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

Volunteer “Kickoff Party”


Volunteer “Kickoff Party”

We tried something new this month at a client of mine. I want to share it with you because it got rave reviews from our volunteers and supporters, and it just might be something that will also help your efforts.

The concept was simple.  We held a “volunteer kickoff party” with the goal of adding 30% new members to our Resource Development Committee (RDC), and to fully staff other volunteer needs for the first part of the fiscal year, which started in July.

If your volunteers are like ours, many are probably willing to donate money as well as time to your mission. So this event served the dual purpose of a donor cultivation event.

We held it at the home of a well loved volunteer who used to serve on our board.  Many of us chipped in and made hors d’oeuvres. It had a casual, warm, social feel, which contributed to its success.

We welcomed guests for the first fifteen minutes and mingled. Guests included existing donors, and volunteers, as well as people who had never been involved and just wanted to learn more about the mission.  Families whose children have benefited from our program also came. It was a cross section of people who help this nonprofit thrive in our community.

After the introductory social time, everyone was seated and covered business for the next 45 minutes. It included brief introductions from everyone in the room. Each person shared just a few words about what brought them to the meeting. Then our Board Chair presented information about our programs and services and described how donations fund financial gaps in services.

The families in the room were quick to chime in about the profound difference in their lives that this nonprofit made. These comments helped lend credibility to the overall effort.

Then, we  provided a list of volunteer needs, including committee roles, and other opportunities that spanned the next six months. We sent around a sign-up sheet and as it turned out, 100% of meeting attendees committed to devoting their time OR pledging financial support. Both of which, as you know, are so very important!  And yes — we met the goal of adding 30% more members to the Resource Development Committee.

This was an energizing experience for everyone involved–including our staff who attended.  It was a cost-effective and intimate way to bring people a bit closer into our mission. If you are looking to get more volunteer involvement this year, give this idea a try.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

First Impressions


First Impressions

Over the past few weeks, several of my client conversations have focused on the on-boarding process.  Whether on-boarding a new employee, a summer intern or even a volunteer, first impressions matter.  Often times, organizations spend lots of time and energy on the recruiting process (which is vital), and once the person is hired, they are relieved and return to business as usual.  It is important to remember that the hiring process is just beginning!  What you do next may make all the difference.

The candidate said yes…now what?

Once you have identified the ideal person for your open position/internship/volunteer role, take a few minutes to send that person a note or email.  Tell the person how excited you are that they will be joining your team and what it was about that person that stood out to you in the selection process.  Perhaps they shared a funny story, have a unique skillset or attended your alma mater.  Let that person know you were listening and you are looking forward to working with them in this role.  This may also be an opportunity to identify a few upcoming milestones; for example, tell the person may get an email from the benefits team about benefits eligibility and enrollment.  Sending this type of message positively reinforces the person’s decision to join your organization.

Details, details

There is an old saying, “The devil is in the details.”  Before the new person begins, consider all of their needs:  Where will they sit?  Does the person need a laptop?  Will they have access to a printer?  Do they need a landline?  Mailbox?  What will they need to bring with them on their first day?  License/ID? Bank account information for direct deposit?  Will you be communicating this information or will Human Resources?  Be sure you have all of these details arranged prior to the person’s first day.  You may want to consider sending one additional communication the day before, indicating what time they should arrive, providing details about transportation/parking, dress code, what to bring, etc.  You may also include a high-level itinerary for the first day (see below) so they know what to expect.


The new person’s first day is just around the corner!  Put together a brief itinerary for the day.  Consider assigning a “buddy” for the new person – someone they can ask anything (What is the bathroom code again?  How do I use the copier?).  Also, don’t be afraid to build in some “down time”, as you don’t want the new person to feel overwhelmed.  Here is a sample itinerary:

9:00 – Welcome and breakfast in the conference room (informal gathering for team)

10:00 – 1:1 Meeting with supervisor (review job responsibilities, provide reading materials, discuss assignments)

10:30 – 12:00 – Individual meetings with each team member

12:00 – Team lunch

1:00 – Meeting with HR

1:30 – Solo time

3:00 – Meeting with buddy

3:30 – Check-in with supervisor (discuss schedule for rest of week)

4:00 – Departure

If you have hired more than one person (for example, you have a group of interns), you may want to modify the schedule to ensure the group has time to get to know one another, etc.  Be sure you have the rest of the week planned out as well, which includes providing the person with meaningful assignments as soon as possible.


Towards the end of the first week, schedule a meeting with the new person to answer questions and establish some short and longer-term goals.  This will help ensure that responsibilities are clear and expectations are established.  Over the course of the first few months, make sure you have regular meetings/touch points with the new person, which will help keep things on track and provide an opportunity to course-correct if needed.

Bringing a new person into your organization requires thought, planning and extra time.  Show the person they are important by being enthusiastic, thoughtful and prepared.  If you make the effort to invest in this person, the investment will pay dividends in the long run.

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

The Professional Volunteer, an Oxymoron?


The Professional Volunteer, an Oxymoron?

We are finally seeing the sun and hearing the birds in Chicago. Thank goodness. It must mean that spring gala season is right around the corner.

Years ago, I worked with a young woman who considered herself a “professional volunteer.” The irony in this title amused me and I’ve never forgotten her. She was a smart cookie with a love for our mission and was able to stay at home due to her husband’s job. She thoroughly enjoyed working alongside our staff at my nonprofit.

Unfortunately the days of working with a “professional volunteer” are becoming few and far between. I may have more luck sighting a unicorn or finding a 4-leaf clover in my yard. So I’m offering up a few tips to make the most out of today’s volunteers.

Most volunteers are full time working adults like us, with multiple demands on their time. Their hearts are in the right place, and they appreciate solid structure and expectations to make the most of their time.

With gala season right around the corner, here’s what I’ve found to make the most of volunteers’ time which in turn helps me make the most of mine:

Create Job Descriptions – A one page overview of their roles and expectations goes a long way to keeping them engaged and on the right path. I provide this to all new volunteers and meet with them one-on-one before they begin to ensure they have a good understanding of their role. Annually as a committee, we review the job description too.

Ask Their Opinions –  It is that said that people support what they help to create. So we hold brain storming sessions about all the elements that go into creating a successful event including name, logo, and prospective sponsors, emcees, and auction donors. Volunteers appreciate having a say in how the event will come together and they offer great ideas. This year they helped recreate the name and logo for an event I’m responsible for and also secured an emcee.

Finite Expectations – I asked the committee this year to each make 10 follow up calls to help secure auction items. I provided them with a sample scrip and materials they can mail or email to prospective donors to follow up if needed. Once I assigned the calls, I asked that they each hit “reply” to my email so I was sure they got the information. I called those I didn’t hear back from right away to be sure I could count on their support. This type of accountability ensures that they understand their importance to our team.

At the Event – I have the emcee introduce the committee, along with our Board and other dignitaries. I also share photos of the committee members working behind the scenes in the evening’s power point. This pays them homage for their work and also has inspired event attendees to join the committee.

Self-Evaluations– At the end of the event, we have a modest celebratory meeting with snacks and wine. We review photos of the event and revenue numbers. We also complete a one page self-evaluation form which reiterates the expectations from their job descriptions. For instance,

  • I made follow up calls to procure items for the auction / sponsorship / or attendance. yes/no
  • I purchased a ticket and attended the event  yes/no.
  • I attended most meetings and contributed ideas yes/no
  • I assisted with either event set up, tear down, registration or raffle yes / no

A strong nonprofit cultivates strong volunteer support. So I hope these ideas will help make the most of your volunteer efforts this year!

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

We’re in a Campaign…Help! What’s my Elevator Pitch?


We’re in a Campaign…Help! What’s my Elevator Pitch?

I have been working with a not for profit organization that is about to launch its first capital campaign. It’s been a very exciting and busy time for the leaders of this organization as preparation for the campaign has been full steam ahead! In just a short few months, interviews and vision sessions have been held to gain buy-in and advice from supporters, staff and other key friends of the organization. A fundraising goal has been carefully determined. The campaign has been named. Leadership has been recruited to be the “eyes and ears” of the effort. Plans for an inaugural event to announce the campaign and engaging support from top donors is in the works. A campaign logo has been designed and campaign materials are being prepared. And…the list continues.

As you know, a campaign has a lot of moving parts and takes the time and energy of many of the staff and volunteer leaders such as the board and members of a steering committee. In particular, the leaders of an organization must add campaign work to their already full schedules. The bottom line is…it takes a lot of extra time, work and effort to successfully launch and fund a campaign.

Beyond the gifts that will be celebrated as they are secured for this effort, a particularly poignant statement was made by a client that shared why this campaign is so important. Simply put, she said…”This organization saved my life.” As we get so caught up in the details…and we must…so that the effort is a success, we must remember why we work to move the needle forward with a campaign.

Quite often, we hear from board members and volunteer leaders of a campaign from many organization that they get “stuck” on how to talk about the important work of the agency. They feel that they need to have all the stats and facts to “sell” a potential donor on a project. And, the stats and facts are important…but often can be shared by a staff leader and not necessarily the board member. This client reminded me of just that…sometimes a simple message from someone directly impacted by the agency is the best way to convey the important work of the not for profit. It’s the story we can share of this client and thousands of others who, without the care and safety net of this agency, would not be able to live their best lives. So, my message today is simple to volunteer leaders…go for a simple elevator pitch…one that you are comfortable with and that is easy to share. Tag team with your staff leaders so that they can share the nitty gritty details. And, when the work gets cumbersome and intense during a campaign, remember who will benefit from all the hard work and how it will help impact or sometimes even save a life.

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Partnership Boards: Effective Vehicles for Advancing Your Mission


I’ve recently been helping a non-profit organization that wisely decided to form regional partnership boards to strengthen awareness and support for their mission.  It has given me ample opportunity to reflect on the characteristics of effective partnership boards and when they make the most sense for an organization to consider implementing such a strategy.

A partnership board is a group of organizational supporters from a region where your organization is active.  The primary purposes of such a board are to enhance awareness of your work in the region and to strengthen your capacity for fundraising in the community.  It is not a governing board, and it does not take the place of a board of directors or trustees.

Partnership Boards may be right for your organization if you are trying to build support in different regions of the country or different communities in an urban area.  Think of them as similar to the regional alumni organizations that are hosted by national universities.  At first the gatherings can be primarily social occasions, designed to bring people together to hear from organizational leaders about new developments in the region, and to learn of the impact you have or hope to have on people who live there.  Every such occasion should include a menu of “asks:”  to donate, to become more involved, to identify others who should be included in future events.

When recruiting for such a board, you will want to identify key individuals who are leaders in the community, who have a passion for your mission, and who are willing to commit to helping you strengthen your efforts in the region.  You will want some philanthropists on the board, but more importantly, you’ll need to identify those who want to see your organization have a greater impact in the local community.  Ask yourself the question:  who are the people who can help us get the job done in this community?  These are the people you will want to invite to serve on your partnership board!

A partnership board can provide valuable advice and counsel to your organization without demanding a lot of time from its members.  Since you may have several such boards in different regions, you’ll want to plan for them to meet just twice a year.  Between meetings, you can keep members informed of the assistance you need in a given region, but you can also hold up examples of effective support in each region that will inspire other regions to do the same.

Partnership boards can be excellent proving grounds for building your board of trustees.  Those who excel at advancing your mission at the regional level can be asked to make the greater commitment to joining your board.

Fundraising is seldom about radically new ideas; it’s always about the old idea that your mission needs support!  Partnership Boards may help you achieve that support at the local level.

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

A Message of Thanks!


As we near the close of the fiscal year, we development folks are often busy wrapping up loose ends, finalizing budgets for the new fiscal year as well as sending out just one more appeal or special mailing or e-blast to donors and friends.  While all of this is important and keeps us busy and on our toes, I’d like to propose adding just one more thing to your early summer to-do list…and that is, send a note of thanks to each board member and other special volunteers.

For many, summer tends to be a little slower paced, with folks taking time for a vacation or a weekend getaway…or maybe even a day off for a ball game, a concert or a day at the beach.  Wouldn’t it be nice for your board members and volunteers – key investors and leaders of your organizations – to come home to find not another to-do, or something they need to respond to or a request for help in their mailbox…but a simple note of gratitude waiting for them?

I was recently at a meeting and someone remarked on how nice it was to receive a handwritten note.  I heard the person say…”it felt so genuine…it wasn’t an email!…it made me feel great that they took the time to write to me!”

I promise you…it’s simple, this doesn’t take a huge amount of time, and your effort will not go unnoticed.

Some ideas…

  • Handwrite the note…keep it short and sweet…just tell them how much you appreciate their time work and energy to help your organization fulfill its mission.
  • Send a photo of a grateful client with a simple message…we appreciate you…you helped make this happen.
  • Share a win…a grant proposal awarded, a record number of clients served…whatever it may be. Tell your board member or volunteer that this would not be possible without their leadership and support.

The idea is simple…the message is simple.  But, this effort can go along way with our volunteer leaders.  It tells them that you are appreciative of their work…that you noticed…that you care.  So, pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade, turn on some tunes and start writing your notes!    Have a wonderful summer!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Seasoned and Green


Is your current Board comprised of established members – constituents who have been a part of your organization for a decade or longer?  Over the past few weeks, I have found myself in conversation with several non-profit leaders where this topic has been raised.  The consistent concerns are twofold:

  1. How do we continue to engage this important (and aging) group; and
  2. How do we attract and engage the “next generation” of leaders?

Let’s take the first group first.  Obviously, it is important to continue to recognize and thank your faithful leaders.  But it is also important to read their cues.  In other words, do you have a Board member who is getting tired?  Is he/she hinting that it may be time to take a less active role with the organization?  The best approach is simply to have a conversation with this person.  Invite him/her for coffee or lunch and listen.  Ask open-ended questions.  Find out how they would like to stay engaged and informed.

If your organization does not have one, perhaps you should consider creating an Advisory Council or a President’s Council.  Designed to meet the needs of your organization and a select group of constituents, this type of “board” typically meets only once a year for lunch and a “state of the organization”-type presentation.  In addition, the members of this Council may be consulted occasionally for advice or assistance.  This arrangement is typically a “win-win” for members and the organization alike.

It is equally important to “listen” to the senior Board members who want to continue to be active and engaged.  Unfortunately, I have seen active Board members forced to “resign” to a role as a Life Trustee – or something less meaningful – as a way to open a Board spot for someone else.  This can be a big mistake, as some may take offense and become less engaged, both with their time and their resources.

In terms of attracting the “next generation” – it is also important to listen and understand what type of volunteer work they are interested in and what role they may want to play with the organization.  It’s typically a good idea to find more entry level roles for younger constituents – perhaps they can help with a benefit or serve on a Junior Board.  This helps both the volunteer and the organization get acquainted before making a potentially bigger commitment, such as a Board role.  It is also fun to identify and cultivate family members – children or other relatives of Board members or volunteers –  as they typically have a good understanding of the mission and may be interested in developing a relationship with the organization as well.

In any of these scenarios, it is often just a matter of observing, asking good questions – and truly listening to the needs and interests of your constituents.  Which simply translates into good development.

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

The Value of Volunteers



By George Rattin, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

The Independent Sector recently announced on their website that the 2015 value of volunteer time increased 49 cents over the value of a volunteer hour in the year prior.  The study shows that the 2015 national value of a volunteer hour is $23.56  (Illinois avg. = $25.34 a 2.4% increase over 2014) the survey shows a steady growth in the value of a volunteer hour since 2001.  More than anything, I believe this study shows that volunteers do indeed bring real, measureable value to an organization.  Over my career, I have come to know organizations that use volunteers in different way.  Many treat volunteers as a “necessary evil” instead of a strategic resource.  The strategic organizations acknowledge that volunteers are a valuable resource and plan accordingly.  Here are three things your organization should do  to effectively use volunteers:

  1. Budget a staff member’s time to coordinate the work of volunteers.  Boards, Committees and Councils are comprised of volunteers.  The best of these groups actively work to advance the organization, but also have need for information, support, etc.  Make sure that someone has designated time in his or her work schedule to provide the support necessary.
  2. Create projects with anticipated needs and clear objectives defined for volunteers.  How will you use volunteers?  This is a critical and strategic decision.  Effective organizations make plans with clear objectives to utilize volunteers and anticipate their needs.  Is the plan for a committee to identify, five new Board member prospects in the next 90 days?  What are the interim steps?  What materials will Board members need?
  3. Take the time to celebrate victories – Remember, volunteers are not staff.  Take the time to celebrate the “wins” that volunteers allow your organization to experience.  This will reinforce with the volunteers how impactful their time is to your organization and will show your appreciation for their generous gifts of time and talent.

As the Independent Sector points out, volunteer time is a precious commodity that comes with a real and tangible value to your organization.  Be strategic when thinking about how your organization will  plan clearly, budget for the support necessary for their success  and make the time to calibrate the impact they have on advancing your organization.

How to Maximize your ROI with a Party in a Box

party in a box

by Molly Galo, Senior Consultant, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

As professional fundraisers, we know it makes most sense to spend most of our time building an individual giving program.  We know the importance of building relationships over time with individual donors that result in major gifts.  After all, more than 70 percent of all charitable contributions come from individuals.  Those gifts have the greatest impact on our programs…and in business terms offer us the greatest return on our investment of our time and other precious resources.

But we also know that our board members and volunteers don’t always see it that way.

How many times have you heard an enthusiastic, well-meaning board member—or even your entire development committee—say, “we just need to have more events”?  Or, “we need to raise money, let’s throw a party?”

Events are important, to be sure.  They do bring in funds, new friends, and exposure for your organization.  But, they can take a disproportionate amount of staff time and agency resources.

I’d like to offer a strategy for harnessing your board members’ enthusiasm, while helping you maximize the ROI of your staff’s time, and your organization’s monetary resources:  the Party in a Box.  Simply put, the Party in a Box is a package you can hand to any third party – board member, volunteer, local business –that wants to host an event to benefit your organization.   The package defines the types of events that make sense for you, offers clear guidelines regarding host and staff responsibilities, and offers strategies for thanking participants.  As you think through what makes sense for your organization, consider the following:

Third-party Fundraisers come in many forms.  These types of events can be as simple as a dine-out night at a local restaurant, from which your organization receives a percentage of the proceeds.  Or, they might take the form of a private party thrown by a board member during which guests are asked to make contributions to your organization. Or, a host committee might throw a large, public event to which attendees by tickets.

Ideally, the host will handle most, if not all, of the planning and execution.  Since the goal is to minimize the burden on staff, it is best to spell out expectations regarding all responsibilities in the package you give to your hosts: who is handling the guest list, invitations, RSVPs?  If you’re selling tickets, how will sales be handled?  Will a staff member speak about your mission at the event? How and by whom will the event be publicized?  Will your organization incur any expenses?

Thank your hosts and attendees.  Be sure you’ve got your event follow-up plan in place.  Your hosts are wonderful partners, be sure they understand how much you appreciate them!  And your attendees are donors, too.  You never know, some of them may become major donors.

The Party in a Box strategy is a win for everyone – your board members and volunteers who want to help, your staff who have myriad competing priorities, and, most importantly, the beneficiaries of your organization’s mission.