Could Gifts of Stock Be Your Nonprofit’s Magic Genie?

Genie pexelsDoes your nonprofit promote stock gifts?  You should!

A groundbreaking study by Dr. Russell James J.D., Ph.D., CFP®, professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University, found nonprofits that consistently received gifts of appreciated stocks grew their contributions six times faster than those receiving only cash.

This is HUGE.

If you learn to ask for gifts from appreciated assets you’ll get more generous gifts. The study shows:

  • Received only cash gifts = 11% growth.
  • Received any kind of non-cash gift = 50% growth. Included gifts of personal and real property and deferred gifts.
  • Received securities non-cash gifts = 66% growth. Massive difference from just this one strategy!

You Don’t Have to Get Fancy

The most productive strategy is simply to accept gifts of stock.

But it’s up to you to offer up this giving framework to your supporters.  Otherwise, they’re apt not to see this as an opportunity.

And speaking of ‘framing,’ this can establish a persuasive reference point for would-be donors. Researchers have found people don’t treat all their money as if they have one big pool of it.

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Three San Francisco hearts: Rainbow, Love, Resilience - 2023 benefit for S.F. General Foundation

Before Sending a Fundraising Appeal Do This, Not That

Three San Francisco hearts: Rainbow, Love, Resilience - 2023 benefit for S.F. General FoundationTaking the time to look at your fundraising message with a critical eye can help you raise a lot more money.

You see, there are right and wrong ways to talk with prospective donors. You’ve likely read a lot on this topic (I know I’ve certainly written a lot on this topic – for starters see here), yet it bears repeating. If you fail to put your best foot forward, you’re going to end up shooting yourself in that foot!

That’s why I’ve developed this checklist to help you get your full share of the philanthropy pie.

Do This, Not That

As you read through this checklist the “to do” part of the equation may sound completely logical at first blush. You may think “of course we do this!”

Good for you. That means you’re thinking correctly.

But… sometimes good intentions get lost in translation during the executing phase. Because a lot of things you shouldn’t be doing creep in and tend to cancel out the good things. And this holds true in spades if you’re generating your letter through ChatGPT or some other AI-enabled app.

Grammatical is not emotional.

There’s nothing wrong with good grammar, of course. But sometimes the best fundraising letters break the rules a bit to come across as conversational. And they borrow from principles of psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics to ramp up the persuasion [TIP: You might want to check out this book.]. Your goal is not to show you can write a coherent sentence. It’s to move your message recipient towards a desired action.

So I encourage you to consider the “do NOT do” part of the equation as well. Then double check your work. Why? Because this stuff is tricky.

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Felt heart hanging from a pole

Top Secret Strategy to Communicate with Nonprofit Donors

Heart carved into treeDid you ever wonder if there is a foolproof way to communicate with donors?

Actually, there is!

And it’s not about process.

It’s about another ‘P’ word.

Can you guess?

I’ll give you a hint.

It relates to the secret business your nonprofit is in.

You may think you’re in (arts, healthcare, human services, environment, social justice, animal rescue, education or whatever) but, fundamentally, your core business is something else.  Something deeper.

Something that emanated from whoever founded your nonprofit.

Without this special something, your nonprofit wouldn’t exist.

Have you figured it out?

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Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logo

Fundraising Don’ts vs. Do’s: Mailed Fundraising Appeal Strategy

Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logoHere comes my occasional “Do’s vs. Don’ts” feature, where I share with you something arriving in my mailbox that seems a good ‘teaching opportunity.’

Today we’re going to review a year-end annual direct mail appeal strategy.

We’ll take a look at the various elements; then assess what works/doesn’t work.

I’ll ask you some questions.

  1. Would you open this letter?
  2. If yes, why?
  3. If no, why?
  4. What looks good about the mail package? The letter? The remit?
  5. What looks not so good about all these package elementsl?
  6. Would it inspire you to give?
  7. If yes, why?
  8. If no, why?

First, I’d like you to think about your answers and jot them down.

Second, I’ll tell you what I think.

Really take the time to notice what you like and don’t like.

I promise you’ll learn a lot more this way. We learn best by doing.

Seriously, I mean it.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Carrier Envelope

Appeal Carrier Envelope

Some identifying information has been removed for purposes of confidentiality. I’m not here to shame. Just to teach.

  1. Would you open this letter?
  2. If yes, why?
  3. If no, why?

I’ll wait…

Have your answers?

Okay!

Ready to learn what I think thus far, and also see what else we’re working with?

Let’s begin!

What’s wrong or right with this envelope?

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Lightening storm

Will Your Year-End Fundraising Be Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing?

Lightening storm

Are you thinking “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Kaching!?”

Oh, dear.

That’s akin to making the holidays all about the commercial aspects, and losing sight of the season’s wonder, awe, gratitude, love, and warmth of community.

Yes, many nonprofits raise the lion’s share of their annual fundraising goal in the last few months of the year. In fact, December accounts, on average, for 31 to 50% of all contributions from individuals. So, you’re to be forgiven if you’re excited to see the money come flowing into your coffers.

But, just because it’s solicitation time does not mean it isn’t cultivation/stewardship time.

It’s not just about the money.

Ever time you communicate with donors you need to show the love.

How you spread love through your mission-focused work.

How you love your supporters.

How love, not money, is at the heart of all philanthropy (philos/love + anthro/humanity).

Even though you’re ramping up fundraising activities this month, you can’t lose sight of your donor. And what’s in it for them if they give to you. So, ask yourself:

  • How will donors feel when they receive the year-end missive you’re sending?
  • How will donors feel when they say “yes” to your appeal?
  • How will they feel immediately after they give?
  • How will they feel later — a month, two months, three months, six months and 12 months after they give?

Do you come across as being only about money?

You may if your year-end fundraising looks mostly like this:

  • Help us meet our fundraising campaign goal.
  • Help us raise $XX,XXXX (money) before the year ends.
  • Grab your tax deduction before December 31st.

Such admonitions are all about you, your deadlines and money.

They are things people think about with their brain, not their heart. With their reasoning, not their emotions. WIth the part of their brain that makes them give a token or habitual gift, not a thoughtful or passionate one.

And once the gift comes in, then what?

Do you simply take the money and run?

If a donor makes a gift and you simply dispense an automated thank you, and nothing more, that’s not a donor relationship.  That’s a transaction

If you get all ATMy at this time of year you’re going to lose these donors by this time next year. Or you won’t get them to give more. Or tell their friends how great you are. Or do any of the other things that donors do when they love you.

One-time gifts are here today, gone tomorrow. In fact, a whopping 80%+ of first-time donors won’t give again.

Transactions won’t help you next year or the year after that.

No. You’ve got to transform the transactions into something longer lasting.

You want donors to feel terrifically warm, fuzzy and inspired after they give to you.

Yes, you’re going to ask — maybe multiple times — at this time of year. But to get the desired response – and feeling — you still have to ask the right way.

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Wishing you a prosperous new year

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

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Man running with money

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.

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When you open the door, the future looks brighter

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.

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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?

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Proven Strategies to Climb the Year-End Fundraising Mountain

Mountain climberHave you started working on your annual appeal and year-end fundraising plan?

It’s time!

I worked for 30 years in the trenches, so I know exactly what this time of year feels like.

It feels like you’re at the base of a mountain you’re about to scale.

  • Exciting, but also scary.
  • Exhilarating, yet also daunting.
  • There will be good days, and bad days.

And this particular year, you may feel you’re taking two steps forward and three steps back.

That’s to be expected during times of great uncertainty.

Expected or not, I know you’re still anxious and thinking “What if we don’t reach the top?”

Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

This year you may need the equivalent of a few extra granola bars for energy. And maybe an extra tool or two to help you get a grip.

Right now I want to give you a few specific, timely tips you might not be thinking about.

Here are some strategies I hope will give you a leg up, so to speak.

Ready to Put Your Best Foot Forwards?

Here are 11 tips I’ve learned over the years.

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