Withisms from Lori

Boldness, clarity and wisdom for fundraising professionals making a difference.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Talking about money so people want to give

Sharing the funding gap

Quickly, can you share with me where your organization is right now in meeting your annual fundraising goals? Does your board chair, CEO, and do YOU know what the current funding gap is for your organization? How often do you share those money details with your community?

I define the funding gap as the amount of money you have to raise from the community each year: OR the difference between the annual budget and the sources of funding you can absolutely count on, like grants, that you’ve already been approved for, United Way support, government funding, fees for service, etc.

Why share this information regularly?

If your community is not certain you need more of their time, dollars, advice, contacts, whatever it is that is missing – they may in fact, go elsewhere.

As marketing guru and author Seth Godin says, "nonprofits sell feeling good."

Your supporter community wants to feel like they are helping you do something you could not do without them. But the key here is: They have to KNOW what it is you want them to do. In September 2010 my post: Powerful Message from Your CEO outlined 5 key suggestions for sharing your funding gap.

CEOs who shy away from talking about the money, the funding gap, and that there is much more to do, are often stuck on the feeling that talking about what you need more of will cause people to think the organization is not run well. I believe the exact opposite. When you are transparent about costs, goals, and the impact of a gift, you build a stronger and more committed supporter community. Sharing this information though, can’t be boring and full of charts and graphs. It has to be shared with examples of compelling stories about real people.

In my free ebook Nine Steps to Successful Fundraising Campaigns, step # 7 is to keep the money conversation visible: in print, on your website, via multiple forms of communication to allow transparency and encourage widespread participation.

When you keep all eyes on the goal, OTHERS will help you reach it.

I recommend organizations and especially the CEO of an organization, share the progress on their annual fundraising goals, i.e. the funding gap, often, in fun, interesting ways throughout the year. Don’t wait until the final days of the year to scurry and beg for support.

Breaking your annual goal into smaller, bite-size "mini-campaigns" can also make it easier for supporters to want to take action and possibly make more than one contribution a year. What does it cost per seat for your organization to put on a wonderful theater or music performance? Share that. Or what does it cost per child to ensure they are going to graduate from high school and venture out into the world prepared for college or their first job? Share that.

Humanize the funding gap with stories of real people who will be impacted by meeting or not meeting your goal.

Compel your supporters with the impact of what you CAN do more of to help real people AND share where you are at in the race to reach your goals. I promise this sort of clear communication will generate surprising results.

This post was included in Withism's from Lori: Boldness, Clarity & Wisdom for Fundraising Professionals Making a Difference (Volume 1), now available in paperback, on Kindle, and Nook.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Light Bulb Moment for Engaging with Your Audience

Guest post by Blase Ciabaton

Do you know anyone with a smartphone? Have you gotten one yet? Have you noticed a lot more people using them in the last few months? According to Nielsen, smartphones accounted for 28% of all mobile phones and predicted to outnumber standard mobile phones by the end of 2011.

Like it or not, the proliferation of smartphones is changing the way we interact. If you're a nonprofit, this means the way that you interact with donors, volunteers, and other interested parties must change to account for this.

"Change" is a scary word, but don't worry because you don't have to abandon what you're doing now and start from scratch. Believe it or not, there's a free, simple tool you can plug into your existing marketing that will make it much easier for you to interact with smartphone users.


It's called a QR Code and these square 2-dimensional barcodes can be read by smartphones with the appropriate free software. The smartphone converts the QR Code into a URL and brings the owner of the phone to a corresponding website. In June, 14 million people scanned a QR code.

Certain smart nonprofits have already started incorporating QR Codes in their marketing. This post from Blackbaud shares some inspiring examples of how several nonprofits with diverse backgrounds have included QR Codes in their marketing campaigns.

This video shows how NYC Parks & Recreation used QR Codes to engage a younger, more wired audience.

Are you ready to get started using QR Codes? You can start experimenting today! You can use one of the many Do’s and Don’t’s of using QR Codes in Marketing.

How have you seen examples of QR Codes incorporated in nonprofit marketing? Please share your comments below.

About the Blase Ciabaton: Blase has helped nonprofits launch successful direct mail fundraising campaigns every day for the last 7 years. In 2009, he launched the blog, www.TheDirectMailMan.com. It caters to the nonprofit community and tackles issues related to postage permits, mailing lists, returned mail, and donor conversion. If you found this post valuable you may want to follow @TheDMailMan on Twitter, sign up for his weekly e-newsletter or subscribe to his blog's RSS feed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Direct Mail Drives Online Giving

7 tips to make your direct appeal more effective 

"One in three donors (37 percent) who give online say that when they receive a direct mail appeal from a charity they use the charity's website to give their donation,” according to a national Dunham+Company study recently conducted by research firm Campbell Rinker.

And no surprise, the study found the younger the donor, the more likely they are to use a charity's website to respond to a direct mail appeal.

So what is your organization doing to engage, educate, inspire, and cause your supporters to head to your website and make a contribution this fall?

Seven tips to make sure your direct appeal drives online giving. Make sure:
1. Your online giving page is easy to find.
2. Your online contribution page requires the minimum data entry by the donor.
3. Your appeal letter makes a compelling case to make a gift TODAY and put the contribution to work immediately by making the contribution on-line.
4. Supporters know why a contribution is needed.
5. You have created a sense of urgency to give TODAY.
6. You share a story about someone whose life will be different because of a contribution.
7. You share examples of a specific gift amount will do and make sure that gift level is easy to find on your website. i.e .$20 a day will provide supportive services for a homeless youth to find a job and a permanent place to live.

One final tip to increase overall giving all year-long: Allow prospective donors to make a monthly gift. Click here to read the full post on direct mail driving on-line giving on the Association of Fundraising Professionals website.

Click here for additional information on the study (PDF) from Campbell Rinker.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Taggies - Annual Nonprofit Tagline Awards Open

Many of my readers and clients have taken great care to name their fundraising campaigns, events or your organization may have created a special tag line that’s helped to provide visibility. And as you may remember, I’m a big fan of “six word stories” which are often used as tag lines.

Since your taglines are among the most powerful marketing tools you have to promote your organization, program, fundraising campaign or event…why not get recognition for your hard work by entering the third annual Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards Program?

Just for entering you'll receive a free copy of the 2010 NonProfit Tagline Report. Don't wait to enter. It takes less than three minutes. Really! The deadline is July 28.

Nancy Schwartz, president of Nancy Schwartz & Company and blogger at Getting Attention, is the award program’s organizer and a messging guru for nonprofit organizations. You can follow Nancy on Twitter . I do. It's how we met.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Matters NOW?

It’s been an amazing, challenging, interesting year. One of my favorite people I’ve spent time with online this year is Seth Godin, marketing guru and all around brilliant guy. He says: 

Now, more than ever, we need to shake things up. 

Now, more than ever, we need a different way of thinking, a useful way to focus and the energy to turn the game around. I hope a new ebook I've organized will get you started on that path. It took months, but I think you'll find it worth it the effort. 

Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O'Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber. 

Here's the deal: it's free. Download it here.”

I hope you’ll take the time to download Seth’s ebook and read each page. It’s a fast, fun read and a great conversation starter. Share it with others and start a chain reaction of excited, fresh thinking. 

In my work I’m committed to providing a new lens to view all that we do to raise awareness and dollars for great social causes. Thank you to each of you who have worked harder and smarter this year than ever before. I’m proud to be a part of the social sector and I look forward to 2010 when together we will find more ways to challenge our thinking and more useful ways to focus our time and energy. 

I welcome hearing your comments and feedback about Seth's ebook. 

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Effectively Using YOUR Data

This checklist was created and shared at the Dynamite Data = Money mini training on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 in Minneapolis. Watch for the live webinar of this session to be offered in January 2010. 

I suggest you use this list to allow your donor data to tell you next steps of who to contact and where to focus your time.


___Who has been giving? For how long?     

___Know your LYBUNT donors (Last Year But Unfortunately Not This Year) & SYBUNTs (Some Years But Unfortunately Not This Year).     

___What do we define as a major gift?     

___What's our retention rate?     

___What's our acquisition rate?    

___Why did they start giving?     

___With which current donors should you focus your time?     

___How many personal (phone or in-person meeting) contacts do you have annually?     

___Who are you meeting with? Calling?     

___Are you tracking the board activity of calls & meetings with donors  or prospects?  

During this time of year when donors are making thoughtful choices about where to give, it is important to give them a reason to stay connected to you. Keep your messages short, timely, and make sure your communication lets your donors why YOUR organization should remain a priority in their giving. 

Watch for those who have fallen off in their giving and reach out to them with a special message inviting them to return. And most of all, make sure your contacts with donors are personal: phone or in person. Personal contacts make a difference!  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Use Your Existing Donor List to Find More Donors - Guest post by Blase Ciabaton

“I wish I could clone my best donors!”  With database modeling you can! 

How does it work? Step one is to identify a trusted vendor who specializes in data modeling services, and send them the donor list.  These services are offered both online and typically by local vendors. Since existing donor information is extremely sensitive, interested parties should always ask for several references before engaging a vendor. 

What can I expect in return? 

Reports: Reports aggregate commonalities in the existing donor list-so why is this important?  Because a savvy fundraiser can use information about donor backgrounds, interests and passions to craft better appeal letters or to create an event that fits the interest of their donors. 

Additional data about specific members of the original mailing list:  This is extremely useful for executing a fundraising campaign that resonates with a specific subset of your audience.  

Example 1: A group of specific donors could be targeted to launch a new children’s program or add a children’s exhibit.  Members of the existing donor audience who were flagged with the “presence of children” would certainly be more interested in these kid-oriented projects. Grandparents can often be identified when lists are analyzed, and they are another huge source of support for campaigns that benefit children. 

Example 2: Age could be used as a variable to send a special solicitation about legacy giving and estate planning.  

There are many other valuable pieces of information that can be compiled from an existing donor list including marital status, income, assessed property value, favorite pastimes, etc.  Knowledge is power and this information can be used to further segment donors, and to craft campaigns that resonate with the appropriate segments. 

Other mailing lists that match the profile of the list that was supplied:  One of the best ways to leverage information from a donor list is to have a modeled list created.  A modeled list is a new list of prospect donors who share characteristics with members of an existing donor list. This is as close to “cloning” existing donors as possible, and is widely recognized as one of the most effective ways to grow a donor base of passionate supporters. 

What are the additional benefits?  You get to “clean up” your list. Donors on the existing list who have relocated or passed away are identified. Relocation information can be used to either update address information in the main donor database, or to remove donors from a list completely for charities with strictly locally based missions.

In any mailing campaign, the database is by far the most critical indicator of success.  In fact, research from Mal Warwick’s book Revolution in the Mailbox: Your Guide to Successful Direct Mail Fundraising indicates that 50% of the success of a mailing campaign is based on the mailing list.  Use this information to assure the profitability of future fundraising & acquisition campaigns. 

Blase CiabatonPlease think of Blase as your nonprofit Direct Mail, Mailing List, and Printing Guru.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Market Your Way Out of the Recession

Take action, don't wait to react 

Great article on the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) website: Check Your Mindset to Market Your Way Out of the Recession.

I believe getting into action, rather than reacting, is the best plan. In this article, Elaine Vogel provides some great tips on getting into action and getting into the mindset that we can engage in communication that is helpful and keeps our donors and volunteers connected for the long-haul. Some tips from the article: 

  1. Do Some Primary ResearchTalk to your current and prospective donors and stakeholders. How are they hurting? What can you do to help? What are their challenges? Listen and they'll give you some valuable information. 
  2. Social Media
  3. Word-of-mouth marketing
  4. Develop professional marketing/fundraising materials
  5. Cause marketing
  6. Click here to read the full article.

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