Thank When Others Ask (Especially on Community Wide Giving Days)

Thank When Others Ask (Especially on Community Wide Giving Days)

What does your organization do to show #donorlove on giving days?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear from you!

Here’s our FREE donor thank you call script to help get you and your volunteers started.

For more donor stewardship tips, check out our Free Resource Library.  Or sign up for our next stewardship webinar, “How to Keep All Those New Donors You Worked So Hard to Get.”

Get Permission for the Next Step, BEFORE You Leave

Get Permission for the Next Step, BEFORE You Leave

What’s your preferred next step after a donor visit?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear from you!

Here’s our FREE list of sample donor touch points to get you thinking in the right direction.

For more donor visit tips, check out our Free Resource Library //or attend our donor visit webinar, “How to Get Donor Visits and Knock Them Out of the Park.”

Use “Consider” and “Join Me” in Your Asks

Use “Consider” and “Join Me” in Your Asks

For the complete ins and outs of donor visits (and our complete process), check out our upcoming webinar “How to Get Donor Visits and Knock Them Out of the Park.”

Do you have a great donor visit tip?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear from you!

For more donor visit & ask tips, check out our Free Resource Library.

Block Time for Donor Visits (and for Scheduling Them)

Block Time for Donor Visits (and for Scheduling Them)

Here’s a FREE resource we put together which calculates how much time to set aside for donor visits (and for scheduling them) based on your fundraising goals, it’s our Visit Time Blocking Formulas.

Have you had recent success with donor visits?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear from you!

Want to learn more?  Check out the donor visit section of our Free Resource Library.  Or join us for our upcoming webinar, How to Get Donor Visits and Knock Them Out of the Park.

Productive Fundraising: It’s Both WHAT You Do and HOW You Do It

Productive Fundraising: It’s Both WHAT You Do and HOW You Do It

Productivity is a two part process.  It requires the perfect balance of efficiency and effectiveness.  It’s not only the outcomes that matter, but also the process for reaching those outcomes.  It’s both WHAT you do, and HOW you do it.

The WHAT

As a professional fundraiser, there is a constant temptation, and sometimes expectation, to try to raise funds every way possible.  The suggestions come from everywhere:  articles, blogs, conferences, etc.  My favorite is the “helpful” (and insistent) board member …  “I’m involved with XYZ organization and they just held this great event that raised a lot of money, we’re going to do that too!”  Don’t get me started on non-strategic special events!  Regular readers of this blog know that I recommend holding no more than two big special events per year.  The flip side of this board member is the one that says “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at every single meeting.  One wants to do the wrong thing and one doesn’t want to try anything new at all.

So what’s the problem with these two mindsets?  Whether you try every tactic possible, or try nothing new at all, you will get the same result … mediocrity.  Things will be fine, but you’ll never really fulfill your mission and change the world.  You’ll be stuck in slow growth mode or maybe even stagnancy.

So how do you do better than mediocre?  The key is to figure out what will work best for your organization, and to do it well … really well.   Buy how? In my opinion, the number one skill for today’s fundraiser is the desire to always be learning.  Read every day … make it a priority.  Keep up with the latest trends.  Attend industry leading conferences.  Expose yourself to other sectors and see what’s working there.  Then bring those ideas back to your office and apply them to your work … INNOVATE.

But don’t just blindly innovate, you have to test what you put into place.  Is it really working, or is does it just make your organization look good?  Charities don’t fulfill their missions by looking good … they do it by raising vital funds and delivering programmatic results.  So, make a commitment to innovation.  Try one or two new strategies at a time.  Keep the ones that work and kill the ones that don’t.  After a few development cycles, you’ll find a few strategies that really elevate your fundraising and charity to the next level.  And you’ll get really good at saying “NO” to the things that you know will take you back  down to the land of mediocrity.

The HOW

Something must also be said for HOW you work.  Are you an efficient worker?  If meeting your goals requires that you put in 60 hour weeks every single week, there’s a problem.  It could be unrealistic expectations or it could be bad work habits.  It’s most likely a combination of both.  By being in touch with your personal productivity habits and constantly seeking ways to improve them, you can take back your life and still be an effective fundraiser.

Developing a personal productivity system that you can trust is a key to success (and sanity).  Managing time, email and social media use are also key skills.  You also need to know how to limit and maximize meetings, travel smart and properly integrate your work and home lives.  And finally, you have to do it all with a great attitude by managing your mood and energy level.

And let’s not forget … you have to actually leave the office to meet with donors, network and build the pipeline.

This has been my framework for success in the nonprofit sector: constant innovation (and testing) with a major focus (okay, addiction) on working efficiently.

How do you balance the WHAT and the HOW?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear from you!

Want to learn more?  Check out the our Free Resource Library.  Or attend our next productivity webinar, “How to Fix Your Productivity to Amp Up Your Results.”

Stewardship Calls: Are They Worth Your Effort?

Stewardship Calls: Are They Worth Your Effort?

 

Every fundraiser knows that stewardship calls boost donor retention and engagement. But it’s always been difficult to find hard data to support that claim. Stewardship calls are also a great way to involve reluctant board members in the fundraising process. But there’s always that one board member that wants to see the data that proves it works before they’ll join in the effort.

Thankfully, the folks at Sumac recently published a blog post titled “The Incredible Power of The Phone: 3 Nonprofit Case Studies and a 400% increase in Donations!.” In this post they compile research from Penelope Burk, The Thistle Foundation and HJC Nonprofit Consulting to show the impact of stewardship calls. Here’s the data:

  • Board members calling to thank donors increases donations by 39%;
  • Staff calling to update donors increases donations by 41%;
  • Staff calling to encourage event participants increases pledge donations by 400%.

Now that you have hard numbers backed up by research, what board member is going to turn you down when you ask them to make thank you calls?  Yes, they will still want a script — so here’s a free sample one from us:  

And what about those staff calling numbers? I hope you’re seriously considering making some calls yourself … especially to provide impact updates and encourage your peer to peer event participants.

Regardless of who does it, the key is to pick up the phone. It may no longer be a great solicitation tool, but it definitely still has its place in the fundraising world.

What’s your favorite way to implement stewardship calls in your fundraising? Join this discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your tip!

For more stewardship tips, check out our Free Resource Library. or join us for our next stewardship webinar, “How to Keep All Those New Donors You Worked So Hard to Get.”

Are You Sure You Want to Publish an Annual Report?

Are You Sure You Want to Publish an Annual Report?

Here’s a typical scenario that most fundraisers go through every year … It happens about six weeks after your fiscal year end close. The numbers are finalized and it’s time to let your donors know how you did. What’s your go to delivery device? That’s right, for most of you it’s the nonprofit annual report. The dreaded nonprofit annual report.

It’s the piece that every development director hates to write and every donor hates to read. The development director feels like they have to publish one (“because everyone else does”) and the donor feels like they have to read it (“because the staff went to so much trouble to write it”). No one really wins in this situation, it’s extra work for no real value. Yes, you may educate your donors a bit, but there is far better use for that time than compiling a lengthy report (like actually meeting with them face to face).

Yes, you need to report out on your results. You need to show how your organization pushed the needle forward thanks to the generous, loyal support of your donors. But you DON’T need to send an annual report. Especially not the typical eight to twelve page annual report with lots of text in small font, pie charts and an honor roll of donors. Donors don’t read this and for the most part don’t care about (or want) their name to be published anyway. I’ve heard this directly from them, time and time again, in donor focus groups for all types of causes.

So what should you do instead? I advocate publishing an annual report postcard. It’s a simple piece that highlights a few key statistics from the year, VISUALLY SHOWS impact and thanks your donors. That’s it … no boring paragraphs of text, no pie charts, no giant list of donors.

Here’s a sample of one I’ve created in the past:

sample-annual-report-postcard

The back isn’t pictured, but it simply says “Thank you for your loyal support. Because of you, the arts are thriving in our region. We appreciate you and wanted to let you know the impact of your ongoing support. Thanks again!”  This is printed in large font to fill the back of the postcard along with a few logos of corporate supporters (just the ones that actually want that).  Here’s the link to download this FREE sample.

This project takes a minimal amount of staff time, is quick (inexpensive) for a graphic designer to compile and is affordable to print and mail. That’s quite a few wins on several different fronts. The biggest win? Donors love receiving them! I’ve even seen annual report postcards hung up on the fridge when I show up for a donor visit!

So scrap that annual report and do something more productive and effective: publish an annual report postcard. Just don’t spend that saved time in your email inbox … get out there and meet with your donors.

Have you done an alternative annual report that was well received? Join this discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your tip!

For more stewardship tips, check out our Free Resource Library. or join us for our next stewardship webinar, “How to Keep All Those New Donors You Worked So Hard to Get.”

Productive Fundraising In Action: Michael J. Rosen

For this month’s edition of Productive Fundraising in action, I interviewed my fellow Pennsylvanian and fundraising guru Michael J. Rosen, President of ML Innovations, Inc. Let’s dig in …

What personal productivity technique has had the most impact on your career?

In any given moment, I try to do the most important thing. Depending on the moment, that might mean writing a planned-giving marketing plan, preparing for a training, or just relaxing. Related to this, I also try to take care of the tasks I hate the most first (assuming they’re important) in order to get them out of the way so they’re not hanging over my head.

Why did you choose this specific technique over any others that you may use?

I’m a natural born procrastinator. I have to always fight against that tendency. Staying focused on doing the most important thing at any moment helps me stay on course.

Do you have a favorite tool that helps you stay productive?

If I had to choose just one productivity tool, I’d have to say it’s my laptop. I’m definitely not a technology expert, but I know enough about my laptop (and smartphone) to be very useful.

Do you have a favorite productivity book, system or expert that you look to for guidance?

No. I’ve focused my energies on growing as a fundraiser and a marketer. I haven’t focused too much on finely honing my personal productivity skills. At this point in my career, it’s not such a big problem. However, early on, I certainly could have benefited from knowing more about productivity. It would have saved me from learning the hard way.

Chad’s Two Cents

Michael has some great tips on beating procrastination. The MIT (Most Important Task) theory is preached throughout productivity circles. I don’t preach it because I don’t do it (and I only preach what I practice). I personally prefer a warm up with some administrative tasks before I get to my key items — but that’s just me. Personal productivity is just that … personal.

Michael’s last point is key. While he doesn’t give us productivity book, system or expert, what he says is very telling: “I’ve focused my energies on growing as a fundraiser.” There’s definitely such a thing as focusing too much on productivity (and yours truly may be guilty of this). There’s a balance … you need to focus on your craft (fundraising) AND refining that craft (productivity).

Michael J. Rosen is President of ML Innovations, Inc. ML Innovations provides a broad-range of ethics, fundraising, and marketing consulting services and training programs for nonprofit organizations throughout the USA. Fundraising specialties include annual giving, planned giving, telephone fundraising, and donor retention.  You can learn more about Michael (and pick up some great fundraising tips) via his blog, Michael Rosen Says.

What are your two cents? Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

For more productivity tips, check out our Free Resource Library, or join us for our next productivity webinar, “How to Fix Your Productivity to Amp Up Your Results.”

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