Finding Joy

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Finding Joy

While I am sure every single one of us will be happy to say farewell to 2020, it’s still hard to believe that fall is here already.  And with that comes thoughts about a holiday/year-end appeal and Giving Tuesday.  One of my clients – a seasoned Development officer who is retiring soon – said, “I don’t have it in me to come up with another appeal letter!”  Perhaps you, too, are feeling this way, even if you’ve only been working in Development for a few years. 

This year has been “unprecedented”.  We have had to “pivot”.  We have had to “be nimble”.  We have had to master Zoom.  We have had to exercise “an abundance of caution” when canceling events.  We have also had to get really, really creative about approaching donors, corporate sponsors, partners.   It makes me tired just thinking about the past 6 months. 

My client’s organization serves adults with Developmental disabilities.  This pandemic has been exceptionally difficult for clients and staff alike.  The staff had to ensure the safety of their residents, which included overtime, helping clients manage their stress and fully understand the importance of “sheltering in place”.  For one staff member, sheltering in place took on a whole new meaning; a client was diagnosed with COVID-19, and she agreed to stay with the client for the full 14-day quarantine.  In fact, WTTW aired this story, which you can watch by clicking the link below:

So, when my client said she can’t come up with another idea for an appeal, I simply said: Find the joy.  She knew what I meant. 

Despite the challenges of 2020, there are moments of joy and inspiration, just like the one shared by WTTW.  Take some time to reflect back on the past 6 months and think about those moments of joy for you.  Big or small, they are there.  And think about them for your organization as well.  Sharing a moment or moments of joy through your appeal will remind donors of the good work of your organization.  And it will hopefully make them smile and inspire them to continue their support for the important work you do.  So go ahead, share the joy.  

by: Susan Matejka, Managing Director, HPS Chicago

Participate in #GivingTuesdayNow!


Participate in #GivingTuesdayNow!

“Safety net” nonprofit organizations – and the people they serve – are undoubtedly suffering tremendously right now. Millions of people have found themselves without employment, and/or without access to food and shelter. And many of the organizations that serve them have been forced to cancel major fundraising events comprising significant portions of their budgets. Or, they’re nervous about asking donors to continue to give during these uncertain times.

We at HPS Chicago encourage our clients to stay connected with their donors during these unprecedented times, and even to continuing with gift solicitations.  We’ve been heartened by the number of people who want to help! On May 5, 2020, we all have an opportunity to come together in emergency response to the need caused by COVID-19: #GivingTuesdayNow.

Giving Tuesday, the groundbreaking global generosity movement founded in 2012 in New York City, is spearheading #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5 as a global day of giving and unity to mobilize human and monetary resources. Businesses, leaders, organizations and individuals from dozens of countries are participating – and your organization can, too. Here are a just a couple of suggested ways you can become involved:

  1. Raise funds for a COVID-19 Relief Fund. Has your organization already established a relief fund to help the people you serve? When we moved to shelter-in-place, my client established a relief fund to meet emergency nourishment needs of the people we serve. Members facing lost or decreased income, or families with kids home from school with no access to reduced-fee or free breakfasts and lunches, for example, can request help purchasing groceries.
  2. Mobilize volunteers to spend the day using skills to help others. Have members who can sew? Ask them to make face masks to donate. Enlist individuals who can safely deliver essential goods (groceries, hand sanitizer, prescription drugs) to people and organizations needing help. Encourage volunteers to write notes of encouragement to others, especially people living alone. Do you have people with other skills to offer, e.g. helping prepare tax returns, helping unemployed build resumes, search for jobs, develop interviewing skills? Connect them with the organizations who can use their help. In Chicagoland, org can help connect you.
  3. Share good news stories. Share stories of the good things happening in your community because of people coming together to help one another. Proudly showcase others’ generous acts on your social media channels and website. Generosity breeds generosity!

Visit GivingTuesdayNow Toolkit to access the many ways your organization can stand in unity with the world on Tuesday, May 5.

Remember, people want to use their individual power of generosity, as donors and as volunteers, to remain connected and help others heal. We’d love to hear your stories – share them in the comments section below!

by: Molly Galo, Senior Consultant HPS Chicago

Ready, Set, Give!


Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday was a designed in response to commercialization in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).  This past year, 98 countries participated and over $177,000,000 was raised.  The number of organizations participating in Giving Tuesday continues to grow – 34,000 and counting.   Due to this growth and increased awareness, I am confident that your Board members, donors and other constituents will want to know how your organization will “get in on the action”.

Now is the time to plan!  The Giving Tuesday website,, offers a wealth of information, including a timeline and toolkits, to help you launch a successful Giving Tuesday campaign.  And, if your organization is located in Illinois, be sure to register and participate in, #ILGive.  #ILGive is an initiative of Forefront (Illinois’ state association of grantmakers, nonprofits, and advisors to the sector), that raises money for Illinois communities, brings in new donors, and increases awareness about local nonprofits while leveraging the national marketing of #GivingTuesday.

Since they have provided the details, I will simply add a few pointers of my own, which come from lessons learned with clients over the past few years.

Be cohesive in your approach

If your organization does a Holiday appeal, be sure that your Giving Tuesday messaging is consistent with your appeal.  For example, if you are sharing a success story about a client in your Holiday appeal, tell a related story in your Giving Tuesday campaign.  I have often found that the “simpler the better”.  Inspire your donors by sharing one cohesive storyline.  And don’t forget to include photos!

Make it personal

Because there is a chance that donors will grow weary of the number of emails, posts and requests they receive in a 24-hour period and may begin ignore requests altogether, try and personalize your emails as much as possible.  Include the recipient’s name in the body of the email and utilize a creative subject line.

Giving Tuesday also provides a great opportunity to enlist your Board members and volunteers.  Ask them to forward the Giving Tuesday email/link to their contacts and include a personal message about why the organization is important to them.  Recipients are more likely to open an email from a friend – and they are more likely to give when there is a personal connection.

Utilize a match

Big or small, the use of a matching gift is inspirational to donors.  If you have a donor who is interested in providing a match or challenge for Giving Tuesday, take advantage!  Donors love it when their gift goes farther.  If you do have a matching or challenge gift, try and keep it as simple as possible.  For example, the Smith Foundation will match every dollar raised up to $2,500.  A challenge is also a good way to inspire new donors; for example, the Smith Foundation will match all new gifts 2:1, so for every dollar a new donor gives, the Smith Foundation will donate $2. 

Watch your timing

While you want to be sure your donors are aware of – and donate on – Giving Tuesday, be strategic.  Consider sending an email the week before to let them know Giving Tuesday is just around the corner.  When the big day arrives, consider sending two (or three, at most) emails to your constituents.  The first could be timed to arrive when people are getting to work or starting their day.  The second could be sent in the evening, when people are arriving home or winding down for the day.   That said, it is important not to inundate your donors; by sending too many emails, they may simply delete them all.

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Giving Tuesday is November 29th

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by: Susan Bottum, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Labor Day is upon us, and with it, we say farewell to the summer.  As fall begins, many nonprofits move into high gear, knowing it is a good time of year to raise funds and cultivate donors.  And, it is the time to start thinking about your holiday appeal and potential Giving Tuesday strategy.

A few weeks before Giving Tuesday last year, I wrote a blog about some last-minute ways in which your organization could participate in the Giving Tuesday flurry.  In this blog, I would like to share with you a few strategies and ways in which you can be strategic about your year-end appeal.  As a reminder, Giving Tuesday is November 29, 2016.

 Develop a comprehensive holiday appeal strategy

  • What overarching message or compelling story do you plan to share?  If possible, utilize a consistent theme in the coming months.
  • Include a sentence or two about Giving Tuesday in your written appeal.
  • Identify a timeline for social media; for example, in the weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday, plan to send a weekly email, which includes a short client success story and photo plus a reminder about Giving Tuesday.  On Giving Tuesday, consider one email blast in the morning and again at the end of the day.  Also be sure to include information about Giving Tuesday on your Facebook page and utilize Twitter as well.
  • If possible, include a challenge grant.  Do you have a donor who may be willing to match donations up to a certain amount?  This is always compelling, especially for first-time donors.

Share your strategy with your Board and leadership

  • This is imperative as a way to get the word out.  Encourage Board and staff members, volunteers and other key stakeholders to spread the word about Giving Tuesday.  Their awareness and assistance can make all the difference.
  • Make sure they like your Facebook page, add the Giving Tuesday information to their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and forward the emails to friends, family and colleagues.

Don’t forget to follow up

  • Be sure to thank all of your donors in a timely manner – and share the results of Giving Tuesday.
  • Remind those who did not participate in Giving Tuesday that there is still time to give.  Their gift is important!
  • Analyze your results and communicate these results to your key stakeholders.
  • Identify a plan for 2017, which may include plans to enhance the process.

As you can see, Giving Tuesday should be one part of your overall strategy for the Annual Fund.  And, with a little planning, it can be impactful and not too overwhelming!


Giving Tuesday, Giving Thanks

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by Susan Bottum, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

It is hard to believe, but the holiday season is near.  Families will gather, give thanks and enjoy a wonderful meal.  Then the frenzy of the shopping season will hit: Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

And then there is Giving Tuesday.

Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday was created as a way to heighten the importance of giving during a season of spending.  Simply said, Giving Tuesday was designed as a 1-day opportunity for people to make charitable contributions.   While the intent is wonderful, it has also caused more than a little worry on the part of many nonprofits.  “Will my organization miss out if we don’t participate?”  “How do I get started?”  “My Board feels we need to promote this opportunity!”  “What is the best way to create a social media platform for this?”  And so on.

My simple advice to those in a state of panic is this: Relax.  If you can find a stress-free way to participate in Giving Tuesday, great.  If not, please do not worry.  In 2014, over 8,000 nonprofits participated, and the amount donated on Giving Tuesday was approximately $45.7M.  That averages out to approximately $5,725 per organization.  And while that is a nice amount, it is important to consider the investment of time and effort on the part of the staff and volunteers to make this a reality.

Giving Tuesday is a wonderful way to thank your donors and remind them about the great work of your organization.  Whether on Giving Tuesday or any other day during this holiday season, share a story or two about how your donors have made a difference this year.  And give thanks.  Now and throughout the year.

Look What Came in the Mail Today!


Over the weekend, I opened my mailbox, and lo and behold…I am already the proud recipient of two year-end appeals from two wonderful local charities.  As a fundraiser, I look forward to this time of year (I know many of you do as well!).  I read these not only because I care about the work these organizations are doing, but, I also want to see what others are doing!  How do they tell their stories?  What intrigued me?  What worked?  What didn’t?

Was it the cool new infographic that one of the charities used…or the beautiful photographs of a children’s organization that drew me in?  There are MANY talented folks out there telling their organization’s stories in very creative ways.

So, the question is…how will you stand out among some of the best?  How will your letter get opened…maybe by a first time donor.  Did you use a special teaser on the outside of your envelope?  Was it a quote, a statistic or maybe a photograph?

Here are a few basic tips that I try to follow when finalizing year-end messages…

  • People are busy.  Don’t get too lengthy with your copy.  One page is enough.
  • Don’t parse out facts and figures about your organization and call it a day.  Share what your donor wants to hear…How am I impacting lives?  How does my gift make a real difference?
  • Share real stories about who your organization touches.  Paint the picture of who benefits from your donor’s support.  Our donors are also investors – show them how their investments have paid off.
  • Make sure you place your call to action early in the letter.
  • Add a powerful, short P.S.

Finally, think beyond the year-end letter.  Send a quick email to those you are mailing to a week before the letter is received and tell your donors that something important is coming in the mail.  At the close of the year, send another email reminder to thank those that have given, but also, allow for an opportunity for donors that haven’t given to make their year-end gift on-line.

As the leaves continue to fall, I look forward to trick or treaters, football, pumpkins, and a good bowl of soup on a crisp fall day.  And…continuing to find more wonderful letters in my mailbox to learn more about the good work of not for profits that make a real difference in our world.

64 days and counting: Giving Tuesday is coming what are you doing to prepare?

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We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

from the website

Giving Tuesday is a day positioned within the December holiday shopping season that takes a timeout from the excessive consumerism of the season and refocuses our lives on helping others.  This day, created by several nonprofits, began a few years ago.  It connects social media networks and nonprofit missions in the hopes of raising awareness and donations for individual causes.  What began as an idea by a few nonprofits in the United States a few years ago has grown into a global phenomenon.  With Giving Tuesday only 64 days away, how will your nonprofit position itself in this new day for philanthropy?  Click here to learn more, see examples and gain tools.