Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse . . . a bit of good news!
Good news, because of you.
Thank you for persevering through this time of upheaval and uncertainty.
Thank you for putting your mission front and center.
Thank you for reaching out to your supporters, telling your story and inspiring them to action.
The latest from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project shows that charitable giving in the first half of 2020 increased by almost 7.5 percent over the first half of 2019. The second quarter also marked a five-year high in the number of donors and contributions.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “While donors at all levels have stepped up in a big way during the pandemic, those who gave less than $250 were a major driver of growth. The number of small donations increased 19.2 percent over the first six months of last year. That may be due in part to the $300 universal charitable deduction that was enacted as part of the Cares Act.”
Additionally, the number of midlevel donors, who made gifts of $250 to $999, and major donors, who made gifts of $1,000 or more, increased year-over-year by 8.1 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.
So, how were your results?
Did your donors step up and help sustain your mission and those you serve?
We’ve talked to many of you over the past months.
Many of you have “pivoted” beautifully, reaching out and connecting with more donors with more personal communications and powerful and impactful messaging. Events in many instances, have become truly “special”, using new and creative strategies to draw in new attendees and actually raising more money as a result.
Others we spoke with are waiting, waiting for things to change, to improve, to go back to “normal”. I suspect they did not see such positive results.
So, where do we go from here?
We can’t rest on our laurels or expect what was will continue. One of the most important things you can do right now is to maintain the growth and retain your supporters is to build strong relationships with donors and inspire them to continue giving, what they can, when they can.
The best way to do this is to say “thank you” straight from your heart. There is nothing that makes another feel appreciated more than showering them with sincere gratitude.
Your mission is important. Those you serve have had their loads lightened a bit, because of the generosity of many. Let donors know how important they are now and in the uncertain future that lies before us.
And make sure there is enough gratitude to go around for your team (staff, volunteers, board). And most important, save a big helping of gratitude for yourself. You deserve it.
Join us on Tuesday, October 20 at 9am (EST) for a conversation “Gratitude and Stewardship: The Secret to Raising More Money”. Gratitude and Stewardship is key to any successful fundraising program. We will discuss how to make our donors feel appreciated and engaged not just during times of crisis, but all the time. Register here.
Be a part of the conversation!
Health and well-being is the big news these days. As well it should be.
But what about the health and well-being of your organization and its most valuable and underutilized resource --- its data?
Successful nonprofits know that data is important. They collect it. They analyze it. They use it. Data can help predict future trends, gather donor statistics, analyze fundraising trends and so much more.
According to the “State of Data in the Nonprofit Sector” only 40% of organizations surveyed use data often in guiding decision making. Of those, only 5% use data to guide all major decisions.
The good news was almost 90% of organizations indicated that data was moderately to extremely important to operations and decision making. And they would like to learn how to use their data more effectively.
So how do the rest of us determine the “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “how” if we’re not using data to guide our decisions?
Dart boards? Rock paper scissors? Magic eight ball?
No really, if you’re not using and analyzing data how do you know
We know that our fancy, turbo-charged databases and data collection devices can do wonderful things to improve our fundraising outcomes. But we often don’t have enough time, inclination, resources, or experience to work the magic.
For more than two years, J. Milito & Associates has been using the Fundraising Fitness Test and Growth-in-Giving reports to help our customers improve the health and well-being of their organizations’ fundraising.
The Fundraising Fitness Test measures and evaluates fundraising programs against a set of over one hundred performance indicators by five donor giving levels. The Growth-in-Giving reports “provide concise, yet informative pictures of fundraising gains and losses-growth in giving and attrition – in a simple, reader-friendly format that the executive staff and board members can understand.”
And it’s easy to complete and pays for itself by when you retain just 5-10 donors this year.
One of our clients recently completed their “year 2” assessment. Their initial test and reports were eye-opening and a bit concerning. The customer realized that their donor attrition rate was resulting in considerable lost revenue. Revenue they didn’t even realize they didn’t have anymore. Revenue that if retained, could have done so much more good for their mission and ministry.
“The fundraising fitness test was a fascinating look into the trends and realities of our donor base, with very little up-front work on our part. We pulled a few quick lists, sent them off to the Milito analysts, and within a few weeks, we received a trove of incredibly valuable data. Because of this unique service, we’ve doubled down on the good, and instituted several new techniques (with astonishing success!) and are very excited to continue serving our donors in the most efficient ways possible.” ~ Customer “Year 1”.
And here are their results . . . .
Fundraising Performance Indicators Report
Donor Retention Rates
|All Gifts||All Gifts||Nat’l Stats|
|New Donor Retention||25%||19%||22%|
|Repeat Donor Retention||68%||60%||62%|
|Overall Donor Retention||61%||52%||43%|
In “Year 2”, our customer was able to celebrate their donor retention rates showing them 18% above the national average with a 9% growth in overall donor retention in one year.
“Thanks so much! It was wonderful seeing the results of some hard work – all thanks to your help. We are grateful!” ~ Customer “Year 2”.
All because they looked at their data and made strategic fundraising plans based on the results and recommendations from J. Milito & Associates.
The late Maya Angelou told us “If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going.”
You’ll be glad you did.
Five months. It is hard to believe that five months have gone by since COVID-19 arrived and turned our world upside down.
The virus has spread and impacted millions of our fellow Americans. We send thoughts and prayers for healing to the families and friends of impacted by COVID-19.
Organizations have been disrupted, yet called on to dramatically expand services to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. It is amazing to see so many organizations, without hesitation, step up to insure continuation of life-changing services. All done at a distance and with significantly fewer resources.
Thank You for doing your part, for carrying on, in spite of the many challenges and uncertainties you’ve faced.
J. Milito & Associates also swiftly and deliberately adjusted to this new way of life. At the end of April, we chose to get back to doing what we do best – picking up the telephone and raising funds for life-changing missions and ministries. We set up a remote call center, taking great care to assure that our fundraisers were working in safe environments and customers campaigns were treated with the same high-quality standards and care as the last twenty-three years.
Since returning to the telephone, we’ve been heartened and inspired by the conversations with donors, raising more than $300,000 for schools, human service and community organizations. With an average gift of $132, we are proud to have helped reduce a bit of financial stress for the greater good.
We are truly blessed and honored to be a fundraising partner during these uncertain times. Thank You for the trust you place in us.
As we approach what is the busiest time of the year for non-profit fundraisers, the stakes are even higher. So, it’s time to do the hard work. Hard work, so we can come out of 2020 and the other end of this pandemic better than before.
Yes, times are uncertain and there is concern that donors are dealing with their own issues and may not be receptive to our requests. Your organization fills an essential community need, so now’s not the time to be timid and stop asking for support.
Remember, if you believe your mission was important and essential before the pandemic, you must believe it is even more important now.
We challenge you to proudly put your mission front and center, tell the stories about those you serve, speak loudly about how donor generosity makes all the difference, and strive to inspire your supporter’s generosity.
J. Milito & Associates is here for you. Here to walk through this storm with you. We are here to listen, to coach, and to guide. And we are here to help your fundraising success so you can continue your life-changing work.
Please reach out to us if you have questions, need resources, or just need to talk.
And because we care and appreciate all you do; here’s a gift. Please reach out to us by August 31 to schedule your complimentary fundraising assessment.
Together, we will get through this.
And remember, “The Work You Do is Important. You Are Changing Lives.”
Image by veronica111886 from Pixabay
It’s hard to believe that it’s been two months already. Two months since COVID-19 reared its ugly head and “Stay at Home” guided our lives, organizations, schools and businesses.
We send our condolences for the lives lost, and pray for those battling the virus and all those struggling with life’s challenges.
Our community institutions have definitely been impacted. Schools have quickly and exceptionally moved to distance learning. Organizations have been called on to dramatically expand their services to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. Yet other organizations have implemented creative ways to deliver their mission to reach their constituents. All done at a distance and with fewer resources.
Thank you so much for doing your part by carrying on, in spite of the challenges and revenue uncertainties.
Even in this darkness, there has been an abundance of good. Generosity has become a driving force, a saving-grace for many of us. Individuals wanting to make a positive difference is commonplace. Volunteerism, donating food to pantries, sewing masks, shopping for the elderly and charitable giving is up. Charitable giving even in these uncertain economic times is going strong. Donors appreciate the outreach, the gratitude, and concern for their well-being they are receiving. And they are giving what they can and, in some instances, giving more. What a blessing.
Some early findings from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance tells us that more than 52% of donors expect to give the same this year as last and more than 30% expect to give more. That means it’s up to us, the philanthropic sector, the nonprofits to make sure our mission remains in the hearts and minds of those who make the mission possible . . . the donors.
Just like you, J. Milito & Associates has spent the last two months adjusting to a new way of life, of doing business. We have been blessed with opportunity. Opportunity to spend more time, talking with customers, and nonprofit leaders across this great country. Through our weekly virtual “Conversations”, “Philanthropy in Times of Coronavirus” Facebook group, e-newsletters, and good old-fashioned conversations, we learned much and shared more to make sure organizations felt supported and appreciated.
And on April 20th, we got back to doing what we do best – picking up the telephone and raising funds for life-changing missions and ministries. While setting up a remote call center was not without challenges, we took great care to assure that our telephone fundraisers are working in safe environments and customers campaigns are treated with the same high-quality standards and care as the last 22 years.
We are having great conversations with donors. They are grateful for the outreach and concern. Their generosity has not waned. Donors are eager and willing to share what they can to support the causes they love, and help the individuals and families needing access to important programs and services! The generosity has warmed our hearts.
J. Milito & Associates is truly blessed by the trust so many have placed in us. For more than twenty-two years we’ve walked together with many in support of amazing missions and ministries.
And know, we remain committed to our nonprofit colleagues and friends. We are here for you, because we believe that the work you do is so so important.
Hopefully the worst is behind us. The future is in front of us. What you do today will have an impact on your philanthropic efforts long after this pandemic is behind us.
Today, it’s time to adapt your development plan to address the many unknowns that stand in front of you.
Questions such as: How might our organization be impacted through the summer, into the fall and at calendar year end? What resources will be needed and how will goals be met? What about special events and other in-person fundraising? What are the best strategies and times to fundraise over the next six months? Addressing these now, with contingencies, will help you stay focused on what’s important – those served by your mission and ministry.
J. Milito & Associates can help you look at your plan, answer these questions, and assure that your philanthropy efforts and your fundraising activities are successful.
While our team continues to work remotely, our hope is to be back home in our offices after June 1st. There is much to do to get ready to make this transition, again. Better, smarter, more grateful.
Again, we’re thrilled that our current campaigns are showing positive results from donors including increased gift amounts, bequests, and an out-pouring of gratitude and support from constituents to their favorite charitable organizations. Telephone outreach can help you get through this.
Together, we will get through this.
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
We continue to keep you updated on what's happening with us and what we're learning on the telephone during Covid-19.
Click here for our latest conversations and discoveries.
We’re thrilled to report that J. Milito & Associates is back on the phone raising much needed funds for our customers’ life-altering mission and ministry.
We have taken great care to assure that our telephone fundraisers are working in safe environments and our customers campaigns are treated with the same high-quality standards and care as the last 22 years.
We are having great conversations with donors. They are grateful for the outreach and concern. Their generosity has not waned. Donors are eager and willing to share what they can to support the causes they love, and help the individuals and families needing access to important programs and services!
J. Milito & Associates remains committed to supporting the nonprofit sector’s philanthropic efforts not only during this crisis, but beyond.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more or using our services to stay connected to your donors and supporters.
Keep doing good.
J. Milito is still here for you during the COVID–19 crisis.
In accordance with Michigan’s “Stay at Home” Order, our call center operations are suspended until at least April 14, 2020. However, our leadership team is working remotely to assure that you have the resources and support you need during this time.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions, concerns, need resources or someone to bounce ideas off, or maybe just talk.
Please stay safe and be well.
Message from Greg Winer, CEO, J. Milito & Associates
J. Milito & Associates COVID-19 Statement
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”
These are crazy crazy times. The philanthropic sector is being challenged. While the challenge doesn’t feel good right now, we need to look at this as an opportunity. An opportunity to implement the extraordinary . . . with extraordinary results.
If our mission was important last month, it is important today. Maybe even more so. That said, it is critical that we not stop philanthropy and all that goes with it.
If we do this, we will have success and our mission will do more good. Because “DOING MORE GOOD” is what it is all about.
Let this quote from Helen Keller guide you through these difficult times -- “Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.” We can’t change the crisis, but we can change how we manage our organizations through it.
Many organizations feel they should take a step back and delay sending their Spring Appeals or other fundraising communications. We’ve heard organizations say, “we don’t want to be insensitive during this uncertain time by asking for money.”
Now more than ever, it is important to stay connected to your donors and supporters and engage more deeply and significantly. This is an opportunity to share our mission stories with those who have expressed an interest in the incredible work we do.
In the words of the late great Jerry Panas, “there is no perfect moment to raise money. The fact is that in good times and bad, Americans give to worthy causes. When times are difficult, they seem to respond with even greater dedication, generosity, and a genuine sense of sacrifice. They will allow nothing to interfere with their fervor in supporting worthwhile causes.”
Tom Peters tells that “If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” During these trying times, we need to not "pull down the shade" on our missions and those served as a result. We need to embrace the opportunity (however horrible it is) to DO GOOD.
Many organizations who have decided to move forward with their Appeals find themselves struggling with “do we go with our original theme for the appeal or do we change it to reflect the times”.
It is important that moving forward with our appeals means that we must:
“Philanthropy is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.” ~ Hank Russo
There is joy in giving. Give your supporters the opportunity to be joyful in these less than joyful times.
When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
How will your organization look at your upcoming Appeal as an opportunity?
We’d love to hear how your Appeal turned out.
In the US, there are approximately 1.3 million organizations in the philanthropic sector. The organizations feed, house, heal, rebuild, educate, inspire and nuture people in every demographic and socioeconomic status. Every day, these organizations "foster civic engagement and leadership, drive economic growth and strengthen the fabric of our communities."
If you are reading this right now, you are likely one of those organizations.
THANK YOU for all you do.
We know that this is a difficult time for our partners in the philanthropic sector. Organizations must continue to serve the community throughout this pandemic. While social distancing has interfered with service delivery, you carry on anyway because access to food, clothing, shelter, safety, health, and wellbeing must continue.
Our hearts and prayers are with those who are personally affected by the coronavirus. At a time when we need our friends and loved ones close by, we press forward together, apart. Because that is who we are.
There’s work to do. But you don’t have to do it alone.
We are here for you. Here for you, because the work you do is so, so important.
For more than twenty-two years, J. Milito & Associates has partnered with hundreds of amazing organizations across our country in support of their mission and ministry. For that we are truly blessed.
Because you are important and because we care about you, here are a few tips to help you get through the next weeks/months. What you do today will have an impact on your philanthropic efforts long after this pandemic is behind us:
Remember, J. Milito & Associates is here for you, here to be of service to your organization. No strings attached.
Whether it’s through the Facebook group “Philanthropy in Times of Coronavirus”, or weekly interactive conversations for fundraisers, J. Milito & Associates is here for you. This is our opportunity to give back to the philanthropic sector, to help make us stronger and focused on our missions and ministries.
In accordance with Michigan’s “Stay at Home Order”, we have suspended our call center operations until at least April 14, 2020. However, our leadership team is working remotely to assure that we can be here for you need during this time.
Please feel free to reach out if you have questions, concerns, need resources or someone to bounce ideas off, or maybe just talk.
We will get through this . . . together.
These are indeed trying times. Our world is faced with a pandemic that has all but stopped our daily lives. Around the world our fellow humans are coming together (apart) to defeat this deadly disease.
The philanthropic sector has a great responsibility at all times, and especially during this pandemic. The sector has the responsibility to hold together the safety nets so many in our communities rely upon. Beyond providing for the basic needs -- food, clothing, shelter, safety, health and wellbeing -- the philanthropic sector also provides the cultural enrichments that enhance our lives with vibrant and meaningful experiences. The pandemic has made these the safety nets and cultural enrichments vulnerable.
So what do we do?
How do we keep our eyes focused on our mission and those benefiting from our good work?
We can choose to panic, or we can keep calm and look at this as a time of opportunity. A time to be creative in how we invite others to partner with us to keep the mission afloat.
People, so many people, are asking “how can I be of service?”
We, the philanthropic sector can answer that question. And we don’t need to feel guilty. We shouldn’t feel guilty, because helping feels good and there are many out there who are eager and willing to help. And the need is great.
During the coming days and weeks, J. Milito & Associates is here for you, here to be of service to your organization. No strings attached.
Let's get through this together.
Do you know your donors? Not as a group, but individually?
Do you know what motivates them? What inspires them? What turns them off?
The way to really get to know your donors and find out why they support your organization, is by asking them. Having "live" conversations. And listening.
Donor conversations are not just reserved for major donors. You should be having conversations with all donors -- your regular $25 donor, your monthly donor, your $500 mid-level donor, and everyone in between.
Want to learn more?
Join us for this valuable webinar with Erica Waasdorp of A Direct Solution & Janice Fonger of J. Milito & Associates on the power of conversation in fundraising.
You’ll learn why “live” conversation with your donors is the best way to learn who they are, why they support your organization, and how they wish to be engaged in the future.
By talking to your donors on the phone or in person, and truly listening to what they have to say, you will…
Erica and Janice will share tips and strategies to help you transform your donor relationships into lifelong connections.
So, talk to your donors today and raise more money tomorrow!
Be a part of the conversation.
Join us Tuesday, June 18th from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EST.
Seating is limited. Register today!