Guest Post: How to Turn Your Words into Money – A Book Review

How to Turn Your Words Into Money - A Book Review (1)

I am not a great writer.  If I am being super honest, even writing this book review caused me a bit of stress. That is why I am so grateful for Jeff Brooks.

Do you know Jeff? He’s the smarty-pants behind Future Fundraising Now, and the author of some pretty awesome books – and his newest book, How to Turn Your Words Into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing, breaks down step by step exactly what you need to do (and NOT do) to write fundraising copy that makes donors want to give..

The book has great practical tips (more on that in a second) – but one of my favourite things Jeff does is little “what not to do” and “what to do” before & after style examples throughout. I found them to be super-duper helpful. Here’s one example….

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So, what did I learn? For me the book boils down to this:

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Audience is everything: Know your audience (donors), think about your audience (donors), love your audience (donors). Make content for your audience (donors) and no one else  – not your CEO, not your board and not yourself!

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Giving is beautiful: Understand what giving does for the GIVER (the donor) not just what the gift does for the beneficiaries. Giving feels really good! And guess what?? That means that fundraising isn’t begging or annoying. When done right donors love well-written fundraising copy.

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The Donor is the Hero: Writing fundraising copy well means putting the donor at the heart of your good work. Talk about them – what they have accomplished. What the donor has done – and can do – to help others in need.

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Overall this book is easy to read (it only took me a day), incredibly informative and I really believe it will help you raise more money. It’s for sale on Amazon, and we may be giving away a copy or two at the #DonorLove Rendezvous. I promise you it is worth reading.

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Written by Rory Green

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Rory 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

Maeve’s Top 5 & Happy 4-Year Anniversary, What Gives!

Happy 4-Year Anniversary!Wow… another year gone.

I am so proud to be going into my fifth year writing and editing this blog. For me, it’s been four years of learning, growing, tweaking, improving, reflecting, and feeling inspired.

I hope you have felt inspired, too!

MAEVE'S

To celebrate, I wanted to list my Top 5 Posts. They are in no particular order, and I used no criteria to choose them. Most of them have been more popular among readers, but what they have in common is that I’m proud to have written – or posted – them.

Enjoy! And thanks for making these 4 years so great!

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Young Alumni Fundraising - Part I (2)

5 Ways to Involve Young People In Your Organization

Although #whatgiveswednesdays was a short-lived series of posts about young constituents and how we can engage them and inspire them to give, it still had a lot of gems including this post. In fact, the whole point of this post was to summarize some of the learnings from the series. Check it out for a quick, concise read!

Customizationvs.Personalization

Customization vs. Personalization

You know why I love this post so much? Because John Lepp liked it! When someone I respect likes what I write, it makes me feel especially good about it. It may sound silly, but it’s not. I enjoy the process of writing this blog every week, but of course I write it because I hope it’s valuable to my fellow fundraisers. So I feel proud about this post because it resonated with John Lepp. It’s all about the difference between customizing (i.e. mail merge) and personalizing (i.e. taking the time to handwrite a thank you note to a donor). Key distinction, and a post I look back on with pride.

Prospect Management at a Cocktail Party for Introverted Fundraisers

Prospect Management at a Cocktail Party for Introverted Fundraisers

One of my most important discoveries as an introvert and a fundraiser is that those things are not mutually exclusive. When I first got into the field, I thought I had a disadvantage as an introvert, but I realized that wasn’t true. Being an introverted fundraiser is a great advantage… but you sometimes need survival tips when it comes to cocktail parties. Check out this post for some of my main tips, for example take breaks.

8 fundraising lessons I learned from Beyoncé

Guest Post: 8 Fundraising Lessons I Learned From Beyoncé

I had to include a Rory Green post in here because she’s written more guest posts for this blog than anyone, and the majority of the most popular posts of all time on this blog are Rory’s. I love this post because I love fundraising, I love Beyoncé, and I love Rory Green. She makes content so fun with gifs and snappy, effective messages. If you haven’t read this one already, do!

How to leave with #donorlove

How to Leave with #DonorLove

And lastly, this post. Beyond my love of working with the great concept of #donorlove, I felt it was really important to talk about leaving a job and how to do it gracefully, and in a way that shows love to your donors, instead of abandonment… which too often happens. The way we leave an organization should be a reflection of how we spent our time there… especially from the donors point of view. I’m very proud of this post.

So there you have it! Thanks for an awesome four years, readers! Onto the next one!

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Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Post: Three Resources All Fundraising Writers NEED to Know About

3 resources all fundraising writers NEED to know about

#1: Vanessa Chase – the Storytelling Non-profit

Vanessa Chase is one of my go-to resources on story telling. Her newsletter and blog are a treasure trove of tips and case studies. The section of her website dedicated to copy writing is amazing. Check it out here.

“Put your audience in the action from the start. Ideally, we want to connect with our audience as quickly as possible. This increases the likelihood that they will stay engaged with the story through to the end.” – Vanessa Chase

#2: SOFII

If you aren’t  a regular SOFII reader you should be! SOFII, the brain child of Ken Burnett, is an online collection of fundraising appeals combined with insider information on how the appeal did. It is a huge source of inspiration for me! Here are a few of my favourites:

#3. Tom Ahern

Almost everything I know about writing fundraising copy, I learned from Tom Ahern. His books are amazing, and worth a read – but he also has a fantastic section on his website of real-life appeals he has written – with his insider’s comments on what makes it great.

BONUS: Webinar: Creating a Case for Support that ignites passionate commitment(with Denny Young, Wednesday November 18th, 12:00 pm Eastern )

Are you inspiring your community to take action or treating donors and prospects like wallets? Supporters want to join the cause. They want evidence that you share their determination to make the world a better place. They want proof that your organization can realize their dreams.

Does your Case for Support make that connection, or is it just another boring plea for money?

You have a choice: make a grab for dollars or create friends for life. Which Case will you write?

In this webinar you will learn to create a Case for Support that builds loyal relationships among donors, prospective donors, volunteers, and staff.

Highlighting the well-tested research and experience of some of the world’s best Case writers, Denny will provide you with a step-by-step approach that results in committed support.

 You will learn how to:

  • Engage immediate interest by using the power of one story
  • Successfully balance logic and emotion to inform and inspire
  • Create urgency using statistics that clarify rather than confuse
  • Achieve maximum response by tailoring the call to action to audience segments

Sign up now!

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Written by Rory Green

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Rory 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: 5 reasons we LOVE Cathy Barrick… and you should, too!

5 reasons we LOVE Cathy Barrick (a.k.a. @savinggrace)...and you should too!

Have you heard the news? Cathy Barrick, CEO of Alzheimer Society of Toronto, is coming to the #DonorLove Rendezvous. Here are five reasons why Cathy is an amazing fundraiser, and an even more amazing human being.

She puts donors front and centre.

We all know it, we all feel it. Donors are at the core of our business. But, from time to time, we let budgets and goals creep into our thoughts and determine our actions. We get wrapped up in how great our charities are, without consideration for the incredible people who make it all possible. We don’t have time to make that phone call, or write that letter. We sometimes let it go just a little too long before we thank our donors.

For Cathy, donors really are at the heart of it all. Cathy is in the business of people, first and foremost. A long-time social worker, fundraising is a natural fit for her. She seeks to understand what motivates each individual person she meets, and it’s her mission to make donors feel amazing.

Cathy’s own philosophy of #DonorLove is to express gratitude for donors thoughtfully and genuinely. Cathy lives by this mantra by finding authentic touch points, with a sprinkle of surprise and delight. She appreciates the value of each gift, from each donor, and she makes sure they know it.

She’s an amazing leader.

To achieve her vision of an organization that embraces #DonorLove, Cathy is building a thoughtful, donor-centred team from all corners of the office – so much so she has signed her entire team up for the #DonorLove Rendezvous!

Growing #DonorLove from the inside out takes time, that is true, but it is time that Cathy is willing to invest. In a sector so often plagued by bad leadership – it’s refreshing and inspiring to see Cathy’s commitment to her team.

She’s a Pisces.

Pisces are compassionate, adaptable, accepting, devoted and imaginative.

She has a super cute cat.

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Look at that face!!

She truly cares.

When Cathy isn’t working hard at her day job, she volunteers with seniors. She’s one of those kind, caring people who seem to have endless love to give. She says her role at the Alzheimer’s society is her “dream job”.

Cathy is exactly what is right about this industry. She sees ways to be better, and makes it happen by being an attentive and curious donor-lover. To her, fundraising is not about money. It’s about connecting incredible people to causes they are passionate about. It’s about solving real problems and meeting real needs. Money is just the tool.

Amen, Cathy!

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Are you someone who truly cares about donors?

Do you want to spend a day with like-minded fundraisers, having great conversations, learning and sharing?

Do you want the chance to add amazing people like Cathy to your tribe?

Well then check out the #DonorLove Rendezvous.

It’s not a conference, it’s a meeting of the minds. On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, we want you to join us in Toronto for a day of dynamic discussion, energizing conversations, inspiration, passion, and fun!

Registration is open! For a very limited time, you can register for $99. I highly encourage you to register ASAP because this is going to sell out!

Visit www.donorlove.ca now to learn more and register today!

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Written by Tayler Halonen

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Tayler is new on the fundraising scene. She discovered a love for making people feel good at a young age, and she is thrilled to grow that passion in her work as a donor-loving fundraiser. In addition to philanthropy, Tayler is enthusiastic about animals, books, food, and health.

Connect with Tayler via:
Twitter

Guest Post: 8 tips to fire up your job search

8 tips to FIRE UP your job search!

 

So, you’re looking for a job? You are not alone, my friend. Whether you are thinking about making the transition into the world of fundraising or moving to a new city to be with the one you love, here are some tried and tested tips – by yours truly:

  1. Start with some soul-searching. Where do you see yourself in five years? What kind of fundraising job are you looking for? What are you passionate about? Know your strengths and let them guide you through the job hunting process.
  2. Check out your local job search sites. Here are a couple of my favourites: Charity Village, Indeed, and Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). For AFP, stay connected with your local chapter. I’m in the KW area, so I keep my eye on the Golden Horseshoe chapter. Also, make a list of your top employers and keep checking their websites – you never know when that PERFECT job will be posted.
  3. Inspire yourself with motivational quotes. Each morning I would wake up and post them on my Facebook, as well as print them out and sprinkle them around the house. Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking.

    Inspiration Board

  4. Network, network, NETWORK! My first week in Kitchener I attended an AFP networking mixer. Best. Decision. Ever! Everyone was super-friendly and very approachable, as you will soon see for yourself in the biz. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it” (too much cheese?) is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and make at least one new meaningful connection at each event. The fundraising world is a very small community, and you never know who can open a door for you in the future.
  5. Learn something new everyday. Read blogs, participate in webinars, attend meet-ups and conferences. I have been participating with the #DonorLove series since its inception, and that’s actually how I met Maeve! There are so many great resources out there to help grow your skills. They are also a great networking opportunity. Here are some other ones you may be interested in that I have/will be attending: The #DonorLove Rendezvous, AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising, and the Canadian Higher Education Annual Giving Congress.
  6. Interview preparation is key! You’ve landed an interview – YAY! Now it’s time to become an expert on the organization you’re interviewing with. If this is one of your dream employers from the list you’ve made (see #2), you’ve probably already spent countless hours reviewing their website and learning everything there is to know about them. One great piece of advice that I received from a friend was to make an online donation to the charity, and then talk about the experience and process in the interview. Thanks, Josh Bowman for this idea!).
  7. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness nor suggests that you are incompetent. It shows that you are taking the process seriously and that you are committed to putting your best foot forward. Ask a friend to help role play some potential interview questions. Ask your mentor(s) to review and provide feedback on your cover letter and resume. Speak to an employment service agent. I found all of these very helpful.
  8. Follow up! After your interview, send a thank you card to everyone involved to make a lasting impression. The ‘gold standard’ applies here, too, so be sure these are sent out within 24 hours. Also, a great question to ask at the end of the interview is their approximate timelines, and don’t be shy to touch base with them around that date.

While it may seem overwhelming at first, I promise you, with a little hard work and determination, it will all work out in the end.

Oh, and one more thing – remember to be yourself and enjoy the process.

Cheers!

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Written by Andrew Geekie

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Andrew is a Development Coordinator with the Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington.

Connect with Andrew via:
Twitter | Email

Guest Post: How I Sold a Sponsor in a Single Call

How I sold a sponsor in a single call

This blog is a response to the blog: “How I Was Sold By a Fundraiser In a Single Phone Call” – which is definitely worth reading.

Event sponsorships are not my favourite thing.

In fact, I really dislike them. Set “Gold, Silver, Bronze” levels – all based on how much money the charity needs – the exact opposite of #DonorLove if you ask me.

So I do sponsorship a little differently. Every sponsorship proposal I create is unique and custom for the company. And it works. Here’s what sponsor WeDidIt had to say of their experience:

This approach to corporate giving is refreshing and effective! 

Rather than approach me with the run-of-the mill ‘sponsor levels’ sales pitch (you know the ones: platinum, gold, silver, blah blah blah), Rory did something blissfully simple and effective. She: 

  • asked questions about our business goals and listened. 
  • used those goals to build a compelling sponsorship proposal that was a no-brainer to fund!

Rather than be stuck with our logo in a booklet that no one would look at, we ended up more than tripling our original goals for the sponsorship and forming some valuable partnerships along the way.

I wish all charities knew how to fund-raise like this!

-Andrew Littlefield, We Did It  (A Sponsor of The #DonorLove Rendezvous)

Don’t you want all of your corporate donors to feel like that? They can! Here’s how:

STEP 1: Get to know THEM: The first step is to really learn about the company you want to work with. Go on their website, read how they talk about themselves. What services are they selling? What language do they use? Watch some commercials and look at some advertisements for the company and really get a sense of their brand.

When you have your discovery meetings, ask lots of questions – and listen really well. Don’t run through a sales pitch before you’ve really gotten to know the company. Key things I need to know about a potential corporate donor are:

  • What are their biggest challenges today? What do they think they will be tomorrow?
  • What are their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals and objectives?
  • What have they liked about past non-profit partnerships? What has worked well? What hasn’t?
  • What makes their company unique? Why do their customers choose them over their competitors?

STEP 2: Look for Return on Investment (ROI): Once you understand a company, look for areas where your goals and objectives overlap – and build partnerships based on those shared values, beliefs and objectives. Find creative ways to add value to a company through your partnership, by: helping them find new customers, engage employees, build a stronger brand – or more. Always keep in mind what is the ROI for the company you are working with – not just what’s in it for you. A partnership with the right charity can add value for the company by:

  • Helping them find new customers: 94% of people would switch from one brand to another if it was associated with a good cause
  • Engaging and retaining employees: 70% of people say making a difference in a good cause is a factor in where they choose to work
  • Building brand: associating a company with a good cause can improve their reputation and regard in the marketplace

STEP 3: Make a donor-focused pitch: In your proposal, talk about THEM. Restate what you’ve learned about their CSR objectives and business needs, and clearly explain how the program you’ve identified matches their interests and helps THEM achieve their business objectives. Too often charities make pitches based on their cause and their organization. Focus more on the opportunity of the partnership – and less on your need for money.

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Want to learn more? Be sure to check out the next #DonorLove webinar: Better Corporate Giving (…that raises MORE money & your sponsors will LOVE)

Tuesday October 13, 2015
1:00 pm Eastern (10:00 am Pacific) + Recording available October 14th – $24.99 CAD

Do you want your corporate donors to LOVE the proposals you prepare for them?

More importantly, do you want your corporate asks to be successful?!

If you want to learn how to create better – more successful – more profitable corporate proposals then sign up for this webinar today! Only $24.99 CAD!

Drawing from her experience in major and corporate giving Rory Green will look at how charities can do a better job of corporate fundraising – and how to engage in deeper, more meaningful, more PROFITABLE corporate partnerships.

This webinar will use real life case studies, and give you the practical information you need to improve your corporate fundraising efforts!

You will learn:

  • How to identify the RIGHT companies to build a relationship with
  • Rory’s list of questions you NEED to ask before you write a proposal
  • Creative ways to offer Return on Investment that Corporate Partners will LOVE
  • How to tap into budgets beyond Community Engagement to unlock MAXIMUM investment
  • Step by step instructions on how to structure a SUCCESSFUL corporate ask

Sign up NOW and you will also get a REAL LIFE corporate proposal that got a “yes” in a day!

Trust us, you do NOT miss this webinar. Sign up now – seats are limited!

Can’t make the webinar live? No problem! Sign up now and receive a recording after the webinar is over, to watch whenever you like!

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Parts of this blog were originally published on Phil’s Career Blog

Written by Rory Green

rory

 

Rory 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

 

 

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**SPONSORED POST** Email maeve@whatgivesphilanthropy.com for more information about advertising on www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com.

Guest Post: 10 Things Fundraisers Should Know About Upgrading Donors

10 Things Fundraisers Should Know About

Upgrading donors is an essential part of your nonprofit’s fundraising program. Or at least it should be.

But the upgrade process isn’t just about asking all your donors for more money. Check out these tips to more strategically upgrade your donors:

  1. Upgrading begins at the point of acquisition. But not all donors can be persuaded to upgrade. The lower their initial gift (i.e. $15-$18 range), the more difficult it can be to upgrade a donor. For this reason, make sure you test your acquisition ask string (the gift amounts you’re asking people to give) at least once a year. You want to bring donors on at the highest average gift without negatively impacting your response rates. If you can acquire a high volume of donors at a better than $20 average gift, you’ll have a very good chance at upgrading them in the future.
  2. Build a rock solid thank you process. Want donors to give more generously?  Show them they matter by: a) promptly and genuinely thanking them for their past gift(s), b) sharing compelling stories about what their gifts have accomplished, and c) proving you’ve done what you said you’d do with their gifts. Getting this right will inspire donor loyalty and increase the likelihood that donors will upgrade when you present them with the next compelling opportunity.
  3. Have a big vision. Getting donors to increase their giving isn’t easy. You can’t expect a donor who gives $25 to provide hot meals at a shelter to give $2,500 just to provide more meals. Donors substantially increase giving because you inspire them to think and act big. That’s why middle and major donor programs often take advantage of offer bundles (where you combine a number of tangible program needs into one larger fundraising offer), special project campaigns and capital campaigns. These initiatives are tied to a larger vision than simply solving today’s problem. And they make upgrading donors so much easier.
  4. Remember that upgrading can come in small packages. It sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out on this. It’s great to get a $50 donor to upgrade to making $150 gifts. But don’t overlook that donor who gave $25 last year but gave you five $25 gifts this year. That’s an upgrade too. However, chances are your current segmentation and reporting systems aren’t set up to identify that type of upgrade. Check your reports and segmentation to make sure you’re identifying these people as well. If cultivated correctly, they can add a lot of income to your organization, both now and in the future (hint: they make GREAT planned gift prospects).
  5. Increase the relationship and they’ll upgrade. Donors are human beings. They give for many reasons, but they continue giving and increase their giving because you make them feel validated and appreciated for their contributions. This is a given for major donors. But you’d be amazed at how big of an impact this can have on your middle donors and even the upper end of your regular donor file. Write them special handwritten notes, call them, invite them to your shop for a tour or out for coffee. These steps will deepen their relationship with your organization, and provide them with more positive experiences.  And the next time you make an ask – even a stretch – they’ll be more likely to respond with a yes.
  6. Invest in a quality high dollar direct mail program. You might be tempted to just mail your standard package to every donor and vary only the ask amounts. That’s a mistake. Effective high dollar direct mail is much different; it’s less tactical, more relational. This is where you’ll see longer letters, live stamps, true handwriting, and even FedEx and UPS overnight packages, which work very well to upgrade donors.
  7. Say thank you more frequently. Engage your board to make thank you calls and write handwritten thank you notes to donors on a regular basis.  You can even make it a standard part of each board meeting. Do this several times throughout the year, prior to when you’ll be making your most important asks.
  8. Embrace telemarketing. You might personally hate telemarketing, but it is a great tool for upgrading donors. Telemarketing allows you to build personal relationships through conversation, allows donors to feel like you’ve heard them (both the positive and negative), and gives you time to tell more of your story in a highly personalized way than direct mail or e-mail.  You’ll also be able to reach more people on your file who aren’t necessarily responsive to other channels like mail.
  9. Host strategic cultivation events. If you’re trying to upgrade $20 donors to the $50 level, you probably don’t need to host cultivation events. But if you have a good group of $500 donors that you’re trying to upgrade to the $1,500 – $5,000 level, events are a great tool. The best events tend to have the feeling of exclusivity and access, of these donors being “insiders”, and having the opportunity to be the first to know/invest in something special. These cultivation events will deepen engagement around your donors’ passions and show them how very important they are to your cause.
  10. Upgrade through integration. Some of the most successful middle donor upgrade campaigns I’ve ever worked on have utilized an integrated direct mail, telemarketing, e-mail, video and face-to-face strategy. Integration helps you increase the frequency of your touch points, communicate the same message in different and increasingly compelling ways, and to leverage each channel to increase overall response.

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Want to learn more? I’m hosting a webinar that Andrew’s presenting called – Maximizing the Middle: Strategies and Tactics for Increasing Middle Donor Income.

In this session Andrew Olsen, CFRE, will share the demographic and psychographic differences that make middle donors unique. You’ll learn the best (and worst) ways to engage these donors to deepen their commitment (and giving!) to your organization, AND we’ll look at three case studies to see the specific tactics other nonprofits have used to increase middle donor giving by as much as 400%.

This webinar is now sold out! Click here to buy a copy of the recording! You’re not going to want to miss out on this knowledge!

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This blog was originally posted on Andrew Olsen’s Blog Fundraising Fundamentals.

Andrew Olsen
Andrew Olsen, CFRE, is Vice President, Client Services at Russ Reid – an Omnicom ad agency serving the nonprofit sector. Click here to read Andrew’s full bio.

Connect with Andrew via:
Twitter

Guest Post: Disarming Yourself in Corporate Fundraising – Part 2: HOW?

Disarming yourself in corporate fundraising (3)

Do you remember where we left off last week? I was telling you about my mentor who had a 70% close rate on all of her sponsorship proposals, so early in my career I sat down with her to learn about good sponsorship packages and what they entailed. After asking all about word count, design, spacing, and more, she said to me: “You still haven’t asked me a thing about good sponsorship packages.”

My mentor went on to tell me that to her, the package was incidental – a pure formality. She never submits a proposal of any kind without her prospect’s explicit approval and permission to do so. Because she worked with the person and built trust, the proposal was used only to justify the expense to the finance department, or to champion internally, and never contained any filler.

The Conclusion

Let’s skip right to it! When you meet your prospects for the first time, I challenge you to bring absolutely nothing with you at all! Not even a pen and paper or iPad? Nope! I challenge you to have a real conversation with a real person all about them, and then use your memory to recall important facts.

Warning: This will feel uncomfortable at first (and forever), your boss will think you’re crazy, and your prospects will too… and this is a good thing.

If a prospect asks you for a package, instead ask them for a five-minute phone call or a 15-minute cup of coffee to get a better sense of their needs before you submit something.

In other words, tell your prospect “no!” and get a sense as to what they like to fund, their target demographic and their sponsorship goals. If your event, program or charity doesn’t fit those goals, don’t submit a proposal! If your prospect doesn’t have five minutes for a call, they aren’t going to spend 20 minutes reading your proposal and they aren’t really a prospect and you should move on.

I can feel you squirming at the thought of this… wait until you try it! Am I really saying not to shotgun blast your proposals to every company you can think of and that when they ask you to give them a proposal that you say no? That’s exactly what I’m saying!

How can I commit to such sacrilege? Simple. When you blindly send out proposals you are using a direct mail strategy, and direct mail gets a 2% response rate, if you’re lucky. If you need 20 sponsors for an event then you need to send out 2000 proposals! Now think of the last time you got your anchor major donor from a direct mail campaign. Pretty rare right? Chances are you won’t get your title sponsors from a direct mail campaign either!

People buy from People, not Proposals

The closest thing I see to custom proposals is the inclusion of a statement like this at the bottom of the package: “We also do custom packages so let us know if you want to have a conversation.” This puts the responsibility on the prospect to figure out that you can help them reach their goals, which is never a good thing. It also assumes that people read your entire package, which is not a safe assumption.

Let’s do Some A/B Testing!

Don’t take my word for it; try it for yourself! Instead of jumping in with both feet, segment your prospects and set aside 10% of your list to use this approach with. Do a biweekly checking to compare success rate, average sponsorship dollars and “sponsorship per hour invested” and see which method is right for you and your organization.

I think you’ll like what you start seeing.

What works for you with corporate fundraising? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy corporate fundraising!

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Written by Chris Baylis

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Chris is a fundraising professional with expertise in cause marketing, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Chris has managed both national and local campaigns and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Ottawa.

Connect with Chris via:
The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn

Guest Post: Disarming Yourself in Corporate Fundraising – Part 1: WHY?

Disarming yourself in corporate fundraising (2)

Maeve and I talked a lot about the commonalities between corporate fundraising and individual giving and so while this two-part series has a corporate fundraiser in mind, I bet that the major gift fundraiser in each of us will enjoy it too.

These two posts are all about the biggest psychological crutch that we use in corporate fundraising. For those of you who follow my blog at The Sponsorship Collective, you know that I believe passionately in a relationship-based approach to corporate fundraising and how using a sponsorship package is a barrier to those relationships. I would (and often do) argue that the sponsorship package is a barrier to good fundraising, so let’s explore why people use proposals, one-pagers, leave-behinds and any other name used to describe the opposite of going to a sponsor visit with nothing in hand.

The Art of Deliberate Distraction

Think about the last time you handed someone a proposal, what did they do? They turned their attention away from you to the package in front of them and you probably tried to talk to them while they did it. Guess what? They absorbed nothing from your proposal or from what you told them and the second you walked out the door, they recycled what you gave them.

So you drove, flew, walked all the way to meet your prospect to hand them something you could have e-mailed them? If someone agreed to meet you in person, it’s because they see value in human interaction and want to know who they are considering working with. So why is it that virtually every fundraiser I know brings proposals and one-pagers with them to prospecting meetings? I think something deeper is happening here. I think that we believe if a prospect is reading a proposal and judging it, they aren’t judging us and saying no to us. The proposal then, is not a sales tool but a subtle self-protection tool!

If that’s true then that means going to a meeting with nothing in hand forces your prospect to judge you as a person, and you have to describe to them what you want from them. By going with nothing in hand you change the dynamic and make it about people and about relationships. Sound scary? Good! Use that to keep you sharp and make sure you know your stuff!

Sometimes Sponsors Ask for One!

Armchair psychology lesson number two is that “send me a proposal” is code for “no thank you!” Just as you giving them a proposal means that they aren’t rejecting you personally, getting you to send them a proposal means that they can tell you any of the following without guilt:

  • I shared it with the team and they declined
  • We have already spent our CSR/sponsorship/community investment dollars this fiscal
  • We have moved away from gala/event/program sponsorship
  • I will let you know if I/we have interest

The proposal is a crutch for both sides of the partnership – the fundraiser feels protected and so does the prospect.

When I first started in fundraising I had a mentor who boasted a 70% close rate on all of her proposals. I sat down with her for two hours one day and asked her questions about her approach. All of my questions were about word count, design, spacing, call to action, levels and all of the things that make up a “good” sponsorship package. After two hours I thanked my mentor for her time and got up to leave, at which point she said, “You still haven’t asked me a thing about good sponsorship packages.”

Do you want to find out what she told me, and what I’ve learned in my own work? Tune in next week for Part 2: HOW? You know why us corporate fundraisers need to disarm ourselves, so wait a week and I’ll show you how we do it.

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Written by Chris Baylis

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Chris is a fundraising professional with expertise in cause marketing, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Chris has managed both national and local campaigns and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Ottawa.

Connect with Chris via:
The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn

Guest Post: The Big Bang — How to get the most from your fundraising efforts

The Big Bang -- How to get the most from

We’ve all heard it: having optimized assets matters. But how much does it really matter? In my experience, it matters, a lot. If your communications aren’t creatively using cutting-edge trends, you are missing opportunities to engage with your audience, to make them care, to have a bigger impact.

It was a big priority for me to redesign and optimize the fundraising communications at Humane Society International, so once we found an amazingly creative consulting team to help make my dreams a reality and got the budget approved, we dove right in. Over a period of six weeks working hand-in-hand together, we redesigned everything: email templates, advocacy alerts and our donation pages. We even redesigned a major online fundraising platform for symbolic giving – and we obtained big results.

We spent a lot of time strategizing. We wanted to make it easy for people to give or take action. We strategically planned appeals based upon response – I spent a lot of time creating detailed reports so I could study our file and learn what was and wasn’t working. We integrated across channels online and used consistent campaign branding – from social to email to web. We made our assets fun and interactive; we even ‘gamified’ a donation form using Javascript. I searched international giving trends weekly so I could stay up-to-date. We wanted to give our constituents a voice by making donor care access easy on every page. We wanted to offer as many options as possible for payment and currency. And we weren’t afraid to fail or to take a risk.

Here’s what the outcome was: over one year…

  • Revenue from mobile devices doubled.
  • Conversion rates doubled.
  • Online fundraising increased by 76% (while email file size increased by 12%).
  • The number of monthly donors grew by 80%
  • The number of monthly gifts increased by 51%
  • The average number of gifts increased by 131%
  • The number of gifts per month increased by 129%

In one year. Can you image the lost potential and income if we hadn’t done this? It was well worth time time and energy spent coming up with a cohesive marketing plan.

Have I convinced you how important this is yet? No? Then register for my webinar (details below)!!! If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me try to change your mind.

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WEBINAR — The Big Bang: How to get the most from your fundraising efforts

In this session, you will learn tips on how to raise the most money and maximize your impact through your online communications efforts – from optimizing online assets to creating engaging online platforms.

Register today!

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Written by Elise Ledsinger

 

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Elise Ledsinger is the Senior Manager of Online Marketing Communications for Humane Society International, the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, and is based in Washington, DC. Click here to read Elise’s full bio.

Connect with Elise via:
Twitter | Email

 

**SPONSORED POST** Email maeve@whatgivesphilanthropy.com for more information about advertising on www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com.