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Are Your Treating Your Donors Like Gumballs?

Gumball Machine cartoon Hugh MacLeod
Do you get your donor’s gift, chew it up, then spit it out? Done?

Want your donors to sustain you? Then you can’t consume them in five minutes. Yet all too often nonprofits treat their donors exactly like a gumball dispensed from a machine. Chew it up. Spit it out. Done.

Oh, yeah… maybe you send a quick thanks to whoever gave you the change to buy the gum.  But that’s as far as your gratitude takes you. You’re over it. You never even think about that gumball again. You probably can’t even remember what color it was. You’re off hunting down your next snack.

Little snacks are nice.  But they won’t sustain you over time.  One-time donations are the same way.  And they’ll stay that way – one time – if you treat them the way you treat your gumballs.

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What Sherpas Can Teach Fundraisers

Earlier this week I posted an article talking about how fundraising professionals need to become Engagement Journey Guides. One of my readers, Amy K., suggested that was a mouthful and offered up the term “Engagement Sherpa.”  That got me thinking, so I looked up the word. Sherpa means “a member of a people noted for providing assistance to mountaineers… [and who] have achieved world renown as expert guides.” Hmmn. I really like that!

Think of your donors as mountaineers.  They’re on an ascent. It’s not just towards the top of your donor pyramid.

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How the ‘Diva of Dollars’ became the ‘Engagement Journey Guide’

 

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It’s about the journey, not the money.

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

Here’s a true story.  Some years ago, while working for a family service agency, we became involved in a discussion about job titles.  Should folks stay as directors or become v.p’s? Should my title remain ‘Director of Development’ or switch to ‘Advancement’ or ‘External Relations’? I researched titles elsewhere. Yada, yada, yada.  I finally said I really didn’t care.  Just call me ‘Maven of Money’ or ‘Diva of Dollars.’

I didn’t get it.

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4 Crucial Steps to Develop a Donor Retention System

When you ask a fundraiser what the most difficult part of their job is, chances are you’ll get one of two answers – acquiring donors or retaining donors. Any fundraising organization is bound to come up against these problems at some point. But here’s the thing that is often overlooked – if you do a better job retaining donors, you can spend less time and money trying to acquire new donors.

Could this be the secret formula for fundraising success? Well, not entirely. But it’s a solid start.

Donor retention can seem elusive for many non-profits. It’s frustrating to pull up your annual reports to find out that you’ve only had 50% of last year’s donors make a gift again this year. Sometimes, it can even feel like a personal defeat.

If you’re working on the annual giving side of development, keep track of thousands of donors is nearly impossible. Your database can quickly become your archenemy. Having the highly personal relationships that major gift officers have with donors is a novel pipe dream.

But what if it was possible to scale this concept to create a system that retains donors?

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7 Ways to Build Rapport with Donors Using Creative ‘Thank You’s

To build authentic rapport with folks you must show them you care.  And the simplest way to demonstrate affection is through a heartfelt ‘Thank You.’ It can be in person, in writing, over the phone, through a text, via video or any which way you choose.  The key is to make it personal and prompt.

Here’s a personal example.  Recently my son found he’d have an unexpected layover in San Francisco.  I jumped at the opportunity to join him for dinner, though it meant cancelling plans with my friends.  The next morning, as he was getting on the plane, he texted them: “Thanks for changing your plans so I could see my Mom. I appreciate it.”  You may be thinking ‘no big deal.’ But it is a big deal. He showed my friends he saw their flexibility as a gift. And someone (who?) taught him to always send a thank you for a gift. My friends were touched. Mama was proud.

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One Huge Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making with Your Donors

Don’t wait too long to ask. It makes people anxious.

I’ve seen this happen so many times.  I’ll be sitting with an E.D. or a board member at lunch with a prospective donor.  We’ve talked in advance about our roles.  I’ll handle the details and technical questions.  They’ll inspire and, ultimately, make ‘the ask’.

It begins well. It continues even better. They engage in lively conversation about the cause. The prospect leans forward, animated and wrapped up in the flow.  Then, just when I’m sure ‘the ask’ will be made and the prospect will say “yes!”…                    

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6 Things Matchmakers Can Teach Fundraisers in an Era of Digital Darwinism

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

In many ways, what’s new is old and what’s old is new.  I read a lot of Brian Solis who speaks persuasively about The End of Business as Usual in an era where technology is advancing more rapidly than our ability to adapt. Yet we must adapt, or die. How do we do this, and what does this mean for fundraisers? I found food for thought in Solis’ recent article, The 9 Laws of Affinity in an Era of Digital Darwinism.

Rapid change can be dizzying. Ground yourself by remembering that though technology has changed, people have not. We have the same drives… needs… yearnings as prehistoric tribes.  It’s not just about survival. Darwin wrote about survival of the most empathic. We long for connection and meaning. In other words, it’s not just about the “fittest” but about the “fitting.”  Philanthropy provides that “fit opportunity” in spades (or, more aptly, in hearts).

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