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Steier Tips

After nearly a quarter century of helping nonprofits plan, reach and exceed their fundraising goals, we’ve accomplished a lot – and learned a thing or two. Our Steier Tips page features the latest Steier Group fundraising advice from our team of experts, case studies and helpful insight to consider as you plan your next campaign.

Beware the bake sale

By Steier Tips

The building project has finally been approved and it’s time to raise funds to turn this long-awaited dream into a reality. You put your apron on because you know you’ll need to sell more than a few desserts to get where you want to go. After you, and countless others, have put in hours, days and weeks of planning and baking, you’re finally ready for the annual bake sale. When it’s all said and done, you netted $900 toward your multi-million dollar project. Sound familiar? I love a good piece of apple pie, but when your organization needs to raise…

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Capital campaign philosophy: people give to people, especially people they know

By Steier Tips

Let’s face it: People typically don’t enjoy asking their friends, neighbors and coworkers for money. At the Steier Group, this approach to fundraising has led to hundreds of successful capital campaigns for our clients. Our clients know our capital campaign philosophy is based on two simple premises: People give to people they know People give when asked Sometimes, our clients shy away from using personal visits as the staple in their campaigns. They would rather ask for support through group gatherings, telephone calls or direct mail. We know that our campaigns are most successful when prospective donors receive a personal…

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Three questions to ask when donors remember you in their will

By Steier Tips

When you learn your organization has been named in a donor’s will it can be a very exciting, but sometimes confusing, time. The planned gift may be from a faithful donor who is well known to you and your organization. But sometimes it’s from a donor who has no apparent connection to your organization, and you have no record of them in your database. In either case, you should ask three important questions after learning that someone has remembered your organization in his/her will: “Who is the personal representative?”: The personal representative (or executor) is the person named in the…

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Why pay for capital campaign counsel?

By Steier Wire

Former clients often have a confession: They never imagined conducting a capital campaign would take so much time and effort. These same clients originally wondered whether they could run their campaigns without outside counsel. I’m routinely asked why organizations should incur the cost of hiring an organization, such as the Steier Group, to run their campaigns. I typically answer their question with a few of my own: Does your organization have a staff member who can devote 100 percent of his or her time to the campaign for the next six months (or longer)? Our campaign managers typically devote up…

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Is this the right time for a capital campaign?

By Steier Tips

It’s often the first question I am asked when I sit down with a potential client, “Jim, are we ready for a campaign?” The question, in theory, should be a straight forward “yes” or “no.” But as anyone who works in development knows, there are far more factors to be considered before you can make an educated answer. As you begin to consider the possibility of a capital campaign, do a quick inventory and ask yourself a few questions, but make sure you give honest answers. It’s a simple and quick exercise that will benefit you in the long run….

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Communicating success to donors cultivates stronger bonds

By Steier Tips

Raising large sums of money can be a strenuous process. There must be a focused investment of time and resources in order to communicate your needs to donors and ultimately secure a gift. Oftentimes, organizations get so caught up in securing the actual commitment that they neglect one of the most important steps in donor cultivation: communicating your success. Donors want specifics. They want to know how their gift is being used to further your nonprofit’s mission. They want to believe that their sacrifice – however large or small – is making a difference. The responsibility of communicating this information…

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Don’t leave your staff out of capital campaign loop

By Steier Tips

The decision has been made, and it’s a big one: your organization will move forward with a capital campaign. These are exciting times, but your to-do list is about to grow considerably. First things first: Don’t forget your staff. Make sure employees, at every level, are notified first about this big decision. Don’t let them hear second-hand from a volunteer or donor. They deserve to hear this important news from you. Their buy-in and support are critical to the success of the campaign. Consider these additional suggestions: Meet personally with each employee. Share why you support the project. Make it…

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Calm should reign during challenging capital campaigns

By Steier Tips

Capital campaigns are often times of celebration in an organization’s history. The need for funding can mean the organization is growing, expanding, serving more and doing more. From the satisfaction of securing those first large gifts, to confirming key leaders, to publicly kicking off the effort and building excitement around the long-term vision, a campaign brings a community together in the spirit of stewardship, generosity and, ideally, sacrificial giving. There are times, however, when a capital campaign can be temporarily derailed by unforeseen circumstances: the departure of an executive director or development director; a general chair unwilling to support the…

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Donor motivation provides key to fundraising success

By Steier Tips

In the fundraising world, the phrase “knowing your donors” goes well beyond remembering how many children they have, where they attended school and when they celebrate birthdays. Such biographical information, however, remains important. Be sure to send your donors cards on their birthdays and ask about their alma mater whenever you see them. The reality is, knowing your donors also means identifying where their passions lie. What causes do they support – and why. Determine what motivates them to give before you ask them to give. Experts identified five types of donor motivation that cause people to act: People like…

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Don’t lose touch with donors during migration of snowbirds

By Steier Tips

As you are probably aware, the term “snowbird” refers to a northerner who moves to a warmer southern state during the winter months. The majority of the year they live in the area they consider home, but when the temperature dips, they relocate to a secondary residence to enjoy a milder winter. Generally, snowbirds begin their migration around the holidays and don’t return until late spring. Many organizations in colder climates have supporters that fall into this category, and it is imperative that you implement a plan for maintaining contact with them. Here are suggestions for keeping the lines of…

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