Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Blog Post By: Ashlee Meier, CFRE

You’ve heard the old adage “you get what you pay for,” but certainly that doesn’t apply to us as nonprofits, right? RIGHT? ….um, right? I know, I know, we’ve all been instilled with the development spidey sense to ask for everything for free. 

  • Water bottles? Get that donated. ✅
  • Event signature cocktail? Beverage partner.
  • Corkage fee? Venue concession. ✅
  • PR & Marketing? In-kind. ✅
  • Silent Auction? 100% donations.

Yes, we want to cut costs. Yes, we want to keep event expenses to the correct margin. No, we don’t have the budget of high-end corporate events. No, we WILL NOT pay $25 per bottle corkage fee!

All of this is great, and really, a necessity to maximize your revenue margin for fundraising events. To negotiate and manage in-kind relationships, venue concessions and donations of products and services often means more fingers in the pot and an additional layer of logistics and communication ON TOP of all the other moving event pieces AND challenging fundraising goals. So indeed, pat yourselves on the back, Development Heroes, because you have refined a truly unique and incredible skill set that means your organization can do more good work!

The reality is, though, that our donors have changed. Event guests have different expectations. Now that we are back in full swing to large scale in person events, there is a new set of rules that must be considered. While I will always be a huge proponent of working to negotiate down as many expense lines as humanly possible, there are two areas that require attention and sometimes, a bit of an investment. 

To bring another old adage into the equation, you have to “put your money where your mouth is.” And, in this case, I do mean that quite literally. 

Event Food:

Hangry (hungry + angry) is REAL. And guests are far less likely to be generous if they are experiencing hanger pains, especially when there is alcohol involved. With many organizations electing to increase ticket prices to cover amped up expenses, guests will be taking a harder look at the (sometimes limited) tangibles included like food and beverage. If you want them to continue to show up AND contribute, we have to strike a delicate balance between cutting costs and cutting carbs. You don’t have to serve surf and turf, but it does need to be appropriate for the timing and length of the event. If your event is scheduled over a typical meal time, enough food should be offered (whether it’s a plated meal or heavy nibbles) to compensate. If booze is available, consider options that help soak that up and ensure guests are enjoying the event but staying safe while doing it. 

Providing the right amount of hearty food can sometimes mean a bit of an investment with culinary partners, catering or your venue. While there is usually still margin for negotiation on pricing, food is an area you don’t want to skimp on too much. Full, happy guests bid and give far more than hangry ones! 

Audio Visual:

Whatever your event goals might be, one thing is for sure: you have a captive audience and it is the ideal time to tell the story of your mission and work. If you splurge in one area for event day, let this be it! AV is often an afterthought and it 100% shouldn’t be. You can put tons of effort into soliciting amazing live auction items, nailing down the perfect emcee, crafting a just right run of show, and creating a tearjerker mission moment…. but, if ALL the guests can’t see and hear clearly, it could be for nothing. When the back or sides of the room do not have focused speakers and screens that invite them to be a part of the onstage or focused action, they won’t. This usually leads to chatting, phone scrolling, or walking out, all of which can be distracting for other guests, even those who can see and hear, and can ultimately have a negative impact on revenue numbers. 

The good news – this is an easy fix! Commit to working with an experienced AV team who can offer enough of the right equipment for your event and space, and who employs pros to help run event day lights and sounds. This will create afor a more polished program, take something off your shoulders, and set you up for success with revenue goals. Everyone should leave feeling good about the fabulous cause they just supported, so ensure that whoever’s lips are to a microphone telling that story can be clearly heard from all corners of the room.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, the meaning behind “put your money where your mouth is” can be defined as, “to show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something.” In earnest, that is exactly what we are asking our guests, sponsors and supporters to do. Like the social media posts, yes! Share the mission moment video, absolutely! But also, TAKE ACTION to support our work we know you believe in. Buy the ticket. Invite friends to attend. Bid on that auction item. Raise the card to fund-the-need. Give your time, talents, and treasures. 

If we’re asking them to put their money where their mouth is and to create the ideal attendee experience and maximize revenue, we should do the same. Now, who’s hungry? 

Feeling Bullied by Time

Blog post by: Jennifer Downes

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” — William Penn, Fruits of Solitude

Time is such a funny thing. When you’re a child, you can’t wait to be older to do all the ‘adult’ things that seem so unique and fun. Yet, when you become an adult, time moves faster than you can keep up with, to the point I feel bullied by it sometimes. 

I used to constantly look at the clock throughout the day and feel the weight of my task list bullying me into feeling that I’m not fast enough, productive enough, responding quickly enough, and so on. So much so, it ultimately made me feel like I’m not enough as an employee, a mother, and a wife. Until one day, I decided to change my mindset and remind myself that I AM ENOUGH! I know my work ethic is strong, and so is my love of being a mom and wife, so I took a stand and put a stop to allowing time and my mind to control me throughout my day. 

In order to take back control, I had to analyze everything I was balancing and determine which are my “glass balls” versus my “plastic balls.” Glass balls are my immediate needs that have to be accomplished today. Whether it’s speaking with a donor, writing an appeal letter, and/or completing a project I have on my list of immediate priorities. Sprinkled throughout my glass balls are the plastic ones. The plastic balls are ones that if I have to drop, it’s ok, because it won’t shatter into a million pieces. The lower priority plastic balls will bounce back up and I’ll pick it up at a later time. Even though it might feel like it at times, not everything is glass. Even when you are being pulled in a billion different directions, there are things that CAN wait. 

Fundraising isn’t for the faint of heart, as it requires consistent follow up, engagement, organization, leadership, and communication. Don’t let your task list overwhelm you anymore. Determine what are your glass balls vs your plastic balls to help organize your day/week/month. Is there truly a perfect solution? No. But hopefully this perspective will allow you to reset your mindset and priorities. 

“The easiest way to increase happiness is to control your use of time.” – Daniel Kahneman

It’s All About Timing

In the world of nonprofits, there are seasons of heavier fundraising. As a company of nonprofit fundraising consultants, graphic designers, and sales professionals, we work with nonprofits all over North America to support their annual fundraising efforts, specifically in special events. With our two event brands, Wine Women & Shoes and Farm to Table(aux), we are able to create unique experiences that entice the senses and provide an opportunity for nonprofits to showcase their missions. These fundraising events typically fall between February-May and September-November, the spring and fall seasons of success. 

There’s a reason for the seasons. It’s all about timing. In the winter months, there are major holidays, parties, school breaks, and year-end fundraising campaigns that are prioritized. In the summer months, vacations and school breaks monopolize calendars. So, while spring and fall may be filled with nonprofit events in each community, this timing is strategic and wise. There is more predictability in schedules during these periods, as school is still in session, holidays are less frequent, and vacations are not as likely. Major holidays to avoid when scheduling an event  include Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving, amongst the spring and fall. So, while there may be a weekend here or there to avoid, the calendar is otherwise relatively more open to accommodate a well attended fundraising event.

Events that fall outside of these regular fundraising seasons typically have lower attendance rates, lower revenue, and lower community investment overall. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, but overall, our recommendations to our nonprofit partners encourage each of them to consider the spring or fall season as the time they will most likely succeed in reaching their fundraising goals.

If you want to dive even deeper into fundraising event timing, you’ll also want to consider what day of the week works best. Most fundraising events fall between Thursday-Sunday. Actually, more and more often, we are seeing the highest attendee numbers and individual spending per guest on Thursday nights. Events from 6-10pm on a Thursday evening, for example, are often outperforming events on Friday or Saturday nights. Weekend evenings are jam-packed with concerts, sporting events, and family parties. A Thursday night is typically less busy, is easier for many households to find childcare, which allows adults to attend your fundraiser, and is often more cost-effective in facility rentals and catering. In this example, I’m referring more to an adults-only fundraiser, like a gala or alcohol-featured event. Always consider your audience to help determine the time of day and day of the week. Obviously, a family fun fair type of event would be better during the day on the weekend, rather than a late night soiree. 

As you consider your event timing, be sure to pick a season that makes sense in your community and in your fiscal calendar. Other potential challenges to consider include typical weather patterns, community travel patterns (do you have “snowbirds” traveling to or from your area annually?), school calendars, local traditions (does your community have a snow week or annual festivals that shut down the town?), and your nonprofit’s other events. Be gracious with your timing when considering other events in your own organization’s calendar. Scheduling events too closely together can impact your request for donations, sponsorships, and attendees, as well as overwhelm your development team. 

As one of our STUDIO 4Forty clients, we are happy to advise and discuss the timing of your fundraising event. If you are not a current client of ours, but would like to discuss fundraising strategies and timing, we’re happy to set up a call. You can outreach directly to our Director of Business Development to schedule a (well timed) time.

Happy fundraising!

Quality Over Quantity

Blog Post by: Kim Perry

It seems like everything’s getting higher these days: gas prices, weather temperatures, Kardashian wedding bills. 

But you know what’s also on the rise that has us crying tears of joy? 

Individual donor giving. In a BIG way.  

Last month, our STUDIO 4Forty nonprofit teams hosted seven of our signature events across three days that raised an astounding $1.7 million (net). What is particularly noteworthy about that sum is the fact that many of those events had reduced attendance, but as we witnessed through incredible event day giving, this clearly is the year of quality over quantity when it comes to donors. Less has proved to be so much more at smaller events with the right people in the room. Even with smaller crowds, we’ve seen revenues increase over prior years, and in some cases, we’ve seen major increases. 

From various raffles selling out, to the live auctions and paddle raises absolutely crushing previous years’ totals, these smaller crowds are mightier than ever with an eagerness to give. 

What may be perceived as a ticket revenue loss ultimately proves to be a meaningful gain when donors spend more on event day than in years past. 

So how do you get the “right” people in the room? Based on the trend of our spring events, we can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to comb through your donor base and analyze your data. Who were your big event-day donors and bidders who attended pre-COVID events? Have any of those donors returned to your events last fall and this spring? If not, why? Has your development team done personal outreach to past and present top donors inviting them to upcoming events? Spending time to make a personal phone call or sending a text to those you have a close relationship with feels more inviting than just receiving an invite. A personal handwritten note or email paired with the invitation conveying something appreciative like, “we are so grateful for your support at our past events and hope to see you at our upcoming fundraiser – your presence is truly a gift!” A gesture that simple moves the needle emotionally when donors have as many choices as they do with in-person events back in full swing in their communities. 

Something else to keep in mind with regards to attracting the “right” guests is how many new people may have moved into your community over the past year and making a marketing and PR effort to get your event on their radars. With so many people moving state to state and suddenly finding themselves transplanted in a new community, we want to encourage you to do something creative to make your event seem compelling. A cute mailer that says “Are you new to our AMAZING city?! We can’t wait to welcome you at our party of the year! Make new friends and learn how our organization is making a BIG difference in your new backyard.” 

We can’t stress enough the importance of putting in the time to do this research, legwork, and outreach to get the right people in the room for your event. 

It’s so easy to get distracted by the event itself and become overwhelmed by production to pull it all off. So, take the time to pause and put a plan in place for the people you want to see who can truly make a financial difference for your organization. 

After all, what good is a fundraiser without the funds?  

Pantone Color of 2022

Blog Post by: Allie Duggan

New year, new color! It’s that time again and Pantone has spoken. Typically Pantone will choose a color from their existing library, it’s extensive so it gives them a lot to choose from, but they did things a little different this year. For 2022 they have invented PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri. As the name implies, it is a shade of periwinkle. This bold choice to create a whole new color is indicative of all things new that are emerging this year in all aspects of life, technology and trends. Veri Peri has big things in store. This shade represents inventiveness and creativity and it can be very powerful when it comes time to set intentions through the rest of this year.

If we look back at 2021’s Pantone colors of the year, they were Ultimate Gray 17-5104 and Illuminating 13-0647. These colors were a symbol of strength and hopefulness, which was fitting coming after the struggle of 2020. Some may say that 2021 gave us two colors, rather than one because we just needed a little extra after the heavy year of 2020. Veri Peri stands alone with a strong mixture of blue and red. The loyalty and reliability of blue combined with the vitality and spirit of red give birth to a color that evokes comfort and vigor all in one.

We are now a few months into 2022 it is fitting that Very Peri is a symbol of inventiveness and creativity. I don’t think anybody is a stranger to becoming inventive in doing things differently and coming up with creative ways of living a “normal” life through a pandemic and that is here to stay.  “As we emerge from an intense period of isolation, our notions and standards are changing, and our physical and digital lives have merged in new ways. Digital design helps us to stretch the limits of reality, opening the door to a dynamic virtual world where we can explore and create new color possibilities. With trends in gaming, the expanding popularity of the metaverse, and the rising artistic community in the digital space PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri illustrates the fusion of modern life and how color trends in the digital world are being manifested in the physical world and vice versa.” Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of The Pantone Color Institute

The creation of a new color for 2022, versus choosing an existing color, reflects the expansive possibilities ahead of us. It wipes the slate clean and makes way for a fresh start, exactly what is needed right now. Periwinkle, and its properties as blue and violet mixed together, opens up a world guided by our intuitions instead of doing things the same old way they have always been done. It inspires you to look deep and align your goals with your emotions. Doing this acts as a catalyst to bring your dreams to life this year!

What is the Purpose of a Fundraising Event?

two women in dresses on a stage, speaking in a microphone before a crowd

Blog Post by: Krista Elmore, MBA, CFRE

According to Kindful, the nonprofit glossary website, “a fundraising event is an event designed to raise awareness and support for an organization’s mission.” It is the belief of STUDIO 4Forty that nonprofit fundraising events are crucial to the success and lifeline of an organization. Fundraising events not only provide a means to revenue, they are also an opportunity to expand the nonprofit’s notoriety in the community they serve and beyond.

Nonprofit fundraising events are not only fund-raisers, they are also friend-raisers and fun-raisers. Events make a lasting impression not only on the attendees, but also on the volunteers, sponsors, and donors. It is the single best way to tap into the nonprofit’s thread of networks and raise awareness for the services and mission of the organization through pre-event solicitations and marketing, event day activations and communications, and post-event thank you notes and reporting.

At an event, a donor has the ability to actively engage with the charity. Volunteers have an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the organization’s mission and services, which often leads them to become the charity’s longest, and most dedicated, donors. With an opportunity to serve and engage, donors and volunteers are more likely to stay connected to the charity for years to come. This one-on-one interaction is critical in establishing loyalty.

If you, as an organization or board member, are worried about the impact an event can have on your staff, their capacity, or the reputation it might create for your organization, I want to encourage you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Events are an opportunity. They provide a platform for brand recognition, mission awareness, and an influx of new supporters and donors. As an example, our first year Wine Women & Shoes partner in Bakersfield, CA in 2021 saw over 50% of their attendees as new donors and sponsors. What an incredible return! Yes, events take a substantial amount of work, but the reward outweighs the burden. If you still aren’t convinced, we’d be happy to set up a time to chat about events and how they will fundamentally improve your organization while staying true to the unique mission and branding of your nonprofit.

Now is the time to re-engage your community with a fundraising event. We have seen tremendous returns for nonprofits that have stepped back into the in-person event arena. Supporters are enthusiastically ready to attend in-person events with their friends and fellow community members to make memories and, more importantly, a positive impact on worthy causes. Creating an exciting atmosphere that resonates will reap endless rewards.

Renew & Refresh

Blog Post by: Jennifer Downes, CFRE

The beginning of a new year is always refreshing as it allows the opportunity to reflect on your organization. The programs you run, event(s), and overall communication with your donors plays a significant role in your fundraising efforts. With in-person events back in full force, this is a great opportunity for you to reflect and refresh your events, specifically with your sponsors.

Sponsors are the foundation of all events. I want to encourage you to think of new, creative, and unique ways to renew and refresh your deck and how you approach them this year. Below are a few tips and tricks to consider:

  • Refresh your sponsorship deck with fabulous new graphics!
    • Switching up colors and textures to catch the eye of your donor is key and helps you stand out from the crowd!
  • Rework the layout of your content.
    • Mixing up the layout of your deck and how you deliver your message will provide your donor with a brand new look and feel.
  • Refresh the sponsorship opportunities that are in your deck.
    • Add new branded opportunities and additional levels (even if you simply rename a few). It will give your deck a new “feel” and allow your donor (new and returning) to be WOWed by all the unique opportunities you’re presenting them with.
    • Think about all the different elements that are within your event. Determine what can be sponsored. Even unique items such as a branded glass, the entertainment for the evening, or a coat check can be a sponsorship opportunity.
  • Ensure you have strong mission communication towards the beginning of your sponsorship presentation.
    • Really determine what message you are trying to send.
    • We need to show your returning and potential new donors WHY we are asking for these dollars and HOW it will help service your community.
  • Refresh your marketing strategy. Dive into the marketing benefits you are providing them now and think through new outlets you can add.
    • Social media really allows you multiple options with minimal to no cost. Think about adding a FB live and/or 60 second video from the donor’s business and post it to your social media pages.
  • Refresh your sponsorship approach. Meeting in person or picking up the phone is always beneficial, but consider creating a specific sponsor-targeted video that you can send with the packet highlighting the event theme, elements, and showcasing your mission.

Now is the time to make sure your event and organization stands out from the crowd! Invest the time now to renew and refresh your sponsorship deck. It’ll be worth it!

(Cover image is of the 2022 Wine Women & Shoes San Francisco sponsorship deck created by our own Creative Director, Sarah Obialero)

A Time to Dance 

Blog Post by: Kim Perry

The other night I watched the movie “Footloose” – not the terrible remake, but the iconic ‘80s original. In the poignant scene where the pastor announces he’s reversing his decision on the town dancing ban, I started crying as the stunned students realize their senior prom wish has been granted. That pivotal moment as they rejoice felt like a metaphor for recent times and struck me with profound emotional empathy. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt like one of those students when our nonprofit partners were finally permitted to host in-person celebrations last year, after what felt like an eternity.

And in similar fashion to the senior dance, once donors could gather and celebrate their beloved causes at our signature events, they didn’t hold back. Not only did we witness an energy in the room unlike ever before, but  giving was also unrivaled. After being on lockdown and consequently denied the ability to connect with others, everyone was ready to have some serious fun while supporting invaluable missions across the country.

It’s not that in past years our events weren’t a TON of fun. It’s just different now, in the most magical way. So much so that following two of our Fall in person activations, I awoke to emails from attendees praising our signature events as the BEST they had ever attended and asking how they can partner with STUDIO 4Forty….and quickly, please. In my own “Footloose” moment, I not only felt an indescribable happiness for my team and company but also for all our partners returning to in-person events this year. Like a teenager no longer grounded, that freedom has compelled our partners to deliver unprecedented and truly unforgettable events in their communities. It has also compelled donors to give in record numbers because they are ecstatic to be back in the room, together, begin part of something bigger than themselves.

From drum beats and majorettes to drag queens and aerialists, the entertainment at our events has been nothing short of magnificent, and the guests are here for it – relishing every second and raising their paddles higher than ever.

But there’s always one distinguishing factor of a transcendental event and its uplifting effect as evidenced by our post-lockdown fundraisers: the room ignites, the guests jump off their chairs and…you guessed it… start dancing!

An Atmosphere of Giving

Blog Post by: Ashlee Meier

As I’m sure you well know, there is no magic wand when it comes to fundraising. It’s called development for a reason. Development within fundraising is the process of creating and enhancing relationships with (potential) donors to ensure current and future funding. It is a commitment, an investment and, when done well, can prove an incredibly fruitful return.

BUT, what about when we only have their attention for a few short hours at an event?!?AGHHHHH! Woah woah, calm down! While there is no magic wand, after spending a decade between organizing fundraising events as a Director of Development and coaching teams across the country on bringing their events to life, I have found there is one distinct difference between the so-so galas and the unforgettable evenings.

Spoiler alert: It isn’t the decor!

You know the room. You’ve stood in it…or peeked in from a window…or perhaps you’ve been the creator behind it. The room that feels magical. The room that has a tangible electricity running through it. The room that swells with emotion, followed by a wave of generosity sweeping through it in a way that leaves everyone who experiences it excited and fulfilled.

This is the event that blows by its revenue goals. This is the event that gets grassroots social buzz because people just HAVE to share about it. This is the event where guests spend or give more than they anticipated, but rather than regretting it the next day, they already can’t wait to purchase their tickets and do it again next year. It’s a wonderful room to be in…but how do you make it happen? How do you create this atmosphere of giving?

Look at the whole puzzle.
There are a LOT of moving parts to most events and they all require time, energy, and effort to be successful. Trust me, I know how easy it is to get lost in the weeds, carefully considering each detail of every element. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to do that, but you can’t do JUST that!

To create the optimal atmosphere of giving, you have to step back and look at how all those elements fit together and think strategically about how to use the individual components to build energy and focus momentum as a whole. A few things to spend time on: layout and room flow (especially the position of revenue activations), event timing, and the run of show order.

Encourage energy. 
Three words: Music, fun, focus. You might say, well duh, but when you are up to your eyeballs in event details, it’s easy to overlook some common sense pieces.

Music: Being prepared to play the right music at the right time during your event is critical. It helps set the tone for the emotional roller coaster you ideally want to take your guests on, fills any potentially awkward gaps, and adds to the fun. Instead of just throwing on elevator music, consider your song selections carefully both during mingling time and in the run of show. Note: you’ll need to work with your AV team to ensure speakers are in place so guests can hear your music selections in every portion of the event.

Fun: The work you do is serious, no doubt, and perhaps your event is, too, but even the most uplifting, powerful and inspirational agendas need a little fun in the mix to encourage energy! Think about ways to sprinkle in fun that is authentic to your organization and mission.

Focus: You have the power to focus your guests using the big picture pieces mentioned above (layout, timing, run of show), so do it! Decide what your priorities are and use volunteers, music, lighting, height – whatever it takes to draw your guests’ attention to where YOU want it at the time you want it there.

Capitalize on momentum. 
You’ve nailed down a masterpiece layout, the music is just right, your guests are having fun, are focused on the good work you do and positive energy is coursing through the room….now what? ATTACK! Just kidding….but really, NOW is the time to make your ask! Whether that’s through a live auction, fund-a-need, or a simple conversation, you have set the stage, and now it’s time to invite your guests to REALLY be a part of the core goal of the day. When you’ve invested in creating an atmosphere of giving, this moment becomes special, memorable, exciting, and difficult to say no to.

Creating an atmosphere of giving is one of the (many) areas we love to work on with our STUDIO 4Forty partner teams and seeing their results is oh so fulfilling. Recently, a first year team who had to postpone their inaugural event due to Covid, finally got to see their hard work come to fruition. They committed to listening and following our STUDIO 4Forty best practices while incorporating their incredible depth of supporter knowledge and event experience. The result was a truly magical event in year one that created fabulous momentum for their mission and brought in 183% of their net budget goal. Yes, you are seeing that correctly…83% more than they had hoped for.

Yes, it’s another thing to think about, but I promise you – it’s worth it! And if you don’t know where to start, we’d love to help.

Letter from the President, 2022

Blog Post by: Heather Frank

Over the years, I’ve chosen a word to set the tone and expectation for the year ahead. In 2021, I chose the word resilience. 

If I’m being honest, the last two years have really tested me, both professionally and personally, as I constantly strive to really be all things for all people. In the reality of this time, I’ve learned that all people don’t need all things, but DO need great friendship, partnership, and mentorship. 2021 started off full of hope, and ultimately proved to us just how much hope inspires and is realized through hard work. So as we look back and reflect, I do it through a lens of celebration, collaboration, communication, success, failure, and adaptation.

Let’s talk about success, because our story here at STUDIO 4Forty (thankfully) just keeps getting better. A company started in 2008 with an idea from founder Elaine Honig, an event to benefit nonprofits with a focus on women, now boasts three event brands, offers digital courses, and champions an incredible staff of strong, smart, sophisticated women… not to mention, partners with nonprofits doing incredibly good work all over the country (and Canada)!

How have we grown? In 2021, we reached $100 million net raised from 553 events…and we’re just getting started. This success wouldn’t be possible without the amazing support of our charity partners and their dedicated commitment to their missions and local communities, nationally and internationally.

We celebrated a year of milestones for our staff, too. Our four project managers, including myself, Ashlee Meier, Krista Elmore, and Jennifer Downes, all took and passed the Certified Fund Raising Executive exam this year to earn that distinguished designation. This continued commitment to expand our knowledge of ethical and uplifting fundraising for our expanded philanthropy community was accomplished with you at heart. And since we have passed, we’ve inspired several of our fellow fundraisers to apply and take the exam themselves. We’re thrilled to see our community rise up and take on the challenges of these past years with so much hope and resilience of their own.

The successes of 2021 extended to our nonprofit partners, too, in big ways. After a year and a half of so much uncertainty, we were able to return to in-person events for many of our teams and feel the energy and excitement of giving in those event spaces! We saw some of the most successful in-person events in the history of our company, raising more net revenue for incredibly deserving nonprofits than ever before. We felt a renewed sense of hope, empowerment, and community that we soaked up and celebrated with each of our partners. Being back on the road to support each of you has renewed our souls more than you will ever know. We genuinely LOVE being by your side on this fundraising journey.

We gratefully brought new friends and partners into the STUDIO 4Forty family this year. We have seen and felt the excitement of a return to events and we can’t wait to see what 2022 holds.

So, in the end, we’re doing it. We’re growing. We’re challenging ourselves. We’re making moves within our communities. And we’re not taking no for an answer. We have been resilient, and now we look to 2022 with a new word: courageous. I challenge you to have the courage to be adventurous and to create change. If I see you on the road, hug me, because I’m a hugger. If I see you in a digital course, send me a message, because I want to hear from you. And if I don’t see you, give me a call! I mean it when I say I’m here for you.

Cheers to you, dear friends! May your families be blessed in all the things that are to come,

Heather Frank,

President, STUDIO 4Forty

TikTok

Blog Post by: Allie Duggan

Back in April I wrote a blog post about the power of social media, but I want to dive a little deeper in my upcoming posts and focus in on how to maintain (or grow) your presence on a regular basis through the different platforms available. With TikTok as a top contender in the social media market these days, I’m going to begin with that platform and take a closer look at how these short videos can make a huge impact for your organization. TikTok has become a game changer in how to get the word out about the work non-profits do, and made it possible (even easy) to go viral and reach people you might never have before.

TikTok gained huge popularity when the world was shut down due to COVID-19 last year and since then it has continued to grow as a leader in the way people share and receive information. The concept was originally short videos of 15 or 60 seconds, but has recently expanded to allow 3 minute videos. The longer videos are great for certain applications, but for the most part I would stick to the shorter ones. The reason for this is humans, especially in this day and age, have a very short attention span. Most people will not sit captive for 3 minutes, unless they have already invested in a previous clip that they were waiting to get more information on.

The scope of content on TikTok is so vast, there is truly something for everyone. The most popular and original creators started with a lot of different dances, and it kept much of the population entertained during lockdown, doing their own renditions, but it has grown so much since then. There is Foodie Tok, Disney Tok, Mom Tok, Nostalgia Tok, Craft Tok. The list goes on and on, it’s insane the amount of niche corners TikTok has established. On top of all of these fun and silly “Toks” there are impactful videos as well, making a huge difference.

The short videos are a great opportunity to make an impactful, short mission video to introduce your organization, giving them an inside look into how you serve the community. This resonates in a much different way than posting a photo on Instagram or Facebook. One page I happened to come across and ended up following recently is called Colby’s Crew Rescue. They rescue horses from auction who would have otherwise ended up being sold and killed. The transformations of these horses that they show are incredible and inspiring. I am an animal lover, but I have never really connected with horses as I am deathly allergic to them, but through TikTok that mission reached me. I absolutely love seeing what they are doing to help and every once in a while contribute to their cause – simply because of their TikTok videos!

Another way to reach an audience is through music on the app. Different songs are naturally associated with different emotions, and using one of those in the video can extend your reach to people far beyond your area. The Oregon Zoo was able to reach 4.7 million views on an Earth Day video just from picking the right song that tugged at the viewers heartstrings (in this case, Surender by Natalie Taylor). After you have been scrolling through videos for a while you will get a sense for what songs are trending and you can use this to your advantage to extend your reach.

And, you don’t have to go in the direction of an emotional mission moment, you can choose to do a challenge instead. The American Heart Association introduced the “Keep the Beat Challenge” which tied into their organization in a fun and creative way. This not only introduced an audience to the organization, but it asked them to participate and help spread the word about the work of the American Heart Association. Getting influencers involved in something like this creates a huge wave to recruit an endless number of others to join in and post too.

Get creative and take some notes on trends that are happening on the app and you’ve got the perfect tools to go viral and reach an audience you maybe never would have before!

The Power of Kindness

Blog Post by: Jennifer Downes, CFRE

Every morning as I walk my six and eight year old to the entrance of their school, we greet every single person that we pass with a, “Good Morning.” Simple, right? But you would be surprised with the expressions we receive from this act of kindness. The majority of the time we get a delighted, “Good Morning” response and you can tell that our words made that individual (adult or child) smile, even if it’s just for a few seconds of their day. Sometimes people look at us like we’re crazy and don’t respond at all. That’s ok, as we keep moving forward and, more importantly, keep being kind. 

Why is kindness so powerful? According to mentalhealth.org, “When we practice kindness either to other people or towards ourselves we can experience positive mental and physical changes through lowering stress levels and increasing the body’s production of feel-good hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.” Wow, being kind literally changes your mental and physical being. Talk about a powerful tool that everyone needs to start using more often! 

Are you having trouble with staff fatigue or overall morale at your workplace? How about with your donors? Are they feeling your stress? Let’s face it, 2020 and 2021 have carried just a little bit of stress! In a world that has so much happening, it seems that those around us have forgotten what the power of kindness truly holds! Simple acts of kindness can help boost feelings of confidence and happiness which will contribute to an overall positive workplace and happy donors! 

A few examples of this would be to give random compliments to your staff. Send them a note acknowledging an accomplishment they’ve made or just an encouraging message. Even better, bring in a sweet treat for the whole office to enjoy! With your donors, sending them a handwritten note (especially on their birthday) or picking up the phone to just check in and see how they’re doing really goes a long way. 

There are so many simple things that can show someone that being a human truly means being kind to one another. Let’s use acts of kindness to re-energize your staff, build stronger relationships with your donors, and truly help make the world a better place. 

*Image Credit: BeverlySpeaks.com