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Connecting with your most loyal and senior donors

“Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.”
Charles Dickens

Connecting with our most loyal and senior supporters can be the most inspirational thing we do in our career as a fundraisers. It is such a privilege to meet and learn from people whose bodies are aging, but who, as Charles Dickens says, have hearts and spirits that are young and full of vigour.

Today I am going to share with you a little bit about what we are doing in my organization to develop a robust Planned Giving program. (more…)

What’s All This Noise about Not Giving “Thank You” Gifts?

Recently, a small raft of articles have appeared about a new study, published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, apparently showing that offering a gift as a “thank you”  (what we in the industry would call a “premium” offer) can reduce the amount of money people will donate to your charity.

I found this to be old news.  But the press (and some marketing gurus) didn’t.   The top GOOGLE search on this was entitled “Charities: Don’t Thank Donors With a Gift! – Forbes”.Well, that’s the private sector for you:  making studies to “discover” what fundraisers already know. (more…)

A checklist for your acquisition program

Last week Reinier wrote about a really important topic – planning for the future of your acquisition program. I’d like to expand on his post by sharing an additional tool, and offering a simple checklist to use in your donor recruitment planning.

In the last blog you read about the Hype cycle (and if you haven’t, please read it here.) A second tool to consider in your planning is one that you have probably seen before: the BCG matrix. This tool divides your offerings into four groups, depending on their market growth and market share. But here’s a retooled version for an acquisition program. (more…)

It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark

Recently I had some fundraisers over to catch up on fundraising developments. They wanted to pick my brain on what I think is “good fundraising” and “where things are going”. These conversations are always interesting, because it helps me shape my own thinking on what is really important to work on.

A diversity of topics surfaced the table in approximately 90 minutes: acquisition channels, retention programs, engagement opportunities, stricter privacy laws, reporting environments, team structure, key information sources, etc.

Because acquisition always seems to get more difficult, it is a topic that is always addressed. This is wonderful, because we absolutely need to talk about it. But it’s not enough to talk about it as part of a 90 minute informal exchange of ideas. If we’re serious about creating new recruitment channels, before the old ones are completely gone, we need to hurry up.

Why is that we’re still not serious about the replacement of recruitment channels that are fading away? (more…)

Lack of trust: the key barrier to donating

Our own research shows that “I do not trust UNICEF to use my donations well” is one of the top 3 claimed reasons for not donating, together with ‘not knowing enough about what UNICEF does’, and other generic reasons such as ‘not being able to afford it’, ‘already giving to other organizations’, and ‘preferring to give people directly’. This probably sounds familiar and shows us how important Trust is when making a donation.

Why is Trust so important?

From a historical perspective, Trust has become more and more important. Mostly because it is increasingly difficult to trust the rapidly growing circle of people and institutions we don’t personally know. In primitive societies and even until the 19th century and in many places well into the 20th century, we interacted mostly face to face with people in our family and small communities.

With the development of large cities and explosion in communication and transportation technologies, our circle of close family and friends became smaller, while our (virtual) circle of personal and professional acquaintances expanded dramatically. (more…)

Why Tell a ‘Story’ When You Can Tell The Truth?

(Or ‘How to bring integrity to your storytelling, while keeping donors and fundraisers loyal all at the same time’)

About half our donors are leaving. According to Third Sector’s latest survey half the fundraisers are close behind them. It seems the only ones staying are the beneficiaries and God knows they’d leave if they could!

Anyone else seeing a correlation here?

But could it be that the answer to both these problems lies in the same thing; a lack of genuine connection to the cause? With all the hype around storytelling it seems we’ve missed the most fundamental point of all…

These aren’t just ‘stories’.

So how has this disconnect affected us and our donors? Let’s start with the much maligned donor, ‘Attriting Annie’ (irony intentional!), blissfully unaware of where she is on her ‘journey’. Why’s she leaving; was it something we said? Let’s face it; she doesn’t cancel regular payments for the things she wants. So the question has to be are we doing enough to make her want to be a part of what we do? (more…)

Where are we going in 2012? A possible and promising new direction for fundraisers.

A direct marketing eminence recently described fundraising as, ‘the important art of cajoling money from people for good causes.’

Though rather obvious it’s nevertheless a fairly apt description, if perhaps more useful in summarising how others see us than in illustrating how we aspire to be. Although the phrase may hint at disapproval it’s neither negative, nor critical. Fundraising is undeniably important, for it fuels good works. ‘Art’ in this context simply means the creation of beautiful or thought-provoking works. ‘Cajoling’ implies effort, persuasiveness and determined persistence. But art can suggest artfulness and cajoling can also mean to elicit or obtain by pleading, flattery or insincere language. And it’s limited. The art of cajoling implies the mendicant mode. It includes no sense of sincerity, respect, rapport or accountability. (more…)

7 ‘Big bummers’ for charitable trusts and foundations

(Or, 7 ways to improve your foundation fundraising skills)

“Why is it, that so many nonprofit organizations send in applications to foundations, without even taking the time to find out where these foundations stand for?” I was having a conversation with Jos Verhoeven, managing director of the Dutch Start Foundation. He continued: “I just don’t get it. About 25% of the applications we receive as a foundation, have nothing to do with the mission we stand for. I mean, if you need a mortgage, you don’t go to supermarket to get one, do you? So why send in applications to foundations that don’t match with your mission?”

(more…)

Why I Love (And Feel Uncomfortable About Loving) Legacy Fundraising

I’m writing this on the one-year anniversary of my move from Toronto to London, so you’re reading this one year after I started my career as a professional fundraiser, and what a lot has changed during that time. I’ve gone from fundraiser in theory, to fundraiser in practice; blogger, to paid writer (ha!).

But there’s another difference that has been developing more recently and at the IoF National Convention last week, it finally hit me – I’ve fallen madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with legacy gifts.

This may come as a surprise to those who knew me in Toronto because I used to be quite vocal about my distaste for this field of fundraising. I thought it was dull, cold, and frankly it bored me half to death when we studied it in school (pun intended). (more…)

A perfect pitch?

© fallingfifth.com

If you work with creative agencies, there’s a good chance you will someday be involved in a pitch process.

I’ve been involved client-side in two separate pitches, each of which have taught me where I’ve made mistakes, and where a few good choices can make everything run smoothly for all involved.

Here are a few of the tips I’ve learned that I hope will be useful if you ever find yourself conducting an agency pitch. (more…)