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.

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

 

 

 

Younger Donors, You Need Them

As the population ages organisations need to look beyond their mainstay of donors, the Baby Boomer etc; sorry to say, but this is a dying sector of the donor base.

But, unless organisations are (or rather have) started to work toward attracting younger donors there is a serious risk that organisations will suffer to not only grow, but to continue to do the work they are there for.

Sure, younger people are getting on board and supporting organisations, I’ve seen this, you’ve seen it, but in the main I’d suggest it’s the sexy organisations, not the less attractive ones (this is a perception).

To attract younger supporters organisations need to, yes, I’m telling you what others have been for ages; get savvy with the use of social media, get used to using video, stage events to attract a younger audience (typically millennials won’t want to go to a black tie dinner).

And, change your online presence. Does the website you had built a couple of years ago need an update, come to think of it, when did you last look at how your website looks on new devices – it may look good, readable and usable on your desktop computer; but what does it look and feel like on a handheld device?

Can users quickly and easily make an online donation? If not, you’re missing opportunities; sure there are other apps people can use to make donations to your cause, but why send them to another “site” if you’ve already got them “captured” on your site?

Not sure if you’re site, communication style etc is attractive to a younger audience – that’s easy, invite them to look and give you feedback, get a group of younger people together to talk about what you need to do to attract their age group; not just your look and feel, but your overall message and mission.

You’ve nothing to lose – oh, yes you do, you run the risk of your donors dying off and no new donors to fill their shoes.

See also

Young people need to be nurtured and encouraged

Teach children the importance of giving

Email Marketing, Be on Point

We all get them, emails, email updates, simple to the point outlining what an organisation has been doing; then we get the solicitation emails – love them or hate them, they’re a fact of life and we have to accept that when we subscribe we will get them.

As an organisation, you’re relient more and more on emails as a means of communication, simply as it is cheaper than postal updates and appeals.

What is important is that you address them correctly, do you know how your subscribers/donors like to be addressed? Mrs/Ms/Mr, or is it ok to simply use their first name?

But, first off – The Subject Line is an all important part of an email – get this wrong and more will be sent direct to the bin – deleted, with all your hardwork wasted.

Have a read of what Michael Rosen says, yes, it’s in American speak, but he makes sense and has good points and, pointers on how you might get a better readership and response if you take time to plan what you want to send your subscribers and donors.

Click here and read

What are you doing with your email and DM campaigns, are you targetting everyone on your database or are you segmenting it to those who want updates and donors as two separate categories?

Are you further segmenting it to send something different to those who have given recently?

The week in Review (Jan 30)

Have decided that at the end of each week I will do a review of some of the posts I written; just so as those who may have missed something get a chance to read and an opportunity for others to have a second read.

So this week I have touched on:

Are you Prepared to Collaborate?

There’s an abundance of non  profits in New Zealand, something on the lines of 26,000 registered charities, organisations could face support, funding and delivery issues unless there’s more collaboration.

Unless organisations collaborate there is a risk some organisations will cease to exist. There’s only so much people can give, both individuals, business and funding bodies; so just on a funding basis collaboration is needed.

Read more

Are You Singing from the same song sheet

The management, more than anyone in an organisation knows, or should know, what the goals, vision, mission of the organisation are; but is this being shared with all staff, particularly those on the frontline?

It seems that some organisations have a diconnect when it comes to sharing key information with staff, leaving staff to wonder what is happening, where they are in the organisation and how they can confidently do their work.

Read more

Handing over the Reins

It’s interesting to see organisations grow from being something started at a kitchen table, to something substantial.
In growing though there is always a need to bring in others with more expertise, more experience; but in doing so there is fear of the loss of control.

I recall reading about a charity, I think in the States, where the founder who took on a manger; but with the charity operating in an adjacent building to where the founder lived, he would turn up everyday and staff were unsure as to who they should be listening to the new manager or the founder.

Read more


Giving is like Sex

I guess that got your attention.

There’s been numerous studies as to why people give and the effects of giving on those who give.

A recent post I read ”Should you give?” has some great insights into what happens when people give, the effects of giving on the brain, body and soul.

Read more

Charity Events, Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The pitfalls I hear you say. It’s true not all charity events run smoothly, there can be numerous hiccups on the way to staging an event.

Getting passed these can be a struggle, but you can get passed them.

When it comes to an event, an organisation can spend months planning what they will do, why they will do it and promote, then stage the event. It’s something that can create a lot of stress and frustration.

Read more

What Millennials Want to Know

Gaining support from millennials is important, and yes, they do want to support organisations; it’s just how you go about it that matters.

I’ve recently spent some time with a group of 17 to 26 years olds talking about charities and how people connect with them and how charities work to connect with supporters. Some great insights for me, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.

One thing that came across loud and clear, was the need for great storytelling, not meanigless information, muddled stats, but real stories about the people, the cause that the organisation is working to help.

Read more

They’re peeved off, now what

Why is it that some in the charity sector don’t know how to handle donors who maybe annoyed with you, donors who may feel you’re not deliverying on what you say you will do.

It’s not rocket science, dealing with disgruntled donors is and should be treated in the same was as businesses would deal with disgrutled customers. Simple, customer service skills are needed.

Read more

Something I would be keen to hear is – what would you like to see me blog about; what issues, challenges or general areas of discussion would you like to see me cover on www.charitymattersnz.com

You can email me with any thoughts, ideas … charitymattersnz@gmail.com

What Millennials Want to Know

Gaining support from millennials is important, and yes, they do want to support organisations; it’s just how you go about it that matters.

I’ve recently spent some time with a group of 17 to 26 years olds talking about charities and how people connect with them and how charities work to connect with supporters. Some great insights for me, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.

One thing that came across loud and clear, was the need for great storytelling, not meanigless information, muddled stats, but real stories about the people, the cause that the organisation is working to help.

Millennials want to know who you are helping, they want to hear the stories from the people being helped. Little Casandra needing surgery so she can continue in school is more likely to get support than some airy fairy long winded explanation and meaningless raft of stats about kids missing out on schooling due to health issues.

They always want to know how you are helping, what you’re doing to make things better. And, yes, they want to know why they should help.

When tapping into millennials it’s important to be a storyteller, tell the stories of who/what is going to benefit. Better still, where possible have those benefiting tell their own stories.

When talking about your work, when telling stories use images, videos and infographics, 1000 words will likely turn millennials off, a 2-3 minute video will capture their attention.

We all know there’s duplication in the charity sector, and the group I talked with said it was important to show how you’re different, show how you handle your cause differenlty, what makes you stand out from others doing the same or similar thing.

They also want to know how the money is being used, they want organisations to be fully open. They also said they want to know what the campaign total was.

And, you have to be clear about what action you want millennials to take, don’t assume they can read your mind. Be transparent, if you want money – ask, if you want them to share your information – ask. Plain and simple really.

One thing that I hadn’t considered that this group said was important, is they want to know who is supporting your cause now, and what is their story, what makes them motivated to support.

We can’t assume all supporters, current or ones we’re trying to attract will respond to the same message, the same plea. Charity appeals are no different really to other marketing forms, different people speak and hear differently, some people want scant information, others want the most indepth information you can give them. The trick is knowing who your supporters are and adapting to them.

Have you run a campaign specifically targetted at millennials, how did you go, what tips and tricks do you have you can share?

Charity Events, Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The pitfalls I hear you say. It’s true not all charity events run smoothly, there can be numerous hiccups on the way to staging an event.

Getting passed these can be a struggle, but you can get passed them.

When it comes to an event, an organisation can spend months planning what they will do, why they will do it and promote, then stage the event. It’s something that can create a lot of stress and frustration.

Making sure you have a strong event planner is a must, don’t start anything until you have sat and brainstormed the event, what will be needed, possible partners and the outcomes you want from the event. If you don’t do this you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

I’ve seen organisations plan an event, when I say plan, I mean they dream up the idea of an event, contact a few supporters then send out emails inviting people to come along. There’s been little or no planning, then after the event (or maybe days before) the organisation panics, it hasn’t met the ”goals” of the event, income has been lower than expected and costs have soared. All of this could have been avoided, if proper planning had been undertaken.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of planning, but more about some areas that should be taken into consideration:

Venue, is this easily accesible, have you considered where guests will be able to park?

Catering, know your supplier and don’t just accept the first price they quote, can the sharpen the pencil and offer you a better deal if ”billed” as a sponsor?

Invitees, who are you going to invite, when was the last time these people supported your work? Don’t forget to get your Board involved in the invitation process, they may be able to tap into their business networks to help with sales to the event.

Auction, will you be holding one, will it be a live or silent auction? Gaining items to sell can be a massive task in itself, have someone dedicated to doing this; don’t dump this onto someone who already has a lot to do.

Pull the Plug, have something in your plan to monitor ticket sales and know when you will be to pull the plug. There’s nothing worse than having too few people attend and have the even run at a loss.

Timing, when will you hold the event, weekends don’t always work, nor do times leading up to holidays or other major activities in the community. As part of your planning do some research into what is already being planned in your area before setting your date.

So, before you mark on the calendar when your event will be, before you name your event; sit down with your colleagues, and perhaps a supporter or two and brainstorm your event. You need to plan the planning of any event if you want it to be a success.

Happy planning.

Engaging your Board in Fundraising

I’ve talked before about the importance of having those on the Board actively participating in all areas of the work of an organisation, including fundraising.

This post from the Sponsorship Collective covers it again, and is worth reading. In it, as I have said before, Board members usually have good business or friend contacts that can be tapped into to help an organisation raise funds and grow.

The post also talks about trust, ”Lack of trust has got to be one of the main reasons why Boards don’t donate and do not bring you their networks. 

Boards, understandably want to protect their friends, associates and other contacts from being treated badly. They may even have been burned before, having taken the chance to make an introduction to a contact and then find that the contact has not been treated well by the charity.  So help them to feel that they can trust you, but also in the charity, by demonstrating that you understand the process, that you won’t mistreat their friends and business associates and that you have impact in a cause that they care about.”

This is something I have had to deal with, I have introduced organisations to contacts, only to have the people call and tell me not to do it again as they felt pressured to support and also felt that the organisation wasn’t being upfront, they said in referring people I should know more about how they would present themselves. Since then I am more cautious, but I do use my connections where I feel there is a good fit.

Have a read of the full article and take on board some of the points it raises.

What Are You Expecting?

I’ve been hearing from some organisations that they are expecting a lower level of donations from the public this year.

A scarey thought considering many organisations rely on the kindness and generosity of Mr & Mrs Public to ensure they’re able to deliver the services their organisation is established for.

Sure, organisations do have the ability to apply for funding through lottery, other charity organisations and of course their current support base. But, if there’s a downturn in support from the general public this can have a big impact on the organisations ability to carry out what it is there for.

More often than not when income falls below expectation it means cuts have to be made, sure there are overheads that could possibly be trimmed back, but when it comes to cutting back on service delivery this has a wider reaching impact.

How many organisations have a contingency plan should something go haywire with annual funding projections? I’ve worked with a number that at one point looked as though they were flying by the seat of their pants and had no contingency plans in place. They’d just do what they could with what they had, and didn’t seem at all concerned about the clients they were they for missing out. Now they know the importance of a backup plan.

When you are doing your annual planning, do you look at what you would do should you find yourself with a drop off in regular giving? Any drop in regular giving can make a huge difference, so organisations should be factorying this into their annual budget planning – do you?