Tagged: stewardship

How Much Do You Care About Your Donors?

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I’m not challenging your goodness or integrity.

As a fundraiser, you work hard to support a cause that means a lot to you. You strive to connect your donors’ passions to the needs of people your organization cares for.

And you are successful by staying true and focused on your organization’s mission and vision. This is exactly what you should be doing. Good for you!

But what happens when others are finding solutions to the cause that is important to you in different ways or through other organizations?

Do you feel tempted to create a new program in order to win their support?

Do you try to convince your donor to change her mind on the type of program she supports by trying to convince her that your organization’s methods or goals are better? Or reach more people?

Or do you recognize that other organizations may be filling much-needed gaps in the bigger picture of the cause you care deeply about and choose to honour the passion of each individual making a difference in ways that are meaningful to them?

Maybe it’s not about who is better at what. Maybe it’s about each person doing their part and in doing so, achieving better results than anyone of us could have, alone.

What do you think?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Making A Difference Where It Matters To You

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Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you ~ Oprah Winfrey

Fundraising is FUN!

You get to meet and be inspired by so many wonderful people who want to make this world a better place. You get to match great need with needed resources.

You get to be part of something that is transformational.

You get to build community.

So make sure you’re aligned with an organization that answers a need you’re passionate about. One that mirrors your vision and values.

Making a difference where it matters to you, is just as important to a fundraiser as it is to a donor.

Are you making a difference where it matters to you?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

 

Two Simple, Yet Powerful Words…

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Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow ~Melody Beattie

A FEW YEARS BACK I got to do one of my favourite things.

I sat down at my desk with a list of ten names.

Each had made a recent donation to the non-profit organization I worked for.

These ten people contributed to the bottom line.

But there’s a deeper story.

About a week or two before this list hit my desk;

Ten people in the privacy of their homes thought about my organization.

They thought about the work that is done;

how it makes the world a better place;

they thought about their loved ones who receive quality care from our passionate and dedicated staff;

and then each one, in his/her own home, sat down and wrote a cheque.

That just blows my mind. It fills me with deep gratitude.

Armed with my list I had the privilege of calling each one to tell them that:

  • they made my day
  • we couldn’t do it without them
  • and thank you.

Turns out I made their day too.

Two simple, yet powerful words.

When’s the last time you said thank you?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Using The Right Tool To Get The Job Done

Anyone who has ever undertaken a DIY renovation or construction project understands the value of having the right tools to get the job done.

Me, in front of the house I helped to build twenty years earlier, Thanksgiving 2012.

Me, in front of the house I helped to build thirty years earlier, Thanksgiving 2012.

IN THE EARLY 80s I TRAVELLED OUT WEST with my boyfriend to help his sister build a house.

Having never built anything in my twenty years of life, I soon found out that I was on a huge learning curve.

I learned plenty about building a house that year. Everything from building walls, trusses and gable ends to installing windows and running electrical wires.

But the most important lesson I took away with me was – having the right tool for the job makes all the difference.

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In the same way, you need the right ‘tools’ to connect the passion of your donors with the passion of your organization.

You will find that the ‘tool’ you’ll reach for the most, will be your listening skills.

Why?

Because if the job at hand is to connect your donors with the work of your organization, you need to tap into their passion and show them how they can achieve their dream for a better world through you.

Ask questions and listen to the answers.

  • Learn why they give to you.
  • Discover what motivates them.
  • Hear their dreams for a better world.
  • Listen to their ideas and feedback.
  • Invite conversation.
  • Stay in regular contact with them.
  • Brag about them every chance you get.

As well as providing you with the significant gifts you need to run your organization, your major donors are a great resource in providing insights, expertise and valuable feedback.

Just as the cartoon below highlights the need for the correct screw head to get the job done, you need to find what connects your donor’s passion to the work of your organization.

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Thirty years ago, I helped to build a house that still stands today, how will you use your listening skills to build strong and lasting relationships with your donors?

Today’s post was inspired by Screw heads by John Atkinson, Wrong Hands. You can find more brilliant cartoons by John Atkinson at Wrong Hands here.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Building An Annual Plan From Scratch

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Having a good annual fund development plan keeps you focused on the work that needs to get done and raises money for your organization. But what do you do when you join an organization that has no plan in place? How do you build a development plan from scratch?

Something that has worked for me is to envision what an annual plan will look like a few years down the road and develop strategies to get there.

SO WHERE TO START?

Examine the current status and get…

  • a good understanding of current trends and challenges.
  • a good understanding of the organization’s fund development history.
  • a good understanding of its donors.
  • a good understanding of who the organization is and what it does.

Explore fund development opportunities including:

  • Monthly Giving program
  • Major Donors program
  • Planned Giving program
  • Direct Mail program
  • Acquisition and Cultivation strategies including, fundraising opportunities with strong calls to action, third-party fundraising, proposal writing, marketing and promotions
  • Strategies for particular constituent types, i.e., individuals, businesses, foundations, groups, etc.
  • Tools and processes, i.e., database implementation, policies, procedures
  • Writing a case for support
  • Creating a good story and photo bank
  • Writing fundraising copy for each program for use in newsletters, fundraising letters, website, etc.
  • Creating a philanthropic culture starting with the board, staff and other volunteers
  • Identifying and developing strategies for capital needs
  • Creating volunteer opportunities and
  • Developing engagement strategies for the community at large

Once you’ve created a document of all the possibilities, develop a timeline for implementation with particular emphasis and detail on the strategies you plan to implement in the next 12 months.

Starting from scratch, allows you to build a plan that is customized to the needs of your organization. Although there is a lot of hard work involved, implementing the organization’s first annual plan will yield positive results.

Have you ever built an annual fund development program from scratch? What are some of the important lessons you learned? What tips would you recommend to someone who is building an organization’s first annual program?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Building Solid Donor Relationships

When You Are Looking For a Partner, You Have To Decide What Type of Relationship You Want

untitledYou may decide to start with the dating scene.

You just want to get a sense of what’s out there and meet a number of people with different interests and personalities.

Something, many of your parents may have suggested, if they felt you were getting too serious, too soon!

This testing of the waters, helps you to understand what you are looking for, and what potential partners are looking for, in a relationship.

It’s exciting. Sparks fly. Adrenaline is high, but for the most part, dating is a hit-and-miss endeavor.

When You Set Your Mind on Pursuing a Life Partner, It’s a Game Changer

It’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s not always going to be fun!

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The Same is True When You’re Working With Donors

Acquiring new donors, writing grants for the current year, securing sponsors for your events, etc., is like dating. Although necessary, in and of itself, it is not sustainable for the long-term.

If you want stability, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s not always going to be fun.

Building strong relationships with your donors requires good Stewardship. Things like:

  • finding out what they’re passionate about
  • addressing their concerns and questions
  • commitment and responsibility
  • transparency
  • trust
  • admitting when you make a mistake

What are you doing to strengthen your donor relationships?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Take Care of Your People

“Life is meant to be shared. We need each other.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita    images044OR7Q2

YOUR ORGANIZATION IS MADE UP OF living, breathing people.

  • Your Staff
  • Your Volunteers
  • Your Donors
  • Your Clients
  • Your Community

Building relationships and making the best use of the time, talents and treasures of your people, who are united in fulfilling your mission, is well worth your time.

This is based on the premise that although being fiscally viable is important, engaging with, and recognizing the valuable contributions of your people is equally important.

In fact, the latter is crucial to the success of the former.

Your vision and brilliant strategies aren’t worth the paper they’re documented on, without the people who have committed themselves to your important mission with you.

Take care of  your people or they may stop taking care of you.

Make a list of the stakeholder groups who are important to your organization. When is the last time you engaged with them? What are your strategies to ensure you’re staying connected with, and keeping each group engaged moving forward?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Do You Know How To Appreciate Your Donor?

 

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. ~ Voltaire

imagesUX8A5PA5MOST ORGANIZATIONS KNOW IT’S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE DONORS, but what happens when how you do it has the opposite affect?

I recently celebrated my birthday and was blown away by all the good wishes that came my way in person, by phone and by email.

Because it feels good to be appreciated

Even people whom I hadn’t had recent contact with, reached out to me through Facebook and Twitter; many letting me know the difference I have made in their lives, personally and professionally and wishing me a year of the same sort of kindness.

I was moved by their words and the creative ways they chose to express their gratitude and birthday wishes. And some of the most touching messages included videos, personal photographs and poetically woven words.

I LOVED IT!

But there are people who are not comfortable with public acknowledgement.

I suppose a more private person wouldn’t share their birth date on Facebook or click the feature that allows people to post on their wall.

How do you appreciate your donors?

How do you know what your donor’s preferences are?  Not every person is comfortable with public acknowledgement; preferring something more personal or even wanting to be completely anonymous. Do you know your donors well enough to know what makes them feel appreciated?

What’s the point of showing gratitude if your donor does not feel appreciated, or even worse, is offended and feels their privacy has been compromised?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Spending Your Energy Wisely, Compassionately and Encouragingly

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There’s a lot of work to do in fundraising, especially at this time of year!

So you will want to spend your energy wisely.

Not just wisely though; compassionately and encouragingly as well.

  • DO ask your faithful donors for yearend gifts
  • DO make it easy for donors to give in a way that is convenient for them.
  • DON’T make your donors jump through hoops because it makes your job easier
  • DO thank all your donors in a timely manner
  • DO let your donors know how they are changing the world through their giving
  • DO honour your donors’ mailing preferences
  • DON’T try to convince those who are not interested in your cause to support you. DO encourage them to pursue and give to the causes they are passionate about.
  • DON’T ask again, if you haven’t said thank you
  • DON’T bully or use guilt to keep a donor who has indicated they can no longer support you. DO thank them for all they’ve done in the past and wish them well.

In a nutshell, treat donors as you would loved ones. Remember that not everyone likes your cause and that there are many worthy causes out there for donors to support. There’s enough to go around.

I would love to hear your tips for healthy donor relationships. Please leave them in the comment section below.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

A Donor Horror Story – Don’t Do This!

images1DRJYW0CShe’s a single parent, let’s call her Ann.

When her daughter Mary was 8 years old, they decided to sponsor a child in South America through a reputable organization. Together they chose a girl who was the same age as Mary.

It felt good to make a difference. Their monthly donation was not only helping the little girl, it was helping her community as well.

Mary was thrilled to hear from this sponsored girl and over the years they exchanged many letters.

It was such a good experience, that they decided to sponsor a second child, a boy in Africa.

Time went by and Ann fell on hard times. She felt horrible, but she knew she had to phone the organization and let them know she could no longer sponsor these two children.

As a fundraiser, I’ve taken calls like this myself. I would hear in their voice that they felt bad about having to cancel their monthly donations.  I would thank them for all the support they had given, tell them I understood their decision and wished them well.

When Ann phoned, she was told that she was being transferred to the donor retention department or some other equally offensive department name. Ann questioned this and asked why the person she was speaking with couldn’t honour her request.

Nevertheless, she was transferred to a new person who asked Ann if she wouldn’t prefer to just suspend her donations and have them automatically start up again in 3 months. Ann, who by this point, was starting to get frustrated restated that she wished to cancel the automatic withdrawal from her bank account.

You would think that would be the end of it but the woman at the organization then said, “But what about the children? Don’t you care what happens to them?”

Thankfully Ann stood her ground. She thought about following up with the organization’s leadership, but never did.

A week later she received a letter from the organization informing her how she could start donating again if her financial situation improved. But Ann had been so hurt by this experience with the organization that there was no chance she would ever support them again.

If we don’t care about our donors, our organization and ultimately those whom we care for, will suffer.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.