Remember Who We Are: Philanthropy Facilitators

Philanthropy comes from the Greek and means love (philos) of humankind (anthropos).

  • Nonprofits are here to be kind.
  • To repair the world.
  • To make our communities better, more just, more beautiful and more caring places.

This is not easy work.

  • Love is not always readily accepted or given.
  • Inspiring generosity takes time, talent and patience.
  • You will sometimes try and fail.
  • You will sometimes get beaten down

But you know you must keep trying. Because that’s the job of philanthropy facilitators.

Let me add to the definition of “philanthropy.” Robert Payton (the nation’s first full-time Professor of Philanthropic Studies and one of the founders of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University) defined it as: “Voluntary action for the public good.” I’ve always loved this definition, because every word is impactful. It’s voluntary (no one is being coerced). It’s action (something is actually being done, whether it’s service or an investment of money) and it’s all directed “for the public good.”

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7 Powerful Ways to Increase Recurring Giving [Benchmark Study]

Recurring giving is essential for organization sustainability and growth.

After all, what’s the point of all your hard work if you get only one donation from someone? That’s a super expensive way to fundraise, and sometimes you won’t even make back your investment. It’s called ‘churn and burn,’ and it’s depressing.

There’s a much better way. I know you’ve heard about it. I’ve written about it here, here and here. It’s called monthly giving. Or recurring giving.

Increasing the number of recurring giving donors is a really big deal! Recurring donors can give over 5 times more to you over their lifetime, as they are more likely to keep giving year after year. In fact, a 2016 study found that monthly recurring donors have a 90% retention rate, compared to the average donor retention rate of 46%.

This is HUGE, and should make you Stop. Dead. In. Your. Tracks. Wondering why on earth you’re not putting many more resources into this clearly winning fundraising strategy!

Yet, for a bunch of reasons, too few nonprofits engage in monthly, recurring giving.

Why?

To explore the reasons, and determine ways to overcome them, NextAfter joined forces with Salesforce.org to conduct a far-reaching study [The Nonprofit Recurring Benchmark Study] They made multiple donations, including a recurring gift to 115 nonprofits, and recorded their experience with each organization. The result was an analysis of the recurring giving process from the donor’s perspective. They found a bunch of areas of friction, plus offered up a slew of action items to help nonprofits improve their results. If you read the study, you’ll not only understand what works/what doesn’t work, but you’ll learn what to do about it.

No time to read the full study? Today I’ve invited one of the study authors, Brady Josephson of NextAfter, to share 7 techniques you can try for yourself to help increase the number of recurring gifts to your organization. 

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#GivingTuesday: It Ain’t Over ‘Til it’s Over

The absolute worst thing you can do the day after #GivingTuesday 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 #GivingTuesday 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.]

Treat #GivingTuesday as a Special Event

Like it or not  #GivingTuesday is a ‘special event.’(And I don’t really like it, which is why I recommend #GratitudeTuesday as an alternative).You likely put a fair amount of planning, resources and time into this event, involving 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. That’s like working super hard to create a delicious soup you simmer over the stove for hours, maybe even days, and then you 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.

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#GivingTuesday or #GratitudeTuesday? Choose!

I’ve long been an advocate of turning the tables on #GivingTuesday and using the “giving” part of the day to give to donors rather than add yet one more ask from them in an already crowded solicitation season.

If you want gifts, you must give them. 

#GivingTuesday is one of those things that sounds good on paper, but in actual implementation it can be less than ideal.

Why?

Because it comes smack dab in the middle of most folks’ annual campaigns. So there’s often little time to do it right. And it can suck your energy and focus away from other critically important year-end fundraising efforts.

I’ve got a better choice for you.

Flip the idea and rather than asking folks to make a symbolic gift to you, why don’t you make a heartfelt gift to them?

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Show Me You Know Me* — 5 Strategies To Sustain Donor Relationships

Let’s pretend you and your donor are not connecting meaningfully right now. You’re not sure why. Could it be they feel financially insecure…  they’re worried for their kids… they’ve been let down by politicians… they’re just feeling cynical and/or hopeless? For whatever reason, things aren’t singing between you and them. They haven’t renewed. They haven’t upgraded. They haven’t responded to any of your outreach. They seem to have other priorities.

So, you decide to go to counseling to reinvigorate the relationship. The therapist makes a wise observation: Sometimes in life, one partner feels strong; the other less strong. In such times, the stronger partner has resources to support the weaker partner. Other times, neither partner feels they have coping resources. During these times, we have to depend more on ourselves, be patient, and accept that our partner is not currently in a strong position – even though we really need their support.

Are you being a support for your donor? Are you helping, not selling all the time? Are you being patient, yet persistently showing you care?

We’re in turbulent times. Studies show giving to be sluggish. Donors are less loyal. Maybe they’re distracted by emergencies. Or so-called rage giving. Or simply uncertainty about what lies ahead. So they’re giving less consistently. As a result, donor centered fundraising has never been as important as it is now.

People are feeling a need to be nurtured. In other words: Ask not what your donors can do for you, but what you can do for your donors. Recognize they don’t serve you; you serve them. They don’t owe you; you owe them.  Your job is to help them experience the joy of giving. It is through you they will achieve their most meaningful work.

Embrace the true meaning of philanthropy as love of humankind.  Remember your donors are humankind; you must love them if you want to be a part of philanthropy.  Otherwise, you’re just transacting business.

So… what can you do to embrace the love and thereby keep your donors close?

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Does Your Nonprofit Promote Stock Gifts? You Should!

Guess what strategy you’re likely not using enough that really works to facilitate organizational growth?

And you want to keep growing, right?  Because if you stop growing, you wither and die. You either want to do more of what you’re doing, or do what you’re doing better. Or both.  And… you can!  You should!

Ready to have your mind blown?

There’s a super simple thing you can do to dramatically increase your contributions.

You can easily put this in place before the end of the calendar year — when most donors make their gifts.

Trust me. You’re going to want to read the rest of this article.

Because you’ll learn there’s one thing growing organizations have in common.

And it may surprise you.

Ready?

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Not all Holiday Fundraising is Created Equal

Who doesn’t love a holiday?

The very word conjures up notions of celebration, warmth and love.

If you’re a donor-centered fundraising practitioner, you’d be a fool not to take advantage. Why not tap into pre-existing positive vibes to increase the chances your appeal will be warmly received?

After all, if you can channel something positive that’s more or less universally felt, this gives you a leg up. It puts your donors in a giving mood using familiar symbols and traditions.

Except when it doesn’t.

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Scope: The Key to Donor Generosity?

There’s a powerful psychological principle known as the “identifiable victim effect.”

It has to do with how you describe the scope of the problem you’re asking donors to help address. And what they will do as a result of how they perceive this scope.

  • Is it a scope they can visualize and relate to?
  • Or is the number so large it’s difficult for them to wrap their brains around it?

There’s another related psychological principle known as “scope insensitivity.”

It applies when a number is too large for people to really comprehend its meaning. If you tell me something costs $1 billion, I really have little idea how this might differ from $10 million. Both numbers are equally overwhelming.  I can’t picture how high a pile of either would be in dollar bills or even $100 bills. I have no sensitivity as to the scope because I simple can’t sense it.

Fundraisers absolutely need to know about, and apply, these principles.

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Beware of a Half-Truth; It May Be the Wrong Half

How do you get to the heart of what’s true and meaningful to your constituents?

It’s very easy. It’s also very difficult.

The easy part is simply to listen. As the old adage goes, “you have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.” Sadly, that’s also the difficult part. Because, too often, we think we know more than we do. So we don’t look too closely. We make a lot of assumptions. And assumptions lead to a closed door.

Too often we don’t genuinely invite response or commentary. So there is nothing for us to listen to. Opinion frequently trumps knowledge.  We say “I know what our donors think and care about better than anyone.” Or the boss says “This is the way it’s going to happen. Period.”

Too often those around us let us get away with this sloppy, self-validating approach.

If you think this may be happening at your organization, read on to see why this can be so damaging to your long-term success.

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TWO Strategies to Tell a Compelling Nonprofit Story

I always tell nonprofits writing appeal letters to tell a story. One compelling, exceptional story.

Actually, you need TWO compelling stories.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

First…

Forget the data.

Forget the history of your organization.

Forget the explanatory prose about your processes.

Forget the list of all your programs.

Forget the superlatives about your longevity, awards, and so forth.

That stuff is compelling only to you. Donors don’t care. It’s just not relevant to them. At least not right away. Donors don’t have time to enter into all your self-indulgence.

Really, most folks don’t have time for you at all.

But…

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