Thursday, February 25, 2016

Donor Relations for Employee Donors

Sometimes, in times of stress we treat those closest to us poorly, and can even take them for granted. Donor relations and fundraising can not afford to overlook our donors who are also employees. Often times, they are our last thought, something to think about after all of our other donors have been well taken care of. But these folks know how the sausage is made. These folks can be your biggest allies in fundraising and PR. When they're distrustful and not supportive of our fundraising efforts, it becomes extremely difficult to raise more money. You see, employee giving isn't just about the money that those gifts can generate, it is about the vote of confidence and support that the faculty, staff and administrators have in us and the future direction of our organizations.

It also starts at home. I firmly believe that everyone that works in advancement should be donors to their own organization. If you don't give, how will you understand the donor experience? I can't tell you how many important clues have been picked up by making employee gifts and understanding where we might have missed opportunities. So here are the things to consider about donor relations for fellow employees of our organization.

  • How do we thank those that give regularly through payroll deduction? Are they a silent majority who is overlooked? What do you do special for them and also who is asking them for an increase on their gifts?
  • How do we demonstrate impact to our employees beyond what we see in the day to day operations, remember not all of our employees see the good side of what we do or even understand it? Impact is the great equalizer. 
  • No one works in nonprofit to make millions of dollars, so given the limited means of our colleagues at times, how to we enhance the power of their giving? Have you thought about matching their dollars with someone from leadership or a donor who is tied to them directly? What percentage of your employees give? If it is beneath 50 percent, it's time for a revamp of your programming.
  • Have you discussed planned giving with your employees? Talked about their legacy at your organization and showed examples of other legacy giving from employees? Show me someone who is like me who also gives back and I will model that behavior.
  • Who at your organization do they admire? Who would be a great person to connect them with in order to demonstrate the power of joining the movement, the collective responsibility we all share to help lift our organization?
  • Also please don't forget that donor relations is also part education. The more colleagues we imbue with a positive understanding of the power of generosity, the more they will spread that positivity to others. We don't need help with acquiring critics of fundraising, instead we need champions!
Some ideas of donor relations for this group could include a website for them, featuring stories of those who already give, placards to go on cubicles and offices recognizing them as donors, special name badge holders or lapel pins depending on your organizational culture, surprise treats or unexpected thank yous, time to meet those who their gift benefits and other items. Remember it's not what we spend on our colleagues, it's the thoughtful gestures that go a long way. What do you do for those closest to you? How many efforts a year are made to thank those colleagues who also give to your organization? I would love to hear about your powerful stories of gratitude and impact with this population. 



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Great New and Novel Idea for Your Donors in 2016!

As we look across the fundraising landscape, those of us in donor relations are consistently looking for simple and inexpensive ways to delight our donors. The last time I found an idea this good was the reverse honor roll from my friend Roberta O'Hara at Rutgers, the Reverse Honor Roll. 

Now the folks at Purdue, my mom's alma mater has given me new inspiration. I'm an annual donor to their giving day and have been thrilled at the execution of their subsequent donor relations efforts, but this one is simple and takes the cake. We all know of the fad for adult coloring books happening and its correlation to relaxation, and now they have embraced it in a great communication. My stress relief is needlepoint, because coloring in the lines is so not my thing, but I just loved the novelty of this thank you.

Absolutely clever, right? And not difficult to do! Imagine if you were at an animal organization? Your donors can color animals! What about your mascot? Imagine sending a custom one of these to some of your top donors that were colored in by your students of their name? OMG the delight!  Now some of you may not be as much of a fan as I am of these but let me tell you, in a world of long windy emails full of text and blah blah blah, this stood out among the rest! Kudos to the Purdue team for their creativity and risk taking. I took notice and so did others. 

What novel new idea have you seen lately? Do you have coloring pages for your donors? How to you encourage them to have fun with their giving? I welcome your thoughts!


Friday, February 12, 2016

An Exercise in Understanding

Sometimes in our daily lives we might clash with our co-workers and partners in the industry. I've had the good fortune to meet thousands of non-profit professionals. And I believe it is crucial we all give each other the benefit of the doubt when it comes to positive intentions, no matter how frustrating communication can seem at times. I think that we can go further. 

Rather than running away from those that befuddle us or that we don't understand, let's take a second glance and look beneath the surface. It takes courage to involve ourselves in a situation that might make us uncomfortable. But it helps. I am challenging you to tell others and to perform a simple exercise. I have used this in the past to diffuse many situations and I also use it to help successfully vet vendor partners I believe I want to work with. 

So block off some time on your calendar, invite them to tea or coffee and both of you answer these questions:
  • How did you get into fundraising?
  • What’s been your proudest moment so far?
  • Who do you look up to in the industry?
  • What’s something you’d like to learn about our profession?
  • What keeps you motivated?
  • What keeps you up at night?
You may find you have more in common than the person you're butting heads with. You may also find some answers that enlighten you. Or sometimes, just sometimes, you may not find the answers you were looking for. And that's ok. You learned something or confirmed an assumption you had, but at least now you know.We all know that sometimes the act of this exercise is more meaningful than the answers, but in all reality we can learn from one another. Knowing feels good, knowing helps you feel reassured that your gut was right. And if you don't receive the answers you expected, it's ok to be surprised. While one might think these are simple job interview questions, they strike at the heart of the matter for me. Why do we do what we do? Sometimes motivation and intent is everything, but we're far too wrapped up in the day to day experiences to realize that. I hope you'll take a moment for this exercise and enjoy it. One of the things I enjoy doing as well is doing this with someone I have a deep bond with, a mentor or person I can rely on and also do it with someone I may not understand and look for the commonalities and the differences in their answers.

I challenge you to start with yourself! How about you answer one of these questions in the comments below... I dare you!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Personalization is the Key to Your Donor's Heart

What's your favorite word? It's one of the questions they always ask on The Actor's Studio. The question causes you to really pause and think about it, doesn't it? Well, recently I heard Ron Tite speak at AFP Congress in Toronto and he declared that the one word that is music to our donors ears' is the sound of their own name. I agree completely.

 Sometimes we're so obsessed with getting our daily work done that we lose sight of who the important one in the relationship is, the donor. How do we make them feel special in a world of mass emails and direct mail? We should use their name. I can't tell you how many solicitations I receive that start, "Dear Friend". You had my name to send the email or mail piece because you had to address it, so please use my name in the piece itself. 

Sometimes adding a quick personalization is the key to going from good to great. I'll show you some examples.

This note from the Greensboro YMCA is a great example of combining pre-printed text with a hand written note of gratitude. And it arrived within 48 hours of me making my gift. Kudos to them.
It doesn't all have to come from fundraising circles, I recently splurged on a nice pair of travel and speaking shoes and this fun note was enclosed with my purchase. It didn't have to be long for me to understand that it was personal and they spelled my name right! Bravo!

Or how about this quick card I received on a recent Delta flight that was in my seat from the Captain! What a meaningful personal touch. I'm glad he knew where I was sitting and that apparently that day I had a matching manicure! LOL

Even if it's not hand written, how can you demonstrate a human connection? Check out this card I recently received from my mail in pharmacy. It shows me that there are faces behind the fulfillment and that today, my prescriptions were filled by Hay. Gave me a sense of comfort and reassurance.

Now I know this may be a stretch for some of you, but I grew up in the south where if it's not moving we monogram it. So personalization is key in my life. What are you doing to help personalize your message to your donors? At the end of the day, that personal touch takes a transaction and turns it into a relationship. It's what sets you apart from everyone else in the fundraising world and is worth the effort.

What are your thoughts on these images? How do they make you feel? What have you done recently to help personalize your fundraising? I would love to hear your thoughts.