Facebook Page Cover Photos for Non-Profits

If you’re a Facebook user, you probably understand by now that Facebook management has a habit of making changes. Most recently was the complete remaking of Facebook profiles to the new Timeline layout. Rather than keeping posts in a “news feed” set-up, entries, comments, photos are organized along a timeline, unique to each person. Not only this, but now only one photo is featured on each profile, known as the Cover Photo.

Facebook Timeline is now moving on to Facebook Pages and the clock is ticking.  For now, your organization can preview what the page will look like in the Timeline layout, but all Facebook Pages will convert automatically to the new layout on March 30, 2012.

As you prepare for these changes, be sure to put a lot of thought in the Cover Photo for your page. If you use Facebook for a lot of your marketing, as more and more organizations are doing, the Cover Photo will be the first thing visitors will see when landing on the page.

Here are some quick guidelines:

The size of a Cover Photo is 850 x 320 (pixels) or 4 x 1.5 (inches). The dimensions might look small on whatever editor you are using, but you can always expand it for editing purposes – just check that you are keeping the size in ratio to the ones above.

– The bottom left corner of the Cover Photo will be blocked by the Profile Picture.

Include your organization logo. If you use your logo as the profile picture, then it’s not necessary to reuse it in the Cover Photo.

Include the organization contact information: address, phone number, hours, website address. This information may not be readily available on the rest of the Page and so take a couple more clicks for visitors to get to it. Most people will not click through to other tabs on a Facebook page. Take advantage of the Cover Photo’s position and size to get that information across.

– Above all, choose a photo that encapsulates what your organization is. It can be a photo of the building, but even better, an action shot of a program or volunteer.

Again, these changes will take place automatically on March 30th, 2012, so you might as well be prepared and switch to the new layout early.

Let us know when you have switched over and we’ll check out your new look!
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This article was featured in the March 2012 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
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Critical Skills in Fundraising

Here are some critical skills to get under your belt when going out to raise funds for your organization.

Getting the Appointment Over the Phone 

It is very important that you meet with potential donors in person. To get this accomplished, though, you first must master the art of making the appointment.  Get a script together and practice on your own and then with another person (someone who will give you quality critique).

Phone Objections 

There are certain objections that always come up when asking people for donations:

– I’m not interested in giving.
– I already give to other organizations.
– I already give “this” much to your organization.
– I have to check with my spouse.
– We don’t have it in our budget.
– I don’t know enough about your organization.
– How can I know you’ll spend my money wisely?

These six statements echo most concerns donors have about giving to non-profits.  The key to answering them is to be sincere, attentive and as succinct as possible.  Some objections are beyond your control and some address key structural concerns within your organization. It is vital that your organization has a transparent method for handling finances and that you are consistently looking for ways to be good stewards of the money already given to you.  Make this information easily available, whether on the organization website or in a pamphlet that can quickly be mailed to the potential donor.  Having appropriate answers before the call is placed will give you a foundation and confidence.

The Visit 

When preparing for a visit there are a lot of questions going through your mind. The big ones can be as general or specific as you need them to be. What do you say? Where do you begin? What order do I need to proceed? It goes without saying to dress and behave professionally for the person you are meeting.

Handling the Responses 

Along with the objections given over the phone, there are the typical ones given once you have met with someone in person. The first is an agreement. “Yes, I will support you at $____.” The second is refusal: “No, I will not be able to support you.” The other responses are non-committal: “I’d like to think about it.” or “That amount is too high for me right now.” Handle these responses gracefully and be prepared with an appropriate answer or follow-up to keep the conversation going.

Ask for Referrals 

There is a bottom of the barrel for every fundraiser. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals, but be sensitive. Don’t push someone for names and numbers, but be sure to ask each person you approach if they know of anyone else who might be interested in donating to your organization.

Storytelling 

Storytelling is immensely important in fundraising these days. Share an account of someone who has given to your organization, a person on staff, a volunteer, or someone whose life was impacted by a service at the organization. A good story engages the listener and reaches into their hearts.  Insert stories into these meetings, committee meetings, a newsletter, email, Facebook and thank-you letters. For more on storytelling, check out this entry on our blog.

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This article was featured in the February 2012 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
To read the whole newsletter, follow this link.
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Prospective Board Members and the Right Questions

When the time comes to look for new board members, there are a couple strategies you can take.  You could meet up with the prospective member one-on-one, or with another current member, for coffee. Or you could come at it from another angle.

Put together profiles of several potentials and bring them to a board meeting.  Then, all together, sort the individuals into 3 groups.

Group A – Candidates who are well-known by the board and can be added immediately if the initial meeting goes well.
Group B – Candidates are not well-known, but if there is mutual interest, membership can be pursued.
Group C – The candidate doesn’t seem like the right fit, but depending on who accepts or declines the offer, they can be moved up to Group B.

Having the right questions ready, too, can make all the difference. Here are some great ones to keep in mind.

For yourself:

What can this person do for us? Don’t only think about who the person is, but what benefit would they be to your board. For example, you might want a certain person on your board because you believe they can connect you to a certain part of the community. Don’t assume they can, but ask them if they think they could.

For the individual:

  • What interests you about our organization? Which aspect interests you the most?
  • What are some of your previous volunteer experiences and leadership roles?
  • What appeals to you about board services as a volunteer activity?
  • If you were to join this board, are there any experiences you would like to have or people you would like to meet?
  • What skills, connections, resources and expertise do you have to offer or are willing to use for the organization?
  • Do you have any worries about joining the board?
  • Is there anything you think you would need to make this experience a successful one for you?
  • If fundraising is an important aspect for your board, clearly state the expectations you would have for the individual and ask if they think it feasible.

The candidate may have questions of their own before agreeing to join your organization’s board. Here are some that you should be prepared for.

  • Why are you interested in me as a board member?
  • What role do you see me playing on your board?
  • What are your expectations and commitments?
  • What is unique about your organizations? Your board?
  • Are there particular discussions this board has difficulty handling?
  • What weaknesses are there in the way the board works together and with staff?
  • What are the major issues this board is facing? How are you addressing them now?
  • If I were to join this board, what would you want me to do during my first year?
  • If I were to join this board, what could I reasonably expect to get out of this experience?

For more, check out the full article on Blue Avocado.

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This article was featured in the January 2012 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
To read the whole newsletter, follow this link.
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Raising Money Without Asking for It

During these winter months, giving can decrease as people prepare and recover from holiday shopping and gift giving. A report by Campbell Rinker shows that 7 in 10 Americans say they will give more sparingly to charities in the coming months.  But there are ways to help your donors help your organization without making them give you money.  Here are some ideas from Guidestar:

  1. While there is something special in going to a store and picking out a gift personally, many people choose to do their shopping online.  Register your organization with GoodShop and direct your supporters to start their online shopping trips there before going on to any of the more than 2,500 stores which offer to percentage of almost every purchase to your organization. Plus, GoodShop has more than 100,000 coupons listed to save your supporters money.
  2. Hold a gadget drive at your organization for old electronics and turn them in for cash.  Gazelle for Good is a great resource for setting up a gadget drive fundraiser. They even let you personalize a webpage for easy online promotion. 100% of the value goes to your cause.
  3. American Express and Citi Card offer cardholders the chance to turn their credit card points into charitable donations.
  4. GoodSearch.com is a Yahoo!-powered search engine and it donates about a penny per search. It works just like any other search engine but a donation is made each time someone searches on it.

There are a few more ideas on GuideStar here.

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This article was featured in the December 2011 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
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November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month

Homeless YouthEach year more than 1.5 million children are homeless at some point in their lives, and that number is increasing.” That quote comes from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and shows just how big an issue  Youth Homelessness is.  Whether the child is a runaway, an orphan or hitting hard times with their family, being on the street exposes them to many dangers – increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and a vulnerability to being trafficked.

Almost 40% of those who are currently homeless are under the age of 18, according to Covenant House.  They also state that in the United States, as many as 20,000 kids are forced into prostitution by human trafficking networks every year.  With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that the month of November has been designated as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, when temperatures are dropping across the nation.

Here are some great sites with information for various groups to get involved and help stamp out homelessness:

National Homeless Youth Awareness Month (November 2011)NCTSN

What Is Family Homelessness?The National Center on Family Homelessness

National Alliance to End Homelessness

If you are a shelter, this would be a great time to reach out to your supporters and enlist them to help.  Break down the need into bite-sized chunks to encourage involvement as focusing on the big picture can be overwhelming.  Be specific about what your shelter needs.  Maybe you have enough food donations, but not enough clothes.  Maybe you have the workers/volunteers, but not enough money to buy beds.  Maybe you have enough size 1 diapers, but not enough size 5’s.  Also, make it a family affair.  Brainstorm ways for parents AND their children to get involved and come serve.

If you are not a shelter, or an organization offering homelessness assistance, here are some ways that you can get involved:

  • Find a local shelter that works with homeless youth and learn about what is being done in your community to fight youth homelessness.
  • Volunteer your time by serving food at these shelters.  Many teens who are homeless are not getting the education they need to succeed in life once they reach adulthood.  Volunteer as a tutor to help these youths get or stay on track to a high school diploma or GED.  Proper job training can be vital to helping kids interview for a job and keep that job to meet their basic costs of living like rent.
  • Volunteer on a search group to find homeless youths and help bring them to the shelter where they can get assistance and be provided with resources to help get and keep them off the streets.
  • Donate much needed materials to shelters.  As winter creeps ever closer, homeless shelters struggle to keep enough blankets, towels and coats in their facilities to meet the needs.  Other items needed are shampoo, soap, new socks and undergarments and much more.  Contact your local shelter and ask what their biggest need is, then coordinate a drive with your workplace, place of worship and community.
  • As a non-profit, you may have a related service you provide. Have you thought about working a collaboration with a local shelter? Sharing resources in this economy is a great way to continue to meet needs without going over budget. For example, a community garden program could donate their fresh vegetables to the shelter for healthy dinners.  A women’s quilting club could come together and donate their finished blankets.  The possibilities are endless.

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This article was featured in the November 2011 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
To read the whole newsletter, follow this link.
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Writing a Non-Profit Mission Statement

A mission statement can make or break you.  Without a clear and concise mission statement, an organization can end up getting off course.  Your mission statement becomes the plumbline for your organization to determine if you are still balanced and on target.

A great non-profit mission statement can also establish your brand.  It should convey what the organization is all about and what its goal is.  Everything about your organization should build and feed into your mission statement.

Mission: To make today delicious...for small rodents everywhere. (Borrowed and adapted from Kraft.com)

A mission statement focuses your energy and clarifies your purpose.

Here are some great questions to answer so you don’t make your mission too broad or too specific – Who will you serve? Who will you not serve?  Are you concerned about just your local area?  Or the whole state?

A well-defined mission statement can and should motivate board, staff, volunteers and donors.  It also helps attract people and resources.  

The clearer your mission statement is, the easier it will be for the right people to get excited about your organization.  Including a compelling call to action can bring people in and get them.

A good mission statement can help you get 501(c)(3) status.

With a strong mission statement, you can show the IRS that your organization meets the requirements for tax-exempt status.  It’s a good idea to look at the requirements and incorporate them into your mission statement before applying.

Here are some quick tips:

  • A mission statement should not sound as though it was written by a committee.
  • A mission statement should not be filled with jargon.
  • A mission statement should be written in the language of the audience and should be a call to action.
  • Try answering, “Why did I/we start this organization?”
  • A mission statement should be brief and succinct and repeating it should take no longer than a standard match burning from beginning to end.
  • Bring in lots of perspectives to develop and review the mission statement.  Talk to people in the community, your board, staff and volunteers.
  • Allow enough time to develop the right mission statement. Don’t rush things.
  • Be open to new ideas.  Especially if you’re the one who started the organization, you can get wrapped up in one thought or interpretation.
  • Ask or hire a professional writer to help write it.
  • Review your mission statement frequently.  Times change and organizations may change over time.  The American Heart Association reviews its mission statement every three years but doesn’t change it except maybe every few decades.
For more about writing mission statements, check out this article.

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This article was featured in the October 2011 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
To read the whole newsletter, follow this link.
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How Do Non-Profits Meet Greater Demand for Services?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently held an online discussion about the challenges non-profits face when trying to meet greater demand for service when the economy is still struggling.  75% of the people polled said their organizations have faced a cutback in government funding in 2011.  Contrast this with the 70% who saw an increased demand of service during the same year.  How do organizations keep up with the needs while still keeping their costs and budgets under control?

The experts brought in for the discussion were Anne Dyjak of Nonprofit Finance Fund, Joe Harrington of California Charter Schools Association and Jay Laudato of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. These professionals came together to answer questions put forward by the participants. We’re going to highlight a couple of questions and summarize their responses, but you can see the full discussion by following the link at the end of this article.

Question #1 – How do you meet immediate urgent needs without missing opportunities to address the chronic as well?

This problem can be approached by a couple of ways.  One would be by seeking a coalition, or a collaboration with other organizations doing similar work as yours.  Pool resources and focus on the strengths of your organization to meet needs in the most strategic way possible.   Another
approach would be to re-examine your mission and identify what need/service is really critical to your community.  Take a look at the programs you offer and prioritize them based on what you find to avoid being pulled in too many directions.  Also, be sure to include staff, board and other stakeholders in your decision-making process to ensure transparency and communication.

Question #2 –  In today’s market, funders want to see more collaboration among agencies, while agencies, particularly non-profits struggle to keep the doors open.  How do you work through those issues?

Collaboration is vital and yet difficult to do.  Organizations in a community could find themselves competing for the same funds.  If those organizations could find a way to work together to meet a need, the competition within the community would be diminished and the emphasis would be back on the community needs.  There may be areas where the organizations are overlapping service and programs could be streamlined through a partnership.  This is especially helpful and useful if the organizations have similar business models as well as a shared mission.

Question #3 – We still find turf issues among some organizations.  Are there any suggestions for getting people to move in the direction of collaboration which includes sharing of resources? What are some examples?

When getting people to move in the same direction, it’s important to identify key areas where you all agree and mobilize behind it.  This can be accomplished through a facilitator, or an external organization, to get people involved.  CDP has served as a facilitator on certain community-wide coalitions to help bring an overall focus to the need and direct resources in a strategic manner.  Often the organizations just need a well-respected member to step forward and inspire  people to think beyond themselves and their way of doing things.

For the full discussion, visit here.

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This article was featured in the September 2011 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
To read the whole newsletter, follow this link.
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