Tag: giving

Another quick tip for nonprofit fundraising

A theme I’ve been working with on the Altrui YouTube site is “Reignite your fundraising”. These ideas are based on a conference session I used to do, and now a fundraising tip.

In nonprofit fundraising we talk a lot about thanking donors. This tip is after the thanking, basically the next step: share your impact. Here we let the donor know how we spent their donation, and the impact it had. Sharing impact is critical in building your donor relationship.

Depending on your organization and your capacity, try to share impact within four months of the donation. This can be an email or even a phone call. Keep in mind when donors know how their donation impacts your programs, your relationship with them grows and they have a chance to become even more interested in your mission.

Try it out!

If you’d like to see the videos about reigniting your fundraising, you can click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCttkHw_iEiM5WXlBP-rqjIg If you get somehting out of any of our videos, please subcribe!

Thank you for reading!

An unforgettable thank you

Thinking about my experiences of how my organization has thanked donors, or how organizations I support have thanked me, there is an unforgettable experience that is at the top of the list.

I had made an ask of a donor who had not donated in three years. They hadn’t responded to anything I had sent. Add to this that they had donated before my time with the organization and didn’t know me.

One day I was making a call and the donor accidentally picked up the phone. They were in a rush to get out of the house with the kids, and could not speak. I asked if I could email them what I was going to speak about, and they said yes!

I emailed the ask. They had a couple of questions which I responded to quickly and soon they decided to give again. They doubled the size of their already large first gift. What a wonderful experience.

I asked my board chair to call them to thank them. This was a common occurence for me and them, so my board chair knew what to do and made the call.

The donor answered!

Immediately after the call, the donor called ME!

They said they had given hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past many years, to several organizations, and had never received a thank you call from a board chair. This of course made my heart swell, mainly because they were taking the time to thank me, and share how they felt about an action that was common place for our fundraising team.

I left that organization to create Altrui, and am ecstatic that that donor continues to generously give.

A simple thank you can catapult your relationships with your donor.

Thanks for reading!

Your fundraising plan – tips on donor retention

The basic idea around donor retention, and why I like it included in any fundraising plan, is that it is easier (and cheaper) to keep a current donor rather than try to find a new donor.

Of course we’re not talking about just one donor. We want to think about donor retention in a way of treating our donors that we have in a way that they will donate again. And again.

This post could go on and on about donor retention, and I’ll leave you with just a few ideas about what has worked for me.

First, I highly recommend a database for your donor data. There are many options, and I’m sure there is one to fit your capacity and budget. Having a database with your donor information allows you to track donations, notes, contacts, and anything involved with you and your organization building a relationship with your donors.

Next, thank your donors. When I first started in nonprofit fundraising, a phrase I heard often was “thank before you bank”. Super simple idea. These days, many nonprofits count their online auto-thank you letter as a thank you. I don’t. That’s an acknowledgement of a donation. Your donor knows you received their donation. You still want to take a step to thank them, either by letter, email, or phone call.

Find out why your donor gives. There are several types of donors, and there are also people who simply just make a donation, with no intent to really give again. An example of this is a neighbor you’ve asked to sponsor you ina 5K run for a cause. They are giving because of you, not the cause. If they give again, now you have a donor and perhaps it’s more than just you!

You also have the donor who just loves your mission. They think that what your nonprofit is doing is making the world a better place, or another way of putting it is that you’re creating a world that they envision. These are donors who are with you, and easy ones to build life-long relationships with, if you take the time to do that.

Another idea that works for donor retention is to be transparent with your donors. That means sharing the good, the not so good, and the difficult. Donors don’t always need to know how awesome you’re doing or that all you have are successes. They definitely want to know your challenges as well, along with what gets in the way of your organization being able to have the most impact. Share it all with them. Whether it’s in a newsletter, a personal email, or over lunch, keep your donors in the loop.

My last idea for now is to share your impact. As a donor, I want to know that my giving makes a difference. Your donors are the same. Let them know what you’re doing with the funds you raise and what impact that has. Even if you try something and fall short, share it. Your impact changes things, things your donors want to see changed.

There you go! Try these! I’d love to hear about how you implement them.

Thank you for reading!

Your fundraising plan – reaching out to donors

Back to your fundraising plan!

As your donors, and your relationships with them, are critical parts of your fundraising success, making personal connections with your donors are actions you can take to support your fundraising plan.

When I speak with fundraising teams about this, there seems to be a little trepidation. In our world of nonprofit fundraising, it’s not possible to build lifelong relationships with donors without personal connections, and this includes actually meeting with your donor.

This is my favorite part of the job, and a great tool for your fundraising plan. Meeting in person with a donor can be as simple as meeting for coffee all the way to having lunch and a tour of your program facilities. I’ve played racquetball with donors and gone on hikes with donors. I wouldn’t suggest racquetball unless you’re better than I am!

In our field there are still many who feel uncomfortable meeting with donors. Our work is all about relationship building, and one really needs to be comfortable with all aspects of meeting with donors. Talk out your plan with a co-worker before you meet. Play a favorite song (I do this sometimes before a big donor call). The assumption is that you know the mission, the needs, the impact of their upcoming donation, and are passionate for the cause.

Aside from meeting in person, there are several other actions that can be part of your fundraising plan that include connections with donors. Thanking them of course is important. Let them know the success of a campaign they supported. You can also call or email just to check in. Contacts that have nothing to do with asking them for another donation are super important, and help grow the relationship. Even if all you can do is leave a voice mail, that’s a good step.

Your fundraising plan doesn’t need to include every action you want to take with donors, but do create some type of calendar for connecting with them. Remember that you can include your executive director and board in these communications. They don’t all have to come from you.

Go ahead… give a donor a call or send them an email inviting them to meet. No time like the present!

Thank you for reading!

Hanging out with the board

By, board, I mean your board of directors.

By hanging out, I mean getting to know them and working with them.

You will see all sorts of opinions about boards of directors and board members. My experience is mostly that as a head of fundraising for nonprofit organizations. And it’s always been based in how can I work with them to build more relationships, spread the word about the organizations’ impact, and create sources of fundraising.

First things first, board fundraising. This seems to be the main topic at hand on social media media threads. Many of these include negative experiences or opinions on board members. It doesn’t have to be that way.

If your board is a fundraising board, it’s important to make sure they know that, and that new potential board members know. With your current board bring this up frequently and with new board members bring this up before they say yes.

Do board members need to commit to an annual, minimum donation? Just so you know, many answer yes to this question. My answer is always “it depends”. This may shock some, but in my time as the one held accountable for fundraising goals, I was much more interested in board members spreading the word of our impact, of their interest in our impact, and making introductions to others interested in our impact.

With new board members, meet them for lunch or coffee. Figure out how you can best work together. Suggest that they attend a finance committee meeting or two. Become a resource for them on all things mission.

Some board members will want to support your fundraising efforts, some may just want to write a check or fill a table at a gala. Meet them where they are at, always keeping in mind that you both have a passion for the mission and impact of the organization.

I have had my fair share of board members that I simply did not get along with. It happens. Just don’t get stuck there, and move on to relationships that are possible.

Keep in mind that your board members are volunteers, that their intentions are to support the organization in a way that works for them. They also more often than not want to have a positive impact on the mission of your organization.

The more people you can work with in supporting your fundraising and relationship building efforts the better. Your board is a great place to find them.

Thank you for reading.

Reignite your fundraising

I’ve presented conference sessions called “Reignite your fundraising” and love engaging with other fundraisers and development peers about my ideas regarding what we can do to take our fundraising to another level.

Before I begin it’s important to note that although the title of this post is about reigniting your fundraising, all of this starts with you. He’s a short story about what I mean by this, one from several years back:

I recently ran into a donor who was volunteering at our office. I shouldn’t say “ran into”, as I heard her voice and immediately got up and went to greet her. I was ecstatic to see her and thanked her for a recent generous donation. Of course that wasn’t the first time I thanked her as I called her the day of the donation and then sent a thank you letter. Nonetheless it was my excitement in seeing her that made her day.

“The person before you didn’t even know my name. Every time he saw me I had to re-introduce myself.”

Reigniting your fundraising will only work if you are on board, if you have endless energy and passion for your cause, and if you are willing to be the main cheerleader.

Let’s start.

My first idea is to respond to a donor email with a phone call. You will surprise them, and your relationship with them will be stronger. In other words, you are investing in the donor relationship. Building these relationships is key in reigniting your fundraising. Try it.

Speaking of the phone, I suggest getting used to using it. Email doesn’t show emotion. A donor can’t hear your excitement over email. So call them. Once you see their donation pick up the phone. It changes everything.

Another reason to use the phone more and email less is that, especially in huge cities like Los Angeles where I live, face to face meetings with donors don’t happen as often. The phone call brings at least a little bit of a personal touch to the relationship.

More to come.

Thanks for reading.

Monthly donors

We donate monthly to a couple of organizations.

They made it easy for us. The online donation form gave us the option to make our donation monthly. I checked the box and every month on that date our donation is automatic.

On the same day we receive an auto thank you.

We donate monthly because the impact of the organizations mean a lot to us, and we realize that monthly (or any type of recurring) donations mean a lot to organizations, especially smaller ones (small as in size, not impact).

For nonprofits wanting more monthly donors, it isn’t a difficult path. Give your current donors an easy option, like the one we experienced. Let donors know how a monthly donation benefits you and your mission. What is the impact? And as with any other donation, thank in a timely manner. I also like that in January we receive an email form each organization with the total of our giving for the year prior.

Aside from the clear benefits of monthly donors, one of the benefits I find most appealing is that you donor is connected with you on a monthly basis. They see you in the bank or debit card statement, and they receive that quick thank you. This gives your donor a reason to remember why they give and to be grateful for your work.

If you don’t offer monthly giving on your website, try it. Make it easy. If you don’t include the option on your appeals, try it.

It will pay off for you, those you serve, and your donors.

Thank you for reading!

Year-end fundraising begins now

I’ve been excitedly waiting to write and share this post.

Yes, I’m writing about year-end fundraising. Yes, I know you just finished your year-end fundraising efforts and you probably don’t want to read anything about year-end fundraising for at least a month or two.

The fun thing about this is that success with a year-end campaign really begins now. You can have the best, most strategic plan and appeals and e-appeals, written by the best people and supported by the best staff. All of this and you can still struggle.

That’s because if you lose your donors during the year, it’s difficult to get them back for a year-end gift. Not impossible, just difficult.

So let’s make it easier for us, and better for those who support us, (and those we serve!) by taking care of the donor part now, and all year!

Experience has proven that we cannot ignore our donors, volunteers, and other supporters all year and then expect a donation when we ask.

What works well for my clients is to add donor contacts into your development plan for the year. Contacts can be an email, a Thanks for Giving Day call, an impact update, a thank you note or call, etc.

Creating practices of gratitude expression and sharing impact strengthen relationships with those who support you.

If you haven’t created a development plan yet, see my next post!

Thank you for reading!

Keep thanking

The photo is of a thank you card for donors.

It’s already mid-December. You’re watching donations come in supporting your appeals, attending holiday gatherings, and trying to get in front of as many donors as possible for that ever-valued year-end donation.

With everything that is going on, keep thanking your donors. Keep the calls up, keep the impact stories going, and keep making sure that your donors know what it means for them to donate.

That their donation changes the world. For someone. Or something.

As my family makes donations this month I’m unfortunately surprised by how many organizations, especially the ones we have donated to for many years, don’t take the time to just say thank you.

I get it. They are busy. There’s a lot going on. And at the same time the proof is in the pudding: when we thank donors right away, let them know how we spent their donation, and then how that donation impacted our mission, we have a huge chance that the donor will donate again.

And our life-long relationship begins (or continues!).

Some of my clients have a couple of people on staff who make calls, others engage their volunteers (Including board) to help with the expressions of gratitude. You don’t need to do this alone. Ask for help if needed.

The time you spend doing this is definitely worth it, and will make a difference.

Thank you for reading!

Key to year-end fundraising

Final drafts of year-end appeals are being sent to printers. Heads of development are being asked for year-end projections. Statistics are continually being shared on how many donors give in December, and during the final week of the year.

And you’re ready to bring it these final weeks of the year.

Unfortunately for some, the key to success during year-end fundraising does not occur during the year-end campaign. It starts at the beginning of the year (or before). It’s all about building relationships with your donors.

If you’ve been doing that, if you and your organization are in relationship with your donors, then you have a great chance at a successful year-end campaign. If not, it could be difficult these next few weeks. It could also be a chance to learn and move forward in a different way.

It’s never too late to begin growing relationships with your donors. For some, it’s just starting that is the difficulty.

Thank more, ask less. Share impact more, ask less. Of course if you aren’t asking at all, the action plan is different. But many are only asking, which is problematic and is not helpful in building relationships.

Keep this in mind not only now but throughout the year. The more effort you put into building relationships throughout the year, the stronger your year-end fundraising campaign becomes.

Don’t forget to ask

There’s a lot going on. Don’t forget to ask your donors to donate.

You thanked quickly. You share your impact often, along with personal notes to donors sharing how their donation impacted your work. You continually work with board and staff in building the relationship you have with your donors.

Is it time to ask them to donate again?

I bring this up because this has come up a couple of times with me in the past month. I see an organization going through an intense time in serving those they serve, hoping they will reach out to me as a donor for help.

Your donors are very interested in you and your mission. They see the world as you see it and embrace the change you are making. They have your back.

So when times are tough, or tougher, bring them in. Let them know what’s going on and how they can help. I don’t mean always going to them with “urgent” requests. I mean during those times where your team has encountered even more difficult circumstances and those you serve are in even darker circumstances, bring your donors in. They want to help. And because you are in relationship with them, they will.

Thank you for reading! I really appreciate it.

Your donors still need you

I’ve written posts that engage people who donate to nonprofits, reminding them that their favorite nonprofits still need them. While writing these and seeing the conversations that rise from them, I realized that our donors need us just as much.

When my husband and I donate to organizations, we’re doing so because their mission is something we care about, typically something we care about deeply. It’s important work to us, work that in some way is making the world a better place. Their work strikes at what causes are important to us.

I think this is important to write about and discuss because I also have heard from nonprofits who sometimes believe that with everything going on in the world, their mission and work may not be as important to their donors.

They are.

And your donors will do everything in their power to be able to continue to support your work and ensure your impact. This is especially true (perhaps always?) when you are in good relationship with your donors.

Keep this in mind. Whether or not your own world is getting back to normal or not, your donors are there. Keep them posted, keep reminding them why they donate to you, and keep asking them to help you make the world a better place.

Thank you for reading.


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