Last week I went to the RISE AUSTIN conference for entrepreneurs. It’s a free annual conference to help people get a leg up on starting and running their businesses. I found it extraordinarily helpful and could not recommend it highly enough. If you are an entrepreneur, or thinking of becoming one, I would suggest traveling to Austin just for this conference.
What I learned can be applied to your development office. Here’s what Ann Webb of Skin Organics told us about how to start and run a million dollar business.
Be Able to Motivate
This is the number one thing. If you can do this, you can overcome bandwidth issues, and other organizational issues. It means more than just being nice. It means be able to give people a reason to try harder for you. If you’re motivating volunteers or staff, talk about the appreciation luncheon you’re going to have at the end of the month, with prizes for most improved, most dedicated, and most helpful volunteers. Get pizza for that phone-a-thon. Make cookies for that Monday when nobody wants to be there. Even allow people to see return on their investment through giving them a LinkedIn recommendation that same week. It will look good for future employers to see, and it will show them that doing good pays in potentially higher salaries.
Search for your niche
When finding out who you can partner with in your city, ask, What do you need? What are you looking for? When they want something, you need to be able to give it to them. If they want to partner on an event, find a way to make it happen. If they want to partner when going for advertising in a newspaper or billboard, see who you all know that you can get to help pay for that.
Lower your overhead
You don’t need a huge office for your nonprofit. If you see clients in the community, see if you can meet in a library or community center. If your development office is cramped, see if you can meet major donors in coffeeshops. Show them your programs, but also use other people’s space to your advantage.
Charge your customers half and pay your people double.
This is a very important lesson for nonprofit leaders to learn. Give great salaries to everyone in your organization. This will make them want to work for you. Think of paying your Development Director $60K, your Development Associate/Assistant $40K. They will want to stay with your organization, even if they are working long hours, because of the good salary. If you do fee for service do not charge clients more than you have to.
Stay tuned for Part Two of tips from Ann Webb’s presentation at RISE AUSTIN.
Want more free advice on fundraising? Follow me on twitter @wildwomanfund