Thursday, July 30, 2015

Laserdisc, Betamax and Walkmans, Is Vintage a Compliment?

Let's face it, it's 2015. The folks that support us live out there in the modern world, humming along, with devices in their hands, on their wrists, and screens everywhere they turn. Yet many of us in the charitable sector are stuck in an analog age. We covet print, love long forms and cling to traditions that keep us mired in the past. Sometimes, we even heavily invest in old versions of technology even though others have zoomed past. Think Betamax, laserdiscs and Walkmans here. All great for their time but surpassed long ago. They're now considered vintage, and so are our communications, is this a compliment or a statement?

It's time for us to think boldly, move forward and communicate in the ways of now. We must think mobile, digital and social first, or at least right alongside the analog versions of the world. Please don't mistake my urging for an abandonment of personal touches and thoughtful efforts written in beautiful handwriting, I'm just saying let's change the way we think about communicating with those we are the closest to.

Adapting allows us to stay ahead, it's a competitive advantage and the ability to re energize our efforts. Think of it this way, everyone else is adapting to modern culture, and we still are refusing to recognize that not only have donors changed, but the environment in which we and they live has changed as well.

How have you embraced modern technology and changed the way you communicate with your donors? I would love to hear about it.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Member Since...

Growing up, I always remembered my dad being very proud of having an old school American Express card that noted on the card that he was a member since 1965. He felt that he belonged to an exclusive club. Indeed he did, the first Amex list in 1958 included the likes of such folks as Elvis. My dad may not be Elvis but he and his hair are rock stars in my book.

My point here is what are you doing to make your donors proud that they support you? Do they know the longevity of their support? We know loyal donors are among some of our most valuable supporters and also we know they yield planned gifts at higher rates than any other population. What have you done to make them feel like members since...?

Let's take a couple of examples. On your gift receipt you want to list supporter since ... and then the first year of their support. Or you can go even further and add the number of years of consecutive support onto the gift receipt. Put it up front and proud, but make them feel like they belong! You can also have board members, volunteers and students if you have them call these folks and thank them for their continuing support. Celebrate their consecutive giving milestones like anniversaries! 5 years, 10 years, 15 and on up. Finally take your list of those that have given 20 years consecutively and have your CEO or President or Chair of the Board write them a heartfelt note of thanks. Some of our supporters have been giving to us longer than a whole generation has been alive! Remember, these folks want to belong, they're proud to be a part of something and it's our job and pleasure to let them know that they belong right here with our organization. 

Here is the monetary truth, these donors also give a larger amount of their expendable income proportionately than the big donor who writes one check we all laud over. Consistency is behavior and behavior becomes habit. This giving habit can also become contagious, how will you spread the love.

For those of you already doing these activities, fantastic, please share with us how you help others feel like they belong.
I look forward to hearing your feedback. 


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pulse of Donor Relations 2015 Survey Results are in!

The data is in and it's good news for the profession of donor relations. Our scope continues to increase, there are more and more positions available to us and our partnerships with front line fundraisers are becoming stronger than ever before.

The new 2015 pulse of donor relations survey whitepaper can be found here. Please download it and share it with your colleagues and leadership. It is the only quantifiable data study in our field and continues to be not only statistically significant, but also a profound measure of the depth and breadth of the work that encompasses the four pillars of donor relations.

A few highlights:

The use of an honor roll or listing of names of donors has significantly decreased in the last two years.
We have come a long way in donor relations, but we still have more work to do in order to be seen as strategic partners. These numbers have not changed much since 2013. We need to have a strategic plan and comprehensive policies in order to move our organizations further forward:

Here is some good news coming in, our leadership understands a culture of gratitude and philanthropy and we are growing positions more than ever:

What was the data in 2015 that stood out the most to you? What questions would you like asked in the 2017 version? How can we help each other improve? Thank you to everyone who participated in the study, without your contributions, it doesn't work, I am very grateful.