Yes, The Donor Pyramid is Really Dead

dinosaur 300x300 Yes, The Donor Pyramid is Really Dead

When it’s our time to go, we all gotta go — dinosaurs and pyramids alike!

An Open Letter to Andrea Kihlstedt — Part 1

[I am responding to Andrea Kihlstedt’s Open Letter to me, Is The Donor Pyramid Really Dead, in the Guidestar blog. She was responding to my recent posts on the death of the Donor Pyramid in Fundraising Success Magazine: R.I.P. Donor Pyramid? and Maximize Social Business Blog How Social Media Toppled the Donor Pyramid – What that Means for Nonprofits.]

First, let me say this is a great dialogue to be having. The donor pyramid is a sacred dinosaur, and it’s good to challenge old assumptions from time to time. After all, the dinosaurs had a very good run, but even they became extinct.

Andrea says “no, the pyramid is alive and well,” making the case that (especially in capital campaigns) not all donors are equal. She also finds use for the pyramid in other campaigns, noting a Kickstarter campaign she recently worked on in which the biggest gifts came from donors who were approached face-to-face rather than via online strategies.Continue Reading

Just Puppy Love? 4 Ways Nothing Beats It When it Comes to Donors

puppy love 300x300 Just Puppy Love?  4 Ways Nothing Beats It When it Comes to Donors

How to build donor loyalty and take puppy love to forever love.

Do you know why your dog is not only your best friend, but your exuberantly best friend – a Best Friend Forever on steroids?

Can anything be as joyous and lovingly loyal as a dog? Picture Snoopy doing the ‘Ode to Joy’ dance. Unbridled ecstasy. Happy, happy, happy. What makes Snoopy Charlie Brown’s BFF? My guess is that it’s the same thing that makes your pooch pop with pleasure as you poke yourself across the threshold at the end of the day.

Chances are 9 out of 10 that your doggie is your BFF because you are hers. You treat your pet like royalty. How are you treating your donors?Continue Reading

If it’s Broke, Better Fix it: Two Disarming Truths

broken arm xray 247x300 If its Broke, Better Fix it: Two Disarming Truths

What’s wrong with this picture?

Truths: Today, there are two things broken from my perspective: (1) my arm, and (2) the donor pyramid.

Yup! I’m really not much of a camper, but had a momentary lapse in judgement over the week-end. Kaboom!

Luckily, I managed to type up an article about the sad state of the donor pyramid prior to being reduced to a one-handed hunter/pecker (because this method is SLOW, baby)! That article, “R.I.P.Donor Pyramid,  is gracing the cover of the May/June Fundraising Success Magazine, so I hope you’ll check it out over there and let me know what you think. Here’s my bottom line: Continue Reading

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!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

8 Secrets to Building Online Relationships with People Who Matter – part 1

Business card 300x275 8 Secrets to Building Online Relationships with People Who Matter   part 1

“Stop treating your schmoozing like a business card collection contest. Start over with a new goal: quality always trumps quantity.” – Minda Zetlin, President, American Society of Journalists

Collecting — whether business cards, numbers of followers on Twitter or ‘likes’ on Facebook — is meaningless without a strategy to turn those relatively “blank” connections into meaningful relationships.  If your marketing and/or fundraising strategy is based on counting, it’s time to rethink this strategy. Collecting is merely the “on ramp to build new relationships.”   In his new book “Power Relationships,” author Andrew Sobel tells us there’s a better approach to networking.Continue Reading

Why Your Nonprofit’s Events are a Waste of Time

golf ball entering a hole 300x210 Why Your Nonprofit’s Events are a Waste of Time

Are you seizing your opportunity? Or letting your ‘thoners just fall into a black hole?

Fun events may bring in hundreds of attendees, but a fundraising event is not an end in and of itself.  Often the charity never sees these folks again (or at least not until the next event) because these folks are golfers or ‘thoners, not donors. These events are a waste of your precious resources.

Don’t tell me that you “raised awareness.”

Unless you raised awareness towards a particular end (usually generating greater philanthropic support) – and you have a plan to intentionally build on this awareness — then everything your attendees may have learned about you will go in one ear and out the other. Awareness that isn’t reinforced lasts about two seconds.

Don’t tell me that you “raised good money.”

Did you really? Well, think again. Continue Reading

What’s ‘Like’ Got to Do with It? 5 Ways to Inspire Nonprofit Engagement Through Social Media

Facebook like Whats Like Got to Do with It? 5 Ways to Inspire Nonprofit Engagement Through Social Media

I like you, casually.

Stop counting likes and follows. If your work plan has “increase FB likes from X to Y or increase Twitter follows from Y to Z” as an objective, delete, delete, delete!  Your objective must relate to your “why;” it can’t just be a “what.”

Who cares how many “friends” you have if none of them are engaging with you?  Liking is passive.  Engaging is active. What do you want folks to feel/think/do?  You simply won’t get there by wishing and hoping.  You get there by inspiring.Continue Reading

Why Your Nonprofit Should Get a Whirlpool

Whirlpool washer 300x289  Why Your Nonprofit Should Get a WhirlpoolNo, not a washer/dryer.  A real, honest-to-goodness vortex.

Last week I wrote about what nonprofits can learn about why we stopped building pyramids. The digital revolution has crumbled that baby – today’s ‘donor pyramid’ is nothing but an empty frame. Our donors no longer fit inside of it. So… what’s a nonprofit to do?

My guest post yesterday on Maximize Social Business detailed precisely How Social Media Toppled the Donor Pyramid – and what that means for nonprofits. Nothing is neat, orderly and linear anymore. Supporters are here, there and everywhere – all at once!

Today, electronic communications – social, mobile, email, crowd funding, online donating — have permanently disrupted the traditional donor-engagement process. Continue Reading

What Sherpas Can Teach Fundraisers

Sherpa guide 225x300 What Sherpas Can Teach Fundraisers

Are you lifting your donors up?

Earlier this week I posted an article talking about how fundraising professionals need to become Engagement Journey Guides. One of my readers, Amy K., suggested that was a mouthful and offered up the term “Engagement Sherpa.”  That got me thinking, so I looked up the word. Sherpa means “a member of a people noted for providing assistance to mountaineers… [and who] have achieved world renown as expert guides.” Hmmn. I really like that!

Think of your donors as mountaineers.  They’re on an ascent. It’s not just towards the top of your donor pyramid. Continue Reading

How the ‘Diva of Dollars’ became the ‘Engagement Journey Guide’

 

Journey 300x225 How the ‘Diva of Dollars’ became the ‘Engagement Journey Guide’

It’s about the journey, not the money.

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

Here’s a true story.  Some years ago, while working for a family service agency, we became involved in a discussion about job titles.  Should folks stay as directors or become v.p’s? Should my title remain ‘Director of Development’ or switch to ‘Advancement’ or ‘External Relations’? I researched titles elsewhere. Yada, yada, yada.  I finally said I really didn’t care.  Just call me ‘Maven of Money’ or ‘Diva of Dollars.’

I didn’t get it.Continue Reading