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 fundraising” and...

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...
Lesson from VW – TLC for Donors If You MUST Drop A Charity Program

Lesson from VW – TLC for Donors If You MUST Drop A Charity Program

If one of the organizations listed in my Will were to suddenly drop one of the programs I believe in, I might have to re-think my choices. There’s a lesson or two for fundraisers in how Volkswagen communicated with customers when they stopped production of the Westfalia (Kombi) camper van after more than 30 years. How would your long-time donors feel if your organization suddenly dropped one of the programs they’ve supported over the years? And what steps would you take to ensure their continued support? If you’re not a Westy owner yourself, you may not know that owners have a very personal attachment to the VW Bus. We even identify with other owners, waving at eachother when we pass on the highway. Life is good when you own a Westy. And as Westy owners we each have our own positive association with our vans. I even spent a week of my honeymoon in the mountains camping in our Westy! The Volkswagen company understands this attachment. And when they ceased production of the Westfalia camper van, they did something very special. They sought out loyal and longtime owners. They found out what mattered to each of them and how they identified with their vans. And they created customer experiences and gifts for each of them – mementos, photographs, memories. And then they made a touching video of it all and shared it with Westy fans. Like Westy owners, your donors also have a personal link to the work that your organization does. Many of your long-time donors likely have a very personal reason why they are “touched” enough to support the...

How to Partner with Your Donors to Change the World

As part of my research for a presentation at a fundraising conference, I reached out to colleagues around the world in my quest to find charities living and working a donor-centric model. I discovered that while lots of individual fundraisers and fundraising teams were doing a stellar job of improving their direct communications with donors, the approach did not necessarily extend to the entire Development or Fundraising department, let alone the entire organization. My presentation was supposed to highlight not one, but two case-studies. I realized what a challenge I’d set myself! After three months of research, I finally resigned myself to presenting mini-case studies of some of the great things organizations are doing to engage and build relationships with their donors … sharing emotional stories growing in Memoriam donors into Legacy Donors telling their donors they love them without asking for a gift at the same time engaging donors in mission-related activities I was disappointed that I could not find organizations somewhere in the world that are successfully living and working a donor-centric model. Surely they must exist. But then I recalled an organization I consulted with some years back when I worked at Mal Warwick – Corporate Accountability International (CAI). More than any other organization I’d come across at the time, CAI recognized the value of a donor. I wondered how they were doing. It was time to catch up. WOW! So pleased I did. CAI is an excellent example of how to live and work a donor-centric model. CAI knows from years of experience, that the more aware and involved their members are, the greater impact...