Practical Advice for Modern Fundraisers

THOUGHT·FUL

adjective\ˈtht-fəl\

: serious and quiet because you are thinking: done or made after careful thinking   : done or made after careful thinking: showing concern for the needs or : showing concern for the needs of feelings of other people

Margaret Heffernan: Why it's time to forget the pecking order at work - Ted Talk

Organizations are often run according to “the superchicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It's a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: “Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.”

July is the new January

Get the most out of July plans by looking back at our thoughtful post from January.  

July tends to be like January a quiet time in most development offices. The gala is over, and you may be at the beginning of your fiscal year. So there is time to reacquaint yourself with your regular donors or meet some of your new donors. Remember donor retention is always easier (and cheaper) than acquisition. 

 

January Task

 What should theThoughtful Approachdevelopment office be doing in January? Besides getting the last of those acknowledgment letters out by the second week of the month, you should be thinking about two things- which of your 2013 donors did not renew in 2014. As well as which donors from 2012 did renew after taking a year off.

It might seem like an odd place to start 2015 but building these two sets of donors could easily help prepare for success in 2016 and beyond. Look at who did not renew- not just your “major” donors but contributors at every level. 

Renewals

First let's only look at renewals and two- year lapsed donors. I work very hard to have a renewals rate of at least 80%. That is relatively high so for the sake of this demonstration we will assume a 60% renewal rate on 10,000  donors (or 6,000 renewals). If that rate has held up over the last few years and your total donor population has stayed constant through acquisition you probably still have 4,000 lapsed donors from 2012. These are people who gave in 2012 but did not renew in 2013 or 2014.

Acquisition

Second, let's look at cost. We will take a tiny Peek at those acquisitions. I will hazard to guess that if you are mailing to 100,000 people and doing it really, really well you might be getting 1,000 new donors. Those new donors cost you a pretty penny. 

Your renewals should only cost about .75¢ each which means your ROI for an average gift of $35.00 is $34.25 - not bad. Now what if you could get the 4,000 from 2012 to renew and do it at your average gift?  Here is my suggestion -

Why not make some calls or drop some notes to both of these groups? 

“Mrs. Donor, Thank you so much for renewing your donation to XXXXXX. But I am calling to learn more about your relationship with us and to invite you to …an XXXXX event. ” or “Mrs. Past Donor, I am calling to see how you are and to invite you to … “

Well, it doesn’t matter what you invite them to - just try to make a personal connection. In the course of your conversation, you will find out why they did or did not give in the past. You may also end up getting a renewal or even second gift. Most importantly, you will gain insight into who your institution's supporters are.  I would strongly recommend quantifying this information and adding it to your CRM.

What that data is will depend on your organization or agency. It most likely will include a paragraph on your conversation, what their connection is to you, which of your programs they have the greatest affinity for and why they gave in the past.

If you use July as a month to prep your fall campaigns will go much smoother. The more prep you can do before you are in the throughs of drafting letters, choosing lists and picking just the right image the more time your will have to thoughtfully plan out your fall appeal and its follow-up.

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Thoughtfully Getting The Most Out Of Fundraising Day New York

I will be blogging through the day as I attend #FRDNY - looking for The Thoughtful Approach To...

Each year I struggle to figure out how to get this best out of my #frdny experience. Do I just hang out with vendors and eat, should I try a track that is my least favorite stuff to do. This year, I actually spent some time with the schedule and tried to figure out which sessions had instructors or presenters who seemed most likely to have a thoughtful approach to their material. Now I am not even assuming they have read my blog or are even aware of being thoughtful. And isn't that really the goal that we just do our jobs in a thoughtful way.

But first I am heading the free breakfast.

SESSION ONE

At the Successful Strategies for Social Media session. Danielle Brigida from US Fish and Wildlife is amazing in the session. So nice to hear someone who thoughtfully understands how Social Media ought to work for your organization and more importanly for hoe it works for your preferred audience. I so hope she provides a handout! If so I will see if I can share it.

Her main thrust is to be Creative and be understand how people consume content. Try a crazy thing. It won't hurt you it might even drive a lot of great folks to your site. They could learn something and then who knows what they might do next.

Some brief notes:

FIRE, EARTH, FLOOD

Owned, Paid, Earned

PUSH OUT, BLAST why so aggressive.

Understanding What Metrics Matter

LISTEN to your social media audience

Final Notes:

Be Inclusive

Asking for stuff can STOP engagement in its track

Know your analytics.

Create things you want to read

Don't just pat yourself on the back

FACEBOOK may be declining for the regular folks. Creating a community on FACEBOOK can be hard.

Consistency is very important.

If you are doing this well and your LIKES and FOLLOWS will increase.

SESSION TWO

Communicating Across the Generations: Is Everybody Getting Your Message

One great idea after another. So much good stuff.

Do you know what years really define your supporters - depression era, baby boomers, X, Y and Z. Some Xs are turning 50!

Sandwich Generation? Hmmm.. What age do you think they are? And what is sandwiching them?

Do we ask our audience if they want what we are sending them in the way we are sending it to them.

Generation X Z want a response now. N

Cultural norms have changed. Have you?

Being sensitive to age and cultural mores

Older generations attend lectures. Younger Gen want instant feedback

What is the message? Knowing what generation

Boomers are not going anywhere! Darn right! @cdarrison #frdny

OFF TO LUNCH!

The Keynote was amazing as they always are at #FRDNY.  It is inspiring to hear from those at the peak of the fundraising world in New York. This is especially true when they are able to take their experiences and  succinctly relate them to those of us not quite on the precipice -yet. 

The last two sessions were really good. But I am still reflecting on session one. Who knew I would become a dedicated follower of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Short Thoughtful Post

It Occurs To Me

September 5, 2017

What do you think? Will the deserved generosity being shown to victims of Harvey affect year-end giving to none hurricane related charities? My thoughtful opinion is that those who have supported your organization for a couple of years will still support your year-ens appeals. I do believe there will be weakening in the renewal rates of your newest acquisitions. As for this year's acquisitions, these will be soft. How soft is the question? Some of the softness may depend on how close to the affected area you are located. But I will certainly thoughtfully adjust my goals with all of this is mind.

August 1, 2017

August is a great time to review your stewardship program. We all know it is important to thank our donors but do you have a strategic stewardship program.  What I mean by "strategic" is one that thanks, donors appropriately based their donor level. It should also acknowledge things like a first gift, increased gifts, and multiple gifts. Does yours do this?  I also recommend handwritten notes and phone calls for donors at certain levels.  Here is a link to a post last year about thanking donors for your review.

June 5, 2017

Fundraising Day New York (FRDNY) is only a couple of weeks away and it looks like it will be another great day.  I will be blogging from the event. I anticipate writing about 4 sessions. The goal is to pick sessions that cover a few specific topics - cultivation, planning and, of course, technology.

This is always such a great conference and one of the great resources of the day is the exposition.  I always get great ideas and if a vendor you use is presenting at the conference it is a great time to meet them in person. Don't let this opportunity pass you buy.  If you are in the New York area I hope you get a chance to attend FRDNY.

May 18, 2017

 

It was great being a part of today's AFP Workshop on Direct Mail.  It is always a pleasure to share advice and ideas with other fundraisers. During the workshop, we talked about everything from acquisition to thank you letters. Yes, Thank you letters. Sometimes when we think of direct mail we only think of the "Ask, " but the "Thank-You" is just as important.  Don't ignore the second part of any ask the thank you.  You can not thank people too often or in too many ways. So take a few minutes today to review your thank you process.

April 14, 2017

 

We will be live blogging from the AFP International Conference in San Francisco. Last year, this was one of the most popular blogs so don't miss it. It should be a great conference there are a lot of great sessions. The first post will hit late on Sunday, April 30th. I'll be sending a reminder on Monday, May 1st so look out for the email.

 

February 17, 2017

How did your year-end appeal turn out?  What was your retention rate and attrition rate? These two rates are just as important as knowing how much money you raised. If you don't track these you might want to do so. You will be surprised by what you find.Or hopefully, you won't be surprised.

November 9, 2016

So the election is over. We have a winner and a loser. Putting basic politics aside will the results change your Year-End giving results? So far the markets are looking like they will stabilize and  millions of people are happy about the results. Well, millions are also scared.

I wonder if your results will depend on where your charity is located. I work in a very Blue part of my state and my charity only works in that area. What if you work in a very red part of the country. Will you do better or worse?

Also, will the election change average donors,mid-level donors or major donors more? What do you think? I don't have any answers myself and unfortunately, I won't know until January when the year-end result are tallied. Please click on the comments section of the site to leave your thoughts.

October 17, 2016

October is half over so I hope your Year-End Appeal is past the planning stages. By now you should have at least updated your base Acquisition Appeal materials and be well on the way with your renewal appeal. List should be have been chosen and the process of renting them should be underway.

If you are not this far along - no worries- take a deep breath and dive in. You'll get it all done but why not calendar out 2017 to give yourself more time to plan and write.

September 1, 2016

So you made it to September. I know it seems like August is the longest month in the year. It precedes what is the for all practical purposes the shortest two months - November and December. So much of our fundraising year depends on the out come of those two months. So Sepetember and October are all about prep work. In fact, I would say that September is the most important month because by the time October gets here all your year-end work needs to be complete. If those "Giving Tuesday", Year-End Appeals and follow-ups are going out on time your September is going to be quite busy. What do you think?

June 17, 2017

I'll be live blogging from FRDNY so tune in. As always, this is a great day.

May 16, 2016

The next blog is will be posted on 5/23 don't miss it.

March 9, 2016

We will be blogging from the AFP International Conference in Boston starting on March 20. The Thoughtfull Approach to... blog will be updated daily after the last session but we will be tweeting during the conference. Be sure to follow us at @thoughtfulappro and to check the main blog each day.

Just 11 days and counting until the fun begins.

2015 Notes

December 2, 2015

So you survived GIVING TUESDAY, now what? Well, it is not the time to start planning for next year. Nope, it is time to take a page from retail and follow up with people.

Let us assume you sent and email to all of your prospects, constituents and donors. If you used any of the primary email systems like Mail Chimp, Raiser’s Edge, Patron Mail et. al. you can pull a list of people who opened your email but did not click on the donate link.

I’d recommend emailing all of those people today to thoughtfully remind them that they can still make a gift to your organization. Rather like the "Your Carts Not Empty" emails some retailers send when you pick out times but do not complete a sale on their sites.

Try it you have nothing to loose. Just don’t be obvious about how you know they visited your site. Treat the email as a reminder ask. Sell the "why" of your organization.

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

 

October 2015

Well, the feed back on my two part series on videos has been great. I know that a lot of people were interested in the subject but I had no idea just how many. I look forward to hearing more from people who decided to add videos to there annual appeal and those who changed their mind.

But what about those annual appeals? Are you ready and where are you putting your emphasis on acquisition, renewal, lapsed or what exactly? I have decided that renewal should get the bulk of your time as for money acquisition always eats that up.

 

September 2015

So in a little more than two months your annual appeal will drop- right? We'll have you thought about how to use videos as a part of the overall appeal. The right video can be embedded in your website and tied to a Google ad, posted to your Facebook Page and on Twitter. You should even be able to add it right to your email appeal. Just about the only thing you can not do with it is mail it. Unless you create a QR code for the video and include that in your mailing. Just a thought.

But what qualifies as a successful video. I would say like many things in fundraising you won't know know if you have gotten right until the appeal is over and you look at the analytics and crunch some numbers. But you can see what like agencies are doing and take a chance pick up the phone and call a colleague. In fact, my thoughtful tip isn't really about videos it is when in doubt call a colleague. That and read my September post about best practices concerning videos.

 

August 2015

-How ready is your Annual Appeal? Yes, I know it is August but if you want them to drop before Thanksgiving you should have already gotten started. Remember acquisition, renewal, lapsed donor, major gift and e-solicitations need to all work seamlessly - don't you think?

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

-The shared articles section has gotten the second largest number of hits of any area on the site. Thank you. If you have article suggestions please leave it in a comment.

July 2015

I have gotten a lot of great feedback on the TedTalk video on pecking order. What were your thoughts?

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

 

 

 

 

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