My problem with awareness campaigns

my-problem-with-awareness-campaigns

When I worked at the Canadian Cancer Society as a corporate fundraiser, I had a sign on my desk that read:

“You are here to:

(1) End cancer

or

(2) Raise money so we can end cancer”

It guided everything I did.

Could I work with a corporate partner who wanted help changing their workplace to a healthy one? Even if it didn’t raise money, it met the criteria for #1 so I’d happily pass them along to our cancer prevention team.

Could I help write a letter to go to all employees asking them to give during the staff campaign? It accomplished #2 so you bet!

But it also helped when a board member would suggest something like this: “Let’s get all the taxi companies in the city to put our logo on the side of their cabs” (real suggestion).

I’d run it through my test: does it accomplish #1? Nope. Does it accomplish #2? No. So it’s not worth my time. Because ultimately those “awareness” campaign ideas often came from someone’s ego, not an honest desire to give generous donors the opportunity to help people with cancer.

Because at the end of the day, the family who can’t pay their rent because mom had to quit her job to drive her daughter to chemotherapy… There’s not much she can do with “awareness”.

highres

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Written by Rory Green

roryRory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Connect with Rory via:
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How to use tiny asks to retain donors

How to use tiny asks to retain donors

Fundraising involves a lot of asks.

But not every ask needs to be a big one. The reality is, timed and designed right, tiny asks can reap big rewards for your development efforts. In fact, I think they’re actually one of the best kept secrets of successful donor retention.

There are, essentially, two types of fundraising tiny asks.

The first one is to ask why somebody did something. You can time this for when a person signs up for your newsletter, volunteers, or donates.

These tiny asks are incredibly powerful because they allow you to:

  1. Gain the insights you need to do better
  2. Create a positive association between you and the individual

A simple ask of why addresses both of these two critical components of donor retention.

Your donors will tell you about themselves, why they connect with your mission, what they want out of their relationship with you, and how they hope to help. And you can use these insights to build longer lasting relationships with donors, as well as to refine your fundraising program overall.

The second type of tiny ask is one where you ask someone to do something for you.

This goes a bit against the prevailing thinking in fundraising that says you should build a relationship before asking a person to do something for you. Done right though, it builds deeper donor relationships and attracts more supporters to your work.

Let me show you what I mean.

First off, the relationship building rule is in place for a very good reason. We all know people who ask us to do things too soon or too often, and it certainly doesn’t endear them to us, right?

But great fundraisers know there are ways to use tiny asks as a means of building a relationship, even early in the donor experience. So what kind of an ask is appropriate and how should we make it?

Well, my favorite kind of tiny ask is to encourage a new supporter to refer another person to the organization. This has three key benefits:

  1. Donors strengthen their relationship to your organization by doing something for you (ie. referral)
  2. Donors strengthen their relationship to your organization by having close peers who also support your work
  3. You rapidly expand your supporter base by leveraging your donor network

Of course, it’s a bold move to ask a donor to do something for you early in their experience, so you want to be cognizant of the balance in the exchange.

Whether you’re asking donors why they chose to support you or to bring in their friends, always remember that your real goal is to use the tiny ask as a means to create a relationship between you and your donors that successfully retains them from year to year.

You’ll be amazed by the big rewards you can reap from a couple tiny asks.

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Written by Kyle Crawford

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Kyle Crawford is the Founder of Fundraising Genius, an innovative fundraising course for universities, nonprofits, and foundations. 

Connect with Kyle via:
Email

Are you killing your team’s creativity?

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So, things aren’t going so well. You’ve recognised that there’s potentially something that could be refined – the excuse of “but we’ve always done it that way” has grown tired and you want to take action.

You feel it’s time to get the team together and pull some ideas into the melting pot. Your team buzzes with excitement; you all sit down in a room with some cookies and have an amazing day of productivity and unhindered creativity.

You’ve taken your findings away and your team patiently waits for the higher powers that be to give them instruction on which avenue will be taken. Then what happens next
completely devastates them;

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing happens. A day goes by, a week – one even comes up to you and enquires if a decision is made and the reply was something along the lines of “We had our creative time last week, today I just need you to focus on your task”. Your team then go back to doing the inefficient task without ever knowing if their opinion was even worth voicing.

Fundraising takes creativity. It takes people with passion, with ability to think out of the box and look at things from different or conflicting points of view to succeed. These are things that should be nourished with a company culture that helps brings those ideas forward. If your team feels like nothing will come of their ideas, then they’ll stop producing them, and maybe even leave the organisation.

However, don’t panic – there are a few things you can do to stop this from happening.

  • Positivity. This is an important time for your organisation. What is said in that room could be the pivotal moment where things change for the better. Some of the ideas shared may not be the best or what you were hoping – but it’s better to inspire and encourage than stop the ideas flowing.
  • Communication. Make sure your team feels they are in the loop. There have been plenty of studies that suggest the more a worker feels in control of what they do the more productive they are. Keeping them regularly updated with how their ideas are developing, whether they are developing or not, will give them the confidence that their ideas are valued. It’s also important to communicate with clarity – no point updating your team if you’re going to use terminology they might not work with usually.
  • Leadership. One of the most pillars of being a good manager is having the confidence of your team and they need to know you’ve got their back. Don’t isolate your work from them, if they know what you’re doing each day, they’ll be more understanding if you have to put their ideas on a back burner. When things go right, celebrate the successes as a team and make sure credit is given where it is due.

As someone who line manages a team it’s important to remember the difference between a boss and a leader. A boss will dictate, think of themselves as above them and ultimately push away their team. A leader gets stuck in, will be a no-ego doer that helps the team improve and accomplish things together – ultimately promoting happiness, productivity and a culture of self-improvement.

Be a leader not a boss. Inspire.

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Written by Alexander Morgan

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Alexander is the CEO of  and is passionate about Donor Engagement.

Connect with Alexander via:
Twitter

3 things I learned at The #DonorLove Rendezvous

3 things I learned at The #DonorLove Rendezvous

Leaving The #DonorLove Rendezvous I had a huge smile. It was a smile that only comes from being around people who inspire me, people who have hope, people who are GENERALLY AWESOME!  

For those of you who were there, WOOT! and MISS YA’!  Let’s catch up. And for those that weren’t, hopefully I am spreading the love…

#1 — #DonorLove can be practiced everywhere!

The obvious is for all of the attendees to go back to our place of work and apply the lessons learned. There are the obvious fabulous examples shared by #donorlove experts. Fundraisers working in organizations big and small. The easy things like thank you cards or a quick phone call, a cool engagement opportunity. Or the slightly harder donor-centred communications like telling the story of your organization with your donors as the HERO.

But….here is the extra info, from ME… That is too narrow a definition of DONOR.

#DonorLove can be practiced with all the people who “give” to you in your life.

And even to those who “give” in the world who you don’t know… YET! Reach out, say thanks!

#DonorLove can be used with your volunteer gig with your son’s baseball team sponsors.  (That’s a reminder for me! GO WOLVES!).  

Define donor as widely as you can and go with it! See if you can apply the #donorlove philosophy to all of your actions and connections. You might find yourself smiling a lot more often!

#2 — #DonorLove is easy, especially if you plan for it!

I have seen so many lists of ways to show #donorlove, and guess what! They are all great!

Why?

Because by thinking about it, and taking action, you are WAY ahead of anyone who doesn’t think about it and doesn’t take action.

So, the message that came through at the Rendezvous in every decision, balloon, sign and smile was… think about #donorlove – ALL THE TIME! Buy extra thank you cards when you are in the store already and buy a few gift cards when you have the time, listen to the story of the next donor you meet and BE READY! There will be a person, donor, maybe even a new connection, that does something awesome, that shares something inspirational and when they do, be ready, and take action. That’s it! It’s that easy!

Having said that, if you need help, check out this blog which gives you the #DonorLove 101 rundown by the Agents of Good, John Lepp & Jen Love, themselves:

The 7 Principles of #DonorLove

#3 — #DonorLove with corporate partners

So, for those of you who know me, even a little, you know that most of the time I work on corporate fundraising. More often than that I work with companies who I very carefully do not call donors because they are actually corporate partners, sponsors, marketing partners, or companies I am planning a one-time campaign with.

Guess what? The principle of #donorlove – modified – is at the core of what I do, too! 

WHAT?!?!?

Yep, I think of my key contact at an organization as the primary donor, the person I want to build a strong relationship with, and I put a bunch of #donorlove principles in place with them (see above for principles!).

And then, I also think about the company itself, and how I can show it the love so the employees know what awesome stuff they are doing through my organization.

I’d be giving all my secrets away on our “first date” if I give you all the tips here, so follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter for more.

In the meantime, if you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, follow #donorlove on Twitter and you’ll be reminded.

You’ve got this!

Heather

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Written by Heather Nelson

heatherstripesHeather is an experienced and passionate fundraising professional specializing in non-profit and corporate partnerships.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn

 

If I won the lottery…

That’s dumb. I’d give to some of the 85,000 registered charities in Canada alone. They’re doing good work. I’d help them do what they’re good at. Just because I’m a new multimillionaire doesn’t mean I’m suddenly an expert in things.What I would do though? Create a fundraiser watchdog organization. Recent conversations at AFP Congress, The #Donorlove Rendezvous and Fundraising Day have reminded me that the charitable sector employs thousands of loving, generous and empathetic people. We are people who care and want to give back and help things get better for everyone.But that has a dark side. It means that we sacrifice our work-life balance to achieve goals. It means we don’t push for fair working hours or fair salaries or more support staff because “that’ll affect the cost per dollar raised”. Because there’s always MORE to do! To raise! To help! We think in the short-term. We don’t invest in our people. We burn people out at an alarming rate.

We are vulnerable employees because we are often contract, non-union, and full of HEART.

Which is unfortunate. First, because most charitable sector employees chose to work here because they wanted to do good. And we harm them? Second, because fundraising is built on relationships. And this sector is built on fundraising dollars! Churning through staff every two years is not reassuring to a donor with whom we’re trying to build long-term, loving relationships, nor is it the way to build fundraising programs with long-term strategies and goals. 

So.

A watchdog organization. Here are some components that would be important:

  1. Educational sessions for employees and employers on the Employment Standards Act (ESA) or whichever employment act is applicable where you live. We often don’t have Human Resource departments. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to follow proper Human Resources Policy. I’m not an expert, but from poking around in the ESA, I’ve learned that in Ontario, employers need written permission to make you work over 44 hours a week, and that salaried, non-managerial employees are entitled to time and a half for every hour over 44 hours worked a week, or 1.5 hours of lieu time. I had no idea.
  2. An anonymous forum to air grievances and warnings: Other groups, like journalists, have done this. Fundraising in particular is a small, close-knit community. But there are some terrible bosses, some terrible work places and there should be a space for discussion. Ken Wyman, Fundraising Education Godfather, has spoken many times about this – what do we do to warn others? Nothing right now, just word of mouth.
  3. Legal Aid: Because I’ll have won $50 million from the lottery I never play, I would employ employment lawyers to support charitable employees in making their employers comply with the law.
  4. Board member education sessions: Hey dummies! If you don’t pay your staff enough to do the MASSIVE AMOUNT of innovative work you want them to do, they’ll leave! Pay them what they’re worth. You invest in your employees at your companies. Why don’t you think charities should do the same?
  5. A certification program that verifies workplaces as being ESA (or local employment act) compliant.

But unfortunately, I’m not a newly-minted lottery winner. I don’t even buy tickets.

So what can I do? I’m 30, I’m 8 years into my fundraising career, and I’m now a strategist at an agency. I’m not a CEO. I’m not a VP. I’m not even a manager. I’m not in charge. I’m just someone who gets sad and frustrated when I hear the same stories about charities over and over.

I never want to hear a CEO say “Oh we don’t do lieu time here, because we all work overtime.”

Nope.

I never want to have a colleague respond to my rants about too many weekends with “well, I mean, I don’t care because I want to further my career and being agreeable and doing the work will help me. Why rock the boat?”

Nope.

I never want to spend months with a sore heart, full of worry about a wonderful co-worker who has gone on sick leave because of stress and anxiety and depression and exhaustion, all stemming from terrible leadership.

Nope.

I never want to be held to the same commitment standards as a director who makes 10 times my salary and gets double my vacation time. You can hire a cleaning service, afford a car, and get away from it all at your cottage. I can’t.

Nope.

I never want to leave a job at an organization I love because I am totally and completely burnt out. Spent. Done.

Nope.

I would describe myself as a fundraiser to the core. I am not interested in being in charge. I feel lucky that I’ve found a role that suits my skills and a team that embraces my quirks, and I hope I can support the sector! I work with fundraisers everyday in my new role as a strategist and while none of them are dealing with major dysfunction like in some charities, I can still see that these amazing, dedicated fundraisers still have their own struggles.

Why are they so prevalent? And what are you doing to change the culture at your organization?

I wish I was ending this post with a bright and happy solution. An easy takeaway for you to take back to your charity to implement and make things better. I can’t. I can support my peers. I can be kind and loving and giving to my coworkers. I can be firm in setting my own work-life balance. I can mentor.

But, I’m not in charge.

Maybe you are.

Maybe you can start changing things from the top.

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Written by Stephanie Highfield

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 6.12.02 AMStephanie is a fundraiser, a thinker, and a maker. Currently a Fundraising Strategist at Blakely, she’s spent the last 8 years working for a variety of charities across Toronto, raising funds for and telling stories about everything from fully digital hospitals to children’s choirs to family-centred addiction treatment. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.

Connect with Stephanie via:
Twitter | LinkedIn

Guest Post: 4 Ways to Acquire and Retain Millennial Donors

 

4 ways to acquire & retain millennial donors

As many of you know, millennials are quickly becoming one of the most coveted groups in the fundraising community!

But why is this demographic so important to fundraising?

According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, a whopping 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014. There is immense value in acquiring donors early (at the millennial age) and building a relationship in order to create lasting value for your organization.

While capturing millennial donors will surely help your nonprofit organization, many NPOs and fundraisers struggle to acquire and retain these donors.

That’s where I can help!

My background? I am a millennial with strong ties to the Boston fundraising community. Most recently, I have spent the past two years organizing a fundraiser geared completely to millennial donors. In our first year, we attracted 850 guests and raised over $65,000 for the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

In our second year, we raised $108,000 from over 1,000 Boston-area millennials and young professionals.

Learning from this experience, I’ve put together a list of my four best tips for acquiring and retaining millennial donors. Enjoy!

#1 — Get Personal

Our first tip is to get personal with your potential donors – tell the story of your cause and how it personally relates to your experience.

While inclined to donate, millennials are seeking stories they can identify with. Affinity in values and social responsibility are extremely important for this group,whether it’s the restaurants where they eat, the stores where they shop or even the organizations they support.  

Conveying your story in a meaningful way will get you in the door with millennials, and the rest will be history!

#2 — Utilize Technology

One thing that we can all agree on is that millennials are very connected.

Whether we are checking our iPhones every 30 seconds, or sneaking a look at our Facebook news feed during a conference call, we millennials have the means to find and share any information instantly.

And fundraisers / nonprofits should be using this to their advantage!

In today’s world, millennials are willing to donate to charitable causes, but want to do so on their terms, which means embracing easy-to-use and accessible donation tools.

These can be anything from donation pages to mobile silent auctions and raffles and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.

Regardless of the tools you decide to help you move forward, embracing technology will allow you to offer millennials a much easier channel for them to donate anytime they’d like.

#3 — Embrace FOMO

Our next tip is for your organization to embrace one of the strongest emotions felt among millennials – THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT (aka “FOMO”). When used with online and social fundraising methods, FOMO can become one of your best tools for millennial acquisition.  

The key here is to hold your donors socially accountable. Did your supporters just buy tickets to your next fundraising event? Has one of your donors just made a donation to support your cause? Provide them a means to share this to their social network!

When your donors share updates about your cause, they will be helping you acquire new donors, as these potential supporters will witness all of the passion and excitement around supporting your cause.

#4 — Show Your Appreciation (with a twist!)

Traditional methods of thanking your millennial donors work great, but your thank-yous are even more effective when you can add a twist!

One of our favorite examples of unique acknowledgements for millennials is Creating a Sizzle Reel.

Did you just wrap up a great fundraising event or have your best year ever in terms of donations? Spend some resources to create a great video or “sizzle reel” to share with your audience. An exciting video will stand out against the hundreds of emails your audience receives each day, and it’s also a great piece of content for your donors to share out to their networks!

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Written by Zach Hagopian

Zach is the co-founder and COO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text-message bidding.  An active member in the Boston fundraising scene, Zach focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.

Connect with Zach via:
Twitter | Facebook

Guest Post: [INFOGRAPHIC] 5 reasons (that aren’t Christmas) to send a donor a handwritten card

5 reasons

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Written by Rory Green

roryRory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Connect with Rory via:
Twitter

Guest Post: 3 Ways to Use Stories to Provide Donors with Better Stewardship

3 Ways to Use Stories to Provide Donors with Better Stewardship

You’ve probably heard that donor stewardship is one of – if not the most – important parts of fundraising. Donor stewardship is the process of thanking and following up with donors after they have made a gift. It is also what helps increase the chances that they will stick around as donors for years to come.

There are many ways that you can steward donors. Thank you letters, special reports, newsletters, phone calls, and events are just a few of the options available. But what is more important than the option you choose is the content you use.

You see, not all donor stewardship content is created equal.

Just sending a thank you letter is not enough to improve donor relations and retention. If that were the case, our sector’s retention average would be significantly higher!

Donor stewardship content needs to inspire, demonstrate accountability, and show impact. Stories are the best way to accomplish these things.

Here are 3 ways that you can use stories to provide donors with better stewardship:

Idea #1 – Go beyond “your gift is making a difference” in thank you letters

I’m sure you’ve read your fair share of uninspiring thank you letters. I know I have. My biggest pet peeve with thank you letters is when there is a broad, general statement like, “your gift is making a difference,” or “you’re making an impact in the community.”

What’s the difference or the impact? Don’t just tell donors this. Tell them a story to give them deeper peek at their impact.

Here are a few tips for finding a story to tell in thank you letters.

Idea #2 – Refresh your thank you call script for volunteers

If volunteers or board members help your organization make thank you calls to donors, be sure to refresh their script at least twice a year. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that they are telling current, interesting stories of impact.

Alternatively, you can also empower your volunteers to tell their own story during the call.

Idea #3 – Rethink your event program

Spring is when many non-profits start planning fall events. Rather than having the same old boring speeches at your donor appreciation event, think about how you can make the event experiential for donors. Maybe you can recreate a common experience your clients have, or you could have a client share their story. This is a great way to make a story literally come to life for donors in a way that deepens their connection to your organization.

What stewardship does your organization typically provide to donors? How can you incorporate storytelling into one of your touch points? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

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Do you like what Vanessa has to say? Then register for her upcoming #DonorLove webinar! Vanessa will show you how to seamlessly incorporate stories into your non-profit’s stewardship touch points. You’ll learn how to use stories in impact reports and thank you letters. This webinar will discuss key ideas for telling stories that delight donors and helps them feel more connected to the work.

Learning outcomes:

  • Why stories are essential content for great stewardship
  • 4 keys to telling a great story, plus the most important element every stewardship story must have
  • How to tell a story in a thank you letter
  • How to tell a story in an impact report

Steward Your Donors With Stories
With Vanessa Chase Lockshin
April 12th: 10:00 EST / 1:00 PST (You will also be sent the recording)
Recording Available April 23rd
$24.99

REGISTER TODAY!

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Written by Vanessa Chase

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Vanessa Chase is the President of The Storytelling Non-Profit – a consulting group that specializes in helping non-profits raise more money through communications. You can find out more about her and non-profit storytelling on her blog.

Guest Post: [QUIZ] What movie most resembles your non-profit culture?

POP QUIZ- (1)

Guest blogger Rory Green is back with another fun quiz – this time all about your non-profit culture.

Take a few minutes to fill it out – as honestly as you can – and stay tuned for the results in a few weeks (be sure to subscribe so you get them first!).

Get your friends into the fun – share your results on Facebook and Twitter!

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Written by Rory Green

 

roryRory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Connect with Rory via:
Twitter

Guest Post: Three Strategies to Improve Donor Retention

3 strategies to improve donor retention

The truth of the matter is, there isn’t one fundraising metric to hold high above the rest. The evaluation is holistic.

The challenge with tracking metrics is that our limited time and resources are being funnelled towards development, marketing, program services, and other important endeavours.

Additionally, no organization’s data is perfect. To ensure accuracy, your nonprofit is going to have to clean the data in your CRM prior to delving into performance analysis.

All that being said, metrics are still extremely important. To make the most of when you do study up, strategically map out which metrics make the most sense for your nonprofit with an eye for metrics that address numerous potential pain points at once.

Donor retention rate is one such metric.

From finding faults in your stewardship process to recognizing that your acquisition efforts carry too much of the workload, a poor donor retention rate says a lot.

Acquiring a first-time gift costs roughly five times more than it does to retain a donor. Couple that with the fact that The Fundraising Effectiveness Project found that increasing donor retention rate from 45% to 55% has the potential to double an organization’s donation revenue, and there’s no fiscal argument against solidifying your nonprofit’s retention strategies.

The strongest indicator of future giving is past giving. Leverage that opportunity!

So how do we do this? You surely have standard retention-related stewardship policies in place (drip email campaigns, acknowledgment techniques, etc.), but you’ll have to think creatively to kickstart your retention. Let’s close out by offering a few retention strategies to add to your pre-existing processes.

#1 — Promote matching gifts.

Almost two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies have matching gift programs. These programs match donations made by employees to a wide range of nonprofits. The matches often double the original donation size which is a huge boon for your nonprofit.

In terms of retention, donors who know that their gift size can grow through very little effort on their part are going to be inclined to give again and again.

Donation impact is critical; stress how impactful one gift can be!

#2 — Research your donors.

You can benefit from turning the prospect research microscope toward your donor pool.

A screening fills in gaps regarding both the financial situation and philanthropic interests of your donors. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn more so you can segment your donor pool for better, personalized stewardship practices.

#3 — Engage with donors without asking for more money.

Hopefully, this item is already on your list. But it warrants emphasizing that donors are cause advocates and not piggy banks.

Give donors opportunities to contribute in non-financial ways. Those are powerful, firsthand experiences that stick with supporters, influencing their decisions to donate more later.

Next time you study your data, ask yourself — what are we doing to make our donor retention dreams a reality?

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Written by Blake Groves

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With more than 20 years in technology solutions and consulting, Blake has knowledge of sales, consulting, product management and marketing. For the last 10 years, he has narrowed his focus to how Internet technologies can help nonprofit organizations, and prior to joining Salsa, he held positions at Convio and Charity Dynamics.

Connect with Blake via:
Twitter