Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Welcoming your lapsed donors back

As we think about proactive and strategic donor relations and how we move the needle on ever falling donor retention rates, I am constantly thinking of new ways to reinforce and encourage good donor behavior.

My colleague recently got a five month old puppy, his first indoor dog. I was giving him some tips for training and tolerating the puppy stage and for reinforcing good behavior, and in my mind it reminded me a great deal of donor relations. In building donor retention, one of the things we want to do is encourage the donor behavior we desire from our donors.

How do we do this? Well, a few methods are proving to be most effective: first time donor welcome programs, consecutive donor recognition and other programs can be wonderful for reinforcement as well.

But what happens when your lapsed donors, those squirrlly SYBUNTS as we call them, or lapsed or long lapsed donors give again? Do you have a proactive touch in place to reward them for coming BACK? Have you and your annual giving folks thought or talked about this? Well my clients and I are. Let's think about how wonderful it is to say to a donor, you did something great and we noticed! So if a donor comes back after being lapsed, what does that communication look like?
Here is an example of best/next practice from my folks at Whitworth University who are building a best in class donor relations program.

It doesn't have to be a postcard or mailing, it doesn't have to be fancy. What if it were an email? I'm picturing Welcome Back Kotter here and have included a cute image for my friend Debbie.

So have you thought about this group? What are you doing to encourage and reward donors who come back into the fold? How are we making them feel special? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Examples of doing it RIGHT!

I know some days it might seem like I'm hard on our industry, but I tell you honestly I do it so we can improve. If we just went along agreeing that every address label sent was fine, we wouldn't be able to make change in our organizations. In order to make change we have to know what to aspire to as well. In that vein, I am providing you some examples of pieces I really enjoy and I hope you enjoy them too!

Here's a great piece from my friend Christine. She sent it to her top donors, and included some grains of sand from the beach! A wonderful touch!-

Charity Water is at it again with an amazing Facebook post that warms the hearts of donors and reminds us why our sustaining gifts are so important:

On Livestrong Day, I made a gift and my lovely ladies there posted a wonderful, personalized photo on my Facebook wall- it humbled me and made me smile and feel really special!

This solicitation came via email from the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and is a series of wonderful stories that made me want to renew my gift right away! This email led me to an amazing video of Jeff- you can find it here.

Dress for success broke the mold and sent me an email about Valerie's story, and I was moved. I was so moved, I made another gift!- Great job using real faces and genuine stories.

Colorado State University sent a great Fourth of July/ New Fiscal year appeal that was creative and fun. I think that this appeal speaks directly to the donor and doesn't let us forget that giving isn't always important in December!

What have you seen lately that has inspired you to give or give again? Share your successes with me via email or add me to your email or mailing list by using


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Please Participate- Great Acknowledgment Swap 2014!

Calling all fundraisers!

As you know, my website is chock full of resources for you. One of the traditions is the Acknowledgment swap. You can view past acknowledgment swaps here. To continue the tradition and now that the fiscal year end madness is over for many of us, I'm asking for your help. Please send me your acknowledgment templates, custom letters and verbiage to share with the thousands of people that read this blog weekly. Simply email your letters to me at or you can share them with me on my dropbox! 

Ten lucky random submissions will receive a free webinar for you and your fundraising team to watch at any time!

I'm looking for letters of all types but if you have these, bonus points:
Memorial and honorary acks
Stock or DAF acks
Faculty or staff acks
Athletic acks
Corporate and foundation acks

Last time we collected over 1000 letters to share with others, you can't send too many- but this only works with your support! Keep them coming, the deadline is Tuesday July 14, 2014. But if you have yours already, please send them my way today! Also, please redact any and all donor information. I would prefer to receive them as PDF or Word documents if possible.

I look forward to reading your best work and sharing it with thousands of others- now go ahead and copy and paste off of your shared drive! Thank YOU in advance!