Backwards-Wrong-Way-199x300.jpg

Are You Leading Your Nonprofit Backwards?

More than ever before nonprofit leaders must lead from vision, not mission.

Why?  The world is moving really, really fast.  Blame it on the digital revolution if you wish.  But why waste time laying blame?  It is what it is.  Instead, get into the 21st century. Now.

The present (what you’re doing) is nothing more than a springboard to the future.

Never lose sight of the change you’re endeavoring to bring about. That’s what folks want to invest in. Positive, transformative change.

Nonprofits have tended to forget their visions in order to justify continued existence.

Sometimes founders and other leaders become too wedded to the status quo.  They can’t let their babies grow up. This is wrong. Nonprofits are founded to meet needs and resolve problems.  Needs change.  Problems get resolved (or they should).  Nonprofits should strive to go out of business, or

Light bulb on chalkboard

How to Modernize Your Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising

In Part 1 of this two-part series I reviewed the ways nonprofit marketing and fundraising have significantly changed in recent years, and what this means for your ability to succeed in raising awareness and money.

I talked about how easy it is for leaders to blame staff, and vice-versa. It’s also easy to get sidetracked, because we’re operating in something of a Wild West frontier.  And no one really is clear on the rules of the game.

Within the current zeitgeist, the job of the development professional becomes critical.  Your organization needs you to lead.  They need you to be an expert strategist, even if they don’t always know this.

If you’re just put into a corner and told to “go forth and raise money” or “go forth and make our name known,” you’re in for a bumpy ride. But you have the power to smooth the way!

monthly calendar

Top 10 Nonprofit Monthly Recurring Gift Strategies

If a monthly giving program is not one of your key strategic annual fundraising strategies, this is the year you should add it to your development work plan.

Why?

It’s your secret to being sustainable, short-and long-term. Because recurring donors give more and stay more loyal over time.

These donors can become a reliable source of predictable annual revenue that minimizes stress and uncertainty.

This is something you should seriously consider, don’t you think?

And it’s really not rocket science.  It’s something you can and should do. And I’m about to give you a step-by-step process to help you maximize your annual contribution revenues.

Should you have any doubt that this will yield impressive results, take a look at

marathon event

Nonprofit Event Fundraising Part 1: What’s the Point?

Do you think of your nonprofit event as a “fund raiser” or a “donor cultivation experience?”

The simple, obvious answer, of course, is that a good event is both.

In practice, however, successful event fundraising – galas and sport events and auctions that are worth the effort — is not this simple.

So let me ask this question another way:

What is your number one goal with your special event?

Think about this carefully for a moment. There can be a lot of reasons, good and not-so-good, for embarking on this admittedly resource-intensive strategy.  Do your ends justify your means?

You Got This

How to Inspire Philanthropists to Help Your Nonprofit Cause

How Do Major Donors Think About Philanthropy? 

In my last article we looked at six major donor philanthropic triggers. Today let’s look at a few more; then I’ll suggest some strategies to help you enter into your prospective donor’s world so you can make a win/win match – one that will help your major donors simultaneously help your cause and themselves.

I recently found a back issue of Lifestyles Magazine from 2008 (yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder) and was struck by some of what the publication had to say—a veritable peek inside the minds of major donors. There’s a clue right in the way they describe their mission (highlights are mine):

customer experience

6 Ways to Create a Superior Nonprofit Donor Experience

customer experience

Are you aware that one of the hottest things in for-profit management over the past 5 – 10 years or so is “customer experience?” There’s an entire industry that’s grown up around it.

It’s something that goes beyond customer service.

Customer service is to an outbound marketing world what customer experience is to an inbound marketing world. The former you do to your constituents; the latter you do with them.

You may be asking why this is important.

Post digital revolution, nonprofits must adapt to the realities of inbound marketing. The way people find and engage with you in a constantly connected, networked marketplace has changed. Your constituencies crave interaction. And meaning. And, gosh darn it, they want you to make them feel good!

They want a full-bore, positive experience with you.

Fail to deliver?  They’ll go elsewhere. 

symbolic rainmaking god

How to Build a Major Donor Program from the Ground Up

If you’ve got donors, then you have the raw material for a major donor program – and it’s easier than you think.

Begin with your own database.

Most organizations have plenty of donor prospects, without having to go outside and look for prospects who aren’t connected to you.

You know who I mean. The people your board members tend to suggest to you. Folks who may be rich, and may even be philanthropic elsewhere, but don’t have any interest in what you do. And no one knows them or can make an introduction to them.

Don’t start with the most out-of-reach prospects. You can be a major donor prospect rainmaker without having to go outside or reach too far.

Use the 'Seven is Heaven' priorities on your pathway to passionate philanthropy in 2017 - and beyond!

7 Powerful Nonprofit Opportunities: Your Path to Success in 2017 (Pt.1)

Last year if you followed me, I gave you 5 priorities for success in 2016. I called them “Dive the Five.”  This year, I’ve expanded my thinking a bit. ‘SEVEN IS HEAVEN.’ Create Compelling Annual Giving Offers Master Integrated On Social Fundraising Master Major & Legacy Giving Master Donor Retention Master Donor-Centered Content Marketing Embrace…

Lemonade Stand Rockwell

Warning: Have You Caught Deadly Nonprofit Lemonade Standitis?

Lemonade Standitis is a bit like Zika virus.

Silent, but deadly.

It infects you, but you may not realize it.

The symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed, only showing up later down the line in a different form.

By then, it’s too late.

If you’ve got it, you’re no doubt leaving money on the table, working harder than you need to, and putting the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit business at risk.

Want to avoid this dreaded sustainability killer?

Clairity Click-it: Cauldron Full of Free Nonprofit Resources

It’s almost Halloween, and a great time to think about how not to scare your donors away; rather, give them treats that will keep ‘em coming back year after year! Here are links to articles you may find helpful.

Plus, as usual, you’ll find a cauldron full of free resources – downloadable templates, webinars, cheat sheets, and more.  Take some time to continue your professional growth and education. It will make you stronger, I promise. Share with others on your staff too; there’s something for everyone!

5 Winning "Today" Strategies to Raise Money Smarter

If you could only do five things between now and the end of the year to make a noticeable difference in your nonprofit’s fundraising results, what would you do?

I’ve been writing recently about five subject areas – key priorities for success this year, and beyond.  Today I’d like to offer one BIG “to do” in each area to help you hone in on some actionable steps that will move the needle and have a transformative impact on your results.

How to Rock Donor Thank You Calls

6 Keys to Rock Thank You Calls and Retain More Donors

You’ve got to make donor retention more of a priority. It’s one of the top five things your nonprofit must do to survive and thrive in today’s competitive nonprofit marketplace.

Research shows the average nonprofit in the U.S. loses 77% of donors after the first gift!!!!!

To make matters worse, the probability that a donor will make five consecutive gifts is only 10-15%. These numbers are just not sustainable for most organizations. By the time you’ve added a new donor most of your previous new donors are out the door.

Allow that to sink in a moment.

Do you know what your donor retention rate is? If you do, there’s hope for you to improve it. Read on. If you don’t, you don’t even know there’s something that needs fixing!

The Meaning of Philanthropy, Not Fundraising – Part 2

In Part 1 I laid out why philanthropy inspires, and fundraising tires.

Fundraising must be done, of course, but there’s something about how it’s been practiced in the past that turns too many people off.  It’s been connoted as being all about money, when really it’s all about valued outcomes.

These valued outcomes are shared by many who support the cause – donors and non-donors.  Employees and volunteers. Development departments and program departments. Major gifts staff and annual giving staff. All these folks have a collective stake in the nonprofit’s survival.

#ClairityClick-it: Major Gifts, Donor Retention, Online Social Fundraising + Free Resources

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesHope you enjoy these links, free resources and training opportunities. Usually I publish this on Friday, but it’s Spring Break and holiday week for many, so I’m on a wacky schedule. Again, I’ve organized according to three of the top 5 areas I’m hoping you’re working on improving this year.  This week it’s

  1. Major Gifts
  2. Donor Retention
  3. Online Social Fundraising

10 Secrets to Help any Nonprofit Rock Mobile Fundraising

10 Secrets to Help Any Nonprofit Rock Mobile FundraisingHuman beings have always been social animals. The digital revolution has simply made electronic media (email, the internet and social media) our ‘go-to’ place to socialize and connect with our fellow humans.”

This sentiment that Claire crafted really spoke to me as I was reading her article the other day.

It’s a deep truth. We are social beings. We’re also incredibly mobile now, though.

Ironically, even though we’re constantly on the go, we are the most connected we’ve ever been.

Integrate-FundraisingContentMarketing-2-300x300.png

Integrate Fundraising and Content Marketing for Nonprofit Survival

Your year-long “Dive the Five” virtual course continues!
Integrate Fundraising and Content Marketing
I’ve selected five major themes – fundamental nonprofit fundraising strategies — to discuss with you this year in depth. Strategies that are so important to your success in 2016 – and beyond – that I want to be certain (1) you’ve got them on your priority list, (2) will begin to dedicate some serious resources towards them, and (3) will commit to practice them regularly, until they become almost second nature.

If you learn to “Dive the Five” you’ll be able to raise money for anyone, any place, any time. And I’ll be your Guide.

Some of these skills will seem familiar, but the way you employ them may need to be tweaked in order for you to survive and thrive in our digitally-revolutionized society. Other skills may be things you’ve thought about, or dabbled in, but haven’t really committed to with serious intent and dedicated resources.

man-yawning.jpg

What Your Donors Won’t Tell You about Your Nonprofit Newsletter

Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?
Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?

It’s boring them to tears.

Actually, let me rephrase. Not to tears. That would mean they’re feeling an emotional connection. Sadly, they’re not.

Most donor newsletters are boring to the point of numbness.

You’re not making the impact you need to make to keep your donors, let alone get them to give more the next time you ask.

Why?

Let me tell you what I learned from Penelope Burk, Donor-Centered Fundraising author, about 15 years ago. It fundamentally changed the way I communicate with donors.

quick_guide_to_get_your_nonprofit_crowd_on-265x300.png

Quick Guide to Get Your Nonprofit “Crowd On”

quick_guide_to_get_your_nonprofit_crowd_onI’ve been thinking a lot about crowdfunding lately.

Bzz… bzz… buzz… buzz… Do you hear it?

It’s the sound of the times. It’s the bees flying around crowdfunding campaigns like honey. Sweet, golden honey.

Are you getting yours?

With the mainstream shift into digital communication, and the advance of technology through online donation and peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, crowdfunding is something I believe you should seriously consider if you’re not already getting your “crowd” on.

Especially if you have…

  • A big campaign going on.
  • Or a specific project that lends itself well to the telling of a compelling story.
  • Or you need to raise a lot of funds in a relatively short time period.
  • Or there’s a strong tie to some big event – anniversary; holiday; news story.
  • Or your current constituents are more inclined towards being ambassadors than asking or giving.
  • Or you’re having a hard time breaking out of the “box” of folks you think might be interested in your cause, and are looking to build your audience in new ways.

So I’ve put together a few resources, and some of my own thoughts, to help you think things through.

Satisfaction-Cant-get-no.jpg

Why are Good Nonprofit Fundraisers Hard to Keep? RESPECT

Can't get no...
I can’t get no…

Fundraisers report that money is the number one reason they leave their jobs [See Part I of this two-part series here]. While I do believe too many fundraisers are underpaid relative to their skill sets and performance, I’ve a hunch it’s not the real chief culprit for fundraiser dissatisfaction. What is?

Guess what? The reason is very similar to why donors leave you. If you read through this article, you’ll learn both (1) how to keep more fundraisers, and (2) how to satisfy, inspire and retain more donors.

Ready?

I gave you a hint in the title. Yup. It’s what Aretha Franklin famously sang about:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

It’s not just respect for fundraisers as individuals that’s lacking. It’s respect for their profession. For what it takes to succeed with development in a nonprofit organization. For what it means to be a part of a team — all working together towards the same goal — and why it’s impossible to succeed without a supportive infrastructure and culture.

And by the way, donors won’t thrive absent a supportive culture and infrastructure either. They’re looking to be a part of your community, your family, your way of life. If you won’t give them this warm, fuzzy, connected feeling — they’ll find someone else who will.

So what pre-conditions must be in place for fundraising staff, and donors, to want to stay?

Rock-musician-198x300.jpg

6 Secrets to Rock Multi-Channel Integrated Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns

This post includes 6 expert tips and best practices for any business, including a non-profit, wanting to run an integrated marketing campaign that generates more potential donors and raises more dollars.

Wait! What is an integrated marketing campaign?

An integrated marketing campaign is a marketing effort that uses a consistent message across traditional and non-traditional marketing channels. Ultimately all the messages should reinforce each other. Integrated marketing campaigns enable brands (yes, your nonprofit is a brand) to reach new audiences and gain mass exposure for their marketing promotions. Plus, in the information overload world in which we live, folks need to see your message multiple times before their brain will process it (Did you know that, on average, only 16% of Facebook fans will see what you share)?

There used to be a marketing ‘Rule of 7’ stating that a prospect needs to hear the advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.  Guess what? That rule was invented by the movie industry in the 1930’s! It takes a lot more impressions today (I’ve heard as many as 21).

So a multi-channel campaign is the way to go. Whether you reach folks 7 or 21 times, or somewhere in between, your messages should range over different sorts of media. Consider emails and newsletters, social media posts, website and blog, direct mail, advertising and even in person presentations. But it can’t be a big mish-mash.  You’ve got to integrate everything to ensure all your media channels are working together. That’s how you’ll ultimately get noticed.

To illustrate how this might work for you, here is an example

Clairity Click-it: Keep Donors; Make a Case; Neuromarketing; Appeal Frequency + News to Use

Mouse with computer mousee
Click it!

Want to keep more donors? This week’s Click-It will show you how in a number of different ways. Create magical experiences for supporters by taking a page from Disney. Craft a persuasive case for support by stepping into your donor’s shoes and asking yourself, and your team, some critical questions. Learn more about the importance of personalization by watching a video from Starbucks. Understand the psychology of the three different types of buyers (aka donors). And think critically about the number of appeals you send, and how this may help or hurt your donor acquisition, renewal and upgrade efforts. Plus you’ll find some “News You Can Use” (tons of really useful data and reports) at the bottom of this post.  To your success!

Clairity Click-it: Get Outside the Mailbox

Today I’ve got stuff to help you get outside the traditional mail box. It’s a great way to communicate with folks – tried and true – but you have many more options in 2015. If you get stuck in the past you’re going to miss out on a lot of potential donors.

Did you know that when the telephone was invented people thought it would be disruptive and distracting? This is the year to seamlessly integrate strategic social media into all your fundraising and marketing campaigns.

Storytelling-brain.jpg

6 Best Ways to Make Storytelling Part of Your Nonprofit Culture

How do you fill the brains of your staff, volunteers and donors with stories about your organization?
What better way to talk about accomplishments your donors make possible than through stories that portray them as heroes?

Everyone loves a good story. Everyone.

Which is why storytelling should be at the heart of your nonprofit’s strategic communications. I know ‘storytelling’ is a meme du jour. But that’s no reason to ignore it. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! There’s a reason these phrases become buzzworthy. In this case, because you want to serve up content that’s relevant, attractive and accessible to your constituencies. Storytelling fits the bill better than anything else.

In fact, of all the content you can create, storytelling is your ultimate weapon and the most powerful means of communicating your message.

Let’s look at this a different way.

Hire-Me-198x300.jpg

How to Hire a Fundraiser: Practice and Psychology

I happen to currently be working with a number of nonprofits who are seeking to hire the perfect development officer. It’s got me thinking about what to look for in a candidate, and how to best assess someone’s likely ability to perform the job as you need them to perform it.

Of course, this will vary from organization to organization. But if you’re seeking someone to fill a one-person or two-person development shop, there is remarkable similarity in the performance habits (practice) and innate qualities (psychology) that will spell success.

checklist-300x225.jpg

Why Your Nonprofit Communications are a Waste of Time: 10 Easy Fixes

I know you’re strapped for time. But that’s no excuse for slapping your communications together with the sole purpose of “getting them out there.” Why bother? Checking this task off your list (and maybe reporting to your boss and/or board that you did so) may make you feel a bit better. But it won’t help your readers (and potential supporters) feel good.

If you want to get gifts you must give them. Consider your communications a gift to your supporters. Don’t give something generic. Give something your recipient will appreciate.  Ask yourself…

attitude-of-gratitude-260x300.jpg

Nonprofit Donor Retention is Not as Hard as You Think

heart blossoms
What do you do to let your donors’ love blossom?

At least if shouldn’t be so hard.  After all, the commercial sector manages to retain 94% of their customers. Then why does the nonprofit sector only manage to retain 41%? Even worse, new nonprofit donor retention is only 19%, down from 27% in 2011. That’s abysmal. What’s going on?

Why are our for-profit brethren beating the pants off of us when it comes to retention?

Signifying-nothing-large-300x199.jpg

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

I love my Agitators, I really do. I’m hoping they meant to provoke, and were really being tongue-in-cheek with their recent article.   Forget About Donor-Centric is very provocative, and certainly there’s truth here. Nonprofits do seriously ramp up their fundraising activities at this time of year, and it may appear they’re thinking more about money than their donor. It’s solicitation time, not stewardship time.  And “Donor Tom” (Tom Belford) tells us he understands. He reasons that at this time of year he’s going to be so bombarded by appeals that he’s not going to be thinking about building a relationship with you. He just wants to give to those he’s already given to and “escape with some spending money for Christmas presents.”

That’s exactly the perspective you don’t want your donor to have.

Weekly Clairity Click-it: Giving Trends, Cause Marketing, Email Marketing, Data Conversion, Donor Retention

Free Webinar alert below…  Now, on to this week’s great links…

Giving Trends

Click-it: ‘Strategic Philanthropy’ Shifts Too Much Power to Donors. This is a provocative Chronicle of Philanthropy article about the way foundations give today. Did you know that 60% of them don’t accept unsolicited proposals? The trend is towards a Madisonian approach where foundations determine which issues are meritorious vs. a more Jeffersonian approach  in which nonprofits, community groups and their constituents determine where resources are most needed. On which side of the debate do you fall?

Click-it: How America Gives. This is a super-awesome interactive guide

Old-MacDonald.jpg

Old MacDonald’s Theory of Outstanding Fundraiser Qualities: E-I-E-I-O

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

I’m about to reveal my Old MacDonald’s Theory of the qualities of outstanding fundraisers (you know how they say “the farmer is *out standing* in his field”)? Ahem.  Well… the outstanding farmer is surrounded by a chorus of E-I-E-I-Os.  The outstanding fundraiser is similar in many ways. S/he sings a similar tune and also works in a nurturing, productive space that enables cultivation and growth.

And that’s why I developed my E-I-E-I-O paradigm. Forget about all the nasty business of “it’s a jungle out there.” No, YOU (the fundraiser) work on a farm.

Search-e1362685226251.jpg

How Google Works for Your Nonprofit Blog -Easy SEO and Search – S.S.T.S. Series Part IV

Share, Shareable, Talk, SearchIn Part I: Share, Part II: Shareable  and Part III: Talk of this S.S.S.T. Series we covered the importance of sharing your blog, making it shareable by others and getting folks to talk about you with their online networks.  But there’s one important component of your super-sonic blog promotion strategy that we’ve missed.  Here it is:

SEARCH

Let’s begin with why it’s important to talk about search. Because you want more readers for your blog, right? Well, the people who are your friends, plus the people who are their friends, are not all the people in the world.  They’re not even all the people who may be interested in what you do!  Search is how most people find you.  Search is the most common online activity after email, and that fact cuts across generations.

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.