The Path To Digital Dominance

When I started my first company over 10 years ago, I didn’t have a lot of resources to make things happen. I had some experience and knowledge from years of working in the communications industry – but no budget that I could build my business with. As I’ve stressed to my clients, kids, and anyone who will listen, lack of resources are never the real problem, unless you lack resourcefulness.

Fortunately with the world of online media, it’s now easier than ever for people who are virtually unknown to the wider world to build a thriving business from the ground up. I count myself as one of those success stories. It wasn’t easy to do though. There were no text books guiding me down the path. There was a lot of trial and error.

Now, all of these years later, I’ve written the book (or at least a book) on building your online influence. The lessons I learned truly made a difference, and allowed me to build a thriving business. I never intended to write a book about those lessons, but I couldn’t resist sharing my hard-earned knowledge with the rest of the world.

The main lessons I learned that I needed to spell out were:

– How to Generate and distribute content (with very little effort)

– How to Build their audience (even if you have no following now)

– How to Engage their followers (even if you hate talking to people)

In my new e-book, Pixels Are the New Ink: 3 Steps to Digital Domination in Your Industry, I lay it out in an easily digestible format. I truly believe the lessons in this book will be transformative for any businessperson, politician, community activist, or leader of any kind who wants to build their brand online.

Check it out here and find out the secrets that will help you dominate your industry.

– Jeff Tippett

Resourcefulness, Not Resources. Start Fundraising Now.

If you’re running an association or non-profit, chances are raising money is already a big part of your yearly routine. Membership dues and donations are the lifeblood of your organization, and a crucial funding pipeline for day-to-day operations.

However, sometimes an opportunity to create lasting impact for your members arises, and you find yourself without the spare funds to make it happen. Running an effective grassroots or marketing campaign can incur a lot of unplanned expenses, but the good news is that this doesn’t have to be prohibitive. If you can develop a message that sells the benefit for your members, you can raise the money faster than you ever expected.

As I wrote in this blog post back in January, lacking financial resources is not your problem, resourcefulness is.  I interviewed expert fundraiser Clarenda Stanley-Anderson in this same blog post, and it’s a great place to start for anyone interested in raising money for their organization or special projects. Read it here now!

You have several options to raise the money you need. If your team is stretched thin, you could hire an outside fundraiser. There are many individuals out there that work for non-profits and associations that are willing to offer freelance consulting services.  Many firms, like Targeted Persuasion, also offer fundraising services for clients who need to raise money for other communications work.

Remember that not all fundraisers are alike and that you need a fundraiser with applicable experience. How they raised the money is just as important as how much. If you need cash fast to fund an imminent campaign, an expert grant writer probably isn’t going to do the trick.

The bottom line is this: don’t let current lack of funds dissuade you from investing in your organization’s future. If the campaign you want to fund is valuable to your stakeholders, you can find the funds. All you need is a good message, a strategy, and a little bit of time to make it all happen.

For more resources on fundraising efforts, visit the Association of Fundraising Professionals at www.afpnet.org. To find out how Targeted Persuasion can help you fund your next communications campaign, contact me at jeff@targetedpersuasion.com.

5 Email Marketing Services To Consider For Your Business

The market today is flooded with email marketing services. It can be difficult to figure out which would work best for your business, so we have put together an abbreviated list of email marketing services, highlighting what they’re best used for. Hopefully, our list of features will help you to decide which will be most useful for your business’s needs!

 

  1. Drip

Drip is one of the newer contenders in the email marketing space. It is a lighter weight program than the others on this list – you can integrate it with your website with just a few lines of code – and it starts at a low price. If you have under 100 subscribers, it’s free, and it can rise to $99+/month for the full featured version.

Drip’s main advantage is in its “if, then” rules. These offer a customized experience for every one of your subscribers. For example, say you run a business selling shirts. Your email has a section for men’s and women’s shirts. One of your subscribers clicks on the women’s shirts link. Now, Drip’s software can allow a follow-up reaction. If she clicks on women’s shirts, then she’ll get more emails from your women’s clothing department, allowing the marketing she receives to be more targeted.

Drip also allows for event tracking, meaning that it is capable of tracking when one of your subscribers takes a certain action. You can then tag them for later so you can market to them more intelligently. Other features offered are email capture, web analytics, and lead nurturing.

If you’d like a budget-friendly, lightweight email marketing service that has highly targeted marketing tools unlike those offered by any other company, Drip may be for you.

Standout Features:

  • Lightweight
  • “If, then” rules
  • Event tracking
  1. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is one of the industry heavyweights. It is easy to use and beginner friendly, and has easy to manage email lists, contact lists, and email templates available for your use.

Constant Contact also allows for email tracking, and it comes with built in social media tools. For example, if you send out an update about a new product you’re offering, there will be buttons for your subscribers to click so that they can engage and spread your message via a variety of social media platforms. Also built in is an image library populated with fair-use images, and you also get a whole gigabyte to store your files with Constant Contact.

Support options are good, with live chat, email, and community support. With the ease of use and built in storage and social tools, it may be a one-program solution to a small business’s email marketing needs.

Constant Contact offers a 60 day free trial, and it’s $20+/month after.

Standout Features:

  • Beginner friendly
  • Built in social media tools
  • Image library

 

  1. AWeber

AWeber is another heavyweight in the email marketing space. It has all the standard tools- email templates, list management, autoresponders, and email tracking.

Its main advantage, alongside its standard features, is its connective abilities with most other platforms that you may have used to build your website. WordPress is one example. You can create a pop-up for your website visitors allowing them to input their emails so they can get your newsletter. AWeber will use this information to populate a list of new subscribers. This is a great way to grow your subscriber base and get your message out to those who have asked to receive it.

AWeber offers good support, with live chat, phone, and email support, alongside free how-tos and tutorials. AWeber starts with a 30 day free trial, and is $19+/month afterward.

With its integrative capabilities and its standard marketing features, AWeber is best for small and medium businesses who rely on subscriber sign-ups to get business returns.

Standout Features:

  • Integration of other applications
  • Templates
  1. GetResponse

GetResponse is an email marketing service that is best for absolute beginners. It has a drag and drop builder to create campaigns, segment contacts, and to send content to specific groups. It also comes loaded with beautiful easy-to-use forms, landing pages, tracking, and autoresponders.

GetResponse also offers seamless integration with third party lead generation software such as Salesforce and ZenDesk. These tools will help beginners to optimize their sales toolkit, and will provide good initial returns on the small investment of $15+/month after the one month free trial.

Support, needless to say, is geared toward beginners, with phone support, live chat support, email support, and a comprehensive help section. If you’re a new business owner who has never done email marketing before, GetResponse is a great program to use.

Standout Features:

  • Drag and drop builder
  • Integration with lead generation software
  • Comprehensive support
  1. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is a robust email marketing service that combines email marketing with automation, CRM, and sales. If your goal is to upgrade to smarter email marketing campaigns, consider using ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign includes an email template editor and mobile friendly sign up forms for your audience. You can segment contacts based on a number of criteria: actions, location, behavior, and social data. In addition, you’ll have unprecedented access to your subscribers’ information– ActiveCampaign allows you to fetch additional data on your contacts using only an email address.

If all this isn’t enough, ActiveCampaign also integrates with over 150 third party applications, including eCommerce tools and lead generation tools.

ActiveCampaign’s services start at $9/month, but can get quite high. If you have the money to spare on an aggressive marketing campaign that does the work for you, ActiveCampaign is perfect for your business.

Standout Features:

  • Combination email marketing, CRM, and sales
  • Mobile friendly
  • Contact segmentation
  • Fetch subscriber data
  • Integration with third party apps

From simple and lightweight to integrated with over 150 apps, the email marketing space is populated with a wide range of services catering to a wide range of needs. Hopefully our list has cleared up any confusion you had on which email marketing service is right for you!

Top 4 Tips to get Media Involved

Do you want to get free coverage for something your business is doing in the community? Have no idea how to approach news outlets? Check out these four easy tips for getting media involved with your event or story.

  1. Do your research.

You need to be informed about your local news outlets and reporters if you want to intelligently pitch stories. If you watch and read local news and keep an eye out for stories pertaining to your industry, you’ll gradually learn which reporters tend to cover stories like yours.

For example, your company repairs computers, and you’re having an event where community members can get their computers repaired cheaply. You watch the local news station three nights in a row and you identify one reporter who tends to have stories about technology. You know that this is the reporter that you should contact about your event, and you discovered that merely by watching and observing your local news station!

Another useful tip: set up Google news alerts for keywords in your industry. This saves you the time of doing research on a given topic and lets you know when issues that impact your industry are in the news. This way you can stay informed with little effort, get to know the reporters on issues you care about, and look for opportunities to engage.

  1. Set up a press contacts list.

You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute when something newsworthy comes up. You want an index where you can easily find contacts to tell about your event. Creating a spreadsheet with press contacts for both print and TV news will do you a world of good.

You’ll want the newspaper editors’ names, emails, and phone numbers, as well as the name of the newspaper. It will also help to have the contact info for community calendars and general news desk email addresses.

For TV, you’ll need the news director and program director’s names, emails, phone numbers, and station name. It will also be helpful if you include a reporter’s info who is relevant to your industry.

  1. Offer photo opportunities.

For TV news, good visual are essential, and for newspapers, photos can do much to flesh out a story. When contacting reporters about your event, you’ll want to describe in detail what photo opportunities will be present.

In our computer business example, say you’ll have a raffle where you’ll give away a top-notch computer. You might describe what that would look like, so the reporter knows what kind of material they’ll be getting if they cover this event. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

  1. Send out a media advisory.

Media advisories will be easier for you to send out than press releases. These are shorter than press releases and simply give the information about the event to the news outlet. You should include any appearances by VIPs as well as the basic who, what, when, where, and why of the event.

Media advisories should be sent out to your best contacts three to five days before your event takes place to give the news outlet ample time to prepare, and so it will be fresh on their minds. Remember that media advisories are only to be used for newsworthy events!

Now that you know the top four ways to get media involved with events relating to your business, you’ll be able to get the free news coverage that will help to improve your reach in the community. Good luck out there!

Top Website Building Services to Create Your Own Site

Need to create a website for you business? Do a quick Google search and you may be overwhelmed by the options. You could hire someone to build one, do it yourself from scratch, or use one of the many free or paid tools to help a coding novice build their own website. This list is a small compilation of some of the best website builders out there. Hopefully, once you know the features of each, it’ll help you to decide which one to use!

WordPress

More than 27 percent of the top 10 million websites use WordPress, and for good reason. It is a free and open source content management system, and can be run through WordPress’s own server. When you sign up to create your own WordPress site, you can choose from templates (three shown below) if you don’t know much code. You also have the option to write your own HTML or CSS code for your site, making it perfect for a more do-it-yourself personality type.

WordPress is fully customizable, with some features easy to use without code, and some requiring code changes. Since the site is used to handling large amounts of web traffic, your website won’t crash if you have a traffic spike. It also comes with analytics tools so you can monitor your site traffic. The more informed you are about who’s visiting your website, what they’re using to access it, and how long they’re staying there, the better you’ll be able to meet your audience’s needs.

WordPress sites are SEO optimized, so they’ll show up closer to the top if someone does a Google search for your business. Social sharing is easy with WordPress, so your audience can quickly hit a button and share your web pages on their own social media, helping you to reach a growing audience.

A good option for a frugal DIYer, WordPress’s free price tag and easy to use design can be enhanced by knowing a bit of code.

Squarespace

Coming in at 12 dollars minimum per month, Squarespace is the most expensive website builder we are highlighting in this list. But with that price tag comes quality. Squarespace shines with its high-quality, minimalist website design. The templates are dominated by clean lines and look professional and sophisticated. The content on each site is delivered very quickly, giving your Squarespace site an edge over slower sites on pages of search results. Security is also a top priority of Squarespace– they offer a SSL certificate to each website every year, keeping security watertight for you and your users.

For the small business owner, Squarespace has its own set of goodies. There is no limit to the number of products you can offer or sales you can make via your website. Merchandising is easy, with drag and drop inventorying, and the checkout is sophisticated, giving you the ability to add coupons and customized shipping fees by location.

If you have the money to spend on exceptional design and eCommerce services, Squarespace would be a good choice for you and your business.

Weebly

Weebly is a web-hosting service that can be free or paid. The paid version starts at 8 dollars per month. Weebly is one of the easier to use web hosting services, with its simple drag-and-drop feature to design your website. It offers templates if you’re not design oriented, and you’ll have the capability to check on your website and edit it from a Weebly mobile app, shown below.

Weebly offers SEO tools and professional email creation – so your site will be easy to find on Google, and your contact information can be customized to your business (yourname@businessname.com). There are analytics with site traffic stats, allowing you to monitor your audience’s traffic.

Weebly is another good one for hosting E-Commerce, as it allows for easy inventory management, customized shipping, and coupon code capabilities. There is no limit on the number of products you can sell through your Weebly website, making the site good for online stores selling either physical products or services.

Wix

Wix, like Weebly, can also be free or paid. If you want to use eCommerce or remove ads, consider the paid version, which can be very affordable at $4.50 and up per month. Wix combines professional looking, high quality templates with drag-and-drop capabilities.

One of Wix’s key selling points is its ADI, or artificial design intelligence. This software can use your previous design choices, or your answers to questions, to create even better designs and layout for your site.

Wix uses an App Market that will allow you to search for the best app to perform a function on your Wix site – i.e. an app that will embed videos for you. E-Commerce is also easy with Wix, which will allow you to sell your products through your Wix website.

Wix’s best strength is its customer support. There are help/support buttons everywhere when you’re editing your site, so if this is your first website or if you just need help getting your photo formatted, the Wix team is easily accessible.

If you aren’t so sure about web design but don’t want to spend too much money, Wix is a good option for you, with its ADI capabilities and E-Commerce capability.

We hope this list helped you discover what’s out there in terms of website creation. Maybe you realized you have a need for tools you never knew existed, and good luck with your website!

Top 6 Social Media Sites for Your Target Audience (Part II)

Last week we told you how Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram can help you build your brand with your target audience. This week, we’re covering Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

  1. Twitter

Twitter has over 300 million monthly active users, and it’s easy to create a company profile and begin tweeting. Most companies use Twitter as a platform where they can share content and interact with customers, network, and manage their brand. Twitter is a more social interaction based service, so if your business model requires constant customer interactions, Twitter might be right for you.

Since many public figures, minor and major celebrities, and other brands use Twitter, connection with influencers is most important here. If you want to reach your target demographic through the other people they follow, Twitter is the platform for you.

More resources: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/twitter-marketing/

  1. LinkedIn

With 500 million users, LinkedIn is a platform catering to professionals, providing a networking space online. If your product or service would be useful to businesspeople in professional settings, LinkedIn would be a perfect social media site to advertise your content.

Since users self-input their position, full name, location, and more, LinkedIn ads can be targeted specifically to certain demographics. If you want to reach, say, high-level business development professionals, LinkedIn provides a service to target them specifically and can be very affordable – as low as $10 per day.

More resources: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/linkedin-ads-guide/

  1. Pinterest

At 100 million pinners, Pinterest is a platform that allows users to curate content, or “pins,” on various themed “boards.” The main benefit for brands here is that Pinterest acts like a search engine, so users searching for content like yours will be able to find it.

Favored by women and heavily image-centric, Pinterest’s demographic will be likely to buy concrete visually-oriented products, such as jewelry and home goods. Pinterest users also use the platform for advice and ideas, so if your product can be condensed to an infographic, it would do well with the Pinterest crowd. Below, company DesignMantic created a dos and don’ts infographic for web design. Clicking the pin would take the user to their website, driving traffic for their services.

With analytics available for businesses to see how well their various pins are doing, Pinterest allows for brands to play around with content and see what gets the most engagement. If your product or service is visually oriented and you want users to be actively searching for content like yours, Pinterest is a great platform for you to use.

 Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/pinterest-for-business/

Top 6 Social Media Sites for Your Target Audience (Part I)

Marketing on social media may sound simple, but with so many platforms it can be difficult to decide where to spend your time and marketing dollars. With social media playing an increasingly large part in brands’ marketing, it is important to have a strategy.

Each social media platform has distinct strengths and weaknesses for marketing, along with a sometimes highly specific user base. Knowing the main demographic for your product or service and choosing a social media platform that will provide the most targeted marketing could make or break your brand. Here are the six top social media sites, and who their user bases are:

  1. Snapchat

Snapchat has over 1.5 million daily users, most of whom spend over 30 minutes on the app each day. With the vast majority of users under 36 years old, Snapchat is best for reaching younger demographics, who tend to prefer more interactive and interesting ads. Regarding gender, more than half of Snapchat users are female, meaning that brands that tend to have more female customers, like cosmetics or jewelry companies, may want to look into Snapchat marketing.

Snapchat allows marketers to create ads that will show up amidst users’ stories, allowing thousands of potential views. With Snapchat’s “window into people’s lives” format, ads on Snapchat should follow this model. Personifications of the brand, using phone cameras and first person POV shots, will lend themselves well.

Snapchat also offers users specialized filters to place on their photos, which marketers can engage with when creating their ads. Brand-created filters can be placed into Snapchat’s rotation and used by the Snapchat users themselves. Above, the (RED) campaign’s Snapchat filters can be seen in action. Needless to say, the more engaging and relevant the ad, the more eyes it will gain.

More resources: https://blog.hootsuite.com/snapchat-demographics/

  1. Facebook

With 79% of Internet users logging onto Facebook daily, this social media platform has one of the potentially widest reaches of all. However, the demographics of users vary almost as much as that of Internet users in general, so a more targeted approach is necessary when marketing to Facebook users.

Fortunately, with Facebook’s ad targeting service offered to advertisers, users can be broken down into demographic segments, or even broken down based on their hobbies or interests. With just a few moments spent choosing interests or groups that your customers belong to, Facebook advertising can be highly effective, with up to 89% accuracy in targeting potential buyers.

More resources: https://www.facebook.com/business/a/online-sales/ad-targeting-details

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/#facebook

  1. Instagram

With over 400 million daily active users, Instagram is preferred more by millennials. With it, advertisers can upload permanent pictures and videos along with a short caption.

With its algorithmic newsfeed, Instagram advertising shows up similarly to Facebook ads. But with its younger, hipper user base, Instagram is the platform to use if your target demographic is mostly aesthetic-oriented millennials. Keep in mind that for content to stand out on Instagram, it must be almost excessively photogenic, so if your brand specializes in visually oriented products, Instagram is the platform to put your energy into.

More resources: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-vs-snapchat/

Interested in hearing about the other 3? Check out our break down Twitter, Linkedin, and Pinterest here.

North Carolina Brunch Bill Case Study

This is a story about how Targeted Persuasion designed a comprehensive grassroots campaign to organize the voices of thousands of citizens and help our client win.

For as long as anyone can remember, blue laws in North Carolina have prevented residents and visitors in the state from enjoying alcoholic beverages in restaurants and bars or purchasing in retail stores before noon. While there was much demand from many in the business community to change these outdated laws, entrenched interests have long held sway and had been able to successfully prevent reform. We were hired to change that and rally support behind a bill that would at long last allow sales before noon on Sundays.

Click here to find out how we did it.

Your Social Media Sucks. But You Already Know That.

by Jeff Tippett and Kristen Baughman

For most businesses, a presence on social media is a necessity–it’s no longer an option. But as someone responsible for a business, you have to make sure the allocated resources provide a solid return on investment. So what are you going to do about it? Here are five suggestions to start improving your social media today:

Establish your expectations.  

What are your expectations from social media? Are you looking for brand awareness? To drive sales? To put people in seats? What are your expectations or goals for social media? Once you know your expectations, you determine if they are realistic. For example, let’s say you need to put 25 people in seats at your restaurant tonight. So you take a picture of your featured menu item and post to Instagram. If you only have 100 Insta followers, the chances are very slim that you will meet your goal. Make sure you have clear, attainable expectations for your social.

Find alignment with your other communications channels.

Although social media operating in a silo can work, it isn’t optimal. So, start by asking how it aligns with your business goals. Next, look for ways to integrate with your other communications platforms like your marketing, public relations, events, etc. You’ll find social explode as you integrate and make it part of your mix.

Are you talking, listening, or engaging?

All three! All social media–regardless of platform–has three components: audience, content, engagement. These three are like a tripod: you need all three and at all times. But let’s focus on engagement. How do you get people into the conversation? Try techniques like tagging key influencers, asking questions in your posts, prompting people to respond, etc. Don’t forget that social media is social; you have to create content that makes them want to engage.

For instance, if you’re a restaurant creating a special dish feature, use an engaging photo and tag the farmer and other producers you’ll be featuring in your social media post. It doesn’t hurt to spread the love! Plus, the farmer may share your food photo resulting in even more social media engagement. Check out this Instagram repost example for Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork. This farmer reposted a chef who is using their pork for an upcoming dish special.

Bring value.

Face it–there’s a lot of content out there. In fact, there are apps to filter the noise. You have to bring value to your audience. Can you make yourself the self-proclaimed authority? Become the go-to person? Constantly ask yourself why should people be listening to you. Is that reflected in your content? If you are bringing value, people will engage.

Here’s an example from Nello’s, a North Carolina company offering a variety of Italian sauces. The owner Neal is photographed with Whole Foods’ CEO, which gives the brand authority. Plus, Nello’s puts a call to action out by asking followers to take and post a #SauceSelfie, and in turn, Nello’s will donate a jar of sauce to their local Food Bank.

Nello Sause

Stand out.

Let’s be honest–most posts are boring. And no one cares about boring posts. You need to spice things up a bit–while staying true to your brand. Look for ways to speak in an interesting manner (maybe even shock), post eye awakening stats, staggering graphs, etc. People won’t engage and they definitely won’t share if you don’t stand out.

Check out this example from No Kid Hungry, which promotes a new advocacy program for schools to start providing free breakfast to students who are hungry. The Facebook post starts out with alarming information and shares a video with more eye awakening stats. Over 2.6K views and 46 shares later, No Kid Hungry did an excellent job promoting their new advocacy program.

No Kid Hungry

Just because your social media sucks, doesn’t mean you can’t change it starting today. Start with these five tips. Test to see what works. And don’t give up. You social media can be a powerhouse to help you accomplish your goals!

 

About Kristen Baughman

Kristen Baughman

Kristen Baughman is the founder of Tabletop Media Group, a boutique media agency based in Raleigh and serving clients in the food, beverage and agriculture industries. Her company offers consulting services in the fields of social media, graphic design, illustration, special events, public relations, website design and videography. In her free time, you can find her relaxing outside with her dog Cheerwine, watching the Wolfpack, or at one of the many Triangle breweries sipping on a North Carolina beer.

 
@TabletopMediaGp (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)

There’s No Shortage of Money. So, why are you holding back?

by Jeff Tippett and Clarenda Stanley-Anderson

Clarenda Stanley-Anderson

What if I told you lacking financial resources is not your problem? Your problem is resourcefulness. Most associations and organizations have more dreams than cash in the bank. Whether working with associations, non-profits, or even speaking during seminars that I lead, I often hear worthwhile goals. These visionaries know where they want to go to find success, but often view financial resources as a roadblock. What if they didn’t have to be? How do you find the financial resources you need to accomplish your goals? To answer this question, I turned to a top fundraiser, Clarenda Stanley-Anderson, to seek some input. I had five burning questions, and I knew she could answer them. Take a look:

If an organization is considering an initiative that requires funding, how does that company identify a professional fundraiser?

The first place to start is within your networks. Put the word out among your circles, Professional fundraisers with proven track records are often hired through referrals. Another place you would look is organizations with similar initiatives and missions. Who is already fundraising in this space and doing it well? The average period a fundraiser is with an organization is two years. This is largely in due to the fact that other opportunities present themselves. This doesn’t mean that you woo the other organization’s top fundraiser away, but instead look at the junior, up and coming talent.

Also, do not overlook in-house talent. Do you have a program manager that has taken the initiative to secure resources in the absence of a development officer? Is there someone on staff with transferable skills? Of course, using contract fundraisers is always an option. You will get a seasoned fundraiser well-versed in best practices. The cons are that the contract fundraiser will not have institutional history, the fundraiser will be limited in the relationships they are able to build with donors, and a contract fundraiser can cost considerably more. Contract fundraisers may be more practical for special events, grant-writing, or providing training to current staff and board members.

In all fields there are those that ‘get the job done’ and those that just merely coast along. How does an organization find a ‘get the job done’ fundraiser?

It is important that the fundraiser has demonstrated results in applicable experience. It is easy to be impressed when someone has raised $10 million, but what if they raised that through grants and the organization is looking for someone to raise major gifts? Also, the organization should find out if the fundraiser is a self-starting, entrepreneurial thinker. A simple conversation asking the right questions will give you clues to this person’s drive and passion. Are they able to make decisions independently? Come up with creative solutions to problems?

Passion fuels action. Make sure that you are hiring a proven fundraiser who is genuinely passionate about the organization’s mission. That is key in order to build authentic relationships with donors and colleagues.

I must mention that organizational leadership has to understand the role of the fundraiser. An effective fundraiser will yield results – not miracles. The organization’s executive leadership and board have to understand their roles in the fundraising process. Many times, they will be the ones to make the ask. A strong fundraiser will ensure that the leadership is prepared for this role and that the ask is made at the appropriate time.

What are three questions an organization should ask when interviewing a fundraiser?

What gift are you most proud of and why?

Give an example of an ethical dilemma you faced with a donor or prospect and how you handled it?

How do you see yourself advancing our mission and why?

You obviously have a stellar track record raising money for groups. Give me three things that you attribute to your success.

I only raise money for causes that align with my philanthropic core. There are organizations who are able to pay more or offer better benefits, but if you make that the determining factors, you will soon burn out. I also recognize that fundraising is an ever evolving profession so I am committed to being a lifelong student to ensure that I stay abreast of current trends and best practices. Lastly, I am a firm believer in self-care. I take vacations, surround myself with positive, affirmative people and am active in hobbies and passions that allow me to unplug from my professional life.

What advice do you have for organizations that have dreams and goals but lack the funds to make things happen? What could they do right now to move the ball just a little down the road?

There are a ton of free resources out there to help an organization get started. A couple of my favorites are the Association for Fundraising Professionals (most local chapters have member scholarships) and the National Council of Nonprofits. Both have a wealth of free tools and resources on fundraising.

Do your research and compile a list of questions. Then, ask a fundraiser for 30 minutes of their time to answer a few questions. We are some of the most generous people around! Community foundations are a great place to find fundraisers who are eager to help. Rely on your volunteers – those people who proved they are committed to advancing your mission. Employ them to assist in fundraising.

Lastly, look at various grants for capacity building. Foundations are recognizing the importance of a fundraiser to an organization’s sustainability and are funding initiatives to help organizations create a development office.

Clarenda has offered five nuggets of knowledge that could take your fundraising to the next level. But remember: Resources are rarely the stumbling block. Resourcefulness is. So, dream with me just a little. What good could your organization do if money were no longer an obstacle? What type of campaigns could you launch? How could you create change for your members? Let’s be resourceful and make things happen in 2017!

 

About Clarenda Stanley-Anderson

Selected as the 2016 Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Association for Fundraising Professionals Triangle Chapter, Clarenda is a generalist who has earned the coveted Certified Fund Raising Expert (CFRE) designation. With more than $51M raised in her decade-plus career, she specializes in individual giving and major gifts. She currently serves as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Shaw University where she spearheaded the University’s 70% increase in private philanthropy last year. She can be found on Instagram,  Twitter, and Facebook.