How to Help Donors Give Astutely Before Year-End

Wishing you a prosperous new year

Do you want to risk not receiving generous gifts you could have otherwise received, just because you failed to go the extra mile to share relevant, useful and even critical information? Or because you just did the most basic things, failing to do what would have made your communications really stand out?

The Genuine Job of the Philanthropy Facilitator

Your job as a philanthropy facilitator is to do everything in your power to make giving to you as easy, joyful and rewarding as possible.

Everything.

Do you?

Doing everything means

Details

Don’t Blow Your Post-Holiday Opportunity to Thank Your Nonprofit Supporters

Thank you note writingFor good things once a year is not enough. Why do so many of us only eat turkey once a year?  Or pumpkin pie? I’ve no idea! It’s surely not rational. These are special foods we value and take great delight in. Yet we get into a bad habit of thinking on auto pilot. If it’s not Thanksgiving, the idea of roasting a turkey or making cranberry sauce doesn’t even enter most or our heads. Why are we missing out on an opportunity for greater joy and satisfaction?

Don’t do this with your valued supporters!

It’s not rational to thank your donors only annually.  They keep you going all year long. They deserve your gratitude all year long as well.

What better time to thank supporters than today, after a holiday filled with gratitude?

Seriously, I’m not kidding. Today! (Or early next week works swell).
Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) is over. There’s a natural let-down for many.  Wouldn’t it be lovely for your donors and volunteers to get a call from their favorite charity? A call that simply expresses gratitude? 
            Joe, how was your holiday? I just called because in thinking over the week-end about all for which I’m grateful, I realized I’m grateful for you and all you do to make our community a more caring place. I just wanted you to know how much your support is appreciated. Thanks(for)giving.
My hunch is there’s nothing better you could do with your time today. Or early next week if you’re taking some personal (or shopping the sales?) time today.

All the “strategies” in the world can’t substitute for a genuine, personal connection that comes from the heart.

Connect!  Express your thanks! Don’t let weeks and months go by. Don’t wait until you’ve got a perfectly crafted letter, email or insert piece. That’s called procrastination, or “letting perfect be the enemy of the good.” Sometimes, timing is everything.
Details

Happy Days of Thanks(for)Giving

Thankful for ThanksgivingThis Thursday folks in the United States will celebrate what I consider to be the social benefit sector holiday of the year.

So it’s time for my annual Thanks(for)Giving post!

Just think about what ‘Thanksgiving’ means.

Literally, it’s a day for giving thanks for blessings.

Who, and what, do you count among yours?

I know when we go around the table at my family Thanksgivings, saying what we’re grateful for this year, most folks respond with a people-based answer. Sure, they’re happy about the feast in front of them. But they’re most grateful for caring friends… loving family…. and for being together sharing the warmth of good company. This year the company may be in real life for the first time in a while, so the gratitude for shared connection will be stronger than ever.

But not all connections are with family and friends.

A lot of connections for nonprofit workers are with donors, volunteers, clients and co-workers.

Who are you grateful to at your organization?

Details

13 Top Secrets of Donor Thank You Letters Revealed

"Thank You You Are Essential" signWhat do you spend more time on? Asking or thanking?

The lion’s share of nonprofits spend more time asking. It’s a BIG mistake. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not here to shame or blame you. Of course you have to ask. The number one reason people don’t give is they aren’t asked. And …

The number one reason donors don’t give again is they aren’t properly thanked!

You may think you have a proper thank you letter template. But, if your thank you looks like this, it’s not helping you bond with your supporters.

TYPICAL THANK YOU LETTER TEMPLATE

Dear [donor name],

Thank you for your generous donation of $[donation amount] to [nonprofit name].

Your donation is making a difference. Because of your $[amount] donation, we are able to [impact of donation].

[this paragraph usually gives a general description of what the organization does]

Thank you again for your contribution! [nonprofit name] relies on the gifts of donors like you to make a difference.

Sincerely,
[name and title]

Look familiar?

Wah, wah, wah (sad trombone).

Most thank you letters are simply boring.

This could come from almost any nonprofit. They’re generic, not specific.They look like a form letters.

You can do a lot better, and it’s not hard.

To Retain Donors, Stand Out from the ‘Get Go’

Believe me, most donors aren’t sticking around. Your own retention rates may be better or worse than average (do you know them?), but generally only 19% of new donors give again. For ongoing donors, it’s just 45%.

The time to nip this in the bud is now.

Did you know a study from Charity Dynamics and NTEN found 21% of donors say they were never thanked at all? My hunch is some of these supporters did receive something from you, but it was so perfunctory they didn’t really take notice. Maybe you just send a receipt. Or took them to a thank you landing page; then called it a day. Or maybe they received a brief, formal email that confirmed the gift, but didn’t make them feel particularly special.

If you don’t have a killer thank you letter prepared to send to the folks you hope will be giving to you between today and the end of the year, now is the time to right this wrong.

If you thank well you’ll see retention rates increase significantly.

In fact, research from Penelope Burk, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising, found 70% of donors reported they would increase their giving if they received what they needed from you.

Brilliant, warm, authentic, personal communication stands out and leads to renewals. And this is a much less expensive strategy than new donor acquisition, which costs from $1 to $1.25 to raise a dollar. Whereas renewing a donor costs only 20 cents on the dollar.

By now you may be thinking: Sounds good, but how do we stand out? There must be some specific strategies that incline donors towards giving again, but what are they?

Today I share my top secrets with you. They’re simple and foolproof.

Ready?

Details

Giving Tuesday: Don’t Take the Money and Run

Man running with money

The absolute worst thing you can do the day after Giving Tuesday is nothing.

As tempting as it is to let out a sigh of relief that it’s over, resist that temptation.

It’s not time to relax yet.

Nothing comes of nothing.

And a huge part of your goal with Giving Tuesday should be to strengthen your bonds with donors.

That’s the real something you’re after.

It’s not just about the money you raise today.

Your goal with any fundraising strategy is to retain and, ultimately, upgrade these transactional donors. The name of the game in the business of sustainable fundraising is lifetime donor value. [Here’s a great book on the topic: Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value.]

Run towards, not away.

Treat Giving Tuesday as a Special Event

Like it or not, Giving Tuesday is a ‘special event.’ With all the pre-planning and post event strategies events embrace. And I don’t really like it, which is why I recommend #GratitudeTuesday as an alternative.If you’re on board with a traditional #GT strategy however, you’ll likely put a fair amount of planning, resources and time into this event. This involves the attention of more than one staffer and/or volunteer. And it sucks time away from almost everything else in the week(s) leading up to it.

It can be a real drain.

Your job is to put a stopper in that drain so all your hard work doesn’t simply swirl down the drain and disappear. Would you work super hard to create a delicious soup you simmer over the stove for hours, maybe even days, and then take one little taste before you pour it out and start all over again with a new one? Endless work. And no one really gets to enjoy the meal.

Details

Why Prompt, Personal Thank You’s are Nonprofit Donors’ Inalienable Right

Thank you note writingIn 2018, WSJ columnist Christopher Mims observed:

“Alongside life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you can now add another inalienable right: two-day shipping on practically everything.”

”Everything” includes a prompt expression of gratitude when someone makes a philanthropic gift to your organization.

At least that’s what donors believe.

And you better deliver – or else.

Don’t Think Donors will Give You a Pass Because You’re Nonprofit

People have come to expect this kind of turnaround by land, air and sea. So, you better believe they expect it by internet!

Especially if they make their gift online.

And, yes, they expect it from you.

They know you have the ability to send them

Details

When Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door: Donor Acquisition

No nonprofit can afford to be an island.

As tempting as it may be to stay in your comfort zone, wearing blinders that enable you to forge straight ahead without noticing what’s going on around you, this is a dangerous practice.

Because sometimes the landscape changes dramatically.  And when it does, your nonprofit could get left behind. Unless you’re paying close attention.

This has been happening a lot over the past six years or so, as news and social media has been filling our brains, stoking our fears and tugging at our heartstrings as if from a firehose. People who care, when they see devastation and misery, want to help.

This happens, for instance, when emergencies arise. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Floods. Fires. Drought. War. Over the course of my four decades in fundraising, there have been years I’ve had donors tell me “This year we’re giving all our extra resources to respond to… Hurricane Katrina… Haiti relief… the Fukushima disaster… the refugee crisis… anti-hate organizations…  .” The list goes on an on.

In the face of such natural human impulses, what can you do?

When things outside your nonprofit’s doors portend impact for your ability to fulfill your mission, you need to be prepared.

Details

How to Make Donors Happy to Say YES to Your Fundraising Appeal

Super hero kidsToday I’m going to tell you how to create a fundraising appeal that’s all about your donor’s happiness.

Because if you can persuade your donor that saying “yes” will make them happy, then you both win.

Don’t you want to make your donor feel like a winner?

Don’t you want to be a winner?

Everybody wants to be a winner!

Sadly, most nonprofits write appeals that don’t create a win/win.

They write self-congratulatory letters that talk about how wonderful they are, and what wonderful outcomes they make possible.

They forget about the donor.

They don’t think about donor joy.

How can I be so certain this is the case?

Details