September 25, 2017
 
Point of Entry Raises Awareness of Nonprofits and Giving

By Jay Vogt

Jay Vogt
Many nonprofit leaders feel frustrated, knowing both that their mission is profound, and that people in their community would love it and support it, if they only knew about it.

Nonprofits need methods, just as businesses have sales processes and pipelines, which systematically and compellingly introduce their mission to their communities. Doing so creates broader public awareness, discovers those whose values are naturally aligned with your mission, and creates meaningful connections that lead to giving in all its forms.

The “Point of Entry” event, a key component of the fundraising model developed by Benevon, a fundraising coaching service that works with nonprofits, offers an elegant way to achieve these ends.

A Point of Entry is a sizzling, free, one-hour event that offers a tour of your organization’s mission. Organizations committed to this practice host one or two per month, aiming to attract 10 to 15 participants for each. Personal testimonials and poignant stories, myth-busting facts that help people see the value of your organization in new ways, and eloquent statements of need all combine to touch participants emotionally, and make your organization’s mission come alive.

No one gets asked for money at a Point of Entry event. A coordinator calls each participant afterwards and walks them through five steps:
  1. “Thank you for coming.” (You better mean it)
  2. “What did you think?” (Get them talking)
  3. Be quiet and listen. (For exactly what interested them about your event)
  4. “Is there any way you could see yourself becoming involved with us?”
  5. “Is there anyone else you can think of that we ought to invite to a ____?”
The disciplined nature of this form of cultivation changes community perceptions methodically over time, one person at a time. Curtiss Dill, community relations manager at Mosaic in Grand Island, Nebraska, reports: “The best thing about this work has been our engagement with the community. People know who we are now, and what we do. We are no longer the best-kept secret in town.”

Not every Point of Entry participant falls in love with the mission they hear. The model has clear advice for organizers regarding these individuals: “Bless, and release.” Yet those folks, who opt out, still leave with greater awareness of the organization, and they often recommend—in answer to Question 5—people whom they know who would love the mission.

Although Point of Entry events are primarily designed to attract potential donors to an annual, free, one-hour “Ask Event,” they have a powerful corollary effect. The deep mission focus of the Point of Entry event inspires many people—as they answer Question 4—to volunteer or offer in-kind donations.

Roger Mattson, board chair of The Action Center in Lakewood, Colorado, which offers Point of Entry events, says, “There is a synergy that is happening with us between our fundraising, our volunteer recruitment, and our in-kind donations. A person might not write a check, but they’ll volunteer, or bring some canned goods. Over time, the people who tend to volunteer tend to donate.”

The influx of volunteers from this engagement strategy delights many. Sara Ramirez, vice president of advancement at the Catholic Charities Fort Worth, notes, “Initially, we got so many volunteers that we needed to hire one, two, three, and finally four volunteer coordinators. We had 2,000 volunteers! Now, it’s not about the quantity of volunteers, it’s about the quality. We monitor and reward volunteers who give us fifty hours a year. At $20 per hour, that’s $1,000 per year. Our volunteers are as important and as valued to us as our financial donors.”

Many nonprofit strategic plans include two important goals – raise public awareness of one’s organization and achieve financial sustainability. Most people know intuitively that they are related. Without awareness of your mission, people can’t become motivated to give. Without a system to cultivate loyal donors, public awareness doesn’t translate into cash.

As Rob Goldman, president of the Montgomery Housing Partnership, of Silver Spring, Maryland, puts it, “Is sustainability success due to luck or skill? Yes! The more you do this method, the more luck you create, because somebody you know, knows somebody who knows somebody who wants to know you.”

To learn more about the Point of Entry method, read Terry Axelrod’s book The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right.

Jay W Vogt is president of Peoplesworth and author of Recharge Your Team: The Grounded Visioning Approach by Praeger. Contact him at jay@peoplesworth.com
October 2013

© 2017 www.massnonprofit.org. All rights reserved.
Home  News  Features  Expert Advice  Resources  Jobs  Services Directory  Advertising  About  Privacy Policy  Contact