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Rotary Club of Lakeway/Lake Travis

I enjoyed sharing my nonprofit fundraising experiences with Rotary Club of Lakeway/Lake Travis on April 22, 2021. I moved to this region of Texas in February 2017 and have enjoyed it very much! Questions? Reach out anytime (email preferred).

-Rotary Club of Lakeway/Lake Travis:
-Rotary International:
-Carolyn's Nonprofit Blog:

Rotary Four-Way Test:

1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

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Rotary Club of Lakeway/Lake Travis

  1. 1. Never Say Never: Nonprofit Fundraising in Texas
  2. 2. About Carolyn Thirty years of hands-on nonprofit fundraising experience in higher education and with nonprofits in the arts, the environment and social services across Texas. More than $33 million raised. Two degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, elected to The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Appointed by Governor Rick Perry to a TCEQ commission, Texas Environmental Education Partnership Fund Board (two terms). Launched Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog in 2011 – more than 100 nations visit annually. Lead volunteer organizer of Nonprofit Tech Club Austin (since 2015) in partnership with NTEN, TechSoup Connect, and entrepreneurial hub Capital Factory in Austin. Join us! Recently developed a nonprofit disaster preparation and recovery course with TechSoup Global, funded by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Elected member of Daughters of the American Revolution with three proven ancestors (and two more under review), Chair of the Literacy Committee of the Austin Colony Chapter. Independent nonprofit fundraising and communications specialist based in Central Texas working statewide and beyond.
  3. 3. “Rotary is where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change.”
  4. 4. Society’s View of Nonprofits
  5. 5. Reality of Nonprofits
  6. 6. National Economic Impact A substantial portion of the nearly $2 trillion nonprofits spend annually is the more than $826 billion they spend on salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes every year. Nonprofit staff members pay taxes on their salaries, as well as sales taxes on their purchases and property taxes on what they own. Nonprofits spend nearly $1 trillion annually for goods and services, ranging from large expenses … to everyday purchases such as office supplies, food, utilities, and rent. Nonprofits have an even broader impact by creating economic activity and jobs that ripple through the community. They can and do have a positive impact on quality of life. Check out the National Council of Nonprofits online, “Economic Impact”
  7. 7. Essential Workers Misunderstood Profession: Development Officer ➢ Nonprofit fundraisers have gone from an average of 3.5 years on the job in the 2000s, to only 16 months today. ➢ Development professionals nurture lasting relationships. Their professional goals include bringing donors through a meaningful life cycle, from a modest annual donation to a deeply meaningful planned gift (Will or estate gift). ➢ Development professionals are encouraged to adhere to high ethical standards themselves, and they help ensure high ethical standards on the part of their nonprofits. Successful fundraising depends upon it. ➢ Fundraisers practice the art and craft of grantsmanship (they should not be hired only to, “get money”). ➢ Often today nonprofit directors view nonprofit fundraising as a purely objective business where emotional connection and engagement do not matter. ➢ I would argue an emotional connection is what sets nonprofits apart and what ensures their long-term success – you are achieving important and meaningful goals together.
  8. 8. Never Say Never This presentation refers to three Texas nonprofit major gift fundraising experiences for the sake of example: ➢ Dallas ➢ South Texas Ranching Community ➢ Corpus Christi Each was deemed “impossible” and “difficult.” Lessons learned through the hands-on work conducted will be shared, in the hope you will be inspired to, “never say never.”
  9. 9. Dallas ➢ After several years of “regular” jobs, I agreed to work on a two-year capital campaign. ➢ Despite well known civic leaders being involved - including then Mayor Ron Kirk - and assuming the groundwork had been laid for the seven-figure fundraising effort, I discovered the nonprofit was in a shambles on almost every level. ➢ Prior donor records had disappeared, yet the nonprofit had been in existence since 1888. ➢ What to do when you visit with prospective donors who say, “I hate your nonprofit.” ➢ Staff morale was also low. ➢ Rebuilding relationships internally and externally was urgently required.
  10. 10. ➢ Sometimes you must take a step back before you can go forward. The past can be overcome. ➢ A professional bi-monthly newsletter sharing in-depth information by experts about the mission – not only fundraising – set high standards which helped inspire confidence. ➢ Professional photography and experienced grant research, writing, and documentation made a difference. ➢ Sometimes volunteers who are not themselves wealthy have the best contacts with prospective donors. Value everyone. Big “names” aren’t everything. ➢ Listen. Be creative. Donors will rise to the occasion.
  11. 11. South Texas ➢ An educational institution in South Texas wanted to raise major gifts. But no one would move out to work in, “the middle of nowhere.” ➢ Having worked with some of the landowners in the region on nonprofit projects in other cities, I agreed to sign-on for 3 years. ➢ I was left to my own devices (a good thing). ➢ Quiet, thoughtful research, volunteer advisory board development, grantsmanship, professional writing, carefully orchestrated events for philanthropists, and one-on-one calls made this a success.
  12. 12. South Texas ➢ When you own substantial ranch property, significant financial resources are required to manage those natural resources (and to pay taxes on it). ➢ “Out in the middle of nowhere” turned out to be a prime location for philanthropy. ➢ Attention to detail and regular communication with donors were key. Expensive software packages were unnecessary. ➢ Do not expect your office colleagues - including PhD faculty – to understand what development and fundraising entail. They can become jealous of what they perceive as “power” without understanding the reality of the hard work involved in successful fundraising.
  13. 13. Never Say Never ➢ During both campaigns, accidents and failures happened. But also, spectacular successes. ➢ We kept going no matter what. ➢ We learned consulting firms can talk a good game (and charge you substantially), with no real return on investment. ➢ Consider using those funds to hire a professional fundraiser on staff who will get to know your organization deeply and work hard for you.
  14. 14. ➢ Major gift donors will work hard alongside you if you staff them well. ➢ Many donors are entrepreneurs who understand what hard work to achieve big goals entails. ➢ Nonprofits with little or no fundraising track record may be seen by philanthropists as a “fresh face,” one they might like to fund. ➢ Not only “tried and true” organizations can secure major gifts.
  15. 15. ➢ Expensive printed brochures are unnecessary. ➢ Good looking case for support documents one can update as needed and print in-house are terrific. ➢ Review your own mailing list and donor database. A modest annual contributor can become a major donor if properly identified, educated and cultivated. ➢ Know your operational budget inside and out. GuideStar profiles continue to gain in importance. ➢ Your donors may love your nonprofit, but their professional advisors may not.
  16. 16. Corpus Christi ➢ A world class architect for a new museum wing. What’s not to like? ➢ Constantly escalating construction and equipment budgets - and disagreement among donors and civic leaders - led to a standstill. ➢ Two prior consultants had thrown up their hands in frustration. ➢ This was a, “never say never” experience – a diamond in the rough that needed polishing.
  17. 17. ➢ Budget for more than you need just in case. Don’t assume you will have enough concrete, lumber, and steel when construction begins, nor furnishings once complete. ➢ Proper staffing will encourage and support volunteers - it is not simply, “up to them.” ➢ Once successful, some will take credit even if they had little or nothing to do with your success. ➢ Take the high road.
  18. 18. Never Say Never “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Colin Powell, American statesman (b. 1937)
  19. 19. Thank You! Carolyn M. Appleton Nonprofit Fundraising and Communication ➢ Website | ➢ Email | ➢ Nonprofit Tech Club Austin | ➢ Yelp Elite Squad since 2016 Imagery courtesy of Adobe Spark All rights reserved
  20. 20. Bee Cave Arts Foundation February 2022 ➢ Sponsorships and partnerships welcome ➢ Reach out to Deby Childress ➢ #BuzzFest2022 hashtag is registered!