Charity and the language we use…

Just came across this piece from RSM – and thought it a good piece to share, it’s worth the read.

What’s in a word or a phrase?  Well sometimes a lot.  Whether we appreciate it or not much of the language we use carries considerable extra weight and meaning due to history, perceptions, and baggage connected with it.

I was fortunate a while back to attend a seminar by Vicki Sykes on the topic of Business acquisition in the community sector in New Zealand.  Vicki is an interesting speaker and after 17 years as a CEO of a South Auckland charity she followed her passion to step back and do a University thesis on the topic of her presentation.

One of the quotes that Vicki used (and forgive me for not knowing to whom this should be attributed) was:

“Remember that being a charity is a tax status; not a business model.”

That line struck me as powerful.  One because of its simplicity.  But perhaps more so due to it making me question my use of the word charity.  There are so many assumptions we attach to a word.  These are built up over time and become unquestioned.  But when we sit back and consider them, sometimes we see that maybe these assumptions and perceptions we attach to a word can hold us back.

When I ask others, especially businesspeople, about the word charity as it relates to organisations, there seems to be a common understanding that this is an organisation that does good.  People understand that they exist to serve some social or community benefit.  The word charity is also associated with giving without expecting anything in return.  A very noble attribute.

Yet these understandings or assumptions about the word charity when considering a charitable organisation also seem to blinker some people in their attitudes towards the organisation and how it operates.

Keep reading here

What are your thoughts?

QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

On my way back from Christchurch to Auckland recently I got to talking to a couple seated next to me on the plane. They were intrigued by the book I was reading – Chapter One – we ended up have a good conversation about charity giving and the orgnisations they support.

So, seeing this from Greg Warner at Market Smart, is timely, and it covers exactly what the couple and I were talking about.

3 QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

  1. “What did they do with my money?”
  2. “Would my money yield more impact if I gave it to another organization?”
  3. “Do they make me feel good or bad?”

 

They said that they often feel some level of concern after making a contribution, mainly around whether the money they have given is going to the right organisation and that it will be used wisely and for the purposes the organisation said they needed support.

Do your donors have confidence in how you are using the support they are giving you, how do you allay any concerns they may have?

Arrogant and Ignorant

I’ve heard about some, have even met some, so this from Veritus Group is timely … 

Most often Jeff and I work with enlightened, progressive, and donor-centered leaders. And then, every once in a while, one shows up that just takes our breath away.

That was my experience recently when I was meeting with a CEO who was considering using Veritus Group in his major gift program. At least that is what I thought.

His Director of Development (DOD) was a very experienced gentleman who had worked for several national non-profits. This DOD knew his stuff. He also knew that he needed help in major gifts – that is why he had set up the meeting. Things were not going well, and the numbers showed it.

Our meeting lasted a total of six minutes, all of which were occupied with a monologue from this CEO about why our help was not needed, why the DOD was wasting his time with this meeting, and didn’t the DOD know that all he had to do was ask for money – and why wasn’t he doing more of it?

I obviously did not get a word in edgewise, nor a point of view. This guy knew it all, so there was no reason for me to tell him what I thought. Actually, let me correct what I just said. I did manage to tell him that he was losing millions of dollars in donors that were either going away or giving less. I showed him the facts. He brushed those details aside and kept talking.

It was not surprising to me that, weeks after our meeting, the DOD resigned and took another position with a well-known non-profit.

Here is why I am telling you this story.

It doesn’t matter if you are a MGO, a DOD, or any staff member working in a non-profit – if you are in a place where a leader behaves in this way (ignores best practice, does not take counsel, shames his employees in public, etc.) – if you are in this kind of place, you must get out. This is not the place for you.

Keep reading here

THREE WAYS TO RAISE MORE MONEY

As you probably know I enjoy reading articles, tips and hints from Market Smart, so here’s another one – I’m sure you’ll gain some insights from this.

 

THERE ARE ONLY THREE WAYS TO RAISE MORE MONEY

Every nonprofit organization needs more of two things: time and money. Okay, every organization (nonprofit or for-profit) could use more of those two resources. Hey, now that I think about, I could use more of those two myself…

Time and money are the most valuable resources in the world, and for nonprofits the impact of having more of either can be immeasurable. Of course, time is finite — we all are limited to just 24 hours in a day, but money (funding) is theoretically uncapped, and having more of it generally equates to having a larger impact on the world. That’s not to say that uncovering efficiencies, prioritizing activities, and increasing productivity are all for naught (they aren’t), it simply means that “saving time” plays a direct role in increasing funding. If I’m more efficient, I can raise more money.

Fundraising professionals power the financial engine that sustains millions of nonprofits across the globe, but they all face one common question: how do we raise more money? Of course such a broad question can’t be addressed in a blog post, nor should it be. Increasing the “growth in giving” is an issue worthy of industry boards and committees, not blog posts or ad hoc analysis.

Yet, as with most things, there is one simple answer to this question that can have a resounding impact and actually make a substantial difference on your funds raised. Yes, the answer to the “how do we raise more money?” question is incredibly complex, but no that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do today to affect it.

Let’s start with a universal truth; there are only three ways to raise more money. Now, before you scroll to the comment section of this page and begin typing your, “there are more than three ways to raise money, bozo!” comment, please bear with me.

Any organization, nonprofit or for-profit has only three ways to increase the amount money they receive. They could:

  1. Acquire new donors/customers
  2. Retain existing donors/customers
  3. Monetize their donors/customers

It’s really that simple.

I’ve appended “/customers” to each of the three strategies above for a reason. As you continue reading this blog post we’ll address each strategy with both a nonprofit example and a for-profit example. You’ll quickly realize that for-profit companies are employing each of these three strategies on you every day.

 

Keep reading here

How Long Does It Take to Start a Major Gift Program?

Came across the following on veritusgroup.com and thought was worth sharing, some great insights/pointers.

It’s a serious dilemma.

The organization needs the money; they have the donors to deliver the money, but there is no major gift strategy in place to secure the money. This confluence of need, opportunity and planning usually results in a lot of impatient leaders.

Just last week I sat in a meeting where a manager was visibly upset at the slow pace of revenue generation. When I tried to explain that relationships take time, she brushed me aside and said: “Look, all you have to do is ask.”

And therein lies the organizational problem for many major gift programs. Management needs the money, and major gift people are told they need to deliver it “right now!”

This is a path to certain failure because the MGO, in this type of hostile and urgent environment, will focus on the money rather than helping a donor fulfill her passions and interests. And we all know that a focus on the money is a sure way to alienate a donor.

Reasonable managers and leaders know that good relationships take time – that you don’t just pounce on a donor and squeeze the money out of him. But these same managers often ask Jeff and me how long it should take to gain traction in a major gift program. “How long,” they ask, “does it take to have a fully functional program in place?”

We think it takes a minimum of 18-24 months to start a major gift program and have it become fully functional. Why so long? There are several reasons:

  1. The organization needs to hire the right MGO. This could take six months when you consider the time it takes to agree on the job description, get the proper authorizations, search for candidates, interview and vet the candidates and then finally hire them. I haven’t seen this process take less than four months. So let’s say it takes four months –although many times it takes longer.
  2. The MGO needs to qualify donors for a caseload. Why? Because only 1 in 3 donors who meet the major gift criteria will actually want to talk to the MGO. So the MGO has to go through a labor-intensive process to find 150 donors who will relate to him. This step alone will take 6-8 months. Let’s say six, even though that is being generous.
  3. Relationship building takes time. While the MGO will qualify donors early in her tenure with the organization, 8 to 10 months will have passed before she actually starts engaging seriously with donors. And building relationships (as you know) takes time – more time than most managers think it will take.

Keep reading full article here

Getting to the Decision Maker

Most of us hate having to go up the ranks to speak to the person we need to that is ultimately responsible for making the “decision”.

But, in reality going up the ranks can be a plus.

This article from Infinity Sponsorship is a great read How having to work your way up to the sponsorship decision maker can, in fact, be the best approach!

Take the time to read it, I’m sure you will gain some insights.

19 Ideas to Cultivate Your Donors

I came across this article from Veritus Group and thought it worth sharing, some reasonable ideas. Is there anything you would add – or remove?

 

By Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels July 12, 2017

If there is one area of “moves management” that has never set well with me, it’s the word stewardship. Stewardship is what you are supposed to do with donors after they give you a gift. I don’t like it because it conveys a more passive approach to the relationship with your donor.

For instance, I’ve been working with an MGO who told me, “Oh, that donor is in stewardship mode right now, so I don’t have to worry about them.” Huh? Yes you do. If you’re ever going to ask for another gift, your approach with that donor needs to be strategic, focused and donor-centered.

I like to say that you are always in a cultivation mode with your donors. You’re always trying to build and deepen relationships, while providing opportunities for your donors to invest in your mission. There really is no time to be passive… especially after they have just given you a great gift.

So to give you some ideas this summer, here are 19 ways for you to cultivate your donors:

  1. Research each of your donors and find something unique about them.
  2. Update your donor data system with all of your donor communications, to allow you to know what you’ve done with each donor.
  3. Call three of your donors every day just to thank them for supporting the mission.
  4. Write five handwritten thank-you notes every day to donors on your caseload.
  5. Invite some of your donors to see your programs first-hand.
  6. Ask a donor to help you solve a problem.
  7. Know the hobbies of your donors, and use it to send the donor information about that hobby, telling them that you are thinking of them.
  8. Take your donor to a sporting or cultural event that you have tickets for.
  9. Figure out ways to get donors to see your mission, and arrange for them to have a visit.
  10. Help your donors pass on their giving legacy to their children: recommend ways to talk to their children about giving, along with a good consultant to advise the family about multi-generational giving.
  11. Ask a few of your donors to talk to your board about why they give, and why they love the organization.
  12. While they’re at it, ask your donors to give your Executive Director and board some solid critique of the organization and how it could be better.
  13. Look for connections in your donor portfolio where you could introduce donors to one another. Help your donors network with one another.
  14. Think of ways to foster business relationships between your donors, and arrange for meetings.
  15. Have the CEO or ED call each of your A-level donors at least once a year to thank them for giving.
  16. If you have a relationship with a celebrity or VIP, have that person call your top 10 donors or write a special note thanking them for being involved in your organization.
  17. Look for ways to honor your donors publicly in front of their peers (provided they will like it), and publicize it.
  18. Always acknowledge milestones in each donor’s life.
  19. Arrange for a program person to call your donor and give them a first-hand account of what an impact the donor is making on that program. Tell the donor she is a hero.

There you go – 19 ideas to proactively cultivate your donors so that you will continue to foster and deepen the relationship with them. With 150 donors on your caseload, there is no time to sit back and be passive. Hopefully, these 19 ideas will spark others as well.

Please feel free to share more cultivation ideas with the Passionate Giving community!

Jeff

P.S. – Want to go further? Check out our free white paper on “The Art of Soliciting a Donor.”

Are Charity Campaigns Good for Business

We see them almost every week some company pledging support for an organisation, or individual in the community that needs support.

But, what I often wonder is whether the support being offered s genuine or just some PR stunt; maybe I’m being picky but I do tend to feel that some of these “campaigns” are merely a PR stunt, as way a business can be “seen” to be doing good in the community.

Perhaps some are genuine, and I’m doing them an injustice by casting doubt on the authenticity of their support. If so, I’ll apologise.

But when we think about how a business can show support, it’s not just about the dollars, it’s about whether the business has bothered to ask their staff about what support (and who too) they would like to be associated with.

Remember Pay Roll Giving? This is a way that a company to show (and give) support, by allowing staff to select an organisation to support and have a sum deducted and paid directly to the organisation each pay day; and the business can also give support by allowing staff time off to volunteer.

If you’re in business and want to support organisations in your community, don’t treat it as an “add-on” build it into your business model.

A business should decide what they want to do by way of supporting an organisation or organisations in the community. A good way to start is by putting together a listen of what’s important to the directors, perhaps someone did something for you when you were younger, so you want to give back in a similar way.

Maybe someone close to you suffered from some ailment, perhaps you want to support those who gave this person the care and support they needed.

Perhaps writing a list of people, organisations that have helped you, your family that have had an impact on your life. Often a cause is that is close to you personally, the easier it will be to make a decision, but don’t forget those working with you, let them have some input before making a final decision.

See also Ask your staff before making that donation

 

 

 

Volunteering, Why?

Why do people volunteer? There’s a myriad of reasons people opt to volunteer in their community.

The reason can range from giving something back to the community, giving time to an organisation that has helped them either personally or may have offered assistance to a family member.

Others volunteer to feel valued and part of a community; or to perhaps learn new skills.

There are cases where people may be directed to offer service in the community; often this is something ordered by a court. However, there are also times when a person who is receiving a form of Government assistance (benefit) may be asked to give time to a community organisation; in this instance, it is more than likely so as the person can gain a new skill and to add something to their CV.

I have even heard that some people volunteer as a way to do something different, to give them a break from their job. There’s some in this group who volunteer to bring their business/career skills to an organisation (pro bono).

Some people volunteer because they feel alone in their life, so a chance to volunteer gives them the chance to meet new people and a chance to socialise. And, if they are new to an area it allows them the chance to get to know others in their community.

Volunteering has been seen too as a way to improve on mental and physical well being.

Do you volunteer, if you do why?

No Audited Accounts

Any New Zealand organisation registered with Charity Services must provide an annual return, which among other things outlines income and expenditure for the previous period. Most organisations provide this information in a timely manner, but there are others who delay, delay and delay some more.

What’s more there are some who don’t have their annual accounts audited, not just for one year but almost never.

Sure, it’s their ”right” to elect to have accounts audited or not, but does this have the potential to cast doubt over the authenticity, credibility of the organisation?

Would seeing an organisation you have a connection with not furnishing their returns in a timely manner and not providing audited accounts make you think twice about donated your hard earned money?

Should there be a limit on how many years an organisation canget away without providing audited accounts?

Does your organisation ”vote” not to provide full audited accounts, has this had any impact on the way you are perceived by supporters? Has it impacted on the level of grants, sponsorships etc that you may have tried to obtain?

I’d be keen to hear your stories, experiences.