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The countdown clock on the Giving Challenge website tells me we have less than 3 days until the 24-hour giving “extravaganza” we’ve been waiting for officially begins.

Here are some closing thoughts about exploring new possibilities in giving, brought to you by the letter “r.”

  1. Represent community. 
    Be an active role model in creating community. Be complimentary of what others are doing. We’re all in this together. See another organization doing well in the Giving Challenge?  Imagine what its success will mean for the people, places, or animals that benefit from its mission.

    Two people who have been particularly active on The Giving Partner’s Facebook page sharing positive commentary about other organizations: Carisa Campanella of Neuro Challenge Foundation and JoAnne DeVries of the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota. What nice examples they have set for building community online.

  2. Respect that donors are all different.
    It’s true that some donors choose to give to animal causes rather than those serving people. Some give to education, some to the environment. Some donors give to the same organizations year after year. Other donors give to a different organization every year, depending on where they can maximize their dollars. One reason philanthropy works in our community is because we have so many diverse interests when it comes to social causes. Respecting these differences will lead to more giving for all of the missions we care about.

    As you see the Leaderboard fill up with donations, remember that each one is there because one person deeply cares about making the world better in a certain way. We should celebrate that.

  3. Resist the urge to compare your campaign to others.
    Be proud of what your organization is accomplishing. Money for your mission is good! But so is bringing your team together, building an online community around your work, making more people aware of the services you offer, growing the fundraising participation of your board, appreciating your volunteers…

    Have you moved the needle in any of these areas? That’s success. If you set your target too high, that’s okay too. You learned what’s possible and what to tweak in your future fundraising efforts.

  4. Recognize your people.
    I bet you didn’t do it alone–we hope you didn’t do it alone. Donors will give. Social media ambassadors have been liking and sharing your posts on Facebook or Twitter.  Others have helped you plan and execute your campaign. Whether you celebrate digitally or at your office, take the time to thank people for being part of your organization’s success, and most importantly, share what this success will mean for the people, special places, or animals you serve.

  5. Reveal yourself as a new donor!
    What if each nonprofit staff member, volunteer, or board member gives to her own organization and to an organization she hasn’t supported before? You too can be part of The Patterson Foundation’s generous matching dollars, up to $250 when you give to a nonprofit as a new donor! Go to http://www.GivingPartnerChallenge.org to find the 449 participating nonprofits.

See you on September 1 & 2 from noon to noon!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

 

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With all this time preparing for the Giving Challenge, you may just be sitting around during the actual event with nothing to do.

Or you could stay supercharged on September 1 at noon through September 2 at noon and be a driver of new possibilities in giving.  This year 450 nonprofits are participating, and you can be sure that excitement will be running the show.

If you want to make the most of the 2015 Giving Challenge, be sure not to do these things:

  1. Ignore the the Leaderboard on your laptop, iPad, desktop, or mobile phone. Some have described the Leaderboard as “addictive” and “hard to ignore.” It will update every 60 seconds to reflect the dollar amount of gifts received, the number of new donors who give, and other important stats that keep you tied to your seat.

  2. Sleep from 12:00 a.m. on September 2 through 3:00 a.m. on September 2. Do you remember that two random donors who donate on www.givingpartnerchallenge.org between the hours of 12 a.m. and 3 a.m. will be selected for a $1,000 grant added to their donations?

  3. Stay away from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. It’s going to be fun here. Food, a photo booth, an interactive and soothing Giving Challenge painting, entertainment, special mission focused hours. We hope you can stop by and enjoy our Donor Lounge made possible by our friends at Home Resource.

  4. Talk excessively about how tired you are. This campaign requires a great deal of energy! The week after the Giving Challenge is a three-day weekend. We can make it.

  5. Wait until you receive your Giving Challenge funds to email your donors and thank them for their gifts.
    The beginning of a beautiful relationship is an immediate, heartfelt thank you. Why not thank your donors in “real time” since you can see their gifts come in with updates every 60 seconds?

  6. Ask everyone else what’s going on instead of following #GivingChallenge15 on Facebook and Twitter.
    There’s so much you can see and enjoy out in our community on September 1 and 2, but you can also use the hashtag #GivingChallenge15 to enjoy the campaigns and activities of your nonprofit friends and colleagues. We have been enjoying the excitement building every day.

If you have taken part in the Giving Challenge in past years, let us know what we missed on our list!

The 2015 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.

bert-ernie-rubber-duckyI just read a fun piece on Next Avenue called “5 Sesame Street Lessons We Need Again As Adults” by Bryce Kirchoff. Loved it. And of course I thought about our community’s online day of giving on September 1 and 2 from noon to noon.

Here are Kirchoff’s five big Sesame Street lessons with a little Giving Challenge commentary added. (Click here if you need some Sesame Street video time.)

1. Put down the ducky if you want to play the saxophone.
Kirchoff reminds us that on Sesame Street, Ernie actually has to put down his favorite rubber ducky if he wants to play the saxophone. It’s not always possible to do something new or to do something well until we make the space for it, right? Consider what you might need to put down in the next couple of weeks to promote a Giving Challenge campaign with the results you’re seeking. Better yet, can you combine it with an existing goal or effort to concentrate your success?

2. A sense of adventure never gets old.
Adventures cover new territory and give us new experiences. So put on your field boots and a hat. Bring your butterfly net. The Giving Challenge is a chance to be adventurous with philanthropy.  Plan thoughtfully but be flexible. Dress right for the occasion and lay the ground work, but build in a sense of excitement about the unknown!

3. Friends Matter.
Looking for new donors to give to your nonprofit for the $250 matching opportunity from The Patterson Foundation? Social campaigns are all about your friends and their friends. Your friends are your volunteers, board members, clients, vendors, family members, media partners. Reach out to them. Invite them to share your posts, host a gathering, follow the Leaderboard, make an appeal to 5 people they know, share, give, be a vital part of your campaign. When you let friends know how much they matter, they really want to help.

4. Celebrate Yourself.
September 1 and 2 is an AMAZING time to celebrate the good things your organization makes possible in this community. It’s not about what you do, but what impact you are making. To celebrate yourself, use your Giving Challenge messaging to tell stories about the lives you have improved and to share some data about positive changes resulting from your work.

5. When All Else Fails, Dance.
Think about movement and music. Consider how contagious they are. We’ve said it before, but when you have some fun with your campaign, and when everything is orchestrated with planning in mind, things flow. At the end of that 24-hour period on September 2 at noon, we hope you dance. Be thrilled with what you accomplished, whether it’s more funding, more Facebook fans, a more engaged board, a new partner, or a team effort that brought your volunteers together around your mission.

The 2015 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Follow the Giving Challenge using #GivingChallenge15 and online at http://www.givingpartnerchallenge.org.

 

GivingChallenge2015LargeForPrintEvery year we are asked how much money we think local nonprofits will raise in the Giving Challenge through donations, matching dollars, and grant incentives combined.

A really easy answer: we don’t know. The uncertainty is both exciting and anxiety provoking, isn’t it? Anything can happen in 24 hours!

With this year’s focus on new donors from The Patterson Foundation and with other new grant opportunities offered through the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the possibilities are amazing to consider.

And although the total amount of money raised can understandably be a focus in the Giving Challenge, so many other positives that benefit our community’s diverse organizations are generated from their strategies and planning.

Here are 10 predictions for the 2015 Giving Challenge:

  1. Donors will see that a $25 gift can really make a difference.
  2. Videos that make us laugh, evoke profound emotions, showcase familiar faces, and feature impact will be created and will spread across social media platforms like wildfire.
  3. Board teams will come together in unprecedented numbers to actually have fun planning their fundraising campaigns.
  4. Some nonprofits will co-design unbelievably creative partnerships that will result in new possibilities for working together in the future.
  5. Business owners will align with nonprofits like never before to help them raise more money, meet more people, and gain more traction.
  6. Nonprofits will use the Giving Challenge to boost their current fundraising campaigns.
  7. Donors will give to organizations they have never before supported, and those organizations will start developing meaningful relationships with them.
  8. Clients of nonprofit programs and their families will be inspired to donate and will encourage others to do the same.
  9. Our community will be know as the “Region of Heartfelt Thank You Notes.”
  10. #GivingChallenge15 will dominate Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

What do you predict for your organization? We hope that enjoying your Giving Challenge campaign planning is in the mix!

Have a great weekend.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Just the thought of raising money can be a real challenge for many nonprofit board members. And it’s understandable when we frame “fundraising” in limited contexts.  But it’s easier when you think of your board as a team…and maybe even a fun team that is serious about helping your organization thrive. (Newsflash: your board is a team.)

I’m not your biggest sports fan, but I do know that on teams, each person plays a different role. On your board team, some people will feel comfortable making an “ask” while others will never feel comfortable doing so. It’s like asking a quarterback to be a wide receiver. You need both and wouldn’t expect one to perform the same role as the other.

With each Giving Challenge, we search for ways to help nonprofits raise dollars and build their strength. This year we have a new grant incentive, and it’s all about your board. Hint: how can you use the community excitement behind the Giving Challenge to rally your board’s enthusiasm for your mission?

Here are three ways your board can leap into the Challenge:

  1. Commit to 100% board participation in giving during the Challenge. If you’re asking the community to support you during this 24 hour period, it sends a powerful message when your board supports your organization too. Everyone can participate as a philanthropist in the Giving Challenge by donating $25. Last year, 74% of nonprofits indicated that some board members gave to them during the Challenge, and 19% indicated that everyone on the board gave. It would be exciting to see those percentages rise!

  2. Consider all of the ways your board members can be part of your fundraising team: hosting a gathering at their home; enlisting the support of their business; sharing their enthusiasm for your mission with their friends, family and colleagues via email, social media or a letter; thanking your donors. (Check out GuideStar’s recent blog post by Rachel Muir, CFRE for more.) Last year only 28% of board members participated in thanking Giving Challenge donors. That’s an opportunity for growth, and it’s actually fun and meaningful to thank donors.

  3. Evoke that team spirit! Anyone–not just board members–can be more open to fundraising when working together for the benefit of a cause near and dear to everyone on the team, right? Just look at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troope board in last year’s Giving Challenge. They do look like they were having fun. (The board challenged the community with their own match for dollars raised during the campaign.)

wcbbt

Can your board come together with a team spirit to help your nonprofit raise money, share excitement for your accomplishments in the community, and have a good time doing it?

You might just be the right nonprofit to earn one of two $1,000 grants that will be awarded for “Best Board Member Engagement” in the Giving Challenge.  With a positive experience in this campaign, the doors are wide open for a year of more board participation in fundraising.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

inspirenewLast week we kicked off our series of five trainings to get local organizations ready for the 2015 Giving Challenge.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has enjoyed the enthusiasm and anticipation shared among our nonprofit friends as we explain the many opportunities available to engage new and existing supporters.

We talked about some pretty incredible news. The Patterson Foundation will support nonprofits in the 2015 Giving Challenge in two ways: with a 1:1 match for each new online donor’s contributions – up to $250 per donor, per organization–and with $35,000 in incentives for nonprofits that cultivate the highest totals of new online donors. (“New” donors are defined as those who didn’t give to your organization in last year’s Giving Challenge.)  There is no cap on the total dollars The Patterson Foundation will award.

Wow.

Inspiring new donors to give isn’t light work.

So how can nonprofits make this incredible opportunity a success? Start by considering all of the reasons people might be moved to give and how you can leverage the excitement of the Giving Challenge to convert them to donors.

In our Giving Challenge trainings, we’ve spent some time talking about this great piece from Network for Good’s Fundraising123.org site. How many of the motivators in “The Secret to Getting People to Give: 15 Reasons Why People Donate” can your organization use to build alignment with your cause on September 1 and 2? Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Someone I know asked me to give.
    Use the right people to share a personal appeal for the Giving Challenge with their circles of influence. If my best friend asks me to donate to her favorite cause, for instance, I’m much more likely to say yes than I would be if I received a random email solicitation from the organization.

  2. I feel emotionally moved by someone’s story.
    This is a tempting time to share the Giving Challenge logo with a “give to us” line.  That’s probably the least effective thing you can do. Consider the bank of inspiring stories you have about the difference your organization has made for one child, one veteran, one season ticket subscriber, one senior, one animal, etc. Use these stories!

  3. I want to change someone’s life.
    See #2. Tell a story about how your organization has changed a life–or can change a life–with the support of a donor. Evidence of the difference one donor can make is a big motivator.

  4. I believe supporting your cause is “in style.”
    Have you considered how your organization’s work relates to an important mission-centric issue that’s been in the news lately? Leverage that as you talk with people about how relevant it is to support what you’re accomplishing.

  5. I will have a good community image (or a good image for my business) if I give.
    This year we’re awarding grants to two nonprofits with the “Best Business Partnerships” in the Giving Challenge. What businesses in our community align with your organization’s values? Think of how they can expose your organization to new supporters AND how you can reinforce their brand positioning in the community as a great social steward.

  6. I want to be seen as a role model by giving.
    You can gain extra brownie points by encouraging people to use Facebook or Twitter to share that they made gifts to you during the Giving Challenge. It positions them as leaders and helps you reach entire circles of friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, and others who are distinct from your nonprofit’s insiders.

  7. An emotion–like feeling fortunate or guilty or joy–has motivated me to give.
    When Ann Christiano visited us in January to talk about the power of stories, she also encouraged us to consider the full suite of emotions as we tell our stories. We’ve seen a lot of energy generated in past campaigns around humor, joy, inclusion, hope. How can you use these and other feelings to reach the soft side we all have that compels us to action?

Add to the list!

We’ll post more about this in the coming weeks and would love to add your thoughts and comments.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

leader
It has been exciting to see the registration of our all-star line up of Team Leaders, the ones who will navigate their nonprofits’ efforts in the 2015 Giving Challenge on September 1 and 2 from noon to noon.

We wanted to share highlights from Kevin Daum’s article, “Ten Traits of Great Leaders and Their Followers,” published in Inc., since we find it so relevant. An outstanding Giving Challenge Team Leader will bring a lot to the table to maximize the opportunity to engage donors, attract new supporters, and leverage attention that supports her organization’s goals.

  1. Ambition. Having passion, drive and determination will make every bit of difference in your Giving Challenge success. Your ambition becomes a contagious part of others’ outlook on the possibilities for success.

  2. Patience.  Let’s face it. A big project–and working with people in general–requires a lot of patience. Not everyone sees the world the same way, and bringing people along requires patience in carrying out your shared vision, especially true for a major undertaking like the Giving Challenge. (And as the Community Foundation works with more than 400 organizations, we appreciate your patience with us too.)

  3. Humility. Great leaders are not overly concerned with who gets the credit, focusing on helping each team member contribute in ways that prove valuable to the entire organization.

  4. Humor. Humor can put everyone at ease, helping us to be more productive, enjoying our work and those we work with. We have also seen that Giving Challenge campaigns that make use of humor have great success in engaging others. Your content becomes more sharable, more likeable.

  5. Vision. When teammates know what the big picture is, they are more motivated by their role in the grand scheme of things. Achieving great things begins with vision and communication of the vision.

  6. Compliance. With so many aspects of the Giving Challenge to manage–grant incentives, deadlines, communication expectations, updating your Giving Partner profile–it’s critical that leaders can comply with the guidelines set out for everyone.

  7. Tolerance. Working with team members who have different ideas, different ways of working, and different communication styles can be trying. It takes tolerance to lead a creative endeavor like the Giving Challenge.

  8. Courage. The Giving Challenge is all about trying out new approaches to attract donors and share your mission with those who want to get engaged. Courageous campaigns are led by courageous leaders who are willing to do step outside the comfort zone.

  9. Accountability.  At the end of the day, the results of each organization’s efforts are there for the team to enjoy and celebrate. Whether it’s a fundraising goal, communication goal, or strategic goal the nonprofit is hoping to achieve, the team leader’s accountability enables others to be accountable.

  10. Gratitude. Never ever underestimate the power of sharing appreciation with your team members and others who have helped to make success possible. Do it often and genuinely.

What’s missing on this list of star qualities?

We are so impressed each year with everyone who steps up and does tremendous work to bring their nonprofits into the spotlight. It’s a local spotlight we’re proud of, but other communities always ask about our local campaigns as well. They start with great leaders.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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