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Raising The Bar For Fundraisers

The stock market is not the only leading indicator that rose last year. Charitable donations also made a comeback, which may have surprised the doomsayers, but not those who know the fundraising field well. How did charities post gains in such a difficult financial climate and what can we do to make this an even better year?

The NYC Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association raised $1.1 million for its Memory Walk in 2010, up 7% from the previous year. Revenue from its Forget-Me-Not gala jumped 17%. The UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street & Financial Services Division raised a whopping $19.5 million at its gala dinner, more than it has in the last three years and close to the event’s record of $21 million from before the financial crisis.
 
These statistics come courtesy of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, who surveyed 181 nonprofits at the end of 2010, with 53% reporting their donations last November and December were higher than in 2009. One in five said contributions had jumped by at least 20%.
 
You can feed a lot of hungry people and pay Yeshiva salaries much faster with that type of performance!
 
I have the zechus on a daily basis to work with some of the Jewish world’s leading fundraisers. During a recent conversion with a noted Executive Director, I asked him to share his thoughts as to why things were going better than expected. He told me something that should really be obvious, but you know what? To use an analogy from baseball, just like a steady .300 hitter needs his batting instructor to drop by the batting cage when he sees the need to adjust the hitter’s swing, even our best and brightest need to refresh themselves on the fundamentals from time to time.
 
People give to people,” said the fundraiser. “The cause needs to be good one, and the donor needs to be well informed. However, at the end of the day, the relationship is the primary ingredient! Careful planning and thought must be taken to maintain the relationship in a caring way, and on an ongoing basis.”
 
Each fundraiser has his own unique style. This gentleman has succeeded in making his donors into friends, without being intrusive, even while asking for that annual gift. Depending on the relationship, sometimes he drops them a line — on a people to people basis — on an important anniversary or simcha. Other times, he keeps the name of his organization in front of them through regularly scheduled publications, like newsletters. “There’s no fundraising without PR and no PR without fundraising,” he reminded me.
 
What a lesson this was. Sometimes we think we need to work so much harder, but the key to success is working that much smarter and become the best person we can be.
 
With this in mind, I am pleased to remind the non-profit world that for the third consecutive year, we will be holding our Two Day Fundraising Seminar, titled “Raising The Bar: For Yourself, Your Career and Your Organization.” It will take place Bezras Hashem, on February 22-23 (Tuesday-Wednesday) 2011, at the beautiful DoubleTree Hotel in Tarrytown, NY.
 
For this special event, I have the zechus of once again partnering with the very talented, non-profit and business consultant Rabbi Herschel Leiner, President of H. LEINER & CO. Together — along with some additional fascinating presenters — we will discuss some of the latest tools and great ideas on how to “raise the bar” on your own performance. It’s exactly what fundraisers have been waiting for: fundraising experts getting down to brass tacks on how to raise donors and donations, in any economic environment.
 
Among the many benefits of attending the Fundraising Seminar are the ability to:
 

Ø                  Plan for the future of your organization, your staff and yourself

Ø                  Get the answers to your toughest fundraising questions

Ø                  Learn new techniques for raising donors and donations

Ø                  Limited one-on-one consultations with fundraising and marketing experts

Ø                  Networking opportunities and roundtable discussions
 

For further information or to register, visit www.FundraisingSeminar.org or contact Esther at 718-412-3520.

Finally, I wish to share a touching note that I received from the noted askan R’ Yankie Mandelbaum, who attended last year’s conference. He wrote: “The seminar was both informative and enjoyable and I believe you are doing a tremendous service to the many mosdos and organizations that were represented. I personally gained a lot from attending as new ideas rushed through my brain as I listened to you and the other fine presenters.”
 

Bezras Hashem, Rabbi Leiner, myself and our co-presenters, look forward to outdoing last year’s performance!

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Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line’s notable clients include: Mike Bloomberg for Mayor, Dirshu and TeachNYS.

Readers are encouraged to submit their marketing questions to: ys@BottomLineMG.com