Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Newest Group of Donors: The 110% Club

How do we reward great donor behavior?

In our daily lives with donors we have many segments of people to recognize, those are growing by the minute. Many of us have built programs that recognize first time donors, loyalty or consecutive donors, mid level donors and donors of all shapes and sizes. I am always trying to find new giving patterns and groups to recognize and I think I have stumbled across a new segment  that needs recognition and encouragement. Some of the main goals of donor relations is to build retention and to encourage good philanthropic behavior in the future, so how do we expand that theory?

Here is your new segment of the future... The 110% club! Okay, I'm surely not advocating a new giving society or club, we have plenty of those. But instead recognizing a positive behavior and letting the donor know you noticed it. Here's how it works. Last year Ms. Donor gave you $100, this year when she gave her gift, she gave you $110 or $125. Increasing her gift. We want her to know that her increase didn't go unnoticed and we appreciate the extra resources. She has given us 110%. An increase in her gift and a behavior that indicates to us that she is more engaged and we've done something right.

So how do we build this program?

What does the recognition look like?

Good question, April is innovation month for me so I'm still working on all of the details but here is what I imagine it looking like:

Have your data folks pull a list of people who increased their gifts by 10% or 25% last year. We need to know the size of population we're dealing with here: remember data drives your strategy at all times.

Then have your data team pull this report weekly for you with current fiscal year donors. This list should be a tickler for you.

Let's share this information with fundraisers and build a plan surrounding recognition for these folks. Is it a phone call? Email? Video about going that extra mile? Keep it simple because we don't want to overwhelm ourselves but this segment must be noticed... More thoughts on this program as I build it but you can begin thinking about it now.

Do you have a program like this in place? What do you think of this new group? I would love to hear your opinions...

By the way, the pulse of donor relations survey white paper and results should be complete within the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

Cheers, Lynne

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What does your gift receipt say about your organization?

As I ran a ton of errands this weekend, one of my stops was my local Walgreens for a few miscellaneous items. As I left the store purchases nestled snugly in my granny cart (don't judge 4 flights of stairs is NYC is no joke) the clerk handed me a small novela of receipts. There was one that was just an ad for something, I purchased, one was a coupon hoping I'd buy another item and then the register receipt that was the length of my body. Good grief! As I pondered the waste, thinking about how I hated paper and only kept receipts when the IRS tells me I have to, I thought about our receipts that we send as organizations an what they say about us. As noted here in a previous blog post receipts and acknowledgment letters are NOT the same thing.

Have you looked at your receipt lately? Is it easy to read, colorful, does it share your mission and have a  message of gratitude? Are you wasting the back of it with empty space?

Remember the tax receipt is one of the only items of print a donor will ever keep. What kind of lasting impression will you have with them? When they look at it during tax time will they smile or frown?


Here is an example of a receipt I designed when I was at NYU Poly.  Note it has a message of gratitude, clear tax information and on the back is the Donor Bill of Rights. Something to remind donors we have their best interests at heart at all times.

A well done receipt doesn't have to be overly complicated, but it does have to be clear, direct and responsible. Receipts don't need to overwhelm with information. Keep it simple.

Also, please don't forget a receipt's purpose. It is a tax document and a quick way to let the donor know we have received their gift. It should leave your office within 24-48 hours of the receipt of the gift; no exceptions. Also, please don't include a BRE or another ask in with the receipt, that's tacky. Give your donors room to breathe before your resolicit them, you may even want to thank them too!

Also, don't forget to receipt responsibly. If someone has set up a reoccurring or monthly gift (don't have a monthly giving program yet? You SHOULD)  don't send them a receipt every time. One at the end of the calendar year is sufficient. Also give them the option to receive their receipts digitally should they like to.  

So this spurs me to action. We need more receipt samples from across the world. Please send me a redacted or blank receipt and I'll share them with everyone on the website. I found some samples here but we need more! Add yours to the collection and help serve as a resource for others.

I would love to hear your thoughts.


FREE Live Chat- April 16th

NEXT Webinar:
April 4, 2013:  While donor walls will always have their place of any non-profit organization, they are not without their challenges. Space limitations, difficulty and expense of annual updates, inability to communicate timely messages and more importantly - a general failure to attract and impress new donors - is creating a revolution in current donor recognition design. Organizations are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to provide quality donor recognition to their supporters. The convergence of interactive technology with multimedia content has created a wealth of new recognition possibilities. Many are now utilizing both interactive and standalone multimedia presentations to enhance their donor walls and recognition displays with content that is limited only by the imagination. In this case study we will examine the process, explore the possibilities, and enhance the vision of the future of donor recognition together!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's your number?

In yesterday's webinar on strategic planning we discussed the importance of having data drive your strategy and help you set your goals. This isn't a new philosophy for me, in fact, in a blog post last year I even gave basic reports that every donor relations professional should have at their fingertips.

As I move forward guiding clients, peers and others in the industry, I still have a huge pause when I ask pointed data driven questions and receive blank stares. So here I am, standing before you, asking (read challenging) you to become an expert where you are. For many of you telling me your enrollment or mission is easy, but when we dig deeper the answers come less quickly. What was the total amount of cash your organization raised last year? Total commitments? What is your annual giving percentage? What percentage of your gifts come in through planned giving? What percentage of your totals do your top 25 donors make up? This is the kind of data that drives goals and real strategy. Often I hear from my donor relations colleagues that their seat at the table is a folding one, and I must challenge that and say, how well do you know your numbers? Fundraisers and leadership know their numbers, why don't we? If I asked you to quantify the impact of your work in relation to your budget or salary, could you? We MUST. It's no longer good enough to know how many letters or reports we send. We need to know the impact of those reports and letters in dollars and sense.

Here's a concrete example. Last night was our annual scholarship reception. We had a great turnout this year, it has increased every year for the past 4 years. But it's not enough to have more people. I know it was a success because the amount of money and importance of donors in the room increases every year. I can tell you how many trustees were there and the total of their lifetime giving. Having bodies in the room isn't enough. Are we strategic? This year we had the event following a trustee meeting to ensure that those folks were in the room.

Can you say the same about your efforts? I learned in the soon to be released Pulse of donor relations survey that not enough of us have solid metrics programs. Let me tell you, the fundraising folks do. In fact, less than half of us have strategic or comprehensive plans... Why not?

How can others take us seriously if we don't live, eat and breathe our craft? Enough of the lecture. Here's a link to a free metrics webinar to get you thinking. And if you need help, I'm always here to guide and talk through things, reach out anytime!



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Networking 101 (for those who hate networking)

This is a great guest post from my new friend, Kevin A. Barry atthe University of Pennsylvania we met at a conference this week and he has a great perspective on networking!

Most conventions are actually more about networking and less about programming: For many industries, you can figure out trends through trade publications. While intimidating to some, networking is easier than you might think. Here is some advice on how to navigate a convention without coming off as smarmy.

Business is all about relationships

No matter your industry, business is all about relationships. Networking isn’t about the number of people you meet or how many business cards you collect, but on making real connections. Look people in the eye and focus on being genuine and authentic. Try to build trust and relationships by finding ways you can help others.

Volunteer your time

Every organization needs volunteers, especially during an annual meeting or convention. Review the marketing materials for any event and visit the organization’s website to find the main contact and e-mail them a few months in advance. Thank them for putting the conference together and explain that you are interested in helping make this the best year ever! Offer your time, expertise, creativity or connections to help improve the event. If you are uneasy about meeting new people, this is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.

Be strategic

This is a tough thing to learn, yet it is crucial to successful networking. Conventions and professional-development workshops are a great way to gain access to thought leaders and power players in your industry. Convention programs often provide a list of names and contact information for guests and most professional organizations distribute a membership directory once a year. Review the directories and organization’s programming calendar to decide whom you’d like to meet and why. If they are speaking or presenting at an event, attend it and arrive early. Prepare open-ended questions for the Q&A. Frame your questions so that the speaker’s answer tells you “who, what, where, when and how” rather than a simple yes or no response. Approach the speaker(s) after the program to thank him or her and convey what you liked or found interesting about the session. This is also a great chance to ask for more information about a topic over coffee or lunch.

Don’t be that guy or gal

At every convention there are those people who annoy because they network ineffectively. We have all encountered them — the wallflower, the celebrity hound, the card monger and the Saran Wrap. Wallflowers sit in a far corner of the room because they are too afraid to mix and mingle. They typically have a weak handshake, come across as insecure and often end up being ignored. Celebrity hounds stalk the most important person at the convention for a handshake or Facebook photo. Saying that you met someone is frivolous at best; instead focus on having something useful to say. Card mongers pass out business cards like they’re the cure for cancer. They gloat over the quantity of people they meet, not the quality of the relationships. Like the Plastics from “Mean Girls,” Saran Wraps cling to you as soon as you meet and assume that you are automatically BFFs (best friends forever). They don’t leave your side for the entire conference. You can avoid being “that guy or gal” by actively listening to what people have to say, looking people in the eye when you speak with them and only giving out your card to those people with whom you plan to follow up. Follow Hillary Clinton’s lead. If you only have 30 seconds with someone, make it 30 seconds of warmth and sincerity.

Become a resource for others

Come prepared. Review business publications and industry trades. Be able to offer your opinions on industry trends and ask others their thoughts on the topic at scheduled networking events. If you know the area well, offer your recommendations on restaurants and other local points of interest. This does not end with the convention. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.

Follow up, follow up, follow up

This cannot be stressed enough. The most essential part of continuing a relationship is following up with the people you meet quickly and efficiently. There are many different ways of doing this. Some people prefer handwritten notes, some prefer e-mails, others call. Find what works best for you and follow up within a week. It will help build these new relationships and demonstrate that you are responsible.

Lastly, see and be seen. It will get you further than you think.