Custom Fundraising Services


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.

Registration Fee:

 $25      Current J. Milito & Associates Customers

 $25      Students

 $50      AFP Members

 $75      Not-Yet Members or Customers


Register here by May 31, 2017 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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: 

  1. Connect their desire to improve the world with your ability to do just that . . . improve the world, through your mission and ministry. AND

  2. Treat those individuals like beloved members of your family.  Treat them well, share the stories of impact, engage with them, and they will remain with your organization for the long haul.  Whether it is annual fund, endowment, capital campaign, or major gift donors, “if you take care of your donors, your donors will take care of you.

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: 

  • Your current donors and your recently lapsed donors
  • Your parents and grandparents
  • Your alumni/alumnae. 
  • Your members.
  • Your board AND your employees.
  • Your special event sponsors and attendees (and honorees)
  • And believe it or not, the folks who directly benefit by the service you provide.

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:

  • Who are they (name, address, phone, email, etc.)?
  • What is their connection to the organization?  Parent, grandparent, volunteer, donor, etc. 
  • How long have they been connected to your organization?
  • What is their current relationship, if any, with you? 
  • How do you communicate with them?  How do they communicate with you?
  • Do they attend your special events?  One time or regular attendees?
  • Do they attend your mission programs?
  • Have they given before?  If so, how do they like to give (online, mail, phone, text to give, check, credit card, etc.)?
  • If they are alum, what year did they graduate?  What have they been doing since graduation? 
  • Where do they work?
  • Do they have family members that are connected to your organization?
  • What other information will help us get better acquainted?

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 make it easy for them to give.
  • 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

  • Demonstrating to our donors that they are our heroes.
  • 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.

Hi, Juddee Milito here wishing you a very Happy New Year.
May your New Year bring you joy and peace and good health. 
Did you know that showing your donors sincere gratitude could increase your giving by 50%?
Let me tell you more . . . .



Autumn has arrived. We welcome the season with a sweater and a glass of cider as the leaves burst with vivid color and then slowly fall to the ground.

Autumn is also the time when we hustle for the last big fundraising hurrah of the year.

Before you get fully immersed in the fundraising hustle, stop . . . take a breath . . . and make sure you can answer the following questions:

  1. When was the last time you scrubbed your donor lists? If you can’t remember the last time it was done, do it now. Dirty data will net you bad results regardless of how amazing your year-end package.
  2. What is your theme and is it compelling? “We need money to fill the gap” is not compelling. Neither is “It’s year-end” or “You get a tax deduction”. A compelling theme is about the mission and ministry your donors need to invest in (with both their heart and their head). Your theme should be consistent throughout all year end communications and all channels (mail, email, social media, telephone, etc.).
  3. What stories will you tell to reinforce the theme? The story should not be about you and your organization. The story should be about the profound impact on the people and community you serve. The story should touch the readers’ heart.
  4. Will the story have a sense of urgency and remind express clearly to the donor “we can’t do this without you”? A sense of urgency is the message about what will happen if they don’t take action. Children will go hungry. Families will be homeless. A cancer patient will die. A student will not be educated. Touch their heart, then appeal to their head.
  5. Will the donor know what you want them to do? Don’t be shy about asking for a reasonable response from the donor. Think about what the donor can likely do. Be direct. Be specific. Be thoughtful.
  6. Will it be easy for the donor to give? You’ve touched the heart, appealed to their head, not make sure you make it easy for them to respond with a gift. Test your online giving portal. The more clicks you require, the less likely the gift will be made. Test your remittance envelope. The remittance should align with your theme and your “ask.” Generic envelopes generate generic less than stellar results.
  7. What is your plan to show gratitude to your donors? Remember, a receipt is not a thank you and therefore not a show of gratitude. Toss out that stuffy old thank you letter (“on behalf of the board, blah, blah, blah”) and create communications that shows truly sincere gratitude. Your message of gratitude should include “Because of you . . . . “ and “We couldn’t do this without you.

So, hopefully you are not more stressed than you were before you read this list. Your year-end efforts should be a joy not a nightmare. Remember, the work you do is important. You are changing lives for the better.

Find out how J. Milito & Associates can help assure you have a successful year end. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free half hour consultation.

You had a good year for fundraising. You made your goal. Congratulations!

New donors! Fantastic.

But, did you know that you could have raised even more money by doing one little thing?

Yes, one simple little thing.

Your organization could raise more money for your mission and ministry . . . just by retaining more of your donors.

Retain more donors? Really?

But we hit our $$ goal. That’s what really matters. That’s what keeps the lights on. That’s what feeds the kids. That’s what helps the sick. That is what provides students scholarships.”

Does it really matter how many donors gave if we still hit our $$ goal?

Oh, yes. Yes it does!

And here is why.

üThe average donor retention rate is 46% (2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey)

üOn average, for every 100 donors you gain, you will lose at least 96 annually.

ü7 out of 10 first time donors will not make a 2nd gift.

üAfter 5 years, you’ll have only 3% of the donors you acquire this year.

üIt costs about 7x more to acquire a new donor than to retain an existing donor?

 Improving Retention Rates By Just 10% Can Increase the Total Amount of Money Donors Giveaccording to Dr. Adrian Sargeant.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to improve your retention rates and raise more money?

*  *  *  *

First, it is important to know your retention rate.

Use this simple, easy to understand formula . . . .

DONOR RETENTION RATE = Number of Donors who gave in 2014 and again in 2015

      ¸ Total number of donors who gave in 2014         

Ideally you want to be retaining at least 60% or more of your donors annually.

How do you retain more of your donors and raise more money?

Improve donor loyalty . . . by improving the donor experience . . . by valuing our donors for who they are, not just what they can give.

The goal is to make your donors feel good about their generosity. The goal is to make sure that your donors know that your entire organization appreciates their generosity.

The gift is the first step towards joining our community. It’s the beginning of the relationship; not the end.” ~ Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE

Happy donors are generous donors.

Focus on the person and the relationship first, not their wallet.” Sandy Rees, CFRE

Your job, regardless of how large or small your budget, is to make sure your donors are satisfied and proud of their gift (no matter how large or small).

Donors don’t give to you; they give through you to create the change they want to see.” ~ Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE

The first thing is thanking without an ask. “Sincerely thank your donor in a timely manner and then, once you’ve spent their funds, tell them the story of the impact their funds had on the people your organization serves.” ~ Lynne Wester

Make seven contacts with a donor within one year after the gift. For every one request you make for a gift, you need seven other meaningful contacts. Meaningful contacts are phone calls, personal visits, emails, hand written notes, etc. Meaningful contacts show and tell the donor the impact and power of their gift, where the money went, and how it was spent. Meaningful contacts are for ALL donors not just the “majors”.

Get to know your donors. Really get to know them. It is essential that you understand your individual donors.

  • Why they support your cause? What need of theirs is being met by supporting your cause?
  • What are their preferences? Annual Fund or Capital? Email or snail mail?
  • Why they stopped giving?

Donors want to know that you know who they are and why they support you. They want you to know why they increased their last gift. And they want you to know why they left after 5 years of giving.

Stop focusing so much time and resources on acquisition. It is expensive with a low return on investment. Future major donors and bequests are already supporting your mission and ministry with regular annual support. If you take the time to get to know them, all of them, you’ll find your lifelong supporters and benefactors.

In 2014, Giving USA reported that over $300 billion was given to charities by individuals. Over 1.5 million tax exempt organizations received piece of that very generous pie. Another $6 – 27.4 trillion in bequests will be made from 1998-2052.

With the volume of charitable dollars available, loyalty to your organization goes right out the window if another charity (or charities) provides a better donor experience.

So, remember: the goal is to improve the donor experience. An improved donor experience will result in loyal lifetime donors who give generously, faithfully and happily.

It’s just that simple.


* * For more than 20 years, J. Milito & Associates has worked with organizations of all types from coast to coast to help Retain, Renew and Upgrade their donors. Let us help you improve the donor experience so you can raise more money for your mission and ministry. Contact us today for your free 30 minute consultation.

You had a fantastic year end campaign. Donations were up. A few new donors even joined the family. But there were also some donors who lapsed and did not make a gift last year.

According to the 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey organizations typically retain only 19% of their first time donors. Overall, retention rates are at 46%.

Usually it costs less to retain and motivate an existing donor than to attract a new one, and so taking positive steps to reduce gift and donor losses is often the best strategy to increase net fundraising gains at the least cost.”

One of the very best and most cost effective ways to retain your donors is to bring them into your monthly or recurring giving program.

Monthly giving can be a valuable part of your overall fundraising strategy. With realistic monthly giving options your organization can increase the size and volume of your donations.

Here are 5 reasons why you should engage your donors in monthly or recurring giving now . . .

  1. It’s convenient for your donor. The donor already supports your cause. Monthly giving is an opportunity for them to support your cause in a manner that is convenient, easy, and affordable for them. And, they won’t need to receive all those direct mail pieces.
  2. Your income will increase dramatically. Monthly donors tend to give an average of 42% more than annual donors. (Network for Good) What organization would turn away 42% more income from donors? Think of the impact those extra contributions could generate.
  3. Your relationship with your donors will improve. Monthly donor programs can help draw donors closer to your organization. They become more fully investing in your organization and its impact and are some of your best supporters. They are among your most loyal donors and can be especially generous in emergency situations and even capital campaigns. These donors are six to seven times more likely to make your organization a beneficiary in their wills.
  4. Donors will stay with your organization longer. On average, recurring or monthly donors will stay with your organization longer (5-10 years or more) and will give more money for more consecutive years than single-gift donors.
  5. Donors will give more to your organization. Tom Ahern calls monthly donors “major donors on an installment plan.” Those monthly contributions add up. A $50/year donor now becomes a $120/year donor with a $10/month gift. Over 5 years that is $600. That’s 42% more than one-time annual gifts.

What? No monthly giving program? No to worries.

Here are a few easy first steps

  • Start Now. January and February are the best months to start a monthly giving program. Many donors are setting in motion their plans and vision for their annual charitable giving. Tax statements go out and there may be some guilt from the end of the year.
  • Ask after a one-time donation. First thank your donors and share the benefits and impact. That said, they are more likely to take another action after a positive first action. Research shows that one of the best times to ask for a recurring or monthly gift is after their first gift or after a one-time gift.
  • Ask for small amounts. According to monthly giving guru Erica Waasdorp (Monthly Giving : the Sleeping Giant), “asking for low monthly ask amounts beat the higher monthly ask amounts. Monthly donors are typically those donors who cannot write big checks. You can start your first ask as low as $5 or $10. You really can upgrade donors later.” But don’t be too greedy at first.
  • Organize the basics. Make sure you’re ready with your website, your database, your accounting office. While you still need to send an annual tax receipt, your donors don’t need monthly thank you letters, but they need to hear from you regularly.
  • Pick up the phone. Use email and direct mail to solicit and communicate. To generate the highest response from your monthly giving campaign, include calls to your media mix. According to Erica Waasdorp “nothing works better than telemarketing. The response rate is simply higher than mail or email.” A combination of all three media strategies is ideal.

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.

  • Within 48 hours of receiving a gift, send a gift acknowledgement. (Remember: a receipt is not a Thank You).
  • Within two weeks of receiving a gift, send a personal “Thank You” note (hand signed and written if possible).
  • Before asking for another gift, call your donors (all of them) just to say "Thank You".

Research upon research tells us that donors who are truly and sincerely thanked (more than once) are at least 50% more likely to pledge again in the following year. And donors who receive a personal thank you call, are even more inclined to give again.

J. Milito & Associates wants to help you tell your donors that they truly make a difference -- to the children, the hungry, the students, the sick and frail, the parishioners, and the faithful.

During January, if you sign up for a new “Thank You” Call campaign with at least 100 donors, we will give you 100 free “Thank You” Calls. In other words, you get 200 Thank You Calls for the price of 100.

Contact us before January 31st for your free gift.

Remember, a phone call is a very special way to say "Thank You" to your donors. Your donors will be touched! And your retention rates will soar.

Happy New Year!

P.S. Here's A special New Year’s bonus:

"The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated." ~ William James

Welcome to the season of giving. Giving gifts. Giving donations. Giving thanks.

To get into the spirit of the season, we ask our donors and supporters to give to our year end campaigns. We ask them to support our cause, our mission, our ministry.

You worked tirelessly to create just the right “ask”. Just the right “ask” that will touch the hearts and wallets of your donors and supporters.

The gifts are arriving. Now your most important work begins.

Are you ready?

Giving is just a part of the equation. The other more important part is the gratitude you show your donors after the gift.

So, are you ready to shower your donors with gratitude?

Will you send your first expression of gratitude within 48 hours?

Will it be a true expression of gratitude or just a receipt?

Will the expressions of gratitude make the donors feel good and appreciated?

Will the donor know their gift made a difference?

Will the donor know that their gift changed the world . . . for the better?

Gratitude makes us feel good.

It makes us feel appreciated.

Thanking your donors, truly thanking them with an abundance of gratitude not just once, but multiple times is key to their ongoing engagement in your organization.

According to the 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Project organizations retain only 19% of first time donors. It goes on to show that for every 100 donors your organization gains, you will lose 103 donors. Just think what would happen to your organization’s impact in the community if the 19% could be just doubled to 38%.

This 38% could be obtained simply by good old fashion relationship building and attention to basic details. Organizations that hit this target (and better) have created a basic plan for follow-up with every donor that involves ALL key team members.

First and foremost you must invite your donors to be your partners in your mission and ministry. You must invite them to walk along side with you to solve the problems your organization tackles daily.

Not your budget issues. Or the “gap”.

It’s all about those you serve, the reason you exist in the first place.

So take the time to shower your donors with an abundance of gratitude this season, and throughout all seasons of the year.

Jay Love, Founder & CEO of Bloomerang strongly believes that “making donors feel truly appreciated is what can separate you from the average nonprofit. All it takes are small changes in your donor communications efforts.”

Some of those “small changes” include:

  • A telephone call (to say thank you and welcome to new donors)
  • A personalized thank you (not a form letter)
  • A handwritten note (from leadership)
  • An impact statement showing exactly how the donation was used
  • A personal story from recipients of your mission shared directly with donors
  • Segment your donor communications. One-size does not fit all donors.
  • Look at the long-term in building relationships with new donors.
  • A short survey. Donors are investors in your mission and ministry. Ask their opinions.
  • Get together with donors to find out about them and their motivations for giving to your organization.

J. Milito & Associates can help you spread the gratitude. Our professional team can help you stay connected to your donors, supporters and friends. We can help you improve your donor retention. On your behalf we can say thank you!

So to each of you . . . Thank You!

Thank you for caring.

Thank you for making the world a better place.

Thank you for making a difference.

Now go out and spread the gratitude.

P.S. If you’ve made it to this part of the blog, THANK YOU! As a special gift to you, we like to extend a special offer – a free 30 minute consultation with Juddee (the “J” in J. Milito & Associates). After you complete your consultation with Juddee your name will be entered into a drawing for 100 free thank you calls.


What more is there than the gift? Isn’t getting the gift the only thing that really matters?

After all, we have a budget to meet. We have clients to serve. We have a building, and overhead, and expenses.

So we send out letters. We host galas. We produce an annual report and send newsletters to communicate how well we are doing.

But wait, we are short of our goal. Our direct mail fell flat. Can’t get our Board and Staff to contribute. Our gala didn’t raise enough money and we only got names from half of those who did attend. And our development office is understaffed.

If this sounds familiar, that’s ok. Take a breath. Read on.

As fundraisers we know that our work is important. We know that the health and well-being of our organization is dependent upon our work. Our outcomes.

But while we “chase the money” we overlook the most important component of the fundraising equation.

The Donor.

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.

According to researchif organizations want to raise money for a charitable cause, it is far better to appeal to the heart than to the head. Feelings, not analytical thinking, drive donations.”

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 . . .

  1. Know their money is used wisely,
  2. Feel that the organization has a good reputation,
  3. Have a strong belief in the organization’s mission, and
  4. Believe that their support [truly] makes a difference.

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

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