DONORFOCUS 360 BLOG

Drive #DonorLove from the Bottom Up

Drive #DonorLove from the Bottom Up

If you’re not “the boss” and feel like you’re the only one who recognizes the need for your organization to be more donor-centred, can you influence change? Yes! Absolutely. You can be a Donor Advocate. You are a major stakeholder in moving the org towards focusing more on donor interests, concerns, needs, passions. You know that the happier donors are, the more money you and the organization will raise, the more successful you can be at your job, and the happier you will be. And you can share in the joy of changing the world for the better. Here’s a simple plan to influence change: 1. Take a leadership interest in donor stewardship. Be curious. Constantly ask questions of your colleagues. Find out how which donors the direct marketing team targets – who do they mail or call? Who do they exclude? Do they respect donor requests not to receive mail?  Who welcomes new donors? Provide your colleagues with any donor feedback you might have. 2. Set an example. For example, if your key function is to enter gift data into the database and you notice that a donor has given a much larger gift than in the past – pick up the phone and call to spontaneously say “Wow! Thank you so much!” If you see a donor in the reception area, pause to greet her/him and express appreciation for her/his support. 3. Show colleagues you care about donor retention. Work collaboratively with colleagues to improve overall stewardship. For example, if no-one else is nurturing known planned giving donors, make it your mission to do so. If there is a...
Another Donor Complaint – So Who Cares?!

Another Donor Complaint – So Who Cares?!

The Donor cared enough to complain. And if you have any interest in raising funds for your cause, you HAVE to care! Here’s why: Take a look at the percentage of net revenue (i.e.“profit”) that comes from your existing donor pool. Unless you’ve just had an ice-bucket challenge, you are raising substantially more net revenue from your existing donor pool than you are from first time donors. You need to keep as many donors as possible. Non-financial transactions like complaints are a good indicator of loyalty. (If you have a “complaints database” or record donor-initiated human interaction in donor records, you’re sitting on a gold mine!) It’s generally five (or more) times more expensive to replace an existing donor with a new one, than to keep an existing donor. According to research conducted by Professor Adrian Sargeant, if you can resolve the complaint to the donor’s satisfaction immediately, 82 – 94% will make a subsequent donation. Even if the donor complains and you aren’t able to resolve the problem to the donor’s satisfaction, 18 – 47% will give again. (Read this and other essential information for increasing lifetime value in Building Donor Loyalty by Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay) Word of mouth is powerful. Apparently a dissatisfied donor will tell 10 others. BUT people who have their complaint resolved will tell 4 – 5 people about it.   WORRY ABOUT DONORS WHO DON’T COMPLAIN. Research conducted by Professor Adrian Sargeant show that of donors who have experienced a problem with a nonprofit and don’t complain, only 8 – 31% of them will ever make another donation (8% if it...
A Donor-Centred Approach – Three Essential Truths

A Donor-Centred Approach – Three Essential Truths

We’re on the right track. But we’ve still got a long way to go. For the past 20 years the not-for-profit sector has been talking about donor-centred fundraising. And in the last decade many have succeeded in thanking donors faster and providing feedback to donors. Some organizations – or at least some departments within organizations – write great donor-focused communications. Today most fundraisers know that taking a donor-centred approach to fundraising is key to success. This is in very large part thanks to the inspiring work, teachings and high visibility of people like Ken Burnett, Tom Ahern, Simone Joyaux, passionate consultants like Agents of Good, and a host of donor-focused fundraisers (to name any would exclude others who deserve to be noted). And for the benefit of those who need proof that superlative donor care is worthwhile … thanks to the professional research and publications of people like Adrian Sargeant, and Penelope Burke … we also have scientific evidence that a donor-centred approach is key to fundraising success. So we have come a long way. But we’re not there yet. Staff and volunteers who don’t have the title of “fundraiser” may agree that a donor-centred approach to fundraising is key to the successful raising of funds. “Good idea.” “Makes sense.” “We should value our donors.” “Yes, everyone is talking about that these days, you should do that too.” They don’t think it has anything to do with them. REALLY? WRONG! It has everything to do with them. But it’s our fault as fundraisers that they don’t get it. You see, for the longest time, we’ve been talking about “relationship...

Direct Mail = a Medium, not a Program

Direct mail is – and always has been – a medium to target list segments and communicate a message from one passionate individual (the signatory – and please make sure you have only one!) to another individual (the reader). And yet many organizations treat Direct Mail as a “program” rather than a “communication medium”. THE GOOD NEWS –those organizations are likely (hopefully) employing specialist direct mail staff and agencies – people who understand the medium and how to maximize the return on investment. And there is likely a structured annual direct mail contact strategy in place with a board approved budget to execute the plan. THE BAD NEWS – all too often, because there is a direct mail budget in place, staff are expected to adhere to a rigid plan and budget. And their success is measured on the wrong metrics – like net revenue for the current Christmas Appeal relative to last year. Even worse … the direct mail team feels forced to jealously protect “their” donors from Major Gift Officers and regional or national staff so that they can keep donors in their own budget silo. Hardly donor-centric! And not the way to maximize overall net revenue to change the world.   SMART FUNDRAISERS AND FINANCE OFFICERS KNOW:  The Direct Mail contact plan is a framework that Fundraisers are empowered to alter during the year to better integrate with other contact media, to maximize net revenue and/or retention. Net revenue is more important than cost/income ratios. It’s the net revenue that supports the mission and makes for a better world. It is totally unrealistic to automatically increase net revenue...

Engage Staff and Raise More Money

Want to raise more money? Then make sure your employees are engaged. If employees are engaged in the nonprofit’s mission, they’ll want to help make a difference. And if they believe in the nonprofit’s ability to make a difference, they’ll be enthusiastic and strive to give their best performance. Staff will project their enthusiasm to donors, and donors will be more likely to become engaged. Engaged donors will give more … which means you’ll raise more and be better able to accomplish the organization’s mission.   MY TOP FOUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO ENGAGE EMPLOYEES   1.  RECRUIT THE RIGHT PEOPLE a)      Weight passion for the cause high in evaluating suitability. When the going gets tough (as it inevitably does in nonprofits where budgets and resources are severely limited), passionate employees will be more likely to help find alternatives and solutions. They’ll tough it out. b)      Recruit for matching organizational values. I love what Rene Lacerte, CEO and Co-founder of Bill.com has to say about this:  Make company values a big deal. Bill.com hires the type of person they strive to be as a company: humble, fun, authentic, passionate, dedicated. c)       Shortlist only candidates with the right attitude. Make sure their glass is half full, not half empty. They may be extrovert. They may be introvert. But you need people with a collaborative “can do” attitude.   2.   BUDGET FOR STAFF TRAINING a)      Show interest in the development of each individual, and provide educational opportunities in relevant areas, be it presentations or conferences on fundraising, administration, finance, or service delivery. b)      Budget to pay professional association membership fees. Pay for...
Gifts-in-Kind … 10 Guidelines for Fundraisers

Gifts-in-Kind … 10 Guidelines for Fundraisers

I recall my anger when I immigrated to Canada and the righteous call for charity drop-off toys was for “new, unused toys in original packaging” – my rude awakening to our Western obsession with germs.  Of course, I’m “westernized” now. And as a fundraiser I understand why charities are so fussy. A few years ago, Agents of Good posted an outstanding Secret Agent Report entitled “Your Donation is Garbage”.  At the time it really ruffled my donor feathers. So much so that I didn’t trust myself to submit a comment. The post and the comments are well worth a read. It includes fundraiser rants and some excellent advice. You can read it here.   THERE ARE TWO CATEGORIES  OF GIFT-IN-KIND DONORS. 1. People who are passionate about your cause and feel “called” to make a difference. These donors probably make financial donations to your organization too. 2. People who want to make room in their closet and do good at the same time. Great new donor prospects. Whether they realize it or not, the charities that specify “brand new items” are calling out only to people who are already passionate about their cause. The primary motivation for the gift is quite different than for the person who donates a gift-in-kind to make room in their home or office for more stuff. All my life, I’ve been a Gift-in-Kind Donor, and I probably fall into the second category. As you’ll read below, I recently tried to gift a gift-in-kind to a charity I am passionate about. I thought it was about time I made a bigger effort to fit into the first...