Fundraiser of the Month: Patrick Sallee

July 28, 2008

This is a new idea that would replace the Org of the Month concept I have been doing for the last few months. I will be highlighting a different fundraiser every month and asking them to talk about what makes them good at what they do. This week the Fundraiser of the month is Patrick Sallee. Feel free to ask him a question or refer someone you know of that’s a great fundraiser in the comments section below. If you want to learn more about Patrick feel free to check out his blog. Thanks Patrick!

What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?

I am the Director of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Kansas City. My position focuses on corporate, foundation and individual donors, primarily outside of our special event fundraising.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?

I enjoy working with people that are committed to a cause. It energizes me everyday to see volunteers so committed to doing something to help change a child’s life. You can’t help but give it your best when you see so many people that care and whose lives are affected for the better. I enjoy development because for me its about finding ways that everyone can participate in changing lives…not just volunteers, not just donors, but finding a method that an individual can care about.

What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?

I think the best tip I was ever given is to learn as much as I can about other fields and keep up with current trends. Not only does this make you much more interesting in general, it allows you to connect to your donors and board members in their world. We spend so much time talking about our organizations and our impact, essentially ourselves, then we don’t get into the real passion of our donors. If fundraisers can connect on that personal a level with the donor, it builds trust and respect.

What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?

I think the most frustrating thing for me about the profession is the constant effort to be seen as a professional position. I can’t count the number of times I have been at one of our special events and introduced myself as being from Big Brothers Big Sisters and within minutes been asked what my ‘real’ job is.

Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?

When I first started at BBBS in November I was going through a list of past donors and contacts that I should make a priority to visit in the first month. One that stood out is in upper management with a large national bank located in Kansas City. She had been a personal supporter of our agency, but also is involved with the corporate giving. I took her to lunch in the first month I was on the job as an introduction, get to know you meeting. When we got to the part of lunch where I would ask how I could approach them for an end of the year gift and if they had room in the budget, she cut me off and said, “We would like to give you a grant for $13,000, could you submit a proposal to me by the end of the day tomorrow?” Obviously I could, but I left laughing because I haven’t experienced this since and think it will be the rare occasion, but no less gratifying.

How do you help your CEO become a better fundraiser?

I think the most important thing I can do with our CEO to help him as a fundraiser is to provide him with plenty of info about people we will see at events. I try to remind him of where specific donors and future donors are in the pipeline of our visiting and their knowledge of BBBS. He sees a ton of people and at our events has been very hands on. I try to remind him the day of who to make sure and see and also let him know conversations I have had that he should be knowledgeable about if a donor was to bring it up.

How to Make a Thank You Call

July 23, 2008

I’m sure you have made a thank you call before and I’m sure you are great at it. I thought it might be worthwhile for me to talk about the process I go through when making these calls. I’d love to hear from you regarding what tips you have and what things you’ve done. Please leave a comment below.

How do you make a thank you phone call? I have found that sometimes when we receive an unexpected gift we are often so surprised and caught off guard by it that we don’t make the phone call. I know these objections will sometime enter my head: I don’t know this person, If they wanted me to call they would have called me, etc. What I do immediately when I get a gift is look it up in my donor database (here is a great article on choosing a donor database), depending on the size of the gift I might spend a little time on Google (or a new search engine, then I will pick up the phone and call.

When I talk with them on the phone I will thank them for their gift, if they gave a designated gift I will reference that. Then I ask them how they found my organization or heard of us (If I know the answer to this I might refer to it and ask for their story or more details). I might ask them what motivated their gift if there is a specific program they would like to learn more about. Many times I will close the call with an additional thank you and I’ll ask them if they want a tour of one of the facilities.

What do you do? What have you found successful? Leave a comment below.

Grants and Awards Update

July 21, 2008

I want A Small Change to be a resource for you and help your organization succeed. One idea that I’ve had is to let you know about grants and awards that I find online. For this reason a month or so ago I started the Grants Section. I will from time-to-time update it with posts like this of other grants and awards that I find. If you learn of something you do not see here let me know so I can share it with everyone.

Microsoft Unlimited Potential
This is a place that you can go to find help with many of your technology needs. You will find discounted Microsoft software, training, and software grants. (Thanks Jeremy at Raiser’s Edge for the info.)

Digg Award From Firstgiving
Firstgiving is offering $500 to the organization that receives the most digg’s on their Firstgiving fundraising page by July 25. They have extended their deadline from last week to this one. (Thanks Firstgiving for the info.)

The Immediate Thank You Call

July 21, 2008

How many of us have started a 24 hour acknowledgment letter process and stopped making a quick thank you phone call immediately after (or on the same day) that a gift is received? I have been shocked at how well received I am when I call a donor just to say thank you. Sometimes I’ll hear surprise at a quick response or learn a little tidbit about their giving that I would have never learned in a letter or email.

More than anything else a personal thank you call means more to you from a real human voice instead of in a letter.  We still need to follow up the call with a quick thank you letter including a little reference to the conversation you had on the phone, but the phone call will make a huge difference. I find that a two minute thank you call does more to secure a second gift than anything else.

In fact, the ability to thank donors should be one of the most important things to your organization. If you are good at thanking donors you will be good at keeping and upgrading them too. You could build your entire development plan around acknowledging and thanking and be extremely successful. If a donor feels cared for they want to grow their involvement. Also thanking donors is one of the easiest things for board and executive staff to do. If you want to get your board involved in the fundraising process this is a great way to get them started.

Do you call donors immediately when you receive a major gift? How has that helped your nonprofit?

Does Marketing and Fundraising Mix?

July 14, 2008

I was sitting in a marketing committee meeting the other day and it started my mind thinking about how fundraising and marketing mix. I started to wonder what kind of connection there is between marketing and fundraising. I think there is an obvious connection between sales and fundraising and being able to confidently and concisely talk about your nonprofit. But does running radio spots or television spots make a difference?

Fundraising is more about word-of-mouth and keeping & upgrading existing relationships. From what I have seen providing your donors with a good experience and talking with them about how their gift makes a difference is better for your organization than always trying to find new donors. The idea that keeping them is easier than finding them.

What about using marketing with a new annual fundraising plan? If you are trying to build community support, maybe there is a place for marketing. I don’t think that a solid marketing program is going to get very far in finding new major donors or upgrading existing donors. But, I think marketing could be a huge help in getting your message out there into the community. Helping build your image to a community that does not know you exist or change your perceived image to a community that has hear about you but doesn’t know what you do.

Do you use marketing campaigns at your nonprofit?  Have you found marketing to be an important piece of your annual plan?

Starting a New Job

July 9, 2008

About a month or so ago I started a new job. I didn’t realize how much time I had spent building relationships and figuring out processes and how to get things. It can be an amazing and frustrating thing to start something new. Here are a few things I learned and tried along the way.
One important thing that I learned is how important it is to have a good understanding of your “informal value.” Jim Collins in his Good to Great in the Social Sector pamphlet refers to this as legislative leadership.

Legislative leadership relies more upon persuasion, political currency, and shared interests to create the conditions for the right decisions to happen.

In the nonprofit world autocratic leadership doesn’t really work. I needed to get to know my fellow staff and understand and show respect to the processes that were in place before I came up with or tried to institute any new ideas. This can be incredible irritating and frustrating but I found it to be so important.
Read as much as you can about the organization. Figure out how they talk about themselves and how they present themselves to the community. I try and take what I’ve learned and make it my own so I can talk competently about the organization using a mix of their words and mine.
One of my biggest mistakes coming in was being too concerned about what my “new role” was going to be. I started to realize very early that the more time I spent in the organization the more I would start to see gaps and understand what I really needed to push to move along and what happened naturally already.

Gaining Fundraising Support

July 7, 2008

One of the most frustrating problems in the fundraising world is when you don’t have internal support. It is next to impossible to get anything done if the Executive Director or President does not support the work that you do. But it can be incredibly frustrating and difficult if the program staff or in some cases faculty or doctors don’t support the fundraising process.
Here are a few things that I have done to gain the support of organizations that I’ve worked for. Recognize the work of the program staff (this works well with faculty).

  • Make sure to say good things about them out in the community, if people talk about how great they are because of you it can make a big difference.
  • Show everyone that you are doing work. I’m not talking about charts and graphs I’m talking about bringing donors on tours, holding an event on-site, or involving them in a cultivation or solicitation meeting. If people see that you are good at what you do and that you are working hard for them it makes a big difference.
  • On donor tours I like to have the donor meet program staff. This allows program staff to speak directly into their programs and experience (which donors really like). It also allows you to recognize the program staff by acknowledging they play a key part in the organization to the donor.
  • In the nonprofit world more than the business world leadership must come from the bottom (I will talk about this more in my next post). This means that you need to spend time talking to people in the staff room, take your co-workers out to coffee, make sure you are there for and remember important events.

I’d love to hear from you any stories good or bad about staff supporting the fundraising function. What have you done to help people see how important fundraising is?