#donorlove has its limits

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There. I said it.

You are probably not happy I said it – and I know my besties in the fundraising world won’t be – but I had to.

You know how much I believe in #donorlove. I think it’s such an important lens for us to look through when it comes to our fundraising practices. Putting the donor at the centre of what we do is critical in our work.

But #donorlove is not the be-all and end-all of successful or right fundraising.

Let me backtrack.

You probably know that Rory Green – a.k.a. Fundraiser Grrl – is one of my best friends. So you can imagine that when I get a fundraising appeal in the mail for one of my clients that I’m really excited about that Rory is the one I want to tell first.

So I did just that the other day. I took a photo of three envelopes for a client’s campaign (one control, two test packages) and sent it over to Rory for us to gush over together. The first thing Rory said was –

“It doesn’t say the word ‘you‘ on any of those envelopes.”

If you’ve learned anything about #donorlove, it’s the power of the word “YOU”. And Rory is right in that the word “you” is an incredibly important thing to look out for in fundraising. Traditionally organizations have spent far too much time in their fundraising talking about what “they” – the organization – do, rather than about what “you” – the donor – do. If we want to inspire – and even more importantly, retain – donors, we must celebrate them. We must make the donor the hero.

I am not questioning the importance of this type of #donorlove principle. Or any #donorlove principle.

What I’m questioning is the interpretation and application of these principles.

We need to acknowledge that there’s more in successful fundraising than #donorlove.

Let’s think about the donor journey. Why does the donor give to our organization in the first place?

Because they’re asked, yes.

But donors give because they believe in the need our organization meets, and that our organization needs their financial support to meet that need.

The vast majority of donors out there do not give because they need more love in their life. 

Now don’t get me wrong – some donors actually do give to create a relationship and a connection between them and an organization. We often see this among our older donors, and this is an important donor need to acknowledge and to meet. #Donorlove is especially needed here.

#Donorlove is also needed to retain donors. There are a lot of great charities competing for donors, and if your gift to one of them goes unacknowledged for an unforgivably long time, I don’t blame you for saying, “No more, charity! No more gifts for you! I’m giving all my money to the charity that treats me right!”

But speaking of a lot of charities competing, let’s talk about acquisition.

And let me start by saying the dirtiest word there is in #donorlove:

PREMIUM

That’s right. I’m talking about something included in a mail pack beyond a letter and maybe an insert. Maybe it’s a bookmark, maybe it’s holiday cards, maybe it’s a luggage tag.

If you believe in nothing but #donorlove, you’re not having this. Because you believe that donors just want to know they matter.

But if we go back to why donors give, then we’re talking about the fact that donors give because we need their support to do what we do. And so donors want us to do what it takes to get the funding that helps us do what we do.

And unfortunately – in this saturated marketplace, with this competition – we sometimes require premiums to get the package opened and the responses we need to bring in the new donors that we need.

No – I agree that it’s not ideal. And I really agree that it can create a transactional relationship that we need to work extra hard to change once the donor first gives to us.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. We work hard to make the premium at least mission-based, and we can make strategic decisions about what the premium is and test which ones lead to a longer-term relationship between the new donor and the charity. We also work to choose a premium that’s less costly so that we’re not bringing donors in on some kind of ridiculous trinket, but this is our reality.

Does it align with the sometimes rigid principles of #donorlove?! NO.

But does it align with the principle of getting as much funding as we can to meet the need that our donors care about?! YES.

So what’s my moral here? Walk the tightrope of #donorlove, my fundraiser friends. Don’t let your principles cripple you, but never let the donor out of your sight.

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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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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

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:
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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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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:
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Guest Post: [INFOGRAPHIC] What we measure… and what’s missing

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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

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:
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3 ways to show #donorlove today

3 ways to show

If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you’re no stranger to the idea of #donorlove.

If you don’t know what it is yet or need a refresher – read this post.

Today I want to talk about HOW to show donors love.

What 3 things can you do today to show your donors more love, leading to higher retention and more dollars coming in your door?

Here they are:

#1 – Call all donors who make an online gift today.

You may have an excellent system in place that sends an automatic thank you message to online donors, or you may not. Either way, nothing beats the warm fuzzies that come from a real human voice saying thank you. It takes a few minutes max., and the rewards are greater than you can imagine. Plus – as a fundraiser, it feels great! Come on, try it!

#2 – Rewrite your thank you letter.

You know, that letter that goes out with tax receipts. The one you mail merge on autopilot whenever you get to your receipts. When was the last time you rewrote that letter? I was just chatting with a fundraiser the other day who rewrote her organization’s thank you letter and it hadn’t been updated for three years. That means potentially that the same donor got the same thank you letter three years in a row. Don’t let that happen to you! Freshen it up, and make sure it’s filled with words that make the donor receiving it feel special and really proud of the impact they’re making (hint – use this word a lot).

#3 – Hand-address any envelopes you send out today.

Whether it’s a thank you note or even a solicitation letter, write the address on the envelope with a real pen, held in your real hand. When I reach in my mailbox, all the envelopes I pull out look the same – whether it’s a bill from my cell phone company, a statement from my bank, or a letter from a charity. Isn’t that awful?! So let’s try to be the exception – let’s make our letter look different. Let’s make it look more personal, more real, more enticing. Hand-addressing it is a great start.

That’s it! 3 things you can to do today to show your donors more love.

That’s not so hard, is it?

BONUS:

Here’s one more way to show your donors more love: attend
The #DonorLove Rendezvous on May 11, 2016 in Toronto.

“But I heard it was sold out?”

You’re right, it is! But thanks to the support of three incredible women – Gwen Chapman, Shanon Doolittle, and Beth Ann Locke – we are able to offer 10 bursaries to attendees.

To apply to this SOLD OUT event, click here.

 

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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