Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wave of Giving Days- Are you being Swell to your Donors?

Pardon the cheesy pun. This spring, giving days have taken over the annual giving scene. Some days this spring I have seen 7-10 University giving days on one day. Most donors don't see this because they're not fundraising nerds like me. So it has me thinking - What is your donor relations' department involvement with your giving day? 

I believe that donor relations needs to partner fully to implement a strategic plan for all giving day donors, including what happens to them in the solicitation cycle after they give. My alma mater, the University of South Carolina, recently had its giving day and raised over $3 million in one day. I'm proud of them, I added an additional donation to support them that day and I also served as a social media ambassador spreading the word about why people should give. They were well organized and deployed volunteers well. 

But even more impressive was their gratitude efforts that day. They had multiple thank you videos, postings and images to make donors feel motivated and grateful. Here are a few of my favorites:

In addition, they marked notable milestones with celebrity (thank you Darius Rucker) videos and kept the excitement going. They were prompt in their gratitude. I received multiple immediate thank yous via social and email, and after the day was over, we all received this amazing thank you video:

All in all a great day raising mucho money for deserving students. But what happens next? 

Next, the following needs to happen:
  • Ensure you don't throw these newly acquired donors into your traditional solicitation channels of phone, direct mail, etc. - they never gave that way before why would you punish them this way? Respect their preference!!
  • Make sure you report back the impact of the money raised that day - maybe at a 3 month, 6 month mark etc. One of my favorites was when the University of Michigan used to send "we know what you did 6 months ago" emails updating me on the impact of my giving day gift.
  • Phone calls or hand written notes from recipients or students thanking donors for their generosity - within a WEEK - the sooner the better!!
  • Assess what went well and what didn't on your giving day - components donor relations should be thinking about at minimum for the DAY OF - immediate response to the online giving form - make it good and make it relevant - custom for the day
  • Personalized thank you video to every donor - You could use a fantastic platform like Thankview
  • Collect, store, and utilize a donor's social media handles - Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat - send them a personal message of gratitude!
  • Milestone emails celebrating the donors - don't write, "WE raised $1M," instead talk about what the DONORS did for your organization.
Giving days can be powerful ways to acquire new donors and build momentum in the spring for your annual giving. But don't let the gimmick overtake the cause. Some of the things that work so well about giving days is that there is a sense of urgency, the appeals come from a peer or classmate, and there are many expressions of gratitude. You can help your annual giving teammates create magic - but remember, just like any event, when its over, our work is just beginning!!


Thursday, April 5, 2018

7 Lessons Donor Relations Professionals Can Learn from Tee-Ball

As I sit here at Sarah Sims’ daughters tee-ball game, I realize that tee-ball and donor relations have stunning similarities. Here are just a few:

  1. Keep your eye on the ball - Stay focused on the donor experience and don’t lose sight that the simplest things are the best things. Don’t get distracted by what some other organization is doing and focus first on your donors and providing them the experience they deserve.
  2. You have to round the bases in order - Every now an again you might get lucky and steal a base but the principle remains, first thank your donors, then report impact, then engage and recognize them. If you do it backwards you’ll never get it right and everyone in the crowd will shame you publicly.
  3. Everyone needs a little coaching - Even the best have people to guide them to their ultimate destination. Take all the feedback and advice you can get, put it through your filter and get better for it. Whether your coaching comes in the form of a conference, a webinar, a conversation with a mentor or direct feedback from someone who’s been there before, don’t be afraid to ask for help and listen when someone helps coach you up. You’ll be better for it!
  4. Don’t be afraid to get dirty - Sometimes you just gotta slide into base or dive for a ball you thought wasn’t within reach. Don’t be afraid to go for it and sometimes do the job no one else wants or is doing. You learn a lot, you may get a scraped knee, but in the end you come out with a greater appreciation for what the job takes and who doesn’t have fun getting a little muddy?
  5. Get out of the way and let others play their part - Not everyone is a short stop, or a pitcher. Let people shine in their role and don’t steal a catch from them. Let everyone play to their strengths and be their best cheerleader when things aren’t going for the best. Specialists are important and should be valued for their unique contribution. In the end it’s the donor’s experience that matters more than ours.
  6. Be a good sport - No one likes a sore loser just like no one likes a blanket or someone who won’t take responsibility around the office. Make sure accountability and self awareness are hallmarks of your presence on your team. Everything isn’t going to go your way all the time, it’s how you handle it that matters.
  7. Don’t be a ball hog - Not every idea has to be yours, share with your teammates and be inclusive of their ideas. All work is necessary and important, not just the things that are high profile or flashy. Make your donor look good and you will shine. Be more focused on your team’s success than your own personal success and everyone will take home the trophy.

I hope you appreciate this cheeky analogy and the cute photos of the little ones at the ballpark. Next time you get ready to play, hit it out of the park and cheer loudly!