The end of the year is around the corner—the single biggest fundraising opportunity of the year! Just how much year-end philanthropic giving will be impacted this year by current events is impossible to know.
In the fundraising forums that I am part of, I often run across the phrase, “We’ve been here before.” I beg to differ! We have not been here before.
With the current events of the past five months, the world is learning how to overcome the discomfort of talking about race and are having some real courageous conversations on how we can move forward together to create lasting change for people of color. This change will create a ripple effect where others who have been marginalized will benefit and increase their ability to thrive as well – no one is left behind.
Growing up in Kentucky during segregation, Jimmie Alford – The Alford Group’s founder – attended an all-white school, and didn’t experience racial diversity until the age of nine when his parents moved to Chicago. The move, due to the closing of coal mines, placed Jimmie’s family in a small apartment in the Englewood community. Jimmie was one of three white students in his third grade class of 40 students.
Along with his classmates, he understood economic diversity and its impact on themselves, their families and their community while living in extreme poverty within a predominantly affluent nation. He also directly and personally saw and felt the impact of discrimination. He decided at a young age that the injustice of discrimination was something he would never allow to penetrate his life and that he would work his entire life to eradicate it in all forms. Like many who grow up marginalized in one way or another, Jimmie vowed to lift himself out of his circumstances, make a better life and never forget the important life lessons learned along the way. His commitment to this goal was unwavering and steadfast.
While Jimmie passed away suddenly in 2012, his spirit and leadership remain with us as the nation and world grapple with the opportunity afforded by the Black Lives Matter movement and a renewed call for equity and social justice. We share his unwavering optimism that better days lie ahead when we all work together.
Diversity is one of seven core values of The Alford Group, and one of Jimmie’s enduring “fingerprints” on the consulting firm he founded in 1979. One manifestation of this commitment is our 20+-year sponsorship of the Diversity Workshop and Diversity Art Showcase at the annual AFP International Conference. While our dedication to diversity and inclusiveness has remained resolute over the decades, the demographics of America – and thus the universe of donors and prospective donors – have changed dramatically. Lessons learned from diverse communities, and the shared values of diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DEI), are more relevant and more essential today than ever before. Continue reading “Diversity in Fundraising: Making a Long-Term Commitment”
As seasoned fundraising consultants at The Alford Group, we can say there’s never been anything like COVID-19. However, we have helped our clients through many crises over our 40-year history and the lessons we’ve learned can be applied to today’s challenges.
Since the outbreak hit, my colleagues and I have been working around the clock with clients who are scrambling to transition to this new virtual reality, all while trying to maintain fundraising momentum. This crisis is affecting organizations in a wide variety of ways. Some organizations are experiencing a survival crisis, others are working to raise the additional funds needed to match the increase in demand for their services, and others are pulling out all the stops to not skip a beat as they move forward with their campaigns.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve held our breath as Congress worked to pass a $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or “stimulus package”) on Friday, March 20, 2020. While the enduring impact of COVID-19 and the reach of this package is not yet known, nonprofits across the sector are looking to this bill to find answers in its many provisions, from forgivable emergency loan programs to direct cash infusions.
A Message from Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, The Alford Group
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created unexpected challenges and new daily realities for your organization. While this is uncharted territory for all of us, we know that the need for your services and programs continues and The Alford Group stands ready to be your partner through this difficult time.
One reality that is not new is that Americans are generous – in good times and bad. That history of generosity has enabled us to weather challenges and come through difficult times stronger.
In recent meetings with many organizations we are helping clients navigate and create strategic approaches to meet increased demands for services, pivot on special events and engage with donors in meaningful ways. Over the past 40 years, The Alford Group has helped our clients navigate through national crisis, economic downturns and organizational challenges.
The most important thing to remember is that your donors and volunteers care about you and your mission. They want to know how they can help your organization. Here are some proactive steps – and specific strategies being implemented by our clients – to consider.
During this time of year, gratitude is front and center as the holiday spirit begins to take shape in our communities. However, we know that for nonprofit leaders like you, gratitude is not just felt during this time of year but infused in our work all year long.
In fundraising, we know that sending thank you letters within a few days of receiving contributions is an essential pillar of a basic development program. Additionally, there are countless articles on the internet with excellent suggestions for going further in expressing gratitude to your donors and I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you as you come up with new ways to further engage your most valued supporters:
Send a welcome packet to new donors with information about the impact of their giving
Set up board members to make thank you calls to a few donors each month
Engage donors as volunteers, especially with direct contact with your organization’s participants and programs
The idea is to bring people closer to your organization. These small gestures can have a positive and lasting impact on your donor retention – keeping your donors year over year and increasing the level of their contributions.
Annual giving programs typically serve as fundamental revenue engines for nonprofit organizations and yet are notoriously knotty plans to put on paper. We need our institutional leaders, boards and staff to understand our plans. Making them understandable, measurable, achievable, and yet strategic and ambitious is part of the job of the chief development officer. How best to do that?
What to include in annual giving?
By definition, an annual giving program encompasses solicitations that recur each year, and that should produce incrementally greater results over time, increasing the number of donors and dollars raised. The program should generate predictable cash income at targeted times in the year, based on when solicitation activities are scheduled to occur. Annual giving income addresses an organization’s need for current funds, largely, but not exclusively unrestricted. Continue reading “Comprehensive Annual Giving – Roadmap to Creating Your Plan”
The Alford Group celebrated 40 years of impact with Giving USA events across the country, including in Chicago, Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, WA.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for presentations sharing the recently released Giving USA 2019 Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018. There is a lot to consider in reviewing Giving USA 2019’s report, so let’s dive in and discuss some key takeaways.
During my tenure as the head of development with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, I was lucky enough to be there for the organization’s 125th anniversary.
As the 120th year of the YMCA of Greater Seattle loomed ahead, I asked our public relations volunteers if we should start getting ready to celebrate. Their reply? A resounding, “No! Save it for the big one at 125 – but start planning now.”
“Five years out?” I thought to myself. “That seems crazy!” But as we started to explore the significance of the 125th and realize that no update had been done on our history timeline since the 100th – not to mention electronically capturing our history and thousands of photos dating back to the late 1800s – we had lots to do. Continue reading “Getting the Most From Your Upcoming Anniversary”
Growing the asset base of a community foundation means the foundation will have an even larger impact on the community it serves. With more assets and resources, the foundation is able to support more nonprofit organizations (or the same organizations at a higher level) and collectively solve community problems and increase the quality of life for community members.
Often times, community foundations run campaigns to increase gifts from individuals, families, and corporations. There are FOUR THINGS that a foundation must do prior to undertaking a campaign to increase its asset base.
Where does your foundation stand in relation to these four elements?