You’ve heard of the largest online newspaper in the world right? The Huffington Post on Friday featured me in an article in the small business section. Need I say that I spent a good part of my weekend and all day today responding to the crazy activity that the good PR created for my business. Weather you are a business or a NonProfit PR is something we all want and need. So how do you get it is the question and the answer is real simple. Tell your compelling story. Every person, business, and nonprofit has one but many people don’t know how to tell a story well enough to get the attention they deserve. Check mine out. Let me know how I did telling the story. In an upcoming post I will share some tips on how to tell a captivating story. Maybe it will help you to get the Huffington in your back pocket!
The Fundraising Factory
Today, I want to share with you a couple of patterns and pins I created this week. These whimsies come partly from childhood experiences and memories to create new and never seen before patterns and colors that mimic the beauty of nature for my fundraising Butterfly Pin designs.
Here’s a peek at little Lucinda.
Running and chasing until breathless in hopes that a butterfly’s flight would come to rest; usually on a flower or goldenrod weed is how I spent many summer days growing up in Maine.
Only as quiet as the grass under my feet would allow, my tiptoe approach to the butterfly would start. With as much patience as a 9 yr old girl can summon, a staring waiting would begin. The anticipation welled up inside of me, a hope that I would get a glimpse of the open and closed fanning wings bearing their perfect symmetrical patterns. Watching without blinking, even holding my breath not to disturb them, my fingers would cross and I would silently pray that before they took flight again a color not found in my Crayola box would be revealed. I memorized every detail as best I could during the length of our time together.
Dashing home and eagerly searching through my butterfly book to confirm I had just seen something I had never seen before and proudly announcing its name made me an adventurer, an explorer conquering my own backyard!
The Play it Forward Lulu cube has been launched! It happened in the small town of Peoria, Illinois on April 17th. That’s the day that the YWCA’s Leaders Luncheon was held. The YWCA is the largest provider of homeless services in the community. The average age of a homeless person in Peoria is 10 years old; a hard truth to accept.
It was my privilege to be the keynote speaker.
Not only was I excited about being able to share my personal story of homelessness but I was also able to revisit how Designs by Lucinda was born in 1989 as the creator of pins with purpose that helped the homeless. The YWCA had 3 wishes. More volunteers, more people talking about their cause and more donations.
As the keynote unfolded it became clear that the audience held the hope for changing the lives of the homeless in Peoria. They learned that they are part of the solution. As the speaker, I wanted to give them MORE than something to think about as a take away. I needed to give them some thing to do, a simple and easy call to action. An action step that would satisfy the 3 wishes of the YWCA. Ah! I knew just what to do. I would give them a physical take away, something they could actually hold in their hands. My newest fundraising idea, LULU Cubes would be perfect!
The Play It Forward LULU Cube is designed as a fundraising donation bank to be passed along from one person to another until the bank is filled with coins or bills. As the cube is passed along the organization also gains exposure and visibility. The donors become engaged with the organization. YWCA, all 3 wishes are your command! As the final note to my keynote the LULU Cube was launched right then and there!
The audience left with LULU Cubes in hand and I wondered how many other hands they will reach, how many new people will learn that the new homeless, 10 yr olds and about the services the YWCA is providing to those children and their families. I said a silent little prayer “let the LULU Cubes be filled”. As I watched my ever so attentive audience depart one by one toting their LULU Cube, I smiled as I realized that was my applause!
You can see what happens and follow the LULU Cubes in Peoria on this Facebook Page.
An annual major fundraising event can be a time when a non profit has a chance to turn attendees into donors and ambassadors for their organization. I went to two of them last week. Here’s what happened at one.
The first was a $150 a plate fundraising dinner. Looking forward all week long to a great evening and a good meal I went shopping for a new dress.
Here’s the shakedown. The evening started with a cocktail hour and then a sit down meal. I chose vegetarian. It was average at best. The keynote speaker presented during the meal. Since I am a speaker at events like this I watched closely and in my book this is a BIG no no. This causes people in the audience who are trying to eat to have to turn around in their chairs to see the speaker. It’s uncomfortable for the guests AND it’s rude to the speaker to be honest. Then, sadly the executive director missed the opportunity to speak passionately and with authenticity about the non profit. Instead she told us she had adjusted well in her new position as it was her first full year on the job. Ho hum
The icing on the cake?… and no pun intended here but get this…finally the tiny cupcake wrapped in cellophane that had been sitting on the table in front of me all evening to my astonishment was dessert! It was donated by a discount wholesale food club and the E.D. thought it worthy enough to be mentioned aloud! Good Lord who knows how long that thing had been sitting in a warehouse somewhere!
I can live with an average meal, however I would have liked to have been able to respectfully give my full attention to the speaker. Most importantly, I wished the ED inspired me to make an effort to become a serious donor. Come on it was a fundraiser! Lastly, and I am no snob but seriously for 150 bucks I expect more than a twinkie.
You can dress me up AND you can take me out but unfortunately next year when this event comes around I’ll enjoy the best part; shopping for the new dress and just skip the rest.
It’s always a challenge to come up with a new and unique fundraiser. Looking at trends can inspire creative thinking and get you jump started.
Have you noticed that Cupcakes are the hottest new sweet sin? So popular that TV shows are being created around the Cake. Now who knows why some things that have been around forever become the latest kick but why not jump on the Cupcake bandwagon and make a sweet fundraiser out of a new fascination, the Cupcake. Let’s call it a contemporary version of the good old bake sale.
Here’s the recipe:
Declare a Cupcake Day
Make it a family event
Pastry Makers present Cupcakes
Have Cupcake Contests
Have a Cupcake Decorating Station for kids
Create a marketplace and sell cupcake related items
Charge at the door or by the cake or by the activity
I am sure you can come up with some great ideas around this. Myself and other readers would love to hear your ideas so please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks and let them eat Cupcakes!
So why not take an elegant pastime, the Tea Party and make it a contemporary fundraiser? It sets the perfect stage as a get to know you event and it’s simple and easy to do.
Never in a million years did I think I would be blogging about a recipe but occasionally I break out the pots and pans here at DBL and whip something up for everyone. Today’s dish is really a bowl. It’s called Katmandu Stew and it is out of this world yummy, very healthy and vegan to boot! I just love it and there are usually leftovers. When I make this at home the eastern seasonings linger in the house for a couple of days. I did forget it’s Friday and we are open to the public from noon til 5. Already a few people have stopped in and asked what’s cooking, it smells so good in here? hmmm….Is there a restaurant in DBL’s future? That would make me the Chief, Cook and do I really have to do the dishes too? Give it a try and let me know what you think.
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 pinch of cinnamon
2 cups organic red lentils, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup of chopped Kale
1 medium red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups water
Salt from any Sea
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Toast the cumin seeds and powder, fennel seeds, curry powder, coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon in a cast iron frying pan on high heat until the cumin seeds start to pop.
2. Add the red lentils and stir until the spices are mixed in. Add a splash of water and continue cooking and stirring. Add the sweet potato, carrots, kale, onion, garlic, chili paste, and 4 cups water.
3. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil, then stir again, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes and lentils are cooked. Add salt to taste, and serve garnished with plenty of fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
Did you know that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Designs by Lucinda is honoring that month in several ways. First, you’ll notice that this blog is posted in purple, the symbolic color for domestic violence. Also, we are highlighting a great nonprofit that has been a long-time customer and powerful advocate against domestic violence–Turning Point of Lehigh Valley.
Turning Point is a place where victims of abuse and their children can find emergency shelter and support services. Annually, the agency assists over 5,000 victims of domestic violence. In addition to providing support to domestic violence victims, Turning Point’s mission includes working toward ending domestic violence through education and increasing community awareness.
Designs By Lucinda is proud to say that we have been able to work with this great agency since 1992 to help reach these goals. All of Turning Point’s services are free, so in order to provide shelter and related services, the agency relies heavily on fundraising. Designs By Lucinda pins and earrings have been a staple in these fundraising efforts. In the last 19 years, Turning Point has utilized these custom pieces of art to raise over $100,000. Quite a chunk of change for a product that sells for around $16 per item!
But just as important is the continued conversations and awareness that the pins spread. In fact, when we asked Anne Mayer, our contact at Turning Point, how the pins have helped her organization, she was quick to acknowledge that the uniqueness of the pins creates intrigue and conversations. It’s the perfect opening to share the mission of Turning Point. Anne also noted that fundraising with the pins is easy because volunteers often handle the pin sales either through their workplaces, at various other venues, or as walking advertisements when wearing the pins. It is a hassle-free way to spread the word about domestic violence while generating revenue to provide needed services.
As with so many nonprofits, Turning Point experiences ups and downs in donations and fundraising revenue. We asked about the challenges that they experience, and Anne mentioned that sometimes turnover at the volunteer level or within the various businesses where they are sold, can effect pin sales. This shows the importance of keeping in touch with the offices and salons to make sure someone is dedicated to promoting the pins and ensuring that a variety of pins are on display.
We wanted to know what has made the pins a success for Turning Point for over 19 years. Anne’s insight was to have a good selection of pins. Whether you are a domestic violence organization or a housing organization, you should offer a variety of pins to your customers. The traditional pins are important to have on hand, but seasonal pins are also beneficial and increase fundraising revenue. She also follows many of our mottos that have proven to be successful: Wear One and Carry 10 in Your Purse! Point out the fact that each pin is unique. People love things that are original. Lastly, look for easy venues such as doctors’ offices and hair salons because so many women visit these places regularly. These simple techniques have worked for Turning Point since 1992. Designs By Lucinda looks forward to working with Turning Point for many more years.