Now that it is January, you may think that it is time to relax a bit after that hectic holiday season. However, now is the time to ensure that you have strong follow-up to your calendar year-end appeal.
If you have closed out one fundraising year completely by doing the needed follow-up, you have established a strong base and set your organization up well for success in the upcoming calendar year’s fundraising efforts. As they say, it is not over until it is over! And so, I have outlined several steps below that you can take this month to ensure that you have appropriate follow-up to maximize your calendar year-end efforts.
Examine your largest donors who gave in 2018 and ensure that they made their gift by calendar year-end. If they have not yet made their gift, then it is time to contact them. You do not want your largest donors to lapse, as this will significantly impact the results of your campaign. Time to pick up the telephone or visit in person.
Consider sending out a follow-up mail and/or email to those who did not respond to the year-end appeal. You should send this appeal out no later than late January. Perhaps your direct mail appeal got lost in all the holiday mail or in the flurry of appeals that were sent in. Now, as things have quieted down, is the time to send out one last appeal. Be sure to segment out all those who did give, whether doing mail or email or even both.
Be sure that you send out all of your acknowledgements. Ensure that these acknowledgements are donor-centric and include the necessary updates and impact statements to demonstrate the impact a donor has had through their giving. Please do not mention that they helped you to reach your fundraising goal. This kind of wording will not inspire donors to give!
Begin to assemble a late winter/early spring edition of your newsletter. As we all know, fundraising cannot be all about asking. We must share important updates, especially on the impact that a donor’s gift has made. Now is the time to get this newsletter ready. I urge that you send out both a print and online version. Many donors still read print!
Prepare a Valentine’s or other such stewardship greeting to be sent sometime between now and the next appeal. Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to send a simple greeting of thanks “from the heart” to all of your donors, letting them know what they have made possible. This is a great way to engage clients in creating messaging for donors, whether it is through video, handmade cards, or notes. Use your creativity and be sure to connect messaging to your mission.
Consider holding a phone bank around Valentine’s Day to call donors who have given to your calendar year-end appeal to thank them for their support. Again, “major” holidays are important stewardship times that you can use to have a significant stewardship impact.
So, while your thoughts may be on the new year ahead, let’s not forget the importance of doing a thorough clean-up job on last year’s appeal efforts. Now is the time, when mailboxes have “cooled down” and donors are back from their holidays, to ensure that you have maximized your efforts. Follow these steps above and you will set your organization’s development up for success in the coming year.
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Giving Tuesday, the Global Day of Philanthropy is on Tuesday, November 28. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with Facebook again this year to provide a match up to $2 million to donors who give during that day.
Here are the specifics of this match:
Donations made to participating nonprofit organizations through Facebook’s charitable giving tools beginning at 8:00 am EST on November 28 will be matched — up to $50,000 per nonprofit, or $1,000 per fundraiser or donate button — until the matching funds run out. Facebook and the Gates Foundation are contributing $1 million each for the campaign, and all matched funds will be paid out to nonprofits through Network for Good’s donor-advised fund.
So, what can your organization do to prepare?
Here are some simple steps that I have been recommending to nonprofits to take advantage of this match:
1 – Determine what your Giving Tuesday monetary and non-monetary goals are. How much do you want to raise? How many new donors do you want to attract?
2 – Ensure that you have activated your Facebook “Donate” button first and foremost. Ensure that you are using Facebook’s full scope of charitable giving tools. Otherwise, you will not be eligible for the match. You also want to ensure that your pages are branded so that folks can recognize the Giving Tuesday campaign.
3 – Ensure that your website and online donation portal are up-to-speed and ready to go. Make sure that you rigorously test them. Your website and donation portal should be easy for a donor to use and navigate. Donating should not be difficult.
4 – If you have work to do on your donor lists, now is the time. Make sure that they all get uploaded into your Donor Management System, particularly your email addresses.
5 – Draft your social media and email messaging now. You will want to announce this match opportunity in advance as well as send out reminders the day before, the day of, and an acknowledgement the day after. Use key days such as “Black Friday” as messaging points. Be sure to use photos, videos, and testimonials. Consider integrating into your current calendar year-end campaign.
6 – Be sure to recruit ambassadors as social media messengers for your cause during this campaign. You may want to enlist your Board, staff, and volunteers to help spread the word about your GIving Tuesday by sharing your social media messages with their family and friends. If you are using Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, then get your folks set-up and engaged in advance of the actual day.
7 – Develop a plan to steward these Giving Tuesday donors once Giving Tuesday is complete, and you begin marching into December.
These are some simple steps that you can take to begin to plan for your Giving Tuesday campaign.
Now, I want to hear from you. What steps is organization taking to prepare for this day of giving?
When organizations create their direct mail appeal letters, the remittance envelope is often an afterthought. Far too many organizations put little thought into how the envelope or reply device should appear and what it should say. Many believe that a generic reply envelope will do just fine for their purposes or others want to “use up” their existing reply envelopes and what better way?
Well, time to start thinking otherwise. Your direct mail appeal reply device can help boost your direct mail appeal returns.
If designed correctly, you can inspire donors giving sights and increase charitable income towards your mission.Below are a few simple steps to help you begin to segment your major donors and start to ask them more personally to support your calendar year-end appeal.
Below are a few simple steps to help you begin to segment your major donors and start to ask them more personally to support your calendar year-end appeal, just by making a few simple and easy tweaks.
1 – You want to be sure that your reply device mirrors the messaging of the direct mail appeal including using similar wording and themes.
2 – Ensure that even your reply device includes your mission statement and perhaps even a donor impact statement. One reply device that I created for my client states “She had nowhere else to turn…but, you gave her hope and a home.”
3- I long ago advocated against the use of Business Reply Envelopes (BRE’s). You know the ones where the organization pre-pays them up front and then uses them to entice donors to give. Do you think saving money on a postage stamp is going to make all the difference in the world to a donor? Not a big incentive. Save your organization money and have the donor place the stamp.
4- Include monthly/quarterly or any recurring donation option on your form by simply stating, “I/we would like to provide ongoing support. Please charge my credit card $ _________ per month until ________.” Or even better “continue indefinitely.”
5 – Include a section where donors can make gifts “In honor of/In memory of…”
6 – Ensure that all email captures are “permission-based.” If you have a line to capture email addresses and you plan on sending out newsletters or updates, be sure that you ask the donor permission. Consider having a check-off box that states something like, “Yes, I would like to receive periodic updates from the organization.”
7 – Consider having a check-off box to encourage volunteering, i.e., “I would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities at the organization.”
8 – Surely, have a check-off box where folks can indicate interest in making a planned gift to the organization and a separate one noting employer matching fit programs.
9 – Always have contact information on your reply device. If donors have specific questions, they need to know whom to contact, and your job is to make it easy and simple for them.
10 – You may also want to consider adding gift strings. Don’t leave the giving up to the inevitable “other” giving category. If you can do personalized gift strings, at least have suggested amounts that mirror the copy of your direct mail appeal letter.
So there you have the simple steps that you can immediately take to supercharge your reply envelope and increase your direct mail appeal returns to your calendar year-end campaign.
These are the same steps that I ensure I use when I create my client’s direct mail appeal package. And, they work!
Join me fora FREE webinar on Thursday, November 16 at 1 p.m. on “How to Develop a Gift Range Chart and Customized Gift Strings to Maximize Your Year-End Giving Efforts.” – Don’t delay register today! Registration limited to the first 100 registrants.
Many organizations when seeking to start their first development office do not which way to turn or where to start first.
Far too many organizations often start and end with grant writing. They don’t get beyond this particular strategy and never get to the point of having a diversified fundraising function.
If done correctly from the start, organizations can set themselves up for success both today and well into the future.
With a few simple steps taken right from the start of your new fundraising office, you can create a strong and impactful program that will support your organizations mission well into the future.
Let me share with you steps on how to set up your fundraising office for success
1 – Start by conducting an assessment of the organization’s opportunities and challenges including getting an accurate read on the culture in which fundraising will operate. Does the organization have different programs and functions that operate differently, perhaps off-site, or on other campuses?
2 – Research and obtain a Donor Management System. Excel and Access are not database systems that you can efficiently use for development purposes. Today’s software is geared towards building the most effective development program at simple pushes of buttons. Many provide dashboards with important metrics built in so that you can instantly gauge important development benchmarks such as donor retention and donor engagement. Many also offer wealth screening capabilities for modest fees. These days an organization does not have to go with the top-of-the-line software suite to have a substantial impact on its development program.
3 – Then I would determine what the leverage points are for your organization based on the prospective donor base demographics. At this point, creating an ideal donor profile would be helpful. After creating this donor profile, you can then use that profile to find donors that match up to the characteristics that you have identified. This profile will help you to define your strategies. For instance, if you are a senior housing program, a reasonable approach that your organization should consider is planned giving and what I have termed a “Grateful Resident” Program. If you are a domestic violence shelter, then perhaps a special event to bring awareness to your mission.
4 – One thing that you can immediately start doing is to conduct grant research. Most charities are eligible for some form of private and public support. With the lead time necessary both in conducting research and in the application process, it behooves organizations to conduct the research straight out. Some application deadlines are months away and in some cases, foundations take months to make decisions. So, this is one area that you don’t want to delay in starting.
5 – Start to build a culture of philanthropy that supports your development program whether that is one-on-one meetings or “Meet and Greet” events. The important thing is to dispel myths surrounding fundraising. Most Board members do not have clear instructions and expectations regarding their role in fund development. Most are afraid of it, given the fear that they are expected to ask for money or to ask their friends in a “quid pro” way. So, meet and speak with those closest in your organization so that they get an understanding of what philanthropy and development are in support of your efforts. From there, you can work with each of them to begin developing a prospect list with a new understanding of the important purpose.
So there you have the simple steps that you can immediately take to build your organization’s first development office to support and even supercharge your charitable mission.
These are the same steps that I use when setting up a client’s first development office. And, they work!
A lapsed donor is one who has lapsed from giving at least a calendar year. They are the most significant donors to focus your efforts on re-engaging since they have already demonstrated an interest in your organization.
There are several ways to re-engage these lapsed donors. Here are some suggestions that you can implement within your organization.
Identify those donors who gave last year and yet have to donate this year. Those are your lapsed donors.
Add up the total giving from these lapsed donors. Surely after seeing this number, you will want to spend some time trying to recapture them.
Segment out the major donors from this list. A major donor giving level will vary from organization to organization i.e. $250, $500, $1,000, or even more.
Share this list with your Development Committee of the Board and discuss the plan of action.
Have Board members identify those major donors that they can personally call on.
Intend to call on these donors either through personal visits or telephone to secure a gift commitment.
Plan to send a specialized segmented direct mail letter to all others not identified as major donors.
You could also use this same strategy for each appeal that you send out to be proactively trying to prevent lapsing from occurring in the first place.
You have just been offered a job as a Director of Development and now what?
Well, over the past twenty years, I have had my share of jobs and have started some fundraising offices within nonprofits as part of my consulting practice. As a result, I have gotten pretty good at figuring out what the first steps need to be when setting up your development office.
I am going to share with you some of these first steps on what to get started with immediately to make your first three months a success. These first three months are a particular time of “newness” that you can use to your advantage.
Step #1 – Get established on your working location and equipment. Ensure you set up your office area so that it will be conducive to your work style and habits and ensure that you have all of the hardware and software you need including training.
Step #2 – If you don’t have the required software, don’t skimp by using Excel. Start right out by determining what your current and future needs may be and begin to research and present options for a donor database/CRM system that will meet those needs. You cannot build a successful development program without this foundational component. It is the “brains” behind your program.
Step #3 – Begin conducting a development assessment of the past fundraising efforts of the organization.
Step #4 – To carry out this assessment and to get acclimated to the new organization, use this time to meet with
Key leadership staff
Board of Directors
Any past and/or current donors
Anyone else deemed important to the organization
Step #5 – Use the data that you obtain during this development assessment process to begin to put together a series of recommendations based on best practices that you can put into place during your tenure. Share these recommendations with key leadership and Board members to obtain approval and “buy-in.”
Step #6 – Begin to immerse yourself in the new organization’s programs and services.
Step #7 – Begin to craft a Case for Support if your organization does not already have one in place.
Step #8 – Determine the key projects that need attention in the immediate future and begin to manage them. Get a handle on your development calendar including your annual fund and grant application and reporting deadlines.
Step #9 – Begin to put into place some of the recommendations that you outlined after conducting your development assessment whether they focus on major gifts, planned giving, individual giving, direct mail, etc.
These are some easy and straightforward ways that you can get up to speed quickly and efficiently in your new role and have an immediate impact on your organization’s fund development program. Early wins=your success.
Often, I get asked, “What is the magic behind a successful fundraising campaign?”
Well, it is not all magic. There is some science. And, with over twenty years of experience, I am going to share the top tips that have made it all “seem” like magic so that you can too.
How to ensure a successful fundraising campaign
I am going to share with you step-by-step the formula that I use with all of my clients to ensure that fundraising campaigns are as successful as can be.
#1 – Ensure that you have the best fundraising team possible. Be selective in whom you choose, develop expectations and responsibilities in advance, and seek the chair of your fundraising effort first.
#2 – Once the Chair is in place, then have them assist you in the search for the rest of your fundraising team. Be sure that you only select folks who do what they say they are going to do. Test them with small tasks first. Be sure to select high-performing people to have a high-performing team. And, don’t be afraid to say “no” to someone who just can’t meet the expectations or pass the “test!” Never recruit as a group – always person to person. Ensure you have a good mix of influential and effective candidates.
#3 – Divide up your fundraising team into different divisions i.e. events, mail, personal solicitation, phone, prospect rating, etc.
#4 – Create a fundraising goal that includes the costs of the campaign in the total. It costs money to raise money so be sure that you calculate those costs into the overall campaign goal. You can estimate campaign costs at 10% of the fundraising goal i.e. materials, staff, events, donor recognition, etc.
# 6 – Develop a prospective donor list from both your current donors as well as by conducting overall research to find new ones. Once you have your prospective donor list, then you will need to rate and rank them. Get a committee together who will focus on rating prospects according to capacity, affinity, and interest.
#7 – Once you have rated your prospects, then you can tier them into an “A List,” “B List,” etc. This ranking will allow you to focus your efforts on those who have the greatest capacity and interest in your cause.
#8 – Modify the gift chart as your campaign progresses depending on the level of gifts that come in. If you have fewer major donors than expected than you need to adjust your lower tier of donors, etc.
# 9 – Employ a sequential model of fundraising. Classify prospects according to assessed giving potential and start solicitation with the Top Giving Levels and move down.
#10 – Start with your “Family/Nucleus” gifts first. Your Board, staff, and volunteers must demonstrate a commitment to the mission before you begin asking anyone else. If they are not committed, how can you expect anyone else to be committed? You should conduct all Top Giving and Family/Nucleus levels by personal solicitation.
#11 – Develop strategies to solicit the lower level donors i.e. direct mail, events, telephone, etc.
#12 – Be sure to develop a realistic month-by-month timeline to ensure that you keep the momentum of the campaign fresh and have key benchmarks to meet.
#13 – Develop ways to recognize donors of all giving levels to the campaign. Donor recognition levels can inspire donors to give more than they may usually give.
Sequential fundraising is THAT important. Once you violate the “Top Gift” solicitation sequence, your entire fundraising campaign is in jeopardy. Failure to follow this approach lowers giving standards across the Board.
If I could choose the number one reason why most campaigns fail, it would be that they did not follow this sequential model of fundraising including asking their “family” first. In fact, I have seen campaigns languish for years never reaching their goal.
An important part of any fundraising campaign is how you plan on recognizing your donors at different giving levels. While donor recognition opportunities do not motivate all donors, the fact is that some are. And, you need to be prepared to offer this valuable tool to inspire the sights of your donors who are motivated by public forms of recognition. Different things motivate different donors. So, always begin by knowing your donor.
Below I share with you a step-by-step method to creating Donor Recognition Opportunities that will inspire your donors to set their sights higher. And, public recognition inspires all donors from big to small and for all kinds of fundraising campaigns, not just capital ones.
There are several important guidelines that one should consider first before actually coming up with the recognition opportunities.
First, it is important that you have several recognition opportunities available for your donors to select.
Second, the top-level gift should be larger than the largest gift projected during the fundraising campaign.
Third, the cumulative values of the donor recognition opportunities should add up to significantly greater than the overall fundraising goal.
And, lastly, the donor recognition opportunity should be two to three times the costs of construction, furnishings, or overall costs of the opportunity.
Once you have given these guidelines consideration, here is how you can establish your donor recognition opportunities step-by-step.
Step #1 – Invite key staff and volunteers to a Donor Recognition Planning Meeting and review your building plans or fundraising campaign outline.
Step #2 – Brainstorm all of the possible named gift opportunity “places” or “things” i.e. main lobby, flag pole, endowed department, scholarships, staff positions, etc. Think expansively and creatively remembering that nothing is off limits.
Step #3 – Write each possible brainstormed building place on a sticky note and put them on the wall in random order.
Step #4 – Look at your campaign gift range chart and determine how many gifts are needed at each level to reach your goal.
Step #5 – Determine the “Curb Appeal” gifts. These gifts are those that provide value for the opportunity and are not necessarily just based on gift size. For instance, a lobby will hold more “curb appeal” than say a large industrial kitchen located in the back of a facility hardly ever seen by the general public.
Step #6 – Match the top “Curb Appeal” gift with naming opportunity that is the largest on the list, etc.
Step #7 – Be sure to present this Donor Recognition Plan to the Board to ensure that they approve of your plans. Ensure that the Board votes to approve this plan. Don’t skip over this step! You need the Board’s support.
There are also other ways that you can recognize your donors. For instance, you can recognize mid-level to lower-level givers with a group plaque, listing in the print donor honor roll, or on the organization’s website. You may also choose to run brick and pavers or wall tile program. And, inevitably, you will recognize all of your donors at a post-campaign celebratory event.
One thing that you do need to ensure is that you are consistent with how you recognize your donors. Everyone needs to be treated equally regarding what his or her gift will afford in a named gift opportunity.
And, now the organization is ready to begin asking for gifts from donors using these different named gift opportunities as a way to motivate donors to step up their giving to the campaign.
Do you mail a spring or fall direct mail appeal letter and hope for the best? Well, “a wing and a prayer” is not a strategy. A strategy by definition is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
Here are some simple steps that you can take to follow up on that direct mail appeal letter beyond just putting a stamp on it and sending it out in the mail.
About three weeks to a month after your appeal drops, determine what donors are about to “lapse” from the appeal.
Of these, donors determine how many are major donors at whatever threshold it is that you have determined a “major donor” is for your organization.
For those that you have indicated as “major donors,” determine if in-person visits or telephone calls are needed.
Determine if there are key relationships with some of the regular, loyal donors and perhaps segment these folks out to use a more personal approach i.e. visit, telephone call, or even (in some cases) an email.
Consider trying a telemarketing campaign to turn non-responders into responders. (Direct mail telephone follow-up generates two to 10 times more response than direct mail with no telephone follow-up.)
Create a series of social media posts and email blasts to send to your donor file. Do not send out emails to everyone on your list. You want to be able to segment out those email addresses of donors who have already given to the appeal.
And, there you have some simple “how to’s” on how to maximize your appeal results while working to prevent lapsing donors.
Now that it is development planning season for many with the start of a new fiscal year looming, I am often asked, where do you start first when putting together your development plan and calendar.
Well, for me, I start at the beginning. I tend to look at the key metrics and how past Return on Investment (ROI) has been for each fundraising activity including events, appeals, major gifts, etc., etc., etc. By looking at ROI, you will determine whether or not a particular activity is effective or not. It prevents that “well we have always done it this way” or “we hold this event every year, so we can’t stop it now.” It allows you to keep the proverbial “winners” while deciding to eliminate those activities that are not as effective or are not meeting best practices.
I should add a disclaimer before I go on that – not all activities have a sole purpose of raising money! So, specific metrics would need to be developed for those particular activities.
So what are some of those key metrics and how do you calculate them?
I start by gathering:
# of pieces – # of pieces mailed to select group of the database or number of direct requests
# of gifts – # of gifts received by mailing or number of donors responding with gifts
Gross income – Income without expenses calculated or values of gifts and contributions received
Expenses – expenses of mailing including copywriting, design, mailing services and postage or amount of fundraising budget spent
Then I calculate:
Net income – Expenses minus gross income
Participation rate – # of participants divided by total solicitations
Average gift – Divide revenue received by participants
Average cost per gift – Divide expenses by participants
Cost of fundraising – Expenses divided by revenue
Net ROI – Net income divided by expenses; multiplied by 100 for percentage rate of return
I put this all in a spreadsheet document with like appeals spanning a number of years together i.e. Spring Appeal 2012, 2013, 2014, 2105, etc. So that ROI comparisons can be easily made. If you would like a sample copy of this Appeal Comparison spreadsheet to use for your purposes, email me here!
Then from there, I evaluate all of this data against Industry Best Practices in terms of Solicitation Activity Reasonable Cost Guidelines as found below.
Solicitation Activity Reasonable Cost Guidelines
Direct mail (acquisition) $1.00 to $1.25 per $1.00 raised Direct mail (renewal) $0.20 to $0.25 per $1.00 raised Special events $0.50 per $1.00 raised Volunteer-led personal solicitation $0.10 to $0.20 per $1.00 raised Corporation and Foundation Grants $0.20 per $1.00 raised Capital campaigns/ Major Gifts $0.05 to $0.10 per $1.00 raised Planned Giving $0.20 to $0.30 per $1.00 raised
If an activity meets the Reasonable Cost Guidelines then it is a keeper, if not, then it is time to evaluate why. Don’t throw an activity out solely on not meeting these guidelines, especially if you have other “goals” in mind for the particular strategy, but do be conscious of this in your planning process.
Just this week, I was working with a client, and we were discussing Board member engagement in fund development. The assumption was, ho hum, “they just won’t participate.” It was then that I came across a blog article outlining all of the wonderful ways that you can engage your Board in fundraising. You know things like, make thank you calls, write notecards, etc., etc., etc.
To be honest, we have heard these over and over again. The reality is that even though you can talk about all the different ways that Board members can participate in the process of raising philanthropic dollars, it still doesn’t cause engagement.
So, my client and I stepped back and bit and talked about how some successful organizations ARE engaging their Boards in fundraising. And, what we noticed is that with very successful organizations, it all begins with how you recruit, screen, and bring on new Board members to your organization. And, here based on that evaluation are some simple steps that you can take to revolutionize your Board engagement.
Here is what I recommend:
As a fundraiser, become a member of the Board nominating or preferably governance committee, if not already a member. And, as an executive, advocate for your fundraiser’s participation on this important committee. It all starts here.
Develop a formally written and adopted Board recruitment process and procedure.
One you have identified an appropriate Board member candidate, schedule a screening interview. (Yes, a screening interview! Why would you not screen for one of the most important jobs in your organization?)
Send the prospective candidate information in advance i.e. things like your brochure, a list of volunteer opportunities, committee listings, relevant Board policies, etc., etc.
At the interview, first, review the process and purpose of the meeting i.e. “getting-to-know” each other interview.
Then review with the candidate the organization’s values, mission, and services seeking alignment. If the candidate does not align with those core elements of your organization’s identity that is a “red flag.”
Share with the candidate the major issues facing the organization both opportunities and challenges.
Share with the candidate the different ways that the organization uses volunteers i.e. committees, policies, meeting schedule, etc., etc.
Review skills, experiences, diversity, and network needs that the organization has identified. Discuss with the candidate which of these they desire using on behalf of the organization. Seek alignment.
Review Board member responsibilities and expectation, particularly around fund development seeking commitment to them
Close the meeting but don’t make any decisions yet.
Bring all of this information back to the nominating/governance committee to discuss and make recommendations. Remember the fundraiser must sit on this committee.
Once the candidate is voted on and accepted, bring them on and into an orientation process reviewing the organization’s values, mission, services, and goals. At this time, provide training on a “Culture of Philanthropy” and further reiterate the Board expectations around engagement in development.
Have all Board members sign a Board Member Contract agreeing to uphold this commitment regarding responsibilities and expectation and develop a Board Fund Development Expectation Form that the Board member must sign and date indicating how exactly what they explicitly commit to upholding. Email me for a sample Board Fund Development Expectation Form.
Board Chair reviews Board member’s performance throughout the year to ensure performance meets expectations and outlined contract. If the Board member’s performance does not meet expectations, the Board Chair MUST “thank and release” the Board member. Yes, this MUST happen for the whole process to maintain its credence. You must “thank and attrition” poor performers.
The key to Board engagement is truly about setting and managing Board member’s expectations BEFORE they even join your Board of Directors. This way, they know right up front what is expected of them as they perform their role. What I often hear from client’s Board members, is that “I had no idea that was what I was supposed to be doing.” So, out of fear of the unknown, Board members are hesitant about ever committing to fund development because the importance has never been relayed to them, training never provided, and the expectations never set.
So, while all these great articles can espouse how to engage your Board members in making telephone calls and writing note cards, you can’t even hope for them to begin to participate in your fundraising efforts if they are unsure of what you expect from them. This engagement all starts before they officially come onboard.
Follow the above recommended “How To’s” and watch your Board member engagement in fundraising and your organization soar!
And, rightly so, the weather is turning warmer and everyone’s thoughts seem to be on getting out after a long winter.
I am often asked by organizations who are holding galas or other fundraising events, what is the key to turning event attendees into loyal donors?
I do have to say that this is not an easy feat in and of itself. Most folks who attend a fundraising event are doing so because they have either been invited, they are attending because it is a social night out, or for a host of other reasons that are not necessarily about a measure of donor commitment or loyalty.
I believe that there are a number of things that you can do to stimulate interest both pre, during, and post-event to at least begin to develop a relationship with some donors who may be interested in supporting your charity in a more transformative way.
I will outline several steps below that you can take to steward your event attendees after the event.
Here is a possible post-event stewardship plan:
New attendees – Call preferred for all by Board member with a relationship or other assigned designee. Mention donation made, how the money will be used, and learn about their possible interest in the organization.
Repeat attendees that did NOT donate – Handwritten note by Board member with a relationship or Executive Director. Thank for continued support of the event and ask about their interest in learning more about the organization.
Repeat attendees that did donate – Call if a relationship or donated more than $1,000, note for everyone else. Mention donation made, how the money will be used, and learn about their possible interest in the organization.
Donated but did not attend – Call if a relationship or if donated more than $1,000. Mention success of the event and how the money donated will be used. Ask about their interest in learning more about the organization.
People who donated significant auction items – Personal call by the person with a relationship and letter of acknowledgment. Executive Director and/or Board Chair may send a note as well. Mention how the money will be used and ask about their interest in learning more about the organization.
While you don’t have to follow this post-event stewardship plan to an exact science, the one thing that you need to do is to have already developed your post-event stewardship plan before the event even happens so that immediately after the event, you can put this plan into action.
Think expansively and creatively about how you can recognize your donors. But, the important part is to put some thought in it, to begin with.
Key things to think about:
Who? To what categories of event attendees? For instance, Silent auction and raffle donors? First-time attendees, etc. And, who will be doing the follow-up? Board members with relationships, staff with relationships, etc.
What? What vehicle will you use to steward your donors? Will it be a hand-written note, a telephone call, or a visit, etc? Will you use e-mail and social media? And, how? What is the message? What do you intend to share with them?
When? When will this stewardship take place? Immediately after the event? A week or so later?
Other follow-up and planned engagement? What planned follow-up after the initial engagement will you schedule in?
The key piece again, please do not wait until it is too late. Think through your post-event stewardship plan, seek buy-in and ownership from the Board, and be ready to implement fairly soon after your event concludes.
While these are some of the hardest folks to take from transactional to transformative, it can be done with a bit of thoughtful planning and strategy.
Don’t let your event, just be an event. Use it as a way to cultivate potential new donors who may be interested in who you are and what you do.