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!
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.
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
So many of us worry about how to generate major gifts. We forget about the tremendous little nuggets already in the database. Many more small donors than large ones, right?
Did you know that 100 monthly donors are worth an average of $24,000 a year? That they’ll stay with you for at least 5 to 7 years and often even longer? That they’re 7 times more likely to leave you in their will? That’s very powerful, isn’t it?
If you are considering a monthly giving program or if you’re looking to grow your current program further, this session is for you!
Join us to learn what’s involved in growing your monthly donor program, so you can ensure that monthly donors will provide sustainable revenue for many years to come.
Presented by Erica Waasdorp, President at A Direct Solution and author of "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant."
As a result of this workshop, participants will understand who and what monthly donors are, learn how to implement a monthly giving program as part of the overall communication strategy, know the tremendous impact on sustainable and unrestricted revenue by converting small donors to give monthly, and come away with real life examples and case studies on how best to start asking donors to join your monthly donor program by using tools and media you already have in place.
$25 Current J. Milito & Associates Customers
$50 AFP Members
$75 Not-Yet Members or Customers
Register here by May 31, 2017
Did you know . . . more than $373 billion was given to charities in 2015? (Giving USA)
Your organization likely received a modest portion of that charitable giving.
But did your organization get all that it needed to support your mission and ministry? Not talking about your annual fundraising goal, but rather the impact goals needed to sustain and grow your organization for today and the future.
Oxford Dictionary defines impact as – “The effect or influence of one person, thing, or action, on another”. So impact goals are those things our organizations do to deliberately “effect or influence” our community members: The children we educate, the hungry that we feed, the ill and infirmed that we care for and cure, etc. The impact . . . to improve the world.
So, why is impact important and what does this have to do with finding more donors?
“Twenty-first century philanthropy is investment in solutions, not cash for problems,” said Susan Raymond, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Changing Our World. “What that means is (philanthropists) expect evidence of impact. Money is contingent on results. Impact, not intention, is the coin of the realm.”
Your donors, all of your current and future donors need to know that their “investment” will have a positive impact on those served by your organization and the larger community where you live.
And in order to attract, retain, renew, and upgrade donors, engaging them with your impact stories is essential.
And this isn’t just those donors who give major gifts, but rather all donors, and all gifts.
All Gifts Matter.
And, most important, ALL DONORS Matter.
Mary Cahalane (Hands on Fundraising) aptly stated it this way, “Our missions are broader than dollars and cents.”
Your mission and ministry prosper upon your ability to secure contributions of all amounts from lots of faithful donors every year. And yet, you struggle every year to find the donors to help meet the impact goals that support your mission and ministry.
The truth is . . . finding new donors isn’t complicated.
It isn’t scientific. It isn’t impossible. And it isn’t costly.
So, where do you find these donors?
First, you don’t get them by purchasing a list or by hosting yet another “special” event.
You find donors in your faithful supporters. Your current stakeholders. Your “natural constituency”.
Remember the line from the movie “Field of Dreams”—“If you build it [they] will come.” It is also true in fund development, advancement or whatever you call it in your organization.
It is philanthropy.
“Philanthropy is inherently optimistic, reflecting the deeply held belief that we can have a positive impact on the lives of others as well as on stubborn societal issues. Through philanthropy, individuals can make a difference, promote change, and improve their communities.” ~ Bruce DeBoskey, philanthropic strategist.
Think about it this way ---- if you would connect and engage with those who already believe in your mission and ministry, the money and support will follow. Really.
All the donors you need right now are already connected to your organization. Your job is to:
Connect their desire to improve the world with your ability to do just that . . . improve the world, through your mission and ministry. AND
So where do you begin?
You begin with your inner circle, “the people who know you and love you.” They are your customers, the reason you exist. They are:
You say, “Oh no we can’t ask them. They already give of their time. They already pay tuition. They receive assistance. They are just starting out. Etc., etc., etc.”
Don’t ever assume that your “inner circle” can’t and won’t give and give generously.
Your assumptions are what keep you from a prosperous and fluid mission and ministry.
In the words of the great Wayne Gretzky “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” For our purposes that translates to – you miss 100% of the gifts of support you never ask for.
Remember ALL gifts and ALL donors matter. Your “inner circle” if you keep them close and make them feel truly appreciated, they will give, when asked, what they can, even if it’s $5.
So, let’s say you take the plunge and decide it’s time invest in building better more meaningful relationships with your “inner circle” so you can convert them to faithful donors.
Remember, “you probably didn’t propose marriage or accept a marriage proposal on the first date” – so, please don’t just ask the “inner circle” for a gift without getting to know them first.
You need to know the following:
Wow, that’s a lot of information to collect. How can we possibly do this? Yes, there are probably a million reasons why you can’t possibly fit all this into your already over extended workload. But, in reality, there are a $Million reasons why you can’t afford not to make the time to get to know your “inner circle”.
Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, said it best, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
You have to take the first step. And the first step is to start the conversation with your “inner circle”. Ask them about themselves. Research has repeatedly found that “self-disclosure produces a burst of activity in neural regions associated with pleasure, motivation, and reward.” People like to talk about themselves. So ask.
Ask them when they attend events, make donations, become members, attend meetings, etc. Ask them in a survey. Call them. Make the effort to connect with them. Take notes, lots of notes. And then, please put these jewels of information in your database.
Remember, the goal here is to engage your “inner circle”. They already have some affinity for your mission and ministry. By connecting “their desire to improve the world with your ability to do just that, you inspire them to share themselves and their precious resources with your organization.
Yup, just that easy.
Every year for 30+ years, a school teacher faithfully sent her $15 membership to an arts organization. Upon her death, the organization received a significant six-figure bequest.
Gina was homeless. She was undereducated and lived on the streets. She connected with an organization whose mission and ministry was to give hope and dignity back to the homeless, getting them off the streets and into meaningful employment. Gina worked hard to complete the program. She eventually secured a job and a small apartment. Shortly after she began her new life off the streets, Gina dropped by the organization with a note and check for $20. “Thank you for helping me make a better life for myself. Please accept this $20. Wish I could give more.” And she did, whenever possible.
Grandparents Day is a long standing tradition at this Catholic elementary school. Grandparents and grandchildren look forward to this day every year. Many travel long distances to spend this day at school with their grandchildren. As a result of this inspiring engagement, grandparents successfully pushed the capital campaign fundraising goal over the top and were on-hand to proudly move a shovel of dirt at the ground-breaking ceremony.
These stories are not uncommon. And they have one thing in common . . . a meaningful relationship between the donor and the organization.
So, it’s possible. But it will take commitment and hard work, and yes, financial resources. The whole organization must commit to connecting with your “inner circle”. There must be within your organization, a culture of philanthropy. Research shows that “an organization’s culture dramatically affects its effectiveness. Culture is pervasive, affecting all areas of the organization, including fund development.” Fund development, in order to be effective and successful must be the responsibility of the whole organization, not just one department. If the relationships are to succeed, if we are to embrace the “inner circle” as beloved members of the family, the whole organization must contribute to the effort.
But . . . it isn’t enough to just get the gift. The gift of support is but one step in what can be a long and meaningful relationship.
Once you have engaged and embraced your “inner circle” make sure that . . .
You show them an abundance of authentic appreciation
You regularly demonstrate impact of their gift on your mission and ministry – “Because of you . . . .”
You inspire them to give again. Inspiring is what makes “the ask” possible.
You inspire a legacy gift.
Remember, “if you take care of your donors, your donors will take care of you”.
So make the commitment, take the time, and embrace your “inner circle” and you will have faithful donors for a lifetime.
-published in September 2016 "Dimensions", a publication of the National Catholic Development Conference
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.