Thursday, June 25, 2015

Don't judge a donor by their cover

When you're planning your next fundraising effort, donor relations engagement or communication, does the audience you're targeting play into your method of communication? Do your coworkers always say, "well this is targeted to our planned giving audience so we have to do print."? Not so fast my friend! 

Check out these wonderful statistics, knowing that data should inform our decisions:
 Woah, wait a minute you mean older folks actually give online? Hmm, this sounds like something we've been saying for a while. We can't plan our behavior based on stereotypes. The stereotype that older donors only want print is just as dangerous as other stereotypes that exist.

And older donors also can be driven print to digital, you don't always have to include an envelope and assume they will mail you a check.
Look at those numbers! And how does this relate to planned giving? Well, the opposite is true. 

The average age of a planned giving donor is 49. My friend Michael Rosen has a great blog about 20 surprising planned giving facts. He gives credence to the fact that once a planned gift is made, most people never remove it, making donor relations more important than ever. 

What are some of the other stereotypes that we must dismiss in order to be more effective in our work? Do these numbers surprise you? I'd love to hear from you.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gumption and Moxie

As I travel around and meet with wonderful people, I often wonder why change is not more central to our approach to fundraising. Why as organizations are we so risk averse? In order to change we don't just need new ideas, we actually need implementation of those ideas. Implementing change in our organization takes courage and planning, in reality it takes gumption. 

I liken it to when people come into regularly scheduled meetings, they all have "their seat" and tend to form patterns about where they sit. And as a person who comes in from the outside, if I sit in someone's seat, even if bearing donuts, I have a tough time winning them over. 

Why are we so afraid to fail? What is the worst thing that can happen to us if we thank people in a new and different way? We need more gumption! We need the courage and moxie to impact our organizations in a positive way and to see change become reality. In addition, when someone has the gumption to bring about new ideas, we need to support them and encourage their bravery, not be naysayers and knock every time they try something new.

As Seth Godin would say, "safe is risky". But we don't always have that mindset. Sometimes we get caught up in the idea that safe is easy. How do we break out of this safe place? First we have to be open to new ideas and not afraid to give our donors what they want and need from us. Nationally we're not doing that- Only 22.9% of first time donors give our organizations a second gift. At some shops they are proud because their first time donor retention rate is 45%, but wait, if that was a grade in school we'd all be in trouble. We know that we're raising more money than ever, and we're really happy about that, but are we really happy about what our fundraising culture has become in our organizations? Are we transactional or relational? Do we have and encourage an attitude of gratitude?

I know this may be a bold post, but do one thing by this time next week. Come up with one new idea, support someone else or take the time to realize that your status quo may not be as successful as you think. One you have the idea, support it, nurture it and care for it and don't let it go. And when you hear your first three mentions of resistance, don't stop there. Keep going, grab some gumption and move it forward regardless of the perception of fear, knowing that not only will it bring about change, it will dynamically impact your donors and your organization.

So what do you have passion for that you're willing to have moxie and gumption for? Post your idea below. Need help implementing it? I'm an email away and would be happy to help you.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Brilliance- The Reverse Honor Roll

Many of you know about my disdain for honor rolls, or lists of donors. Here is my article that clearly states they are one of the most wasteful practices that our organizations can perform. Well my friend Roberta O'Hara at Rutgers and her team has taken the traditional honor roll and turned it on its head. And folks, its brilliant.

 Check out the messaging that starts the webpage:

They even featured a professor who has the best name ever: Lynne!

Communications and donor relations partnered to demonstrate the impact and tell stories, which is much more effective than a list of donors that no one looks at. Instead, it takes those donors' gifts and brings them to life through quotes from the people that benefit from their generosity. As a donor, you can look at the report in terms of location, area of support and drill down into places you care about.

Roberta says, "It was one of those ideas I had while driving the hour commute home thinking about how to honor 130,000 donors.  And it hit me: what better way to say thank you than to have the recipients say it themselves, so let’s list the recipients instead of the donors." Great idea! She goes on to say, "No one has missed a standard honor roll, and we were able to highlight all the locations of the University, too.   And at the same time we could highlight some key donors by picking students who were on specific scholarships, or faculty who held new professorships, or researchers working in new buildings." Kudos to you Roberta for taking a risk and seeing it through. It takes true gumption and forward thinking to turn an ages old tradition on its head. 

If you're in your shop, fighting this battle and need to know how to think differently, this is a great way. You may not have this scale and resources, but you can make it work in your organization. Choosing one story in each area and highlighting the impact that individual donors have had on them can be truly powerful and can certainly be scaled. 

What are your thoughts? This really appeals to me on a fundamental level of storytelling. I can't wait to see more of this happening at our organizations.