Donor Loyalty … You not Them

Donor loyalty is important, not the donor being loyal, but you, the organisation.

Often donors feel as they’re simply being treated as an ATM, they feel that organisations aren’t loyal to them.

This article, Keep Your Donors by Building Profitable Relationships That Last; on Nonprofit Quartely is a must read.

There’s some good pointers in it, many I’ve raised before; being donor centric, building relationships and more.

Take some time out and read this now

A Look Back

After chatting with some people over the weekend about ideas for my blog posts this week, it was suggested to do a recap a ”Look Back” at some of the posts I have shared previsously.

Sounded good to me, so here’s Look Back at some earlier posts that I’m sure you will enjoy and gain something from.

When Something Goes Wrong
Negative feedback about staff interaction with donors can impact on the reputation of your organisation, how do you deal with it?

Every now and then someone doing work for your organisation may say or do something that causes donors to be left with a sour taste in their mouth.

How this is dealt with by you is important, you need to retain supporters and the best way to do this when someone upsets them, is to let the supporter know that you hear what they are saying, that you will talk to the staff member about their actions and that you will let the supporter know what action you have taken.

It doesn’t matter how long or the value of support you receive from a supporter, they are all equal and should be treated as such, respect is universal.

Keep reading here

Reigniting the Flame in Delinquent Donors
Before you start planning how to get delinquent donors back on board, have you made the phone call to ask why people have stopped supporting you?

Without some level of research any plan to reignite the flame in donors who have stopped giving for some reason, you have no idea the why, what and how of putting something in place to win them back.

Reigniting the flame in a delinquent donor in many cases is quicker and more cost effective than gainer a new donor.

The donor who has stopped supporting you did so for a reason, was the amount they were giving too high, they had a change in personal circumstances, or something else has caused them to stop giving.

Continue reading here

Business Support
It’s estimated that business donations account for six percent of the donations some non-profits receive.

If this is the case then the question must be asked “how much time and energy is being used to reach and nurture this group?”

Is the time you’re putting into gaining business support being used wisely?

If residential – general support if the main income source for non-profits, wouldn’t it pay to spend more time gaining and nurturing this sector?

Continue reading here

Pick up the Phone and Say Thank You
Don’t lose donors, respect them, acknowledge them.

An organization recently lost a major donor because they felt their support wasn’t really being appreciated.

Why, simple after sending in a substantial cheque on a regular basis all they’d hear back from the organization would be in the form a standard receipt, no acknowledgment of the impact the donation would have on the work that the organization carries out.

Result – support withdrawn. All the organization had to do was pick up the phone and call the donor, thank them and tell them how important they were to the work being carried out.

Continue reading here

As always, leave comments or suggestions on what you would like to see shared on my blog

You can email me charitymattersnz@gmail.com

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

They’re peeved off, now what

Why is it that some in the charity sector don’t know how to handle donors who may be 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.

We all know the importance of having, and maintaining donors and that if donors aren’t happy how this can impact on the work of the organisation; so knowing what to do is important, as is acting in a timely manner.

As with dealing with a grumpy customer, dealing with disatisfied donor means listening to what the donor has to say, not forming judgement, and doing things to placate them whilst sticking with your organisation’s mission and policies.

The key to dealing with donor complaints is to listen, you can’t handle anything if you’re not listening. And by listening, I don’t mean hearing; you need to be able to isolate what the real issue is that the donor has.

Donors don’t just have the choice to call and complain these days, they will (and do) take to email and will share their experiences online; sometimes on your social media platforms, sometimes not. Where ever and however they complain, you need to know and acknowledge their complaint (which may not even be a complaint as such).

It’s important when dealing with any complaint to be patient, to not respond rashly and to show the donor you care about the issue they have raised.
You don’t want to just be answering their immediate concern, you should be referring to other things your organisation is doing to improve donor relations. Remember, people, donors or shoppers simply want to be treated courteously and to be listened to – AND – they want their problems resolved.

If the ”complaint” is online, make sure you repsond, even if you simply say ”thanks for raising your concern, let me look into and I’ll get back to you.” Anything is better than nothing. But, make sure you look into it, and make sure you follow up with the person.

Having said respond to online comments, one thing you should be doing, which many organisations don’t seem to be doing is monitor their social media accounts.

If someone says something on one of your accounts, it’s not just to vent, they do expect a response, so make sure you are getting notified when someone posts on your FaceBook or Twitter, or other site you use. Be timely with any reponse, it shows you care, not only care about the person raising an issue, but it also shows you’re aware and professional to others who seethe post – current and potential supporters.

Not all complaints or concerns will be by letter, phone or online, some people will send an email Most often the email they will send it to will be the info@blahblah.com, but does this ensure the person who can respond gets the email? Probably not, so make sure whoever receives emails to info@ knows what they are expected to do when they receive a complaint or other emails raising concerns.

Whatever way you handle complaints, remember never take it personally, the person complaining isn’t complaining about you, they are complaining about a situation. If you take things personally you will react in ways that won’t do you, the donor or your organisation any favours.

Remember too, that in the main donors are nice, kind and understanding, there are only ever a few occasions when things can go sour, so don’t dwell on the negatives, this won’t do you any good.

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?

Donor Newsletters

How often are you communicating with your donors no, asking for money isn’t part of the communications I mean. How often do you update your donors about the work you are doing, and how are you doing this?

Some organisations are only communicating with donors when they want something, but donors want, deserve to know what you have been doing and how they (the donor) has helped you achive what you have done.

When it comes to communicating with donors it seems organisations are moving away from posted (mailed) updates to e-letters.

No matter what method you are communicating with donors, it’s important that the message you are sharing isn’t all about you, it shouldn’t be a ra ra about the CEO, it should be about the work you are doing and how without the support of donors you wouldn’t have got to where you are.

If it wasn’t for the support of donors you likely wouldn’t be where you are, you likely wouldn’t haven’t achieved much. So, the righly deserve to be seen as the ”heroes” of your organisation.

I’ve often thought that sharing donor stories is important, and have seen only a few organisations do this; and the response they get, from what I’m also hearing is brilliant.

When talking with donors about your work, it’s not a time to brag. It’s a time to give thanks, to share the ups and yes, the downs.

Recently I saw a newsletter from one organisation that shared several donor stories, it was a great read and made me want to support the organisation.

I asked the organisation what sort of feedback they get when they do their newsletters, and they said that generally they get good feedback and requests for information on ways people can do more to support them. This to me is a win.

Something I’m noticing too, is that organisations are moving away from posted updates to e-letters, but forgetting that not all supporters use email. So, some are missing out, this needs to be sorted.

Using the argument that mail is too expensive doesn’t cut it with me, donors whether they have email or not deserve to know what you are doing. Why is it ok to post out an appeal for money but not something about your work successes?

Sure, with an e-letter you can have a link to ask for support, but don’t make it the main purpose of the communication, same with a posted newsletter, include a portion for people to return a donation.

Also, think about the frequency of your communications, I’ve seen some organisations send an e-letter monthly, to me that’s a turn off and could soon be seen as simply spam, and result in donors switching off.

What are you finding with your donor communications, less is more? Are donor stories working for you?

Losing a Friend

You clear your post office box, and among the mail is a letter and cheque from a long standing donor, someone who has supported your work for a number of years; someone you see as a friend. The letter is a shock.

Your donor has just told you that this will be their last gift, that they have decided that they need to cut back as they are supporting other organisations and can’t support everyone.

What do you do?

File the letter and bank the cheque, make a note on your system that the donor won’t be supporting any more; then carry on with your daily work.

If this is what you are doing, you could be missing out on maintaining the relationship you have with this donor.

The first thing you should do is take a breath, then pick up the phone and call the donor.

Why? You’re losing a friend, and you should be calling to say thank you for the support they have given over their time with your organisation.

When calling ensure you’re not making the call as a plea for them to stay on as a supporter, your reason for the call is to thank them, and nothing more.

You may end the call with a big surprise; in some cases the donor makes the decision to stay with you. It won’t always happen and most often won’t happen if you go into the call begging them to stay.

The call should be about how valuable their support has been, what it has meant to have them as a supporter and what they have helped you achieve. Any decision for them to stay is theirs and theirs alone.

I’ve made a number of these calls and know how well they have gone down with the donor, you could almost hear them smile knowing they you have valued their support. And, yes, some donors have changed their mind and stayed with the organisation.

So, the next time you get a letter saying that this will be the last donation, take a breath and pick up the phone and thank the person for their support. You have nothing to lose, and plenty to gain.

Do you make these types of calls already, how do you handle them, do you find some donors stay?

How Do You Say Thank You

Donors want, nay, deserve to be thanked for their support. How you thank them can result in future decisions to support your organisation.

A stock standard thank you letter will be received, read and most likely binned, with only the receipt being retained for tax purposes.

But a thank you letter that makes a donor feel that they are important, an individual (not just a number), can make a donor stay longer and has the potential to gain additional, higher value support at a future date. It could also result in the acquisition of new donors through the letter being shown to others.

Donors don’t expect, and you can’t sit and write a personalised letter for each donor, but you can make it ”personal”.
Your donor database should be able to capture key information, the basics we know (name, address, email), but are you also capturing other information that can assist you in communicating with donors?

If you receive a donation, or communication from a donor and there’s something that could help you with future communication, are you keeping this on your system?

Maybe a donor mentioned something in a communication about their family, why the support you, perhaps they mentioned a milestone in their life, or that they had recently moved.

All of this should be ”captured” and where approriate used in future communications. Yes, it seems a little bit big brother-ish, and some people may not like it, you can always delete the information (in fact you have to if requested).

But imagine a donor receiving a personalised thank you, yes, your form letter, but with reference to something they have said previously, perhaps you refer to their recent move.

Supporter letters, whether a thank you or an update of work being done; needn’t be all corporate, there’s no reason why you can’t be a little more casual, conversational in them. How about adding some wit to them.

We all tend to end a thank you letter or other communication with ”we look forward to your continued support” – yes, we do look forward to it, but what if we ended with something more casual, like; ”give us a call or send us a note if you need an update on what we’ve been doing”.

I’ve used a similar ending to a donor letter and have had donors contact saying thank you and, yes asking if the organisation had done anything since their last donation was received, how their money had been used. The donors felt that they were part of the organisation, that they had a relationship beyond bank accounts.

One important thing, your thank you letter comes from you, not the CEO, not the Board, but you an individual.

And lastly, do you know why your donor is supporting you? If you don’t ask in the thank you letter, only ask the once tho, but do ask. This is valuable information and again helps build the relationship.

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?