Update and fine-tune your mailing list.
- Spend a little time updating your development plan.
- Update your website.
- Refresh your major gift program
- Encourage your board to spend time thinking about potential board candidates.
- Send your volunteers a sincere thank you.
- Evaluate your progress against your strategic plan.
- Contact your donors and donor prospects by phone or video call
During this challenging time, your job is to keep your organization moving as much as possible, even if you must shift into a different gear. It will be easier to ramp back up when the crisis has passed if you have continued making progress during this difficult time.
Think of this time as an uphill bike ride. Don’t stop peddling! Keep moving, even if at a slower pace. The organizations that keep peddling will be ready to pick up speed once we reach the crest and will be stronger on the other side.
For the past 13 years, Kennari Consulting has been helping nonprofits plan for and fund their futures through campaigns, annual giving programs, grants, program development, and more. But we know that our services, as they stand, can’t reach every nonprofit. So, we are proud to announce the launch of Fundkit, powered by Kennari Consulting, as a complement to our current services. This new video training platform allows us to share our results driven approach and effective tools with a wider audience.
Fundkit has been developed to help nonprofits of all sizes master fundraising to achieve their goals and, in turn, impact their community. Each course is made up of a series of videos that focus on a specific topic. By the end of each course members of an organization will have a deeper understanding of the topic, giving them the ability to take immediate action. Further, the videos are paired with professionally developed toolkits that include templates, guides and examples. This homework helps to bring what is taught in the course out of the abstract and into the real world.
For fundraising professionals and volunteers, Fundkit offers access to knowledge and advantages previously inaccessible for many. Small nonprofits struggling to find funding for consulting or professional development can use Fundkit to grow their internal capacity and outcomes. For larger nonprofits, Fundkit can be shared with fundraising committees, boards, and in onboarding new staff, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
“We work with a lot of nonprofits in onboarding new staff, helping committee members understand the value of a major donor program, and helping organizations build a truly successful event. The beauty of this platform is that it can be used for all of these purposes. It starts simply for beginners, but also grows into a powerful tool for seasoned professionals looking to expand their knowledge or update their tools,” said Laura Kruisenga, COO of Kennari Consulting.
Kennari is releasing Fundkit with two video series: Evening Events and Developing a Major Donor Program, with more to come in 2020. We plan to expand the offerings to include topics such as database management, monthly giving, planned giving and more. Later this year, we will begin inviting other professionals to teach about subjects they are experts in as well, expanding nonprofit knowledge and capacity in other areas that support fundraising. These courses will be vetted by Kennari staff but allow other professionals to join together as a team of industry leaders.
“With the launch of Fundkit this spring, we envision the potential to bring this platform to new teachers, new nonprofits, and to train the fundraising leaders of the future. We also recognize the incredible value in engaging others who have expertise outside that of our Kennari staff,” said Kruisenga. “Kennari means “teacher” in Icelandic, and we are honored to be able to live the meaning behind our name in a new way. We all win when knowledge is shared.”
Learn more about Fundkit at getfundkit.com.
Many nonprofits are in a place where having a table-hosted style event make sense for them as a donor acquisition tool. However, some of these nonprofits are missing out on the opportunity that comes from gathering your table hosts in a room prior to the event.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending an extremely unique table host training. A local museum was holding their “Host Happy Hour.” It was held at the museum and included drinks and very light appetizers; but the coolest thing was that I had the opportunity to hear from the Director of the Museum, walk through a new exhibit with my wine in my hand, and overall felt more connected to an organization I have known for years!
Whether your organization has done this event multiple times or this is your first, I want you to know the value of holding a kick-off of some sort for your hosts. I’ve looked at statistics from several non-profits we work with and for sure, your most engaged hosts are doing the best job at guest recruitment and giving. In fact, data showed that on average, a trained host produces about 35% more in revenue than an untrained host.
First, just like my time at the museum last night, think of your table host training as an engagement opportunity. And replacing the world ‘training’ for ‘happy hour’ doesn’t hurt!
Second, think of unique and creative ways to make your training, well, more appealing. And by unique, I still mean very budget friendly. Consider hosting it a winery or a brewery. Hold it in your organization in a unique area. Have a table host open their home. Include a mission moment. Have your Executive Director share new information that not all stakeholders now yet. Share what was raised at last year’s event and what was accomplished with those funds.
Jen Antel with West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition shared how valuable their host happy hour was. “We opened with everyone sharing one thing they loved about Trails. In fact, we identified our speaker for the event… he spoke so passionately about trails and was able to answer a lot of questions for the newer hosts.” She went on to say that this kick-off also allowed them to see who the struggling hosts might be so they would know who to spend extra time with.
Once you have that stellar event – because how could you not with a great Host Happy Hour? – it’s time to do follow up. Good news, tons of donations. Bad news, ton of data entry.
My best advice here: PLAN AHEAD. If you have planned ahead for intentional follow-up, you will make greater strides. After all, what good is it to gain a bunch of new donors, major donors, monthly donors, but then don’t follow up with them? They won’t stick around long.
Build follow up into your event planning timeline. Block out time on your calendar the day of (or day after) for phone calls and let nothing interfere. Sit in your car with your cell phone if you have to! Build a hierarchy of who will call whom ahead of time, so the plan runs more seamlessly. A phone call within 24 hours says a lot about how much you value your donors.
If you have not yet implemented a table-hosted event but feel like that would be a good fit for your organization, please reach out to us! We would love to hear from you – whether to start a new event or help you grow your event!
Monthly Donors, also called Recurring or Sustaining Donors, can be a significant source of income and a reliable source for ongoing funds. Monthly giving is growing, both from traditional donors and especially from the younger generations of donors. Why should you focus on growing your monthly giving? Because it’s easy for your donors, and they like doing it! Donors like to feel like they’re in a partnership with your organization – including Millennials, so don’t assume they won’t give on a monthly basis. Also, donor retention is difficult, and it’s getting harder. According to AFP’s 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the average retention rate for a first-time donor is 23%. The average retention for a recurring donor is 90%.
Once you have a recurring giving program in place, you must be able to focus on GROWING your giving program and KEEPING those donors.
How to grow your monthly giving:
· Brand your monthly giving club. Give it a name that fits with your organizations mission. People like to belong and feel like they are personally impacting your organization. Determine mission-centric units of service for each giving level. $10 a month provides this, $25 a month provides that, etc.
· Make sure your website is ready. Create a landing page to talk about your monthly giving club and the impact its donors are making to your organization’s programs. Make sure your donation page is easy to understand with clear giving amounts and how often the donor can choose to make their gift.
· Promote your monthly giving club at your events. Have someone speak specifically about the program and ask attendees to join the club. An event is also a great way to launch your giving club.
· Even if you’re creating printed materials specific to your giving club, your general donation forms should offer monthly giving enrollment.
How to keep your monthly donors:
· THANK THEM REGULARLY! In your initial gift thank you, share how you’ll be interacting with them through the year. Ask if they prefer something different (monthly receipts vs. a year end receipt).
· Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Send your giving club members updates on a regular basis to let them know the impact of their gift. Don’t let them forget about you! When sending direct mail appeals through the year, make sure they know you appreciate their ongoing support as a giving club member.
· Do not let their credit cards expire. Your online giving platform should allow you to review expiring credit card dates. Reach out to them about a month prior.
The broader purpose of a board self-assessment is to create and maintain a healthy board by assessing members’ perceptions and status of their servitude. More specifically, the assessment should ensure non-profit compliance, evaluate best practices, identify where things need to be realigned, and to help reduce conflict by clarifying role of the board versus staff.
While this annual activity is the responsibility of the Governance Committee, the chief executive of the organization may have to prompt the activity and offer tools for the board to utilize. There are many resources available but do what works best for your board. Questions can include issues such as best practices and bylaw adherence, but they may also include questions specific to your organization’s value, mission, or programs.
Some key components of any board self-assessment should include:
- Identity and direction: Is there a strategic plan and is it being followed and routinely reviewed?
- Resourcing the board by ensuring the right people are in place.
- Providing oversight by evaluating the chief executive with an annual review as well as evaluating general board operations such as setting meeting agendas that encourage discussion as well as addressing strategic direction.
BoardSource offers a full checklist of board roles and responsibilities that dive into this further.
So, what now? Download a self-assessment resource and ensure you are gathering data that will be most useful. The Executive Committee should determine where there are gaps and develop a plan to address the issues. Review or create a committee structure that allows for a funnel on and off the board as you make some transitions and movements. Listed below are some self-assessment resources for you to utilize:
If you would like to discuss board development in more detail, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org !
Michigan Nonprofit Association – Compensation and Benefit Report Summary and Analysis
The Michigan Nonprofit Association is a statewide membership organization committed to supporting nonprofits through resources, advocacy and training. The 2019 Compensation and Benefits report surveyed 311 organizations of all sizes across the state in order to help organizations meet the needs of their employees while still serving their communities.
Overall, compensation in Michigan nonprofits has increased over the last few years with the average pay raise for 2018 3%, up from 2.77% in 2016. This trend is true for most individual positions as well. The average CEO salary increased 30% from the 2010 report.
Salaries do vary on a number of factors: region, organization type, budget size, etc. In general, nonprofits in West Michigan pay slightly less than the state leading region: the Southeast. Furthermore, in West Michigan, salary ranges within individual positions are, on average, about $30,000.
In general, the number of organizations offering some sort of health coverage to employees has increased significantly over time with 57% organizations offering coverage in 2010 to 76% offering coverage in 2018.
When it comes to paid time off, the majority of organizations offer vacation, sick and personal days as a group of paid time off, to be used at the employee’s discretion. However, only 23% of organization limit the use of PTO days to that fiscal year, offering no carryover.
Paid maternity and paternity leave as also skyrocketed in the last few years. Today, 30% of nonprofits offer 11-16 weeks of maternity leave, tripling the data from 2017. Even more dramatically, the number of organizations offering paid paternity leave for the duration of 11-16 weeks has increased from 5% in 2016 to 25% today.
In order to recruit and maintain top talent in your field, offering competitive compensation and benefits is vital to your organization’s success. The data supports a higher value being placed on the importance of comprehensive compensation packages, aside from just salary increases.
Working in the nonprofit space does not mean that you must compensate your employees poorly and by comparing yourself to other organizations, you can ensure that your organization is staying competitive in its field.
Written by Elyse Bax, Kennari Intern
Plan your thank you like you plan your ask.
As fundraising professionals, we all know that donors need a thank you when they make a gift. But what we don’t always spend enough time on is how to make that thank you special to the donor. At Kennari Consulting, we believe that your stewardship plan should be as carefully thought out as your solicitation strategy. Whether the donor gave $25 at your event, or made a three-year six figure gift, some careful planning can reinforce to the donor why they made the gift in the first place. And, it can ensure that they will continue their giving in future. Here are some basic ideas to consider as you craft your stewardship plan:
The Thank You Letter
All gifts should receive a thank you letter within 48 hours of making their gift. This means that if you are sending a large mailing or having a large event with an influx of gifts, you should be planning to block the time necessary to get your thank you letters out within 48 hours. The letter should include:
- Recognition of the impact of the gift on what they gave to – connect it to the part of the mission within your appeal that inspired them to make the gift.
- A signature from an appropriate person (CEO, Board Chair, Director, personal relationship)
- Recognition information (if applicable)
- IRS Language
- Information about what they could do next for your organization (ie: Visit us online, watch a video testimonial, sign up for eNews, take a tour, volunteer, etc.)
There are some instances where an extra step can be some personal follow up, like a phone call or a visit. Here are some ideas for this touchpoint:
- For first time donors, place a thank you call and talk with them about why they gave
- For event sponsors, send the program from the event or visit them and bring them the giveaway from the evening if they couldn’t attend
- For someone who just made the largest gift they have given, have the CEO or other leader call them and thank them personally
- Engage your program staff in thanking the donors, either with a handwritten note or thank you call
- Send pictures, constituent thank yous or videos
- Use handwritten notes for donors at a certain level
- Invite capital donors to take a hard-hat tour of the space or see project plans
- Engage the volunteer who helped you get this gift in the thank you process
- Thank your monthly donors separately, instead of just sending everyone the same tax receipt each month
- Do a donor survey to understand better how they want to interact with you
Opportunities to See their Dollars at Work
Many organizations make great connections with their donors by inviting them to activities to see their dollars at work. This is one of the most impactful acknowledgements you can make. While you may not be able to engage all donors in these activities, you can identify certain activities for certain levels of donors. Some ideas could be:
- Inviting small groups of people to interact with a program officer or visiting artist to your organization.
- Inviting donors to a “graduation” ceremony for your constituents
- Engaging donors to view student led activities or presentations
- Inviting donors to volunteer with your organization
As you navigate which components will make up your organization’s stewardship plan, remember, the goal is to make sure the donor feels valued and important. They want to feel special and they want to know they’ve made a difference. The best way to do this is to take the time to plan all of the ways you are going to say thank you, and also take the time to understand why the donor wants to be a part of your organization. And remember, the average first-time donor renews just 25% of the time. You can impact this number by being intentional about your stewardship. If you do a great job thanking, you will stand out, and donor will remember you and feel special. On the flip side, if you do a poor job thanking, you will stand out, but NOT the way you want to. Take the time to plan, and your donors might just thank YOU.
What’s your story? Or rather – what’s your organization’s story? Are you utilizing storytelling in your fundraising? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to help donors get closer to your organization and the people or causes you serve.
Here are a few simple strategies to consider to get started:
- What are the stories that could show – instead of telling – the impact of your organization in the community? Consider selecting stories that are relatable, timely, and that demonstrate how donor support is helping your organization fulfill your mission. Remember, stories help demystify the work you do.
- Consider another angle. Do you always focus on one aspect of your programming or one type of client success story? Stories can highlight lesser known elements of what you do which may appeal to new or broader audiences. The same is true in the medium you choose. A longer narrative in a direct mail appeal or newsletter may appeal more to some groups, while short videos or visual infographic may appeal to others. Our guests from Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation shared this video, connecting its viewers to the foundation’s mission of supporting schools and their students.
- Make storytelling a key part of your communications strategy and annual plan. Plan ahead to identify the types of stories you want to tell over the year and where you will tell them. Our guest, Kate Klemp from Cherry Health Foundation discussed how to plan out and gather stories – and you can see from their stories that it’s a routine part of their annual fund strategy!
Gathering stories in any nonprofit can be challenging. Try some of these tricks:
- Building relationships with the key storytellers of your organization will make an incredible difference.
- Offer an incentive for those who share a story.
- Have clear parameters of what type of story you are looking for.
- When taking a tour of your organization, ask program staff to share the story of what compels them to do their job.
- Incorporate mission moments into staff meetings; share these mission moments in board meetings to help engage your board.
While stories are important, leveraging your case for support is just as important. If you’re not using your case, it’s time to dust that off and put it to use! Think of your case as a pantry – you can pull what you need from it when you need it. It’s a good starting place when thinking about how to talk about your organization and the need you address, as well as a powerful training tool to help ensure your board and other stakeholders can do the same. Think event scripting, video talking points, training the board on their 30-second elevator pitch.
If you don’t have a case for support, or if you’re struggling to incorporate more meaningful stories into your annual communications, we’re here to help! Reach out via our contact form – we’d love to help you leverage your unique story for greater success.
Meet Jared Schmatz! Jared is a Junior at Cornerstone University and is studying Business Management. He is looking forward to applying what he learned at Kennari to other student organizations he is involved with at Cornerstone.
5 Lessons I Learned From My Summer Internship at Kennari Consulting
Before starting my internship at Kennari Consulting, I didn’t have a lot of experience with fundraising. However, after my summer of working in the world of philanthropy, I have gained valuable knowledge and insight in this space. Here are 5 lessons I learned from working at Kennari Consulting:
1. Building relationships is vital. The most important lesson I learned from my internship is that fundraising cannot be done effectively without relationship building. In many of the meetings I shadowed, our consultants would go through prospect lists with our clients. They would help our clients create plans for cultivating the donors through various activities such as a building tour, lunch with a board member, or a house party. Our consultants helped our clients think about the relationships between board members, staff members, and donors, in order to create unique cultivation plans for each donor prospect. This is the most important lesson because it has challenged me to improve my relationship building skills. During this school year, I plan to focus much more on networking and building relationships with my fellow Cornerstone students and members of the nonprofit industry in West Michigan.
2. Data and research matter. Before starting my internship, I had no idea how important data and research were to fundraising. During the summer, I had two projects that focused heavily on data and research. I assisted our consultants by conducting donor research and preparing reports for our staff members. This information would help our clients and consultants make decisions about cultivation activities and potential gift capacity. Additionally, I prepared a summary of the Giving USA 2019 report, which is published by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. This report is trusted by nonprofit professionals across the country because it helps them make fundraising decisions. Overall, working with data this summer has been a great experience and I know it will serve me well in the future.
3. Fundraising is complex. I never realized how complex fundraising could be until I learned about this process at Kennari Consulting. For example, the campaign process includes work with pre-feasibility processes, feasibility studies, campaign implementation, and campaign completion. Another example is with grants and foundations – when you apply for a grant, many foundations want to see that your program has taken steps to develop a strong program model for developing goals and tracking data. Overall, this internship has given me a peek into the complex world of philanthropy.
4. Always have a plan. Another lesson that I learned is that having a plan for every step of fundraising is a tremendous asset. Whether it is applying for grants, launching a campaign, or planning an event, having a plan for your fundraising activities can help you stay organized and on task.
5. The nonprofit industry in West Michigan is growing. Lastly, this experience has shown me just how large the nonprofit industry is in West Michigan. I have been able to sit in on countless meetings with our clients and make connections with nonprofit leaders in our community. I have met with employees at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Cherry Health, ArtPrize, and many more. Overall, this experience has given me a passion to continue working in West Michigan because the philanthropy industry is strong and growing.
The Kennari Consulting internship experience has given me a ton of insight into this industry and has helped to prepare me for some projects I am working on currently. I am the president of a student organization at Cornerstone University called Enactus. We are a social entrepreneurship organization and I am currently working on a fundraising plan for this organization. I am using the principles that I learned from Kennari to help me lead this organization better. I am also in the process of starting a project in Guatemala that will focus on special needs education. I will most likely be leading a campaign to raise around $750,000 to build this school and I am looking forward to using my experience with Kennari to help me with this project.
I am incredibly thankful to Kennari Consulting for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow in this industry. I am also thankful to the entire staff for being so welcoming and friendly throughout the entire summer. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this internship and make a meaningful impact on my community; I know I picked the right organization to intern with this summer.
Jared was an outstanding addition to our office this semester! His eager attitude, sense of humor, and work ethic were appreciated every day. We are excited to see what Jared accomplishes at Cornerstone and beyond!
To learn more about Kennari Consulting’s internship program, please email Kim Kvorka at email@example.com.