Thursday, April 26, 2018

Nonprofit organizations count on direct mail appeal letters

Image: USPS Mail Truck
Large and small nonprofit organizations count on direct mail fundraising appeal letters.  The difference is larger nonprofit organizations usually have a development/marketing department while the smaller nonprofit employees wear many different hats. A solicitation letter, when executed correctly, can be an excellent asset for a successful fundraising campaign but what should you include with the ‘ask’?

•    The outer envelope.  (usually a #10)
•    The solicitation letter (8.5” x 11”)
•    A Brochure (optional)
•    A pledge/reply card
•    A return envelope for the pledge card (usually a number #9, #8, #7, or #6)

The solicitation letter
•    Make your letter emotional and personal. Give details of how your nonprofit organization effects the cause.
•    Try to tell just one story instead of multiple stories. Talk directly to the possible donor.
•    Make the reader feel important.
•    Keep your story short enough to scan, but it should inspire action.
•    Use the pronouns ‘YOU’ and ‘I’ often.
•    Always use present tense.
•    Create a sense of urgency about the return. We do not want the letter to sit on top of the fridge where it can be forgotten.

The Brochure
The brochure can be a great accompany piece but might significantly elevate the cost of the campaign. A well-written letter can do the job, but I suggest monitoring multiple appeals with a brochure and without. When you calculate your total costs for each campaign, you will have a better understanding of which appeal works best. The ‘donor list’ is probably the best choice for the end result.

Pledge card
I like to use 8.5” by 11’ evenly cut into three pledge cards.  I think it is an excellent idea to perforate the pledge card, so half of it is retained for their tax records, and the other half is mailed back to the nonprofit using the return envelope.
•    Define gift levels that are easy to understand: (for example)
~ $25 will buy school supplies for five kids.
~ $50 can feed ten families.
~ $100 can clean 1000 square feet of water.
•    Make sure the pledge card is easy to write on because, for example, marriages change last names, and misspellings can occur, forcing people to pen in the changes. The best change, however, is when you see the promised pledge amount replaced by a much larger donation! Assign someone to make the corrections in your donor database or Masterfile.

The Return Envelope
•    I prefer the #9 return envelope that of course be pre-addressed. The smaller the envelope the closer you are to donors folding pledge cards and checks. The reason I do not like folded pledge cards and checks is the incurred cost to have someone unfold them.
•    Lots of nonprofits use envelopes with prepaid postage, but I have never been a fan of the nonprofit paying for return postage.  I do not think it is necessary. Once again, try keeping tabs on multiple campaigns with and without prepaid postage to get your answer. I suggest including a URL on the bottom of your ‘ask’ that goes directly to your donation page.

Call to Action: Reinforce your call to action using social media. Follow your direct mail fundraising campaign with emails, text, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. When a donor sees multiple reminders about a cause, it increases the possibility of a donation online.

Remember, a nonprofit organization can also use a professional fundraiser for direct mail.

This above blog post is for informational purposes only.  The material discussed should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  You should consult legal counsel concerning your own situation and any legal questions.

All you need is love but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt

Image: All you need is love but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Casual for a Cause 2018 Totals Year to Date

Casual for a Cause 2018 Year to date

The Associated Community Services Employee Casual for a Cause Fund is growing! Below we have listed the nonprofits ACS Employees have donated to so far this year:

Description  CFC 2018
WK 4 & 5 Young Life
WK 6 & 7 American Heart Assoc
WK8 & 9 Alzheimer's Association
WK 10 & 11 Special Dreams Farm
Wk 12 & 13 I Care of Michigan

The total for the year is $5,856.50.

gift box on hand
Casual for a Cause is an internal voluntary program at ACS where ACS employees can make a contribution to a designated charity for a particular week. No contractual relationship or any other affiliation exists between the designated charity and ACS. ACS employee contributions to, and acceptance by, the charity does not constitute any business relationship between ACS and the charity, or any endorsement of ACS by the charity.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Choosing a Professional Telefundraising Service


call center agents

Nonprofit Professional Fundraiser Telemarketing Service

Charities often choose a professional fundraiser to outsource their fundraising efforts, such as by way of a telefundraising or telemarketing campaign. A professional fundraiser can utilize its resources and technology to educate the general public about a charity’s mission statement or program, efficiently reach a broader audience, significantly offset a charity’s limited resource to fundraise, and potentially increase the charity’s visibility and donor pool. The call center should contact and acquire new donors and continue to maintain the donors that currently support the nonprofit organization.

Consider these critical questions when deciding on which professional fundraiser is most credible and best for your organization's telemarketing (telefundraising) drive.

• Do they have a quality control team that monitors telemarketing calls for quality assurance?
• Do they effectively train their telephone agents and staff on professionalism, communication, ethics, and compliance with applicable legal requirements?
• Are the staff managed effectively with performance and ethical standards?
• Are donations that are raised adequately handled?
• Is the fundraiser properly registered with any applicable government agency?
• What is the professional fundraiser’s do-not-call process?
• Does the professional fundraiser comply with any applicable call time restrictions?
• Does the professional fundraiser have any references?
• How long has the PRF been in business?

Call Center telefundraising for nonprofits should offer secure data backup and be cost-effective. Predictive dialers offer multiple reporting features.

This above blog post is for informational purposes only.  The material discussed should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  You should consult legal counsel concerning your own situation and any legal questions.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Is your nonprofit organization required to have an independent financial audit performed?

Is your nonprofit required to have an independent financial audit performed?


An independent audit is the examination of a nonprofit’s financials by a certified public accountant.
desk with accounting tools
The audit is performed to examine the nonprofits accounting practices, financial records, banking transactions, and donor pledge cards.

Many states require the packaging of an audit with state charitable registrations for fundraising, but the requirement usually involves a certain level of revenue/contributions received.  The amount that requires an audit is different from state to state. A professional fundraiser may be able to offer information on audit requirements.
State government contracts may also stipulate an independent audit.
Many private foundations expect an independent audit included with the request for funding from the charity. This expectation is usually outlined along with the criteria to apply for the grant.
Federal law requires an independent audit if the nonprofit revenue raised is $750,000 or more.
If a nonprofit organization receives funding from the state or federal government, an audit may be required.
If an audit is required, it would most likely be due at the end of the calendar year, your fiscal year, or a date specified by the state or federal government.

A charity independent audit report is issued by the certified public accountant(s) to be reviewed by the nonprofit’s board of directors. An Adverse Opinion from the auditor can have a significant impact on funding efforts including direct mail, digital marketing, annual campaigns, professional fundraising, and telemarketing (telefundraising) to name a few.

The cost of the charity accountability financial can be over $10,000 every year for small nonprofit organizations and much more for larger charities. It can be a severe setback for a new nonprofit organization during its infancy if it cannot afford the audit. As I mentioned earlier, many private foundations require the approval of an independent audit for funding. If the nonprofit organization cannot provide the audit, it very well may affect fundraising efforts overall. The charity is unable to apply for a grant from the grantor.

As the charity grows in size and revenue, the audit will become part of the nonprofit organizations yearly experience.

The material discussed should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  

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Associated Community Services is located at 23800 West 10 Mile Rd, Southfield, MI 48033. ACS telephone number is (248) 208-9139