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“Cultivate donors.” I bet you’ve heard that before. 

But how do we accomplish this in the virtual environment? 

We like to think of cultivation as nurturing your donor’s philanthropic interest in your organization’s work.

And you are a crucial piece of the puzzle. You are the factor that allows your donors’ gifts to impact the world. 

So how do you cultivate donors, this fall, during COVID times?

1. Identify the objective of each cultivation activity

Do you often leave your house without a destination in mind? Probably not. So why would you undertake a cultivation journey without a destination in mind and a route to get there?

When you reach out to a donor, are you trying to deepen that relationship with the donor? Or perhaps your goal is just to build awareness and trust with this particular donor? 

Invest time to lay out clear objectives for each contact with a specific donor. Without objectives, you will wander in circles, and go nowhere.

And luckily, the virtual environment forces you to have clear objectives! Since you can’t entertain or take your donor to lunch, you have to be clear on what you want to accomplish when you’re on a virtual visit.  

2. Understand why you are undertaking this activity

What is the difference  between building awareness for a donor and deepening a relationship? 

We’re glad you asked. 

Building awareness is usually the first step in building a connection between the donor and your organization. If a donor understands how your mission and impact connect with their personal passions and interests, they will likely engage more often.

Deepening a relationship is the next step. This leads to a stronger connection between the donor and your work. And that results in larger and/or more frequent gifts.

Your goal is to find out what motivates the donor. What are they excited about? Which aspects about your work do they love? What will create that deeper connection between their philanthropic desire and your organization’s mission?

3. Implement cultivation activities 

Build Awareness 

COVID has challenged the world in many ways, and sometimes in a good way. We have to be more creative. Get back to the basics of what is important. Build relationships. 

Successfully building awareness during COVID relies heavily on your communication strategies. Are they personalized enough? Transparent and authentic enough? Are they focused and interesting? 

Be creative with crafting cultivation experiences. Many organizations are succeeding with virtual town halls. Also many donors are responding to personalized presentations with key program staff. 

Remember, your donors want to learn more about their favorite interest areas. 

A few key tips for these digital events:

  • Keep it short
  • Keep it focused
  • Don’t lose sight of what donors care about

Deepening Relationships

Relationships are what giving is all about. 

What better way to rapidly deepen a relationship with a donor than a 30-minute Zoom call, eye-to-eye, no distractions?

And current events can give you the opportunity you need to find a connection with your donor. Are they a parent? Ask them how the transition back to school during COVID has been. 

Are they constantly commenting on your social media posts? Call them up and thank them for the interest, ask if you can answer any questions for them or for advice.

The golden rule is to create a connection. 

Find topics unique to the donor. Take the time to learn what makes them tick. They are a person, not just a number after all!

You may find that, if you use this time wisely to deepen relationships and gather “data” on your donors, COVID may raise you more future gifts than you could ever imagine. 

Bottom Line: Cultivating donors is really just nurturing that existing relationship

Don’t be scared by the looming idea of needing to “cultivate your donor.” Appeal to them as humans, build a relationship, nurture their interests, and you’ve succeeded. 

 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. In addition, we are hiring! If you are an experienced consultant interested in joining our team, let us know! https://gailperrygroup.com/were-hiring/

Planning a capital campaign? If you would like to learn about our unique Capital Campaigns by the Numbers approach, please reach out. You can also join our INSIDERS community for more fundraising training and content. We would love to have you! 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

major gift fundraising challenges-infographic

Nonprofits clearly see the potential that major gift fundraising success might offer.

Now, we have over 550 nonprofit leaders sharing their personal challenges in major gift fundraising.

The floodgates have opened here, folks.

Read on for hopes, dreams, frustrations, struggles – that you are probably quite familiar with.

What are the challenges holding us back from major gift fundraising success?

Development directors and staff fundraisers know what is possible but the organizational support is not there.

They are given too much to do. Too much to juggle.

Major gift fundraising has to go on the back burner.

Board members think major gift fundraising is distasteful. They refuse to open doors.

Executive directors set unrealistic goals.

Budgets shortchange investments in major gift fundraising.

Volunteers want to stay focused on events instead of major gifts.

Here are the survey results:

Question 1: What’s your biggest challenge raising major gifts?

not enough major gift prospectsNot Enough Major Gift Prospects 25%

The lack of major gift prospects was the winner by a slim 1% over “not enough time to do it right.”

Many respondents said they were simply were unsure HOW to identify major gift prospects.

How do we find the people with money?

We have no idea how to research to determine who might be a prospect.

How do I recognize a major gift prospect among our current donors and also how do I find someone with money who has never given?

We are uncertain as to who to ask for donations.

This barrier showed up especially in responses from smaller organizations.

It seemed that it wasn’t that there weren’t enough prospects. Instead the issue was we don’t know how to identify them.

not enough timeNot Enough Time To Do It Right 24%

Many fundraisers have too many conflicting demands on their time.

They’re wearing too many hats, often in under-staffed shops.

They’re asked to handle a wide variety of time-consuming tasks.

Here’s where much of the frustration lives, because staffers clearly see that they are spending time on less profitable, less productive tasks, simply because there’s no one else to do them.

I spend too much time setting up processes, entering donations, getting thank you letters out, with little time to move forward to bring us to the next level.

No admin support so I spend all my time on admin tasks instead of major gifts.

I am one person doing major gifts, grants, 2-3 events, material production and editing, marketing and now have been told I need to manage the database too. Hard to get the kind of results expected with that type of workload.

Some staffers clearly saw that it was really a combination of not enough time to invest in prospecting and developing relationships.

Lack of depth in prospects is still a major issue, but it stems from not valuing the time it takes to build that prospect pool.

I wish it was a single issue, but really includes finding prospects and building those relationships, having the time to do that.

unsure or unclearUnsure, unclear of how to approach major donors 20%

There’s much confusion about how to start developing relationships with major donors.

Respondents share that they just don’t know what do to and say, and how to get donors to respond to them.

We don’t know how to approach people with money. What do we do when our donors don’t seem to want to talk to us?

Our donors are not open to meetings. Reaching the donors and securing the ask is troubling.

We need coaching on how to identify and cultivate more major donors – we don’t know where to start.

Again, Executive Directors don’t understand how it works.

Our ED thinks we can just call, get the appointment and ask. Oh! And it is my responsibility.

need structure and supportNeed Structure and Support 18%

Many nonprofits are simply not structured for major gift fundraising.

There’s no one in charge, and no clear responsibility for results.

When major gifts are just something to get to when we have time – the last thing on the list, we can’t expect great results.

Need the staffing structure to make it happen properly. We have the prospects, not enough people to reach out to them all.

Really need help in identifying donors and making a plan.

There is no internal structure and support – I have to do everything myself.

organization doesn't understand or supportOrganization doesn’t understand or support major gift fundraising 13%

Many fundraisers are operating in an organizational culture that does not support major gifts.

There’s literally no structure or support for this type of fundraising.

Or the organization is not willing to invest time and money in developing major projects.

Leadership doesn’t understand exactly what it takes – especially the time commitment required to nurture long term major donor relationships.

Board members find it distasteful to ask potential major donors to consider a gift.

No clear duties are allocated to major gift fundraising. Budgets don’t provide resources for major gift fundraising. Bosses think fundraisers should stay at their desks instead of being out of the office meeting with donors.

Everyone thinks it is someone else’s job.

Our leaders are totally unaware of how fundraising works, especially for major gifts.

We need to change our culture to support major gift fundraising.

We all know what needs to be done, but don’t have the structure and support of the director.

We need the structure and support in the organization to do it.

It is not the organization that doesn’t understand, it is the board.

It’s hard for people to understand that it takes time. I can’t just blurt out an ask on the first visit.

My ED has no idea: Just a “get out there and go to meetings” command.

What Would Help You the Most to Raise Major Gifts?

training in what to do or sayTraining In What To Do and Say 39%

Fundraisers shared a long list of areas where they wanted training or coaching.

It appears that they are quite willing to tackle major gift fundraising but simply don’t know how to do it.

With training in what to do and say, it seems that many fundraisers could be quite successful bringing in major gifts.

I’m unsure of “how to get in the door” when we are just beginning major gift fundraising.

I need help specifically on getting the meeting.

I want training in prospecting.

I need my prospects to agree to meet with me.

How do you tactfully move to the next step with a donor?

How to best convey the “heartstring” need to donors?

I need help getting the courage to make the ask

I have a fear of flubbing up!

organizational supportOrganizational Support 24%

Many fundraisers shared that their board was an impediment.

When board members refuse to support the fundraising process, staff fundraisers are never as successful as they could be.

Board claims not to know anyone who can make major gift as there are no industries in our area. They don’t want to ask individuals who probably could make a major gift.

Board is not engaged in fundraising in the most effective way. They are very hesitant to engage.

I’m having a hard time trying to convince board members that they can help by simply setting up a coffee or lunch where I can meet the donor.

Our board has no interest in helping to open those doors.

The board does not support or understand major gift program.

accountability and coachingAccountability and Coaching 19%

Many respondents shared that they needed a clear plan and structure.

Who is responsive for major gift fundraising? Who does what? Who reports when?

Several said that they thought they could be successful if they had an effective accountability system in place to track and manage the entire process.

First, I need a system/infrastructure to organize the process and keep track of it.

I need help staying organized to make sure I am prioritizing correctly and not missing any good prospects.

I feel like I need a mentor or guide, more so than another class or training.

I need help organizing a pipeline and a tracking system.

Accountability would help with everything – we make time when we have to be accountable.

more time in the dayMore Time in the Day 18%

With overly heavy workloads, it’s no wonder that fundraisers are not successful bringing in major gifts.

I don’t have enough time to do it right because we are always rushing on to the next project that our ED wants us to do.

How do I keep up with the pace as more gets added?

I think I could be successful, but I don’t have the time to do it right.

BOTTOM LINE

Nonprofit staffers clearly understand the potential that major gift fundraising offers. But it’s the organization that holds them back.

With training, coaching, teamwork, systems, accountability, and a clear structure, every organization can be successful at major gift fundraising.

Would you like to overcome the challenges keeping you from raising major gifts?  My Major Gifts Coaching can help you raise the big money that is out there for your nonprofit.

  • You’ll start to bring transformational major gifts into your organization, so that you’ll finally have the funding to do your important work.
  • You’ll get an accountability system and infrastructure that will keep major gifts flowing into your nonprofit for years, so you won’t have to start over all the time.
  • You’ll get your major prospects identified, get a priority system, set up cultivation plans and make those asks, so that you’ll actually close generous gifts.
  • You’ll get your entire board and team trained by me in major gift fundraising so that you’ll all share the same language and have the same tools and skills. You won’t be alone any longer.
  • You’ll have me as your major gift coach and mentor for 10 months next year, so that you’ll have my help when you need it.

I’d love to chat with you about whether coaching is right for you! Let’s bring in those major gifts to YOUR organization!

Click here to Find Out More About Major Gift Coaching and Mentoring With Gail 

Hint: Your donor says to you, “I’m not an ATM.”

Have you ever had the sense that your major gift prospects are fleeing from you?

Disapproval

Do they turn down your invitations for events, tours, even private VIP get-togethers?

Do they refuse to see you with comments as:

“You don’t need to spend time with me!”

Or

“I’m too busy – call me in two months.”

“What happened?” you are thinking to yourself.

“What did I do, or say?”

Hint: Do they ever say to you, “I feel like an ATM for your organization and I’m tired of it.”

The donor says “I am not an ATM.”

This is a huge warning sign.

When you make your major gifts prospects feel like ATMs, do you know what you are doing?

You are making it all about the MONEY.

When you make it all about the money, donors can find it to be an affront. Particularly major gift prospects.

Especially if you dive right into a solicitation on the very first visit.

They are offended, and perceive you as too pushy and aggressive.

So what do you do?

Instead, ask your major gifts prospect for something besides money.

Ask your donor for “help” or “advice” or “their best thinking.”

In doing so, you LISTEN to them.

When you listen to them, you honor them with your undivided attention. And you are asking them for something besides money.

Don't make your donors feel like ATMs!!

Don’t make your donors feel like ATMs!!

They actually have much more to offer you in addition to money.

You do NOT subject them to a boring presentation. (PLEASE!)

Remember: when you meet with a major donor, THEY expect to do the talking.

You have my sympathies! I know it can be hard to contain your enthusiasm!

An experienced fundraiser is ALL ABOUT the donor.

He can control any natural tendency to blather endlessly. He does not monopolize the conversation.

He can sit silently, assessing the donor’s body language, and watch for cues of greater interest.

He can ask leading questions.

He finds out his donor’s hot buttons.

He also is getting his donor’s BEST thinking about such issues as fundraising strategy and other major gift prospects.

He may get guidance – and even help – on how to pull in other important people to back your project,  and how to gain more attention and visibility for your project within your donor’s network.

He also leaves with a followup next step – so he can forge a strong relationship with his donor.

You honor your major gift prospect by asking her for something in addition to money: her help.

Otherwise, you’ll always be making her feel that all you want from her is her money.

And that is a clammy feeling if you are a donor.

So if your donor EVER says “I’m not an ATM,” you have a very clear indication of what has gone wrong.

It’s time to back off and engage with them differently.

After a bit of time it will be appropriate to ask them again – you’ll be able to tell.

Pressured by your boss to ask for money on the first visit? I’ll answer that one later – and I DO have a strategy to offer!

BOTTOM LINE

Asking too often will dig your own grave as a fundraiser. Asking for more than just money will take you very, very far!

Have YOU ever had a donor say to you “I”m not an ATM?”

What did YOU do? Share it for us – I’d love to know!

You’re having events all the time – to open doors, make friends, cultivate potential supporters and thank your current donors.

Make sure your guests have a wonderful time!

Make sure your guests have a wonderful time!

All of these gatherings are wonderful opportunities to bring people closer to your organization.

I LOVE events as cultivation opportunities! Why? Because it’s easier to engage donors in a conversation when you are being social.

The setting is not as formal and intimidating as an office visit. The donor is more relaxed and so are you.

Here are just a few things you can find out from a simple conversation with a prospect at an event:

  • how enthusiastic they are about your cause
  • why they care
  • their personal experiences that tie them emotionally to your cause
  • their other interests, including philanthropic interests
  • their apparent level of wealth
  • their family situation

Here’s how to make the most out of these marvelous cultivation opportunities:

1. Turn your event into a party.

WHO wants to go to an “event,” anyway? Not me for sure. The word “event’ sounds so very boring!

But I’ll be the first one to attend a “party.”

So first of all, you need to turn your events into parties.

Having a fun, pleasant time is paramount to your donors. Why else would they bother to attend? Remember that this is a social occasion – you can’t be too serious or heavy.

Your most important goal is that they enjoy their experience with you. You need to be an excellent host and be all about your guests. Then they’ll be more likely to come back to another event.

2. Don’t skimp.

If you are entertaining wealthy people, or top corporate executives –  all these people are used to living nicely. They are used to good wine (no box wine allowed!) more sophisticated food (no hot dogs unless it’s a cookout), lovely flowers and nice venues.

Make sure your food is nice and fits with your organization's personality.

Make sure your food is nice and fits with your organization’s personality.

If you are staging a quality reception, then you need to make it quality. If it’s a barbecue, then have good quality BBQ food and trimmings.

Just don’t skimp. Whatever the style of your party – It’s worth it to entertain your guests nicely.

But be sure the type and mode of entertaining totally reflects your organization’s culture.

3. Triage your guest list.

Some attendees may be very important to your organization: they will be the ones with deep pockets, or people you are cultivating for an immediate gift, or they may be long term donors. So slather attention on them!

Take a look at the guest list, and divide it by thirds. Identify the top group of most important guests.

Make a plan for them. Know who is coming, why they are coming and how you might move your relationship forward with them at the end. Think of questions you might want to ask them.

Assign these prospects to your staff and board members! THAT’S how you make the most of these events!

4. Give your board members official roles as “hosts.”

Board members often welcome an official role. Here’s what a host does:

  • Greets people warmly at the door.
  • Introduces guests to each other and fosters conversation among them.
  • Seeks out wallflowers (you know those awkward folks standing next to the wall clutching their drink) and welcomes them.

Give them a special name tag that makes it easy to recognize them as board member.  This makes them feel special too!

Assign board members as official hosts!

Assign board members as official hosts!

AND, if board members are up to it – they can be assigned to a couple of guests for a cultivation conversation – “So glad you are here! What is your impression of our organization?”

5. Use a pre-event gathering to make people feel important.

Invite a small subset of the most important guests to arrive 45 minutes before the main event.

Then use that time to give people a preview and tell them why they are important to your organization.

I’ve found that the VIPs will come to a select, private, more exclusive event readily – and then they will stay on for most of the second event. Yay!

6. Offer transportation for older donors.

If you are inviting some older donors, arrange to have them picked up and brought to the event and then driven home afterwards.

You can have staff members do this or recruit board members or other donors who plan to attend the meeting.

Not only will they appreciate the ride, but that’ll increase the likelihood that they actually get there.

7. Manage the program with a charming iron hand.

Worried that your program is going to go on too long? Even when you tell people that they have 5 minutes to speak, they often go on much longer.

My strategy is to have a skilled Master of Ceremonies who knows just how to get people on and off the stage. Encourage your MC to stand right beside the speakers when their time is up.

And be sure to let every speaker know what the MC plans to do to keep the program running.

I usually walk right up to my speakers and say with a big smile, “Remember, you are going to be charming and brief, right?” They laugh but the message gets drilled into their heads.

8. Casual events are often more fun and also more productive.

I love having porch parties at my house. I have a big porch – and people like to come to something that has a more casual feel.

The more relaxed your guests are, the easier it is to have a meaningful conversation with them. So try cookouts, porch parties, and picnics. You might be surprised!

BOTTOM LINE

With a little planning, you can make your donor cultivation event your donors will never forget – AND you’ll go home with new information on where your donors stand!

What are YOUR tips for a fabulous donor event???

Leave a comment and tell me!

 

Have you tried asking your donors for feedback?

This is a huge new trend that smart fundraisers are spearheading. Why can donor feedback be so important?  feedback icon 3-Facebook-Survey-Tools-You-Will-Love

  • How can you send communications to donors if you don’t know if they like what you are sending?
  • How can you offer “donor experiences” if you don’t know what they want?
  • How can you make sure donors are happy if you don’t try to have a 2-way conversation with them?

Donor Surveys Can Tell You So Much

Consultant Jonathon Grapsas offers several smart reasons why his firm Pareto relies on donor surveys so often. His post about surveys is a Must Read.

He says that surveys can fill in important demographic information about your donors. And you can use that to develop a profile or “persona” of your typical donor – which will help you target your writing much more directly.

Surveys can also give you amazingly useful info on why your donors are motivated to give to you. What about your organization appeals to them the most? I can’t think of more valuable feedback, can you?

Try Surveying Your Donors

Many organizations are sending their donors online surveys and asking for feedback.

Why don’t you send a Survey Monkey link to your donors asking them for their thoughts.  What they say might just surprise you! But be careful how you ask!

Nancy Schwartz of the Getting Attention! Blog

Nancy Schwartz of the Getting Attention! Blog

Don’t say “our organization needs your input.”

I can’t image a better way to turn people off. Why? Because it’s narcissistic says marketing guru Nancy Schwartz of the GettingAttention.com blog.

Nancy received an email with this as the subject line. And she said she was really turned off “because it’s all about the organization’s needs and not about what members like me need.”

Nancy said she wished the organization had used this subject line: “Pls take 5 minutes to tell us what you need.” 

Now THAT speaks a donor’s language, invites her in to participate and makes her feel valued. Right?

(Check out Nancy’s entire post about this email survey she received and her reaction to it.)

What should you ask donors in a survey?

Many of these ideas are from Jonathon Grapsas –  MUST READ his advice on donor surveys!  Just think of the thing you’d love to know about your wonderful donors:

Demographic data:

  • Ask how old they are by asking for their birth date. People are used to filling out birth date forms and not thinking about it.  How old they are is KEY.
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their sex?
  • What is their occupation?feedback
  • What is their income level (ask if you dare!)

Participation:

  • Have they volunteered?
  • Attended events? Which ones? What did they think of the events they attended?
  • Have they been involved in the past? If so how?

Why are they giving?

  • Or more graciously, you can ask them “how did they come to be a donor?”
  • Offer several reasons for them to check off,  for easier analysis.
  • And then offer a blank space for them to share other reasons why they give.

Personal experiences related to your cause:

  • This is information that donors hold dear.
  • When they share it with you – it is really important and meaningful to them.
  • And you need to acknowledge this in some way in future communications to them.

How do they like their experience as a donor?

  • Do they like and/or read your hard-copy newsletter?
  • Do they like and/or read your email newsletter?
  • Do they have an opinion about your overall fundraising communications?
  • Do they feel like they know the impact of their gifts?

Bequest information:

  • Is your organization in their will? (absolutely don’t forget this question!)survey1
  • Would they consider putting your organization in their will?
  • Would they like more information about bequest planning?

You’ve got the data, now what?

Now, plan your followup! Here’s how I’d approach it:

Major donors first –

Take your feedback data to your next major gifts team meeting. Discuss each major donor’s feedback with your team, and then strategically plan followup on an individual basis.

For example, you may find out something new and personal about one of your major donors. Or they have shared their dislike about something at your organization.

You MUST respond to this, correct? Sooner the better.

And when you do, you will be deepening her connection to your cause.

Get the FOLLOWUP right.

Your entire fundraising/development team needs to come together to work out what actions are required in order to respond appropriately.

For example:

  • Some donors may send in contributions with their feedback and need to be thanked.
  • Some may request information or help from the staff (like bequest info!).
  • Some may want to volunteer.
  • Others may want to change their communications preferences.

You and your team better be ready to respond, or your donors will be disappointed.

 Here are Some More Resources on Donor Surveys: 

Mary Cahalane shares how she used the survey as an effective engagement tool. Pamela’s Grantwriting Blog.

How to develop an effective donor survey with  http://www.sofii.org/node/419.

Sample donor survey from Jonathon Grapsas  on Sofi http://www.sofii.org/node/420.

Pamela Grow writes about her experiences surveying donors: http://www.pamelagrow.com/1682/could-you-borrow-the-smartest-thing-i-ever-did/.

Simone Joyaux writes in the Nonprofit Quarterly about the donor survey questions in Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value by Sargeant and Jay. (Great article and the book is a fundraising classic too!)

QUESTION TO YOU:

Are you Surveying Your Donors?  What’s working for you?

Leave a comment and let me know!

 

We all know that donor retention is where the easy money is for you, your team, and your organization.

It’s the key to sustainable fundraising for your organization. money on wings drawing
Getting current donors to renew is far, far easier than bringing in new donors.

Right?

So let’s focus here this week!

What can we do to improve donor retention and keep our donors giving, giving and giving again?

It’s really a matter of making them feel connected. And making them feel like we care about them.

No problem! We CAN do this!

These 6 steps are based on a webinar that Bloomerang CEO Jay Love shared with my Fired-Up Fundraising INSIDERS this week.

Jay and I both credit these ideas to Dr. Adrian Sargeant – the donor retention guru himself.

1. Drip feed your donors hard data about your successes  and accomplishments.

I love the concept of “Drip Feeding.”

You get the idea – drip, drip, drip.

A steady flow of reassuring information that you are doing your job and that you are accomplishing great things.

Drip feeding performance data builds your credibility.

It builds your donors’ confidence that they made a smart investment in you.

It makes your donors happy and satisfied that they are helping to make the world a better place.

Drip feed great info to your donors continuously!

Drip feed great info to your donors continuously!

Here’s how you do it:

“We reached this many parents in this amount of time.

“We fed this many kids this year. 

“We helped these many families with their ____ needs. 

2. Connect with your donors often, especially the first 90 days.

Jay Love said it was absolutely critical to be in touch the first 90 days.

That is, if you want to forge a strong relationship with your donor.

Your donor just sent you “love” via their checkbook, and they want some love and attention back.

So many typical boring newsletters just don’t cut it with donors.

Many donors don’t read your newsletters because they are simply not interesting.

Here’s how to do it. Just say:

“Hello!

“Join us and get involved!

“Thanks for joining the team!

3. Be personal with your donors by mailing about their specific interests.

This is all about segmenting your list.

You should be tracking your donors’ various interests and their participation with your organization.

Hopefully you and all your staff are feeding this kind of information into your donor database.

If you are not tracking this kind of detail, you might want to start.

It lets you send mailings tailored to your donor’s specific interest.

The most important word in every single letter to your donors is YOU.

The most important word in every single letter to your donors is YOU.

And that says to the donor “They know me and they care about me.”

Here’s how to do it.

“You are a parent, so here is parent information.

“You attended this concert, so here is info on these types of concerts.

“You responded to our survey so here are the survey results.

4. Develop like a good personal friendship.

Gosh, what does “friendly” look like?

And WHY is “friendly” so very difficult for many nonprofits?

It’s all about the words you choose and the tone you take.

Use contractions. Say things in a casual way.

Be approachable. Don’t be fussy, lofty or formal.

Don’t use your typical jargon or acronyms that donors just don’t understand!

Here’s how to do it.

Use “you” twice as many times as you use “we.”

Have a casual tone.

Invite them to participate often – like you would a close friend.

5. Have many different people connect with your donors.

Jay and Adrian call this “human connectors.”

What?

Human connectors are different people who make contact with your donors.

What if the ballerina connected directly to donors?!!

What if the ballerina connected directly to donors?!!

You need many different people associated with your organization to be in touch with your donors in multiple ways.

Here’s how to do it.

“I’m a parent and wanted to tell you . . . 

“I’m a table captain and want to thank you for attending our event.

“I’m a ballerina and want to share my story.

6. Always communicate to donors what their monies are doing.

Ah, this – I think – its the most important!

Your donors are always a bit nervous about their investment in you.

More than anything, they want to know what their hard-earned money is accomplishing!

And this is easy . . . you can do this!

Hopefully you are doing it already.

Here’s how to do it.

“Your gift helped feed this many people.

“Your contribution helped bring food and shelter to this number of families.

“Your generosity supported 15 concerts around the state.

BOTTOM LINE on Donor Retention:

Whether your donors give again is almost entirely up to you and your team.

You CAN increase your donor retention!

And it can pay off with amazing financial returns!

I’ve been thinking a lot about major gifts this week preparing for my July 29 webinar: 10 Mistake-Proof Steps to Prepare NOW for Your Next Capital Campaign. (join me at 1pm eastern for a lively discussion about raising BIG money.)

I see so very many nonprofits limping along in the major gifts category until they want to embark on a capital campaign. Then they stall because they don’t have any major donors or influential leaders ready to step up.

Here’s what you have to do right now if you ever want to raise big money.

And it’s not rocket science. It just takes commitment and focus:

  • Identify 10 major potential donors. They may be foundations, corporations, individuals, organizations, government agencies, or current donors.
  • Get in front of them.
  • Make friends with them. Ask their advice.
  • Bring them on tours. Ask them for help.
  • Listen, listen, listen to them.  Ask them why they care about your cause.
  • Build trust by following up and doing what you say you will do when you said you would do it.
  • Keep in contact with them MONTHLY – at the very minimum.

What are your roadblocks?

But, you might say, “I am too busy! My other responsibilities are vacuuming up all my time!  I am running around going to meetings, creating reports, planning events, writing letters, filling out grant applications, selling tickets.”

Or you might say, “My boss expects me to be in the office all the time. She doesn’t understand that I need to be out of the office making calls.”

Yes, there are always plenty of roadblocks: time traps, deadly meetings, unenlightened bosses.  We all have plenty of excuses and distractions.

But I’m telling you plain and simple, unless you commit to getting in front of these donors, you’ll NEVER raise the big money your cause needs.

This type of relationship building takes time. And it takes face time. Person to person time.

Major gift and capital campaign fundraising is a BODY CONTACT SPORT.

Here’s how you make this happen:

1. Set a goal of at least three donor visits a week, no matter what is happening in the office, with your board, with your staff, in your life.

2. Get your boss and peers to buy in and support you in this. Help them understand why it’s so very important.

3. Commit to your boss in your work goals that you’ll be making 12 calls a month.  (This is a scary one because you are accountable.)

4. Hold a monthly meeting with your boss to review progress on your top 1o donors and discuss next step strategies.

(This is the most important because it sets up a support and reporting mechanism. If you know you’ll be meeting with your boss monthly to review the calls you’ve made, then you will MAKE the priority!)

Implement this plan and you’ll be rewarded with close donor relationships.

You’ll have people who really care about your cause: new volunteers, new leaders, new connections, new support, and new investments. You’ll raise more money. You’ll also have warm personal friendships with some wonderful people.

Fundraising can be so very, very rewarding – and fun – when it becomes all about people and not about their money.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! And forward this to a friend who needs more money for an important cause.

Advice Visits are my GOLDEN KEY to opening any donor or potential donor’s heart to my cause.

I wrote about Advice Visits in my newsletter this week. (if you are not a subscriber, you can sign up here.)

I have used Advice Visits time and time again.  They are based on the old adage:

“If you want money, ask for advice.

If you want advice, ask for money.”

Rule One: Make Sure You Are Interesting, Not Boring
As you tell your person about your cause and seek his advice, you should be watching carefully for his reaction.

If your prospect seems to not be very interested in your cause, then you should not drag on.. If you are perceived as boring or droning on and on, you will never be welcomed back!

The kiss of death for any fundraiser is to be boring. You are the one listening, not talking!


Rule Two: Ask for a Short Appointment and Leave at the End of That Time
Always practice good manners and get up to leave when you said you would.  If your prospect is on a roll, talking and talking, and asks you to stay, then do so.

But never overstay your welcome.

When you are an important, extremely busy person, nothing is worse than a well-meaning visitor who stays forever.

However, if you are interesting and keep the meeting short, then your prospect will be much more likely to see you again when you ask for another visit.

It is even good to end the meeting deliberately when the person is not quite finished talking, even if he has warmed to the topic and has plenty more to say.

Then, when you call for a follow-up visit, he will be happy, even eager to visit with you again, because he has more to say and knows you will keep him too long.


Rule Three: Make Sure the Person You Visit Does as Much of the Talking as Possible
You are after his advice and thinking. Only tell him enough about your project to keep him interested.

The important points are to share your personal passion and excitement for the cause and why you are personally involved.

Many nonprofit it supporters think they need to do a “pitch” when they have this visit.

A pitch is the last thing you should do.

Instead, you should be quiet and listen.

People will offer to do so many things for you!

If they suggest a prominent person in the community whom you should approach, then always ask them if they will help open the door to that person.

That way you will not be making a cold call; this influential person will be helping to make the introduction, in effect, blessing you and your cause.

I”ll be talking more about Advice Visits and how to start the conversation with a potential donor in my webinar on April 22.

Join me for more strategies and a step by step guide for engaging someone in a conversation about your cause.