E14 – The first year of a new charity with Alesha Mathis

This time I’m talking to Alesha Mathis. She is a consultant for non-profits and charities, and she helps them build up their organizations in the best possible way.

Alesha has so many great points, and in many ways starting a non-profit look a lot like starting a for-profit company.

You can find Alesha’s book here

(affiliate link)

You can find a transcript of the interview down below.

Alesha Mathis

Alesha Mathis

Episode Transcript

Hey guys. So, it’s going to be short for me today. I have been working a bit from last week’s episode. Trying to figure out how to do some of these collaborations with brands. So, I’ve been contacting some of them and I am trying to figure out how to do that in a great way. I’m very much looking forward to doing that. I’m going to use the Danish group that I have with about 700 members to kind of put that out there. So, I’m looking forward to trying that out.

Then I have been a bit busy this weekend. I have been on a third weekend for my hypnosis course, which is really, really interesting. So, I’m looking forward to maybe trying to, in some way, incorporate that into the fundraising in some way, I’m not quite sure how and why and everything yet, but I’ll figure that out. So, I’m very excited about today’s episode. So, I’m just going to leave it to this for today and then have fun with the podcast and I’ll catch up after the episode.

Diana: in today’s episode, I am joined by Alicia Mathis and I am so excited to talk to her. She has a lot of experience. She is the author of a book that is especially relevant for people in the US but I’m guessing also I haven’t read it, but I’m guessing it could also be relevant for people outside of the States, to be honest looking at the title. So, welcome Alesha. Thank you for wanting to be here or today.

Alesha: Well, thank you for having me

Diana: I’m really excited. So, tell us a bit about yourself. Tell us what got you into fundraising in the very beginning.

Alesha: Well, I have been in the nonprofit space for over 10 years now. I started working for larger organizations, about 450 employees, 13 to $20 million budgets. So, that’s where I got started. I started out in administration. I was an administrative secretary, so that was where I really learned what a nonprofit is and about buckets because no one ever understands buckets, especially in fundraising. Everything has a bucket, a line item that it has to go into, especially when you’re talking about fundraising and donor money. So, that was where I learned that. I learned about boards during that stretch.

Then I moved to another organization, this was about a $13 million organization and I was in the development department and I started it to learn about real professional fundraising what that looks like. This was a 130-year-old organization, so they were doing advanced fundraising strategies. So, I got to see all of it. I was the coordinator of marketing and PR, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have my hands in helping with the fundraising. I was writing appeal letters and that kind of thing and so I loved it. I absolutely fell in love.

Then I wound up at a smaller nonprofit. They had nine employees and about a $750,000 budget, but I loved the small nonprofit. I loved how we all got to know each other. You had a whole lot more hats, but it really felt like a team. So, that was where I was at and I was in programs though. I was not in fundraising and I saw so many things that, that this small nonprofit could do that the big boys were doing at low cost or no cost and it was bringing in money. But I was told I was in programs. I was not a fundraiser. I was not in fundraising so I could not help. I could not do it.

Diana: That’s very narrow-minded, especially for a small organization.

Alesha: Well, you know, the thing is everyone is a fundraiser of some sort when you’re in a nonprofit because if you’re not actually doing the fundraising activities, you’re an ambassador. You’re out there in the community, talking about the nonprofit, telling about what you’re doing and how you’re helping people. That brings in money. So, it baffled me. So needless to say, I spent about a year there, and then that was when I decided to start my own business. So, now I teach new and small nonprofits on how to raise the money They need to fund their mission.

Diana: That’s really cool. I especially noticed one thing you said. You noticed something that the small organization could do that the large organizations are doing for little to no cost. I’m guessing that’s part of what you’re teaching people today. So, could you elaborate on what? Because I’m here thinking, yes, I need to know this. I also need to know this because that’s exactly what I need to do. Sorry.

Alesha: Well, I mean the donor list, that is the very basics of fundraising. It doesn’t matter how big or how small you are. If you don’t have that donor base, then you didn’t fare well in COVID. You don’t fare well at any point in time. So, building that donor base and concentrating on doing that and doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can put a donor magnet on your webpage.

Diana: What could that be? Because that sounds like a lead magnet to me, like in business.

Alesha: It’s a lead magnet, but it’s attracting the donors. So, I call it a donor magnet.

Diana: Is that for attracting them to actually donate at point one or is that attracting them to the newsletter for them to donate at a later point?

Alesha: It is to attract them to sign up for your email list so you can cultivate them…

Diana: Okay.

Alesha: …and eventually lead to donations. So, it’s anything that relates to your nonprofit that would be of value to someone in the community. So, if you are an abuse nonprofit, maybe you serve abused women. One thing that you could put out there is five ways to know your neighbor is being abused or your coworker or your friend. That would be valuable. It would relate to your topic and then when people sign up, they’re now on your donor list. They’re now on your list and you can start cultivating them.

So, that’s one easy, cheap thing that you can do. Just start bringing in those donors. Knowing your ideal donor, that is so important. That’s one of the very first fundamentals too and that’s just the person who is most likely to give us the characteristics of the people most likely to give. I know there are so many people out there that have done four and five pages of this stuff. But one of the things that I look for that I teach is that nonprofits, the fundraising, in particular, have to have a purpose. There has to be some sort of purpose to everything you do. If it’s not moving your fundraising goals forward. It’s just busy work and we don’t have time for busywork.

I haven’t seen a nonprofit leader yet, or anyone working in nonprofits that has that much time. So, what I do is what the ideal donor… I’ve got it down to one page and when you look at the purpose of the ideal donor, it is people most likely to give in a commonplace and to find the messaging that resonates with them. That’s the purpose of an ideal donor. So, when you start looking at the demographics and the psychographics which is what they all look at, there’s a lot you can get rid of, because if it doesn’t help you find where they are or how to talk to them then it’s just busywork.

Diana: Okay. So, what would you need to know about your ideal donor? Because I know demographics, that would be age and where they live and like stuff like that. Then the psychographics would probably be more on, for example, political view.

Alesha: I’ll look at psychographics is more of behaviors and internal. So, the demographics, age range can be good. Income to me, unless we’re talking about maybe a major donor, you’re trying to find your ideal donor for a major donor. I’m not so sure income really works anymore because I mean, there are so many people that are so far in debt that it doesn’t really matter what their income level is. They don’t have disposable income because most people donate from their disposable income. So, income level I don’t do that because I don’t see that it really fits our purpose.

The location would definitely help. I want to know what church they go to if they go to church, I want to know anything that’s going to help me figure out where they hang out, where are they? Where are they online? Where are they in the community? So, that’s the demographics I’ll look at, and then the psychographics, I want to know why they give, why they don’t give. I want to know something about their history and generations to help you with that. So, if you’re looking at the boomer generation, there’s all kinds of research out there that tells you how they behave and who they are, that kind of thing. So, you can kind of look at that and see, you know, they, they like independence. They like certain things and so then that’s part of your psychographics that you can look at and then you can play on those things.

One of my favorite examples is the World War two-generation in the United States. They came from depression, the great depression background, and one of the things that children got at that time for Christmas, it was common gifts was a pair of shoes and an orange. I heard my grandparents talk about this and they were so excited, and they would tell me stories about Christmases where that was the only gift they got, but that was just the world to them.

So, if you know that about your ideal donor, when I do a year-end appeal, and I’m talking about Christmas, I am going to talk about, you know, remember when you got that orange and that pair of shoes. Yeah. I’m going to take them back to those places and so that’s what you’re really looking for with an ideal donor is connecting with them on a level that makes them say they understand me. They know me.

Diana: That’s amazing. So, you have your donor magnet, and you base that off of your ideal donor, and then when you kind of have your base donor list, you start to cultivate them into starting to donate.

Alesha: Right, and you do that by sharing stories. If you can get client stories, sharing those as often as you can do well. Sharing your impacts, telling people what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. The impact you’re having in the community and then throwing in some thank you’s along the way. Thank you for going along on this journey with us. Thank you for donating and then ask. I can, 100% guarantee that you will not get funding if you do not ask.

So, you can’t be bashful, you have to be able to ask and there are two kinds of ask. There’s a soft ask and a hard ask. So, a soft ask would be more of a hey, donate to whatever is going on. It’s not real pushy. I like soft asks, they work. A hard ask would be a whole lot more forceful, a whole lot more in your face kind of thing. I think a lot of people think of the harder as a little bit sleazier. So, I stay away from the harder ask.

Diana: Would a soft ask be hey, I would really appreciate whatever you have the option of giving?

Alesha: Yeah, that can be a soft desk.

Diana: Okay, and then a hard ask would be, hey, do we want to donate $1,000 to this charity now?

Alesha: Yeah. It would be more like more of guilt.

Diana: Okay. I see you have a really, really nice car. You should be able to donate $1,000 for this as well.

Alesha: Right. Something like that.

Diana: Okay. I don’t like that either. I don’t mind the direct ask for money. I think that’s fine. That’s just me of course and I don’t mind the number, but I totally agree with you. No guilt. That’s not okay.

Alesha: Right. Really, and truly those people that want to give, and there are people out there that want to give, they’re going to be guilted. If someone says to you I feel like your fundraising is guilting me. That tells me more about their relationship with money than it does about my fundraising.

Diana: Okay, can you elaborate on that?

Alesha: Sure. Well giving is a person’s relationship with money. So, either they’re going to be very tight-fisted and, and it’s mine, it’s all mine and those people feel guilt whenever you ask them because I think we are wired somehow to give, to help people. But some of us, don’t want to let go of the money. People who are open to getting money, they’re often the ones that wind up with money but asking them is not an offensive thing because they’re open to it. They’re like, okay, I’ve got some money that I can do some good with. What have you got? So, whenever someone tells me, oh, you’re guilting me into fundraising or to giving that tells me that they are someone who, who doesn’t have a good relationship with money.

Diana: Okay, and then you just back off or…?

Alesha: Oh yeah. They’re not ready to give, but you can still talk about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, the impact you’re making, because there’s a level of maturity that comes for givers, which is why typically people don’t start giving until about age 50, 50 and older. because there is a maturity that comes. People start looking at about 50. They start thinking, well, there’s more of my life has gone by than I’ve got left. So, it becomes, how can I leave my mark in the world? What kind of legacy am I leaving to this world?

So, you start thinking more along those lines. You’re also at a better place financially because when you look at people’s, cycles of life, in your twenties you are going to college typically. You’re getting married. You may be starting a family. You’re buying houses, you’re buying cars. You don’t have a lot of disposable income and the millennial generation right now actually has more debt than any generation before them. So, you’re just not in that place yet to be able to give. You don’t have that disposable income. In the thirties to forties, you’re starting to get a little bit more comfortable in your family.

You’re typically starting to wind down, children. Then in the forties, you’re starting to see your kids graduate from high school and go to college and you’re starting to be able to pay off that house. You’re starting to see all that and your debt comes down but it’s not really until your fifties days when the kids are out of college, you’re an empty-nester and you’ve got more disposable income. Then you get to that point in life where it’s like when I’m gone, how’s anybody going to know that I was here? Then that’s when they start looking.

Diana: That’s really, really interesting actually. I hadn’t thought about that but that makes so much sense. The experience is for donors who are giving one-time donations, or is this more for people who are donating again and again?

Alesha: The 50 plus crowd they’re going to donate over and over and over. The last statistic I saw on baby boomers, I think they give about, they give to about three and a half non-profits every year and they actually give the most, about $1,000 that they’ll divide up between their organizations. Then, the generations that come after that, each one gets a little bit less, but it makes sense when you think about what’s going on in their lives at that point in time. But one thing that I know there’s a lot of organizations that want to go after the millennials for money. But right now, is a good time to ask them to volunteer, because I know that volunteering is a gateway into donating.

People get into volunteering and they see the inner workings of the organization. They see firsthand the impacts that you’re making. They have their own stories to tell and when you ask your volunteers for donations, you get a very high percentage that will donate because they see what’s going on. So, if you go ahead now and start getting those millennials into your volunteer programs and getting them into volunteering. One of the attitudes millennials have is that volunteering is just as good as giving money because they value time too, so they feel good. They feel like they’re donating, they’re getting involved. You get some volunteers out of it and then you are able to cultivate them into donors when they get to the point where they’re able to give.

Diana: That’s a really good idea, actually. I’m just sitting here thinking that even the younger generations again, like saying that I think generation C maybe, whatever. Just in the early twenties, maybe people. Wow, this is going really great. But I’m sitting here thinking that okay for an organization you could maybe, instead of thinking I need to have money from then you could think like you’re saying, I could maybe activate them as volunteers or just, if you want to take a smaller step, it could be activating them in an online community where you get them to share your message. So, that doesn’t really cost them anything. It’s really easy for them because they grew up with social media and all of these things that it’s easier for them. They’re also, as far as I see it very conscious about what they actually share. So, they will only share it if they feel like it’s a good cause but that could be a step before that I’m thinking.

Alesha: Right. That generation they’re all about being authentic. So, if it’s not authentic to them, they’re not going to engage but that’s a good point that you can start using them in some very authentic communications on social media to help spread your message.

Diana: Okay. I would love to talk about some of the stories you have about fundraising. I’m really interested. You just wrote an online flash mob giving $100,000.

Alesha: Right.

Diana: Okay. So, what I want to know is an online flash mob, what is that? I would like to know how the process of going from idea to actual execution and how the fundraising took place within that.

Alesha: Okay. Well, it was actually part of Georgia Gibbs in the state of Georgia in the United States. It was a statewide campaign where nonprofits got together and on a particular day, it was 24 hours of giving. So, there was a statewide platform. It was very, very similar to #givingtuesday that’s out there now. That’s the national one. Giving Tuesday is actually the Tuesday right after Thanksgiving. So, you have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday in the United States.

Diana: Wow!

Alesha: Yeah. So, we’ve got it covered.

Diana: Yeah.

Alesha: But this was on a smaller scale. It was actually in the state that we did this and. to raise $100,000 in 24 hours it takes some work.

Diana: I said a year for that.

Alesha: We actually started in May. I was in charge of the project. I had our grant writer on board, so there was a very small committee of us who sat down and really started thinking about what should this look like? How are we going to do this? Because our CEO had set a $100,000 goal for us. We were like, deer in a headlight look, you can’t be serious.

Diana: The goal is only money that is raised within that 24 hour period, or can it also be money raised up to that 24 hour period?

Alesha: Well, Giving Tuesday actually opened up donations at the beginning of the month. But at this point in time, I think it was early November that the day actually was. So, you didn’t have too many days that opened up. But for it to count, it had to come in on that one day. So, as I said, we started in may planning this out, and just like any other fundraiser you have to sit down and think about, okay what are the different ways we’re going to be getting in funding and how much can we reasonably expect from those different ways. Then you have to look at your expenses. How much money are you going to put into this to make it work? Some of the things that we did, our grant-writer actually went out and looked for matching funds for us or challenge grants.

Diana: Is that a big thing in the States?

Alesha: I don’t know that it’s a big thing, but it is a thing. Matching is when there’s someone who says for every dollar that comes in up to X number of dollars, I will put in that exact same amount. So, you’ve got that and then there are the challenge grants where you raise the money, people donate and then you say, this group of people has raised X amount of dollars. They’re challenging you to donate X number of dollars. So, we went to the employees and we said this is something we want to do. If you would like to participate, go ahead, and do that. I think we raised about a thousand dollars from the employees. Then during one hour of the day, we were like our employees have raised $1,000 to challenge you to raise a 1,000 in this hour. So, if you can donate $25 towards this, this would be an awesome kind of thing.

Diana: And that was online or…?

Alesha: Yeah, we were using social media. I mean, it was like three posts an hour or something like that. It was crazy. What we did was we would, we emailed and like a day or two, before we put out on social media, that this day was coming. There was going to be a lot of posts during those 24 hours. So, bear with us, you’re going to stay with this. But after the 24 hours is over, we’re going back to how we’ve been doing things. But just to help with expectations because there are people that would probably if they didn’t know that they would have seen it and gone you all have just gone crazy. I don’t want to see this. If this is how it’s going to be from here on out I don’t want to see it.

But when they knew it was for a cause and it was for a given period of time we didn’t have any unlikes or unfollows during that time, which was what we were really hoping not to have. A few months in advance we actually had little business cards printed up and it had the QR code on the back of it that went to the link, our donation page. It just said, Giving Tuesday is coming. Here’s the date. For 24 hours where we want to raise $100,000. Can you help? Just make sure you donate on this day. We sent out letters to our monthly dinners and said, hey, we know you’re a monthly donor. If you wouldn’t mind donating on this day it would help us, make your money go so much further because one of the things that Giving Tuesday had was, they had incentives for nonprofits for different things.

So, the most unique donors, the nonprofit with the most unique donors that day got $500 or they had all these things set out. So, we picked out a few of those goals and said we think we can get there. So, then we would start advertising, this is the goal we’re looking for. If you could help us with this goal, your donation would stretch, or double, or whatever we were asking for at that point. So, we did that. There was a grant that we knew was coming in and our grant writer went back to them. We had a really good relationship. They had been giving for years. She went back and she said, hey, this is what we’re doing. We’d love to have the incentive. So, if you could just write the check for that day and give it to us we can apply it towards Giving Tuesday and that could help us get an incentive which would help your money go a little bit further.

They said, sure, we’ll do it. What time do you want us to do it? that came with a relationship and like I said, this was a foundation that had given to us year after year after year after year. They had cultivated that kind of relationship that they could go. We had already gotten the award letter and so we were like… It was going to be about that same time anyway, that the check would have arrived. We just kind of said, hey, could we make sure it’s going to hit this day? Just FYI. But yeah, they were more than happy to help us out. So, that’s what the flash mob was. It was just all kinds of people giving that day.

Diana: Oh, okay. Okay. That’s then me being confused about the term flash mob because when I think flash mob, I think like 100 people getting out and dancing randomly to some song out of nowhere.

Alesha: Yeah, Georgia Gibbs, that was their line, 24-hour flash mob of giving. That’s how they build it. So, the flash mob was thousands of people all giving at the same time.

Diana: Okay, then it makes sense because I was thinking $100,000 from people showing up. It’s still really impressive to $100,000 but I was kind of like, okay…

Alesha: How does that work?

Diana: …maybe I should learn to dance here because apparently, that works very well.

Alesha: Yeah.

Diana: Fair enough. Thank you for clarifying that for me. Now, I don’t need to take dance lessons at least.

Alesha: Well, we were dancing. Once we got to the $50,000 mark, it was like, we might actually do this because I think it was about noon that we got there and it was like, this could actually happen.

Diana: Victory dance is fine. I’m all good with that and I think this is really amazing. So, you guys just did a lot of things like behind the scenes to motivate people to give on that day.

Alesha: Right. Mainly we had some very, very loyal supporters. I mean, this was an organization that we had to be very, very careful what we asked for because we would get it in spades. I mean, we would ask for toiletry items and before we knew it, there was a truckload of toiletry items coming into us. It was like, okay, we just needed a few. So, we had to be very, very careful what we asked for. But when we put it in our thank you letters as a PS, reminding people that this was coming, and if you could, at all donate that day, we would be so appreciative. They just came out and showed up and donated and that was just awesome.

Diana: Cool. I think that’s amazing too. Did you guys experience, because I’m thinking, if you kind of say, okay, this person or this company or organization would normally give, but we asked them to give on that day instead because then it would double up or it would give more money because of some of the funds and grants. So, that definitely meant more money. But did you experience then less money for the rest of the year because o you kind of moved everything till that day or did it just give even more money because people would donate both on that day, but also donate in other times of the year?

Alesha: We found that raising that amount of money in November meant the December appeal letters were down. Not by a whole lot. I mean, we would typically get in about $80,000 whenever we wrote a letter. Our follow-up letter was another thing that we did and if you can afford it, I would do it every time. We would write a letter and it would be out and then two weeks later, we’d write a follow-up letter. The follow-up letters, if it didn’t double it nearly doubled what the first letter did.

Diana: Okay. So, saying that if you got 20,000 the first time, then you would get 20,000 again, or you get 40,000 extra.

Alesha: Well, the first letter we get 80,000, roughly. The second letter would be about 120,000.

Diana: So, the total would be 200,000.

Alesha: Yeah, from those two.

Diana: And when you say letter, you mean a physical mail by post letter?

Alesha: Yeah. Yeah. That was just direct mail. They didn’t do a lot of emails. and I’m not really sure why. I completely think that you should be doing direct mail and email. My smaller nonprofits that I work with, I always tell them, segment your list, look at your list. If you have an email address for them, email them. If you only have a postal mail address for them, then those are the people you send the direct mail to. It’s cheaper to do it that way and actually, the statistics say you get about 35% more when someone donates online than if they donate through the mail. The thought is writing out a check is more painful. It’s like handing over cash. There’s a psychological pain to that. But when you’re clicking buttons and you don’t really see it, you don’t really think about it.

Diana: Makes sense. It really makes sense actually. The thing is in Denmark, a letter, like a physical letter would cost about $3 each to mail. So, it’s also a really expensive way to do it. It’s a really good idea though, to get something. That’s more of on an individual basis something I’ve been thinking about actually making handwritten letters and sending people to motivate them, to donate to my goal for 2021 but I haven’t really decided yet. I don’t have a salary because I’m just me being a volunteer, doing this as a volunteer. So, if I was an employee for a nonprofit, it would make more sense, right. Then they would come from that money, but I don’t have that. So, everything that I do is out of my pocket towards money going, not to me. I love that the money it’s being raised for the charity, but there’s also an, I need to live aspect.

Alesha: Well then, when you write out your list of people that you want to contact, just go through, and look and see who are you closest to? Because they are most likely to give. You could actually pick up the phone and call them and then, maybe who would give the most or who you think would give the most. Maybe just 1% of your list just do the handwritten. It’s a really good touch. It does get responses. Handwritten notes are always better even if you could just go and drop it off instead of doing postal. Sometimes you’ve got to get creative and think outside the box.

Diana: Okay. So, can I just ask? Okay. So. I just need to look at the time as well. So, I want to hear a bit about your book. Tell me about the book you wrote and why you wrote it?

Alesha: Okay. the book is called. “I Have My 501(c)3, Now What?!? Your Blueprint to Starting your Nonprofit Without Being the Sole Funder.”

Diana: What is the 501(c)3?

Alesha: That is a US tax status. So, once in the United States, you have to incorporate or become a corporation and then you have other things you have to do. The last step is to get your tax-exempt status which is 501(c)3.

Diana: Okay. So, the book is not about that but it’s about what happens when that’s done.

Alesha: Right. Once you have that part because I served on a brand new nonprofit board and it was like, what do we do? I was the only person on the board than had even worked at a nonprofit. So, no one knew how to even start this thing. For them it was, oh, we need awareness, we need an event. We need money, we need an event. So, they were on the event hamster wheel. It was constantly working towards an event. I knew what to do. At that time, it was all in my head.

So, after I left the board and I was on the board for a year, six months later they folded. They didn’t have the funding. They didn’t know what to do. That was when I said, I know how to help. I know what to do. I kept seeing these nonprofits would call me, founders would call me and say, I have my 501(c)3, now what? What do I do now? I have no idea. So, that’s where the book came from and it’s the infrastructure that you need that first year to build, and everything I tell you to build works towards getting funding, I’m setting you up to get funding.

Diana: Could you give like the three best tips from the book maybe? It’s not so much that people are not going to buy your book because if they want to buy the book, of course, they should. But just like in short three tips for what to do when you just start out.

Alesha: Well, the three areas I think people most want to know about. Building your board of directors. That’s actually step one. You need help. You can’t do this by yourself.

Diana: And is the board of directors a volunteer position or is that a paid position?

Alesha: In the United States it is a voluntary board. They are volunteers. but at that point, you’re a working board. It’s not until probably two or three years into this nonprofit that you’re going to be able to hire somebody and then your board is less working and more governing. But to start out they’re a working board. They’re going to be working and doing things that an executive director would do basically. So, the very first chapter step one is build your board and I’ll go through and talk about how to do that.

I love a potential board member package is what I call it, because first of all, the way I’ve laid it out, helps the founder really think through the expectations they have for the board. That document just lays out the expectations. It lays out what you’re asking that board member to commit to. So, whenever you go and talk to a potential board member, you have this package with you, this document with you and you can go through it with them. You’re telling every board member the exact same message, which was something that I ran into on that first board.

The founder told me something completely different from what she told other people about what we were signing up to do. I don’t think it was intentional. I think she was just talking to so many people that she forgot things and left things out, but the picture became very, very different for each one of us. So, having that document and being able to go through the exact same things with every board member is so important. So, that’s the first thing. The second thing people always want to do is start that program that first year. I don’t think that the program has to be started that very first year. You can wait until the second year.

Diana: What do you mean when you say program?

Alesha: Whatever service that they’re going to be doing.

Diana: But doesn’t a lot of charities start by… I interviewed someone who started a nonprofit because she wanted it to help children. So, she’s just started, and then it turned into a nonprofit.

Alesha: Right. Some people do that. Sometimes it’s an idea that founders have and so they really they haven’t really thought through how it’s going to work and how much money it’s going to take.

Diana: Okay. So, what you’re saying is you should wait until the second year because it gives you a year to raise funds to get it off on the right track.

Alesha: Right. Yeah. It gives you a year. One of the chapters is your signature program. This is the program that you’re going to be known for. So, it helps you put down on paper what that looks like. You think through the entire process of what a program looks like and the way I’ve designed it in the book, it also answers the 10 common grant questions that you get asked. So, once you get this thing on paper, you have a master proposal.

So, in two years, because it usually takes about three years before foundations want to talk to you about grants. You go ahead and you’re measuring the things that grants want to see measured. You’ve built everything into this program and you already started getting all this data and this information and, you know. So, when it’s time to write grants, which is a more advanced fundraising strategy, you have a track record, you have a history. You’ve been keeping up with all of that.

So, it’s a much, much stronger proposal. Then, one of the last steps I have. There are nine steps in the book. One of the last steps which is another one of those things that people always ask is about fundraising. What I’ve been doing all along, you’ve gotten a strategic plan, which is something funders ask for. You’ve gone through, you’ve got your budget, you’ve got all those things and I’ve even kept you legal for IRS purposes in the United States because there are certain policies and procedures you have to have. There’s certain wording you have to have on the stuff that you send out.

So, the last section is fundraising, and I go through it, and I talk about how to build that very first year for fundraising. So, we talk about the ideal donor. We talk about the different strategies that you can use. Before COVID, going to different places where your ideal donor was and speaking, having speaking engagements was huge. You could raise a lot of money, especially if you were in front of your ideal donor.

Diana: If someone wants to get a hold of the book, is it an eBook or is it a physical book or is it both? Where do they get it?

Alesha: It’s on Amazon so you can get the hard copy. It’s 9.95 on Amazon, or you can get it on Kindle, and I think it’s 6.99 on Kindle.

Diana: That’s really cool. I will link to that in the show notes. So, if people want to do it. Okay. So, where can people find you other than on Amazon?

Alesha: My website, www.mathisnps.com. Then there is Facebook- Mathis nonprofit services. I also have two groups at the top, small nonprofit leaders and nonprofit nations’ fundraising success path. So, you can find me at any of those places.

Diana: I will link to that in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode. It’s been amazing and it’s been fun. So, I’m really happy about that.

Alesha: Yes, I have enjoyed it thoroughly.

Diana: I’m happy. Thank you.

Alesha: Thank you for having me.

This was a really interesting episode. I am so hyped. There were so many interesting ideas in this episode, like for example, the number one thing is to know your ideal client. It’s a lot like business. So, know your ideal donor, like in business it’s clients, the donors and then know the demographics and the psychographics and look at what’s working. So, always track what you’re kind of doing back to the episode with JJ about tracking everything that you’re doing. Then she also talked about a lead magnet and build your list. I like the whole aspect of this word.

She’s saying okay, build your foundation before you start really fundraising and before you start making your program and doing your thing. Build your base. Of course, do accept donations as soon as you’re eligible for that but maybe wait. Just start trying to build your list and figure out how to do that. Then also the other thing I just want to touch on is that she told that the donations get higher so it’s a larger donation when people donate online. That’s a really interesting thing, because then that means maybe do a combination of online and offline which is a good thing right now, right when everything is online.

So, I guess everything is good for something. So, those were kind of my key takeaways. I am trying to figure out how to implement this and I’m looking forward to doing, figuring out how to do that. I definitely need to go in and work on knowing my ideal donor and that’s going to be interesting work. So, that’s it for this episode, I’m looking forward to next week where I am speaking with, and I just need to find this. I am speaking with Kelly Snyder and that’s also a very interesting episode. Actually, if you want a sneak peek of that episode, you can go to my YouTube channel Smart Business Planning because that episode is already up on YouTube. But if not, then just hang in there and that is next week’s episode. Have fun

Thank you for listening to the Fun with Fundraising podcast. I’m your host, Diana Lund and if you want to get a hold of me, you can find me on Instagram @funwithfundraising or you can email me at diana@smartbusinessplanning.com. Enjoy your week.