Donor Cultivation

Just ordering the crème brûlée, not saying “I do”

By | Donor Cultivation | No Comments

More than a decade ago, I was leading the charge in a campaign to solicit annual gifts from our staff. A colleague of mine, Sherry, told me she found the concept of a staff campaign offensive. She held up one of the women in our support staff as an example.

Consuela was a young, single mother. After years of saving she had just purchased a modest home. Sherry thought it shocking that we would be so bold as to ask Consuela to consider a gift to the organization she worked for on top of all of her other burdens.

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Knowing what to ask for takes some forethought

By | Capital Campaigns, Donor Cultivation, Major Gifts | No Comments

A campaign volunteer once asked my advice on a call she was would be making on local executive. The sum total of what she knew about this person included: 1. She ran a family-owned business that was doing well, 2. She sat on the boards of several nonprofits (not ours), and 3. She was a young professional with elementary school-aged children.

Hmm, what was it I was going to talk to you about?
“What should I ask for?” my volunteer wanted to know. A good question, but premature. In the absence of a crystal ball, though, there are still a number of ways to find out what range of gift might be appropriate for an ask.

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Want to bore someone to death? Stick to your stats.

By | Donor Cultivation, Marketing | No Comments

Recently, I presented to a group of entry-level fundraisers. This shouldn’t have been daunting, but the material wasn’t mine, and I had sworn a bunch of oaths to present it as precisely as possible.
Turns out, the material for my presentation and others in the workshop: slides, worksheets, and talking points; was dry as toast. This was sad because the topic is one I am passionate about, and with which I have extensive experience. I was really looking forward to the presentation until I realized the volumes of information I was going to have to be sure to cover.

I was sitting in the hallway, waiting for my time to present, going through my notes, when a conference attendee emerged from the room, doubtlessly stretching her legs in an attempt to stay conscious.

“Excuse me,” she said, “I wish the presenters at this conference would stick less to the script and instead tell us more about personal experiences, I mean, that’s why we’re all here, to learn from what you’ve done.”

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Of Babies and Bathwater … and a Piano

By | Donor Cultivation, Testing | No Comments

Ever hear about the pastor who wanted to move a  piano from one side of the sanctuary to another? His proposal was met with indignation and near fury from a congregation that hated change.  During the whole piano kerfuffle, a congregant happened to move away.  When she returned for a visit years later, she was astonished to find the piano against the opposite wall.  How had the pastor convinced his flock?  No convincing was necessary, the pastor explained.  Rather than arguing, he had solved the problem by moving the piano one inch every week until it was in its new position.

It might be good to follow my last post with one on the value of consistency and focus in fundraising.  It’s not lost on me that based on the relative infrequency of my posts, I might not be the best candidate to be lecturing on either subject, but maintaining consistency and focus in your fundraising and communication efforts will endear your supporters to you, build name recognition and a broader constituency over time, reduce staff turnover and help you quantify the relative success of your efforts and help you measure the impact when you change up your routine in small increments.

Unfortunately, maintaining consistency and focus is where many nonprofits fail. Read More