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
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.
Autumn has arrived. We welcome the season with a sweater and a glass of cider as the leaves burst with vivid color and then slowly fall to the ground.
Autumn is also the time when we hustle for the last big fundraising hurrah of the year.
Before you get fully immersed in the fundraising hustle, stop . . . take a breath . . . and make sure you can answer the following questions:
So, hopefully you are not more stressed than you were before you read this list. Your year-end efforts should be a joy not a nightmare. Remember, the work you do is important. You are changing lives for the better.
You had a good year for fundraising. You made your goal. Congratulations!
New donors! Fantastic.
But, did you know that you could have raised even more money by doing one little thing?
Yes, one simple little thing.
Your organization could raise more money for your mission and ministry . . . just by retaining more of your donors.
Retain more donors? Really?
“But we hit our $$ goal. That’s what really matters. That’s what keeps the lights on. That’s what feeds the kids. That’s what helps the sick. That is what provides students scholarships.”
“Does it really matter how many donors gave if we still hit our $$ goal?”
Oh, yes. Yes it does!
And here is why.
üThe average donor retention rate is 46% (2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey)
üOn average, for every 100 donors you gain, you will lose at least 96 annually.
ü7 out of 10 first time donors will not make a 2nd gift.
üAfter 5 years, you’ll have only 3% of the donors you acquire this year.
üIt costs about 7x more to acquire a new donor than to retain an existing donor?
“Improving Retention Rates By Just 10% Can Increase the Total Amount of Money Donors Give” according to Dr. Adrian Sargeant.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to improve your retention rates and raise more money?
* * * *
First, it is important to know your retention rate.
Use this simple, easy to understand formula . . . .
DONOR RETENTION RATE = Number of Donors who gave in 2014 and again in 2015
¸ Total number of donors who gave in 2014
Ideally you want to be retaining at least 60% or more of your donors annually.
How do you retain more of your donors and raise more money?
Improve donor loyalty . . . by improving the donor experience . . . by valuing our donors for who they are, not just what they can give.
The goal is to make your donors feel good about their generosity. The goal is to make sure that your donors know that your entire organization appreciates their generosity.
“The gift is the first step towards joining our community. It’s the beginning of the relationship; not the end.” ~ Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE
Happy donors are generous donors.
“Focus on the person and the relationship first, not their wallet.” Sandy Rees, CFRE
Your job, regardless of how large or small your budget, is to make sure your donors are satisfied and proud of their gift (no matter how large or small).
“Donors don’t give to you; they give through you to create the change they want to see.” ~ Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE
The first thing is thanking without an ask. “Sincerely thank your donor in a timely manner and then, once you’ve spent their funds, tell them the story of the impact their funds had on the people your organization serves.” ~ Lynne Wester
Make seven contacts with a donor within one year after the gift. For every one request you make for a gift, you need seven other meaningful contacts. Meaningful contacts are phone calls, personal visits, emails, hand written notes, etc. Meaningful contacts show and tell the donor the impact and power of their gift, where the money went, and how it was spent. Meaningful contacts are for ALL donors not just the “majors”.
Get to know your donors. Really get to know them. It is essential that you understand your individual donors.
Donors want to know that you know who they are and why they support you. They want you to know why they increased their last gift. And they want you to know why they left after 5 years of giving.
Stop focusing so much time and resources on acquisition. It is expensive with a low return on investment. Future major donors and bequests are already supporting your mission and ministry with regular annual support. If you take the time to get to know them, all of them, you’ll find your lifelong supporters and benefactors.
In 2014, Giving USA reported that over $300 billion was given to charities by individuals. Over 1.5 million tax exempt organizations received piece of that very generous pie. Another $6 – 27.4 trillion in bequests will be made from 1998-2052.
With the volume of charitable dollars available, loyalty to your organization goes right out the window if another charity (or charities) provides a better donor experience.
So, remember: the goal is to improve the donor experience. An improved donor experience will result in loyal lifetime donors who give generously, faithfully and happily.
It’s just that simple.
* * For more than 20 years, J. Milito & Associates has worked with organizations of all types from coast to coast to help Retain, Renew and Upgrade their donors. Let us help you improve the donor experience so you can raise more money for your mission and ministry. Contact us today for your free 30 minute consultation.
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 . . .
What? No monthly giving program? No to worries.
Here are a few easy first steps
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.
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.
Because we know that saying "Thank You" is an essential part of your fund development activities.
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:
"The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated." ~ William James
Welcome to the season of giving. Giving gifts. Giving donations. Giving thanks.
To get into the spirit of the season, we ask our donors and supporters to give to our year end campaigns. We ask them to support our cause, our mission, our ministry.
You worked tirelessly to create just the right “ask”. Just the right “ask” that will touch the hearts and wallets of your donors and supporters.
The gifts are arriving. Now your most important work begins.
Are you ready?
Giving is just a part of the equation. The other more important part is the gratitude you show your donors after the gift.
So, are you ready to shower your donors with gratitude?
Will you send your first expression of gratitude within 48 hours?
Will it be a true expression of gratitude or just a receipt?
Will the expressions of gratitude make the donors feel good and appreciated?
Will the donor know their gift made a difference?
Will the donor know that their gift changed the world . . . for the better?
Gratitude makes us feel good.
It makes us feel appreciated.
Thanking your donors, truly thanking them with an abundance of gratitude not just once, but multiple times is key to their ongoing engagement in your organization.
According to the 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Project organizations retain only 19% of first time donors. It goes on to show that for every 100 donors your organization gains, you will lose 103 donors. Just think what would happen to your organization’s impact in the community if the 19% could be just doubled to 38%.
This 38% could be obtained simply by good old fashion relationship building and attention to basic details. Organizations that hit this target (and better) have created a basic plan for follow-up with every donor that involves ALL key team members.
First and foremost you must invite your donors to be your partners in your mission and ministry. You must invite them to walk along side with you to solve the problems your organization tackles daily.
Not your budget issues. Or the “gap”.
It’s all about those you serve, the reason you exist in the first place.
So take the time to shower your donors with an abundance of gratitude this season, and throughout all seasons of the year.
Jay Love, Founder & CEO of Bloomerang strongly believes that “making donors feel truly appreciated is what can separate you from the average nonprofit. All it takes are small changes in your donor communications efforts.”
Some of those “small changes” include:
J. Milito & Associates can help you spread the gratitude. Our professional team can help you stay connected to your donors, supporters and friends. We can help you improve your donor retention. On your behalf we can say thank you!
So to each of you . . . Thank You!
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for making the world a better place.
Thank you for making a difference.
Now go out and spread the gratitude.
P.S. If you’ve made it to this part of the blog, THANK YOU! As a special gift to you, we like to extend a special offer – a free 30 minute consultation with Juddee (the “J” in J. Milito & Associates). After you complete your consultation with Juddee your name will be entered into a drawing for 100 free thank you calls.
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? 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.
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 . . .
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
“In good times and bad, we know that people give because you meet [their] needs, not because you have needs.”~ Kay Sprinkel Grace
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.
Most donors give from the heart. According to a research “if organizations want to raise money for a charitable cause, it is far better to appeal to the heart than to the head. Put another way, feelings, not analytical thinking, drive donations.”
Giving benefits donors’ health. Scientific studies show that “giving not only provides donors with a sense of purpose, but it also increases the amount of dopamine and serotonin in our brains—leading to increased happiness.”
So it is essential that your organization have simple, emotionally compelling messages that are regularly shared with donors and the community. A story that touches the heart and makes a person feel good, will most likely inspire giving. Donors remain generous donors when their hearts are full and happy.
While we know it is far easier and cheaper to raise money from your current donors, it’s also good to engage new friends, alumni, and family into the organization’s giving community.
These folks are called non-donors, or as I like to call them, “not yet donors”.
So what is the difference between donors and non-donors and how do you engage and support their giving relationship with your organization?
A donor is "a person who donates something, especially money to a fund or charity.” They have been “asked” in a way that touches their heart, prompting an affirmative response.
According to nonprofit guru Jeff Brooks:
“Nearly everyone you communicate with when you raise funds is squarely in the donor category. These people donate!
They're always free to say no to any request, but they operate under this "deal": If you go to them with a compelling, meaningful and relevant reason to give, and if they agree with you, trust you and the time is right for them, they give.
When you ask, 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.
I can't think of any other relationship in the wider marketing world where the "buyer" and the "seller" are so perfectly aligned or where so much good accrues to both sides.
This is utterly liberating. You don't have to tiptoe and apologize around donors. You can be bold and joyful, and that always leads to stronger fundraising.”
In other words, most all people are donors. They give, just not to your organization. They are your “not-yet-donors”.
So how do we engage these “not-yet-donors”?
How do we inspire the passion in the “not-yet-donor” that helps them realize they want to help the cause?
* * *
Connect with these not-yet-donors via direct mail, email, social media and special events and, yes, even telefundraising.
“Telefundraising remains one of the most effective means of communications when attempting to convert supporters to donors. The practice enables a dialogue between nonprofits and their perspective donors, which can lay the foundation for engaged activists and consistent support and engagement.” (Gabe Raff)
Contact J. Milito & Associates today for help connecting you with your not-yet-donors.
You’ll be glad you did!
Do you hear the clock ticking?
If your fiscal year ends June 30, you have less than 120 days to meet your Annual Fund Goal.
Are you going to meet your goal?
Your leadership is counting on you…..to meet your goal.
Your students and their parents are counting on you….to have enough tuition assistance funds to keep tuition affordable and accessible.
Your valuable teachers are counting on you…..to provide funding for classroom resources and professional development.
So with 120 days to fiscal year end, what is your strategy for finishing strong so your school or organization can continue its mission and strong tradition as you close out this year?
Here are 4 simple things you should be doing right now to help you meet your goal . . .
It can all be done and we can help. We have an easy 5-step process for conducting a successful phone-a-thon for your school and the good news is that there’s still time!
The clock is ticking……..5 Steps to a Successful Phone-a-thon
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 . . . .
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.
4 Things Your Organization Must Do in 2015.
Wow, so hard to believe it is 2015. It seems like yesterday when we stressed about Y2K.
Where does the time go?
At the beginning of the New Year, many of us take time to reflect on the past year and resolve to make changes and try new things.
Others may unconsciously hit the “replay” button, because last year was “just fine”.
This year can be an important year for you and your organization. Waiting out there are a lot of surprises and joys. And some difficulties and disappointments also. It is up to you how successful and fulfilling 2015 can be for your organization.
Richard and Jeff in their Passionate Giving Blog share 4 things your organization must do to have a good 2015.
So ask yourself, does your plan for 2015 include pushing the “replay” button for more of the same? If you are satisfied with your 20% retention rate and the high cost of acquiring new donors, then keep doing that same-old, same old.
Or will you take what you have learned and experienced last year and remember what your work is all about? Will you try new things? Take risks? Learn from your mistakes? Pick yourself up and try again?
The results will amaze you!
Let the team at J. Milito & Associates be part of your 2015 plan. Let us help you remind your donors that their giving does indeed make a difference!
“Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” - William Butler Yeats
Welcome back to school!
This new school year represents new opportunities to “light the fire”.
“Light the fire” . . .
in your students – inspire emotional and spiritual growth.
in your staff and faculty – encourage mentoring and sharing of their wisdom and knowledge.
in your school community – highlight the positive impact on your students.
in your friends and donors – compel their hearts and souls to give.
Your families, friends and donors want you to ask them for a gift of support.
They need to give. They want to give.
You just have to ask them. You have to “light the fire” within them.
So, how can YOU “light the fire”?
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” – Maya Angelou
You ask your donors for money to pay for “X” – the new addition, a soccer field, technology, the “gap” between what it costs to educate and the tuition you collect.
Your donors give you money to pay for “X”. But to them, it is NOT about money. It is about helping, about changing the world, about making a difference.
“Your donors, like all people need to give. It’s about something outside of ourselves, and not about money.” Donors know it is good to give. They give with joy. Giving blesses the giver. When donors give, they confirm their deepest and truest feelings; their hearts guide their behavior. Giving transforms the donors’ lives and the lives of others. (R Perry & J. Schreifels)
To your donors, it is about educating students. It’s about creating future leaders. It’s about creating good Christian leaders and citizens.
As you plan your next fundraising appeal, ask the following questions:
“The best fundraising is simple and focused. It tells a fast, vivid, real-life story. It promises results and offers proof that those results will happen. It gives donors a ton of credit for making the results possible. It is a pleasurable, empowering, spirit-renewing experience for the donor.” (T. Ahern)
Let your fundraising tell your school’s story . . . where you have been; where you are; where you are going.
If you can “light the fire” in your donors; if you can elicit that emotional response, your friends and donors will give your school a gift of support.
Then you can say to your donor . . . . “Because of your gifts, we can teach tomorrow’s leaders. Because of you, great things happen. Thank you.”
Let J. Milito & Associates help you “light the fire” and transform the lives of your donors thereby blessing the lives of the children we serve.
Contact us today.
November 4th is an important date. It is Mid-Term Election Day across this great country of ours. It is the time when we can exercise our Constitutional right to vote.
The two months leading up to November 4th are even more important. During this time the campaigns will be in full swing with mailboxes and phones inundated with requests to support candidates and ballot proposals.
During this same time many of you will be kicking off or cleaning up your "Friends of Scouting" campaigns.
While these candidates and proposals may not be in direct competition with you for your donors, they will directly affect your ability to connect with your donors -- whether they open your mail, attend your events, or answer your calls.
This year, it is important that your fundraising “asks” occur before October 15th. October is the busiest fundraising month of the election cycle. Additionally, many United Ways have their black-out time during this period as well. You can begin fundraising again after the elections.
To be successful in your Fall 2014 fundraising efforts, there are a few things to keep you from getting lost in the election season shuffle:
By starting your Friends of Scouting campaigns in August and early September you can beat the crowds and keep your Council from getting lost in the election cycle shuffle.
J. Milito & Associates can help you reach out to your current and lapsed donors now! Our successful telephone fundraising services are being used by Boy Scout Councils from coast to coast.
“The positive results that we received from our campaign with J. Milito and Associates has helped us expand our efforts to help our organization with its mission.” – Dan Busby, Boy Scouts of America, Michigan Crossroads Council, Southern Shores Field Service Council