Any kind of charitable giving increase is something to be happy about, right?
In 2012 the total estimated US charitable giving increased by 3.5% to $316.23 billion. This number grew over 2011 because giving by individuals, foundations, and corporations all increased. In fact, corporate giving increased by an estimated 12.2%.
There were some decreases, you can read about them and get more analysis about the study at Nonprofit Quarterly.
My focus is on what is working, so I was very happy to see this:
Individuals accounted for 72% of the total amount of giving dollars because they increased their gifts by $8.67 billion over 2011!
So what's behind the leap in individual generosity? According to the study, " The willingness of individuals and households to give to charity is associated with feelings of financial security. As the economy continues its slow upward climb, contributions from individuals are rising in the same way."
ake care of your donors this year so we see an even bigger increase when the 2013 study come out next year.
I’m delighted to share this week’s guest post by Brian Saber, President of Asking Matters, who specializes in helping fundraisers find the Asking Style that works best for their personality.
Big Admission: I’ve been a frontline fundraiser for nearly 30 years, but it wasn’t until four years when I had an “aha moment” that I finally felt good about my career.
I know I had been “successful” at all my fundraising positions. Every organization was thrilled with my results and I could see how I moved the bar. But it always bothered me how I was so uncomfortable at the cultivation and fundraising events, so critical to most organizations’ fundraising. And the individual cultivation and solicitation meetings, of which I had thousands, were tough as well.
I’m an introvert and, on top of that, I’m shy. Most people don’t believe it because of how I act, but it takes tremendous effort on my part to be that interactive and seemingly outgoing. The introvert in me gets drained from all the interaction with people and I need to refuel my tanks after a meeting or event. The shy person in me can’t even walk up to someone at my own event to introduce myself!
The “aha moment” came when my Asking Matters cofounder and I created the company based on Asking Styles – the concept that everyone has their own style and if we fundraise in our own style we’ll be more comfortable and more confident. . . and better fundraisers. We realized everyone was being told there was one way to fundraise, but we didn’t believe that. There are many ways.
There are four Asking Styles, based on how people interact and how they think. That means two of the Styles are introvert-based – Mission Controller and my style, Kindred Spirit. The Mission Controllers are analytic, which helps them be more objective about the asking process. The Kindred Spirits are intuitive introverts, and tend to be sensitive and conflict-adverse. That makes many of us shy.
So, now that I know I’m a Kindred Spirit, there are lots of things I can do to feel more comfortable. The first is to realize I will never be the party person and this is fine. Not everyone can play that role. As long as there are other staff and volunteers who shine in that environment it’s okay for me to stand by the wall (or, even better, out in the hall – that’s my favorite spot!).
I also know soliciting family and friends – whether as a staff member or as a volunteer – is a bad idea. It’s just too intimate and I take it way too personally when people say no. In fact, I broke my own rule this week while raising money for a political campaign - and my request for a modest sum from dear friends was rejected. Ouch – that hurt! It’s much easier for me to ask people I don’t have a close relationship with, as the rejection is not nearly as personal. Even if I’m friendly with donors, it’s different and I can keep that experience more objective.
Knowing I’m a Kindred Spirit has made a world of difference in my work as a both a fundraiser and a consultant. Plus, it’s given me a particular affinity to my fellow introverts – Mission Controllers and Kindred Spirits alike.
On June 20th I’m delivering a webinar to Lori's Ignited Online Fundraising Community and I hope my fellow introverts – as well as those of you who work with us – will join me to learn what I’ve discovered over the last few years. Once you learn how to fundraise in your own style, you’ll be more comfortable, find the experience less fraught, and be more successful.
I’ve found some development officers feel conducting donor research is either too time consuming or they are afraid to do it incorrectly, so they do nothing at all.
The truth is donor research is critical for building your major gifts program AND for retaining your donors; two essential components of a successful development office.
By following the steps outlined in this new handbook donor research can be simple. You are guided through the process of using research techniques to answer important questions like:
Why do prospect research in the first place and how does it fit into my daily work?
Do we have enough donors and prospects to reach our campaign goal?
What is the best way to engage the donors we already have?
On Amazon, reviewer Steven P. Miller said this about the book: "Don't let this one stay on your "to read" list for too long or unread on your bookshelf. Jennifer Filla and Helen Brown have presented a concise book with a wealth of information. From the beginning overview to the final appendices, they tie everything to the three categories that research supports: prospect identification, qualification and relationship management. This book will provide executives, development staff and board membership with a context for how to use prospect research and with practical ways to do basic things like how to "Assess the Scope of Your Profile Needs." For those who have been sitting on the sidelines or thinking Google search can do everything you need to those organizations that have a research program, there is something for all."
One of the biggest complaints I encounter with fundraising staff is they wish others, especially the board, would come up with ideas that can actually be implemented.
Ideas that that organization can actually afford to act on.
Ideas the board members will participate in.
In a short read from Paul Sloane he explains that “the easiest way to crush creativity is to find fault with new ideas which colleagues and subordinates bring forward…All it takes for a few crazy ideas to be shot down and people stop volunteering them.”
We want our board members and volunteers and even our colleagues to bring us their brilliant ideas, right? But we actually want those ideas to be based in some reality of cost and capacity.
Here’s a simple and magical sentence to insert into the conversation when you encounter one of those half-formed, “great” new ideas:
“That sounds interesting; how can we make it work?”
Then, as Paul Sloane says, “let them talk.”
After more than 13 years of coaching I suggest adding some additional questions to the conversation.
As staff your job is to cause the idea generators to think about costs and capacity with questions like:
“Who will be the/my board partner to ensure this project gets accomplished?”
“What might the costs be associated with this idea/project?”
“Let’s take a moment and figure out what will have to be removed from the current staff workload if we take on this new project/idea.”
With my coaching hat on, I often ask questions like these of both staff and board members.
I watch the conversation unfold but I help to keep the conversation based in some reality. And then let the group find their way, within the time constraints of a meeting or training session.
More often than not, the outcome is better than I would have imagined and the group leaves more engaged. Most importantly real decisions are made quickly about “new” ideas so everyone can get to work doing what they agreed to do.
What questions do you use with your team to allow creativity AND actionable ideas?
"So often, a bequest comes to you from a source you knew nothing about. And, by the way, the largest percentage of bequests come from those with a net worth of $3 million and less. As I recall, it's about 82% of the bequests.
Here are some characteristics of those who are most likely to think of you in their estate plans.
Length of giving to your organization (5 or more years of regular giving)
Giving to you over a long period of time (Giving may not be year after year- but gifts have been made over a long, extended period of time)
Frequency of Giving (monthly credit card donors, or those who give more than once a year)
Is an active volunteer (At one time or now a board member, or a volunteer in some manner)
The Family has been involved in some way in the organization (Best if there is a long-time association)
Few family obligations (children and grandchildren are appropriately taken care of, no mortgage, no indebtedness)
Securely retired (feeling comfortable and confident about future financial situation)
Been kept informed (have been on your mailing or in contact over a period of time)
Has been called on regarding Planned Gifts and bequests
Has requested information on making a Planned Gift
Sixty-five years of age and over
Recognized by your organizations (has received special recognition for volunteer service or past giving)"
This is great information for fundraisers and things to keep in mind when creating your donor communications.
I recently attended a training session for ArtsLab, an amazing capacity building project by Arts Midwest. I'm honored to be on the curriculum team. At the board leadership session we referenced a powerful white paper by Sam Pettway with five questions every board should ask.
In my experience, I find staff sometimes grumble about what the board is focused on. On the flip side, the board sometimes grumbles about what they are supposed to do or the many reports they are having to read each month.
These five questions are incredibly helpful in helping both the board and staff stay focused and clear about their actions. And actually be effective in meeting goals while feeling great about their board experience.
When your board takes the time to ponder and answer these questions at board meetings or at your annual board retreat, the answers WIILL more clearly focus your:
Here's a quick example:
You and the board have decided you want to increase individual donor contributions. Your team has decided to do that by making regular thank you calls to donors at the $250+ level AND your team is making an effort to invite every donor at that level and above to attend one event in person this year.
That means board meetings will be spent looking at metrics for how many calls and/or invitations the board has made to $250+ donors in the past month.
You'll likely have a subcommittee (Fund Development committee) that is leading the charge on engaging the full board in tackling your goals in this area and taking action.
You'll recruit board members who don't mind phoning others and/or meeting people they don't yet know.
You'll have a snazzy, easy-to-read dashboard that shows the activity to date vs. the year-end goal.
And you'll have even talked about this goal in the recruitment and orientation process for new board members.
These questions are simple and very powerful. Are you brave enough to introduce them at your next board meeting? Or better yet, have the board chair introduce them and move the conversation forward about adopting a culture of knowing the answers to these questions, always.
Good luck and let me know what changes you are making once you start to incorporate these questions into your board structure! I promise your board WILL be more engaged and effective in being your partner.
A recent NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) postasked readers to think about a world where computers had been outlawed. The post starts like this: "Effective immediately, PCs and computers will no longer be manufactured, nor supported worldwide. I repeat, effective immediately, PCs and computers will no longer be manufactured, nor supported worldwide.
With a unanimous, although abrupt, decision, the Federation voted today to prohibit any further manufacture or support of non-mobile devices by any hardware and software providers worldwide."
This post, and I, ask you: Are nonprofits and fundraisers ready for a mobile world? What would it mean if your entire technology infrastructure had to change in an instant? Is your organization ready for mobile computing and what this means for your fundraising?
In my work I come across nonprofit staff as well as board members, who proudly tell me they have not succumbed to having a smart phone, or they don't "waste their time" on social media, or their website has worked just fine for years and they have more important things to do than make it "mobile friendly."
The truth is, the mobile shift is already in full-swing. Just yesterday I:
Accessed my contact management system from my smart phone to find a phone number of someone I needed to reach.
I also entered notes into their record so I could remember what my "to do" is from the call I had made.
Checked the status of my Facebook page after posting the daily coaching tip.
Accessed documents from the cloud via my Dropbox account.
And reviewed copy for a project with a tight deadline from my email that I was able to access from my smart phone.
All of this was accomplished with the phone paid for by my business. I was more efficient with my time, and more effective in my day.
Today's fundraising staff members are expected to move mountains and maintain contacts with hundreds of donors, keep up on current events and hopefully raise more money than ever. But they need the tools to do so.
I say: Don't make the mistake of NOT upgrading your mobile technology and policies to support your expanded programs and efforts to increase your impact by serving more men, women and children.
Guest Post by Lisa Negstad, Negstad Consulting, LLC
This week I’m pleased to have a post by Lisa Negstad giving good advice about working with your employees. Lisa was the featured guest at last month’s Ignited Online Fundraising Community member’s only webinar.
Have you ever made the fatal error of following the Golden Rule? No, that’s not a typo. I did call the Golden Rule an error. As a supervisor, following that Rule can get you in trouble. I have made this error more than once when I treated my employees how I wanted to be treated.
For example, I followed the Rule and publicly acknowledged an employee for great work. Later I discovered she was mortified by being called out in front of her peers and would have much preferred a heartfelt, personal thank-you note.
Or, there was the time I hired a seasoned, experienced employee expecting he would love a lot of autonomy. I threw lots of ideas at him at once and told him to just run with it. Later, I found out this caused him a lot of anxiety and he felt unsupported in his new role.
Good supervisors understand that each person who reports to them is unique. Taking time to learn each employee’s values, strengths, and motivations is key to helping him or her flourish and stay engaged. Engaged employees on average have 31% higher productivity, 37% higher sales, and three times greater creativity.
Here are three practical ways to get to know each person who reports to you.
Inquire Get curious about your employees and what makes them tick. You can do this in a formal way, by sitting down with an employee and a list of questions. Make the conversation a two-way street and invite him or her to ask you questions about what makes you tick. I’ve known supervisors who did this though they knew their employees for years and were very surprised at the new things they learned.
Here are some of my favorite “get to know you” questions. Listen carefully to the answers, they will provide clues to the answerer’s strengths, passions, and values.
What was the best day you had at work in the last 3 months? Describe what you were working on.
What was the most meaningful recognition you ever received?
What draws you to the mission of this organization?
Complete this sentence for me “When things start to get stressful, I need. . .”
What’s one thing you learned from your family that you will value for the rest of your life?
What’s one thing you are passionate about outside of work?
Who is an influential person in your life – what gift did they give you?
You can also get curious about what makes your employee tick in an informal way. Whenever you interact with an employee, ask questions about their approach to a work challenge, figure out what led them to make a certain decision, or ask a follow-up question to find out their perspective on a topic.
Investigate Observe your employees and notice where they really shine. Watch for the parts of the job that give them a lot of energy or get them to “light up.” At the same, watch for the responsibilities that seem to drain people. Stay tuned to the work responsibilities where employees display confidence as well as the responsibilities that make them seem more tentative. Find opportunities to check out your observations with the employee.
Invite Ask for feedback and ideas on a regular basis. Invite employees to share perspectives and be open to ideas other than your own. It’s important to avoid a defensive response when asking for feedback (even if you disagree with their perception). Encourage open and honest conversation. Give your employees permission to let you know if something isn’t working for them in their job. You may not be able to accommodate every request, but the more you know what they are thinking, the more you will know what makes them tick.
About Lisa Negstad: Lisa specializes in designing training that uses creative and engaging methods, leverages individual strengths, and produces sustainable learning. A graduate of Yale University’s MBA program and Luther College, Lisa held senior leadership and management positions in several (international and US based) nonprofit organizations before starting her company, Negstad Consulting, llc. Sign-up to receive Five Minute Newsletter, her monthly newsletter with supervising tips.
For years I've been telling you that THE most powerful way to connect people to your mission is by sharing a story. By telling a real-life example about how your work affects one man, woman, or child you cause listeners to feel something and to take action.
I know you've been listening because every day I'm contacted by people who want private coaching or storytelling workshops. While I'm honored to have so many requests, I simply cannot physically visit each of your organizations!
And so, I have taken your desire for more storytelling coaching seriously. I've developed a system that is the next best thing to me being there in person.
As a master storyteller and coach, I have worked with thousands of staff, board members, and committed volunteers to teach them how to think differently about the stories they share. I’ve seen firsthand the power of sharing an engaging example of your work and that’s why I created this storytelling system for you.
My passion is to help you raise more money from individuals. My vision is that you do this with ease. A story can change how much money your organization raises and build a tribe of dedicated cheerleaders sharing your mission with the community.
It is important to build your muscles in this area. That’s what this system is for!
With the Imagine What’s Possible: Step-by Step Storytelling System you will learn how to craft compelling stories with bold communication. I created this system just for you, as a step-by-step guide for creating thoughtful, meaningful stories that will help you engage with your community. The Step-by Step Storytelling System is loaded with more than 30 pages of worksheets and templates in hard copy and on a CD. It also includes a 90-minute webinar on DVD where I've inserted "extra" exercises and messages for your board and staff. Virtually everything you need to take your stories from boring to brilliant.
If you have board members who say they don't have a story to share. Or your colleagues don't help you identify great stories to share...HELP is here! There are bonuses and special pricing available for a limited time. So, click on this link to learn more:Imagine What’s Possible: Step-by Step Storytelling System.
I'm KNOW it will help you craft compelling, moving stories that will have you raising more money that you ever imagined.