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Sunday, 31 January 2021 14:49

New Year. New Opportunity.

Whew!  2020 is finally behind us . . . in the rearview mirror. 

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to occasionally glance back in the rearview mirror.  Glance back on past obstacles and roadblocks and even those harrowing hairpin turns we successfully navigated.

2021 may have gotten off to a rocky start, but we survived 2020.  We’re tough.  We’re survivors.  We got the job done.

Got the job done for our life-changing missions and ministries.  Our missions and ministries were important before the pandemic hit, and as most have demonstrated, even more important than ever. 

But now, it’s time to glance back in the rearview mirror as we continue to steer through 2021 . . . .

In other words, what did we experience in 2020, and how has it made us better fundraisers in 2021 and beyond?

Your organization is important and serves a critical need.  Make sure donors, supporters, staff, and the community know this.  Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.  Tell the stories.  Ask for resources necessary to support the critical need.  Be proud of who you are and the impact on those you serve.

Technology never goes backwards”, and the same is true for our fundraising.  This is so true.  “I sure miss dial-up internet” said no one ever.  While “Zoom” and virtual connections are here to stay, they will never replace in-person connections.  But we must admit that technology has made much of what we do a bit easier and more accessible.  It certainly has opened our events and meetings to supporters and constituents who might not otherwise have the ability or inclination to participate in-person.  If it works keep doing it. 

A fully engaged board is more important than ever.  Make sure the board knows what you accomplished (not just $$ raised) during 2020, how much more needs to be done, and be specific how their help is needed (and make specific assignments).  The more cheerleaders you have on your team, the more storytellers and advocates, the greater your results.  The more “good” you can do! 

Flexibility is essential.  The “way we were” is in the rearview mirror.  “We’ve always done it this way” is in the past.  Organizations who stepped up, tried new things and new strategies, learned that there are many more ways to accomplish their goals, many that even produce greater results.  The Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step” truly sums up how this crazy pandemic forced us to be flexible and take that first step . . . forward.

Connecting with Donors and Supporters can be done.  Many of us experienced the joy in talking with and listening to our donors and supporters, for the first time.  We took the time to “check-in”, to see how the pandemic was affecting them.  We gave back, because it was the right thing to do.  And the concern was appreciated.  Now keep it up.  Keep checking in.  Not just with your majors, but all donors, all supporters, all those who believe in your mission and ministry.  Keep listening.  Keep building those relationships.

Events can be “special” even when not in person.  Over the last year, so many of you shifted to virtual events that are truly “special”.  Laser focused on the mission and the message.  Compelling and inspirational.  All without fancy clothes, big ticket prices, and chicken dinners.  You attracted new attendees, and even raised more money.  Keep doing what works, tweak if necessary.  Keep them “special”. 

Thank You” never goes out of style.  Right now, all organizations, should be thanking donors and supporters for helping them through 2020.  Not their 2020 tax receipt, but genuine thanks.  Because of them, your constituents were fed, clothed, sheltered, cared for, educated, entertained, and inspired.  Make sure you express sincere and frequent gratitude for making it all possible. 

The pandemic is still gripping our community, our country, our world.  The chaos and uncertainty of 2020 is in our rearview mirror.  We struggled, we flexed, we adjusted, we struggled some more, but we came through in one piece.

But there is so much more to do.  Let us take the lessons now in our rearview mirror, and let them help steer our organizations forward so we can continue to serve those who need us the most. 

And remember, “the work you do is important; you are saving lives.”



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Published in Blog
Wednesday, 15 April 2020 19:47

Donor Communication: Ongoing Communication is Key

Part 1

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 . . .

  • 80% anticipate 2020 revenue to be lower than expected
  • 93.5% believe that donors will be able to give less
  • 69.6% believe they will be less able to host fundraising events
  • 54.4% believe donors will redirect their support instead to individuals in need.  

And here is what individual donors shared . . . . .

  • 46% said they lost income due to the pandemic. 
  • 52.5% say they expect to give the same as before the virus hit.
  • 52% say they feel they need to be financially conservative. But did not say they aren’t giving.
  • 30.8% say they plan to give more.
  • 47.7% of millenials and 60.8% of genZers say they plan to give more
  • 23.9% say they plan to give directly or through crowdsourcing to give to small businesses
  • 24.5% say they will look for ways to help the unemployed directly.

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

Published in Blog

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:

  • Get ready to fundraise now! Do you have a plan for Acquisition, Retention and Upgrading your donors (acquiring new donors, retaining the donors that already support your BSA Council, and upgrading giving amounts of your donors)
  • Stay focused on your mission. Your work is important, so make sure you shout this loud and clear. 
  • Spend your fundraising time wisely. With more groups raising money for election-related work, use your plan to identify the donor segments to reach out to. This is a good time to reach out to lapsed donors and major donors. 
  • Reach out to your donors anyway. Don’t assume they won’t give or they will give less. US donors give on average to 6-10 groups and won’t typically move their donations from one organization to another, unless, the organization is no longer meeting their needs. Some of your donors may give you less. Some may give you more. This is a perfect time to upgrade your other donors.

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

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. now. You’ll be glad you did. The Scouts will be glad too!



Published in Blog