How to Magically Multiply Your Donors

magician with dollars from hat 300x300 How to Magically Multiply Your Donors
Want to pull some donors and dollars out of a hat? With a little retention magic, you can!

By now I hope you’ve read the latest Fundraising Effectiveness Survey results and know that, on average, U.S. and UK nonprofits are retaining only 41% of their donors. This is abysmal, and it makes me sad.

When I started out in fundraising, many moons ago, I consistently retained 60 – 70% of my donors. And I thought that was insufficient!

While there are all sorts of reasons this is happening, what matters most is stopping the attrition before your nonprofit withers and dies. Because at these rates, after seven years you’ll only have 10 out of 1,000 new donors you acquire today. You read that correctly! Did I mention that first-time donor retention rates are only 27%?

Time for some magical math.

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Clairity Click-it: Social Media + Content; Cause-Related Marketing; Events; Business Cards; Coaching; Free Stuff; Last Day for Year-End Appeals!

Mouse mouse2 300x202 Clairity Click it:  Social Media + Content; Cause Related Marketing; Events; Business Cards; Coaching; Free Stuff; Last Day for Year End Appeals!
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I’ve a really eclectic mix of links this week, ranging from marketing to fundraising to management – and then some! Plus you’ll find some free resources and your last chance opportunity to improve your year-end fundraising (scroll to the bottom). Can you believe this will be the last “Click-it” in August? How’d it get to be September so soon? You know what that means – year-end fundraising is right around the corner! Stay tuned to my blog as I’ll be offering lots of tips to help you out. Meanwhile… enjoy the rest of the season.Continue Reading

Warning: Your Nonprofit is Sending Too Few Emails

email bearing fruit 249x300 Warning: Your Nonprofit is Sending Too Few Emails
If you want your emails to bear fruit, stop being so stingy with them!

As the end of the year approaches, are you planning enough emails?

Emails should be included as part of your robust, multi-channel annual appeal if you want to increase your chances of reaching your goals.  On top of that, emails can be a great way to set yourself up for success even before you send an appeal.

Sadly, many nonprofits I encounter are unwilling to email their constituents sufficiently. Here’s what I often hear:

We don’t want to tick them off by mailing too many times.

We can’t ask them for money more than once or twice a year.

They get a lot of mail from us and it’s probably annoying.

They’re probably getting mail from a lot of different departments, so we don’t want to send from our department too often.

What all these comments have in common is that they’re based on a lack of data.Continue Reading

Clairity Click-it: Fundraising Pride; Messaging & Branding; Major Gifts; Social Media; Writing; Last Chance!

Mouse mouse2 300x202 Clairity Click it:  Fundraising Pride; Messaging & Branding; Major Gifts; Social Media; Writing; Last Chance!
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This week I’ve another potpourri of links on a variety of fundraising, nonprofit management and nonprofit marketing topics. Some practical stuff, some food for thought, some free resources and a last chance opportunity to improve your year-end fundraising (scroll to the bottom). I hope you’re enjoying the last days of the season!

Fundraising PrideContinue Reading

6 Ways to Raise More Money with Your Annual Fundraising Appeal

Fly by seat of pants 6 Ways to Raise More Money with Your Annual Fundraising Appeal
Put your year-end appeal together without high risk – no more flying by the seat of your pants!

The end of the year will be here before you know it!

Working on your year-end appeal?

Around this time of year, it’s common for me to hear one or more of the following — not just from newbies to the profession, but also from seasoned pros:

I’m struggling with copy. Last year’s appeal didn’t do as well as hoped.

I think our copy is okay, but wish it could be more inspiring.

I wish I knew some tricks to get more folks to open our envelope (or email).

I’d like to leverage our appeal with some email and social media, but don’t know where to start.

I’m flying by the seat of my pants! Wish I knew what to do and when to do it better.

If these statements sound familiar, don’t worry.  You’re not alone.

Crafting fundraising appeals and end-of-year campaigns is not rocket science, but you do have to adhere to certain guidelines if you want to achieve blast-off.  So… here come some guidelines!Continue Reading

Clairity Click-it: List Building, Calls to Action, Nonprofit Management, Silos, Change

Mouse mouse2 300x202 Clairity Click it:  List Building, Calls to Action, Nonprofit Management, Silos, Change
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This week I’ve a potpourri of links on a variety of fundraising, nonprofit management and nonprofit marketing topics. It’s still summer, so I figure it’s a good time for a varied reading list. Some practical stuff, and a little food for thought. Why not?

List Building

Click-It: How to Build Your Email List from LinkedIn and Twitter. This post by Amy Hall on the Maximize Social Business blog offers some great practical tips for converting your social media contacts into supporters. After all, isn’t that one of the major reasons you’re trying to generate more connections and followers?

Calls to Action

Click-It: 12 Nonprofit Call-to-Action Twitter Images to Study and Learn From. This is a great collection of examples from Nonprofit Tech for Good.Continue Reading

Your Essential 16-Point Annual Appeal Checklist

16 balloon 225x300 Your Essential 16 Point Annual Appeal Checklist
Get Your 16-Point Checklist Here and Take Your Fundraising Appeal to New Heights

Are you starting to worry about whether you’ll raise enough money this year to meet your goals? Are you concerned because last year’s appeal didn’t raise as much as you had hoped? Are you fresh out of ideas for what to put into an appeal to generate the giving response you need to sustain vital programs?  Fear not!  Help is on the way!  Just use this 16-point checklist before you send anything to your printer.Continue Reading

Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts

give where most needed Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts
What if we said “Give Where Most Moved” instead?

No one likes to be scolded.

Yet most nonprofits make a practice of regularly admonishing supporters to give “where most needed.”

You probably think this is a good thing. After all, it gives you the greatest flexibility. Right?

Wrong.  Think again.

You’ll have a lot more flexibility if you raise more money.

And you’ll raise a lot more money if you stop thinking about you and your needs and think more about your donors and their needs.

The practice of worshiping at the altar of unrestricted giving is about as non-donor-centered as it gets!

A prime example appeared a few years ago in an article I found on NPR (which has since been taken down from their site), in which the then CEO of National Philanthropic Trust chided potential donors to be loyal in their giving because it helps build planning. She said:

 “It’s really expensive for charities to find new donors and to raise money, so by doing fewer larger gifts, and then staying with them for three to five years, you’re actually helping the charity plan better and it’s easier for them to meet their mission.”

She continued to warn donors not to make the “common mistake” of giving to a very specific project or narrow program within a charity. These “restricted gifts” she said, don’t help a charity out with its other needs such as computers, training and maintaining facilities.

What nonsense!

It goes counter to intuition and common sense to force folks into your mold.

Why not encourage supporters to give to those programs about which they’re most passionate? Wouldn’t you think that would bond them to your organization over the longer term in a more natural way than telling them the “healthy way” to give is akin to eating their vegetables?

I’ve never really understood the penchant in so many nonprofits to eschew restricted gifts.

Some do this to the extent that major gift officers are penalized for bringing in too few unrestricted gifts. Essentially, this means these fundraisers are not allowed to talk to donors about what the donor really cares about. Their task is to steer the donor away from their passions and towards a middle-of-the-road strategy that simply doesn’t excite them. This is absurd! If you want to know why, take a look at this blog post by donor-centered fundraising guru Penelope Burk.

When you give people choices they’ll respond in greater numbers.

You see, if you package your overall case for support into different program ‘cases’ that resonate with people’s individual values, you’ll end up capturing more attention. People will actually read what you send to them. They’ll consider their options carefully. They’ll think about their giving. And they’ll make a thoughtful gift. Guess what else? About 50 – 90% of folks will decide to give an unrestricted gift!

Yes, you’ll also end up generating earmarked funds for your most popular programs. That’s great! Now you know what floats people’s boats.

And for those programs that are less popular,  you can direct your unrestricted funding there. You’re missing the boat if you simply talk in generalities and use unrestricted funds for ‘sexy’ programs that could potentially bring in greater donors and dollars. Yes, you need to keep the lights on. Yes, you appreciate donors who “get” this. Truly, I love the donors who give happily “where most needed.” But I also love those who give passionate, transformational gifts to a program near and dear to their heart. One is not better than the other. And there’s definitely room for both.

Wait, you say? What if we raise too much money for one program?

If that happens it’s not a bad problem. It should cause you to think. Whoa! People really like this program! Should we be doing more of it? Could we? Of course you don’t want unintentional mission drift, but thoughtful, strategic mission growth is a different thing.

Of course if you really end up with such an outpouring of support that you’ve more money than you can or want to use then, by all means, notify the donor and offer to return the money. This is not only the right thing to do; it’s also a good trust-building strategy. The fact that you were able to generate so much community goodwill only reflects positively on you. And often the donor may tell you to keep the funds to use where most needed. Whatever happens, you’ve had an opportunity to deepen your relationship with this supporter.

Donors increasingly want to take an active role in how their money is spent.

They’re less inclined to let your organization decide how their philanthropy will be allocated. You’re competing in a landscape where other organizations are giving your potential donors the opportunity to be actively engaged in their giving. If you don’t you will cease to be competitive in the donor marketplace.

Stop being afraid of restricted giving.

Offer your supporters enticing giving opportunities that key into what they’re most passionate about. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll end up deciding to make a restricted gift. It does mean they’ll probably end up paying more attention to you and making a considered gift of some form.

In fact, a study of the world’s wealthiest donors found that even among the most affluent donors nearly 70% of those with $1 to $5 million in assets prefer to give unrestricted gifts to charity, while among those with assets of $50 million or more, 45% say they prefer to make unrestricted gifts. When you offer choices the upside is greater than the downside. For me, it’s a no-brainer.

What’s best for your donors is what’s best for you.

Being donor-centered means understanding what donors really want and need. The more you continue to approach donors from the perspective of what you need, the poorer results you’ll see. It’s pretty much common sense, isn’t it?

mjr gift donors 150x150 Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted GiftsWant More on This Topic?

Grab my “Major Gifts Matters” FAQs about offering donors choices. How much more money could you raise if leadership began to think from your donor’s perspective rather than their own? A lot. That’s what I’m guessing.  Get your E-Guide here for just ten bucks. If you don’t find it useful, I’ll happily refund your money — no questions asked!

Clairity Click-it: The Millenial Issue – to Ignore at Your Nonprofit’s Peril

Mouse mouse2 300x202 Clairity Click it:  The Millenial Issue – to Ignore at Your Nonprofit’s Peril
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The 2015 Millennial Impact Report was released last week, and lots of folks are weighing in on what this means for nonprofits. Why is everyone all agog? These folks, born between 1980 and 2000, represent huge buying (aka donating) power and influence. As the lead researcher and president of Achieve, a lead researcher in the study, notes:

“The Millennial generation is influential. From their buying power to their handle on the limitless potential of social media, Millennials can address issues and be a voice for a cause like no other generation before them.”

I was particularly interested in how they gave:

  • 30% online
  • 28% check or cash
  • 22% solicited through their company
  • 11% payroll deduction

In other words, they’re just as multi-channel as the Boomers and Gen X, with a skewing toward more online activity. There’s plenty of food for thought in the articles that follow, with some great suggestions for how you might consider reworking your fundraising and marketing strategies to engage greater numbers of this emerging generation.

BTW: I’ve thrown in a couple of articles that apply to all generations. The plain and simple fact is that marketing is changing for everyone.Continue Reading

7 Storytelling Tips to Inspire Nonprofit Donors to Act

Storyteller thumbs up 198x300 7 Storytelling Tips to Inspire Nonprofit Donors to Act
Listen up: Have I got a story for you!

As a fundraising professional, relationship building with donors is an ongoing process and communication is an important part of that process. Stories are a great communications tool that you can use to tell donors about their impact in a tangible and easy to understand manner.

Storytelling seems to be everywhere these days. Non-profits are actively trying to use stories to engage their current and new donors. Is your non-profit trying to tap into the power of stories? Perhaps it’s been a positive experience for your organization. But maybe you have faced some challenges.

One of the biggest challenges with storytelling is being able to tell a great story. A story that really stands out from the pack and resonates with your donor audience. A story that, ultimately, compels action.

Today I want to share with you 7 rules for telling a better non-profit story.

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