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

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week thirteen | case study: ted livingston

case study- ted livingston

What makes a 23 year old donate $1,000,000???

Meet Ted Livingston. Ted is the Founder & CEO of Kik Interactive, whose app – Kik Messenger – allows users to send instant messages to each other from any smartphone in real-time. He was a student at the University of Waterloo (located down the street from where I work at Laurier) studying mechatronics engineering, but dropped out in 2009 to focus full-time on his company.

Fast forward less than a year and a half, and Ted made a $1 million donation to the University of Waterloo.

One. Million. Dollars.

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What makes a 23 year old university drop-out support his (unofficial) alma mater? 

Well I don’t know Ted Livingston personally, but from what I’ve read about the man, in 2011 $1 million represented a big portion of his bank account. It sounds like he lives simply, but still… with that money he could do a lot for himself, his family, his friends, or any other organization for that matter, and yet he chose to give it to University of Waterloo.

Why?

Well, Ted got his start in Velocity, a program at his university that offers help to students trying to start their own businesses. Clearly he had some success in the program, because he soon dropped out of school. But he had seen the value of the program, and it launched him and his company into great success.

So, his donation was used to provide similar funding to companies in Velocity, along with office space, mentoring, and more. Ted said:

“Unfortunately, few investors are willing to bet on young entrepreneurs, especially in Canada, so getting the startup funds they need is a huge challenge. This fund is a step towards changing that.”

That’s it. Ted received support, saw value, experienced success, and paid it forward.

Do you have a great story of a young donor giving back??? Share it in the comments.

Source: “Young startup CEO gives $1-million to his university” – The Globe and Mail

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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 educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week twelve | guest post: prospect research & gen y

Prospect research — the art of identifying and connecting potential donors with your cause. How does this translate to Gen Y donors? Is there a secret formula to identify this group of donors? Not really. There are however, a few points to keep in mind when researching this unique group.

As mentioned in other posts in the #whatgiveswednesday series, millennial donors often give to causes that they believe in and can sink their teeth into. They want to know that their time and money are going towards an initiative that is making a measurable difference. So how does prospect research relate to that? Simple. Keep the donor in mind when connecting them with an initiative you believe they would be passionate about.

So what do I mean? Working in Higher Education, I will often consider a few factors when determining if an alumnus would be interested in getting involved in a particular project. What faculty did they graduate from? Were they involved in any academic competitions? Were they a member of any clubs? Did they participate in any extra-curricular activities while they were a student? Considering these types of questions might help to identify where their passionate lies or what they would be interested in supporting or getting involved in. This is sometimes where you hear of those exceptional stories of a donor in their 20s making a $1M gift– it’s usually designated to an initiative that they have a direct connection to and are passionate about.

It’s also worthy to note that this doesn’t just translate to getting young alumni involved as donors. Could they be a guest judge or a guest lecturer? Would they be interested in being a chapter volunteer for your organization in a specific geographical location? These individuals could be excellent champions for your cause in their community if given the right opportunity.

Consider start-up companies led by the millennial age group — their approach to corporate social responsibility is going to look a lot different than what we’ve seen in the past. They won’t just see a donation as a tax break for their company, but rather an opportunity for their company to get behind an initiative where they can really add value to on a local, regional and even national or international level. Getting behind a cause that is meaningful to their company and their clients can make an impact, as it is a valuable marketing opportunity by creating a positive perception of the company, and in some cases, can likely lead to company growth.

Gen Y individuals are worthwhile to have on your prospect research radar. Strive to find ways in which your organization can utilize their constantly growing networks, experience, and insight. Keep open communication between your prospect research team and your development team, so that prospect researchers are always aware of what your fundraising priorities are. This open communication will ensure these golden Gen Y individuals aren’t missed.

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Written by Sara Glover

Sara Glover

 

Sara is a Prospect Researcher at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Connect with Sara via:
Twitter | LinkedIn 

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week eleven | 5 ways to involve young people in your organization

Young Alumni Fundraising - Part I (2)

It seems appropriate to write about volunteerism during National Volunteer Week, doesn’t it?

One of the big lessons learned in #whatgiveswednesday so far is: involve young people in your cause. As Sheena Greer told us“We are going to give our time first and our money second.” 

Does that mean that millennials are rushing to volunteer for us and soon after giving us money? No! So, how do you get them to give their time?

Here are five ideas I came up with:

  1. Find your young champions. Chances are you’ve got at least one young person involved with your organization. Take her out for coffee. Ask her why she cares. Ask her what involvement gets her most excited about your org. Ask her if she can bring some friends the next time she’s volunteering!Find your young champions.
  2. Create a young council / board / focus group / whatever. Sarah Kathryn Coley created a GOLD (Grads Of the Last Decade) Council at the university where she works. Sarah Kathryn says, “These volunteers are eager to help with peer-to-peer solicitations and educating young grads on how to get involved in the life of the university.” Like Carolyn Hawthorn told us, millennials don’t want to hear from your organization, they want to hear from their friends.Create a young council - board - focus
  3. Have volunteer opportunities. Before you try to get any young people on board with your organization, are there opportunities to be involved? Can they plan an event or do some meaningful work for you? If so, you better…Have volunteer opportunities.
  4. Make volunteering fun! Sheena told us that volunteer experiences should be moving, fun, and highly social. I’m a big fan of Students Offering Support (not just because it was founded by a Laurier grad). SOS has chapters at different universities and students pay a nominal fee to participate in an “Exam-AID” group review session, getting support from senior students (volunteers) in advance of their exams. The money raised is spent creating sustainable education projects in developing nations. Everyone wins! You connect with peers, benefit from the experience yourself, and impact others. Wouldn’t you want to be involved in that? (And make sure there’s a hashtag. Everyone loves hashtags!)Make volunteering fun!
  5. Hold an event. It sounds cliché, but it works. The Canadian Opera Company has Operanation and the Royal Ontario Museum has Friday Night Live. In both cases, young people buy tickets to go to a fun party (with hashtags!) that make people think, “This organization is cool!” These are big events by big organizations, but you can replicate this coolness (because seriously, cool matters) for your organization! I worked at a small independent school before Laurier, and we used to hold young alumni pub nights. Wings, nachos, and a free drink ticket goes a long way! I used to make a lot of friends among the young alumni when I was the one with the drink tickets. Building those relationships had huge value, and I saw the money come in from those engaged young alumni later. It works!Hold an event

What awesome ways have you involved young people in your organization? Share in the comments.

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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 educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week nine | guest post: boom! what? harness the millennials!

I recently attended a conference in Seattle, WA (Academic Impressions Young Alumni: Establishing Lifelong Relationships) and was inspired to “guest blog” about my trip.

Full disclosure: When I was in high school, the Macarena was the biggest dance craze. As such, I am fully aware I can never be part of the Millennial movement (although I’ve seen some great mashup-revivals of those moves recently…)

However, just as I can appreciate great feminist literature or how Bill James could influence major league baseball without ever playing pro ball, I’ve been turning my professional attention to this next great generation: The Millennials (aka Gen Y) despite not being “one of them.” I’ll try not to focus on the myth that they don’t give (and get off my lawn, you meddling kids!) because it’s simply not true (87% of millennial employees donated to a nonprofit in 2013) but rather how our collective mindset and paradigms need to change to allow this group of highly creative, socially motivated folks to connect their money with their passions.

First, this is the #ShowMe generation. Having instant access to information (accurate or not) has trained them to expect to see the impact of their gifts immediately and in a way that aligns with their passion or sense of self. Thank you Facebook and Google Analytics! Make sure your donor relations strategy allows your students and younger alumni to access stats and metrics on the direct impact of their gifts. Also, tie their support to tangible projects that will impact their donor experience. Disinterest in donating to general funds is also trending.

Second, this group has been connected via the internet most of their lives. They know how to navigate web and mobile devices and have no patience for multiple click thrus or ugly websites. Is your content accessible and mobile friendly? 83% of Millennials currently use a SmartPhone and in 2014, mobile access surpassed desktop access. Invest in your marketing and communications online strategies for this group and be intentional.

Third, remember when commercials used to be 30 seconds and YouTube videos were 5 minutes long? Now, we see 6 second Vines, video viewing rates dropping off after 48 seconds, and if it doesn’t fit in 140 characters, it’s not worth saying. Be clear, be concise, and be honest. Every generation has its own vernacular, be sure to use images and short videos for millennials. User-generated content is great and sometimes preferable to “institution-produced” adverts. When Arthur Brisbane said, “a picture is worth a thousand words” I’m not sure he was ready for Instagram, where 8 million pictures and videos are posted every hour. Every HOUR!

And finally, keep in mind that Gen X and Millennials are set to inherit $40 trillion (with a “T”!) in the next 50 years. Can you afford not to speak their language?  

The better we all do as an industry to change our stewardship and donor relations strategies, the more connected, engaged, and INVESTED this key demographic will be. Boom! What? Harness the Millennials!

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Written by Ben Seewald

unnamedGrowing up, Ben Seewald wasn’t like every other kid, who dreamed about being a doctor, or a kangaroo, or an astronaut – he always wanted to work with phenomenal people in Alumni Relations at a University. Ben is living his dream at Queen’s University as an Alumni Officer, working on student and recent graduate engagement programming.

Connect with Ben via:
LinkedIn

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week eight | guest post: the generation Y organic disruption device

What a quandary nonprofits find themselves in – what to do with Millennials: that is, that generation of “skinny jean wearing, latte sipping, app downloading, futon surfing, instagramming, lol’ing, twerking, sexting youngins” that has the boomers behind the wheel all in a flap. And as is expected of my generation, I’m here on this digital soap box to tell you a thing or two about us and our weird, weird hair.

Despite my tendency to pine for Urbie Green on vinyl, the smell of mimeograph, and a good tuna fish pie, I’m a millennial myself (and so are ¾ of my children, depending on your definition.) No matter how you slice it, Millennials are really tired of being treated like entitled, lazy brats with nothing to contribute. The “kids these days” mentality is a poor excuse and not useful for building relationships. I really don’t feel the division is meaningful, but it exists nonetheless.

So playing into this divide, I’ll give a few pointers on how to connect with younger supporters. I’d call this the Millennial Engagement Pyramid, but pyramids are so, like, uggh, pfffft, and shape-like. I’ll call this the Generation Y Organic Disruption Device.

  1. Connect – This is more than social media, m’kay? Look for opportunities to make those initial connections in person. Where? Universities, colleges, pubs, chamber of commerce events, drinking rye and coke and jumping off a pirate ship, whatever. Social media is a great start, but like internet dating, it gets weird when you only want to Snapchat your logo at us.
  2. Engage – We’re really no different than any other generation in this regard. Tell stories, show your impact, be transparent, and for goodness sakes, don’t bore us.
  3. Involve – We are going to give our time first and our money second. Involve Gen Y in meaningful ways – volunteer experiences should be moving, fun, and highly social. Gen Y is also quite likely to get involved in event-based fundraising.
  4. Collaborate – Here’s what’s missing, folks. Gen Y has collaboration ingrained in the brain. Your greatest alliances are going to be partnerships with groups (large or small) of Gen Ys who have something in common/some kind of alignment with your mission, and getting them in on the ground level of a project/event/etc. This may take extra effort, but you’ll seriously see a payoff. Gen Y is hungry to collaborate, and starving to make changes.

The nature of relationships with donors, regardless of their generation, is changing. We’re all living in a screwed up world and we want to see more from our donation dollars. We all demand real impact, real change, and want our relationships with non-profits to be transparent, authentic, cooperative and cause-driven (as opposed to faceless institutions using high-pressure sales tactics to take the money and run.)

Investing in real human relationships – whether it be online, on paper, in person, or via carrier pigeon – will ensure donors of any age feel their needs as philanthropists are being met.

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Written by Sheena Greer

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“Sheena often uses inappropriate humour and seeks attention in negative ways.” – Sheena’s 9th grade report card.

Raised on a farm on a heavy diet of George Carlin, Patsy Cline and William Blake, Sheena Greer grew with the stubborn-hearted idea that we need to do all we can to help each other, and that being a girl was a moot point. She currently employs her inappropriate humour as a writer, and helps nonprofits and social enterprises seek attention in positive ways by consulting with them on their communications, fundraising and strategy.

Connect with Sheena via: Twitter | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week six | celebrate good times, come on!

celebrate good times, come on!

Okay, we heard your biggest complaints, now let’s hear some positivity!

What are effective examples of fundraising practices targeted at young people???

I asked people on Twitter again and here are the answers I got back:

  • “In 2014 I was actually most impressed by stewardship — be accessible for donors to choose you and impress [them] when they do.”
  • “Naming a square foot, digitally, of your school’s campus. Magic number $25 for young donors. An American Uni did it!”
  • “I think young donors want to give to areas they are most passionate about. Let their gifts be restricted to their choice.”
  • “I love when I get @Kiva alerts that a payment was made. It inspires me to give a loan out to someone new!”
  • “I don’t do direct fundraising but I love personal giving pages. I also like creative, targeted asks that speak to known passions.”
  • “A Dean’s retirement was a successful campaign for young alumni here [Ryerson University].”
  • “I love specifying the use of funds and matching [gift] donors.”
  • “I really believe ‘age is just a number’ – I think when we get to know the person, we get to know the preference. Any ‘trends’ pointing to [Gen] Ys or Xs don’t point at me. I think donor engagement is about individuals, not generations.”
  • I find young alumni respond to transparency and openness, i.e. don’t pretend fundraising isn’t part of what we do. They respect that.”

And a few funny & sarcastic thoughts from Andy Shaindlin:

  • “Long, boring direct mail letter from old white guy in position of authority?”
  • “There’s always the land line call during dinner. (I know, ‘What’s a land line?’)”

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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

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week five | guest post: five ways we increased our young alumni giving participation rate

5 ways we increased our young alumni participation rate

We did it! We finally stopped talking about young alumni and started talking to them. At The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), 30% of our alumni base are considered “young”, or graduates of the last decade. This is a large enough percent to make us blink twice and get to work.

Since we began focusing on young alumni, we have seen an increase in our young alumni giving participation rate of approximately 50% compared to this time last year. There are so many different ways you can engage this group of alumni, but here are five ways that have worked well for us so far.

  1. We established a GOLD Council (Graduates Of the Last Decade). This group serves as an advisory board for young alumni initiatives in the areas of philanthropy, programming and marketing. These volunteers are eager to help with peer to peer solicitations and educating young grads on how to get involved in the life of the university.
  1. We segmented our email appeals for young alumni. In a world of texts and tweets, most young alumni don’t take time to read an entire email. We started using shorter sentences, more photos, and began sharing our calls to action in the form of infographics.
  1. We completed “check-in calls” in our telefund/phonathon instead of soliciting them for donations over the phone. Our student callers contacted the most recent UNCG graduates who have been out of school for six months or less. We asked how they were doing, updated contact information, and connected them to our career services center if they were still looking for employment.
  1. In May 2014, we launched our very first 24-hour giving day. We knew these were all the buzz, but didn’t know if it would work for us. It was a great success and allowed us to talk about giving in a new way. Our alumni were given the chance to make a gift, wear our school colors, and tell the world why they #BelieveInTheG on social media. We are continuing the campaign this year but for 48-hours and hope to get even more donors.
  1. We beefed up our alumni club events and networking socials. By offering more opportunities for alumni to gather, we learned that we do have a lot of young alumni who want to get more involved. They just need to know how to get plugged in. Taking time to make personal connections with young alumni at these events is key in making sure they stay engaged and eventually give of their time and their treasure.

Yes, we have seen growth, but we have a long way to go. We have learned that if you take time to invest in alumni while they are young, then you have a better chance of retaining them as donors in the future. How have you targeted young alumni in your annual giving strategy???

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Written by Sarah Kathryn Coley

Sarah-Kathryn-Coley-114x160Sarah Kathryn Coley is an Associate Director for Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is passionate about helping young alumni understand why it is important to give back.

Connect with Sarah Kathryn via:
Twitter | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week four | venting session

It’s time to air our grievances!

What are the biggest complaints about fundraising practices targeted at young people??? 

I asked people on Twitter and here are the answers I got back:

  • “I’m a small-sum monthly donor – I find big $$ asks are too much to handle in one go!”
  • “Lack of philanthropy education within the student market, impact reporting, and not customizing the ask are key to me […] Also think more needs to be done in terms of boosting online donation programs and infrastructure to support”
  • “Not saying thank you annoys us!!”
  • “They assume I’m hip and trendy. I assure you, I’m neither.”
  • “General lack of interesting, accessible gift opportunities that appeal to the change-making #millennial soul.”
  • “That I need something in return for my gift.”
  • “Anything that suggests an obligation or guilt. We need opportunities to help solve problems #inspiration”
  • “No opportunity beyond the ask for further engagement/involvement with the organization!”
  • “Bad stock photos”
  • “Giving info pages & donation forms that aren’t mobile friendly.”
  • “There’s a general lack of areas of support that pique my interest and inspire me to give.”
  • “Msgs that are too wordy, & too official/top-down sounding. Too many fields req’d to complete gift online”
  • “Emails that aren’t personalized, aren’t designed for mobile and calls when the caller has no info about me.”

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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 educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week one | let’s paint a picture

Thanks for reading the first installment of #whatgiveswednesday. In 26 posts over 365 days we will crack the mystery that is our youngest constituents.

Let’s start by painting a picture: what do our young constituents look like???

  • They connect more with causes they engage with on social media
  • They give back with time and talent; they want to be actively involved in your organization
    • and they will get their social networks (online and offline) involved, too
  • They’re willing to give, but they’re held back in their philanthropy due to not being established yet and/or having massive student debt
  • When they do give:
    • they like when organizations include in their communications stories about successful projects or the people they help (proof of meeting needs)
    • they support fewer organizations with larger gifts (rather than spreading their funds thinly across a number of charities)
    • they like monthly giving programs
    • the majority of them are giving under $50 or between $51-$100
  • They will have the capacity to make big gifts one day

What am I missing? What other qualities do our youngest constituents have? Let me know in the comments!

(Re)Sources

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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 educational fundraising for the past seven years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email