Category Archives: arts

Winning the Lottery

I won the lottery this week. Not the Georgia Lottery, but one even better than that.  I’d have to play the lottery to actually win, and I can’t really see the value in that.

This week, I got to spend time with my mom, I introduced one of our grandsons to one of our favorite books, I had a picnic with a new friend, I started physical therapy for my knee, I went on a walk with another new friend (or I tried), I saw a movie with Michael, AND I made another new friend.  The icing on the cake was finding out I could go to college in Georgia for free.  Age does have its privileges.  Can you imagine a better week?

Let’s start at the beginning.  My mom is always fun and anyone who knows us knows we love road trips.  We just came back from a successful road trip with Sloan, another grandson, and he liked our habit of listening to audiobooks on the road. With Jacob, a somewhat reluctant reader, we chose “Skink, No Surrender,” by Carl Hiassen.  Carl Hiassen is one of our favorite authors and even his books for young readers keep us entertained.  Jacob laughed the entire trip and even asked to turn on the phone when we got inside. He couldn’t get enough!

We got home Tuesday evening and on Wednesday morning I had an appointment.  This was where I met my new friend, Mike, in the most unlikely place. We had already talked on the phone and I knew he was very helpful, but when we met in person we clicked.  You can never have too many friends.  He’s a smart guy, a social worker, and I’m adding him to our Boxing Day party list.  Not just everyone goes on that list!  Thank you, Mike.  I never expected to find a new friend that day, especially when the next lady who came in acted like I was some kind of nut case.

This was a very quick trip and I’m on a diet so I got three barbecue sandwiches that I intended to ration carefully.  I ate one for supper on Tuesday and I knew both needed to be eaten on Wednesday, but there was no way.  When my friend Lawrence said the magic words, I suggested a picnic on Wednesday.  The weather was perfect and we ate under a big tree at Wesleyan College.  The company was outstanding, even though we were both eaten up by ants and I’m still itching.  If you know me very well, you know I don’t share my barbecue sandwiches with just anyone, so you know Lawrence must be a very special friend.

Paige Parker is the best physical therapist in the world.  If anyone can help my knee, Paige can.  She worked miracles with my shoulder.  I’m highly motivated, but she pushes.  I’m optimistic.  Getting an appointment brightened my mood.

The best laid plans don’t always work out, and the rain prevented my walk with Hal.   I have so much respect for Hal Brickle and his work with the weekend lunch and I couldn’t wait to walk with him, so off we went. We got to the stop sign, and down came the rain.  I hobbled back to the car and he ran a little faster.  J

As I said, the icing on the cake was finding out I can go to college for free at state schools in Georgia. I’m particularly interested in the history program at Middle Georgia College, perhaps the music program there, the theatre program at Georgia College in Milledgeville, or if I’m really serious about studying, economics at Georgia State University.  For $49 per course, I can even go to Emory University.  I could get a BSN at Middle Georgia College, but I think I’m over that.  I think I want to do something FUN!  I may be the only person, though, who thinks public policy and economics sounds like fun.

First, though, let’s get some money coming in on a more regular basis. But this has certainly been a fun week.

Nonprofit Basics: Cultivating your Donors

 

My husband and I love to donate to charitable organizations. Seriously. We do it because we believe in giving back. We like to support organizations that do good. One organization has just gotten its last donation from us. There are ways to cultivate donors, and there are ways to drive them away.

Fundraising is a huge part of any nonprofit organization, whether it is a church, a theatre, public television, or a helath care organization. As board chair of two nonprofits and board member of three others, I am used to asking for money. We also support several other organizations whose missions we believe in and whom we know do a great job meeting their objectives.   With so many organizations competing for donations, how do you attract and keep your supporters?

  1. Reach out and touch. Remember the old AT&T commercial where they advised us to “reach out and touch”? There is so much to be said for this. Chances are good that you have a prostpective donor list, and chances are even better that you run into these people on a fairly regular basis. If not, there’s always the phone. Let your donors know that you’re there and that you care. You might consider keeping a spreadsheet with the donors’ birthdays, anniversaries, and any other key information, then use that when you’re on the phone to trigger conversation.
  2. Celebrate your successes. Donors want to know your organization is making a difference. Unless you are public broadcasting and have a constant presence, it is important that you have SMART objectives and you let your donors know when objectives are met.   The Mercer University Children’s Choir offers free concerts several times each year to allow families and donors the opportunity to see the progress. They also maintain an active Facebook page where donors can follow the choir and its upcoming events. There are lots of opportunities to see their successes.
  3. Thank your donors. People want to be recognized for their contributions. Piedmont Players is a nonprofit community theatre company in Salisbury, North Carolina, and they have a substantial playbill for each of their performances. The playbill recognizes donors at all levels, as well as corporate sponsors. They’ve grown to the point where they have two buildings, one for the mainstage and one for children’s theatre.   Though strictly voluteer, this community theatre has become a destination for central North Carolina.
  4. Personalize your invitations. Mass mailings are often overlooked and sometimes get lost in the mail and mailing services are not always reliable.   Remember you are inviting people because you want them to donate and to continue to support your organization. The small amount of time it takes to include a personal note is one that can really pay off. The Atlanta Opera is excellent at this. When phone calls are used instead of written notes, they are personal and always begin with a greeting
  5. Be direct in your ask. You donated $300 last year; can we put you down for $500 this year? “Could I put you done for $1000?” This gives the donor the option to offer a different amount. I received a letter from an organization that I had promised to support, which read, “We’re trying to do our budget so how much are you going to give?” To be perfectly honest, I was a little startled by the tone of this letter from someone who had not engaged me at all. It was a local organization and a phone call would have made that important connection that is more likely to result in a higher donation. When they followed up with an invoice for the agreed amount, my view of the contribution went from donation to the dreaded bill.
  6. Value and nurture your relationships with donors. A local nonprofit recently had an anniversary celebration and posted photos on their Facebook page, but many of the donors responded that had no idea the event was taking place. The administrator siad that they had used a mailing service and were sorry that some people might not have received their invitation. She said that they couldn’t afford to post it online as an event, because of their budget, so they were sorry if donors/subscribers didn’t know about it.   This response did nothing to appease supporters who should have been invited.

Most people who donate to nonprofit organizations begin the year with an idea of how much they will donate and what causes are meaningful to them. A carefully constructed plan to cultivate the existing donors can go far in promoting donor loyalty. With so many organizations competing for donors’ generosity, your organization cannot afford to overlook these important development opportunities.