June 30, 2010
There are numerous different strategies for raising money. Some organizations are long-term planners and set-up a development plan that they use as a road map throughout the year. Other organizations watch and wait for the right time to send out that perfect appeal. Following a plan and rapidly responding to changing community needs are both valuable and important fundraising skills. Often organizations fall on one side or the other of that line with a perspective that is either proactive or reactive when it comes to donor management.
Reactive and proactive donor management really are opposites. Reactive donor management provides you an opportunity to approach individual donors in a very focused and personal way. Often you can provide very custom thank you materials and have the flexibility to respond to urgent and last minute requests and opportunities. Proactive donor management involves the creation and adherence to a development plan. Those who excel at being proactive will plan out all of their campaigns for the year and the time line it will take to make those campaigns a success. Proactive management usually allows a development program to accomplish more in a given year, but it may not allow for as much last minute polishing of a project or solicitation plan.
It surprises me how little these two style of donor management are blended together. What kind of donor management style has your organization adopted? Any tips on how to be both proactive and reactive at your organization?
June 28, 2010
I’ve spoken about matching gifts before, but I recently saw the power of matching and thought I’d share. I’ve often been skeptical about matching gifts because many nonprofits often have the funding already wrapped up by the time the match starts. I often wonder how much of my gift is really going to make a difference with matching, so it has not been a motivator for me personally.
We recently ran an employee campaign with a match from a community member and I was shocked at how well it worked. Everyone loved the idea that their gift would be matched dollar for dollar and that they could double their impact. One of our contributing factors to success was that we set a deadline with the match. We ran an event and told everyone that if they made a pledge that day it would be matched. As a result we were flooded with gifts. Everyone wanted to get their gift in before the timeline was up, and everyone wanted to double their support.
We asked employees who were not a part of the development team to make announcements about the match and the status of everyone’s giving. The response was overwhelming. In fact we had staff coming up to us just so they could make announcements of how much money we had raised without us even asking.
Have you used a matching gifts challenge? How successful was it? The challenge above went out to the employee community where I work but I have also run challenges with other stakeholder groups with less success. Have you found some groups to be more motivated by a match than others?
June 23, 2010
Is donor loyalty changing? It would appear to me that older generations were more consistent about their giving. An organization could count on a monthly gift from their regular supporters and these individuals would give for years and years. Is that different today? Younger generations seem to respond more to a one-time appeal than give to an organization for several years. I think of Haiti as a perfect example. It is great to see how much people are giving to Haiti, but they are mainly one-time gifts. Almost all of the individuals who are giving to Haiti will not continue an ongoing investment in rebuilding and changing the lives of people in Haiti. They are giving in response to an appeal, to a horrible disaster that happened.
When I look at Haiti as an example of the new kind of donor loyalty I’m not sure if I should be encouraged or discouraged. On the one hand it seems that people today are more aware of what is happening in the world and want to help to make a difference. However, sometimes it appears that people give according to the biggest giving fad. Whether it’s Save Darfur, the (RED) Campaign, LIVESTRONG, or many other names, donations seem to go in phases to these groups. How should we respond to this developing trend? Does the decline in donor loyalty impact they way that we thank one-time annual fund donors? Should we invest less in cultivating repeat donor gifts? It sometimes feels like every campaign appeal I send out is written to sound more and more urgent. Does there come a time when we will need to differentiate between urgent needs and operational needs?
I’d love to hear back from you as to whether you have observed this as a trend or if it is just me. Is your organization experiencing a decline in donor loyalty? Do you have a hard time holding onto your monthly or regular donors?
June 21, 2010
Every organization is different and every board is different. Some boards have major players who play a key role in raising money for an organization, whereas others have a working board that is more involved in the strategy of the organization (as we’ve talked about in another post, Who Talks to Your Donors). Some boards meet monthly, others quarterly.
There have been times when I have spent multiple hours preparing for a meeting and had to put revenue generating projects on hold. Have you had this experience where you have spent significant time preparing for a meeting: preparing agendas, talking points, monitoring attendance, copying handouts, etc.? Sometimes I’ve wondered if there might be a better way, so I thought I’d bring this question to you.
How do you work with your board? How much staff time do you allocate to board preparation? Do you assign different staff to each board committee? Do you write talking points for your board members at all of your meetings?
June 16, 2010
In an earlier post, Tracking is More Than a Name, I mentioned the importance of tracking donor information. That’s just a quick snapshot of some of the key areas we are keeping track. I’d love to hear your feedback regarding what your organization tracks.
There is some information that is important for every organization to track. Below are some of these key pieces of data.
- Email/Phone Number
- Partner/Spouse (relationship with spouse – divorced, married, etc.)
- Alive or deceased
- Mailing Address
- Giving History
The larger your database, the harder it becomes to keep information relevant and accurate. Be diligent about fixing return mail. I know of some organizations where they have a staff member who regularly reads the obituaries.
Other tremendously helpful data that we are keeping include the following:
- Donor Rating: This is often created by the organization based on conversations that you’ve had with that donor and individuals who know them. This helps segment and keep track of donors in your database.
- Last/Next Action: Having the ability to track an action plan with a donor is invaluable and extremely helpful to keep everyone on the same page and to keep track of your cultivation plans from year to year. As you begin to do more 1-to-1 cultivations and solicitations, it is helpful to use your database to help you track your upcoming engagements.