Nonprofit Appeals – What’s Working
- Do not limit the celebration to a day! For milestone anniversaries, nonprofits can celebrate all year-long. For smaller anniversaries, consider a week-long celebration or events scattered throughout the anniversary month. Everyone likes to celebrate, don’t minimize the accomplishments of your nonprofit!
- Consider what types of celebrations are most relevant to your organization and the community it serves. Does your nonprofit primarily offer services for children? Consider a family-fun carnival celebration to include service recipients, community members, and funders. Does your nonprofit work in a particularly traumatic or sensitive field? Consider smaller, private celebrations that respect privacy of participants but give them an opportunity to lean into the celebration like a film screening or in-home lunch celebrations.
- Do not forget your employees! Nonprofits are often so busy delivering on their mission and raising the funds to do so, that employee appreciation can sometimes be forgotten. Most nonprofit employees are incredibly dedicated, giving far beyond the demands of a traditional nine to five position. Host an employee appreciation luncheon or consider a small tasteful gift for employees. Consider involving your employees in the decision-making process so that your appreciation is received as such.
- Be generous and inclusive. Nonprofits are organizations for the benefit of the community by definition. Cast a wide net when considering who your stakeholders are, as well as who they were over the course of your organization’s growth and development. Who built your building? What volunteer leadership was integral to the nonprofit over the years? Are there political and community leaders who championed your cause? What businesses neighbor your organization’s place of work and how have they been involved over the years? When planning, consider what venues best serve to involve all the individuals that have a stake in your nonprofit. Proximity and honoring the community within which the organization lives and serves is important so also consider using all local, representative vendors for catering, rentals, and other celebratory needs.
- Appropriately dedicate the resources needed to celebrate. The anniversary celebrations do not necessarily need to be expensive or lavish, but before you execute any of your plans, be sure to consider the costs and budget for them ahead of time. Most importantly, consider the cost of staff time and where there are resources to dedicate. Adding additional anniversary responsibilities without taking any regular ones away from possibly already overburdened staff will not spark a celebratory attitude. For organizations planning to host large events or utilizing the anniversary as a marketing tool, consider hiring an anniversary consultant or event production team to augment staffing resources.
- Look back to look forward. Part of the beauty of anniversaries is taking time to reflect on where we were and what we accomplished to get where we are today. But be sure to not get lost in highlighting the past. Message your organization’s history in the form of an arc. Explain how it is propelling your organization forward; perhaps where you are recommitting to initiatives and where you are pivoting to launch new ones. Nonprofits that get stuck in the past tend to have challenges with succession and adopting to changing landscapes. Welcome the future as you honor the past.
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