Archive for the ‘friend-raising’ Category

Fidelity’s Managed Giving Fund #2 Grantmaker: Who’d Have Thought?

March 19, 2010

The Nonprofit Quarterly online newsletter published an article recently on the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. The fund is managed by Fidelity Investments, a very large mutual fund organization in which you yourself may have a 401(K) or IRA.

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund doesn’t decide who to send the money to but rather lets its investors tell the fund where and when to send cash. It also makes it easy to distribute money:  “Fidelity seems dedicated to a low barrier approach to its donor-advised funds, recently lowering the minimum level for a donor’s investment for setting up a fund down to $5,000,” says the article’s author, Rick Cohen. “It has, according to Libbey, also entirely eliminated any minimum level required for adding to a donor-advised fund and lowered the minimum size grant to $50.”

The fund distributed more than $1 billion last year. For more information, see Fidelity’s Charitable Gift Fund Shows Well in Recession.

Note: Vanguard and Schwab also offer managed gift funds. See Yes, you can start your own charitable gift foundation for more information.


Coming up with a Value Statement (from HHT Session)

November 9, 2009

Morris Jumel Mansion

Morris Jumel Mansion: George Washington really did sleep here

The workshop presenters, Susan Schear of Artisin and Elizabeth Wagner of JC Geever, talked about mission, vision, and values as very important to strategic planning.

They talked about coming up with a value statement (also called “motto,” “catch phrase,” or ” tag line”). What does your organization stand for? In our case, what does the Conference House stand for? I came up with, “The Conference House helps us understand what it’s like to be on the losing side.” Kirsten’s was better: “The Conference House demonstrates the importance of community dialogue even in the face of unfavorable odds.”

  • Having a catch-phrase makes it easy to keep everyone on the same track. Examples: Colonial Williamsburg has “That the Future May Learn from the Past,” YMCA has “We build strong kids, strong families, strong communities.” Morris Jumel Mansion: “George Washington really did sleep here.”
  • Everyone associated with us are our ambassadors—our board, our staff, our volunteers, the organizations we work with like, in our case, the South Shore Artists Group, Staten Island Herb Society, the Fishermen’s Conservation Association, the people who walk dogs in the park, our members, etc. Everyone needs to be sending the same message.
  • They suggested a motto contest: The winner receives a membership or some other small item as a reward. Or we can set up a survey on our website, with a list of possible mottoes and check-offs: “Which do you like best?”

“Fire people up so that they’re talking about your programs,” the presenters said. Find your success stories and repeat them whenever and wherever possible. Encourage your docents and members to bring the stories they hear back to the office.

Who’s Your Competition? (from HHT Session)

November 9, 2009

Lewis Latimer House

Presenters Susan Schear of Artisin and Elizabeth Wagner of JC Geever said that your competitors aren’t who you think they are—they’re not the other historic houses or local museums, since missions don’t overlap that much.

Rather, the competition is other entertainment venues. For example, competition for the Latimer House is the US Open. Not only are the roads jammed, but airplanes are rerouted overhead so Latimer House can’t hold outdoor programs–too noisy.

Also, NYC museums aren’t necessarily competition for local museums. People staying in Queens hotels, for example, are there for family events and aren’t interested in going to Manhattan. They may be more interested in local museums.

Other things that affect attendance include disease and weather. The Queens County Farm Museum lost a lot of its student groups this fall to the H1N1 virus. Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island loses student groups whenever it rains, since the program requires students to walk from house to house and teachers don’t want those kids getting wet.

Historic Richmond Town

Think Collaboration (from HHT Session)

November 9, 2009

Finding and working with collaborators is more important than worrying about competitors, said the conference organizers, Susan Schear of Artisin and Elizabeth Wagner of JC Geever.

Potential collaborators include libraries (libraries will translate brochures and flyers into different languages, they said), hotels, faith-based organizations, chambers of commerce, business improvement districts, restaurants, government agencies, banks, businesses, book clubs, realtors, PTAs, etc.

Hotels are an interesting case, Susan and Elizabeth said, especially ones outside the city (in the boroughs or suburbs). They often host family reunions and after a day or so, family members will be looking for things to do within walking distance of the hotel.

Collaborate on events to:

  • Build your brand.
  • Get a bigger platform.
  • Impress potential donors—donors want to see collaboration.
  • Help you and your partner broaden both your networks by sharing email and snail mail lists, for example, or cross-publicizing events in your respective newsletters.

However, be careful to pick the right partner. Don’t dilute your brand; collaborate on something that matches both parties’ missions.

You can also seek grants together, but make sure that it’s in the best interest of both parties—you’ll be stuck with each other if you get the money.

How to Get Families into your Museum (from HHT Session)

November 9, 2009

King Manor Museum

At the King Manor Museum, they have two kids’ programs that bring entire families to the museum:

  • Tours for preschoolers and their families—a story and a craft related to the house and a very short tour. The whole program is no more than half an hour. The museum advertised by “handing out flyers at someone else’s park program,” and it’s been growing by word of mouth ever since. The families just love it, said Mary Anne Mrozinski, executive director. (The King Manor Museum is in the middle of busy King Park in Jamaica, Queens.)
  • Every child who comes on a school visit goes home with a free voucher for his or her family to come back for a tour. The voucher is good for 2 adults and 3 kids. The museum staff has found that whatever isn’t spent on admission is spent in the gift shop.

Say “Thank you”!

November 2, 2009

We received lots of support from Staten Island businesses for our Clambake fundraiser in August. Some bought journal ads and some donated goods and services to our raffles.

After the Clambake was over, I sent thank-you letters to the companies that advertised and donated items. The letter was pretty standard (or so I thought): “Thanks for your support, here are two free passes* for a house tour anytime we’re open, we hope to work with you again next year.”

A few days after I mailed the letters, there was a phone call. “This is Xrszptt from Sttrzpt Pizza, and I just wanted to thank you for your letter and the free passes! I’ve supported many organizations on Staten Island over the years, and this is the first time I’ve ever received a  gift. I’ll bring my kids over sometime soon. Thanks again!”

I managed to blurt out, “You’re welcome!” before he hung up.

This is the first time anyone ever thanked him? Really? And who was he? I was so shocked that I didn’t think to ask him his name again.

Luckily, the phone has caller ID, so I called back. “This is Susan at the Conference House. Did I just talk with you? Yes? Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

It turns out that he was the owner of a local pizzeria who has indeed been very generous to many non-profits.

I guess it’s possible that organizations don’t send out thank-you’s after the event. Heaven knows I was so tired of the thing that I wanted to forget about it and move onto something else already.

But we’ve sent thanks after the Christ Church New Brighton events, too, and the response was pretty positive. So maybe it’s not common. And maybe saying “thank you” is a good way to differentiate your organization from everyone else.

* Free passes and free memberships are good things to give away: They’re free to us (except a few cents’ printing and postage for our newsletters) but they’re worth something to visitors. Visits are $2 or $3 and memberships range from $20 to $100.