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If you’re just joining us, 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.

Here’s part two of what I learned and how it can be applied to your development office. Ann Webb of Skin Organics is a fantastic presenter and motivated us all to succeed. Her tips, with my interpretation for fundraising, are below.

Save costs
Where can you save costs? Can you use a cheaper paper to print your posters or invitations? Can you use a person who knows a little HTML to create a WordPress site for your nonprofit? Can you get an intern to update your twitter page or get more Myspace friends for your nonprofit cause? Can you eliminate all unnecessary tasks? Can you get assistance in being more effective in your job from a SCORE mentor? Can you focus the most on the outcomes that will get you the quickest, best results for fundraising? (See the Fundraising calculator to the left)

Cut out middlemen
So in your small development office you’re running an event, but suddenly you need a poster, a banner, a postcard, or an invitation. Is the boss going to approve you going to a graphic designer, getting a quote, showing the mockups to her, and then paying someone $1K to $10K to create a poster for you? Probably not. You need the poster NOW, not in a week or two, and you have no budget for this. Teach yourself Illustrator/Photoshop or teach yourself a free software like Inkscape or Paint dot net. You’ll be creating your own graphic design in no time.

Be where the important people are
Go to other nonprofits events. Volunteer. It’s not hard to get in for free and be able to mix with the sponsors, the major donors, and others who could help your cause, if they only knew about it!

Work harder and smarter than your competition.
I don’t mean stay until 10pm every night. I mean get in there and make 5 thank you phonecalls before you check your email. Brainstorm with fellow fundraisers and volunteers once a month to keep yourself fresh with your approach. Talk to board members about what you could do better. Make sure that you’re giving donors every opportunity to connect with your organization.

There will be setbacks.
Every event has one little thing that goes wrong. Every invitation has one thing that you wish you could have spotted before it went to press. Every appeal letter could be improved in some way. As they say, Perfect is the enemy of Done. And you can’t be perfect. Just know that there will be setbacks, and make sure that you keep those in perspective. If your boss wants to fire you because there wasn’t music with the powerpoint, then that person definitely has their priorities skewed and you’re better off not working for them anyway.

Stay tuned for more tips from the Rise Austin Conference.

Follow me on twitter @wildwomanfund