Custom Fundraising Services

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” 

Gratitude to our donors -- those who support our organizations with their time, talent and treasures, should be about expressing our thankfulness for their kindness and generosity.

If we are serious about fundraising, gratitude toward all of our donors regardless whether they give us $5 or $5 million dollars, must be a priority.  Our job is not just asking.  Our job is also to shower our donors with genuine and plentiful doses of gratitude.

Every “ask” you make must be followed by a show of gratitude.

Until you’ve shown gratitude to your donor for their generosity, you should not ask them for another gift. 

Gift Receipts Are Not Gratitude!  They are a legal obligation.  Period. 

Gratitude isn’t about us.  It’s not about our mission, vision and values.  It’s not about why we need your money, why we think you should support us, or how you can support us.  It’s not about our new approach; our new shiny thing.  It’s not about the gap.  It’s not about why we think we’re different.  It’s not about how great we are or “we’ve been in the news”.  It isn’t about our presence on social media. 

Now don’t get me wrong, these are important.  They help your organization run efficiently.  But most donors don’t really care.  And a newsletter twice each year filled with “we are awesome” is not gratitude. 

Donor Relations Guru Lynne Wester reminds us that donors “are in a relationship with us and it is incumbent upon [us] to keep this relationship strong and vital.  We must know what drew them to our organization.  We need to know what will keep them loyal to our organization.  We need to keep wooing them.  We cannot take them for granted.  We need to demonstrate our deep respect to them.  We need to find new ways to show them we need them and are grateful for them.”  

It is our job to keep the relationship with donors strong and vital.  We must give them what they need or they will go away.  Really they will.  Current stats tell us that only 3 out of 10 donors will give a second gift.

The wise words of Simone Joyaux, ACFRE should remind us about what motivates our donors:  Donors don’t give TO your organization. They give THROUGH your organization to make a difference and fulfill their own personal aspirations.”

Our fundraising efforts must focus on the donor and their aspirations and how we can make them feel amazing about their generosity.

It has to be about amazing expressions of gratitude to all of our donors.

Expressing gratitude is as simple as

  • Demonstrating to our donors that they are our heroes.
  • Sharing amazing and inspiring stories.

  • Asking our donors what inspires them to give.

  • Showing our donors that we value them and that they DO make a difference.

  • Remembering what our donors have done and said and using that to personalize our relationship with them.

  • Treating each donor like they are the most important and only donor we need.

  • Asking them for their honest feedback and not flipping out when they give it.

  • Saying “thanks” with passion and sincerity (before the check clears their bank or the credit card statement arrives).

It’s frustrating to see so many organizations treat their donors like ATM machines and their development efforts as merely bucket filling exercises. 

Just imagine if you gave a little more time, effort and resources on gratitude and cut back on all the high cost low ROI acquisition and “special” events, your retention rates would soar and your impact would be off the charts.

Remember, if you can inspire your donor to give a second gift, “they are about three times as likely to stay with you.”

Until we understand what motivates our donors, what inspires them, and what they really don’t care about, we are doomed to fundraising mediocrity and abysmal retention rates. 

All it takes is just a little Gratitude.

Published in Blog

You had a fantastic year end campaign. Donations were up. A few new donors even joined the family. But there were also some donors who lapsed and did not make a gift last year.

According to the 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey organizations typically retain only 19% of their first time donors. Overall, retention rates are at 46%.

Usually it costs less to retain and motivate an existing donor than to attract a new one, and so taking positive steps to reduce gift and donor losses is often the best strategy to increase net fundraising gains at the least cost.”

One of the very best and most cost effective ways to retain your donors is to bring them into your monthly or recurring giving program.

Monthly giving can be a valuable part of your overall fundraising strategy. With realistic monthly giving options your organization can increase the size and volume of your donations.

Here are 5 reasons why you should engage your donors in monthly or recurring giving now . . .

  1. It’s convenient for your donor. The donor already supports your cause. Monthly giving is an opportunity for them to support your cause in a manner that is convenient, easy, and affordable for them. And, they won’t need to receive all those direct mail pieces.
  2. Your income will increase dramatically. Monthly donors tend to give an average of 42% more than annual donors. (Network for Good) What organization would turn away 42% more income from donors? Think of the impact those extra contributions could generate.
  3. Your relationship with your donors will improve. Monthly donor programs can help draw donors closer to your organization. They become more fully investing in your organization and its impact and are some of your best supporters. They are among your most loyal donors and can be especially generous in emergency situations and even capital campaigns. These donors are six to seven times more likely to make your organization a beneficiary in their wills.
  4. Donors will stay with your organization longer. On average, recurring or monthly donors will stay with your organization longer (5-10 years or more) and will give more money for more consecutive years than single-gift donors.
  5. Donors will give more to your organization. Tom Ahern calls monthly donors “major donors on an installment plan.” Those monthly contributions add up. A $50/year donor now becomes a $120/year donor with a $10/month gift. Over 5 years that is $600. That’s 42% more than one-time annual gifts.

What? No monthly giving program? No to worries.

Here are a few easy first steps

  • Start Now. January and February are the best months to start a monthly giving program. Many donors are setting in motion their plans and vision for their annual charitable giving. Tax statements go out and there may be some guilt from the end of the year.
  • Ask after a one-time donation. First thank your donors and share the benefits and impact. That said, they are more likely to take another action after a positive first action. Research shows that one of the best times to ask for a recurring or monthly gift is after their first gift or after a one-time gift.
  • Ask for small amounts. According to monthly giving guru Erica Waasdorp (Monthly Giving : the Sleeping Giant), “asking for low monthly ask amounts beat the higher monthly ask amounts. Monthly donors are typically those donors who cannot write big checks. You can start your first ask as low as $5 or $10. You really can upgrade donors later.” But don’t be too greedy at first.
  • Organize the basics. Make sure you’re ready with your website, your database, your accounting office. While you still need to send an annual tax receipt, your donors don’t need monthly thank you letters, but they need to hear from you regularly.
  • Pick up the phone. Use email and direct mail to solicit and communicate. To generate the highest response from your monthly giving campaign, include calls to your media mix. According to Erica Waasdorp “nothing works better than telemarketing. The response rate is simply higher than mail or email.” A combination of all three media strategies is ideal.

The downside, if there is one: It’s too easy to forget about your monthly donors. You don’t have to keep asking them. But you do have to keep connected to them. Or they will go away.

J. Milito & Associates can help you retain your donors with follow-up (1) to your email and direct mail solicitations and (2) to help you stay connected to your monthly donors, with professional phone calls on your behalf.

J. Milito & Associates turns conversations with your donors into pledge commitments at an average cost to you of just $.21 for every dollar raised.

If your current efforts are costing you more than that, we can save you money while you achieve your fundraising goals.

Contact J. Milito & Associates today to help you plan your monthly giving outreach and stewardship because your organization is worth it.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 23 December 2015 00:00

A New Year's Gift for You

In appreciation for all you do to make the world a better place, J. Milito & Associates would like to give you 100 free donor "Thank You" Calls.

Why?

Because we know that saying "Thank You" is an essential part of your fund development activities.

  • Within 48 hours of receiving a gift, send a gift acknowledgement. (Remember: a receipt is not a Thank You).
  • Within two weeks of receiving a gift, send a personal “Thank You” note (hand signed and written if possible).
  • Before asking for another gift, call your donors (all of them) just to say "Thank You".

Research upon research tells us that donors who are truly and sincerely thanked (more than once) are at least 50% more likely to pledge again in the following year. And donors who receive a personal thank you call, are even more inclined to give again.

J. Milito & Associates wants to help you tell your donors that they truly make a difference -- to the children, the hungry, the students, the sick and frail, the parishioners, and the faithful.

During January, if you sign up for a new “Thank You” Call campaign with at least 100 donors, we will give you 100 free “Thank You” Calls. In other words, you get 200 Thank You Calls for the price of 100.

Contact us before January 31st for your free gift.

Remember, a phone call is a very special way to say "Thank You" to your donors. Your donors will be touched! And your retention rates will soar.

Happy New Year!

P.S. Here's A special New Year’s bonus:

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 04 August 2015 00:00

Getting the Gift and So Much More . . . .

 

What more is there than the gift? Isn’t getting the gift the only thing that really matters?

After all, we have a budget to meet. We have clients to serve. We have a building, and overhead, and expenses.

So we send out letters. We host galas. We produce an annual report and send newsletters to communicate how well we are doing.

But wait, we are short of our goal. Our direct mail fell flat. Can’t get our Board and Staff to contribute. Our gala didn’t raise enough money and we only got names from half of those who did attend. And our development office is understaffed.

If this sounds familiar, that’s ok. Take a breath. Read on.

As fundraisers we know that our work is important. We know that the health and well-being of our organization is dependent upon our work. Our outcomes.

But while we “chase the money” we overlook the most important component of the fundraising equation.

The Donor.

The donor? Yes. The donor does give the gift. They attend our galas. Their names are in our annual reports and on our buildings.

But donors need more. They want more. They deserve more.

Donors are so much more than ATM machines dispensing $10, $100, $1000 as our needs arise.

Donors are partners in our mission. They are with us because the mission and ministry matters to them. They have reserved a place for our organization in their heart.

According to researchif organizations want to raise money for a charitable cause, it is far better to appeal to the heart than to the head. Feelings, not analytical thinking, drive donations.”

Science shows that “giving increases the amount of dopamine and serotonin in our brains—leading to increased happiness.” Giving actually makes donors happy!

The Association of Fundraising Professionals defines fundraising as “the raising of assets and resources from various sources for the support of an organization or a specific project.” Blah, blah, blah . . . .

In reality “Fundraising” is about helping people connect their existing passion directly to your cause.   It’s not about “convincing” them to give. It’s about helping them realize that they already care. Donors believe that it is a “privilege” to give to charity.

Fundraising is about what we do WITH our donors not TO our donors.

According to nonprofit guru Jeff Brooks, “When you ask [for a gift of support], you become part of the donor's world — a place where love, empathy and self-empowerment combine with generosity to make the world and the donor better.”

Yes you need the money to fulfill your mission. Without it you can’t exist. Neither can we exist without a community of passionate and faithful donors. It is their commitment to your cause, their connection to your good work that inspires their giving.

And remember, you are not the only charity Mr. & Mrs. Donor are supporting.

The results of the 2014 AFP Fundraising Effectiveness Survey shows organizations lose at least 57 percent of their donors annually. This translates into more than $25 billion in donations at stake. That’s significant turnover and missed opportunity.

Donors tell us that in making their giving decisions, they need to . . .

  1. Know their money is used wisely,
  2. Feel that the organization has a good reputation,
  3. Have a strong belief in the organization’s mission, and
  4. Believe that their support [truly] makes a difference.

Dr. Adrian Sargeant tells us that

“to keep donors loyal and happy and giving [year after year], you only have to connect two dots. Dot #1: the generous, wonderful, compassionate, kind donor. Dot #2: The good outcome that your donors’ grand and empathetic hearts will make possible (children saved, poor fed, people in crisis helped). Connect these two dots. Only those dots. [No third dot about your charity.] Your donors will not respond to that stuff. Just the opposite, in fact. When you insert a big fat third dot all about you [your organization], donors give less and leave sooner.”

You can keep doing what you're doing and you'll keep getting the results you've been getting,” or you can put the Donor at the center of your fundraising equation.

Donors give with their heart. They believe giving is a privilege. They want to be inspired. They want to feel appreciated.

They want to walk with us side-by-side in fulfilling the mission and ministry.

Because, giving makes them happy.

This is an exciting time! Go through your database. Get to know your donors. Call each of them at least once per year regardless of how much they give. Celebrate their passion and generosity. Tell them a lot how their gift made a difference -- to the children, the seminarians, the sick and frail, the parishioners, and the faithful.

If you do this, you’ll get the gift(s) and so very much more.

 

-published in July 2015 "Dimensions", a publication of the National Catholic Development Conference

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 00:00

6 Ways to Give Your Donors the Love They Deserve

During this season of love and romance we are reminded just how important it is for us to demonstrate our love and appreciation for our donors. And oh so important, to not just show our love during the Valentine’s season, but also throughout the year. Make Valentine’s Day every day for your donors.

The reality is, that if you don’t make your donors feel good about their experience of giving to your organization, they’ll will most certainly move on to another equally deserving but more attentive organization.

In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

Your organization is responsible for keeping that “warm glow” alive in your donors.

And remember . . . all of your donors, the $25 donor and the $5,000 donor, deserve your LOVE . . . .

  1. Say Thank You and mean it. Thank ALL of your donors often. Say “thank you” like you mean it. Thank them warmly and sincerely, and help them feel good about their decision to give to your organization. Thank them in a handwritten notes and personal phone calls. Remember a gift receipt is NOT a Thank you. If all you send is a receipt, your donor will not feel the appreciation required to make a second gift.
  2. Communicate with your donors (not at them). Make sure you tell your donors all about the great things they made possible. Engage them in conversation. Talk person to person. Communicate with them like they are your very best friend since grade school. The great Tom Ahern says, “Your job . . . is to bestow purpose and meaning in exchange for support. That's all you have to do. It's simple.
  3. Shower your donors with tales of their excellence and value. Your donors want to know what your organization is doing that matters. They want to know how your programs are changing lives, are making a difference. They are not so interested in hearing about what a great organization you are. They want to hear about the transformational donor experiences of their peers (other donors).
  4. Focus on the donor and the dollars will follow. It is about building relationships. It is about connecting with people who believe so passionately in your mission that they are willing to give of themselves and their resources to help you make a difference in the world. Each donor is a unique partner in your life changing work. Focus on what they want to do with their giving and why it giving to your cause is important to them. Then help them. And remember, please don’t treat your donors like they are ATM machines.
  5. Be Accountable . . . Be a Good Steward. Trust is a precious commodity. You have been entrusted to uphold your organization’s mission by the people who support you with their money, time, and trust. You must be transparent. You donors need to know that you did in fact use their gift for the purposes you outlined in your solicitations. Being accountable for the funds you raise will keep your donors contributing to your cause. Lost trust is difficult if not impossible to repair. According to Stephen Covey, “Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
  6. Listen and Ask. Do you know your donors? Not their name, address, last gift, and giving potential. Do you know what inspires, drives, and excites them? Do you know why they give to your organization? Don’t assume you know the answer to these questions. You need to interact regularly with your donors to know who they are and what prompts their decision to give to your organization. There is so much you could learn from your donors. Be open to what they have to say and offer. Be sincere. This will create a special bond that builds trust and relationship.

Do you love your donors? Do they feel the love?

Contact J. Milito & Associates today.  We can help you show your donors the "Love" they deserve.

Published in Blog