6 Keys to Rock Thank You Calls and Retain More Donors

How to make donor thank you calls and keep more donors!

Thanks so much for your gift. It really means a lot!

 

You’ve got to make donor retention more of a priority. It’s one of the top five things your nonprofit must do to survive and thrive in today’s competitive nonprofit marketplace.

Research shows the average nonprofit in the U.S. loses 79% of donors after the first gift!!!!!

To make matters worse, the probability that a donor will make five consecutive gifts is only 10-15%. These numbers are just not sustainable for most organizations. By the time you’ve added a new donor most of your previous new donors are out the door.

Allow that to sink in a moment.

Do you know what your donor retention rate is? If you do, there’s hope for you to improve it. Read on. If you don’t, you don’t even know there’s something that needs fixing!Continue Reading

The Meaning of Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – Part 2

The meaning of Culture of Philanthropy

Get on the path to philanthropy, not fundraising

 

In Part 1 I laid out why philanthropy inspires, and fundraising tires.

Fundraising must be done, of course, but there’s something about how it’s been practiced in the past that turns too many people off.  It’s been connoted as being all about money, when really it’s all about valued outcomes.

These valued outcomes are shared by many who support the cause – donors and non-donors.  Employees and volunteers. Development departments and program departments. Major gifts staff and annual giving staff. All these folks have a collective stake in the nonprofit’s survival.Continue Reading

The Meaning of Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – Part 1

The meaning of Culture of Philanthropy

Get on the path to philanthropy, not fundraising

 

I wish I’d told my younger self “you’re right!  Stick with it; don’t get distracted. Stay the course.

Here’s what I’m talking about: Philanthropy, not fundraising.

This has been the tagline for my business and blog since I began Clairification in 2011. It grew naturally out of my experiences working as a frontline development director for 30 years. I’ve always insisted that no single person could possibly receive credit for a donation.  “Donors don’t give because of development staff,” I’d tell program staff.  “They give because of the great work you do!Continue Reading

Integrate Fundraising and Content Marketing for Nonprofit Survival

Integrate Fundraising and Content MarketingYour year-long “Dive the Five” virtual course continues!

I’ve selected five major themes – fundamental nonprofit fundraising strategies — to discuss with you this year in depth. Strategies that are so important to your success in 2016 – and beyond – that I want to be certain (1) you’ve got them on your priority list, (2) will begin to dedicate some serious resources towards them, and (3) will commit to practice them regularly, until they become almost second nature.

If you learn to “Dive the Five” you’ll be able to raise money for anyone, any place, any time. And I’ll be your Guide.

Some of these skills will seem familiar, but the way you employ them may need to be tweaked in order for you to survive and thrive in our digitally-revolutionized society. Other skills may be things you’ve thought about, or dabbled in, but haven’t really committed to with serious intent and dedicated resources.Continue Reading

What Your Donors Won’t Tell You about Your Nonprofit Newsletter

Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?
Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?

It’s boring them to tears.

Actually, let me rephrase. Not to tears. That would mean they’re feeling an emotional connection. Sadly, they’re not.

Most donor newsletters are boring to the point of numbness.

You’re not making the impact you need to make to keep your donors, let alone get them to give more the next time you ask.

Why?

Let me tell you what I learned from Penelope Burk, Donor-Centered Fundraising author, about 15 years ago. It fundamentally changed the way I communicate with donors. Continue Reading

One Key Idea to Simplify Nonprofit Donor Retention

One_Key_Idea_to_Simplify_Nonprofit_Donor_RetentionWant to keep more donors? It’s simple really.

What it all boils down to is one key idea. YOU.

You and the role you play in assuring your donor gets lasting satisfaction from their gift.

A prompt, personal thank you is a beginning. Yet it won’t have lasting effect.

You must go above and beyond the “donor receipt” — Continue Reading

7 More Weeks – Are You Ready for Year-End Fundraising?

7_More_Weeks-Ready_for_Year-End_FundraisingThis is the giving season! Between now and December 31st, statistically, are the “make or break” weeks for your annual fundraising. It doesn’t matter what fiscal year you’re on. Donors operate on a calendar year.

So I’m offering up 5 tips to help you out.

Because people do most of their giving between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve — and I don’t want you to miss out

It’s a time when people feel grateful for friends, family and other blessings, and are inclined to be generous towards others. They want to share their blessings.

Your job is to tap into these feelings of generosity when they’re most at the surface. To strike while the iron is hot.Continue Reading

8 Steps of Your Effective Nonprofit Social Media Routine

8_steps_of_your_effective_nonprofit_social_media_routineA routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. Too often, I find that nonprofits engage in social media along more of a catch-as-catch-can program. Nothing fixed about it.

To maximize social media productivity your practices must become habitual. And, of course, your habits must be good ones if you’re to be successful.

I’ve found that successful nonprofit marketers have 8 common social media and content marketing routines that get them valuable actions.

Take a moment to consider whether or not you do you these things systematically.

After all, you don’t spend time on marketing communications just for your own amusement, do you?

  • Hopefully, you know precisely what you want folks to think, feel and do once you’ve messaged them. Check?
  • Then you put consistent strategies in place to achieve your objectives. Check?

If you’re not quite sure you’ve got good social media habits in place, take a few minutes to introspect.

Read this post — and maybe the two posts I contributed to Maximize Social Business on which this is based: 8 Routine Social Media Practices of Successful Nonprofits and 4 Nonprofit Social Media Habits that Unlock Valuable Actions.

Your 8-Step Routine:

  1. Build meaningful relationships
  2. Be constituent-centered
  3. Use psychology of persuasion and neuroscience
  4. Tell a story
  5. Get visual
  6. Connect with influencers
  7. Create a balance of desired action responses
  8. Measure your effectiveness; adjust

Build Relationships with Potential Donors

The first four routines are geared to assure you stop talking at folks and begin building relationships with folks.

What selling and fundraising have in common is relationship-building. Fundraising has always been about building relationships with people who are, or will be, ready, willing and able to give.

Increasingly, nonprofits are leveraging technology to build relationships with potential supporters.

Get the Actions You Seek

The next four routines are about assuring that once you connect you get desired, specific results.

Generally, your goals will fall into one or more of these three categories: (1) create awareness about your mission, (2) drive purchases from those who benefit from your mission, and (3) raise funds to sustain your mission. Each category demands different calls to action.

Stop winging your social media strategy. Decide where you’re headed; plan ahead to assure you’re not wasting your time and energy to get someplace you don’t really want to go. To paraphrase Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll very likely get there.

Ultimately, you’ll achieve success when you align your values with your constituents’ values. When the content you offer is content they can use. When you make your story their story.

That’s the stuff of which successful nonprofit marketing is made.

Social Media Tips and Resources Galore!
More than 100 Social Media Tips and Resources!

Hop on Board the Effective Nonprofit Social Media Train!

Grab the Clairification Hop on Board Nonprofit Social Media Guide. Fundraising and marketing have changed more in the past 5 years than in the previous 50 – it’s time to hop on board the train to the 21st century, and beyond. It’s only 10 bucks to get started! Plus, that gets you a 15-minute chat with me. No-brainer, right? Go for it!

It’s Not All about Major Gifts: 10 Ways to Succeed with Small Gift Fundraising

Small giftsNot long ago I went to research something online and ended up viewing the first entry Google gave me – which was on Wikipedia. To my delight, I ran into an awesome fundraising campaign (this is an occupational hazard with fundraisers – we actually like and admire things like pledge breaks when they’re done well)!

Here’s what I found superimposed at the top of the screen:Continue Reading

Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts

What if we said “Give Where Most Moved” instead?
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 donorsWant 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!