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

How to Tap Into the Power of Social Media to Find Nonprofit Donors

binoculars woman 198x300 How to Tap Into the Power of Social Media to Find Nonprofit Donors

Are you still using yesterday’s tools to find today’s donors?

Where do you go to look for new donors to support your nonprofit in 2014?

If you’ve not yet tapped into the power of electronic communication to find new supporters – social, mobile, email, crowd funding, online donating — read my recent post on Maximize Social Business: The Answer to Finding Nonprofit Donors: Social Media.

While this is in no way a slam dunk, neither is any type of lead generation strategy a magic bullet to converting leads into donors. You still have to do the hard work of building relationships with these folks. Yet… Continue Reading

Engagement Comes Before Marriage: Build Sustained Nonprofit Relationships Using Social Media

Engagement 300x300 Engagement Comes Before Marriage: Build Sustained Nonprofit Relationships Using Social Media

Do you have the kind of relationship with your supporters that leads to real engagement?

First comes love… then comes marriage…

Are your supporters showing you they love you? Are you showing your supporters you love them? And finally — do you love your supporters?

It’s a long way from “I like you” to the altar.

Too many nonprofits forget this.  And frankly, it’s hard to fall in love with someone you’ve barely met.  So if all you have are solitary transactions with folks 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

Your Nonprofit is so Vain… Bet you Think Social Media is about You

social adjective sshl  265x300 Your Nonprofit is so Vain... Bet you Think Social Media is about YouIf you’re like most nonprofits, you’re still trying to figure out how social media can help you sustain and grow your mission.  Most of you are getting it wrong.

Sorry to be so blunt.

Here’s how you’re going astray:  (1) your posts are too promotional; (2) your content isn’t relevant to your readers, and (3) you’re too repetitive and boring, without adding value. If you’re simply counting up your numbers of “likes” and “follows” and patting yourself on the back for how you’re growing your lists, you’re totally missing the point.Continue Reading

Lift Up Your Nonprofit Donors with Their Olympic Moment

Olympic torch with laurel wreath 300x300 Lift Up Your Nonprofit Donors with Their Olympic Moment

Give me one moment in time
When I’m more than I thought could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me

The Olympic torch. The lyrics remembered from a Whitney Houston song sung at the 1988 Olympics Opening Ceremonies.  Chills ran down my spine.  The hairs stood straight on my neck.  Cheesy, I know.  But it got to me.

We all yearn for that one moment where we step outside our daily, mundane lives and exceed our wildest expectations.  When we’re bigger than ourselves.

We can’t all be gold medal athletes, but we can all be gold medal philanthropists. And gold medal philanthropy facilitators.

The Olympics lifts us up.  At its best, philanthropy does this as well.  It inspires us.  It engages us fully.  It’s addictive when done right.Continue Reading