December is a big for fundraising, and nearly 1/3 of the giving this month happens online.
I love the way infographics make lots of data easy to digest. The new infographic from Network for Good shows how much online giving has grown during the first six months of 2013. You'll also find some suggestions about how you can make some tweaks to your year-end giving to raise the bar on how much your organization raises on-line.
One easy thing to focus on: Branded giving pages raise 6x more than generic giving pages. Making time to make some changes to your donation page will increase your average gift size and can affect the number of gifts you receive.
With just a few weeks left of this calendar year it make sense that you get your digital appeals in order so you can make the most of this charitable time of year. Are you ready to make that final digital push to end the year as strong as possible? If you're in need of a little guidance, take a look at the tips I shared for year-end fundraising.
Now that you're all geared up for a strong finish to 2013, it's time to let 2014 know you're coming after it. Nothing will energize you and your work like kicking the year off right with new stories, tools, and plans for all your fundraising efforts.
This is why I have two great opportunities that don't come around very often, to give you the chance to get 2014 started right!
First, I’m holding my final workshops of the year on Tuesday, December 3 in St. Paul, MN. There will be two workshops: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Fundraising. Not my Job!
This high-energy session is designed to dispel myths about whose job it is to DO the fundraising at your organization. In this interactive session, I will share with you and your team tips, strategies and best practices so your team really DOES help you raise awareness & dollars. The key is to make the work inspiring and rewarding. And I will show you how. This session is applicable for up to 3.0 continuing education points in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.
1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Storytelling mini-workshop & coaching session
Join me for 2 ½ hours of hands-on feedback and coaching. You'll identify the stories that already exist within your organization and learn to tell them in ways that speak to people’s hearts. I will provide one-on-one coaching for as many stories as possible during this session. Best of all, when you're finished you'll walk away with a number of tools & worksheets to transform the way you talk about your nonprofit’s work and create a team of storytellers to help raise more money.
The second opportunity comes in the form of my Imagine What's Possible Fundraising Boot Camp class that starts January 15, 2014. Before I tell you about the application process, listen to what Angie Miller, Executive Director of Community Action Duluth and “graduate” of the May 2013 Boot Camp class had to say about her experience.
Is your team ready to find an additional $10k to $50k or more for the coming year? Then the Boot Camp class is for you!
You’ll learn all the details by downloading the Boot Camp brochure. If you're really raring to go, you can start the application process now by filling out your information to request the Pre-Boot Camp survey. This survey will help me know if your team is ready to jump into a rigorous 10-week coaching experience and let me know that you are really ready and committed to taking your fundraising to the next level.
Space is limited in both in-person workshops and the webinar Boot Camp class so you'll want to get started right away!
I can't wait to help you make your 2014 fundraising year the best ever!
This week I’m pleased to feature a wonderful post by Donna Mehr, editor of Smart Annual Giving.
Before you find yourself rushing to get your year-end renewal appeal in the mail and blindly mailing to every name in your house file, carve out some time to review your mailing list.
Why? Not everyone in your database is appropriate for a year-end appeal.
A year-end appeal should be written specifically with one audience in mind: your core donors. Your letter should thank them for being crucial partners in your work, explain what their last gift accomplished, and invite them to renew their support.
I’d be willing to bet that not everyone in your database falls into the core supporter category.
Also, there are probably names in your database of people who, if you look closely, are unlikely to respond. You want to make sure you are spending your resources on donors who will give you the most bang for your buck, especially when you have a limited budget (and who doesn’t?).
Review your mailing list and identify donors who are either unlikely to respond to your general renewal appeal or who might be more appropriate for a different letter. A better list will increase your response rate and improve your return on investment (ROI).
Take a look at these groups to start.
Deeply Lapsed/ Former Donors
Has your organization established a point where a “lapsed donor” transitions to “former donor” status? This may be anywhere between three to five years since the last gift, but at some point it doesn’t pay to keep mailing to this group.
To find out if it is time to bless and release some donors from your renewal appeal (and instead try a different, more effective reengagement strategy), consider the ROI (as a group) for donors whose last gift was four or five years ago.
For example, I have 475 donors whose last gift was in 2008. I spent $337 ($.71 per piece) to mail my year-end letter to each donor. I received four gifts (.84% response rate) totaling $120. Clearly, this is not a great ROI, especially when you consider other communications they received throughout the year.
You could certainly argue the lifetime value of these donors (the total amount they will give in years to come) is worth the investment of $84 each, but it might make sense to consider a more cost-effective approach to renewing them.
Your database probably has a collection of people with some sort of connection to your organization but who have never made an actual financial gift. These prospects might be workshop or event attendees, event volunteers, or even someone you have served.
Since a renewal mailing doesn’t always make sense for this group, send them an acquisition-style letter thanking them for their specific connection and inviting them into a deeper relationship with your group through a financial gift.
You may also have people or groups within your database who, although they at some point gave money to your organization, gave primarily for a reason other than their dedication to your mission. Someone who responded to an ‘in-lieu-of-flowers’ memorial request for a friend or a golf tournament participant who paid a registration fee would fall into this category.
Consider these people as “very good prospects” rather than as annual donors. While you want to invite these people to give, they’ll likely respond better to a more targeted message. As with your no-gift-yet prospects, your goal should be to motivate them to become annual supporters by inspiring them with your organization’s story.
At the very least, if you do include these donors in your general renewal appeal, it would certainly be worth evaluating whether this strategy is working.
Most states require a nonprofit to be pre-approved and pay a fee to solicit that state’s residents in any way, including through the mail. If you have donors in states where your organization has no charitable solicitation license, make sure you exclude those donors from all solicitation requests.
For your best or most promising out-of-state donors, try sending an annual update letter that doesn’t include a specific ask. This will keep them thinking about you at year-end giving time. Don’t forget to get licensed to solicit in your own state if required!
Donors with bad addresses
Are you running your donors through the National Change of Address Registry (NCOA) before each mailing? Are you consistently recording those changes? Make sure you are keeping track of all returned mail and searching for updated address. The USPS processes 40 million address changes each year and you don’t want to lose those precious donors by not keeping up.
Although a mailing list audit will take some extra time, a thoughtfully selected list will improve the results of your year-end appeal. Even more important, it will allow you to provide more meaningful and relevant communications for your donors and keep them giving down the road.
Donna Mehr is the editor of smartannualgiving.com where she helps small nonprofits lay the groundwork for a strong annual fundraising program. She is the author of The Smart Guide to a Smarter Annual Appeal available in November 2013.
Every November more than 50,000 philanthropic Minnesotans make financial contributions to their favorite charities in a 24-hour giving marathon. The attention that GiveMN generates in raising awareness for charitable organizations and on philanthropic support is a big boost to building awareness for the amazing work your organization does.
With just one week to go, you still have time to get your stories in order for this fun and frenetic fundraising day that raised more than $16 Million for Minnesota nonprofits in 24 hours last year!
I believe Give to the Max Day is a HUGE opportunity to be especially clear about your impact and the faces of who you serve.
Leading up to the day of fun and frenzied competition for financial prizes means putting the time in ahead of the big day to cause your supporters to want to make a contribution on November 14.
Stories should be about real people who need something, hopefully something that YOUR organization provides.
Allow the person in your story to have a real name, age, and to speak for themselves.
Minds wander, get real quickly. In about 4 - 10 seconds your listeners tune out if you haven't grabbed them. Don't tell me you are going to tell me a story about someone, just tell it. Starting with the person's name, age, and a few descriptive words.
Keep your story short. 6 words to 2 minutes is the length I recommend.
Allow your story to cause me to feel something. Anger, sadness, happiness, pride--it doesn't matter what the emotion is; I just have to feel something.
Your story should have a moment that paints a picture so I see myself or someone in my life. Could be aging parents, the daughter of the person who made my latte or took my bank deposit today, or even my own child.
The best stories are told by the person themselves. Clients telling their own stories are the most moving way to share how your organization makes a difference.
Kivi is not only a colleague and friend, she's a hero of mine. She's a communication and social profit guru; a coach, trainer, and author. Kivi has a brand new book: Content Marketing for Nonprofits. And if I do say so myself, the book is amazing.
You can download the first chapter and bonus worksheets for no fee. The free downloads and book are terrific resources you will want to add to your tool chest. Thank you to Kivi for sharing her marketing wisdom in such a use-able, helpful format!
Turns out the show was an interview with economist John List where he shares a bunch of terrific ideas on how to successfully raise money and what strategies are most effective.
I especially LOVE the conversation that digs into the idea from List’s research that people are more driven by self-interest -- how it makes them feel.
The "traditional" feeling is that donors give because of altruism; helping others. While that may be true for our parents and grandparents who felt deeply compelled to help others. Today, it’s much more about the feeling the donor gets when they click donate or sponsor a walker or buy a ticket to your event.
Grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a listen to the podcast below or read through the full transcript. It's a great show!
I know the year-end appeal letter is a major part of your fundraising. I also know a lot of people are searching for guidance and inspiration when it comes to writing this important letter, which is why I've got two things for you this week.
First, because so many people have asked, I'm once again offering a Master Coaching webinar on Creating a Successful Fall Appeal. I'd like to invite you to join me and the Ignited Online Fundraising Community for our monthy Member's webinar on Thursday, October 17th at 11 a.m. (Central Time). You can get all the details here.
Regardless of wether you can join us or not, I wanted to make sure you have everything you need for your year-end appeal letter. So, I've gathered up a bunch of resources to guide, coach, and inspire you to knock this one out of the ballpark!
Year-End Fundraising Do's & Don'ts "DO Share your campaign goal and deadline. Let people know how much you need and the date you need it by to create a sense of urgency. Combining this with your email updates, will generate a higher response rate. Keep the goal visible, in print, on your website, at meetings, everywhere."
Tips to Maximize Your End-of-Year Fundraising "Plan to ask by email at least twice (we suggest three or more times) before Dec. 25. And really plan to hit the last week of the year with at least three asks. Ask more than that if you can! December is not the time to be bashful."
Before you write, reconnect with these stories. If you’ve been with your nonprofit for a while, it may be hard to reconnect this way. If you can’t remember, go and ask board members and donors."
Fall Fundraising: Writing Your Appeal "Sector observers estimate that electronic newsletters or appeals are now equal in results to traditional printed direct-mail pieces (and likely to surpass the effectiveness of such older strategies soon). As you write, your copy will need to be appropriate for a range of email blasts, electronic newsletters, and/or printed pieces."
2 Questions You've Got to Answer in Your Year-End Appeal Letter "Tell your donors EXACTLY what you are raising money for. This means you are NOT making a generic appeal. Instead, you are making a very specific appeal, for something real. This donor wants real information from you too! You are asking your donors to contribute to some specific goals and projects.
23 Reasons Why People Respond to Fundraising Appeals "Public opinion surveys and other research repeatedly confirm this most basic fact of donor motivation. “They asked” is the most frequently cited reason for giving. The research confirms, too, that donors want to be asked. Focus group research also reveals that donors typically underestimate the number of appeals they receive from the charities they support."
Recently, I was delighted to see this terrific infographic about Dan's TED Talk by Krista Lewis. My suggestion: Print it out, share it with your board, talk about it and lead the way for causing "outside the box" thinking about charitable support.
Have you heard your board, key staff and other volunteers say this out loud? If you have, you are not alone.
As I work with social profit organizations around the world, this statement is one that doesn’t seem to change even in different cultures.
So, whose job is it to raise the money? Ask for financial support?
My answer might surprise you.
I believe the job of raising funds from others, actually soliciting a gift of financial support, is the job of only a few people: CEO, Development Director, Grant Writer, Major Gift Officer, Planned Giving staff, Board Chair, Fund Development Chair and possibly one or two others who LIKE to ask for gifts.
I don’t believe it’s the entire board’s role to ask others for money.
First of all, most don’t know how.
Second, most often they don’t want to learn how.
And finally, why would we have people who are unprepared, untrained and unwilling do something so very important to the financial stability of our organization?
Because we’ve been told to, right?
What if, just think outside the box for a moment here… what if you offered your board ways they can be involved in raising awareness and welcoming others in to the organization, but they DON’T have to ask others for money?
I can hear a collective sigh of relief from board members right now.
And I just felt the shoulders get tight and heads shake from development staff and CEOs.
So what to do? It’s quite simple really. When I act as an engaging, passionate board member I speak clearly about our mission AND my passion inspires others. Then the staff or designated volunteer can make the "ask."
Part of the board role is to raise awareness and engage others but that does not have to mean asking for money.
Here’s my list of ways board members (and others!) can be involved in Fund Development and not have to ask for money:
Make a personal financial gift.
Invite others to give something. Time, talent, stuff or for some, even financial gifts.
Invite people in to the organization. Truly act as an “ambassador & advocate.”
Thank recent happy donors.
Participate actively in some aspect of raising awareness: Share a client story.
Participate actively in raising awareness: Share how much there is left to raise this year.
Hold each other accountable.
Since this has become such a hot topic I’ve created an entire workshop around it. I’ll be delivering this workshop next week In Austin, TX at the Arts Midwest Annual Conference.
Are you wondering why you’ve felt so scattered lately?
Image: Mazarine Treyz
Why you can’t get the grants done, the events done, the appeals done, and go home at a reasonable time?
Why you always feel like you’re running behind?
Are you almost fed up and burnt out?
There is an answer.
It’s not that you just need more hours in the day, or more days in the week.
It’s not that you just need two more arms or an extra brain.
What is the answer?
Nonprofit fundraising staff are set up. Often, the job you are tasked with doing is burdened by things other than too many duties. You may also be facing:
Massive fundraising staff turnover in the last 5 years, PLUS
A long lag time between fundraising staff, resulting in disgruntled, ignored donors
No record of what’s been done, caused by lack of systems
No culture of philanthropy, which leads to unrealistic fundraising expectations by senior leadership, and more
Soon enough, all of these factors make YOU feel like leaving too. And the cycle begins again.
The average tenure of a fundraising staff person is 12-18 months. Constant fundraising turnover is not just appallingly wasteful from an HR perspective, it’s appalling from a human perspective. It’s a waste of creativity, relationships, and effort. And this can mean your organization never really raises the money it needs to raise. Let me explain.
If your fundraising staff stays, on average, 12-18 months, why would they want to cultivate long-term donor relationships for your nonprofit?
The effect of fundraiser turnover starts to snowball.
Because there are months or years when no one is stewarding donors or sending out appeals or grants, you will have fewer donors.
When you have fewer donors, there’s less money for your programs and salaries.
Now you can’t afford to hire a fundraiser with experience. And the inexperienced person you hire has to struggle even harder to make headway in a shop where there’s no money to train them, no one to mentor them, no documentation of what has been done, and the donors are drifting away.
After the inexperienced person tries and fails to raise enough money for your nonprofit, then program staff jobs will be cut.
Finally programs will be cut. Even if your nonprofit doesn’t close, those you serve will be the ones who suffer.
Fundraising turnover is like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
If you are a nonprofit leader and you care about your mission, your own job, and the financial health of your nonprofit, you need to pay attention to fundraiser turnover. As the AFP Oregon 2013 survey says: “Fundraising turnover may be like the canary in the coalmine. What else is off track?”
Often, I get emails from fundraising professionals that go like this: “I'm the only development staff person. No support staff, difficult to find volunteers, and when I do they don't stay around.
The board REFUSES to get any training in fundraising!
I have no strategic plan to tie fundraising to.”
Does this sound like someone you know?
After the Underdeveloped Report by Compasspoint and The Haas Jr Fund came out in January 2013, I felt we needed to look more deeply at the problems and solutions for fundraising professionals and nonprofits. I created a research report called Shafted, Why Nonprofit Fundraising Staff are Shafted, and what we can do about it.
Please use the contact form on the download page to send me your comments. Can’t wait to hear what you think!
About Mazarine Treyz: She is the author of three books, the most recent, out in April 2013, is “Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide." Mazarine has taught thousands of people how to fundraise through workshops, webinars, and e-courses since 2010. Her blog has 30,000 monthly readers. Get her free newsletter on fundraising here.