June 24, 2014
I’ve mentioned this on some level before (More About Using Board Members) but I thought I’d speak here in a little more depth. I have found board members and advisory level volunteers to be great barometers for how my organization is viewed publicly. Often these people will tell you what they really think when someone else will not. They will also do so in such a way that includes advice as to what you can do to improve.
Beyond simply invaluable feedback your board is often your best connection to the community. Your largest donations often come from a board member’s connections and your board member’s solicitations. If you are a small or large organization using your board members to help you engage and raise money from the community is one of the best things you can do. Because board members are volunteers their opinions to the public lend a great deal to your reputation. If they as a non-staff community leader say you are a great organization many will believe you are.
What ways are you using board members to advance your mission? Have you found them to be significant assets to your organization? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
June 17, 2014
Good prospect research can be invaluable but needs to be paired with good question asking. It is great to learn house values & business ownerships, etc. but if you do not talk with your donor and learn about their family, interests, current situations your research is useless. I wanted to talk today a little bit about what are some good probing questions that I ask and that I have found useful.
Each time I attend a donor event or go on a donor visit I find that they are looking for some kind of relationship. They want to know you care about them and want to know how best to plug them into the organization. When I talk with donors I am doing two things: trying to learn things about them (interests, capacity, family, etc.) and trying to create a two-way relationship. Here are a few questions that I often use to get the conversation started.
- How did you find out about the organization?
- What first connected you to us?
- Why have you stayed connected?
- Are there things you’d like to see us doing that we are not?
- What are your favorite programs?
Make sure to check out other posts I’ve done regarding prospect research. What questions do you use? Leave them in a comment below.
June 10, 2014
I want to start by saying I have this problem as well. It is easy to get comfortable with our processes and our email lists. But I’d like to advocate for the use of an old tool in fundraising, the telephone. How often do you email or send a letter instead of make a phone call? I find that email can be a great way to contact a large number of people at one time. There are some amazing things you can do to personalize email lists… I digress (I told you I’m part of the problem).
I’d like to offer that there are many things we miss by sending out an email. Talking with a donor on the phone allows us to learn a lot that we can’t learn over email. Email conversations are very scripted and short whereas on the phone you can ask questions and respond quicker. You can read verbal cues, things like hesitation or tone that we miss when we only use email. What are a few things you can learn from making a phone call:
- Donors will often volunteer personal information about themselves or their family.
- Many times in the small talk you will learn what is going on and important in their lives now (these are great things to follow up on later).
- Donors will often talk about their giving interests or why they give to your organization.
- You can learn more about the age and personality of your donor.
- Often you can tell by the tone of their voice and their response how you rank in their giving priorities.
Do you have any additions to this list? Leave a comment below.