Know Your Donor. Share Your Mission.
“When you stop talking, you've lost your customer. When you turn your back, you've lost her.” ~ Estee Lauder
Now is not the time to stop talking. Not the time to turn our backs on our donors. We might think staying away is appropriate even thoughtful. That staying away is what is best for now --- for our organization and our donors.
Have any of you heard or said anything like this?
“People are scared and financially hurting. Asking them to donate now is just plain mean! There'll be a massive backlash with many, many donors vowing to never give to us again in their lives! Our entire fundraising program could collapse!”
We have this idea that we know best what is best for donors right now during this crazy crazy time . . . but unless you’ve initiated communication and asked them directly, you don’t really know . . . for sure.
There seems to be a bit of a gap right now between what we – philanthropic organizations – think is the appropriate time for fundraising – and what we are hearing from donors. Information that is being shared by donors themselves.
While we haven’t had enough time to do thorough scientific studies of donor behavior during a crisis of this magnitude, we do have some data that came out of the last great recession and more important is some encouraging information that’s been gathered over the past months.
During previous recessions, the average philanthropic organization surprisingly saw only a “2-3% revenue drop”. Those organizations who kept their mission alive, saw less of a drop – some even saw growth.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance recently released a survey measuring sentiment of both donors and organizations. While the sample was small – 118 organizations and 1000 individual donors, the findings are incredibly telling.
Here’s what organizations surveyed shared . . .
And here is what individual donors shared . . . . .
As my favorite blogger the Agitator says about these findings ---
“Clearly, there’s quite some daylight between what the charitable organizations believe will happen and what individuals say they intend to do. Part or all of this gap will be closed– or not– by the charities’ skill and willingness to seize on the empathy and generosity of donors who are signaling they intend to rise to the challenge.”
Our job now is to begin to close the gap. The gap between our perception and the donor’s reality (as best as we know it right now).
We can close this gap by not turning our back on donors but rather by “talking” with them . . . communicating with them about our life-changing mission.
I hope you are up for the challenge!
The future of your mission and its beneficiaries depend on it.
“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” ~ Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker
Donor Communication is about just that. Sharing a few sincere words to impact and inspire another . . . the donor . . . to take action . . . make a philanthropic gift . . . on behalf of the mission and its beneficiaries.
It ALL starts with your mission.
Your mission is your unique purpose. It identifies the beneficiaries of the service and the value delivered.
Your mission is the reason you get up every morning and go to work.
Your mission is the good you do. The good you do every day to make the world a better place.
How has your mission, not your organization, been impacted by the pandemic?
It’s important to remember, if your mission was important in December 2019 and important in February 2020, it is still important today . . . during the pandemic.
Now is not the time to take a mission vacation. To wait for the right time to talk to your donors and supporters. To be polite, passive and apprehensive. Now is the time to put your mission front and center in the hearts and minds of your donors and supporters.
We have a lot on our minds these days. The pandemic. The quarantine. Holidays without loved ones. Close quarters. No privacy. Too much privacy. Finances. Jobs. Etc. Etc. Etc. It’s overwhelming. It really is.
The good news is most Americans want to help. They want to do good.
Of those 1000 individuals in the BBB survey, no one said “Go Away.”
So, our job is to wave our flag, tell our mission story and inspire action.
How do we do that? The quote from Winston Churchill answers that question . . . .
“If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.”
Now is the time for us to make our point. To pull out our pile-driver and hit our point, once, twice, three times --- with passion, urgency and appreciation.
Now is not the time for the faint of heart.
Now is not the time for over thinking, over planning, over pondering.
NOW IS THE TIME to take action. Craft your messages. Inspire generosity.
The airwaves are starting to get very very crowded.
How will you make sure that your mission stands out? That your mission gets the attention it deserves?
“Wise men [and women] speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” ~ Plato
Let’s use this opportunity to say something WISE and amazing. Let’s use this opportunity to communicate the following message . . .
“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the mission of (name of your organization) in the following way(s) ______________________________________________”
Next week . . . Part 2
Susan donates $500 to your organization.
So, how do you acknowledge the gift and express gratitude to Susan?
Does your organization recognize Susan as a major donor? Or an average donor?
Susan considers this a "major" gift, the largest she gives to any organization.
Susan is what some might consider a “mid-level donor” – a donor stuck between the average and major donors.
And much of the time, those “mid-level” donors get lost, forgotten and neglected.
Susan and her fellow “mid-level” donors make up a larger percentage of overall regular giving than the average or major donors. And, they tend to give at above-average levels without much cultivation.
But imagine what Susan might be inspired to give with a little attention and gratitude.
If you can get Susan and other mid-level donors like her to renew their gifts, the likelihood of renewing them again goes up an average of 20% to 61%. (Fundraising Effectiveness Project).
How we keep “mid-level” donors like Susan engaged and generous is all about stewardship. They need our help. They need our guidance. They need our sincere gratitude.
The "mid-level" donor needs us to
If we do these things they will remain lifelong friends of your organization.
Because a good stewardship plan for your “mid-level” donors like Susan pays off in the long run.
Susan and other “mid-level” donors are most likely to become your future major donors, capital donors, and legacy donors.
Let J. Milito & Associates work with your organization to identify your current “mid-level” donors and create a stewardship plan that will result in success for your organization and all your Susan’s!
So, you’re now offering donors an option to give monthly. Fantastic!
How’s that going?
Did you know . . . with a few tweaks and targeted strategy, you can grow your monthly giving program to provide a reliable source of revenue to sustain your organization long-term?
The average retention rate for monthly donors is 70%. So the average attrition rate is 30%.
The average retention rate for first time donors is about 40%. The average attrition rate is 60%.
"Donor attrition is the equivalent of termites eating away at your home. Many home owners are unaware that the support system of their flooring is being destroyed."
If you do these simple things, you’ll boost your overall retention rates and reduce the risk of “termites” eating away at your foundation. Fewer lost donors (“termites”) mean more revenue for your mission and ministry.
And a well thought out and organized monthly giving program will keep your organization free from the pesky termites. *
Monthly Giving is a win/win for the donor and your organization because . . .
© Donors give more overall
© You are helping to build stronger relationships with your donors
© Donor Retention increases and “termites” (attrition) decreases
© Monthly Donors have a higher likelihood of becoming major and legacy donors
© There is now ongoing, reliable, and predictable revenue to support your life-changing mission.
© Fundraising costs are lower overall
So, how can you grow your Monthly Giving program?
#1 Shower Donors with Gratitude and Appreciation
“Making donors feel truly appreciated is what can separate you from the average nonprofit.” ~ Jay Love, Bloomerang
Mail your thank you letter within 48 hours of receiving the initial gift. The letter should be personalized to that donor and make the donor feel truly appreciated. And remember: “A receipt is not a Thank You.”
No need to send form letters every month after you’ve processed the payment. Send the receipt at year end.
A thank you call is a must for ALL donors. Recruit your ED, Board, and staff to make those calls. All gifts of all sizes matter and should be acknowledged with a phone call. Many legacy givers started out as small one-time donors.
Thank your donors often and sincerely. Remind them that they’re part of an important cause.
“When people give to charities, it activates regions in the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust; creating a ‘warm glow’ effect.” ~ 2006 Nat’l Institutes of Health
After all, your organization is responsible for keeping the ‘warm glow’ alive in your donors for years to come.
#2 Communicate Regularly
Your organization should communicate with the donor regularly. Communication is so much more than just “asking” and receipting. It is about a well-planned year-long effort to inform and engage your donor in the good work their gift made possible.
Not all donors are the same, so make sure your communications are tailored to fit the donors in your monthly giving program. And communications to the exclusive Monthly Giving Club, will make your donors feel even more special.
Your job is to communicate enough, so that donors feel good (‘warm glow’) every single month they give.
© Demonstrate the impact of the donor’s gift,
© Show donors how their monthly gift makes a difference,
© Celebrate serving constituents more efficiently and even serving more constituents, and
© Provide opportunities for donor input and feedback.
#3 Offer Additional Giving Opportunities
Just because you now have a Monthly Donor, don’t stop asking for additional gifts of support. Monthly donors are loyal and if inspired they will give again and in other ways.
Give them opportunities to:
© Upgrade their monthly gift at least annually
© Support special initiatives
© Give to capital campaigns
© Give a one-time gift at year end
Always the best way to find out if your monthly donors are amenable to additional giving opportunities is to ask. Not ask for the gift, but rather ask them “are there other ways you would like to support the mission”. Engaged donors will likely welcome additional opportunities to support their beloved cause.
So take your current monthly giving opportunities, tweak them a bit, and watch the revenue stream in for your life-changing mission and ministry.
As we start the new year, many organizations are looking at their year end results to see if they made their "goal".
What that means for many of you is, "did we raise more money than last year", or "did we hit our $$$ goal". Hitting your financial target is good; very very good. It means that you can keep doing more amazing life-changing work on behalf of those you serve.
But did you know . . . termites are keeping you from doing even more life-changing working?
A recent article "Attrition is Your Enemy" by Panas, Linzy & Partners drives home a very important point about what happens when we ignore donor attrition.
Donor attrition is the number of donors who gave last year (or some year) and who don't give again.
The average donor attrition rate ranges from 40-60% (or more).
That means that every year you will lose at least 40% of your donors . . . and the revenue they bring to your organization.
Let's say your organization brought in 1,000 new donors last year. If your attrition rate is 40%, only 78 of those donors will still be with you in 5 years.
Think about how much lost revenue that is. Think about how much less goes to your mission and those you serve.
"Donor attrition is the equivalent of termites eating away at your home. Many home owners are unaware that the support system of their flooring is being destroyed."
How many of you are slowly losing the foundation of your organizations due to termites . . . donor attrition?
"It costs 4 1/2 times as much in staff, time, and resources to secure a new donor as it does to keep one who has already shown he loves you."
Remember, getting the first gift is the easy part. Getting the second, third and subsequent gifts, is where your job really begins. This is where you do your magic to keep the termites away.
This is where you shower your donors with gratitude. This is where you let them know that you couldn't do it without them.
Don't neglect your donors. Don't be afraid to talk to them. Share the impact. Share the joy.
Send the termites packing.
Did you know . . . . many nonprofits saw December income drop by as much as 25%?
We can speculate on the reasons, but that doesn't change the results.
Did you experience a similar shortfall?
Are you worried about the termites eating away at the foundation of your organization?
If so, J. Milito & Associates can prepare a custom analysis and plan as a solution to your year-end shortfall.
The plan includes:
J. Milito & Associates can help you get 2019 off on the right foot and keep the termites away.
Let’s face it. You will probably never reach 100 percent donor retention.
Even with the best segmented and most-personalized donor communications and stewardship, you will probably lose donors at some point. And by the way, if a donor has not given in two years, the likelihood that they will give again is about 2 percent.
That said, let’s take a look at some tips to increase the likelihood of a lapsed donor resuming their giving plan.
It’s important to understand why donors lapse in the first place, and then, it’s necessary to strategically nurture and encourage your lost donors to continue giving again.
. . . Read the rest of Juddee's story on the NCDC Catholic Fundraiser Blog
You already know the tremendous power of monthly donors. You know the positive impact they have on your cash flow and donor retention.
But how do you make that leap to the next level? How do you grow to 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 10,000 and higher?
In this interactive workshop Erica Waasdorp (President at A Direct Solution and author of "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant.") will share how you, with any size budget, can leverage your digital and other channels to boost your monthly donor program. You will learn how to cultivate your monthly donors, keep them, bring them back and make them leap higher!
At the end of this workshop you will have tools and plans to hit the ground running and
Prior to the workshop you will have the opportunity to submit materials for review and questions to assist in your learning.
This is YOUR workshop.
$50 Current J. Milito & Associates Customers
$50 AFP Members
$75 Not-Yet Members or Customers
Register here by May 31, 2018
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.
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:
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