The Story of Julie Capaldi and the United Way of Pickens County

Have you experienced a loss in your donor base? Do you feel like you need to better connect with your donors and community members?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you will be able to relate to what Julie Capaldi experienced at United Way of Pickens County (Easley, SC) as President over the past 24 years.

Julie recently shared her story of how United Way of Pickens County experienced a significant loss in their donor base and how she turned things around and now better connects with donors and community members, while riding the Nonprofit Story Tour bus.

During the video where Julie shares her story, she talks about how essential it is to communicate impact about a specific issue and to share "S-S-T" with donors and community members. "S-S-T" is our acronym that we first shared with United Way of Pickens County in 2011, which stands for Statistics, Stories, and Trust & Accountability. Based on our years of experience in conducting research for United Ways, we have found that about one-third of donors want to see statistics, about one-third want to hear stories, and about one-third care about trust and accountability.

Julie also talks about "a consultant from Michigan" and gives a shout-out to Gary at approximately 10 minutes into the video, referring to Gary Goscenski, one of our Issue-Focused Consultants here at Perspectives. Gary has been working with Julie and her team at United Way of Pickens County since 2011 to focus and maximize their impact, resources, and communication.

On the homepage of our website, we share a quote from Julie, which says: "You were so right! We are a little United Way, and focusing on the issue of early childhood education and summer learning loss has resulted in raising more money from grants and campaigns, attracting new donors, and reduced designations. This is all we talk about – at campaign presentations, to donors, and to our community – and now everyone knows what United Way of Pickens County does in the community."

We love how Julie talks about how people felt moved to give to United Way of Pickens County when she shared a story about summer learning loss and their Camp iRock program. We encourage you to come along for the ride as Julie explains how focusing on a specific issue has been the key to engaging donors in the community – check out the video here.

To learn more about an issue focus, visit www.perspectives4uw.com/issue-focus. If you are interested in becoming issue-focused, you can find more information about how we can guide your United Way in your transformation at www.perspectives4uw.com/develop-your-issue-focus.

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Make an Impact in Honor of Your Mom This Mother’s Day

Is your United Way offering opportunities for people to give outside of campaign? Are you giving your donors and community members the opportunity to make an impact on a specific issue?

United Way of Pickens County (Easley, SC) encouraged people in their community to give the gift of reading this Mother’s Day with their Women United Camp iRock Honor Card Program. By making a $25 donation to Camp iRock, you could send a Mother’s Day card to your mom, letting her know you made a gift in her honor.

In addition to the Mother’s Day card explaining that you gave the gift of reading to a child in honor of your mom, it also explained Camp iRock, which is United Way of Pickens County’s summer program for struggling readers in rising 1st through 4th grades that helps students improve their reading skills over the summer. Each Mother’s Day card donation went toward funding a child to attend Camp iRock.

United Way of Pickens County promoted this opportunity to give and make an impact in honor of your mom on their website and social media.

 
 
 
 

This is a great example of an opportunity for people to give outside of campaign and I love how United Way of Pickens County tied this opportunity to Mother’s Day. It also communicates the impact of donors’ contributions in a simple and powerful way – for only $25, both you and your mom will know you helped a child learn to read. Note that United Way of Pickens County highlighted one of their own programs rather than a partner agency’s program. In order to encourage donors and community members to give to your United Way, it is essential to communicate how your United Way is making a difference in the community, and how their donations will make an impact by giving to your United Way.

United Ways who have transformed to an issue focus find it easier to communicate their message, engage their donors and community members, diversify their resources, and maximize their impact. At Perspectives, we are the creators of the Issue-Focused Model and have helped successfully guide United Ways of all sizes to an issue focus. Click here for more information about an issue focus, or contact me for information about how we can guide your United Way in the transformation to an issue focus.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

P.S. Check out my blog post from May 2016 to see what United Way of the Bay Area did last Mother’s Day.

Virtual Lemonade Stand

Are you providing opportunities for people to support your United Way outside of campaign? Have you tried raising money for your United Way online?

If you’re thinking to yourself, "We’ve tried raising money for our United Way online and it hasn’t been successful," take a look at what United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area (Grand Forks, ND) did this year.

United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area held a "Virtual Lemonade Stand" for their Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. They promoted this virtual fundraiser in their e-newsletter and on social media.

United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area tied this virtual fundraiser to Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2nd) and encouraged their donors and community to help them provide a year of free books to 60 children by March 2nd. They also communicated results of the program, saying "Locally, 87% of parents who had a child enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library said their child graduated from the program better prepared for kindergarten," and "Locally, over the past five years, 106,618 books have been distributed and 1,705 children have graduated from the program." Most importantly, they communicated the impact of a donor’s contribution, saying that a $30 donation will provide a year of books to a local child.

United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area ended up exceeding their goal of providing a year of free books to 60 children and thanked their donors for their support on their website and social media.

 
 

The key to holding a successful fundraiser is to communicate about a specific issue and the impact of a donor’s contribution, just as United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area did with their fundraiser. Many United Ways do not succeed in holding a virtual fundraiser when they communicate about multiple categories, like education, income, and health, and only share a monetary goal. Successful virtual fundraisers are based on communicating a clear message about a single issue and sharing the specific impact of a donor’s contribution.

It is important to provide opportunities for people to give to your United Way outside of campaign, especially for those people who aren’t exposed to a workplace campaign. Also, you will find that your current donors will support your United Way through additional giving opportunities as well as continue giving to your United Way through the workplace campaign.

If your United Way is having difficulty communicating a simple and specific message, you may want to consider an issue focus. United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area is issue-focused, and has been able to simplify their message and raise additional resources outside of campaign because of their issue focus. To learn more about an issue focus, visit: www.perspectives4uw.com/issue-focus

 

Thanks + Giving

Are you thanking your donors and encouraging them to give this holiday season?

United Way of Greater Augusta (Staunton, VA) sent out an e-newsletter just before Thanksgiving, thanking their donors and encouraging them to give this #GivingTuesday. Their e-newsletter was simple and to-the-point, and the two sections of the e-newsletter each focused on a specific issue.

In the “Thanks” section of the e-newsletter, United Way of Greater Augusta wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and thanked their donors for supporting their United Way. They explained how they were able to help community members obtain financial stability with their support.

 
 

In the “Giving” section of the e-newsletter, United Way of Greater Augusta explained that they were participating in #GivingTuesday to raise money for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, an initiative which encourages reading and promotes childhood literacy. They explained that the program sends a child a book once a month and currently there is a waiting list for kids in the community to receive books. United Way of Greater Augusta encouraged people to sponsor a child for $30 to help the children on the waiting list receive books.

 
 

United Way of Greater Augusta did a great job focusing on one issue while thanking donors, and one issue while encouraging people to give. People will be more likely to remember what your United Way does, and will be more likely to donate, if you communicate a simple and focused message, just as United Way of Greater Augusta did in their e-newsletter.

If you are interested in learning more about adopting an issue focus to simplify and focus your United Way’s message, visit: www.perspectives4uw.com/issue-focus

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you are participating in #GivingTuesday this year, we hope you have a successful #GivingTuesday tomorrow!

 

Make It Awesome! A Day Dedicated to Fundraising

Is your United Way involved in a day dedicated to raising money for your organization?

More United Ways each year are participating in #GivingTuesday, Red Nose Day, or a citywide or statewide fundraising day, like Give to the Max Day, in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (Chisholm, MN) is involved. However, while more United Ways are getting involved in some sort of fundraising day, most United Ways are not communicating about a specific issue the funds being raised will address, or how the donations will make a difference on a specific issue in the community.

Let’s take a look at the fundraising day in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is participating:

Today is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota, which is an annual 24-hour event in which Minnesotans are encouraged to donate to causes and organizations in Minnesota on the GiveMN Web site. Donors were able to schedule their Give to the Max Day donations beginning on November 1st, but the cut-off for donating is the end of the day today, November 17th.

There are prizes and leaderboards for Give to the Max Day on the GiveMN Web site. The organizations that raise the most funds appear on the leaderboards – Overall Leaderboard, Medium Nonprofits Leaderboard, Small Nonprofits Leaderboard, and Colleges & Universities Leaderboard – and the top five organizations on each leaderboard receive prize grants. "Golden Tickets" of $1,000 each and other prizes are awarded throughout the day, as well as two "Super-Sized Golden Tickets" of $10,000 each.

United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing a good job of communicating about their direct services, such as Buddy Backpacks, Imagination Library, Bright Beginnings, Good360, Smiles Across Minnesota, and United for Veterans. They are also doing a good job of communicating results that will be achieved if money is donated to each of these programs.

If you are involved in a fundraising day like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, we would encourage you to communicate about your specific issue(s), the actions you are taking to address your issue(s) (for example: your direct services), and the results you are achieving in the community.

Check out these three ideas to take a fundraising day to the next level and Make It Awesome!

How to Take a Fundraising Day and Make It Awesome!

  1. Only communicate about one or two issues. Many United Ways communicate about multiple issues within categories, such as education, income, and health. If you are not yet issue-focused, we would encourage you to focus on communicating about one or two issues your United Way is addressing in the community. You do not want to overwhelm your community with multiple issues you are addressing and you want to be able to communicate a concise message that people will remember, especially if you are competing for dollars with other local nonprofits. When people are searching for a specific cause/issue on these Web sites, you want them to find your United Way and understand what your United Way does if they visit your fundraising page.
  2. Do not talk about categories or processes. You have limited space and time to get your message across, and you do not want to waste it talking about multiple categories or processes. Potential donors want to know about the issue(s) your United Way is focused on addressing in the community, and categories are not issues. Potential donors do not care about processes or how you do things at your United Way – they are concerned about how their donation will make an impact on a specific issue.
  3. Communicate clear actions and results. Take a look at United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s "Find a Cause" page here. They are doing a great job of communicating about their direct services, which are the actions they are taking, as well as the results that will be achieved if they receive donations toward those programs/causes (If you click on each program/cause on the "Find a Cause" page, it opens up a new Web page with additional information about United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s actions and results). We would encourage you to communicate actions and results like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing, but only the actions and results for the one or two issue(s) you decide to highlight.

By following these three simple ideas, you will take your involvement in a fundraising day and Make It Awesome!

If you would like us to review something your United Way is doing and Make It Awesome! send me an e-mail at kasey@perspectives4uw.com. As your Issue-Focused Consultant, I will share great tips and ideas with you about how to enhance what you are doing, and will provide you with the information your donors and community want to know, based on our research and experience in working with United Ways.