Too Many Hats? 3 Secrets You Need to Build a Fundraising Marketing Team

nonprofit communications report 2015 Too Many Hats? 3 Secrets You Need to Build a Fundraising Marketing Team

Hats off to the newly released report from Kivi LeRoux Miller! See what it means for you.

I recently had the privilege of presenting at the ALDE Conference, during the course of which I had the good fortune to listen in on the Keynote Address presented by Kivi LeRoux Miller. It got me to thinking about becoming a nonprofit milliner.

Say what?

Well, here’s the deal. I’m sure I could do a brisk business selling all sorts of different hats based on what Kivi had to say about results from her 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. After surveying more than 1500 nonprofits, guess what she found?

Executive, development and marketing directors seem to be wearing stunningly different bonnets – all reflecting their stunningly different goals.

Here’s what I mean:

The study asked staff heading up different departments to pick their top three goals. The results? Their goals were not exactly aligned.

How development, marketing and executive directors prioritized their top 3 goals markedly differently.

A Top 3 Goal? % of Development Directors saying YES % of Executive Directors saying YES % of Marketing Communications Directors saying YES
Donor Acquisition 89% 54% 33%
Donor Retention  94% 60% 36%
Community Engagement 39% 51% 65%
General Brand Awareness 25% 42% 68%

Okay, so I’ve got at least three distinct customer markets for my new hat business. Woo-hoo!

fedora Too Many Hats? 3 Secrets You Need to Build a Fundraising Marketing Team

Does this look like your Chief Fundraiser on staff?

I could sell Fundraising Fedoras to development staff. Perhaps Branding Berets and Communicator Cloches to marketing staff. And Director Derbies for the E.D.s.

I bet I could even sell an array of different hats to other development staff with different portfolios (sadly, these folks too often get territorial and compete rather than cooperate). How about Annual Giving Gibus, Major Giving Mitres and Planned Giving Panamas?

opossum cap 300x210 Too Many Hats? 3 Secrets You Need to Build a Fundraising Marketing Team

Does this look like your Online Giving Professional?

No doubt there’d be a market for offering a diverse array to different marketing staff as well (e.g., Direct Mail Deerstalkers, Online Pro Opossum Caps and Media Mad Hatter Toppers for those wild and crazy PR folks. But before I put in my order to stock my hat boutique’s shelves, let’s take a further look at the study.

Oh, dear!

The Study also reveals huge gaps in approaches to what are perceived as the most effective communication channels.

So how does your organization get on the same page?

visor 300x199 Too Many Hats? 3 Secrets You Need to Build a Fundraising Marketing Team

Does this look like your Communications Director?

Development staff favor in person meetings. I imagine they’d probably buy wide-brimmed straw hats and warm hoods to keep the sun and rain off their heads while they’re out and about. Communications directors might choose visors to moderate the glare coming off the computer screen while they’re working on their communication priorities — website and sending email.

top hat 199x300 Too Many Hats? 3 Secrets You Need to Build a Fundraising Marketing Team

Does this look like your Executive Director going to call on a donor?

And the executive directors probably would like a very stylish chapeau (perhaps a top hat for the men and a pillbox for the women?) as 52% picked social media as a preferred channel vs. 46% for communications directors and 30% for development directors.

So… I’m just about ready to place my order. But wait a minute! This makes no sense at all. What does this all mean? As I was listening to Kivi’s presentation it got me thinking about two things: (1) Why is this happening, and (2) How can it be fixed?

The overarching problems I see are (1) too much silo thinking and (2) too little common sense, and (3) too little team spirit.

3 Secrets to Building an Integrated Fundraising and Marketing Team

1. Siloes Be Gone!

I’ve long advocated for integration of the development and marketing functions into a single department. Why? Because they’re tasked with very similar responsibilities. They have the same basic decisions to make:  (1) which “product” to offer; (2) which channel(s) to message in, and (3) which call to action to emphasize.  Put another way, the right product must be offered in the right way to the right customer. If marketing and development are targeting the same constituents (and there is always significant overlap), yet each choose a different product, channel or call to action, you’re already in trouble.

So these functions must be seamlessly integrated. They must speak the same language.  Responsibilities must be clearly assigned, both to prevent fights over territory and to assure nothing slips through the cracks. Department meetings should be held regularly so everyone understands the role they play in contributing towards the big picture goal.

How can you put your best foot forward to the public when your right and left hands don’t know what the other is doing? You need both oars pulling the same boat.

Everyone put on the same Silo Killing Skimmers and race that boat to victory!

2. Bring Back Common Sense

Could it be that everyone who crosses the threshold of a nonprofit takes off their “common sense cap?” That’s all that explains this for me. And, sadly, I encounter it in my practice over and over again. For example, the marketing folks in the study didn’t prioritize donor retention. Huh? It should be common sense (and it certainly is in the for profit sector) that it costs more to get a new customer than to keep an old one. We know in our own homes that it (usually) costs more to buy a new appliance than to fix an old one (especially when it’s brand new). But… maybe that’s where the problem lies.

We’ve become such a throw-away culture that we think little of tossing away our old donors and replacing them with new ones. In fact, we think so little that we don’t even realize we’re abandoning our current donors. But by acting as if we’re “done” with those folks once the gift is secured, that’s what we’re effectively doing. And here we come back to common sense (or lack thereof). No one thinks they can sustain bonds with their friends if they talk to them only once a year. Yet we think our donors will keep giving and giving and giving — even if we do very, very little to build a relationship with them.

Let’s put our Common Sense Caps on folks!

3. Get the Team Spirit!

Does your development department have to beg and cajole the marketing staff to help them out whenever needs arise? Can you imagine if that was the culture on, say, a baseball team? “Yeah, I see you’ve got a no-hitter going into the 9th inning Madison, but don’t think I’m going to bust my butt to catch a fly ball just to preserve your record. I’ve got other priorities.

Understand that from the outside looking in, you are ONE organization.  One team. No one cares which department crafted which message. What folks do care about is when they are bombarded by too many different messages — from different departments — with different calls to action.  It’s confusing. What are they supposed to do first! What’s your top priority for their time, interest and money?

Get it together folks. Development and marketing efforts must have coherence. I’m talking to you, Executive Directors. Too often no one has authority (or too many people share authority); the result is anarchy.

Commit to creating a development/marketing team. Go buy everyone the same hat, put your organization’s logo and tagline on it, and get out the cheerleading pom-poms. Rah! Go team!
(Besides, I really don’t have time to go into the millinery business).

Do you have problems with folks wearing too many different hats in your nonprofit? If you’ve strategies to get everyone working as a team, please share them in the comments below.

Here’s How Often You Should Mail to Your Donors

Mail email 300x250 Heres How Often You Should Mail to Your Donors

How many times do you mail or email your donors?

I decided to write this post due to the number of times nonprofits ask me “How often should we mail to our donors?” The corollary question is “How often can we ask people to give?”

The answer?

Well… if there was one quick answer I wouldn’t have needed to write a whole article. I’d just have given you a headline with a definitive response!

I know you want a definite answer.

And I could give you one. But it wouldn’t be the truth. Because the truth is different for every nonprofit. And the truth will even be different for your nonprofit at different points in your life cycle.

There are two definitive things I can tell you:Continue Reading

How to Deal with Disgruntled Donors: Don’t Waste Valuable Complaints

Complaints button 300x249 How to Deal with Disgruntled Donors: Don’t Waste Valuable Complaints

Don’t waste valuable donor communications — whatever form they take!

I’m going to tell you to do exactly what I do.

Don’t ignore a single disgruntled supporter. Express compassion and contrition.

If someone takes the time to tell you they’re unhappy, that means they care. They’re connected to you. They want something from you, and you’re disappointing them.

This is your golden opportunity to get inside your donor’s head and find out what your supporter really cares about!

Don’t blow this person off. Instead, Continue Reading

10 Ways to Earn Donors’ Trust and Confidence


10 300x300 10 Ways to Earn Donors’ Trust and Confidence

Do you know about these 10 donor rights and privileges?

Do you know about The Donor’s Bill of Rights? Does your staff know about it? Your board of directors? If you do know about it, do you heed it?

You should.

For the sake of your donors. For the sake of your nonprofit. For the sake of the entire social benefit sector.Continue Reading

The Big Secret – One Word – to Transform Donor Loyalty

SECRET 300x300 The Big Secret – One Word – to Transform Donor Loyalty

What ONE principle can change your donor relationships from short- to long-term?

In a recent post about building donor loyalty I promised to reveal my personal #1 SECRET the one principle that makes the greatest difference to long-term, sustainable fundraising success.

I’m going to share that principle here; then I’m going to turn this principle into a word – actually three variations of the same word – that you can use to transform the way you’ve been doing business.

Are you ready?Continue Reading

6 Best Ways to Make Storytelling Part of Your Nonprofit Culture

Storytelling brain 6 Best Ways to Make Storytelling Part of Your Nonprofit Culture

How do you fill the brains of your staff, volunteers and donors with stories about your organization?

Everyone loves a good story. Everyone.

Which is why storytelling should be at the heart of your nonprofit’s strategic communications. I know ‘storytelling’ is a meme du jour. But that’s no reason to ignore it. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! There’s a reason these phrases become buzzworthy. In this case, because you want to serve up content that’s relevant, attractive and accessible to your constituencies. Storytelling fits the bill better than anything else.

In fact, of all the content you can create, storytelling is your ultimate weapon and the most powerful means of communicating your message.

Let’s look at this a different way. Continue Reading

Why Your Nonprofit Should Dump Your Marketing Communications Program

Tips and Hints 300x249 Why Your Nonprofit Should Dump Your Marketing Communications Program

Puzzled why your old school marketing communications program isn’t delivering for you as you wished it would? HINT: Embrace content marketing.

Because I’ll bet you it’s not embracing two key elements essential to raising awareness and getting folks to engage with you in 2014 and beyond.

What’s that? (1) Content marketing. (2) Social media. For real.

Let me explain.Continue Reading

What do Lukewarm Tapioca and Molten Chocolate Cake have to do with Fundraising?

molten chocolate cake 300x199 What do Lukewarm Tapioca and Molten Chocolate Cake have to do with Fundraising?

Does this get your attention? Is this a heart you could wrap your heart around? Make you want a taste?

Or… What Your Donors Won’t Tell You about Your Nonprofit Messaging.

At first blush, tepid tapioca and gooey hot chocolate might appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with securing vital resources to further your mission. Blush again.

Blush hard. Think of all the good things you could accomplish were you to more effectively master the art and science of fundraising. Feel the warm pink tinge beginning to creep up your neck as you embrace the errors of your ways over the past year. Or two. Or 10. Or even more.

Are you still doing things like it was 1985? 2000? 2008? If so, you should probably be embarrassed. Because I know very few organizations who are succeeding today using yesterday’s strategies.Continue Reading

A Baker’s Dozen of Nonprofit Blogging Do’s and Don’ts – Pt.2

baker2 A Baker’s Dozen of Nonprofit Blogging Do’s and Don’ts – Pt.2

I’ve baked up 7 more nonprofit blogging tips for you — so now you’ve got a full Baker’s Dozen!

Last week, in part 1 of this post, I encouraged you to begin blogging if you’re not doing so already. And, if you are, to do so more effectively. Make your blog the hub of your content marketing. It will simplify your life in so many ways, and become the anchor for your marketing communications and organizational branding.

Today, let’s continue with seven more “do’s and don’ts” to round out our baker’s dozen of nonprofit blogging tips:

Don’t 7: You don’t give credit where it is due.

It’s fine to derive inspiration from another source, but don’t claim the prose as your own.

Do 7:  When you cite other sources, attribute them.

If you quote someone, put quotation marks around their prose and state their name. If you want to be extra nice, include a hyperlink to their website or suggest to folks that they follow this person on one or more social media sites. I derived inspiration for this post from two articles on Hubspot by Nathan Yerian and Ginny Sosky. You can see them here and here.

Don’t 8: You don’t take time to edit your post.

This is one of my pet peeves, and it’s a real rookie mistake. Why put all that time into creating a great useful post that will draw readers to you, when you then repel them by including a bunch of typos and run-on sentences? It’s sloppy and stupid.

Do 8: Come back to your post the next day and edit it.

Remove redundancies. Eliminate jargon. Take out excess adverbs and adjectives. Run spell check. Break up big chunks of text. Use sub-heads, bold-face, color and images to draw the reader’s eye to your main points and make it easier to scan. Do it the next day, when you’re fresh and can look at your post from a different perspective.

Don’t 9: You let great get in the way of good.

This used to be a big problem for me. I’m a perfectionist by nature. It was hard for me to hit the “publish” button. Please learn from my mistakes and don’t obsess! If you’ve followed all of the “Do’s” outlined above, your post will be ready for prime time.

Do 9: Hit the “publish” button once you’ve done your due diligence.

Make yourself a checklist and post it next to your computer. Go through it after you’ve finished writing. Once you’re done, publish your post!

Don’t 10: You publish erratically.

Consistency is key if you want to build a following for your blog.

Do 10: Develop a content editorial calendar and stick to your publishing schedule.

It’s been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. A content editorial calendar keeps you organized and on track. You commit to your blog having a consistent presence, so your audience can commit to looking for you and reading you.  You don’t become one of those TV shows we all stopped watching because their schedule became so erratic we couldn’t remember when/where to find them. By planning ahead, you drive perseverance.

Don’t 11: You fail to include an image.

It’s often said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. When it comes to blog articles this is true in spades! Our culture is increasingly visual to the point where articles with images get 94% more views! Marketers who are embracing visual content are seeing huge returns in terms of more readers, leads, customers and revenue.

Do 11: Include at least one image in your blog post.

This should be a no-brainer based on the research cited above (and all over the internet). Your blog posts have a purpose. You want them to engage folks. Visual content is a huge driver of engagement. You can afford it, because there are plenty of online sites offering free image downloads today. Just search for them and pick one.  And check out Jeff Bullas’ The Ultimate Guide to Using Images in Social Media. He’ll give you all sorts of tips and tricks for using images to their greatest effect. Enough said.

Don’t 12: You fail to include a call to action as a next step.

Once you’ve published your post you want folks who read it to do something.   What is that? How will your readers know what you want them to do? Too often blog posts end with a whimper. The reader gets all the way to the end, only to be left with that lead balloon feeling of “so what?

Do 12: Include a clear call to action.

This will increase your conversion rate (i.e., turning first-time readers into subscribers; turning ongoing readers into donors) and improve the return on investment for the time you put into crafting and publishing your post. Simple calls to action include:

  • Subscribe to our blog.
  • Comment on this post.
  • Share this post.
  • Please donate.

For more on creating effective calls to action, read this free guide from Hubspot.

Don’t 13: You fail to build relationships.

When you ignore people who do as you’ve asked, it’s just plain rude. It discourages them. It can even anger them. Conversely, when you interact with folks it can encourage others to interact as well. Creating a dialogue is one of the primary benefits of a blog, enabling you to get to know your constituents in ways that were previously cost-prohibitive. Don’t waste your opportunities.

Do 13: Respond to folks who take the time to interact with you through your blog.

If they comment on your post, reply back to them. If they share your post on social media or via email, thank them. If one of your active constituents has their own blog, go to their site and make a comment or share their post. If you see they have a large following, ask them nicely if they would consider sharing your post with their network. And so forth.

binderlayingopen 550x634 1 e1405302761651 A Baker’s Dozen of Nonprofit Blogging Do’s and Don’ts – Pt.2

Discover How a Blog Can Drive Donor Acquisition, Retention and Support

If you found this post useful, you may be interested in my brand new  Nonprofit Blogging Playbook.

Get as many Guides as you want or need (if you buy all four, I offer a “Bundle Bargain” discount). A great blog is one of the best investments you can make in acquiring and retaining more donors. Learn how with this 4-volume set that will teach you (1) blog fundamentals; (2) content folks will want to read; (3) how to use your content to engage folks, and (4) how to promote your blog so it builds momentum and drives more potential supporters to your website. Plus, I stand by all my Clairification products.  If you’re not happy, there’s a no questions asked full refund policy. The only way to lose is by doing nothing. Don’t be a loser! 

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8 Secrets to Building Online Relationships with People Who Matter – Part 2

Pizza delivery 199x300 8 Secrets to Building Online Relationships with People Who Matter – Part 2

Here’s your pizza! I sensed you wanted it, even though you didn’t order it.

In Part 1 I covered how quality trumps quantity when it comes to networking with your supporter base. It’s not so much about counting fans as it is about developing fans you can count on. In this two-parter I’m offering 8 ways to reframe your nonprofit marketing and fundraising stewardship objectives so you actually get something out of them — beyond counting. Click here for the first 4 ways, with accompanying ACTION TIPS.

4 More Relationship Building Secrets + ACTION TIPS

5. Be intriguing.

Don’t just do what people expect. If you want to make a connection with a new contact, especially a very busy one, the quickest way to arouse that person’s curiosity is with something unexpected. You can borrow a page from Disneyland when it comes to thinking about ways to “wow” your supporters.

ACTION TIP: Brainstorm 10 things you might do to delight your supporters in the weeks ahead. They do say ‘it’s the thought that counts’ – so think about what you might do. Another way to frame this is by taking a page from customer experience guru John Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service, who talks about delivering “Psychic Pizza.” What if someone showed up right now with an unexpected gift of pizza? Or what if you did something really unexpected, like sending out a non-appeal headlined “Don’t send us money!” Then you could simply enclose a brief survey asking for feedback/advice on your programs. What a nice way to simultaneously demonstrate you care about folks for more than their wallets and also get them directly engaged.

6. Think people, not positions.

“Everyone reading this knows people who are smart, ambitious, motivated, and interesting,” Sobel says. “Some of those people, in eight or 10 years, are going to be influencers. They may even be CEOs.” Don’t just think about the obvious, established philanthropists and influencers in your community. Those folks are harder to reach and connect with than would have been the case 20 years earlier.

ACTION TIP: Make a list of folks you know who seem to be up-and-comers. Make connections with them now, early in their careers, before others catch on to them. If you do, this will pay dividends down the road.

7. Give before you ask.

Sobel tells the story of a business school classmate he hadn’t heard from in 30 years – until he received a long email asking him to invest in a new venture. He hadn’t invested first in building a relationship. Sobel ignored him.

ACTION TIP: If you don’t want your donors and/or influencers to ignore your requests, develop and implement a relationship-building plan first. Call them up on the phone. Get to know them as people. Don’t keep everything at arms length; then expect a hands-on response to your request.

8. Be generous.

This takes you back to the “attitude of gratitude” I encouraged you to adopt in Part 1, #4. Another way to think about this is simply as instilling an organization-wide culture of customer service. “You can’t operate with the thought of reciprocity in mind,” Sobel cautions. “You have to have a generous spirit. The greatest networkers I know genuinely like to help others. They’re always doing it. And if they ever do need anything, people will fall over themselves to help them.

ACTION TIP: Make engaging with your ‘customers’ everyone’s job. Don’t silo relationship building to development or marketing staff. Never underestimate the power of your constituents to make or break you. If you’re generous with them, just as a matter of course, they’ll be generous with you.

Always keep in mind that no one has to help you.

You can’t make people do anything for you. The way to make your supporters count is to join them, not browbeat them. As John Haydon notes in 5 Mind Shifts That Boost Social Sharing: “Become one of them… find the people who are already talking about your cause, and join their conversations. Quite naturally, on their own terms, they’ll accept you as one of their own.”

Ready to build your army of influencers and donors and make them count?  What’s one thing you’ll do differently starting next week? Please share.

For More Online Relationship Building Tips…

Get my updated  ‘Hop on Board’ Nonprofit Social Media Guide. You’ll get 27  full pages with more than 100 tips, resources and tools to help you with your resolve to fully embrace social media for your nonprofit.  Get started today!

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