October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

ScreamPumpkin 255x300 October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

H E L P! I need major donors!

I’m majorly S C R E A M I N G with delight to be hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival!

So majorly, in fact, that the subject this month is TRICKS or TREATS – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

Tell us your tricks – the ones that work! Do you HAUNT prospects through a series of managed ‘moves’?  Do you fly in on a BROOMSTICK and just drop in spontaneously? How do you put them under your SPELL?

Tell us some treats – ways you wow your donors! Smile like a JACK-O-LANTERN every time you think of them; then figure out a way to let them know? Give them lots of virtual CANDY (seriously, do you use social media for any part of your major gifts strategy)?Continue Reading

What My Mother Taught Me and How it Informs My Fundraising Practice

 

Manners Polite and Rude 300x300 What My Mother Taught Me and How it Informs My Fundraising Practice

Do you toss good manners, along with common sense, out the window when you cross the threshold of your nonprofit?

Why and How to Invoke the Power of Thank You

My mother was known for having impeccable manners. At her memorial service, it seemed as if every other person who shared a memory talked about her manners. They did so not in a nitpicking way, but in a loving way.  It seemed she always knew just the right thing to do to show her appreciation.

Maybe that’s why I love writing thank you notes.  Seriously, it’s my favorite thing to do in all of fundraising.  And it’s undoubtedly why, when I first heard Penelope Burk speak in 2001, it completely changed my approach to the practice of development.Continue Reading

6 Traits of Relationship-Building Nonprofits + 4 Most Effective Ways to Retain Donors

Bad day 6 Traits of Relationship Building Nonprofits + 4 Most Effective Ways to Retain Donors

Your donors have bad days too. Learn to be a friend.

Donor retention has continued to plummet every year for the past seven years.  It’s really, truly an awful problem. For some unknown reason, all that hard work you put into acquiring new donors is, seemingly, being wasted. Why?

I recently asked folks what ONE word they would use to sum up what is needed to transform donor loyalty. I received some interesting answers and thought I’d share them with you, along with my comments, here. First, let me remind you of my own Big Secret — the one principle I’ve found that makes the greatest difference to long-term, sustainable fundraising success: 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

How to Create an Ice Bucket-type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success

fallon ice bucket hed 2014 How to Create an Ice Bucket type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success

Jimmy Fallon and friends prepare to take the Ice Bucket Challenge

Are you wringing your hands because your boss or board wants you to come up with a viral social campaign to rival the “Ice Bucket Challenge?” Oy!

I was first introduced to this phenomenon one evening as I was watching the Jimmy Fallon show on t.v. Jimmy, some of his crew and his band all dumped buckets of ice water on their heads; then challenged the New York Jets to do so as well (Jimmy had been challenged by Justin Timberlake). I had no idea why they were doing it or what the “Ice Bucket Challenge” was about.Continue Reading

It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

6 spheres 300x225 It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

The biggest secret? Everything works TOGETHER. No silos.

Julia C. Campbell and I were clearly separated at birth, and I’ve told her as much. Because I tend to agree – in spades – with everything she writes.  [Plus, her middle name is Claire, so what further proof is needed?]  Her recent article, 6 Ways Nonprofits Are Getting Online Fundraising All Wrong, is no exception.

Here are Julia’s 6 tips, to which I’ve added a few of my own thoughts (although they’re really not my own because there are no new ideas – and Julia and I think the same)!

1) Online fundraising does not work in a silo.

Julia reminds you that no fundraising or marketing effort works in a silo. This is SO important! Just building it isn’t enough. Whatever it may be. A blog. A Facebook page. A Twitter profile. A donation landing page. You name it. Sorry. They won’t call.  They won’t write.  They won’t wax on rhapsodically about your finer qualities. The most they might do is notice you out of the corner of their eye; then move on.

ACTION TIP: Convene a multi-disciplinary communications team. It’s on you to work it – together – as a full organization invested in engaging those folks who share your values. Whatever you do online must be supported by what you do offline. And vice-versa.

2) Online fundraising does not work if your website sucks.

And, by the way, these days if your website isn’t optimized for mobile it sucks. Because I’m willing to bet that a huge percentage of those who intentionally search for you, encounter you serendipitously, or open email from you, do so via mobile devices. And you’re losing them because…  you’re just so user-unfriendly. In fact, a recent study by Papilia, Donor Conversion: Why Mobile Optimization Is an Urgent Matter, revealed that more than 20% of online giving comes from mobile devices but more than 50% who attempted to make a mobile donation dropped off. And they’re not going to wait until they get back to their desktop computer to check back. You’ve lost them for good. That should be totally unacceptable to you! What are you going to do about it? Also, if you only have one generic Donation Landing page, your website sucks.   The spider whose web isn’t sticky won’t catch any flies.  What’s on your landing page that will get folks stuck there? Folks want to give for the purpose/campaign that moved them. If you don’t reassure them – right away on the landing page – that this is how their gift will be allocated, then they’re going to jump ship. “Your gift reduces economic inequality” is not the same as “Yes! I want to send a kid to college today.” The average donation made through a branded checkout page is 38% larger than the average donation made through a generic page.

ACTION TIP: Check out this edition of the nonprofit blog carnival. It’s all about how to build, maintain and evaluate a great nonprofit website.

3) Online fundraising does not work if it is not easy.

Make your donation landing pages inviting, easy to navigate and persuasive. Research has indicated that websites lose 40% of visitors with every click – so make sure yours count! In fact, make your entire website a nice tasty treat for folks!  “What’s the nicest thing your website does for your constituents” is a question I sometimes pose to my clients. It turns out that one of the nicest things you can do for folks is make it really easy for them to have a conversation and give/receive feedback. Your website can be a way you collect/consolidate what is happening in multiple media channels so that constituents who wish to can find everything from a single portal.

ACTION TIP: Hubspot offers a free Nonprofit Guide to Calls to Action and Landing Pages to help you turn strangers into supporters.

4) Online fundraising does not work if no one knows about it.

This is a variation on just building it isn’t enough. You’ve got to work from a plan. Every chance you get, let folks know where to find you online.

ACTION TIP: Telling a great story in your e-news, blog, mailed newsletter, fundraising letter, web page or Facebook post? Include a “Donate!” link. Never waste the dose of inspiration you’ve provided. Don’t just leave would-be donors wishing they could give the story a happy ending. Take them by the hand and SHOW them how to do it!

5) Online fundraising is not a substitute for a major gifts program, planned giving program or annual campaign.

Online tools are a complement to nonprofit donor moves management. You’d be silly not to use them. But don’t abuse them. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. If your mail campaign is not as effective as you wish it were, throwing it out in favor of an email campaign is probably not the answer. My hunch is that you’d be better off going back to basics and clarifying your messaging. Get crystal clear on why your mission matters, and what’s in it for the donor if they join you.

ACTION TIP: Become a consummate “drip” story teller. Your donors want an ongoing tale. A little today. A little next week. And so forth. There’s no better delivery mechanism for “drip” storytelling than social media. And don’t get hung up on thinking it’s just Facebook or Twitter. It’s lots of things… email; texting; LinkedIn (where a lot of professionals, aka donors, are); Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Yelp… if you start to ask, you’ll be surprised to find out what your donors are doing digitally.

6) Online fundraising does not work if you do not communicate your impact to your donors.

You can’t raise money if no one knows what you do. You really must integrate and adapt your marketing to support your fundraising. Don’t leave marketing staff, or your executive management and program staff either, to their own devices.  They’re apt to wax on and on about how wonderful you are, your newest Board member, and your years of service to the community. Readers will be exposed to graphs and pie charts and all sorts of impressive statistics designed to impress people and engage their rational minds. No, NO, no. That’s not going to serve your fundraising purposes. More and more the research reveals that people give from the heart, not the head. From emotion, not reason.

ACTION TIP: Develop a storytelling culture. Stop a minute to consider what you’ve got to “sell.” Your “program” or “service.” Right? But you’ve got to make it about more than that. Those are commodities. You’ve got to make it about hope, or ego or fear or empathy. Something emotional. The best nonprofit stories spin a tale of misfortune, struggle or conflict; depict a protagonist you come to care about, and then show your donor how to be the hero who creates the happy ending.

Year End Appeals Course 2014 cover 11 266x300 It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

Back to School means Back to Giving Season

Speaking of showing your donors what’s in it for them…

One of the best ways to rock your annual appeal is to fill it with content that rewards your donor for acting. Learn how to do this — and much, much more — in my upcoming 5-week E-Course: Your Ultimate Guide to Successful Year-End Appeals. Typically nonprofits raise as much as 50 to 80% of their annual income at the end of the calendar year. Learn to take advantage of this time when donors are feeling most generous. Your annual appeal is a terrible thing to waste! Check out the curriculum here or grab the Early Bird deal and register here.  Full satisfaction guaranteed — or your money back.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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

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

How to Hire a Fundraiser: Don’t Try to Make a Chicken out of a Fish-Pt.2

chicken out of fish 300x271 How to Hire a Fundraiser: Don’t Try to Make a Chicken out of a Fish Pt.2

No matter what you do, you can’t make a chicken out of a fish.

In Part 1 of this article I outlined the performance habits (practice) and innate qualities (psychology) to look for in a candidate for a chief fundraising job. I encouraged you to ask candidates questions that probe for these behaviors and qualities.

Equally important to the questions you ask the candidate are the questions s/he asks you.
Continue Reading

You’re Not Alone: What To Do When You Start To Fail at Fundraising

sinking ship 216x300 You’re Not Alone: What To Do When You Start To Fail at Fundraising

It may be noble for the Captain to go down with the sinking ship, but a compelling fundraising offer it is not.

Once upon a time (around about 2008) a big mean recession cast its dark shadow over many a nonprofit. Grantors cut back on funding. Donors zipped up their wallets. Salaries and benefits got cut. Seasoned professionals were laid off, or left voluntarily. Others lasted awhile, but became increasingly discouraged.

Six years out from the biggest stock market crash since 1929, I’m beginning to hear a lot of organizations crying “Uncle!” These are the ones that, for reasons unbeknownst to them, have not rebounded. And they’re desperately trying to beat back the wolf at the door.

The thing they fear most? Failure.Continue Reading