Peeling the Onion

Katrina VanHuss has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Otis joined in the fun in 2013 as Turnkey’s resident human behavior expert. One thing led to another, and now as a married couple, they almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism and human decision-making, much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.

Through their work at Turnkey, the pair works with the likes of the American Lung Association, Best Buddies, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, using human behavioral tendencies and recognition to create attachment and high fundraising in volunteers.

Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P and Peer to Peer Forum, and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, Dollar Dash. They live in Richmond, Va.

Recently we collaborated with one of Turnkey’s clients on the strategy to launch a crowdfunding campaign to run concurrently with its peer-to-peer events. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer are different animals. The former is a direct-response outreach; the appeal is made directly by the nonprofit to potential donors...

In previous blogs, we have been critical of the way in which nonprofits are often evaluated—their so-called “overhead ratios.” An overhead ratio compares the operating costs of the nonprofit with its income. A low-overhead ratio implies that the organization is minimizing its expenses (e.g. salaries, office rent) and, therefore, has more resources available to dedicate to its mission...

One of the great pleasures in working with nonprofits is getting up every day and knowing that you are helping them do good on behalf of their constituencies. There are nonprofits out there that advocate on behalf of people living with autism, cancer, ALS and cystic fibrosis...

Benchmarking, while less expensive to produce, simply does not answer our questions sufficiently. Peer-to-peer fundraising must begin using predictive analytics to plan, design and change. If not, we’ll be moving a lot of couches...

What if, instead of asking your peer-to-peer fundraisers to set a revenue goal, you asked them to set a goal around the number of donations they gathered? Instead of asking, for example, “Would you raise $250 to fight childhood cancer?” you asked, “Would you recruit 10 friends to make a donation to fight childhood cancer?”...

The most productive peer-to-peer fundraising events do not spend big money on events. Spending big money on events is actually counterproductive, because this conveys the message that the organization is in a transactional relationship with its volunteer fundraisers...

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