Donor’s Stories

I’ve often said it’s not all about you, that your donors matter, the reason they support you, what makes them tick. So, coming accross ”The best way to tell your donors stories” on www.empowernonprofits.com hit a note with me.

Click and read, you won’t regret it; who knows you may even come away with gems.

Are you telling your donor’s stories?

Not an ATM

I’ve used the phrase quite a bit … your donor is not an ATM, or similar. To receive a link to an article by Marc Pitman ”I’m not your ATM” was timely.

Have a read of what Marc says:

I’m not your ATM

As the economy continues to falter (or barely grow), we need people’s donations more than ever. But if we operate from a place of “need,” we can start sounding like we think we’re entitled to people’s money.

We never are.

So it’s more important than ever that you have your donor relations system in hand.

Here are some things to be thinking about as you review your plan.

Send acknowledgements quickly

Time after time, bloggers report making 10 donations at the end of the year and only getting 3 acknowledgements.

Don’t let this be you.

Best practice is to get those out within 24 to 48 hours. Some nonprofits aim for a week, allowing them to dedicate one day for receipting.

Just get them out.

Have a stewardship system decided in advance

Acknowledgements are expected. Stewardship is much more. Here are some things I help clients consider:

What level gifts get a handwritten note from the development director? The ED? The board chair?What level gifts get a phone call from the development director? The ED? The board chair?Do you have board members or staff do a thankathon?

These should all be spelled out so that, for instance, the ED can have a list of $1000 donors to call each week.

Continue reading here

New Donors Need to be Welcomed

What do you do when a new donor joins the ranks?
Nothing?

If you’re not acknowledging and welcoming new donors, you’re doing it wrong.

Donors, as I’ve said many times, are not ATMs. They deserve to be treated better than that, and the best time to start doing that is when the join the ranks.

You can’t just use a first receipt as a way to acknowledge a new donor, you should be doing a receipt then the Welcome Package.

You need to give them more information; you should be using a Welcome Pack. These are a great way to new donors feel welcome and to provide more information about the organisation, more information on ways they can be part of the donor family.

The idea behind a Welcome Pack is to begin a relationship between the donor and your organisation.

If you say you don’t then you are missing out.

You should be sending out your Welcome Package soon after the reciept for the first donation, not with the receipt.

Your Welcome Pack could contain more indepth information about your organisation, the people, the work, the beneficiaries. It and offer other ways the donor can get involved and, it should reinforce the benefits to the donor of supporting you.

Perhaps adding a couple of brochures outlining the work and benecificaries of your organisation, if you do a regular newsletter, include a couple of the most recent issues. Perhaps somethingon payroll giving or bequests could be included to.

But do make sure what you offer in the Welcome Pack doesn’t come across as though you’re trying to be pushy. These people have just joined, you don’t want to lose them.

Have a few people from your organisation sit down and work through what would be good to include in your Welcome Pack, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t ask a couple of donors to also have some input.

Lastly, do not, do not, use or see your Welcome Pack as another fundraising appeal. It is a thank you, a way for you to show your appreciation for having the donor on board and to give some added information.

What do you do when a new donor joins your family?

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.

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.

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