Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits

Don’t Despair — You Still Have Time to Increase Your Share

It’s January, and at this very moment thousands of Alaskans are online filing for their next Permanent Fund Dividend check. Last month we provided a quick reminder for Pick.Click.Give. participants, which included the following steps to increase participation:

  • Use your existing donor database or create a list of all of your core constituents:
    • Donors
    • Volunteers
    • Staff
    • Clients
    • Friends
  • Write a short note about your participation in PCG and send to everyone on that list via email or snail mail. The best time for this note to go out is early January. The note should describe the impact that donations make in meeting the mission of your organization. Remind readers that they can find your organization on the PCG list on the PFD online application.
  • Post the note on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Today I would like to suggest a few more simple tactics that I guarantee will raise more money and should also increase donations to all participating nonprofits. They include:

  • Set a goal based on dollars and/or the number of donors.
    • To set a goal, review last year’s results. Honestly look at how much time you and your team invested and determine how much time all of you will commit this year. Then estimate what that effort could produce.
    • Another way to make sure your goal is based on reality is to compare your results to an organization with a similar mission, size, or infrastructure.
    • Publicize the goal with everyone who works with or is solicited by your effort.
  • Create stories that touch your donors. For those who attended the Leadership Summit last April, we learned that when it comes to influencing people to give, compelling stories about impact are much more effective than pages of facts and figures.
  • Encourage your board members to send a personalized note to the 100 names in your database with the most potential to give.
  • Encourage your board members to send a reminder and “ask” note via their Facebook pages.
  • Create a “call-a-thon” using your board and volunteers as callers. Here is how:
    • Identify every person in your donor database who has an active phone number. For some of you that may be thousands of names and for others it may be many fewer.
    • It may be necessary to narrow down your list by either focusing on new donors, potential donors or renewing donors.
    • It is feasible to have one person call 20 prospects.
    • Develop a script based on your story. The script should be short, as personalized as possible (like thanking for past donations), with a clear call to include your organization in their PCG donations.
    • Be sure you have a list of common questions and answers about your organization and PCG so callers have responses ready if needed.
    • Since some people may have already filed, be sure the callers understand that they can go back online and participate in PCG even after they filed for their PFD.
    • Have a timeline for calls to be completed.
    • Strive to avoid calls during mealtimes, or too late at night.
    • Be sure to thank people for their time.

Another strategy that worked well for nonprofits in the Kenai/Soldotna area was to collaborate on promotion. Most participating organizations contributed $200 to a local fund for media buys on local radio. While most public radio stations have been generous in promoting Pick.Click.Give., not every Alaskan listens to public radio. So focusing on as many media outlets as possible reminds more people to participate.

Many nonprofits also developed outside banners promoting Pick.Click.Give., which were displayed in prominent locations. Here are several other methods that can be used by board, staff, and volunteers:

  • Add the PCG logo to your electronic signature.
  • Include the PCG link on your homepage.
  • Promote your participation through social media channels.
  • Place an impact story in your next newsletter.

I know many of you have other tactics that have worked well with your organization. Let us know about them and we will share your ideas with others through our trainings and electronic communications.

Since Pick.Click.Give. began, the results speak for themselves. We are developing a new culture of philanthropy in Alaska. However, we know there’s greater potential for the program. And please remember that we are not competing with each other through Pick.Click.Give. – our only competition is the belief that such efforts will not result in significant results. It will take more from each organization to increase giving and the number of donors who participate. Nonprofits need to do more than just get on the list. People only give when asked or when they are already in a relationship with an organization.

Raising money is only part of the objective for Pick.Click.Give. Every person who selects your organization is a resource for future contributions – both money and talent – especially when you cultivate the relationship over time. All nonprofits benefit when we each do our part to promote the program.

Pick.Click.Give. is now entering its sixth year and has grown at a phenomenal rate – more than $7 million through 128,000 gifts raised since 2009. Even though 2013 wasn’t a record year for the PFD, it was a record year for Alaskans’ generosity. More than $2.4 million was raised from 26,093 Alaskans making 41,831 gifts – an 11% growth in dollars raised and 13% growth in number of donors over the previous year. Experts at the Permanent Fund predict that the PFD will be much bigger next year – perhaps as much as double this year’s amount. It’s important we spread this good news so Alaskans are aware when they choose to Pick.Click.Give.

This year’s PCG campaign theme, Lovalaska, is about connecting the pride Alaskans feel in our unique state with the importance of giving back to the organizations that contribute to our quality of life. It’s a platform for nonprofits to talk about the work they do, as well as a badge of honor for the donors who support that work. The PCG statewide marketing campaign has succeeded in achieving a high level of awareness among Alaskans. In a statewide poll conducted in the spring of 2013, 78% percent of Alaskans said they were familiar with PCG, up from 64% the year before. Yet, only 5% of online PFD filers choose to donate. The success of PCG hinges upon the nonprofit sector reaching out and asking Alaskans to donate through Pick.Click.Give. as they file for their PFDs.

There are many resources available if you have questions about your participation or the program. Foraker offers free trainings for nonprofits to make best use of PCG as a fundraising and awareness-raising tool. The PCG website is a resource for both donors and nonprofits. Each participating organization has a profile page that can be customized with photos, videos, and stories about the impact donors have when they contribute through Pick.Click.Give. Tips on how to promote an organization’s participation and toolkits with graphics and logos are also available in the Info for Nonprofits section of the website.

While you still have time to positively impact your contributions, time is short. Most Alaskans who file do so within the first few weeks of January. While contributions can be added throughout the year, we can assume that the best time to get such a contribution is during the first visit to the website.

Don’t wait! Make haste!

And, by the way, Happy New Year from your Partners at The Foraker Group.