Today I am reposting a blog by my friend and fellow fundraiser Beth Ann Locke. You should read it, you NEED to read it- The original can be found here : http://fundraiserbeth.com/2014/05/27/not-the-usual-post/
I know personally of many incidents of this type of behavior happening in our world, both from coworkers and donors. It is our job not to tolerate this behavior. Beth is amazing for sharing and starting an important discussion. How do we change the culture? Beth and I look forward to your comments and hope this strikes an important chord with you.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I love social media, I am an active user of Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. I’ve always mocked Pinterest and kind of avoided it. I thought, gee it seems like a place for those scrapbooker types. I’m just not one. I’m female, but not their target demo if I do say so myself. And then last night, I was looking for some new samples of athletic fundraising appeals and using my good friend google and Wham! I was struck in the head by Pinterest. Did you know that there are entire Pinterest boards dedicated to fundraising ideas, donor relations, annual fund and other things? I found out some of you had even pinned my blog (I’m flattered)! I didn’t know this. Ignorance here in full plain sight. CASE even made an entire Pinterest board of all of its Circle of Excellence award winners! Brilliant!!
Here are some interesting demographics about Pinterest I thought you might find helpful.
Another great social resource out there for y’all is SlideShare. Many of us who speak a great deal have our own page chock full of resources and goodies for you, think of it as Facebook for presentations. Here’s a link to mine, I try to always add good content to it regularly. In addition to presentations, SlideShare also houses videos of presentations and is a wonderful resource if you search on a particular topic. Users can tag presentations with words and this can be helpful to find this on topic. There are over 49,000 presentations on fundraising alone! There are over 30,000 tagged as donor relations. So explore and enjoy!
Finally, you know how much I love FREE. So here are two recent presentations you can watch at no cost, one I gave at AFP International on the Pulse of Donor Relations.
You can view it here: http://www.slideshare.net/lwester17/shift-the-way-you-think-about-everything
The second is a webinar on engaging donors through creative communications I did yesterday for Network for Good- I have over 1500 folks join me!
You can view it here: https://networkforgoodevents.
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As always if you have a resource that I can link to or that is particularly helpful to you, please list it in the comments below and I will share with everyone.
Have a great week.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
A noble donor relations goal: showing donors how their gifts have made an impact. It only makes sense. Who wouldn’t want to know how their gift made a difference? And why wouldn’t we want to share that joyful experience with our donors?
With technological advances, we are able to relay more information to more people more quickly than ever before. Even for annual fund gifts or other unrestricted giving, we can show impact to nearly every donor, if not in a printed report then at least on line.
Showing impact is the highest form of transparency, and transparency is a good thing. The trust it builds strengthens our relationship with our donors, encouraging them to support our organizations further.
So we’re all agreed, showing impact is good.
Here’s my quibble with showing impact – other than the inevitable rise of words like “impactful,” which sounds like a tooth ailment or a GI obstruction. Impact shouldn’t the be-all and end-all of our communications. Despite its obvious benefits, like any popular trend, it can be used at the expense of other considerations. All things in moderation, right?
Here’s an example of what I’m pontificating about.
Our staff recently discussed ways to re-channel the time, energy and resources previously dedicated to our university-wide honor roll. (For context: I’ve made my peace with the honor roll concept, deciding that it’s not all good and not all bad. We will continue to list some, but not all, donors in a variety of places that make sense. But that’s another topic for another blog.)
At its core, the honor roll is supposed to be a thank you. Yes, it recognizes donors, but the reason for recognizing them is to thank them. As The Guru pointed out, honor rolls don’t thank people. They are a static list that doesn’t tell a story or warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.
Moreover, publishing these lists puts us at risk of pitfalls like errors of omission, spelling and joint credit. Undoubtedly, we’ve all heard about security breaches, so for our donors, online listings may be more than something they’re neutral or ambivalent about. It may be something they vehemently do NOT want.
Still, we noted, our donors have had an honor roll for years and years, so if we discontinue it, we want to do something meaningful to replace it. The standard go-to suggestion of an impact piece came up, and our marketing person’s eye began to twitch and jaw began to clinch. The cartoon bubble over her head read, “Good Lord, not one more impact piece to produce…for who knows how many donors and how many funds?!” She seemed to begin taking a mental inventory of testimonials and stories she could re-purpose, to meet the year-end deadline and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Her panic became contagious, and I started hyperventilating a bit, realizing it was the end of April. And then it occurred to me, what’s wrong with just saying thank you every once in a while? Instead of showing impact as the main function of our FY-end message, what if we said thank you as graciously and sincerely as we possibly could?
That notion drew her in from the ledge, and we began to come up with a plan – leveling donors, determining thresholds, choosing who gets a handwritten note, a standard printed piece or an email/video. We would still show impact, just in broad strokes rather than in specific detail. AND, we would do so with a heartfelt message of gratitude. Plenty of other pieces throughout the year show impact. This one is going to radiate gratitude.
The main message will reflect a three-word mantra a fundraising consultant recently shared: praise and thank. This behavioral directive can apply to raising children, being a good spouse or partner, managing employees or even training your dog. Praise for the action, and thank for the thoughtfulness.
The concepts of praise-and-thank and showing impact are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the most effective stewardship message of all would be a combination of praise, thanks AND impact. A strong story about the impact of a gift is 100 times stronger when you connect the dots with praise and thanks: here’s the good thing your gift made possible, AND you are such a wonderful person for enabling this good thing to happen, AND we are grateful to you because of it.
My key point is, if you show impact, don’t forget to show thanks and gratitude in equal measure. And it’s OK to sometimes just say “thank you.” Gratitude should be more than a tagline or afterthought at the end. We donor relations professionals are so adept at saying thank you that sometimes we put standard “thank you so much” language in a piece without stopping to really, truly dig down deep in ourselves and feel the emotion of gratitude. Maybe not Lou Gehrig “luckiest man on the face of this earth” emotional, but more than the Bartles and Jaymes, in another possibly obscure pop culture baseball reference, “thank you for your support”.
G.K. Chesterson said, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” Perhaps our noble goal, then, is to let that wonder and happiness become evident in all our donor communications – with, and sometimes without, impact.
Thank you for reading this blog. You are to be commended for seeking to better yourself personally and professionally! Your gift of time and attention inspired and validated me, making me feel like Sally Field accepting her Oscar for Norma Rae.
This blog post is a special guest blog by my friend and mentor Debbie Meyers at the University of Maryland. I would love to hear your thoughts below!
Thursday, May 8, 2014
As I searched for samples of amazing pledge reminders for this week’s webinar, I was sorely disappointed with what I found. Many of our pledge reminders treat reminding donors that they still have a commitment to fulfill as routine and mindless as when the cable company sends an overdue notice. What does this say to our donors? It makes the entire effort not to have our relationships be entirely transactional just that, a business transaction. After all of our work to retain donors and realizing that national donor retention hovers around 27%, what is our national pledge fulfillment rate? Do you know how many of your organization’s pledges are written off at the end of every fiscal year?
If you don’t know the answers it may be time to find out. If you haven’t seen your pledge reminder and thought about the way it makes your donors feel about their giving, it is time you had a look. Does it arrive, in the mail in a windowed envelope with a slip of paper that is no more friendly than the water bill? What kind of messaging is enclosed?
Check out some of these examples, do they make you feel like you are “paying a bill” or involved in the philanthropic process?
I understand that pledge reminders need to be somewhat automated and easy to produce, but why do they have to be so ugly and lacking in impact or gratitude? It goes back to the theory that servers in restaurants are trained to write you a hand written note on the bill, it increases their tips exponentially, what if we applied that theory to pledge reminders? We know they need to convey the information that there is an outstanding payment, but could we include information on what gifts like the pledge were able to do? Could we say thank you? Could we at least have a softer “landing” than, “this is what you owe”?
Donor relations is everywhere and is inextricable from the giving experience. However, donor relations sometimes has little or no input on these documents. We should, we must, we need to. It is imperative that at all times we convey gratitude and impact to our donors, not just that the transaction is incomplete.
What are your thoughts on this? What do your pledge reminders look like, send me a sample to share with others at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, post your fulfillment rate below!