Guest-Post-290x300.jpg

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?

Details
jam.jpg

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.

Details
Go-with-the-flow-300x225.jpg

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!”…                    

Details
Matchmaker-make-me-a-match.jpg

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).

Details
Graduate.jpg

Personal is the New Plastics: 4 Ways Nonprofits Can Build Donor Relationships.

This month’s SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you):

Remember in ‘The Graduate’ the one word piece of advice given to Dustin Hoffman?  PLASTICS. That was seen to be the wave of the future (oh how long ago that seems, and how quickly something can turn from friend to foe…. but I digress).

Recently I gave another “P” word as my best piece of advice for nonprofit marketers and fundraisers. PERSONAL. I received a lot of feedback, so I’d like to revisit this word and flesh out its multiple meanings – and how getting personal can help you achieve your fundraising and marketing goals.

Details
Show-me-you-know-me.jpg

Show Me That You Know Me — 5 Things You Must Do To Sustain Donor Relationships

My recent post about showing your donors you know them* through personalization struck a big chord.  Folks have asked for more tips on the subject of building and sustaining meaningful, loyal relationships, so I’ve taken the liberty of sharing this article originally published in The Bridge. The 5 tips are towards the bottom, so scroll down if you’re impatient. Okay…

Details
Treadmill.jpg

Stop the Nonprofit Fundraising Treadmill: 3 Reasons I Want to Get Off

The treadmill is out of order. TIme to get off.Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

I’ve often wondered why we’re the only sector that defines ourselves by what we’re NOT. Nonprofit.  Why not what we ARE? Social benefit.  Rather than focusing so much on how to scrimp and save and be as cost-efficient as possible, shouldn’t we be focusing on how to spend and grow and be as big and effective as possible?

Nonprofits are stuck in a vicious cycle that jeopardizes their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed. Three “town criers” have recently shed light on the growing problem. Though they come at the problem from different perspectives, it is arguable that they’re headed in the same direction.  Let’s take a look at the underlying reasons for the sector’s inability to build sustainable capacity.

Details
Spring-cleaning.jpg

Where you’re Going Wrong with Donor Retention – Purely Practical SMIT for February

Here comes this month’s *SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you): the odds are good that you’re searching for love in all the wrong places.

Do a little spring cleaning and get rid of your apathetic donors.  I don’t mean you should toss them out the window. I mean you should do something to overcome their apathy. It’s not their fault.  Chances are it’s yours. I know that may sound harsh.  But, gosh darn it, we betray our donors all the time. Instead, we should go to them and give them some love. It’s really not that hard to retain your donors; you simply must have a strategy.

Most of us don’t even see the mess we’re making.  Just like that pile of papers that’s sitting over in the corner waiting to be tended to, our eyes glaze over. We’re apt to virtually ignore the broad base of donors in the middle, as well as our donors who lapse.  We send them one or two perfunctory renewal appeals; then we’re done.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps it’s because announcing a big upgrade and securing a new donor just seems a lot sexier than renewing folks.  But sustainable fundraising is not about sexy.

Details