What does a “culture of philanthropy” look like?

What does a -culture of philanthropy- look like-

I went out for a drink with a wonderful fundraiser the other day, Juniper Locilento.

We got on the topic of the elusive “culture of philanthropy”. We were talking about where Juniper works and how great the culture of philanthropy is there. Lucky her!

When she said how great it was, what she meant was that internally, staff – fundraising or otherwise – really understood the mission of the organization, felt its importance personally, and were motivated to give back, even though as a staff member they were already serving the organization so well.

How wonderful is that?! We find it so wonderful because unfortunately an internal culture of philanthropy can be hard to find. It doesn’t mean staff at an organization don’t care passionately about what they do. What it means is that there’s some disconnect between “the work” and “the money”. Staff members may not realize that the fundraisers are on the same team as they are. Or they don’t understand the importance of fundraising, where the money goes, how it all works, etc.

We’re focused – rightly so – on our external stakeholders; trying to get them to understand all of these things, but we ought to spend a little more time internally, too.

How could we do this?

Well, there’s always the strategy of putting together a slide deck and teaching people about fundraizzzzzz……

(If you didn’t get it, I’m suggesting the above strategy will make your colleagues fall asleep with boredom.)

LET’S GET CREATIVE!

One awesome idea Juniper shared with me was giving staff members the opportunity to tell their story. Why did they want to work for your organization? What matters most to them about the work that you do? What is an experience they had working there that really inspired them?

What does a -culture of philanthropy- look like- (6)

It’s not about learning the math of fundraising. It’s somewhat about knowing what the money does, for sure, but getting people thinking about their values, making it personal, and feeling inspired… That’s going to go a long way.

How do YOU inspire a culture of philanthropy?! Share in the comments below, or send me an email.

Thanks for reading!

~~

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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

Connect with Maeve via:
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Why do donors give so little?

why do donors give so little-

I heard Mark Phillips talk about this once and I want to wax philosophical on it for a few minutes.

We seem to hear year after year from research like what Penelope Burk does that donors didn’t feel they gave as much to charity as they could the year before.

Why is this?

Put simply: We’re not asking enough of our donors.

We’re not asking them often enough. We’re not asking them for enough money. We’re not giving them enough ways to engage with us more deeply.

On the point of not asking donors for enough money, Mark has a great illustration of this.

category_dollar-a-day

Why do donors give so little? Because we ask them to.

Now don’t think for one second that I don’t think every gift is important, that every donor is important, or that every person who supports a cause with a dollar a day is stupid.

I value all donors.

But we have been part of this misconception that that’s what charity costs: a dollar a day. That’s all a donor needs to give to make a difference and feel engaged.

We have been doing ourselves – and donors! – a disservice by perpetuating this falsehood.

And when it comes to mid-level donors – or potential mid-level donors – who you know I love talking about, this is part of the reason why we have disengaged and uninspired donors in the middle: because we aren’t giving them a special enough opportunity to engage with us.

We aren’t inspiring them with a big problem for them to solve through a big investment.

Donors give us a lot and they are so amazing and we are so grateful.

However, donors seem to be telling us that they aren’t giving as much as they can.

So let’s find ways to inspire a new level of giving among our donors.

And then steward the hell out of ’em so they know how much they mean to us.

~~

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

4 things I learned at #AFPFC

4 things I learned at #AFPFC

I’m back from AFPFC a.k.a. the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference, and I’m ready to share with you my top learnings.

Take little bets.

Take little bets. What I loved about a lot of the sessions I went to was that the presenters looked at the small ways we can innovate, make change, and show #DonorLove. In Steven Shattuck‘s session The Art and Science of Retaining Digital Donors, he talked about 3 opportunities to thank, engage, and – as a result – retain digital donors.

  1. Through the “Thank You Page” a.k.a. the webpage donors land on after successfully making an online donation.
  2. Through the confirmation email a.k.a. the “receipt” we send donors after they make an online gift.
  3. Through the formal acknowledgement we send them later.

Mark Rovner also took this approach in his session called Why midlevel donors are sweeter than Christmas morning, which I sadly wasn’t able to attend since I had to head to the airport, but which I followed on Twitter. Mark shared 3 great tactics to show mid-level donors some #DonorLove.

  1. Put your business card in their donor welcome package.
  2. Pick up the phone [and call her/him].
  3. Send him/her a handwritten note.

Get donors to DO something.

Get donors to DO something. Steven Shattuck talked about this in his session, too. When donors land on your Thank You Page, for example, does it just have a nice (or not so nice) message they can read (or not read) before just clicking the “X” and forgetting about you? OR do you give them a way to further engage with you?

A company called Abila in their session Digging Deeper Into Donor Behavior & Preferences: 2016 Donor Engagement Study, shared some recommendations on how to do this:

  1. Through a short video (2 minutes max.).
  2. Through a short note or article.
  3. Through a short Facebook post.

(See a pattern? It must be short!)

-If you always do what you've always done, you'll always be who you've always been.-

Fundraising = Impact Investing. Fundraising as investing is not a new idea to me, or to any of you, I’m sure, but it was definitely discussed a lot at AFPFC. It was discussed quite a bit in the Tuesday general session, and it was a big chunk of Kay Sprinkel Grace‘s amazing session: Where is the Sector Headed?. Kay urged us all to be nimble and to take risks. People are sick of giving to charities when they could give through venture philanthropy and make a bigger, more direct impact faster. We’re seen as a sector focused on scarcity, and nobody wants to give to a desperate organization. They want to give to a winning organization! We need to make change if we want to “win”!

Don’t be a bad houseguest. After many years of admiring him from afar, I finally got to see Tom Ahern speak in real time/real life in his session titled “Loverizing”: The Lucrative Difference a Few Well-Chosen Words Will Make in Your Donor Communications. Tom inspired the audience in so many ways, but a quote that really resonated with me was:

-A lot of charities could be mistaken for egotistical maniacs.- - Tom Ahern

Tom asked us to think about it like we’re a guest in a donor’s home, even when we send them direct mail. Do we want to go to their house and talk about US – the charity – non-stop? We did this, we did that, we we weOR do we want to talk about them and how great they – the donor – are? I think the latter.

Thanks for reading!

~~

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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

Connect with Maeve via:
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Guest Post: [INFOGRAPHIC] What we measure… and what’s missing

whatgetsmeasured

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Do you want to show your donors more #DonorLove? Well according to Vanessa Chase Lockshin, it’s all about storytelling. In her upcoming webinar (info below), 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 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

Giving Societies: The Field of Dreams Myth

giving societies- the field of dreams myth

“If you brand it… they will come.”

 

There is no magical key to donor engagement.

If you brand it, they won’t come.

Or, at least, it doesn’t guarantee that they will. Giving societies can be an amazing way to engage donors, to make them feel part of a community. There are some giving societies out there that are so strong and full of engaged donors, so it’s a great “tool” in fundraising.

However – it’s not always the right tool. And again, it’s not a magical key.

Let’s say you’re starting a mid-level giving program.

A lot of organizations start the process with a giving society. They create a name, a brand, letterhead, and a great brochure.

And then they sit back and wait for the donors to join the club!

And they wait… and wait… and wait…

And the donors don’t come.

Too often as fundraisers we’re motivated by what makes most sense to us internally. By what’s easiest administratively. By what seems like a quick, cheap strategy.

“We can’t feasibly call all our donors and find out what they want and need. But it’d be really convenient to have a name to refer to our mid-level donors as, so let’s call them the 1986 Society. The donors will identify with that!” 

This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, written by a total heroine of mine: RuPaul Charles.

You can call me he. You can call me she. you can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don't care! Just as long as you call me.

That’s RuPaul’s attitude towards what pronouns you choose to refer to him with. The truth is that he doesn’t care! What he cares more about is that you call him! Acknowledge him!

Donors are the same! We spend too much time thinking about the “other stuff” – the giving societies, internal naming conventions, letterhead – and not nearly enough time acknowledging the donors themselves.

And maybe if we spent more time on that, we’d find out more about what the donors actually want.

Maybe they DO want a giving society, a group to be part of. A sense of being a VIP. Access to behind-the-scenes at your charity.

Or maybe they DON’T want a giving society. Maybe they won’t identify with a separate, special brand. Maybe they’d prefer you spent more time on the mailings they receive; add more content, give them more giving opportunities that inspire them.

The truth is we can’t know until we ask. And donors love to be asked!

Don’t look for the easy way out.

Give your donors the #donorlove they deserve!

Call a donor today to find out what they do and don’t want from you, and let me know what you find out!

~~

Sign up for my email list and get a FREE E-BOOK on mid-level donors!

Written by Maeve Strathy

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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

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!

~~

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

Explaining a capital campaign to a 3 year-old

Exp

Back in November, I was on the streetcar in Toronto where I live, and we drove past a hospital, which happens to be a client of mine.

I overheard a boy – he must’ve been 3 or so – ask his mom, “What’s going on?” He was pointing to the scaffolding that was up around part of the hospital. The scaffolding is there because there are massive renovations happening at the hospital right now, and – naturally – a capital campaign is in progress to support all the enhancements.

The mother replied:

“They’re fixing the hospital. They’re making it better… and bigger.”

My jaw dropped.

How perfect! How simple! How concise!

This moment was a great reminder of how verbose we tend to get when developing messaging around a campaign, or a case for support.

We go overboard in order to incorporate as many details as we can.

We bring our drafts to program staff – whether they be administrators, doctors, professors, researchers, people “on the ground” for our cause – and everyone chimes in making sure you don’t forget about their needs and their programs.

Before we know it we have something institutional and wordy that’s eased the tension internally…

…but is not at all compelling.

And that means that it’s not donor-centric! It’s not showing #donorlove! It has satisfied the needs of the organization, but not of the donor.

We haven’t inspired and engaged the donor

And who are we – as fundraisers – here for?

The donor.

So the next time you sit down to do this difficult work of boiling down your campaign messaging or case for support into something the donor can get behind, imagine you’re the mother or father of a 3 year old boy, trying to explain the scaffolding around the hospital.

After all, I want to help fix the hospital! And make it better and bigger!

~~

Sign up for my email list and get a FREE E-BOOK on mid-level donors!

Written by Maeve Strathy


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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Post: Do Your Donors a Favor — Stay Compliant    

do you donors a favour -- stay compliant

Everyone likes giving to a good cause. But how do you separate the “good” from the “not-so-good?”

Part of a donor’s decision to give comes from their positive intuition about your organization and its people. However, good vibes only get you so far!

One clear way to demonstrate your worth is to stay compliant. Compliance isn’t all that sexy, but it’ll help you secure donations and inspire confidence in your donors.

What is Compliance?

Nonprofits are highly regulated at the federal and state levels, and for good reason. Governments want to make sure the funds you raise actually go to the charitable mission you set out to do. At the same time, the state and IRS want to make sure the citizens you solicit funds from are protected from illegitimate or sketchy organizations.

Compliance is staying on the right side of state and IRS requirements by keeping good records and keeping current with required registrations.

Let’s take an example. Most donors are familiar with the term “501(c)(3).” If an organization has its 501(c)(3) status, generally, donors can make a gift and get a tax deduction at the end of the year.

Many nonprofit leaders think that being 501(c)(3) tax exempt is all there is to it. In reality, it’s not.

Forty-four states regulate charitable solicitation (a.k.a. fundraising) inside their borders. Forty-one of them require your nonprofit to file a separate registration before you even ask for a donation. Chances are, your charity operates and solicits in one or more of these states, and so you have to pay attention to applicable registration requirements.

Penalties for noncompliance, whether intentional or not, can be several thousand dollars in state fees, or you could lose your right to fundraise in a state altogether. If you solicit funds in a state, be sure you understand your state’s requirements.

Why is Compliance Important?

Besides avoiding state penalties, think of who really matters: your donors. Help them know that you’re one of the good guys.

Most states have a database where donors can search for your organization before they give. They can see if you have registered or not. If your charity is delinquent, your donors can see that too.

They may even ask you directly! Individual donors, corporations, and foundations (who give grant funding) very often ask for proof of registration with your state, along with your IRS Determination Letter. Without either, you’ll walk out of the room with your tail between your legs!

Compliant organizations make much of their program, financial, and leadership information public. As a donor, it is reassuring to know that the charity you wish to support plays by the rules, and as a charity, it’s good to show your supporters you have nothing to hide.

So, show some #donorlove – stay compliant. You’ll make their decision to give much easier.

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Written by James Gilmer

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James is a compliance specialist for Harbor Compliance, which establishes 501(c) nonprofits and helps them stay compliant. Harbor Compliance assists charities in every state and several countries abroad. James serves on the Board for two nonprofits in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Connect with James via:
Email | Twitter

Fundraisers & This Little Piggy

Fundraisers & this little piggy

Let me start this post with a cliché: fundraisers are storytellers.

“Wow, Maeve! Tell us something we don’t know!”

You’re right. We all know the best fundraisers are storytellers. We’re embracing that. We’re all recognizing the power of stories in engaging donors in our causes and showing them the power of philanthropy.

So how come the dollars aren’t pouring in?

Well, it’s not good enough to say we’re storytellers. They have to be the right stories. And they have to be told the right way.

So what are we doing wrong?

I’ll tell you one thing: we’re acting too much like the last piggy.

“Huh?”

Yes! You heard me right!

This little piggy went to the market

This little piggy stayed home

This little piggy had roast beef

This little piggy had none

And this little piggy went WEE WEE WEE all the way home

Fundraisers are the last piggy.

The one saying WEE WEE WEE.

We are doing this. We are achieving this.

We. We. WE!

It’s not about us. It’s about them.

It’s not about we. It’s about YOU!

You being the donor.

How are we ever going to show donors the power of their philanthropy if we keep telling them about the great things WE are doing?

We have to inspire donors by telling stories about themTheir impact. What they achieve.

Want to see what I mean? Want to see the power of those kinds of stories in action?

Here’s a recent example: Prime Minister Trudeau’s victory speech on October 19th.

I was following the conversation on Twitter on this momentous occasion and my fundraising friends were all saying the same thing: Prime Minister Trudeau is so donor-centric!

Watch this clip to see what I mean.

Are you noticing it? Here’s an extra clip to bring the idea home.

It’s the most powerful word in fundraising: YOU.

Prime Minister Trudeau was telling a story; not just to his donors, but to supporters, voters, and all Canadians. The story wasn’t about his success or the party’s success; it was about what YOU made happen.

Let’s all make sure that’s the story we’re telling our donors, too.

~~

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