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

 

 

 

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?

Who’s in Your Advertising

We’ve seen it recently, and no doubt we’ll see it again, a community group using images that portray the peeople they support – yet, doesn’t actually use their images in promotional material, instead opting to use either stock photos or models.

Is it right or is it wrong?

We don’t see models being used for breast cancer campaigns, we see the real people. We don’t see models being used for promotional material of children suffering in far flung places, we see the real children.

So why, in the latest case models used in adverts for homeless charity a ‘kick in the guts’ has this organisation chosen not to use the real faces, the real people they are there to assist? Was it too hard, was it perhaps seen as possibly demeaning to use the real people; who knows. I’m sure they will have some spin out soon as to why, but for now all we can do is specualte as to their reasoning.

On the day the article appeared I heard homeless people talking about it, saying they felt cheated, that they are the real face of homelessness yet were being sidestepped, and they want answers.

I’m picking Lifewise will being getting a few visits from their clients asking why.
When you run your next campaign, will you use people representative of, from your organisation or will you get online and secure stock images, or call an agency for some models to portray the work you do?

If you opt to use people other than those you actually work with, be prepared for some flack, and possibly egg on your face when people start talking about it. And, sadly some of this talk will potentially end with your supporters voting with their wallets, taking their support elsewhere. Can you afford the gamble?

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.

They already support, Now What?

You’ve just done the best pitch, only to find out they already support your organisation, now what?

Firstly, shouldn’t you have talked with them and ascertained if they already know you and/or support you?

Fundraising, supporter acquisition time is precious – you need to be making the most of it and to not “qualify” who you are speaking with, pitching at the outset can waste precious resources.

But, having said that; when we do end up speaking with someone who already supports, we should be taking the opportunity to thank them, to encourage them to continue their support and, to also ask if they could help spread the word about the work being carried out.

If you haven’t qualified who you are talking with, you’re most likely making needless pitches; which are most likely taking time away from nurturing new supporters, but yes, you can’t afford to neglect current ones either.

It can be a fine balance – how much time and effort is needed for both segments ?

We know supporters don’t stay forever, well mostly they don’t; so you do need to be out and about, being proactive to replenish your supporter pool. In my experience nurturing new supporters is about 40 percent of your work, the rest is on maintaining the relationships you already have.

If you are spending time (some of the 40%) talking to people already on board, that’s eating away at the time you have to spend with new prospects.

So, next time you set about trying to gain new supporters, ask if they know your organisation; if they do, move them to the donor nurturing quadrant, and move on to the next cold prospect.

What are you doing to ensure your energies are being focused in the right direction?

How have/do you handle it when doing a donor acquisition campaign and discover that some of the people you’re trying to get on board are already supporters?

FINAL DAY

Did that get your attention?

Emailing marketing can be an effective tool in your fundraising arsenal, but unless you do it well it can leave a sour taste, or be completely ignored by your supporters.

Doing  it right is the key.

How do you do it right, well, the simplest way to say this is as Nike does “Just do it” – but, measure, measure and measure some more.

If you’re not prepared to measure from the outset, if you think this is a hard task; don’t even think about doing a campaign. You’d measure a postal campaign, so why not an email one?

From my experience you need to have a few examples of contents, subject line etc and test these on different segments of your supporter database; what works for some may not work for others, remember one style does not fit all when it comes to any marketing to your supporters.

Being personal, personable and letting supporters know how important they have been to your organisation is important, but don’t be overly gushy with this; you want recipients to keep reading, not dive for the vomit bag.

If you find that the content is more receptive, that you get higher click throughs to your website, your donate now page, than other samples; use this … but don’t be afraid to keep testing what works.

Often, the subject line is all that needs a tweak, if you find one segment of your audience is more receptive to something that really pulls on their heart strings, use this on another segment and look at what results  you’re getting.

As Kerri Karvetski says on the Nonprofit Marketing Guide – Want to squeeze more mileage from a great fundraising or advocacy email? Send it again.

Kerri also says “Sending a fundraising or advocacy email again to non-responders — subscribers who did not open, click, donate or take action the first time — can sometimes raise as much, or produce as many actions, as the original send.” Something I agree with, and something you should take heed of.

In the article Kerri also says “When it comes to resends, which is what Kerri’s article is about, think about the plan behind the resend; “Sending a fundraising or advocacy email again to non-responders — subscribers who did not open, click, donate or take action the first time — can sometimes raise as much, or produce as many actions, as the original send. “

The next time you sit down and plan your next email marketing campaign, don’t just think about the “core” message, think about how you will monitor the campaign, what you will do to grab the attention of those you’ve identified you haven’t “reached” … don’t just write one piece and send it to everyone and end it there, have a plan for what you will do next.

It’s only a short article, full of tips – so head to Nonprofit Marketing Guide and read the full article

Are you monitoring and changing your email marketing, subject, content and more, if not why not?

Is it Slactivism or Something More – Commenting On or Liking …

We see them often, someone puts up a random update on social media, perhaps something on the lines of  “I have diarrhoea”, you make a comment and next thing you know you have a private message from them about how you shouldn’t have commented , “liked” or “Favourited” it.

There’s an expectation that you will now share something from a list they provide and that’s it’s all in aid/awareness of some cause.

I’ve avoided them, until the other night when someone said he’d been unwell and I made a comment, next thing I receive a private message instructing me to share something from a list of choices and, that it was all to raise awareness of a particular cause.

My first thought was … damn, I’ve fallen into a trap, then my mind went to how does this actually raise awareness of anything?

Actually, I guess it does raise awareness, as in the private message you get told what “cause” it is for, and in your sharing and others commenting etc on it they will receive a message telling them about the “trap” they have fallen into … so yes, I guess it raises awareness.

But, is this passive or positive awareness, can it help make a difference?

I wonder that it could actually have a negative effect, especially if people who get “caught” into this “trap” are already supportive of and share information about causes close to their heart do this; it could actually turn people of should the person sharing later share something important about a cause that needs immediate help.

Have you been caught out, have you participated or would it be something you would run a mile from?

Would you participate or would you run from it?

Some people have when I made mention about my friends diarrhoea, cottoned on to it immediately and I had some say it’s a pointless exercise, with others saying they would stop following or unfriend me should I do it again.

Is there a benefit to the “cause” or could it backfire and turn people off when you or the organisation has something important to say?

Please share this post – it will help save Unicorns, if you don’t you won’t win the lottery.

End of Year Giving

Hard to believe that there’s less than 100 days to go until the end of the year; have you finished your end of year fundraising planning?

As we know people do give at Christmas time and, often they will plan who they will give to rather than make ad-hoc donations.

There’s been numerous stories over the years where families have sat down and talked about what they’d like to do in the way of charitable giving, rather than buying presents for each other.

So, if you plan your end of year campaign right and let your current supporters know (and encourage them to share your message with their family and friends) that they can make a Christmas gift to your organisation, you have the potential to gain additional support.

If you are in the habit (which I hope you are) of regularly communicating with your supporters (not just asking for money every time), but letting them know about the work you have been doing since the last update, your successes etc, you should use your next communication to let them know about your end of year plans and how they can be part of it.

Take the time now to finalise your end of year campaign, perhaps double check any plan you have and see that it encompasses everything you need to ensure a good outcome.

What are you doing for your end of year campaign, have you changed the way you are doing this on other years?

If you give to charity, what do you want to see in an end of year message from those you support?

Do you make planned gift giving at the end of the year?

See also

Charities and Christmas

Donors Women v Men

Are High Dollar Donors More Loyal ?

Have been wondering recently whether high dollar donors are more loyal than low dollar donors, and while pondering this, an email popped up with a link to an article on this very subject from from Gregory Warner of Marketsmart.

Although it doesn’t show New Zealand examples, it’s worth a read and hopefully I’ll soon be able to share some local examples.

Here’s Gregory’s article …

PROOF THAT HIGH-DOLLAR DONORS ARE MORE LOYAL THAN LOW-DOLLAR SUPPORTERS

Recently I made some new friends at The Fundraising Effectiveness Project and they shared some awesome research findings with me.  You can see the first one below proving that high-dollar donors are actually more loyal (stickier) than low-dollar supporters.

I think what this chart implies is this: The fundraising pyramid is dead

The idea that nonprofits should first seek to gain low dollar donors and move them up the pyramid is just not a wise strategy. Low dollar donors are clearly less loyal and don’t repeat at nearly the same rate as high dollar donors $1,000 – $4,999 (at 87%). Plus, low dollar donors are very expensive to acquire yet they are much more fickle. Therefore, they clearly can’t deliver enough returns for the long haul compared to the other givers.

4 things you should do today:

1- Develop a strategy that emphasizes efforts to gain more high-dollar donors instead of low-level supporters.

2- Focus on customer service and retention by providing value everywhere (especially in your engagement offers).

3- Search for ways to move mid-level donors up (again by providing value especially in your engagement offers).

4- Aim for referrals. Encourage your current high-dollar donors to introduce you to other high-dollar donors. This will be the lowest cost marketing you can implement and it will deliver the greatest return for your investment. The ice bucket challenge did this for low-level donors. But most of them never gave again. What can you do to get referrals from major and mid-level donors? Figure that out and you’ll be a fundraising rockstar!

Read the full article here